Monday, September 30, 2013

Gas At Pumps - Price Still Falling

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 5.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.33/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has fallen 5.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.43/gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 35.7 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 22.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 18.8 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 36.6 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"Gasoline prices continue to erode with twelve states that are seeing prices under $3/gallon, and more states will join in on that over the next seven days" said Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "While it's generally good news that gasoline prices continue falling, many Americans don't believe we're likely to see national averages drop under $3/gal over the next year at the pump,"

Quit Smoking And Lose Weight In New Free Program

Do you want to quit tobacco but you’re concerned about weight gain? The Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida program’s new expanded resources can help.

As of Sept. 25, participants who enroll in the Florida Quitline phone counseling may access the Weight Management Program, a pilot program designed to help tobacco users quit while limiting possible weight gain associated with quitting.

Those enrolled will receive up to three tobacco cessation calls in addition to up to three weight management coaching calls. Participants with type 2 diabetes will receive up to three calls with registered dietitians trained in the weight loss needs of individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The Weight Management Program is available to Florida Quitline participants, age 18 and older, who speak English, currently use tobacco, and have a body mass index (BMI) of 23 or higher. Participants cannot be pregnant, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, or have had weight loss surgery in the past 12 months.

Tobacco Free Florida has also expanded its free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) offering. Any participant who smokes more than nine cigarettes per day or chews more than two tins per week is eligible for combination NRT, including a supply of both nicotine patches and gum, free of charge.

This offering comes after a change in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence guidelines. For individuals who use tobacco at these levels, the guidelines indicate this combination of medications “may result in greater suppression of tobacco withdrawal symptoms than does the use of a single medication.”

Florida residents who want to quit tobacco and qualify for the Weight Management Program and/or combination NRT can take advantage by calling 1-877-U-CAN-NOW. Both programs are free and give participants access to a trained Quit Coach who will provide support by:

Preparing participants for their quit date

Helping develop an individualized Quit Plan, including a plan for weight management if applicable

Offering advice and information on medications that may help with withdrawal symptoms

Saturday, September 28, 2013

$50,000 To Local Library System For Unemployed Skill Training

LABELLE, FL. -- The Southwest Florida Community Foundation announced today that the Hendry County Library Cooperative has been awarded one of the Foundation’s largest grant awards in this grant cycle.

$50,000 will go towards a new initiative called “I-HELP”, which is an acronym for “Impact on Hendry Employability Library Program”. The proposal was developed by Ms. Ava Barrett, Library Cooperative Director, and County Grant Writer Janet Papinaw, inspired by a highly skilled, but unemployed library customer. 

Papinaw states “This program was designed to provide training to the unemployed, underemployed, and small business entrepreneurs, to help build their skills for success”. 

The Hendry County Libraries have partnered with Goodwill Industries, the Southwest Florida Workforce (SWFL Workforce) Development Board, J Groves Group (formerly of the Florida Gulf Coast University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Hendry County Economic Development Council, and will administer the program under the direction of Ms. Barrett. Member libraries are Harry T. Vaughn (Clewiston ) Public Library, Harlem Community Public Library, and LaBelle Free Public (Barron) Library. 

The program will offer business start-up classes in the libraries; provide classes promoting educational growth and basic technological employability skills; and offer easy access to computers and on-line resources. A small business resource and training center will be created at the Clewiston Library, to be utilized for this program.

“The idea of I-HELP is to demonstrate that libraries provide more than just books. Libraries are obligated, as a public service organization, to do its part to help alleviate the economic, technological, and educational challenges of the community. Libraries serve many important roles in people’s lives such as safe havens, centers for free education, and community gathering places”, said Barrett.

In this initiative, the SWFL Workforce Board will expand their “Youth Connections” program for transitioning at-risk high school students into the workforce; Goodwill Industries will provide computer readiness skills, employment readiness skills, and micro-enterprise classes; J Groves Group will provide a 10-week “Business2Day/Independence2morrow” curriculum; and the Hendry County EDC/Leadership program will provide presentations on developing leadership skills.

Low to no income, underemployed and unemployed residents of Hendry County will be targeted and provided opportunities to complete their education, start or receive support for a small business, improve computer literacy, and or develop employability skills to gain employment. “Now the real work begins and I look forward to working with all of our regional partners for the good of the residents of Hendry County” Barrett said.

Formal classes will begin in January during the libraries’ evening hours.

Two Dead In I-75 Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- A 3:44 a.m. crash left a Chevy Sonic driver and passenger dead on I-75 Saturday morning.

A 2006 Volvo semi tractor driven by Michael McDermott, 52 of Fort Myers was northbound on the outside lane of I-75. as a Chevy driven by Alphonse Casimir, 31 of Naples was northbound in the outside lane of I-75 and approaching the Volvo from the rear.

For reasons that are still under investigation, the front of Casimir's vehicle struck the rear of the semi trailer.
After impact, the front of the Chevy became lodged underneath the rear of the trailer.

McDermott brought the combination of vehicles to a controlled stop on the eastern northbound shoulder of I-75. He sustained no injuries.

Both occupants of the Chevy including a male passenger, whose identity is pending investigation, sustained fatal injuries in this crash according to FHP Trooper Delshawnta Wright and homicide investigator Cpl. John Benton.

Traffic was rerouted for several hours as the crash was being investigated. Charges are pending investigation.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How To Get Help For Health Insurance In Southwest Florida

Local Help Through Health Care "Navigator" Program

LABELLE, FL. -- The Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida is partnering with local community and social service agencies to provide "Navigators" for the new Affordable Health Care Initiative that starts in October for those needing affordable health insurance. 

Navigators, helping provide information about the Health Care Act will work with agencies that are already assisting individuals in their community with social and health care services. Many who have already trained an existing staff member to perform the Navigator function as it complements their current role within their agency.

There are 3 key dates associated with the shopping for health insurance to mark on your calendar:

· October 1, 2013: Marketplace open enrollment starts

· January 1, 2014: Health coverage can start if you enrolled by December 15

· March 31, 2014: Open enrollment ends

Where to go for information:

1) Go to and apply on-line with toll free support at the national level 1-800-318-2596.

2) Visit - type in your zip code and find local assistance in your area.

3) Contact your local insurance agent or broker for in person assistance.

4) Contact the Florida local toll free number 1-866-547-2793 for in person assistance of a navigator or certified application counselor.

5) Follow online on and

Navigators and Certified Application Counselors are available through the following agencies in the following counties:

Charlotte County – Virginia B. Andes

Collier County – Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida

Hendry County – HPCSWF

DeSoto – HPCSWF, Manatee County Rural Health System

Glades – Florida Community Health, HPCSWF

Hardee – HPCSWF

Highlands – Heartland Rural Health Network

Lee County – Lee Human Service, McGregor Clinic, United Way of Lee County, Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida

Manatee - Manatee County Rural Health System

Sarasota – Comprehensive Care Clinic, United Way, Community Center of North Port, Manatee County Rural Health System

The local office opens on October 1st, 2013 at 8:00 am. Toll-Free Number is: 1-866-547-2793

$905,000 For Five Cops In Hendry County

LABELLE, FL. -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today $125 million in Department of Justice COPS Office, COPS Hiring Program grants to create and/or preserve law enforcement jobs. Grants will be made to the Hendry County Sheriff's Office and 262 other local law enforcement agencies across the country.

The Hendry County Sheriffs Department received a grant award of $904,895 to hire 5 officers through the Cops Hiring Program.

CHP provides funding to address the full-time sworn officer needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide. CHP grants go directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new and/or rehire career law enforcement officers in an effort to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts. 

Priority consideration was given to agencies that requested officer positions in order to deploy school resource officers, committed to hiring military veterans and/or focused on homicide or gun violence.
This year’s CHP grants provide 75 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for three years for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions (including filling existing unfunded vacancies) or for rehired officers who have been laid off, or are scheduled to be laid off on a future date, as a result of local budget cuts. 

Any additional costs above the approved entry-level salaries and fringe benefits, up to $125,000, are the responsibility of the grantee agency.

