It was a pleasant day in the desert near El Centro, California, when Curtis Watson first met Tom Cruise.
Days earlier, in February of 1985, Watson, then a pilot with the Navy's Blue Angels, had received a phone call from the Navy's Fighter Weapons School, better known as Topgun. The instructor had asked Watson if they could take Cruise for a ride to show the young actor what being in a tactical jet was like. The flight would help Cruise with his character development for an upcoming role he was considering, the instructor had said.
Watson knew Cruise from one of his earlier films "Risky Business" ("I thought it was funny as hell") and was immediately sold.
She was right on schedule, riding her teal-colored bicycle down Third Avenue North in Naples at 6:40 a.m. Wednesday.
The long bleach-blonde-haired woman — who only identified herself as "Sue" — propped her bike against a wall near Bill's Cafe.
"Good morning, Bill," she told restaurant owner Bill Salley.
"Good morning, Sue," he replied.
Collier County Sheriff's deputy Raul "Rudy" Dimas Sr. was somehow always the first on scene.
He always knew how and where to find the bad guys. His gut never lied.
"He knew law enforcement like the back of his hand, and he was fearless," said Cpl. Efrain Hernandez, who worked with Dimas on patrol in Immokalee from 1989 to 1993. "We sometimes walked into some dangerous situations, but he knew what he was doing and could handle anything."
Like many areas of Collier County, residential development is slowly picking up in Immokalee, where developers are building new homes for low-income renters and for buyers willing to pay $179,900 or more.
Nonprofit Rural Neighborhoods expects to finish construction of 18 single-family homes next month that will be rented to low-income residents in Hatcher's Preserve, north of Westclox Street and west of Carson Road. The homes, targeting lower-wage workers like service or retail employees, will be rented for between $650 and $725 a month to families who meet income requirements. A family of four, for example, must earn $52,500 a year or less to qualify.
Two golfers bludgeoned a baby raccoon seven years ago on a North Carolina golf course.
The pair road off in a golf cart, laughing, before the animal was taken in and given to a wildlife rehabilitator.
Dorothy Lee would spend the next few weeks nursing the animal back to life, nearly euthanising him on several occasions when she thought all was lost, before deciding that the raccoon, whom she dubbed Trouper, was meant for a greater calling: Educating the public about how to respect wildlife.
"We took a tragedy and turned it into something positive," Lee said from her Fort Myers home this week. "It's not a tragedy anymore, look at him."
For all the blessings and success he has experienced, Patrick O'Connor has made it one of his life missions to pay it forward.
The 59-year-old real estate broker is a member of the Community Emergency Response Team and a volunteer first responder. He is a Collier County Honor Flight guardian and president of the Collier County 100 Club, an organization that provides financial aid to the families of fallen police and emergency responders.