Saturday, April 30, 2011

Clewiston Sugar Festival & Car Show

Annual Sugar Festival and Antique Automobile Show in Clewiston

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Each April. food venders, musicians, and community organizations stage the largest event every year in Hendry county's city of Clewiston.

This year seemed bigger than ever with loads of vendors, community organizations, and the Seminole Tribe providing sponsorship and music concerts.

Video Above: Antique and Classic Cars, vendors, the music stage area, steam engines.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

LaBelle Home Sales - Unbelievable!

A Home Sold For Every Day Of The Month - But in One Week!

LABELLE, FL. -- In one surprising week, real estate sales in the LaBelle, Florida area have exploded. From April 19th  to April 26th, there were 31 homes recorded as sold in the LaBelle and Port LaBelle area for an average price of $58,194.

The listing of homes sold:

1) $88,000on Berwick Cir
2) $39,000on Bishop Cir
3) $42,000on Brazil Cir
4) $70,000on Buttercup Cir
5) $50,000on Clipper Cir
6) $36,000on Evans Rd
7) $35,000on Florida St
8) $95,000on Ford Ave
9) $47,000on Fort Simmons Ave
10) $165,000on Fort Thompson Ave
11) $50,000on Kathryn St
12) $60,000on Keystone Cir
13) $85,000on Miccosukee Trl
14) $16,000on Mohawk Ave
15) $25,000on Pamona Cir
16) $192,000on Phillips Rd
17) $31,000on Phillips Rd
18) $145,000on River Blossom Ln
19) $155,000on Riverbend Dr
20) $22,000on Steamboat Cir
21) $30,000on Ute St
22) $17,000on E Lincoln Ave
23) $39,000on E Seminole Ave
24) $25,000on E Sunflower Cir
25) $37,000on NE Beechwood Cir
26) $21,000on S Edgewater Cir
27) $52,000on S Edgewater Cir
28) $37,000on W Palomar Cir
29) $37,000on W State Road 80
30) $35,000on W State Road 80
31) $26,000on W Sunflower Cir

LaBelle's Thomas McGill Arrested Again

McGill No Stranger To Hendry Law Enforcement

LABELLE, FL. -- Thomas William McGill, 30 has been arrested again. This time charged with two counts of dealing in stolen property, trafficking in amphetamines or methamphetamine over 14 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was charged on April 20th and arraignment will be before Judge Nickolas Thompson on June 21st at 8:30 in LaBelle. McGill has been classified as indigent by the Hendry Clerk's office and has been appointed a public defender to represent him.

McGill is a many times convicted thief and drug abuser, last convicted for theft November 2010, and another theft conviction from May 2004 along with a conviction for giving a false ID to law enforcement officers. In September 2003 he was convicted of dealing in stolen property and possession of marijuana.

In July 2002, he had 2 convictions for burglary, theft and dealing in stolen property, possession of cocaine and resisting officer with violence.

Also arrested the same day was Doneldo McDuffie Mercer, 42 for dealing in stolen property. She had a prior drug/paraphernalia related case in 2006 and the court withheld adjudication at that time.

(Previous Sunday Morning News Stories On McGill:

Hendry Ambulance Crashes On SR29

Freightliner Crashes Into Hendry EMS Truck

LABELLE, FL. -- A crash on State Road 29, north of Case Road near LaBelle Wednesday, April 27th at 7:50 p.m. left two Hendry county EMS employees with minor injuries.

Nancy Kelly Daniels, 53 of LaBelle, driver of the ambulance and Rachel Stuart, 27 of LaBelle, passenger were injured. 

The two were traveling north on SR 29 north of Case Road with its emergency lights activated in a 2010 International ambulance. A 1997 Freightliner was traveling directly behind as the ambulance began to make a U-turn at the dirt driveway of 2786 SR29 South. 

The truck driver, Milford Jerome Helms, 64 of Ft. Meade, did not realize that the ambulance was making a U-turn and not a right turn.
The ambulance was crossing the northbound lane and entering the southbound lane. Helms began to brake but was unable to stop before the truck collided with the driver side of the ambulance. The ambulance had $30,000 in damages. The truck $10,000.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fire Attacking Muse Area Homes

Fire Departments From LaBelle, Glades, Montura, And Pioneer At Fire Scene

LABELLE, FL. -- Multi-agency Fire Departments are fighting brush fires at Sunset Trail and Summerall Road in Muse, northwest of LaBelle in Glades county.

Fires were threatening 20 manufactured home in the area and some backyard sheds were reported as being caught in the spreading fires. The fires reportedly began on Joe Flint's property in the Muse area and spread to nearby streets moving northward with the winds.

(photo by Melissa Yunas/DOF)

Two homes , one being vacant, five pole barns, and ten vehicles were caught in the fire so far covering 220 acres. Units from as far as Montura and Pioneer were dispatched to the scene. The Department of Forestry had equipment and a plane on scene awaiting more units from Hendry county and a DOF helicopter.

Update 6:00 A.M. April 28: The Division of Forestry previously reported 4 homes were lost, that was an oversight they say as five pole barns were on fire and were believed to be homes. Twenty-five homes were saved after residents were evacuated to the Muse Community Center.

