Thursday, January 31, 2008

Annual Ortona Cane Grinding Festival

Glades County Fun This Saturday

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Ortona Volunteer Fire Department�s annual Cane Grinding Festival will be held this year on Saturday February 2 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The festival is always held the first Saturday in February at Glades County's Indian Mound Park.

The scenic and historic Larry Luckey Indian Mound Park (just west of Ortona Cemetery on State Road 78) is the location of this annual fest with food for sale, exhibits, music, and dancing. Grinding sugar cane into sugar is always a popular exhibit using old fashioned cane grinding machinery.

Relax under the park's giant oak trees and enjoy blue grass music and join the cloggers in country dancing. Bring a folding lawn chair and enjoy the day!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Two More Drug Houses Busted

More Grow Houses Out Of Business

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff's Investigators destroy two more marijuana grow houses for a total of three in one week. Sheriff Ronnie Lee said that on January 25 at about 9:30 a.m., Investigators conducted a search of the residence located at 1901 Al Don Farming Road, just west of Hendry Isles Boulevard, and found marijuana growing within the premises. The house was being used to cultivate and harvest marijuana.

Claudio Manuel Leyva (photo above), age 50, was arrested and charged with Manufacturing Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana Over 20 Grams, Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Operating a Drug House, Grand Theft (utility theft), and Possession of a Firearm By a Convicted Felon (4 counts).

Know Your Montura Farmer

Another "farmer" was arrested on January 25, at 5:00 p.m., during a search of the residence located at 515 Horse Club Avenue in Montura, Investigators discover another Marijuana Grow operation. Deputies seized numerous mature marijuana plants, which were approximately seven feet tall, along with all the materials used to grow and harvest marijuana.

Yunier Ruiz, age 21 was arrested and charged with Manufacturing Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana Over 20 Grams, Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Operating a Drug House. Bond was set at $57,500.

Attempted Murder Suspect Arrested

Victim Stabbed 15 Times For $19

LABELLE, FL. -- On January 27, at 6:00 a.m., Hendry County Deputy Christian Buchhofer was dispatched to an area near the intersection of Kissimmee and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in LaBelle, to investigate a report of a man bleeding.  Deputy Buchhofer located 19-year-old Juan Cordiel lying on the sidewalk bleeding from what appeared to be several stab wounds. 

E.M.S. responded to the scene and transported Cordiel to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers where Hospital Staff determined he had been stabbed 15 times.   Sergeant Shawn Reed and Corporal Jesus Olvera located the suspects at 815 M.L.K., where the stabbing was reported to have occurred. 

Information obtained by the Deputies indicates that Clemente Mendoza Garcia, age 32, asked Cordiel for money, when Cordiel refused Garcia stabbed him with a knife and robbed him of $19.00.   Rosario Garza, age 23, was present when the incident occurred and gave false information to Deputies in an attempt to cover for Garcia.  Clemente Mendoza Garcia was arrested and charged with Attempted Murder and Tampering With Evidence.  Rosario Garza was charged with Obstruction, bond set at $5,000.00.  Garcia�s bond was set at $105,000.00

Friday, January 25, 2008

HCSO Cold Case Info Sought

Citizen Help Sought In 20 Year Old Murder Case

LABELLE, Fl -- Twenty years ago, February 1, 1988, seven year old Alejandra Hernandez was kidnapped, sexually molested, then murdered.  Her body was buried in an orange grove in Hendry County near the Collier County line southeast of Immokalee, Florida. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hendry County Sheriff�s Office at (863) 674-4060, ask for Don Munch or Alice Campbell.  At the caller�s request, information will be kept confidential.
Hace veinte anos, Febrero 1,1988, Alejandra Hernandez de siete anos de edad, fue Secuestrada y Sexualmente violada. Su cuerpo fue enterrado en un naranjal en el  condado de Hendry, cerca de el condado Collier al sureste de Immokalee, Florida. Si alguien tiene informacion llame al Departamento de aguacil al telefono 863-674-4060, pregunte por Mayra o Alicia. La llamada sera confidencial si usted lo desea. 

