Friday, July 31, 2009

17 Foot Python Caught In Okeechobee

207 Pound Giant Snake Killed

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- A 17-foot-2-inch Burmese python was caught and destroyed on private property of an animal hospital in Okeechobee County Thursday afternoon. The male snake weighed 207 pounds, and measured 26 inches in diameter. Its stomach contents were examined, but nothing identifiable was found inside.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission scanned the python but did not find a microchip. As a Reptile of Concern, Burmese pythons must be licensed by FWC's Captive Wildlife Section and implanted with a microchip to be kept as a pet.

FWC worked with the Florida Legislature and the reptile industry to establish and implement tighter restrictions in 2007 to help prevent the escape or release of these exotic species. The new rule requires an annual $100 license and mandatory caging requirements. In addition, Burmese pythons more than 2 inches in diameter must be implanted with a microchip that identifies the origin of the animal. 

This rule applies to all Reptiles of Concern, which include Burmese pythons, Indian pythons, reticulated pythons, African rock pythons, amethystine or scrub pythons, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards. It is unlawful to allow one to escape or to release one into the wild.

On July 17, the FWC launched a permit program, allowing reptile experts to capture and kill Burmese pythons on state-managed lands around the Everglades.  To date, seven permits have been issued and five pythons have been captured.  Several more permits will be issued in the coming weeks.  The permit holders must collect data on captured pythons and submit that information to the FWC. 

The program continues until Octobe 31, at which time the FWC will analyze the data and determine if the program should be extended or expanded.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In The Service

Moore Haven Proud Grand Parent

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Army Pvt. Wesley R. Allison has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. He is the son of Latrelle Smith of Bubbas Drive, Varnville, S.C., and grandson of Lynn Maloy of Moore Haven, Fla.
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.
Allison is a 2006 graduate of Wade Hampton High School, Hampton, S.C.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Theft Cases Solved In Hendry County

Six Teens Arrested In Montura  AreaThefts

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Monday, July 27, 2009 Investigators Allen Davies, Investigator Louis Morales, and Deputy Daniel Cruz arrested six individuals on three different thefts in the rural Montura area west of Clewiston.

Investigator Allen Davies arrested 17 year old Luis Angel Fundora, 15 year old Javier Fundora, and 16 year old Christopher Province, on Charges of Burglary of Dwelling and Grand Theft.  Investigator Davies recovered a 32 inch Visio flat screen television that was located at the home of Fundora. 

Investigator Louis Morales, who was investigating a burglary in the same vicinity, charged Luis Angel Fundora with Burglary and Grand Theft over $10,000.  Fundora admitted to Morales during an interview that he helped his friend, Christopher Province; enter the residence where over $10,000 in property was removed.  Luis Fundora was also charged with an outstanding warrant for contempt of court.  Both cases are under further investigation and additional arrests and charges are pending. 

Luis Fundora, Javier Fundora and Christopher Province were all transported and are being held at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Fort Myers.

Three More Teens Caught

On July 27, 2009 the Sheriff�s Office received a call from someone reporting an attempted theft of an ATV.  When Deputies arrived on scene they learned that witnesses who identified one of the suspects as 14 year old Manuel Enrique Ortiz, were working at a friend's house across the street when they noticed a black car riding around the area. 

Later they noticed two guys inside the next door neighbor's yard attempting to steal an ATV.  When one of the witnesses heard the ATV start up they yelled at the suspects who then ran away.  The witnesses then located Manuel Ortiz and the other juvenile 14 year old Marvin Jaimes walking in front of 375 N. Quebrado Road and were able to detain them until deputies arrived on scene. 

Although both Ortiz and Jaimes stated they didn�t know the driver of the vehicle, he was later identified to be 16 year old Irvin Jaimes.

All three suspects were charged with Burglary of an Unoccupied Dwelling and Theft over $300.  Manuel Enrique Ortiz was transported to, and being held, at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Fort Myers.  Both Irvin and Marvin Jaimes were released to their parents.

Hit And Run Information Sought By FHP

Bicyclist Hit By Two Vehicles - Both Left Scene

LABELLE, FL. -- On December 22, 2006 at 6:52 P.M. a fatal hit and run crash occurred on State Road 29, south of C Road in Hendry County.  Florida Highway Patrol investigators are looking for anyone with information regarding two vehicles who struck a bicyclist crossing the roadway. 

The first vehicle was described as a dark colored small pick-up (possibly a late model Ford Ranger) last scene traveling north on State Road 29.  There was at least one more unknown vehicle traveling southbound that collided with the bicyclist as he was lying in the southbound lane of State Road 29.   
Anyone with any new information is advised to contact Corporal Louis M. Smith, Jr, at the Florida Highway Patrol in Arcadia, Florida at telephone number (800) 993-4618 ext 262.

New FHP Trooper Assigned To Moore Haven

Andrew Nowling Joins FHP Troop F in Glades County

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Florida Highway Patrol now has 43 new state troopers to join its ranks, including Andrew Nowling who has been assigned to Glades county.