The FL Division of Forestry has established a dozer fireline all the way around both fires in Glades county. There are pockets of unburned vegetation that are difficult to gain access to. Residents will continue to see smoldering and smoke for awhile until either the fire burns up to the firelines or a significant rainfall event occurs.

Fire Closes U.S. 27 At State Road 29 In Glades County

A Fire on Lykes Brothers property, on the west side of U.S. 27, south of the Palmdale Forestry Station has closed road near the intersection of U.S. 27 and S.R. 29 in Glades County, northwest of Moore Haven.

The Florida Highway Patrol says:

"US 27 is closed between SR 29 and SR 78 in Glades County due to a brush fire. Southbound traffic should take SR 29 south to SR 78 and east on SR 78 back to US 27. Northbound traffic will take SR 78 west to SR 29 and North on SR 29 to US 27."

The Department of Forestry's fixed wing aircraft is helping ground units access fire. Due to rough terrain and spotting, the fixed wing pilot is an essential element to seeing wind directions and spotting.

Update: At 4:50 p.m. the highway is now open.
·Dozers are working the rear to the sides of the fire to pinch it off. Glades County is extinguishing firebrands/ spot overs in front of the main fire.

Please avoid the area of 27 & 29, firefighters are trying to quickly and safely fight the fire. There might be smoke on the highway, please use caution. 50 acres are now affected by smoke and fires.

On scene:

FL Division of Forestry, 3 Dozers & 1 Supervisor, 2 more dozers en route, Forestry fixed-wing, Glades County Fire Rescue, and 5 Brush Trucks (From Ortona, Moore Haven, Lakeport & Glades Fire 1)

Obama Posts Long-Form Birth Certificate

The White House Blog

President Obama's Long Form Birth Certificate

In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the internet. That birth certificate can be seen here (PDF).

When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received. In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.

The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting. President Barack Obama's long form birth certificate can be seen here (PDF)

Correspondence with the Hawaii State Department of Health can be seen here (PDF).

At a time of great consequence for this country – when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President’s hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.

Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director

Two Vehicle Crash At LaBelle High School

Traffic Tied Up For Hour At High School Entrance

LABELLE, FL. -- A crash between a pickup truck and a minivan at the entrance of the LaBelle High School on Cowboy Way at 6:30 a.m. April 27th, 2011 left traffic tied up for an hour as Hendry Sheriff's Deputies routed traffic, while the Florida Highway Patrol investigated the crash.

Traffic backed up on Cowboy way to Collingswood Blvd. during the school opening hour. The crash is under investigation at this time.

(Click on video above to play)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fire Being Fought In Glades County

The Florida Division of Forestry currently fighting a wildfire on Lykes Property, northeast of Palmdale, in Glades County off US 27 near the Highlands and Glades county border.

The division says the fire is covering pasture land, heavy palmetto, planted pine & pine over story. Smoke column should be visible for miles for this fire. 

Crews are having a difficult time containing this fire due to the heavy vegetation. Crews are trying to safely get their dozers behind and to the sides of the fire. 

Monday afternoon there were four bulldozers working the left flank coming up the rear and four working the left flank coming around the head. Lykes has tractors disking some of their roads and putting lines in ahead of ours just in case the DOF don't catch it. 

A helicopter was in service and another fire has spotted over to another property (Smoak's Property). Typically at night the humidity goes up and fire activity will go down said the DOF.  90% contained at an estimated 800 acres. 

There were 3 hunting camps that were saved plus 3 recreational vehicles. Forestry State Wildland Firefighters established dozerlines around structures and vehicles to save them. The 8 dozer firefighters worked in tandem to remove the vegetation and create a fireline all around the fire.

Forestry's Helicopter dropped 101 water drops on the fire at 360 gallons per load. The helicopter was used for the long range spotting and structure protection. He is also used for allowing ground units to get closer to the fire safely to establish firelines with the dozers.

The DOF says it will know Tuesday around 2pm if the line holds. 2pm is the time of day where the vegetation is the driest, relative humidity is at its lowest and afternoon winds shift.

Dozers will be pushing down snags (trees on fire) and ensuring dozer firelines are wide enough to contain fire. Brush units will using water to wet down hot spots smoldering inside the containment lines. 

2 structures are in the area and not threatened at this time. They are still a distance away. 

Firefighting tactics

(1)   Establish safety zones for firefighters

(2)   Helicopter on scene for structure protection and long range spotting.

(3)   Forestry's fixed wing pilot circling in the air guiding crews safely to fire.

(4)   It is too dangerous to build a firebreak directly in front of the fire; rather lines must but built obliquely along the sides or backfires set from an existing line (such as a road) to burn out fuels in the fire's path.

(5)   State  Wildland Firefighters from FL Division of Forestry

a.       1 Helicopter & fuel truck

b.      8 dozers

c.       1 engine

d.      1 2 overhead- Supervisors

e.      Fixed Wing Aircraft "eyes in the sky"

f.        Additional crews en route

g.       mechanic

Rain Below Average In Hendry-Glades

16 Florida Counties Record Lowest Rain Totals In 80 Years

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The South Florida Water Management District says the District's 16-county region experienced the driest October-to-February period since recordkeeping began nearly 80 years ago. While regional rainfall for March was average, April's rainfall has so far been less than half of the historical average. 

