Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Info Wanted On Hendry Death

Pearl Smith Found Dead In Vacant LaBelle House

LABELLE, FL. -- On Sunday morning at approximately 8:00 am Hendry County Deputies responded to a vacant home located at 821 W. Seminole Ave. in Labelle to investigate a reported dead body. EMS responded and attempted to revive the victim without success and subject was pronounced deceased.

Investigators identified the deceased as 44-year old Pearl Lee Smith of LaBelle.  A full investigation is being conducted by Hendry County Sheriff's Office.  Currently Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy and toxicology reports to determine the cause of death.

The house is in the Sunset subdivision of LaBelle and according to court records owned by Joseph Aboutaan of Cape Coral and has been under foreclosure proceedings since May 2008.

Anyone with any information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Investigators with the Hendry County Sheriff's Office at 863-674-5600 or Crime Stoppers 1-800- 780-TIPS (8477).

:LaBelle's Reginald Williams Back From Iraq

In The Service - Sgt. Reginald Williams

LABELLE, FL. -- Army Staff Sgt. Reginald R. Williams is a member 2nd Heavy Equipment Transportation (HET) Company who has returned to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., after being deployed to Iraq and Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, now changed to Operation New Dawn.

Williams, a motor transport operator, has served in the military for 21 years. He is the son of Lawrence and Shirley Williams of W. Sunflower Circle, La Belle, Fla. Williams is a 1989 graduate of La Belle High School.
During the 12-month deployment, 2nd HET Company members transported cargo, performed recovery missions, and provided armed security during convoy movements.  The unit performed 256 convoy operations, drove almost 3.3 million miles throughout Iraq, and transported 120,128 tons of cargo without an accident.
Operation New Dawn transitions and signifies a formal end to U.S. military combat operations in Iraq, and shifts the U.S. emphasis from predominantly military to predominately civilian as the U.S. officials assisting Iraqis in accordance with the Strategic Framework Agreement.
The three primary missions of U.S. Forces include advising, assisting, and training the Iraqi Security Forces; conducting partnered counterterrorism operations; and providing support to provincial reconstruction teams and civilian partners as they help build Iraq's civil capacity.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Disneyland Dream

In July 1956, the five-member Barstow family of Wethersfield, Connecticut, won a free trip to newly-opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in a nationwide contest. This 30-minute amateur documentary film tells the fabulous story of their fun-filled, dream-come-true, family travel adventure, filmed on the scene at Walt Disney's "Magic Kingdom" by Robbins Barstow.

In December 2008, "Disneyland Dream" was named to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birding Tours Popular In Hendry

Thousands Visit Hendry To Watch Birds

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The South Florida Water Management District and its partners at the Hendry-Glades Audubon Society recently celebrated five years of bird-watching tours in a wetland that cleans water flowing to the Everglades. The popular trips featuring recreation on public land at Stormwater Treatment Area 5 will continue in 2011.

Audubon volunteers, with support from the District, have led 108 individual tours with more than 4,250 birders and photographers from across the world at the site in Hendry County. Stormwater Treatment Areas are the water-cleaning workhorses of Everglades restoration, and many have become renowned havens for wildlife.

More than 187 species of birds ­ from endangered Everglades snail kites to great egrets ­ and tens of thousands of individual birds have been documented at STA-5 alone. To enhance the experience at the wetland, the District constructed a multipurpose bird watching platform that is fully accessible to disabled residents and visitors.

"STA-5, 'the Birding Oasis of South Florida,' is increasing in popularity with birders and photographers of all ages. Reservations for tours are made by vacationing bird watchers months in advance," said Margaret England, President of the Hendry-Glades Audubon Society.

England and a team of volunteers lead the tours two Saturdays a month, with special events in between. They recently hosted Danish birders, and the tours earned a feature in the April 2009 edition of Birder's World Magazine.

The birding experience is not only limited to guided tours. Many Audubon volunteers and tour goers also participate in the Spring and Fall North American Migration Count, the Great Backyard Bird Count, the Big "O" Birding Festival and the Christmas Bird Count.

The latest season of tours has already begun, and trips are scheduled well into 2011.

Upcoming Birding Events:

·         February 5 – STA-5 Bird Tour

·         February 19-21 – Great Backyard Bird Count

·         March 23-26 – Big O Birding Festival

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Susan Sibbald English In Broward Prison

Former Hendry Jail Administrator Now Serving 4 Years Sentence In Broward County

LABELLE, FL. -- After receiving a 4-year prison sentence followed by 20 years probation earlier this month, former Hendry Sheriff's Captain Susan Russe Sibbald English is now at the Broward Correction Institution in Fort Lauderale. English served under former Hendry Sheriff Ronnie Lee.

English was found guilty December 9th by Judge Christie Greider of a 1st degree felony grand theft over $100,000 and falsifying a public document by a public servant. Greider admonished English during sentencing saying English violated her position of trust and authority as a officer of the law and Hendry jail administrator.

English cashed checks from the Hendry County Jail canteen account, taking over $120,000 between March 2006 and October 2008. She had earlier told investigators she took the money because her husband lost his job and to help take care of two grandchildren. She said all the money was already spent.

She was sentenced to 48 months in state prison, and restitution to the Hendry Sheriff's office of the money she stole plus $395 in court costs. 20 years of probation is to follow the prison term, and she is to pay $500 a month to the Hendry Sheriff's office for 20 years. If she pays restitution sooner, her probation may end earlier.

(photo: Florida Department of Corrections)

Florida Department of Corrections Record for Susan English: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/ActiveInmates/detail.asp?Bookmark=1&From=list&SessionID=14600778

Clewiston Resident Dead In Canal Crash

Hendry Canal Crash Leaves One Dead

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A crash Monday morning December 20th left Lipsie Denton, 61 of Clewiston dead after a 1999 Ford utlity van with Denton inside landed in a canal near Rogers Road and Hendry county road 835.

Lipsie was southbound on CR 835 approaching Rogers Road and a right turning curve. The vehicle failed to follow the curve to the right and continued traveling south towards a water-filled canal, entering the canal and became air bourne. The front of the vehicle struck the water and became completely submerged under the water.

A Florida Power & Light vehicle working in the area found the crash scene. The Ford was retrieved from the canal by a tow truck and Denton was discovered in the vehicle. Denton was pronounced dead at the scene.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pather Killed In Hendry County

Vehicle Collision - 21st Panther Fatality Of 2010

LABELLE, FL. -- The remains of an approximately 8 to 9 month-old uncollared male panther were collected on 12/19/2010 at 10:00 PM on Hendry County Road 846 a ½ mile south of the intersection of CR833 (north of the curve by Rocky Lake) in Hendry County.

According to Florida Wildlife Commission panther biologist, Mark Lotz, the cause of death was vehicle collision.

The carcass is at the FWC Naples Field Office and will be sent to the FWC Gainesville lab for necropsy.  The remains will be archived at the FL Museum of Natural History. This is the 21st panther mortality and the 16th road mortality for 2010.

The report said the panther had 2 testicles, no discernable cowlick (partially due to condition), but a kinked tail.  He weighed 60 pounds and was FeLV negative.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Financial Assistance For Farmers Available

Funds Available For Natural Disaster Losses

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the sign-up period for the 2009 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program begins on Jan. 10, 2011. SURE is one of five disaster programs included in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 that provides assistance to farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses due to natural disasters.
"This program provides a tremendous amount of assistance to producers who have suffered from natural disasters, and is part of the 'safety net' designed to assist farmers and ranchers who feed America and the world," Vilsack said. "USDA encourages producers who suffered losses during the 2009 crop year to visit their local FSA office to learn more about the SURE program."

 To be eligible for SURE a farm must have: At least a 10 percent production loss on a crop of economic significance; A policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for all economically significant crops; Been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the Agriculture Secretary under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. Without a Secretarial Disaster Designation, individual producers may be eligible if the actual production on the farm is less than 50 percent of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster.

Producers considered socially disadvantaged, a beginning farmer or rancher, or a limited resource farmer may be eligible for SURE without a policy or plan of insurance or NAP coverage.

For more information on the 2009 SURE program, visit any FSA county office or http://www.fsa.usda.gov/sure .

Gene McAvoy Co-Authors New Study

Hendry Extension Agent - Ethnic Foods Coming Opportunity For Farmers?

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry county agricultural extension agent/director Gene McAvoy was part of a group who recently studied possibilities for farmers to profitably grow ethnic foods.

McAvoy and nine other vegetable farming experts examined the potential for expansion of production of ethnic crops on the U.S. East Coast by commercial farmers from a market-first and economic perspective based on consumer demand.

