NAPLES — The next episode in the long-running drama “The Fate of the Smallwood Store and Museum” will take place at 2 p.m. on Dec. 29 at the Collier County Courthouse when Judge Lauren L. Brodie considers contempt charges against Florida Georgia Grove (FGG).
FGG, a bold squad of out-of-town developers from Highlands County, sought to solve a property dispute by tearing out historic Mamie Street in an early morning April 14 raid in Chokoloskee. The incident blocked the only access to the Museum, causing it to shut down and provoking a lawsuit from both the county and the Smallwood Trust; then, defying a direct court order, FGG only partially restored the road, still blocking access for most vehicles to the 105-year-old national historic landmark.
Not long after handing down his order to replace the road, the original jurist, Judge Hugh Hayes, recused himself from the case when FGG complained he was not impartial because the next door Collier County Courthouse Annex was dedicated in his name. His replacement, Collier County native Judge Cynthia Pivacek, also stepped down, without giving a reason. Next came Judge Brodie, who is more familiar with juvenile justice cases.
“Thousands of people have come to town, then turned around and left when they saw the road,” said Lynn Smallwood-McMillin, who is planning a 2012 kayak race and treasure hunt to raise funds for the Smallwood Store.
Marco Island musician JRobert and Miami folk songstress Valerie C. Wisecracker are mustering signs, songs and supporters for another public “Save the Smallwood Store” rally on the Collier Court House steps before the Dec. 29 hearing. “We want the judge to know that people care about the Smallwood Store. It’s an important part of the history of the Seminole Indians, Collier County and the State of Florida,” Robert said. “No one should be allowed to ruin the people’s pride.”
Anyone interested in participating in the rally should contact JRobert at firstname.lastname@example.org or Wisecracker at email@example.com.