Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two Deaths On SR29 In LaBelle

Motorcyclist And Passenger Killed

LABELLE, FL. -- A crash between a 2000 Chevrolet SUV and a 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle took the life of a two LaBelle residents riding on the motorcycle about 3:25 p.m. Saturday November 29.

Maximo Gomez Cortez, 25 of LaBelle was traveling south on SR29 in the northbound lane approaching G Road, in the direct path Ronald L. Wright on the motorcycle that was traveling north on SR29 in the northbound lane, just north of G Road.

The front of the SUV struck the front of the motorcycle, in a head on type collision. The motorcycle was pushed southbound in the northbound lane on SR29. Wright and passenger Robyn Marie Wright, 51 were both ejected from the motorcycle.

An investigation is pending on alcohol use by Cortez. Cortez suffered minor injuries and was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fatal Collier Crash On SR29

Dump Truck Driver Killed After Crash Into Tow Truck

IMMOKALEE, FL. --  A crash on State Road 29 one mile south of State Road 82 left one Immokalee man dead Friday night about 8:20 p.m.

47-year old Baldomero Arreguin-Enriquez and passenger Oziel Carbajal, 22, both of Immokalee were traveling in a 1991 International tow truck south on State Road 29 in the southbound lane south of the intersection of State Road 82. The truck became disabled and was improperly parked facing south and straddling the southbound lane and unpaved west shoulder when the driver exited the vehicle and walked south towards Immokalee to get assistance while leaving his passenger to stay with the vehicle.

A 2000 Ford dump truck, driven by a 71 year old man was traveling south on State Road 29 in the southbound lane and approaching the tow truck as vehicle # 2�s driver failed to recognize and react to the tow truck. The resulting impact caused both vehicles to travel in a southwesterly direction while rotating clockwise.

The dump truck was carrying a silver 1999 Pontiac Firebird on it�s slide bed and the impact caused the vehicle to fall onto the unpaved west shoulder. The tow truck came to final rest facing in a southwesterly direction on the unpaved west shoulder embedded in trees and shrubbery southwest of the initial point of impact. The dump truck came to final rest facing southwest in the unpaved west shoulder east of vehicle # 1. The dump truck driver was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Identification of the dump truck driver is pending notification of kin. Traffic on State Road 29 was shut down to allow for investigation and clean up for three hours.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Witnesses Sought For Hendry Crash

FHP Still Investigating Deadly Crash On CR 833

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Florida Highway Patrol Corporal Jeff Rongish is looking for anyone with information regarding a traffic crash on County Road 833 in Hendry County on November 22 at 5:17 a.m.

Michele T. Alvarado, 28 of Clewiston, driving a 2007 Chrysler SUV was northbound on County Road 833 as a 1996 Ford Pickup was southbound on County 833, driven by an unnamed person (pending notifications).

Alvarado crossed the centerline of the roadway and entered the southbound lane. The second vehicle swerved to avoid colliding with Alvarado, the front of Alvarado's vehicle struck the front of the second vehicle in the southbound lane. Impact from the collision forced Alvarado back into the northbound lane. The second driver was killed.

The Florida Highway Patrol is asking for any witnesses to the crash or anybody having other information regarding this crash to please contact Corporal Jeff Rongish at 239-278-7100 ext. 327.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hendry Sheriff Sells Car To Georgia Town

Transferring Assets To Keep New Sheriff From Getting Them Says Story

LABELLE, FL. -- A news story in the Cordele Dispatch in Georgia says Hendry County Sheriff Ronnie Lee is selling his 2007 Dodge Charger police cruiser to a Vienna, Georgia Police Department to keep Sheriff-Elect Steve Whidden from getting it. The issue came to light according to the story when the Vienna Mayor questioned the purchase at a city council meeting Monday.

According to the story Vienna Police Chief Jamey Reed bought the vehicle without notifying the Mayor. According to the story "Reed said a sheriff in Hendry County, Fla. had lost his bid for re-election and had a black 2007 Dodge Charger he did not want the new sheriff to get."

The Vienna Mayor was disappointed that he wasn't notified of the deal made by the Vienna Police Chief.

"Reed said the total price for the Charger was $18,950. He informed council that he had a quote, also from Brannen, on a new Crown Victoria like the ones currently in use by the department. The quote for the Crown Victoria was $28,285. The purchase of the Charger saves taxpayers almost $10,000 and payment for the vehicle is not due until January 2009 when it was originally approved for, Reed said."

The cruiser is already fully equipped with lights, siren, and radio and had been traded to Brannen Motor Company in Unadilla, according to the story. Although it is unknown from where the Dodge Charger police vehicle was purchased originally, Sheriff Lee's son Ronnie Jr. worked for a local LaBelle Dodge dealer. Nearly all of the other Hendry Sheriff's department vehicles are Fords.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Can Teachers Really Teach?

New Study Shows Large Percentage Of Teachers Not Certified In Subject

LABELLE, FL. -- In America's secondary schools, low-income students and students of color are about twice as likely as other students to be enrolled in core academic classes taught by out-of-field teachers. Out-of-field teachers are those who possess neither certification in the subject they have been assigned to teach nor an academic major in that subject.

