Wednesday, June 29, 2005

U.S. Senator To Visit Moore Haven

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A Glades County Town Hall Meeting with U.S. Senator
Bill Nelson will be held at the County Commission Chambers Wednesday July 6
at 1:30 PM. For more information please call Senator Nelson's office at

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Humane Society In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- The Caloosa Humane Society serves all of Hendry and all of
Glades counties with pet adoptions, low-cost spay neuter clinic, and dog
bathing events every 3rd Saturday among other programs geared to help pets
stay in their homes as apposed to being released to shelters. The Society
relies on donations and membership dues, financial donations, volunteer
time and necessary donations of supplies like Clorox, laundry soap, Dawn
dishsoap, papertowels, toilet paper, canned cat food, old bath towels, old
hand towels, pet supplies like leashes, collars, bedding for small
animals, feed for small animals (gerbils, rabbits, hamsters, chicken /
duck feed), and toys Locations is in LaBelle at 1200 Pratt Blvd. Website
address is, e-mail Hours
of operations; Tuesday 12:00 to 4 pm, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 11:00 to
4:pm. (Spay Neuter Surgery days are always on Fridays, at least 3
Friday's per month and we will open at 1pm to 4pm), Saturday 10:00 to 3pm.
Volunteers are welcomed.

Arrests Made For Port LaBelle Thefts

Sheriffs office also nabs animal offender

LABELLE, FL. (July 27, 2005) -- The Hendry County Sheriff's Office Criminal
Investigation Division
arrested Ramiro Chavez Marron, 20, as a result of
an on-going investigation into recent construction site thefts in the
Port LaBelle area of Hendry County. Investigations there were at two
different locations where items of the thefts were recovered
and returned to owners. Marron is being charged
with Grand Theft and Trespass on a Construction Site.

In an unrelated case on Tuesday, June
21, the Agricultural Crimes Unit arrested Hector Mendez. Several livestock
animals, ducks and fowls along with dead
animals/carcasses were found on the property belonging to Mendez. Mendez
is being charged with Confinement of Animals without Sufficient Food or
Water and Disposal of Dead Animals.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

LaBelle Homes Sales Last Week

Last week there were eight homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average
price of $111,250. The highest price was for a home on Davis Street for
$205,000 and the lowest for a mobile home on Bennett Ave. for $45,000.
Homes in Port LaBelle went from $50,000 to $152,000.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Gallagher Blasts Allstate

Tom Gallagher, Chief Financial Officer in Florida with the Florida Division
of Financial Services, blasted Allstate Floridian Insurance for its
proposed gigantic raising of home insurance rates saying, "It has become
apparent that Allstate Insurance Company plans to file a 28 percent
statewide average rate hike in July, but has already begun sending the
bills to Florida homeowners. Allstate's move to implement a rate hike and
then file for approval blatantly ignores a new law that requires a public
hearing for any rate request exceeding 15 percent. This is unconscionable.

"Just one month ago, Allstate announced the non-renewal of 95,000
Floridians. Now they are hitting their remaining policyholders with a rate
hike that they are afraid to hold up to public scrutiny.

"With these actions, Allstate has broken faith with their policyholders and
the people of Florida. This conduct is even more reprehensible considering
just four months ago Allstate's chairman Edward Liddy characterized the
company's 2004 financial performance as a 'great year for Allstate' and
"We're growing and generating solid returns for our shareholders."

"This is a company that says one thing to analysts and investors and
something else to its policyholders when it sticks them with the bill. I
am urging Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to do everything in his
power under Florida law to stop Allstate from circumventing the law and to
tell Allstate to cease and desist billing this unapproved rate increase to
Florida homeowners.

"Allstate's policyholders and the people of Florida deserve straight
answers from the company and we intend to hold Allstate accountable."

Allstate is one of the state's largest home insurance companies and one of
the few that until recently was still writing home insurance policies.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Woman Arrested For Child Neglect

CLEWISTON, FL. (June 21, 2005) -- Sheriff Ronnie Lee announces that an
investigation involving the Hendry
County Sheriff's Office and the City of Clewiston Police Department has
led to the arrest of Saira Morales age 21 of 248 Horse Club Avenue in
central Hendry County for child neglect. The case began with a 9-1-1
call regarding a sick child. The call was placed from a Mobile Home Park
located in the Clewiston City Limits where the child had been left with
a baby sitter. City Police Officer Pat Came responded and determined
that the 9 month old child was not breathing. Officer Came began rescue
breathing until Hendry County Emergency Services arrived at the scene.
EMS transported the child to Hendry Regional Hospital where they
continued emergency breathing until the child was airlifted to Palms
West Hospital in Palm Beach County.