A survey of consumers from four ethnic groups showed that the ethnic crops in greatest demand are as follows: Chinese­Baby Pak Choy, Oriental Eggplant, and Smooth Luffa; Asian Indians­Bottle Gourd, Indian Eggplant, and Bitter Melon; Mexicans­Chili Jalapeno and Tomatillo; Hispanic­Aji Dulce, Batata, and Pepinillo/Bitter gourd.

Results of the study have important implications to assist local growers in deciding to produce ethnic crops, said the new study.

See the article from the December issue of Journal of Extension: http://www.joe.org/joe/2010december/rb2.php

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shop Your Hendry-Glades Local Businesses

Patronize Your Local Merchants For Quality And Service

LABELLE, FL. -- Want to save time and know you will get quality service? Shop our local merchants and trades people for the best in convenience and service.

Here's our recommendations from among the sponsors of the Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online!

  • Gary Peters Computer Services, email and website, phone (863) 675-7925
  • LaBelle Plumbing Corporation, phone (863) 675-1155
  • Pete's Tractor Service, email, and website, phone (239) 728-6629
  • White's Furniture and Appliances, phone (863) 675-0717
  • Ram's Used Tires, phone (863) 675-6777
  • Phillip's AC And Heating Services, phone (863) 675-2878
  • Just In Time Plumbing, phone (863) 673-6073
  • DJ's Plumbing And Water Works, phone (239) 229-6545
  • Stratonet Internet Service, website, phone (888) 382-8503
  • Your Local Business Name Here!
  • Sunday Morning News Advertising - Since 1996: email, phone (863) 800-0010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is Your Teen A Marijuana Smoker Or Drinker?

Kids Prefer Pot To Cigarettes - One In Five 12th-Graders Smoke - One In Four Heavy Drinkers

According to the latest survey by the National Institutes Of Health, the rate of eighth-graders saying they have used an illicit drug in the past year jumped to 16 percent, up from last year's 14.5 percent, with daily marijuana use up in all grades surveyed, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey.

For 12th-graders, declines in cigarette use accompanied by recent increases in marijuana use have put marijuana ahead of cigarette smoking by some measures. In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes.

Among high school seniors, 23.2 percent report having five or more drinks in a row during the past two weeks, down from 25.2 percent in 2009 and from the peak of 31.5 percent in 1998. In addition, 2010 findings showed a drop in high school seniors' past-year consumption of flavored alcoholic beverages, to 47.9 percent in 2010 from 53.4 percent in 2009. Past-year use of flavored alcohol by eighth- graders was at 21.9 percent, down from 27.9 percent in 2005.

The survey, released today at a news conference at the National Press Club, also shows significant increases in use of Ecstasy. In addition, nonmedical use of prescription drugs remains high. Overall, 46,482 students from 396 public and private schools participated in this year's survey.

"These high rates of marijuana use during the teen and pre-teen years, when the brain continues to develop, place our young people at particular risk," said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "Not only does marijuana affect learning, judgment, and motor skills, but research tells us that about 1 in 6 people who start using it as adolescents become addicted."

"The increases in youth drug use reflected in the Monitoring the Future Study are disappointing," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame. Such messages certainly don't help parents who are trying to prevent kids from using drugs."


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Time In Port LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- You can tell it's Christmas in LaBelle. Residents in Port LaBelle's Laruel Oaks traditionally put up some large light displays at Holiday time. The video above shows only a few of the decorations this year on Springview Circle in the community.

At nearby Healing Waters Family Life Center on Birchwood Parkway and State Road 80, an elaborate "drive-through" live nativity display took place this weekend. (Video: Brendon Banda played "Joseph" and Rachel Wimberly "Mary" in the live nativity scene.)

Got some nice Christmas video we can publish here? Send your Youtube link to us!

8 Homes Sold In LaBelle Area

LABELLE, FL. -- From 11/16/2010 to 12/7/2010, there were 8 homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $102,625.

The properties sold included:

1) $30,000 onBennett Ave
2) $40,000 onDolphin Cir
3) $69,000 onFort Simmons Ave
4) $25,000 onSena Ln
5) $31,000 onTeak Ln
6) $485,000 onE Fort Thompson Ave
7) $120,000 onN Riverview St
8) $21,000 onW Palomar Cir

Friday, December 10, 2010

Belle Glade Woman Farmer Honored

Woman Of The Year In Agriculure - Ann Holt

BELLE GLADE, FL. -- Ann Holt, a partner in Twin H Farms of Belle Glade, has been selected to receive the "Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award" for 2010.  The award, now in its 26th year, recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture. 

It is sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida State Fair Authority.  The award will be presented on February 10, 2011, during the opening-day luncheon at the Florida State Fair in Tampa.

Ann Holt was born in Lake City in 1947.  For more than 40 years, she and her husband, Tommy, have been raising sweet corn, with Ann taking care of the business side of the farm and Tommy managing the growing operation.  Today, Ann and Tommy harvest nearly 2,000 acres of sweet corn in Belle Glade.  They also grow cotton, peanuts, and sweet corn on 3,000 acres in South Georgia. 

Despite the daily demands of running the family business, Ann Holt is active in numerous agricultural associations and non-profit groups.  She's a leader in the agricultural community.  Her mission is to educate Florida's urban residents about the benefits farming brings to the state.

Holt was the first woman ever elected president of the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.  Under her leadership, the Farm Bureau began regularly hosting farm tours for visiting legislators and other government leaders.  These tours emphasize growers' contributions to the local economy and the environment.

In 2007, as president of the Farm Bureau, Holt initiated Palm Beach County's annual Farm-City Week Luncheon and Farm Tour.  Farm-City Week emphasizes the value of the rural-urban partnership and the interdependence of farmers and consumers.  The annual luncheon and farm tour are great opportunities for agricultural and business leaders to meet and discover common ground. 

Holt is a tireless ambassador for Florida agriculture.  For years she has promoted the sweet corn industry at such events as the South Florida Fair and the Produce Marketing Association Annual Meeting.  She has spearheaded many events in her community to help "city folks" get to know area farmers and their products. 

By far the most popular is the annual Florida Sweet Corn Fiesta, which Holt launched in 2001.  A public festival celebrating the spring growing season, the event takes place at the South Florida Fairgrounds and features live music, food, and corn-shucking and -eating contests.  Managed and run entirely by volunteers, the festival educates Palm Beach County residents about the quality of the area's sweet corn.  It also raises money for agriculture education and local food banks.

Holt is an outspoken advocate for agriculture and the rural way of life.  She has organized and participated in countless meetings and trips to Tallahassee and Washington to present the views of farmers and ranchers to legislators.  She was a longtime member of the Ladies of the Lake, an organization created by farmwomen around Lake Okeechobee for the purpose of giving voice to the concerns of area farming families.  She was also a charter member of Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE), a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping farmers attain profitability in farming. 

Holt is a strong supporter of agriculture education and serves on the South Florida Fair's Scholarship Committee.  She has worked with FFA and 4-H and is an Agriculture Literacy Day volunteer.

During the holidays, Holt helps organize food and toy drives to benefit the underserved farming communities around Lake Okeechobee.  She is the driving force behind the annual Hungry for Golf Tournament, which benefits the area's food banks.  In addition, she organized the West Palm Beach County Farm Bureau to help raise funds for the new state-of-the-art hospital that opened in Belle Glade in 2009. 

In recognition of her years of service, Holt has received many awards and honors.  In 2008 she was named Woman of the Year by the Florida Agri-Women.  In 2004 her family was named Farm Family of the Year by the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.

Ann Holt and her husband, Tommy, live in Wellington and continue to farm in the Belle Glade area.  They have two grown children, Thomas Holt Jr. and Karina Holt Rothenberg.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hendry Former Deputy - 4 Year Prison Sentence

Henry Jail Administrator Forced To Pay Back $120,343.35 To Sheriff's Office

LABELLE, FL. -- Former Hendry County Sheriff's Deputy and Hendry jail administrator, Susan Russe Sibbald English appeared before Circuit Judge Christine Greider Thursday morning, pleading no contest to two felonies and asked for a delay until after Christmas for sentencing.

Appearing with her attorney Amira Dajani Fox, the judge accepted English's plea deal with the state today after an earlier deal was denied by the Judge. English said she wanted a sentencing delay in order to see her ailing father who was to visit Florida for Christmas. Judge Greider denied the delay.

English was found guilty today by Judge Greider of a 1st degree felony grand theft over $100,000 and falsifying a public document by a public servant. Greider admonished English during sentencing saying English violated her position of trust and authority as a officer of the law and Hendry jail administrator.