The 117th FHP Basic Recruit Class graduated from the FHP�s Law Enforcement Training Academy at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.  The graduation ceremony marks the conclusion of an intensive 27-week training period that prepares them for a career as a Florida State Trooper and instills the FHP�s core values of service, courtesy and protection.

Trooper Nowling will report for duty in Moore Haven by July 31, 2009. 

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hendry County Chief Deputy Powell Fired

Chief Deputy Chuck Powell Out - Philosophical Differences Says Sheriff

LABELLE, FL. -- On Thursday, July 23, 2009 Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden announced the promotion of Lt. Kevin Nelson to the position of Chief Deputy, replacing Chuck Powell. 

Sheriff Steve Whidden stated the decision regarding former Chief Deputy Chuck Powell was made due to philosophical differences in management between himself and Powell.  ''It is not personal, but rather a decision that needed to be made in order to run a well-organized agency.  I wish Chuck the best in his future endeavors,'' said Whidden.

According to a press release issued by the Sheriff, ''In an effort to continue to guide his department through this change in command, Sheriff Whidden believes that (former) Lt. Kevin Nelson embodies the values, experience, and knowledge needed to run a productive and efficient agency.   Chief Deputy Kevin Nelson shares the same concerns as Sheriff Whidden during these difficult economic times.  Together we will strive to provide the best level of service possible to the citizens of Hendry County.''

Sheriff Whidden said Thursday in an address to his department  ''regarding this recent change that the decision to replace Former Chief Chuck Powell was in an effort to ensure that this agency excels not just for now, but for many years to come and that has to start with you having faith in not only me but the entire administration.'' 

Chief Nelson began his career in 1981 with the Collier County Sheriff's Office and retired in 2004 with 24 years experience, 19 of those were at the Administration and budgeting level (multimillion dollar budget), 16 at the Command level and 15 years with countywide experience.  Chief Nelson is civically involved in the Rotary Club of LaBelle as President, Chamber of Commerce  Director and LaBelle Masonic Lodge  District Deputy Grand Master.  Chief Nelson is a Florida Attorney General�s Office certified Crime Prevention Specialist. 

Sheriff Whidden expressed to his employees, ''I only expect you to do your job to the best of your ability at all times.  I expect that when you come into contact with civilians that you are courteous and polite, and do your job.''

Former Chief Deputy Powell, a resident of Glades county in the Port LaBelle Ranchettes, helped Sheriff Whidden in his successful election campaign last year.

Thomas McGill - Wanted

Hendry Sheriff Looking For Burglary Suspect

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff's Investigators in LaBelle are looking for Thomas McGill, Jr. on outstanding warrants for Failure to Appear for Possession of a Weapon or ammo and Theft More Than $300, no Bond, and three outstanding warrants in Okeechobee County  Burglary of Structure While Armed, Grand Theft Firearm and Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Bond of $55,000.

McGill is believed to be involved in numerous burglaries and thefts in Hendry and surrounding counties. 

McGill has been reported to be armed, so do not attempt to approach or apprehend him.  If you know of his whereabouts please contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477) or Hendry County Sheriff's Office at 674-5600.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Free Alligator Hunting Class Opens

Gator Hunting Season Opens August 15
CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is offering alligator hunters a no-cost, three-hour classes to help them prepare for the August 15 through November 1 statewide alligator harvest. 

Attendance is not mandatory for licensed hunters, but the FWC recommends that participants attend, especially if they have not previously hunted for alligators.  Class topics include preparing for the hunt, hunting techniques and safety, harvesting and processing, caring for your alligator hide and alligator hunting rules and regulations. 

Also, people who do not have an alligator harvest permit can attend if they want to learn what hunting alligators is all about. Reservations are not required to attend a class.

Classes will be offered at the locations around Florida including August 2nd (Sunday), from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Okeechobee County Civic Center, 1750 U.S. Hwy 98 North.  For directions call 863-462-5195.

All hunt permits have been sold for this year; however, alligator trapping agent permits are available for $52.  Agent permits enable permit holders to assist a licensed trapper in taking alligators. For more information on these exciting alligator hunts, visit and click Statewide Hunts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Real Estate Buyers Setting Sights Lower

Buyers Going For Less Expensive Homes

Statistics released by the Florida Association of REALTORS® on June 2009 sales of existing homes and condominiums indicate that sales were up overall statewide while median prices overall were down statewide, with few areas experiencing significantly negative numbers.

Existing home sales in Florida for June 2009 versus June 2008 were up 28% statewide, with median sales prices down 28%.  Existing home sales in Fort Myers were up 137%, with median sales prices down 49%, while home sales in Gainesville were down 16% with median sales prices down 13%.  Panama City sales of existing homes were up 15% with median prices down 2%.

Existing condo sales in Florida for June 2009 were up 39% statewide compared to June 2008, with median prices down 37% statewide.  Orlando showed existing condo sales up 207% with median prices down 59% and Fort Myers showed condo sales up 138% with median prices down 40%.  Gainesville continued a negative trend, with condo sales down 52% and median sales prices down 23% compared to June 2008.  Existing condo sales in Panama City were down 18% with median sales prices down 31%.

-courtesy of the Goulding Agency, Chipley, Fl.

Inland Port Possible In Hendry?