Subsequent investigation by the
Clewiston Police Department revealed that the child neglect events
actually occurred in the county and the case was turned over to the
Hendry County Sheriff's Office. HCSO Criminal Investigator Tiffany
Arnold advanced the investigation that led to second degree felony
charges against Saira Morales mother of the infant. Morales was booked
into the Hendry County Jail under a $50,000.00 bond.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Arrests In Harlem and Port LaBelle

CLEWISTON, FL. (June 17, 2005) -- Sheriff Ronnie Lee reports that the
Hendry County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division has taken
more illegal drugs off the
streets of Hendry County. Following the serving of a search warrant at
1036 Alabama Avenue in Eastern Hendry County an on scene investigation
produced 40 pieces of "crack" cocaine as well paraphernalia, packaging
materials and "zani-bars" (Xanax) possessed without a prescription.
Arrested was 18 year old Allah Lawrence. Lawrence is charged with, sale
of cocaine, possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with the intent
to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled
substance without a prescription. He was booked into the Hendry County

In a separate arrest Lee said that an ongoing investigation into
construction site thefts in the Port LaBelle area of Hendry County has
led to the arrest of 19 year old Ramiro Chavez Marron. Marron lead
members of the Hendry County Sheriff's Office to two different locations
where items valued at approximately $2,100.00 were recovered and
returned to the owners. Marron was charged with Grand Theft and Trespass
on a construction site and booked into the Hendry County Jail.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Randy Bengston, candidate for LaBelle Mayor against incumbent Sharon Craichy, waits his turn to speak at Monday's candidate forum at the LaBelle Civic Center. Bengston says "It's time for a change" and wants to end Craichy's 12 year reign as LaBelle's top boss.

City of LaBelle's Mayor Race

Bengston Goes For Craichy's Job

The city of LaBelle's veteran Mayor Sharon Craichy fired a volley of shots at Mayoral opponent Randy Bengston at Monday night's election forum at the LaBelle Civic Center. Craichy, with over a decade of local political experience, told the hundred or so in attendance that "He's got make-believe problems" and chastised Bengston over his comments on the city's water problems saying "You need to school yourself on the subject, son."

Bengston, Hendry county's long-time Public Service Director said "I don't like drinking yellow water!" in reference to the discolored water coming out of LaBelle's taps. The city's aging water plant that has had the state Department of Environmental Protection issue numerous orders to clean up the water over the last several years. Craichy blamed the city's water problems on the "Feds" coming in and forcing changes in the way the water was treated and says she has been working diligently on improving the water situation, trying to get state grants to build a new state of the art water treatment plant.
Craichy suggested that Bengston may want the county to take over the city's water treatment to which she said "we're not giving away our water plant." Selling water to citizens is usually a very profitable venture for governments because they can set their own rates without regulation.

Bengston, probably one of the county's best administrators, told the audience "I think it's time for a change" and that he favors hiring a full time professional city manager because of the recent growth of the city and the projections of future growth due to recent large annexations of land to the south of the city. Craichy attacked the idea, claiming she was a full-time mayor now and spent 40 hours a week on the job. When an audience member questioned how she was able to do that and work at her local real estate office too, she said she got up early every morning and worked two hours at her business before heading to the city maintenance barns to begin her city job. She told Bengston that he would not be able to be able to handle both his county job and the job as mayor, and told the audience that hiring a professional city manager was too expensive and would raise taxes. Bengston suggested taking some of the mayor's salary to apply toward hiring a city manager.

Craichy, the ultimate small town politician and smooth-talking salesperson, named-dropped all evening, introducing all the current commissioners to the audience as well as the office staff, and even the city street crews who weren't at the meeting. She several times mentioned Tommy Smith, who she said was her "mentor" over the years. Tommy "Las Vegas" Smith, is a local businessman, and former mayor, who rumors have it may have been mixed up with drug importing locals decades ago when Hendry county was notorious for drug dealing and the county Sheriff found himself staring at prison bars from the inside for a while.

