Thursday, July 31, 2008

Poll - Glades Superintendent of Schools


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Poll - Glades County Sheriff


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sports - Latest Movies Free On Internet

Justin.tv Movies And Sports - Illegal Broadcasts, But Very Popular

LABELLE, FL. -- Free live sports games on the internet including soccer (futbol), basketball, baseball, football, and cricket and the latest movies can be seen free on the internet every day. Whatever sport you want to see from anywhere in the world is now available without paying for a ticket or any subscription fee. And lots of current movies are here too. Just take a look at Justin.tv and you can see it all anytime for free.

There is no charge to watch these broadcasts from around the world, nothing more than a high speed internet connection is needed, and most channels on Justin.tv have interactive chat rooms for the sports and movie fans to talk with one another as well.

But according to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), it is illegal for anyone to broadcast copyrighted material such as live sports events and movies to the public without permission of the copyright owner. The sports franchises are the copyright owners of the sports events, while movie studios or production companies control the movie rights.

However, none of the broadcasting channels at Justin.tv's sports or entertainment links have permission to broadcast these sports events or movies. But, nonetheless, the web site owner, Justin.tv allows the live broadcasts unless the copyright owner notifies them that they are in violation of the copyright law.

So far it appears the copyright owners haven't noticed that Justin.tv has had nearly a million "registered" users over the last year watching illegally broadcast sports events and the latest movies on its website. Or the copyright owners have chosen not to make a copyright claim to Justin.tv yet.

Free Network TV Shows And Movies On The Internet

Justin.tv also features live network entertainment shows and current movies on the internet including U.S. shows and popular entertainment from around the world as well as the latest video games being played live on the web. Most channels also include live chat rooms where viewers can interact with each other.

But, these channels are illegally exploiting copyright laws as these broadcasts are being shown by individuals who have not obtained permission from the copyright owners, the television show or movie production companies or the video game producers. Justin.tv allows the individual channel broadcasts to air and even be archived for 30 days or more until the copyright owner notifies them of copyright violations under the DMCA.

So watch your favorite sports event and movies online free for a while more, or at least until the copyright owners shut down such websites.

Watch Live Sports Channels And Movies violating the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lake Okeechobee Fishing Rules Change

New Fishing Rules For Lake Okeechobee

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds the public about new Lake Okeechobee freshwater fishing rules.  The rules went into effect on July 1.

Largemouth bass in Lake Okeechobee must be 18 inches or greater in total length to be harvested.  Anglers can keep only one bass 22 inches or greater in total length as part of their daily bag limit.  Also, a new rule establishes a 10-inch minimum length for black crappie on the lake. Bag limits remain unchanged.

Sampling over the last few years has shown a decline in the numbers of small largemouth bass and black crappie. 

"The new size limits protect younger largemouth bass and black crappie from being harvested," said Jon Fury, FWC freshwater fisheries biologist.  "The new rules also reduce pressure on the current populations."

The Commission approved the new rules in February, after several public workshops. 

Violating fish and wildlife rules is illegal.  To report violations, please call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Donna Storter Comments On Glades County

County In Dire Economic Situation Say Storter - Gambling, Potential For Growth?

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades Commissioner Donna Storter Long this week sent the following to Governor Charlie Crist's special assistant Marureen Jaeger:


Thank you for attending the Glades County Commission meeting yesterday and your interest in and concern for Glades County�s situation as a Special Representative of Gov. Charlie Crist. 

Glades County has dire economic needs/situations that are NOT a result of the impending SugarWater deal. Just in time for our budget workshop, our Property Appraiser gave us the ad valorem revenue figure of $6,379,253 for 2008-2009. No typo here.  That�s less than 7 million!

It just seems to me that while we have the sharp attention of Governor Crist and his staff, this is an opportune time to address ways Glades County can mitigate anticipated negative affects of that deal while alleviating some existing problems too.

I was disappointed that so much of the meeting was devoted to pessimistically lamenting the past without addressing the opportunities for the future of Glades County.  We must look forward, not back. Things will change and it�s our choice if we want to help direct the change

Though I greatly appreciate and support agriculture and will endeavor to work for its survival and growth. I do recognize, as Mary Helen Blakeslee pointed out, that we must diversify our economy and tax base.

