Thursday, March 31, 2005

Port LaBelle Foreclosure Sale

LABELLE, FL. (March 30, 2005) -- A Naples bank foreclosed on a Miami land
developer and the court held a sale of its 25 lots in Port LaBelle today.
The 1st National Bank held a mortgage on 25 one-third acre lots in Port
LaBelle owned by Florida Development Corp. The company originally paid about
$23 thousand per lot in October, 2002 according to county records and was
unsuccessful at re-selling enough lots to pay the mortgage. The company sold
about two lots for about $23,000 each, and a home was built on one.

The bank, owed about $357,000, elected to foreclose when agreed upon
payments were not made. A Cape Coral investor, Rodney Troyer made the
successful bid at auction of $615, 000 or about $24,600 per lot. Also
bidding was a Broward county investor, and a local real estate agent.

Port LaBelle lots have been under a speculative frenzy in the last 12 months
as real estate agents make contracts to buy lots from mostly out-of-state
owners and then re-sell them within a few weeks at large markups.

Indian Res Cattle To Be Tagged

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner
Charles H. Bronson has launched a historic pilot project with the Seminole
Tribe of Florida that will track cattle from birth to grocery stores.
Bronson will meet with representatives of the Seminole Tribe at Brighton
Indian Reservation near the town of Moore Haven for a demonstration of the
project on Thursday, March 31, at 11 a.m.
The project involves putting electronic tags on about 10,000 head of cattle
so they can be traced throughout their lifetime. The tags will allow
officials to trace the movement of any animal diagnosed with certain
communicable diseases, including BSE and foot-and-mouth, disease within 48

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stepped up its efforts
to create a national animal identification program when a cow in Washington
state tested positive in December 2003 for bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE), widely referred to as "mad cow disease." The cow was traced back to
Canada and no additional cattle have tested positive for BSE in the United
States since then. However, a lack of a national animal ID system made it
more difficult to quickly determine exactly where the infected cow had been
to find out if other cows in herds where the animal had been located were
also infected. The USDA has been working with various states on pilot
animal ID projects which will be used to assist in developing a national

The project is being funded by a USDA grant of $95,600. The Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services participated in a
cooperative training program for Seminole Tribe herd owners in mid-February
to introduce the new ID system.

Proponents of animal identification systems say they will improve consumer
confidence in the domestic market and assist in maintaining and opening
international markets for U.S. beef. Animal identification is voluntary
but may be required by the federal government by 2007.

Statement By Governor

"After an extraordinarily difficult and tragic journey, Terri Schiavo is at
rest. Columba and I offer our condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Schindler, Bobby
Schindler, Suzanne Vitadamo and to all those who offered their prayers and
support to Terri's family over these past weeks, months and years. These
prayers were not in vain.

"Many across our state and around the world are deeply grieved by the way
Terri died. I feel that grief very sharply as well. I remain convinced,
however, that Terri's death is a window through which we can see the many
issues left unresolved in our families and in our society. For that, we
can be thankful for all that the life of Terri Schiavo has taught us.

"I still firmly believe that human life is a gift and a mystery, and that
its mystery is most evident at its beginning and ending. May all of us
whose hearts were moved during the life of Terri Schiavo grow in wisdom at
its ending."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Senior Connections Gets Grant

LABELLE, FL. -- Senior Connections of Southwest Florida is one of 52
agencies selected
out of 65 applicants to receive a 2005 Winter Cycle Grant from the SW FL
Community Foundation. The $10,000 grant was recently awarded for the
purchase of a home delivered meal truck for the agency's elderly
nutrition program in Glades County. "With federal and state funds
shrinking, this could not have come at a better time," says Sue Gulley,
Executive Director of Senior Connections. She added, "Our purpose, to
enhance the quality of life and promote independent living among the
elders in our communities, cannot be accomplished if there are older
people in need of a hot meal who cannot be helped because we can't get a
vehicle to their home to provide it."

