Friday, August 28, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- While Hendry Property Appraiser Phillip Pelletier has set taxable real estate values down this year compared to last year for most owners in the county, owners are still a bit confused over the numbers for their property taxes which seem to have increased. And owners in Hendry's black communities may have even more questions.
The appraiser's office is getting lots of calls since the 2009 Notice of proposed property taxes were mailed out this week to all Hendry property owners. Many question why the property tax appears to be increasing from last year despite a reduction in taxable value. And others may question why property in black neighborhoods is valued by the appraiser's office higher than lots in white neighborhoods in Port LaBelle.
Property taxes are under the jurisdiction of the various taxing levying agencies such as the school board, the county commissioners, hospital board, and fire and water districts. These boards decide on the taxes at meetings held around the county in September at which they will make final decisions on the tax . All meetings are open to the public, and to a large extent boards will decide to raise or lower taxes based on input from the public at each meeting. They have already had workshops with county department heads to discuss the needs and wants of each.
The property appraisers office however, does not set the tax rate but sets the taxable value of each parcel. Your taxes will depend on how high Pelletier's staff sets your property's worth. Port LaBelle property owners this year had a pleasant surprise tax-wise as Pelletier dropped values from $7980 to $5500 this year. Port LaBelle is Hendry county's largest subdivision with 30,000 acres of land, mostly vacant quarter acre lots.
However, owners of property in Hendry's predominantly black neighborhoods, Harlem in Clewiston, and the areas around Martin Luther King Boulevard in LaBelle have lots this year valued by Pelletier's office higher than Port LaBelle lots. Standard sized lots in those mostly lower income areas are typically smaller than middle class Port LaBelle lots. Port LaBelle lots are typically .20 acres while Harlem lots are .19 acres, or one-quarter acres in Port LaBelle compared to one-fifth acre in Harlem.
For example one-fith acre lots around Virginia Ave in Harlem this year are valued by Pelletier's office at around $6160 compared to a slightly larger one-quarter acre lot in Port LaBelle at $5500.
Why the disparity? An appraiser from the office says that property sales in Harlem support the higher values. Port LaBelle owners are not going to complain about their low values this year, even though they seem to be getting the benefit of lower taxes even on larger lots than Harlem's.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
CLEWISTON, FL. -- State Road 80 and the southbound lanes of US 27 were closed at the SR80/US27 intersection west of Clewiston due to a chemical spill.
Approximately 250 to 300 gallons of magnesium nitrate from the spill was cleaned up, and the road was closed for several hours.
The spill was the result of a 2002 Mack truck, driven by Alan Wade of Lake Placid, hauling two tanks of fertilizer turning left from US27 to SR80 when the tanks fell from the trailer. Traffic was diverted until 3 P.M. Thursday as hazmat crews continued the cleanup.
Wade was charged with failing to secure the load by the FHP.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- A boil water notice this week has been lifted for the Port LaBelle Utility Service area in Hendry County. All Port LaBelle residents were advised to bring drinking water to a rolling boil for at least one minute prior to consumption. The notice was necessary due to a pump malfunction at the water treatment plant.
The pump problem was the result of the failure of an electrical contoller. The water plant at Port LaBelle passed Bacteriological Sample Tests (BacT's) Friday from the Health Department.
The notice affected over 5,000 residents in the Port LaBelle area that spans over 11 square miles. Several schools, a hotel/restaurant and daycare facility were affected as well. Samples were immediately sent to the Health Department for testing.
The notice was issued as a precaution and there was no suspected contamination. The water pressure went below the acceptable amount, which by law requires Port LaBelle Utilities to issue the notice.
The potential health risk is a backflow situation where contaminated water might possibly enter the water mains when pressure goes below a certain level.
For further information please call 863-675-5264.
LABELLE, FL. -- Former Henry County Jail administrator, Major Susan Russe Sibbald English has told an investigator in a written statement that she blames her husband's loss of a job and having to take custody of two grandchildren as reasons for taking funds from a LaBelle jail account.
According to a 'probable cause' affidavit prepared by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to gain an arrest warrant for Maj. English, a 53-year old 5' 3'' blonde, records at the jail indicated inconsistencies in the disposition of of funds from the accounts under her control, leading Sheriff Steve Whidden to call in the FDLE to investigate.
In March 2009, the FDLE was informed by the Hendry Sheriff's office of suspicious activity in jail accounts. It was learned that English made frequent cash withdrawals from the Olde Cypress Community Bank in LaBelle, but records documenting the cash withdrawals could not be found in her records. Cashed checks were made out in amounts from $355 to $3210 over three years.
