From The Governor
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From LaBelle, Florida for Hendry and Glades County and the Lake Okeechobee region. Don Browne, editor.
Sponsors: Alden A. Rumfelt, Attorney At Law, Gold & Guns, Inc., Gary Peters Computer Services, Phillips AC & Heating Services LLC, Alvarez Tire Shop
"The benefits of this system will be far-reaching to all the citizens of Hendry County as we are introducing and administering the roll-out of this state-of-the-art technology to all other qualified agencies in the county such as 9-1-1, law enforcement, fire departments, emergency management, and engineering," said Hendry County Chief Deputy Appraiser Clifford Wood.
As part of the company's standard license agreement, all its county customers that experience natural disasters such as a hurricane, receive post-disaster imaging services. These new images can be viewed with the pre disaster images by using Pictometry Change Analysis™ software that enables government agencies to simultaneously view both before and after images to better plan and expedite restoration efforts. From an assessment perspective, this level of service enables property appraisers, in the event of a hurricane, to view impact of storm damage and issue trim notices that are reflective of any disaster impact upon properties in their area.
Hendry County is situated in the south-central region of Florida and occupies 1,162.95 square miles with a population of more than 39,000 residents. The Hendry County property appraiser is responsible for managing valuations for more than 36,700 real estate parcels in the county with a total taxable value of more than 2 billion dollars.
"Using this technology along with our traditional valuation procedures, we will be able to more efficiently and more accurately review and supplement our valuations that we are required to conduct on an annual basis," said Henry County Property Appraiser Kristina Kupla. "The Pictometry system will enable us to better equalize valuations and assist residents in understanding how valuations are determined."
LABELLE, FL. -- At 3:00 p.m., on April 25, the Hendry County Sheriff's Office, along with members of the D.E.A. task force, searched the mobile home residence at 292 Morris Taylor Road in Felda, Florida. Felda is on State Road 29, south of LaBelle. (Left: 2004 photo of 292 Morris Taylor Rd.)
According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, Officers seized powder cocaine, two electronic weight scales, packaging material, creatine powder cutting agent, five handguns, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, lortab pills, morphine sulphate pills, gemfibrozil pills, methoclopramide pills, and xannax pills.
Juan Jose Muniz, age 46 of 292 Morris Taylor Road Felda, Florida, was arrested and charged with Possession of Legend Drug Without a Prescription (3 counts), Possession of Firearm By Convicted Felon (5 counts), Operating a Drug House, Trafficking Cocaine, Trafficking a Controlled Substance (2 counts), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Bond was set at $370,500.00. Muniz is also being held on a Polk County warrant for Trafficking Methamphetamine. No bond.
Anita Lynn Dye, age 36 of 292 Morris Taylor Road Felda, Florida, was arrested and charged with Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer and Possession of a Firearm By a Convicted Felon (5 counts). Bond set at $55,000.00.
Bobby Holland, age 21 of 257 Mirromar Road Fort Myers, Florida, was arrested and charged with Possession of Marijuana under 20 grams, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Bond set at $1,500.00.
Both Sheriff Ronnie Lee and Assistant Clewiston Police Chief Kristine Petersen, were present at the scene of this joint effort to eradicate illegal narcotics throughout Hendry County. Crack cocaine and a loaded 9mm Ruger handgun were also recovered during the search of the residence.
PORT LABELLE, FL. -- On Saturday, April 14th, the Port LaBelle Ranchettes Property Owners Association held its quarterly meeting at the community property on Frontier Circle. The meeting was facilitated by POA President and Secretary, Don Munch Jr..
Approximately 30 members were present at the meeting, and many of them expressed their concerns about high property taxes, impact fees, and other costs associated with homeowners. "These concerned citizens do not want to see more families move out of the area due to an excessive cost of living," says Don Munch.
Roger Saunders, a Ranchettes resident and the citizen captain of the newly-established Glades County, Port LaBelle C.O.P. (Citizens On Patrol), gave a brief update of this successful program, and encouraged concerned residents of the Ranchettes, as well as those people residing in nearby Unit 102 and the Port LaBelle Condos and Villas, to get involved if they would like to be a part of the program. Please contact Mr. Saunders at (863) 675-6288 if you live in one of these areas, and you are interested in participating in the C.O.P. program.
The next Ranchettes quarterly meeting is scheduled for Saturday, August 25th at 9 AM.
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• April 21 – 29th Annual Black Gold Jubilee Festival, Belle Glade. 863-996-2745
• April 28 – Arcadia Antique Fair
• April 28 – Sebring Bikefest, Downtown Sebring on the Circle, 4 pm-9 pm
• April 28 – Arcadia's Main Street Golf Tournament
• April 28 – Clewiston Sugarfestival. 863-983-7979
• April 29 – Sweet Corn Fiesta, South Florida Fair Grounds
• May 5 – Brown Sugar Festival, Clewiston, Harlem. 863-228-1550
• May 5 – Arcadia's Watermelon Festival
• May 5 – Hardee Annual Naturefest, Hardee Lakes Park
• May 5 – Hardee Farmer's Market, Wauchula
• May 5 – Hardee Flea Market, Bowling Green
• May 12 – The Sebring Cruise, Downtown Sebring on the Circle, 6 pm-?
