Saturday, December 29, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- From December 18 to December 25, there were 7 homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $155,429. All sales were in the Port LaBelle subdivision except for the 3rd Avenue sale in the city of LaBelle. The home on North Obisbo is reportedly a former "Habitat for Humanity" low-income buyer property recently foreclosed and the new owner bought it "as-is."
The rush of home sales may be attributed to buyers wanting to take possession before January 1 in order to gain Homestead property tax exemptions.
1) $164,000 on 3rd Ave
2) $124,000 on El Paso Ct
3) $166,000 on School Cir
4) $100,000 on Schooner Dr (Country Village)
5) $82,000 on N Obisbo Cir
6) $227,000 on S Balsam Cir
7) $225,000 on S Montana Cir
Friday, December 28, 2007
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Gun Club will have a shooting event on Saturday, January 12, 2008. It will take place at the Glades County Sheriff's Gun Range located north of the Sheriff's office on SR78. The gates will open at 8:00 AM
There will be a club member's shoot after the dew dries. At 8:30 approximately, there will be a short class on gun handling and gun safety by a Certified NRA Range Safety Officer. The class is open to the general public, for adults and children, as part of our firearms educational pledge to Glades County.
Member David Whidden says. "Come on out, meet the members, learn more about the club." The gun club is open for membership at all times, just ask any member for assistance in signing up. If you have waited until a convenient time to learn the safe handling of firearms, or for your child or children to learn the safe handling of firearms, this is the place to begin. Many kinds of firearms available for your perusal, and to teach children to identify them for what they are and to conduct themselves safely around them.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is encouraging parents to talk to their teenagers about safe driving practices on New Year's Eve. Attorney General McCollum emphasized the importance of having parents engage their children in conversations about the dangers of underage drinking and driving, particularly on a holiday night with potentially high numbers of intoxicated drivers.
"Young people need to know that they are responsible for their safety and only by making smart decisions can they protect themselves and potentially those around them," said Attorney General McCollum. "With an increased number of drivers on the road during the holidays, teen drivers need to be especially cautious behind the wheel and should be strongly admonished not to drink."
The Attorney General also noted that parents and adults should never provide alcohol to underage children, regardless of the situation. Underage drinking is illegal and dangerous, and when you add a vehicle to the equation, it can be deadly.
The Attorney General released the following tips for parents to encourage safety on New Year's Eve:
Make sure your child has a plan for the evening and that you know it, including where they'll be staying if they don't plan to return home. Know all of the hot spot destinations. Communicate with other parents, particularly the ones who may be hosting any parties your child may attend.
Take stock of the alcohol in your home and make sure none of it is unaccounted for. Know who is driving and encourage your children to offer to drive if they have had nothing to drink. Encourage seatbelt usethe best accessory! Do not rent hotel rooms for New Year's Eve partiers. If your children plan to return home for the evening, stay up and wait for them.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
ORTONA, FL. -- Judging the outdoor Christmas lighting displays for the Ortona Community Association was no hard task for Frances Bryant and Bill Heflin of Moore Haven, who for many years have won first place in such contests at their home on Avenue C in Moore Haven.
Recognizing the time, effort, expense and beauty of the exhibit proudly displayed by Wanda & Wesley Pearce of 2450 Ortona Road, the Judges declared them Grand Prize Winner granting them OCA�s official North Pole Award.
Following closely in rating were two who tied for first place: Lisa Knight of 3265 Riverview Drive, and Edward and Dorothy Triplett of 3525 Riverview Drive. Ms. Knight was given the Best of Show for design and layout, and Mr. and Mrs. Triplett received the Joy To The World award for the variety of themes in their giant display.
Mrs. Bryant said it was a real pleasure to have 30 awards to give out recognizing the efforts of so many participants.
Other winners were:
Angels Award Leticia Skipper 3270 Ortona Rd
Bright Star Award Sheldon & Greta Barroquillo 3320 Riverview Dr
Candle Lighters Award Paul & Liz Dicke 12175 Dolphin Ln
Candy Canes Award John & Shirley Nugent 12210 Helm Ln
Christmas Spirit Award Jonathan & Mandy McRoy 13475 Ortona Rd
Christmas Trees Award Dean and April Beavers 3540 Riverview Dr
County Christmas Award Deona Campos, 12625 Aqua Ln
Country Porch Award Sal & Dorinda Campos 12920 Williams Rd
Florida Christmas Award Lilla Porter 145 Friendly Ln
Garland Award Sheldon & Greta Barroquillo 3320 Riverview Dr
Jingle Bells Award Hiram & Nancy Riley 12685 Shady Ln
Nativity Award 154 Park Lane Meadowlark
Polar Bear Award Tina Derringer 3050 Riverview Dr
Reindeer Award Earnest & Jean Styles 3230 Riverview Dr
Rudolph�s Award Lawrence & Betty Steger 12705 Williams Rd
Santa Clause Award Sal & Dorinda Campos 12920 Williams Rd
Santa�s Helper Award Tina Derringer 3050 Riverview Dr
Shepherd�s Award Leticia Skipper 3270 Ortona Rd
Snowman Award Leticia Skipper 3270 Ortona Rd
Tallest Tree Award Hal & Nan Griffin 13940 Live Oak Ln
White Christmas Award 154 Park Lane Meadowlark
Winter Wonderland Award Tina Derringer 3050 Riverview Dr.
Honorable Mention Bob & Diane Cook 12210 Dolphin Ln
Honorable Mention Earnest & Joy Cox 12200 Helm Ln
Monday, December 24, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Ever wonder why it may take a Hendry deputy, EMS, or the fire department longer than you imagine to come to a location for assistance? The problem may lie in ill trained dispatchers who are not relaying simple but critical address directions to the the road officers, EMS and fire personnel.
In what may be an ongoing problem, Hendry County Sheriff dispatchers seemingly do not relay complete directions from citizen complaint calls. Monday afternoon, a brush fire was spotted in the field behind the Port LaBelle Inn and the Sheriff's dispatcher was notified that the specific location was the "northwest corner of Birchwood and State Road 80." The fire location was additionally described to the dispatcher as the "old golf course" behind the Port LaBelle Inn.
A man and child passenger was reported illegally driving a four-wheel ATV in the field, catching the grass on fire. The man was seen taking his shirt off and beating the fire out.
Fortunately the fire was put out by the ATV driver, but unfortunately the Sheriff's dispatcher did not relay the correct direction on Birchwood so the hapless deputy was searching a mile south of the actual location.
Incidents like this happen routinely, as can be heard on a scanning radio tuned to the Sheriff's dispatch frequency, where emergency personnel can't find the location because dispatcher's don't give complete information, but instead apparently summarize complainant's direction leaving out critical directional information.
LABELLE, FL. -- As the world prepares for Christmas Day, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. I'll be spendng a quiet holiday at home, visiting friends and family via Live video broadcast. Stop in and say "hello."
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Annual Party - Gifts For The Children
PIONEER PLANTATION, FL. -- The annual special visit from St. Nick was held at the Pioneer Community Center sponsored by the Homeowners Association and assisted with toys distributed by Sheriff Ronnie Lee and the Marines Toys for Tots program.
A covered dish supper was enjoyed by all. Santa was represented by Nicholas Simicich of Pioneer. So St. Nicholas was really there.
Photo: Santa with Millie and Charles Martinez (courtesty of John Hollingsworth)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Since the "Local Government Comprehensive Planning Certification Program's" creation in 2002, only five of the state's local governments have chosen to apply for certification. Three local governments were certified by the Department of Community Affairs including the cities of Lakeland, Miramar, and Orlando, but Naples and Sarasota withdrew their applications.
The four certified cities have been subject to less state and regional oversight of their comprehensive plan amendments which has allowed them to expedite the amendments' approval. Counties, regional planning councils, and the Department of Community Affairs generally report they did not experience problems as a result of the cities participating in the program.
The state program is intended to expedite the process of adopting comprehensive plan amendments, as an alternative state review process program. It has been recommended that the Florida Legislature review this pilot program, to consider whether the Local Government Comprehensive Planning Certification Program be continued or discontinued.
LABELLE, FL. -- Colonel John Czernis, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, said the FHP's statewide traffic enforcement plans for the upcoming Christmas and New Year�s holidays will use zero tolerance enforcement strategies to target aggressive and hazardous violators throughout the state.