In 2006, the affidavit says English cashed $31,329 at the LaBelle bank. The amount of cash taken rose in 2007 to $42,206, and in 2008 to $46,807. Tellers at the Olde Cypress Bank confirmed to investigators that English made frequent cash withdrawals from the jail account.
English made out the checks from a so called petit cash account so she could cash them, but wrote on the check stubs they were for various vendors to disguise them should anyone check. Lt. Michael Kosh provided a sworn statement that he was unaware of any type of 'cash drawer' at the jail. He said that English had told him in January 2009, just before her retirement to not tell the finance department or administration about the jail canteen account.
In May, FDLE Special Agent Ryan Walker interviewed English when she admitted to begin writing checks in 2006 for cash and cashing them at the bank, about one every two weeks she said.
English said the money was to pay for childcare for grandchildren, clothes, doctor bills for her grandchildren, and vehicle repairs for her personal vehicle. She said she had given her step children about $30,000 each from the cash from the jail account. English said she tried to cover up the thefts by writing on check that they were from a petit cash drawer, which actually didn't exist.
English claims that all the money she took has been spent. She says she is ''extremely sorry'' for everything she had done. She is out of jail on $25,000 bond and presumably is living in Westville, Florida, according to the arrest records.
LABELLE, FL. -- Former Hendry County Property Appraiser Kristina A. Kulpa showed up at the Courthouse in LaBelle this morning for three motions presented to Circuit Judge Christine Greider in her case against Supervisor of Elections head Lucretia Strickland.
Kulpa lost last year's election for Hendry Property Appraiser to Phillip Pelletier, and wants the court to overturn the election, claiming various irregularities surrounded the voting at the Clewiston polling place last November.
Judge Christine Greider denied a motion by Hendry County Attorney Mark Lapp on behalf of the Hendry County Canvassing Board for a Summary Final Judgement to remove the Board from the case. Although there seems to be no claims of fault against the Board in the law suit, Greider pointed out that Florida Statutes say the Board is an indispensable party to suits regarding elections, and so must remain part of the process.
Kulpa's attorney George L. Zinkler, making an appearance by telephone from Boca Raton, was denied his motion to compel Hendry Elections Supervisor Lucretia Strickland to produce voter information including voter oaths of affirmation, voter assistance forms, and voter registration forms. The Judge said Kulpa can go to Strickland's office to view them in Strickland's presence.
Strickland is being represented by local attorney James O. Luckey, at Hendry taxpayer expense because she is an elected official working for the county. The legal bill so far total $77,609.77 and will rise much higher after bills come in from the numerous witness depositions heard this month and a two-day trial next month.
Kulpa today was granted permission by the court to access absentee ballot envelopes, see the signatures on them and examine the signatures on file with the Supervisor of Elections office, but was not given court permission to make copies of anything.
Kulpa's attorney wants to determine the authenticity of the signatures of some absentee ballot envelope, claiming Kulpa has reason to believe some of the absentee ballots may have not been signed by the voter, but by a third party.
Judge Greider admonished the attorneys: ''This case needs to be moved along, folks,'' pointing out these last minute motions being heard today. The case was filed by Kulpa after last year's elections and the depositions have just finished this week, in preparation for a September 21st and 22nd non-jury trial.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Board of County Commissioners met on August 18th and19th at a public workshop to work on the 2009-2010 county budget. The Commissioners were looking for a 10% decrease in the budget across the board from both the general fund and from the constitutional officers.
As a result of cost cutting measures by the Board, for the second year, Hendry county employees will not receive any cost of living increases, raises or bonuses. Commissioner Tris Chapman said, ''Call me old fashioned, but when property values decline by 10% as they have on average this year, our constituents should see a 10% decrease in their property taxes."
Hendry C0unty Commissioners as well as all elected officials receive a state mandated salary, based on county population. They could elect to voluntarily give back a portion to the county if they desired, in lieu of a wage cut.
One area under consideration is the cost of employee health insurance benefits. Employees would be asked to take on a greater share of the costs for their insurance benefits. Commissioner Kevin McCarthy stated that health insurance is a huge issue and must remain affordable.
Constitutional officers, the Clerk of Court, and County Property Appraiser, also worked to reduce their budgets by the suggested cuts. The Commissioners expressed a desire for consistency in the budget process as opposed to only asking one part of the government to cut their costs. Commissioner Janet Taylor expressed her appreciation for the hard work done by her fellow Commissioners and staff in reviewing the budget and finding areas to reduce costs.
