Friday, January 31, 2014

Deputy Charged With Careless Driving

NAPLES, FL. -- An early morning crash left one driver with minor injuries and a Collier Sheriff Deputy with a citation for careless driving.

At about 5:44 a.m. Thursday morning, a Collier County Sheriff's Department marked patrol car, a 2007 Ford F-150 driven by Brian Wiedel, 44 was stopped at a flashing yellow light northbound on 53rd St SW at CR 886 in the left turn lane. 

A Nissan Pathfinder driven by Loubert Frederic, 54 was stopped in the intersection of CR 886 and 53rd St SW facing north waiting for traffic to clear to go west on CR 886. 

The driver of the patrol car thought the Nissan cleared the intersection and continued north to make the left onto CR 886. Wiedel did not see the Nissan because he was looking to see if eastbound traffic was clear and the front left of his vehicle struck the right rear of the Nissan. 

Both vehicles came to final rest near the area of  impact facing north in the intersection. Wiedel was charged with careless driving. Frederic was taken to Physicians Regional/Pine Ridge with minor injuries said FHP Trooper J.D. Close.

Miami Man Arrested For Attempted Homicide In Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- On January 30, 2014, deputies were dispatched to Mi Pueblo, 3235 Highway 70 West, Okeechobee, Florida, in reference to a fight.

Upon arrival, Cpl. Michael Hazellief found the victim standing outside the store, bleeding and holding himself up with the assistance of two poles. The victim had a gaping would on his neck. Cpl. Hazellief immediately recognized this as a stabbing. Information was obtained that the subject was walking east on Highway 70. Cpl Hazellief radioed to other responding units this information. 

Deputy Ben Lisle located the suspect less than a mile from the scene.

The victim was transported to Raulerson Hospital with a stab wound to the neck/upper chest area. After being stabilized, the victim was transported to Lawnwood Hospital, Ft. Pierce, Florida. The victim’s condition is not known at this time.

The suspect, Abel Zeyala-Hernandez, age 39, 1642 SW 7 Street, Apt. 6, Miami, FL, was taken in for questioning. After further investigation, Zeyala-Hernandez was charged with Attempted Homicide. He is currently being held in the Okeechobee County Jail with bond to be set at first appearance.

No further information to be released at this time said Michele Bell, public information officer for the Sheriff's office.

Dozens Of Volunteers Support Local Science Fair

LABELLE, FL. -- On January 21st, West Glades School hosted the Glades District Science Fair as students from West Glades, Moore Haven Elementary, and Moore Haven Junior and Senior High School competed for the chance to participate at the Regional level. 

Only the top 50 scorers advance to Regional level fair which will take at the South Florida State College on February 18 in Avon Park. A number of Hendry and Glades county officials, business owners, and community members came together to help plan and judge the fair. 

In attendance were: Amanda Nisbet, Amy English, Brenda Barnes, Brenda Hoots, Carole Schroeder, Carmen Corbitt, Clint Walker, Dave Lyons, Dena Pittman, Dr. Mongi Zekri, Dr. Sally Berg, Esther Westerman, Frank Browning, Frank Mraz, Fred Johnson, Greg Bone, John Ahern, Kevin Long, R.N., Kim Hamilton, Lindsey Wiggins, Mary Bartoshuk, Michael A. Boyle, Mike Arndt, Mike Pressley, Robert Kosiba, Rock Aboujaoude, Ron Zimmerly, Sallie Arndt, Sandra Seifert, Shellie Johnson, Sonja Crawford, Vannoy Banks, and Wayne Simmons. 

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle and the LaBelle Chamber of Commerce helped immensely with acquiring judges.

The “Support Science and Schools Grant” funded by Johnson-Prewitt and Associates, Manhattan Construction, Moore Haven Lodge #61, Contrax Furnishings, and Suncoast Federal Credit Union provided students with science fair supplies and teachers with classroom resources to promote participation in this year’s fair. Additional support came from The Glades Education Foundationwhose members include: Laura Perry, Debbie Pressley, Richelle Battams, Michelle Thomas, Joe Collins, Mazie Ford, Susana Serra, and Belinda Couse.

Prize money for the top winners was generously donated by Akin-Davis Funeral Home ($100) and the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle ($300).
A delicious meal was supplied by a variety of generous businesses: the Labelle McDonalds, the LaBelle Winn Dixie of LaBelle, Fort Myers Publix Super Market, Fort Myers Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fort Myers Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, and home-made items lovingly prepared by Doreen Backes and Richelle Battams.

The Glades County teachers that worked tirelessly with the students to prepare for this event were: Katrina Fey of MHHS, Dr. Roberts of Moore Haven High School, Veronica Brickel of Moore Haven Elementary, Kimber Smith and Tina Marie Castano of West Glades School.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Man Kills Unborn Child By Switching Drug Label

TAMPA, FL. -- A 29 year old man has been sentenced to prison after a bizarre crime involving removing a label from a pill bottle, resulting in a woman's loss of her unborn child.

According to court documents, John Andrew Welden obtained and then tampered with Cytotec pills by removing the identifying information from the pills. On March 29, 2013, Welden gave the pills to Remee Lee, in a pill bottle, with a label falsely describing the pills as amoxicillin.

