Sunday, March 31, 2013

Woman Dies In Easter Morning Crash

Car Hits Sign, Tree And Light Post - Killing Elderly Driver

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- An 81-year old woman from LaBelle died Sunday morning about 9:54 a.m. in a deadly crash on U.S. 27 in Moore Haven.

Violet Raulerson driving 2003 Ford Crown Victoria was traveling eastbound on US 27 approaching the intersection of 10th street. The vehicle veered off of the roadway and struck a crosswalk sign located in the south shoulder. 

The front of the Ford then struck a tree located on the south shoulder. As it continued to travel east, the front  then struck an overhead light post located in the parking lot of the University of Florida IFAS Glades County Extension office building at 900 US 27. 

It came to final rest in the parking lot of University of Florida IFAS Glades County Extension Office facing in a easterly direction. Raulerson was wearing a seat belt said FHP Master Corporal Martin Hernandez and homicide investigator Corporal R. Ellis.

Highwayman Al Black - Landscape Painter Visits

50s And 60s Paintings Now Selling Well At 10 Times The Original Prices

LABELLE, FL. -- Al Black, acknowledged as one of the original Florida Highwaymen artists, visited LaBelle Heritage Museum on Saturday, March 30, at the wrap-up of the local group's month long retrospective of the Art of the Florida Highwaymen.

"Highwaymen" was the name given to a group of African American landscape painters loosely based in Fort Pierce who started selling their paintings out of the trunks of their cars up and down the major highways of South Florida when east coast art galleries refused to accept any of their works for exhibit and sale during the Jim Crow days of the 1950s and 1960s.

Many local business people would buy one or two paintings almost every time Al Black came through LaBelle in the 1960s and1970s since they were not only eye catching but easily affordable at their original prices, usually under $45. 

 Art critics usually ignored these African American artists notwithstanding their popularity with the public and the growing number of their paintings displayed in local offices and residences throughout Southwest Florida until the 1990s when they were "discovered" and given the name "Highwaymen" in recognition of their marketing practice of going up and down South Florida highways and stopping to sell their paintings wherever they saw groups of offices and stores where there were possible buyers. 

Some of the early Highwaymen paintings have commanded prices 1,000 per cent higher than their original cost, and many imitators have attempted to cash in on their fame.

Al Black visited with some 50 visitors at LaBelle Heritage Museum, sold some autographed copies of the latest book about him as well as both original Al Black framed paintings and prints. He captivated his audience with his personality as well as with his art. 

When Black, his wife and 13 year-old daughter packed up for their trip back to Fort Pierce, he told museum president Joe Thomas that he looks forward to being invited back to participate in future retropectives of Highwaymen

Paul Roser Dies

LABELLE, FL. -- Paul Roser, one of LaBelle, Florida's community leaders died March 29, 2013. He had battled cancer for eight years.

Paul had completely arranged a surprise birthday party for Nikki Yeager's 70th birthday on Thursday at the LaBelle Civic Center with people from all walks of life attending.

(photo: Paul and Nikki at surprise birthday party at Civic Center Thursday)

Nikki said, "Thursday March 28th had been a very busy day for him - he rushed out early, apparently to make some final arrangements. Then he drove us to his radiologist oncologist doctor's appointment in Ft Myers and on the way home, while driving he wrote on his 'white board' that I needed to be ready by 5:30 because we were going to meet another couple for dinner at steak house here. On the way to dinner, he needed to 'pop-in' to the civic center and Surprise!"

She said, "Just over 24 hours after the party, he passed away in route to Hospice House. He was so special. His earthly battle is over and he is free of his body at last. He is at peace having his own celebration now - with his Mom and Dad - and daughter Wendy and so many others who went before!"

No arrangements have been made yet.

Road Construction Continues In Hendry

Major Projects In Hendry County This Week

LABELLE, FL. -- Millions of dollars in road construction money continues in Hendry County this week. Motorists should take care in the following locations for construction traffic entering the roadways:

State Roadways: SR 78E from SR 29 to US 27, SR 78W from US 27 to Okeechobee County Line, US 27 from Palm Beach County Line to Highlands County Line: Maintenance project: Crews are restriping the lines along the state roadways (this order is not necessarily sequential). This will be a nighttime/overnight slow moving operation from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., weather permitting. Motorists should expect slow moving traffic and possible delays.

US 27 from Palm Beach County Line to Flaghole Road: Maintenance permit project: Crews are working on the shoulder of the roadway, reshaping and sodding areas. Work occurs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. No lane closures are anticipated, but motorists should expect vehicles entering and exiting the roadway and should use caution.

SR 80 from CR 833 to east of US 27: Construction project: Work expands two-miles of SR 80 to four lanes from east of County Road 833 to west of US 27. Crews are installing drainage and placing base materials. Drivers should pay attention to traffic signs and barricades throughout the construction project, stay alert, and use caution in the work zone. Estimated completion is spring 2014. The contractor is C.W. Roberts Contracting, Inc.

SR 80/US 27: Interchange improvements: Construction project: Crews are modifying the intersection with construction of an overpass for SR 80 traffic eastbound to US 27 northbound and for US 27 traffic northbound to SR 80 westbound. The project also realigns US 27. Crews also will widen approximately 3/4 mile of SR 80 to four lanes approaching the intersection, add a traffic signal at the overpass, and install lighting at the interchange. Work currently involves placing fill dirt, installing drainage, and constructing the new overpass and roadways. US 27 traffic is using the newly constructed lanes. The SR 80/US 27 intersection is temporarily shifted to the north. Motorists travelling east and west on SR 80 must use caution at the US 27 intersection and follow the posted speed limit of 25 MPH. Motorists are advised to be aware of construction vehicles entering and leaving the work zone and to use caution driving in this area. Project completion is estimated at end of year 2013. The contractor is Ajax Paving Industries of Florida, Inc.

SR 80 from Birchwood Parkway to Dalton Lane: Construction project: Work is underway to expand five miles of SR 80 to four lanes from Birchwood Parkway to Dalton Lane. Cowgirl Way will be closed on the north side at SR 80 from 7 p.m. Sunday, April 7, to 5 a.m. Monday, April 8, while crews install drainage pipes across the roadway. Motorists may use Birchwood Parkway to access SR 80. Cowboy Way on the south side of SR 80 is open to traffic. Motorists should be aware of construction vehicles entering and leaving the work zone and use caution driving in this area.

SR 80, west from Hendry County Line to Cowboy Way: Maintenance permit project: Crews are installing gas lines over the next several months. Work will occur Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. No lane closures are anticipated, but motorists should expect vehicles entering and exiting the work zone and are advised to use caution.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Whistle Blower Gets $1.5 Million In CDW Case

Company To Pay Government Nearly $6 Million To Settle Fraud Case

CHICAGO, IL. -- A former Illinois sales representative of an Illinois office supply company will receive $1,336,098 for providing evidence against the company.

CDW-Government LLC has agreed to pay $5.66 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims in connection with a U.S. General Services Administration contract, the Justice Department announced today.

Joe Liotine will receive the reward after a settlement resolves allegations that, during the period 1999 to 2011, CDW-G improperly charged government purchasers for shipping, sold products to the United States that were manufactured in China and other countries that are prohibited by the Trade Agreements Act, and underreported sales in order to avoid paying GSA its “Industrial Funding Fee,” a fee based on total contract sales that is designed to cover GSA’s costs of contract administration. 

 CDW-G is a reseller of information technology, equipment, services, office supplies and related products.

The allegations arose from a lawsuit filed in a federal court in East Saint Louis, Ill., under the quitam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Those provisions allow private individuals known as “relators” to sue on behalf of the United States and to share in the proceeds of any settlement or judgment that may result. The relator may also be entitled to receive additional amounts from the defendant for attorneys’ fees and costs.

The claims settled by this agreement by the company are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Extreme Base Jumping For Your Weekend?

What are you doing this weekend? Need an adrenaline rush? Here's a video of guys wearing "wingsuits" jumping off mountains in Arizona.

Youth Prison Cemetery Bodies To Be Exhumed?

Long Dead Boys Are Reported To Be Victims Of Abuse And Violence

MARIANNA, FL. -- A University of South Florida forensic anthropologist joined U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and the head of Florida's juvenile-justice agency Wednesday for a tour of a burial ground outside the infamous Dozier School for Boys in Marianna in Northwest Florida.

(Video: Nelson visits "Boot Hill" Cemetery and the "White House")

The state hopes to soon begin exhuming remains of long-dead boys to see if they were victims of violence and abuse.

Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle rolled out a map for Nelson at the edge of a small graveyard where 31 small white crosses are symbolic of bodies already detected by ground-piercing radar. Attorney General Pam Bondi and other state officials are seeking a court order to exhume remains in the area, and Nelson last week was notified that the Department of Justice can make up to $3 million available for continuing the search.

“For most of this, it is historic -- this happened 50 years ago, 100 years ago -- but for families who have questions, and have been searching for their brothers' remains, it's not the past, it's the present,” Kimmerle said as she left the burial area. “They seek resolution and I think for them it's critically important.”

