Friday, November 26, 2004

Debris Pickups Ending

LABELLE, FL. -- Friday, December 3, 2004, will be the last day for
Hurricane debris pickup in Hendry County. Hendry County storm related
debris pick up will end Friday, December 3rd. No debris will be picked up
after this date. It will be the responsibility of the property owner to
complete any debris removal after this date. For further information
contact the Emergency Management office at 863-612-4700 or 863-983-1594.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Moore Haven 1st Mayor Nominated For Hall of Fame

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush will announce by December 10, 2004
the 2004 inductees into the Florida


Women's Hall of Fame from the list of ten finalists selected by the


Florida Commission on the Status of Women. The Governor will select up


to three women for induction into the Hall of Fame, which recognizes


and honors women who, through their works and lives, have made


significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and for


all citizens of the state of Florida. The Commission has determined


that the following nominees exemplify the great diversity of women's


contributions to Florida life.


One local nominee is Marian Horwitz of Moore Haven who was elected mayor in
1917, in an era


when women were prohibited from the right vote or hold office. The


progressive town of Moore Haven specifically extended election


privileges to women in their charter, leading the way to Marian's


nomination. After becoming its first mayor, she worked tirelessly


through the state's Chamber of Commerce to obtain better roads and more


direct water routs for the developing city. The efficiency with which


she conducted herself led to national recognition by the Literary


Digest, which honored her as the Duchess of Moore Haven.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Okeechobee Scenic Trail Opens

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Outdoor enthusiasts today have 62 more miles of natural
Florida to explore around the liquid heart of Florida. Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Colleen M. Castille joined federal,
state and local officials to cut the ribbon on more than 60 paved miles
along the 110-mile Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.



"This unique trail increases access to the great outdoors and one of Florida
's treasured liquid gems," said DEP Secretary Colleen M. Castille. "While
traversing picturesque landscapes, the trail takes bikers, hikers and
horseback riders through rural Florida, bringing economic benefits to the
surrounding communities along the trail."



The 110-mile Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail circles the second largest
freshwater lake in the contiguous United States. The trail is located atop
the Herbert Hoover Dike, which surrounds the lake providing flood protection
and scenic lakeside views.



The new paved trail runs 26 miles between the Port Mayaca and Okeetantee
Park at the Kissimmee River, and another 36 miles from Alvin Ward Park to
City Park in Pahokee. Signs along the trail direct outdoor enthusiasts to
environmentally and culturally significant points of interest.





Under construction since 2002, the $13 million trail takes users through
communities at the heart of Florida's agriculture industry including
Clewiston and Belle Glade. The hiking, biking and equine trail affords
opportunities for viewing wildlife such as herons, egrets and a variety of
wintering waterfowl. The area surrounding the lake also has a rich history
of inhabitants dating back to the Creek and Seminole Indians in the 18th and
19th centuries.



The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail is a partnership between DEP, the Florida
Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Trails
Association and local partners. In 1993, portions of the trail were
designated as part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, one of only eight
national scenic trails in the U.S.




More than four thousand miles of trails cross Florida's diverse landscape
through rural and urban areas. Over the last five years, the State added
nearly 450 miles of trails to its system of greenways and trails. Each year,
the state invests $4.5 million through Florida Forever to purchase land for
future trail areas and build and maintain Florida's greenways and trails.




The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail is a partnership between DEP, the Florida
Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Trails
Association and local partners. In 1993, portions of the trail were
designated as part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, one of only eight
national scenic trails in the U.S.




More than four thousand miles of trails cross Florida's diverse landscape
through rural and urban areas. Over the last five years, the State added
nearly 450 miles of trails to its system of greenways and trails. Each year,
the state invests $4.5 million through Florida Forever to purchase land for
future trail areas and build and maintain Florida's greenways and trails.



The 110-mile Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail circles the second largest
freshwater lake in the contiguous United States. The trail is located atop
the Herbert Hoover Dike, which surrounds the lake providing flood protection
and scenic lakeside views.



The new paved trail runs 26 miles between the Port Mayaca and Okeetantee
Park at the Kissimmee River, and another 36 miles from Alvin Ward Park to
City Park in Pahokee. Signs along the trail direct outdoor enthusiasts to
environmentally and culturally significant points of interest.