Commissioner Turner Advocates Inland Port for Hendry County

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- During a tour of Hendry County industrial sites, County Commissioner Karson Turner encouraged representatives of regional environmental organizations to support Hendry County�s bid to become home to the proposed south Florida inland port facility. Any approval would mean big land sales for current agricultural and commercial land owners.

The tour of Hendry County was organized by Sierra Club staff member Marti Daltry and included leaders of the Caloosahatchee River Citizen Association, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Everglades Foundation, Audubon Society, Collins Center, and Sierra Club. 

The purpose of the tour was to provide an opportunity for participants to learn more about Hendry County and the areas that would be affected by the U. S. Sugar purchase, ask questions and express their concerns about the inland port sites.

Focal point for the tour was the Airglades Industrial Park west of Clewiston where Commissioner Turner explained the development vision.  Cheryl Eby Gutjahr of Rawls Real Estate next guided the group through the Weekley Brothers warehouse & rail yard east of Clewiston before visiting the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, Storm Water Treatment Area 5, and the Little Cypress Organic Farm operated by Chuck Obern in south Hendry County. 

Advocates of an inland port  say it is needed to relieve container storage, warehousing, rail, truck, and air cargo congestion at south Florida�s deep water ports in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.  Traffic through these ports is expected to increase dramatically when improvements to the Panama Canal are completed, allowing larger ships from the Pacific to reach Caribbean and Atlantic harbors.

Sites in Hendry, Glades, Highlands, Palm Beach and Martin Counties are being considered for the new inland port facilities.  But environmental advocates are worried that locating the inland port in Palm Beach County would conflict with Everglades restoration efforts and negate the value of the state�s huge investments in EAA land purchases. 

Groups like the Everglades Foundation have written to Governor Crist encouraging him to instead look favorably upon the candidate sites in Hendry and Glades Counties. The initial storage footprint is estimated to cost $12 billion dollars for construction and create up to 25,000 jobs to the region during the next twenty years. But saying it doesn't make it so, and there's really no way of predicting such an impact far into the future.

Contrary to what the name may suggest, an inland port does not have to be connected or have access to a body of water.  The formal name for the inland port is Intermodal Logistic Center or ILC.  An ILC provides storage and redistribution services that are supported by trucking highways, rail lines and airports.  It would allow the deep water ports to store, reorganize, and transfer their cargo at a more rural location, away from the congested coasts.

A hot topic of discussion on the tour was how to avoid having ILC facilities at the Airglades, Hilliards, and Weekley Brothers sites becoming a trigger for uncontrolled sprawl in adjacent agricultural lands.  Many in the tour group advocated protecting agricultural lands by adding a Sprawl Prevention Package to the Hendry County ILC industrial site proposal.  They emphasized the need to center commercial and residential re-development in Clewiston, Moore Haven, Port LaBelle, Montura, Pioneer, and LaBelle to help revitalize these communities.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In The Service - Kyle Wilkins

Kyle Wilkins Arrives In New Mexico

LABELLE, FL. -- Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyle A. Wilkins has arrived for duty at Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, N.M. Wilkins, an aircraft fuel systems apprentice, is assigned to the 27th Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron.  He has less than one year of military service.
He is the son of Chassey J. Wallace Hicks of Belmont St., LaBelle, Fla.  The airman is a 2006 graduate of LaBelle High School.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

11 Hendry Horses Need Help

11 Abandoned Horses Found Loose In Montura

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On June 8, 2009, Hendry County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Crimes Unit responded to the area of Perimeter Road and S. Palm Ave., in Montura Ranch Estates to follow up on a report of horses running loose on the roadway.  By the time investigators were able to arrive at the location they were able to capture 11 horses with the help of Alico Ranch cowboys. 
At the time of transporting and penning the horses they appeared to approximately 2-20 years of age, some appeared to be underweight.  Investigators immediately noticed that the horses had freeze brands located on the neck at which time they instantly knew they were part of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Adopt a Wild Horse or Burro program.  Contact was made with BLM and they were able to identify these horses to have been adopted out and titled.
On Friday morning area Veterinarian Dr. Bridgett Shewmaker-Cochran met with Agricultural Investigator Charles White and conducted Coggins test on each of the horses and later found that all Coggins test were reported negative. 
An appeal for assistance in the care of these horses was made and Martin County Sheriff�s Office Agricultural Unit and members of the Martin County Sheriff's Office Volunteer Posse answered the request for help with 50 bales of hay (approximately a 10-day supply), a donation made possible by the Posse members and Ranch Feed & Supply in Martin County.
Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden and Investigator Charles White are working with the Caloosa Humane Society in an effort to begin an adoption process upon the completion of the investigation. 

If you would like to make a monetary donation, you may contact Finance Manager, Marlene Conyers at 863-674-5600 or send a check or money order made payable to the Hendry County Sheriff�s Office and mail to Marlene Conyers c/o Hendry County Sheriff�s Office, P.O. Box 579, LaBelle, FL  33975. 