Port LaBelle Drug House Busted

"Nothing Down" Investment  Becomes Marijuana Grow House

PORT LABELLE, FL. -- On January 23, 2008, Hendry County Sheriff's Investigators executed a search warrant at 6054 Pecan Circle in Port LaBelle.    According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, a sophisticated marijuana grow operation was located within the residence. 

Deputies seized several young marijuana plants along with all the equipment used to cultivate and harvest the marijuana.  Armando Serrano, age 38, attempted to escape when Investigators arrived, but was apprehended as he exited the rear door. 

Sheriff Lee said based on the evidence located at the scene, Serrano resides at this house, however as with most of the other 29 "grow houses" located in Hendry County within the past three years, the property owner lives in another county. 

Serrano was arrested and charged with Cultivation of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell, Possession of Marijuana Over 20 Grams, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Operating a Drug House.  Bond was set at $49,500. 

The new home is owned by Layte Hernandez, a single woman from Southwest Miami. Hernandez purchased the home April 2006 for $233,400. The home was sold by CHL Homes and subject to a $186,400 mortgage to IndyMac Bank in California plus an equity line of credit at the same time for $46,600. This makes the Hernandez  house a "nothing down" purchase on an investment rental property.

The home, just north of Cowboy Way east of the Port LaBelle waste treatment plant is in a fairly remote area with few other homes in the neighborhood.

Florida Pilot Gets $5 Million Reward

Award For Turning In Terrorist

MIAMI, FL. --  A 69-year old Miami man got the first reward to a U.S. citizen for information leading to the arrest of a terrorist, said two sources in the State Department, who reportedly leaked the information about the recipients' identity to the press.

Clarence "Clancy" Prevost, formerly was a flight instructor in Minneapolis and taught convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui in August of 2001 how to fly. Prevost told his supervisors that he was suspicious of the student.  

Two other flight instructors are now wondering why only Prevost got the huge reward saying they were the ones who actually called the FBI. Tim Nelson and Hugh Sims of Ft. Myers were credited with contacting the FBI to Moussaoui and received a Senate resolution in 2005 that commended their "bravery" and "heroism."

Prevost, although not the person who notified the FBI, testified at Moussaoui's trial because he was the flight instructor. The reward ceremony was private as the State Department does not identify the reward recipients. But two Bush administration officials said anonymously the reward went to Prevost.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Congressman Mahoney Speaks

Congressman Speaks To House On Behalf Of Moore Haven

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- In a recent speech Congressman Tim Mahoney spoke to the House of Representatives to pass legislations for the Main Street Grant program. Mahoney gave Moore Haven as an example of how the grants can be used to develop new housing and other projects for Moore Haven. 

Mahoney said, "Moore Haven is one of the oldest cities in South Florida.  This beautiful old sleepy Florida town is home to one doctor, Dr. Geek, and one restaurant.  It is one of the few places left in Florida where the families have lived there for generations and everyone knows their neighbor.  

"Unfortunately, it is also one of the poorest areas in the State.  The population of the City is approximately 1,900 and the annual tax revenue for all of Glades County is $6 million.  The people of Moore Haven have the desire to revitalize their historic downtown area, but, they lack the financial resources.

Mahoney continued, "Guided by the vision and leadership of Tracy Whirls, the Executive Director of the Glades County Economic Development Council, Moore Haven applied for a HOPE VI Main Street grant last year.  The city had hoped to use the money to purchase three historic- but dilapidated and vacant – buildings with the intention of attracting businesses to the first floors and 12 affordable housing units on the upper levels.  Plans for the first floors included opening Moore Haven's only pharmacy and furniture store. 

But Mahoney told the House, "Moore Haven was not successful in its attempt to secure the grant.  The good news is that they are game and they're going to apply for it again this year, but I believe that it is imperative that as we continue to give Moore Haven and small rural cities like Moore Haven across this great nation this opportunity. 