Long-term forecasts call for extreme dry conditions through the rest of the annual dry season.

Water Shortage Order – Landscape Irrigation

·         Modified Phase II restrictions, effective March 26, limit landscape irrigation to two days per week throughout the District.

·         Landscape irrigation using reclaimed water is not restricted under the order.

·         Irrigation times vary by area:

o    For Broward, Glades, Hendry, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. Also for portions of Osceola County within the SFWMD boundaries, the Town of Windermere in Orange County and cities within Lee County except Cape Coral – Just the Facts


·         Recent rainfall temporarily improved navigation potential in the Kissimmee River. The S-193 navigation lock at Taylor Creek in Okeechobee County is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. S-193 will be closed if the lake level drops to 11 feet NGVD. These locks on the north shore of Lake Okeechobee remain closed:

o    S-135 at J&S Fish Camp in Martin County

o    G-36 at Henry Creek in Okeechobee County

o    S-127 at Buckhead Ridge in Glades County

o    S-131 at Lakeport in Glades County

Glades Crash Kills One

One Dead On U.S. 27

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Michael Allen Johnson, 53, of Clewiston died at the scene when his 1996 GMC pickup truck collided with a semi trailer on U.S. 27, Monday April 25th at 3:43 p.m.

This traffic crash occurred on US-27 (State Road 25) near the entrance of Wedgworth Inc., located at 28033 South US-27, Moore Haven, 
Florida, 33471.  Johnson was traveling north on US-27 in the outside lane, behind a trailer driven by Ruben Gonzalez, 50 of Clewiston, just south of the entrance of Wedgworth Inc. 

The 2006 Mack truck, towing a single semi trailer, was traveling north on US-27 in the outside lane, in  front of Johnson, just south of the entrance of Wedgworth Inc.  Gonzalez was slowng to make a right turn into the entrance of Wedgworth Inc.  According to the physical evidence, Johnson failed to notice him slowing.  

As a result, the front portion of the pickup collided with the rear trailer portion of the Mack truck.  As a result of impact, the Mack and trailer 
over turned on to its left side.  Subsequently, the top hood portion of it collided with a palm tree and a utility pole.   

The pickup came to final rest in the entrance of Wedgworth Inc., east of State Road 25. V01 was upright, facing in a northeast direction to the rear 
portion of the trailer which came to final rest on the north grass shoulder of the entrance of Wedgworth Inc., east of State Road 25, on its left side facing east. 

Neither person was wearing a seatbelt. Gonzales suffered minor injuries. Charges are pending a homicide investigation. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Clewiston Sugar Festival This Week

Music And Entertainment In Clewiston

Clewiston, FL – The City of Clewiston is hosting its 25th Annual Sugar Festival. Festival events will begin Friday, April 29th at 9 am and Saturday, April 30th at 8 am.

This year features the Seminole Tribe of Florida as the title sponsor of the Sugar Festival. Historically, Sugar Festival has been a celebration which takes place at the end of sugarcane harvest each year. The Festival will highlight several Seminole Tribe musical artists including David Billy, Tori Osceola, COWBONE and Shelli Tiger.

Performances also by country Band Ricochet and feature famed country music group Gloriana. Musical performances will be taking place Friday, April 29th and Saturday April 30th. Admission and concerts will be free of charge.

Sugar Festival will also feature the Rotary BBQ, Seminole Chickee Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Seminole Tribe of Florida Entertainers, Alligator Wrestling, Car Show and Rod Run, Arts and Crafts vendors, Sugar Festival Street Dance, 5K run, Tennis and Basketball Championship Games, Gospel Concert, Fishing, Horseshoe and Cornhole Tournaments, Sweet Taste of Sugar Recipe Contest, the Hendry Regional Medical Center Hospital Bed Races and the Sugar Festival Street Dance.

The Raising Cane Rodeo and Dance will take place at the Hendry County Fair and Livestock Show Arena. This free event begins with the Youth Rodeo on Friday, April 29th at 7 pm. Adult Teams compete for title of Raising Cane Rodeo Champion Saturday, April 30th at 7 pm followed by a dance at the fairgrounds.

Country, multi-award winning band Ricochet will open for Sugar Festival's headliner Gloriana. Ricochet will take the Main stage Saturday, April 30th at 3:15 pm.

All concerts will take place on the Main stage at Sugar Festival Field. Located one block off of Highway 27 and behind The Clewiston Inn, Sugar Festival Field seating capacity is several thousand. Seating is based on a first come first serve basis. Reserved seating directly in front of the stage for a limited 100 guests is available for $10 a person.

Florida Gas Prices Steady

Florida Price Rise Slows Compared To U.S.

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 0.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.81/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.83/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 97.6 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 26.0 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 28.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 97.9 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Manuel Cruz-Alvarez, age 79, of Clewiston died Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at Clewiston, FL. Manuel was born June 17, 1931 in , . He is the son of the late Francisco and the late Adela Cruz. He was employed as a Welder for many years. .

