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Celebrating 10 years

By Bob Stein

This October Island Visitor Publishing celebrates 10 years in business. As Siesta Key residents, my wife Emy and I currently publish four monthly papers – Siesta Sand, The Landings Eagle, Del Tura Tower and Tara Woods Columns.  We also update the six metal map boxes located in the Village. The Landings Eagle is a community specific newspaper dedicated to covering the news and events of The Landings while the Del Tura and Tara Woods’ papers are community newspapers located in Fort Myers.

Ten years ago, when we purchased the Island Visitor map paper from Jim Russell, who purchased it from the original founder, Howard Partain, the Island Visitor paper was a rack publication published four times a year and consisted of all the maps and business listings of the island.

Our intent, when acquiring the Island Visitor, was to convert the publication to a monthly newspaper dedicated to the news and events of Siesta Key, delivering it via postal mailing, and distributing it to the condos and businesses on and around the island.  We wanted to make sure it conveyed that small-town feel, but with a beach flair. 

The transformation took place in steps. When we were ready to roll out the next design change, we pondered a new name for the paper; something that would make it clear, at a glance, what the newspaper would cover. 

As it so happened, we attended a meeting hosted by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce that same year, and Master Sand Sculptor Brian Wigelsworth gave a compelling pitch to bring a sand sculpting event to Siesta Key, The Crystal Classic.  When he mentioned how great it would be to create sand sculptures using the crystal white sand of Siesta Key, it gave us the idea for our paper’s new name; Siesta Sand; “Why the world comes to Sarasota”.

Recognizing Siesta Key’s status as a tourist destination with both transient and permanent residents, our challenge was to create something that appealed to both residents and visitors. Each consecutive design change brought our Siesta Sand paper closer to what we envisioned.

My wife and I would like to thank the many loyal, local businesses that have believed in us over the years and all our readers that have encouraged us along the way.

Siesta Sand wouldn’t be the success it is without our many contributors, past and present. All are instrumental in helping make our publication Siesta Key’s newspaper. The current list below have been with the paper for years.

Rachel Brown Hackney, news reporter. Hackney is the editor and publisher of the online Sarasota News Leader. With 40 years of experience in journalism, Rachel Brown Hackney served as executive editor of the award-winning Washington Daily News in Washington, N.C., and as editor of the Pelican Press before she and her husband launched The Sarasota News Leader in 2012.

Roger Drouin, news reporter and writes the real estate column “Sand Castles.” Drouin is an author, journalist, and father of two young children.

Robert Frederickson, news reporter and writes the satirical column “Off Key”.  Frederickson is a native of New York; Syracuse University graduate, Journalism major; Sarasota resident since 1984; Co-founder, The Sarasota Times, 1984; Former editor, The Sarasota Weekly; Production Manager, Toronto Sun Publications’ Florida properties; Project Manager Independent Publications, Inc., Bryn Mawr, PA, Florida division;

Debbie Flessner, freelance reporter, writes business profiles. Flessner is a freelance reporter for numerous dailies and weeklies in the immediate area.

Diana Colson, writes personal profiles. Colson wears many hats: writer, filmmaker, composer and lyricist. A Sarasota resident since the late 60’s, she taught music at Southside and Ashton, and was even named “Teacher of the Year” for Sarasota County.

Trebor Britt, news reporter and photographer.

Charmaine Engelsman-Robins, writes the music column “Siesta Sounds”. Charmaine is a freelance reporter including a 10-year stint writing for the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Rodger Skidmore, writes the “Arts on the Horizon.” Skidmore hails from New York and last year he was picked by the Society of Professional Journalists as the second-best Arts Beat Reporter in the state of Florida.

Jaye Clements of Sarasota Photography, “Island Visitor” photos. Clements owns Sarasota Photography.

Suzanne Gerber, writes “Your Monthly Horoscope” column. Gerber is a locally based intuitive astrologer and spiritual life coach.

Captain Jim Klopfer of Adventure Charters, writes the “Fishing Report” column. Captain Klopfer has been a full-time guide in the Sarasota area since 1991. He fishes Sarasota Bay for its saltwater species, whilst also offering fishing trips on the Myakka, Manatee, and Braden rivers.

Trish Ivey of fresh. PR & Marketing, sales, production and marketing. Ivey owns fresh. PR & Marketing and was the former sales manager of the Pelican Press.

Irene Brooks, sales.

Mike Jones of the Florida Mariner Magazine, production/layout and design. Jones owns the Florida Mariner Magazine. A stat wide magazine that is published 26 times a year.