English cashed checks from the Hendry County Jail canteen account, taking over $120,000 between March 2006 and October 2008. She had earlier told investigators she took the money because her husband lost his job and to help take care of two grandchildren. She said all the money was already spent.

She was sentenced to 48 months in state prison, and restitution to the Hendry Sheriff's office of the money she stole plus $395 in court costs. 20 years of probation is to follow the prison term, and she is to pay $500 a month to the Hendry Sheriff's office for 20 years. If she pays restitution sooner, her probation may end earlier.

The maximum sentence English could have received was 30 years in prison on the Grand Theft charges, and 5 years on the Misconduct Felony charge, said Judge Greider.

The state's prosecutor, Mr. Plattner, declined to ask for restitution of monies spent by the state to investigate and prosecute English. Platter also told the court he had "no position whatsoever" about the court granting a delay in sentencing until after Christmas as requested by English.

At a previous hearing the Judge refused a proposed plea deal, for which English and state Prosecutor Plattner agreed for her to serve 23 months in prison, and be on probation for 20 years, paying back $120,343.35 at $500 a month for 20 years. English also asked the judge at that hearing to delay sentencing until after the holidays.

English. until today out on bond, was fingerprinted and taken into custody by Hendry county deputies at the conclusion of the 20 minute plea and sentencing hearing.

More stories on Susan English: http://swflorida.blogspot.com/search?q=susan+english

(Video above: Susan English Questioned By Judge, Sentenced And Taken Into Custody - 15 min.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

12 Hendry Arrests In Traffic Stops On SR29

1 In 33 Drivers Arrested In Friday Night Stops

LABELLE, FL. -- On Friday night, December 3, 2010 between the hours of 11:00 pm and 3:00 am Saturday morning, December 4, 2010 Sheriff Steve Whidden,  and Hendry County Sheriff's Office Deputies assisted by the Department of Transportation conducted a DUI Sobriety Checkpoint near the intersection of Case Road and State Road 29 South in LaBelle.

According to the Sheriff's office 208 vehicles were stopped. Arrests were made to 6 drivers without a valid driver's license, 2 for possession of over 20 grams of marijuana, 2 for possession of alcohol by a minor, 1 for driving with a suspended or revoked license, and 1 for possession of a forged license.

More traffic checks will be made during December says the Sheriff's office.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Hendry And Glades Business Tax Delinquents

Clewiston Inn - Delinquent In Taxes

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Revenue received authority from the 2010 Legislature to publish a list of the names of taxpayers who have large unresolved tax liabilities. These taxpayers have tax liens against them and tax warrants filed against them and have failed to pay or arrange to pay their debt, despite repeated attempts by the Department to collect the amount due.

In Hendry County, E.E. Cruz Enterprise, Inc., doing business as Nick's Country Store of 6480 Flaghole Road has six warrants against him for a total of $37,543 owned in back taxes. Big Lake Hotels LLC doing business as the Clewiston Inn owes $58,369 to the state in back taxes.

In Glades County, Joseph Hernandez of 699 S. Highway 27 in Moore Haven owes $21,834 to the revenue department for three tax warrants, Cassie Williams of 3025 Ortona Locks Rd. SW owes $11,020 and Moore Haven Package and Lounge Inc. owes taxes in the amount of $21,118.

The names were selected according to the following criteria:
  • Taxpayers who have unsatisfied tax warrants or liens totaling $100,000 or more, and
  • In counties where no taxpayer has warrants or liens totaling $100,000, the two taxpayers with the highest amount of warrants or liens are included.
Taxpayers who are in bankruptcy, who have entered into and are current on a stipulated payment agreement, or who have in place a payment agreement with the Department, are excluded from this list.

The warrant or lien is a public record filed with the Clerk of Court or other government office in the county where the taxpayer is located.

The list will be updated every 30 days. The current list was posted on December 3, 2010.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Clewiston Man Dead - Hit By Auto

Auto Hits Pedestrian In Clewiston

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Bipinchandra A. Patel, 67 , a pedestrian, was northbound, attempting to cross US 27, west of West Arcade in Clewiston, in an area where it is illegal to do so, according to the Florida Highway Patrol report, and was struck by a car while attempting to cross the street.

The accident happened about 6 p.m. Friday, December 3rd.

Johnny Jones, 58 was west bound on US 27 in a left turn lane when his 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis hit Patel. Patel was transported to Hendry Regional Medical Center, where he died as a result of his injuries. Jones had no injuries.

An investigation is pending on whether alcohol was a contributing cause regarding Patel.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

LaBelle's Angelica Ramirez Basic Training Grad

In The Service

LABELLE, FL. -- Army Pfc. Angelica A. Ramirez has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.
During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission and received instruction and training exercises in drill and ceremonies, Army history, core values and traditions, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, rifle marksmanship, weapons use, map reading and land navigation, foot marches, armed and unarmed combat, and field maneuvers and tactics.
She is the daughter of Renato Ramirez of Greentree Drive, Labelle, Fla. Ramirez graduated in 2010 from Labelle High School.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Should I Get An HIV Test?

Answers to HIV Questions On World AIDS Day

LABELLE, FL. -- Today, December 1st is World AIDS Day. In the United States, over one million people are estimated to be living with HIV infection, and approximately one in five of those are unaware of their infection.

Do you need an HIV test? The Hendry County Health Department offers free confidential testing.

The following are behaviors that increase your chances of getting HIV. If you answer yes to any of them, you should definitely get an HIV test. If you continue with any of these behaviors, you should be tested every year. Talk to a health care provider about an HIV testing schedule that is right for you.
  • Have you injected drugs or steroids or shared equipment (such as needles, syringes, works) with others?
  • Have you had unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with men who have sex with men, multiple partners, or anonymous partners?
  • Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis, tuberculosis (TB), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD), like syphilis?
  • Have you had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions?
If you have had sex with someone whose history of sex partners and/or drug use is unknown to you or if you or your partner has had many sex partners, then you have more of a chance of being infected with HIV. Both you and your new partner should get tested for HIV, and learn the results, before having sex for the first time.

For women who plan to become pregnant, testing is even more important. If a woman is infected with HIV, medical care and certain drugs given during pregnancy can lower the chance of passing HIV to her baby. All women who are pregnant should be tested during each pregnancy.

For more information and where testing is available
- http://hivtest.org

Hendry Agriculture Thefts Increasing

Gene McAvoy Warns Farmers and Ranchers To Be On Alert

LABELLE, FL. -- Perhaps it is an indication of the hard economic times, or folks looking for some quick cash for Christmas but whatever the reason, growers around SW Florida are reporting a rash of thefts of agricultural chemicals in the past few weeks.  

Gene McAvoy, Hendry County Extension Director says several reports of thefts have been received affecting growers between LaBelle and Clewiston in which chemicals valued at over $500,000 have been stolen.

McAvoy says many of these thefts have the appearance of inside information in that thieves seem to know exactly where to go and which storage structures to target.  Locks provide little or no defense in that some hefty locks have been cut. In at least one case, thieves removed jugs of chemicals from packing boxes leaving behind the empty boxes in an effort to conceal the theft for some time.

Tips To Prevent Theft:

Growers are advised to keep farm entrances and storage areas locked and maintain surveillance.  Lock up all chemicals, they are essentially like cash money for a thief.

Locate chemical storage well away from access roads.

Request that chemicals be delivered on the days you need them and not before.

Return excess chemicals to the chemical distributor. Not having a stockpile of chemicals in your shed you will decrease the opportunity for theft.  As thieves have shown they can easily overcome locks - decreasing inventory and having chemicals delivered as needed is probably the best defense. 

Consider installing alarms on chemical shed doors or windows.

Buy only from reputable dealers and do not be tempted to buy "cheap" chemicals from unknown sources - you are only supporting a thief and you may be next.

Look out for your neighbor and report suspicious vehicles and activities to the Sheriffs' Office.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Complimentary Subway Feast For Four! Scam Alert

Be Aware Of Possible Scam In Area Mail From DM & M, Inc.

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry county residents received an advertisement card in the mail this week promising a "Complimentary Family Feast for Four" allegedly from Subway, as offered from an outfit called DM & M, Inc., of 1000 Sunshine Ln,. Altamonte Springs, Florida.

From comments found on the web, it appears the company is merely getting a prospect list together to sell water conditioning products. The fine print on the offer does say you agree to be called "regarding the delivery of this gift."

The advertising card appears to be a bit misleading, looking as if you are completing a survey about Subway food products, when in fact the company really wants to sell you their water conditioning products.

Responders to the offer in Central Florida have noted DM & M does call you by phone repeatedly, but reportedly neglects to get a Subway $20.00 gift card to you even after several requests about the gift offer.