As I told you I would, I�m listing here for you the points I prepared for my presentation yesterday (with some elaboration) and probably not in the order I brought them up yesterday, nor in any priority.
  1. Have SFWMD consider granting to Glades County all the development rights of all property owned by SFWMD, including past acquisitions.  Without the 5600 +/- acres of US Sugar land in Glades County, SFWMD already owns 13,150 acres in Glades County. Glades County receives $24.83 annually for PILOT.  That should increase with the recent changes in legislation and the purchase of 1400+/- acres WMD bought last year.  However, residential density units on those properties could be utilized in other developments and would allow density clustering.  They definitely have value and could be declared surplus and auctioned, or granted to the County for distributio
  2. In February 2008, we learned that a prominent Glades County Family, the Weeks Family, had bequeathed $6 million to the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, and was eligible for matching funds raising the total to $12 million. Can OTTED explore the possibility of UF/ IFAS creating a veterinarian training facility in Glades County, and help provide bovine veterinarian services to the areas ranchers?  Right now, there is no large-animal vet residing in and practicing in Glades County and currently, our agriculture extension agent is only a 4-H coordinator.
  3. According to Florida Dept of Health�s �Community Health Assessment Resource Tool Set, (C.H.A.R.T.S) information that was made available May 2008, about 15% of Glades County population is below the poverty level.
The health profile shows we are in the 4th quartile for deaths from heart disease, cancer, HIV/Aids, 4th quartile for birth to unwed mothers, 4th quartile for late or no prenatal care, and 4th quartile for infant deaths after age of 1 month. (Unwed mothers mostly black, but infant deaths mostly white.)

We are in the 4th quartile for adults who were unable to get health care and 4th quartile of adults with no health coverage.

Our public health department is understaffed and underfunded working from a crowded, outdated facility in dire need of replacement, not just remodeling. (Mr. Taylor told me you later requested a visit to the facility yesterday and saw this conditions we discussed.)

How can OTTED help Glades County�s health needs?  We hear that statewide there is a shortage of trained nurses.  Why not build a nursing school in Glades County along with a public health clinic for their internship?   

We have no pharmacy, so why not build a pharmacology college here, including a dispensing pharmacy? We have one medical doctor residing in and practicing in Glades County; no dentist, no optometrist, no chiropractor, and no medical services clinic other than the woefully inadequate public health department that you visited.  It is astounding to me how the public health staff operates as well as it does in the conditions and financial limitations they endure.  They are VERY dedicated people, serving people with real health needs.
  1. The county-owned Industrial Park near Moore Haven needs $$$ to develop and market itself.  The mortgage is $800k, and we don�t have enough funds to finish the engineering, design and infrastructure installation and can barely make the mortgage payments.  Even with enterprise programs and tax abatements, without proper development we really have little to offer but bare land.
  2. High speed/broadband internet access is not available in much of our rural county.  Today�s technology is a basic requirement for most commerce, industry and normal business operations.  FHREDI has been working on this already, why not step up with some grant $$ to providers and finish the job.
  3. Determine what new state-funded and federal-funded projects, such a Veterans Hospital, FEMA distribution center for SW Florida, DOT work center, will soon be needed in Florida, and site them in Glades County.
  4. SFWMD has pledged $5 million to clear/clean Pearce Canal, Moore Haven Canal, and other access points to Lake Okeechobee, to be expended over the next 5 years.  Why wait?  That itself could be a giant economic stimulus in a one-year period.  We need to clean the outlet/mouth of Harney Pond Canal, deepen Dyess Ditch access, and restore the campground at  Indian Prairie Canal and build more and  expand existing boat ramps, add paid  attendants.  These are GIANT eco-tourism stimulants.
  5. Glades County already has a long-term lease on Curry Island on the western edge of Lake Okeechobee restricted for recreational use, with no funds to develop the natural wildlife habitat for eco-tourism such as birding, or fishing or duck hunting.  Those three recreation industries bring BIG $$$$ into areas prepared for and inviting to them.   Glades County has more shoreline on Lake Okeechobee than the other counties, and more frontage on the Caloosahatchee River than the other counties.  It has great eco-tourism potential!! 
  6. Lake Hicpochee may have development potential, either for hydrating and restoration for eco-tourism projects or part of the proposed inland port, as it is only 3 miles southwest of Moore Haven. This was on my list but Tracy Whirls actually brought it up.
  7. We have an eco-tourism development, Port LaBelle Marina on Caloosahatchee River, is battling state agencies for final permitting.  Help could be granted in expediting the process, resulting in significantly addition to our tax base.  DCA has also put up roadblocks for other important development considerations in Glades County, such as rural land stewardship programs.
West Glades Elementary needs to expand to senior high school.  When students complete the 8th grade there, their parents withdraw them from Glades County school system and enroll them in other county high schools or private schools rather than put them on school transportation for 3-4 hours per day to go to Moore Haven High School. We have 200 acres for expansion there and just built a new gym.
  1. The City-County Public Works Authority is out of funds for the next needed phase of expanding municipal water and wastewater services to greater Moore Haven area.  In addition, Buckhead Ridge in the northeastern part of the county needs wastewater treatment system just as badly because there are more septic tanks on canals leading to Lake Okeechobee up there, than there are in the City of Moore Haven.   We must do our part to prevent pollution, but we need funding.
  2. Of primary importance in the giant scheme of things, Glades County needs legal counsel expertise in water resources, land development and tax law.  SFWMD staff has indicated willingness to fund this for us.  After the meeting the Chair of the Glades District School Board called me and said after talking with Water Management staff he has decided to have the School Board solicit such funding for counsel.
  3. So far, the one single idea brought to me that seems have the most potential for large economic growth for Glades County, is legalized gambling.  I will say it is not my first choice of revenue options, but I have yet to hear of a higher-paying plan!  A later thought came that support at the ballot box may be garnered if we promote the concept  that a portion of the revenue Glades County receives could/would be encumbered to support Northern Everglades restoration projects. Why not have Gov. Crist as our spokesperson for this?  And OTTED funding the campaign for voter approval?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Celebration Of Life For Pauline New Born Saturday