For a donation of hay or feed you may contact Brenda White, Hendry County Sheriff's Office at 863-674-5653.  If you are interested in adopting one or more of these horses, please e-mail the Caloosa Humane Society at
Investigators are still uncertain where these horses came from or who the current owner is, but continue to follow all leads. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Glades County Looks For $5M To Build Health Dept

Denise Grimsley Says Grant Project 95% Done

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- State Representative District 77 Denise Grimsley showed up for the Glades County Board of Commissioners meeting last week with some hopeful news. ''One thing I promised you when I got elected was that before I left office, we were going to get you some money to get a new Glades County Health Department,'' said Grimsley.

Grimsley said she knew there probably was no state funding for a new Health Department building but ''by looking through some other grants in different areas from the federal government we actually found some money and we've requested five million dollars for the Glades County Health Department.'' 

''Now it's not a totally done deal yet, but we're about 95% there, and we are so close  that I believe it's going to happen within the next month and I'm going to be out of town so I wanted to be here to tell you, I wanted you to hear it from me,  and not read it in the newspaper.'' 

Grimsley said the grants may come from the Department of Children and Families, Emergency Management, and FEMA. 

At the commission Grimsley made a point to thank all her supporters, ''All of these people have stepped up to help us with this project.  Leah Valenti is here today from Congressman Rooney's office, and Congressman Rooney has been really helpful in keeping the feds focused on this project.   Larry Ford's here with Senator Alexander who is my partner in the Senate, who I could not have done- on the state level-could not have got DCF to agree without his help.'' 

''And I also want to mention my staff, Marty Mielke's here, who goes with me to Tallahassee, and also Kim Hamilton from the LaBelle office.   And they are certainly instrumental in helping us locate some of this money  and I just lucked out another, I believe, another answer to prayer this year is my staff director in Tallahassee who just happened to be Gov. Bush's former budget chief who helped us find this money.

Rep. Grimsley made special mention of the assistance she had received from Glades County Health Department Director Pat Dobbins, ''…Who is by far the biggest advocate for this project.''  She continued, ''She has taught me more than I can tell you about rural health care, things that I had no idea even growing up in a rural county myself,  but she's certainly an advocate for Glades County  and you're lucky to have her.''

''I want to mention your lobby team in Tallahassee: Dale Milita, Ken Grimes, Connie Vanassche who were in my office every single day advocating for you, for all of your interests, not just the health department, but you have a good team in Tallahassee and for a small county, you guys are right up there with your team. 

''But that's basically it, I believe in probably within the next thirty days we'll get to see this money come to fruition and I can't tell you how much I look forward to the day that we get to cut the ribbon on the Glades County Health Department.   And I also want to let you know that I still value you as constituents and I appreciate the fact that you allow me to represent you in Tallahassee.  And thank you for having me today."

Glades Commission Chairman Echols at that time presented Rep. Grimsley with a plaque of appreciation from the Board for her outstanding service to Glades County.  He also presented plaques to Larry Ford for Senator J. D. Alexander, and to Leah Valenti for Congressman Rooney and one for Ms. Valenti.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Manslaughter Charged In Glades

Six Deaths Blamed On Truck Driver

LABELLE, FL. -- On July 14 Florida Highway Patrol investigators filed charges stemming from a traffic crash that claimed the lives of six men from Immokalee.  The crash occurred on September 29, 2008 at the intersection of S.R. 29 and S.R. 78 in Glades County, just north of the Hendry County line.

A 2005 Peterbuilt tractor trailer, driven by Ewing Saunders, was westbound on S.R. 78 approaching the intersection of S.R. 29.  Saunders did not stop for the stop sign and entered the intersection colliding with a northbound 1993 Chevrolet van driven by Jose Saavedra.  Saavedra and all five passengers were pronounced deceased on scene by paramedics.
A blood sample was obtained from Saunders and sent to FDLE for analysis.  Testing revealed a blood alcohol level of .110.  In Florida the presumed impairment level is .08.  Saunders has been charged with six counts of DUI Manslaughter (2nd degree felony) and DUI Property Damage (1st degree misdemeanor).
The passengers of the Chevrolet van were; Sergio S. Zalazar, Oscar H. Reyes, Rigoberto R. Perez, Jose M. Arellano and Lucas R. Saavedra.  Arellano was the right front passenger.  The rest of the occupants were ejected and their locations within the vehicle are unknown.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Python Hunt Slated For Eveglades

Python Snakes To Killed Off From State Lands

CLEWISTON, FL. -- In response to the increase of Burmese pythons in the Everglades ecosystem, Florida Governor Charlie Crist requested Chairman Rodney Barreto and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) take immediate action to stop the spread of pythons onto state lands.

In response to the Governor�s direction, the FWC, in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and in consultation with its federal partners in the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, will implement a permitting program that could ultimately lead to a bounty system for controlling this invasive, exotic species.  The FWC will begin issuing permits on July 17.  Initially, this program will focus control efforts on state lands lying south of Lake Okeechobee, including FWC-managed lands and SFWMD property. 

This permitting program will be carried out by a limited number of qualified herpetology experts who are willing to volunteer their time and efforts.  Burmese pythons captured under the permit will be euthanized when they are captured.