The truck will operate in the
small community of Buckhead Ridge, an area hard hit by last summer's
hurricanes. Gulley added that it was difficult to deliver "food, water
and ice" to elderly victims of the storms last year because the agency's
fourteen-year old minivan would not start most days. Senior Connections
of Southwest Florida, Inc. a United Way Partner Agency, and lead agency
for services to elders under grants from the Area Agency on Aging of SW
FL and Dept. of Elder Affairs, offers a variety of services to older
adults sixty years of age or older to help them remain independent for
as long as that is their choice. For additional information, please feel
free to contact their offices in LaBelle at (863) 675-1446, in Clewiston
at (863)983-7088 or in Moore Haven at (863) 946-1821.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

LaBelle Home Prices Increasing

LABELLE, FL. (March 25, 2005) -- The week of 3/15/2005 to 3/22/2005, there
were 5 homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $138,200. The
highest priced home was on Oklahoma Avenue for $254,000 while the least
expensive home was $84,000 on South Edgewater Circle in Port LaBelle.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Glades Woman In Fatal Accident

LABELLE, FL. (March 24, 2005) -- Danny Backes, 49 of Old Muse Road has
charges pending against him after his vehicle crossed the center line on
Kirby Thompson Rd. hitting a vehicle driven by 27 year old Esmerala
Dominquez of Ft. Adams Road. Dominquez died later that night at the Lee
Memorial Hospital. 2 year old Abel Dominquez suffered minor injuries and was
a rear seat passenger in her vehicle. Backes was pulling a trailer and not
wearing a seat belt and suffered critical injuries.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Spring is here! A painted bunting taken by Margaret England of LaBelle at her backyard feeder. The painted bunting is one of the most rapidly declining songbirds in the eastern United States. Florida breeding and winter season surveys show an astounding 4-6 percent annual decrease in this species' numbers. In some areas, counts have fallen from the hundreds to a mere handful.
The reason for their decline is a puzzle, although one suspect is the brown-headed cowbird, which lays its eggs in the nests of other songbirds rather than building its own. In the competition of nestlings for food, the faster-growing cowbirds win, often starving the young buntings and even ousting them from the nest. Another suspected reason for their decline is the illegal capture of hundreds of adults for the exotic pet trade, especially in the Caribbean.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Discontinuing Medical Procedures

In the highly emotional enviroment today surrounding the decisions by the
Florida courts and the Federal court to allow Floridian Terri Schiavo to
pass away naturally without extraordinary methods to keep her alive, we felt
a need to look at what the Catholic Church has to say about euthanasia, or
the putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick or dying persons. Many
news commentators, the President, and others have promoted a philosophy of
"error on the side of life." Some news reports allege the Catholic Church is
in favor of prolonging the life of Schiavo further.

From the official teachings of the Church, the "Catechism of the Catholic
Church," religious scholars and others have looked at various issues of life
and death and written their conclusions accordingly for guidance, and as the
authoritative doctrine of the Church in ordinary and extraordinary matters
of life.

According to the Catechism, it is "morally unacceptable" to end a life by
"direct euthenasia." (2277) However, the very next paragraph, number 2278
says "Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous,
extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be
legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment.
Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is
merely accepted.
The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or,
if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable
will and legitimate interests must always be respected."

And in the following paragraph explains: "Even if death is thought imminent,
the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted.
The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the
risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human
dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only
foreseen and tolerated as inevitable
Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity.
As such it should be encouraged."

The World Health Organisation defines palliative care as "the active total
care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment".
This definition stresses the terminal nature of the disease.

Thus, it would seem that the courts so far have decided correctly in light
of the documentation in the current case, and the decisions made by her
legal representative, her husband. Your views are welcome and replies are
encouraged on this subject. Click on the link below to comment.

Hendry County Land For ATVs?

LABELLE, FL. -- A remote section of land over one square mile in surface
area may become a site for all terrain vehicle use. Collier county is
looking at a site in southwestern Hendry county to use for ATV aficianados
after most all trails have been closed in the Collier county area, including
the Big Cypress, Picayune Strand, and Everglades parks. ATV users must now
travel to north Florida to legally use their vehicles.

The land being considered by Collier county officials is owned by Lee County
and was purchased in the 1990s for possible use as a land fill site. Lee
county says they have no current plans for the vacant land at this time. The
land is west of Felda near Church Road and if used, an access point would
most likely be made from SR29.

Phone Scam Watch

Convicts Preying On Consumers

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Highway Patrol is issuing an alert to a phone
scam that is spreading throughout Florida. Callers (con artists) who are
impersonating Florida Highway Patrol Troopers, as well as other law
enforcement officers, have been contacting citizens by telephone at random
advising them that a family member has been involved in a traffic crash. The
con artist urges the phone owner to dial either *72 or 72# in order to speak
with a doctor. By doing this, the phone owner will unknowingly permit the
caller on the other end to use their phone line for making local or long
distance telephone calls which will ultimately be billed to the phone owner'
s account. Citizens who suspect that they may have fallen victim to a con
artist phone scam must contact their local phone company to ascertain how to
remove call forwarding from their telephone forwarding system.

