Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Drug Addiction Rehab Center Coming To Port LaBelle Inn?

Homeless Shelter Non-Profit Planning To Take Over Hotel To House Recovering Addicts

LABELLE, FL. -- A large non-profit organization may be planning to house drug addicts and the homeless at the 47-room Port LaBelle Inn. Applications filed with Hendry County indicate Saint Matthews House of Collier county wants to change the property from commercial hotel and agricultural use to religious and institutional use.

The property has been for sale for several years and in May a psychologist contacted local official to get their take on putting recovering addicts at the Port LaBelle Inn as part of a profit-making corporation headed by the doctor. That deal fell through reportedly over price negotiations, but now Collier County's St. Matthews House has proposed plans to use a reported multi-million dollar grant to take over the 1980s hotel and restaurant.

St. Matthews House runs homeless shelters and drug rehab facilities in Southwest Florida and took over the Immokalee Friendship House in 2008 noticing that many men, women, and children, many them migrants, had no place to sleep at night.

The Immokalee facility and other facilities of St. Matthews House may well be a model for the group's plans in LaBelle. The Immokalee center provides meals, clothing, and shelter to thousands of individuals in Collier County and is nearly always at capacity, quite often including families with young children, says the organization's web site.

"Abused women and children, migrant farm workers, convalescents, people fighting addiction, and families that recently suffered a loss of income all come through the doors of the Immokalee Friendship House."

St. Matthews House also operates "Justin's Place Recovery" serving homeless suffering from substance abuse and addiction. According to St Matthews House when "residents enter our Structured Recovery Program, they subsequently submit themselves to our rules and regulations, which in turn lead to the self-respect that comes from accountability. They must be sober and make a commitment to very specific standards and rules, and have a willingness to begin the task of rebuilding their lives. Our program offers compassionate, disciplined counseling and guidance to each resident's physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges."

Included in resident rules are a wake-up at 6 a.m. and they must be out by 8 a.m. either gainfully employed or looking for a job. Residents pay a $50/week program fee, which is the payment required to live at St. Matthew's House and all are required to make "timely payment of court fees and/or child support, if applicable."

The organization also runs Wolfe Apartments., a 46-unit transitional living complex in the Golden Gate area of Naples opened in 2003 providing a drug and alcohol-free structured community with guidance and support provided by an on-site staff. Fourteen units are dedicated to the permanently disabled with rents adjusted to their income.

"The Wolfe Apartments serves the residents who graduate from our Recovery Program as well as the homeless in our community," says the organization's web site.

Among some of the requirements for tenants, "they must have remained sober for at least six consecutive months and submit to random drug/alcohol testing and be homeless according to HUD standards" and "attend Narcotics and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at lest three times per week and stay in contact with sponsor."

LaBelle Hotel Changed Hands Repeatedly In Last 10 Years

The Port LaBelle Inn property, in Hendry county, is situated across the street from the Port LaBelle Marina and 100 townhouses and condos in Glades county. It has gone through numerous owners and legal action over the last decade, now owned and operated by an Ohio truck stop father and son team. The property was purchased in September 2008 for a $900,000, and after some upgrades put back on the market for a bit under $2 million.

Sales prices for the property have ranged from $715,000 in June 2003 to $4,000,000 in November 2005.

The current owner,  Ed J. Yasechko of Hubbard, Ohio runs the hotel with his son, through Port LaBelle Inn LLC. They first advertised tried to sell the hotel as senior assisted living facility without success, and most recently have run adverting to sell the hotel as a bed and breakfast inn.

Sales listings claim a 60% annual occupancy rate, at $64.00 avg daily room rate. The listing said gross revenue is $663,000 which includes $430,000 room revenue and $233,000 restaurant revenue.

With what some say is a bad location for a hotel, the customers over the past few years have primarily been road construction workers employed by out of area companies expanding State Road 80 to four lanes.

The Oxbow Grill had been leased out unsuccessfully over the years. The current owners have taken control of the restaurant but see most nights a usually almost empty dining room. A driving school leases a downstairs office space.

Hearings will be advertised and scheduled by Hendry County for public input on the proposed change in use of the hotel. Nearby property owners will also be notified by letter say Hendry officials.

(Photo: Port LaBelle Inn file photo)


  1. Anonymous3:30 PM


    An opinion submitted to the editor:

    Well done Mr. Brown. Maybe the Yasechko' s are angry with their retired neighbours in Laural Oaks and the condos for failing to support the Inn and specifically the restaurant / bar, and in retribution will have the last word by terrorizing the mostly widow occupants and crushing their property values.

    I can think of no other reason for such callous actions by the Yasechkos. Of course, the love of money (which we all know is the root of all evil) could well overwhelm a poor man but I understand that the Yasechkos are millionaires. Why would a millionaire intentionally reign terror on a group of retired mostly widows, but in vindictiveness?

    I have never met these people but understand that the senior is very elderly. . .men who are cognitive, generally mellow in their last years as the certainty of their end and eternity becomes obvious. . .such is certainly not the case with Ed Yasechko, who is finishing his life with the legacy of a curse on more than 250 mostly retired families and widows, who will not only live in fear for their personal safety but see their home values crushed by surely more than half. Those with mortgages will likely be instantly "underwater" on valve vs loan amount, and will be stuck, unable to escape the blight of the Yasechko legacy. Yes they will pocket a few extra bucks, but oh. . . look at the cost.

    Finally, I feel the only way to avert this travesty is in the hands of the Yasechkos. . .the very ones who started the whole thing. Their showing a bit of compassion and understanding for the more than 250 lives and community they will ruin would end this situation and promptly.

  2. Anonymous8:12 PM

    If this happens, many of the elites that reside in beautiful are moving. I suggest they not dump more problems in our poor town. We want to try and make Labelle better not worse. They say the rehabilitation center will be very strict and not to worry, "one strike and your out policy." Your out will end up taking a left on 80 right into LaBelle. (In the Caloosa Bell)

    1. Anonymous8:20 PM

      beautiful Labelle*

    2. Anonymous10:37 AM

      Your a shallow human being. This town is full of drugs. Who ever says its a bad idea needs help themselves. I grew up here there are drugs EVERY WHERE. This town was built from drug money. We had a sherrif years ago go to prison for trafficking TONS of COCAINE . 80 Percent of the small businesses in town are owned by the families that sold the drugs. ITS A FACT. So a place to help people is a great idea. Only a p.o.s would think different

    3. Anonymous10:40 AM

      Your a shallow human being. This town is full of drugs. Who ever says its a bad idea needs help themselves. I grew up here there are drugs EVERY WHERE. This town was built from drug money. We had a sherrif years ago go to prison for trafficking TONS of COCAINE . 80 Percent of the small businesses in town are owned by the families that sold the drugs. ITS A FACT. So a place to help people is a great idea. Only a p.o.s would think different

  3. Anonymous10:13 PM

    God forbid they try to help people in a city already full of drug addicts at least you would know where they are at.

  4. Anonymous5:45 PM

    I know this may come as a shock to some, but addicts and alcoholics are SOBER when they are in rehab!!! Not to mention that the police will heavily patrol that area due to the rehab. Let's not forget that this place may also bring employment to LaBelle. I am disgusted by the homeowners who are so opposed to this. Is it actually about your "property values" or are you afraid of drug addicts? If so, you should do some research and stop talking about things you are ignorant about. some of the most important people you shake hands with every day may have been in a rehab at some point in their life. It is because of the second chance that rehab gave them that they are a productive member of society today and possibly providing you a pay check. You never know who that rehab may help...maybe even one of your children.