Permit-holders will collect basic data (location, approximate size, weight, and stomach contents) on the captured species.  Data collected will help the FWC and its partners develop better methods of controlling exotic species.  The program will extend through the fall and winter months, at which point it will be reviewed for its effectiveness. 

FWC Chairman Barreto noted that to achieve full success in controlling Burmese pythons, these types of efforts will need to be ultimately expanded onto federally-managed lands in the Everglades.

The FWC hope this program also will demonstrate that a bounty system utilizing volunteer efforts and capitalizing on the value of the meat and hides from pythons can provide a cost effective solution that can be readily applied in places where Burmese pythons have the strongest foothold including Everglades National Park.

Over the years, the FWC has made it a priority to work with owners of exotic pets.  The FWC annually hosts pet amnesty days around the state.  These events allow owners of exotic pets to turn in their animals for free, no questions asked.  In addition, state law requires that all pets that are Reptiles of Concern be licensed by the FWC.  The license costs $100 per year and mandates specific caging requirements.  Burmese pythons more than two inches in diameter must be implanted with a microchip that identifies the animal.  It is unlawful to release them or allow them to escape them into the wild. 

Mary Forrey Dyess Dies At 89

Last Of The LaBelle "Sisters" Dies

LABELLE, FL. -- Mary F. Dyess, age 89, of LaBelle, passed away July 13, 2009 in Fort Myers.  She was born July 28, 1919 in Fort Myers FL, to the late Melville Emory Forrey and the late Corine (Poole) Forrey. 

Mary was a lifelong resident of the area.  Mary, youngest of the Forrey sisters, Ida , Flora and Ella, was born in LaBelle to pioneers Capt. Melville Forrey, who was on the first Hendry County Commission and Corine Poole. Corine's father owned the general store in LaBelle at the turn of the last century.

Mary was a member of the Eastern Star and attended First Baptist Church.   

Survivors include son: George Emory Dyess, Griffin, GA, daughter: Glenda Harris (Darrell), LaBelle,  Grandchildren, Jeffrey Glenn Burton,  Michael Francis Burton, Cindy Dyess,  Rodney Dyess, Jeffery Harris, Jerrod Harris, great-grandchildren, Rhonda Ray Burton, Alton Burton, Ronald Burton, Glenn Burton, Tyler Burton, Jeffery Harris, Maggie Harris, great-great grandson:  Weston Dyess Burton and many nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, July 16, 2009, 11:00 am at First Baptist Church of LaBelle, LaBelle with Reverend Frank Deerey Jr. officiating.  Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery.  Visitation will be Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle.   In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Baptist Church Building Fund, 330 N. Main Street, LaBelle, FL  33935.  Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In The Service - Deven Boyce

(PAHOKEE, FL. ) -- Army Pvt. Devin L. Boyce has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville, Mo.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received instruction in drill and ceremony, weapons, rifle marksmanship qualification, bayonet combat, chemical warfare, field training and tactical exercises, marches, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, traditions, and core values.

He is the son of Kay Henry of Jessie Briggs Blvd., Pahokee, Fla. Boyce is a 2007 graduate of Pahokee High School.

Bear Sighted In Lehigh Acres

Woman Has Close Encounter With Bear

(LEHIGH ACRES, FL.) -- A woman in Lehigh Acres in Lee County had a surprise Monday morning when she encountered a black bear outside of her work. Del Bagwell told officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) she was working at Country Cleaners in the Sunshine Plaza when she went outside at approximately 7:20 a.m. A black bear came running around the corner of the building and bumped into her.

''She was not knocked to the ground or injured,'' said FWC Officer Joanne Adams. ''She said she looked at the bear, and the bear looked at her. Then she raised her arms and backed up slowly to the store door.''

Bagwell then went inside the store and the bear ran off, Adams said.

''Ms. Bagwell did the right thing,'' said Dave Telesco, FWC Bear Management Program coordinator. ''She did not panic or run; she backed away slowly, giving the bear a clear escape route to run away.''

Seeing a bear in unfamiliar surroundings can be a surprising phenomenon. Even though the Florida black bear has increased in population in the past few decades, it is still considered a threatened species in Florida. As development encroaches on its habitat, it is not unusual for bears to be seen near human populations, but it is highly unusual for humans to come face-to-face with a bear.

However, if you do encounter a black bear at close range, take the following precautions: Remain standing straight up; back up slowly; speak in a calm, assertive voice; do not run or play dead; and leave the bear a clear escape route.

Summer is a very active time for bears. They are searching for a variety of fruits and other seasonal foods that grow throughout their range. Summer is also breeding season, when bears search far and wide for mates. Also, in late summer, juvenile bears disperse from their mother's home range and look for new habitat. All of those factors can bring bears into populated areas where they normally would not venture.

When wildlife appears in residential communities, the FWC urges residents to remove or secure anything that might attract animals, such as garbage cans, pet food, birdseed, outdoor grills and compost bins. If a bear continues to come into an area after all attractants have been removed and creates problems for residents, then the FWC will consider trapping the bear. Capturing bears is an option in circumstances where bears are causing a conflict or there is a safety risk.