Subsequently, Welden admitted to law enforcement that he gave the pills to the victim, Remee Lee with the intention of killing her unborn child. Shortly after taking one of the Cytotec pills, on the same date, Lee began experiencing severe cramping and bleeding. Thereafter, her baby died.

Following two days of expert witness testimony on January 8 and 9, 2014, Judge Lazzara found in favor of the United States and determined that the Cytotec pill taken by Lee, at the direction of Welden, caused her to suffer serious bodily injury and also resulted in the death of her unborn child.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara today sentenced Welden to 13 years and eight months in federal prison for tampering with a consumer product resulting in bodily injury to the victim (Remee Lee) and for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Judge Lazzara sentenced Welden to 10 years’ imprisonment on the consumer product offense and 44 months in prison on the mail fraud charge, to be served consecutively. The court also ordered Welden to pay restitution in the amount of $28,541, with respect to the injuries suffered by the victim, and to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his incarceration.

Welden earlier plead guilty to the charges on September 9, 2013.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Cheryl Ann Leitner, age 55, of LaBelle, passed away January 24, 2014 in LaBelle.
She was born Mar. 26, 1958 in Martin County, FL.

Survivors include daughters: Becky Hunt, Barbara Largen, Paula Ferrer, Cheri Durance and Donna Brooks, father: Curt Leitner, brothers: Larry Jackson, Ken Leitner and Chris Leitner and
seventeen grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her mother, Winifred Leitner.

A memorial service will be held Friday, January 31, 2014, 1:00 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle. Visitation will be held from 12:30 until start of the service at the funeral home.

Wanda Faye Wall. Born May 9th, 1949 in Granite City Illinois. Passed away January 25, 2014, in her home. She was currently retired from the city of Clewiston, where she worked for many years. 

Survivors include her husband Cary Wall of Clewiston, daughter Denice Knight (Chucky) of Clewiston, son Wade Hingson (Kristi) of Moore Haven and two step daughters Angela Wall of Palm Beach Gardens and Christy Lowman of Marietta Georgia. 

The grandchildren include, Clayton and Justin McGee, Hannah Knight, Jamie Hingson, Amiee Lowman, Christopher (Rebecca) Lowman of West Palm Beach and Colin (Betty) Lowman of Clewiston. She was also blessed with two great grandchildren, Braxten Lowman and Kayden Lowman.
A gathering will be held January 30, 2014, from 10:00 am until 11.30 am when a short service will take place. Following the memorial, family asks you to come and join at their home, 605 Saginaw Avenue.
In lieu of flowers, the family of Mrs. Wall suggest donations be given to Hope Hospice.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How Much Time Is Wasted On Facebook?

Facebook hits 10 years old and Time Magazine will help you figure out how much time you've wasted on it.

According to Time, I've wasted 3 days, 14 hours and 2 minutes on Facebook since January 4, 2007 at only 14 minutes a week on the social site. How are you doing?

Check your Facebook stats here. Wasted Time On Facebook

Jennifer O'Bannon Dies At 59

Jennifer Boswell O'Bannon, age 59, of LaBelle, passed away January 25, 2014 in Fort Myers.
She was born May 9, 1954 in Hollywood, FL, to the late Chester and the late Faylean (Brackin) Boswell. 

She was also preceded in death by her brother, Tom Boswell. Jennifer was a longtime resident of LaBelle.

Survivors include her son: Patrick Stephen (Mona) O'Bannon of LaBelle, daughter: April (Clinton) Lowry of Fort Myers, brother: Jeffery Boswell and grandchildren: Shelby O'Bannon, Ethan Lowry; Emma Lowry and Haylee O'Bannon.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 11:00 am at Caloosa Baptist Church in LaBelle with Dr. Les Morgan officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to New Life Dream Center c/o Word of Life Ministries, 2150 Collier Avenue, Su. H, Fort Myers, FL 33901.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Motorcyclist Dies In Crash With Car

NAPLES, FL. -- Motorcyclist Micheal Blain Lockhart, 31 of Naples, Fl. died in a crash with a 2013 Nissan Sentra.

The 2003 Yamaha V-Star motorcycle was traveling eastbound on SR 84 (Beck Boulevard) approaching Le Buff Road. as a Nissan Sentra driven by Armando Mercuri, 72 of Maldon, MA. was exiting the south exit of the West Alley Toll Plaza parking lot to SR 84. This exit is directly to the north of Le Buff Road on SR 84. 

The motorcyclist attempted a right turn onto westbound SR 84, but crossed over the center line into the path of the car. Subsequently, the front portion of the motorcycle collided with the car.

Mercuri was charged with making an improper left turn and was taken to the hospital with minor injuries said Trooper Danny Diaz and homicide investigator Corporal Michael Michaud.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bitcoin Exchangers Arrested In Huge Drug Money Laundering Scheme

Two Men Said To Have Laundered Dollars To $1 Billion In Bitcoins

FORT MYERS, FL. -- The DEA and other federal law enforcement partners today announced Bitcoin exchangers, including a CEO, were charged with money laundering related to drug proceeds from users of the Silk Road website. 

Officials announced the unsealing of criminal charges in Manhattan federal court today.