After a media tour that drew network television crews and reporters from papers as far away as the New York Times, Nelson, Kimmerle and Wansley Walters, head of the Department of Juvenile Justice, ducked into the notorious “white house” -- a white-washed brick citadel where survivors said boys were brutally flogged with thick straps and often sexually abused.

The decaying building, doors long ago removed from its nine tiny isolation cells, is abandoned -- although the grounds of the huge juvenile prison are well-maintained as the state looks for a buyer of valuable land near a major I-10 interchange.

Nelson said an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement turned up evidence of 31 buried remains. He said Kimmerle's search of written records and soil samplings turned up about 19 more.

“The 31 was the best estimate, based on what people had memories about and what evidence could be found,” said Kimmerle. “We've come up with a good estimate, but we don't really know.”

Even if exhuming the bodies shows evidence of abuse, State Attorney Glenn Hess said it will be almost impossible to prosecute anyone. He said only one or two employees from the era are known to be alive and that they are too old for prosecution, even if witnesses or evidence could be found.

“The question is, can we establish probable cause that a crime has been committed, and who did it?” he said. “That's the hard part.”

Hess said the county coroner “is on board” with the request for an exhumation order. If a court grants the order, Nelson said, the federal money and a pending $200,000 state budget item would get Kimmerle's crew back to work in the tall pine country near the Georgia-Alabama border.

Kimmerle said a search of official records showed the earliest deaths were reported in a fire in 1914. But she said documentation wasn't kept until 1919 and was “fraught with inconsistencies.” The last recorded burial in the area was in 1952.

Kimmerle said scientists would be able to learn a lot from fragments found from an exhumation.

“Skeletal analysis tells us a lot about the individual profile of a person -- how old were they when they died, their ancestry, their diet and activities,” she said. “If there are disease processes or trauma that affects bone, then that will also be evident if the preservation is good.”

Dale Landry, regional president of the Florida NAACP, said when he was growing up, kids called Dozier “the 'formatory school.”

“We knew it was the reformatory school, but we just called it the formatory school,” he said. “It was a fearful site, very fearful.”

Landry said the civil rights organization is interested in the investigation because “the reality of it is, those kids are buried out there.”

Kimmerle said the “boot hill” area she showed Walters and Nelson was for black juveniles. Nelson said there may be another area of the school where white youths were buried during an era of rigid segregation.

The anthropology professor said precise numbers of burials may never be known, but it is important to try.

“We really don't know exactly how many, or who they are,” she said. “All the focus on exact numbers is not really the issue. Whether it's one or 20 or 40 or 60, we are talking about a child and families that are asking for information.”

Nelson said “this was a very sordid period of our history” but that descendants of “the white house boys” deserved answers.

“What happened? How many?” he said. “Were there crimes committed? Even after all these years, we need to know.”

Walters said Gov. Rick Scott closed Dozier after his election in 2010 because the state had to get away from incarceration of young lawbreakers and concentrate on education, prevention and rehabilitation.

“This facility is the prime example of why we can no longer ignore children in the juvenile justice system; they can no longer be marginalized and forgotten,” she said. “I suspect at this particular school, there were no bankers' and lawyers' and doctors' and politicians' children held here. These were poor people.”

Previous Southwest Florida Online Stories About The Youth Jail And "Boot Hill" Cemetery:
Boot Hill Cemetery Bodies To Be Exhumed

Update:  On March 24, 2013 Circuit Judge William L. Wright denied the State's petition to exhume the graves at the former boys' school.  Quoting a previous case he wrote: "The quiet of the grave, the repose of the dead, are not lightly to be disturbed. Good and substantial reasons must be shown before disinterment is to be sanctioned." The judge found the State had not shown sufficient reason.

Wright is a Judge in the 14 Judicial Circuit of Florida, for Jackson County.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Property Owner Alert - Buyer Making Strange Offers

Miami Companies Soliciting To Buy Lots At Half Price Or Less

LABELLE, FL. -- Property owners around the country may be receiving letters in the mail in coming weeks from a Miami company offering to buy vacant lots and land. A real estate broker appears to be affiliated with the offer.

Letters from Malsi Consulting, Inc. have been received  by owners of Florida properties offering to buy lots for as low as $1,500, minus any property taxes owed. They offer to buy with no closing costs and no commissions, but the offers were considerably below what might be a market price.

Update: In April, property owners began receiving substantially the same letter but now from "Investment By MG, LLC" at the same address on Kendall Drive in Miami. The offer was for $2,000 "if your property meets our requirements..." A search for that company came up with nothing on the Florida Secretary of State's list of corporations.

In July, 2013 the letter was again received but this time the offer went up to $2,500 for each lot in Port LaBelle. There is still is no state corporate registration found for "Investment By MG, LLC.

In Hendry county where some Port LaBelle property owners have received the letters, the county property appraisers office shows a typical lot in Port LaBelle is actually worth about $3,000 or more. So, a typical owner who might decide to sell to the outfit is going to take a loss on their investment after paying any taxes due.

In a confusing combination of affiliated companies and real estate brokers, Malsi Consulting is apparently the lead in finding willing sellers at discount prices.

Malsi Consulting, Inc., located at 10631 N. Kendall Drive in Miami, is owned by Albert Sigler, a real estate broker who has his license with American Prime Realty, Inc. at the same address. His letter asks prospective lot sellers to call Mayda Gomez at (305) 761-5508 or toll free at (800) 544-1491. She does not appear to be an official with Malsi Consulting but owns two other real estate companies in the same building and is actually a real estate broker.

Mayda J. Gomez, according to the Florida Secretary of State's office is the owner of American Prime Properties. Inc. and American Prime Realty, Inc. located in the same building. Her company reportedly buys vacant lots at big discounts and then attempts to resell them.

The 800 number on the letter is associated with Gomez' company American Prime Group owned by Margarita Galiana at the same address, and Lomar Holdings, Inc., also at the same address. Alberto Sigler, Sr. also owns American Prime Insurance, Inc. at the same address.

To further confuse who is the real buyer, Lomar Holdings LLC is the owner of American Prime LLC, which appears to be the actual buyer of some of the properties bought in the past. Margarita Galiana is the registered agent for American Prime at the Kendall Drive address in Miami.

Advice To Sellers: If you contemplate selling a vacant property, check with a local real estate agent before making a decision to sell to an outside of area company at what may be a price well below actual market prices. And ask questions of who the prospective buyer really is if there are several different companies involved in the offers to buy/ Ask why so many companies seem to be involved in the offer to buy.

Governor Says Obama "Late To Party" Before Visit Friday

Obama Visit To Miami Preceded By Governor's Plea For Fed Money
MIAMI, FL. -- Florida Governor Rick Scott says President Obama is "late to the party" and wants the Federal government to reimburse Florida for millions invested in Florida port infrastructure.

The day before President Obama’s planned arrival at Port Miami, Florida Governor Rick Scott held a conference call with Florida Ports Council Chairman and Director of Port Miami Bill Johnson to discuss whether the President’s port visit will come with a reimbursement to state taxpayers for paying the federal cost share of port projects.

In a press release, Scott said, “We are certainly glad President Obama is coming to the PortMiami tomorrow, but he is late to the party on Florida port investment. In the last three years, state taxpayers have invested $425 million in our ports to take advantage of the benefits of trade with Central and South America, and to prepare our state for the expansion of the Panama Canal and the potential for increased trade with Asia. 

"State taxpayers has stepped up time and time again to fund the federal share of projects in Miami and Jacksonville to support thousands of jobs. We want the President to step up to the plate in Miami tomorrow and reimburse our state millions of dollars that we can reinvest in our ports and support even more job creation."

Scott continues saying, “In 2011, we worked with the Legislature to invest $77 million in State Transportation Funds for the dredging project to deepen the PortMiami. That supplemented $35.5 million of existing funding - which is 75 percent of the total project cost of approximately $150 million. We could not wait for the federal government to come to the table with their share of this project. We expect the completion of the Panama Canal expansion in 2015, and also needed to keep up with our growing export trade.

“When President Obama comes to the PortMiami tomorrow, we would like him to commit the federal government’s reimbursement of $75 million for this project. That reimbursement for state costs could then be reinvested in the State Transportation Fund and used for additional state port investments.

“Over in Jacksonville this January we also announced a $38 million investment for JAXPORT to correct a turning notch and navigation difficulties. This project will create a more navigable and safe route for major container ships and support an increase in cargo volumes to create an additional 3,500 port-related jobs. Again with this Jacksonville project, Florida could not wait on the federal government to come to the table so we advanced state funds to move the project forward. In JAXPORT, the state stands to receive a federal reimbursement of $36 million for this project. Once again, the state taxpayers stepped up when the federal government did not.”

Plane Crashes "Straight Down" Says Report

Doomed Plane Had Difficulty On Takeoff, Barely Missing Obstacles, Then Heads "Straight Down"

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. -- The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on the March 15th crash of a twin engine Piper turbine aircraft that took the lives of the pilot and two passengers when it dropped into a Fort Lauderdale parking lot near the airport shortly after takeoff.