"Mr. Chairman, in closing I would like to leave you with the words of Larry Luckey, the Glades County Property Appraiser: "If we are unable to save these historic commercial building, the downtown historic district will cease to exist.  I am saddened at the thought that we may well become a city with no history."

To gain the passage of the act, Mahoney concluded, "I would ask for the support of my colleagues to preserve the HOPE VI Main Street Grant Program, and the economy and history of small towns throughout America, including Moore Haven.  In addition, with the passage of my amendment, we will ensure that rural communities continue to have access to the affordable housing benefits provided by the HOPE VI program."   

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Venus Gets BioFuel Plant Funding

$7 Million Grant Given By State

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A $47 million project to construct a 20 million-gallon-a-year ethanol production plant using sugar products has been slated for construction near the small rural community of Venus just north of the Glades county line.  The company has promised to spend $40 million of its own money oin the plant.

United States Envirofuels, LLC says the primary feedstock to be converted to biofuel is sweet sorghum which is not a food crop, uses less water and fertilizer than sugar or corn crops and grows rapidly.  The millions of gallons of water used in the production process will be treated and reused and other byproducts will be sold as high- potassium fertilizer.

According to a company press release, supplemental feedstocks will also include sugar cane, cane milling byproducts and other sugar crops produced by local growers.  Site planning and conceptual plant design are done and permitting is about to begin.  The plant will use several technologies to ensure the finished products are low carbon ethanol, green renewable power, bio-fertilizer, beverage grade liquid carbon dioxide, and treated water for process recycling and irrigation.

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson  this week announced the recipients of $25 million in renewable energy grants throughout the state. The 12 companies chosen, including U.S. Envirofuels, for grants were among 76 vying for the awards, which were funded by the Florida Legislature last spring.  The grants are part of Bronson's "Farm to Fuel" initiative, a program designed to get Florida's agriculture industry to produce 25 percent of the state's energy needs by the year 2025 in an effort to reduce Florida's dependency on foreign oil and to keep land in agriculture.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LaBelle LIVE Videocast Now 13th In World Rank

Thanks readers and LIVE LaBelle videocast viewers for your daily votes. Today the LaBelle Live TV interactive broadcast is ranked 13th of the top live video broadcasters of the world. You can vote daily by just clicking on the link to register your vote.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Busted In City Of LaBelle!

Deputies Arrest Lamont Covington

LABELLE, FL. -- In the early morning hours on Friday January 18, Hendry County Sheriff�s Deputies executed a search warrant at 801 Suwanee Avenue in LaBelle.  Deputies located crack cocaine, processing material normally used in the manufacturing of crack cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and US currency inside the residence. 

According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, it appeared the house was being used as a place to manufacture crack cocaine. Charles Lamont Covington, age 26, was arrested at the scene and charged with Operating a Drug House, two counts for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of a Firearm During The Commission of a Felony, Trafficking in Cocaine, Manufacturing Crack Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Sell.

Adopt A Horse Or Burro

Wild Burros and Horses From U.S. Government

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management will hold a special wild horse and burro adoption at the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center in Okeechobee, Florida, on February 2, 2008.  For only $125, you can take home your own young mustang or burro.  

Additionally, by adopting one horse or burro, you may now take home a companion animal for only $25.  Approximately 70 horses and 10 burros will be available in Okeechobee.

The wild horse and burro adoption will be from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. on Saturday, February 2, 2008. Remaining animals will be available for adoption Sunday, February 3, 2008, from 8 A.M. until noon.  Additionally, animals can be viewed by the public between 1 P.M. and 5 P.M. on Friday, February 1, 2008.  

Call 1-866-4MUSTANGS for information and applications for the Okeechobee adoption.  Potential adopters are asked to call early to be pre-approved and avoid waiting in line.  You can also visit to get requirement information.  

Once gentled, wild horses in the southeastern United States are used for dressage, trail riding, western events, and other disciplines.  They are noted for their endurance, sure-footedness and intelligence, making them great for work or recreation.  Burros are great companion animals and are oftentimes used for predator control.  