The COPS Office today also announced more than $8 million in funding for the Community Policing Development (CPD) grant program. CPD funds are used to advance the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance, the development of innovative community policing strategies, applied research, guidebooks, and best practices that are national in scope.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Get Your McFruits And McVegetables Soon?

Getting Kids To Eat More Healthy Foods In Partnership With Clinton Foundation

McDonald’s is partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association, to increase customers’ access to fruit and vegetables and help families and children to make informed choices in keeping with balanced lifestyles, says a news release today from the fast food giant. 

President Bill Clinton, founder of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, Don Thompson, President and CEO of McDonald’s, and Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, announced the groundbreaking Clinton Global Initiative Commitment today at the 2013 CGI Annual Meeting in New York City.

McDonald’s worked with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to develop a comprehensive plan for 20 of the restaurant chain’s largest markets and today committed to provide customers a choice of a side salad, fruit or vegetable as a substitute for French fries in value meals. (Salad, fruit or vegetable option will vary per participating market.)
The commitment today also related to the promotion and advertising of Happy Meals saying they would only
promote and market water, milk, and juice as the beverage in Happy Meals on menu boards and in-store and external advertising and utilize Happy Meal and other packaging innovations and designs to generate "excitement for fruit, vegetable, low/reduced-fat dairy, or water options for kids."

“We’ve seen voluntary agreements with industry have profound impact—including our work with the beverage industry to limit the amount of calories shipped to schools. Those agreements resulted in a 90 percent reduction in total beverage calories shipped to schools between 2004 and 2010,” said President Clinton. “If we want to curb the catastrophic economic and health implications of obesity across the world we need more companies to follow McDonald’s lead and to step up to the plate and make meaningful changes. I applaud them for doing it."

McDonald's will retain an independent, reputable third party organization to verify progress on the commitment in a clear and transparent manner as part of the agreement. All pieces of this commitment will be implemented in 30-50 percent of the 20 major markets within three years and 100 percent of the 20 markets by 2020.

“This commitment reflects McDonald’s progress regarding nutrition and well-being,” said Thompson. “Our partnership with the Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is another important step in our journey. And we know there’s more to do. We will continue to use our size and scale around the world to help educate, empower and encourage our customers to make informed choices so they can live a balanced and healthy lifestyle.”

Working with industry has been a critical strategy for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national nonprofit working to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. The Alliance has brokered voluntary agreements with more than 100 industry leaders in school food and healthcare to ensure children have access to healthier foods and beverages and healthcare benefits to prevent and treat childhood obesity.

“This is an essential step in the fight against obesity. Effective promotion of healthier choices can have a substantial impact on the food and beverage choices that get made,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “It is imperative for McDonald’s and other industry leaders to leverage their market share and cultural relevance to help inform and influence the way families eat outside the home.”

McDonald’s will take these actions in 20 major markets representing more than 85 percent of global sales. The markets are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China (includes Hong Kong market), France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and United States.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Mattie Gray Farabee, age 91, of LaBelle, passed away September 24, 2013 in Lehigh Acres.
She was born Sep. 10, 1922 in , GA, to the late Hiram Gray and the late Mattie (Williams) Gray.
Mattie was a longtime resident of LaBelle. She was an active member at Church of God-LaBelle.

Survivors her sons: A. T. Farabee, Jr. of Bald Knob, AR, James Wesley Farabee of Wyoming, Thomas W. Farabee of LaBelle and Dale Anthony Farabee of Bald Knob, AR , twenty-four
Grandchildren, thrity-two great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 11:30 a.m. at Church of God-LaBelle with Rev. Cliff Gobble officiating. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until the funeral service .at the Church of God-LaBelle

Leon Daniels, age 79, of Moore Haven, Florida passed away September 22, 2013 in Sebring, Florida.

He was born May 10, 1934 in Boles, KY, to the late Virgil Calvin and Rosie Lee (Sallengs) Daniel.

Survivors include one daughter: Patricia Key of Bowdon, one brother: Eugene Daniels, one sister: Sharon Ann Manus, two grandchildren, and one great grandchild. He was an owner/operator of a pest control company.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle, Florida

John Buck Rives, age 73, of Clewiston, passed away September 22, 2013 in Clewiston.
He was born December 26, 1939 in Belle Glade, FL, to the late Norvin Revere and the late Leona (McTaggert) Rives.

He is survived by three daughters: Patty McLeod (Johnny), Wanda Carner (John), Susie Rives Dippel (Jeff), one brother: William R. Rives, grandchildren: John, Beth, John Paul, Nikki, Carl, Cody, Dustyn and eight great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, John Allen Rives, brother, James Norvin Rives, two sisters, Jean Rives and Kay Phillips.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston with Rev. Rod Ruby officiating. Visitation will be Thursday, one hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FHP Ticketing Aggressive Cars And Trucks

The Florida Highway Patrol announced an additional enforcement week dedicated to the Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) campaign will begin September 23 and run through September 27. The TACT campaign is targeted to highlight the danger of aggressive driving behaviors when interacting with large trucks on the road.

Motorists are at a serious disadvantage if involved in a crash with a large commercial vehicle. Large trucks can be as long as eighty feet and weigh up to twenty tons. The large size also means it takes forty percent longer for them to come to a stop than a smaller vehicle. Troopers statewide will be on the lookout for car and truck drivers who exhibit aggressive driving such at following too closely, unsafe lane changes and speeding.

“FHP is committed to reducing the number of commercial vehicle-related crashes on Florida roadways” said Colonel David Brierton, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “We can reduce crashes if we all share the roads safely, avoid aggressive driving behaviors and exercise additional caution when driving near larger vehicles."

Protect yourself and your passengers by learning how to share the road safely. FHP offers these tips for driving around large trucks:
• Stay out of the No Zone: Be aware that large trucks have large blind spots (also known as “No Zones”).

• Pass trucks with caution: Pass on the left side for maximum visibility and maintain a constant speed.

• Don’t cut trucks off: Be sure to leave plenty of room when you pull in front of a truck. Large trucks simply can’t stop as quickly as cars.

• Practice patience around larger vehicles that are not traveling at the same speed as your vehicle.

• Don’t drive distracted: Anything that takes your full attention off of the road, even for a second, could be deadly. This includes texting, changing the radio station, talking to passengers, etc.

Henry-Glades Obituaries

Lucky Luca Marinell, 76, of Labelle passed away Friday, September 20, 2013 following an extended illness.

He was born July 19, 1937 in Gary, WV and moved to Florida in 1960. He served the United States Army. He was a member of the Labelle Church of God. He was an avid citizens band radio enthusiast and enjoyed working on and building muscle cars.

Mr. Marinell leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 44 years, Linda F. Marinell; his grandchildren: Desirae and Sabrina Marinell; his great grandson, Jordan Lucky Marinell and his siblings: Paul Marinell, Sr., Earl Marinell, Buddy Marinell, Mary Ann Erahovac and Joyce Wening.

Funeral services were conducted at 1:00 PM Monday, September 23, 2013 at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home with burial in Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Cemetery with military rites conducted by the United States Army. Friends were received from noon until the time of the service.

Roy Kingsley Moore, Jr., age 74, of LaBelle, FL, passed away September 20, 2013 in Fort Myers. He was born Apr. 4, 1939 in Miami, FL, to the late Roy Kingsley Moore, Sr. and the late Wilma Lucille (McClanahan) Moore. 

Roy was a resident of LaBelle for the past twelve years and was a former resident of Lehigh Acres, Midland, VA and Jackson, MS. He spent a lifetime in the automotive Industry.

Survivors include his companion: Connie Killebrew of LaBelle, wife: Gladys Virginia (Stuart) Moore of Bealeton, VA, sons: Roy Kingsley (Pamela E.) Moore, III of Roanoke, VA and Martin O. (Deborah) Moore of San Diego, CA, step sons: Greg Jones of Falls Church, VA and Eric (Denise) Jones of Pollock, LA, step daughter: Stacey Jarrell of Bealeton, VA, step son: Ryan W. Killebrew, sister: Sandy (Joe) Giglio of Burke, VA, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and his best buddy and dog: Sir Pepper Moore.

A gathering of family and friends will be Friday from 5-7 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, 560 E. Hickpochee Av, LaBelle, FL.

