Saturday, December 31, 2005

Residents Complain About Electric Outages

Consumer Help With Abnormal FPL Electric Interruptions

LABELLE, FL. -- In an ongoing fight with Florida Power and Light, Hendry
county residents are still complaining about the abnormal amount of times
their electric goes out weekly. FPL tells residents who call about their
electric going out momentarily that everything from electric storms to
squirrels are causing the outages. In Hendry county residents can expect
that their electric will go out between eight and twenty times a month, with
possible damage to electronic equipment like DVRs and computer disk drives.
The latest pattern for the months of October, November and December found
the power going out mainly between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. In October power went
out 20 times, in November 8 times, while December's power outages numbered
12 times.

The only way to get FPL to remedy the problem of continual power outages is
to call 1-800-468-8243, making sure you talk to a live operator and tell
them about the "abnormal" amount of times your electric goes out. And have
your neighbors, who all will be having the same problem call FPL as well. Be
aware FPL has a long list of responses to your complaint including birds on
lines, squirrels in the equipment, lightning, and even blaming your own
electrical wiring in your house. If your neighbors register their
complaints with FPL as well, it will be hard for FPL to blame your house
wiring for the problems. They will sometimes send a FPL lineman to check
your meter box and search hard for the slightest reason to tell you it's
your wiring causing the problem, and instruct you to call an electrician.
That's why the entire neighborhood must call and complain to FPL so FPL will
not use this ruse.

Some homeowers have complained that air conditioning units and digital video
recorders (Tivo, etc.) have been damaged due to the number of times the
electric goes out, damaging a.c. compressers and making DVR disk drives
crash rendering them useless. While computer disk drives are also at risk
when the electric goes off and on, the drives must be in operation either
reading or writing data when the power goes out to cause damage. Because DVR
machines are always on, the disk drives are more at risk when the power goes
out suddenly. The main problems most residents are noticing is the flashing
microwave clock that indicates the electric went out, and having to reset
computers and clocks. Cordless phone users also lose connections when the
power goes out.

Also see Dealing with FPL for additional information
on how to get action from FPL and the Public Service Commission.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Clewiston Woman Dead In Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- A 54-year old Clewiston resident died in a crash at
Birchwood Parkway and Cowboy Way in LaBelle Wednesday morning according to
FHP Cpl. Edward Finneran. Deborah Haywood of 1055 Panama Avenue in Pioneer
Plantation died at the scene when she failed to stop at the intersection
during heavy fog while driving a 2005 Dodge Stratus. She struck a vehicle
driven by 32-year old Reina Castellon of 6719 Santa Fe, LaBelle who was
carrying 20-year old Teresa Lernus. They both suffered minor injuries after
their Toyota 4 Runner overturned. Both were treated at Leigh Regional

Manatee Park Opens For Season

ALVA, FL. -- The Lee county parks have officially opened the Manatee Park
located on SR80 25 miles west of LaBelle. Visitors are able to view
manatees daily in the FPL discharge canal. Please monitor gulf temperatures
as best viewing occurs when it dips below 68 degrees. Park Hours (thru
March): 8am to 5pm daily. Visitor Center/Gift Shop/Kayak Rentals: 9am to
4pm daily. FREE with paid parking of $1 per hour/$5 per day. Kayak rentals:
$10 per hour, $30 per day. The park is the Winter home for the Florida
Manatee. Year round home for Florida native plants & butterflies. Picnic
areas & shelters, fishing cove & pier on the Orange River, canoe/kayak
launch to the Orange River, program
amphitheater and playground.

There are several Free Programs Offered Thru March: "All About Manatees"
daily at 11am and 2pm. "Gardening for Butterflies/How Butterflies Grow"
every Thurs and Sat @12:15 pm. "Native Plant Habitat Walk" every Thurs and
Sat @ 9:30am and 1pm. Kayak Clinics: the 2nd Saturday of every month - for
reservations: www.leeparks

Indian Mound Park Nature Walk

ORTONA, FL. -- The Ortona Community Library will sponsor a Literary Nature
Walk at 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, January 7, 2006, at Larry Luckey's
Indian Mound Park. This is the first program of a project called
"Discovering Florida Through Literature," funded by a grant from the
Florida Humanities Council. The walk is free and open to the public.

On a walk through the park, Naturalist Richard Workman, Local Historian
Larry Luckey, and Archaeologist John Beriault will talk about the flora
and fauna as well as the pre-Columbian earthworks and other history at
the Park. Selections from Florida literature, related to those
features, will be read by Humanities Scholar Carol Mahler.

Richard Workman is author of the 1981 book "Growing Native: Native
plants for Landscape Use in Coastal Florida" as well as president of
and environmental consultant for Coastplan, Inc., a Fort Myers-based

John G. Beriault is the West Coast Project Representative for the
Archaeological and Historical Conservancy of Florida. The
Conservancy's current projects include the Okeechobee Battlefield and
the Ortona Canal, which is part of the mound complex in the Park.

The Park is named for Larry Luckey, who was instrumental in its
preservation and development. He is an expert on Glades County history
and also serves as property appraiser for the county.

A professional storyteller and published writer, Carol Mahler has
served as Humanities Scholar for many projects funded by the Florida
Humanities Council, including programs at the Glades County Public
Library and the Moorehaven Correctional Institution.

Mahler will also lead a reading/discussion program at the Ortona
Community Library at noon to 1:30 p.m. for four consecutive Wednesdays,
starting on January 11, as part of the grant project. Copies of the
book to be discussed, "The Florida Reader: Visions of Paradise from
1530 to the Present," published by Pineapple Press in 1991, are
available to those who participate in the program.

The Florida Humanities Council is an independent, non-profit
organization and is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for
the Humanities. Each year, FHC funds hundreds of public programs
throughout the state that explore Florida's history, folklore,
environment, literature, music, and art. The Ortona Community Library
was among numerous community organizations throughout the state to
receive a grants that fund humanities programs.

For more information about the Literary Nature Walk or to register for
the reading/discussion program, contact Fran Way at 675-7880 or For more information about FHC grants, contact Susan
Lockwood, Grants Director at (727) 553-3807 or email

Ortona Pancakes Coming!

Ortona, Fl. -- The Ortona Community Association will hold its first
pancake breakfast of the new year on Saturday, January 7 from 7:00 a.m.
until 9:00 a.m. at the Ortona Community Association, 3000 Ortona Road
(Highway 78A). The all-you-can-eat breakfast includes sausage, pancakes
juice and coffee for $3.50. For further information, contact: Fran Way,
OCA President, Tel: 863-675-7880

Free Area Nature Walks

The Lee County Recreation Department is offering nature walks at two nearby
parks. Third Saturday of every month from 9 am - 10 at the Caloosahatchee
Regional Park, 18500 North River Road, Alva. Begins at the large shelter,
free with paid parking. And the first Saturday of every month from 9 am -
10 at Hickey's Creek Mitigation Park, 17980 Palm Beach Blvd, Alva. Join
staff for a stroll through native habitat, free with paid parking.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Audubon Meeting Scheduled

LABELLE, FL. -- Sonny Mowbray will speak at the next Hendry-Glades Audubon
Society Meeting. The Hendry/Glades Audubon will meet Monday January 7th at
7 p. m. at the Cooperative Extension, Dallas Townsend Building at 1085
Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle. Sonny Mowbray will present a program on "Birds
of Panama." Guests and members are also invited to attend the meeting and
to participate in free birding tours to the STA5 south of Clewiston on
January 7 and 21. To carpool to STA5 from LaBelle Meet at the LaBelle
McDonald's at 7 a.m. on tour days.
For information contact: Margaret England 674-0695. Email: or Nikki Yeager 675-3394.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Home Sales Increase In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- Last week there were 15 homes sold in the LaBelle area for
an average price of $205,867. The highest priced was $660,000 on Fort
Denaud Rd, additionally a sale of $405,000 on S. Elm Street and one for
$308,000 on Riverbend Drive. The lowest priced home was on Edison Street
and went for $40,000.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Port LaBelle Hotel Sold For $4M

LABELLE, FL. -- Lafferty Development, LLC., a newly created company operated
by Michael John Lafferty of Naples took over the Port LaBelle Inn December 1
from Richard and Mary "Dottie" Siebel with reportedly new plans to expand
the 50-room operaton which now sits on 5.4 acres east of the city of
LaBelle. The purchase also included some acreage zoned agricultural/leisure
that was formerly part of the Port LaBelle golf course. Surrounding
property owners are attempting to rezone the former golf course to allow
high density development including condos and apartments.

Lafferty bought the property under various partnership arrangements
including Port LaBelle Resorts, LLC and MJL Main Properties, an Arizona
company. Lafferty also created Fl East 31, LLC, another limited liability
corporation the same day last month as Lafferty Development, and formed No
Paltalones W Division, LLC with Ft. Myers partner Samir Cabrera in October.

The $4 million hotel and land deal included a $3 million mortgage back to
the Siebert's partnership, J and D of LaBelle LPC along with a 34-page
security agreement covering all the collateral pledged including the hotel's
furnishings. Siebel also operates two recreational vehicle parks in LaBelle.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hendry High Unemployment Continues

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida labor statistics for Hendry county continue to
indicate unemployment rates at double the state average. Hendry county's
unemployment rate for November was 7.2% compared to a rate across the state
averaging 3.5%. The total civilian labor force in Hendry County for
November, 2005 was 17,850 of which 16,557 were employed and 1,293 were
unemployed. Average wages in Hendry again are lower than average statewide
as well. The average weekly wage for Hendry County in 2005 was $479. This
would be equivalent to $11.98 per hour or $24,908 per year, assuming a
40-hour week worked the year around. Florida's average weekly wage is $678.