While the adoption process is simple and straightforward, anyone considering adoption of a wild horse or burro should remember that the animals are wild and require gentling and training. Since the Adopt-A-Wild Horse & Burro Program began in 1973, over 214,000 animals have been adopted nationwide.  Of those, nearly 5,000 have found adoptive homes in Florida. 

Bring your family out the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center to view the animals and learn more about the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Will Hendry Lose On Tax Amendment?

Hendry County Can Lose A Little...1% Of Income

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Property Appraiser has run some preliminary numbers with the current information available of the cost of the proposed Property Tax Amendment. What the county may lose from the property tax revenues if the Florida Constitutional Amendment passes this month in the special election amounts to a very small percentage of total revenue.

Hendry property taxes represent only 19% of the county's total income, and the possible amount lost from raising the homestead exemption under the proposed Constitutional amendment is only 1% of the county's total revenues.

Hendry County is looking at an approximately $892,000 reduction as a result of Homestead property tax exemption rising from $25,000 to $50,000. (The average homestead homeowner will save only about $240 yearly across the state.)

The total Ad Valorem dollars (property taxes) that will be generated for 2007 for Hendry county is $17,670,397 according to Jennifer Davis, the finance officer for the county commissioner's office.  The $892,000 reduction in tax income, should the Amendment pass, represents 5% of the total property taxes that could be collected.

But comparing the possible revenue loss with the total Hendry county budget income gives a more complete assessment. The total Hendry county budget is $90,867,067, says Davis.  This includes all revenue sources for all items under the Hendry Board of County Commissioners. Therefore, should the amendment pass, the county's loss will only amount to less than 1% of total county income.

So What Are The Benefits And Objections?

It is expected county officials will express opposition to the Amendment citing lost revenue and job cutting.  Those for the Amendment cite saving $240 a year for homestead property owners and the possibility of taking the current homestead savings to a future home, most beneficial to those having already lived in a Homesteaded property for several years. Newly homesteaded property will have no benefit from the proposed Amendment, having built up no substantial savings yet.

Other opponents say "vote against" the amendment to express dissatisfaction with the state politicians including Governor Crist who have failed to provide answers to campaign promises to lower property taxes, cut insurance rates, and provide continued growth of the Florida real estate economy. They say this amendment does nothing to fix that state's real estate problems, and the Legislature must go back and fix the problems with fair tax reform.

The issue is complex.

Link To Hendry Property Appraiser's Amendment Explanation Pages:

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Click to vote daily for Don's "Live From Hendry County Lifecast" and promote your County. Thanks!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Hendry Political Candidates Growing

Latest Hendry Candidate List

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Elections Office has the following candidates listed for the 2008 general election. Barbara Butler and Jennifer Davis just filed for the Clerk of Courts position last week with the elections office in LaBelle.

In 2008 the following county offices will be up for election. Contact your favorites and offer your support.

Clerk of Circuit Court
Jennifer Davis, P O Box 991, LaBelle, FL 33935 863-675-7521 (Rep)
Barbara Cox Butler, P O Box 44, Clewiston, FL 33440 863-983-6420 (Dem)

Ronald "Ronnie" Lee, 248 Caloosa Estates Dr., LaBelle, FL 33935 863-675-4357 (Rep)
Kevin Nelson, 1232 Riverbend Dr., LaBelle, FL 33935 863-675-0324 (Rep)
Fred Dyess, Jr., 1032 Bayberry Loop, Clewiston, FL 33440 863-983-2710 (Dem)
Raul Fernandez, 5781 Lee Blvd., #208-345, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971 863-677-5553 (DEM)
Steve Whidden, 2100 Scott Rd., LaBelle, FL 33935 863-612-0678 (Dem)

Property Appraiser
Mary S. Harn, P O Box 413, Labelle, FL 33975 863-228-2950 (Dem)
Michael Iglesias, P O Box 1111, LaBelle, FL 33975 863-675-0154 (Dem)
Kristina A. Kulpa, 1000 G Rd., LaBelle, FL 33935 863-675-3302 (Rep)