Pauline Elizabeth Nelson New Born Dies

LABELLE, FL. -- Pauline Elizabeth New Born, age 57 passed away suddenly July 14, 2008. She was born June 20, 1951 in Miami to the late Norwood D. Nelson Jr. and Pauline Elizabeth Nelson.

Survivors include her husband James New Born of LaBelle, daughter Priscilla Ann Pipkin of Kissimmee, mother Pauline Elizabeth Nelson, sister Suzanne Harper of Clewiston, and grandson Peter James Aquina. She was preceded in death by her brother Norwood Nelson III.

A celebration of life by friends and family will be held Saturday July 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the New Born family residence at 3615 Double J Acres Road E, LaBelle.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home. Her remains will be intered in Waynesville, Ga. next to her brother "Sonny", her dad "Junior", and her grandmother Polly Parrott.

More Arrests For Drugs

Two At Tropical Mobile Home Park Arrested

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff's Narcotic Investigators executed a search warrant at Lot 61 in Tropical Mobile Home Park during the early morning hours Friday July 18. 

According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, Investigators located Cocaine, Drug Paraphernalia, and Prescription Drugs within the residence.  Rolando Garcia, age 31, and Kelly Blanset Lee, age 27, were arrested and charged with Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Sell, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Operating a Drug House, Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, and Possession of Narcotic Related Materials 

Gambling An Option For Glades County?

Glades Commissioner Storter's Gambling Views

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades County Commissioner Donna Storter Long has this week written a letter in respose to inquiries about bringing in additional Glades county money. Storter wrote to Eric Kopp of Independent News:

"I received your message of yesterday and offer this response: About 10 days ago, John Austin Collier brought me the idea of countywide gambling as a viable revenue option for Glades County in reversing the negative impacts on the economy that is expected by the sale of US Sugar to South Florida Water Management District.

Since gambling is legal, regulated and already exists in Glades County at Brighton, the possibility of obtaining revenue from legalized gambling definitely warrants further discussion.

Governor Crist supports gambling in Florida, and though revenue to the state was down a few years ago, the temporary decline was because the lucrative expansions were under Indian control and not subject to state taxation.

Should we embark on this course, with careful planning and management of the initial revenues, Glades County can restore and recreate the amenities that will make our county the new family vacation destination of the freshwater frontier, with more attractions than just gambling establishments. 

Produced without environmental pollution and with little demand on government services and infrastructure, the revenue can be used to enhance services and infrastructure while lowering ad valorem tax millage. That has been the consensus of the many constituents that have been approached by this idea.

I have conferred with Sen. Alexander�s staff and Rep. Grimsley�s staff and learned the procedure for offering this choice to the people of Glades County.  It will take 600,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot for Florida voters statewide to decide if they want to amend our constitution to allow Glades County to conduct its own referendum to authorize gambling in Glades County. 