Troopers will place special emphasis on aggressive driving, D.U.I, speeding, and safety restraint violations. This year's Christmas holiday enforcement period will begin at 00:01 hours on Saturday, December 22, 2007, and end at midnight, Tuesday, December 25, 2007. The New Year�s holiday enforcement period will begin at 00:01 hours on Saturday, December 29, 2007, and end at midnight, Tuesday, January 1, 2008.
"I�ve asked our troop commanders to ensure that all available personnel are assigned to either routine patrol duties or specific enforcement operations throughout both holiday periods," Colonel Czernis stressed, "which includes all personnel normally assigned to administrative duties."
Motorists are urged to contact the FHP or local law enforcement officials when reporting an impaired, aggressive, or dangerous driver by dialing *FHP (*347) from their cell phones. Callers may remain anonymous. Motorists who experience car trouble on the highway or otherwise need assistance from the FHP are also encouraged to use *FHP. For real-time traffic and road condition reports as well as maps and other safety tips, the public is urged to use our Live Traffic Crash service on the FHP website at www.fhp.state.fl.us.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Charlie Crist has announced the launch of the Florida Discount Drug Card, which will provide eligible Floridians savings on drugs at over 3,000 participating pharmacies. An easy-to-use Web site, www.FloridaDiscountDrugCard.com, is available to help consumers learn which drugs are discounted and find participating pharmacies. Participants can also choose a mail order option by calling the Florida Discount Drug Card help line.
"Access to affordable prescription drugs enhances every person�s quality of life as well as the vitality of our state, and many working families and seniors struggle to afford their medications," Governor Crist said. "The Florida Discount Drug Card is easy to use and will help lower the cost of prescription drugs for many who need them."
Individuals qualify for the card if they are age 60 and older and do not have prescription drug coverage or if they are in the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage gap. Individuals, families and seniors under age 60 may be eligible if they have an annual income of less than 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and do not have prescription drug coverage.
Qualifying annual incomes for individuals under age 60 are up to $30,636 for an individual, $41,076 for a family of two and $61,956 for a family of four. Income limits for other family sizes are also available on the Web site.
There is no application fee for the Florida Discount Drug Card; however, there is a one time $1.50 activation fee added onto the posted cost of the first prescription filled only. If the pharmacy�s usual and customary price is lower than the Florida Discount Drug price, the customer will pay the lower price. Additionally, if the customer qualifies for any other prescription discounts, they will always pay the lowest price.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Two local graduating seniors are among 95 from high schools throughout the state to be designated District Sunshine State Scholars in Mathematics and Science for the current year.
Named are Cathy McVey of LaBelle High School and Jessica Concha from Moore Haven High School.
They will compete on Wednesday, January 9, 2008 to become one of the ten Regional Scholars to vie in March 2008 for the title Statewide Sunshine State Scholar in Mathematics and Science for 2008.
The Sunshine State Scholars Program was established in 1997 to recognize the achievement of Florida's graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence in both mathematics and science. All Scholars receive district recognition and individual awards from the program. The ten Regional Scholars and their selected teachers receive further recognition from the Governor and Cabinet, the Florida Legislature, the Florida Department of Education, and private businesses.
The Sunshine State Scholars Program is coordinated through the Florida Institute of Education at the University of North Florida. The program receives support from the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Lottery, the Florida Education Foundation, Florida mathematics and science teachers' and supervisors' organizations, and private corporations.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Port LaBelle Inn Land Now Home For Cows
LABELLE, FL. -- The owner of the Port LaBelle Inn is now pasturing six cows on his acreage adjoining the motel. Richard Siebel says in order to save on property taxes he has fenced off the land and will place cattle there in order to qualify for an agricultural exemption from the Hendry County Tax Appraiser's office next year.
The land would have to be put in agricultural use by January 1, 2008 to qualify. It is now classified as leisure and recreational use. The county master plan lists the land as a regional park.
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Friday, December 14, 2007
Gene McAvoy, Hendry County Extension Agent
LABELLE, FL. -- Gene McAvoy, of the Hendry Agricultural Extention office in LaBelle says area growers continue to plant, harvest and irrigate crops with the fall tomato crop approaching the end in the Manatee Ruskin area. Harvesting of most vegetables was underway with snap beans, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, pepper, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon and various specialty items coming to market.
The short-term forecast from the National Weather Service in Miami indicates that a surface trough moving in from the Bahamas will bring abundant moisture to the area over the weekend producing a 60% chance of thunderstorms and heavy rain Saturday and Sunday. A cold front will begin moving across South Florida on Sunday will bring clear skies and cooler more seasonable temperatures next week with day time highs in the mid 70s. Low Sunday night/Monday morning will be in the low 40s.
South Florida Water Management District Report
In an unprecedented move to protect the region's dwindling water supply, water managers on Thursday voted unanimously to allow residents to water their grass just once a week. The new water restrictions which take effect Jan. 15, are the most stringent limitations ever imposed by the South Florida Water Management District.
Surface water and groundwater levels across much of the District remain unseasonably low and already are showing signs of decline with the start of the dry season in November. The water level in Lake Okeechobee, the source of water for the Florida Everglades and the primary back-up water supply for five million South Floridians, is at its lowest elevation ever recorded for the month of December.
At 10.16 feet above sea level this morning, the lake level already is so low that water from the lake cannot be used to replenish the regional supply. Even with average dry season rainfall, water managers expect the lake level to drop over the coming months below its all-time low of 8.82 feet above sea level, recorded on July 2, 2007. With out major inflows this winter, water managers indicate evaporation alone could drop the lake to around 7 feet by May.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- With about 60 citizens in attendance the Glades Commission meeting Tuesday was amended to allow a Board motion to declare a local state of emergency due to toxic fumes from ongoing fire at fertilizer plant south of Moore Haven. But before the meeting was adjourned, Public Safety Director Bob Jones called and reported that the fire was out and an evacuation shelter that had been set up was closed.
Under the reorganization of the board, Commissioner Paul Beck was elected Chairman and Commissioner Russel Echols was elected Vice-Chairman.
The board decided that twice monthly commission meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of each month at 9 am, and the fourth Monday of each month at 6 pm, with the exception of Monday May 26, 2008 which will change to Tuesday May 27 at 6 pm, and Tuesday November 11 will change to Monday November 10 at 9 am.
In Other Actions
Buckhead Ridge Fire Chief Tom Vallee addressed the Board questioning why was the county building work was delayed so long because now there is water damage and mold in the building due to leakage from the damaged roof. County Manager Wendell Taylor and County Attorney Richard Pringle noted that the County is defendant in litigation with the original contractor who had received partial payment but the work did not pass inspection and the contractor was not licensed, and they wanted to preserve the conditions for documentation of their defense in the lawsuit.
The Board adopted a resolution requesting South Florida Water Management District and US Army Corps of Engineers to delay procurement of lands in Glades County until alternate studies had determined if other locations could be used stating �First look at your own property before moving to property of others.�
The two entities already have removed almost $100 million of Glades County property from the tax rolls with very limited or no PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with the resulting devastation of property tax revenue to the county. Highlands County and Okeechobee County have expressed interest in adopting similar resolutions in effort to protect their interests.
Chairman Beck stated if we did not put a stop to it, Water Management and the Corps would take all of Glades County and make it one giant STA (Stormwater Treatment Area).
The Board authorized Taylor to advertise for bids to re-roof the Buckhead Ridge Fire Department building, work which had previously been contracted but halted when inspection revealed improper work and lack of licensure by the contractor. Because the County is now defendant in litigation initiated by the contractor seeking final payment, Taylor and Pringle had not proceeded with final repairs in order to preserve evidence of non-performance. The Board directed the attorney to seek all costs associated with completing the work including repairs of damage from leakage and mold.
Waste Issues Weighed In
Commissioner Donna Storter moved that 4 recycling dumpster trailers be purchased so one could also be added for Muse as well as Moore Haven, Lakeport and Buckhead Ridge. Motion passed, with Taylor requesting direction for placement site location in the communities.
The Board formally directed Taylor to develop a possible plan for the Board�s consideration at the March 11, 2008 meeting for discussion of county-wide mandatory solid waste collection. Public input will be sought at that meeting to determine the preferred parameters, if any, for all facets involved.