Wildlife Photographer At Museum

Don Hamilton: Internationally Recognized Wildlife and Nature Photographer
CLEWISTON, FL. -- Mark your calendar for an incredible photographic journey that will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday October 14th. Everyone is invited to attend this free program hosted by Hendry-Glades Audubon at the Clewiston Museum located at 109 Central Avenue Clewiston, Florida (across the street from The Clewiston Inn).

Internationally recognized photographer, Don Hamilton, will lead the adventure during an entertaining and informative program featuring his photos of animals, plants, and landscapes.

Don Hamilton Jr., who is from Boca Raton, is a passionate wildlife, and nature photographer. Don has been practicing Nuclear Medicine Cardiology Imaging for over 30 years in South Florida. He is also a frequent contributor to the Clewiston News, and the South Florida Water Management District’s publications. 

A passion to share nature’s many delights and to promote conservation is the driving force that propels Don in his pursuit of excellence in photography. He excels in one-on one instruction and in leading photo tours throughout the Everglades as well as central and Latin America.

Prices Lower At Gas Pumps

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 5.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.39/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. 

This compares with the national average that has fallen 4.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.49/gallon. Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 35.0 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 9.3 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. 

The national average has decreased 7.3 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 32.1 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago. "Gasoline prices continue to move lower nationally as we've now officially moved into fall," said Analyst Patrick DeHaan. 

"Looking forward, we're likely to see additional relief at pumps in the months ahead, and it's quite possible that by the time we're observing Thanksgiving that gasoline prices will be twenty or more cents per gallon lower. Californian motorists will see among the larger decreases in the week ahead as refinery issues have become barely visible in the rear view, which has led to a dramatic downward shift in wholesale gasoline prices," DeHaan said.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Larry Luckey Speaking At Museum Meeting

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle's own Larry Luckey, Jr., who came home to teach and later to become prinicpal of LaBelle's Edward A. Upthegrove Elementary School located on the site of LaBelle's 1891 palm thatched school and its still revered replacement a two storey brick building with Roman-style Doric columns on its front and a 400-seat auditorium that was the largest in eastern Lee County when it was built in 1915, will present a program on the history of LaBelle area schools to LaBelle Heritage Museum members and guests at the local organization's Thursday, October 3, meeting at LaBelle City Hall, 481 West Hickpochee Avenue. 

Refreshments will be served following the program. Dues for 2014 will be accepted at the meeting with members receiving their 2014 LaBelle Heritage Membership Cards immediately upon receipt of their dues.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Josefina "Josie" Perez Talamantez, age 70, of LaBelle, passed away on Sunday, September 15, 2013 in Lehigh Acres. She was born September 12, 1943 in Fordham, TX, to the late Joe S. and the late Georgia (Solis) Perez.

She is survived by her children: Mikaela Mia of Denton, TX, Michael Talamantez, Lamar Talamantez and Carla Talamantez all of LaBelle, fourteen grandchildren, four great grandchildren, three sisters and three brothers: Frances Sosa of Ellenton, FL, Ray Perez of Dade City, FL, Anita Guerrero of Whitesboro, TX, Elvia Rendon of Lockney, TX, Daniel Perez of Burleson, TX and Ruben Perez of Ellenton, FL. 

She was preceded in death by her husband Simon Talamantez and her brother Joe S. Perez, Jr.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Monday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

The family would like to thank you for all your loving support and words of kindness at this time of loss.

Falls - Leading Cause Of Death And Injury To Older Americans

On Sunday, Sept. 22, the first day of fall, organizations in 47 states will observe the 6th annual national Falls Prevention Awareness Day by offering proven activities to help seniors stay safe.

Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+.

“Falls are not a normal part of aging,” said (Bonita) Lynn Beattie, vice president of injury prevention at the National Council on Aging (NCOA), leader of the national Falls Free® Initiative. “This day provides an opportunity for older adults and their families to take proactive steps to prevent falls and stay independent for as long as possible.”

Forty-seven states are participating, offering educational presentations, risk screenings, exercise classes, and other events around this year’s theme of Preventing Falls—One Step at a Time.

Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Experts recommend:
A physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components
Consulting with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment
Having medications reviewed periodically
Getting vision and hearing checked annually
Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive
Talking to family members to enlist their support

Falls threaten seniors’ health and independence and are an increasingly costly health challenge. They cost more than $30 billion in direct medical costs from fatal and nonfatal injuries each year. For people aged 72+, the average health cost of a fall injury totaled $19,440 in 2010. Yet, there are evidence-based strategies, programs and services that can help older adults, their families and their health care partners in effective self-management of the risk of falling.

For more falls prevention tips for older adults, visit For information about falls prevention in your state, visit

Governor Hypes Florida's Economic News

Florida Governor Rick Scott today announced that the statewide unemployment rate for August 2013 dropped to 7.0 percent. This is down from 7.1 percent in May, June, and July 2013, and down 4.1 percentage points since December 2010. The statewide unemployment rate has remained below the national average of 7.3 percent for the sixth consecutive month. Florida has created 365,500 private sector jobs since December 2010.

Governor Scott said, “Today’s announcement is great news for Florida families as the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.0 percent in August. Since December 2010, the unemployment rate has dropped 4.1 percentage points and Florida has created 365,500 new private sector jobs. This is evidence that our pro-growth and business friendly policies are working.”

Since December 2010, Florida’s statewide unemployment rate has dropped 4.1 percentage points, from a rate of 11.1 percent to August’s rate of 7.0 percent. In the same timeframe, the national unemployment rate has dropped 2.0 percentage points, demonstrating Florida’s improving economic climate continues to outpace the national recovery. Florida’s unemployment rate has now declined year-over-year for 34 consecutive months.

More Jobs Being Created

· Florida experienced positive annual job growth for 37 consecutive months.

· Florida’s job growth month-to-month has been positive for 23 of the last 26 months.

· Florida has created 365,500 new private sector jobs since December 2010.

· Florida is expected to create almost 1.1 million new jobs by 2018, according to the Florida Economic Estimating Conference.

· Florida job postings compiled by the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board showed 266,467 openings in August 2013 (seasonally adjusted). Florida had the largest over-the-month gain of all states, up 11,644 openings. Florida had the fourth highest number of openings in the nation compared to all states.

Home Sales Robust

· Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 23 percent from August 2012 (Florida Realtors).

· Florida median home prices were up 18.6 percent over the year in August 2013.

Economic Growth Trends Up Across State

· A recent U.S. Census Survey reported that Florida experienced an influx of people moving into the state. Florida also led the nation in migrations from Puerto Rico.

· Florida is running a trade surplus of over $24 billion – with $86.8 billion in exports and $62.4 billion in imports in 2011, up from $73.1 billion in exports in 2010 and $53.2 billion in imports in 2010.

Crash Kills One On I-75

Marvin Y. Nunez, 46 of Naples was killed Thursday while driving a 1998 Chevy pickup truck northbound on I-75, and according to a witness, traveling at a high rate of speed.

The FHP says Nunez attempted to pass the witnesses' vehicle about 10:25 p.m. and subsequently Nunez lost control and slid onto the east shoulder, overturned several times and came to rest on its roof facing south on the east shoulder in a shallow area of water.

He suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene. A blood alcohol test is pending.

Vandalism At Church - Public Help Wanted

Vandals Trash Church
OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, at approximately 6:15 p.m., the Okeechobee City Police Department responded to the Pentecostal Church, located at 405 SW 10 Avenue, in reference to a burglary.

The church had been vandalized on the inside and graffiti on the back side of the building.

There were several evidentiary items collected as well as items that are being processed for DNA to identify the suspects. At this time, the estimated damage to the property is approximately $20,000.00.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Detective Bill Saum, Okeechobee Police Department at (863)763-5521 or Crimestoppers (remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward) at 1-800-273-2477.

There is no further information to be released at this time said PIO Michele Bell.

Detective Bill Saum stated, “We would appreciate any information or assistance anyone can give us.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Immokalee IFAS Center Changes Coming Soon

IMMOKALEE, FL.  --- To better target services to stakeholders, officials at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will transition the research and education center in Immokalee to a new programming focus.