Under construction since 2002, the $13 million trail takes users through
communities at the heart of Florida's agriculture industry including
Clewiston and Belle Glade. The hiking, biking and equine trail affords
opportunities for viewing wildlife such as herons, egrets and a variety of
wintering waterfowl. The area surrounding the lake also has a rich history
of inhabitants dating back to the Creek and Seminole Indians in the 18th and
19th centuries.




The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail is a partnership between DEP, the Florida
Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Trails
Association and local partners. In 1993, portions of the trail were
designated as part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, one of only eight
national scenic trails in the U.S.



More than four thousand miles of trails cross Florida's diverse landscape
through rural and urban areas. Over the last five years, the State added
nearly 450 miles of trails to its system of greenways and trails. Each year,
the state invests $4.5 million through Florida Forever to purchase land for
future trail areas and build and maintain Florida's greenways and trails.


Sunday, November 21, 2004


Glades County, Fl. -- Over Fisheating Creek. A canoist's paradise. Custom Photography by: Don Browne

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Holiday Food Safety Tips

LABELLE, FL -- With Thanksgiving just days away, Florida Agriculture
Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today reminded state residents to follow a
few food safety tips to avoid turning a holiday celebration into a case of
food-borne illness.


"Everybody enjoys holiday meals, and with a little care, nothing will mar
the pleasure of the celebration," Bronson said. "But food safety measures
are particularly important, especially with the variety of foods being
served and the number of helpers in the kitchen."


An estimated 76 million people contract food-borne illness in the United
States each year, and about 5,000 such cases are fatal. Young children,
pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are
the most vulnerable for contracting such illness.


Before you cook, make sure to:


-- Clean and sanitize cooking equipment.


-- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before beginning to
prepare the food.


-- Keep raw foods away from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination, and
make sure that raw meat juices never come in contact with salads and
vegetables.


-- Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, or if time is short, it can be
defrosted under cold running water in a matter of hours. But never defrost
the bird at room temperature as bacteria can rapidly grow on raw meat at
room temperature.


State and federal food safety officials stress that the turkey should be
cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, and a food
thermometer should be used to verify the temperature. While many people
cook stuffing inside the bird, officials suggest that it be cooked in a
separate pan because there is no guarantee that the stuffing will reach 165
degrees at the same time as the turkey.


Leftovers should be refrigerated promptly and should sit out no more than
two hours after coming out of the oven.


In The Service

Army National Guard Pvt. Pedro Ramirez has graduated from basic combat
training at Fort Knox, Ky.
During the nine-week training, the trainee received instruction in
drill and ceremony, weapons, rifle marksmanship and bayonet training,
chemical warfare, field training and tactical exercises, armed and unarmed
combat, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid,
and Army history, traditions, and core values.
Ramirez is the son of Maria and Pedro M. Ramirez of Avalon Ave.,
Labelle, Fla.
He is a 2004 graduate of Labelle High School.


Immokakee Fire Ants Attacked

IMMOKALEE -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today
announced that a biological control program to control imported fire ants
is being initiated in Immokalee and Sarasota.


"Imported fire ants can deliver painful bites, and we're pleased to be part
of the team that is addressing their growing population in Florida,"
Bronson said. "The insect that is being reared in our Biological Control
Rearing Facilities is a small fly that packs a powerful punch to these
ants."


The program currently under way in Immokalee is a cooperative effort. It
is being administered by Professor Phil Stansly of the University of
Florida's Southwest Florida Research and Education Center. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture funds the Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services' Division of Plant Industry in Gainesville to produce and
distribute the flies. The Division of Plant Industry's Bureau of Methods
Development and Biological Control serves a valuable function in applying
biocontrol technology by working out mass-rearing and release techniques.
The division has environmental specialists stationed throughout the state
to monitor the effectiveness of biocontrol programs.


Phorid fly releases began in north central Florida in 1997. By fall 2002,
the phorid fly population had expanded coast to coast in northern Florida
and southern Georgia. While it is likely that the population of imported
fire ants has decreased in these areas, it will take three to four more
years to accurately measure the impact. As flies become available through
the rearing process, Bronson said he hopes to continue the release program
throughout Florida, including another release tentatively scheduled for
later this month in Sarasota.