Direction had already been given at the January 22, 2007 workshop for development of a plan. Muse residents had requested in July that the issue be placed on the January ballot as a referendum but the majority of the Board objected.
Commissioner Storter says, "input is needed greatly as the City of Moore Haven, which already has mandatory pickup, is promoting county wide collection. The level of service will determine the cost. I personally believe that mandatory collection of waste will be beneficial overall. However, my position has been that the residents of all areas, rural or suburban subdivisions, should expect the exact same level of service if they are mandated to pay the same rate, and if the service cannot be equally provided, it should not be mandated. "
Evicting The Chamber Of Commerce?
The Board declined Taylor�s proposal to work to dissolve the Chamber and evict the Chamber from the County-owned building. Taylor, in an effort to protect county-owned property, had all the locks to the building changed and was holding all keys because the lease had expired in 2003. Citing the need for input from newly elected Chamber officials, the Board directed Taylor to invite them to the January BoCC meeting.
The consensus of the Board was to support the formation of a new Chamber of Commerce, or the reformation of the old one which faces multiple State tax liens of over $25,000. Commissioner Echols, as member of the board of directors of the Economic Development Council, volunteered to work with the new Chamber officials to determine how the county could assist.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- If you're out doing holiday shopping, chances are excellent you will be charged the correct price. That's the conclusion reached by Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson following a pre-holiday scanner survey in which 43 stores in 25 cities were inspected for scanner accuracy.
In all, only 15 errors were detected at the checkout line among 2,150 items scanned -- an error rate of less than 1 percent -- and all but three of the errors were in customers' favor.
Only one of the 43 stores visited by Bronson's inspectors last week failed its inspection, which requires an accuracy rate of 98 percent. It was a Kohl's department store in Tallahassee, which failed its inspection due to excessive undercharges. Such a finding will trigger more frequent inspection visits in the future until the problems are corrected.
While scanning errors are relatively uncommon, mistakes do occur. It means that consumers need to be aware of the price that they should be charged, Bronson said.
For example, among errors detected during last week's sweep was a $10 overcharge for a doll at a Jacksonville Super Target store. The error and all others found during the visits were immediately corrected by store management when they were informed of them.
Bronson's Division of Standards tests checkout scanners, as well as most other devices that sell products by weight or measure. Consumers who believe that they have been overcharged, or who detect problems with a store's scales, are encouraged to call the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352).
Monday, December 10, 2007
PAHOKEE, FL. -- Army Pvt. Joshua P. Lewis has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.
During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.
He is the son of Mark Lewis of S. Elm Ave., Pahokee, Fla., and Susan Lewis of Fox Run Road, Brandon, Miss. Lewis is a 2006 graduate of Pearl High School, Miss.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- On December 2, 2007 Deputy Sheriff�s responded to the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Suwanee Avene in reference to gunshots. Deputies found 24-year old Tyrone Maurice Love lying dead in the middle of the street.
Tyrone�s body was transported to the Medical Examiner�s Office in Lee County. Hendry County Sheriff Ronnie Lee said the incident was "definitely not a drive by shooting," as there appeared to be a scuffle before the shooting. Mr. Love lived at 405 Calhoun Street in Labelle.
An investigation is underway and anyone with any information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Hendry County Sheriff�s Office at 863-674-4060 in Labelle or 863-983-1440 in Clewiston
LABELLE, FL. -- A slumping housing market and skimpier sales tax collections will force as many as 20 states to go back and patch holes in their budgets in 2008. Most states will muddle through the current economic slowdown, but if the country dips into a recession, then even more than 20 states likely will have to make cuts to their current budgets.
The stalled housing market is pinching states across the board, but it's more severe for states such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and Florida that rely heavily on real estate taxes. A drop in home sales and prices mean states take a smaller cut - both in real estate-related and sales taxes as most people who buy homes also purchase new appliances and carpeting and spend big money on home improvements.
Florida, for example, is particularly dependent on sales tax revenue because it does not have a state income tax. California is struggling to plug a projected $9.8 billion deficit for 2008-2009, while Florida is looking at a $2.5 billion estimated budget shortfall.
Other states facing shortfalls include Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia. Unlike the federal government, which can run a deficit, states must balance their books. That means if tax revenues come in less than what a state had projected, then a state either has to cut programs or find other sources of revenue. The fiscal year begins July 1 for all but four states (Alabama, Michigan, New York and Texas). - Source Florida OPPAGA
Thursday, December 06, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Republican candidate for U.S. President Mitt Romney today avoided an explanation about his religious beliefs in a speech delivered in Texas at the George Bush Musuem and Library. Many Americans believe Mormonism is a cult because it states the Book of Mormon is a new revelation from God, a complimentary writing equal to the Bible.
Romney said that as president he would "serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause," and said and explanation of his religious beliefs go against the profound wishes of the nation's founders, and would not let his beliefs interfere with running the county as President.
In Hendry county, the Mormon church through various legal entities, owns thousands of acres of land.
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LABELLE, FL. -- Charles William Fradenburg, 23 of LaBelle died in a violent crash while driving a 2006 Ford pickup truck on Cowboy Way, directly across from LaBelle High School Wednesday morning at 11 a.m.
The vehicle was eastbound on East Cowboy Way and entered the right hand curve approaching Castleton Terrace. After exiting the curve, it crossed the westbound lane and partially entered the north shoulder. The driver attempted to recover by steering to the right but then traveled across both lanes of East Cowboy Way and onto the south shoulder, steered back to the left and began to rotate clockwise.
The vehicle then struck a palmetto tree with its right side and overturned approximately 1 to 2 times, ejecting the driver. The vehicle then struck two palm trees with its right side and came to rest upright facing northwest on the south shoulder.
Investigators say Fradenburg was not wearing a seat belt and an investigation is pending for alcohol use.related to the crash.
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Everyone is invited to the Hendry-Glades Audubon and the Greater LaBelle Garden Club program and autograph session featuring Mark Renz at the Dallas Townsend Agricultural Extension Building in LaBelle, Monday, Dec. 10 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Renz is the author of several books about Florida's fossil sharks, mammals and reptiles. He knows our rivers and creeks cut through the sediments of time exposing bits of prehistory in the form of bones and teeth so that's where he searches. And while his favorite tools of the trade are a mask and snorkel, Renz also packs his camera.
"It's not just the past that fascinates me," he adds. "I am equally drawn to the present. I don't want to miss a moment, a critter or a place in time. I absorb it all and record it as I go. Digging up bones and clicking a camera's shutter allows me to savor the moment and pass it on."
Renz will be focusing on the present when he brings his slide program, "Blue Planet Special." For information call: Steve Buczynski, Audubon Chapter President (863) 902-0856 or Margaret England (863) 674-0695.
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Monday, December 03, 2007
Having to watch the Board of County Commissioners struggle with the hows and wherefores of attracting and keeping new industries, I'm reminded of the story a woman bragging to her friend. She proudly told her friend that she was personally responsible for her husband being a millionaire. Her friend wanted to know what he had been before they married, and the wife replied, "A billionaire."
This story, although many dollar signs above any of the most recent, proposed, developmental proposals, leads me to address what I see as a pattern of disappointments and confusion as outlined in Mrs. Jeannie Horlacher's Letter to the Editor, "What the code allows" of November 29, 2007.
Her continuing efforts on behalf of residential property owners brings to mind the continuing inability of the County to attract industries other than waste oriented based companies. Maybe it's like the realtors keep reminding us as the three most important things about business properties. "Location, Location, Location."
Ms. Horlacher has admirably taken on the lonely, thankless task of citing the continuing lethargic, knee-jerk responses to development proposals not in compliance with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, as written and in force. With the continuing non-conforming operation of mines throughout the county, she now cites the tabled proposition of a vegetative recycling plant being given a special zoning approval in an Agricultural zoned area.
With no intent, other than to amplify Ms Horlacher's cited concerns and alternatives, I would like for you to consider the following: I understand that the reason the vegetative waste proposal was tabled until the BOCC meeting on December 11 was because the term vegetative waste is not described in the county codes.