He is survived by his one daughter: Adela Vallejo of Clewiston, FL and two sons: Jose De Jesus Cruz, Juan Francisco Cruz of Monterrey, MX; Brother of one sister: Marta. Predeceased by his Son, Manuel. His body was cremated and will be scattered at a later date.

Irene Gause, age 88, of Fort Myers, formally of LaBelle died Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in Joanne's House at Hope Hospice of Bonita Springs, FL. Irene was born July 16, 1922 in St. Clair County, AL. She is the daughter of the late William D. and the late Minnie (Jackson) Dison.

She was a cook for the Hendry County Jail for many years. She is survived by her one daughter: Bobbie Faye Gause of LaBelle, FL and two sons: Joe (Darcy) Bowman of Fort Myers, FL, Claude Bowman; she also has twenty seven Grandchildren and many great grandchildren; preceded in death by son, James Gause, brother; Calvin Dison and sister, Estella.

Graveside service was 2:00 pm on Saturday, April 23 in Fort Denaud Cemetery, 1170 Cemetery Road, LaBelle, Fl with Pastor James Monson officiating. Interment was in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation was 1 hour prior to service in Fort Denaud Cemetery, 1170 Cemetery Road, LaBelle, FL. Arrangements were handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - La Belle.

Walter Benjamin King, age 84, of Clewiston died Sunday, April 17, 2011 at home in Clewiston. Walter was born February 9, 1927 in Talladega, AL. He is the son of the late Fred and the late Irene King. He married Sadie L. Booth and she preceded him in death on march 29, 2010. He served in the Navy. He was employed as Heavy Equipment Operator.

He is survived by his two daughters: Sheila Whidden of Clewiston, FL, Elizabeth (Larry) Lowman of Clewiston, FL and one son: Douglas (Debbie) King of Gainesville, FL; Predeceased by his loving wife of Son, Kenneth King, Daughter, Barbara King.

Jeanie Miller, age 77, of Clewiston died Saturday, April 16, 2011 at JFK Medical Center of Atlantis, FL. Jeanie was born May 19, 1933 in Mattoon, IL. She is the daughter of the late Nelson and the late Myrtle (Winnings) Myers. She married Robert Leon Miller Sr; he preceded her in death on July 2, 2008. She was a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Hookers Point. She was a stay at home wife and mother all of her life.

She is survived by her two daughters: Debra Miller of Clewiston, FL, Diana L. Roland of Clewiston and three sons: John Miller of Clewiston, FL, Robert Miller, Jr(Susan) of Clewiston, FL, Jim Miller (Penny) of N Fort Myers, FL; ; she also has 8 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren Predeceased by her grandchild, Casey Miller.

The funeral service was held 3:00 pm on Wednesday, April 20 at Calvary Baptist Church, Corner Of Davidson & Gratton (Hookers Point), Clewiston, FL with Rev. David McClusky officiating. Interment was in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston, visitation was held one hour before services. Arrangements were handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Carolyn Sands-Routt, age 67, of Alva died Thursday, April 21, 2011 at her home. Carolyn was born January 26, 1944 in Alva, Florida She is the daughter of the late Wyatt and Laura Sands. She was predeceased by her husband, Marion Routt .

Survivors include two daughters: Melody Gran of Lehigh Acres, Michelle Garner of LaBelle, and one son: Marion Todd Routt of Lehigh Acres, her mother Laura Sands; four sisters: Evelyn Tuffree, Loretta Koepke, Joann Brewer, Janice Humphries and one brother: Willard Sands. She also has 7 grandchildren; Joshua Garner; Sarah Garner; Cody Garner; Thomas Gran; Daniel Gran; Winston Routt; , Jacob Routt and two great-grandchildren, Kyrstin English; Thomas James Gran, Jr.

The funeral service will be held 11:00 am on Monday, April 25 at First Baptist Church Of Alva, 2790 Joel Blvd., Alva, FL with Brother George Henderson Jr. officiating. Interment will follow in Alva Cemetery.

Arrangements by: Akin-Davis Funeral Home of Fort Myers (239) 694-6444

Friday, April 22, 2011

3rd Grade Reading Predicts High School Graduation Rate

Foundation Study Shows Effects Of Early Reading And Poverty

A new study from the Annie E. Casey Foundations shows that reading skills of 3rd graders and poverty predict the later high school graduation rates of those students.

One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.

The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23% of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9% of children with basic reading skills and 4% of proficient readers. Overall, 22% of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6% of those who have never been poor.

This rises to 32% for students spending more than half of their childhood in poverty. For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion that do not finish school rose to 26%. That's more than six times the rate for all proficient readers.

The rate was highest for poor black and Hispanic students, at 31% and 33%, respectively - or about eight times the rate for all proficient readers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hendry County Earth Day 2011

Environmental Groups Gather In LaBelle On Earth Day 2011

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County's Earth Day was celebrated Thursday April 21 at LaBelle's Civic Park. Featured booths included Hendry County Recycling, University of Florida/IFAS, Florida Division of Forestry, and Hendry County 4-H.