Be careful when filling out "free offer" advertising material. The offers may be bogus. Your name will certainly go on a mailing or phone solicitation list to at least one company and usually many more companies will buy the list from the original company.

Complaint about DM & M, Inc. "gift" offer: http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/features_consumer_file/2010/02 

Two Miami Men Arrested In Hendry Marijuana Bust

Mid-Hendry County Grow House Marijuana Seized

LABELLE, FL. -- On Monday, November 22, 2010, members of the Hendry County Sheriff's Office Vice Narcotics Unit arrested 47 year old Haydee Diaz and 38 year old Albert Noda both of Miami, on charges of Theft and/or Tampering with Utilities, Trafficking in Marijuana, Cultivation of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Sell, Possession of Marijuana over 20 grams and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

After receiving information of a possible grow house operation at 13573 Center Avenue in the LeDeca Area, Agents with the Hendry County Sheriff's Office made contact with Jorge Alberto Noda who resides at 13573 Center Avenue and requested permission to search the residence.  Once inside the investigators found the home to contain two sophisticated indoor marijuana grow rooms that contained a total of 30 marijuana plants, totaling 54 lbs, with a total street value of approximately $135,000.

The 1962 single family house on 5 acres, is in a remote area of mid-Hendry county south of State Road 80 and owned by Nuvia Mendez, according to Hendry county records. Both Diaz and Noda are currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $175,000 bond.

Concealed Firearms Class In Hendry

$25 Concealed Weapons Course

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden will be will holding classes for individuals interested in obtaining a Concealed Weapons Permit.  This will be a 4 hour course which consists of both classroom and firearm range instruction. 

Classes will be held at the Hendry County Gun Range and taught by Hendry County Sheriff's Office State of Florida Certified Firearms Instructors.  Students will need to bring their own handguns and at least fifty (50) rounds of ammunition, holster (or the method in which you will plan to carry), both eye and ear protection. 

There is a $25 per person fee.  You must be at least 21 years of age to participate.  Concealed weapons applications are available at the Hendry County Sheriff's Office.

All interested citizens should contact Lt. Susan Harrelle at either (863) 674-5604 or by e-mail at sharrelle@hendrysheriff.org.  A date and time will be announced based on the number of participants and will be directly contacted by the Sheriff's Office. 

Hendry Chief Deputy Nelson Graduates

Hendry County Chief Deputy Kevin Nelson Graduates from Chief Executive Seminar

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute announces the graduation of Hendry County Chief Deputy Kevin Nelson from the Chief Executive Seminar at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in Tallahassee, Fla. The graduates represent criminal justice agencies around the state who serve in a leadership role within their agency.

"Chief Nelson is a fine example of the type of leadership needed to assist in guiding the Hendry County Sheriff�s Office in a positive and progressive manner," said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden.  "This class is an example of the type of training our employees and staff are receiving."

Chief Kevin Nelson was hired in January 2009 as Road Patrol Lieutenant supervising Patrol Sergeants and deputies.  He was promoted to the position of Chief Deputy in July 2009.  As Chief Deputy, he is the senior most manager immediately below the Sheriff and in the absence of the Sheriff assumes command of the department.  

He started his career in law enforcement in August 1980 as an auxiliary deputy with the Collier County Sheriff�s Office, becoming a full-time deputy in April 1981.  Chief Nelson retired in November 2004 at the rank of Captain. He has been a resident of LaBelle since 2003.

He is involved in the community and has served as Past Master for the LaBelle Masonic Lodge, Past President of the Rotary Club of LaBelle, member of the Board of Directors for the LaBelle Chamber of Commerce and member of the First Baptist Church of LaBelle.

The seminar met for one week each month for three months at FDLE�s Headquarters in Tallahassee.  Graduates took classes on topics such as demography, budgeting, legacy leadership, ethics, and implementing strategic change.

The goal of the Chief Executive Seminar is to prepare Florida�s Criminal Justice leadership for the challenging and changing demands of the future. Class participants study trends and events that may affect criminal justice professionals and the state and develop new leadership skills to address and manage the changes that lie ahead.

The Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute, established within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and affiliated with the State University System, was established in 1990 by the Florida Legislature who recognized the need for an innovative and multifaceted approach to the education and training of criminal justice professionals. 

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden stated, "I look forward to our continued partnership as Chief Nelson and I continue working toward leading the Hendry County Sheriff�s Office forward and striving toward the betterment of our agency for our community."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shop Hendry-Glades Local Merchants

Patronize Your Local Merchants For Quality And Service

LABELLE, FL. -- Want to save time and know you will get quality service? Shop our local merchants and trades people for the best in convenience and service.

Here's our recommendations from among the sponsors of the Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online!

  • Gary Peters Computer Services, email and website, phone (863) 675-7925
  • LaBelle Plumbing Corporation, phone (863) 675-1155
  • Pete's Tractor Service, email, and website, phone (239) 728-6629
  • White's Furniture and Appliances, phone (863) 675-0717
  • Ram's Used Tires, phone (863) 675-6777
  • Phillip's AC And Heating Services, phone (863) 675-2878
  • Just In Time Plumbing, phone (863) 673-6073
  • DJ's Plumbing And Water Works, phone (239) 229-6545
  • Stratonet Internet Service, website, phone (888) 382-8503
  • Your Business Name Should Be Here!
  • Sunday Morning News Advertising - Since 1996: email, phone (863) 800-0010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Alva Pilot Tells How She Won Air Race 2010

Terry Carbonell - Airplane Pilot Extraordinaire!

LABELLE, FL. -- Terry Carbonell, local pilot and winner of the Women's Air Race Classic 2010 was interviewed at the Airplane Owner's And Pilot's Association convention in California recently.

Carbonell tells how she won the 1st place $5000 prize and how she is encouraging more women to take up flying.

Carbonell lives in Alva and bases her single-engine Cessna aircraft at the LaBelle airport.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Cost Of Crime - Do We Need More Deputies?

Research Based Analyzer Answers What Happens If Law Enforcement Is Reduced

LABELLE, FL. -- "Hidden in Plain Sight: What Cost-of-Crime Research Can Tell Us About Investing in Police"  is a new report from the Rand organization that illustrates what research has found about ramifications on adding more or subtracting from current law enforcement personnel, in terms of the true cost to the community.

It has been found that violent crimes are many time more costly to the community than thefts and burglaries, and a "crime calculator" has been developed that illustrates the true cost to community of it's criminal activities, based on it's own crime statistics.

The Rand paper summarizes existing research on the cost of crime and the effectiveness of police in preventing crime. As such, it translates what is in the social-science literature, providing nontechnical descriptions that highlight the approaches and limitations of existing studies.

It also demonstrates a method for comparing the costs of police personnel with the expected benefits generated by those police in terms of reduced crime by using two proposals - one involving force expansion and one involving force reduction - to illustrate the process.

An interactive cost of crime calculator, located at http://www.rand.org/ise/centers/quality_policing/cost-of-crime.html, allows the user to see how an increase or decrease in police personnel will affect community crime costs.

The full Rand report is at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2010/RAND_OP279.pdf

LaBelle City Commissioner Dies

Joseph Miller Jr. - 62

LABELLE, FL. -- Joseph Robert Miller, Jr., age 62, of LaBelle, passed away November 22, 2010 in LaBelle. He was born Jan. 8, 1948 in Hollywood, FL. Bob was a LaBelle City Commisioner for many years.

He also served on Hendry-LaBelle Recreation Board, as well as Chairperson for LaBelle Swamp Cabbage Festival and he was active in Little League in LaBelle both an umpire and coach. He was a Parts Salesman for many years.

Bob was a loving & devoted husband, loving & caring father and grandfather who was also very proud of his ongoing community involvement. He will be greatly missed by all.

Survivors include his wife: Sharon Elaine(Henderson) Miller, son: Robert Scott (Teri D) Miller, daughter: Kari Miller Hamric (Lee Taylor), mother: Phyllis Miller, brothers: Edward L. (Linda) Miller and Richard Glenn (Joyce) Miller, all of LaBelle, grandchildren: Amanda Suarez, Amber Hamric, Courtney Gonzalez and Chance Taylor.

Funeral services will be held Friday November 26, 2010 at 11:30 am at LaBelle Civic Center, with Preston Long officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Friday from 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. at LaBelle Civic Center.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hendry-LaBelle Recreation Board.