On March 15, 2013, about 4:20 p.m., a Piper PA-31T (Cheyenne), tail number N63CA, owned by M.A.S. Inc., of Fort Lauderdale was destroyed after it impacted the ground shortly after takeoff from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Steve Waller, an airline transport pilot and two passengers, Wallace Watson and son Kevin Watson were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local maintenance test flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to initial information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was purchased by its current owner during November 2012, and was being prepared for export to a customer in Columbia. The pilot planned to conduct a local test flight after avionics upgrades had been performed.

FAA registry records show the plane, built in 1978 was first registered to the company January 8, 2013.

The owner of the aircraft stated that the airplane had undergone engine ground checks during the 4 days prior to the accident. He was not aware of any maintenance issues with the airframe or engines, which underwent detailed inspections at the time of the purchase.

The airplane departed from runway 8, a 6,002-foot-long, asphalt runway to the east towards the ocean, and was expected to turn to the left for a northwest departure. Shortly after takeoff, witnesses observed the airplane make a steep right turn back toward the airport.

The pilot transmitted that he was experiencing an "emergency;" however, he did not state the nature of the emergency prior to the accident. One witness, who was a pilot on an airplane that was parked in the mid-field run-up area at FXE, stated that the accident airplane had difficulty climbing and barely cleared the obstacles located off the departure end of the runway.

The airplane turned to the right, and "began to shake as if it was near stall speed". The airplane then appeared to stall, roll to the right about 90 degrees, and descend straight down toward the ground.

The airplane impacted into about seven parked vehicles, and came to rest inverted about .6 miles from the departure end of the runway.

A postcrash fire consumed the airframe, with the exception of the right wingtip fuel tank, which was located about 20 feet south of the main wreckage. The right landing gear was found retracted in its respective gear well, while the structure around the nose and left main landing gears was compromised. The left and right flap actuator jackscrews indicated the flaps were in the retracted position.

The airplane's stability augmentation system control arm was observed in the up (airplane stalled) position. It was noted that internal damage to both engines was consistent with rotation somewhere between the low to mid-range power setting, with more pronounced damage observed to the left engine. The three-bladed right propeller assembly did not display any significant evidence of twisting or rotational damage, while the left propeller assembly displayed evidence of twisting and rotational damage.

Initial review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks revealed that it had been operated for about 135 hours during the previous 5 years, and 20 hours since its most recent documented phase inspections, which were performed on January 31, 2012.

- from the NTSB official preliminary crash report

(Also see original story from Southwest Florida Online)

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Walter R. Gilbert, age 76, of Moore Haven, Florida passed away March 23, 2013 in Moore Haven.He was born Aug. 6, 1936 in Guilford, Indiana to the late Melvin and the late Hessie Mae (Cornett) Gilbert. He served in the Air Force.

Survivors include his wife: Janet L.(Niebrugge) Gilbert of Moore Haven, Children: Kimberly Benham of Kentucky and Timothy Benning of Indiana; brother: Don Gilbert of Indiana, sisters: Alva Hall and Iris Roberts of Florida and other family and friends.

James Leslie Hughes, age 68, of Clewiston, passed away March 23, 2013 in Lauderhill. He was born Feb. 6, 1945 in Memphis, TN, to the late Leslie and the late Alice (Hassler) Hughes.

Survivors include step-father; Roy Eason of Clewiston, one brother: Albert Hughes of TX, many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be Friday from 12-2 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Teen Girl Trio Making Mystery Movie

Where's The Lost Court Room?

LABELLE, FL. -- Three 14-year old young women from LaBelle are starring in a action mystery movie about the lost old Hendry County court room.

Labelle Middle School twins Karly Harn and Kayla Harn with West Glades Middle school student Jacqueline Wilkins want help in finding more evidence of the lost courtroom in Hendry county.

Cast as "villains" in the movie are local residents Jeff and Terri Lazar and John Hollingsworth. Already videoed is Supervisor Of Elections Brenda Hoots. Other local notables will be appearing in this movie, said Avery.

If you have any pictures, maps, or stories about the court room please contact pastor Clifford Avery at 863-675-0900.

Phillip Pelletier, Hendry property appraiser has been quoted as saying "The old court room is really there. I have seen it!"

Car In Canal After Crash

Woman Safe After Being Hit By Dump Truck And Crashing Into Canal

LABELLE, FL. -- A car ended up in a water filled canal after a dump truck rear ends it Tuesday afternoon south of LaBelle at 4:24 p.m.. The driver escaped injury.

Alain Guzman Lapuente, 29 of Naples, driving a dump truck and Alejandra Santiago, 19 of LaBelle in a 2008 Dodge Avenger were southbound on State Road 29. The truck was behind Santiago while Dalia Marizta Lazalde 21 of LaBelle was northbound on State Road 29. 

Santiago brought her vehicle to a stop in the southbound lane and Lapuente failed to reduce speed to avoid a collision. As a result, the front of the truck struck the rear of  the Dodge. After the impact, the Dodge exited the roadway in a southerly direction coming to final rest in a water filled canal. 

After impact with the Dodge, the driver of the truck then lost control of the vehicle and it began to rotate counterclockwise and entered the northbound lane of State Road 29. At that time, the left front of the truck collided with the left side of Lazalde's 2005 Lincoln. 

The Lincoln continued northbound and struck a sign before coming to final rest on the east grassy shoulder of State Road 29 facing west. The truck came to final rest facing east across both lanes of State Road 29.

FHP Trooper T. Parks charged Lapuente with careless driving. Lazalde was taken to Hendry Regional Hospital with minor injuries. All drivers were wearing seatbelts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Barbara Lee Nally, age 78, of Lehigh Acres, FL, passed away March 24, 2013 in Fort Myers, FL.
She was born Dec. 22, 1934 in Red Jacket, West Virginia to the late Virgil Dudley and the late Opal (Glass) Dudley. Barbara moved to Lehigh Acres in 2010 and is a former, longtime resident of Switzer.

She is survived by her son, Ian Ray Nally of Lehigh Acres. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Oscar Ray Nally, Jr. and daughter, Denise Nally.

Memorial Services to be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Logan County, WV at a later date.

James T. Riddell, Jr., age 86, of LaBelle, passed away March 22, 2013 in LaBelle. He was born Feb. 4, 1927 in Jacksonville, FL, to the late James T. and the late Gertrude (Leak) Riddell, Sr.

He is survived by son: James R. Riddell, daughter: Shirley Mason, sister: Doris Hillsman and numerous grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Erma T. Riddell and son, Robert D. Riddell.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Elder Hollis Albritton officiating. Visitation was Tuesday from 1 hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Jerry Lynn Cody, age 50, of LaBelle passed away March 21, 2013 in Naples. She was born June 6, 1962 in Torrance, CA, to the late Gerry Lawrence and the late Dorothy Marie (Foster) McMullen.

Hilda H. Mathis, age 92, of Clewiston passed away March 15, 2013 in Clewiston. She was born Sep. 1, 1920 in Red Level, AL, to the late Herbert Hillary and the late Ida Lee (Thames) Jones.

She is survived by her son: Fred Derrell Mathis (Joyce Burcher), two daughters: Rebecca Sue Gann (Jim), Cecelia Sullivan (John Long), four sisters, six grandsons, six granddaughters, sixteen great grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband Fred David Mathis, son: George Wayne Mathis, daughter: Betty Annette Jimmerson, grandson: Derick Mathis, sister: Julie E. Brunes, three half-brothers and one half-sister.

Funeral services were held Monday, March 18, 2013 at 11:00 am at Lake Harbor Community Methodist Church, Lake Harbor with Rev. Rod Ruby officiating. Interment was in Port Mayaca Cemetery, Canal Point.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Old Golf Course Land Foreclosure Sale

Largest Remaining Golf Course Parcel Goes To Highest Bidder

LABELLE, FL. -- Arizona investor in Hendry County land, Michael J. Lafferty will most likely lose his last remaining parcel of Hendry land April 17. Lafferty and Port LaBelle Investors LLC has been sued by Trop LLC and John Hartemink to recover 31 acres of what used to be part of the Port LaBelle golf course.

Located between the Caloosahatchee River and State Road 80 in LaBelle, it's the largest piece of the old Port LaBelle golf course remaining. It's now used as a cattle pasture. The mortgage holders sued Lafferty in 2009 after mortgage payments stopped.

Lafferty bought the land back in 2005 for $1,240,000 near the height of the U.S. real estate boom, when prices were escalating wildly. The Hendry property appraisers says it's worth about $160,000, about $5,100 an acre.

He also briefly owned an adjoining parcel and the Port LaBelle Inn. Both were lost as a result of foreclosure actions against him a few years after his purchase.

Unless Lafferty can come up with money to pay off the mortgage holders, he will lose the property to the highest bidder at the Hendry Courthouse on April 17. If there are no bidders the mortgagees will take the property.

Gas Price Fall Again This Week

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 4.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.66/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.64/g.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 23.0 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 19.1 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 9.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 21.9 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"Average gasoline prices have continued to quietly move lower in the last week across much of the United States at a time of year when we historically are accustomed to seeing prices move higher," said Patrick DeHaan. "As of late last week, all fifty states saw lower gasoline prices than the same date last year, and the savings at the pump for motorists- while not staggering- amounts to millions of dollars a day," DeHaan said.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bill Gates - Better Condoms With $100,000 Reward

Gates Wants A More Pleasurable Condom

Billionaire Bill Gates is offering $100,000 for an inventor to come up with a better condom. Through the non-profit Grand Challenges In Global Health, sought is  a "Next Generation Condom" that significantly preserves or "enhances pleasure" says a press release, in order to improve "uptake and regular use" by couples.