Activities were scheduled for the kids including free hot dogs and drinks, and five oak trees were planted in the park to celebrate National Arbor Day. 50 people carried away free oak trees in three-gallon buckets and everyone took home a bag of recycled products from Hendry County's Recycling Department.

Coolest item given away today? A calculator with no batteries or solar cell, getting it's power instead by shaking ita few dozen times to produce energy stored in an internal capacitor to make it operate.

Other sponsors for the day included Hendry-LaBelle Recreation Board, LaBelle Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of LaBelle, Hendry Audubon, Hendry Sheriff's Office, Clarke Mosquito Control, and the Port LaBelle Utility Conservation Project.

(Click On Video Above To Play)

Florida Alligator Hunting Areas Expanded

More Everglades Areas Open To Alligator Hunting

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board is expanding an alligator hunting program in Everglades water-cleansing wetlands, further supporting recreational opportunities on public land.

"Hunting is a favorite South Florida recreational activity, and fortunately it is compatible with our Stormwater Treatment Areas' primary function to improve Everglades water quality," said Tommy Strowd, SFWMD Deputy Executive Director of Operations and Maintenance. "With the treatment areas covering more than 52,000 acres, we continually search for ways to provide public access on District-managed land when it does not impact restoration objectives."

Alligator hunting will now be allowed in Stormwater Treatment Area 2 (STA-2), located in southern Palm Beach County. The hunts will be managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which has coordinated with the District since 2006 to host hunts in the District's other Everglades STAs.

Similar to the alligator hunts that occur in STAs 1 West, 3/4 and 5 in Palm Beach and Hendry counties, regulations and procedures will be implemented in STA-2 to ensure the security of the District's facilities and the proper administration of the hunt program.

Permits specific to STA-2 will be issued by the FWC as part of the agency's Statewide Alligator Harvest Program. The number of permits issued and the dates and times of the hunts will be determined by the FWC in consultation with District staff. The use of motorized vehicles, including boats, airboats and all-terrain vehicles, will be prohibited. FWC law enforcement officers will be on-site providing hunt area access and management oversight.

STA-2 will also be used to host youth alligator hunts managed by FWC through the Youth Hunting Program of Florida.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Employee Sues City Of LaBelle In Federal Court

Federal Suit Claims Age Discrimination, Assaults By Boss

LABELLE, FL. -- Mark Reith, an employee of the City of LaBelle has filed against the City of LaBelle claiming age discrimination and contains allegations of two assaults against him by his superior, Joe Thomas. The complaint was filed with the U.S. Federal District Court in Fort Myers on April 18, 2011.

Reith alleges that he was hired by the city to run the water plant in February 2009, having been recruited by Mike Boyle.  But, he says after three months Joe Thomas was hired, pointing out that Thomas was five years younger, and that Boyle put Thomas ahead of Reith, making Thomas head of the water plant and also the sewer plant. 

Reith claims Thomas "flew into a rage" on September 14, 2009 and threw Reith to the ground, and Reith was hospitalized. Reith says he reported the issue to Ms. White at the city's human resources department, who said "There's nothing I can do."

On April 5th, 2010 Thomas was found guilty of misdemeanor battery. Reith was absent from the job for six months on medical leave. After returning to work, he says the city took no action against Thomas, and then says a second assault occurred. 

Reith claims he has been retaliated against, mistreated and harassed by the city and wants to recover damages and attorney's fees.

Reith did file a claim to the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was later dismissed for failing to state a claim that would come under the appropriate statutes.

Hendry Hit And Run Injures 70-Year Old

Victim Airlifted To Hendry Regional

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Investigation is pending on a crash one mile east of Airglades Boulevard on U.S. 27 involving a 2009 Daix motor scooter and an unidentified 2nd motorist Tuesday, April 19th at 10 p.m.

A vehicle and the moped were eastbound on US 27 in the outside lane.   The moped was ahead of the vehicle and the driver failed to decelerate.   The front struck the rear of the moped in the outside lane.   

Collision impact caused Ingrid M. Sievert of West Palm Beach to be ejected from the moped.   The driver failed to stop and continued eastbound on US 27.  The moped came to final rest on the eastbound  paved apron of the roadway facing east.   Sievert came to rest partially in the eastbound lane and partially on the south paved apron, laying in a prone position.   

The other driver never returned to the scene of the crash.   Sievert was transported by MEDFLIGHT to Hendry Regional Medical Center in Clewiston with minor injuries.

Vietnam Veterans Eligible For New Benefits

New Agent Orange Disabilities Added To List

LABELLE, FL. -- Three new disabilities have been added to the list of Vietnam Veteran disabilities recognized as Agent Orange related. The three that are being recognized are ischemic heart disease, Parkinson's disease and B-cell leukemias (such as hairy cell leukemia.) This brings to 15 disabilities that are now recognized.

Veterans have until August 31, 2011 to apply for these new conditions and the effective date of any benefits awarded will be August 31, 2010. If a veteran previously applied for disability compensation for any of the new issues, the effective date could be earlier. Surviving spouses are also entitled to apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) if their spouse would have died from any of these conditions.