Observers of the county's economic woes say most of the unemployed may be
mostly low skilled workers without low educational skills, and that if
qualified construction workers could be trained or lured to move to Hendry,
that might help change the area's status as one of the poorest areas in
Florida. Because of the summer storms there are hundreds on homes still
needing repair work while a mini-boom continues in the Port LaBelle area as
new homes are being built.

Alico Sells 280 Acre LaBelle Grove At Huge Price

LABELLE, FL. -- Land company, Alico, Inc. based in LaBelle, sold a 280 acre
citrus grove November 29 to Duke Grove LLC for a record LaBelle grove
purchase price of about $49,500 an acre. The land is on the southeast corner
of SR29 and Helms Road, also known as the Duke Grove. The total purchase
price of $13,882,800 was financed by Florida Community Bank with a mortgage
to them of $11,168,000 or about 80% of the purchase price. At that purchase
price, Duke Grove owners are undoubtedly counting on the acreage being
subdivided at some time in the near future. Under the deed agreement Alico
has reserved the right to the 2005 and 2006 orange crop and also undisclosed
future crops. Alico purchased the land for $2.1 million in December 1983.
The Hendry tax appraiser has valued the property at only $1.6 million and
taxes it at a much lower rate because of its agricultural use. Duke Grove
LLC is registered to Ft. Myers real estate broker Frank R. D'Allesandro and
Tom D'Allesandro.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

LaBelle Homes Sales Up

LABELLE, FL. -- In the first two weeks of December there were 15 homes sold
in the LaBelle area for an average price of $236,067. The top price went to
an estate home west of LaBelle on Fort Denaud Road for $675,000. Port
LaBelle homes sold for prices between $90,000 and $180,000. A Port LaBelle
vacant lot sold for $50,000.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Guv Bush Extends Property Tax Discounts

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Jeb Bush has signed House Bill 15 (B) into law to
allow counties that were declared a major disaster area in 2005 to extend
the discount period on early payment of taxes.

The bill authorizes counties declared a major disaster area to adopt
options for extending the time in which a property tax payment qualifies
for an early-payment discount. The extension does not apply to mortgages,
lien holders or vendees that make tax payments on behalf of the property
owner. Counties may adopt extensions in whole or in part by issuing an
emergency ordinance. The county tax collector is responsible for
implementing the discount period.

The bill extends the following early-payment of property taxes discount
the 4 percent discount period from November 30, 2006 to January 31, 2006;
the 3 percent discount period from December 31, 2005 to February 28, 2006;
and the 2 percent discount period from January 31, 2006 to March 31, 2006.

Hendry County and Glades county have not as yet adopted the extensions made
possible by this new law.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Grand Theft Suspect Arrested In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- Acting on information received by a concerned citizen the
Hendry County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division recovered a
2006 yellow
in color Suzuki Quad 700 4X4 ATV before the owner was aware it had been
stolen. Sheriff Ronnie Lee stated that the tip led Investigators to 3004
Lady Lane near LaBelle where Lionel Pequeno voluntarily opened a shed
that contained a 4-wheeler. According the the HCSO further investigation
revealed the 4-wheeler had been stolen from the residence of Sonja Jameson
at 4560 Ft. Denaud Road. Pequeno was charged with Grand Theft and booked
into the Hendry County Jail.

Sheriff Auxiliary Class Starting

LABELLE, FL. (Dec. 13, 2005) -- Persons interested in becoming a Hendry
County Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff will be able to complete their training
here in Hendry County soon. Stating the important role of the Auxiliary,
Sheriff Ronnie Lee has arranged with the Southwest Florida Criminal Justice
Academy in Fort Myers for a course be held in Hendry County to make it more
convenient for those wishing to attend. Class dates and times are being
scheduled and will be announced in the near future. For more information on
the Auxiliary and/or to sign up for the class please contact Nick Smith @
863-674-4060 ext. 102.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Department of Labor Delists Local Labor Contractors

LABELLE, FL. -- The following individuals may not engage in any activity as
a Farm Labor Contractor or as a Farm Labor Contractor Employee as defined
by the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. Because the
government list is updated on a continual basis, you may call 1-866-487-9243
to obtain current registration information. Only a person holding a valid
certificate issued by the Secretary of Labor may engage in farm labor
contracting activities. This list was effective as of November 30, 2005 and
indicates employers who have allegedly violated agricultural worker laws.

FLORES, Miguel A. a/k/a Miguel Angel Flores-Morales, 710 Palm Avenue,
LaBelle, FL; GONZALEZ, Leonardo, P.O. Box 732, LaBelle, FL; JOHNSON,
Gregory, 4270 Turkey Run Lane, #30, Labelle, FL; MARROQUIN, Cristoval, P.O.
Box 965, LaBelle, FL: MARTINEZ, Tereso, P.O. Box 2134, LaBelle, FL; MILLER
GROVE SERV., INC., P.O. Box 728, LaBelle, FL; MORALES, Alfonso, P.O. Box
Labelle, FL; PREMIER HARVESTING, INC., P.O. Box 951, Labelle, FL; VELA,
Julio S. Jr.
a/k/a Francisco Hernandez, P.O. Box 2102, Clewiston, FL.

In The Service

BELLE GLADE, FL. -- Army National Guard Pfc. Dexter A. Josephs has
graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. During
the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history,
tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and
practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and
bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed
and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military
justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training
exercises. The private graduated in 2001 from Glades Central High School,
Belle Glade, Fla., and received an associate degree in 2003 from ITT
Technical Institute, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Help For Puppies and Kittens

Animal Rescue Needs Your Help

LABELLE, FL. (Dec. 10, 2005) -- Looking to give a perfect holidy gift that
is really needed and will be gratefully accepted? Our favorite Hendry
county organization for the last 12 years has been Diane Sheppard's Animal
Rescue, Inc.. Her newest location is next to the Handy Store on County Road
78, just north of the LaBelle Bridge at 721 N. Bridge Street. Diane has
been a real heroine for the residents of Glades and Hendry county, taking
in dogs and cats that owners have abandoned or were not able to handle for
whatever reason.

Pets are available to take home, but Diane says she prefers not to have
families take pets during the holidays but wait until after all the frantic
Christmas shopping and activities are over. The staff does screen those
wanting pets to make sure they will go to good homes.

Not receiving much publicity, Diane and her volunteers have quietly taken
care of thousands of pets for over a decade in our area. The shelter is the
area's only "no kill" facility. At this time Animal Rescue, Inc. is in
great need for cash donations, or any pet supplies and pet food that anyone
can provide. The shelter now has about 45 dogs and 60 cats that need your
help. Please feel free to call 612-0228 and ask how you can help or drop by
with your donations. The mailing address For Animal Rescue is P.O. Box
2441, LaBelle, Fl. 33975.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bush Appoints 3 To Immokalee Water Board

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush today announced the following
appointment and reappointments to the Immokalee Water and Sewer District
Board of Collier County

Raymond T. Holland, 59, of Immokalee, area president of Florida Community
Bank, to succeed Patricia Villa, for a term beginning December 6, 2005 and
ending October 1, 2006.

Esmeralda Serrata, 35 of Immokalee, executive director of the Collier
County Housing Authority, reappointed for a term beginning December 6, 2005
and ending October 1, 2009.

Fred N. Thomas, 66, of Immokalee, retired, reappointed for a term
beginning December 6, 2005 and ending October 1, 2009.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Moonlight Hike Scheduled

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- On December 16, 2005 at 6:30 pm experience the Full Moon
Hike at CREW. Come out and experience the night-time sights and sounds on a
guided hike at the CREW Marsh Hiking Trails. Reservations are required. For
more information, call 239-657-2253. The CREW Marsh Hiking Trails are open
to the public from sunrise to sunset everyday. Self-guided tour brochures
are available at the trailhead located at 4600 Corkscrew Road, 2 miles
south of State Road 82 or 18 miles east of exit 123 off I-75. For more
information, call 239-657-2253.

The CREW Land & Water Trust, a nonprofit organization formed in 1989, is
dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources and
natural communities in and around the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem
Watershed (CREW). This watershed is crucial to sustaining our water supply
and providing natural flood protection. Additionally, the Trust offers
educational programs for all ages. For more information on the organization
or the trails, please visit our Web site at or call

Sunday, December 04, 2005

November Homes Sales

LABELLE, FL. (Dec. 4, 2005) -- There were 10 homes sold in the LaBelle
area during November for an average price of $255,800. The highest priced
home was on Trader Road northwest of LaBelle going for $315,000. The lowest
priced home went for $69,000 and was on Seminole Avene in LaBelle, a mobile
home subdivision. Port LaBelle homes went from $125,000 to $155,000.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Glades County Festivals Coming

Here's what's coming up in Glades County.