Charges are against ROBERT M. FAIELLA, a/k/a “BTCKing,” an underground Bitcoin exchanger fron Cape Coral, Florida, and CHARLIE SHREM, the Chief Executive Officer and Compliance Officer of a Bitcoin exchange company in New York, for engaging in a scheme to sell over $1 million in Bitcoins to users of “Silk Road,” the underground website that enabled its users to buy and sell illegal drugs anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement. 

Each defendant is charged with conspiring to commit money laundering, and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. SHREM is also charged with willfully failing to file any suspicious activity report regarding FAIELLA’s illegal transactions through the Company, in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. 

SCHREM was arrested yesterday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and is expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman. FAIELLA was arrested today at his residence in Cape Coral, Florida, and is expected to be presented in federal court in the Middle District of Florida.

According to the allegations contained in the Criminal Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From about December 2011 to October 2013, FAIELLA ran an underground Bitcoin exchange on the Silk Road website, a website that served as a sprawling and anonymous black market bazaar where illegal drugs of virtually every variety were bought and sold regularly by the site’s users. 

Operating under the username “BTCKing,” FAIELLA sold Bitcoins – the only form of payment accepted on Silk Road – to users seeking to buy illegal drugs on the site. Upon receiving orders for Bitcoins from Silk Road users, he filled the orders through a company based in New York, New York (the “Company”). 

The Company was designed to enable customers to exchange cash for Bitcoins anonymously, that is, without providing any personal identifying information, and it charged a fee for its service. FAIELLA obtained Bitcoins with the Company’s assistance, and then sold the Bitcoins to Silk Road users at a markup.

SHREM is the Chief Executive Officer of the Company, and from about August 2011 until about July 2013, when the Company ceased operating, he was also its Compliance Officer, in charge of ensuring the Company’s compliance with federal and other anti-money laundering (“AML”) laws. SHREM is also the Vice Chairman of a foundation dedicated to promoting the Bitcoin virtual currency system.

SHREM, who personally bought drugs on Silk Road, was fully aware that Silk Road was a drug-trafficking website, and through his communications with FAIELLA, SHREM also knew that FAIELLA was operating a Bitcoin exchange service for Silk Road users. 

Nevertheless, SHREM knowingly facilitated FAIELLA’s business with the Company in order to maintain FAIELLA’s business as a lucrative source of Company revenue. SHREM knowingly allowed FAIELLA to use the Company’s services to buy Bitcoins for his Silk Road customers; personally processed FAIELLA’s orders; gave FAIELLA discounts on his high-volume transactions; failed to file a single suspicious activity report with the United States Treasury Department about FAIELLA’s illicit activity, as he was otherwise required to do in his role as the Company’s Compliance Officer; and deliberately helped FAIELLA circumvent the Company’s AML restrictions, even though it was SHREM’s job to enforce them and even though the Company had registered with the Treasury Department as a money services business.

Working together, SHREM and FAIELLA exchanged over $1 million in cash for Bitcoins for the benefit of Silk Road users, so that the users could, in turn, make illegal purchases on Silk Road.

In late 2012, when the Company stopped accepting cash payments, FAIELLA ceased doing business with the Company and temporarily shut down his illegal Bitcoin exchange service on Silk Road. FAIELLA resumed operating on Silk Road in April 2013 without the Company’s assistance, and continued to exchange tens of thousands of dollars a week in Bitcoins until the Silk Road website was shut down by law enforcement in October 2013.

FAIELLA, 52, of Cape Coral, Florida, and SHREM, 24, of New York, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 

SHREM is also charged with one count of willful failure to file a suspicious activity report, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Cracker Cowboy Program On Hand At LaBelle Museum

LABELLE, FL. -- Punta Gorda historian Edward C. Uhland will present his program on the trade of late 1800s Florida Cracker stock raisers. much of which he learned from their own words, at LaBelle Heritage Museum's February 6 meeting. 

The public is welcome to attend the meeting held at LaBelle City, 451 West Hickpochee Avenue starting at 7 o'clock in the evening.

Members and prospective members can pay museum dues and receive their 2014 membership cards at the meeting as well as get tickets for the 19th Annual Old Timers Dinner to be held at LaBelle Civic Center on Thursday evening, February 20.

The museum, located at 360 North Bridge St., is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Seniors Dance Away At Valentine Tea Dance

LABELLE, FL. -- Hope Connections will be hosting a no-cost Valentine’s Tea Dance for the senior community of Hendry County at the L. J. Nobles Senior Center located in Labelle. 

All seniors 60+ aged or older are invited to join the party as Hope Connections celebrates the holiday with music, dancing, giveaways and fun on February 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. at 475 E. Cowboy Way.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Eula McGarity Dies At 94

After a journey that began in the Mississippi Delta on October 22, 1919, Eula V. McGarity has surely been welcomed to her eternal home with the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Mrs. McGarity's earthly life came to an end on January 21, at Saint Vincent's Riverside Hospice Center in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Having lived her early years in Mississippi, she moved with her first husband, William Clinton "Bud" Anderson, who preceded her in death in 1964, and their children to LaBelle, Florida in the early 1960s. Most recently she lived for several years in Jacksonville.