A new report by the Education Trust ( shows that in middle and high school mathematics, 4 in 10 classes in high-poverty schools are taught by an out-of-field teacher, compared with 16.9% in schools serving the fewest low-income students. In schools with high percentages of African-American and Latino students, nearly one-third of mathematics classes are taught by out-of-field teachers, compared with 15.5% in schools with relatively few minority students.

While out-of-field teaching is particularly acute in mathematics and in high-poverty and high-minority schools, the problem is pervasive. Nationwide, more than 17% of all core academic courses (English, math, social studies, and science) in grades 7-12 are taught by an out-of-field teacher. In the middle grades alone, the rate jumps to 40%.

One In Twenty Die With Drugs In Body

Drugs Identified in 5% Of Deceased Persons

LABELLE, FL. -- From January through June 2008 there were approximately 89,000 deaths in Florida. Of those, 4,055 individuals were found to have died with one or more of the drugs in their bodies.

The latest report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Medical Examiners Commission 2008 Interim Report of Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons shows the three most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were ethyl alcohol (1,923), all benzodiazepines (1,469), and cocaine (955).

The drugs that caused the most deaths were oxycodone, all benzodiazepines (with alprazolam accounting for the majority of the deaths), cocaine, methadone, ethyl alcohol, hydrocodone, and morphine. The three drugs that were the most lethal, meaning more than 50% of the deaths were caused by the drug when the drug was found, were heroin (91.5%), methadone (75%), and oxycodone (60%).

Deaths caused by methadone and cocaine declined by 10.7% and 10.2%, respectively, compared to the last six months of 2007. In addition, deaths caused by ethyl alcohol, fentanyl, and propoxyphene declined. With heroin continuing to be the most lethal drug named in this report, occurrences increased by 34% and deaths caused by heroin also increased by 41.3% over the last half of 2007.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hendry Property Appraiser Demands New Election

County Appraiser Kristina Kulpa Claims Hundreds Of Illegal Votes Cast

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Property Appraiser Kristina A. Kulpa has filed suit with the Circuit Court, demanding a new election. Kulpa lost the election to Phillip Pelletier in the November 4 general election by 5 votes, and again on a recount by five votes. The election results were certified by Supervisor of Elections Lucretia Strickland on November 14, after the recount.

Kulpa, through her Boca Raton, Florida law firm Hodgson Russ L.L.P. filed a lawsuit at 9:11 a.m. Monday morning, the last day under state law to file. Kulpa, a Republican, claims "improper assistance to dozens of voters at the Clewiston Supervisor of Elections early voting station which illegally influenced the voters' choice for candidates."

She also claims that convicted felons may have voted in the election, and that poll workers failed to require "dozens of voters" to sign an affidavit or cast provisional votes when their information did not match info on the election office master file. Kulpa claims that "potentially hundreds of illegal votes were cast."

Kulpa filed the lawsuit against The Hendry County Canvassing Board, Lucretia Strickland, and Phillip Pelletier. Hendry county Judge Jim Sloan is the chairman of the three member Canvassing Board. She has demanded a trial by jury and a court order that the "election be set aside" and a new election be held, and demands court costs be awarded to her.

The law firm Hodgson Russ L.L.P. ,a large firm with over 200 attorneys in eight offices from Toronto, Canada to Palm Beach County ran into some difficulty this year and agreed to pay $50,000 to the New York Attorney General's Office in response to a statewide investigation over it's improper employment arrangements with school districts and various Boards of Cooperative Educational Services.

An investigation found Hodgson Russ classified it's lawyers for the schools as employees, instead of independent contractors, so that they could be eligible for state pension funds. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said "This is chronic widespread corruption and fraud," and "It's death by a thousand cuts and in the end taxpayers bleed millions of dollars." The firm without admitting any wrongdoing ceased the practice and paid the settlement amount.

Broward Teen Dies Of Shot To Head

Lake Okeechobee Duck Hunter Dead

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers are investigating what appears to be a hunting accident, which claimed the life of a Broward County teenager. Seth D. Edge, 15, of West Park, died from a single gunshot wound to the head shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday.

The victim was duck hunting with his father and brothers on Lake Okeechobee in Glades County when his 13-year-old brother attempted to set his gun down. Witnesses said the gun fell and discharged, fatally injuring Seth, who was pronounced dead at the scene. No charges have been filed.

The Glades County Sheriff�s Office was among the first responders and assisted in the investigation.

In Florida, children 15 years and younger may hunt without a hunting license, as long as they are supervised by an adult. Children under 16 may hunt with a gun lawfully but must be under adult supervision at all times.

The FWC regularly schedules hunting safety classes in all Florida counties. "We encourage all hunters, especially children to take the course,� said FWC regional hunter safety administrator Lynne Hawk. "The course is free and satisfies the hunter education requirements of all other states and Canadian provinces that require hunter safety certification."

Everyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course to be eligible to purchase a Florida hunting license.

Watch Out For Bogus Charities

Fund Raising Appeals - Hendry And Glades County Residents Asked For Donations

CLEWISTON, FL. -- While unprecedented solicitations for charitable donations occur in Hendry and Glades county this holiday season, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is reminding consumers to check on the legitimacy of charities that seek donations and find out how registered charities spend their money.

Hendry and Glades county residents and visitors are bombarded this time of year with solicitations for donations for just about any cause imaginable, from helping families with medical issues to raising funds for community groups. Most of these fund raisers, while perhaps being sincere, are unregistered, with no way for the public to know just what happens to the money, and at worst, a bogus charity.