December 9 – Christmas on the Caloosahatchee, City Park - Moore Haven, 5 p.m. 863-946-0737.
January 14 – Honey Festival, Muse
January 21 – Catfish Festival, Buckhead Ridge
January 27-29 – Big “O” Birding & Arts/Crafts Festival, Moore Haven. Dr. Jerome Jackson, author of "In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker" will give the keynote speech. Julie Brashears Wraithmell with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will give a presentation on the fifth and final section of the Great Florida Birding Trail, opening next February. Linda White, Birds of Prey Center, lecturing on the Eagle Watch Program. "Kids are for the Birds," event for children in Tom Perry Memorial Park in the Moore Haven's historic riverfront district. There will also be numerous tours offered, which include, viewing eagle nesting sites at Brighton Seminole Reservation and a Sugarland Barn Owl tour. Art & Crafts and vendor booths. Contact Nita Choban @ 863-983-8619 or 863-227-1431 for booth information. For tour, lecture or dinner reservations, call Tracy Whirls @ 863-946-0300.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving In The Mountains

John Hollingsworth Jr. Pioneeer Plantation Family Spends Thanksgiving in Mountains.

John Hollingsworth, Jr. spent a snowy holiday in the mountains with his family. Here John dons his LaBelle clothes while walking along the highway in Tennessee in the Smokey Mountains. John was traveling with his father and mother, John Sr. and Mary Hollingsworth. Mary, why didn't you make Jr. wear a coat?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Reception For Sen. Aronberg Slated

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Economic Development Council, Inc.,
Florida Heartland Rural Economic Development Initiative (FHREDI), Craig A.
Smith and Associates, the Honorable Joe Flint and others will host a
reception for District 27 State Senator Dave Aronberg Tuesday, Nov. 29
beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the clubhouse at Northlake Estates RV Park. The
public is invited to attend. For more information, contact Executive
Director Tracy Whirls at (863) 946-0300.

Glades Riverfront Plans At Luncheon

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Economic Development Council will
host their annual luncheon Friday, Dec. 2 at noon at the new Riverview
Restaurant, formerly the Branding Iron, at Glades Resort. The public is
invited to attend and hear the proposed plans for revitalizing the city of
Moore Haven's historic riverfront district.

The Glades County Economic Development Council took another step in
supporting the city's efforts to save the historic commercial district by
funding the establishment of a 501 c 3 to allow donations made to Main
Street Moore Haven to be tax deductible. The concensus of Main Street
consultants is that if the city, through the Main Street initiative, can
land two significant development projects on the riverfront, perhaps a
hotel/restaurant or a residential complex on vacant land north of US 27,
the next step should be to host a retail/marketing conference and invite
retailers/commercial prospects to tour the area.

Earlier this month, Traci Whirls, EDC Director joined historic preservation
architect Robert M. Feild, AIA, Principal of Feild Associates of Baltimore
in touring the historic commercial buildings along Avenue J, and met with
property owners, collecting square footage data, making preliminary
estimates as to costs of rehabilitation and brainstorming concerning
possible mixed use development, perhaps by incorporating commercial/retail
space downstairs and offices/apartments or other lodging upstairs. They
also discussed funding opportunities for the various buildings'
rehabilitation, including the potential use of historic preservation tax
credits, acquisition and development grant funds, and opportunities for
private investment. The two also met with Banana Bay Tours owner Fred
Trepper and John Capece of Southern Datastream, Inc. for some brainstorming
concerning the riverfront and design for dockage.

"I think our best opportunities are based on our waterfront location, as a
destination resort and gateway to 'gloriously natural Glades County,'" Ms.
Whirls said. "I think we can build a niche market, by recruiting lodging,
river/lake cruises, upscale dining and specialty shops."

Ms. Whirls cautioned that revitalization isn't going to happen overnight.
"Our first step is to take stock of our assets, devise an action plan and
begin to calculate how much rehabilitating our historic commercial district
is going to cost. The next step will involve working with property owners,
potential property owners, city and county officials to finalize plans and
identify funding streams to make it happen."

Toward that end, the city of Moore Haven will hold a workshop Monday, Dec.
12 from 2-6 p.m. to begin envisioning what a new, revitalized Moore Haven
might look like. Business owners, prospective business owners, public
officials and residents are encouraged to attend.

Tickets for the luncheon, at the Riverview Restaurant, under new management
by Christopher, formerly of Christopher's in LaBelle, are $15. The menu
includes choice of beef or chicken buffet, soup, salad and drink. Tickets
are available at the EDC office, in the Doyle Conner Building, 900 SW US
27, Moore Haven. Phone (863) 946-0300 to reserve your ticket.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Neighborhood Eyesore Of The Week

This vacant lot at 1194 SR29 backs up on Luckey Street in LaBelle. Apparently these tires have been stored here for years, and neighbor Beatrice Salinas has not been able to get the trash removed and resorted to coming to the Hendry Commission meeting this week to complain. Commissioner Kevin McCarthy said he would check it out and visit the site with her. The one acre lot is owned by the Minors family who purchased it last year from Lucretia P. Strickland.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Commission Sends Oxbow Golf Course To Rec Board

Hendry Commissioners Pass Buck Back To Recreation Board

LABELLE, FL. -- At its November meeting, the Hendry County Commission voted to refer a request to fund a study for a county purchase of the old Oxbow Golf Course parcels in Port LaBelle back to the west Hendry county recreation board. Hundreds of local residents overflowed the commission chambers Thursday hoping to persuade the county to purchase hundreds of acres around the Port LaBelle Inn to convert the land back to a golf course to be run as a municipal course to attract tourism as well as for a recreational area for residents.

Spokesperson Scott Wegscheid (Wegsheid shown speaking to commissioners - photo above) spoke for the community group S.O.A.R. giving the commissioners an overview of the benefits to Hendry county to fund an economic feasibility study on re-opening the former 27-hole golf course for the benefit of Hendry county's citizens. Commissioner Bill Maddox made a motion to not pay for a study but the motion died for lack of a second from the remaining three commissioners. Although the citizen group had already been to the Hendry recreation board once before, the commissioners voted to refer the matter back to them.

Current land owners have contracts pending to sell to an out-of-area developer who plans to ask for a change to the current county comprehensive land plan to change the zoning from its current recrational/leisure designation to planned unit development to allow for high density residential use. The developers official request could come as soon as January when the state's Department of Community Affairs accepts applications for changes to the Hendry comprehensive land plan.

In other business, Southern Garden's Chip Chapman asked for relief from a $10,000 county building permit fee to repair some $5,000,000 in hurricane damage to its citrus processing building in mid-county south of SR80. Southern Gardens in a division of U.S. Sugar Corp. Commissioner Kevin McCarty from Clewiston tried to help by suggesting everyone damaged by the hurricane be granted reduced fees including U.S. Sugar. Clewiston's commissioner Janet Taylor was absent from the commission meeting, but Commissioners Pelham, Maddox, and Harris agreed that fees could not fairly be reduced for some but not all, while reducing fees across the board would not be feasible with so much widespread building damage in the county.

Beatrice Salinas of 1103 Luckey Street in LaBelle complained to the commissioners about old vehicles and tires being stored in her residential neighborhood as well as dead limbs hanging in trees and in the power wires. She said she has called everyone at the county level, but nobody is doing anything. Commissioner Harris said he would personally come out to her home and check out the problem and "volunteered" Commissioner Bill Maddox to do the same. Maddox is Ms. Salinas commissioner.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

In The Service

BELLE GLADE, FL. -- Army Pvt. Santonio L. Larridice has graduated from
basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. During the nine
weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition
and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in
basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet
training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and
unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military
justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training
exercises. He is the son of Connie Lee of Roosevelt St., Belle Glade, Fl.
The private is a 2005 graduate of Glades Central High School, Belle Glade.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ag Commissioner To Visit Area Monday

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charles
Bronson will visit Southwest Florida Monday, November 21, to survey
agricultural damage caused by Hurricane Wilma. Joining Commissioner
Bronson will be USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner, Congressman Mario
Diaz-Balart, Congressman Adam Putnam, and Congressman Mark Foley.

As arranged by the faculty at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and
Education Center and the UF/IFAS Hendry County Extension Office, the group
will tour two Immokalee-area farms, then travel to LaBelle, where they will
host a question-and-answer session from 2:00 - 3:00 PM with Southwest
Florida agricultural interests including citrus and vegetable growers as
well as cattle, sugarcane and ornamental producers at the UF/IFAS Hendry
County Cooperative Extension Service on Pratt Blvd, just off Cowboy Way.

The group will tour Immokalee area farms and have lunch at the Immokalee
airport earlier in the afternoon and depart from the LaBelle airport after
the LaBelle session.

What's The Oxbow Golf Course Future?

27 Holes Or Hundreds Of Condos?

PORT LABELLE, FL. (Nov. 16, 2005) -- A citizen's group calling themselves SOAR has banded together with over several hundred other Hendry and Glades county residents to ask the Hendry and Glades county commissioners to halt land developer's plans to rezone the Oxbow Golf Course at Port LaBelle to high density residential use.

SOAR, Save Oxbow As Recreation, spokespersons Jack Zorn, Scott Wegscheid, and Ken Downing say they would like the county commissions in both Hendry and Glades county to consider the feasibility of Hendry county purchasing the Oxbow golf course and running it as a municipal course. They say they have studies in hand that show the land would make a yearly profit for the county and keep the land as it is presently zoned as "leisure/recreation"
to benefit the citizens of both counties as well as encourage tourist to visit the two counties. The group says they have over seven hundred petitions asking to keep the land as is for recreational use.

The 27-hole championship golf course land, including the Port LaBelle hotel was subdivided into 27 tracts in March 2003 after its owner found a need for fast cash for his other business interests, and an auction company sold off the parcels to about a dozen different investors. The 27 parcels sold were sized from five acres to 228 acres with most being approimately 10 acres. Among the local buyers were investor Stan Freedman, real estate agent Terry Pearce, real estate development company CHL,and investor L. Miners. The Port LaBelle Inn hotel property, built in 1981 on 5 acres, was purchased by LaBelle RV park owner Richard Siebel.