Bengston said there is a "need to look at the city's checkbook" and claimed he found $18,000 spent recently towards food and catering items and money to Winn Dixie and the U-Save supermarkets that didn't seem to make sense to him. Craichy responded to the audience saying "Go check our books," and denied anything was wrong with the city's spending.

Craichy patted herself on the back, telling the audience about her negotiating skills and how she's able to get people to work for free and even claimed she buffaloed Wall-Mart executives at a recent meeting into giving LaBelle a more attractive looking building for its proposed 24-hour store in the LaBelle area. She said she put together a code review board three years ago that meets every Thursday morning comprised of local real estate people that work for free. The board is revamping the city's building codes. Critics suspect that the work won't really be "free" since these folks have a vested interest in codes that will help them in their private real estate businesses.

Craichy claims that she works hard to keep taxes low, at 3 mils for many years, but neglected to say that in addition, the city also collects hefty taxes from residents for parks, lighting and sewage districts, other fees over and above the city property tax.

Bengston said the "current Mayor is not listening" to the people and that "clear drinking water is more important than oak tree beautification" referring to the Mayor's long standing attempts to protect LaBelle's oak trees. Bengston said "I am not a politician but a public servant."

Both said they are for "impact fees" to be charged to developers who build in the city, claiming they don't want to charge locals, but don't mind collecting fees from "outsiders." Craichy said though that she wanted exemptions for building in LaBelle's downtown area historical district. Her real estate business is there and her daughter owned a home there.

When an audience question came up about why there are differences in LaBelle's neighborhoods, the well-kept mostly white Belmont section versus the black Martin Luther King area, Craichy more or less ignored answering directly, but said the Belmont residents were very particular about their homes and helped one another. Bengston attributed the differences to "renters" not caring as much about the properties as owner-occupied housing.

Early voting begins July 5 and election day is July 19.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

LaBelle Home Sales For June

In the first week of June, there were 12 homes sold in the LaBelle area.
The average price was $165,083. The highest priced home was on Fort Denaud
Road for $525,000 and the lowest priced home was a mobile home on Davis
Street for $30,000. A home sold on Albany Road for $108,000 in Port LaBelle
and one on Clipper Terrace for $92,000 in Country Village.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Cocaine Bust In Montura

CLEWISTON, FL. --Sheriff Ronnie Lee announces that an ongoing investigation
by members of
the Hendry County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division has
led to the serving of a search warrant at a residence at 212 Avenida Del
Club in Central Hendry County. Following the serving of the search
warrant and on scene investigation, a Hispanic male identified as
Doberti Sanchez and a Hispanic female identified as Betty Sanchez were
arrested and booked into the Hendry County Jail for possession of
cocaine, possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, possession of
drug paraphernalia and for the sale of cocaine. An excess of 10 grams of
powder cocaine as well as paraphernalia and packaging materials were
taken into evidence during the search of the residence.

Sheriff Tapped For Safety Council

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Ronnie has been elected to the Board
of Directors
of the Southwest Florida Safety Council. The general objective of the
Safety Council is to promote, encourage and support safety in industry,
the home, on the highways and in public places. Their focus is to draw
attention to specific major health hazards and accident situations and
generate public opinion to support necessary actions to alleviate those
problems. By accepting the nomination, Sheriff Lee says he will bring his
of experience to help plan and carry out or assist in the presentation
of educational programs that will be effective in reducing and/or
preventing highway, home, public or occupational accidents.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Glades County Schools Just Average

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Florida Department of Education says all schools in
Glades County this year scored a "C" on the state's "report card" for school
progress in teaching math, reading, and writing to its students. Glades
county has three schools, the new West Elementary just north of LaBelle,
Moore Haven Elementary, and Moore Haven Jr./Sr. High School.

Florida's A+ Plan says school grades each year are based on how well
students have mastered the Sunshine State Standards , the skills Florida
teachers determined children must learn at each grade level as measured by
the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Student scores are
classified into five achievement levels, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being
the highest. Schools earn points based on three things: how well students
are doing, how much progress they are making (learning gains), and how much
progress struggling readers are making (since reading is essential to
success in all subject areas).