Friday, November 19, 2010

LaBelle Graduate Finishes Basic Training

Army Pfc. Jimi D. Williams has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

He is the son of Gina Holland of N.E. First St., Cape Coral, Fla., and grandson of Ann Williams of Ute St., Labelle, Fl. Williams graduated in 2010 from Labelle High School.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Five LaBelle Homes Sold This Week

West Hendry County Homes Sales This Week

LABELLE, FL. -- Home sales are remaining steady in LaBelle. From 11/9/2010 to 11/16/2010, there were five homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $122,000.

1) $39,000 on Case Road
2) $63,000 on Fort Keis Avenue
3) $299,000 on Laramie Ct (Port LaBelle Ranchettes)
4) $25,000 on Lighthouse Ct (Port LaBelle)
5) $184,000 on Shell Lane

Panther Found Dead In Hendry

13th Florida Panther Killed This Year By Vehicles

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the remains of a 4 to 5 year old male panther, were collected on 17 November 2010 on Keri Rd in southern Hendry county approximately one-half mile west of the OK Slough State Forest headquarters.

The cause of death was trauma associated with a vehicle collision. The carcass is at the FWC Naples Field Office and will be sent to the FWC Wildlife Research Lab in Gainesville for necropsy.  The remains will be archived at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

This is the18th panther mortality and the 13th road mortality for 2010.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are You Making Use Of Social Media Capabilities?

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

How To Get Tens of Thousands Of Views In One Hour!

If you are not yet using social media to keep in contact with your friends, customers, and business prospects you are certainly missing out on the latest way to disburse news about you and your activities to a wide audience quickly.

Don Browne, publisher of the Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online is one of the area's leading experts in the use of internet social media to reach a large audience quickly.

Don say's "I've found one of the best ways to reach a large audience very quickly is the use of streaming video."

"Using a simple webcam and a website to stream live video and later archive it permanently has allowed me to reach an audience of more than 3,000,000 total views seeing my video webcasts," he says.

Using simple techniques, many thousands of viewers can see a live broadcast coming from a streaming webcam. The video above showed 65,000 views in less than an hour when it was broadcast live by Don on November 13, 2010.

For one example of how a live videocast works, and how many viewers can be captured in a live video webcam broadcast, watch the video at the top of the story or click the link below to go to the video's archived page:

http://justin.tv/kq4ym/b/273777086 - Video (11/13/10) 65,000 views in one hour when originally broadcast!

Businesses may be interested in showing their store or special sales events. Real estate offices can show "open house" events as well as promote their listings. Car dealers can broadcast their latest special sale vehicles.

Don is available to help you utilize the internet's capabilities for you and your business, running advertisements for you on his broadcasts or setting up your own recorded or live streaming video that will be seen by tens of thousands each broadcast hour. email: Don Browne for information and rates.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Buckle Up For Holidays Says Hendry Sheriff

Buckle Up - Deadly Holiday Traffic Season Opens

LABELLE, FL. -- With the holidays upon us and millions of Americans hitting the roads, Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden wants everyone to arrive safely at their destinations.  We want drivers and passengers alike to remember, to Buckle Up.  Every Trip, Every Time.

"Many of us over-indulge in holiday goodies and loosen our belts a little after dinner," said Sheriff Steve Whidden.  "But remember, there's nothing that should keep you from tightening your seat belt when you get in a motor vehicle.  The potential consequences are just too great."

While seat belt use is at a record high of 85% nationwide, 45 million Americans still fail to buckle up when they get in a motor vehicle.  According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on any given day about 38 passenger vehicle occupants who are not buckled up are killed in motor vehicle crashes. 

In 2008 alone, nearly 13,000 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants lost their lives on U.S. roadways.  It is estimated that nearly one third of these lives could have been saved if they had been properly belted.  NHTSA statistics also show that those least likely to buckle up are teens; young adults; males; nighttime riders; motorists traveling on rural roads, and individuals traveling in pickup trucks.

"Sadly, the holidays, which for many are the happiest time of the year, is also one of the deadliest and most tragic," said Sheriff Whidden. 

Hendry County Law Enforcement officers will be cracking down on seat-belt violators after the law was changed last year to allow citations solely for people who don't buckle up.  Sheriff Whidden wants to remind everyone "the goal is simple; we want to get more drivers and passengers to buckle up day and night."

"No one wants to have to start the holidays off wrong with a ticket," said Sheriff Steve Whidden.  "But we would rather issue a citation than have to notify a family member about the death of a loved one that could have been prevented by wearing a seat belt."  A ticket for not wearing your seatbelt could cost you $113.00 not having a child properly secured in a child restraint could cost you $163.00 and three points against your driver's license.

The 2010 Thanksgiving holiday campaign will run from November 21 – 30.  "I want to remind everyone that wearing your seat belt is the most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.  Wearing a seat belt costs you nothing, but not wearing it could cost you a ticket or worse…your life," said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Three LaBelle Home Sales - Wide Range

Few Sales But Wide Range Of Prices

LABELLE, FL. -- From 10/26/2010 to 11/9/2010, there were three homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $105,000. The property sales prices were:

1) $25,000 on Citrus Street in LaBelle
2) $60,000 on Ramrod Circle in Port LaBelle
3) $230,000 on Turtle Lane in LaBelle

Nature Walk At Hickey's Creek

Guided Walk through Hickey's Creek Mitigation Park.

LABELLE, FL. -- Join North American Butterfly Association members on a walk through Hickey's Creek Mitigation Park on Friday, November 19th at 9:30 a.m. This 1.8 mile (approximate 2 hour) trail walk will take you through scrubby flatwoods, hardwood hammock and an oak-palm forest.

The park is located about 8 miles west of LaBelle on State Road 80 in Lee County.

Walk begins at the parking lot with a rest half way at the amphitheater and will return along the creek crossing the bald cypress bridge proceeding back to the parking lot. Information about plants, butterflies and birds will be provided. Terrain may be slightly rough and wet.

Good walking shoes recommended. Please bring water, sunscreen, rain gear and bug spray. A courtesy notification that you plan to attend or join for lunch following the walk would be appreciated. Nick Bodven (239) 694-2108 shandys@embarqmail.com Or Gayle Edwards (239) 826-4103 mreds025@aol.com

Hickey's Creek Mitigation Park encompasses 862 acres. This wildlife preserve, co-managed with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, consists of a variety of native plant communities including palmetto-oak scrub, pine flatwoods and seasonal wetlands. Views of scenic Hickey's Creek can be enjoyed from trails and overlook areas.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Glades' Fisheating Creek Dredging Found Illegal

Illegal Dredging At Fisheating Creek

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- According the the Audubon of Florida, a contractor for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission was caught last year illegally dredging a channel through part of Fisheating Creek in Glades County. In a news release Audubon said:

"Last summer, Audubon of Florida Executive Director Eric Draper learned from the South Florida Water Management District that a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission contractor had dredged a channel through a section of Fisheating Creek known as Cowbone Marsh.

Fearing that the dredging would disturb the largest migratory stopover of Swallow-tailed Kites in North America, and concerned by reports that a massive amount of water was draining out of the marsh, Draper wrote to FWC objecting to the project. A copy of the letter was sent to federal agencies, which subsequently issued a cease and desist order and then a restoration order.

Audubon supports a settlement agreement negotiated by the state many years ago providing for navigation of Fisheating Creek by canoes and small boats. However, no one ever imagined that navigation would become a 20-foot-wide dredged channel to allow two large motorboats to pass.

In fact, the settlement agreement specifically prohibited dredging. Dredging any wetland or creek without a permit is illegal.

Audubon is also working to restore the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee. One of the ways to do this is to slow the flow of polluting water from upstream sources to Lake Okeechobee. The 20-foot-wide dredged channel does the opposite, by increasing rapid flow to the lake, and bypassing the filtration and natural nutrient uptake potential of Cowbone Marsh, increasing the potential phosphorus loading of Lake Okeechobee.

A local group that has long pushed for navigation on Fisheating Creek has criticized Draper and Audubon and claims that dredging did not take place, only removal of vegetation. However, state and federal agencies determined that the activity was dredging, required a permit and was not legal.

Audubon respects local advocates for Fisheating Creek and has allowed staff scientist Dr. Paul Gray to sit on the Fisheating Creek Advisory Committee. However, we will blow the whistle on activities that harm the environment regardless of who is behind them."

Friday, November 05, 2010

Ragged Flag Over LaBelle

Flag Needs Replacing At Florida Community Bank

LABELLE, FL. -- Seen flying in front of the Florida Community Bank on North Bridge Street in downtown LaBelle is this worn and torn U.S. Flag.

No word on how long it's been in this condition, or when it will be replaced by bank management.

We hope it may be taken care of sooner than later.

(Update: Flag was replaced November 10th.)