Reportedly, Siebel and some other buyers have contracts to sell their properties to developers who now want to rezone the land. The purchase contracts are allegedly subject to the developer obtaining permission from the Hendry and Glades county commissioners to rezone the land from its current recreational use to high density residential. Such a rezoning would
also require permission from the State to modify the counties' Comprehensive Plan, which mandates how much land in each county is required for different uses, including recreational use.

The purchase prices at the 2003 auction ranged from about $800 per acre for the bid on the 228 acre tract which included 15 holes of the Arthur Hills and Patrick Grelak designed golf course, to $5800 per acre for 14 acres purchased by CHL. CHL has built model display homes on it's parcel. The reason the prices were so low at auction, were because of the zoning on the
parcel, which was mandated by the county for all the land to be used for recreation and leisure use, except for a hotel zoned on one 5-acre parcel.

The land has been zoned for recreational use for decades and the golf course was a profitable business for almost 20 years according to SOAR spokesperson Jack Zorn. He said he talked the golf pro who operated the golf course who told him that he ran up to 70,000 round of golf per year at one time at Port LaBelle.

According to Scott Wegscheid, a local land developer and the golf coach at LaBelle High School, the Hendry County Economic Development Agency, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Hendry Tourist office all are in agreement to support keeping the land for recreational use. All cite the probability of increasing tourist income to the counties as well as a probable profit to
the county if Hendry operated the golf course as a municipal course. The Women's LPGA in a past season held a qualifier tournament at the Oxbow Golf Course. SOAR spokepersons cite this as one example of the uniqueness of the course and the vistor dollars that golf brought to western Hendry county. Fund-raising Tournaments also supported local community sports activities according to Wegscheid.

The Hendry commission has scheduled the SOAR group on its meeting agenda Thursday Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. at the Hendry commmission chambers in LaBelle at the Courthouse. A Glades county zoning board will hear comment on rezoning of the golf course land at a 7 p.m. meeting at the Glades courthouse also on Thursday Nov. 17.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Glades County Gets Prosecutor

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- (Nov. 10, 2005) -- State Attorney Steve Russell
announced today that Glades County now has its own fulltime prosecutor.
Thanks to the Glades County Commission and the Glades County Sheriff's
Department, offices have been provided within the Sheriff's Office for an
Assistant State Attorney and in the courthouse for an administrative
assistant. There will no longer be a commute from LaBelle to prosecute
cases. "This is a continuation of the long-range expansion plan for Hendry
and Glades," says Russell. "It started last spring when we expanded the
Hendry County office and added an additional prosecutor to the staff to
keep up with the growing caseload." Russell says, "We will continue to add
more prosecutors, paralegals and support staff as resources permit."

Assistant State Attorney Christopher Klink is in charge of the new office
and works with his Administrative Assistant Tina Thigpen. Christopher
began with the State Attorney's Office in 2003 working in the Naples
Office. He transferred to Hendry County in the spring of 2005 to make a
smooth transition as the head of the Glades Office. "Chris knows the area
and the people," says Russell. "By having an office in Glades County, law
enforcement will be able to receive timely information regarding the law
and will be able to receive immediate legal assistance in making arrests."
So far this year, nearly one thousand cases have originated out of Glades

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wildlife Habitat Program Offers Assistance

Financial And Technical Assistance For Restoration Of Wildlife Habitats

LABELLE, FL. (Nov. 9, 2005) -- State Conservationist Niles Glasgow with
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service announces December 15 as the
cutoff date for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. WHIP offers
financial and technical assistance to install structural and management
practices on eligible non-federal lands to address restoration of declining
habitats of South Florida. Conservation treatment activities approved
under WHIP are carried out in accordance to a conservation plan that is
developed with the landowner or manager.

Priorities for WHIP include habitat restoration on declining habitats of
South Florida: South Florida Rockland (Pine Rockland/Everglades
Flatwoods and Tropical Hardwood Hammock), Scrubby Flatwoods, and Dry
Prairie. Final ranking will be based on the presence of declining habitats,
management for declining species (including bobwhite quail), and removal
of exotic, invasive species (including Old World climbing fern,
Brazilian pepper, Tropical soda apple, Melaleuca, Cogon Grass and Downy
rose myrtle).

Sign-up will occur in the following counties ONLY: Polk, Osceola,
Brevard, Highlands, Miami-Dade, Collier, Hendry, Martin, Broward,
Glades, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Indian River, Monroe, and Palm Beach.
Workshops will be held in LaBelle on December 7th at 6:30 pm; and
Kissimmee on December 8th at 6:30 pm to inform landowners of program
participation. For additional details on the WHIP program, specific
eligibility requirements to participate and further information on
scheduled workshops, contact the LaBelle Field Office, 1085 Pratt Blvd.,
phone 863-674-5700.

Pioneer Burglars Arrested

LABELLE, FL. (Nov. 8, 2005) -- When Oscar Villanueva returned to his home
at 2250 Panama Avenue in Pioneer Plantation on October 23rd. at
6:10 pm he discovered Matthew Gronberg age 21 hiding in a closet. Mr.
Villanueva called 911 to report the intruder. Hendry County Sheriff's
Office responded and placed Gronberg in custody. Sheriff Ronnie Lee
stated that as a result of the follow-up investigation, Bronberg also
confessed to a previous burgulary at 2250 Panama Avenue as well a
burgulary on October 20, 2005 at 2231 Panama that involved the theft of
musical instruments and firearms that were sold/traded for crack
cocaine. The investigation also revealed that Omer Rotelli age 21 was an
accomplice in the burgulary at 2231 Panama.

Gronberg was charged with
two counts of Burgulary of a Dwelling, one count of Burgulary of an
Occupied Dwelling, one count of Grand Theft of a Firearm and one count
of Dealing in Stolen Property. Rotelli was charged with Armed
Burglulary, Dealing Stolen Property and Grand Theft of Firearms. Both
men were booked into the Hendry County Jail.

Another Drug Youth Arrested

LABELLE, FL. (Nov. 6, 2005) -- Hendry County Sheriff's Office Investigators
have arrested James Pender age 19 for possession of marijuana. According to
Sheriff Ronnie Lee. Pender was arrested during the serving of a search
warrant by the Hendry
County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at 506 Martin
Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in LaBelle. Pender was booked into the Hendry
County Jail.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Real Estate Sales Slow After Hurricane

LABELLE, FL. -- In the last three weeks of October, there were only 2 homes
sold the LaBelle area for an average price of $250,000. A home sold for
$90,000 on Robb Rd. and a $410,000 sale on West Cowboy Way in LaBelle.

Bush To Visit Pahokee and Belle Glade

PAHOKEE, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush will visit schools in South Florida
impacted by Hurricane Wilma on Monday. The Governor will be joined by
school officials, educators and students. The visits will take place at:
8:35 a.m. at Gove Elementary School, 900 SE Avenue G, Belle Glade and at
9:35 a.m. at the Pahokee Elementary School, 560 E. Main PL., Pahokee.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Free Birding Tour

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry-Glades Audubon and the South Florida Water
Management District will offer to the public escorted birding tours at
Stormwater Treatment Area 5 (STA-5) south of Clewiston in eastern Hendry
County. The first trip is
scheduled Saturday, November 12 at STA-5 from 8:30 a.m. to noon and
subsequent tours are scheduled regularly through April 2006.

The stormwater treatment areas, owned and operated by the South Florida
Water Management District, are vast, constructed wetlands that use
vegetation to naturally cleanse excess nutrients from water before it
enters the Everglades. These remote, shallow-water marshes attract many
species of nesting wading birds, migratory and other water fowl such as
great blue herons, wood storks, snowy egrets, great egrets and roseate

Tours are open to anyone, but participants must register to
reserve a space on the trips. To sign up for the STA-5 Birding Tour:
Send an e-mail to Margaret England, at with your
name and contact information, the date you want to go, and the number in
your party. You may also leave a message at (863) 674-0695 or (863)

State Business Loans Available

LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush this week activated Florida's Small
Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide emergency, short-term
loans to businesses in counties severely impacted by Hurricane Wilma.
Applications will be available Friday in Broward, Collier, Glades, Hendry,
Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach counties and the Glades
communities of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay. The Governor has
allocated $20 million from General Revenue to fund the Bridge Loan Program.
The appropriation is made through a budget amendment pursuant to the
Governor's emergency declaration.

The state's emergency bridge loan program is designed to provide a source
of expedient cash flow to businesses physically damaged during a major
catastrophe, enabling them to quickly begin repairs and replace destroyed
inventory. These short-term loans are intended to bridge the gap between
the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured other
resources, such as profits from revived a business, payment of insurance
claims or secured longer-term loans.

Short-term loans of up to $25,000 will be available to owners of small
businesses (less than 100 employees) in those counties most impacted by
Hurricane Wilma. The interest-free loans come in terms of 90-day or
180-day maturities. To be eligible, a business owner must have been
operational for one full year prior to Hurricane Wilma (October 24) and
have verifiable, physical damage to their business. The time from
application through closing of loans is as little as 72 hours.