To qualify for disabilities related to Agent Orange, a veteran generally must have served "in country" in Vietnam meaning they must prove that they actually set foot on land in Vietnam. There have been ongoing court cases involving veterans who served on the ships in the waters off of Vietnam. These veterans are referred to as Blue Water Veterans and are generally Navy veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded Agent Orange benefits to some of these veterans and the VA is now referring to them as Brown Water Veterans because they must have served on the inland waters of Vietnam or docked at one of the ports. A list of the vessels that are now being recognized as having served in the inland waters establishing the presumption for exposure to Agent Orange is available.

For more information in Hendry and Glades county contact David Abney, Veterans Service Officer in LaBelle at 863-675-5250 and Jim Harringon in Glades county at (863) 946-1281.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Arrested On Warrants In LaBelle

Man Taken In On Probation Violations

LABELLE, FL. -- John Robert Munson was arrested Tuesday afternoon, April 19th on two warrants. Three Hendry deputies were on scene at a Springview Circle residence in Port LaBelle to pick him up. One officer said he had two warrants including a violation of probation.

Munson was on 24-month's probation for Grand Theft and False Verification of Ownership from a video camera theft and afterwards pawning it a a local pawn shop. He violated probation by failing to report as directed by the Hendry court on March 14 to Sebring, Florida and then a failure to report in Sebring as ordered by the Highlands county officials.

He also violated probation when he left Highlands county and entered Hendry without consent of the probation officer and failed to report to his Highlands county probation officer on April 17th.

Munson is the son of John K. Munson, owner of K&M Lake Placid, Inc. in Highlands County and JKM LLC., also in Lake Placid. Munson owned and was formerly associated with J&J Drugs and Juan and John Drugs, Inc. in Hendry county.

(Arrest Video Above)

The Sunday Morning News is trying to determine what relationship the arrestee has to the Port LaBelle residence where he was picked up, and at this time it appears he is a friend of family members there.

Correction: We previously identified the arrested man in the video as Bryan Boyle who is an acquaintance of Munson. Boyle lives at the residence where the arrest was made.

According to court records Boyle, the son of City of LaBelle's Superintendent of Public Works Michael A. Boyle, is a habitual traffic offender. Boyle was last found guilty of violation of probation on February 11, 2011 and a warrant was issued. He had been convicted of violating driver's license restrictions. Boyle had been in jail January 11, 2011 for violation of probation and released on $2500 bond.

He has a lengthy violation record in Hendry county, including numerous misdemeanor and felony arrests going back to 1993.

Update May 13, 2011: Bryan Boyle plead no contest at trial before Judge James Sloan and adjudicated guilty on May 12 to a charge of violation of driver's license restrictions and unlawful attachment. He was given a sentence of 30 days in the Hendry County jail and court costs of $253.

Boyle was arrested again August 22, 2011 for violation of drivers license restrictions.

Munson was adjudged guilty August 1, 2011 and sentenced to six months in county jail with credit for three months and tens days served.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Florida Gas Prices Still Higher

96 Cents Higher Than One Year Ago - Up 27 Cents In Month

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have risen 3.0 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.82/g Sunday. This compares with the national average that has increased 3.7 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.80/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 96.6 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 27.5 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 27.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 93.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

LaBelle Precautionary Boil Water Notice

Mechanical Failure In LaBelle's Water System

LABELLE, FL, -- A precautionary boil water notice has been issued for the City of LaBelle water service area on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

All City of LaBelle water users are advised to bring drinking water to a rolling boil for at least one minute prior to consumption. As an alternative bottled water may be used. The notice is necessary due to loss of water pressure due to a mechanical failure.

This notice is effective immediately and will remain in effect until a notice is issued lifting the boil water action. For further information please call Joseph Thomas at 863-675-4684 or City Hall at 863-675-2872 during normal business hours.

Update: April 19th 12:45 P.M. The precautionary boil water notice that was issued on April 16, 2011, has been lifted for the City of LaBelle water service area. Normal water usage may resume.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

LaBelle's Relay For Life Celebration

Celebrate, Remember, And Fight Back

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle's annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life event takes place Saturday afternoon April 16th beginning at 3 P.M. through Sunday morning, giving everyone a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.

(Click on video above to play)

Teams will camp out at the LaBelle High School football field and take turns walking or running around the track Saturday through Sunday morning. And because "cancer never sleeps" each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event.

The Relay "Traditions" common to all Relay For Life events include:

Celebrate - The Survivors & Caregivers Lap - 6 P.M. Saturday Relay starts with a Survivors and Caregivers Lap, an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories achieved over cancer, and creating a world with more birthdays, like those celebrating on the track.

Remember - The Luminaria Ceremony - 9 P.M. Saturday After dark, honored are people who have been touched by cancer, and remember loved ones lost to the disease during the Luminaria Ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer. Participants often walk a lap in silence.

Fight Back Through Fundraising In addition to what the fundraising teams do before the Relay, there are fundraising opportunities available onsite. From food, face painters, crafts and more, allowing participants and visitors to support the fight against cancer.