Superintendent of Schools
Robert J. Egley, 342 E. Pasadena Ave., Clewiston, FL 33440 863-234-9696 (Rep)
Scott Cooper, P O Box 1496, LaBelle, FL 33975 863-517-1683 (Dem)

County Commission District #3
W. T. "Bill" Maddox, 203 N. Riverview St., LaBelle, FL 33935 863-675-2281 (Dem)
Don Davis, P O Box 906, LaBelle, FL 33975 863-675-6714 (NPA)

County Commission District #5
W.C. "Bo" Pelham, P O Box 742, Clewiston, FL 33440 863-983-7776 (Dem)
Karson Turner, P O Box 1688, Clewiston, FL 33440 863-983-4101 (Dem)

Long Branch Bar - Busted!

Six Arrests In Big Bar Bust - Cocaine And Marijuana

LABELLE, FL. -- Shortly after midnight Friday January 12, Hendry County Deputies executed a search warrant at the Long Branch Bar located in LaBelle and arrested the manager and five others.  Several bags of cocaine packaged for sale, money used to purchase cocaine, and drug paraphernalia were located within the LaBelle area's popular drinking spot. 

Hendry Sheriff Ronnie Lee said Brandi Leigh Keeling, age 24 of LaBelle, was arrested and charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell, Sale of Cocaine, two charges for Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  She was also arrested on five warrants for Sale of Cocaine. 

Other arrests made include Gene William Anderson, age 28 of LaBelle, arrested for Possession of Marijuana, Mindy L. Skinner, age 22 of LaBelle, arrested for Possession of Marijuana, Christopher Cooper, age 33 of Fort Myers, arrested for Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Cocaine. Paula Sue Davis Hall, age 44 of LaBelle, was arrested and charged with Obstruction, and Ralph Green, age 56 of LaBelle was arrested and charged with Obstruction.

Bond was set at $190,000.00 on Brandi Keeling. The Long Branch has been the subject of state investigators and regulators and has been under litigation with the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco. Paula Sue Davis is registered with the state as the president of Long Branch Bar, Inc and Kim Ballard is Vice President. Paula Sue reportedly told sheriff's deputies she was the "manager" of the bar.

Poll: High-Speed Or Dial-Up To Read The News?

Drunk Driver Hits Sheriff's Vehicle

Driving Without License, Failure To Yield

LABELLE, FL. -- Cristobal Bartolo 33, of LaBelle struck a Hendry County Sheriff's vehicle Sunday at about 8:22 P.M. Bartolo, driving a 1992 Chevy stuck the vehicle driven by Perry Short 37, of LaBelle. The FHP says it believes Bartolo was under the influence of alcohol.

The Chevy was eastbound on Bryan Avenue while the Sheriff's vehicle was northbound on State Road 29 South responding to an emergency call. Bartolo failed to stop and hit the vehicle causing both vehicle to rotate. Short was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Martha Francisco 32, of LaBelle was a passenger in the Bartolo vehicle. Bartolo was charged with DUI, no driver's license, and failing to yield for an emergency vehicle said Trooper B. Ferrell.

The Bryan Avenue and SR29 intersection has been the scene of numerous crashes. The stop sign is very close to the intersection while Bryan Avenue is a very short street eastbound between Main Street and SR29.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Two Port LaBelle Marijuana Homes Busted

29 Drug Houses Down So Far In Hendry

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Ronnie Lee said two more Marijuana Grow Houses located in Port LaBelle are out of business. Sheriff's Deputies executed a search warrant at 8059 Windswept Circle on January 7 and another at 7027 Tide Circle on January 9.

The bust on January 9 brings the total of "Grow House" crops destroyed within the past three years in Hendry County to 29. Deputies seized a quantity of marijuana plants, the irrigation systems, grow lights, fertilizer and other equipment used to grow and harvest marijuana.