Pure Honey Law Begins In Florida

Only Unadulterated Honey May Be Sold In Florida

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced that his department has instituted the first regulation in the nation - and perhaps the world - prohibiting any additives, chemicals or adulterants in honey that is produced, processed or sold in Florida.  The regulation, which takes effect July 14, provides the first-ever "Standard of Identity" for honey.

Bronson said,  "Too often in the past, honey has been cut with water or sugar, and sometimes even contaminated with insecticides or antibiotics.  In the future, when you're paying for honey in this state, pure honey is what you will get."

Under terms of the new regulation, honey containing anything other than the "natural food product resulting from the harvest of nectar by honeybees" is considered an adulterated or mislabeled product.  Such products are subject to a "stop sale" order in which a manufacturer, processor or merchant would be served with an order prohibiting the product's sale.  Repeat offenders would face fines of up to $500 per violation.

Florida is the fourth-leading honey producing state in the country with cash receipts to beekeepers of more than $15 million in 2008 and an industry that has an economic impact estimated at $40 million a year.  It employs more than 500 Floridians.                   

As a result of a flood of adulterated honey from overseas into Florida in 2006, a petition was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later that year by five major honey producers and processors, asking the federal agency to establish a U.S. standard of identity for honey.  Two years later, the FDA responded that due to other pressing matters, it would be unable to review the petition.

At that point, the industry asked Bronson's department if it would consider developing a standard of identity for the product, and today's announcement is the culmination of that effort.

Bronson noted that despite efforts in various quarters, international governing bodies have to date been unable to establish an international definition of or standard of identity for honey, making it likely that Florida's regulation governing honey may be the first of its kind anywhere.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Looking For The Safest Places To Eat?

Franchised Restaurants Highest In Food Safety, With One Exception

LABELLE, FL. -- The state of Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants is required to do periodic inspections of restaurants, hotels and motels each year, and publishes the results of each inspection online. The Sunday Morning News is looking at the most recent health inspections of Hendry county restaurants, and this week looks at LaBelle's franchised 'fast food' eateries.

Compared to traditional restaurants in LaBelle, all the fast foot outlets have dramatically better state food safety inspection reports. While other restaurants reviewed so far have shown a dozen violations of food safety regulations, including many health critical violations for each, the franchise fast food restaurants come up with only a few violations during the most recent state inspections, with one exception. Hungry Howie's Pizza remains after many years with its historic poor record of many more than average food violations after each state inspection.

McDonald's, operated by Nisbet Enteprises, Inc. of LaBelle came in with only three food violations during a May 27 inspection, although all were termed critical, one was corrected while the inspector was there.

Violation Observation
03C-07-1 Critical. Cooked ground beef reaching 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. 125-131 F range, meat had raw areas. Corrected On Site. changed time setting for grill. now 177 F
22-20-1 Critical. Observed buildup of slime in the interior of ice machine.
32-15-1 Critical. No hand washing sign provided at a hand sink used by food employees. McCafe hand wash sink

Burger King's LaBelle restaurant operated by Royals in Belle Glade, was inspected last on June 4 and had three critical violations, one corrected:

Violation Observation
02-07-1 Critical. Observed processed ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food held more than 24 hours not properly date marked after opening. rte bacon walk-in
12A-24-1 Critical. Observed bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food while the establishment is under boil wate notice Corrected On Site.
27-02-1 Critical. Establishment using tap water while under a Boil water notice

Taco Belle, Pizza Hut, KFC in LaBelle has one of the best food safety inspection records so far, only two violations, one critical. An inspection on May 27 found:

Violation Observation
12A-19-1 Critical. Observed employee wash hands with no hot water.
33-16-1 Observed open dumpster lid.

Popeye's Fried Chicken in LaBelle was inspected May 21 and was found with five violations, three critical:

Violation Observation
10-04-1 In-use utensil for non-potentially hazardous food not stored in a clean, protected location. ice scoop on top of ice machine
22-17-1 Critical. Observed soiled reach-in cooler gaskets. biscuit cooler left of fryer Repeat Violation.
22-19-1 Critical. Observed interior of microwave soiled. food debris
34-10-1 Observed garbage on the ground and/or pad around dumpster.
45-38-2 Critical. Portable fire extinguisher not fully charged. For reporting purposes only. BC extinguisher left of chicken fryers

Wendy's in LaBelle, owned by a Punta Gorda company, has the best local record of food safety so far, only one non-critical food violation found on its May 21 inspection:

Violation Observation
21-16-1 Wiping cloth quaternary ammonium compound sanitizing solution not at proper minimum strength. Corrected On Site. changed sanitizer in containers

Subway came in with five violations, three critical on its June 8 inspection:

12B-07-1 Critical. Observed an open beverage container on a food preparation table or over/next to clean equipment/utensils. Corrected On Site.
22-27-1 Critical. Observed food-contact surfaces encrusted with grease and/or soil deposits. clean storage containers have sticker residue.
24-08-1 Equipment and utensils not properly air-dried. "wet nesting" clean storage containers
46-05-2 Critical. Observed obstructed exits, stairs, hallways or egress. For reporting purposes only. cardboard boxes Blocking rear door Corrected On Site.
51-11-1 Carbon dioxide/helium tanks not adequately secured.