That Glades County referendum would require affirmation by 60% of Glades County voters, the PEOPLE would decide if the option merits opportunity. 

We have the climate.  We have the geography.  Maybe this can be a viable opportunity.  It certainly should not be ignored, but carefully examined to determine all the positive and all the negative results we could anticipate from this proven moneymaker and give the people of Glades County the facts to make their own decision; is this the direction our County should take? 

There is no panacea for the economic woes of Glades County, but, because this is one option that could bring a lot of revenue to Glades County, I feel we should at least explore it. Therefore, I will request that Governor Crist direct his resources to help us in this exploration."

-Donna Storter Long (R), Glades County Commissioner, (863.673.2661- Cell 158*17* 36430-Nextel

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cattle Drive Through Okeechobee

American Cowboy Day Celebration In City Of Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, FL ­- Normally reserved for vehicular traffic, State Road 70 in Okeechobee will be the scene of a cattle drive from Flagler Park East to the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center on Saturday, July 26 beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Spectators will see Okeechobee's "Big Boss", Pete Clemons, lead local ranchers carrying flags as they drive some fifty head of cattle down the three-and-a-half mile stretch of road.

The arrival of the cattle at the Agri-Civic Center will kick off a busy day of activities there, including a big Ranch Rodeo with area ranches competing for the top two rankings and a chance to participate in the Florida Ranch Rodeo in Kissimmee the first weekend in October.

"Many area ranchers will compete for bragging rights as to whose team is the best," says Matt Pearce, Cattlemen's Association president. "The events are exciting, and they show the entire community the kinds of basic skills that keep our ranches going."

Some of the real-life ranch activities in the competition will include ranch doctoring, bronc riding, wild cow milking, team branding and a stampede race. The Ranch Rodeo will be open to spectators without charge, sponsored by the Okeechobee Cattlemen's Association and local merchants through donations to help defray expenses. The Ranch Rodeo events are scheduled to begin inside the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon.

Other activities after the Cattle Drive will include an 11:00 a.m. Backyard BEEF B-B-Q contest, Florida cowboy storytelling, whip popping demonstrations, art by the Cowboy Artists Association of Florida, various children's events, plus food, entertainment and fun for the whole family sponsored by Okeechobee Main Street.

The events are being held as a part of the National Day of the American Cowboy, proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2005 for the fourth Saturday in July. Last year's event in Okeechobee was the first such celebration east of the Mississippi.

Okeechobee's Main Street will coordinate the many National Day of the American Cowboy festivities outside the arena, to help celebrate the proud heritage of Okeechobee's cattlemen and the contributions made by Florida cowboys and cowgirls to the cattle industry nationwide.
 
"Main Street considers July 26 as a Heritage Festival for the cattle industry," says Toni Doyle, executive director of Main Street.  "Our cattlemen are an important part of the history and growth of this community. We encourage everyone to participate in the day's festivities."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Robber Takes Shotgun From Owner During Theft Attempt

More Thefts And Burglaries Due To Economy?

LABELLE, FL. -- At 3:07 a.m. Thursday July 10, Ashley and Sons Salvage, located on State Road 29 south of LaBelle, was the victim of an attempted theft.  Deputies arrived on the scene and were informed by the owner, Ashley George, that he observed three black males in the process of stealing about $2,500 worth of copper wire.  When he confronted the men, two fled the scene on foot. 

Mr. George had a gun and ordered the third man to get down on the ground.  The man grabbed the gun and succeeded in taking it from Mr. George.  He ran toward State Road 29, firing two shots at Mr. George, missing with both shots.  Deputies were unable to locate any of the men and set up a perimeter. 

Sheriff Ronnie Lee said the Lee County Sheriff�s Office sent two K-9 Deputies and a helicopter to assist with the search.  The helicopter is equipped with an instrument capable of locating hot spots on the ground.   Shortly after arriving in the area, the pilot located a hot spot near the salvage company. 

Deputies yelled for the man to surrender and after receiving no response, a police dog was released   Within moments after releasing the dog, Officers heard a man screaming.  As it turned out, the dog had bitten the suspect and would not let go until the K-9 Deputy gave command.  