A sampling of fund raising pleas listed in local newspapers shows nearly all the organizations and individuals are not registered with the state, and are illegally raising funds without any accounting for their activities. A properly registered charity will have a registration number from the Florida Dept. of Consumer Services, in addition to a non-profit tax number.

"Unfortunately, as the number of charitable organizations grows, so does the number of con artists posing as legitimate charities to take people's money," Bronson said. "I'm afraid the bad economy will likely result in even more instances of bogus charities trying to take advantage of people's kindness."

Charities are launching their busiest time of the year, the holiday months of November and December.  Many collect about half their annual donations in the short time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, leaving donors at risk when giving to unregistered charitable organizations.

Charities that do business in Florida, with the exception of schools and churches are required to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services each year and provide financial information about income and expenses.  There are more than 13,000 charitable organizations currently registered with the state, a number that increases every year.

Consumers can find out if a charity is registered by calling the department's consumer helpline at 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352) or 1-800-FLAYUDA for Spanish, or by logging on to They can also check the complaint history of an organization.

However, even if a charity is properly registered, consumers should find out more about how a charity operates.  The department does not endorse any charity, even those properly registered.  But it does provide a breakdown of how much charities spend on fundraising, administrative costs such as salaries and operating expenses and how much actually goes to the program services. 

"The department doesn't have any authority over how these organizations spend their money," Bronson said.  "But we can provide that information to consumers so they can make educated decisions about whether they think a charity is operating prudently.  If an organization spends a small percentage on services, consumers may want to think twice about donating."

The department also provides the names of professional solicitors and consultant who are working on behalf of a charitable organization. 

Bronson provided the following tips to consider when deciding whether to donate to an organization:

-- Don't judge an organization based on an impressive-sounding name.  Find out what it actually does.

-- Be wary of emotional appeals and organizations that have only vague plans for spending the funds they collect.

-- Never give cash.  Write a check payable only to an organization, not an individual.

-- Be wary of organizations that offer to send a ""unner" to pick up your donation. Reputable charities are willing to wait for your contribution.

-- You have the right to ask for an organization's financial report and its federal tax identification number, the latter of which you'll need to claim your contribution as a tax deduction.

-- Ask the organization to send you written information about its activities.
-- If an organization is not registered, contact the department.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Clewiston Crash - One Dead

Second Vehicle Leaves Scene

CLEWISTON, FL. - A Hendry County crash Saturday morning at 4:52 a.m. left Keith Allen Linderman, 24 of Moore Haven dead. His 2005 Ford pickup was westbound on US 27 and traveled onto the north shoulder, as he attempted to recover by steering to the left. This action caused the vehicle to rotate counter-clockwise and travel back into the westbound lanes, sliding across the
westbound lanes traveling toward the southwest, and then entered the median and overturned.

Linderman was ejected and came to rest in the eastbound lanes of US 27. The vehicle continued to overturn as it traveled across the eastbound lanes and came to rest facing southeast on the paved shoulder with its right front wheel on top of the guardrail that is located on the south shoulder. He was not wearing a seatbelt and investigation continues on alcohol use.

A second vehicle was eastbound and struck the truck. The second vehicle continued eastbound and did not remain on scene.
There is currently no information regarding this vehicle or driver. If anyone has any information on this crash please contact the Florida Highway Patrol at 239-938-1800.

Deadly Crash In Hendry County

One Dead In Head On Collision

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A crash at 5:25 a.m. Saturday left one dead and one in serious condition after a head on crash. Michele T. Alvarado, 28 of Clewiston, driving a 2007 Chrysler SUV was northbound on County Road 833 as a 1996 Ford Pickup was southbound on County 833, driven by an unnamed person (pending notifications).

Alvarado crossed the centerline of the roadway and entered the southbound lane. The second vehicle swerved to avoid colliding with Alvarado, the front of Alvarado's vehicle struck the front of the second vehicle in the southbound lane. Impact from the collision forced Alvarado back into the northbound lane.

The second vehicle was propelled back onto the west grassy shoulder, as Alvarado's vehicle overturned several times before coming to final rest in the northbound lane. The second vehicle came to final rest on southbound grassy shoulder of County 833. Alvarado was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital and is in stable condition.

The second driver was killed upon impact in the collision. Seatbelts were not in use in either vehicle. It is unknown at this time whether alcohol was a factor. Investigation is pending.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cow Tax Possible In Hendry County?

EPA Proposed Tax On Greenhouse Gas May Affect Farmers

LABELLE, FL. -- Farmers are worried that a change in federal environmental rules may bring added regulations to farms The Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on whether it is appropriate to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from automobiles under the Clean Air Act.

In order to regulate automobile emissions, the EPA would first have to make a finding that all greenhouse gases endanger public health and safety and should be classified as a pollutant. If that finding is made, all GHGs including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide would have to be regulated under the Clean Air Act, then possibly creating regulations of other sectors including agriculture.

The agriculture industry believes that once an endangerment finding is made, Title V of the Clean Air Act requires that any entity with the potential to emit more than 100 tons per year of a regulated pollutant must obtain a permit in order to continue to operate.