Hendry School Scores Not So Good Again

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Education again issued its yearly
school scores showing how well each individual school in the state did on
its annual "report card," grading each school's progress in teaching
reading, writing, and math to its students. Traditionally, Hendry schools
have not fared well. Again this year, Hendry elementary schools did well,
middle schools not so well, and high schools, well...very bad.

Two LaBelle elementary schools, Country Oaks and LaBelle Elementary received
an "A" satisfying the criteria for the State of Florida A+ Plan criteria for
percentage of students scoring at grade levels in math, reading and writing.
Upthgrove Elementary received a "B." In Clewiston, again traditionally
scoring lower than LaBelle schools, Clewiston Elementary received a "D"
while Eastside and Westside Elementary both had a "B." The Clewiston Middle
School and LaBelle's both received a "C." And both Clewiston and LaBelle
High School received a "D."

The state's school website for checking scores is at

Is There A Sexual Offender In Your Neighborhood?

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is charged with
keeping track of released from prison sexual offenders and predators, and
surprisingly, in Hendry county there are more than you might think. The
department, by law must publicize the residences of those released from
prison on sex charges. In Hendry county there are 14 listed by the FDLE as
living in the LaBelle and Clewiston areas. In LaBelle there are 10
offenders, while in Clewiston there are four. In nearby Belle Glade in Palm
Beach county there are six listed, three of whom are classified as sexual
predators. On the other side of the county, Alva in Lee county has 3
offenders listed. There are none listed in Moore Haven or Felda.

To see a map of where they live according to the FDLE, click on the links
below. When the map appears you can also click on the map to see photos and
more information about each offender or predator.


Clewiston area

Glade area


Monday, June 06, 2005

Cocaine Busts In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Ronnie Lee reports that Alfonso
Maldonado, 64 was arrested at the LaBelle Trade Center Laundromat with 3
bags of
cocaine in his possession. Maldonado was charged with Possession of
cocaine, Possession with intent to sell and Possession within 1000 feet
of a County Building and booked into the Hendry County Jail.

Sheriff Ronnie Lee reports that the Hendry County Sheriff's Office assault
on narcotics in Hendry County has also led to two additional arrests. A
traffic stop by the HCSO Road Patrol utilizing the HCSO K-9 Unit resulted
in the discovery of 23 small zip-lock bags of cocaine and led to
information for an investigation and search of a residence located at 2288
County Road 78 Lot Number 6 LaBelle. Officers recovered cocaine, marijuana,
cutting agents, packaging materials and miscellaneous items of narcotics
paraphernalia. The investigation led to the arrest of, David Ozuna age 48
for Possession of cocaine, Possession with intent to sell, Possession
Marijuana, Cocaine Trafficking and Possession of narcotic paraphernalia.
Ramiro Ozuna age 56 was charged with Trafficking in cocaine. Both men were
booked into the Hendry County Jail.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Duda's Felda Citrus Grove Quarantined

FELDA, FL. -- A citrus grove of A. Duda & Sons Inc. in Felda, south of
LaBelle is under quarantine after state inspectors announced this week that
a canker infection was suspected. The Duda grove supplies replacement trees
for it's company groves and sells some to commercial growers. A. Duda & Sons
is a grower and marketer of vegetables, citrus, sod, sugarcane and cattle
with headquarters in central Florida. In LaBelle, operations include about
10,000 acres of sod and citrus, a fresh fruit packinghouse and a juice
processing plant.

Florida has about 1400 square miles of land under citrus quarantines where
no citrus plants may be moved in and nothing moved out of the area. Hendry
county' largest area ever being quarantined was in 2002 with about 125
square miles covering the Siboney grove area north of the Big Cypress
Seminole Indian Reservation and east of SR833. Closest area to LaBelle now
under quarantine are the groves north of Sears Road with four square miles.

LaBelle Home Sales Last Week

LABELLE, FL. -- In the last week of May there were 5 homes sold in the
LaBelle area for an average price of $142,000. Records show prices paid
were $165,000 for a home on 6th Ave., $77,000 for a Caloosa Estates home,
$55,000 on Lady Ln., a $270,000 selling price on N. Riverview St. and
$143,000 in Port LaBelle on W. Briarwood Cir.