Most of these phone calls have originated from pay phones located within
correctional facilities. Some correctional facilities have started playing a
recording on all collect calls dialed from pay phones within the facility in
which the receiver of the call is advised that they are receiving a collect
call from a correctional facility. Many of the calls have originated from a
correctional facility in Miami-Dade. Please note that if your phone is
equipped with caller ID, these calls begin with (305) 459 xxxx and the ID
name will be TCG payphones. Be cautioned that the Miami-Dade Correctional
Facility is not the only facility from which these calls can originate and
the above listed number is for informational purposes only.

Victims or potential victims should immediately contact the law enforcement
agency the caller claimed to represent. Anyone receiving a suspicious call
is asked to make notations about the caller's voice, request a call back
number, and take advantage of the caller ID feature if they have the
equipment installed on their phone. The Florida Highway Patrol does not
notify family members of crash victims via collect calls from pay phones,
nor would we request anyone to dial a *72 or 72# number. Anyone who suspects
that they might have been victimized by an individual who identified
himself/herself as a member of the Florida Highway Patrol is asked to
contact their local Florida Highway Patrol station.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Aerial Photo of Turkey Creek in Glades County. Located between LaBelle and Moore Haven along the Caloosahatchee River, a small community with river access alongs its canals.

Glades and Hendry County Aerial Photos by Don Browne email

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sexual Offenders List For Hendry and Glades

LABELLE, FL. (March 20, 2005) -- According to the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement there are 37 sexual offenders required to register with the
state and last registered as living in Hendry county. In Glades county,
seven men are required to register including four still under court
supervision. Included in the Hendry list is William Wyatt Allen who has
absconded from registration according to the FDLE. Allen was last living in
Clewiston and lived there from Oct. 3, 2002. His offenses include lewd,
lascivious behavior on a child under 16. Allen is a white male born

Included on the Hendry list are 30 individuals who are classified
"released" from supervision from the courts, but still required to provide
their addresses to the state. Still under supervision are listed Lee Sumner
of 415 Kirby Thompson Rd.,LaBelle; Seferino Medrono, 13765 Tangelo Av,
Clewiston; Angel Hidalgo of 4020 N. Edgewater Cir, LaBelle; Lee Holland of
1529 Riverbend Dr RV Estates, LaBelle; Sam Johnson, 1295 Cherokee St,
LaBelle; Allen Carver, 2385 CR78, LaBelle; Luis Casas of 1227 Hookers Point
Rd, Clewiston; Peter Bryan Garcia of 313 Trocadero Av, Clewiston. Also on
the list but released from supervision is John Harjo, the only classified
sexual predator on the county's list. His last offense is listed as a
failure of a sexual predator to list with the state. He is last reported as
living on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Unlike statistics
for most criminal activities, convicted sex offenders are primarily of the
white race and are almost exclusively male.

In Glades county the following are still under supervision: George
Alves, 9600 Oak Tree Ln NW, Moore Haven; Timothy Allen Dehass, 195 Harney
Pond Rd NE on the Brighton Indian Reservation; Robert Gallander, 53 Lake
Dr. NE, Buckhead Ridge; Nathaniel Kelly, classified a sex predator of 1146
Pierce St NW, Moore Haven. Kelly, a black male was convicted of lewd
assault and sexual battery on a female victim under 16.

Editor's Note: This list is provided to assist interested persons in
forming their own risk assessments. The addresses are as provided by the
offenders to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles which does
not confirm the accuracy. If any person believes the information is not
accurate or desire additional information they should contact the FDLE at
(888) 357-7332.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Homes Setting Records In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- In the last week of February, 11 homes have sold in the
LaBelle area. The average home sales price during the period was $93,750.
The highest priced home was on Captain Hendry Drive at $285,000 and the
lowest priced at $43,000 on Wallen Street. Port LaBelle homes were widely
priced and sold for prices between $53,000 and $95,000.

Real Estate agents have seen business boom as buyers look to Hendry county
for lower prices than can be found on either coast.

Friday, March 11, 2005

In The Service

Army National Guard Pvt. Timothy N. Tull has graduated from basic combat
military training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.
During the eight weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army
mission and received instruction in drill and ceremonies, rifle
marksmanship, weapons, map reading, tactics, armed and unarmed combat,
military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, Army
history, core values and traditions, and special training in human
He is the son of Julie and Don E. Tull of Apache Ave., Labelle, Fla.,
and nephew of Debbie and David Robinson of Clewiston, Fla.
Tull is a 1997 graduate of Labelle High School.