The workshop discussions continued on August 25th regarding the Hendry County Sheriff's budget. The Sheriff committed to saving money wherever he could to reduce his budget. Insurance is an area he will be looking into to make some additional adjustments. Commissioner Harris conveyed his appreciation for the excellent job staff did in restoring the $2.7 million the Commissioners borrowed from the Disaster Relief fund used to balance the FY 2009 budget.
The first public hearing on the proposed 2010 budget is scheduled for September 3rd at 5:15 p.m. in the Clewiston City hall located at 115 W. Ventura. The second public hearing is scheduled for September 22nd at 5:15 p.m. in the Hendry County Courthouse in LaBelle. For further information please call 863-675-5264.
LABELLE, FL. -- In the early morning hours of August 23, 2009, Hendry County Deputies responded to the area of Green Tree Apartments on South State Road 29 south of LaBelle, to investigate three males attempting to break into vehicles.
It was reported by witnesses that three males had approached three different parked vehicles looking inside the windows and at the equipment in the bed of one of the trucks. Witnesses saw one of the men attempt to open the door of a 1995 Chevy SUV. As the suspects tried to open the door the interior light came on, causing the three men to run and get into a black truck.
Hendry Deputy Rick Shephard and Sgt. Perry Short located the three individuals and questioned them about their presence in the parking lot after 2:00 am. They all three stated they were there to pick up a friend. Dep. Shephard and Sgt. Short later observed inside the vehicle a black ski mask on the front passenger floorboard, two flashlights one located on the front passenger door compartment and one found in the rear passenger seat and a small plastic zip lock bag containing a small amount of white powder which tested positive for cocaine, in the driver door armrest.
Based on information provided by witnesses and the items found inside the vehicle, 20 year old Paulo Arredondo was arrested and charged with Possession of Burglary Tools with intent to use, Loitering and Prowling, and Possession of Cocaine. Arrendondo is being held on a $7,000.00 bond. Both 17 year old Virgilio Leon, and 17 year old Lucio Martinez Carranco (younger brother of Jesus Carranco), were arrested and charged with Possession of Burglary Tools with intent to use, and Loitering and Prowling. Both Carranco and Leon were released to family members.
LABELLE, FL. -- After taking reports of two car burglaries on Sunday, August 16, 2009, Hendry County Deputy George Elver found reason to make contact with Jesus Carranco, 1270 C.R. 830, in Felda. During the investigation, Carranco admitted to committing several vehicle burglaries in the Felda area. Cooperating with the Deputy, he then volunteered to take him to each of the locations where he committed the crime.
After speaking with victims and collecting statements, Deputy Elver went back to the home of Carranco who then willingly handed over property that had been taken from the vehicles. As a result over 15 vehicle burglaries were cleared and nearly all the property that had been taken was recovered. Some property recovered has not been identified by victims. If you believe you may be a victim and notice items missing from your vehicle please contact the Sheriff�s Office at 674-5600.
During the interview process, the suspect admitted to Elver that many of the victims made it easy for him by leaving their vehicles unlocked. Carranco admitted to Deputy Elver that he was only entering unlocked vehicles and was primarily interested in electronic devices.
Deputy Elver arrested Carranco on two outstanding Violation of Probation warrants and charged him with 26 counts of burglary and theft. He is currently in the Hendry County Jail in LaBelle and is being held on $113,000.00 bond. Additional charges are pending.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- A crash on State Road 80, one mile west of Goodno Road on Friday afternoon has left a LaBelle woman and a Clewiston resident in serious condition.
Kristina Lopez, 22 of LaBelle was driving a 2003 Huyundai westbound and crossed the centerline. Voncille Burden, 71 of Clewiston swerved to avoid Lopez, but was hit. Voncille's vehicle rotated and overturned once, coming to rest upright. Both victims are in stable condition at Lee Memorial Hospital.
Lopez was charged with failing to drive within one single lane.
Friday, August 21, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- Air Force Airman Amanda Hudson graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.
Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.
She is the daughter of Debbie and Mike Hudson of Evans Road, Labelle, Fla.Hudson is a 2006 graduate of Labelle High School.
LABELLE, FL. -- The City of LaBelle has received a Florida Boaters Improvement Program grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the amount of $165,000 for the LaBelle Barron Park Wharf project at on the Caloosahatchee River.
Based upon a conceptual plan and with the assistance of a local engineer and surveyor, the City was able to secure the necessary permits from the Department of Environmental Protection, South Florida Water Management District, and US Army Corps of Engineers.