Parenting Center Receives Grant

BELLE GLADE, Fl. -- NOAH (Neighbors Organized for Adequate Housing) has
received a three-year, $235,500 grant award from the John S. and James L.
Knight Foundation for its Prenatal Parenting Education Center. The Center
provides teenage mothers with instruction on how to properly care for
themselves during pregnancy and teaches young parents how to care for
their infants.

The Center was established in 1988, as part of NOAH's mission to assist
Glades residents with family development. It was initially underwritten by
the Children's Services Council and also briefly supported by the Palm
Beach County Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding from
Knight Foundation enables NOAH to offer the Center's services without

Prenatal Parenting Education addresses the need to change individuals'
behaviors and attitudes about maternal health, family planning and child
rearing. Pregnancy rates among teen mothers in Belle Glade and Pahokee
are two to three times higher than the Palm Beach County average, and
the 17.5 percent infant mortality rate in South Bay is twice as high as
the rest of the county.

Established in 1983 to address the need for adequate, safe housing in the
Glades, NOAH provides residential, social and family and child development
services for local residents. NOAH's mission is to improve housing in the
Glades area of Palm Beach County, which includes Belle Glade, Pahokee
and South Bay; to empower disadvantaged individuals toward self-help and
self-sufficiency; and to build bridges among the diverse racial, ethnic
and economic groups. Its main offices are located at 601 Covenant Drive
in Belle Glade.

Hendry Deputy Charged In Beating

LABELLE, FL. (JUNE 3, 2005) -- State Attorney Steve Russell announced today
that a former Hendry County Deputy Sheriff has been charged in Lee County
Court with Battery for kicking and beating a suspect following a traffic
stop on August 28, 2004.

John R. Childers, 35, of LaBelle, was charged with one count of
misdemeanor battery upon Kenneth J. Phillips, 45, of Clewiston. Battery is
punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine.
Childers and other Hendry deputies tried to make a traffic stop on Phillips
as he was driving west on SR 80 in Hendry County. The stop was eventually
made in Lee County, which is where the alleged incident occurred.
Therefore, the battery charge was filed in Lee County Court.

The incident was recorded on the video system of one of the
deputy's vehicles. Copies of the video will not be made public by the
State Attorney's Office until such time as it has been released through the
discovery process under Florida Law.

Childers has been served with a summons requiring his appearance in
Lee County Court on Tuesday, June 21, 2005, at 8:30 a.m. for arraignment.
A trial date will be set at that time.

Six Deputies Cleared In Shooting

LABELLE, FL. -- State Attorney Steve Russell announced this week that the
Hendry County Grand Jury has cleared 6 Hendry County Sheriff's Deputies in
the shooting of Deana K. Hall after a traffic pursuit on September 22, 2004
in LaBelle. Ms. Hall survived her gunshot wounds.

The Grand Jury issued a report on May 31, 2005, which sets forth their
factual findings in the case, and their conclusion that the actions of the
deputies were legally justified. The report had been sealed under Florida
law until today.

The Grand Jury also issued an 8 count indictment charging Ms. Hall, 28,
with: 3 counts of Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, and 1
count each of Aggravated Fleeing to Elude, Resisting an Officer With
Violence, Leaving the Scene of a Crash, DUI Causing Property Damage, and
Driving While License Suspended. Ms. Hall was taken into custody yesterday
by the agency that investigated the case, the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement. After first appearance Friday, Ms Hall is being held at the
Hendry County Jail without bond pending arraignment scheduled for July 11.

The Grand Jury issued this finding of the facts of the incident:

At approximately 6:30 p.m. on September 22, 2004, a large GMC Yukon SUV,
ran into the rear of a vehicle driven by Delma Gonzales. Ms. Gonzales'
vehicle, which was also occupied by her sister and niece, was stopped at a
red light, facing west, on SR 80 at the intersection with Bridge Street in
LaBelle. After the crash, the driver of the Yukon got out of her vehicle
and said something that Ms. Gonzales could not understand. The driver was
described as a female of either Hispanic or Indian descent. The driver was
observed to have an unusual or odd look in her eyes. The driver then got
back into the vehicle and drove away, turning north onto Bridge Street.
Ms. Gonzales reported the crash to the Hendry County Sheriff's Office, by
calling on her cell phone. Deputies, including Perry Short and Sgt. Jamie
Thorpe began arriving within minutes. The Deputies and Ms. Gonzales then
moved their vehicles off SR 80, and into the U-Save parking lot at the same
intersection, to continue the crash and hit-and-run investigation. The
Yukon was described as dark red or maroon, with flames painted on the
front, and Ms. Gonzales provided the deputies with the license plate number
that was observed.