UF/IFAS officials said they hope to streamline duplicated services among several of the state’s research and education centers, including the center in Immokalee. That center will cease functioning as a research and education center on Sept. 1, 2014, allowing time for scientific experiments now underway to be completed.

“I know that this type of change affects many people,” said Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “But sometimes it is necessary, and we believe that to improve, we must get through this process of re-evaluating how we operate.”

In the meantime, UF/IFAS officials are appointing an advisory committee this fall that will include agricultural and community stakeholders and will be co-chaired by Charles Vavrina, a UF/IFAS district Extension director, and Scott Taylor, director of operations at the UF/IFAS Hastings Partnership site.

That committee will come up with recommendations about the future vision for the Immokalee center, which will be modeled after the successful “partnership” programs at Live Oak and Hastings.

John Arthington, a UF/IFAS professor and director of the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, will supervise the center during the transition.

Six faculty members at the center will be reassigned to other centers, as appropriate. And UF/IFAS human resources officials will work with non-faculty employees at the center to ensure the smoothest possible transition. The 320-acre Immokalee center has housed researchers who specialize in citrus and vegetable horticulture, among other topics, was established as a UF support facility in 1958 and became a UF/IFAS station in 1986.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Henry C. Langston, Jr., age 95, of Clewiston, FL passed away September 17, 2013 in Lake Worth. He was born Jan. 15, 1918 in Bushnell to the late Henry C. Langston, Sr. and the late Bertha Langston.

Survivors include two sons: James Cecil Langston of Clewiston and Glenn Langston (Patty) of Texas, grandchildren: Jennifer, Michael, Anthony and Michelle Langston and great-grandchildren: Ashley and Christopher Gibb; Braden and Kaden Langston and Brenley Harris. He was preceded in death by his wife, Theda Langston.

The funeral service will be held Friday, September 20, 2013, 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston with Dr. Todd Buck officiating. Interment will follow in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation will be Thursday, Sept. 19 from 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home in Clewiston.

George "Bud" Oliver Horne, age 72, of LaBelle, passed away September 17, 2013 in Fort Myers. He was born April 13, 1941 in Alva, FL, to the late William and the late Delphia Diane (Rhoden) Horne Jr.

He is survived by two sisters: Barbara Hall and Betty J. Hughes; nephew: Michael Lee Hodges; three nieces Lisa Ann Spencer, Kimberly Cameron, Andrea Williams and many great nieces and great nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother Eddie Horne and niece Cheryl Gross.

A graveside service will be held Monday, September 23, 2013 at 11:00 am at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle with Pastor Bobby Kline officiating.

Julia Maddox Paul, age 74, of LaBelle, passed away September 14, 2013 in her home in LaBelle. She was born April 17, 1939 in Bartow, FL, to the late John Clyde and the late Melissa (Smith) Maddox.

She attended Wauchula High School, Agnes Scott College in Atlanta and earned a Law degree from the University of Florida. She worked for the Circuit Court of Vero Beach and practiced law in LaBelle. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she was very active with the National M.S. Society.

She is survived by her husband of 45 years John R. Paul, Jr., son: John R. Paul III, daughter: Julie Paul Obney (Jeff), grandchildren, Beryl Laurent Johnson Paul, Jasper Obney, Juniper Obney and caregiver and loving friend Nancy Conklin.

Funeral services will be held at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, LaBelle, FL Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 11:00 am with Pastor Joe Wallace officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to service. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Three Deaths In Church Van Crash On I-75

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Three people died after a crash on I-75 Saturday in a van transporting a church group from Fort Lauderdale.

At about 7:23. a.m. Saturday morning, a 2003 Ford E350 passenger van was traveling northbound in the inside lane on I-75 (State Road 93) over the County Road 850 (Corkscrew Road) overpass when he left rear tire tread separated from the tire.

Ose Elian, 22 of Laudrdale and Gertha Petit Frere, 62 of Sunrise have been pronounced deceased as of 9-15-13 at 7:30 pm. according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Nostra Damas, 20 of North Lauderdale also died in the crash. 13 others suffered injuries ranging from minor to critical.

The van traveled onto the emergency lane and the driver Nola Phanor, 45 of Sunrise then attempted to steer it back onto the inside lane when it began to rotate clockwise and subsequently overturned,  caming to final rest on it's roof facing east in the outside lane.

This crash remains under investigation (to include the use of seatbelts and as to what specific passengers were ejected). At this time, no additional information will be released said FHP Trooper S. Rongish and homicide investigator Cpl. M. Mchaud.

Gas Prices Lower In Florida

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 6.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.45/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has fallen 4.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.54/gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 33.5 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 3.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 2.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 31.6 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"The national average has seen some downward direction in the last week, but the best is likely yet to come," said Patrick DeHaan. "While there certainly are a few issues that could impact gasoline prices on our plate, the switch over back to winter gasoline has begun, and I do expect that gas prices may continue to move downward this week for most of the United States. California, however, does have some recent refining kinks that may mean it joins the lower price party a bit later, but by Halloween, my expectation is the national average will stand five to fifteen cents per gallon lower than where it is today," DeHaan said.

In The Service - Geneva Rodriquez

LABELLE, FL.-- Army Pvt. Geneva Rodriguez 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.
Rodriguez is the daughter of Maria Carrillo of Felda. She is a 2008 graduate of Labelle High School.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gas Tanker Catches Fire On I-75

Fort Myers, Fl. -- On Thursday, September 12, 2013 a tanker truck was southbound on Interstate 75 north of Corkscrew Road. For unknown reasons, the vehicle caught fire. 

The driver, Carlos Julio Marquinhos, 26 of Cape Coral was able to safely bring the truck to a controlled stop on the shoulder and exit the vehicle. 

The vehicle, carrying 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 500 gallons of gasoline, became fully engulfed. Multiple fire departments arrived on scene and extinguished the fire. Once the remaining fuel was cool enough, it was pumped into another tanker truck. 

The southbound lanes of Interstate 75 were closed for approximately 6 hours.

Trailways Camp For Special Needs Adults In October

LABELLE, FL. -- The Robert V. & Benjamin G. Miller Fund, along with Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is currently accepting applications for its Trailways Camp. The camp, which will be held at Riverside Retreat in LaBelle, will run October 7-11. Applicants should have a desire to make lifelong friends, sing songs around a camp fire, and experience all the fun that comes along with camping in the great outdoors!

“Our vision when we created the Robert V. and Benjamin G. Miller Fund was to honor our sons by developing camp experiences that turn life into living for adults with disabilities,” says Sharon Miller, of the Robert V. & Benjamin G. Miller Fund. “We are filled to the brim with peace and satisfaction when we see the joy and hear the laughter of our campers.”

The session will include fishing, campfire roasts, swimming, a talent show, and more.

“Many of our campers have never flown a kite, held a fishing rod, danced on stage, or won an award in their lives,” says Jesi Cason, camp counselor and skills trainer at Goodwill. “At camp, everyone gets a chance to create unforgettable experiences and make lifelong friendships with people who understand what it is like to have a disability.”

The Trailways Camp mission is to remove the social isolation often felt by people with disabilities by providing opportunities for fun, friends and support. Through outdoor activities, group exercises, crafts, and more, campers have the opportunity to develop recreational skills and build relationships.

“An act as simple as sitting down for a meal with friends, or roasting marshmallows over a campfire can, and has, changed lives for people who otherwise would not have the opportunity,” explains Cason. “The campers will always remember the feeling of accomplishment and acceptance they experience.”

For more information regarding Trailways Camp contact Jesi Cason at (239)357-3623.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Florida Free Webinar On Paying For College

As part of his Your Money Matters initiative, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and  the Department of Financial Services is teaming up with the Florida Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (FASFAA) and Tallahassee Community College to offer “Paying for College: Controlling Your Degree of Debt.” 

As financial aid application deadlines are fast approaching, this free webinar will provide valuable information on the variety of financial aid programs that can minimize college debt.

An overview of the many financial aid programs available will be discussed along with learning how financial need is determined, calculating the true cost of education, discovering types of financial aid available, and identifying important steps to complete financial aid applications.