For an application or more information on the program, please contact the
Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development at (850)
487-2568, or the local economic development office in counties most
severely impacted by Hurricane Wilma: Glades, Okeechobee, and the Glades
communities of Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay contact Lynn Topel at (800)
620-3602. Hendry County contact Janice Groves at (863) 675-6007

Check Wonders Of The Night Sky

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Check out the beauty of the sky from a dark site. If the
weather is clear, you'll see lots of stars and perhaps a few stray meteors
as well. Several telescopes will be available for even closer looks at
celestial objects. This event will take place at the CREW Management
Center, approximately 12 miles east of I-75 on Corkscrew Road (County
Road 850).

Look for a large sign with a waterdrop logo on it on the right side. From
SR 82, go south and west approximately 6.5 miles and turn left at the
waterdrop logo sign. Drive about 1.5 miles on the gravel driveway to the
big brown house. Bring plenty of bug repellant, drinks and something
comfortable to sit or lay upon. This event is free, but will be cancelled
if the sky is cloudy. Reserve your space by calling 275-3435 before 4 pm on
Friday November 4th. If you need more specific directions, call 657-2253

Closer To Normal In Hendry

Schools Open, Clewiston Airport Closed

LABELLE, FL. -- Moving closer to normalcy, Hendry county schools are open today, although Central Elementary is holding classes at the Eastside/Westside Elementary School in a fairly complex schedule of classes. Most businesses are open for business in the area.

The LaBelle Airport has opened for air traffic after being closed for a week after hosting the dozens of trucks bringing in water and ice. But the Airglades Airport west of Clewiston remains closed. Dozens of aircraft are temporarily stuck there while the county clears debris. Many hangars were damaged including newly constructed ones, and extensively damaged were the hangars housing the U.S. Sugar Corp. executive aircraft.

(photo: Hangar damage at the Airglades Airport)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Special Unemployment Benefits Available

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation, announced this week that individuals who have lost jobs or businesses as a result of
Hurricane Wilma may be entitled to Disaster Unemployment Assistance
benefits. On October 24, 2005, President George W. Bush, in response to a
request from Governor Jeb Bush, declared a major disaster for Broward,
Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, and
St. Lucie counties, clearing the way for use of federal funds to provide
assistance to individuals affected by the disaster.

Although many workers will be covered by the state's regular unemployment
compensation program, those not covered may apply for Disaster Unemployment
Assistance (DUA). This is a federally funded program, which assists
individuals who become unemployed as a direct result of a declared disaster
and who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. The program also
covers self-employed individuals, owners of farms and ranches, farm and
ranch workers, as well as fishers and others who are not normally covered
by state unemployment compensation.

Applicants must file for disaster benefits within 30 days of the date of
public notification. Therefore, DUA applications must be filed no later
than November 28, 2005. To be eligible for either the regular state
unemployment compensation program or DUA, the applicant must be a legal
resident. To be eligible for DUA benefits, an individual must have
exhausted all entitlement to any regular state unemployment benefits and
must have been working in or residing in a county for which the disaster
has been officially declared. DUA benefits are available to unemployed
individuals for up to 26 weeks from the date of the disaster declaration.
The 26-weeks assistance period for Hurricane Wilma ends April 29, 2006.

Federal regulations provide that the unemployment of an individual is
caused by a disaster if the individual: (1) becomes unemployed as a direct
result of the disaster; or (2) is unable to reach the place of employment
as a direct result of the disaster; or (3) was scheduled to begin work and
does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the
disaster; or (4) has become the major support for a household because the
head of the household has died as a direct result of the disaster; or (5)
cannot work because of an injury caused directly by the disaster.

Applications for DUA may be filed by Internet at the following web site
address: (indicate on the
application that it is a disaster related unemployment claim). Telephone
applications may be filed by calling 1-800-204-2418. Hours of operation
are 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST, Monday through Friday.

Monday, October 31, 2005

No Halloween In Clewiston

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Although recovery is moving along and most of Clewiston
should have electric by Monday night and the boil water order has been
lifted, officials are afraid that debris along streets may cause hazardous
conditions, and have cancelled Halloween in the City.

Area schools in Hendry and Glades county are open today, except for
Clewiston. A health assessment team will be taking random surveys in Montura
and Pioneer. In LaBelle curfews have been lifted and the LaBelle Civic
Center remains open as a shelter.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Governor To Spend 2 Hours In Hendry Monday

Bush To Visit Hendry County

LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush will visit areas impacted by Hurricane
Wilma in South Florida joined by members of the State Emergency Response
Team spending about 15 minutes at the county Emergency Operations Centers
and possible 30 minutes at a local Baptist Church. He then goes to
Clewiston for 15 minutes at the Wal-Mart parking lot and then to the
Clewiston EOC.

The visits will take place at: 9:50 a.m. Monday, October 31, 2005 at the
Hendry County EOC at the LaBelle Sheriff's office. At 10:20 a.m.
at the First Baptist Church, 330 North Main Street and at 11:30 a.m.
at the Hendry County Disaster Recovery Center at the Wal-Mart Supercenter
in Clewiston. At 12:00 p.m. at the Clewiston EOC, 141 Central Avenue, in

The Governor and followers will then travel to Boca Raton.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

National Guard In Clewiston Today

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Florida National Guard traveled to Clewiston's
hard-hit mobile home parks to distribute aid this afternoon. At Tropical,
Foxbrier, Twin Lakes and Hooker's Point in addition to water and ice, will
be a limited amounty of tarps and toys for the kids.

Curfews are in effect for all of Clewiston from 9PM to 6AM and Hendry County
from 6PM to 6AM. The curfew for Hendry County, west of 833, including
Pioneer, has been relaxed to 10 PM to allow residents to conduct legitimate
recovery efforts. On October 31, Halloween only, the curfew will be relaxed
to 11PM. Law enforcement will be monitoring the situation closely. Business
are open in LaBelle, but Clewiston's electric and water problems prevent
widespread openings.

Over 550 Hendry county homes are judged at this time as uninhabitable with
several hundred more that may be repairable. Most damage is in the eastern
portion of Hendry county. A boil water order is in effect for Clewiston.

All LaBelle area schools and School Board offices and departments are open
Monday, October 31. Clewiston schools are tentatively set to open Wednesday,
November 2nd. All Clewiston staff, faculty and department personnel must
report to work Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 31st , Nov. 1st. Power has been
restored to all school facilities. Major repairs are underway.

County government office will open Monday in LaBelle but remain closed in

Friday, October 28, 2005

Clewiston Harlem Home Devastated

CLEWISTON, FL. -- This home on Virginia Street in the Harlem community suffered total destruction from winds of Hurricane Wilma. All the other homes nearby were left almost undamaged.

The home, a rental property owned by an out of county owner, appeared to be a frame constructed home, unlike the typical concrete brick stucco homes elsewhere along Virginia Ave.

Eastern Hendry Attempts Recovery

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Recovery is slow in Clewiston, the hardest hit area of Hendry County. Except for a few businesses in the city, electric and water is not available for most area's residents, greatly inhibiting any attempts at home repairs and any sense of normalcy. In some areas around the Sherwood Subdivision of mobile homes southeast of the city, sewage is running on the streets from the overloaded sewers, while children play in the streets to the sounds of gas generators.

In the same Sherwood area most mobile homes suffered some damage to roofs and skirting while a few of the older ones seem to have completely imploded (photo above). The county has been placing an "X" on homes not habitable now numbering about 450 countywide.

Motorists have only one station on the east side of town and one a few files outside of town on the western side for gasoline. Be prepared to pay with cash.

At Clewiston's Airglades Airport giant hangar doors were torn from their mountings, damaging most aircraft stored inside. Even the county's brand new row of aircraft hangars lost many of it's doors. Both the Clewiston and LaBelle airport are now closed pending removal of debris from the hangar areas.

In the Harlem community outside Clewiston, and near the U.S. Sugar plant, a substantial number of homes suffered major damage or total devastation, and one church was missing part of it's roof. Harlem's housing mix constists of both conventional and mobile homes. One conventional home on Virginia Street was a total loss, one of very few conventional homes in the county to be completely destroyed.

At Pioneer Plantation, several miles west of Clewiston, electric has been restored to homes along Hendry Isles Blvd., while more outlying streets still await power crews. The entire Pioneer area has been flooded and many dirt roads in the area are still underwater. The Pioneer Volunteer Fire Department has water and ice, and even showers available at the fire station for area residents.

Need Help Contacting Relatives In Area?

Post Your Infomation Questions Here....

LABELLE, FL. -- We have received numerous emails from relatives and friends
of Hendry and Glades county residents seeking information about their
whereabouts and safety. We are authorizing this Sunday Morning News blog
section to allow those with internet access to post messages requesting
information about relatives and friends.

Please post a comment to this news item with your request. Understand that many
residents may have relocated or are without phone service and internet
service so any replies you receive may be third or fourth hand from someone who knows
some information yet still has internet service available to be able to post
a comment here.


Hendry-Glades Recovery Slow

Somebody Forgot To Tell The Feds Hendry Was In Emergency

LABELLE, FL. -- Government offices are open today in Hendry county although
some damage was sustained to buildings. Schools are still closed in all
counties although the private school on Cowboy Way in LaBelle reportedly is
opening with classes to be held in new portable office trailers which
arrived this week.

Amid the confusion this week, someone at the local or state level, forgot to
apply to the Federal government for emergency status, so when food requests
were made by local officials in Hendry county, the request was denied by the
Feds. The snafu was worked out by Wednesday when food started arriving. The
Southern Baptist Convention is serving food in the Clewiston area without
the help of the Feds. Probably the best organized disaster relief
organization in the county. The Baptists are among the first to arrive when
disasters strike the Southest U.S.

