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.