Bullied In School - More Common Than You Think

50% Of Students Report Bullying Someone

According to a new study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (the largest ever undertaken of the attitudes and conduct of high school students), half of all high school students (50 percent) admit they bullied someone in the past year, and nearly half (47 percent) say they were bullied, teased, or taunted in a way that seriously upset them in the past year. The study reports the responses from 43,321 high school students. The margin of error is less than 1%.

"If the saying, 'sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me' was ever true, it certainly is not so today," said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Institute and a national leader and radio commentator on ethical issues. ""nsults, name calling, relentless teasing, and malicious gossip often inflict deep and enduring pain," he added. "It's not only the prevalence of bullying behavior and victimization that's troublesome. The Internet has intensified the injury. What's posted on the Internet is permanent, and it spreads like a virus – there is no refuge. The difference between the impact of bullying today versus 20 years ago is the difference between getting into a fist fight and using a gun."

The Institute's study also found that one-third (33 percent) of all high school students say that violence is a big problem at their school, and one in four (24 percent) say they do not feel very safe at school. More than half (52 percent) admit that within the past year they hit a person because they were angry. Ten percent of students say they took a weapon to school at least once in the past 12 months, and 16 percent admit that they have been intoxicated at school.

"The combination of bullying, a penchant toward violence when one is angry, the availability of weapons, and the possibility of intoxication at school increases significantly the likelihood of retaliatory violence," Josephson said.

What can parents do? Three online surveys to determine whether one's child is being bullied, whether one's child is a bully, and whether parents are doing all they can to prevent bullying can be found at CharacterCounts.org/bully-quiz.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hendry/Glades Election Results - 2010

Al Perry And Darrell Harris Win Hendry Races, Donna Storter Long In Glades County

LABELLE, FL. -- The Tuesday November 2nd, 2010 election results in Hendry County resulted in Al Perry (R) with 1,055 votes and Dwight Clinton Hatfield (D) with 672 votes for County Commission District 4. (3 Precincts voting)

District 2 County Commission votes results ended with Darrell R. Harris (R), the incumbent with 1,062 votes and Andy Herrero (D) with 359 votes. (5 Precincts voting)

Port LaBelle Community Development District Seat 1: Nancy V. Imhoff, 68 votes and Patti Ashley, 60 votes.

Port LaBelle Community Development District Seat 3 Suzanne Gee, 41 votes and Jeff E. McGirt, 82 votes.

Port LaBelle Community Development District Seat 5 Shannon L. Craft, 81 votes and Margaret Pass, 41 votes.

In the Glades county Port LaBelle CDD races: Ashley had 53 votes, Imhoff 101 votes. Gee, 71 votes and McGirt 85 votes. Craft had 82 votes, Pass 75 votes.

In Glades county, Donna Storter Long (R) retained her County Commission seat with 1,920 votes over Deborah K. Simmons' (D) 839 votes.

Hendry School Board Levy of .25 mills: Yes- 2,413 votes, No- 3,392 votes.

The Hendry county voter turnout was 6,655 (41%) of the total 16,156 registered Hendry voters.
In Glades county, the turnout was 2,814 voters (42%) of the total 6,339 registered voters.

(Note: previous posting Tuesday at 8 p.m. did not include a Hendry county absentee and 1 precinct ballot recount. Above totals are now correct. )

Saturday, October 30, 2010

LaBelle Restaurants Face More Safety Violations

Critical Food Safety Violations Noted At Two Well Known Restaurants

LABELLE, FL. -- Two of LaBelle's best known restaurants have received their latest state food safety inspections. Receiving inspections on October 22 were Flora and Ellas and on August 22, the Big V.

Flora and Ella's Restaurant on S.R. 80 is LaBelle's oldest restaurant, originally located on Bridge Street and now in a modern building west of downtown. The latest inspection found seven food safety violations including five "critical." Violations included food stored on the floor, storage of uncovered food, bare hand contact of food (a repeat violation), food preparation without washing hands, no chlorine in wash water.

At the Big V in downtown LaBelle, inspections showed five critical food safety violations. Found were undated food stored more than 24 hours, incorrect food temperatures, storage of uncovered food, food preparation without washing hands, using hand sink for food preparation.

Violation - Observations At Flora and Ella's
08A-28-1 Critical. Observed food stored on floor. Small box of food on floor in dry storage area next to ice machine . Corrected On Site.
08A-29-1 Critical. Observed uncovered food in holding unit/dry storage area. Uncovered chicken in reach-in cooler across from cook line
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. Employee touched cheese with bare hands. Corrected On Site. Repeat Violation.
10-06-1 In-use utensil not stored with handle above the top of potentially hazardous food and the container. scoop Handle in flour in clear bin by fryers .
12A-16-1 Critical. Observed employee engage in food preparation, handle clean equipment or utensils, or touch unwrapped single-service items, without washing hands. Observed employee change gloves without washing hands .
20A-09-1 Critical. Chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength for manual ware washing. Chlorine sanitizer apprx 0ppm in sanitizer bucket .
26-02-1 Observed reuse of single-service articles. Egg flat trays reused to hold bacon.

- Observation at Big V
02-22-1 Critical. Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food prepared on site and held more than 24 hours with not properly date marked. No date marking on premises .
03B-03-1 Critical. Potentially hazardous food not held at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Mashed potatoes at 128F on cook line and hot dog like foods at 110F. Corrected On Site. Heat turned up
08A-29-1 Critical. Observed uncovered food in holding unit/dry storage area. In reach-in coolers .
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. Observed employee assemble buns for burgers without washing hands and wearing gloves. Corrected On Site.
31-12-1 Critical. Observed hand wash sink used for purposes other than hand washing. Hand sink in back kitchen by back door used to clean potatoes .

April 2010 - Food Safety Inspection Ranking - LaBelle area restaurants:

Friday, October 29, 2010

13 LaBelle Homes Sold In 3 Weeks

Sales Picking Up In LaBelle Area?

LABELLE, FL. -- From 10/5/2010 to 10/26/2010, there were 13 homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $96,077. The sales included a majority not in the Port LaBelle area this month and more above $100,000 home, not typical of previous months.

1) $40,000 on Evans Rd
2) $100,000 on Fort Thompson Ave
3) $166,000 on Fort Thompson Ave
4) $75,000 on Hart Ct
5) $47,000 on Maywood Cir
6) $225,000 on Riverbend Dr
7) $15,000 on Sabal Palm Dr
8) $87,000 on E Double J Acres Rd
9) $28,000 on N Lakewood Rd
10) $41,000 on NE Beechwood Cir
11) $81,000 on S Balsam Cir
12) $59,000 on S Elm St
13) $285,000 on W State Road 80

Thursday, October 28, 2010

LaBelle's Harrison Joins Goodwill Board

HCED Chief Harrison Joins Goodwill

LABELLE, FL. -- Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. has announced that Roger Harrison of LaBelle has joined the organization's volunteer Board of Directors. Harrison is the President and CEO of the Hendry County Economic Development Council. 

Despite arriving Southwest Florida just this year, Harrison has already made a large volunteer commitment to the region.  He serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, the Henry County Regional Medical Center Foundation, and is President-Elect of the Clewiston Rotary club.

Harrison holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia College and State University (Milledgeville, Ga.), and his Bachelor of Arts from Presbyterian College (Clinton, SC).  He is studying for a Doctorate in Public Administration from Valdosta (Ga.) State University with an anticipated graduation date of May 2012.

Secret Hendry Airglades "Buyer" Revealed

County Negotiates With Company President Having Many Business Failures?

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Florida Cargo Fresh Inc. has been named as the secret company a handful of county officials have been talking with, negotiating the sale of the multi-million dollar assets of one of Hendry county's two airports.

Florida Cargo Fresh, the reported buyer of Airglades Airport, has no track record having just been incorporated December 31, 2009 with amended articles of incorporation on February 8, 2010 and again on April 13, 2010 listing an address at 936 West Heron Circle, Winter Haven, Florida. 

Any sale or leasing of Airglades Airport is subject to approval by the Federal Aviation Administration after public comment.

The company's Winter Haven "corporate office" is the house, complete with backyard swimming pool, of President Fred Ford's wife. Ford is a man with numerous apparent recent and past business failures.

The three company officials listed by the Secretary of State are Frederick C, Ford, President, Walter S. Bethel, Secretary, and Charles W. Harrison, Jr., Vice-President/Treasurer.

The latest company filing shows an authorization to sell $100,000 of "penny" stock.