According to Sheriff Lee, the information obtained by Investigators, indicate the owners of the property live outside Hendry County. Deputies are attempting to locate the owners and arrests are expected within the near future.

Typically, a marijuana grow house in Port LaBelle is a new home, in a neighborhood with few neighbors close by. Other typical clues: windows blinds shut tight, fenced yard, absence of people and cars anywhere on the property except on weekends, when the druggies come to check to check the crop.

Breast Photos For Cancer Awareness?

Editors Note: Read the Breast Cancer story immediately below the poll, and then vote your choice on the poll.

Have an idea for a poll? Email

Exposing Breasts For Charity

Women Posting Breast Photos On Web For Cancer Awareness 

LABELLE, FL. --  A Canadian charity wants to teach women about breast cancer and has opened a web site on how to check for early signs of the disease. After a self-exam, women are encouraged to post photos of their breasts.

Hundreds of women have uploaded their images on a virtual wall of breast photos. "This is a creative, different, bold, a bit in-your-face way of getting young women's attention," M.J. DeCouteau, executive director at Rethink Breast Cancer told reporters.

She says, breast cancer is the leading cause of death in young women between the ages of 15 and 40, and nearly one-quarter of all breast cancers occur in women under age 50.

As part of Rethink's "touch, look, check"  early detection program, women are being asked to show their breasts online. Women may upload photos of their breasts, fully clothed, in a bra or topless and upload those pictures to the Virtual Wall at the web site .

The virtual wall is secure, anonymous and confidential, but women can add their first name, comments or a dedication to a loved one lost to breast cancer. Ms. DeCouteau said she believe "the benefit of getting information out to young women outweighed any men who were checking it out for their own reasons."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Governor Wonders - Lower Insurance Rates?

Governor Says Companies Are Failing To Pass Savings On

LABELLE, FL. --  In a statement issued today by Governor Charlie Crist, insurance company's are to be investigated by the Florida Senate's Select Committee on Property Insurance Accountability for not bringing down insurance rates.

Crist said, "In spite of steps taken to lower the cost of insurance, it appears some insurance companies have failed to pass those savings along to customers as the law requires them to do.  I applaud Senate President Ken Pruitt for tapping Senator Steve Geller and Senator Jeff Atwater to lead the Senate's bold steps to hold Florida's property insurance companies accountable. 

The Florida Legislature worked diligently last year to listen to industry representatives and identify the tools needed to stabilize the property insurance market in Florida.  Sometimes, big business can be just as bad as big government, and I applaud the Senate for taking action today to unravel the mystery of why insurance rates have not come down as we understood they would.  For too long, the industry has profiteered on the backs of our people."

Lake At Record Low Water Levels

Lake Okeechobee At Lowest Levels

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Meteorologists at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) have confirmed that 2006 and 2007 were the driest back-to-back calendar years in South Florida since rainfall record-keeping began in 1932. The 2006-07 rainfall total of 83.63 inches District-wide displaces by nearly an inch the previous low of 84.59 inches that fell fifty years ago in 1955-56.

All of the SFWMD's major basins, save for two comprising residential areas of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, experienced below average rainfall in 2007. Most notably, the Lake Okeechobee basin received 30.71 inches of rain, approximately 67 percent of that basin's historical average, or a deficit of nearly 15 inches for the year.

At 10.12 feet above sea level Monday, Lake Okeechobee remains more than four feet below its historical average – and nearly a foot below previous historic lows – for this time of year. In fact, water levels in the lake have been setting new record daily lows for more than seven months. Lake Okeechobee is the source of water for 500,000 acres of farmland in the Everglades Agricultural Area and serves as a primary back-up supply to more than five million South Floridians.

Water Restrictions Next Week

New Water Restrictions Effective January 15

CLEWISTON, FL. -- In December and for the first time in the agency's history, the SFWMD declared an extreme District-wide water shortage, instituting a one-day-a-week watering schedule for residential landscape irrigation. Landscape irrigation accounts for up to half of all household water consumption in the State of Florida and totals more than seven billion gallons per day nationwide.