Businessman Admits Cheating Government

Sloppy Business Practices Bites Back At Bataller

LABELLE, FL. -- A LaBelle print newspaper owner admitted that he failed to
pay federal withholding taxes to the government which he had deducted from
employees' paychecks. Raoul Bataller, Jr., editor and owner of the Hendry-Glades
Sunday News said that he neglected to pay the IRS $12,200 over four years,
and after being caught had to pay an additional $13,000 in penalties and
interest to the IRS.

In a recent editorial in his local print paper, Bataller lambasts the IRS
for picking on him. He says the Feds are levying another $17,000 against
his business, and says they began confiscating $1000 per week starting the
week before Christmas. "There is a boiler room collection agency mentality
taking over the IRS that is barbarous," Bataller editorialized. He pleads in
his editorial against the IRS. He says "he made no profit" during his first
four years publishing the paper, and rationalized that perhaps he should not
pay the penalty because of "the public service rendered by us in a rural
area that cries out for modernization of its institutions."

Bataller noted that his record keeping wasn't always up to date since
starting the paper in March of 1996. At least one former employee had to
complain to the IRS that his wage statements from Bateller didn't agree with
what he actually earned, causing a potential liability for the employee owing income taxes for wages he didn't earn.

Not mentioned in his editorial, Bataller and the Hendry-Glades Sunday News
also got into tax trouble with the state for not paying Florida Unemployment
Fund taxes for four years. The Florida Revenue agents might have been
alerted when an employee filed for unemployment benefits and then discovered
Bataller hadn't paid the state anything. The state filed a lien against the
business for that. The Florida Department of Revenue also went after him to
collect other taxes owed, issuing a warrant on the business for not paying
sales taxes on the sales of newspapers.

Bataller, also in his editorial, complained that the state gives tax breaks
to other startup businesses, but if a business such as his newspaper fails
to turn a profit soon enough, "the Federal government steps in, helps itself
to its bank account" and imposes fines.
Ironically, Bataller often harps in his editorials about local businesses
and government agencies that should take the high road and do the right
thing. His paper has been designated by local governments and agencies as
the publication of record for publishing Hendry and Glades county legal

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Court Says Hospital Has To Tell Why Delay

Clewiston, FL. (March 10 , 2005) -- The 20th Circuit Court today served
legal notice that Hendry Regional Medical Center and Physical Therapy
Dynamics, Inc., show cause and explain to the court why they refused to
comply with public records requests for information on the hospital's
"Apparently the court agrees with our premise that these records should be
available for public review," said Robert Coker, Senior Vice President,
Public Affairs. "If there is a reason that the hospital is reluctant to
disclose this information, particularly regarding their dealings with the
therapy units and the sale of property from the drug store, they now will
have to come clean."

U.S. Sugar's lawsuit was filed after the administration of the public
hospital repeatedly refused to provide the requested information on its
operations, including documents related to its arrangements with the
privately-owned physical therapy services.
"It is a shame that we had to file a lawsuit to get financial information
from our community hospital. If everything is in good order, the
administration should be willing and able to comply with the law and make
these public records public," Coker said.

Coker is part of a blue-ribbon panel of local business leaders that has
been analyzing the operations of the hospital after its perilous financial
standing was brought to light with a 25% raise in ad valorem taxes in order
to fund the increasing deficits of the community hospital.

Terms of the summons require the Hendry County Hospital Authority and
Physical Therapy Dynamics, Inc. to respond by April 15, 2005.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

In The Service

Army Pvt. Shaun R. Galloway has graduated from the petroleum supply
specialist advanced individual training course at Fort Lee, Petersburg, Va.
The course is designed to train students in receipt, storage, issue,
shipping, and distribution of petroleum, oil and lubricant products used by
the Army. Training included instruction in petroleum and water accounting,
operating equipment associated with fuels and water distribution; and
fueling and defueling operations and procedures on vehicles, aircraft and
stationary equipment.
He is the son of David L. and Elizabeth G. Galloway of Labelle, Fla.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hendry County Government An Example On Capitol Hill

County IT Director Kept Computers Going By Satellite During Storms

Using the example of Hendry county's computer systems, Michael Cook, of
Hughes Network Systems told the House Committee on Government Reform that
government should include satellite broadband technologies in the
government's "Networx" procurement bids. Currently, only terrestrial
broadband is mandated, leaving many government offices and employees
underserved due to geographic limitations. Conventional terrestrial
networks, such as digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable modem, are often
not available in suburban or rural areas, whereas satellite broadband
solutions are available virtually continent wide.