Thanks to :aBelle's Relay participants, a world is created with more birthdays where cancer can't claim another year of anyone's life. LaBelle's Relay For Life chairpersons deserve your thanks for organizing this event. Feel free to email your encouragement, thanks and messages to them:

The top fund raising participants include Yvette Williams, $1506; Carey Sherrod, $1938; and Shellie Johnson, $936.

Top Teams include Country Oaks Elementary School, $5157; City of LaBelle, $4257; and Oakbrook of LaBelle, $1715.

Last year $42,000 was raised and this year's goal is $46,000.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Largest Internet Poker Sites Shut Down

One-Third Of Bets Said To Be Skimmed As Profits

The New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced the unsealing of an indictment today charging 11 defendants, including the founders of the three largest Internet poker companies doing business in the United States—PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker —with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.

The United States also filed a civil money laundering and in rem forfeiture complaint against the Poker Companies, their assets, and the assets of several payment processors for the Poker Companies. In addition, restraining orders were issued against more than 75 bank accounts utilized by the Poker Companies and their payment processors, and five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to host their illegal poker games were seized.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharra said: "As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don't like simply because they can't bear to be parted from their profits."

On October 13, 2006, the United States enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, making it a federal crime for gambling businesses to "knowingly accept" most forms of payment "in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling." Despite the passage of UIGEA, the Poker Companies, located offshore, continued operating in the United States. In a press release dated October 16, 2006, Absolute Poker announced that the company would continue its U.S. operations because "the U.S. Congress has no control over" the company's payment transactions.

Because U.S. banks and credit card issuers were largely unwilling to process their payments, the Poker Companies allegedly used fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law and trick these institutions into processing payments on their behalf. Of the billions of dollars in payment transactions that the Poker Companies tricked U.S. banks into processing, approximately one-third or more of the funds went directly to the Poker Companies as revenue through the "rake" charged to players on almost every poker hand played online.

PokerStars, FullTilt Poker, and their payment processors persuaded the principals of a few small, local banks facing financial difficulties to engage in such processing in return for multi-million-dollar investments in the banks. 

$3 Billion Sought By Government In Penalties And Forfeitures

The indictment and civil complaint seek at least $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties and forfeiture from the Poker Companies and the defendants. The District Court issued an order restraining approximately 76 bank accounts in 14 countries containing the proceeds of the charged offenses. Pursuant to a warrant for arrest in rem issued by the U.S. District Court, the United States also seized five Internet domain names used by the Poker Companies to operate their illegal online businesses in the United States.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Stephen H. Williams, age 66, of LaBelle, FL, passed away Friday, April 8, 2011 in LaBelle. He was born May 15, 1944 in New Haven, CT, son of the late Harold Henry and the late Emily (White) Williams. 

He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He was employed as an HVAC Mechanic. Stephen was a resident of LaBelle for the past fifteen years. He was Commander of D.A.V. Chapter #144 and was an active member of American Legion Post#130, both in LaBelle 
He was a former resident of Northford, CT. He also was an accomplished country-western musician who released his own recordings and played in his own band, Steve Williams & Shiloh.

Survivors include his children Jeanne Williams of VA, Jason Williams of CT, MaryAnn (Brock Blair) Ivie of OR, Carla (Albert) Compagna of CT, Angela Saporito of FL, Dana (Thomas) Casey of CT, brothers: Harold and Ronald Williams of CT, sisters: Sharon Mauro and Patricia Barbour of CT, grandchildren: Joseph Williams, Samantha Blair, Joshua Blair, Joseph Blair, Olivia Compagna Nicholas Saporito, Abigayle Casey; Deklin Casey and Jenna Casey; and companion, Elodia Messer of LaBelle. He was predeceased by his wife, Carole Williams and granddaughter: Michaela Blair and sister: Sandra Armatino. 

The funeral service will be held Thursday, April 14, 2011, 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady Queen Of Heaven Catholic Church in LaBelle, FL with Father Chester Domaszewicz officiating. 

Alice Gertrude Bembry, age 91, of Clewiston
died Wednesday, April 6, 2011 in Palm Terrace Of Clewiston Alice was born April 15, 1919 in Fort Myers, FL. She is the daughter of the late John Nelson and the late Mary Matilda (Anderson) Click. 

She was a U.S. Postal Service Carrier for many years and was also a school teacher. She was a founding member of the First Christian Church of Clewiston and a member of the First Baptist Church of Clewiston. She married Harvey Pridgen and he preceded her in death on October 19, 1975. She then married Leon Bembry who also preceded her in death. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend.

She is survived by her two sons: Glenn Pridgen and Douglas Pridgen; seven grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren and one great -great grandchild. 

Celebration of Gertrude's life was held 10:00 am on Saturday, April 9 in First Baptist Church Of Clewiston, 102 East Ventura Avenue, Clewiston, FL with Dr. Todd Buck, Pastor Craig Sloan and Pastor Carl Paschal officiating. Interment followed in Ortona Cemetery. Visitation was from 6-8 pm on April 8 in Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston. 