The new restrictions become effective Tuesday, January 15. Enforcement, including the issuance of civil fines and notices of violation, also is set to commence on that date. For information on watering days and times, as well as restrictions on specific use classes, visit

For additional information on the water shortage, irrigation restrictions or water conservation, call the SFWMD�s toll-free Water Conservation Hotline at 1-800-662-8876 or contact a regional SFWMD service center. Helpful water conservation tips also are available at

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Are You Voting For Or Against Tax Amendment?

Watch Sunday Morning News Editor Don Browne's Commentary

The editor "chats" live on his LaBelle video cast with Indian Rocks Beach, Florida City Commissioner Terry Wollin about the tax amendment issue and local politics

Watch live video from kq4ym on

Glades Sheriff Gets Jail Expansion

Sales Tax Money To Renovate Jail

MOORE HAVEN, FL. --  The Glades County Commission this week approved the expenditure of $1.1 Million from 1% sales tax money to renovate the old Glades county jail facility to increase the bed count from 32 to 76. 

County Manager Wendell Taylor presented a "road map" of scheduling for the renovations of the facility which will then be available to contract for lease to Glades Correctional Development Corporation who is already at full capacity at the new jail facility operated by Sheriff Whiddon. 

Glades Sheriff Chief Deputy Robert DeMann told the Board he had added 124 beds to the original 422 in the new jail facility to provide for an average daily population that is now over 500, stating that Immigration Customs Enforcement has already contacted him anticipating placing more detainees when the old jail facility is available after renovation. 

He further stated GCDC is willing to contract to lease the facility at least long enough for all renovation costs to be recaptured, and probably longer. Sheriff Whiddon said "this is a go, we can do this."  Commissioner Echols thanked the Board for their support of his efforts heading up this project.

The Sheriff's request for intergovernment radio communications funds was approved as was the Sheriff's request for $29,000 from his $88,000 Radio Communication Funds to purchase new mobile radios.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Death In Glades Crash

LaBelle Woman Dead, Twin Sister In Critical Condition

MOORE HAVEN, FL. --  A semi-truck collided with a 1996 Honda car Monday morning about 10:50 a.m. at State Road 29 and U.S. 27 leaving the driver of the automobile, Meghan Kelly, dead.

Kujtim Asllanaj, 46 of Jacksonville  was southbound on US-27 in a semi, approaching the intersection of State Road 29. Meghan Marie Kelly, 20 of LaBelle was eastbound on State Road 29, approaching the intersection of US-27. The truck failed to stop for a red traffic signal at the intersection.

Kelly entered the intersection with a green light and entered the path of the truck. Asllanaj struck the left side of Kelly's car with the front of the truck. Both vehicles were both re-directed into the median of US-27 and came
to rest in the median, south of State Road-29.

A passenger in the Honda, Melissa Anne Kelly, 20 of LaBelle is in critical condition at Lee Memorial Hospital in Ft. Myers. According to Trooper T. Parks and Corporal J. E. Gissendaner, Asllanaj is being charged with failing to stop for a red light.

The two women were twins and 2005 graduates of LaBelle High School. They were returning to classes at Florida Southern College in Lakeland where they were members of the soccer team.

Meghan Kelly is survived by her parents, Kevin and Michele Kelly, an older sister and two older brothers.

Monday, January 07, 2008

LaBelle Nature Trail Work Day

LaBelle Nature Trail Cleanup
The Hendry-LaBelle Recreation Board and Coalition for Eco-Recreation would like to invite community organizations, youth groups, and individuals to a  2-hour LaBelle Nature Park Park Trail Clean Up on Saturday January 12  from 8:00 a.m.- 10:00 a.m. 

Volunteers will be clearing debris from the trail leading to the Big Oak in the center of the park and mulch trails on the north side of the park. Hats, gloves, long pants, and sturdy shoes  are recommended.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own rakes, wheel barrows and shovels. Water will be provided.

