Challenge for DeSoto County

Out of the six counties in the Heartland area, DeSoto County has the highest number of homeless individuals per population—but has no homeless shelter. On Feb. 9, event organizer Patty Walker has put together an awesome opportunity for all of DeSoto County to support DeSoto Cares Homeless Services’ dream of a village of small homes that will be a transitional solution to get people into safe, affordable housing.

Hop on a bicycle and join the Ride for Tiny Town (registration required)—ride the 15- 30- or 60-mile route. Ask 10 of your friends to donate $10 for your effort to meet the minimum fundraising requirement. The event will be fully supported with route directions, SAG (support and gear), food and rest stops.

Join my team—or form your own. I am challenging all cyclists to put together a team and ride to support this great effort. Let’s have teams representing health-care professionals, first-responders, city, county, school district, agriculture, snowbird communities and more.

Not a cyclist? You can support the riders by making an online contribution through Or send a check to DeSoto Cares Homeless Services at P.O. Box 1175, Arcadia 34265. Indicate Tiny Town on the memo line.

Volunteers are needed the day of the event—see The public is welcome to come out and see what this great event is about. The ride begins and ends at Mosaic Arena. Riders start departing at 7:45 a.m., with all riders departing by 9 a.m. Riders will begin returning about 10 a.m. through early afternoon.

Karen Smoke


Thank you to

Top Gun participants

Arcadia Airport held its first spot landing contest over the weekend ... and this was a huge success! Our team and the nonprofit Friends of Arcadia Airport started planning this event back in November. City Administrator Terry Stewart questioned the date during the planning stages, wondering if people would attend with it being so close to the holidays. Not knowing what to expect, we thought we would give it a shot and nothing to lose, we are so glad we did. Twenty-three pilots signed up to compete, the airport started filling up Saturday with planes everywhere, our ramp was full, several planes parked in the grass, cars pulling in one after the other and long lines for the barbecue food truck. Many hard working airport volunteers helped with parking vehicles next to the taxiway for close viewing and other volunteers parked planes on the ramp to release them for takeoff. We had volunteers everywhere, it was great! Five or six were lined up just off the runway for measuring where the planes landed. The sky was busy in the Arcadia traffic pattern and two hours later we were announcing the winners!

Our Top Gun winner was Joel Frederick of Hobe Sound, Fla. He received $100 of Avgas and a trophy. Second place was Rickey Hilton of Arcadia, receiving two sunset cruise tickets from King Fisher Fleet (Punta Gorda) and a trophy. Third place went to William Hill of Venice. He received a trophy, free camping and free pancake breakfast at our airport! A special thank you to the community that came out and cheered on the pilots competing for first place. It was harder than it looked, with the cross-wind gusting at 20 knots. With each landing you could hear the audience cheering them on and clapping and more excitement when they landed very close to the line.

It was a great time. Thank you for coming out and supporting our airport. Special thank you to volunteers that deserve recognition: George Chase, Ross Clark, Doug Deal and his wife, Rickey Hilton, Paul Moore, Kevin Doughtry, Greg Smith, Dave Hutchinson, Dennis Kirk, Dennis Redfern, Peyton Peacock, Rickey Banda and Gordy Heishman. City employees Dick Shaner, Sally Heishman, Ann Applegate and Beth Carsten, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Shelley Peacock

Airport manager

Arcadia Municipal Airport

Elder Helpline

usage up 16 percent

More Southwest Florida seniors are in need of assistance than ever, based on the number of calls received last year by the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida’s Elder Helpline. The Elder Helpline received 73,843 calls in 2018, an increase of 16.2 percent over the previous year, and the most the agency has ever received in a single year.

The Helpline is an information and referral service provided by the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL). The Agency’s Helpline assists older adults, caregivers, and people with disabilities in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota counties. It is part of the national Eldercare Locator network and is funded through the federal Older Americans Act.

Locally, the Helpline can be accessed by calling 866-413-5337 (41-ELDER) between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, excluding state holidays. Assistance is available in more than 200 languages.

While the Helpline may be the best known of AAASWFL’s services, the Agency is also responsible for screening older adults for eligibility for government-funded home and community based services and for monitoring local service providers. AAASWFL also provides direct services to adults 60 and over and adults with disabilities. These programs include SHINE Medicare counseling, health and wellness workshops, and elder abuse prevention education.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is a nonprofit and the state’s designated Aging and Disability Resource Center for Southwest Florida.

Kirsten O’Donnell

Area Agency on Aging

Fort Myers,


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