For more information or to register for the “Paying for College: Controlling Your Degree of Debt” webinar, visit or call the Division of Consumer Services helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Robert O. Baker of LaBelle passed away September 2, 2013 at his residence after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

He was born April 19, 1936 in London, Kentucky. Bobby loved many things in his life, he played bass guitar for Conway Twitty in his early years, He loved all kinds of music; country western and old time rock and roll. 

He also enjoyed his amateur ham radio operator call letters K8YT. He also worked and built computers. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Caleb and Berth Baker. He leaves behind his loving wife, Jenny Baker, one sister; Rosa Willis, 2 cousins; John Campbell and George Baker., children; Calbert (Della) Baker, James (Lisa) Baker, Scott and Emily Colwell, and Toni Colwell, step-children; Jennifer West, Pete, Marie, Jake, JoAnne Little. Bobby had 14 grandchildren and 7 step grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Bobby was loved by many and will be deeply missed.

Monday, September 09, 2013

1.6 Million Smokers Tried To Quit - 200,000 Successful

Landmark Tobacco Education Ad Campaign More Than Doubled Goals

An estimated 1.6 million smokers attempted to quit smoking because of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Tips From Former Smokers” national ad campaign, according to a study released by the CDC.

As a result of the 2012 campaign, more than 200,000 Americans had quit smoking immediately following the three-month campaign, of which researchers estimated that more than 100,000 will likely quit smoking permanently. These results exceed the campaign’s original goals of 500,000 quit attempts and 50,000 successful quits.

The study surveyed thousands of adult smokers and nonsmokers before and after the campaign. Findings showed that, by quitting, former smokers added more than a third of a million years of life to the U.S. population. The Tips campaign, which aired from March 19 to June 10, 2012, was the first time a federal agency had developed and placed paid advertisements for a national tobacco education campaign. Ads featured emotionally powerful stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities. 

The campaign encouraged people to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or visit a quit-assistance website. The study on the campaign’s impact is published today by a medical journal, The Lancet.

“This is exciting news. Quitting can be hard and I congratulate and celebrate with former smokers - this is the most important step you can take to a longer, healthier life,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “I encourage anyone who tried to quit to keep trying – it may take several attempts to succeed.’’

The study found that millions of nonsmokers reported talking to friends and family about the dangers of smoking and referring smokers to quit services. Almost 80 percent of smokers and almost 75 percent of non-smokers recalled seeing at least one of the ads during the three-month campaign.

Florida's License Free Fishing Days Expanded

Today, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced four additional license-free fishing days.

Florida currently offers the public four license-free fishing days per year, where the requirement to have a recreational fishing license is waived for residents and visitors. Saltwater license-free fishing days this year were on June 1 and Sept. 1 and freshwater’s were April 6 and June 8.

During its Sept. 5 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) added four more license-free fishing days to the calendar, and the Florida Legislature approved this increase earlier this year.

The additional saltwater license-free fishing days will be Oct. 12 and Nov. 30 and additional freshwater license-free days will be Nov. 29 and Dec. 28. The Commission also set dates for 2014 and beyond. All eight days will now fall on the same day of the week from year to year, allowing potential anglers to plan fishing trips in advance.

To make these events accessible to as many people as possible, the FWC planned these dates around holiday weekends and national events and National Fishing and Boating Week. Highlighted by significant national media coverage and public events, National Fishing and Boating Week promotes boating and fishing across the country as fun and healthy outdoor activities.

Governor Scott said, “Florida’s license-free fishing days are the perfect opportunity for people to try, or introduce a friend to, some of the finest fishing in the world. Florida's recreational freshwater and saltwater fishing industry has an $8.9 billion economic impact and events like these help grow the industry even more. I'm excited that the FWC has adopted four more license-free fishing days for a total of eight days per year. These days are a great way to introduce more Floridians to the lifetime sport of fishing.”

For 2014 and beyond, the following dates will be license-free fishing days:
Saltwater: First Saturday and Sunday in June, First Saturday in September, Saturday following Thanksgiving
Freshwater: First Saturday and Sunday in April, Second Saturday and Sunday in June

Gas At Pump 25 Cents Lower Than Year Ago

Prices Still Same As Last Month

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 2.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.52/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.59/gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 24.9 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 0.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has not moved during the last month and stands 22.3 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"Gas price limbo has continued for another week, with average prices across the United States virtually the same as they were a month ago," said Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Opening week for football certainly brought more excitement than we've seen at the gas pump lately, but one thing is for sure- with gas prices averaging 22-cents per gallon lower than last year, there's a lot of extra hot dogs and beer that can be consumed instead of being redirected into the tanks of American motorists. 

"While the situation in Syria bears further monitoring, and hurricane season remains on the radar, we've still seen prices continue to hold level. In fact, the cumulative yearly average for a gallon of gas stands at $3.57/gal, compared to one year ago when it was $3.62/gal, so while motorists feel this has been a bad year for gas prices, it hasn't been as painful as 2012," DeHaan said.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Chronic Wasting Disease Causes Ban On Deer Imports

FWC passes rule prohibiting importation of deer

PENSACOLA, FL. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at its Pensacola commission meeting today, Sept. 6, passed a rule prohibiting the importation of live captive deer into Florida from out-of-state sources.

To implement the decision immediately, the FWC also issued an executive order prohibiting importation of cervids effective today, Sept. 6, 2013. The order includes limited exemptions for reindeer and zoos.

The rule was passed in an effort to reduce the chances of chronic wasting disease being introduced into the state. Eighteen other states, including Georgia and Alabama, also prohibit the importation of live cervids (deer, elk and moose).

CWD is not known to affect people but is a contagious neurological disease affecting cervids. It is always fatal, and there is no known cure or vaccine. So far, the disease has been discovered in 22 states, two Canadian provinces and in South Korea.

The Commission also directed the executive director to create a working group to include the industry to develop other measures to safeguard the state from CWD. If these other measures are determined to be sufficient to adequately reduce risk, the Commission gives the executive director authority to then allow importation.

Since the beginning of May, the FWC has received much public comment on this and answered questions and concerns. During this process, those who have deer farms and hunting preserves , hunters and conservationists provided suggestions for additional prevention measures to consider. The Commission used this important feedback to guide its decision making.

For more information on chronic wasting disease, this rule and the CWD Alliance, go to To see the executive order, go to and select “Inside FWC” then “Executive Director.”

E-Cigarette Use By Teens Doubling

Health Officials Alarmed By Electronic Cigarette Use Trend

TALLAHASSEE, FL.  – The number of middle school and high school students in the United States who used electronic cigarettes doubled in 2012 compared to just a year earlier, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 1.8 million middle school and high school students nationwide had tried e-cigarettes last year, the report said.

The Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida is alarmed by the mounting body of evidence that shows that youth are, indeed, using e-cigarettes. In Florida, 4.3 percent of middle school students and 12.1 percent of high school students had ever tried e-cigarettes in 2013, according to new data released by the health department last week. The number of Florida high school students who had tried e-cigarettes doubled – from 6 percent in 2011 to 12.1 percent in 2013.

Aside from their potentially harmful health effects, e-cigarettes are becoming a tool used to get youth and young adults hooked on nicotine, which is a highly addictive, dangerous chemical. To add to this concern, these unregulated products are available in fruit and candy flavors, which are especially enticing to young people because they mask the harsh flavor of traditional tobacco. The increased marketing of these products is also worrisome.

“E-cigarettes have brought Big Tobacco back into families’ living rooms,” said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Shannon Hughes. “Tobacco products like cigarettes and dip have been banned from advertising on TV for decades, and for good reason. Yet, new in-your-face e-cigarette ads have recently infiltrated our airwaves with commercials that seem to have taken a page out of Big Tobacco’s playbook for targeting young people.”

Florida has made notable progress in decreasing the number of smokers and increasing the number of smoke-free policies, which protect residents from secondhand smoke and de-normalize tobacco use. In fact, the CDC’s e-cigarette report comes on the heels of new Florida data that shows that teen cigarette smoking reached a record low in the state. The new data from the state health department indicates that there are tens of thousands of fewer teens smoking cigarettes today than before the Tobacco Free Florida program launched in 2007.