According to the Florida Secretary of State's office, 64-year old Frederick C. Ford's record show numerous recent and past business failings: 

-Vice-President and Treasurer of  Draper and Kramer of Florida, a real estate company based in Chicago, that went out of business May 10, 2010
-Director at Chicago company Draper and Kramer Investments Corp that went out of business May 10, 2010
-Owner of Daedalus Aviation Strategies LLC in Wauchula, Florida that went out of business September 14, 2007 after one year in business.
-Partner at First Florida Lauderdale Place, LTD based in Chicago that went out of business October 11, 2002
-Partner at D. K. Palm Beach Associates LTD, going out of business September 9, 2000 

He currently is the owner of Frederick C. Ford A.A.E., LLC of Winter Haven, Florida incorporated February 4, 2010 at his Winter Haven house and Vice-President/Treasurer currently at Chicago company D & K Agency Corporation, and Vice-President at Draper and Kramer, Inc in Chicago which apparently are real estate/insurance companies.

And numerous failed businesses are recorded for Frederick C. Ford before 2000.

Records also show a "Frederick Ford" with the following failed businesses:

-Amati Financial Group, Inc of Hallendale Beach, Fl went out of business September 24, 2010.
-Ford Security Systems, Inc. of Miramar, Fl. went out of business October 4, 2002

There are also many closed businesses under the name of "Fred Ford" residing in the Broward county area.

Corporate Secretary Walter Bethel shows an address of P.O. Box 512857, Punta Gorda, Florida and VP/Treasure Charles Harrison lists a Post Office Box address of Box 2016, Arcadia, Florida.

Bethel is an owner along with Harrison of Desoto Investment Group LLC in Arcadia, Florida, owner of WSB Holdings LLC in Arcadia, the owner of Ice Tek LLC in Arcadia, owner of Cold Cash Investments LLC in Arcadia, and was the owner of failed business Gulf Coast Icehouse Distributors LLC in Arcadia, closing September 25, 2009.

Harrison is Treasurer/Secretary of his father's company C.W. Harrison Inc. in Arcadia, Vice President along with his father at C And H Groves Inc. in Sarasota, and director along with his father in Bubba Air Inc in Arcadia.

Recent filings with the Secretary of State:

Florida Cargo Fresh Articles of Incorporation February 2010 - http://www.sunbiz.org/pdf/00028141.pdf
Florida Cargo Fresh Articles of Incorporation April 2010 - http://www.sunbiz.org/pdf/00084216.pdf 

Previous Sunday Morning News Stories:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

LaBelle And Moore Haven Reps Named To SW Planning Group

Moore Haven's Hall And LaBelle's Karau On SW Florida Planning Council

LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Charlie Crist this week announced the following reappointments and appointments to the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, including one person each from LaBelle and Moore Haven. Florida Senate confirmation is required.

Pat Carroll, 57, of Naples, Collier County School Board member, reappointed for a term beginning October 26, 2010, and ending October 1, 2011.

Mel Karau, 77, of Fort Denaud, retired, reappointed for a term beginning October 26, 2010, and ending June 23, 2012.

Felipe Colón, 29, of Sarasota, financial advisor, Wells Fargo Advisors, succeeding David Farley, appointed for a term beginning October 26, 2010, and ending October 1, 2012.

Michael Grant, 61, of Port Charlotte, president, Grant Medical Transportation, succeeding Alan LeBeau Sr., appointed for a term beginning October 26, 2010, and ending October 1, 2012.

Shannon Hall, 69, of Moore Haven, retired, succeeding Edward Elkowitz, appointed for a term beginning October 26, 2010, and ending October 1, 2012. 

LaBelle's Rodeo Grill Sued - More Critical Food Safety Items

Landlord Seeking Eviction - Inspectors Find 7 Critical Food Safety Issues

LABELLE, FL. -- The Rodeo Grill LLC in LaBelle received it's latest state food safety inspection on October 22nd. The inspection revealed seven critical food safety issues and one non-critical, compared to nine critical items found in an August inspection.

The establishment has gone through several management changes in recent years. Ralph E. Von Frantzius of LaBelle is the current corporation owner.

Frantzius is being sued by landlord Gradeur Oaks, LLC to evict him for alleged non-payment of rents. Frantzius was ordered by the court on October 20 to deposit rent into the court registry to avoid a default judgment against him leading to an eviction.

Among the recent food safety violations were improper storage of food, encrusted material on slicer and can opener, and slime on soda dispensing nozzles in the bar.

The State's List Of Critical Safety Items Found:

08A-28-1  Critical. Observed food stored on floor. Cut washed container on plant foods on floor in walk-in cooler
08A-29-1  Critical. Observed uncovered food in holding unit/dry storage area. Chicken in standing reach-in cooler across from fryers . Repeat Violation.
22-19-1  Critical. Observed interior of microwave soiled. (microwave across from pizza oven)
22-22-1  Critical. Observed encrusted material on can opener.
22-23-1  Critical. Observed encrusted, soiled material on slicer.
22-24-1  Critical. Observed buildup of slime on soda dispensing nozzles. (In bar)
23-05-1  Observed residue build-up on nonfood-contact surface. (On microwave handle.)
41B-01-1  Critical. Observed sanitizing solution exceeding the maximum concentration allowed. Sanitizer bucket quaternary ammonium at over 400ppm

Monday, October 25, 2010

In The Service - Hector Velasquez

Velasquez Graduates From Basic Training

LABELLE, FL. -- Army Pvt. Hector I. Velasquez has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.
During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions.  Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.
He is the son of Lucila and stepson of Jorge Velasco of Mohawk Ave., Labelle, Fla. Velasquez is a 2010 graduate of Labelle High School.

Critical Food Safety At Port LaBelle Bella View

Naples Man New Port LaBelle Restaurant Operator - Food Inspector Notes 2 Critical Items

LABELLE, FL. -- The Bella View Restaurant at the Port LaBelle Inn received it's first official food safety inspection October 19 and two critical food safety issues were found.

The state inspector observed encrusted material on can opener, a "critical" violation, one "that, if not corrected, are more likely to contribute directly to food contamination, illness or environmental damage," according to the inspection report.

The second critical violation was the identity of food misrepresented on the menu. "Florida" grouper was listed on menu, but the only grouper on the premises was not Florida grouper. The restaurant reportedly corrected that violation and new menus were being printed during the inspection.

The Bella View Restaurant at the Port LaBelle Inn in northern Hendry county will attempt to bring a successful operation to the location after many prior owners and restaurant operators failed over the years, not finding enough customers to make the place profitable.

There had also been a history of critical food safety issues over the years, according to state inspection reports, and a failure of all but one operator to have a restaurant license.

Ladislav Stranavsky, of Naples is the new owner and filed to do business as the "Bellaview Restaurant" on September 29 with the Florida Secretary of State office. The restaurant is inside the Port LaBelle Inn, leasing the space from the motel.

Stranavsky's last recorded business venture was Yummy CCG, a limited liability corporation in Bonita Springs that began operation in June of 2008 and went out of business 12 months later.

He also has been operating a website called mynameday.com for several years.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Avoid Extra Hendry Waste Fee Charges

Grace Period for Yard Waste Pickups

LABELLE, FL. -- The bulk yard waste pick-ups in Hendry county are in line for some changes, making for more efficient use of employees and helping to create nicer looking neighborhoods. A grace period has been extended to allow workers to pick up yard waste without charge.

In order to avoid confusion and inform residents about yard waste regulations as outlined in the Hendry County Code of Ordinances, pickup for existing, non-compliant, yard waste will be conducted October 25th through November 5th at no charge.

Yard waste pickup rules for unincorporated Hendry County residents will be strictly enforced after each area's grace period collection date as indicated below:

Port LaBelle Area                                  October 25 and 26
LaBelle Rural Area                                 October 27, 28 and 29
Clewiston - Harlem Area                   November 1 and 2
Clewiston- Hookers Point Area                         November 3 and 4
Clewiston Rural Areas                                  November 5

All future yard waste pickups must adhere to the regulations as follows:

1.      Placed within 6 feet of roadside curb in front of your residence
2.      All loose materials such as grass or leave must be bagged or in cans weighing 40 pounds or less
3.      Limbs and branches no longer than 4 feet and 4 inches in diameter must be bundled and tied or placed in cans weighing 40        pounds or less
4.      Vacant lot piles will not be collected

Alternate options for special pickups and non-compliant yard waste collection is offered. Please contact Waste Services Inc. at (863)675-2481 for information.

The Hendry County Special Districts office is available to help with compliance questions. Our phone number is (863) 675-5252 Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Millionaire Loses LaBelle Marina Property Fight

Glades County Value Adjustment Board Says "No" To Walter Ferguson

MOORE HAVEN, FL. --  Appearing before the five member Glades County Value Adjustment Board Thursday morning, Port LaBelle Marina owner Walter Ferguson argued for re-statement of an agricultural exemption that would save him thousands of dollars in Glades property taxes.