One of the deputies was able to retrieve the driver license photograph of
the registered owner of the Yukon, but it was indicated by Ms. Gonzales and
the others in her vehicle that this person was not the driver who had
crashed into them. Shortly thereafter, the same distinctively-painted
Yukon was observed by Ms. Gonzales and the deputies heading south on Bridge
Street, then turning west onto SR 80. Several deputies began following the
Yukon, with the intent to make a traffic stop.

The driver of the Yukon refused to stop, despite being followed by several
marked Hendry County Sheriff's patrol cars, with lights and sirens
activated. One of the patrol cars, being driven by Sgt. Thorpe was
equipped with a video camera and recorder, which captured the images
beginning with the early stages of this pursuit, and continuing through the
end of this incident.

The Yukon continued westbound on SR 80, out of LaBelle for several miles,
at speeds in excess of the limit. At least six Hendry County Deputies in
addition to Deputy Short and Sgt. Thorpe became involved in the efforts to
pursue: Lt. Chad Schipansky, Sgt. Andrew Drew, Deputy David Gallegos, Det.
Steven Maldonado, Deputy Martin Meyer, and Sgt. Curtis Clay. The deputies
tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the Yukon while it was heading west. The
Yukon then made a U-turn across a grass median and began heading east on SR
80, retuning toward LaBelle.

The deputies continued their efforts to get the Yukon to stop, including
three attempts to deploy "stop sticks" designed to deflate the tires. The
Yukon continued to be driven dangerously and at excessive speed, at times
going completely off the pavement in attempts to avoid the "stop sticks",
and almost hitting a deputy at least once. The Yukon struck at least one
of the "stop sticks" but still failed to stop or significantly slow down.
As a result, the two driver's side tires ultimately went flat and broke
apart, yet the Yukon continued riding on the wheel rims. The Yukon
eventually crossed over onto the wrong side of the road, continuing east in
the westbound lanes. A sheriff's vehicle driven by Sgt. Clay got close to
the right side of the Yukon, trying to make it move over to the side of the
road and stop, but the two vehicles made contact and the left front of the
sheriff's vehicle got stuck to the right front side of the Yukon.

The larger and more powerful Yukon then dragged the sheriff's vehicle,
still without stopping. The Yukon then almost struck a westbound pickup
truck head-on. The Yukon then continued east, dragging Sgt. Clay's
vehicle, approaching the Shell gas station at Martin Luther King Blvd. A
PT Cruiser, driven by Patricia Nixon was heading west, and Ms. Nixon had to
take evasive action by backing up on SR 80 and around the corner onto MLK.
The Yukon, then turned left, onto MLK, still dragging Sgt. Clay, and headed
directly towards Ms. Nixon's vehicle. Ms. Nixon had to take evasive action
again, driving off the road to avoid being struck.

Once on MLK, Deputy Meyer was able to get in front of the Yukon and Sgt.
Clay, to again attempt to make them stop. Dep. Meyer's vehicle was struck
in the rear, and spun to the left, with the driver's side facing the front
of the Yukon. The Yukon quickly stopped, but struck the driver's door area
of Dep. Meyer's vehicle, and appeared to be wedged between Meyer's and Sgt.
Clay's vehicles. The other deputies, who were still pursuing, quickly
stopped around the vehicle, and thinking the Yukon had stopped, got out of
their cars and approached it intending to apprehend the driver.

Deputy Meyer's door was pinned shut by the front of the Yukon, and due to
the computer console at the center of the vehicle, he was unable to exit.
As the other deputies were approaching the sides and around the rear of the
Yukon, its engine began to rev loudly. Those behind the Yukon could see
the back-up lights come on. Deputy Meyer, who felt his vehicle starting to
be moved by the Yukon, and who may have thought he was going to be rammed,
tried to motion or signal for the driver to stop. At about this same
time, the Yukon suddenly lurched backwards, and appeared to partially rise,
apparently going over a door of one of the sheriff's vehicles.