Mary Frances Fewell Cypress, age 87, of Big Cypress Reservation died Saturday, April 2, 2011 in Big Cypress Reservation. Mary was born July 15, 1923 in Collier County, FL. She is the daughter of the late Charlie and the late Lucy Fewell.

She is survived by her daughter: Patsy Jane Cypress of Big Cypress Reservation, sons: Mitchell Cypress of Big Cypress Reservation, David Cypress of Big Cypress Reservation, Timothy Cypress Billie of Avon Park and Terry Cypress of Big Cypress Reservation, many grandchildren and many great-grandchild. She was predeceased by her son: Donald Cypress and daughters, Dorothy Cypress and Edna Mae Cypress. 

The funeral service was held Monday, April 4, 2011, 11:00 at Big Cypress First Baptist Church with Rev. Paul Buster and Rev. Bruce Pratt officiating. Interment followed in Big Cypress Cemetery. 

Doberti Sanchez, Jr., age 18, of Clewiston died Saturday, April 2, 2011 in Clewiston, FL. Doberti was born April 29, 1992 in Key West, FL. He is the son of Doberti and Betty (Rodriguez) Sanchez, Sr. 

He was a Senior at Clewiston High School. He was a fire ranger for the Montura Fire Department. He was a lifeguard for the Montura Clubhouse. He was a member of the FFA Club at Clewiston High School. He was the student of the month for March 2011. 

He is survived by his parents Doberti and Betty (Rodriguez) Sanchez, Sr.; four sisters: Claudia Sanchez, Carina Sanchez, Betty Sanchez, Cathryn Sanchez; paternal grandfather; Pedro Sanchez of Clewiston, Maternal Grandparents; Amado and Barbara Rodriquez of Key West; aunts; Orialy Sanchez of Miami, Agustina Sanchez of Cuba, Dianna Rodriguez of Key West, Belinda Rodriguez of Key West, Leticia Powell, Joy Rodriguez of Tavares; uncles; Pedro Sanchez of Cuba, Ivan Sanchez of Miami, Yesenia Ramos of Clewiston, Steven Powell, Thomas Palumbo, Numerous Cousins; Irene, Dimey, Johnny, Thomas, Alex, Lennox, Paul, Steve, and Sofia and Nana Donna Sparks. 

Celebration of Doberti's life was 12:00 pm on Wednesday, April 6 in Clewiston High School Gymnasium, 1501 South Francisco Street, Clewiston, FL with Father Jiobani Batista officiating. Interment was in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation was Wednesday, April 6 from 10a.m. to 12 p.m. at Clewiston High School Gymnasium, 1501 South Francisco Street, Clewiston, Florida. Arrangements were handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston. 

Do Prisons Make A Difference?

State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America's Prisons

In a new Pew Center study, the three year recidivism rate for inmates released in 1999 was 45.4% and 43.3% for those released in 2004. Recidivism rates have been largely stable for well over a decade, although they vary widely among the states.

There are a number of potential explanations for the differences, such as interstate differences in how recidivism is measured and reported. If states could reduce their recidivism rates by just 10%, they could save more than $635 million combined in one year in averted prison costs.

To cut reoffending and corrections costs, states are taking concerted steps to put research on what works into practice. The report highlights the strategies that three states - Michigan, Missouri, and Oregon - have employed to reduce returns to prison.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hendry Hit And Run Suspect Sought

Van Hits Montura Woman Walking With Infant

CLEWISTON, FL. - On April 9, 2011 at approximately 8:41 pm, Hendry County Sgt. L. Richardson responded to the area of CR 833 after receiving a report of a hit and run.


Lacey McGhee of Montura had been walking on Horse Club Avenue with her infant daughter in a stroller and two young children.  She told Sgt. Richardson that she saw a vehicle traveling toward her on Horse Club and began to move from the roadway to the grassy area alongside the road.  

McGhee reported she was able to get her two toddler age children off the road and the stroller before the vehicle passed her.  As the vehicle approached McGhee she was struck in the left arm by the moving vehicle. 


McGhee was later transported to Hendry Regional Medical Center where she was treated and later released.


Deputies are looking for a dark in color van with possible damage to the side view mirror. 


Anyone with any information about this hit and run accident is asked to contact Hendry County Sheriff's Office at 805-5000.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Prescription Drug Abuse And You

Drug Free Hendry County Invites you to: Lunch and Learn at Sunrise Restaurant on April 21, 2011 from 11:30am—1:00pm.


Is prescription drug abuse a problem in Hendry County?  Here is an opportunity to get the facts and talk with local professionals about prescription drug abuse.  With Pharmacist Haitham Kaki of K&M Drugs


  • What is prescription drug abuse?
  • Is it dangerous to share prescription medications?
  • How do teens get prescription drugs?
  • Primary drugs of abuse in our area, affects, and addictive qualities.
  • What symptoms can parents look for if they think they're children may be using prescription drugs?
  • What can your local pharmacies and doctors do?


RSVP by Tuesday, April 19. Call: Bianca Ross @ 863.674.4041 x143 Email: