Thursday, May 31, 2012

Food Stamp Program Gets Tough On Fraud

Cracking Down On EBT Cards Sold Illegally Online Or To Stores

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced new measures to further reduce fraud in USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as part of the Obama administration's ongoing Campaign to Cut Waste. 

New rules will help states examine client's excessive requests for replacement benefit cards. Some food stamp recipients have been selling their benefit EBT cards for cash either to stores, or on online, all of which are illegal. Current law lacks needed flexibility for States to contact households for information about requests for multiple replacements, which in some cases may indicate fraudulent activity, as the cards are sold and then a replacement requested from the state SNAP programs.

"There are many legitimate reasons for replacing cards and the vast majority of recipients follow the rules," said Concannon, Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. "But we are concerned that a few bad actors are using replacement cards to exchange SNAP benefits for cash, commonly referred to as trafficking."

Trafficking is an illegal activity punishable by disqualification from the program, fines, and even criminal prosecution. Over the last 15 years, FNS has aggressively implemented a number of measures to reduce the prevalence of trafficking in SNAP from 4 percent down to 1 percent.

The proposed rule provides States the option to require SNAP recipients to make contact with the state when there have been an excessive number of requests for replacements in a year. The proposal lets States set the threshold for contact but stipulates that it be no fewer than four requests in the 12 month period prior to the requests. 

USDA continues to work with local, state and federal partners to root out fraud, waste and abuse in SNAP, also known as food stamps. Most recently, USDA sent letters to the CEOs of Craigslist, EBay, Facebook and Twitter to reiterate the need to help prevent the illegal sale or purchase of SNAP benefits on their websites. The proposed rule also codifies current policy that such attempted sales are trafficking violations.

Concannon also today released second quarter, fiscal year 2012 results of USDA work in fighting fraudulent activity in SNAP retail stores, tallying final actions to sanction or disqualify retailers violating program rules. In that quarter, USDA staff took final actions to:

Impose sanctions, through fines or temporary disqualifications, on more than 198 stores found violating program rules; and

Permanently disqualify over 366 stores for trafficking in SNAP benefits (i.e. exchanging SNAP benefits for cash).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Two Year Old Drowns In Clewiston Crash

Woman Arrested After Boy Dies In Canal

CLEWISTON, FL -- A Clewiston woman has been arrested on numerous felony charges after driving into a canal today, resulting in the death of her passenger, a 2-year old boy.

Hermelinda Ramirez, 22 of 813 E. El Paso Avenue, was arrested and taken to the Hendry County jail on charges of DUI Manslaughter, DUI, and driving with no valid driver license involving the death of a human being.

2-year old Alex Perez-Ramirez died after the 2001 Ford Explorer, driven by Ramirez submerged in a Clewiston canal at San Diego and El Paso Streets at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Ramiriez was traveling east on El Paso Ave East approaching  San Diego Street South, in Clewiston, Florida.  and made a wide right turn onto San Diego Street South and traveled onto the east shoulder.  The front left wheel traveled off the shoulder and the Ford SUV overturned into a canal which paralleled San Diego Street South.

The passenger compartment became submerged under water.  Alex Perez-Ramirez was pronounced deceased at 1:35 a.m. at Hendry Regional Medical Center.  It was undetermined whether the passenger, Alex Perez-Ramirez, had been restrained within the vehicle.

The driver, Hermelinda Ramirez, was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

It is suspected that alcohol played a factor in this crash, and an investigation is underway, according to the FHP crash report.  Hermelinda Ramirez was arrested at 10:00 a.m. on May 30, 2012 by FHP and booked into the Hendry County jail on the above charges.  Bond has been set at $105,000.

The Florida Highway Patrol requests that anybody with any information regarding this crash contact Corporal Jeff Rongish at 239-344-1730 ex. 1192, or call CRIMESTOPPERS to remain anonymous.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

James Lamar Freyermuth, age 80, of Moore Haven passed away Monday, May 21, 2012, at home in Moore Haven. James was born March 31, 1932 in Newberry, FL. He is the son of the late Cecil and the late Annie (Langford) Freyermuth.

He served in the United States Army during the Korean War from 1954 to1957. He also retired from United States Sugar Corporation. He was Baptist by faith.

He is survived his by wife; Brenda Freyermuth, son; Dale Freyermuth (Faith), grandchildren; Brendie Elizabeth Freyermuth and James Alexander Freyermuth all of Lakeport, FL and sister; Louise Annie Holden of Clewiston, FL. He was preceded in death by sister Thelma Brooks.

The funeral service was held 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, 438 E. Sugarland Hwy., Clewiston, FL with Dr. Pat Lucey officiating.

Orville C. "PeeWee" Miracle, age 81, of Clewiston, FL passed away Sunday, May 27, 2012 in Clewiston, FL. Orville was born April 23, 1931 in Pineville, KY. He is the son of the late Rosevelt and the late Alberta (Cox) Miracle.

He was employed by Hendry County Schools as a teacher from 1968 to 1992. He enjoyed his drives out to the lake, reading his newspaper and watching sports.

He is survived by sons; Orville Anthony Miracle (Alina) and William Bradley Miracle, grandsons; James Miracle and Michael Troncoso and sister, Wilma Dias. He was preceded in death by his wife Norma Jean Miracle and grandson Christopher Miracle.

A memorial service will be held 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, 438 E. Sugarland Hwy., Clewiston, FL with Rev. David McClusky officiating.

Visitation will be Thursday, May 31, 2012 1 hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Will Your Kids Turn Into Zombies?

Miami "Zombie" - High On Bath Salts? Drug Warning
LABELLE, FL. -- You may have heard something about a “zombie” attack in Miami over the weekend. The truth is a 31 year-old man was shot and killed by police while eating another man’s face. Preliminary reports are that this was drug-related; possibly a more potent form of LSD or Bath Salts, a synthetic drug that is sold in head shops and convenience stores throughout Florida.

Due to the danger posed when taking Bath Salts it has been banned for sale nationally and possession is illegal, yet stores are continuing to sell Bath Salts and Synthetic marijuana (that has also been banned). If your neighborhood store sells these, please ask them to remove them – or report stores that are selling to law enforcement.

Bath Salts Overview
Synthetic stimulants that are marketed as “bath salts” are often found in a number of retail products. These synthetic stimulants are chemicals. The chemicals are synthetic derivatives of cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant, which is an active chemical found naturally in the khat plant. Mephedrone and MDPV (3-4 methylene-dioxypyrovalerone) are two of the designer cathinones most commonly found in these “bath salt” products. Many of these products are sold over the Internet, in convenience stores, and in “head shops.”

Street Names
Bilss, Blue Silk, Cloud Nine, Drone, Energy-1, Ivory Wave, Lunar Wave, Meow Meow, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight, White Lightening

“Bath salt” stimulant products are sold in powder form in small plastic or foil packages of 200 and 500 milligrams under various brand names. People who abuse these substances have reported agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and panic attacks. Users have also reported effects including impaired perception of reality, reduced motor control, and decreased ability to think clearly.

Lnks to news articles as well as informational presentations about the drugs.

Presentation on Alternate Drugs of Abuse

-submitted by Bianca Ross, Drug Free Hendry, Hendry County Health Department

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gas Prices Still Falling

Hendry-Glades Still Higher Priced Than Average

LABELLE, FL. --Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 5.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.45/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 3.6 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.65/g, according to gasoline price website

And as usual, prices in Hendry and Glades county are significantly higher than Florida averages. Regular is hitting  $3.65 at most places, although the Circle K in LaBelle is lowest at $3.59.  To save, go to the 7-Eleven on Joel Blvd. in Lee county at $3.48.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 26.6 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 32.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 15.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 13.4 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"Summer driving season has officially begun with the national average falling far lower than we expected it earlier this year," said Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "The national average has dropped to a surprising $3.65/gal mark as of today. Had you asked me back in January if the national average would have been that low on Memorial Day, I would likely have chuckled, but it goes to show anything is possible," DeHaan said. GasBuddy forecast back in January that the national average would peak between $3.75-$4.15/gal. The national average peaked at $3.92/gal on April 5, far sooner than many analysts, including DeHaan, expected it to occur.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hendry-Glades Memorial Day Ceremonies

Glades Celebrates Memorial Day At Ortona

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Residents of one of Florida's smallest counties celebrate Memorial Day 2012 at the Ortona Cemetery in rural Glades country, Florida.

The American Legion Farris H. Davis Post 299 in Moore Haven yearly sponsors the Memorial Day morning ceremony with an invocation by a local pastor, after which the Glades Sheriff's Honor Guard raises the flag.

Singing of the Star Spangled Banner follows a short presentation.

(Video - Memorial Day at Ortona last year)

Memorial Day In Hendry County

The annual ceremonies in Hendry County take place at the Fort Denaud Cemetery in western Hendry

(3-D Photo at 2010's Fort Denaud Ceremony with color guard - photo by Don Browne)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

53 Clewiston Red Light Tickets

Police Activity This Week In Clewiston
CLEWISTON, FL. -- Clewiston Police Chief Don Gutshall reports last week 53 red light camera violations were issued and the department will be planning an awards night for the two officers who heroically dove into the Industrial Canal on the night of May 18th in an effort to save the victims of a car crash.

The "Life Preserving Bar" will be presented to Jose Rojas and Jackie Garrett at an upcoming Clewiston City  Commission meeting.

The Explorer group held an Awards Ceremony Friday afternoon. Several of the Post members received pins and bars for advanced training, drill accomplishments and community service.

Monday afternoon, the department received a call concerning a “stolen puppy”. Following a brief investigation, Officer Bozzi tracked down the thief and the puppy. She quickly arrested the offender and transported him to jail. Officer Baker gets an assist for transporting the puppy.

Following is a brief synopsis of the week’s activity:

944 Commercial / Residential Security Checks
529 Complaints Investigated
68 Traffic Citations Issued
71 Written Warnings Issued
53 Red Light Camera Violations Issued
5 Criminal Arrests Made
70 Merchant Escorts Provided
29 Alarms Responded To
3 Traffic Accidents Investigated

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fort Denaud Bridge Closed - Hendry County

Emergency Closing Of River Bridge

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Road & Bridge reports that as of 7:00 pm tonight (May 22, 2012) the Ft. Denaud Bridge will be CLOSED to vehicular traffic for an undetermined amount of time for emergency repairs.  

Please seek an alternate route (Alva Bridge or LaBelle Bridge) and we will keep you updated as the information comes in.

Help For Elders - Volunteers Needed

Volunteer Advocates Needed
LABELLE, FL. -- Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program needs volunteers to join its corps of dedicated advocates who protect the rights of elders who live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family care homes. The program’s local councils are seeking additional volunteers to identify, investigate and resolve residents’ concerns. Special training and certification is provided.

All interested individuals who care about protecting the health, safety, welfare and rights of long-term care facility residents -- who often have no one else to advocate for them -- are encouraged to call toll-free 1-888-831-0404 or visit the program’s website at

Florida Purchases Land For Panthers

Parcel Of Glades County Land Acquired For Panther Protection
PORT LABELLE, FL. -- A large and continuous piece of land critical for wildlife passage and the natural recovery of the Florida panther was purchased on the 1,278-acre American Prime property along the Caloosahatchee River in Glades County, just east of the Port LaBelle community. The easement, along the southern shore of the Calosahatchee River is a key natural landscape through which Florida panthers can disperse from habitats farther south.

(Video: Florida Panther and kittens - courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)

This acquisition will encourage the natural recovery of the Florida panther population by providing habitat where animals can den and stalk prey, and migrate from southern Florida to areas north of the river. Other species will benefit as well. 

The new owner, Lone Ranger LLC, will utilize the property in accordance with the conservation easements secured in the transaction. The Nature Conservancy and NRCS will manage the easements.

Lone Ranger is owned by Dwayne A. House, a prominent land owner in Hendry county. House has an office in Miami and numerous large land holding near the panther habitat parcel.

This acquisition required a sequence of events involving multiple agencies and was accomplished just in time to prevent the land from going to foreclosure auction. The land parcel was slated for a housing  community between the river and State Road 80 which never got off the ground.

Protecting this land was made possible through the cooperative efforts of several partners including The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Walmart, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others. 

A portion of the protected land will continue in the rich ranching heritage of South Florida and another portion will have its wetlands restored to enhance wildlife habitat.

The purchase was covered by approximately $2 million from TNC in private philanthropy, and $1.5 million each from the USFWS and the private entity that purchased the property encumbered by conservation easements. NRCS provided $1.5 million to purchase a conservation easement on 718 acres of the property. 

Another $200,000 was provided through Acres for America, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Walmart.

The purchase appears to be about a $4,000 per acre price for primarily open pasture land and the strip along the river. (Map)

A female Florida panther and her kittens recently were seen and photographed along a trail in an area less than 3 miles from the Caloosahatchee River near the recently protected American Prime property in Glades County, Fla. This is the first documented evidenece of a female Florida panther north of OK Slough State Forest since Florida panther research began in 1973. 

TNC collected the funding from the various sources and used those funds to buy the property. TNC also managed the transaction to closing and transferred the property to a private entity subject to a Wetland Reserve Program easement held by NRCS and conservation easements reserved by TNC over the balance of the property.

Through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) conservation easement, NRCS purchased the development rights to the property, saving the land from any future urban development. Completion of the restoration project will bring back the natural functions of the wetland to recharge groundwater, reduce flooding and protect biological diversity. The WRP program provides advice and funding to help landowners restore wetlands, establish long-term conservation actions and improve wildlife habitat on the land.
In addition to providing funds through the Recovery Land Acquisition Program, the USFWS provided technical assistance regarding the Florida panther and other federally listed species.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped facilitate this transaction by relocating two 50-acre disposal easements along the waterfront of the American Prime property.

Hendry's Brenda White Spotlighted

LABELLE, FL. -- In the Fall Issue of the Florida Crime And Intelligence Analyst News, Brenda White, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Analyst/Investigative Assistant received recognition by the FCIAA and was spotlighted for her accomplishments.

Brenda began her career with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office on April 1, 1998 when she was hired as a Misdemeanor Secretary for the East District Office. Shortly after that time, she advanced into the Felony Secretary position and for five years was the only CID Secretary for the East District Office. In April 2005, after Hurricane Wilma, she was transferred to the West District Office where for several years she was the only CID Secretary for the Sheriff’s Office.

Brenda began her goals to becoming an Analyst in 2004 when she attended a Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training and became a certified Analytical Investigative Technician. Brenda attended and completed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Basic Analyst I and Basic Analyst II courses and received certification for both. Brenda is the first Crime Analyst for the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and at times finds herself overwhelmed in researching and compiling data.

Brenda is passionate and compulsive in her role as Analyst/Investigative Assistant and doesn’t call it a day until every task on her desk is completed. Brenda has served as Board of Director to the Florida Agricultural Crimes Intelligence Unit for the past three years and as the Florida Ag Crime Counter Terrorism Network Coordinator for twelve years.

Brenda has been married to Charles White for thirty years who is also employed with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office as the Agricultural Crimes Unit Sergeant.

Hendry Deputies Recover Kilo Of Cocaine

Mirtil, Francklin.jpgKilo Of Cocaine Falls From Pants Of Suspect - Victim Alleges Kidnapping

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Friday night, May 19, 2012, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Cape Coral Police Department requesting Deputies respond to the area of McDonalds, located at 905 W. Sugarland Highway in Clewiston. Cape Coral Officers received a complaint from the mother of 29 year old Amy Newkirch reporting that Amy contacted her saying she had been abducted and was in the parking lot of that McDonalds. She went on to describe the vehicle as a silver in color Toyota.

When deputies arrived on scene they located the silver Toyota along with two male subjects. When Hendry County Sheriff’s Deputy M. Thomas attempted to make contact with one of the subjects, later identified as 43 year old Francklin Mirtil, Mirtil fled on foot from the Deputy.
During the foot chase, Deputy Thomas witnessed Mirtil fall into a ditch, regain his footing and continue to run. As Mirtil continued to flee, Deputy Thomas witnessed a brick type object fall from Miritil’s pants.

Deputy Thomas deployed his Taser, ending the foot chase and Mirtil was taken into custody. The brick type object dropped in the ditch was recovered and tested positive for cocaine. It weighed 1,166 grams equivalent to just over 1 kilo (a kilo is 2 pounds, 3 ounces) with a value of approximately $50,000.00.

Also found on Mirtil were two sandwich type bags, one contained white rocklike substance, which tested positive for crack cocaine weighing 4 grams. The other bag contained mixed narcotics, some of which, were identified as Alprazolam (Xanax).

Amy Newkirch was located by D/S W. Hainley and turned over to Cape Coral Police Department who will proceed with their Kidnapping Investigation.

Mirtil was transported to the Hendry County Jail and charged with Resist Officer without Violence, Possession of Cocaine with intent to sell, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Controlled Substance without a prescription. He is currently being held on a $275,500.00 bond.

Clewiston Gets Tough On Sign Enforcement

Clewiston Reports New Code Enforcement Cases, Arrests, And Red Light Camera Tickets
CLEWISTON, FL. -- The city of Clewiston reports it's Community Development Department's Code Enforcement office has opened nineteen new cases including one DEP environmental case, sixteen case for overgrowth, one for a junk vehicle and one for an illegally parked vehicle, a semi truck.

The city is cracking down on political campaign signs which, according to city codes are not allowed on property until thirty days prior to an election, and cannot be within five feet of a right-of-way and must be separated by at least ten feet from any other signs. 

Only one sign is allowed per single family lot and the city says any sign found in violation of the code will result in a warning and the property owner allowed 48 hours to remove the sign before a code violation case is issued to the property owner.

Police Chief Don Gutshall reported last week the State Attorney’s Office Training Group was kind enough to travel to Clewiston on Wednesday to provide in-service training to sworn staff for courtroom demeanor and testifying. The critical focus was on DUI case trial preparation and testimony.

Earlier in the week during a pool party at a residence on Ponce De Leon, a kindergartner was discovered in distress in the pool. Adult chaperones alertly pulled the child to safety and began immediate CPR. The child quickly recovered and seems to have made a full recovery.

Officer Tito Nieves arrested a man for burglary and theft charges from a garage on West Alverdez. The suspect was stealing marine equipment.

Following is a brief synopsis of the week’s police activity:
930 Commercial / Residential Security Checks
511 Complaints Investigated
4 Traffic citations Issued
55 Traffic Warnings Issued
10 Criminal Arrests Made
62 Red Light Camera Violations
2 City Ordinance Violations Issued
82 Merchant Escorts Provided
20 Alarms Responded To
6 Traffic Accidents Investigated

How Fat Are We? Obesity In America

Why America Is Overweight And How To Fix It

Just how overweight are Americans? And how did we get to an epidemic of obesity in just 30 years? Less than eight percent of schools require physical education classes, although one hour of daily exercise is recommended for children.

50% of American farmland is Federal government subsidized planting in corn and soybeans, to produce low cost feed for cattle and chickens, cheap oils and high fructose corn syrup. Restaurants now provide serving sizes twice as large as required for nutrition while loaded with excess salt, sugar, and calories, in part due to the subsidies provided to grain and sugar producers.

Sugary drinks, including fruit juices and energy drinks, and calorie laden sugary snacks are the leading providers of excess calories in the American diet. Consumer consumption has increased dramatically over the last 30 years, encouraged by the low costs of these food compared to fresh fruits and vegetables, the foods we should be eating more of say health experts.

(Video: From the documentary series, part 4, a good overview of why America is overweight and what to do about it)

The online 4-part documentary series "The Weight of the Nation," is a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine, in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente is now available for viewing online without cost.

Each episode of the four-part documentary series, features case studies, interviews with our nation’s leading experts, and individuals and their families struggling with obesity.

The first film, "Consequences," examines the scope of the obesity epidemic and explores the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese. The second, "Choices," offers viewers the skinny on fat, revealing what science has shown about how to lose weight, maintain weight loss and prevent weight gain.

The third, "Children In Crisis," documents the damage obesity is doing to our nation’s children. Through individual stories, this film describes how the strong forces at work in our society are causing children to consume too many calories and expend too little energy; tackling subjects from school lunches to the decline of physical education, the demise of school recess and the marketing of unhealthy food to children.

The fourth film, "Challenges," examines the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic, including agriculture, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture, and the strong influence of the food and beverage industry.

Our favorites in the series, for those who don't have time to watch all four, are the second and fourth episodes, "Choices" and "Challenges." "Challeges" gives a unique look at how society, food manufacturers, and farming in the U.S. is designed to get us to eat more food than we need, relying on two primary crops, corn and soybeans.

"Choices" show how each of us can do our part learning how to eat more healthy foods, and exercise more. Each episode in the series is about 1 hour long. Click on the links above to see the episodes online.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Floyd L. Yates, age 70, of Clewiston passed away Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at home in Clewiston. Floyd was born May 9, 1942 in Fellsmere, FL. He is the son of the late Parker and Maggie (Johns) Yates.

He was a member of the Clewiston Gospel Ministries Church.

He is survived by his wife; Patricia A. Yates, sons; Jason F. Yates (Wanda), Mike Yates, daughter; Michelle Cochran (Barry), brothers; Jim Yates (Donna), Gene Yates (Shelia), sisters; Wanda Pickron (Bennett), Elaine Green (Johnny), eight grandchildren; five great grandchildren, stepson David Smith and stepdaughter; Vickie Walker.

The funeral service will be held 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 22 at Clewiston Gospel Ministries, 6800 Flaghole Rd., Clewiston, FL with Rev. Jim Yates officiating. Interment will be in Sebastian Municipal Cemetery.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Gas Prices Falling - Hendry Still Much Higher

LABELLE, FL. -- Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 7.0 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.53/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.70/g, according to gasoline price website

Price in Hendry county however are 23 cent per gallon higher than Florida average prices. Most stations in LaBelle are at $3.76. Head to Lehigh Acres in Lee county where prices are around $3.60 if you need to fill up.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 27.4 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 33.7 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 15.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 13.7 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"With Memorial Day a week away, it's time to put to bed an old myth that gasoline prices rise ahead of a major holiday," said Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Average gasoline prices will likely continue to decline in the days ahead of Memorial Day, but folks will still say come next year that prices went up over the weekend this year. It's a sign of how sensitive motorists become to gasoline prices around the holidays, nothing more, and most of the time, the myth isn't true. This year will be one of those years- unless you're on the West Coast, prices have been slowly coming down," DeHaan said.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Alexander Blaine Cypress, age 21, of Clewiston passed away Thursday, May 10, 2012 in Hollywood, FL. Alexander was born August 14, 1990 in Scottsdale, AZ. He is the son of Cornelius Theodore and Bobbie J. (Billie) Cypress.

He is survived by his mother; Bobbie J. Billie, father; Cornelius Theodore Cypress, daughter; Marilynn Annabelle Cypress, brothers; Reagan Whitecloud, Tanoke Billie,Nayanashee Billie, sister; Destiny Cypress, grandfather; James Billie, grandmother; Bobbie Billie and grandmother; Lydia Cypress.

The funeral service was held 2:00 pm on Sunday, May 13 at New Testament Baptist Church, Josie Billie Highway, Big Cypress Reservation, FL with Rev. Paul Buster officiating. Interment was in Big Cypress Cemetery, Big Cypress Reservation.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Child Dead In Clewiston Crash

Alcohol Investigated As Cause Of Fatal Clewiston Crash

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A 2-year old child has died as the result of a midnight crash in Clewiston Saturday morning.

At about 12:09 a.m. Hermelinda Ramirez, 22 of Clewiston was driving a 2001 Ford Explorer, traveling east on El Paso Ave East approaching  San Diego Street South, in Clewiston, Florida, according to FHP Trooper William Breen.

She made a wide right turn onto San Diego Street South and traveled onto the east shoulder.  The front left wheel traveled off the shoulder and the vehicle overturned into a canal which paralleled San Diego Street South.

The passenger compartment of the SUV became submerged under water.  The driver, Hermelinda Ramirez, was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

It was undetermined whether the passenger, 2-year old Alex Perez-Ramirez, had been restrained within the vehicle.  Alex Perez-Ramirez was pronounced deceased at 1:35 a.m. at Hendry Regional Medical Center.  It is suspected that alcohol played a factor in this crash says FHP Corporal Jeff Rongish, the homicide investigator.

The Florida Highway Patrol requests that anybody with any information regarding this crash contact Corporal Jeff Rongish at 239-344-1730 ex. 1192, or call CRIMESTOPPERS to remain anonymous.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pre-Conception Planning For Parents To Be

Pre-Conceptual Counseling And Why Is It Important? 
LABELLE, FL. -- All women who are thinking about getting pregnant in the next 3-4 months should have a sit-down session with their healthcare provider for pre-conceptual counseling (counseling and evaluation of important issues and risk factors pertinent to all women who want to get pregnant, including special medical, surgical, gynecologic, obstetrical, and age related history).

Planning a pregnancy gives you and your baby a healthy start. All women of child-bearing years should be pre-screened for general health and possible risk factors before attempting to become pregnant.

With a small amount of pre-pregnancy planning, many potential complications in pregnancy can be avoided. Women should not smoke, or should quit smoking prior to conception. There is very strong evidence that smoking tobacco is associated with many complications in pregnancy.

Additionally, women should avoid alcohol and drugs because they can cause birth defects in a fetus.

Women should also take Folic Acid (400mg) once a day for about three months prior to getting pregnant. Folic acid has been shown to reduce the development of defects of the spine such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Eating dark green vegetables and beans are also good sources of essential vitamins needed for a healthy pregnancy.

Pre-conceptual counseling can also be for males. Even though the paternal effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs have not been extensively studied in men, the most popular belief is that men play a key role in the health of a developing fetus. Males and females should ask themselves: “Am I ready to be a parent? Can I emotionally, physically, psychologically and economically provide for another human being?”

Meeting with a healthcare provider prior to pregnancy allows for screening of risk factors, lifestyle modifications, and immunization.

Please remember: Both parents are responsible for the health of their baby!

-submitted by Hendry-Glades Health Department, Pat Dobbins, Director

Hendry Election News - Sheriff Race

Six Sheriff Candidates Continue Raising...And Spending Money

LABELLE, FL. -- Reports filed in April at the Hendry Supervisor of Elections office show Raymond A. Van Houten had raised the most money, and spent the most so far in the race for Hendry Sheriff.

Van Houten had raised $8,863 and spent $8,001 on his campaign. Second in money raised was incumbent Sheriff Steve Whidden. Whidden raised $8,650,  but spent only $418.

Typical expenses by candidates are for T-Shirts, coffee mugs, printing, postage, and even the purchase of a handgun, raffled off by one candidate. Raffles by political candidates are probably illegal under Florida lottery rules, which only allow churches and registered non-profits to conduct gambling games.

Other candidates reports of money raised/spent:  Steven Maldonado $7,025/$6,875, Mark R. Chamberlain $4,150/$2,803, Matthew A. Beatty $2,795/$1.842, and E. Carmona $209/$0

In other Hendry election news, Stephanie Busin and Cynthia Luevano Potter, both of Clewiston, have indicated they will run for Matthew Beatty's School Board (District 4) seat. Beatty has until May 22 to tender his resignation from the Hendry School board, at which time Busin and Luevano can officially run for the then open seat.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hendry's Black Heritage Festival

Weekend Fun In LaBelle
LABELLE, FL. -- The annual Black Heritage festival for 2012 starts Thursday, May 17th with an Old Timers Dinner, and a Friday 70s Ball and Dance, both at 7 p.m. at the James Singleton Center.

On Saturday, May 19th the festival  goes all day with lots of fun activities and food in the Ford-Sunset neighborhood at the Kid Jones Park in LaBelle, Florida.

Music, a basketball tournament, games, entertainment and food let the whole family find something enjoyable to do for the weekend.

Nora Fagin-Ned helps put together each year's activities along with many volunteers from the Ford-Sunset community in LaBelle.

(Video: games and food vendors at the park during the 2011 Festival)

Facing Foreclosure In Hendry? Here's Help

Free Counseling For Homeowners In Financial Distress
LABELLE, FL. -- Worried About Making Your Monthly Mortgage Payment or Facing Foreclosure? Many people have been impacted by job losses or reduced wages and are having a hard time keeping up with their mortgage payments. 

If you are concerned about this and would like help, please attend our free Help for Struggling Homeowners Workshop on May 31st at the Beardsley Room in the John Boy Auditorium in Clewiston, from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. The John Boy Auditorium is located at 1200 S WC Owens Ave.

HUD-approved Housing Counselors will be available to meet individually with homeowners to discuss their current situation and possible alternatives to foreclosure.

Several alternatives include a loan modification, the Florida Hardest-Hit Program (learn more at, a short sale, or a deed-in-lieu. Representatives from Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County will also be present to answer legal questions regarding foreclosure issues.

Participants may stop by any time during the workshop for an individual counseling session. Counseling will be available in both English and Spanish. Free follow-up counseling is also available if assistance is needed in applying for one of the foreclosure programs.

Please bring the following documents for the counselor to review: pay stubs and bank statements for the last two months, documentation on other forms of household income such as unemployment, social security income, and child support, current mortgage statement, and your 2011 tax return or W2.

The workshop and counseling are free and are sponsored by the Hendry County Housing Department and the Empowerment Alliance of Southwest Florida. For more information, please call Angela Johnson at the Empowerment Alliance at 239-658-3325. The Empowerment Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is a HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency.

Hendry Sheriff's Academy Opens


The Hendry County Sheriff’s Citizen Academy is an exciting 10-week program that provides participants with an up-close look at the Hendry County Sheriffs’ Office. Class applications are now being accepted for the fifth Sheriff’s Citizens Academy scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 from 7-9pm.

Participants meet one evening a week for 10 weeks. This instruction provides its participants with the latest trends and procedures in law enforcement as well as the duties and responsibilities of the various departments. The Citizens Academy is an educational and informative program that allows citizens the opportunity to learn about the issues that affect law enforcement efforts in Hendry County. Participants will get to have the opportunity to fire a gun, and ride with a deputy on patrol. They’ll also get to see a SWAT demonstration, K-9 demonstrations, and participate in hands-on exercises, such as processing a crime scene.

The Citizens Academy is great for anyone over the age of 18 and it’s FREE. All participants must have a background free of felony and violent misdemeanor convictions. If you are interested and wish to learn more about the field of law enforcement in general and about the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office please let us know.

Graduates of the Citizen Academy acquire a better understanding of the Hendry County Sheriffs’ Office operations and responsibilities. They gain greater awareness and appreciation of the difficult challenges and decisions a deputy sheriff faces every day. “Community involvement is the most powerful force any law enforcement agency has in the fight against crime. Through the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy, citizens become more involved in making Hendry County a better place to live”, said Sheriff Steve Whidden.

Sheriff Whidden and his staff are excited about this program and would encourage those interested in attending the Sheriffs Citizens Academy to stop in and pick up an application, fill it out, and return it. If you have any questions or want to learn more about the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy call Lt. Susan Harrelle at 863-674-5604.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

LaBelle Live TV - Hangout On Air

Watch Live TV On YouTube From Hendry County
LABELLE, FL. -- Local publisher Don Browne is testing a YouTube live TV broadcast using Google's new Hangouts On Air product. Featuring the ability to broadcast live video over a YouTube channel, the live TV show was broadcast, Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 4 PM ET broadcasting here on this news page and live on YouTube.

(Video: The live TV broadcast from LaBelle with guests from Albania, London, England, and Fort Lauderdale, Fl.)

Anyone with Google+ can "circle" 'Don Browne' and be invited to join future live TV video broadcasts on his Google+ and YouTube channel. Anyone can watch the live show on YouTube without joining the Google+ page.

There will be more LaBelle TV tests of the YouTube feature each weekday at 4 PM ET here.

More: Don's Live YouTube TV broadcast tests

Clewiston Shooting Suspects Sought


CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Saturday, May 12, Hendry County Deputies responded to the Sherwood Sub-Division in Clewiston, after receiving a call reporting gunshots fired. One suspect has been arrested and a 14-year old teen is being sought by the Hendry Sheriff's Office.

When Deputies arrived on scene they found that two victims had been taken to a nearby medical facility.

Alfaro, Gustavo Antonio.jpgIt was reported by witnesses that a group of teenagers had been hanging out at a home in the Sherwood neighborhood when a vehicle drove up and the 14 year old suspect, later identified as Gustavo Antonio Alfaro (pictured), exited the car and began arguing with one of the teenagers. It was then that the suspect fired shots into the group striking two of the teens.

Najera, Victor Carlos.jpg On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 23 year old Victor Carlos Najera (pictured) of 881 Magnolia Lane, in nearby Twin Lakes Mobile Home Park, was arrested by Deputies and charged with Assault, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Shooting into a Dwelling, Discharging a Firearm in Public, and Accessory After the Fact. Najera is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $96,500 bond.

Najera has Hendry county drug and alcohol related convictions going back to 2008.

At this time it is unclear as to the motive of the shooting. Witnesses told Southwest Florida Online it may be gang related.

Investigators have obtained a warrant for the arrest of 14 year old Gustavo Antonio Alfaro who is avoiding contact with law enforcement. Anyone with any information regarding the whereabouts of Alfaro is asked to contact the Hendry County Investigator, K. Herrera, at 863-674-5600 or you may remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at 1-800- 780-TIPS (8477). Alfaro lives on Liberty Avenue in the Sherwood Subdivision.

Update: 14-year old Gustavo Antonio Alfaro was located Wednesday and arrested by authorities.

YouTube TV From LaBelle, Florida

How To Stream Live TV From A Laptop Computer

LABELLE, FL. --Google and YouTube last week enabled "Hangouts on Air" allowing people in most parts of the world to now live stream video from their computer to viewers around the world, with up to nine other cameras live streaming video TV at the same time.

Any number of viewers can watch the live streaming YouTube TV broadcast and at the same time make comments during the broadcast. After the broadcast, Google automatically saves the video program to YouTube for anyone to watch later .

The video above is a test example of how a 4-hour TV show was broadcast live on YouTube Sunday, May 13, 2012 from LaBelle.

(Click on YouTube icon on video above (or here) to watch on YouTube and see show notes and hundreds of viewer comments on the YouTube TV channel.)

If you would like to experience and join a live LaBelle TV broadcast, add Don Browne to your Google+ circle to get an invitation, or to watch shows go to (click on live feed)

How to use Google+:

Hendry Motorcyclist In Hospital

Motorcycle Hits Truck On State Road 80

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A motorcyclist from Lehigh Acres was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital in critical condition after a crash Tuesday in Hendry County.

Joseph R. Fraughton 31, driving a 1995 Honda Motor Cycle crashed on SR 80, west of CR 833 in Hendry County Tuesday afternoon about 3:35 p.m..

According to FHP Trooper Nelson Tineo a Ford-150 truck driven by Estella Torres, 55 of LaBelle was traveling east on SR 80, west of CR 833. Alexandria Marie Leal, 17 of LaBelle was a passenger in the truck.

Fraughton lost control of his motorcycle, traveling west on SR80 as he attempted to negotiate the road curving right and then traveled onto the eastbound lanes and struck the front left portion of the truck. The motorcycle overturned and came to final rest on the grass shoulder of SR 80.

The truck driver and passenger had no injuries.

The truck came to final rest in the north grass shoulder of SR 80, facing northeast. Fraughton was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital. He was charged with driving too fast for conditions and having no motorcycle endorsement.  An investigation continues to determine if he was intoxicated.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Clewiston Drug Suspects Nabbed


CLEWISTON, FL. -- Tuesday, May 8, Hendry County Narcotic Investigators along with members of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search warrant at 407 East Obispo Avenue, in Clewiston, Florida.

Located inside the residence were 29 year old Geoffrey Mark Stanton and 62 year old Stephen Conrad. Deputies began a search of the residence and found various drugs and paraphernalia.

Stanton was taken into custody and charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance without a Prescription and Possession of Drug equipment. He is currently being held on $14,500 bond.

Stephen Conrad was charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Equipment. Conrad is currently being held on $1,500.00 bond.

LaBelle Kids Suspected In Robberies


LABELLE, FL. -- Deputies arrested two juveniles on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 on charges of burglary. Hendry County Deputies responded to a home in the Port LaBelle area after receiving a call that the home alarm had been activated.

Deputies made contact with the homeowners brother who reported that a window had been broken, and he had discovered graffiti painted on the home. When the homeowner arrived at the house the victim showed the deputy a video surveillance of the suspects. A copy of the video was made and the Deputy made contact with a School Resource Officer who was able to identify both suspects.

Deputies developed leads indent the two juveniles involved and both were arrested and charged

They then responded to the residence just down from his home and made contact with Rosas. Asking her about the burglary, Rosas said “I didn’t go in the house with him”.

Both juveniles were arrested and charged with Burglary of an Unoccupied Dwelling Unarmed, Possession of Burglary tools with Intent To Use, Loitering and Prowling, Trespassing – Unlawful Entry on Property, and Criminal Mischief over 200 dollars.

The day before, Monday, May 7, 2012, the same deputies arrested two juveniles on Burglary charges.

Deputy R. Steed was in the area of Bryan Ave, when she was dispatched to a residence in the same general area. It was reported by the occupant of the residence that two juveniles were knocking on the front door and after the complainant did not open the front door the individuals were seen entering her back yard and attempting to gain entry through the back of the residence.

Deputy Steed continued to patrol the residential area and found two subjects walking in the vicinity of Clark Street fitting the description of the suspects. The subjects were identified as 15 year old Humberto Perez and 17 year old Cathavius Adams who were positively identified by as the persons attempting to enter the home.

Cathavius Lenard Adams, 17 years of age, of LaBelle was arrested and charged with Burglary to an Occupied Dwelling, Possession of Burglary Tools, Loitering and Prowling, Trespassing. He was later released to his parents.

Humberto Perez, 15, of LaBelle, was arrested and charged with Burglary to an Occupied Dwelling, Possession of Burglary Tools, Loitering and Prowling, Trespassing, and Giving False Information to Law Enforcement Officer. He was later transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Jose Sanchez-Mercado, age 70, of LaBelle passed away May 12, 2012 in Lehigh Acres. He was born January 19, 1942 in Maricao, Puerto Rico, the son of the late Ramon and the late Dolores Mercado Sanchez. He was a resident of LaBelle for the past 25 years. Jose was an awesome father, dedicated to his family and a hard worker. He was a member of JTP Church in LaBelle

Survivors include his children: Ana Jaimes, Zoraida Sanchez, Angelo Sanchez, Francisco Sanchez and David Sanchez, many brothers & sisters, grandchildren Arlene, Amy, D.J., Nicholas, Arianna, Anthony, Joey, Michael, Keriann, Delma and Tatiana and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Egudelia Sanchez and son, Jose Antonio Sanchez Jr.

The funeral service will be held Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 10:00 a.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle with Pastor Guillermo O. Camina officiating. Interment followed at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Tuesday evening at JTP Church in LaBelle.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Florida Gas Prices Still Falling?

How's Your Prices Compare To Florida Averages?

LABELLE, FL. -- Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 7.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.61/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 3.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.73/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 29.2 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 32.0 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 16.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 20.3 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"While gasoline prices east of the Rockies have been falling, the West Coast remains at the mercy of refinery production," said Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "The entire West Coast right now is looking for any reason for a continuation in the price rally we've seen in the last week as supply remains tight, and stakes high as Memorial Day weekend is just two weeks away. While pump prices may continue their decline outside the West Coast, any refinery blip certainly has the potential for localized hotspots, and motorists should be aware of that," DeHaan said.

Friday, May 11, 2012

24 Arrests In Clewiston This Week

Reported this week in Clewiston from Chief of Police Don Gutshall. Police Chief Gutshall says last week all sworn full time and auxiliary officers qualified at the Hendry County Gun Range. Curtis Clay is the Range Instructor and Departmental Training Officer.

Gutshall says they have begun the annual vulnerability assessment review of the Herbert Hoover Dike. Lieutenant Pelham is in charge of that operation. On  Saturday, our Police  Explorers attended  the annual awards luncheon in Palm Beach  Gardens. Sgt. Justin Spence was nominated as Adviser of the Year, and Officer Jeanette Herrera was nominated as Explorer of the year.

Tuesday afternoon, a local woman drove “or dove” her car into the canal on West Avenida Del Rio. Though the car was almost completely submerged, the driver was pulled out safely thanks to an alert and speedy response by Donnie Hughes and Tony Chihocky who were working in the area.

The numbers below will show a tremendously active week for officers on patrol. Fully half of all the arrests and citations listed occurred on Saturday.

Following is a brief synopsis of the week’s Clewiston Police activity:
977 Commercial / Residential Security Checks
621 Complaints Investigated
59  Traffic Citations Issued
93 Traffic Warnings Issued
42  Red Light Tickets Issued
01 City Ordinance Violation

24  Criminal Arrests Made
81 Merchant Escorts
28 Alarm Responses
04 Traffic Accidents Investigated

State Will Not Prosecute Boyle On Drug Charges

Boyle Gets Off On Meth and Meth Pipe Possession Charges

LABELLE, FL. -- On May 10th the LaBelle State Attorney's Office filed a notice with the Circuit court that they are not going  forward with the prosecution of Boyle on the two felony drug charges.

Bryan Scott Boyle, age 35 of LaBelle, had been arrested again at his home in Port LaBelle Wednesday December 28th on two felony drug charges.

Boyle was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, after a search of the garage.

At about 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 28, Hendry Sheriff Steve Whidden went to 4502 Springview Circle where Boyle lived with his mother and grandmother. Boyle has been on probation since a December 15th trial.

Whidden found three other persons with Boyle, coming out from the garage area into the house, and noticed they were acting nervously with behavioral indicators that raised the Sheriff's suspicions, according to the booking report.

Boyle's mother gave written consent to search the garage after Boyle refused permission.

Whidden found in clear view two small plastic bags suspected of containing meth partially wrapped in a dollar bill, inside an eyeglass container. The meth weighted about 1.5 grams. Also found was a glass pipe with meth residue and a smaller amount of loose meth on a paper on a desk.

Another meth pipe made from a prescription drug bottle was found. It contained meth residue.

Accompanied by Deputy Cody McClelland and Sgt. George Elver, the four suspects were separated and questioned about the meth and pipes. Jaime Lee Long, aka Jamie Long, 26 of Felda and Boyle denied any knowledge of the meth and pipes.

William Ethan Cole Ragan, aka Ethan Reagan, 21 of Cypress Avenue in LaBelle, and Archie C. Thompson, 27 of Muse, said they had just arrived minutes before the Sheriff knocked on the door and both saw Boyle sitting at the desk in the garage smoking meth from the glass pipe. They signed statements attesting to what they saw.

Ragan (photo left) has a Hendry county arrest record including a December 20th arrest for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and an October 11th out of county fugitive arrest warrant.

Long has an arrest record going back to 2006, including adjudications of guilty for battery, reckless driving in 2008, and possession of drug paraphernalia, no valid drivers license, and contempt of court in 2011. She is serving a one year probation.

Boyle bonded out of jail the next morning, but Hendry Sheriff Steve Whidden obtained a warrant for Boyle's arrest for violation of probation.

Boyle was arrested again at his home on Springview Circle in Port LaBelle for violation of probation and Judge John Duryea, standing in for Hendry County Judge James Sloan refused bond, keeping Boyle in the Hendry jail until further notice.

Boyle, at a December 15th trial on various misdemeanor charges, told Judge James Sloan he was planning to move to Georgia and was given an opportunity by Sloan to move, get a job and "mail-in" reports to the Hendry probation office, and the possibility to have early termination of a two year probation if Boyle stayed out of trouble.

Boyle, according to the arrest report is a German citizen, born in Stukarnashben, Germany and his last jobs were working with Revels Roofing and Protile Landscape. A google search for Stukarnashben, Germany however, finds no such place. It is not clear if the birth place was in error on the arrest report, or whether Boyle told investigators that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Smokey Bear Greets Fisheating Creek Campers

Smokey Wants To Prevent Wildfires In Glades County

Smokey sign at Fisheating creek.jpgMOORE HAVEN, FL. -- As you enter inside the Fisheating Creek Outpost on U.S. 27 north of Moore Haven, a new sign reminds guest and local residents about the fire danger nearby.

“Smokey Bear’s Fire Danger warning sign will help keep everyone aware of the daily wildfire danger potential”, states Luis Aguilar, Florida Forest Service, Forest Ranger. “We posted this sign in a highly visible spot where the public can visually see the wildfire danger thus creating community awareness.”

This sign was posted in an effort to reduce human caused wildfires. Until the area receives significant amounts of rain, the local fire danger level is expected to remain “HIGH” and extreme care should be taken until the danger has passed, firefighters warn. Please remember that Glades County has a burn ban in place. Weather forecasts depict rainfall for this is week and when that happens, please look for the Smokey Bear Fire Danger Sign to reflect that change (low or medium).

This past week, Forest Rangers Luis Aguilar, Elmer Sauceda and concessioners of Fisheating Creek Outpost, Allen and Patty Register erected a permanent and official Smokey Bear’s Fire Danger warning sign at the entrance of the Fisheating Creek Outpost. Fisheating Creek is a wildlife management area (WMA) managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife, Conservation Commission.

Fisheating Creek is an historical area with 18,000 acres of pristine Florida creek meandering along with towering cypress trees and slash pine canopy on its banks, coupled with the gentle flowing water all leading to Lake Okeechobee.

There are now 4 Smokey Bear Fire Danger Signs in Glades County Warning residents and visitors of the wildfire danger.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Andy Cypress, age 48, of Clewiston passed away Monday, May 7, 2012 at home in Clewiston. Andy was born June 28, 1963 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He is the son of the late Stanley and the late Mary B. (Billie) Cypress, Sr.

He is survived by sisters; Sue Jane Cypress, Claudia Doctor, Betty King, Susie Jumper, Ginnie Bowers, brothers; Rugy Jumper, Charles Stanley Cypress, Charlie Cypress, nieces; Eldean Billie, Erin Buster, Lindsey King, Sherri Hunter, Yvonne Jumper, Amanda Cypress, Olivia Cypress, Tonia Cypress, Caitlinn Cypress, Crystal Cypress, nephews; Jonathan Harjo, William Lee Jumper, Jr., Stanley Cypress, III, Leon Billie, Ob Osceola, Tony S. Bert, Cody Bert, Darren Jim, Nathanie Jim, Ryan Cypress, Micah Cypress; twenty-seven great nieces and nephews and three great-great nieces.

The funeral service will be held 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, 2012 at New Testament Baptist Church, Josie Billie Highway, Big Cypress Reservation, FL with Rev. Paul Buster and Rev. Arlen Payne officiating. Interment will be in Big Cypress Cemetery, Big Cypress Reservation.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Florida Panther Kitten Found

Injured Panther Kitten Rescue In Collier County

LABELLE, FL. -- An endangered Florida panther kitten rescued after an apparent vehicle strike in Southwest Florida will likely be unable to return to the wild. 

Staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the kitten unresponsive on April 23 along State Road 82 in Collier County. A volunteer with the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge on his way to work spotted the injured kitten that morning and reported the sighting.

Rescuers immediately took the then 12-week-old male kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples for treatment. Although veterinarians at the hospital found no major fractures and no signs of significant internal damage, they believe the panther experienced some level of head trauma.

“Unfortunately, this kitten’s condition makes it unlikely that he will recover enough to be released into the wild,” said Dave Onorato, FWC biologist. “We’re grateful to the staff at the Animal Specialty Hospital, who have worked tirelessly caring for him.”

The kitten is being transferred to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for further rehabilitation. This is the third kitten and seventh panther overall to receive rehabilitation at the zoo. The kitten’s prognosis is guarded.

A male panther kitten, believed to be this kitten’s brother, died April 7 from injuries also consistent with a vehicle strike.

Collisions with vehicles are the top human-related cause of panther deaths. More than a third of panther deaths documented last year were the result of vehicle strikes. Drivers are encouraged to slow down and drive carefully in rural areas where panthers are known to live. An estimated 100 to 160 adults of this federally endangered species live in the wild.

To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.

Video courtesy Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission

Got Lizards? - Florida's Green Anole

The Green Anole Is No Chameleon By Jessica Basham

Green anoles, a type of American lizard, are often called American chameleons because they can change color, but they are not chameleons at all.

These anoles are the only native lizard in the southeastern United States that changes color, but it is only from bright green to brown or gray. Usually their change in color is due to stress but also to temperature and mating. Males extend a bright pink dewlap (a piece of skin that unfolds from its throat) when looking for a mate or when warning other males to back off. Their head-bobs are like pushups and show the female and other males that they are strong.

Mating season starts in the beginning of April and continues throughout the summer months. In South Florida, the mating season is a little longer. If you see a green anole bobbing up and down and showing his dewlap, look around; there may be a female nearby. A female lays one or sometimes two eggs every two weeks, usually in dirt or debris at the base of a plant.

The green anole is the only native anole in the Southeast and is found from North Carolina west to Texas and throughout Florida.

True chameleons, however, live in Africa, Madagascar, Portugal, Spain and parts of Asia. At least two species have been introduced into Florida. They can change to every color of the rainbow because of mood, temperature, habitat, stress, anger and defense. They often blend easily into their surroundings by changing color. Chameleons hold on to branches with their feet and coiled tails. Their long, curled tongues shoot out like arrows to catch prey.

Anoles are small, long and slender. Like the chameleon, they have the ability to cling to objects but only because of a sticky pad on the underside of their toes. Their tails are not coiled but long and thin and can break easily. This is so they can escape predators. When caught by the tail, the lizard squirms until its tail breaks and it can escape to freedom. The confused predator is left with only the tail and wondering where its lunch has gone. Lizard tails will grow back a little.

In southwestern Florida, the dewlap may be gray, white or light green. These populations are a different subspecies or race of green anole.

Watching green anoles is easy. Around homes, they hang from walls, scurry across sidewalks and driveways and climb shrubs, branches and trees. A little anole visits me daily. He perches on a railing outside my office window and bobs his head up and down, showing off his bright pink dewlap. Anoles generally have a territory, so chances are you’ll see one in the same place, day after day. The one I see is missing his tail.

Another anole in Florida that is not native is the brown anole from Cuba. Many times they are confused with the native green anole when the green anole has turned brown. But brown anoles have obvious patterns on their backs and sides. Green anoles typically have no pattern, although a female may have a slightly wavy whitish stripe down her back.

For more information, you can visit

Drummond For Elections Supervisor

“Hard worker”, “dedicated”, and “caring of his community” are some of the statements you can hear about Kevin Drummond around Hendry County.

Kevin is currently a candidate for Supervisor of Elections. The Hendry County native cares about the opinions of the county’s residents and wants to hear what you have to say.

Kevin states, “In Hendry County, there are approximately 40,000 residents. Not even half of these residents are registered to vote. I feel that this is unacceptable, and I encourage all residents to become active voting citizens.

I promise to work with our community encouraging all residents to register and cast their votes when the polls begin”. As he makes his way through the area, please feel free to stop and talk to him expressing any possible concerns about voter participation in Hendry County.

Kevin took the initiative to create a new Third Party Organization Campaign entitled “Get Out and Vote”. The movement is a non-partisan organization intended to promot residents to register, cast ballots, and become contributors to the election process.

The “Get Out and Vote” Campaign will be conducted throughout the county at various locations working with local businesses to register residents. Kevin invites Hendry County residents to contact him by phone or email at anytime. He can be reached by phone at: 863-234-3480 and by email at:

He also encourages the public to view his website for updates and information as the election approaches. Kevin reminds us, “Together we can grow. God Bless”.

Paid and approved by Kevin Drummond, Republican Candidate for Supervisor of Elections.

Candidates Ready For Hendry Election

Six Sheriff Candidates Line Up
Opponents Scramble For Position - Many Seats Still Unopposed

LABELLE, FL. -- Candidates for Hendry County's local political office positions are lining up for the coming November elections. As usual, the Sheriff and School Board Superintendent offices seem to have the most interest for candidates.

Six candidates have qualified to run for Sheriff including incumbent Steve Whidden. Four candidates are running for school superintendent, including incumbent Rick Murphy and four for Election Supervisor as Lucretia Strickland retires after many years in the position.

The County Commission seat of Karson Turner is still unopposed as is the School Board seat of Dwayne Brown and Sally Berg's seat. No attorney is up yet to challenge long time County Judge James Sloan. And lots of "low-money" positions are still open at water and hospital districts and the Port LaBelle Development District among others.

The following Offices will be up for election and as of May 9 have qualified with the Hendry County, Florida Supervisor of Elections. (No name next to the office means no one has qualified yet.)

Included are phone numbers and email addresses as listed by each candidate with the elections office. (In the past we have noted the majority, if not all candidates, don't seem to respond to emails or return phone calls. Voters might wish to test each candidate's willingness to respond to voter's inquiries.)

Clerk of Circuit Court
*(Dem) Barbara Cox Butler, P O Box 44, Clewiston, FL  33440
Phone: 863-673-0209  email:
(Rep) Larry Wilcoxson, 100 South Hall Street, Ste. A, LaBelle, FL  33935
Phone: 863-812-0962  email:

(Rep) E. Carmona, 1079 Luckey St., LaBelle, FL 33935 phone: 863-673-6029 email:
(Rep) Mark R. Chamberlain, P O Box 1180, Clewiston, FL 33440 phone: 863-983-7844 email:
(Rep) Raymond A. Van Houten, 590 Brittany Lane, LaBelle, FL 33935 email: phone: 863-944-3996
(Dem) Matthew A. Beatty, 410 E. Osceola Ave., Clewiston, FL 33440 email: phone 863-983-5959
(Dem) Steven Maldonado, P O Box 273, LaBelle, FL 33975 phone:863-673-1971
*(Dem) Steve Whidden, 2100 Scott Rd., LaBelle, FL 33935 phone:863-612-0678

Property Appraiser
*(Dem) Phillip L. Pelletier, 1601 Fort Denaud Rd., LaBelle, FL 33935 email: phone: 863-673-3280
(Rep) Kristina A. Kulpa, 1000 G. Road, LaBelle, FL  33935
Phone: 863-675-3302  e-mail:

Tax Collector
*(Dem) Peggy S. Hampton ,P.O. Box 1019, LaBelle, FL  33975
Phone: 239-250-4032  email:
(Rep) Tom Corbitt, 199 Caloosa Estates Dr., LaBelle, FL 33935 Phone: 863-612-0868

Superintendent of Schools
(Rep) Paul Puletti, 110 Hardee St., LaBelle, FL 33935 phone: 863-675-5921
(Rep) Joel Williamson, 140 Evans Rd., LaBelle, FL 33935 phone: 863-675-4098 email:
*(Dem) Richard A. Rick Murphy, 1832 Red Rd., Clewiston, FL 33440 phone: 561-248-8100 email:

(Dem) Cynthia Luevano Potter, 708 W. Avenida del Rio, Clewiston, FL 33440
Phone 863-228-3322 email:

Supervisor of Elections
(Rep) Kevin Drummond, 4717 Sandlewood Ln., LaBelle, FL 33935
Phone: 863-234-3480 email:
(Dem) Kim Harris-White, P O Box 661, Felda, FL 33930-0661 phone:863-257-0070 email:
(Dem) Brenda Hoots, 580 N. Hacienda St., Clewiston, FL 33440 Phone: 863-885-1756 email:
(NPA) Rose Raulerson-Mason, 469 Maple Dr., LaBelle, FL 33935
Phone: 863-234-6401 email:

County Judge (Non-partisan)
James D. Sloan, P O Box 1695, LaBelle, FL 33975

County Commission District #1
*(Dem) Janet B. Taylor, P O Box 764, Clewiston, FL  33440
Phone: 863-228-0612  email:

(Dem) Pamela B. Jackson, P O Box 1201, Clewiston, FL 33440
Phone: 863-228-3278 email:

County Commission District #3
*(Rep) Tristan G. Chapman, 405 Live Oak Ln., LaBelle, FL 33935
(Dem) Don Davis, 93 S. Hall St., LaBelle, FL  33935, Phone:  863-234-1581

County Commission District #5
*(Dem)  Karson C. Turner, P.O. Box 1688, Clewiston, FL  33440
Phone: 863-983-4101. email:

School Board District #1 (Non-partisan)
*Dwayne E. Brown P O Box 684, Clewiston, FL  33440

School Board District #2

*Sally Berg, 125 Wilson Rd, LaBelle, FL  33935
Phone (863) 675-2604

Hendry Hospital Authority District #1
Hendry Hospital Authority District #3
Hendry Hospital Authority District #5
Hendry Soil and Water Conservation District Seat #2
Hendry Soil and Water Conservation District Seat #
Port LaBelle Community Development District Seat #2
Port LaBelle Community Development District Seat #4

East County Water Control District Seat #1

*Michael J. Welch, 1923 Golfside Village Dr., Lehigh Acres, FL  33936 Phone: 239-565-8450

East County Water Control District Seat #3
Joseph L. Whalen, 1402 4th St. E, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936 phone: 239-633-9423

East County Water Control District Seat #5
Edward T. Weiner, 20048 Lake Vista Cir., Lehigh Acres, FL 33936 phone: 954-648-5458

Central County Water Control District Seat #2
Miguel A. Solar, 303 Camino Real Blvd, Clewiston, FL 33440 Phone: 954-471-6888
*Jessie Necolettos, Jr., 680 S. Arboleda Street, Clewiston, FL  33440 Phone: 983-6864

Central County Water Control District Seat #4
Billy Haithcock, 545 N. Isora St., Clewiston, FL  863-233-2437
*Charles Bamburg 830 N. Utopia St, Clewiston, FL  33440

City of Clewiston, 3 Seats

* Incumbent

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Prom - A Message For Parents Of Teens

Prom Is A Four Letter Word
By Amity Chandler, Director of Drug Free Charlotte County
The event of prom is no small matter, endless movies have been crafted around this big dance– can we say “Footloose” without our toes tapping? With nostalgia comes temptation, not only for teens, but parents. Local Hendry County parents with seniors graduating this year may remember when the legal drinking age was 18.

Coupled with memories of your own senior prom, well meaning, otherwise logical parents may be tempted to relax an otherwise firm “no alcohol” policy for this special event. Let’s talk you off the ledge and back into your parent pants.

P is for planning. Seniors want to have a good time at prom. Regrettably, they’ve grown up in a media culture that has shown them images of good times being had with alcohol, and alcohol only. The best way to mediate this attitude is the literally plan for a goodtime. What happens before prom and after prom are often more important than the prom.

Contrary to popular belief, teens are not wired to drink; they’re wired for fun and risky behavior. Pool parties, slip and slides with bubbles, scavenger hunts and other types of crazy and somewhat goofy activities make memorable events. If you’re not planning for fun, they’ll find it on their own.

R is for respect. Each year, survey results indicate an overwhelming 77% of Hendry County teens approve of parents providing alcohol to minors. Survey results also indicate the largest portion of alcohol to minors comes from a small percentage of parents. The adage “their going to do it anyway” is a slippery slope for parents trying to convince themselves they’re doing the right thing by providing alcohol. There are many things teens “might” do when given the opportunity – sex, drugs, speed, steal, lie – at the end of the day, we’re obligated to provide the framework for good decisions, not try to mediate potential bad ones.

O is for omnipresent. Defined as, “present everywhere”, our teens once believed we were omnipresent. No matter where they were, or what they were doing, we somehow knew or found out everything. As they get older, carry more responsibility, and prove themselves worthy, we loosen our omnipresent grip. Consider however, that a teen’s brain is rapidly developing until about 21 to 22 years of age. Their decision making still has very much to do with two things – 1) what is everyone else doing? And 2) will I get caught? A healthy dose of omnipresence before big events such as prom reminds your teen that you still care enough to check up on them and gives them a powerful out should they face an overdose of peer pressure.

M is for memories. Remind teens that the best way to remember prom is to add nothing but fun. Who wants to risk having their head end up in a toilet, have a date that pukes all over them, or be so hung over you can’t make it to the beach the next day? When they send their own teen off to prom, the memory of how you handled their prom, from pictures to rules to curfew will undoubtedly be fresh in their minds. Let’s keep the parent pants on and enjoy prom. Be the wall between teens and alcohol.

-Submitted by Drug Free Hendry County

Florida 'Do Not Call' Service Now Free

Subscribe Your phones in Do not Call Program

Do Not Call List Now Free In Florida

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has begun offering free "Do Not Call" service to Floridians.  

Subscription to the Florida Do Not Call list is now being offered free of charge for residential and mobile telephone numbers. Your number will remain on the Florida Do Not Call list for five (5) years.

"In these tough economic times, we are looking for ways to spend our money more efficiently and that is why I am excited to offer Florida's Do Not Call service at no cost to the state's nearly 20 million residents," says Adam Putnam, Florida's Secretary of Agruculture.

To Subscribe:

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Brunda Sue Futrell Corbin, age 88, died at home on May 2, 2012, of complications from a stroke. She was born on December 19, 1923, in Murray, Kentucky, to Ambie Owen Futrell and Stanley Hammond Futrell. She grew up in Murray and graduated from Murray State Teacher's College (now Murray State University) in 1945. Following graduation from college Sue worked at The Bank of Murray.

In 1948 Sue married John Givens Corbin, her husband of over 61 years. They resided in Providence, Kentucky, until they moved to Florida in 1956. Sue assisted John in establishing a farm supply business in Clewiston and devoted much of her time to being a homemaker and mother to their two daughters, Nancy and Mary.

When in her 60's Sue focused her efforts on her long-time passion, art. She studied drawing and painting and began developing her artistic talent. For the remaining years of her life she painted and encouraged others to develop their artistic talents through the Clewiston Art League. Sue was a member of the First United Methodist Church.

She is survived by daughters Nancy Corbin, Bellingham, WA; Mary (Mitchell) Thomas, Clewiston, FL; granddaughter Katherine (Bill) Fabian, of Winter Park, FL and newborn great grandson Philip Jay Fabian, Winter Park, FL. Sue was preceded in death by her husband John and by grandson Philip Corbin Thomas.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at the First United Methodist Church, Clewiston, FL. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Florida Methodist Children's Home, 51 Children's Way, Enterprise, FL 32725. These gifts will be used to provide arts and cultural opportunities for the children.

Patrick "Rick" Harvey Yancey, 39, of Alva, FL, passed away on May 4, 2012. He was born in Ft Myers on November 7, 1972. He was a licensed cosmetologist for many years, and most recently a sales consultant for Beauty Systems Group Florida.

Patrick is survived by Veronica Yancey & daughter, Sky Yancey, parents, Russ (Carol) Yancey and JoAnn (Floyd) Greenwell, step-brother, William Stagner, nephews, Jason (Christie) Yancey and Cody Yancey, niece, Miranda Yancey, great-niece Rylee Anne Godwin and other relatives and friends.

A Farewell Gathering will be held, May 9th from 6-7 PM at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Ft Myers, FL. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hope Hospice or the charity of your choice.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home.

Google Launches "Hangouts On Air" Worldwide

LABELLE, FL. -- Google is hoping to encourage aspiring artists, celebrities, and everyday folks to go live in front of a global audience broadcasting live from Google+ "Hangouts On Air."

The feature allowing webcam streaming live to the world on YouTube, Google+ and web pages was introduced to a limited number of select broadcasters last year, enabling them to go live and chat with friends and fans "for all the world to see" says Google.

Rolling out the new feature over the coming weeks, anyone with a Google+ account can broadcast live from their YouTube channel, or from the Google+ stream. During the broadcast up to 9 additional people will be able to join live in the broadcast.

After the broadcast is concluded, Google will upload a public recording to your YouTube channel and to your original Google+ post so anyone can later watch what happened during the live broadcast.

Google announced Conan O'Brien will be doing a live hangout with fans at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 if you'd like to see how it all works.

Here's some examples of previous live hangouts by various celebrities:
President Obama (January 2012)
Young Hollywood (May 2012)
Tyra Banks (Dec 2011)
Miami Hurricanes (Apr 2012)
David Beckhan (Feb 2012)

Google Technical Paper On How To Do A Successful Hangout

Monday, May 07, 2012

Hendry-Glades Gas Higher Than Average

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 7.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.69/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.77/g, according to gasoline price website

Hendry county's lowest price was $3.89 at BP, Handy Food Stores and Circle K in LaBelle, 20 cents higher than Florida average prices. In Lehigh Acres, prices were $3.79 at Citgo on Joel Blvd and $3.81 at the Alva Handy Store.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 22.0 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 27.0 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 13.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 15.9 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"I'd probably sound like a broken record at this point if I were to tell folks that crude prices breached and fell under $100 late last week. I'm sure I'll be flooded with motorists asking why gasoline prices haven't fallen yet," chuckled Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Either way, it's great news for motorists- but some hot spots may burn motorists before they see any sizable relief. When I mention hot spots, I'm thinking of the West Coast- where supply has dropped considerably, causing tightness and perhaps higher prices. The rest of the country, however, should see short term relief continue ahead of Memorial Day, easing unfounded fears of the national average hitting $5/gal, or even $4/gal," DeHaan said.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Hendry Sending Three To Democratic Convention

Thomas, Taylor And Mighty Go To Convention
LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Democrats announced the results of the May 5 County Caucus to elect delegates from the local level who will attend the Florida Democratic Party's state convention in Tampa this June.

The following individuals were elected at the 2012 Hendry County Caucuses: Joe Thomas from LaBelle for Congressional District 16, and Janet Taylor and Rupert Mighty from Clewiston for Congressional District 23. 

They will join other county delegates from each of Hendry County's two congressional districts in electing delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC the first week in September.

This year Florida Democrats will send the largest delegation ever to the National Convention with a record 300 delegates, the majority of whom will be selected from the county congressional district delegates at the State Convention in Tampa, June 1 - 3. 

Hendry County Democrats Chairman Joe Thomas said, "We will harness the enthusiasm generated at our local caucuses and the Florida Democratic Convention toward building a strong grassroots organization in Florida to elect Democrats up and down the ticket."

Friday, May 04, 2012

Clewiston Police Activity This Week

Shooting Outside Suzy B's - Two Wounded

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Clewiston Police Officers responded to a report of a shooting outside Suzy B’s Saturday night and found two victims suffering gunshot wounds. A number of vehicles parked in the area may have been hit by gunfire. No uninvolved people were injured.

Police Chief Don Gutshall will be meeting with Suzy B owners and managers this week. The investigation continues into the shooting.  Anyone with any information is asked to call the Police Department 983-1474.

Chief Gutshall reports on Monday morning, Tito Nieves, Chief Gutshall, and Sheriff Steve Whidden participated in an early morning talk show sponsored by the radio station. The topic was law enforcement past, present, and future.

The department's traffic safety initiatives won a grant award of $12,000 to be used in Traffic
Safety Programs. The department heads are looking through the “equipment and supply list” today to determine our needs. A job well done by Adam Baker who heads the program annually.

Animal Control’s haul this week included coons, possums, fox, iguana, skunk, squirrel, and a chicken….it’s this type of a collection as well as the time of year that makes us wary of distemper. Please be on your guard for animals of any kind behaving in a strange fashion.

Following is a brief synopsis of the week’s activity:
1118     Commercial / Residential Security Checks
515       Complaints Investigated
15         Criminal Arrests Made
46         Traffic Citations Issued
65         Traffic Warnings Issued
1           City Ordinance Violation Issued
85         Merchant Escorts Provided
17        Alarms Responded To
43        Red Light Camera Citations
3          Traffic Accidents Investigated

-from the City of Clewiston