The program, based on research by Sanford Porter, an entomologist with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, introduces South American phorid flies, a
natural enemy of the imported fire ant, to the United States. The flies
inject their eggs into the fire ants. When an egg hatches, the maggot finds
its way into the ant's head, where it grows for two to three weeks before
secreting a chemical which causes the ant's head to fall
off. The maggot eats everything in the head capsule, then uses it as a
pupae case. The phorid flies eventually emerge from the decapitated ant
heads to seek out their host species, the imported fire ant. The phorid
fly presents no threat to people, animals or plants.


The Immokalee program will last for approximately 10 days with the flies
being released daily over excavated ant mounds. In that time, a sufficient
number of ants should be parasitized (meaning the flies' eggs have been
deposited in the ants), so that establishment of the fly population is more
likely.


Imported fire ants, which differ from a less common native species of fire
ant, were accidentally introduced into the United States from South America
70 years ago and have had a major impact. The ants are capable of multiple
stings which inject venom that raise white pustules on skin. The ants also
cause crop and equipment damage, livestock losses and soil erosion
problems, and are particularly dangerous on playgrounds, lawns, golf
courses and pastures.


Efforts to eradicate these ants have been ongoing for more than 50 years.
However, their range continues to expand and they have spread to most
southern states. There are poisons available that kill them on contact or
by ingestion, but these poisons also kill many non-target ants and other
beneficial insects. Unlike poison, using the phorid fly is safe for
people, animals and crops.


Sunday, November 14, 2004


Aerial Photo - The Laurel Oaks community in Port LaBelle, Fl. Custom photography available from Don Browne

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Rural Counties Get Grants

LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush today awarded Florida's Heartland
Rural Economic Development Initiative, Inc. (FHREDI) a $100,000 Regional
Rural Development Grant to promote economic improvement initiatives.
Governor Bush designated this rural south central region of Florida as one
of three "Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern" in 2001.


"Through their strategic focus and hard work, FHREDI has proven to
be an outstanding partner with the state, helping to promote and increase
viable economic programs and initiatives in Florida's heartland region,"
said Governor Bush. "I am pleased to provide this rural development grant
to the organization to further their efforts to enhance that base."


FHREDI is a regional economic development organization serving
several rural communities in south central Florida to include DeSoto,
Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee counties, as well as the
Glades Communities of Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay and Immokalee. The
organization works within the region to promote job creation, business
retention, relocation, expansion and overall economic initiatives. In the
aftermath of the recent hurricanes, FHREDI partnered with the Governor's
Office and Enterprise Florida, Inc., to administer the small business
emergency "Bridge Loan" program, facilitating $1,750,000 in short term loans
(up to $25,000 each) to small business owners in the region that incurred
physical damage as a result of the storms.


"FHREDI is making real progress for our region and this grant will
help us raise it to the next level," said K.S. (Butch) Jones, Glades City
Commissioner and Chairman of FHREDI. "I send my heartfelt appreciation to
Governor Bush and his staff for seeing our potential and partnering with us
to realize it, in part through providing this grant today."


The Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development oversees
the state's rural economic development initiatives. Since taking office in
1999, Governor Bush has worked diligently to put rural Florida on a more
competitive footing with the rest of the state. Among the many rural-based
initiatives, Governor Bush created the "Rural Areas of Critical Economic
Concern" which provides rural areas with greater access to the state's
economic and tourism development incentive programs.


Sebring Motel Charged

SEBRING, FL - Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner
Charles H. Bronson today took legal action against a Highlands County motel
owner for engaging in price gouging by charging at least three Florida
residents who sought shelter as Hurricane Charley blew ashore August 13
more than double the price he was charging just days earlier.


A lawsuit filed in Highlands County Circuit Court charges Marvin Patel and
Vibhuti Patel, the owners of a Budget Inn Motel in Sebring, with price
gouging and employing unfair and deceptive trade practices in the operation
of their motel.


Authorities claim that the Patels charged numerous Florida residents
between $85 and $95 a night for a room in their facility as evacuees
scrambled to find shelter - up from $35 to $45 a night they were charging
before an emergency was declared by Gov. Jeb Bush on August 10.


"We find this kind of activity unconscionable, preying on our citizens in a
time of need," Bronson said. "Price gouging is not only reprehensible, it's
illegal."