Mrs. McGarity is survived by her six children W. B. "Andy" (Myrna) Anderson, Dorrece Mathis, Clinton (Lou) Anderson, Carlton Anderson, Elaine (Gary) Driver, Wayne (Kay) Anderson, and two step children Richard (June) McGarity and Betty Jo (McGarity) Semken. 

She is also survived by 24 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren and 12 great/great-grandchildren. 

She was preceded in death by her husband William Clinton "Bud" Anderson, her second husband, Vic McGarity, her parents Lewis and Virginia Harrison, 17 brothers and sisters, her beloved son-in-law Maurice Mathis, two grandsons, Kenneth Mathis and Greg McGarity and great grandson, Justin Anderson and great-great grandson.
Mrs. McGarity's Celebration of Life will take place Friday, January 24, at 1:00 p.m. at First Church of God in LaBelle, under the direction of Akin-Davis Funeral home. Visitation will precede the service at 12:00 NOON. Her service will be officiated by her two sons, Reverends Carlton and Wayne Anderson. 

Interment will be at the Fort Denaud Cemetery.

New Tai Chi Class For Adults Beginning In February

LABELLE, FL. -- The fourth session of  free classes  in Tai Chi Quan will begin in LaBelle at Hope Connections at the L.J. Nobles Senior Center on February 17, 2014 at 3 p.m. The first class was offered to the community in January 2013 when about 30 people took up the challenge to improve their health and balance.

Classes will be on Monday and Wednesday through May 7 at 3 p.m. Participants must be willing and able to attend all 24 free classes. Participant be required to conduct a pre and post course balance test.

The course, Tai Ji Quan - Moving For Better Balance was designed by Dr. Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute in 2003, and has been recommended by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention as am effective method to prevent falls in older adults.

This 12-week class is designed for adults 50 and over to help assist with balance and movement. This is a basic beginner eight-movement Tai Chi falls prevention workshop.

Pre-­registration is required and there is no cost to participants. It is expected that a waiting list of previous enrollees will fill the class, but anyone interested may contact.the Senior Center to see if available class spaces are open.

Funding for Tai Ji Quan - Moving For Better Balance is provided by a 2013-­2014 Older Adult Falls Prevention Mini Grant through the Florida Department of Health and administered by the Fort Myers office of Senior Choices of Southwest Florida.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Foreclosed Homeowners Receiving Big Checks In Florida

More Than 1,700 Floridians to Receive $2.5 Million in National Mortgage Settlement Checks
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that more than 1,700 Floridians will receive checks totaling more than $2.5 million next week. 

Under the National Mortgage Settlement, which Attorney General Bondi took a leading role in obtaining, eligible claimants will each receive a check in the amount of $1,480. The checks are being sent to claimants who lost their homes to foreclosure and who filed a claim under the National Mortgage Settlement. 

The $2.5 million total value of the distribution is second only to California's and is the latest distribution by the settling banks to eligible foreclosed homeowners. The total distribution to date to foreclosed homeowners in Florida under the settlement is approximately $109.5 million to 74,000 Floridians.

The $25 billion national settlement was announced in 2012 by Attorney General Pam Bondi, 48 states and the U.S. Department of Justice with the five largest mortgage servicers—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC.

Why Restaurant Food May Be Killing You And Causing Heart Disease

Restaurant Foods Loaded With Too Much Salt Says CDC

Americans eat out at fast food or dine-in restaurants four or five times a week. Just one of those meals might contain more than an entire day’s recommended amount of sodium says the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

On average, foods from fast food restaurants contain 1,848 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories and foods from dine-in restaurants contain 2,090 mg of sodium per 1,000 calories. The U. S. Dietary Guidelines recommend the general population limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke.

“The bottom line is that it’s both possible and life-saving to reduce sodium, and this can be done by reducing, replacing and reformulating,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “When restaurants rethink how they prepare food and the ingredients they choose to use, healthier options become routine for customers.”

The CDC has strategies for health departments and restaurants to work together to offer healthier choices for consumers who want to lower their sodium intake. The report, “From Menu to Mouth: Opportunities for Sodium Reduction in Restaurants,” is published in today’s issue of CDC’s journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.

The report outlines several ways health departments and restaurants have worked together to offer lower-sodium choices:

-Health department dietitians help restaurants analyze the sodium content of their foods and recommend lower-sodium ingredients.
-Restaurants clearly post nutrition information, including sodium content, at the order counter and on menus or offer lower-sodium items at lower cost.
-Health departments and restaurants explain to food service staff why lower sodium foods are healthier and how to prepare them.

The report also features examples of sodium reduction successes. In Philadelphia, the health department worked with 206 restaurants to create the “Philadelphia Healthy Chinese Take-out Initiative.” After evaluating menus for sodium content, participating restaurants began choosing lower sodium ingredients and creating lower sodium recipes. After nine months, analyses of two popular dishes offered by 20 of the restaurants showed sodium was reduced by 20 percent.

“The story in Philadelphia shows what can be done,” Dr. Frieden said. “It’s not about giving up the food you love, but providing lower sodium options that taste great.”

To learn more about sodium and how it affects health, visit and an in depth report from the Harvard Medical School.