“We have seen notable progress in Florida, yet the alarming increase in e-cigarette use and in their availability has the potential to normalize smoking again, after decades of hard work in the state and across the country to reverse that norm,” said Hughes. “A state where seeing someone smoke is the exception not the norm is a state where more smokers are encouraged to quit and fewer youth ever start – a healthier Florida for all.”

Update: After posting this story, we immediately began receiving numerous "comments" posted that were thinly disguised advertisements for the electronic cigarette industry. We remove comments that contain advertisements or with links to commercial companies.

Three Steps To Healthy Living Says Surgeon General

Surgeon General Promotes Initiative To Fight Obesity
LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John H. Armstrong visited the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County Friday afternoon to meet staff and community partners while promoting the state's Healthiest Weight Initiative and to answer questions about health topics and local health issues.
(photo: Surgeon General John Armstrong, State Representative Matt Hudson, Hendry-Glades Health Department Administrator and Health Officer Patricia Dobbins.)
Dr. Armstrong, who rules over health matters in 67 Florida counties, told about two dozen community health leaders that there are three basic "substitution" steps to a better healthy lifestyle; drink water instead of sugary drinks; change to fruits and vegetables from processed foods, snack on carrots and celery instead of high carb processed snacks; thirdly take the stairs instead of the elevator. He said spend 30 minutes eating and then 30 minutes of walking after a meal, and he insists he takes his own advice at home and office to create better health choices for himself.
Armstrong noted the Florida WIC program has been experimenting in Miami with a card for clients that allow certain food items to be purchased  to benefit children and mothers, tracking  actual purchases so correlations may be made between the purchases and health benefits resulting from use of the cards. He said it might be possible for SNAP (food stamp) programs to implement such a card program as well, although noting the Federal Government is in charge of the SNAP program.
Hendry Superintendent of Schools Paul Puletti advised Dr. Armstrong that one problem he sees is the "targeting" of kids by the fast food industry, becoming an obstacle to healthier eating by school children, and secondly the lack of stores that stock fresh fruit and vegetables in many rural neighborhoods. He said although the schools provide healthy foods including fresh fruit and vegetables, some kids routinely just throw the healthy food in the garbage.
Hendry Commissioner Darrell Harris who also works for the Hendry schools' food service department said he's seen kids throw out the good food and then later visit fast food restaurants with their parents.
Armstrong related how he spend a morning visiting first and second graders and noted that the kids didn't even know how to peel a banana or take the cap off a drink container, but "gobbled" up a "wad" of carbohydrate laden food from an easy to open cellophane packaging.
He noted that about half of Florida kids do not have physical education classes.
Healthiest Weight Florida is a public-private collaboration bringing together state agencies, not for profit organizations, businesses, and entire communities to help Florida's children and adults make choices about healthy eating and active living. 
Among the focuses of the state's new health promotion program are to increase breastfeeding of infants, promote improved nutrition and physical activity in children, increasing access to high quality affordable foods in communities, and promote awareness of patient body mass index (BMI).
Dr. Armstrong also made a similar presentation at the Glades County Health Department in Moore Haven on Thursday.
More information:

Almost One In Four Ameicans Can't Meet Basic Economic Needs

Number Of Americans Not Able To Meet Basic Expenses Is Increasing

In 2011, 22% of households experienced one or more possible “hardships” in fulfilling their basic needs in the previous 12 months. The U.S. Census Bureau says these hardships included difficulty meeting essential expenses, not paying rent or mortgage, getting evicted, not paying utilities, having utilities or phone service cut off, not seeing a doctor or dentist when needed, or not always having enough food.

The number of American households that could not meet basic expenses increased by 16% (from 16.4 million to 19.1 million) from 2005 to 2011.

Among all households, 9% experienced exactly one of them, 7% experienced two of the hardships, and 6% endured three or more.  Among all householders in 2011, 64% had all six of the following appliances and electronic goods: clothes washer, clothes dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and a landline or cell phone.

Report From Census Bureau

Chobani Ceases Distribution Of Greek Yogurt

Illness and Bloating Claims Cause Recall

Chobani, Inc., of Twin Falls, Idaho is voluntarily recalling Greek Yogurt. The company has ceased the distribution of the product due to reports of product bloating and swelling and some claims of illness as the company continues its investigation to identify the root cause.

"Greek" yogurt describes the process of making yogurt products that are thicker than normal yogurt products. Some manufacturers, including Chobani use a technique of straining liquid  whey out to make the yogurt thicker. Others add "thickeners," usually gelatin or animal based additives to give the effect of a more creamy product.

Greek style yogurt, because it is a more concentrated dairy product contains about twice the amount or protein and costs about twice as much as normal yogurt.

Chobani like other yogurt producers creates products that are very high in calories because of the addition of fruits and added sugars. Chobani's yogurts, contain added honey or cane sugar along with the fruits.

The potentially affected product was distributed nationwide from Chobani's Twin Falls, Idaho facility and was delivered to consumers through retail and club stores.  Affected products have the Code: 16-012 and a notice of Best By: 9/11/2013 – 10/7/ 2013 (See photo above to locate the codes on the label)

Chobani began a proactive and voluntary withdrawal of product, after learning that a small quantity had been affected by a type of mold commonly found in the dairy environment. While this type of mold is unlikely to have ill health effects, due to some claims of illness the company has decided to go from voluntarily withdrawing to voluntarily recalling the limited amount of potentially affected product.

Over 95% of the units in question have already been identified and removed from retailer shelves, said the company.

Consumers who have purchased the product should discard the product and may contact the company's Customer Loyalty Team at or call 877-847-6181 between the hours of 9am and 5pm ET. The company says it is diligently working to coordinate replacements or refunds and will be in touch as soon as possible with the public during this "time of very high contact volumes."

The company issued a statement saying "The quality of Chobani products and the trust of its consumers are the company's primary concern, and it sincerely apologizes to its consumers impacted by this issue. Chobani holds itself to the highest standards and is committed to fully transparent and decisive action to rectify any identified issues. This voluntary recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the Food and Drug Administration."

Most recent company updates: Click here.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

LaVonne Ledbetter Dies At 82

Former LaBelle, Florida Civic Leader

LaVonne Ledbetter, age 82, of Buffalo Lake, formerly of LaBelle, Florida, passed away Monday, September 2, 2013, at the Buffalo Lake Healthcare Center.

In 1972 LaVonne and Charles established a tree farm business on land they purchased near Alva, Florida. In 1989 the tree farm was sold, and they relocated to Port LaBelle in 2001.  

LaVonne was an active member of Friends of the LaBelle City library, coordinated the used book project for many years. She was active supporter of the LaBelle Firehouse Theater group. 

They joined the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, and LaVonne actively served on committees, the ECW, and as delegate to the conventions. She became a Lay Eucharistic Minister in December of 2001.

LaVonne Elinor Ledbetter was born April 4, 1931, in Preston Lake Township, Renville County, Minnesota. Her parents were Walton and Della (Schafer) Fischer. LaVonne was baptized and confirmed in the Zion United Methodist Church. She attended District 57 Elementary School, and the Buffalo Lake High School, graduating in May, 1949.

LaVonne worked for Northern States Power Company for eight months in Minneapolis prior to attending college in Kansas City, Missouri. She went to work in Washington D.C., and in 1952 transferred to  Germany, working in Frankfurt and Nuremberg.

In 1953, LaVonne was introduced to First Lt. Charles B. Ledbetter III, and two months later they were married. They lived in Germany during their first months together. Upon returning to the United States, they made their home in Coral Gables, Florida, where they lived for 25 years.

LaVonne was an active member of St. Philips Episcopal Church, a volunteer at South Miami Hospital and Science Museum of Miami, and a member of the Cotillion Club. 

Charles passed away in March, 2009. LaVonne continued to live in Florida for a few years before returning home to Buffalo Lake to be with family and friends. She became active with the Zion United Methodist Church, but also joined in many activities with the Zion Ev. Lutheran Church.

Throughout their years together, LaVonne and Charles traveled to Europe, the Bahamas, Mexico, Canada, and within the United States. They were seldom without a dog. Most often their pet companion was a Springer Spaniel, as they enjoyed hunting together.