If you Google the words "vegetative waste" you learn that vegetative is defined as, "A sedentary lifestyle leading to a physically or mentally inactive life, which it occurs to me is a total "waste", within itself, without making it a public issue. Without intruding on this "vegetative" state of mind and fruitlessly scrambling to rewrite the CLUP, a heavy dose of logc and common sense could productively allow for juris prudence to prevail. Continuing inaction until "rigid mortification" sets in is always an alternative as long as you leave someone still standing to perform the "last rites!" Or is that the "last rights?"
So, God willing! Logic and common sense will prevail at the Hendry County BOCC meeting on December 11, and the CLUP will remain sacrosanct as it concerns "wasted" efforts.
Friday, November 30, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- On November 24, at 12:42 a.m., Deputies were dispatched to the Azteca Apartments located at 4269 South State Road 29 to investigate an alleged stabbing.
Deputies located, what appeared to be, two victims. One victim, Alfredo Mendez, of 4270 Turkey Run, appeared to have been stabbed in the chest and was lying on the ground. Another victim,Geronimo Diaz, of 4270 Turkey Run, was transported to Lee Memorial with a laceration to his throat.
Alfredo Mendez was pronounced dead at the scene by E.M.S. The death of Alfredo Mendez is being treated as a homicide and is under investigation.
During this same time period, at the same address, Geronimo Diaz is alleged to have chased Wilfredo Mendez with a knife. Wilfredo Mendez was able to elude Diaz and reported the incident to the Sheriff�s Office.
According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, Investigators have completed the investigation into the death of Alfredo Mendez and on November 30, 2007, Geronimo Diaz was charged with Manslaughter. He remains in the Hendry County Jail with no bond.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- At Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Glades County Commissioners the following were on the agenda:
Florida Department of Transportation liaison Susan King reported on $30,037,241 in projects for Glades County through fiscal year 2012 and 20013 including $6,965,286 for 2008 that will, among other projects see the completion of county road 720 in Muse from the Bee Branch Bridge west to the Charlotte County line, and paving of shoulders for bike paths on county road 731 Loop in Lakeport, and resurfacing of State Road 29 from north of the Hendry County line to SR 78. She stated the widening and resurfacing project of State Road 78 eastward from State Road 29 through Ortona was scheduled to begin in July of 2008.
South Florida Water Management Projects
Agnes Ramsey reported that on the C-43 Water Quality Project, SFWMD had acquired the Boma property south of Ortona Locks and consideration has been given to the commissioners' concerns; a strip along the riverfront to a depth of 1000 will be utilized for public access to the Caloosahatchee, and frontage on SR 80 on the south end would be future surplus for possible commercial development.
She noted that Lee County had funded $10 million of the $37 million purchase price. She stated the first item on their agenda would be to determine how the property would be utilized for water quality management depending on how much funding would be available after the January referendum on ad valorem taxing.
She expected the property to initially be leased back to the current owner who would continue to pay property tax and though she could not give details, assured the commissioners that SFWMD is committed to payment in lieu of taxes.
Commissioners Protest Proposed STA For Water Management
Commissioner Paul Beck provided a map of a proposed Stormwater Treatment Area encompassing 8,000 acres along SR 78 between Harney Pond Canal/CR 721 on the west and Indian Prairie Canal on the east.
Beck stated that according to Glades County Property records, (not including the recent Boma property and Paradise Run near the Kissimmee River) SFWMD already has removed 8,474.78 acres from the Glades County tax rolls valued at $61,597,877. Ad valorem and MSTU taxes at current millage would be almost $733,000 per year, plus school taxes, Commissioner Donna Storter Long says.
He explained that when the Seminole Tribe creates their new casino gambling �destination� complex, this proposed site would be prime real estate for off-reservation commercial development and residential development for "work force" housing which some say an expected future need will be for homes for 5000 employees.
He expressed alarm that SFWMD would be removing such valuable property from the tax rolls for water storage behind a 7 foot embankment less than 1000 feet from State Road 78, some places less than 200 ft. He moved to have the County Manager to prepare a resolution of protest to this location of an STA and request for prior notification of the board by SFWMD prior to other acquisition considerations. His motion passed 5-0.
Commission Wants Input About Proposed LaBelle Nature Park
Commissioner Donna Storter Long inquired if the County had received correspondence asking for participation in the committee that the City of LaBelle has appointed to develop plans for their 176 acre park in Glades County along Caloosahatchee River.
Mr. Taylor stated he had not, but consideration would have to be given to the fact that that property was panther habitat. Sheriff Whidden stated he had been contacted by City of LaBelle Mayor Paul Puletti concerning provision of law enforcement and interlocal agreement for law enforcement and public safety services.
LABELLE, FL. -- Birders, otherwise knonw as "bird watchers,"of all skill levels as well as photographers are needed for the First "STA5-Clewiston Christmas Bird Count" says organizer Margaret England of LaBelle.
The event will be held from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday December 15th. Participants of this unique outdoor activity will need to bring their lunch, snacks, and water. Four different eams will meet at various locations around eastern Hendry county to count the bird species here.
The "STA5 Team" will meet at the STA5 gate at 7 a.m.. The "West Team" will meet at Canon Hammock Park at 7 a.m. That team will survey L-1 Canal Road, 835 in the morning, return to Canon Hammock for lunch, and survey a private farm from noon to 6 p.m.
The "East Team" will meet at Rogers and Miami Canal Road at 7 a.m. They will survey the Miami Canal Road 1 mile south of 827 to the Manley Ditch Levee. The "Blumberg Team" will meet at 7 a.m. to survey Blumberg Road.
A post count dinner will be served at Camp E-Tu-Makee (17500 CR 835) at 6 p.m. To Join a team contact Margaret England. Email: email@example.com, or call: 863-517-0202 or 863-674-0695
Monday, November 26, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- On November 24, at 12:42 a.m., Hendry County Deputies were dispatched to the Azteca Apartments located at 4269 South State Road 29, three miles south of LaBelle to investigate an alleged stabbing.
Deputies located, what appeared to be, two victims. One victim, Alfredo Mendez, of 4270 Turkey Run, appeared to have been stabbed in the chest and was lying on the ground. Another victim,Geronimo Diaz, of 4270 Turkey Run, was transported to Lee Memorial with a laceration to his throat.
Alfredo Mendez was pronounced dead at the scene by E.M.S. The death of Alfredo Mendez is being treated as a Homicide and is under investigation.
During this same time period, at the same address, Geronimo Diaz is alleged to have chased Wilfredo Mendez with a knife. Wilfredo Mendez was able to elude Diaz and reported the incident to the Sheriff�s Office. According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, Investigators have obtained sufficient evidence for an arrest. Diaz will be charged with Aggravated Assault With A Deadly Weapon.
LABELLE, FL. -- At 1:46 a.m., November 24, the Hendry County Sheriff's Office received a report of a robbery south of LaBelle off State Road 29 and after talking with a victim found that one of the other victims was missing.
According to one of the victims, Jose Lopez Francisco, age 29, and a friend Jose Cruz, age 20, were picked up at the Azteca Store, on State Road 29 by two white females and two black males, and promised a ride home.
Instead, they were driven to a remote area located off E Road three miles south of LaBelle, where he and Cruz were told to exit the vehicle. As they exited the vehicle they were struck with bottles and beaten until they gave up all their money and shoes.
The four suspects then drove away, leaving Francisco and Cruz in the middle of the roadway. Francisco then walked back to his residence, leaving Cruz in the roadway.
Body Discovered In Woods
When Deputies arrived at the scene, they were unable to locate Cruz, however, at approximately 6:45 a.m., his body was discovered in a wooded area off of E Road.
Sheriff Ronnie Lee said Investigators worked long hours, some over 30 hours straight, until all four suspects were found.
Arrested were Josefa Estela Osorio, age 20 of 612 Lopez Street Clewiston, Virgen Osorio, age 19 of 550 South Lopez Street Apartment #18 Clewiston, James Henry Williams, age 18 of 455 Clay Street LaBelle, and Jaquil Williams, age 18 of 475 Clay Street LaBelle.
All four were charged with Murder, Robbery, and Aggravated Battery. All suspects remain in the Hendry County Jail with No Bond.
CLEWISTON, FL. -- A Sunday afternoon crash on U.S. 27 at State Road 80 left 61-year old Jorge Suarez of Atlanta, Georgia dead at the scene as he traveled as a passenger in a 1999 Toyota Corolla driven by 27-year old Annie Suarez, also of Atlanta.