Farmers speculate that the vast majority of livestock operations would easily meet the 100 ton threshold and fall under regulation. According to ag industry spoke persons, the USDA has stated that any operation with more than 25 dairy cows, or 50 beef cattle would have to obtain permits. According to USDA statistics, this would cover about 99 percent of dairy production and over 90 percent of beef production in the United States.

The industry believes greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act would not only adversely impact livestock producers but all farmers. Crop production emits nitrous oxide from fertilizer and methane from rice production, and fields that emit 100 tons
of carbon would also be subject to permitting requirements as well.

Any Florida farm with 500 acres of corn, 250 acres of soybeans, 350 acres of potatoes or only 35 acres of rice would be forced to obtain Clean Air Act permits they say, as well as emissions from farm machinery and energy used in production might also be

Thursday, November 20, 2008

19 Year Old Dies On Internet TV

Broward County Teen Suicide Live On Internet TV

A Broward county youth apparently committed suicide Wednesday while broadcasting a live video cast on, according to news reports. Abraham K. Biggs allegedly committed suicide while viewers of his live webcasting channel on and chat forum users on watched.

Biggs was said to have overdosed on pills while on camera, but reportedly was alive for hours until the Broward county Sheriff's department was notified. According to a news reports on "The video kept running until police and EMTs broke Biggs' door down and blocked the camera's view."

Biggs' live broadcasting screen name and channel on was called "feels_like_ecstacy" and the channel has now been taken down, including any archives of the event. reports that " has already come under fire for another problem with live broadcasts ­ copyright infringement. The Premier League is reportedly threatening legal action against the site over unauthorized broadcasts of soccer games."

More Links: - The apparent suicide - Victim's Last MySpace Blog And Viewer Comments - a note allegedly left and live screen shots of emergency personnel at scene - My Space page gives possible clues from "CandyMan" Abraham Biggs - Blog Entry A Goodbye Message?

In The Service - Jesse Hubbard

LABELLE, FL. -- Army National Guard Pvt. Jesse R. Hubbard has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.

He is the son of Randell Hubbard, and Lori Brinker of Laramie Court, both of Labelle, Fla. The private is a 2008 graduate of Labelle High School.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hendry Law Makers Sworn In

Turner, Taylor, Chapman Ready To Govern Hendry

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Judge James "Jim" Sloan installed three County Commissioners into office at 11:00 am Tuesday morning. Commissioner Janet B. Taylor was sworn in for a fifth term, one of the longest terms of service of any Hendry commissioner.

Commissioner Tris Chapman and Commissioner Karson Turner were sworn in for their first terms. The three were recently elected or re-elected by a majority of voters in their respective districts. Commissioner Taylor serves District 1, Commissioner Chapman District 3 and Commissioner Turner District 5.  The two new commissioners, Turner and Chapman, will be participating in their first official board meeting on December 9, 2008 in LaBelle at 5:00 pm at the county courthouse.

Photo: Tris Chapman, Janet Taylor, Karson Turner

U.S. Sugar Corp Sale Documents Online

Is This A Good Deal? - You Can Judge For Yourself Online Now

CLEWISTON, FL. -- As a part of its ongoing efforts to share information and promote transparency regarding the acquisition of land from the U.S. Sugar Corporation for Everglades restoration, the South Florida Water Management District has updated its web site with documents associated with the agency�s due diligence.
The following documents, along with presentations about the due diligence results received so far, are available at

   Anderson & Carr, Inc., draft appraisal of real estate & other assets; 
  Gillott Services, Inc., draft appraisal of real estate & other assets; 
  Sewell, Valentich, Tillis & Associates land only appraisal;  
  Anderson & Carr, Inc., land only appraisal;
  Technical reviews of the appraisals;
  Duff and Phelps, LLC, Letter Regarding the Fairness Opinion;
  Executive Summary of the Draft PSI Environmental Due Diligence Report.

Together with appraisals, environmental assessments, engineering assessments and survey and title work, the Board has requested a "fairness opinion" on the proposed acquisition. Typically rendered by an investment bank in association with corporate mergers and acquisitions, a �fairness opinion� is an independent report on the value of an acquisition with regard to price and is designed to guide the purchase of an ongoing business. A fairness opinion is not an appraisal and is one component of due diligence, says the SFWMD.
A full-day public Governing Board workshop is scheduled for December 2, 2008, to continue reviewing and discussing due diligence results, documents and information associated with the transaction. Presentations will be web-cast at

Home Sales Up, Prices Down Statewide

Existing Inventory Of Homes Selling

LABELLE, FL. -- Statistics released by the Florida Association of REALTORS® on Third Quarter 2008 sales of existing homes indicate that sales were up overall statewide, with median prices down overall, while sales of existing condominiums were down overall statewide but varied widely according to region. 

Existing home sales in Florida for Third Quarter 2008 versus Q3 2007 were up 5% statewide, with median sales prices down 20%, although some areas experienced significant differences.  Existing home sales in Fort Myers were up 73%, with median sales prices down 39%, while home sales in Gainesville were down 33% with median sales prices down only 11%.

Existing condo sales in Florida for the Third Quarter 2008 were down 2% statewide compared to Q3 2007, with median prices down 18% statewide.  Fort Myers showed existing condo sales up 38% with median prices down 17%, while Tallahassee showed condo sales down 76% with median sales prices up 16% compared to Q3 2007.