A shared ownership of a Cessna 185 airplane allowed them to attend hunt camp on the weekends.

LaVonne is survived by her Brother: Leeland Fischer and his Wife Joan of Buffalo Lake; Sisters: Carol Tucker of Buffalo Lake, and Sister-in-Law: Belinda Fischer of Dallas, Texas; Nieces, Nephews, other relatives, and many friends. LaVonne was preceded in death by her Parents, Husband Charles Ledbetter, Brother Dennis Fischer, and Brother-in-Law Vincent Lauricella.

Her remains will be transported to LaBelle for interment at the Garden of Peace at the Church of the Good Shepherd in LaBelle. A memorial service is planned for LaBelle, time to be announced later.

It's Garden Time In Florida - Club Meets This Month

September LaBelle Garden Club Meeting - Share Your Plants!
LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Garden Club will meet Monday Sept. 23rd at 7PM at the Dallas Townsend Center. The guest speaker will be Gene McAvoy, Director/Regional Vegetable Specialist IV from the University of Florida Hendry County Extension.

He will present plans for the new greenhouse. He will also answer any questions anyone has concerning just about any plant or agricultural topic there is.

Bring a friend. Refreshments served. Bring a treat if you want to share something special. Bring any spare plants you might want to exchange or give away. Also bring fresh garden produce. If you have something to share - Great! If not - come anyway, you can still have plants and produce from the sharing table.

For more information call Dave at (836)342-8233 or Nikki at (239)564-2005

Clothing Line Glamorizes Prescription Drugs Say Attorneys General

Kitson, Inc. Accused Of Promoting Drugs With Tee-Shirts

TALLAHASSEE, FL. – Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and two other state attorneys general have written a letter to Kitson, Inc., urging the company to end its sport jersey style tee-shirt line with prescription drug brand names, such as Xanax and Vicodin, in place of athlete names. In Florida, there are seven prescription drug-related deaths per day, and babies are born suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome caused by their mothers’ prescription drug abuse during pregnancy.

“I have seen first-hand the devastating effects of prescription drug abuse, and it is one of my top priorities to protect Floridians from this epidemic. I urge Kitson to discontinue their line of clothing that glamorizes some of our country’s most-abused prescription drugs,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Attorney General Pam Bondi has led efforts in Florida to end prescription drug abuse. In addition to working with the Florida Legislature in 2011 to pass tough new laws and regulations to close pill mills, she worked with the Legislature to establish the Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns Task Force. When Attorney General Bondi first took office, 98 of the country’s top dispensing physicians of oxycodone resided in Florida; today, none of the country’s top dispensing physicians of oxycodone resides in Florida.

To view the letter, follow this link:$file/Kitson.pdf

17-Year Old Charged With Burglary And Battery

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff's Deputies arrested a 17 year old Wednesday, September 4, 2013, after receiving a call of a burglary in progress in the Port LaBelle area.

Deputies were called to the residence of Duran Santiago after he had returned home and heard someone in his home. Santiago located 17 year old Jose Angel Lopez, Jr. hiding behind a dresser in one of the bedrooms in the house.

When Lopez saw deputies arrive, he fled the home. Hendry County K-9 units responded to the area and Lopez was located hiding in a field and taken into custody some distance from the home.

Lopez was arrested and charged with Battery, Burglary with Battery, and Trespassing and transported to the Hendry County Jail. At the request of Department of Juvenile Justice, Lopez was transferred to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Fort Myers.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Bow Hunting Season Opens In Florida

Florida Bow Hunting Tips
By Tony Young

Even though you can hardly tell, summer is almost over. Kids have returned to school, football is back on TV, and hunting season has been going on for a month now in south Florida. Most of us have already finished our preseason scouting, and we’ve hung our tree stands along well-traveled deer trails – next to a mature oak tree that’ll soon begin dropping acorns, if we’re lucky. Finally, the time of year we’ve been waiting for is here!

Hunting season still comes in first in Zone A, which is that part of the state south of State Road 70. Archery and crossbow seasons there started Aug. 3 on private lands.

Hunting Zone B is made up in part by the Green Swamp Basin and lies south of S.R. 50, west of U.S. 441 and the Kissimmee Waterway, north of S.R. 60 and east of the Gulf of Mexico. Archery and crossbow seasons on private property in Zone B start this year Oct. 19.

The line that divides zones C and D has been modified slightly this year, so please make sure you know which zone you’re hunting in. The line still begins at U.S. 27 at the (Gadsden County) Florida-Georgia state line and runs south on U.S. 27 until it meets S.R. 61 in Tallahassee. From there, it follows S.R. 61, running south until it hits U.S. 319. There, the line follows U.S. 319, continuing south to U.S. 98; it then runs east along U.S. 98. And here is the part that changed. The line used to turn south on Spring Creek Highway, but now it continues east along U.S. 98 until it gets to the Wakulla River, where the river becomes the line, heading south until it meets the St. Marks River and continues downriver until it meets the Gulf.

If you hunt west of that line, you’re in Zone D, where archery and crossbow seasons begin Oct. 26 on private lands. In Zone C, archery and crossbow seasons open on Sept. 14.

To hunt during archery season, you’ll need a Florida hunting license and an archery permit. During crossbow season, you’ll need a hunting license and crossbow permit. If you’re a Florida resident, an annual hunting license will cost $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months. Archery and crossbow permits cost just $5 each, and all deer hunters must have the $5 deer permit. Anyone planning on hunting one of Florida’s many WMAs must purchase a management area permit for $26.50.

And don’t forget to pick up the WMA brochure for the area you wish to hunt, because hunting season dates on many of the areas are often different from what the zonal dates are. You can pick up a copy of these WMA brochures at your local tax collector’s office or read them at

During archery season and that part of crossbow season that is concurrent with archery, you can take deer of either sex, regardless of antler size (except for spotted fawns). After archery ends, during the remaining portion of the crossbow season, only legal bucks (having at least one antler that is at least 5 inches long) may be taken. The daily bag limit on deer is two. Bag limits for deer on WMAs can differ, so check the specifics of the area before you hunt.

You can hunt wild hogs on private lands year-round with no bag or size limits. On most WMAs, there’s also no bag or size limits, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. On a few WMAs, bag and size limits do apply, so be sure to check the brochure for the specific area to be certain.

It’s also legal to shoot gobblers and bearded turkeys during archery and crossbow seasons, given you have a turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents). You can take only one turkey per day, and there’s a two-bird fall-season limit. It’s against the law to hunt turkeys in Holmes County in the fall, and it’s illegal to shoot them while they’re on the roost, over bait, when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when bait is present or with the aid of recorded turkey calls.

On private property, if you’re hunting during the archery season, you may hunt only with a bow, and you must have the $5 archery permit. During crossbow season, you may use either a crossbow or bow, but you must have the $5 crossbow permit. On WMAs, only hunters with a disabled crossbow permit are allowed to use crossbows during archery season. All bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds, and hand-held releases are permitted. For hunting deer, hogs and turkeys, broadheads must have at least two sharpened edges with a minimum width of 7/8 inch.

Tony Young is the media relations coordinator for the FWC’s Division of Hunting and Game Management. He can be reached with questions about hunting at

Child's Life Saved By Sheriff's Deputy

18-Month Old Choked On Gummy Bear Candy

OKEECHOBEE, FL. --  A Florida deputy sheriff has been credited with saving the life of a young child Sunday afternoon, found choking on a piece off candy.

On September 1, 2013, at approximately 5:37 p.m., Deputy Bryan Holden was dispatched to a burglary in the northwest part of Okeechobee County, also known as the prairie.

While in route, he was flagged down by a man, who jumped out of his car and started running toward the deputy’s car, while holding a small child. The child had blood on his shirt and blood coming from his mouth. The father explained to Deputy Holden that his son was choking on a gummy bear.

Deputy Holden placed the 18-month child on the rear of his patrol truck and proceeded to administer back blows until the candy was dislodged. Okeechobee County Fire Rescue arrived and transported the child to Raulerson Hospital.

Deputy Holden made contact with the infant’s mother who stated he was treated and released from the hospital and doing well.