Hendry county's only radio broadcast station, 99.5 FM, this morning went
heavy country music again and only broadcast about 2 minutes of hurricane
recovery information between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. A representative of the
Glades County Electric Cooperative reported on progress of electric repairs.
That's it, plus news of a coffee shop opened in Clewiston. Today's morning
broadcast was taking calls only for music requests. Lame. We have no idea
why the station is not broadcasting relief news and more information on what
areas are still without water and electric and phones. And since supplies
and gas are still in heavy demand, it would help to know what merchants are
open or closed in Hendry and Glades county. Glades Media owns the Clewiston
station as well as stations in Immokalee, Okeechobee, and West Palm Beach.
Shameful we say.

All cities are still under a boil water order except for Port LaBelle. Port
LaBelle recovered electric earlier this week and water has not been a
problem. Phones though have been in and out in Port LaBelle. And the
electric still goes off for a second each morning as it has for many months
in the entire LaBelle area.

Sources say about 450 mobile homesmostly in Clewiston, and nearly all
pre-1992 built, are not fit for habitation while 250 more have major damage
that may not be repairable. Citrus interests claim between 50 to 70 percent
of the citrus crops are "on the ground" although others say only the
grapefruit crop may be heavily damaged as the winds blew the heavier fruits
to the ground. The U.S. Sugar Corp. public relations person, Judy Sanchez
says the sugar cane has been blown to the ground, but didn't indicate if the
crop is actually destroyed or just blown over enough from the wind to make
it more costly to harvest with their machines.

Curfews remain in effect with a hodgepodge of different rules from city to
city and county to county. Dusk to dawn in Moore Haven, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in
Hendry county, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Clewiston. There have been reports
of looters and curfew violations. Violating the curfew is a $2,500.00 fine
or 5 days in jail by order of the Hendry County Judge. Residents should call
the Hendry County Hurricane Hotline at (863) 675-5392 or (863) 983-1585 for
the most current information from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Food, water, and ice are distributed at John Boy in Clewiston and LaBelle
Municipal Airport. The Felda location has shifted to the Felda Community
Center. Pioneer and Montura were also distributing supplies. Donations are
being received and Hendry County residents would like to express their
sincere appreciation at the LaBelle Civic Center and possibly the LaBelle
Sheriff's office where other Florida Sheriff's have sent personel paid by
FEMA. Temporary housing is being arranged for the uncountable families
displaced by imploded older mobile homes.

Horticulture debris needs to be placed in the right of way by the roads. Be
careful not to obstruct normal traffic movement. Horticulture debris must be
separated from construction debris. Horticulture debris will not be
collected if it is mixed with other debris. Reportedly the debris will
start to be picked up next week. Some areas are receiving regular normal
garbage pickup.

Call 1-800 Blu Roof for tarp help and 1-800-621-FEMA for uninsured losses.
Expect a long time to complete the application procedure. Tarps are
reportedly in short supply.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hendry Curfews Relaxed In Some Areas

Recovery Efforts Continue With Difficulty

LABELLE, FL. -- Curfews from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. remain in effect for all of
Clewiston and Hendry County. Reportedly the Hendry Sheriff's department is
allowing workers at businesses to work until 10 p.m. although this has not
been officially published anywhere. The curfew for Hendry County, west of
833, including Pioneer, has been relaxed to allow residents to conduct
legitimate recovery efforts, although what "relaxed" means has not been
defined. Pioneer Plantation and the surrounding areas in mid-Hendry county
were among the hardest hit, suffering flooding as well as the highest winds
in the County.

Shelters for "overnight accommodations only" are located at the LaBelle
Civic Center, 481 W. Hickpochee Ave., which is at State Rd 80 behind the
City Hall in LaBelle. Because of the extensive home damage in Montura and
Clewiston there are many homeless. The special needs shelter has been moved
to Lee county. Hendry County Schools will be closed for the rest of the
week, but Hendry government offices are open although the Clerk's office is
closed. The courts have been variously reported as either open or closed

Clewiston, the hardest hit Hendry area is still without electric and the
most part water. There are reportedly dozens of downed poles on CR835 which
will take time to repair and to get needed materials. Estimates are that it
may be three weeks before electric is restored. Glades Electric Coop said
most of its Glades county customers should be restored in about a week.
About half of Hendry and Glades county is still without power. Main business
areas are operating in area cities although important buildings like the
Hendry Health Department on Cowboy Way in LaBelle is still without power.

Water boil orders remain in effect for Moore Haven, Immokalee, Okeechobee,
and Clewiston.

Officials recommend everyone contact your insurance provider first, then
call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-621 -3362 (FEMA). The
area's " IA" number is 1609. Generally, FEMA will help only to pay for
owner-occupied houses without insurance coverage, as well as help renters
with emergency funds. Call 1-888-Roof-Blu for roof help.

Volunteers are needed to distribute amenities. Sign up at the LaBelle
Airport or one of the other water and ice locations. Call Rick Marquith at
239-340-9856 for more information.

The Clewiston radio station, FM 99.5 has been reporting much information
about Okeechobee and Palm Beach county where it owns other radio stations,
but news coverage for LaBelle and Hendry county has been lacking. Only three
days after the hurrican hit, the morning disc jockey announced programming
will get back to "normal" today with its usual country music format and even
a "Dial and Deal" call-in swap meet. Local news and information curiously
had taken a back seat to country music Thursday morning. We suspect the
radio management, for whatever reason has had some feedback from Clewiston
merchants and local industry that may have caused the change from news and
information back to a music format.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hurricane Diary - Hendry and Glades County

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry and Glades county, as well as all of South Florida are in the recovery mode after the impact of Hurricane Wilma this week. In Hendry county, nearly half of all residents are without power as of Wednesday morning. The city of Clewiston is totally without power. Power in the downtown and Port LaBelle area north of State Road 80 was restored Tuesday. Throughout the area, extensive damage was done to older manufactured housing units built pre-1992, including failed wall systems and
roofs. Newer homes faired fairly well structurally except for roof damage
and skirting blown away. Conventional housing suffered primarily damage to
patios and aluminum structures and any light aluminum trim which was easily
blown away in the 100 mph winds. Hendry and Glades county homes are mostly
manufactured housing.

The most southern areas of Hendry county suffered the worst damage including
the Hooker's Point area in Clewiston, where most of the homes were older and
mostly manufactured homes. Also, southern Pioneer Plantation and Montura
Estate suffered badly, again the scene of older mobile homes. In Glades
county, northern area of Buckhead Ridge and Lakeport suffered badly, again
the scene of primarily manufactured housing.

The LaBelle airport had five aircraft hangar doors blown off their tracks,
damaging some of the aircraft inside. The airport is now being used for
hand-outs of water and ice during daylight hours. A curfew is being enforced
during the night in Hendry county, as well as most other counties and cities
affected. There were unconfirmed reports of looting in the city of

In other areas of South Florida, Broward county had 98 percent of its
electric service out Tuesday and Miami-Dade also suffered badly. In Glades
County and Okeechobee County residents were asked to boil water if water was
even available. The main street in Okeechobee recovered power Tuesday. Water
was shut off in the city of Okeechobee by city officials. In Clewiston, boil
water orders were also issued although most sections were without water
especially on the east side.

In Hendry county, water and ice and some food were being given out at the
John Boy Auditorium in Clewiston and at the airport and the rodeo ground in
LaBelle. Vehicle traffic Tuesday extended several miles down State Road 29
from north of the Caloosahatchee River Bridge to the airport for many hours
as residents attempted to reach the aid sites.

Two units of the Florida National Guard arrived early Wednesday morning. One
is stationed at the LaBelle airport and the other at the John Boy Auditorium
in Clewiston.

The Hendry Regional Hospital is closed except for the Emergency Room,
operating on generator power. Schools and government offices are closed in
Hendry county although LaBelle school staff have been asked to report to
work Wednesday morning.

Some stores are opening especially hardware and food stores, although
gasoline is either non-existent or hard to obtain. Wall-Mart in Clewiston
suffered badly and was not open although they were reportedly giving out
"breakfast" foods Tuesday.

Warning To Hurricane Victims

LABELLE, FL. -- Attorney General Charlie Crist adviseS Floridians
affected by Hurricane Wilma to use extra caution when hiring workers to
help clean up the damage caused by the storm. In particular, Crist warned
those who are victims of water damage and downed trees to be alert for
contractors who offer water removal or cleanup services for homes and

Consumers face the risk that services will be offered by those who are not
licensed, that clean-up services will be offered at unconscionably high
prices, or that so-called "contractors" will accept down payments but will
not do the
work at all. Crist said his office is prepared to investigate complaints of
alleged price gouging, and said citizens should call his Price Gouging
Hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) to file such complaints.

- Before signing a contract, check the payment terms and other
provisions carefully. Don't pay a contractor in advance.

- Do not pay cash to home repair contractors or tree removal

- Require home repair contractors to obtain all necessary government
licenses and permits, rather than leaving that burden on the

- Make sure contractors have proper occupational licenses as
required by state law.

- Work only with reputable, established businesses. Avoid
"contractors" who knock on your door offering to fix your roof or
windows. Try to obtain more than one estimate for the repair work.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Southwest Florida Readies For Hurricane Wilma

LABELLE, FL. (Oct. 23, 2005) -- Expecting a landfall of the eye of
Hurricane Wilma sometime Monday, residents from Sarasota to Key West are
making preparations for storm winds and rain. In Hendry and Glades county
emergency shelters are expected to open Sunday afternoon, while governent
office and schools have announced closing the first part of the week.
Garbage collections has been suspended for Monday and Tuesday.