Hungry Howie's Pizza, operated by Southwest Florida Pizza, Inc. based in Ellenton, Florida has been reviewed previously by the Sunday Morning News and had one of the worst food safety inspection records of all local food establishments. The last time reviewed, the store manager said building remodeling was being made at the time and blamed that for the results. The LaBelle store remains one of LaBelle's problem restaurants after a May 26 inspection showing 15 violations, including 11 critical:

Violation Observation
01B-09-1 Critical. Observed potentially hazardous food held using time as a public health control with no time marking. Food may not be served. Corrected On Site.
02-07-1 Critical. Observed processed ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food held more than 24 hours not properly date marked after opening. walk-in cooler
02-24-1 Critical. Potentially hazardous food held under time as a public health control without time marking indicating 4-hour limit. Corrected On Site.
03B-03-1 Critical. Potentially hazardous food not held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. pizza buffet 107 Corrected On Site.
05-06-1 Critical. Food thermometer not accurate within +/- 2 degrees Fahrenheit. walk-in cooler
05-09-1 Critical. No conspicuously located thermometer in holding unit.
08A-11-1 Critical. Observed drink stored in ice used for drinks. Bottle of parrot bay liquor Corrected On Site.
10-08-1 Observed ice scoop with handle in contact with ice. Corrected On Site.
12B-02-1 Critical. Observed employee eating in a food preparation or other restricted area. prep table Corrected On Site.
12B-07-1 Critical. Observed an open beverage container on a food preparation table or over/next to clean equipment/utensils. Corrected On Site.
13-03-1 Observed employee with no hair restraint.
21-12-1 Wet wiping cloth not stored in sanitizing solution between uses. Corrected On Site.
22-22-1 Critical. Observed encrusted material on can opener.
24-05-1 Clean glasses, cups, utensils, pots and pans not stored inverted or in a protected manner. buffet plate not srored inverted or protected
53A-09-1 Critical. No currently certified food service manager on duty with four or more employees engaged in food preparation. Corrected On Site.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Randall Parrish Elected Edison Chairman

LABELLE, FL. - Edison State College Board of Trustees elected a new Chairman for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Dr. Randall Parrish was unanimously elected Tuesday, June 23, 2009 to a one-year term as head of the College Board. As directed by College policy the Board of Trustees elects a new chair at the close of each fiscal year.

"I am truly honored to serve as chairman of the board of trustees of Edison State College,'' said Parrish. "This institution played a huge role in getting me where I am today and I am grateful that I have this opportunity to give back in this way. Had it not been for Edison in Fort Myers when I graduated from high school, I may not have had the opportunity to go to college. It is a real pleasure to work with the members of the board, administration, faculty and staff of such a well run, progressive organization."

Dr. Parrish is a practicing optometrist and a proud alumnus of Edison College. Dr. Parrish was appointed to the board in March 2006 by then-governor Jeb Bush. He and his family live in LaBelle.

The nine-member District Board of Trustees is charged with the responsibility for exercising maximum local autonomy to establish rules, policies and procedures to make certain the College is meeting the changing post-secondary educational needs of the region and is reflecting community values in fulfilling the college mission.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

LaBelle Rodeo Bar And Grill Health Violations

How Rodeo Bar and Grill Rates - 11 Critical Health Safety Violations, 5 Non-critical

LABELLE, FL. -- The state of Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants is required to do periodic inspections of restaurants, hotels and motels each year, and publishes the results of each inspection online. The Sunday Morning News looked at the most recent health inspection of the LaBelle Rodeo Bar and Grill. 

A state health inspector observed the following at a June 8, 2009 inspection of the LaBelle Rodeo Bar and Grill in LaBelle on West Hickpoochee Street (State Road 80). The owners are Robert S. Popoli, president and Mathew Germain, vice president, according to Florida Department of State records. Popoli took over as president of the corporation in July 2008 from Germain, Germain moving down to vice-president.

Routine - Food 06/08/2009
Met Inspection Standards During This Visit
More information about inspections.

A summary of the violations found during the inspection are listed below. The department cites violations of Florida's sanitation and safety laws, which are based on the standards of U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Code. In general, critical violations are those that, if not corrected, are more likely to contribute directly to food contamination, illness or environmental damage.

Although we use the industry-standard term "critical", varying degrees of severity and potential risk to the public require inspectors to assess each situation in determining the appropriate action. In addition, while an establishment may have multiple violations, the inspectors' training and judgment formulate the overall result of the inspection to ensure the public health and safety.

While most establishments correct all violations in a timely manner (often during the inspection), the division's procedures are designed to compel compliance with all violations through follow-up visits, administration action or closure when necessary.