The case was triggered by three consumer complaints to Bronson's office's
toll free hotline - 1 800 HELP FLA (435-7352) - and each of the three
victims is cited in the lawsuit. But when investigators began working the
case, they found that many other Floridians were also charged the inflated
price, Bronson said.


The lawsuit seeks an injunction prohibiting the defendants from inflating
their normal prices during a state of emergency, restitution to all
evacuees who were overcharged during their stay at the motel, fines of up
to $10,000 for each violation of the unfair and deceptive trade practices
statute and civil penalties of $1,000 each for every instance in which
price gouging occurred.


Today's action comes on the heels of two arrests made recently by Bronson's
Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement in connection with price gouging
investigations. In two separate incidents, defendants were charged with
organized scheme to defraud for charging homeowners who were impacted by
the storm exorbitant prices to repair or clean up storm-damaged houses.


Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bryanat Sugar Plant Closes

CLEWISTON, FL -- U.S. Sugar Corporation today
announced plans to modernize and automate its sugar processing facilities in
Clewiston and close its Bryant Mill. With state-of-the-art and highly
automated equipment, the resulting 38,000 tons-per day facility scheduled to
come on line in phases over the next three years will be among the largest
in the world.


"Unfortunately, one of the consequences of increased trade, automation and
new technology will be the loss of 300-350 jobs in our sugar processing
operations," Bob Buker, Executive V.P. said.


Scheduled to be in full operation in October, 2007, U.S. Sugar's modernized
sugar processing facility will be completely integrated with its refining
operations at the Clewiston site. The Bryant Mill facility, built in 1962,
is scheduled to close in early 2007. Severance packages for all those whose
jobs are eliminated with this consolidation will be a subject of discussion
in the upcoming union negotiations.


Clewiston Student In Law Competition

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Clewiston native Julia Metts led a team of Stetson
University College of Law students who went undefeated and won the 2004
Tournament of Champions in Los Angeles. The competition, sponsored by the
National Institute for Trial Advocacy, invites 16 teams from the nation's
elite trial advocacy programs to compete against each other. Since the
competition's creation in 1989, Stetson has won five titles, more than any
other school. "It's incredible for the school," Metts said. "Wins like
this let people know why we are ranked among the best in the country."


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hendry Votes Bush And Other GOP

LABELLE, FL. -- Despite registered Democratic Party voters outnumbering Republicans by almost two to one, Hendry county voters almost overwhelmingly voted in a Republican slate Tuesday. With the vote not yet compiled in full on the Supervisor of Election website, all Republican candidates were shown to be voted in except for two County Commissioner seats that will still be held by Democratic incumbents, Bo Pelham and Bill Maddox, Jr.

The Hendry Sheriff race was won by former Sheriff Ronnie Lee taking back his position from incumbent Steve Worley. Two sisters, Pauline New Born (D) and Suzanne Harper (R) both lost their bids respectively for State Legislature and County Commission.

Night Hunters Cited

LABELLE, FL. -- On Monday, October 25, Investigator Larry Ayers and Officer
Jesse Lee from the Florida Wildlife Commission worked a night hunting
detail on County Road 832 and County Road 833. The two officers observed a
vehicle operating without lights on CR 832 while utilizing a spot light.
The suspicious vehicle turned around several times. When the vehicle
started south on CR 833, Officer Lee performed a vehicle stop and checked
five subjects from Miami dressed in camouflage. The subjects were in
possession of a .22-caliber rifle and a small pistol. Officer Lee cited
all five subjects for possession of a gun while shining a light at night
and the driver was also cited for driving without the use of headlights.


Hendry Voters March To Precincts

LABELLE, FL. -- Voters are streaming into polling precincts today in
probably what will turn out to be an historic presidential election. In
Hendry county, probably the most watched and commented on race is between
former Sheriff Ronnie Lee (R) and incumbent Steve Worley (D). Observers says
Worley has the advantage being the incumbent and being Democrat. However,
Worley may have to overcome news of recent suspensions of a significant
portion of his deputies over a shooting incident.


The supervisor of elections office in Hendry shows 17,144 registered voters
in what is a mostly rural county. Democrats outnumber Repulicans almost two
to one. Registered to vote are 9,688 Democrats to 5,279 Republicans. 1,700
have registered with no political affiliation and 477 with "other." All 23
precincts save one in Hendry have a majority of Democratic Party voters.