At the July City Commission meeting, Honc Marine submitted the lowest and winning bid for $114,056 for the major construction elements, and was awarded the contract to begin construction. A symbolic ground breaking ceremony was held on August 18, 2009, with Mayor Paul Puletti, City Commissioners Hilda Zimmerly and David Lyons, Michael Boyle, several design team members and the contractor.
Barron Park, a popular community recreational area, enjoys a long history as one of LaBelle's favorite attractions where locals and visitors fish, picnic, play and gather for regional events, festivals, and concerts. Along the river, the Park is minimally landscaped with well-worn grass and few trees.
The wharf project will not only make the Park safer and more user friendly, it will complement its picturesque location along the river with a new retaining wall, a shoreline sidewalk with bench seating and planting beds, dockage for up to 4 boats, and a 25-foot fishing pier.
The new dock space is designed for smaller recreational boats (24-feet in length and less) and is limited to short-term, daily use. No shore-side utilities such as electric and water will be provided. Sailboats with keels and other boats with a draft greater than 2-2.5 feet will not be accommodated.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- The state of Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants is required to do periodic spot 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 LaBelle's Flora and Ella's Restaurant at 550 W. State Road 80, probably the most well known restaurant in Hendry county.
A state food safety inspector observed the violations May 21, 2009 finding eight violations including six critical, which may be typical of a random spot check at this restaurant. The inspector found among other things, no certified food manager and a dirty microwave.
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 the report uses 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.
03B-03-1 Critical. Potentially hazardous food not held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. 122 F chili in kettle Corrected On Site. reheated and dial turned up
03B-03-1 Critical. Potentially hazardous food not held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. soup in steam table Corrected On Site. reheated
05-09-1 Critical. No conspicuously located thermometer in holding unit. small salad cooler
22-19-1 Critical. Observed interior of microwave soiled. food debris, service station
33-12-1 Observed dumpster rusted out on bottom.
37-11-1 Observed attached equipment soiled with accumulated dust. fan guard in bakery reachin cooler
53A-09-1 Critical. No currently certified food service manager on duty with four or more employees engaged in food preparation. 5+ on duty
53A-19-1 Critical. Observed expired Food Manager Certification. Debbie Klemmer, certification expired 5/11/2009 Is another CFM for establishment.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
McGill No Show For Court - Bond Company Forfeiting $8,500
LABELLE, FL. -- Law Enforcement is still looking for Thomas William McGill Jr. who failed to show for a court hearing in LaBelle April 14th. McGill is charged with possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon and grand theft in Hendry County.
His bail bondsman from Arcadia will be out $8,500 if McGill isn't brought in by September 9th. Three outstanding Okeechobee county warrants will leave bondsmen there $55,000 poorer as well, if McGill ever gets jailed, and a bonding company puts up the money, and he flees again. That's the bond amount he will have to come up with to get out of an Okeechobee jail.
McGill, born September 15, 1980, 5' 11'', 170 pounds, was convicted May 26, 2004 of 1st and 3rd degree larceny, and therefore cannot possess a weapon or ammunition.
According to the crime report filed in the criminal court case, McGill is wanted on the latest charges after an investigation of the theft of a safe containing $25,000 from the La Mexicana convenience store on South State Road 29 led to finding McGill and stolen property on B Road south of LaBelle.
The report says on December 14, 2008 Hendry Sheriff's investigators arrived at a parcel of land leased by Thomas McGill, Sr. and encountered McGill, Jr. on the premises. McGill Jr. would not allow deputies to enter the property. McGill told deputies he called his father for permission to enter and then told investigators his father refused permission. However, McGill Sr. later said he received no call from his son.
McGill's mother Patricia McGill later gave permission to enter the mostly wooded lot, and investigators found 33 22-caliber bullets in a door panel in McGill's truck. On the property they found a travel trailer owned by Isaias Delacruz that had been stolen in November 2008 while parked at LaBelle Dodge, according to the report.
Also found were an air conditioner air handler, a bank ATM machine, a power nail gun, truck tool box, and power paint sprayer.
McGill was finally arrested in Arcadia, Florida February 23, 2009 after an officer spotted him apparently sleeping in a vehicle parked at an Amoco gas pump while the engine was running. Found in the vehicle, according to the report filed by Arcadia authorities were vicodin pills, a crack pipe, and marijuana.
McGill was let out of jail the next day on $8,500 bond put up by an Arcadia bondsman, but failed to show up for a Hendry court date in LaBelle July 7.