Unfortunately for Ferguson, his arguments about why he didn't have cattle on the land for almost a year, didn't fly. The Board denied his appeal, not making Ferguson a happy man. The Board found that he didn't follow the law requiring continual agricultural use of land to qualify for the liberal property tax savings allowed by the state.

Multi-millionaire Walter R. Ferguson,  owner of the Port LaBelle Marina was trying his best to keep 30 acres surrounding the south and east sides the Port LaBelle Marina classified as agricultural for pasturing cattle, even though the property did not have a fence enclosing the property and no cattle on it for much of last year and most of 2010.

In the Spring of 2009, the company put up a fence around the property, bordered by the Caloosahatchee River on the north and Oxbox Drive on the south. A lease was drawn up with a cattle owner, and Ferguson submitted an application to Larry Luckey, Glades County Property appraiser to lower the land's property assessments, and thereby it's property taxes by using the acreage as a cattle pasture.

Cattle were placed on the land and Luckey approved the agricultural classification for 2009, lowering the property taxes by tens of thousands of dollars in 2009. From records it appears the marina property value was lowered from $2,310,321 to $1,431,183.

But shortly thereafter, the Corps of Engineers determined Ferguson had illegally placed barbed wire fences on property owned by the Army Corps of Engineers along about one-quarter of a mile along the river front. The fence was installed about 50 feet inside the Corps property line. The Corps told Ferguson to remove the fence, as he was trespassing.

The fence along the river front was removed around June of 2009. The cattle taken away.

Ferguson was notified by letter April 6th by Glades County Property Appraiser Larry Luckey, that Ferguson was no longer entitled to an agriculture classification because there had been no cattle or complete fencing on the property since about June of 2009.

Ferguson delayed until May 2010 in erecting a new fence along the river, now installed about 50 feet south from where it had been illegally placed before. 

Ferguson argued before the Board that he had failed to follow up with the fence contractor to install a new fence after the original fence was taken down, but that he should have been given more time by Luckey to install a new one. The testimony before the Board showed the fence was down for about a year, Ferguson having plenty of time to install the fence and get cattle on the land.

Although a bit late, as cattle were supposed to be on the acreage on January 1st to qualify, Ferguson told the Board he was planning to get cattle on the land "today."

Referring to a Sunday Morning News article May 3, 2010 Ferguson thought was critical of him, he admitted to the Board "I was trespassing," referring to the fence being installed along the Corp of Engineers river front property, but explained he "was not guilty of fraud."

It wasn't clear if the denial of fraud was in reference to his installation of the fence on Corps of Engineers property, or for failing to notify the Property Appraiser's office he didn't have cattle on the land for almost a year. Property owners are required to make notification each year by March 1 if the land use changes.

Apparently, Ferguson was not too happy with his perceived treatment by Glades Property Appraiser Luckey, and exclaimed to Luckey after Luckey's presentation that "Part of what you said is true!" Luckey responded saying "All of what I said is true," before the chairman quieted the two down.

Previous stories on Walter Ferguson's Port LaBelle Marina:
http://swflorida.blogspot.com/2010/05/port-labelle-marina-caught-without-its.html - May 2010
http://swflorida.blogspot.com/2009/03/port-labelle-marina-gets-land-use.html - March 2009

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hendry Pioneer Descendent Speaking At Museum

Great Great Grandson Of Captain Hendry At Museum

LABELLE, FL. -- Cape Coral attorney Hank Hendry will be the program speaker for the November 4 meeting of the LaBelle Heritage Museum at 7 o�clock in the commission chambers of LaBelle City Hall, Highway 80 West. 

Hendry�s topic is the Battle of Fort Myers, the southernmost conflict in the American Civil War.  Hendry is a  great great grandson of LaBelle's founder Captain Francis Asbury Hendry as well as being a Southwest Florida History buff. 

A  short business  meeting will follow the program.  Visitors to LaBelle Heritage Museum meetings at LaBelle City Hall should enter directly into the commission chambers at the rear of City Hall; the front door will not be open.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hendry's Airglades Airport Up For Sale

FAA Accepts Hendry Application To Privatize Airport - Secrecy In Details

LABELLE, FL. --  The Federal Aviation Administration has officially accepted the preliminary application for Hendry County, Florida's AirGlades Airport to participate in the Airport Privatization Pilot Program (APPP). Under secret negotiations, the county is negotiating the sale of the large central Hendry county airport and land to a private company.

The negotiation details and the name of the parties involved are not being provided to the public.

Hendry County submitted its preliminary application August 31, 2010. A Hendry County Delegation visited FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Monday, October 18, 2010, where they received formal notification of FAA's acceptance of Hendry County's preliminary application. Hendry County will now begin preparing the final application for approval by the FAA.

"As I wrap up 8 years serving the citizens of Hendry County, I am proud to know that AirGlades has a tremendous future ahead of it," said Hendry County Commissioner Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy was the commissioner representative to the delegation visiting FAA's headquarters. "Not only does this enhance aeronautical capacity for the region, but it also represents a significant step forward in the development potential of AirGlades as an economic driver," said an enthusiastic McCarthy. 

Congress established FAA's Airport Privatization Pilot Program to explore privatization as a means of generating access to various sources of private capital for airport improvement and development. Private companies may own, manage, lease and develop public airports.

The Act authorized FAA to permit up to five public airport sponsors to sell or lease an airport and to exempt the sponsor from certain federal requirements that could otherwise make privatization impractical. The airport owner or lease holder would be exempt from repayment of federal grants, return of property acquired with federal assistance, and the use of proceeds from the airport's sale or lease to be used exclusively for airport purposes. The pilot program began in September 1997.

On September 14, 2006, the City of Chicago submitted a preliminary application for Chicago Midway International Airport, a large hub airport. The pilot program can only include one large hub airport, so applications for other large hub airports will be placed on a standby list.

As of October 19, 2010, there are five active applications in the program.
  • Chicago Midway International Airport
  • Gwinnett County Briscoe Field
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
  • Luís Muñoz Marín International Airport
  • Hendry County Airglades Airport
FAA Fact Sheet On Hendry's Application To Privatize Airport:
FAA Airport Privatization Program

LaBelle's Easton Burchard Dies

Former LaBelle City Commissioner

LABELLE, FL. -- Ernest Easton Burchard, age 70, of LaBelle died Saturday, October 16, 2010 in Lehigh Acres.

Easton was a Deacon at Caloosa Baptist Church of LaBelle as well as a City Commissioner of LaBelle for over 20 years. He worked throughout Southwest Florida as a General Contractor (Burchard the Builders), and spent the last decade of his career with Hendry County Building and Zoning.

Easton was also the Director of the Hendry County Area Housing Commission and was a member of LaBelle Masonic Lodge #379. He was veteran of the United States Air Force. 

Burchard was born Oct. 27, 1939 in Fort Myers, the son of the late Robert Everette Burchard Sr. and the late Ella Margaret (Forrey) Burchard.

Easton is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ramona and his loving family, son: Paul (Cathy), daughter: Sonja, two brothers: Bobby and Billy, granddaughters, Corine (Mark), Julie (Adam), Amy (James) and Danna (James). He was also a loving grandpa to nine great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held Wed. October 20, 2010, 11:00 am at Caloosa Baptist Church, 137 Church Way, LaBelle with Dr. Les Morgan officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Visitation will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Caloosa Baptist Church Building Fund.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hendry's Susan English - December Trial

Trial Date Set For LaBelle Ex-Jail Captain Grand Larceny

LABELLE, FL. -- Former Hendry County Deputy and administrator of the Hendry jail, Susan Russe Sibbald English appeared before Circuit Judge Christine Greider Thursday morning and asked for a delay in setting a trial date. The judge set a trial for the period between December 6 and the 15th.

Appearing with her attorney Amira Dajani Fox, the judge was told that possibly two more depositions of witnesses might be needed including the deposition of former Hendry Sheriff Ronnie Lee, English's former boss.

English is charged with Grand Theft over $100,000 and Falsifying a public document by a public servant. English is said to have cashed checks from the Hendry County Jail canteen account, taking over $120,000 between March 2006 and October 2008.

At a previous hearing the Judge refused to accept English's proposed plea deal, for which English agreed with prosecutors to serve 23 months in prison, and be on probation for 20 years. English also asked the judge to delay sentencing until after the holidays. The judge denied that request as well.

English proposed to pay back $120,343.35 to the Hendry Sheriff's department over a period of 20 years at $500 a month.

The December trial is expected to take four to five days, English's attorney Fox told the Judge. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for November 19th.