Aerial photo of LaBelle, Fl at the Caloosahatchee River Bridge and site of the annual February Swamp Cabbage Festival. The LaBelle Airport Closes Sunday night for runway extension. See story below.
Photo by Don Browne
LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Municipal Airport, just two miles south of
downtown LaBelle, will be closing for two months as crews prepare the
groundwork for an expansion of the runway and taxiways. Better Roads, Inc.,
the contractor for the project, has already delayed the work which was
originally scheduled to close the airport a month ago. The current runway
will be lengthened from 3400 feet to about a mile long in order to attract
heavier aircraft including private jets. Alico, Inc., a local land company,
will most likely be flying more of their executives in and out of LaBelle
once the extended runway is open. The local airport brings large benefits to
the local economy as visitors and businessmen use the airport daily and
patronize local businesses.
The airport has two new rows of aircraft hangars which just opened recently
and has seen a new company move into a portable trailer next to the main
office, with flight instruction and aircraft repairs available soon. LaBelle
Municipal has also seen numerous "ultralight" aircraft move on site after
leaving a Glades county airport northwest of LaBelle, which has experienced
some flying accidents and problems with zoning complaints from neighbors.
The LaBelle airport will officially close for two months starting at
midnight this Sunday night.
LABELLE, FL. -- The annual Swamp Cabbage Festival in once again bringing
tens of thousands of visitors to rural Hendry county. The annual parade took
off Saturday morning down LaBelle's Bridge Street to Barron Park.
Festivities continue through Sunday with free music and entertainment.
Sunday's schedule includes a Community Church Service at 9 a.m. and Soloist
LaSheba Travis; singing at 10 a.m. with the Eastside Baptist Youth Choir,
followed by Soloist Carolyn Ford. Southern Gospel with Dillon Thomas at
11:30 and lots more music throughout the afternoon until 5 p.m. Master of
Ceremonies for the park events is Mickey Foster.
See Swamp Cabbage
Festival for more Festival event info and photos.
LABELLE, FL. -- Since 1995, two great service organizations in LaBelle have
made a difference in the lives of many older residents in the area. Sue
Gulley, Executive Director of Senior Connections, and Debra Woodford,
President of the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle, announced Tuesday that the two
groups will once again work together to address emergency needs among the
elderly in the LaBelle area. A $5,000 grant from the Kiwanis Club to Senior
Connections will continue the work begun last year to provide a safety net
for senior citizens who find themselves in need of emergency or temporary
assistance due to special circumstances.
The agency's "Good Samaritan" program is meant to help elders whose
situations require immediate assistance, without the customary waiting
period experienced by enrollees into federal or state-funded programs. In
2004, elders were helped with meals, utilities payments, home repairs, and
other emergency needs, all made possible by the Kiwanis grant.
Says Gulley, "We have a long-standing partnership with the Kiwanis Club of
LaBelle that has made significant impact on the needs of seniors less
fortunate in our community. The Club is to be commended for its community
outreach to the elderly."
Senior Connections, a United Way partner agency, provides services to
those in need through a variety of different programs and funding sources
so that no one who needs help goes without. Anyone, including the elder,
can make a referral to Senior Connections for help. Just call 675-1446 in
LaBelle for more information on these or other programs offered at the
Winn-Dixie faces stiff competition from Wal Mart and Publix. Because these
two chains are not within 25 miles of LaBelle, perhaps the local store will
survive. No word yet on which stores will be closed statewide and when,
although a warehouse has been closed in the Sarasota area and it's food
manufacturing plants will be the first to go. The first step is apparently
for Winn-Dixie to try to renegotiate exisiting leases with their landlords.
LABELLE, FL. -- The Bonita Bay Group plans to develop 4,700 acres just
south of LaBelle along State Road 29 with a potential 15,000 homes along
with stores, a public park and a trade school campus. The property, now
under contract with the Bob Paul Family is now a citrus grove. The Paul
family had donated a parcel of land for the Educational Center of Southwest
Florida several years ago.
The company says it will be three to five years before ground is broken and
the project would take 30 years to complete. An amendment to the
comprehensive plan of Hendry County will be required since the land is now
zoned agricultural. The largest land subdivision in Hendry county still is
Port LaBelle with 36,000 acres of quarter to half acre lots, and was
originally platted in the 1960s. The majoritiy of Port LaBelle is still
vacant lots owned by mostly out of state owners. Hendry county has a current
population of about 39,000.
A press release from the company says, "Following the recent announcement of
Winn-Dixie's second quarter financial results, in which the Company reported
increased losses and reduced liquidity, coupled with subsequent credit
downgrades from the major debt rating agencies, Winn-Dixie experienced a
tightening of trade credit from some of its vendors, which further reduced
its cash availability. No final decisions regarding any additional store
closings or market departures, beyond those previously announced by the
Company, have been made at this time. The Company will announce any such
decisions at a later date."
In LaBelle at the store on Main Street, shoppers may have noticed higher
prices lately and less waiting at checkout lines. The in-store bank closed
up several months back. Whether the LaBelle store will remain open depends
on future decisions of profitability outlooks for the store and the outcome
of the Bankrupcy filings. The LaBelle property is leased by Winn-Dixie from
the Chester Dix LaBelle Corp. of Jacksonville who purchased the property for
$3.1 million in 1996 and on the tax rolls by the county property assessor
now at $4 million.
"I was told that if I didn't resign, I would be fired for something petty
and then I would never be able to get a job anywhere," he said. "If I did
resign, then I would get a good reference. They told me that the chief just
wanted me gone," Baker reportedly said. He claims after quitting on what he
thought were good terms, and seeking employment elsewhere, he ran into
rejection from prospective employers and allegedly was then asked by the Ft.
Pierce Police Department why he was "fired" and why he was under
investigation. It was indicated he might have filed false affidavits at
Okeechobee while working there. Baker claims he was not fired and never
falsified affidavits although a court case was dismissed in a drug case
where Baker had pulled over a suspect with a taillight out and allegedly
discovered drugs. The judge reportedly found cause to suppress the evidence
and the case was dismissed.
Glades County representative Edward Elkowitz asked that Collier County and
Ave Maria pay for the road widening of State Route 29 because those visiting
Ave Maria from the east coast will take SR29 to get to the area. "This
doesn't only affect Collier County. It affects Glades, Hardy," Elkowitz
said. "We're talking a whole lot of area." Ave Maria is be built two miles
north of Oil Well Road and one mile west of Camp Keais Road.
The development plan proposes that Ave Maria eventually will have 11,000
residential units and will have 1,000 moderate-income, owner-occupied
housing units, 700 low-income units, and 200 very low-income units. A
28-acre site near the town of Ave Maria is to be given to Habitat for
Humanity of Collier County for 150 owner-occupied affordable housing units.
November 2004 saw the most homes sales of any one month at 24 homes in
LaBelle. So far, in 2005, seven homes were sold in January at an average
price of $89,000 and one sale in February at $149,000. In the Clewiston
area, 14 homes sold in January 2005 at an average price of $116,000.
Clewiston's record sales month was June 2004 with 22 homes sold.
Monthly Real Estate sales statistics reports are available from the
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