The Circuit Judge in LaBelle has ordered an arrest warrent to pick him up and to hold McGill this time around, so he won't be able to bond out again.
In Okeechobee county, he has arrest warrants out for burglary of a structure while armed, $30,000 bond; grand theft firearm, $10,000 bond; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, $15,000 bond.
McGill is 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.
Previous Thomas McGill Jr. Wanted Story
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- Former Hendry Sheriff Deputy Major Susan Russe Sibbald English has been charged with grand theft and official misconduct. English worked at the Hendry county jail in LaBelle as administrator under former Hendry Sheriff Ronnie Lee.
English, 52 years of age, has been under investigation since at least March by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. She is charged with allegedly cashing checks from the Hendry County Jail canteen and taking over $120,000 between March 2006 and October 2008.
Reportedly English wrote and cashed 107 checks from the jail account and the funds were used for her personal use according to the charges. The checks would have words such as ''cash drawer'' or ''petty cash drawer.''
Ronnie Lee promoted English from Captain to Major, giving her a salary of $65,940.
English turned herself in for booking at the Hendry county jail in LaBelle. She owns a home on 2.44 acres with her husband James Ray English at 4552 Russe Lane, east of the Fort Denaud Cemetery in western Hendry county.
Previous Sunday Morning News story on jail theft allegations
Friday, August 14, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- The state of Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants is required to do periodic spot 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's Victoria Restaurant at 67 N. Bridge Street. Pedro Enriquez of Lehigh Acres is the owner, doing business as Victoria's Restaurant.
A state food safety inspector observed the violations at a July 14, 2009 inspection and reported a follow up inspection will be required because of the number of critical safety issues found, and because two other inspections have resulted in numerous food safety problems. Inspections on March 30, and again June 4 found 27 violations, 22 critical each time an inspection was made.
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 the department uses 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.
-Critical. Violation: 02-22-1 Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food prepared on site and held more than 24 hours with not properly date marked--cooked meats reach-in cooler. Upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed cooked rice held in plastic grocey style bag, for more than 24 hours, with no date marking in reach-in cooler in storage area
- Critical. Violation: 08A-27-1 Observed raw animal food stored over cooked food--raw shell eggs above cooked meats reach-in cooler. upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed raw shell eggs stored above rte lunch meat in reach-in cooler in storage room
Violation: 10-08-1 Observed ice scoop with handle in contact with ice. upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed ice scoop laying in ice machine bin with handle broken off
- Critical. Violation: 12B-07-1 Observed an open beverage container on a food preparation table or over/next to clean equipment/utensils. Corrected On Site. upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed uncovered glass of water on kitchen prep table
- Critical. Violation: 32-16-1 Hand wash sink lacking proper hand drying provisions kitchen . Upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed no drying provisions at kitchen hand washing sink.
- Critical. Violation: 32-17-1 Hand washing cleanser lacking at hand washing lavatory kitchen . Upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed no hand washing cleanser at kitchen hand washing sink.
Violation: 37-18-1 Observed dusty ceiling tiles and/or air conditioning vent covers. Upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed dust build up on a/c vent in kitchen above reach in and and surrounding wall
- Violation: 38-07-1 Lights missing the proper shield, sleeve coatings or covers in kitchen. Upon reinspection 7/14/2009 observed lights in kitchen prep area missing proper shields
The June 4 inspection found 27 violations with 22 critical:
02-22-1 Critical. Violation: 02-22-1 Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food prepared on site and held more than 24 hours with not properly date marked--cooked meats reach-in cooler
08A-26-1 Critical. Violation: 08A-26-1 Observed raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food--raw beef above rte vegetables reach-in cooler
08A-27-1 Critical. Violation: 08A-27-1 Observed raw animal food stored over cooked food--raw shell eggs above cooked meats reach-in cooler.
08A-28-1 Critical. Violation: 08A-28-1 Observed food stored on floor bag of onions .
10-08-1 Violation: 10-08-1 Observed ice scoop with handle in contact with ice.
12A-13-1 Critical. Violation: 12A-13-1 Observed employee handling soiled equipment or utensils then engage in food preparation, handle clean equipment or utensils, or touch unwrapped single-service items, without washing hands went from dirty dishes to rte food bare hands did not wash hands. Corrected On Site.
12A-17-1 Critical. Violation: 12A-17-1 Observed employee improperly washing hands--in three compartment sink, no soap no hot water less tha5 seconds. Corrected On Site.
12A-19-1 Critical. Violation: 12A-19-1 Observed empolyee wash hands with no hot water. Corrected On Site.