02-07-1     Critical. Observed processed ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food held more than 24 hours not properly date marked after opening.
08A-20-1    Critical. food not properly protected from contamination ribs nested under another storage container.
08A-20-1    Critical. Displayed food not properly protected from contamination. by salad bar no sneeze gaurd
08A-24-1    Critical. Observed raw animal foods not properly separated from each other in holding unit/during preparation. raw chicken above raw beef reach-in coole Corrected On Site.
08A-27-1    Critical. Observed raw animal food stored over cooked food. raw chicken above cooked ribs cookline reach-in Corrected On Site.
08A-29-1    Critical. Observed uncovered food in holding unit/dry storage area. ribs prep aa Corrected On Site.
09-04-1    Critical. Observed bare hand contact of ready-to-eat food by employees and establishment has no approved Alternative Operating Procedure in effect. Corrected On Site.
10-08-1    Observed ice scoop with handle in contact with ice. Corrected On Site.
12A-16-1    Critical. Observed employee engage in food preparation, handle clean equipment or utensils, or touch unwrapped single-service items, without washing hands. when changing gloves Corrected On Site.
12B-07-1    Critical. Observed an open beverage container on a food preparation table or over/next to clean equipment/utensils. Corrected On Site.
21-12-1    Wet wiping cloth not stored in sanitizing solution between uses.
22-20-1    Critical. Observed buildup of slime in the interior of ice machine. substance that easily wipes away with alcohol swab
24-05-1    Clean glasses, cups, utensils, pots and pans not stored inverted or in a protected manner.
24-08-1    Equipment and utensils not properly air-dried.
29-17-1    Waste line missing at soda gun holster.
41B-03-1    Critical. Observed unlabeled spray bottle.

-From State Health Inspection Report:

Friday, July 03, 2009

Seven Homes Sold In LaBelle

From June 23 to June 30, there were seven properties sold in the LaBelle, Florida area of Hendry county for an average price of $76,429. The homes sold, all in the Port LaBelle area include:

1) $36,000 on Brazil Circle
2) $129,000 on Case Rd
3) $89,000 on Maywood Circle
4) Unknown price on Maywood Circle
5) $42,000 on Olive Circle
6) $200,000 on N Industrial Loop
7) $39,000 on S Edgewater Circle

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Montura Mobile Home Fire Being Investigated

Fire Department Calls Out State Fire Marshall

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Montura Fire department responded to a call Thursday afternoon to 657 Perimeter Road in Montura Ranch Estates, west of Clewiston in Hendry county. A double wide manufactured home was reportedly struck by lightning, according to the Hendry Sheriff's office dispatch.

After calling in the Glades Electric Cooperative to the area, the Montura Fire Captain called in the State Fire Marshall to investigate the fire, as is done if the fire's origin seems suspicious or can't be readily determined. Hendry Sheriff's Civil Investigation Department was also slated to arrive on scene as well to investigate. Unidentified property was reportedly handed over to the Monutura fire department Captain after the incident.

The 1990 home on 2.5 acres is owned by Ronald and Mary Shaw, having purchased the property for $45,000 four years ago. It is mortgaged to Everglades Federal Credit Union for $56,000, according to Hendry county property records.

Exploding Fireworks Not Legal In Florida

Ready For A Safe 4th Of July? Only Sparklers Are Allowed

LABELLE, FL. -- Under Florida law, only sparklers, approved by the Florida 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 frightening birds from agricultural works and 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

To celebrate safely, Floridians should 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.

- Light only one item at a time and never attempt to re-light a "dud."

- Don't use any unwrapped items or items that may have been tampered with.

- 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.

- Only purchase fireworks from licensed vendors.

- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

- Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

- Never carry sparklers in your pocket or shoot them off in metal or glad containers.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Fireworks - Dangers This Weekend

July 4th - Top Day For Fires And Accidents

LABELLE, FL. -- On Independence Day in a typical year, more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires, says the National Fire Prevention Association.

-In 2006, fireworks caused an estimated 32,600 reported fires, including 1,700 total structure fires, 600 vehicle fires, and 30,300 outside and other fires.
-These fires resulted in an estimated 6 civilian deaths, 70 civilian injuries and $34 million in direct property damage.

In 2007, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,800 people for fireworks
related injuries.

-56% of 2007 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 36% were to the head.
-49% of the 2007 fireworks injuries were burns, while 29% were contusions and lacerations.
-Two of five (42%) people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15.
-The risk of fireworks injury was two-and-a-half times as high for children ages 5-9 or 10-14 as for the general population.
-Sparklers, fountains, and novelties alone accounted for 36% of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2007.

The risk of fire death relative to time used shows fireworks as the riskiest consumer product.

-The risk that someone will die from fire when fireworks are being used is higher relative to exposure time than the risk of fire death when a cigarette is being smoked.
-The risks with fireworks are not limited to displays, public or private. Risks also exist wherever fireworks are manufactured, transported, or stored.
-"Safe and sane" fireworks are neither. Fireworks and sparklers are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks. Temperatures may exceed 1200°F.

NFPA encourages people to enjoy public displays of fireworks that comply with NFPA 1123. NFPA is strongly opposed to any consumer use of fireworks.

FACT: 92% of the fireworks injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involved fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use.

FACT: The following five states have banned access by the public to all fireworks: Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Florida bans any device used by consumes that explodes or flies into the air. However, Florida fireworks sellers get around the law and shift liability to buyers by having consumers sign a false affidavit upon purchase that they are legally entitled to use the products purchased.

Be safe - Do not buy illegal fireworks for your family this 4th of July if the seller asks you to sign a false affidavit.