The challenge's website is associated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, and the Wellcome Trust.

The current rate of global condom production is 15 billion units/year with an estimated 750 million users and a steadily growing market, says the challenge website.

Noted is the 400-year history of the use of condoms, but little has taken place in technological improvements in the past 50 years other than the use of latex and quality control that allows quality testing of each individual condom.  It is suggested that modern material science and our latest understanding of neurobiology might be applied to improve the design of condoms.

"Additional concepts that might increase uptake include attributes that increase ease-of-use for male and female condoms, for example better packaging or designs that are easier to properly apply. In addition, attributes that address and overcome cultural barriers are also desired."

"When used properly, they reliably protect females from pregnancy and both partners from numerous STIs, including HIV transmission, making them a prime example of a multi-purpose prevention technology (MPT). Their use does not require a prescription, a skilled health provider or in fact any healthcare provider or healthcare delivery system.

"There are no adverse events associated with their use, a statement that cannot be made for any other contraceptive or STI-preventive product. They are user controlled, user applied devices that are simple to use and easily transported. These characteristics make male condoms the perfect MPT product, especially for low resource settings."

The site says "The one major drawback to more universal use of male condoms is the lack of perceived incentive for consistent use. The primary drawback from the male perspective is that condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable, particularly given that the decisions about use must be made just prior to intercourse".

They ask,  "Is it possible to develop a product without this stigma, or better, one that is felt to enhance pleasure? If so, would such a product lead to substantial benefits for global health, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs?"

Photo credit: Flegmus

Town Hit By Shooting Spree - 40 Shops Affected

Downtown Sebring Recovering From County-Wide Property Damage Shooting Spree

SEBRING, Fl  -- Approximately 10 Downtown Sebring merchants, organizations and businesses have been devastated by the county-wide shooting spree that reportedly started around 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 23 and has impacted more than 40 businesses throughout Highlands County.

Brenner Pottery incurred more than $1,000 worth of merchandise damage, St. Vincent De Paul Society, the Children’s Museum of the Highlands, Molly’s Treats and Riles Pumps were also hit last night.

“As a brand new business that just opened last month, this is devastating to have this additional cost to bear, along with all of the normal start up costs a new business has to incur,” said Lora Todd, owner of Dogtown USA, who had an entire front window destroyed. “The money I now need to spend on repairs was budgeted to buy new merchandise.”.

Todd said the positive community support and assistance started early Sunday morning when people found out about the damage via Facebook.

“The community has been extremely supportive of the impacted small business owners in Downtown Sebring starting early Sunday morning,” Todd said. “People have been bringing us coffee, doughnuts, food and stopping by to see how they can help, as well as shopping in our open-window store, which shows the compassion our residents share for each other, as well as the passion everyone has for Downtown Sebring.”

Community leaders suggest to help the Downtown Sebring businesses and organizations impacted by this tragedy to shop, dine and spend money at affected Downtown Sebring businesses. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Major Food Companies Rate Badly In Nutrition

Most Global Food Manufacturers Not Doing Well Making Nutritious Products

The world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers must do more to increase access to nutritious products and positively exercise their influence on consumer choice and behavior, says the first edition of the global Access to Nutrition Index report and rankings, released earlier this month.

The Access to Nutrition Index is a new global initiative that evaluates food and beverage manufacturers on their policies, practices, and performance related to obesity and undernutrition.

By providing companies with a tool for benchmarking their nutrition practices and serving as an impartial source of information for interested stakeholders, ATNI aims to encourage companies to increase consumer access to nutritious products and responsibly exercise their influence on consumer choice and behavior.

ATNI is supported by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

The report assesses the nutrition-related commitments, performance and disclosure practices of 25 of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers as measured against international guidelines, norms and accepted best practices.

Key findings of the new report on food manufacturing companies:

Companies are not meaningfully engaged in addressing undernutrition and could better leverage their expertise, skills and scale to help combat this global health challenge.

Companies’ practices often do not measure up to their commitments. Companies are missing key opportunities to implement their commitments in core business areas such as product formulation, marketing and distribution.

The highest scoring companies have clear commitments, detailed policies and measurable targets related to nutrition. They have also charged senior executives with achieving these targets and provided incentives for them to do so.

Companies are rated on a scale of 0 to 10 based on their nutrition related commitments, performance and disclosure across seven different Categories, with the product formulation, availability and responsible marketing assigned a total of 65% of weight in the ranking process.:

Among brands well known in the U.S, Danone ranked 1st with a score of 6.3, Unilever 2nd with 6.1. Nestle, in third place had a score of 6.0. Scores fell rapidly for the remaining 22 companies on the list.

Among the other companies rated were:

Pepsico scored 4.4, Kraft 3.7, ConAgra 2.8, Heinz 2.7, Coca-Cola 2.6, Kellogg 2.4, General Mills 2.2, Campbell 1.9, Mars 1.6, and Hershey 1.3. 

Driver Leaves Crash Scene-Charged With DUI

Driver Flees Crash Site- Arrested Soon After

LABELLE, FL. -- An 81-year old man from Moore Haven, Florida has been charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident on State Road 29 at Jaycee Blvd. in LaBelle.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper T. Parks said a 2007 Dodge pickup driven by Richard Eugene Hammond  was eastbound Friday afternoon about 5:14 p.m. on Jaycee Lions Boulevard as a 2004 Dodge pickup driven by Sergio Morales, 18 of LaBelle was southbound on State Road 29 (Main Street). 

Hammod came to a stop sign at eastbound Jaycee Lions and State Road 29 but failed to yield to oncoming southbound traffic on State Road 29. He then proceeded to make a left turn (north). As a result, the left front of Morales' vehicle struck the left side of Hammond's in the southbound lane of State Road 29. 

Hammond continued traveling north of State Road 29. Hendry County Deputies identified and stopped him on State Road 80 and Cedarwood Parkway, about five miles away. He was later returned to the scene of the crash and then taken to the Hendry County jail.

Neither driver was injured but there was property damage. Hammond bailed out of Hendry County jail Saturday morning on $1,500 bond.

Friday, March 22, 2013

American's Debt Growing Says Census

Amount Of Debt Climbing In Households

According to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau the percentage of U.S. households holding some form of debt declined from 74% to 69% between 2000 and 2011. At the same time, the median amount of household debt increased over this period from $50,971 to $70,000 (in 2011 constant dollars). 

Between 2000 and 2011, the largest increases in median debt were experienced in households with householders age 35 to 44 (to $108,000), 45 to 54 (to $86,500), and 55 to 64 (to $70,000). However, the largest percentage increases in debt belonged to householders 55 to 64 years old (64 %) and 65 and older (more than doubling to $26,000). 

Furthermore they study says, people 65 and older were the only age group whose likelihood of holding debt rose over the period (from 41% to 44 %). The opposite pattern was observed for those under 65.

6,700 Acre Facility Hyped For Glades

Manufacturing And Distribution Center Plan Brings Land Companies Together
MOORE HAVEN, FL. – Panattoni Development Company is going forward to market and develop "Americas Gateway Logistics Center" in Moore Haven, Florida. The proposed master planned, 6,700-acre, international "intermodal logistics center" has been announced with a press release from the company today.

Planned for 40 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution facilities on 4,700 acres, with an additional 2,000 acres available for assembly plants, Americas Gateway Logistics Center if built would provide space for international and domestic manufacturers and distributors.

Lykes Bros. Inc. and A. Duda & Sons, Inc., two of Florida’s well-known, family-owned land companies, have joined to formalize an agreement to implement the plans. Mark Morton, senior vice president of Lykes Land Investments, has been appointed president of the new entity, Americas Gateway Logistics Center, LLC.

Lykes Bros. is the major land owner of Glades county land and would benefit from the sale or lease of it's properties and a possible increase in land values should such a large development actually be built.

Although Glades county has no interstate highway, seaport or airport, and is one of the poorest counties in Florida and among the counties with the highest unemployment, Panattoni insists it's perfect for such a development.

“The best integrated logistics centers have access to strong domestic and international markets, connection to multiple air and sea ports, class one rail roads, a non-congested US and state highway system and a workforce ready to be trained and with growth potential,” said Carl Panattoni, chairman of the board of Panattoni Development Company. “These factors are true of Americas Gateway’s location.”

Panattoni Development Company develops, leases and owns industrial and office projects in more than 278 cities throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Their client list includes over 500 companies, including 50 Fortune 500 companies. The firm has completed in excess of 160 million square feet of commercial projects.

“We are very pleased to have a development partner the caliber of Panattoni join our team,” said Mike Carrere, CEO of Lykes Bros. “Even more exciting is the potential for job creation that this project will bring to the southern half of Florida and the Heartland region.”

The integrated, multi-modal, mixed-use industrial park is planned to serve as a logistics hub for the anticipated increase in goods from China and Asia destined to come through Port Miami and the export of Florida and U.S. goods back to China and Asia upon completion of the widening and deepening of the Panama Canal and improvements to the Port’s logistics infrastructure.