In addition to using satellite broadband for their primary communications
needs, government agencies he said should rely on satellite for emergency
communications in times of heightened national and homeland security, as
well as natural disasters. In Hendry County, which was hits by back-to-back
hurricanes this summer, director of computer operations John T.
Hollingsworth coordinated all Hendry county Clerk of Courts office computer
servers and systems for four days from his home using a broadband satellite
service. Terrestrial-based networks were unable to withstand the hurricanes
and the land-based communications were completely incapacitated for four

Saturday, March 05, 2005

$194 Million Road Planned

Expensive Road Planned For LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Transportation showed off its
plans for rebuilding SR80 from Port LaBelle to US27 Thursday night at the
LaBelle Civic Center. The project to widen SR80 to four lanes begins at
Birchwood Parkway in Port LaBelle and continues eastward nearly 20 miles to
US 27. The project is to cost $194 million or almost $10 million per mile.
Twelve percent of the cost is for engineering inspections, while eight
percent is for design costs. So about $2 million per mile will go for
inspections and design costs. The costs for the road are not currently
funded, but construction will be expected after righ-of-way acquisitions are
completed, around 2008.

The DOT says now about two million vehicles travel the road yearly and say
they expect about eight million yearly by 2030. If the road is completed by
2010 and in use for 20 years, the costs of this four-laning ($194M) will
amount to about $2 per vehicle trip along this 20 mile stretch assuming an
average of about five million yearly trips over the 20 years and not
including maintenance costs.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Aerial photo of Port LaBelle with SR80 at right looking eastward with Birchwood Parkway at left. The Department of Transportation has proposed four-lane road widening project which will begin at Birchwood Parkway and end at US27, 20 miles east of here and cost $194 million. Final decisions on the project will be in a few weeks.

The Florida DOT solicits comments on the project until March 17, 2005. Information can be seen at State Road 80 Project

Hendry County Aerial Photos by Don Browne

Bubba Wade Appointed To Water Board

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Malcolm S."Bubba" Wade, Jr., 51, of Clewiston, senior
vice president, U.S. Sugar Corporation, has been appointed by Governor Bush
to succeed Hugh English of LaBelle, for a term beginning March 2, 2005 and
ending March 1, 2009 on the South Florida Water Management Governing Board.
U.S. Sugar Corp. is a large financial contributor to the Repulican Party
and a large user of water for its sugarcane crops. The appointment is
pending a State Senate confirmation.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

U.S. Sugar Going After Hospital

Clewiston, FL. (Feb. 28, 2005) -- U.S. Sugar Corporation today filed
a public records lawsuit to obtain information regarding Hendry Regional
Medical Center and Physical Therapy Dynamics, Inc.
"It is unfortunate that this action was necessary. I had hoped that we
would be able to get beyond the lawyers and the stonewalling on
providing critical information on the operations of the hospital and sit
down and work together to ensure the future of our local hospital," said
Robert Coker, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs. "But for some
reason, the hospital is reluctant to disclose important information on
their operations."

According to Coker, the public hospital has repeatedly refused to make
available information that, by law, is supposed to be made available to
the public. Numerous requests for information, including information
related to physical therapy services, have been stonewalled by the

"This information is essential to making good decisions regarding the
future administration and operation of our local hospital," Coker said.
"If everything is in good order, we see no reason why the hospital
should not comply with the law and make these public records public."

Over the last several months, a blue-ribbon panel of local business
leaders has been analyzing the operations of the hospital after its
precarious financial standing was brought to light with a 25% raise in
ad valorem taxes in order to fund the increasing deficits of the
community hospital.

In addition to the sharp increase in local property taxes, the hospital
used the proceeds from the sale of the Eckerd/CVS property that was to
be put in a special building fund for a new, modern community hospital
to fund the increasing deficits.

"This situation raises serious questions about the future of the
hospital and of quality healthcare in our community," Coker said. "If
we want to enjoy the benefits of having a community hospital in
Clewiston in the future, the citizens of Clewiston better get involved
U.S. Sugar Corp. is one of the largest landowners in Hendry county and also
has county tax exemptions on part of its manufacturing operations in