12A-20-1 Critical. Violation: 12A-20-1 Observed employee wash hands with no soap. Corrected On Site.
12A-22-1 Critical. Violation: 12A-22-1 Observed food employee touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and the establishment has no approved Alternative Operating Procedure touched rte shrimp, cheese and breads. Corrected On Site.
12B-07-1 Critical. Violation: 12B-07-1 Observed an open beverage container on a food preparation table or over/next to clean equipment/utensils. Corrected On Site.
13-03-1 Violation: 13-03-1 Observed employee with no hair restraint.
14-37-1 Violation: 14-37-1 Observed cutting board grooved/pitted and no longer cleanable.
16-06-1 Critical. Violation: 16-06-1 No cleaning agent provided in first compartment of sink.
16-13-1 Critical. Violation: 16-13-1 Observed equipment and utensils not washed, rinsed and sanitized in the correct order in three-compartment sink--no rinse in second compartment. Corrected On Site.
16-16-1 Critical. Violation: 16-16-1 Observed equipment and utensils not rinsed between washing and sanitizing.
20A-09-1 Critical. Violation: 20A-09-1 Chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength for manual warewashing. 0 ppm corrected to 100 ppm Corrected On Site.
22-28-1 Critical. Violation: 22-28-1 Observed interior of reach-in cooler soiled with accumulation of food residue.
32-16-1 Critical. Violation: 32-16-1 Hand wash sink lacking proper hand drying provisions kitchen .
32-17-1 Critical. Violation: 32-17-1 Handwashing cleanser lacking at handwashing lavatory kitchen .
37-18-1 Violation: 37-18-1 Observed dusty ceiling tiles and/or air conditioning vent covers.
38-07-1 Violation: 38-07-1 Lights missing the proper shield, sleeve coatings or covers in kitchen.
50-09-1 Critical. Violation: 50-09-1 Hotel and Restaurant license not properly displayed--current license not at establishment.
53A-01-2 Critical. Violation: 53A-01-2 Manager lacking proof of Food Manager Certification. This violation must be corrected by : 6/1/2009.
53A-07-1 Critical. Violation: 53A-07-1 No Certified Food Manager for establishment. This violation must be corrected by : 6/1/2009.
53A-20-2 Critical. Violation: 53A-20-2 Manager lacking proof of Food Manager Certification and no one certifed at this location. This violation must be corrected by : 6/1/2009.
53B-08-1 Critical. Violation: 53B-08-1 No proof of required employee training provided. All public food service establishments must provide the division with proof of employee training upon request, including, but not limited to, at the time of any division inspection of the establishment. Pro This violation must be corrected by : 6/1/2009.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- According to recently released crime reports, violent crime in Hendry County has plunged 39.2 percent and nonviolent crime is down 22 percent in the first half of 2009. According to reported statistics, residential burglaries are up 7 percent but thefts are down 43 percent. This is a significant drop from the same period of time last year when overall crime was up 6.3percent. So far this year, 2009 crime is down 25.5percent.
In 2004 crime was reported down 11.8 percent over 2003, but increased 42.8 percent in 2005. In 2006 it dropped 17.4 percent only to rocket 26.08 percent again in 2007. We experienced another increase at 6.3 percent in 2008.
Sheriff Whidden stated, ''I am very encouraged by these statistics and I can only contribute this accomplishment to the hard work and dedication of our officers and support personnel. Each day we battle budgetary shortfalls, lack of sufficient manpower and equipment; but our personnel persevere. I am very proud of them.''
''I would also like to credit the citizens of Hendry County with their help, watchful eyes and willingness to protect their community. It is because of this proactive partnership that we are able to solve many crimes. It is my intention and pledge, to you, to continue to work hard to protect everyone who either lives in or visits Hendry County.''
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
CLEWISTON, FL. -- After receiving information from the Aurora Police Department in Colorado, Hendry County Sheriff Deputies located and arrested 25 year old Enrique Coreano and 22 year old Julie Karina Sanchez, both of Colorado. The two were taken into custody as they attempted to visit Coreano's brother on South Fronda Street in Montura.
Both Coreano and Sanchez were suspects in an attempted murder, aggravated robbery and theft at a local business in Aurora. It was believed by authorities that Coreano and Sanchez fled Aurora and were enroute to Coreano�s brother�s home located on South Fronda Street in Montura, in central Hendry county.
When Sheriffs Office personnel arrived on scene they were able to positively identify Coreano and Sanchez; both subjects were taken into custody by Deputies and transported to the Hendry County Jail where they are currently being held for Colorado authorities.