One of the largest private landowners in the United States with major land holdings in Florida and Texas, The company has diversified operations in agriculture, citrus, ranching, insurance, land management, economic development and diversification, sustainability consulting and bio-energy. Founded in 1900 when two of the seven sons of Dr. Howell Tyson Lykes began a cattle shipping business with Cuba, the family-owned and -operated company is headquartered in Tampa, Florida

A. Duda & Sons, Inc. is a Florida-based company with additional operations in California, Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Michigan. A diversified land company, DUDA is engaged in a variety of agricultural and real estate operations including fresh and fresh-cut vegetables, citrus, sod, sugar cane, cattle, community development, realty and home construction. Land assets include agricultural lands and a variety of commercial properties. The family-owned and -operated company, headquartered in Oviedo, Florida, is in its fourth generation of family leadership.

Two Dead In Early Morn Crash

Cadillac Overturns - Two Die

LABELLE, FL. -- On March 22, 2013 about 2:30 a.m. a vehicle with three occupants was traveling east on A Road in Labelle and crashed killing the driver and one passenger.

Dead are driver Tomy Olivarez, 21 of Lehigh Acres and passenger Epifanio Hernandez, 26 of Naples.

The 2003 Cadillac STS traveled onto the south shoulder of the rural road south of LaBelle and into a ditch. The front right of the vehicle stuck the embankment and caused the vehicle to overturn. The three occupants of the vehicle were ejected from the vehicle. 

No one was wearing seat belts according to the FHP report.

A second passenger Jose Alonzo, 21 of Immokalee was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. The crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Woodpecker Program At Museum

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Presentation

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Hendry-Glades Audubon will host a free public program, “Return of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker to the John G. and Susan H. Dupuis, Jr. Wildlife and Environmental Area”, on Monday April 8 at 7 p. m. at the Clewiston Museum located at 109 Central Avenue Clewiston, Florida.

FWC Biologist, Valerie Sparling will present this informative presentation on the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Valerie Sparling is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation biologist at the DuPuis Management Area and has been at DuPuis for the last fourteen years.

During her time at DuPuis Valerie has been responsible for the re-introduction of the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker. She also supervises hunts and conducts surveys of wading birds, eagles and other wildlife on the area.

Valerie is originally from New Jersey where she earned her BS degree in Natural Resources from Rutgers University. She then went on to get her MS degree in wildlife biology from the University of Georgia studying the effects of varioussilvicultural treatments on wildlife and their habitat.

Clewiston Grad Finishes Army Basic Training

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Army Pvt. Kadejha M. Baxter has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

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

Baxter is the daughter of Shalonda McIntyre of Cypress Circle, Clewiston. She is a 2012 graduate of Clewiston High School.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Massive University Of Florida Free Online Classes

Tens Of Thousands Sign Up For Free Online University Classes

GAINSVILLE, FL. -- The University of Florida is the state’s first university to offer massive open online courses, or MOOCs which means anyone in the world can now get a taste of a UF education — for free.

Early indications are that there’s quite an appetite as there are 16,000 students in the Economic Issues, Food & You course that began Monday. There are more than 13,000 students enrolled in UF’s Sustainable Agricultural Land Management course, and the Global Sustainable Energy: Past, Present and Future course, which will launch Sunday, has more than 18,000 students already enrolled.

Even more massive is the enrollment in UF’s first MOOC, Fundamentals of Human Nutrition, which now exceeds 45,000. That’s nearly as high as UF’s total on-campus enrollment. To teach her MOOC students face-to-face, Kristina von Castel-Roberts of UF’s College of Public Health & Health Professions would need more than half the seats in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Students neither need to be admitted to UF to take the MOOCs, nor do they pay tuition. They do not receive credit for the coursework.

UF is pioneering efforts in giving away content for several reasons, explained W. Andrew McCollough, associate provost for teaching and technology.

First, it makes a UF education more accessible all over Florida and the globe. Wendell Porter, a lecturer in the department of agricultural and biological engineering, teaches the Global Sustainable Energy course. He said a MOOC gives him the potential to reach more students in a single course than he has taught in decades in the classroom or even in online courses with controlled enrollment.

Second, through its partnership with MOOC industry leader Coursera, UF stands to gain expertise in designing, marketing and staging a course for tens of thousands of students at a time. Coursera’s invitation-only consortium includes only 62 universities worldwide. UF is Coursera’s only member in Florida.

-by Chris Moran, University of Florida

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Patricia L. Fortson, age 69, of LaBelle, passed away March 14, 2013 in Lehigh Acres.

Patricia was born in Tampa, on May 21, 1943, to J.P. and Ruth (Townsend) Hull. She married George Edward Fortson; he preceded her in death on November 24, 2010. Patricia worked for several years as a ranch cook.

Patricia is survived by her children; Artie and his wife Becky Browning of Jacksonville, Teresa and her husband John Venham of Moore Haven, grandchildren; Mary Ellen, Simon, Tyler, Josh and Carole, five great grandchildren and two sisters; Kay Willis and Gracie Ryals.

Cecil Ray Sisler, age 91, of LaBelle, passed away March 14, 2013 in the Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center of Cape Coral.

He was born Mar. 20, 1921 in Friendsville, Maryland to the late Daniel and Ida (Chidister) Sisler. Mr. Sisler married Mildred Irene Nedrow.

He served his country during WWII in the United States Army. He worked as an industrial engineer in the avionics field for many years.

Survivors include his loving wife of 62 years: Mildred Irene Sisler, two sons: Ron Sisler, Jerry Sisler and two daughters: Linda (Gill) Ball, Shirley (Bruce) Satterfield, three brothers: Ben Sisler, Hugh Sisler, Ed Sisler and five sisters: Rosie Lewis, Elsie Slash, Bets Olsen, Peggy Tipton, Alice Friend, great grandchildren, Gracie and Gwen.

A memorial service with military honors will be held at a later date in Maryland.

Thermon Lee O'Bannon, age 81, of LaBelle, passed away March 13, 2013 in Lehigh Acres.
He was born Aug. 29, 1931 in Fort Myers to the late John Paul O'Bannon and the late Oddis Louise (Blount) O'Bannon. 

He was a lifelong resident of Hendry County and graduated from LaBelle High School in 1949. He married the Love of his life, Christine Dunaway, in 1950. Thermon was a member of First Baptist Church in LaBelle for over 50 years. He was Saved, loved Jesus and had served Him in the past as a Deacon and Trustee of his Church and taught Sunday School for many years. 

Thermon was a former member of Hendry County School Board and had been a past LaBelle City Commissioner. He was active in starting the LaBelle Quarterback Club, bringing football back to LaBelle High School in 1966 and was a strong supporter of all the School sports for many years. Thermon was an active leader in youth sports and coached Little League Baseball for many years. He and his family have been longtime cattlemen and ranchers in Hendry County.

Thermon loved hunting, fishing and anything outdoors. He enjoyed going to Red Bird, his ranch, and working with cattle. You could always find him supporting his children, grandchildren and even his great-grandchildren in all their activities. He taught us all to love God, the land and our families.

He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is survived by the Love of his Life, Christine Dunaway O'Bannon, son: Stephen Lee O'Bannon, daughter: Sonya Christine & Rodney Murray, sister: Myrna & Jerry Holland, nieces: Debra Jordan, Vicki Turner and Laura Chambliss, grandchildren: April & Clinton Lowery, Patrick & Mona O'Bannon, Brad and Jill Murray; Adam and Kyndel Murray, great-grandchildren: Shelby O'Bannon, Ethan & Emma Lowery, Haylee O'Bannon, Lane & Kaelyn Murray and Ty & Coy Murray. He will be greatly missed by us all.

A memorial service will be held Friday, March 22, 2013, 11:00 a.m. at Church Of God-LaBelle in LaBelle with Pastor W. T. Maddox Jr., Pastor Preston Long and Seth Howard officiating. Internment will follow at Ft. Denaud Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until service time at the Church of God-LaBelle. Flowers are welcomed for the service or Memorial contributions can be made to the charity of your choice.

Mr. J. Isabel Sanchez, age 62, of LaBelle, passed away March 12, 2013 in Fort Myers.

He was born July 2, 1950, in Mexico to Domitila Sanchez. Mr. Sanchez married Tomasa Hernandez. He was a crew leader in the agriculture field for a number of years. He was a member of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church.

Survivors include his mother Domitila of Mexico, wife: Tomasa Sanchez, one son: Benjamin Sanchez and one daughter: Maria Sanchez all of LaBelle, one brother: Milton Flores and grandchild, Marlo Juliana Garcia

Mass of Christian Burial will be held Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 10:00 am at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, LaBelle with Father Juan Lorenzo presiding. Visitation with a rosary was held Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, Florida. Burial will be Fort Denaud Cemetery also in LaBelle.

Moore Haven Teen Kicking Butts Against Tobacco

Campaign Against Flavored Tobacco Wednesday

Moore Haven, FL — Kids in Glades County want you to know that tobacco kills no matter how big tobacco sugarcoats it.