-courtesy The Goulding Agency, Chipley, Fl. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Death In Clewiston Crash

Lantana Man's Vehicle Overturns Three Times At High Speed

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A single vehicle crash east of Clewiston has resulted in one death. Gerald William Robinson, 61 of Lantana was driving a 2007 Volkwagen Beetle eastbound on U.S. 27 in the eastbound lane, 1/2 mile east of Clewiston at a high rate of speed, entered a curve east of the city and drove off of the north side of the roadway and onto the grass shoulder.

According the the Florida Highway Patrol report, the front of the vehicle collided with four signs and rotated counter-clockwise, and overturned three times. Robinson was pronounced deceased at the scene at about 11:50 P.M. Monday night.

About The Sunday Morning News Contributors

Who Brings You Sunday Morning News Stories? Here's Our Contributors

W.T. "Bill" Neville
Mr. Neville was born in Logansport, Indiana and was very active in business and community activities, President of the local Jaycees, and spent 4 years in the Indiana National Guard during the Korean war as a First Seargent.  At age 30, he  moved family, wife & 3 sons with one more on the way, to Buffalo where he lived for one year before accepting a plastics field sales position in Chicago where his fifth son was born.  After opening up new sales territories from Chicago to the west coast, he accepted the regional sales manager position for the western half of the U. S. He retired from that position after 40 years in 1993, and built a home in Labelle, Fl.. "I've always enjoyed 'wordsmithing' and story telling, particularly when I feel that my words might either motivate or alleviate any of the many challenges that we each accept every day of our lives just by being here." 
Donald K. Browne
Mr. Browne grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. He was a professional musician in Ohio for many years and taught as well in the New Albany School system and the Columbus Public Schools. Don moved to Florida in the 1970s and lived in Central Florida for a year before moving to Miami where he continued teaching, writing, and making plans to get out of the "big" city. He moved to rural LaBelle, Florida, the county seat of Hendry county in the 1990s . There he began the Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online, the first local news published on the internet in South Florida. In Hendry county, Don wrote and edited a local print newspaper and served at two local radio stations as news director and on air personality.
Margaret England
Mrs. England has been a LaBelle resident for many years and one of the leading conservationists and community leaders in the Southwest Florida area. She has been instrumental in local parks promotion and leads the way to the creation of new recreational spaces in Hendry and Glades county. She writes widely on nature and conservation subjects. She is a media specialist with the Hendry County Schools.
The Honorable Donna Storter Long
Ms. Storter-Long is a long time Glades County resident, living in the Ortona community. She is active in community events, and promoting rural Glades county development. She is from a pioneering Florida ranching family, and a Glades County Commissioner. Ms Long provides commentary and news about Glades county on a regular basis.
The Sunday Morning News also acknowledges the many other news contributors who provide recurring news tips, stories and commentary.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In The Service - Nallely Chavarria

BELLE GLADE, FL. -- Army Reserve Pvt. Nallely Chavarria has graduated from basic military training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C., to be a member of the Army National Guard or Reserve Split-option Program.

The program allows students between their junior and senior year of high school to attend national guard or reserve weekend drills while still in school and pursue a military career specialty after they graduate from high school.

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.

She is the daughter of Maria Chavarria of N. State Route 715, Belle Glade, Fla., and sister of Maria Chavarria of Tampa, Fla. Chavarria is currently a student at Glades Central High School, Belle Glade.

Youth Drinking And Smoking Down

Inhalants And Marijuana Still Widely Used
LaBelle, Fl -- Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp  announces significant reductions in cigarette smoking and binge drinking among Florida's middle school and high school students since 2000, as reported by the 2008 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey.

But, in contrast to the significant reductions being made each year, the 2008 survey confirms the continuing trend of prescription drug abuse and highlights the need for future prevention efforts. The Florida Office of Drug Control, state agencies, law enforcement, substance abuse prevention coalitions, schools and community stakeholders have partnered to reduce substance abuse across the state.
According to the survey, which has been administered every year since 2000, drug use among Florida's middle and high school students is down in 10 of 11 areas consistently measured over the history of the survey.  From 2007 to 2008, among middle and high school students, past 30-day use of alcohol and binge drinking declined significantly.  Long-term trends documented from 2000 to 2008 include:
Ø       Cigarette smoking is cut in half:   The past 30-day use of cigarettes among middle and high schoolers is at 9 percent, down from 18 percent in 2000.
Ø       Binge drinking declines by 4 percentage points since 2000: Binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks in a row sometime during the previous two weeks, currently stands at 15 percent, down from 19 percent in 2000.
Ø       Use of any illegal drug other than marijuana continues to decline:  The percent of students who report using any illegal drug other than marijuana has declined by 24 percent since 2000 and now stands at a historically low 6.6 percent.
Ø       Early initiation continues to decline: Research confirms that if our youth make it to adulthood without experimenting with drugs, they are far less likely to start using later in life.  The 2008 survey documents an important decline in the percentage of high school students who first used alcohol (by 8.6 percentage points), tobacco (by 19.5 percentage points), and marijuana (by 6.7 percentage points) before the age of 14.
Ø       New question on over-the-counter drugs:  For the first time, middle schoolers were asked about their use of over-the-counter drugs – such as cold and cough medications – in order to get high.  The lifetime prevalence rate of over-the-counter drug abuse (4.9 percent) is higher than the rate for any illegal drug except marijuana.
Ø       Prescription drugs emerging as a dangerous source of abuse: 4.5 percent of high school seniors report abusing prescription pain relievers in the past 30 days, and 3.8 percent report abusing prescription depressants – more than any other illegal drug (excluding marijuana). Results from the 2002 survey (the first time this question was asked) were nearly identical, indicating a continuing trend in prescription drug abuse.
"While drug use is down overall, parents need to be acutely alert to the dangers posed by legally accessible substance like inhalants, alcohol, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications.  Parents need to do their part to keep young people safe by restricting the availability of these substances within their homes and by closely monitoring their children's activities," Office of Drug Control Bill Janes said.
Florida's Drug Control Strategy acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring that children, families, and communities are healthy and safe.  Florida's diverse communities must prioritize their needs and select the most effective strategies that will be used to tackle their unique profile of substance abuse problems.  The continued support of community anti-drug coalitions is vital to prevention efforts throughout the state. 
Florida's youth survey measures youth substance use annually across the state, and in alternate years, in each county.  The 2008 edition included 91,471 valid returns from sixth through 12th graders in 66 of Florida's 67 counties. (Sarasota County is not included among the counties surveyed because it chose to administer an internal survey that is not comparable to the Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey.)   The full report is available online at