Kid's Social Networking Activities May Surprise Parents
SAN FRANCISCO, CA Common Sense Media today released the results of a national poll of teens and parents on social networking behaviors. The poll, conducted by The Benenson Strategy Group, illustrated that kids increasingly connect with friends, classmates, and people with similar interests through social networks and that parents are out of the loop.
Children may be posting information online that will be regretted in later years, a digital 'tattoo' - including false identities, internet bullying, and nudity. More than 1 out of every 10 teenagers has posted a nude or seminude picture of themselves or others online.
A quarter of the young people polled had posted something they later regretted, made fun of others or created a false identity online.
According to the poll's key findings, teens admit to many behaviors while using social networks:
- 22% of teens check social networking sites more than 10 times a day, while only 4% of parents believe kids are checking that much
- 51% of teens check social networking sites more than once a day, while only 23% of parents say their kids check more than once a day
- 28% have shared personal information that they normally wouldn't have shared in public
- 25% have shared a profile with a false identity
- 39% have posted something they regretted
- 26% have pretended to be someone else online
- 54% have joined an online community or Facebook/MySpace group in support of a cause
- 34% have volunteered for a campaign, nonprofit, or charity
''In today's digital environment, parents have less time to supervise their kids' behavior.'' said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. Communication and socialization in our kids' world is increasingly moving from face-to-face to face-to-cyberspace, and parents vastly underestimate the amount of time that kids spend on their networks. That makes it more challenging for parents to actually parent in the crucial areas of social interaction and development, and, in a digital world, parents need to play a more important role than ever in ensuring that our kids get the best of these technologies and are using them safely.
Social networks and mobile communication connect kids to their friends 24/7. For the most part, conversations that start in the classroom hallway more or less continue in digital space. Teens are using social networks to share information, make connections, and develop their identities in new, exciting ways. But when teens communicate either anonymously or through a disguised identity, the doors are left wide open for them to not be held accountable. That kind of communication also leads to a disconnect between actions and their consequences, which is how irresponsible behaviors like cyberbullying become a reality.
Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to helping kids use the same senses of responsibility and self-respect in their online worlds as they do offline. Common Sense Media urges families to keep up regular conversations about life in a digital world and what it means to be safe, smart digital citizens.
LABELLE, FL. -- From July 30 to August 4, there were 12 homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $94,000. Half the homes sold were in Port LaBelle, Hendry county's largest subdivision. Many homes were sold as 'short sales' well under probable market value by lenders in order to liquidate existing inventory of foreclosed homes. Short sales may take many months to negotiate and eventually close.
1) $46,000 on 2nd Ave
2) $105,000 on 5th Ave
3) $165,000 on Box Ct (Port LaBelle)
4) $275,000 on County Road 78
5) $30,000 on Everglade Ave
6) $190,000 on Fort Thompson Ave
7) $65,000 on Gunn Cir (Port LaBelle)
8) $85,000 on Inwood Rd (Port LaBelle)
9) $40,000 on Lighthouse Ln (Port LaBelle)
10) $42,000 on Memory Cir (Port LaBelle)
11) $55,000 on Palmdale Ave
12) $30,000 on S Edgewater Cir (Port LaBelle)
Saturday, August 08, 2009
SEBRING, FL. -- Dennis W. Williams II, a Highlands County Sheriff's officer was responding to a emergency call on State Road 70, one mile east of Highlands County Road 721 South when he lost control and caused a crash Friday about 6 a.m.
His 2007 Ford suffered $10,000 damage after colliding with Donald L. Highland, of Sebring driving a 1997 Mercury. Highland was taken to Raulerson Hospital with minor injuries. Williams had no injuries according to the FHP accident report.
Williams was traveling westbound on SR 70 and lost control as Highland was traveling eastbound on SR 70. Williams crossed the center line and rotated counter clockwise. The front of Highland's vehicle collided with the rear of the patrol car.
Friday, August 07, 2009
LABELLE, FL. -- It�s a tough job, but somebody�s got to do it, and a new class of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement graduates are only too happy to take on the task.
26 FWC recruits were sworn in, including David Lilley who will be stationed in Hendry county, and all are ready to get into their trucks and boats and onto their airboats and ATVs to begin their jobs in the woods and on the waters of the state.
The FWC recruits became officers after graduating from the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy in Tallahassee. Justice Ricky Polston of the Florida Supreme Court was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony.
The new officers attended the academy for six months and received a wide array of training, which included accuracy with firearms, vessel operation, defensive tactics, all-terrain vehicle operation and BUI/DUI identification. They will spend an additional 14 weeks with a field-training officer.