Glades County Tobacco Prevention Partnership and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) are speaking up and taking action against flavored tobacco for Kick Butts Day, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids national day of activism that empowers youth to fight back against Big Tobacco.

In observance of “Kick Butts” day, SWAT members at Moore Haven Jr. – Sr. High School will raise awareness about the dangers of candy flavored tobacco products. SWAT members believe that the colorful, fun packaging and "sugarcoated" brands were intentionally designed to manipulate youth and mask the serious risks associated with the products.

On “Kick Butts” day, SWAT members at Moore Haven Jr. – Sr. High School will spend the day educating their peers on the dangers of candy flavored tobacco products utilizing every form of communication imaginable. SWAT members will provide educational tidbits on the dangers of candy flavored tobacco both orally and through the dissemination of factual literature. They will also provide visuals that will be displayed throughout the school. “We will be making our presence felt both vocally and visually on “Kick Butts” day and everyday,” stated SWAT members.

“You Can’t Sugarcoat the Truth,” stated Monica Leavy, an energetic SWAT member at Moore Haven Jr. – Sr. High School. “Regardless of how appealing it may be packaged, candy flavored tobacco is dangerous. It is no different than cigarettes, it too can lead to life-threatening diseases,” stated Leavy.

Sweet Deception
Nationally, the issue of flavored tobacco products has not gone unnoticed. Fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes were banned under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009. However, menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, cigarillos and smokeless products were not included.

With cigarette smoking rates on the decline in the United States, the tobacco industry helps insure its livelihood by marketing products like flavored tobacco to attract a new generation of tobacco users. Many children and teens mistakenly believe flavored tobacco products are less harmful than their non-flavored counterparts. Once youth start using one tobacco product, they are more likely to experiment with others.

The tobacco industry also loses customers because 1,200 people in the U.S. die from smoking every day. Yet every day, 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette. In fact, nearly nine out of 10 smokers started by age 18.

The younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they’ll be addicted. Nicotine addiction prolongs tobacco use and can lead to severe health consequences.

“Youth have always been a target for the tobacco industry,” said State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong. “Numerous internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the tobacco companies perceive youth as an important target. In light of big tobacco tactics, we are redoubling tobacco free collaboration across Florida.”

Protecting Youth
Cities and counties across Florida have taken on flavored tobacco. On the 10th day of May, 2011, Glades County passed a resolution urging tobacco retailers to restrict the sale and marketing of flavored tobacco products. Learn more about the dangers of flavored tobacco at

Monday, March 18, 2013

Teen Driver Dies In Bizarre Crash

Truck Crashes Into Trees Near High School

LABELLE, FL. -- An 18-year old teen is dead after the driver's truck crashed forcefully into trees on Cowboy Way this afternoon near the LaBelle High School.

Margarito Reyes of LaBelle died after being transported to Lee Memorial Hospital. 

At about 2:32 p.m. Monday, Reyes' 2005 white Dodge pickup truck was eastbound on County Road 80A, also known as Cowboy Way. Florida Highway Patrol Trooper T. Parks said for unknown reasons Reyes's vehicle crossed the center line of the roadway and lost control.

As a result, the truck began to rotate counterclockwise,  then exited the roadway and struck a group of trees on the north shoulder of County Road 80A, and lodged between the trees, totally the truck which was smashed badly on the front end.

Moderate rain had started falling in the LaBelle area about the time of the crash.

While the FHP reports the crash happened at 2:32 p.m., at 3:15 p.m. emergency personnel were arriving and working on the scene to extract Reyes from the very badly smashed passenger compartment.  Reyes was not wearing a seat belt and the crash was not alcohol related, say investigators.

Reyes was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased due to injuries sustained from the crash. He was a senior at LaBelle High School.

FHP Homicide Investigator Cpl. Juan Quintana says charges for the crash are still under investigation.

Update: A Funeral Mass was held Friday, March 22 at 1:00 PM at Our Lady Queen Of Heaven Catholic Church, LaBelle, FL.

A benefit car wash and dinner was held Saturday, March 23 at Advance Auto Parts sponsored by Rachel's Challenge, a local charity

Gas Prices Falling Nicely

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 4.0 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.71/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has fallen 1.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.65/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 10.3 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 10.7 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 4.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 15.0 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"The national average has seemingly found some relative stability in the last week," said Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "And while the national average hasn't seen much movement, some areas of the country have seen volatility continue, mainly in the Great Lakes states where prices may again be poised to rise in the next couple of days as wholesale prices reverberate as refineries continue their maintenance schedules and the progressive switch over to summer gasoline continues," DeHaan said.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tobacco Free Partnership Meets

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Tobacco-Free Partnership will conduct a meeting/training on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Clewiston High School, 1501 S. Francisco Street, Room 211 (Mrs. Elliott’s Room),

Business will consist of Tobacco Policy review, SWAT updates, Overview of Tobacco Goals, Tobacco Cessation class update and a workshop on Employer Cessation benefits. 

For more information please contact Valarie James at 863-674-4041 ext 128 or

Democrats Meet - Schedule Retreat In Tampa

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Democratic Executive Committee will hold its March meeting in LaBelle this coming Thursday, March 21, at Don's Steak House, 93 South Hall St., with the meeting set to begin a 6:30 p.m. 

This meeting is open to all, and Democrats registered to vote in Hendry County may participate in discussion but cannot vote on motions placed before the Hendry County DEC.

Democratic County Chairman Joe Thomas said the major items to be considered will be the Florida Democratic Party, Democratic County Chairs Association, and Small County Coalition's annual "Training the Florida Team" Retreat to be held in Tampa the weekend of April 12. The Retreat is open to county DEC Members, The Florida Democratic Party Executive and Central Committee members, Democratic Club and Caucus leadership, and Democratic National Committee members.

Local Democrats will discuss voter registration drives in all precincts and communities in Hendry County throughout this year and up until the registration books close prior to the 2014 elections when Florida elects its governor and Hendry County elects County Commissioners and School Board members. 

Hendry County Democrats urge that every eligible citizen register to vote and also to request Vote By Mail ballots for every election possible.

Chairman Thomas added there are Democratic Committee positions open in all 10 of Hendry County's precincts with being a registered Democrat in that precinct being the primary qualification to become a precinct committee member. 

Thomas also said, "of course, attending regular meetings -- at least one every other month -- or getting a proxy to represent your precinct when you cannot attend a meeting is an unspoken requirement for any good Democrat serving on the committee."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Three Dead In Fiery Plane Crash

Plane Crashes In Fort Lauderdale Warehouse Parking Lot

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. --  Three are dead in a twin-engine airplane crash near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Details are still pending an investigation by the National Transportation Board about why the plane crashed suddenly and who owned the twin engine aircraft.

The three who perished in the crash were 65-year old commercial pilot Steve Waller and two passengers, Wallace "Wally" Watson, 66 and son Kevin W. Watson, 30. The Watson's owed Avionics Engineering of Ft. Lauderdale, Inc. and were reportedly doing a short test flight after some radios had been installed in the plane by the Watsons' company.

Waller was an experienced commercial pilot with a ground and flight instructor license as well as aircraft mechanic license.

The aircraft reportedly was a 1978 PA-31 Piper Navajo Chieftan. Coincidentally, according to flight plans filed Friday another 8-passenger Navajo had taken off from the executive airport on Florida's southeast coast at 4:34 p.m. bound for Nassau Bahamas, a 45-minute flight, about the same time of the aircraft crash.

In researching FAA aircraft records, pending release of information from the NTSB, there seems to be a PA-31-350 aircraft matching the crashed aircraft's description owned by Miami Aviation Service, Inc. from Miami.

The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported the aircraft was owned by Miami Aviation Specialist, Inc. of Ft. Lauderdale.

But FAA records show no aircraft owned by the Ft. Lauderdale company, but shows a PA-31 plane owned by the Miami company that had it's registration cancelled in April 1996

Witnesses say they saw the plane descend and crash into a warehouse parking lot. No one was injured on the ground, but about seven vehicles were heavily damaged from the fiery crash of the plane near the side of a warehouse near North Powerline Road and 53rd Street in Fort Lauderdale.

Details of the crash are pending investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board which may release a preliminary report in a week, and a final report in a few months.

(Last updated: 10:30 a.m. March 17th)

Jailer Kissing Inmate-Bringing Food Gets Officer Arrested

Officer Brings Food To Inmate - Alleged Kissing On Duty

LABELLE, FL. -- A Hendry County, Florida corrections officer has been arrested for allegedly bringing food into the Hendry County Jail and giving it to a prisoner. Another prisoner allegedly said he saw her kissing the jail inmate.

Jessica Jane Gonzales (photo left), 31 of Immokalee, Fl. was arrested Wednesday, March 13, charged with smuggling contraband into a a detention facility, a third degree felony.

5' 8", 200 pound Gonzales had been working as a corrections officer in Hendry county for about three years, starting her job April 10, 2010.

Before working for the Hendry County Sheriff she worked for the Florida Department of Corrections beginning September 7, 2007. She was released on $500 bond the same day of the arrest.

The investigator's probable cause narrative says the investigation began on November 30, 2012 when Detective Sergeant Christian Buchhofer went to the Hendry Jail to get a statement from 34-year old inmate Anthony Lee Barnett about Deputy Gonzales bringing food to 41-year old jail inmate Lorenzo Brooks. Barnett was in jail on failure to pay child/wife support charges.