Suarez attempted to turn from U.S. 27 left onto State Road 80 crossing into the path of a 2003 Ford F-250 truck with a camper trailer attached, driven by 60-year old Larry Curtis Dykes of 770 Evercane Road, Clewiston. 65-year old Kenneth Lazere of 815 Caribbean Avenue was a passenger in the truck, as was 10-year old Zachary Dykes . No one in the truck suffered any injuries although it and the camper overturned in the crash.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Free Chat Room Opens For Sunday Morning News Friends
LABELLE, FL. -- A free, and easy-to-use live Chat Room is now open to all our readers and their friends and family. The chat room is connected to the Sunday Morning News publisher Don Browne's live video TV page.
On the same chat room page, live video can be seen of the editor of the Sunday Morning News. Viewers may talk or chat with him (if desired) while he "slaves" away editing the Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online web pages. Or just watch if you like.
Click here to go to the Chat Room and Live Video. Browne is usually broadcasting video for several hours every day and you'll get to "spy" on him if he's turned on the web camera at his computer.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
George Schutte Gets His Buck
LABELLE, FL. -- Former Hendry county resident and 1994 graduate of LaBelle High School, George Schutte, now of Lehigh Acres, Fl. bagged a deer while hunding in upstate New York.
George (kneeling with deer) is the son of Mary and John Hollingsworth of Pioneer Plantation in Hendry county, and George and Carol Schutte of Babylon, NY.
George went deer hunting in upstate New York with his Dad, George Sr. (standing in photo) bagging a 10-point buck this past weekend.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- After months of study and meetings, the Glades county commission voted to move forward with an ordinance for a night curfews for minors. A second hearing must be held for final approval.
Employee Service Awards were given out by Chairman Butch Jones to the following employees for their long term service to the county:
Elthea Stafford, Zoning Dept. 34 years, Chuck Lawhon, Road Dept. 34 years, Cassie Cohens, Road Dept. 20 years, Eddie "Gene" Perkins, Road Dept. 20 years, and David Longwell, Courthouse Maintenance 20 years.
Buckhead Ridge Action
The Board adopted Resolutions requesting South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to clean and open Pearce Canal and the interior rim canal from the Buckhead Ridge Lock Structure S127 to Lake Okeechobee, and continue to maintain them for safe navigability.
The resolutions were prepared by Maureen Bradley, John O�Neil and Floyd Driggers of Buckhead Ridge. Mrs. Bradley and Mr. Driggers appeared providing ownership, assessment and other information they had obtained from Florida Dept of Environmental Protection, SFWMD, and US Army Corps of Engineers.
Approximately 30 residents of Buckhead Ridge attended in support of the Resolutions, including Ralph Drury who also addressed the Board. The Board directed County Attorney Pringle to review documentation and prepare cover letters for the Chairman to send with the Resolutions when they are transmitted to SFWMD.
Landfill Approvals Sought
The Board, after discussion and review, approved a proposed contract with Glades Landfill LLC, who is seeking approval from Glades County Planning Commission�s Board of Adjustments to modify its current Special Exception (SE) for a Construction and Demolition Debris (c&dd) disposal facility on SR78 3 miles north of US 27 to allow vertical expansion from current 65 feet to 150 feet.
If the Board of Adjustments grants the SE amendment, Glades County will receive host fees in an up-front lump sum of $1.5million when permits are issued, plus fifty cents per ton for the first 9,600,000 tons ($4.8million) and one dollar per ton for the balance between 65 feet and 150 feet, estimated to be $8 million, plus $60,000 per year to fund employment of a spotter to monitor inflowing waste stream which by this agreement will not contain yard waste. Landscape and vegetative buffering will also be in place along SR 78.
It is estimated the facility will be filled within 15 years, after which Glades Landfill LLC will construct a scenic overlook with public access, a pavilion and other passive recreational uses. Conditioned with the contract was a separate agreement which modified the existing interim hauling agreement Glades County has with Waste Management to extend beyond the current expiration date of April 2011, at which time the hauling rate for transferring Glades County solid waste from the landfill in Ortona will continue twenty more years with a beginning rate of $40 per ton, up from the existing haul rate of $27.82 per ton.
Current tipping fees at the landfill are $43 for household waste which means Glades County now collects $43 per ton for incoming waste and pays $27.82 per ton for having it transferred out.
Moving Forward On County Roads
The Board accepted bid from Better Roads to pave approximately one mile on the north end of Fernwood in Muse for $148,173 to be funded from one cent sales tax revenue; work should be performed immediately following the completion of widening/resurfacing CR 720 in Muse in late spring 2008. Striping will be provided separately, at which time the roads in Buckhead Ridge will also be striped.
Avant Brown also reported that he will again attempt to solicit proposals to repair the Harney Pond observation bridge/platform.
He stated mowing would commence next week in Port LaBelle, and that reports of grass over 31 inches high were because the prior contractor had not performed final mowing. (The County had accepted the mowing responsibility October 9, 2007.)
Mr. Brown commented on the Indian Prairie Campground project noting that the de-mucking project had left the area in worse shape than it was when the County entered into the agreement to manage the campground. He said now the area is leveled with shell material and no campsites.
He said the mulching company on south 27 had inquired about possibly purchasing the stockpile of muck placed at the Road Dept during the lake de-mucking project last spring.
In Other Commission Matters
Commissioner Donna Storter Long noted that the Community Traffic Safety Team CTS had met at Moore Haven High School concerning the issue of students crossing US 27 at Joey�s Pizza instead of the designated crosswalk at the signal light. CTST approved School Sup't Wayne Aldrich�s recommendation to approach the City of Moore Haven to adopt an ordinance with penalties for enforcement to prohibit use of that crossing during morning and afternoon hours when students are approaching or leaving the school.
Commissioner Storter Long suggested that if the Board is going to review impact fees in July, perhaps the study should begin now. The Chairman directed Mr. Taylor to contact Dr. Nicholas who prepared the last study to schedule a review study in the spring of 2008.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- A four-year old child was dead after the crash of a 2005 Chevrolet driven by 21-year old Timothy James Allen of 2310 County Road 731 in Muse.
Driving with two small children, Allen suffered only minor injuries when he was driving north on unpaved Glades County Road 731, losing control and fishtailing, rotating as the vehicle entered a ditch and overturned ejecting 4-year old Tera Skipper who was unrestrained in the right front seat. Tera was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two-year old Colton Skipper was wearing a seatbelt in the left rear seat and survived the crash.
According to Corporal J. Rongish of the FHP, charges against Allen are pending investigation, as alcohol use may be a factor in the deadly crash. The crash scene was five miles north of County Road 720.
Sneak An Up-Close Peek At Your Publisher At Work
LABELLE, FL. -- For those who like to watch live webcams, the editor of the Sunday Morning News invites you to take a look at live webcasts during the week as he slaves away writing and editing the Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online.
Just click on the link below and you'll go to the webcast site. There's no guarantee when he'll be live on camera, but usually during mornings you'll get to "spy" on him. Feel free to register and log in and leave comments or messages on the chat section anytime. If you see something interesting that others might enjoy you are invited to make a "highlight" video. Just "save" a video to the webpage by using the "Fan Highlights" button to save a minute of live video.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
1) $140,000 on Calhoun Street - LaBelle
2) $328,000 on Caloosa Estates Lane
3) $210,000 on Tide Circle - Port LaBelle
4) $149,000 on S. Hickory Street - LaBelle
5) $100,000 on S. Missouri Street - LaBelle
BELLE GLADE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting to discuss proposed improvements to be made to S.R. 80 from the U.S. 27 intersection in South Bay to the Canal No. 2 culvert, located 2-1/2 miles east in Belle Glade. The meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 19, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Belle Glade City Hall, Commission Chambers, 110 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
The improvements include:
· Milling and repaving the roadway throughout the project limits;
· Adding new sidewalk on the south side of the road from Mile Post 0.5 to S.R. 715;
· Modifying the median drainage structure at the south leg of the Glades Central High School intersection;
· Upgrading the existing signs and pavement markings;
· Upgrading the existing traffic signals;
· Upgrading sidewalks and driveway connections to ADA standards;
· Installing landscaping and irrigation within the city limits in South Bay and Belle Glade; and
· Flatten slope of grassed area of the bus stop on the north side, west of the New River Canal bridge.