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Governor Crist Happy With U.S. Sugar Deal

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Governor Charlie Crist Wednesday  announced that Florida water management officials have agreed to new terms in their negotiations with the United States Sugar Corporation. The new terms, subject to approval by the South Florida Water Management District include a land only purchase of more than 180,000 acres at a purchase price of $1.34 billion.

The Governor's announcement from Miami was delayed a day after his state aircraft had mechanical difficulties Tuesday and made a diverted landing at Sarasota. "A land purchase creates unprecedented possibilities for the River of Grass and for our environment," said Governor Crist, standing outside the Miami home of the late author and Everglades advocate Marjory Stoneman Douglass in Coconut Grove. "Many people, including the late Mrs. Douglass, have looked forward to this day. Today, we are closer than ever to making their dreams a reality and giving this wonderful gift of restoration to the Everglades, to the people of Florida, and to our country."

The 180,000 acres, one of the largest environmental land acquisitions in our nation's history, will in theory allow the South Florida Water Management District needed wetlands to protect Florida's coastal estuaries to preserve the Everglades. Governor Crist first announced in June plans to begin negotiations at the 2008 Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate in Miami.

The wetlands area – roughly the size of New York City -- will be used to reestablish a part of the historic connection between Lake Okeechobee and the fabled River of Grass through a managed system of storage and treatment.

The Water Management District says acquiring the enormous expanse of land offers water managers the opportunity and flexibility to store and clean water on a scale never before contemplated. Water managers expect that dedicating significantly more land in the Everglades Agricultural Area to restoration will build upon and enhance the 30-year state-federal Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and the State of Florida's Northern Everglades program to restore and protect Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and their respective estuaries.

U.S. Sugar will presumably come out well, sell virtually all its Florida land to the state.  About 1700 workers will be directly affected, but their future is still up in the air pending future negotiations on what will happen to the mills and processing plants in the Clewiston area.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and the District in the cooperative spirit with which we have begun," said Robert Buker, president and CEO of U.S. Sugar. "We are happy to help the state of Florida restore one of her most precious treasures."

Joining Governor Crist and Robert Buker at the Marjory Stoneman Douglass House were Eric Buermann, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board; and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole. Also in attendance were elected officials and environmental advocates.

The Governor's office says the benefits from the land acquisition include:

· Huge increases in the availability of water storage, significantly reducing the potential for harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to Florida's coastal rivers and estuaries when lake levels are high.

· The ability to deliver cleaner water to the Everglades during dry times and greater water storage to protect the natural system during wet years.

· Preventing thousands of tons of phosphorus from entering the Everglades every year.

· Forever eliminating the need for "back-pumping" water into Lake Okeechobee from the Everglades Agricultural Area to augment the water supply needs. The District's Governing Board this year voted not to back-pump into the lake during the ongoing water shortage to protect water quality.

· Additional water storage alternatives, relieving some pressures on the Herbert Hoover Dike while the federal government undertakes repairs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Death In Glades Crash

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A Glades County crash on U.S. 27 took the life of Cammy Elliton McGuire, 37 of Sebring. The incident happened about 2 P.M. Monday.

The 1998 Chrysler was traveling northbound on US-27 (SR-25) in the inside lane just North of CR-17. The left side tires traveled off the roadway and into the median. McGuire over corrected and lost control, rotated clockwise and veered across the roadway onto the East (right) shoulder.

The left side of the vehicle collided with a barbed wire fence, overturned several times and McGuire was ejected. No seatbelt was in use. The vehicle came to final rest facing northeast in the cow pasture. The driver came to final rest north of the vehicle.

She was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital with serious Injuries. Medical staff collected a medical blood sample and determined that her blood alcohol level was in excess of 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters.

Recount Confirms Pelletier Wins

LABELLE, FL. -- In a recount of the November 4 election votes, Supervisor of Elections Lucretia Strickland confirmed Monday that Phillip Pelletier has won by five votes, the position of Hendry County Property Appraiser. Pelletier will take over long time Hendry Appraiser Kristina Kulpa's postion.