6 foot tall,  256 pound Lorenzo "Low Boy" Brooks (photo below) of Clewiston was jailed March 22, 2011 on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief with property damage, and an out of state warrant.

Seven deputies and the jail control room operator all gave statements to Buchhofer who concluded that two deputies and the control room operator had seen Gonzales and Deputy Peter R. Thorton bring in "large amounts of food into the Annex building." But none had seen the food given to inmates but it was determined the amount of food brought into the jail was more than two people could consume.

Another deputy had observed Gonzales bring in a bag of homemade food and give it to inmate Brooks. When the deputy asked Gonzales about the bag, Gonzales allegedly said, "I brought some food for Brooks."

The deputy said she saw Brooks then eat the food. She said she also observed other occasions when Gonzales and Deputy Thorton brought in "large amounts" of food.

Another deputy said Gonzales brought in a tub of ice cream, four bowls and four spoons on the occasion of Brooks' birthday on November 1, 2012. The deputy said ice cream was offered to him but he declined and left the building.

Another deputy reported inmate Brooks had asked him to bring in a "Flex" magazine which he declined to do. In discussion with Gonzales, she reportedly told the deputy to "lighten up, this is Hendry County, not DOC" and it would be ok to bring in the magazine, she said.

Other officers noted they had seen inmate Brooks give Deputy Thorton, while on duty, a haircut in the jail yard (sally port).

Inmate Barnett said he had observed Deputy Gonzales give inmate Brooks food from outside the jail and said he saw Gonzales kiss Brooks "on the lips" in the jail sally port area while she was on duty.

Inmate Brooks, when interviewed said he never received food from Gonzales but had received food from other officers. He also denied kissing Gonzales in the sally port area.

In a December 6, 2012 interview Deputy Thorton denied giving food to the inmate, but said Deputy Gonzales had given "left over food" she was not going to eat to inmate Brooks.

It is illegal for to give food or clothing to inmates without permission from the Sheriff or person in charge of the jail under Florida Statute 951.22.

Minivan Hits Pedestrian Illegally Crossing

Man Fails To Cross At Crosswalk - Injuries Result In Trip To Hospital

LABELLE, FL. -- Helen Jennie Brewer, 30 of Palmdale, Fl. hit a pedestrian on State Road 29 in LaBelle Thursday night. The pedestrian was injured and has been charged with failing to cross at a crosswalk

At 7:12 p.m. Jauquin Vasquez, 45 of LaBelle was crossing State Road 29 at Park Street in downtown LaBelle. Driver Brewer was northbound on SR 29 in a 2001 Dodge minivan when the FHP says suddenly Vasquez emerged from the west sidewalk of SR 29 and failed to yield to oncoming southbound and
northbound traffic on SR 29.

Vasquez then proceeded east across all lanes of traffic and was south of the marked crosswalk. Brewer swerved to avoid colliding with Vasquez, but pedestrian Vasquez struck the left side of the minivan while in
the northbound lane of SR 29.

Vasquez was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kids Visit Heritage Museum

Doors Open To Hendry History For 2nd Graders
LABELLE, FL. -- The three second grade classes from Edward A. Upthegrove Elementary School visited LaBelle Heritage Museum on March 11, 12, and 13 starting with Mrs. Vicas' class on Monday, followed by Mrs. Perkins' class on Tuesday, and ending with Mrs. Doud's class on Wednesday. 

(Photo: Mrs. Doud with 2nd grade class. Courtesy Joe Thomas)

Fifty-two students, their teachers and the parents acting as chaperones were treated to a slide show showing the schools formerly located on the what is now the UES campus starting with a photo of the original 1891 LaBelle school, completely thatched with cabbage palm fronds and its two room frame successor with its wooden fence and stile (wooden steps that allowed the teacher and students to cross the fence while keeping out animals like horses, cows, and full grown hogs) that was replaced in 1915 by the two-story brick building with white columns that served LaBelle students until it was demolished in 1958 to make way for the present gymnatorium that still serves the current school and the community.

The children enjoyed the museum's collection of fossils housed in the museum's natural history section, donated by E. T. Rennolds, Jr., that range from mastodon bones and teeth to whale vertebrae to deer antlers and fossilized remains of other animals that lived in this area before man first came to the Caloosahatchee Valley over 10,000 years ago. Meredith Marcum's mural -- still a work in progress -- showing how our area may have looked in prehistoric times helped to set off the archaeological displays.

Hearing about the Navette, a commuter yacht originally built for financier J. P. "Jack" Morgan in 1917 and later the LaBelle home of mechanical engineer Edward C. Warren and his family, now a sunken relic in a man-made oxbow of the Caloosahatchee some two blocks east of the museum, seeing a model of LaBelle's original 1910 jail that once stood in what is now Barron Park as well as Terrence McCourt's models of vintage vehicles ranging from a six-horse Conestoga freightliner to a florist's horse drawn delivery van were just a small part of the children's introduction to LaBelle Heritage Museum and its collections.

LaBelle Heritage Museum welcomes tours and field trips by LaBelle school children, Scout and 4-H groups as well as adult groups of 12 or more if given at least a week's advance notice for scheduling. Teachers, youth leaders, and group sponsors are asked to call the museum, 863-674-0034.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Timeshares Only - Advance Fee Alert

Beware Of Paying Advance Fees To Sell Timeshares

LABELLE, FL. -- Tens of thousands of resort apartment owners have been seeing ads for Timeshares Only LLC on television and other media. And after contacting the company, owners report being asked to pay from $500 to $600 to list their resort condo unit for sale or rent.

What reportedly happens is the company salespeople insist the unit you own is a "very popular" one and they are sure they can sell it. After writing a check, many owners are finding they've just thrown away hundreds of dollars for nothing.

Timeshares Only, it seems, just collect the fee, then places ads for the timeshare on a website. What they don't tell owners is there's a glut of timeshares for sale, and it's unlikely any timeshare unit is going to sell. Most timeshare owners can report how difficult it is to get rid of unwanted condos, it's even hard to give them away because of the high maintenance fees due and the declining market price of the units as they age.

The Better Business Bureau of Central Florida has registered 42 complaints against the company in the last three years, 27 about advertising and sales issues, and 15 about their product and services.

Timeshares Only also advertises under Vacations Only and MHC Timeshares Only, LLC. It's offices are located at 2966 Commerce Park Dr., Orlando, Fl. 32839. It's parent company is Equity Lifestyle Properties, Inc. 

Company owners are Nesoi Partners LLC, Bert Blitcher, Maruice Aubrey, all of Boca Raton, Fl. and Seth Rosenberg of Chicago.

Our advice: Never pay anyone a fee in advance to sell or rent a timeshare property. Most states have strict regulations about timeshare sales companies, and if you have a problem contact your state consumer or real estate licensing agency.

Make sure you find out if the timeshare company you deal with is a real estate agent or just offering an advertising service. If they're an advertising service, find out where they advertise timeshares for sale and check it out. You probably can advertise on your own for less money and more effectively.
In most states, including Florida collecting advanced listing fees is prohibited. Section 721.20(6), Florida Statutes, prohibits the collection of any advance fee for the listing of any timeshare and requires that any seller of a timeshare plan be a licensed real estate broker, broker associate or sales associate.

Be sure to get all promises in writing, but remember that even then, those promises are only as good as the company that stands behind them.

Lt. Governor Resigns Amid Internet Cafe Scandal

Investigation Into Gambling Scheme Results In Resignation By Lt. Governor
Florida's first African-American Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll has resigned after an internet cafe company was charged with an illegal gambling scheme. Carroll has not been charged with wrongdoing but the company was a former client of her public relations firm while she served in the Florida House of Representatives.

Regarding the investigation, Attorney General Pam Bondi issued the following statement regarding the multi-state, multi-agency investigation, called “Reveal the Deal,” into Allied Veterans of the World.

“It is shameful that Allied Veterans of the World allegedly attempted to use the guise of a charitable organization to help veterans in order to lend credibility to this $300 million illegal gambling scheme.

“The Office of Statewide Prosecution will be filing formal charges related to illegal gambling, racketeering and money laundering, and they will prosecute the participants in the scheme to the fullest extent of the law.”

Allied Veterans of the World is a "non-profit" that ran 49 alleged illegal gambling centers operating as internet cafes. Investigator say only 2% of revenues went to charity. Law enforcement calls the internet cafes spreading across Florida fronts for casino gambling.

Carroll is a former Navy officer and former executive director of Florida's Department of Veterans Affairs. She was the first black official elected statewide in Florida.

Among the arrested were Nelson Cuba and Robert Freitas of Jacksonville, reportedly law enforcement officers serving now as president and vice-president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Jacksonville.

Birders Flock To Hendry For Festival

Big O Birding Festival At Port LaBelle This Week

LABELLE, FL. -- Sara Townsend and Margaret England talk informally about the 2013 Big O Birding Festival from the Port LaBelle Inn at LaBelle, Florida.

There are about 300 species of birds in the area including migratory birds in the winter and spring season. Hendry county has seven recognized birding trails, says Margaret England, of the Hendry-Glades Audubon.