What You Need To Know About Iodized Salt

Although the CDC does not mention iodized salt in this report, consumers should be aware that no restaurant salt contains iodine. Iodine is a necessary part of everyone's diet and can only be found in iodized table salt readily available at grocery stores as well as in shellfish, kelp and ocean fish.

There is no iodine in any salt in manufactured or processed food products. Sea salt or kosher salts do not contain iodine either. About a half teaspoon of iodized salt should be consumed daily or take a vitamin supplement that contains iodine.

Reducing sodium is one way that Million Hearts, a national public-private initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, is working with communities to keep people healthier and less likely to need health care

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jacob Allen - In The Service

Army Pfc. Jacob C. Allen has graduated from the Infantryman One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga. The training consists of Basic Infantry Training and Advanced Individual Training.

During the nine weeks of basic combat training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons employment, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid skills, and Army history, core values and traditions. Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experienced use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.
The Advanced Individual Training course is designed to train infantry soldiers to perform reconnaissance operations; employ, fire and recover anti-personnel and anti-tank mines; locate and neutralize land mines and operate target and sight equipment; operate and maintain communications equipment and radio networks; construct field firing aids for infantry weapons; and perform infantry combat exercises and dismounted battle drills, which includes survival procedures in a nuclear, biological or chemical contaminated area.
Allen is the son of Billy Allen of Wiggins, Miss., and Lydia Allen of Clewiston, Fla. He is a 2010 graduate of Clewiston High School, Fla.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kids Read 12,235 Minutes In A Million Minute Marathon

West Glades Elementary Celebrates Literacy Week

LABELLE, FL. -- West Glades School joined schools across the state last week that participated in the sixth annual Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! event. 

On Friday, January 17th, Pat Dobbins-Administrator/Health Officer of the Florida Department of Health in Glades and Hendry Counties presented a comic book lesson to third and fourth graders about Iron Man and the Habit Heroes. 

This introduced students to a new way of thinking about healthy living by encouraging students to make a plan to hydrate, stay active, and snack on power foods. Thanks to the Florida Department of Health and Florida Blue, all students were given a copy of the comic book, as well as "Habit Hero" bracelets to remind them about healthy habits. 

It was a fun week and West Glades School achieved the state objective of promoting the enjoyment of reading with and to their students. Additionally, students took part in the Million Minute Marathon and read 12,235 minutes on Monday. This was sent to the state in hopes of exceeding 33 million minutes read statewide last year.

Kiwanis Gets Look At "USO Show" Entertainment

LABELLE, FL. -- On January 21st, Kiwanis Club of LaBelle had some wonderful entertainment with a program featuring a "USO Show" with the "local" Andrews Sisters, Dean Martin and jokes from Bob Hope. 

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle would like give a huge thanks to the guests who provided the entertainment. In case you missed their performance at the American Legion, or their performance at the Kiwanis Meeting, the "group" will be performing again at the Moose Lodge in LaBelle on February 15th at 7pm. Don't miss it as they really put on a great show!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

County Administrator Talks With Communities

LABELLE, FL. – Hendry County's Administrator Charles Chapman will begin hosting a series of community meetings with the unincorporated communities of Hendry County.

“It is critical for our commissioners and leadership staff to know what the various community value and desire to see in respect to services and investments in their areas of Hendry County," states Chapman. "This information is going to be valuable as we develop our business plans and ultimately our 2014-15 budget. Improving our outreach efforts and obtaining information from our residents in a key element of our strategy to transform Hendry County government."

On August 27, 2013, Mr. Chapman presented to the Board of County Commissioner a transformative strategic plan. The strategic intent focuses on making Hendry County government an agency that reviews its functions with performance measurements and community relevance in mind.

Chapman states, "All too often the public feels disconnected and misunderstood. It is our intent to change that and help our Commission and employees to be the most transparent, efficient and community relevant operation possible. We must demonstrate the value of our services and meet the citizen's needs."

The Community Values Workshops are geared to empower, engage residents and grow a greater sense of community. "Our goal is to clearly express that Hendry County government is on their side, that decisions are made equitably and that their voice is heard," states Chapman. "Residents should feel respected and believe that county officials are responsible stewards of the community’s

The Community Values Workshop schedule is as follows:

Harlem Community – 6:00 PM Thursday, January 23, 2014 at the Harlem Civic Street, Clewiston.
Hooker’s Point Community– 6:00 PM Thursday, February 6, 2014 at the Hendry/Clewiston Government Center/Health Department in the Janet B. Taylor Auditorium, 1100 S. Olympia Avenue, Clewiston.
Felda Community– 6:00 PM Thursday, February 27, 2014 at the Felda Community Center, 1100 CR 830, Felda.
Flaghole Community– 6:00 PM Thursday, March 6, 2014 at the Turning Point Church of God, 207 Pine Lane, Clewiston.
Montura Ranch Estates Community– 6:00 PM Thursday, March 20, 2014 at the Montura Fire Department, 465 Avenida del Sur, Clewiston.
North LaBelle Community– 6:00 PM Thursday, April 3, 2014 at the Dallas B. Townsend Ag/Extention Office, 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle.
Fort Denaud Community – 6:00 PM Thursday, April 17, 2014 at the Dallas B. Townsend Ag/Extention Office, 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle.
Port LaBelle Community – 6:00 PM Thursday May 1, 2014 at the Dallas B. Townsend Ag/Extention Office, 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle.