Glades Approves Muse Village Plan

Lykes Brothers Gets Nod For New Village

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Commission Board approved a Planned Development Zoning District of Muse Village Lakes of  471 acres for 7L Muse, LLC located on the southern boundary of Muse Village Planning Area.  Just north of the Hendry-Glades County line, the property borders SR29 on the east, CR731 on the west, Pollywog Crossover on the north and Whisper Creek on the south. 
The proposed land use includes 186.1 acres residential, 53.5 acres wetlands, 66.8 acres upland natural open space, 72.9 acres lakes, 54.0 acres other open space and recreational, and 38.1 acres for other amenities and roads/sidewalks.
The total number of dwelling units will not exceed 625 with neighborhood types including traditional low density 60.6 acres with maximum of 151 dwelling units, neighborhood medium density 45.4 acres with maximum of 181 dwelling units, village high density 30.9 acres with maximum of 247 dwelling units and Multifamily Residential 49.2 acres with maximum of 295 dwelling units.
The main entrance will be from SR29 into the recreational/civic amenity and neighborhood market area, with a secondary entrance from Pollywog Crossover.  No entrance is planned from CR 731. Public input included Charles Banky, owner of an out parcel on CR731, expressing concern of the close proximity of home development perimeters near his property line.
The Traditional house types on larger parcels will be on the perimeters with vegetative buffering depicted for boundaries of existing outparcels of residential homes. Featuring clustered development, with preservation of natural setting with walkability via sidewalks and natural pathways to recreational and civic amenities, the area will be served by Silver Lake Utilities, and the northwest border is by the West Glades School on CR731 and Pollywog Crossover.
Rain barrels to collect rainwater from roofs is included in all home designs along with watering holes to provide miniature reservoirs for water conservation and to minimize drainage and storm water runoff needs.
Designed for Lykes Bros by Wilson-Miller, this master planned rural village development envisions a prototype community that confirms traditional neighborhoods with sustainable homes built for energy and water conservation, to include integrated connectivity of natural areas with active and passive recreation opportunities, and generates shared value and pride.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Southwest Florida Online Moves To Google

Now On Google Hosted Site - Southwest Florida Online

LABELLE, FL. -- After 12 years publishing Hendry and Glades county news and information pages on the internet, the Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online webpages, formerly hosted by AOL, have moved to Google hosted webpages.

AOL announced in October that AOL will no longer be hosting webpages and blogs on their network. AOL will continue its free news and entertainment services along with free email service, but has ended its hosting of individual webpages and blogs. AOL is one of the pioneering internet sites, offering a "one-stop" internet experience from the early days of the internet.

The Sunday Morning News has moved to Google hosted pages. The new Google hosted web pages offer new features including an easy "search site" button to search the entire Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online webpages using Google's search engine.

Enter a word in the "search site" box at the upper right hand corner of any page, and all pages that include that word will pop up. Also very handy is the "sitemap" link on the left panel of every page, providing an alphabetized list of all the pages. Click on the "sitemap" link and all the web pages pop up for easy navigation.

We're still working on new pages, and please feel free to email any broken links you may find to help me make any corrections. And if there's anything you would like to see added, please send your requests.

Click on the new web addresses underlined above or below to go to the new Google hosted pages, and bookmark them on your computer browser, as the pages on AOL are now in internet "heaven", although if you search for any of them on Google, and click on "cached", a version is available of past webpages.

The new links: Sunday Morning News (hosted by Google) and Southwest Florida Online

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hendry County Unemployment - Florida's Highest

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation say Hendry County, at 14.1 percent, had the highest unemployment rate in Florida in September, followed by Flagler County (10.3 percent), St. Lucie County (10.2 percent), Indian River County (10.1 percent), and Okeechobee County (9.9 percent).

Hendry County�s high jobless rate is due mainly to seasonal declines in agriculture and related
industries, said the agency in its latest study.

Vandals Destroy Port LaBelle Sign

LABELLE, FL. -- The sign at the entrance of Eucalyptus Village on Birchwood Parkway in Port LaBelle was spray painted by vandals this week.

This is the second time this sign has been vandalized since it was erected several years ago.

LaBelle Real Estate Sales

LABELLE, FL. -- From October 14 to November 4, there were 10 properties sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $73,700. The sales were:

1) $110,000 on Aspen Blvd
2) $58,000 on Dustin Dr
3) $69,000 on Everglade SW Ave
4) $68,000 on Frontier Cir
5) Unknown price on Gramercy Rd
6) $32,000 on Rainbow Cir
7) $125,000 on Spinnaker Rd
8) $87,000 on S Moss Cir
9) $98,000 on S Rosebud Cir
10) $90,000 on W Sunflower Cir

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Way Back Machine

Look Back At 10-Year Sunday Morning News Archive

LABELLE, FL. --  Looking for an internet page from years ago? You can find many archived web pages from the past at the "Way Back Machine", a feature of, keeping for posterity webpages from the past.

The Sunday Morning News is archived as far back at February 1999, and includes over 100 other editions of the Hendry and Glades area news in the year since then.  The archive says it typically posts the pages about six months after the pages are collected.