This is the 12th year of the festival. Headquarters are at the Port LaBelle Inn where birders from around the nation meet for lectures and a meeting place for guided tours to birding areas in Southwest Florida and around Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee is the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the U.S.

The event started March 13th and will run through Saturday March 17.

(Video: Margaret England and Sara Townsend)

Glades Manager Hunt Continues

Unsigned Applications To Be Trashed 
MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- At the Glades Commission meeting Tuesday, it was determined that of the eighteen applications received for the position of Glades county manager, three applicants had not supplied a signed employment application with their resume. The commissioners indicated those three would not be eligible for consideration.

Commissioner Beck stated he was not comfortable with ranking applicants in order of preference but would like to name at least ten to be considered for the next step which would be interviews following background checks.

Vice Chairman Donna Storter suggested re-advertising the position with a higher salary range of up to $135,000 to enlarge the pool of candidates.

Commissioners Echols stated if the position was to be re-advertised to attract more applicants with a higher salary range, it should also include removing the requirement for a successful applicant to relocate to Glades County within 12 months of being hired, and Commissioner Beck agreed.

Commissioner Griffin expressed desire to go forward with the current list of applicants and if after interviews a satisfactory choice was not made, then start over and re-advertise, keeping the original applications for consideration.

At the meeting two candidates introduced themselves. Noah Powers introduced himself to the Board as a candidate for County Manager, clarifying that his school administrative experience was not as a principal of a school, but in School District financial and operations executive administrative management for over thirty years as well as with the Department of Juvenile Justice. 

He stated his leadership, administrative and operational experience mirror the County Manager Job Qualifications because of the similarity of School districts’ and State agencies’ internal operations of Finance, Budget, Human Resource, Risk Management, Procurement, Growth Planning, Emergency Management, etc. He further stated they are all governed by many of the same Federal and State laws such as GASB (Governmental Accounting Standards Board), GAAP (General Accepted Accounting Principles), HIPPA, Due Process, Labor Negotiations and EPA 

Powers stated he realizes he’s an unknown quantity in the County Manager circle and encouraged the Board to contact his previous supervisors and colleagues. Mr. Powers, an Air Force veteran, thanked the Board for their Resolution in Item 6 supporting the 2nd Amendment.

Thomas Corbitt formally introduced himself to the Board as a candidate for County Manager noting that had been in attendance at previous BoCC meetings getting acquainted with Board matters.

After extensive discussion of the options for proceeding with hiring a new county manager, Board decided to proceed with selection from the current list of candidates for an initial interview, with each commissioner to list up to ten of 15 qualified applicants. The following listings were made in alphabetical order by applicant’s first name:

Commissioner Beck: John Granger, Johnny Limbaugh, Noah Powers, Raymond VanHouten, Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia, Richard Giroux, Stuart McCutcheon, Thomas Corbitt, Timothy Day.

Commissioner Griffin: Crystal Drake, Gary Rawlings, Greg Wood, Guy Maxcy, John Granger, Noah Powers, Richard Giroux, Thomas Corbitt.

Commissioner Echols: Guy Maxcy, John Granger, Johnny Limbaugh, Noah Powers, Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia, Thomas Corbitt.

Commissioner Stanley: Gary Rawlings, Greg Wood, Guy Maxcy, John Granger, Noah Powers, Phillip Ludos, Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia, Stuart McCutcheon, Thomas Corbitt, Thomas Day.

Commissioner Storter: John Granger, Johnny Limbaugh, Noah Powers, Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia, Richard Giroux, Thomas Corbitt.

Attorney Pringle tallied the selections listing:

5 listed John Granger
5 listed Noah Powers
5 listed Thomas Corbitt
4 listed Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia
3 listed Guy Maxcy
3 listed Johnny Limbaugh
3 listed Richard Giroux
2 listed Gary Rawlings
2 listed Greg Wood
2 listed Stuart McCutcheon
2 listed Timothy Day
1 listed Crystal Drake
1 listed Phillip Ludos
1 listed Raymond VanHouten

The Board moved to short-list the first seven candidates for consideration with a background check by staff and verification of continued interest in the applicant within the parameters initially offered including the salary range up to $100,000 annually and requirement to relocate to Glades County within one year of hiring.

Staff was directed to bring back the requested information at the March 25 meeting, with Board to decide at that time the date and type of interview, perhaps making the first by Skype teleconference, and then consider an in-person interview and the remuneration for travel for out of area applicants.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hendry Farm Tour Ready To Roll

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Farm-City Tour Council will be holding its 32nd annual farm tour of the Hendry County agricultural industry, Saturday, March 23, 2013. Tickets for the tour cost $75.00 per person and the participants will be able to catch a modern air conditioned tour bus at the U-Save Supermarket Center on Palm Beach Blvd in Fort Myers or at the Hendry County Extension Office in LaBelle.

Hendry County is one of the largest agricultural counties in the state and is largest producer of oranges in Florida with over 75,000 acres of groves. In addition, Hendry County is the second largest producer of sugarcane, third largest in vegetable production and fifth largest in beef cattle.

This year’s tour will feature a variety of interesting stops at some of Florida’s most sophisticated agricultural operations including vegetable transplant and ornamental nurseries, citrus, sod, sugarcane and vegetable production as well as one of the largest beef cattle ranches in the state. There will also be fresh Florida orange juice breaks at strategic stops along the way.

A lunch will feature a steak lunch with all the trimmings served by the Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association in a rural country setting.

Deadline for ticket sales is March 15, 2013. For additional information about the tour and how to purchase tickets for the tour, stop by Hendry County Extension Service Office, which is located at 1085 Pratt Blvd, LaBelle, Florida.

Bodies At Boys' School Cemetery To Be Dug Up

50 Years Of Mysterious Deaths Claimed

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office today filed a petition on behalf of Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter to allow him to exhume human remains on the site of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. for up to one year. 

The petition seeks a court order to exhume bodies from “Boot Hill Cemetery” and surrounding areas, where it is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted for bodies of boys who died between 1900 and 1952 at the school.

Known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys in 1900 and the North Florida Youth Development Center when it closed in 2011, the "reform school" facility for delinquent boys in Northwest Florida was a residential school run by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

The school has been the subject of a series of scandals over the treatment of boys confined there including allegations of beatings by leather straps and torture at the "White House," a small building on the grounds of the school, as well as allegations of a "rape room."

As far back as a hundred years ago controversial treatment of the boys was being reported. In 1903, an inspection reported that children at the school were commonly kept in leg irons.

In a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2010, 11.3% of boys surveyed at the school reported that they been subject to sexual misconduct by staff using force in the last twelve months, and 10.3% reported that they had been subject to it without the use of force.

“The deaths that occurred at Dozier School for Boys in Marianna are cloaked in mystery, and the surviving family members deserve a thorough examination of the site,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I am committed to doing everything within my power to support investigative efforts to help resolve unanswered questions and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.”

The exhumation would be conducted in order to locate unidentified graves and human remains and to conduct complete autopsies and medical investigations to determine the cause of death of the boys.

Dr. Michael Hunter is the appointed Medical Examiner for the Fourteenth District of Florida.

In addition to filing the petition on behalf of the Medical Examiner to exhume bodies, Attorney General Bondi has also supported investigative efforts by working with the Department of Environmental Protection to support a 150-day extension of an injunction barring the sale of the state-owned land

Monday, March 11, 2013

174 Manatees Die In Florida

Red Tide Blamed For Manatee Losses
FORT MYERS, FL. -- A red-tide event in southwest Florida has claimed 174 manatees so far this year. Although results are preliminary, this is the highest number of red-tide-related deaths in a single calendar year on record.

Manatees are listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

State and federal scientists are monitoring and responding to manatees affected by the ongoing red tide bloom along the southwest Florida coast.

To help with these efforts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ask the public to be on the lookout for manatees affected by red tide. Signs that a manatee is affected by red tide include a lack of coordination and stability in the water, muscle twitches or seizures and difficulty lifting its head to breathe.

With help from citizens in the area, the FWC and partners have rescued 12 manatees suffering from the effects of red tide so far this year. The public is asked to report manatees showing the effects of red tide, and any other distressed or dead manatees, to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

State and federal scientists are collecting and analyzing data aimed at better understanding the long-term impacts of this ongoing event on the manatee population and the impacts of other events including extreme cold snaps from 2009-2011.

Since first detecting the red tide bloom in late September, the FWC has worked with partners to monitor the bloom and provide up-to-date information to the public about its status.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Petra Cisnero Blanco, age 77, of LaBelle, passed away March 7, 2013 in LaBelle. She was born Jan. 31, 1936 in Floresville, TX, to the late Ted Cisnero Sr. and the late Isabelle (Salazar) Cisnero.

Survivors include her husband: Ausencio Blanco of LaBelle, brothers: Joe Raymond Cisnero of LaBelle and Jesse Cisnero of Houston, TX and sisters: Frances Cisnero Pena of Victoria, TX and Mary Lou Medina of LaBelle.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at Our Lady Queen Of Heaven Catholic Church, LaBelle with Father Chester Domaszewicz officiating. Interment following at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.