The Park is located at Hardee Street and Frasier on the Caloosahatchee River in LaBelle. Call Margaret England at 674-0695 for information.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

10,000th Visitor To LaBelle Live Video Webcast

10,000th Webcast Channel Vistors - from France and Germany

LABELLE, FL. -- On Saturday afternoon, the Sunday Morning News editor's video "life cast" logged it's 10,000th visitor. At about 3:30 a 41-year old man from northern Germany with the screen name of  FLBARON joined the channel's chat window.  Almost simultaneously a teen from Normandy, France, screen-named YDDE13 joined the chat session. A "chat session" went on for about an hour with the two Europeans, and many others from around the world  joining in on the informal LaBelle video channel Saturday afternoon.

Don Browne has been publicizing LaBelle and Hendry-Glades county for over 10 years though his web pages featuring news and information about the Hendry-Glades-Lake Okeechobee region. In mid-November he added a live video cast from a webcam mounted on his laptop computer to spread the word around the world about Southwest Florida, and the LaBelle area in particular.

In the past seven weeks, over 10,100  visitors have come from all over the world to visit LaBelle's only  LIVE "life casting" video cast, including folks from  Brazil, Sweden, Russian Federation, England, and a surprise visit from a French man who was climbing Mourt Everest, the world's highest mountain.  A map on the LaBelle video page shows from where the thousands of visitors are coming. Take a look at the video web page, log in, and say "hello" to the Sunday Morning News editor's at the LaBelle, Florida "life cast."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Poll Results - Happiness And Hopes

More People Less Happy This Year?

LABELLE, FL. -- The Sunday Morning News polls taken during the last several weeks indicate that more people are less happy this year, compared to last year at this time, among those who have taken the poll so far. The poll was posted here on December 24.

41% said they are happier now, 38% said less happy now, and 22% said happiness is about the same now as last year at this time.

Results of a December 20 poll asking what was wished for most this holiday season indicates "Peace On Earth" came in first by those answering so far, followed by "Health and Happiness." Results posted under "other" included wishes for getting "out of Iraq" and "drinkable water in LaBelle."

The latest poll asks to name the least favorite among named Hendry county elected politicians.  The polls are active at all times, One vote per person.  Check the "recent posts" and "archives" for December 2007 to vote and see the results on each to date.

Friday, January 04, 2008

In The Service

Clewiston Man Graduates From Combat Training

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Army Pvt. Jarvis J. Steen 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 grandson of Clinton Smith of Commercio St., Clewiston, Fla., and cousin of Sharod Brown of Sealy Road, Moore Haven, Fla. Steen graduated in 2003 from Clewiston High School.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Got Your Free Credit Report?

Take Care Where You Order Credit Reports

LABELLE, FL.-- Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is encouraging Floridians to get their free annual credit report at the only official source for free annual reports,

Attorney General McCollum says "With reports of data thefts on the rise, I encourage all Floridians to regularly review their credit reports and bank and credit card statements carefully to detect fraudulent charges or accounts."

Consumers have the option of ordering one comprehensive report or one report from each company, although authorities recommend spacing the reports out every four months. Reports are also available by phone at 1-877-322-8228.

Last year, the loss or theft of personal data such as credit-card and Social Security numbers soared to unprecedented levels. Major incidents in 2007 included a breach at TJX Companies, Inc. that compromised millions of personal records, lost data disks with bank account numbers in Britain, a hacker attack of a U.S.-based online broker's database and a scam that unveiled resume contact information from a U.S. online jobs site.

The Attorney General also warned that many of the credit report offers available online are often far from being free of charge. Numerous websites offer reports or credit scores that are tied to offers of credit monitoring and/or other services. These offers often require payment and the consumer is usually unaware that he or she is paying for a service.

Additionally, many websites offer trial memberships that require consumers to cancel within 30 days or they will be charged a monthly fee. Should consumers choose to enroll in a credit monitoring service, the Attorney General recommends documenting telephone calls when canceling subscriptions and follow up in writing when they choose to cancel.