Sheriff May said of this incident, “During my entire career I have always heard that there is never a policeman when you need one. This family rushing their child towards town for help probably doesn't agree with that statement. I talked to two Fire/Paramedics this morning and they stated without a doubt, Deputy Holden saved this child’s life. In the last couple of years, this is the third case where this has happened to one of our Deputies and a life was saved. Deputy Holden is a credit to this department but to him it was all in a day’s work.”

(Photo: Deputy Bryan Holden on right is congratulated by Captain Gary Bell)

Stabbing Death Victim Identified As 29 Year Old Man

Roommate Arrested For Murder
OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- On August 31, 2013, at approximately 4:34 a.m., deputies responded to 3455 NW 16 Avenue, Okeechobee, Florida, in reference to a stabbing. Upon arrival, deputies found the victim, later identified as Francisco Ricard Soto-Herrera, age 29, suffered a stab wound to the chest. 

Deputies responding to the scene observed 50 year old Manuel Navarro walking down the street. He was detained for questioning. Navarro had blood stains on his clothes and hands. There were no injuries or bruising to the suspect.
After further interviews, it was learned the two men are roommates and had been drinking together. The two men argued and an altercation ensued, resulting in the victim being stabbed. The victim died at the scene.

Navarro was arrested and charged with Second Degree Murder and is being held in the Okeechobee County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

This case is still under investigation. No further information to be released at this time said public information officer Michele Bell.

40 Percent Drop In Teen Smoking Says DOH

New data, released this week by the Florida Department of Health (DOH), indicates there are tens of thousands of fewer teens smoking today than before the Tobacco Free Florida program launched in 2007. This drop equates to 40.7 percent fewer Florida high school students who are current cigarette smokers.

Since 2007, there are about 70,000 fewer youth smokers and 272,000 fewer youth exposed to secondhand smoke, which contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, 69 known to cause cancer. The progress seen in Florida is consistent with a downward trend in cigarette use and an increase in smoke-free policies around the country.

"This significant decrease in smoking among youth is great news for the young people of Florida,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “Our tobacco prevention program’s statewide media campaign and community-level interventions are making a positive difference for Florida’s families.”

The data, provided by the Florida Department of Health’s 2013 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), shows:

8.6 percent of high school students reported current cigarette use, meaning they smoked a cigarette at least once during the past 30 days, a 40.7 percent decrease compared to 2007

13.5 percent of high school students reported current cigar use, a 31.1 percent decline compared to 2007

5.6 percent of high school students reported current smokeless tobacco use, a 12.3 percent decrease compared to 2007

In 2006, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment requiring 15 percent of the state’s tobacco settlement fund be used for a comprehensive tobacco education and prevention program. In 2007, the funding was used to launch the Tobacco Free Florida program, which is managed by the DOH.

Preventing tobacco use and encouraging cessation among young people are critical in combating the tobacco epidemic because nearly nine out of 10 smokers start by age 18. In fact, despite the progress in reducing the number of smokers, an estimated 18,900 youth (under 18 years) in Florida will become new cigarette smokers this year. Of every three young smokers, only one will quit, and one of those remaining smokers will die from tobacco-related causes.

“Data shows the number of youth who try or habitually use tobacco increases with each increasing grade level,” said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Shannon Hughes. “As students go back to school, now is a perfect time for parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of tobacco use.”

Teens whose parents strongly disapprove of their tobacco use – even if they use tobacco themselves – are less likely to take up tobacco. Parental disapproval has even been found to counteract peer influence. Yet, the 2013 FYTS shows that only 49.6 percent of high school students had talked with a parent or guardian about the dangers of tobacco in the past year.

It’s also important for health care providers to talk to their young patients. In fact, youth were less likely to try smoking if they received some kind of counseling or education from their doctors or other health care providers, according to recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released on Aug 26. The influential panel’s recommendations were published in two medical journals, the Annals of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.

For tips on talking with kids and teens about tobacco, please visit

In The Service - Kaitlin Marotti

LABELLE, FL. -- Army National Guard Spec. Kaitlin K. Marotti 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.

Marotti is the daughter of Lewis Marotti of Pollywog Point, LaBelle. She is a 2006 graduate of LaBelle High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in 2012 from Ave Maria University.

Lowest Summer Gas Prices Since 2010

Gas prices closed the summer driving season with the lowest prices since 2010 says one analyst despite a price rise of 3.3 cent last week.

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have risen 3.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.55/g yesterday, according to a daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has increased 4.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.61/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 22.4 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 1.1 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 2.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 18.7 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"American motorists faced with slightly higher gasoline prices going into Labor Day weekend still had good reason to be happy as they returned home," said Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Over just the long weekend Americans saved nearly 300 million dollars over what was spent for the four day weekend last year. The national average was close to 20-cents per gallon lower this year, and while Syria has dominated the news and so far caused a relatively small blip in gasoline prices, this summer driving season closed with the lowest prices since 2010," DeHaan said.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Two Seriously Injured In ATV Crash

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A crash at 3:40 PM Monday on Bald Cypress at North Granja in Montura Ranch Estates left two people seriously injured when the ATV they were riding hit a truck trailer.

Enrique Leon II, 29 of Montura was southbound on N. Granja Street in a Yamaha ATV as Juan Lee Pujol, 17 driving a 2004 Ford pickup with towed trailer were eastbound on Bald Cypress Avenue. 

Leon failed to yield to oncoming eastbound traffic on Bald Cypress as he proceeded south into the intersection.   As a result, the front of the ATV struck the left side of the truck's towed trailer. 

Collision impact caused the ATV to rotate counterclockwise.  Both Leon and passenger Glamiry Gonzales, 26 were then ejected from the ATV. 

Leon and Glamiry were removed from the scene prior to FHP Trooper T. Park's arrival. They  were transported to Henry Regional Hospital with serious injuries. Charges are pending.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Carol Ann Hoffman, age 44, of LaBelle, passed away September 1, 2013 in LaBelle.
She was born Feb. 5, 1969 in Naples, Florida Carol was a lifelong resident of LaBelle and was the great-great-great-great granddaughter of James Kirkland and Mary Ann Kirkland aka Polly Ann Powers.

She worked for thirteen years for Family Eye Care in LaBelle. She attended Community Harvest Church and was a member of American Legion Post#130 Women's Auxiliary. Carol was also an avid reader.

Survivors include her husband: Thomas A. Hoffman, sons: Cody and Dustin Hoffman and daughter: Hadley Hoffman, all of LaBelle, parents: John Henry Agnew, Jr. and Delores (Whigham) Agnew of LaBelle, brother: Ryan Agnew of LaBelle, sisters: Nikki (Spence) Hull of LaBelle and Wendy (Donald) Wood of Orlando, father and mother in law: James & Marion Hoffman, brother in law: James T. (Mary Jo) Hoffman, sister in law: Michelle (Bruce) Doras; brother in law: John Raymond (Elaine) Hoffman and nephews and nieces: Jarren and Emyllee Hull, Caymen and Noah Wood, Adam And Emma Doras and Jenna Hoffman.

Funeral services will be held Friday, September 6, 2013 at 10:00 am at Community Harvest Worship Center, LaBelle with Pastor L. W. Howard officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Community Harvest Worship Center, LaBelle, FL. 

Betty Jean McDaniel, age 75, of LaBelle, passed away August 31, 2013 in Lehigh Acres.
She was born Jan. 31, 1938 in Palmetto, FL.

Betty enjoyed to crochet, playing bridge and growing roses, but most of all she loved her family and she will be missed by many.

She is survived by her husband of 60 years Tifton R. McDaniel; five daughters: Stella Smith (Doug), Susie Crews (Bo), Mona Sharpe (Dixie), Renee McDaniel (Randy Burge), Dawn Perez (Juan); grandchildren, Roy Holt, Jr. (Annie Brown), Glenn Holt (Amy), Shane Bell (Cathy), Denny Bell, Jeni Bowen (Chris), Jeremy Sharpe (Erin), Robert McDaniel, Sydney Hamby, Jacob Mott, Juan Perez, Jr.; twelve great grandchildren and two sisters Rosemary Rust and Jerri Landcaster.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor L. W. Howard officiating. Visitation will be held 1 1/2 hours prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.