Hundreds of Estero residents and approximately 100 elected officials and dignitaries (see below) turned out to witness the historic first council meeting of the Village of Estero at 6:30 p.m., March 17, 2015, at the Estero High School.

The high school ROTC set the ceremonial stage for the meeting by marching into the auditorium for the presentation of flags.

The Honorable Elisabeth Adams swore in the newly elected council members: District 1 Bill Ribble, District 2 Howard Levitan, District 3 Don Brown, District 4 Katy Errington, District 5 Jim Boesch, District 6 Nick Batos and District 7 Jim Wilson.

Shortly thereafter, the mayor and vice-mayor were selected by the council.  Nick Batos was named mayor and Howard Levitan named vice-mayor.

Estero Chamber of Commerce Chairman Gene Montenieri and President Jeff Maas presented the council with the American and state of Florida flags for use at their meetings, along with a plaque to memorialize this presentation.

Don Eslick, known as “Mr. Estero”, received a standing ovation when he got up to speak.  He gave a historical perspective of Estero’s growth from 2001 and the impact of the Estero Council of Community Leaders, which led the incorporation of the community.

Charles Dauray, chairman of the College of Life Foundation, talked about when Estero incorporated the first time, about 110 years ago.  He presented the council with a book of Estero’s rules which was published in 1905.

Lee County Commission Chairman Brian Hamman spoke, congratulating the Village of Estero on its overwhelming approval for incorporation.

Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson presented a resolution from the city council and stated that the creation of the Village of Estero was the best thing that could happen for both communities.

Following a brief intermission, Peter Lombardi was selected as interim village manager, Burt Saunders, of Gray Robinson law firm, was selected to be the village’s attorney, and Lisa Pace was selected to serve as interim finance director.

In addition, a total of 13 items were discussed and voted upon by the council, and four members of the public spoke during public comment.  The meeting concluded at 9 p.m.

Local media representatives from the News-Press, Naples Daily News, Estero Spotlight, Estero Magazine, NBC-2, WINK-TV and Fox-4 News all were in attendance to cover the meeting.

Elected officials and dignitaries present or represented included some of the following:

  • Aides were present representing Congressman Curt Clawson, Senator Lizbeth Benaquisto and Representative Heather Fitzenhagen, as the Legislature was in session.
  • Lee County Board of County Commissioners: Brian Hamman, Larry Kiker and Cecil Pendergrass.
  • Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais, Lee County Clerk of Circuit Court Linda Doggett and Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott.
  • Lee Memorial Health System President Jim Nathan and System Director, Special Projects Suzanne Bradach.
  • State of Florida Department of Transportation, Southwest Area Office Director Carmen Monroy.
  • South Florida Water Management District Intergovernmental & Outreach Representative Phil Flood.
  • Former Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah.
  • Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson and Bonita Springs Council: Janet Martin, Steven Slachta, Peter Simmons, Mike Gibson, Bill Lonkart.
  • Bonita Springs City Manager Carl Schwing.
  • Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce President Christine Ross.
  • Estero Chamber of Commerce Chairman Gene Montenieri and President Jeff Maas.
  • Estero Community Planning Panel Chairman Emeritus Neal Noethlich, among others.
  • Estero Design Review Committee Chairman Bill Prysi, among others.
  • Estero Fire Commissioners Dick Schweers, Jack Lienesch and Bill Williams.
  • Estero Fire Rescue Chief Scott Vanderbrook and Assistant Fire Chief Mark Wahlig.
  • Estero Community Improvement Foundation Wayne Smith and Howard Cohen, among others.
  • Estero Historical Society Vice President Jean Pryal, among others.
  • Estero High School Assistant Principal Jennifer Seluk, along with a number of Estero High School student government students.

Marilyn Edwards

ECCL Communications Director