Construction is expected to begin in March 2009 and to be completed in March 2010. The estimated construction cost is $3.7 million.
The meeting will have an informal format. Representatives from FDOT will be available throughout the meeting to discuss the project, answer questions and listen to public concerns.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
MOORE HAVEN, FL.-- Governor Charlie Crist and Mitchell Cypress, Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, complied with federal guidelines by signing a 25-year compact that has the potential to provide billions of dollars to Florida�s schools. The agreement comes on the eve of the federal government�s approval of a request from the Seminole Tribe of Florida to allow slot machines on tribal lands without any revenue sharing with the state.
In exchange for significant revenue sharing of profits, the agreement gives the tribe the exclusive right to operate slot machines and card games in the seven existing facilities on tribal lands. The Seminole Tribe operates local gaming at the Brighton Reservation in Glades county and in Immokalee, south of LaBelle.
"This historic agreement comes after 16 years of negotiations between the State of Florida and the Seminole Nation," Governor Crist said.
The tribe will pay the State of Florida $50 million upon the federal government�s approval of the compact. Guaranteed annual minimum payments to the State of Florida will be $100 million. Starting in the third year, the state will receive between 10 and 25 percent of the revenue on a sliding scale, depending on total revenue amounts. The Florida Legislature will appropriate the funds.
Through the compact, Governor Crist recommends that the funds primarily be used to enhance and support Florida�s education system. The Governor also recommends that the Legislature designate five percent of the funds to local governments near the tribal lands to assist with increased economic activity, tourism and anticipated ancillary development.
The compact allows the Seminole Tribe of Florida to operate Class III slot machines and banked card games (such as black jack and baccarat) at the seven existing facilities on tribal lands (Immokalee, Big Cypress, Brighton, Hillsborough and three locations in Broward County). In addition, they will be permitted to conduct six no-limit poker tournaments each year, with 70 percent of the revenue going to charitable organizations
The compact provides a significant disincentive for the future expansion of gambling in Florida. The state will forfeit its share of the tribe�s revenue if such expansion occurs on non-tribal lands. Excepted from this exclusivity provision are the pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties authorized by the 2004 constitutional amendment and subject to local approval. Miami-Dade County has not approved the gaming.
The agreement also requires the Seminole Tribe of Florida to develop a compulsive gambling prevention program; submit records to an independent annual financial audit; maintain a legal process for compensating individuals for injuries caused to patrons; ensure consumer protection through compliance with national gaming standards, state building codes and inspections, audits and monitoring of games, financial records and internal procedures. The tribe will also make provisions for smoke-free gaming and limit admission to patrons age 21 and older.
Indian gaming casinos on Indian reservations fall under federal jurisdiction. Governor Crist commented that the federal government had indicated it would allow the tribe to operate the slot machines, even if the state and tribe did not come to an agreement for profit sharing or oversight.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
CLEWISTON, FL. -- On November 17, hikers will gather at the Pahokee Marina to kick off the 16th Annual Big O Hike and celebrate Pahokee�s entry into the Florida Trail family of Gateway Communities.
Since 1992, the 109-mile Florida Trail circuit walk known as the Big O Hike has pumped tourism dollars into small towns around the lake while encouraging hiking for fitness, drawing visitors from as far away as Ontario and California. For 9 days, participants walk from 9.3 to 14.7 miles, starting at sunrise and ending at their leisure, usually by noon.
Although flat and open, the loop trail offers outstanding scenic views, especially at sunrise and sunset, and more than 70 species of birds to add to your life list. The hike passes through five counties around Lake Okeechobee (Palm Beach, Martin, Okeechobee, Glades, and Hendry) where hikers experience the quiet side of South Florida, with opportunities to explore and rest in small lakeside communities, including a Thanksgiving celebration in Clewiston.
Pahokee has been a favorite kickoff point for the Big O Hike for many years, and this fall, the city passed a resolution to become a Florida Trail Gateway Community, drawing community leaders and Florida Trail volunteers closer together. Celebrating natural Florida together boosts not only the local economy, but the sense of community between Floridians. Major J.D. Sasser will preside over the kickoff, where the community will receive road signs and community leaders will join in the first three miles of the hike to Canal Point.
The hikers begin at the Pahokee Marina, at 8 AM, or at any point along the hike. Joining the hike again this year is Clifton Moody, who at 87 became the oldest hiker to walk around Lake Okeechobee, and last week became the oldest hiker to complete a 132-mile cross-Florida backpacking trip at the age of 90.
SOUTH BAY, FL. -- Army Staff Sgt. Eddie L. Clark Jr. has deployed to Iraq to support the mission of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Clark, a platoon sergeant, is normally assigned to the 377th Transportation Company, Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas.
Clark has 17 years of military service and is the son of Katie J. Richards of South Bay, Fla. The sergeant is a 1990 graduate of Glades Central High School, Belle Glade, Fla.
Operation Iraqi Freedom is the official name given to military operations involving members of the U.S. Armed Forces and coalition forces participating in efforts to free and secure Iraq. Mission objectives focus on force protection, peacekeeping, stabilization, security and counter-insurgency operations as the Iraqi transitional governing bodies assume full sovereign powers to govern the people of Iraq.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Under proposals by several organizations, Florida's property taxes are to be abolished by state constitutional amendment, saving all property owners and current renters thousands of dollars annually. Critics of the current property tax system say the taxes amount to an antiquated, inequitable permanent annual local government "rent" payment by taxpayers but passed through to all citizens.
One such organization, "Not Good Enough Florida" and it's "Florida Fair Tax Alternative" says the state can receive enough government funds through sales taxes and service fees to meet its budget and not rely on property taxes, which they say are unfair burdens on property owners that trickle down ultimately to extra costs for renters and tenants as well.
The average property owner now pays almost two percent of a property value towards property taxes each year including special district fees for water control, recreation, street lights, fire fighting, and trash collection, all of which are added to property tax bills by separate districts depending on the property location in each county. These tax costs are passed directly through by landlords to tenants. A typical family renting a home is paying about two months of their rent to cover property tax payments to the government.
Because no one escapes the costs of the property tax, proponents want local governments to find other ways to collect funds including eliminating current sales tax exceptions including those on stadium skyboxes, charter fishing boats, animal feed, landscapers, pool services, and off road fuel. They say about half of the state and local budgets can be met by eliminating these special exemptions under current laws.
Read Petition To Eliminate Property Tax
List Of Current Petition Initiatives/Constitutional Amendments
LABELLE, FL. -- Tonight just before sundown, a spectacular flash in the sky will happen over western Hendry county and eastern Lee county. What is it? We'll let readers guess for now, and let their curiosity peak and just go out and see it and do a bit of research, and email your guess as to what you see.
Here's how to see the event: From western Hendry county, At exactly 5:54 P.M. Sunday night look to the North northeast (at 29 degrees east of due north) and look nearly straight up (actually 71 degrees up) and you will see something for a few seconds as bright as the brightest star in the sky. After a second or so it will disappear.
For a truly spectacular view, travel to the Alva area, in eastern Lee county and see the same object in the sky, but about 500 times brighter than those viewing from Hendry county. From Alva the object will appear twice as bright as the the planet Venus which appears near sunrise in the east daily as the "morning star," and this object will also be the brightest object in the sky you will ever see after the moon and sun.
While you're looking for this object, also look to the southwest sky and the brightest object there will be the planet Jupiter. With a telescope you can easily see Jupiter's moons orbiting around this planet. To the northeast look for the comet Holmes. It's a very large fuzzy object about 45 degrees up in the sky in the constellation Perseus. Several weeks ago Comet Holmes was not visible, except with a telescope, but expanded to over 500,000 miles wide in a matter of hours last month. Best viewing is with binoculars to see this very large comet ball.
For the maximum viewing brightness of the "mystery" object tonight go to the location on this map. Anywhere on a north-south line from this location will allow seeing the maximum brightness.
Friday, November 09, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- A vehicle accident on State Road 80, one mile west of county road 833 left an unidentified man dead at the scene Thursday night at 7:18 p.m. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt in the 1993 Honda when it left the roadway and struck a guard rail, ejecting the driver who ended up on the road and was struck twice by two separate vehicles..