Tommy Young, age 42, who gave an address of 12 Warren Street Brentwood, NY. was arrested.  Young was charged with Aggravated Assault, Armed Trespassing, Robbery, and Resisting an Officer.  Sheriff Lee said due to the working relationship we have with surrounding Law Enforcement Agencies, Young was located and arrested within approximately one hour after committing the crime.  The investigation continues with more arrests expected.

Slow Economy Drives Rising Hendry Thefts?

In recent weeks, probably due to the economy, there have been a rash of thefts and burglaries on the west side of Hendry County.  In an attempt to combat the increase in property crime, Sheriff Ronnie Lee created a task force to patrol the high crime areas. 

The first night of patrol, Deputies arrested a man on a warrant for drug offenses.   They also recovered stolen items including a television set, a chain saw, a shop vacuum, a pressure washer, and a stolen vehicle.  Another arrest is expected at the conclusion of the investigation into the stolen items.  A missing juvenile was also located and returned to his parents. 

Sheriff Lee said these Deputies will be patrolling all areas of the county where we have seen an increase in property crime.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Free Assistance To Troubled Homeowners

Seek Free Legal Help Say Commissioner

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today encouraged homeowners who are threatened with foreclosure or fearful that their lending institution may foreclose on their property to contact the Florida Bar Association to obtain free legal assistance.
        
According to Florida Legal Services Inc., 77,000 state homeowners are in foreclosure, making Florida second in the nation only to California in the number of homes in that status.  And many others are at least 30 days past due on their mortgage payment, which places them at risk of having their loans foreclosed.
        
Florida Legal Services and the Florida Bar Association have partnered in establishing a toll-free hotline -- 1-866-607-2187 -- that consumers can call to answer a few initial questions about their situation to ensure accurate placement with a free attorney.  The attorney will then negotiate with the lender on behalf of the client to keep the home from being foreclosed.
        
"I applaud Florida Legal Services and the Florida Bar for offering this public service," Bronson said.  "Home ownership remains a foundation of our society, leading to the stability of families and contributing significantly to our local, state and national economy, and any effort that helps families keep their homes in this uncertain economy is beneficial."
        
More than 10,000 Florida attorneys have volunteered their services in the program, according to Florida Legal Services Inc.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cocaine Seller Arrest

Another Montura Drug Arrest

CLEWISTON, FL. -- As a result of an undercover investigation into the sale and distribution of illegal drugs in the Montura Ranch area, Hendry County Sheriff's Narcotic Investigators arrested Davian Burgos, age 18 of 864 Woodland Blvd, Montura Ranch Estates. 

Sheriff Ronnie Lee said Burgos was charged with Sale of Cocaine (3 counts) and Trafficking in Cocaine.   Bond was set at  $175,000.

July 4th Street Fight In LaBelle

Three Arrested In Street Fight - Gunshots Reported

LABELLE, FL. -- On July 4 at 1:55 a.m., a crowd of approximately 50 people was reported fighting in the street on Edison Avenue in LaBelle.  There was also a report of gunshots in the area.  

Deputies arrived and attempted to disperse the crowd to no avail.  The crowd threw bottles at the Deputies, however, no Deputies were injured.  Sheriff Ronnie Lee said Deputies arrested Chanda Cohens, age 31 of 999 Edison Avenue, Brittney Sade Williams, age 19 of 707 Martin Luther King Blvd., and Lakeitsha Lanora Williams, age 29 of 707 Martin Luther King Blvd.

Chanda Cohens and Lakeitsha Williams were charged with Unlawful Assembly and Affray/Disorderly Conduct.  Brittney Williams was charged with resisting an Officer With Violence and Unlawful Assembly.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Port LaBelle Man Arrested In Robbery

Strong Arm Robbery Suspect Arrested After He Calls Sheriff's Office

LABELLE, FL. -- A Hendry County Sheriff's Office Dispatcher received a call from a clerk at the Handy Store located at 1040 Cowboy Way Wednesday morning, July 2, at 3:10 a.m. The clerk said a strange acting man had been in the store two times to purchase gas, but both times said he forgot his wallet.

The clerk thought he might return and requested a Deputy to respond to the store. While Deputy Terri Hessler was enroute, the man returned for the third time. Prior to the arrival of Deputy Hessler, the man attempted a Strong Arm Robbery.

While one of the two clerks was taking trash outside, the man entered the store, grabbed the clerk around her throat, choking her. The man was dragging her from behind the counter when the second clerk returned from dumping trash. He released her and ran from the store to the gas pumps where a car was parked.