Although the pursuit had lasted approximately 15 minutes, the final actions
all occurred very quickly, and the exact order is uncertain. As the Yukon
started to move, Deputy Meyer fired one shot from his .40 caliber Glock
pistol. At almost the same time, Lt. Schipansky fired 4 times, Sgt. Drew
fired twice, Deputy Gallegos fired 4 times, and Detective Maldonado fired 5
times, all using their .40 caliber Glocks. Also, Sgt. Clay fired twice
with a 12 gauge shotgun.

The Yukon finally stopped, and was secured by the deputies. The driver,
who was found to be Deana K. Hall, was the only occupant, and had been
struck several times by bullet fragments, shotgun pellets, and broken glass
caused by the projectiles. Medical attention began almost immediately, at
first by off-duty medics who happened to be nearby at the Shell station,
then by on-duty medics who transported her to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort
Myers. Ms. Hall survived her wounds.

Toxicology results from Ms. Hall's blood indicate that she had a .139 blood
alcohol level, and also was "positive" for cocaine, opiates, and

Efforts were made to protect and secure the scene of the shooting and the
weapons which were fired. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was
called in, and began their investigation the same evening. The FLDE
examined the crime scene and collected the evidence, and interviewed all
the deputies and other witnesses. The FDLE crime labs tested the evidence,
and reported the results. The shell casings recovered at the scene were
all identified as having been fired by one of the firearms described above
(except for one .45 caliber casing that cannot be tied to this case in any
way; no .45's were found to have been at the scene or fired in this
incident, and this casing may have been previously at the scene for reasons
unrelated to this matter).
All the projectiles were fragmented and/or damaged upon striking the Yukon.
Therefore, while such fragments were recovered from the Yukon, and from Ms.
Hall, no projectiles can be specifically matched to any of the individual
guns (other than the pellets and wadding , since only one shotgun was fired
at the scene).

FDLE interviews of all the deputies who fired their weapons indicate that
each believed that he, the other deputies, and other drivers on the road
were being placed in immediate danger of injury or death by Ms. Hall's
actions at the time they fired.

Ms. Hall was also interviewed by FDLE, and she indicated she had consumed
alcohol and cocaine, knew she had been in the crash at SR 80 and Bridge
Street, and knew that the deputies were trying to get her to stop.
Investigation by FDLE has also determined that Ms. Hall's license was
suspended at the time of this incident.

Temp. Emergency Management Hired

LABELLE, FL. -- Hired this week as interim Emergency Management Director
and present at a county staff meeting was Tom Kochheiser. He was Hendry
County Emergency Management Director from December 1997 to April 2001. And
before that a controversial Cape Coral Fire Chief. He has been residing in

Thursday, June 02, 2005

National Trail Day Saturday

National Trails Day is June 4, 2005, and Florida Agriculture and Consumer
Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is encouraging everyone to visit a
state forest and start your Trailwalker program. The Department's Division
of Forestry oversees the management and protection of the state's nearly 1
million acres of forest land.

This year's National Trails Day theme is "Take the Path to a Healthier
You." The American Hiking Society is using this day to bring greater
awareness to trails, as well as promoting the many benefits and pleasures
that are associated with walking and hiking.

The Florida State Forests Trailwalker Program started in 1999 and was
designed to encourage people to visit and hike the many trails that are
located in state forests. An incentive to participating in this program,
besides recreating and enjoying the beauty of Florida's many state forests,
is the recognition a person receives once a level of the program has been

Each of the three levels of the Trailwalker program only requires
completing 10 participating trails. At each level, the Trailwalker
receives a certificate commemorating their achievement and a Trailwalker
patch that can be sewn to a shirt, jacket or vest. The first level of
achievement is the Trailwalker designation given for hiking 10 trails, the
second is the Trailblazer designation for hiking 20 trails, and finally a
Trailmaster for hiking 30 trails.

While National Trail Day is a single-day celebration of the benefits of
hiking, the spirit of good health and exercise can be practiced every day
of the year in Florida's state forests. For more information on the
Trailwalker Program, write to Division of Forestry, 3125 Conner Blvd.,
C-25, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1650, or visit the Division of Forestry web
site at