Electoral College Has Last Say

The procedure for electing a president is spelled out in Article II of the
U.S. Constitution. Each state is entitled to a number of electors equal to
that state's representation in Congress (Senate plus House members). Since
each state has two senators and at least one Representative, every state has
at least three electors. Currently California has the largest number of
electors: 55. The electors meet in their respective state capitals in
December of each election year to cast their votes for president and vice
president. These electors, who together form the electoral college, are the
ones who actually elect the president. If no candidate gets a majority of
the electoral vote, the House of Representatives elects the president, with
each state having one vote. This happened in 1800 and again in 1824.
At least one commentator predicts the presidential election will be handily
won by Kerry-Edwards gaining about 294 of the needed 271 electoral votes
needed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

17 Arrests In Clewiston

A joint effort between the Hendry County Sheriffs Office and Clewiston
Police Department, in an effort to curve the drug related activities in
eastern Hendry County and within the city limits of Clewiston, netted
seventeen arrests on drug related charges.


Narcotics Investigators and officers with the Clewiston Police Department,
coordinated a motel "buy-bust" operation by using an informant that
organized drug buys at a local motel, in which drug dealers would respond
to a designated room to sell a predetermined amount of drugs to the
Sheriffs Office informant. Once identification of the seller was made, an
arrest warrant was requested.


On October 28, 2004, representatives from both Hendry County Sheriffs
Office and Clewiston Police Department came together, and as each
individual was contacted and returned to the same location, law enforcement
authorities placed them under arrest charging them on drug related crimes.
As a result additional unrelated arrests were made for Prostitution and
drug user sales that were made by undercover officers.


Sheriff Worley stated, "The success of this operation is just one example
of the inter-agency working relationship and support, that continue to make
efforts such as this successful. We are making every effort to curve the
drug problems in Hendry County".


Those arrested in the motel "buy-bust" are:


Lewis L. Dozier, 29 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count Sale of Crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church, one count
Possession of Cocaine within 1000 feet of a church, one count Possession of
Marijuana u/21 grams


Omer Jermaiah Rotelli, 20 years of age, Wellington, Florida, charged with
one count Possession of Cocaine within 1000 feet for a church, one count
dealing in stolen property.


Karen Pinter, 49 years of age, Lake Worth, Florida, charged with one count
Possession of Crack Cocaine.


Erica L. Hallback, 31 years of age, Moore Haven, Florida, charged with one
count possession of marijuana under 20 grams within 1000 feet of a church


Dennis Lucien Mayer, Jr., 33 years of age, Sanford, Florida, charged with
one count possession of marijuana under 20 grams.


Michael Alexander, 47 years of age, Lake Worth, Florida, charged with one
count Possession of Crack Cocaine.


Tafarya Williams, 20 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count of Possession of marijuana under 20 grams.


Theophilus Brooks, 22 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count of Possession of Marijuana under 20 grams.


Charles S. Stewart, 45 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count Sale of cocaine within 1000 feet of church, one count possession of
cocaine, one count possession of schedule 2 narcotic (Endocet).


Becky Renee Treece, 27 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count Possession of paraphernalia.


Sedric S. Lawson, 20 year of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count Conspiracy to sell cocaine within 1000 feet of church, Possession of
handcuff key, and driving while license suspended.


Allen Leo Akers, 37 years of age, Glen Daniel, West Virginia, charged with
one count of Possession of Marijuana under 20 grams, one count of
Possession pf Drug Paraphernalia.


Odexter Freeman, Jr., 25 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged within,
one count Possession of Marijuana under 20 grams, Warrant for sale of
cocaine within 1000 feet of a church.


Manuel Mejia, 21 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one count
sale of cocaine within 1000 feet of church, 2 counts Hendry County Warrant
sale of Cocaine.


Charles Allen Cobb, Jr., 24 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with
one count Sale of Cocaine within 1000 feet of a Church, one count
Possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and four outstanding
Hendry County Warrants.


Jesus Vega-Guerrero, 31 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count solicitation of prostitution.


Alberto E. Collins, 22 years of age, Clewiston, Florida, charged with one
count Burglary, one count Felony Criminal Mischief, two counts Battery, one
count Possession of Marijuana under 20 grams.