Approximately one hour later, Dispatcher Margie Phipps received a call from a man claiming to be the man that attempted to rob the Handy Store. She was able to obtain his location and kept him on the phone until Deputies arrived and took him into custody.

According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, Roberto Ramirez, age 22 of 2023 South Montana Circle LaBelle, was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault, Battery, and Robbery. He was only able to grab a $20 bill from the store clerk but dropped it on the floor as he ran from the store

Cocaine Bust In Montura

Another Investigation Success In Montura Ranch Estates

LABELLE, FL. -- According to Sheriff Ronnie Lee, on July 1 Hendry County Sheriff's Narcotics Investigators conducting an undercover investigation into the Sale and Distribution of illegal drugs in the Montura area, purchased approximately 57 grams of Cocaine.

The seller, Davian Burgos, age 18 of 864 Woodland Blvd., Montura Ranch Estates, Clewiston was arrested and charged with Sale of Cocaine (3 counts) and Trafficking in Cocaine.  Bond was set at $175,000.
 

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth of July At Barron Park

Politicians, Kids, and Fun At Barron Park

LABELLE, FL. -- The annual Fourth of July celebrations took place Friday evening as the cardboard raft race started off the festivities as usual. The "boat" crew from the Florida Community Bank took the soggy top honors this year.

The Greater LaBelle Chamber of Commerce served tasty food, while local political candidates furnished cupcakes for festival goers. Phil Pelletier served as master of ceremonies for the contest awards and had fun with a hoola hoop contest for the kids.

Honored tonight were two fallen soldiers from LaBelle; Chief Warrant Officer Robert Charles Hammett, killed in Iraq June 24 and USMC Staff Sgt. Christopher Strickland killed in Afghanistan June 25.


Watch live video from Don Browne - Florida on Justin.tv

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Free Day At State Parks

Visit A State Park

LABELLE, FL. -- To celebrate July as Recreation and Parks Month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection�s Division of Recreation & Parks is encouraging family friendly, outdoor recreation with the launch of its Family. Friends. Fun. Campaign to reconnect children and families with nature.

Since 1985, the National Recreation and Park Association has designated July as Recreation and Parks Month. To celebrate this designation, Florida is waiving admission to all state parks on July 13.

The Family. Friends. Fun. Campaign is hosting events in state parks that appeal to individuals and families of all ages and interests this July during Recreation and Parks Month. On Sunday, July 13, entry into all 161 state parks will be free, providing an opportunity for everyone to head outdoors and experience Florida State Parks.

Celebrating The 4th Of July

How To Celebrate The 4th Safely And Legally

LABELLE, FL. --  Nearly 10,000 Americans were treated for fireworks related injuries in emergency rooms last year.  In Florida alone, fire departments responded to 137 fires related to fireworks and sparklers, resulting in more than $400,000 in damages during 2007.

"The Fourth of July is a time for Floridians to come together and enjoy family and friends, but unfortunately many end up visiting emergency rooms," said State Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate.  "We want our residents and visitors to celebrate safely this weekend."   

Under Florida law, only sparklers, approved by CFO Sink's Division of State Fire Marshal, are legal for consumer usage.  However, an exemption in the law allows for the use of un-approved fireworks for agricultural purpose, such as freighting birds from fish hatcheries.  Anyone using fireworks under the agricultural exemption must have a permit from the Sheriff in the county where they will use the product.  Without a permit, it is illegal to use fireworks in Florida, which include: shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets and firecrackers. 

As a general guideline, anything that flies through the air or explodes is not allowed for consumer use.  Floridians should not sign "waivers" in order to purchase fireworks.  Signing a waiver will not clear a consumer of responsibility should you be caught illegally using fireworks, which is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

There is still a risk of injury with the use of legal sparklers.  When lit, some sparklers can reach temperatures between 1,300 and 1,800 degrees - at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.  For a list of hundreds of sparklers that are legal to use in Florida, as well as safety tips, visit the State Fire Marshal's web site at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/sfm/sparklerindex.htm for a list of approved sparklers.

To celebrate safely, CFO Sink advises Floridians to follow these precautions:

·       Use sparklers and other legal novelties on a flat, hard surface.  Do not light them on grass.

·       Use sparklers in an open area.  Keep children and pets at least 30 feet away from all ignited sparklers.

·       Keep a fire extinguisher or water hose on-hand for emergencies.  It's a good idea to drop used sparklers in a bucket of water.