Southwest Florida county officials seem to not be talking to one another as
what appears to be random times of bridge closings and curfews are being
announced hourly. Glades county announced curfews from dusk to dawn,
Collier county from 10 pm to 6 am, and Hendry county none. The Ft. Denaud
Bridge in Hendry county will close with winds above 25 mph, the Sanibel
Bridge in Lee county at 45 mph. Other bridges in Southwest Florida will
stop allowing traffic at other varioius wind speeds.

Early Sunday morning announcements by the National Weather Service call for
the center of Wilma to cross the Florida coast "somewhere in Collier
county" early Monday morning, but cautions not to concentrate on the exact
forecast of the center "because the error inherent 24 hours awy from
landfall can be as mush as 70 miles north or south which includes all of
Collier county and mainland Monroe countys. The Center says Lake Okeechobee
can possibly expect a storm tide of 18 to 20 feet above mean sea level
Monday morning, or 3 to 5 feet above current levels on the south side from
Fisheating Creek to Belle Glade.
Probabilities posted by the Center say south Florida has a 70 to 80 percent
chance of tropical storm conditions, and a 40 to 55 percent chance of winds
in excess of 58 mph. The chance of winds in excess of 74 mph is from 10 to
15 percent.

Madatory evacuations for low lying lands in Lee county and Cape Coral and
the barrier islands, voluntary evacuations in Hendry and Glades county of
low lying land and mobile homes.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Six Arrested In Clewiston

CLEWISTON, FL. -- (October 20, 2005) -- An ongoing narcotics investigation
by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Hendry County Sheriff's
Office has
resulted in the arrests of six individuals from the Clewiston area of
Hendry County on various drug related charges. According to Sheriff
Ronnie Lee, the following individuals were arrested and booked into the
Hendry County Jail. Harrison Downs age 25 of 206 S.Lopez Street
Clewiston was charged with, Sale of Marijuana, Felony Driving While
License Suspended or Revoked, Carrying a Concealed Firearm, Possession
of Marijuana under 20grams and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Sylvester Ross age 41 of 938 Virginia Avenue Clewiston was charged with,
Sale of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine and Possession of Drug
Paraphernalia. William Louis Clark age 48 of 1825 Thirteenth Street
Clewiston was charged with Sale of Marijuana. Chuck Cornelius Gilkes age
25 of Mississippi Avenue Clewiston was charged with, Sale of Cocaine and
Sale of Marijuana. Timothy Thomas age 23 of 1224 Harlem Academy
Clewiston was charged with, Sale of Cocaine and Sale of Marijuana. Jemel
Demarkious Mcbride age 22 of 1204 Mississippi Avenue Clewiston was
charged with, Sale of Cocaine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Drugs Arrests In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- An undercover operation by members of the Hendry County
Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division has led to the arrest of
33 year old Kizer James Pontoon of 805 Manatee Avenue, LaBelle, Florida.
Ronnie Lee reported that a quantity of marijuana, crack cocaine, drug
paraphernalia and crack cocaine packaging material was recovered. Pontoon
was arrested and booked into the Hendry County Jail.

In an unrelated case, Hendry County Sheriff's Office Investigators serving
a search warrant at 364 Hardee Street in Hendry County arrested 19 year old
Jose Luis Betancourt, Jr., for possession of marijuana, possession of
marijuana with intent to sell and for possession of narcotics
paraphernalia. He was booked into the Hendry County Jail.

Free Birding Tour This Saturday

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Through a partnership with Hendry-Glades Audubon, the
South Florida Water Management District will offer to the public escorted
tours at Stormwater STA-5 south of Clewiston in eastern Hendry County.
The first trip is scheduled Saturday, October 22, at STA-5 from 8:30
a.m. to noon, and subsequent tours are scheduled regularly through April

The stormwater treatment areas, owned and operated by the South
Florida Water Management District, are vast, constructed wetlands that
use vegetation to naturally cleanse excess nutrients from water before
it enters the Everglades. These remote, shallow-water marshes attract
many species of nesting wading birds, migratory and other water fowl
such as great blue herons, wood storks, snowy egrets, great egrets and
roseate spoonbills.

Tours are open to anyone, but participants must register to reserve a space
on the trips. To carpool from LaBelle for the first tour meets at the
LaBelle Winn Dixie October 22 at 7 a.m. To sign up for the STA-5 Birding
Tour: Send an e-mail to Margaret England at with
your name and contact information, the date you want to go, and the number
in your party. You may also leave a message at (863) 674-0695 or (863)

Monday, October 17, 2005

LaBelle Airport Scene Of Deadly Accident

LABELLE, FL. (Oct. 16, 2005) -- The LaBelle Municipal Airport was the scene
of a deadly aircraft accident Sunday afternoon. A female student pilot from
the Fort Pierce, Fl. area, as yet officially unidentified by authorities,
was practicing cross-country flying and "touch and go landings" at the
LaBelle airport when observers speculate that she may have attempted to
depart the runway in the rented Cessna 172 single-engine aircraft with flaps
still fully extended at too high an angle of attack, stalling the aircraft
wings and causing the aircraft to spin downward into the ground after losing
aerodynamic lift from the wings.

The four seat aircraft hit the ground at probably a speed in excess of 60
miles per hours headfirst, collapsing the front of the aircraft immediately
on impact causing the engine to move into the cabin several feet. A witness
was painting an empty fuel tank only a hundred yards away from the impact
site just feet from the west side and midway down runway 32 at the LaBelle

Monday morning, an official from the National Transportation Safety Board
arrived and began the accident investigation process. The NTSB is the
official government agency charged with all aircraft accident
investigations. The LaBelle Fire Department helped to saw the fuselage in
half in preparation for the government's inspection of the aircraft,
instruments, and engine. An official probable cause report will not be
available for many months, although a summary report of the facts of the
accident will be available within a few weeks.

The aircraft was leased to a Ft. Pierce flight school by Christiansen
Aviation in Wilmington, Del. Owner William Christiansen said the company is
based in Tulsa, Okla. Representatives of the company flew in Sunday
afternoon to LaBelle, and again Monday morning.

According to government records there have been five fatalities in the
LaBelle area in aircraft since 2001. In June of 2001, a pilot flying an
unregistered ultralight craft illegally died along with a passenger. It is
illegal to carry passengers in unregistered aircraft. The cause, according
to the NTSB was "The inadvertent stall/spin by the pilot resulting in an
uncontrolled descent and impact with the ground.

In March 2004, another ultralight aircraft crashed with a fatality to the
pilot and passenger when the pilot overstressed the aircraft in an abrupt
pull up causing the right wing to detach. In April 2004 yet another
ultralight aircraft crashed and killed the pilot. The NTSB says old and
contaminated auto gas in the Rotax brand engine had turned to a "gel-like
consistancy" causing the engine to stop.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

LaBelle Home Sales

LABELLE, FL. -- During the first week of October there were 6 properties
sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $99,667. All were in Port
LaBelle, the highest priced at $120,000 for a home on Sena Lane and
$168,000 for a home on South Edgweater Circle. An investor bought a lot on
North Obisbo Circle for $42,000 and a second vacant lot went for $44,000 on
Jamestown Road.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

State Goes After Pesticide Applicators

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer
Services Charles H. Bronson is taking legal action and levying fines
against a Plant City, Florida, based agriculture company for numerous
violations of state and federal pesticide laws, one farm where violations
were allegedly involved is in Immokalee.

Bronson has filed two Administrative Complaints against Ag-Mart Produce,
Inc., and four employees alleging 88 separate counts of pesticide use
violations on two different farms. The most serious counts involve
violations of "pre-harvest intervals" and "restricted entry intervals."
Pesticide labels state how soon after a pesticide application a crop can be
harvested as well as how soon it is safe for workers to enter a field.
Ag-Mart is accused of harvesting crops anywhere from one day to five days
after pesticide applications despite a seven-day waiting period indicated
on the label. The farms involved are located in Immokalee and Jennings,
Florida. Although the investigation found evidence of harvesting before
the waiting period expired, no illegal pesticide residues were identified
on food crops in routine sampling from these farms.

The Department launched an investigation in March 2005 in conjunction with
an investigation by the Collier County Health Department and the Florida
Department of Health into the cause of three cases of birth defects in
children born to mothers who worked for Ag-Mart. The Department has never
received an official complaint about pesticide violations in this case and
agencies learned of the birth defects in news reports. The investigation
into the birth defects is the responsibility of the Collier County Health
Department and the Florida Department of Health; the Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services focuses on pesticide rules and
regulations. Bronson's Department uncovered extensive violations of
pesticide laws. However, the Department was unable to identify any
instances of illness resulting from any of the pesticide use violations.

The employees involved are licensed pesticide applicators employed by
Ag-Mart. They are Warrick Birdwell, Charles Lambert, Justin Oelmann and
Josh Cantu. Florida law says licensed applicators are responsible for the
pesticide use activities and actions of individuals under their

The investigation also uncovered violations of the Worker Protection
Standard which require pesticide applicators to wear certain protective
equipment. In one instance, a worker did not wear protective eyewear while
mixing an herbicide.