Deadly Teen Toxin Seller Nabbed By FBI In Florida

No Antidote For Deadly Toxin Teen Was Selling

LABELLE, FL. -- A Florida man, Jesse Korf is expected in court today after federal agents arrested him on Jan. 18, 2014, in LaBelle, Fla., on New Jersey federal charges alleging he sold the potentially deadly toxin abrin through an underground, Internet-based marketplace, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Jesse William Korff, 19, of LaBelle, was arrested as a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI. The criminal complaint charges Korff with one count of possession and transfer of a toxin for use as a weapon and one count of smuggling goods from the United States.

Korff, who had posted a listing for the sale of the toxin on a website known as “Black Market Reloaded” (BMR), was unaware the customer who responded was an undercover HSI agent.

Jesse William Korff was born on October, 17 1994 and had been living at 3590 Lantana Lane SW or 1508 Lantana Ln., LaBelle, in Glades County, Florida. Records indicate Debra Korff lived at that address before her death. The 1988 mobile home and property on 11 acres has been owned by Katherine and Jesse Korff, each sharing one-half interest, since 2011.

The property is south of the end of Tom Coker Road in Muse, Florida in a very remote and heavily wooded area. FBI investigators were still on the scene with a dozen black vehicles and vans Tuesday afternoon and a guard to stop vehicles traveling near the property.

How Dangerous Is Abrin?

Abin is found in the seeds of the rosary pea or jequirity pea, a common plant in the Florida area.  It can be made in the form of a powder, a mist, a pellet, or it can be dissolved in water.

The usually bright red seeds of the rosary pea have been used to make beaded jewelry, which can lead to abrin poisoning if even a single one is swallowed. The outer shell of the seed protects the contents from the stomachs of most mammals. Abrin has some potential medical uses, such as in treatment to kill cancer cells.

If someone swallows a small amount of abrin, he or she will develop vomiting and diarrhea that may become bloody. Severe dehydration may be the result, followed by low blood pressure. Other signs or symptoms may include hallucinations, seizures, and blood in the urine. Within several days, the person’s liver, spleen, and kidneys might stop working, and the person will die. There is no antidote for abrin poisoning.

Under United States law Abrin is a "Biological Select Agents or Toxins" (BSATs), bio-agents which since 1997 have been declared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to have the "potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety".

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) administers the Select Agent Program (SAP), which regulates the laboratories which may possess, use, or transfer select agents within the United States. The SAP was established to satisfy requirements of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which were enacted in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent 2001 anthrax attacks.
The defendant is scheduled for an initial appearance and bail hearing this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas N. Frazier in Fort Myers, Fla., federal court. He will be brought to New Jersey to appear in Newark federal court on a date to be determined.

“The criminal complaint alleges Jesse Korff was willing to sell a potentially deadly toxin to a stranger over the Internet,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “He allegedly peddled the poison on a virtual black market of illegal and dangerous goods, hidden in the shadow of a secretive computer network favored by cybercriminals. Had this been an actual sale to a real customer, the consequences could have been tragic. Fortunately, an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a buyer was able to get a dangerous chemical weapon and its alleged seller off our streets.”

“HSI has worked tirelessly with the FBI and other law enforcement partners to combat underground websites such as BMR,” said Andrew McLees, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Newark. “Anyone who can sell abrin, a potential agent for chemical terrorism, must be stopped. The arrest of Korff shows HSI’s commitment to protecting the public from individuals who show a callous disregard for their safety in the interest of making a buck.”

According to the criminal complaint:

Beginning in April 2013, HSI special agents conducted an investigation of illicit sales activity on BMR. The website provides a platform for vendors and buyers to conduct anonymous online transactions involving the sale of a variety of illegal goods, including biological agents, toxins, firearms, ammunition, explosives, narcotics and counterfeit items. Unlike mainstream e-commerce websites, BMR is only accessible via the Tor network – a special computer network designed to enable users to conceal their identities and locations. Transactions on BMR are conducted using Bitcoin, a decentralized form of electronic currency that only exists online.

Korff maintained a seller’s profile on BMR, through which he negotiated the sale of two liquid doses of abrin to the undercover agent. During their online conversations, Korff told the buyer about his delivery methods – concealing vials in a carved-out and re-melted candle – and discussed how much abrin was needed to kill a person of a particular weight and how best to administer the toxin. Korff also assured the buyer that a victim’s death would appear to be a bad case of the flu.

Korff and the buyer agreed on a total purchase price of $2,500 for two doses of the poison. The undercover transferred a deposit – the equivalent of $1,500 in Bitcoin – from a bank account in New Jersey to Korff on Jan. 6, 2014. The pair agreed that the buyer would travel from Canada on Jan. 15, 2014, to retrieve the abrin from a prearranged location. Korff sent the agent pictures of a specific spot at a rest stop approximately 10 miles outside Fort Myers where he planned to leave the package.

