Englewood Edge Editor Mark Chapman’s musings.
ENGLEWOOD — OK, so why is it so darned important to do a lead story on the transition of public information officers at the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office?
Well, I guess maybe because Bob “Carp” Carpenter has been a gift to Englewood and, especially, Englewood Edge and its readers.
Carp is among the best I’ve found at his gig, and that covers many stops on the East Coast. In fact, he and Wendy Rose, his counterpart in Sarasota, helped this website grow starting in 2009 when there were not a whole lot of hyperlocal news sites around. While it would have been easy to ignore the struggling little new kid on the block, both went out of their way to help the folks who were smack in between the two distant headquarters.
The big difference is this: While the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office sends out few press releases that involve Englewood crime, Charlotte is quite liberal with its dispatches. A good part of this was to do with the difference in criminal activity between the counties. It also underscores, likely to the consternation of the Chamber of Commerce, the CCSO’s desire to let everyone know it is cracking down on drugs.
I can count on Carp for multiple press releases in my inbox each day, mostly detailing the latest drug bust. The majority, to be sure, as in other parts of the county, but the Englewood area surfaces frequently. I can also count on photos from accident sites on occasion, and announcements of traffic disruptions caused by wrecks.
Carp has his soft side, too, and lets us know about the good stuff happening in the department, things like Shop with a Cop, a hugely popular program about which the CCSO is particularly proud.
In the past year, Nancy and I have dealt with four other police departments on a regular basis, all in Fairfield County, Conn., and Westchester County, N.Y., both in the northern suburbs of New York City. None can hold a candle to Carp when it comes to dealing with the media. It’s not even close. Carp and Rose could both teach the Northeasterners a lot when it comes to keeping the public informed about what their tax money is paying for.
And that is why I felt it appropriate to feature Carp’s coming departure even though he does not live or work in Englewood. His presence is felt here daily
I am sure Debbie Bowe, who has filled in admirably on many occasions, will continue to do the great work Carp as made a CCSO trademark. So we say farewell to Carp on March 31, and a big welcome to Debbie Bowe.
Mother Nature does seem to crank it up in August for this area. From August through October, Englewood resident will join the rest of Florida in the annual storm watch ritual.
Tropical Storm Isaac will have an impact here. The question is how much of an impact. Localized flooding, power outages, tree limbs down — it’s all probable.
Between 12:01 a.m. Friday, March 2, and noon Sunday, March 4, there were 18 burglaries reported in the Charlotte County portion of the greater Englewood area, encompassing Englewood, Rotonda, Grove City, Placida and the Gulf Cove area. Five of those were in the 6900 block of Mamouth Street and three were a block away on Bargello street between the 6900 and 7200 blocks. A block west of Mamouth, two homes were burglarized o Spinnaker Boulevard and two more another block over on Beardsley Street. Homes on New Martinsville Avenue and Adderly Road, both off Bargello, were also hit.
Did anyone see or hear anything out of the ordinary while 15 homes in the same neighborhood were being ripped off? Does anybody care?
Remember the Englewood Herald-Tribune? That local edition of the New York Times-owned Sarasota Herald-Tribune and shut down its bureau here in the mid 2000s, when shuttered the Port Charlotte a few years later?
Well, the Times has decided to divorce itself from the H-T and its other NYT Regional Media Group holdings altogether, with a sale to Halifax Media Holdings nearing completion.
Some months after Dec. 7, 1941, a 26-year-old married carpenter, a father of three small children, went to work with two other men of a similar age. They were sent to a woman’s house to do some remodeling work. When they arrived, the woman got angry.
“Why aren’t you men fighting for your country?” she demanded. The 26-year-old father of three explained he had young children at home, was their sole support. He was older than the men the government was signing up to go off to war at that time.
She would have none of it. The woman, incensed that these able-bodied men were not serving their country, called the contractor and told him to get these men out of her house and send someone else.
That day, the 26-year-old married father of three small children drove to the Navy recruiter and signed up to fight in World War II.
Then he went home to tell his wife, who was not happy.
He explained to her — and, decades later, to the son that was not yet born when he enlisted — that he was so mortified that he couldn’t face anyone else. Not even himself. He was older. He had children. He was colorblind, something that nearly disqualified him. But he begged, he pleaded, he lied. And he wound upon a troop ship headed for a string of islands in the South Pacific, islands with names like Tinian, Saipan, Guam and Iwo Jima.
Over the course of the next three years, Carl Chapman was a Seabee attached to a Marine unit. They landed with the Marines, fought their way ashore and then built air strips and base camps while the Marines pushed inland.
There were injuries, too: a creased foot from a bullet, a machete slash across the arm that might have been deadly had the enemy soldier not been shot as he delivered the blow. And there was the shrapnel in the head that got him sent back stateside to recuperate. He was training others for combat in Rhode Island and awaiting orders to head back to the war when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
It was eight more years before I was born. It took decades before my father was able to tell me the details of his service, and he left a lot out. I heard from my mother about the nightmares, the struggle to return to some semblance of normalcy after returning home.
I was always proud of my father’s service. He was, to me, a hero, even though he never told any stories of heroics. He didn’t have to.
My father died April 12, 1995. His ashes lie in the National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass. I think of him every day, but especially each year on Dec. 7, the day that will live in infamy, the day that changed my father’s life, and the lives of so many others, forever.
The Case of the Purr-loined Pussycats has been resolved.
Nearly eight months after 46 cats and assorted cages, equipment and records disappeared from a warehouse at 5475 Williamsburg Drive, Punta Gorda, Charlotte County investigators have resolved the whodunnit, spurred on by the previous administration of EARS — Englewood Animal Rescue Shelter — the group responsible for, it appears, both the ownership and housing of the cats and their disappearance.
There is a wonderful line in the classic Broadway hit, “Guys & Dolls.” It is spoken by a gambler — by inference, a mobbed-up gangster — in the Save-a-Soul Mission where he is testifying to pay off a bet with Sky Masterson.
“I used to be bad when I was a kid. But ever since then I’ve gone straight, as I can prove by my record — 33 arrests and no convictions.”
Summer is coming.
In Englewood, it has felt like summer for some time now, of course. Only way you can tell spring from summer is the alligators stop showing up on your doorstep in search of a girlfriend. And the love bugs go away.
But your intrepid Edge crew is in Norwalk, Conn., and has been since September (except for Eric, who joined us in March). Here, summer is coming, but it is, indeed, spring(except for the Englewood-like heat the past few days). No alligator mating, no love bugs. Just lots of forsythia (come and gone), lilacs and lots of other flowering things. Trees are sprouting their leaves, and we have finally felt it safe to put away the winter clothing. And what a winter it was.