The Way Back Machine allows a search of any web address, just type it in and see what it looked like in the past.*/   - Sunday Morning News "Way Back" Archive

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voters Choose New Faces

Democrats Sweep Local Elections - Obama Wins Presidential Race Easily

LABELLE, FL. (Tuesday November 4, 2008) -- With 65% of Hendry county registered voters casting a ballot, the big local winner is Steve Whidden as new Hendry Sheriff, winning with 51% of the vote to incumbent Ronnie Lee's 49%. Democrats swept all the Hendry races except for one county commission seat, going to Republican Tris Chapman, formerly with U.S. Sugar management.

In the presidential race, Democrat Barack Obama easily took the lead over John McCain and wins as the 44th President of the United States, and the first African-American President of the U.S.

Clerk of Court Barbara Butler kept her job with 54% compared to Jennifer Davis' 46% of the votes.

Phil Pelletier narrowly takes over as the new Property Appraiser over Kristina Kulpa in an unofficial count of 5,255 votes to Kulpa's 5,250.

Rick Murphy, former school board member, is the new Superintendent with 58% over Robert Egley's 42%.

In the county Commission races, Janet Taylor kept her chair for yet another term with 73% over Phillip Roland's 27% of the votes. Tris Chapman takes his seat with 47% over challenger Ramon Rodriquez and Don Davis.

Port LaBelle's new Community Development District commissioner is Jennifer Daniels-Derleth winning over incumbent Mike Arndt with 76% of the votes to Arndt's 34%. Daniels-Derleth is the first commissioner to represent the Hendry county side of Port LaBelle in many years. The remainder of the current Port LaBelle CDD commissioners live in Glades county in the upscale Port LaBelle Ranchettes, as does Arndt.

To hear coverage of the Presidential Election from 8 different audio news programs: LaBelle Florida Live Web Channel

Come Sit A While

LABELLE, FL. -- The New Beginnings Full Gospel Church invites passersby to slow down a bit, and rest themselves on a tree stump under a shady giant oak tree.

The new church has tidied up the grounds and has begun weekly worship services at the old Port LaBelle Welcome Center.

Take them up on their invitation at Birchwood Parkway and State Road 80 in Port LaBelle.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Worker Minimum Wages Rising

New Wage Minimum In Effect January 1

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida's minimum wage will be $7.21 per hour, effective January 1, 2009. This is up from the $6.79 per hour minimum wage in 2008. On November 2, 2004, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment which created Florida's minimum wage. The minimum wage applies to all employees in the state who are covered by the federal minimum wage.  Florida law requires the Agency for Workforce Innovation to calculate a new minimum wage each year and publish the new minimum wage on January 1.

The current minimum wage represents a 6.2 percent change in the federal Consumer Price Index for urban wage
earners and clerical workers in the South Region for the 12-month period prior to September 1, 2008.

In deciding whether the federal or state minimum wage applies, federal law directs that businesses must pay the higher of the two. The Florida minimum wage will prevail over the federal rate until such time as the federal minimum
wage becomes higher than the state rate.   The federal minimum wage will increase to $7.25 on July 24, 2009.  On this date, Florida employers must increase the minimum wage from $7.21 to $7.25. 

Employers must pay their employees the hourly state minimum wage for all hours worked in Florida. The definitions of "employer," "employee" and "wage" for state purposes are the same as those established under the federal Fair
Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Employers of "tipped employees" who meet eligibility requirements for the tip credit under the FLSA, may count tips actually received as wages under the FLSA. However, the employer must
pay "tipped employees" a direct wage. The direct wage is calculated as equal to the minimum wage ($7.21) minus the 2003 tip credit ($3.02), or a direct hourly wage of $4.19 as of January 1, 2009.

Employees who are not paid the minimum wage may bring a civil action against the employer or any person violating Florida's minimum wage law. The state attorney general may also bring an enforcement action to enforce the
minimum wage. FLSA information and compliance assistance can be found at:

The Florida and federal minimum wage will increase as follows:

$6.79 ­ January 1, 2008  Florida Current Minimum Wage
$7.21 ­ January 1, 2009  Florida New Minimum Wage
$7.25 ­ July 24, 2009 Federal and Florida New Minimum Wage

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Crap Shooting In The Courts

Plaintiffs Win In Court By Small Margin

LABELLE, FL. -- A study by the U.S. Department of Justice citing results of state court cases shows that plaintiffs won over the defendants by only a fairly small margin, leaving one to wonder who really wins after taking a case to court and paying for respective attorney and court costs.

According to the new study, in 2005 plaintiffs won a bit more than half (56%) of all general civil trials concluded in state courts. The plaintiff was significantly more likely to win in a bench trial, a trial where the judge decided the outcome, compared to a jury trial.

Among all plaintiff winners the median final award was $28,000. Approximately 4% of all plaintiff winners won $1,000,000 or more. Contract cases in general had higher median awards ($35,000) than tort cases ($24,000).

The total number of civil trials declined by over 50% from 1992 to 2005 in the nation�s 75 most populous counties. Tort cases decreased the least (40%) while real property (77%) and contract (63%) cases registered the largest declines.

In the nation's 75 most populous counties, some tort case categories have seen marked increases in their median jury awards. This was particularly the case for product liability trials, where the median awards were about five times higher in 2005 than in 1992 and for medical malpractice trials, where the median jury awards more than doubled from $280,000 in 1992 to $682,000 in 2005.

Link:  http ://