Bronson is seeking $111,200 in fines against Ag-Mart, Inc. The company has
21 days to request a hearing if it decides to contest the findings.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

In The Service

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Air Force Airman Angela J. Kelley has graduated from
basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
During the training, students received instruction in drill and ceremonies,
weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice,
physical training, first aid, and Army history and traditions. She is the
daughter of Janel and Joseph Kelley of Lakeview Ave., Clewiston, Fla.
Kelley is a 2004 graduate of Clewiston High School.

Bush Plans Lake Okeechobee Spending

LAKE OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- - Governor Jeb Bush, joined by Agriculture
Commissioner Charles Bronson, Senator Ken Pruitt and Representative Joe
Negron on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, Monday unveiled a comprehensive
plan to accelerate restoration and recovery of the largest freshwater lake
in the southeast. Under the $200 million recovery plan, the State is
expanding water storage areas, constructing treatment marshes and
expediting environmental management initiatives to enhance the ecological
health of the lake and downstream coastal estuaries. Governor Bush will
ask the Florida Legislature to provide a second installment of $25 million
in next year's budget, building on an initial investment of $30 million
this year - $25 million in growth management funding from the Department of
Environmental Protection and $5 million from the Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services.

"Lake Okeechobee is the gateway to America s Everglades. Restoring this
dynamic system is critical to the long-term economic and environmental
health of South Florida," said Governor Bush. "This comprehensive,
common-sense plan will reduce pollution and better manage the flow of water
while meeting our flood control and water supply responsibilities."

The 2004 hurricane season generated unprecedented rainfall, dumping
up to 13 million gallons of water each minute into Lake Okeechobee at its
peak. The 730-square-mile lake rose by more than five and a half feet in
less than three months -- from just over 12 feet in early August to more
than 18 feet by mid-October. The high winds, heavy rainfall and recent warm
weather contributed to murky waters, poor water quality and a decline in
the health of the lake. In addition, regulated freshwater discharges
needed to lower lake levels and prevent flooding have impacted the health
of the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries downstream.

Together with Florida's Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan and the $8 billion
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, this proposal fast tracks
construction projects during the next four years. Water managers will
construct the 4,000-acre Taylor Creek reservoir ahead of schedule and build
an additional 3,500 acres of stormwater treatment area to capture and clean
water flowing into the lake. Slated for completion by 2009, the
construction projects will provide 48,000-acre feet of additional water
storage, reduce harmful discharges to coastal estuaries and prevent up to
75 metric tons of phosphorus from flowing into the lake each year.

As a part of the plan, State agencies are raising standards and expediting
environmental requirements to reduce nutrient loading and better address
land use. Improved farming practices, strengthened permitting criteria for
new development, growth management incentives and nutrient limits for the
lake and its tributaries will reduce pollution and improve water quality.
The State will also begin implementing a new lake regulation schedule with
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to lower water levels and reduce
freshwater discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries to
improve current conditions.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Free Birding Tours Coming

Tours In Hendry Or West Palm Beach

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Through a partnership with Pine Jog Environmental Education
Center in West Palm Beach and Audubon Society of Hendry-Glades, the
South Florida Water Management District will offer to the public
escorted birding tours at Stormwater Treatment Areas 1 West in central
Palm Beach County and STA-5 in eastern Hendry County. The first trip is
scheduled Saturday, Sept. 17, at STA-1 West from 8:30 a.m. to noon, and
subsequent tours are scheduled regularly through April 2006 at both
STAs. Expert birders from Audubon Society of Hendry-Glades will conduct
the tours at STA-5; Pine Jog will conduct the tours at STA-1 West.

The stormwater treatment areas, owned and operated by the South Florida
Water Management District, are vast, constructed wetlands that use
vegetation to naturally cleanse excess nutrients from water before it
enters the Everglades. These remote, shallow-water marshes attract many
species of nesting wading birds, migratory and other water fowl such as
great blue herons, wood storks, snowy egrets, great egrets and roseate

Tours are open to anyone, but participants must register to reserve a space
on the trips. To sign up for the STA-1 West Birding Tour: Call Annie
McElhatton at Pine Jog (561) 686-6600 with your name and contact
information, the date you want to go, and the number in your party. To sign
up for the STA-5
Birding Tour: Send an e-mail to Margaret England, at with your name and contact information, the date
you want to go, and the number in your party. You may also leave a message
at (863) 674-0695 or (863) 517-0202.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Six LaBelle Home Sales

LABELLE, FL. -- In the last two weeks of September there were six LaBelle
area residential property sales recorded. An average sale price of $108,500
was had, including a mobile home on A Road for $39,000 as the lowest priced
parcel and a home on Case Road for $240,000 as the highest priced.

In The Service

Two Clewiston Men Graduate From Training

Army Reserve Pvt. Brian A. Rhodes has graduated from basic combat training
at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. During the nine weeks of training, the
soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values,
physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat
skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and
ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map
reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic
first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises. He is the son of
Debra J. and Glenn A. Rhodes of W. El Paso Ave., Clewiston, Fla. Rhodes is
a 2005 graduate of Clewiston High School.

Army Pvt. Kenneth J. Bellew has graduated from basic combat training at
Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. During the nine weeks of training, the soldier
studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical
fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills,
military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and
ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map
reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic
first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises. He is the son of
Teresa G. Carr, and Ken Bellew, both of Clewiston, Fla.

Scam Artists May Sell Flood-Damaged Cars

LABELLE, FL. -- Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, today
cautioned consumers and auto dealers to beware of buying used vehicles
that may have originated from areas flooded by Hurricane Katrina, and
potentially Hurricane Rita. Officials estimate that 350,000 vehicles were
flooded in New Orleans alone from Hurricane Katrina, and up to 500,000
vehicles could have sustained flood damage throughout Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama from this storm. Many of these vehicles are
shipped to other states, including Florida, through car wholesalers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services has partnered with
to give consumers and auto dealers the ability to check vehicle
identification numbers (VIN) of cars previously registered in
FEMA-declared flood-disaster areas. The Car Check: Check out a Vehicle's
History link is now available at The search is available to
Floridians at no charge. The VIN number is found on the inside of the
driver's door or the lower left inside of the windshield.

Gallagher said that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor
Vehicles will also be unveiling a system to allow Floridians to verify if
a used car was deemed totaled by hurricane flooding. That service is
expected to go online in the coming weeks and will also be available

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Glades County Going Into Land Speculation?

By Donna Storter

The Glades County Board of Commissioner held a Special Meeting last week
called to discuss possibly purchasing 72.5 acres on SR 78 and US 27 for a
site for a future correctional facility/offices and a commercial
development park. Currently an option for purchasing this land is held by
Glades Correctional Development Corporation (GCDC) which has been in
deliberations and negotiations for several years to build a facility to
house immigration detainees, informally known as "the INS project".

GCDC is a non-profit Florida corporation whose goal is to construct the
facility and contract with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) formerly known as INS, to provide institutional housing for
immigrants detained by ICE, and to also within the construction complex
provide a new jail facility for Glades County. If the County purchases the
property for approximately $770,000, the County can lease about 22 acres to
GCDC and possibly receive more in lease
income than the County is currently receiving from ad valorem taxes on
the property as it is currently in agriculture use. The other 50 acres
will be a prime location for commercial or maybe light industrial
development, as the needed infrastructure is available, being water,
sewer and major highway artery access.

The GCDC Board of Directors, Alvin Ward, Chairman, Bobby Flanagan and Nita
Shirley Members, gave their united concrete support of the concept, noting
that Peter Swan, bonding agent for Bergen Capital who will provide the
means for funding the construction, has endorsed the concept of GCDC
leasing the site from
the County, anticipating it will enhance the attraction for bond
purchasers. Commissioner Bob Giesler noted that the proposition of the
County purchasing the property had been an earlier consideration of GCDC
but circumstances at that time were not conducive to its fulfillment.
Glades County electorate approved the project by referendum ballot
several years ago knowing that the County will not be liable for the
operation of the detention center and its contract with ICE, while at
the same time utilizing an opportunity to lessen the County's liability
for the current jail facility which is in disrepair and cannot meet
State corrections inspection standards. Also expressing support for this
purchase was the Glades County Economic Development Council whose Board
of Directors unanimous vote of endorsement was expressed in Executive
Director Tracy Whirls' letter read by Commissioner Russell Echols.

No vote was taken, but the consensus of the four commissioners in
attendance was unanimous in voicing support. This will be an agenda item
at the Commissioners meeting next Tuesday October 11 9 a.m.

Glades Commissioners Consider Sports Complex

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Board of Commissioners last week
heard an appeal proposing the County provide $399,324 funding to upgrade
and improve the sports complex jointly owned by the City of Moore Haven and
Glades County School Board. District 3 Commissioner Russell Echols,
claiming it to be probably the most extensive recreation project taken on
by the county in quite some time, and citing dramatic increase in athletic
participation asked the Board to use one cent sales tax revenue to fund the
project providing a new (fourth) ball field on School Board property,
renovating the existing (3) ball fields with new sod, putting in a press
box and concession stand, and upgrading the lighting.

This sports complex serves the School's Athletic Department as well as city
and club sponsored sports activities, and will be divided with two
entrances so that
admission can be gained separately when multiple events are scheduled.

Echols stated, "It's major, but it's an investment in our children and
I'm asking this, not just for my district, but we have people who
participate in the organized sports in every one of your districts."
Chief Financial Clerk Brenda Choban confirmed that currently approximately
$1million remains uncommitted in that revenue account. The 1% Local
Government Infrastructure Surtax, passed by referendum in 1991, will expire
in 2007.