According to the accident report, the Honda was eastbound on SR-80 and drifted onto the south shoulder and struck a guardrail. The driver was ejected and came to rest in the eastbound lane of SR-80. Another eastbound vehicle struck the driver and propelled him several yards to the east and into the westbound lane. Another vehicle was westbound on SR-80 and struck the man while he was in the westbound lane. The second vehicle did not stop or return to the scene. All information regarding the second vehicle and driver is totally unknown. The dead man's identity is unknown at this time.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Members of the Hendry County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant on November 2 at 808 Manatee Avenue in LaBelle. Deputies located a quantity of crack cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs. While conducting the search, Deputies also located $1,886, money suspected of being used in the dealing of illegal drugs.
According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, five people were arrested. Nekisha Vasser, age 30, was charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of a Controlled Substance (no prescription), Possession of Narcotics Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana and Operating a Drug House. Delroy Travis, age 25 of LaBelle, was charged with Possession of Marijuana. Rueben Luerano age 43, and Robert Hatch age 38, both of LaBelle and Jonathan Kats age 25 of the Muse area, were charged with Attempt to Purchase Cocaine.
Monday, November 05, 2007
CLEWISTON, FL. -- On October 17, Hendry County Deputies and members of the Montura Fire Department responded to a fire call at 236 Del Sur in Montura Estates. While extinguishing the fire, Firemen discovered the body of Epitacio Antonio Hernandez-Beltron, age 60, inside the mobile home with his feet and hands bound. Investigators from the Hendry County Sheriff�s Office, State Fire Marshall�s Office, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement responded to the scene and initiated an investigation.
According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, shortly after discovering the body of Beltron, Deputies arrested two men and they were being held in the Hendry County Jail on Burglary charges. Investigators gathered sufficient evidence against these men to charge them with Murder and on November1, Raymond Alberto Diaz, age 43, unknown address, and Vernon Dwayne Stevens, age 24, of 275 North Datil Street Clewiston, were officially charged with the Murder of Beltron.
Friday, November 02, 2007
He is the son of Jerome King Sr. of S.W. First Ave., South Bay, Fla., and Cynthia Sherrod of S.E. Third St., Belle Glade, Fla. King is a 2007 graduate of Glades Central High School, Belle Glade.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
BELLE GLADE, FL. -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation announced another local farmer, Fritz Stein, who will be inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame in February 2008 at ceremonies at the Florida State Fair.
Fritz Stein owns and operates a 3,300-acre cattle ranch in Highlands County and a 750-acre sugarcane farm in Palm Beach County�s Everglades Agricultural Area. That would be enough to keep most people busy, but for Stein it is just the tip of the iceberg. A mind-boggling array of industry groups and civic organizations benefit from his leadership skills. Through his unselfish dedication to family, farm, and community, Stein represents the finest tradition of the Florida farmer.
Stein is a third-generation Floridian and a lifelong resident of Belle Glade. His grandfather, an Everglades pioneer, raised cattle and winter vegetables and instilled a love of farming in his children and grandchildren. In 1954 Stein earned a degree in agriculture from the University of Florida and returned to the Belle Glade to join the family farming business. In the 1960s he turned his attention away from winter vegetables and began growing sugarcane.
Stein knew that if he and his neighboring growers worked together and pooled their resources they could build a state-of-the-art sugar-processing facility. With that goal in mind, he helped organize the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida. The Cooperative is made up of small and medium-sized farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area who work together to harvest and process their sugarcane and market the raw sugar. As a founding member of the Cooperative, Stein helped maximize the agricultural potential of the region and bring financial stability to many growers.
He is a past chairman of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, past president of the Florida Sugar Cane League, and past director of the Palm Beach County Soil and Water Conservation District. He currently serves as a director of the Florida Molasses Exchange and the Florida Sugar Marketing and Terminal Association. He has been a member of the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau for over 50 years.
Stein is an advocate for Florida�s farm workers, campaigning for improved housing, education and healthcare. For 41 years he has been an active member of the board of the Belle Glade Housing Authority, which provides clean, affordable, safe housing to this disadvantaged population. As chairman of the board, he helped procure millions of dollars in federal grants and oversaw five major construction projects, growing Belle Glade�s inventory of homes for agricultural workers to 700 units. Under his direction the Housing Authority has improved the living conditions of thousands of families in the Glades.
As a governing board member of the South Florida Water Management District, he was one of the first farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area to begin voluntarily testing his own water quality, and he encouraged other farmers to do the same.
He is a founding trustee of Glades Day School, a past president of the Belle Glade Rotary Club, a Glades area fundraising committee member and chairman of the Boy Scouts of America, and a team sponsor for Belle Glade Little League.
Stein�s leadership in his community and his industry has won him numerous accolades. In 1982 he received the Belle Glade Citizen of the Year Award from the Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce; in 1988 the Chamber of Commerce named him the Agri-Industrial Man of the Year; and in 1990 his family was honored as Farm Family of the Year by the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.
Fritz Stein and his wife, Lois, live in Belle Glade. They have six grown children, Sonny, Julie, Robert, Stewart, Michael, and Tim, and eight grandchildren.
LABELLE, FL. -- After an aborted try by the Florida Legislature earlier this year to come up with a plan to reduce property taxes, but yet not earn the ire of the real estate industry lobbyists and local government officials, the House of Representative lawmakers Monday, at the last minute, chose to go with a simplified plan proposed by the Florida Senate as time ran out to get the proposal on the January special ballot.
Under the plan, if 60% of Florida voters vote "yes" in January, all homesteaded homeowners would receive an additional homestead exemption of $25,000 for the value of their home above $50,000. But, the catch is the new exemption doesn't apply to schools taxes, so the exemption would average about $15,000 statewide, and a bit less in Hendry county where school taxes make up much more of a tax bite than county taxes.
Non-homestead properties would be capped at 10% a year property assessment increases. Since the huge assessment increases took place in 2005 to 2006, this cap will mean little if nothing to non-homestead property owners since most observers don't see any 10% and more property value increases coming for some time in the future.
It is estimated that homestead property owners would only save about $240 a year with the additional exemption. But, for those who bought homes more than a few years ago, a new benefit will be owners of homestead property would be able to transfer their Save Our Homes benefit (up to $500,000) to a new homestead within two years of moving. Homeowners who moved in 2007 may transfer their benefit if they apply for a new homestead Jan. 1, 2008, or Jan. 1, 2009. The most recent buyers of home would not see much of any savings if any at all if they moved since prices of homes have been steady or declined in the last year.
IMMOKALEE, FL. -- November 6th promises to be a very special day in the Immokalee community. It will be an exciting day for the School District of Collier County as well.
There's a ground breaking ceremony planned for 10 am on Tuesday, November 6th, for the soon-to-be named Immokalee Career Center. It'll be built at 508 N. 9th Street in Immokalee, on the former site of The Learning Center. The new career center is expected to open in January of 2009. It'll be a post-secondary, adult education technical center which will be also used by Immokalee High School students who are dual-enrolled in career education programs.
A name for the new center is in the process of being chosen. Input is being gathered, and a school naming meeting was held this week at the Bethune Education Center Auditorium in Immokalee. The School Board will vote on a name in December.
To learn more about the new center or the school naming meeting, please contact Principal Dorin Oxender at 658-7063, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about the ground breaking, contact the District Communication & Information Office by phone at 377-0180, or at email@example.com.
Friday, October 26, 2007
LABELLE, FL. -- Like to play with your food? Then here's your chance. November's Florida food festivals feature a flapjack eating contest, an oyster shucking and eating contest, a mullet jumping contest, and many more competitions and cook-offs!
"That's the fun thing about food festivals," says Joan Steinbacher, author of "Food Fest! Your Complete Guide to Florida's Food Festivals." "They have these off-beat competitions that are one-of-a-kind. And eating contests are very popular, albeit quite messy!"
Land O' Lakes hosts the Flapjack festival where you can eat free flapjacks on Saturday morning -- but make sure to save room for the flapjack eating contest that afternoon! The oyster shucking and eating contests highlight the Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola. And the Mighty Mullet Maritime Festival in Panacea boasts the International Mullet Cook-Off and the Mullet-Jumping contest.
Because of the diverse activities, Florida's food festivals are ideal entertainment for the whole family. But don't forget the main attraction -- delicious food! November festivals feature a huge variety of indulgences -- fresh seafood, chocolate-covered pineapple, finger-lickin' good ribs, hot and spicy chili, craft beers, assorted wines, and much more.