On the arranged day, Korff dropped off a fast food bag containing two wax candles at the location. An undercover agent collected the bag and left behind an additional deposit toward the remaining payment. Law enforcement had Korff under surveillance throughout the transaction.

The candles were found to contain vials of liquid containing a detectable amount of abrin. Even small doses of abrin are potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled or injected – causing death within 36 to 72 hours from the time of exposure.

Who Is Jesse Korff?

Korff had a Facebook presence with some strange postings and a protected Twitter page with 16 followers.

In May 2011, he said "You think I'm smiling cause I'm happy. I think I'm smiling cause I found some new places for bodies." and "Today i was walking in the woods.. i saw some mushrooms and was wandering how they taste. now the purple leprechaun wont stop licking me."

And in July 2011, "2 people stand 1 got ta go 1 falls down to the ground 1 walks down to the road, mamma better call the police now hes screaming no bitch took a buckshot to the chest with a 3 1/5 inch mag and shes moving slow DONT MAKE ME GO POP THE TRUNK ON YOU!

In July 2011, "i need to get the fuck out this place b4 i kill somebody" and "f**k my family they can all go to hell exept for jeff and kayla."

In August 2011, "light the chocolate blunt , i like chocolate blunts,been smoking them for months you are some punks, you don,t like chocolate blunts you and your bouz don't be smoking chocolate blunts."

And in October 2012, "thank you everyone im just glade im finaly 18, and can do what i want to."

His Facebook page says he graduated from Florida Virtual School in October and incorrectly says he was born in 1990, four years before his actual birth.

Among his favorite movies, Scarface, Friday the 13th, Reservoir Dogs, and Drugstore Cowboy. His favorite TV show listed some crime and doctor shows: House, C.O.P.S., Bones, and Human Target.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of HSI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge McLees in Newark, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Wysopal, Tampa Division, with leading the ongoing investigation. He also thanked special agents of the FBI in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, and HSI in Ft. Myers, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan McCormick, for their work. 

The U.S. Attorney also recognized the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, including and along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Glades County, Hendry County and Lee County Sheriff’s Offices for their assistance. Vital support was provided by the Justice Department’s National Security Division Counterterrorism Section in Washington and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

Photo: Facebook

Monday, January 20, 2014

FBI Invades Rural Area On 'Mystery' Mission

So Far, FBI Keeping Mum On What's Happening - 2 Explosions Heard

LABELLE, FL. -- A rural road in the small community of Muse, a few miles northwest of LaBelle is now occupied by a dozen federal vehicles parked along a two-lane road. The Tampa FBI office says the vehicles are involved in a FBI crime scene investigation.

Area residents say law enforcement action has been taking place here since Saturday night at a parcel of land on Tom Coker Road. Sounds of two small explosions, presumably set off my FBI agents, have been reported as being heard coming from the property.

Nearby in this heavily wooded area are modest single family homes, and a number of rental mobile homes, usually occupied by farm workers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

$1 Million Casino Winner Hasn't Told Husband Yet

IMMOKALEE, FL. – A simple trip to entertain house guests turned into a fortuitous trip for a Florida resident last Saturday evening at Seminole Casino Immokalee.

International Game Technology awarded $1,097,272.26 on a Wheel of Fortune® DoubleDiamond® slot machine to "Connie B." of Naples, Florida according to a press release by the casino.

The latest millionaire winner at the Southwest Florida gambling hall said that the slot machine is the game she typically plays, and has won on it before, but never to the extent which she did on Saturday.

As the reels began to line up with Double Diamonds, Connie turned to her friend who was playing at a machine next to her and whispered “I think I won a million dollars,” a fact that her friend confirmed after seeing the lined up icons on the screen.

The winner shared the news with her two sons, but has yet to inform her husband who is finishing up a hunting trip out of state. She said she has no immediate plans on how she will spend the jackpot winnings.

Google Invents Contact Lens For Diabetes Patients

Smart Lens To Help Diabetics

by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, Smart Lens Project co-founders

You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem—affecting one in every 19 people on the planet. But you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.

Many people I’ve talked to say managing their diabetes is like having a part-time job. Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should.

Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google, we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy.

We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.

We’re in discussions with the FDA, but there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use. We’re not going to do this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor. We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation is declaring that the world is “losing the battle” against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot.

Saint Matthews House Drug Rehab Center - LPA Says No

Hendry Local Planning Agency Votes Against Proposed Drug/Alcohol Rehab Center

LABELLE, FL. -- At a well attended public meeting of the Hendry County Local Planning Agency Wednesday night, four of the seven member board voted to disapprove of St. Matthews House of Collier County's application for a special exception to operate a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center at the Port LaBelle Inn in Port LaBelle, Florida.

The non-profit group has a real estate purchase contract to buy the 33-year old hotel and restaurant facility from it's Ohio owner, subject to getting approval to operate the 48 room facility to house former substance abusers.

The sales contract was written to close on the property before the end of 2013, but now, problems in getting government zoning approvals have delayed the purchase. Surrounding condo and townhouse owners as well as nearby single family homeowners have soundly taken up the challenge to fight against the St. Matthews House proposal.

