Published: Jun 17, 2010 6:41 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 17, 2010 3:49 PM EDT

The U.S. Coast Guard sent officers to Southwest Florida on Thursday.  They briefed local officials on the oil leak in the gulf, and possible threat to west coast beaches.
At the same time, Lee County announced plans to ask the state for up to 5 million dollars, to advertise that our beaches are clear of oil.

"I believe the likelihood of tar balls on southwest beaches is low for this summer," said Capt. Tim Close, who is stationed in St. Petersburg.   He addressed members of the SW Florida Regional Planning Council, meeting in  Ft. Myers.

"I think if we see any tar at all, it won't be much, and we are ready to respond  to any threat," said Capt. Close.    He added out information about volunteering to watch for oil on beaches, and how to become a qualified responder to handle oil.   "I think we are prepared, and we are watching very closely, and I think we may not get any of the tar balls," he said.

Also Thursday, Lee County announced plans to seek 1 to 5 million dollars, for advertising.   Commission Chairwoman Tammy Hall said she and others are going to travel to Tallahassee, probably early next week.   They will ask the state to give Lee the money, that came from British Petroleum.   Lee would use the money to saturate key northeast and midwest cities with messages, that our beaches are clean.  

"Perception becomes reality, and we have to get the word to people that we are fine.  Our tourism industry needs this kind of help and reassurance to potential visitors.  I will ask the state to give money to any county that has a viable Visitors and Convention Bureau, as Lee does," said Hall.

Previously, Lee had asked for 750-thousand dollars, but has not gotten an answer from the state.