The FWC's Division of Law Enforcement protects and manages more than 575 species of wildlife and more than 700 species of fish. The division patrols 34 million acres of public and private land, 8,400 detailed miles of tidal shoreline, 3 million acres of lakes and 12,000 miles of rivers and streams. FWC officers are authorized to enforce all state laws and federal fisheries and wildlife laws.
LABELLE, FL. -- Recent inspections of LaBelle restaurants found more food safety issues from state inspectors, ranging from no chlorine in El Tarasco's dish washer, to slime in Big V's ice machine, to no licensed food manager or employee training at Olivia's at the Port LaBelle Inn.
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 inspections of some Hendry county restaurants and this week includes the Big V at 32 Hall Stree, El Tarasco Mexican Restaurant at 675 West Hickpoochee (SR80) in downtown LaBelle, and the Port LaBelle Inn's new restaurant 'Olivia's' on Oxbow Drive.
Big V had ten violations including eight critical. Seven food safety violations were found on a spot check at El Tarasco, including five critical ones, and four critical violations were registered at Port LaBelle Inn's Olivia's which require a follow-up inspection, which apparently has not yet been done.
What food inspectors find in violations on an unannounced random visit might very well be assumed to be typical of food service conditions at any time a patron eats at that restaurant. 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.
A summary of the violations found during the May 21st inspection at Big V and El Tarasco, and an April 21st inspection at Port LaBelle Inn are listed below.
Big V Restaurant Violations
02-22-1 Critical. Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food prepared on site and held more than 24 hours with not properly date marked. tuna salad, other items in 2 door reach in cooler in back not date marked
03B-03-1 Critical. Potentially hazardous food not held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. gravy 117 F Corrected On Site. Food discarded
04-03-1 Critical. Hot holding equipment incapable of maintaining potentially hazardous food at proper temperatures. steam table, some parts of unit not functioning properly.
09-01-1 Critical. Observed improper use of bowl/plastic food container or other container with no handle used to dispense ready-to-eat food. scooping ice with plastic cup
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
22-19-1 Critical. Observed interior of microwave soiled. food debris
22-20-1 Critical. Observed buildup of slime in the interior of ice machine. as indicated by alcohol swab
33-16-1 Observed open dumpster lid.
35B-15-1 Critical. Observed screen in door torn/in poor repair. back screen door
41B-03-1 Critical. Observed unlabeled spray bottle. bottles with dark blue and yellow liquids, shelf above 3 compartment sink
El Tarasco Violations
05-07-1 Critical. Thermometers not calibrated according to manufacturer's specifications. Corrected On Site. in ice water
20A-10-1 Critical. Dish machine chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength. No chlorine used 0 PPM, sanitizer tube leaked product, manager called service technician; will need to manually sanitize in 3 compartment sink
24-08-1 Equipment and utensils not properly air-dried. by dishware wash area
35B-04-1 Critical. Outer openings of establishment cannot be properly sealed when not in operation. back screen door, not sealed properly, has gaps.
36-11-1 Floors not maintained smooth and durable. walk-in cooler floor
41B-03-1 Critical. Observed unlabeled spray bottle. yellowish liquid, outside storage shed
41B-03-1 Critical. Observed unlabeled spray bottle. bottle with yellowish liquid - by dish machine
Port LaBelle Inn (Olivia's) - Follow up Inspection required
50-08-1 Critical. Establishment operating without a current Hotel and Restaurant license--license expired 12/1/2008.
53A-01-2 Critical. Manager lacking proof of Food Manager Certification.
53A-07-1 Critical. No Certified Food Manager for establishment.
53B-08-1 Critical. No proof of required employee training provided. All public food service establishments must provide the division with proof of employee training upon request, including, but not limited to, at the time of any division inspection of the establishment.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Smokey Bear is celebrating his special birthday and continuing to remind Americans that 'Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.'
Glades County Emergency Management joins the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters in honor of Smokey's birthday to have Smokey's 65th Birthday Party, August 8th, 2009 at the City Park in Moore Haven in Glades County.
There will be fun for the whole family, says the Glades Emergency Management department. The kids can take part in a bike rodeo and safety presentation, explore fire trucks and ambulances, meet the Glades County K-9, Koda and learn about the hazards of Fire and other disasters.
For the kids at heart there will be information booths with fun and informative materials. Also, there will be Swamp Buggy rides and Smokey will be there and he needs your help to blow out the 65 candles on his cake!