So spend a day or weekend at these festivals and get your fill of tasty Florida fare while enjoying a variety of musical entertainment, children's activities, arts and crafts, and other fun amusements.
Here's a sampling of what's coming to Florida this November:
* Tallahassee - Wine and Food Festival (November 1-2)
* Apalachicola - Florida Seafood Festival (November 2-3)
* Jensen Beach - Pineapple Festival (November 2-4)
* Land O' Lakes - Flapjack Festival (November 2-4)
* Homestead - Miami-Dade Parks Ribfest (November 2-4)
* Leesburg - Chili Cook-Off (November 3)
* Safety Harbor - Wine Festival (November 3)
* Tampa - Zoofari (November 3)
* Pinellas Park - Cajun Cafe on the Bayou Beer Tasting Festival (November 3)
* Ruskin - Seafood Festival (November 3-4)
* Fort Myers - Taste of the Town (November 4)
* Ponte Vedra Beach - Food and WineFest (November 7-11)
* St. Petersburg - Ribfest (November 9-11)
* Hudson - Seafest (November 9-11)
* Dunedin - Wines the Blues (November 10)
* Clearwater - Chiliblast (November 10)
* Panacea - Mighty Mullet Maritime Festival (November 10)
* Homosassa - Seafood Festival (November 10)
* Plant City - Pig Jam (November 17)
* Yankeetown - Seafood Festival (November 17-18)
* St. Petersburg - Grand Central Chili Cookoff (November 24)
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- At Tuesday's meeting, Benita Whalen, Director of South Florida Water Management's Okeechobee Service Center provided Glades County Commissioners with a copy of a letter from SFWMD Executive Director Carol Ann Wehle informing the Board of SFWMD's project that proposes acquisition of 1,780 acres of land in Glades County south of the Caloosahatchee River and north of SR80 about eight miles east of LaBelle and upstream from Ortona Lock.
The Governing Board of SFWMD will consider this proposal at a public hearing in its meeting November 13, 2007 at Key Largo Marriott Bay Beach Resort which begins at 9 am. Ms. Whalen introduced Ms. Agnes Ramsey, SFWMD�s Deputy Director of the Everglades Restoration Planning Department, who gave a brief overview of the project explaining the main purpose was removing nitrogen from the Caloosahatchee River Basin water.
Ramsey presented maps of the areas considered for the project, and referencing the site of former Prudential citrus grove on property now owned by Boma Corp LLC as preferable because of its boundaries of the Caloosahatchee on the north both east and west or Ortona Lock including contiguity to the Corps of Engineers Ortona campground on the south bank of the River across from Ortona Lock, and the existing canals on the east and west sides of the property which would allow processed water from the project to be discharged on both sides of the Ortona Lock.
The map of the proposed site discussed by Ms. Ramsey depicted an area along SR 80 on the south boundary of the property that may be excluded because of its potential for development. Glades Commissioners all expressed concern for the removal of property now subject to ad valorem assessment from the tax rolls with possible limited PILOT (Payment in lieu of taxes) compensation, as well as the non-specific determination of exclusion of about two miles of State Road 80 frontage with its inherent possibility for development that would enhance the tax base.
It was suggested that if SFWMD would clean up the Pearce Canal, Moore Haven Canal and other public Lake Okeechobee access points in Glades County, it would make the loss of this property more palatable to Glades County. Ms. Ramsey mentioned the desire to provide public access on SFWMD project facilities, noting this will abut the Ortona Campground Park and includes wetland forestation that will be protected. Ms. Ramsey stated that whereas phosphorous pollution comes from sugar cane, only citrus groves produce nitrogen run-off contamination. Pete Quasius, present at the commission meeting, of the local Audubon club, lauded the Water Management District for its efforts to clean up the water.
LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Highway Patrol reports that the driver of a 2006 Toyota truck was killed when the vehicle crossed lanes into a ditch on State Road 29 south of LaBelle. The release of the name of the driver is pending notification of relatives.
At about 2:30 a.m. the vehicle was traveling north on State Road 29 approaching the intersection of County Road 830A. Prior to reaching the intersection, for unknown reason, the truck drifted across the southbound lanes and entered a drainage ditch. At the north end of the ditch the truck struck a concrete culvert causing the vehicle to vault over Heritage Road. It rolled while in the air, landing on its roof in the ditch on the west shoulder of SR 29 north of Heritage Road. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene. The name of the driver will be released after next
of kin notification.
Monday, October 22, 2007
CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Wednesday October 17, at 7:55 a.m., the Hendry County Sheriff's Office received a call reporting a structure fire at 236 Del Sur in Montura Ranch Estates. Deputies and members of the Montura Volunteer Fire Department responded. Firemen entered the residence to extinguish the flames and discovered a deceased man whose hands and feet were tied. The body of Epitacio Antonio Hernandez-Beltron, age 60 of the same address, was transported to the Medical Examiners office in Fort Myers where an autopsy will be performed.
Sheriff Ronnie Lee said his Criminal Investigators, with the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Fire Marshall's Office, are investigating the suspected Arson and Homicide.
LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation have announced that Hugh M. English of LaBelle will be inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame in February 2008 during the Florida State Fair.
Hugh English spent 35 years working for A. Duda and Sons, Inc., one of Florida's agricultural giants. He started with the company as a citrus grove manager and retired as a corporate vice president. Through his work at Duda in the 1960s, English helped launch southwest Florida's fledgling citrus industry. He conducted pioneering research and helped develop production methods now commonly in use.
English was born in 1936 in the small town of Alva in Lee County, where his grandfather settled in 1876. English grew up on the family farm, which encompassed about 500 acres and produced citrus, beef cattle, and vegetables. He began working in his family's citrus groves as a boy. English studied animal science at the University of Florida. During his student years he was active in the Block and Bridle Club and was a member of the Livestock Judging Team.
In 1965 he went to work at Duda's new citrus grove in Felda in Hendry County. In those days there was little information or research to support production of citrus on the flatwoods soils of southwest Florida, so English immediately initiated numerous research demonstrations in cooperation with UF/IFAS research staff and Extension agents. He ran variety and spacing trials and experimented with seepage irrigation and water control techniques. As low-volume irrigation technology was developed, English quickly recognized the savings in water use and began converting to this more efficient system.
Just four years into his career with Duda, English was named manager of the company�s groves in LaBelle. In 1976 he was promoted to general manager of all Duda citrus grove operations, and in 1991 he assumed responsibility for the company's fresh fruit packinghouse and frozen concentrate plant. At the time of his retirement in 2001, English was corporate vice president in charge of the company�s entire Citrus Division. He was responsible for all citrus production, packing, and processing.
His career was demanding, but he still found time to give back to his community and his industry. For many years English has provided leadership to Florida agriculture on environmental, technical, and policy issues. He was chairman of the Big Cypress Basin Board and a member of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District. While serving on the Southwest Florida Ag Council, he helped build legislative support to construct and staff the University of Florida's Southwest Florida Research and Education Center near Immokalee.
English has always been active in the promotion of the citrus industry. When Central Florida�s citrus industry was nearly destroyed by the freezes of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the industry began a rapid expansion in the southwestern part of the state. English helped organize the Gulf Citrus Growers Association to advance the citrus industry in this new location.
In the early 1990s English was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles to a three-year term on the Florida Citrus Commission. He was vice chairman of the commission in 1992 and chairman in 1993. During his term he traveled to Europe and Asia to enhance export opportunities for Florida citrus growers.
English was a member of the Making American Agriculture Productive and Profitable (MAAPP) Committee, created by the American Farm Bureau's board of directors in 2003 as a two-year agricultural study group. The group worked together to come up with a vision for the future of American agriculture and to develop policy recommendations that would help make it productive and profitable. The MAAPP Committee Report was published by the American Farm Bureau in 2006.
In 1979 English's family was named Farm Family of the Year by the Hendry County Farm Bureau, and in 1988 English won the University of Florida's Citrus Club Man of the Year Award. In 2000 he received the University of Florida's Alumni of Distinction Award and was elected to the Citrus Hall of Fame.
Hugh English and his wife, Beverly, live in LaBelle. They have two grown daughters, Katherine and Caroline, and one grandson.