• May 12 – Highlands Antique Fair, Poor Richard's Antique Mall, Lake Placid
• May 12 – Arcadia Collectibles' Market
• May 18 – Music in the Park, Wauchula
CLEWISTON, FL. -- On April 18th Deputies and Criminal Investigators of the Hendry County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at 735 North Trebol Street in Montura Ranch Estates. Located within the residence were approximately 8.5 Lbs. Of Marijuana Street value of $16,000.00, along with packaging paraphernalia.
Sheriff Ronnie Lee said Juan Antonio Sanchez, age 33, was arrested and charged with Operating a Drug House, Possession of Marijuana 20 grams or more, Possession of Marijuana with intent to sell, Possession of Legend Drug Without a Prescription, and Possession of Packaging Paraphernalia. Bond was set at $51,000.00.
Sheriff Ronnie Lee said Carlton Larue Rush, age 33, was arrested and charged with Operating a Drug House, Possession of Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Firearm/AMMUNITION by a Convicted Felon, Possession of Legend Drug Without a Prescription, Possession of Cocaine With Intent To Sell Within 1,000 feet of a Place of Worship, Trafficking in Cocaine, and Possession of Packaging Paraphernalia. Bond was set at $148,000.
1) $208,000 on 2nd Ave
2) $189,000 on Clay St
3) $207,000 on Kumquat Cir (Port LaBelle)
4) $288,000 on Nobles Rd
5) $140,000 on Quail Run
6) $240,000 on Springview Cir (Port LaBelle - Laurel Oaks)
7) $150,000 on E Lincoln Ave
8) $170,000 on E Sunflower Cir (Port LaBelle - Unit Four)
9) $146,000 on N Edgewater Cir (Port LaBelle - Unit Four)
LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Charlie Crist has signed legislation that will double the additional homestead exemption available to low-income seniors. Prior to last year's election, the Florida Constitution allowed cities and counties to pass an ordinance that grants low-income seniors an additional homestead exemption of $25,000. In November 2006, voters amended the constitutional amendment to allow cities and counties to increase this additional homestead exemption to $50,000.
"We have an obligation to provide our state's seniors the utmost respect and dignity," Governor Crist said. "Unfortunately, high property taxes are forcing many seniors to choose which bills they can afford to pay. This legislation provides additional help to those who need it most and can help make living in Florida more affordable."
House Bill 333 implements the constitutional amendment that increases the local option for homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 for individuals age 65 and older whose income does not exceed $23,414 in 2007. The increased homestead exemption applies only to cities and counties, not to school districts or special districts.
If local governments have already implemented the additional $25,000 exemption for low-income seniors, the legislation allows them to increase the exemption to $50,000 for the 2007 tax year. Currently, 53 counties and 158 cities have already implemented the additional exemption.
Local governments that have not already implemented the additional $25,000 homestead exemption for low-income seniors have the opportunity to implement the new law for the 2008 tax year.
LABELLE, FL. -- There's a broad range and large inventory of real estate for sale in the LaBelle area according the the multiplisting service of the Ft. Myers Board of Realtors. 186 residential units are now listed for sale and 607 parcels of land available. There are probably many hundreds of other real estate parcel available for "sale by owner" as well.
The lowest priced home for sale in the area is a one-bedroom, one-bath home at 461 Withlachoochee Avenue in the city of LaBelle at $34,500. It has 656 square feet of living space and is selling at $51 per square foot. It's been for sale for five months.
There are dozens of two-bedroom homes in the Port LaBelle Country Village area for sale from $99,000 to $125,000. Most new three-bedroom homes in the Port LaBelle are ranging in price from $200,000 to $250,000
At the top end, a river front home at 700 Fort Thompson Avenue in LaBelle is on the market for $2,150,000. It has 4,811 square feet home on 4.25 acres and is listed at a price of $447 per square feet. It has been for sale since August 2006. There are numerous river front homes in the west Hendry county area priced from $1,200,000 to $2,000,000.
LABELLE, FL. -- Think you have all your Florida home insurance problems worked out? Cancellations? 300% rate increases. Well, think again. Since January when the Florida Legislature and the Governor forced changes into the insurance laws and regulations, we have been contacting the various state agencies to see if we could get some simple explanations of what consumers should be looking for, and what rights they have under the new rules. Insurance agents have been giving consumers bad advice and just plain wrong answers for the last three months.
As it turned out, not only did insurance agents not know the answers, the state agencies didn't either. Finally, after countless letters and talking to state agencies, Bob Milligan of the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate's office answered one of our letters. It took more than three weeks to get a response, but who's counting?
"I share your concerns regarding the impact that recent legislation and regulatory action have had on Florida's property insurance market. One reason for uncertainty is that several interpretations have been made - both from the administrative side and by Florida courts - regarding certain aspects of the measures; and, even as I write, the Florida Legislature is considering amendatory legislation that, if enacted, can further revise the law. Please be assured that there is a concerted effort to see that any information posted or released will be timely and accurate. For that reason, I am forwarding your email to our Office of Consumer Services, where professional personnel well familiar with the process will be able to provide you the latest synopsis of current law, regulation, interpretation and the resulting market practice - knowing that some of this information may be made obsolete through legislative action."
Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate
The bottom line: Even though the politicians have been grandstanding about how much money we are all to save on insurance "soon," the powerful insurance lobbyists are not closing the door yet. They will be continuing to pressure the Florida Legislature to revise the laws and regulations to their benefit, and to the consumer's loss. Expect the perceived "savings" on insurance premiums to not appear any time soon, or anytime.
LABELLE, FL. -- Recently resigned Hendry County Manager Lester Baird has applied for the position of city manager of Brooksville, Florida. Brooksville, a small town near Tampa will hold interviews among three remaining candidates and town officials on Monday.
Former Brooksville city council member Ernie Weaver told a local reporter that the city's top pick is Baird because he has Florida government experience and can bring a fresh perspective to the job.
Baird is up against Susan Boyer, former city manager for nearby Crystal River and former city manager of Lady Lake, and Jennene Norman-Vacha, former deputy city manager of Brooksville and former human resources director for Hernando County. Baird has also been city manager of the cities of Belle Glade and South Bay.
CLEWISTON, FL. -- On March 30, 2007, Hendry County Sheriff's Investigators were notified of an alleged sexual battery on a child under the age of 12. Sheriff's Investigators, along with a Department of Children and Families Protective Investigator, initiated an Investigation into the alleged crime.
According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, the stepfather of the child, Cecil Dukes age 39 of 450 Montura Avenue, Clewiston, was located on the Brighton Seminole Reservation in Glades County where he was taken into custody on an arrest warrant issued by Hendry County Judge Sloan.
He was charged with Capital Offense Sexual Battery On A Child Under 12 Years of Age. His wife and mother of the child, Leann Fatzinger Dukes age 26, was arrested and charged with Accessory After The Fact and Child Neglect. Leann Dukes remains in jail under a $85,000.00. There is no bond for Cecil Dukes.
Body Dumped In Hendry Canal
CLEWISTON, FL. -- On March 31, 2007, a white female was found in a roadside canal on County Road 833. Hendry County Sheriff's Investigators retrieved the body from the canal and notified the Medical Examiners Office.
Since the Hendry County Sheriff's Office had no report of a missing person fitting this description within Hendry County, surrounding Law Enforcement Agencies were contacted. A Collier County Sheriff's Office Investigator said they had a report of a missing white female from the Immokalee area. They were furnished all information and evidence collected by the Hendry County Sheriff's Office.
The female was identified as Sandra Nicholson, age 38, of Immokalee, Florida. The Collier County Sheriff's Office conducted their investigation, and on April 3, 2007, arrested the victim's husband, Donald Nicholson, age 40 of 687 Clifton Road Immokalee, Florida. Nicholson was charged with second-degree murder.
East side of Hendry County
1. Allah Lawrence, age 20 Sale of Cocaine
2. Adrian Anderson, age 29 Sale of Cocaine
3. Arvis Daniels, age 20 Sale of Cocaine
4. Doby Johnson, age 51 Sale of Cocaine
5. Desiree Joyner, age 23 Sale of Cocaine
6. Marice McCray, age 21 Possession of Marijuana
Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Sell
West side of Hendry County
1. Freedie Lee Thomas, age 40 Sale of Cocaine
2. Lamarco McDougal, age 23 Sale of Cocaine
3. Billy Smith, Jr. age 17 Sale of Cocaine
4. Troi Love, age 22 Sale of Cocaine
There were two additional people arrested during the raid that
warrants had not been issued for. Donald Johnson, age 46, arrested on
the westside of the County for Possession of Narcotic Paraphernalia.
Yasmine Hart, age 19, arrested on the east side of the County for
Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana With Intent To Sell
Or Deliver, and Tampering With Evidence.
There were several individuals that could not be located during the
initial round up. Arrest warrants have been issued for the following
for Sale of Cocaine.
West side of Hendry County
1. James W. Harris, Sr., age 22
2. Leonard D. Gilley, age 26
3. James C. Strickland, age 22
4. Mario Martinez, Jr., age 24
5. Nathan D. Francis, age 19
6. James Heron, age 48
7. Devon Kennedy, age 20
East side of Hendry County
1. Trumanine J. Moody, age 22
2. Joel Justin Ruth, age 23
3. Nicholas Thomas, age 14
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A puppy that had apparently been killed was found in the bushes on Tuesday March 27, hanging from the pepper trees on the bank of the Caloosahatchee River in Moore Haven just off West Rd. It probably had been placed there sometime close to the previous weekend of March 24th, 25th. The dog was about a 25 to 30 lb medium size dog with a white or off-white short coat. It had small ears that flopped down and a long tail.
If anyone recognizes this pup, please call so we can find out why it ended up like this. The person responsible for this should take responsibility. This poor creature deserved better. If you have information leading to the person responsible, please call the Caloosa Humane Society at 863-675-0997 or Glades County Animal Control 863-946-6001. Please be a voice for this dog.