At the Wednesday meeting 109 citizens showed up and signed "comment" cards indicating their objections to granting a special exception to St. Matthews House for a rehab facility.

A first vote of the seven-member LPA board had member Tom Corbitt abstaining from voting. Dave Castor voted against approval as did Victor Blanford and Doc Weaver. Voting for approval were Scott Cooper, Wayne Simmons and Orville Howard.

Corbitt, as reasons for abstaining from the vote, said he is part of a group trying to establish a golf course in the area, and the group wants the Port LaBelle Inn to continue as a public facility and fully open to the public.

There once was a 27 hold golf course surrounding the hotel. The hotel property is shown on current land usage maps as platted for leisure and recreational use.

After the split vote at 3-3, the board decided to continue discussion and re-vote prior to sending it's recommendation the the Hendry County Commissioners for their final vote on the matter.

After more discussion, a new vote was taken with Orville Howard now changing his mind and voting against the proposed special exception for St. Matthews House. The vote was now 4 for a recommendation to the County Commission to disapprove and 2 for approval.

The Hendry County Commission will hold a final public meeting at the Courthouse on Tuesday, January 28 to decide whether to take the recommendation of the Local Planning Agency, and it's own Zoning and Planning Department, both having now recommended against approval of granting a special exception for Saint Matthews House.

The Glades County Commission has also recommended against the proposal, acting on behalf of it's citizens who live just across the Hendry county line from the Port LaBelle Inn, and being that part of the hotel's parking lot is in Glades county.

Update: At the January 28 Hendry County Commission meeting, with an overflow audience of citizens attending, all county commissioners voted against St. Matthews House's application for a special exception, following the recommendation of both the Local Planning Agency and the Zoning Department.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Losing 2014 Pounds In 2014

Tracking the Healthier Me 2014 Progress

LABELLE, FL. -- As part of Dr. John Armstrong, State Surgeon General’s Healthiest Weight Initiative, the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties came up with a creative idea to track the progress of the “Healthier Me 2014 Initiative.”

This initiative is a “challenge” to folks in the areas of East & West Hendry County and Glades County to lose 2,014 pounds in the year 2014. Losing just 7% of your body weight helps reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. (For example, a 200-pound person would need to lose 14 pounds)

The initiative is not only about losing weight, but also will help you to:
Improve your health
Increase your physical activity
Eat more fruits and veggies
Manage stress

Norm Coderre, RN and Senior Community Health Nurse with Division of Children’s Medical Services (CMS) at the Health Department in LaBelle and his wife Sharon O’Leary constructed this great “Goal Tracking Board”. 

This board will be placed outside of the Health Dept in LaBelle and it will be updated to show the progress as the year goes along.  Norm Coderre and his wife received thanks from the department this week for constructing this board for our communities. The materials and labor for the board was donated by Norm and his wife (And their company – Bee Hammock Honey)

Pictured: Norm Coderre RN and Senior Community Health Nurse for CMS, and Mary Ruth Prouty, Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties-Program Manager for Chronic Disease/Tobacco Prevention/Drug Free Hendry

Shelters Open For Freezing Florida Nights

Hendry County Cold Weather Emergency Shelters Open Tonight
LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County will be opening Cold Weather Emergency Shelters tonight (January 16th) at 6:00 pm at the Clewiston Youth Center, located at 110 Osceola Avenue in Clewiston; and the United Way House, located at 133 N. Bridge Street in LaBelle. 

The shelters will be open until 7:00 am Friday. Friday night temperatures are not expected to trigger the temperature/wind chill threshold.

The Cold Weather Emergency Shelters will again be opened on Saturday (January 18th) at 6:00 pm until 7:00 am on Sunday, January 19th. The shelters are being staffed by the American Red Cross in cooperation with Hendry County Emergency Management and local volunteers.

"It is our responsibility as a community to reach out to those in need. The shelters are open to anyone who needs a warm place to stay, including those without adequate heat in their homes," said Janet Papinaw, Hendry public information officer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cheapest Gas Retailers Across The Nation

In the latest survey of lowest priced gasoline retailers, and for the second year in a row, Costco was the undisputed leader in value pricing at the gas pump. The average Costco on any given day in 2013 was priced more than 14 cents gallon lower than competitors. 

That 2013 discount was nearly 10 percent more aggressive than the 12.84 cents per gallon Costco delivered in savings versus competitors in 2012.

According to GasBuddy, a leading gasoline pricing app, Western multistate marketer ARCO came in second, with an average daily station discount versus competitors of 13.5 cents gallon, some 8.5 percent more aggressive than the price differential in 2012. 

ARCO was the only traditional gasoline retailer to make it to GasBuddy’s Top 25 list this year. 

Each year, GasBuddy combs through nearly 35 million individual gasoline prices and compares each brand’s pump offering (by zip code) to the average price of local competitors. It then tabulates the results, rating each brand by the average discount it delivered versus the average pump prices in its competitive area.

Seven chains that made the Top 25 ranking were primarily supermarkets or supercenters, including Fred Meyer which yielded a discount of more than 10cts gal. Other grocers in the group included Smiths which typically sold at 6.2 cents gal under competitors, followed by Safeway, Stop & Shop, Kroger, H-E-B, and Frys, all of which had average discounts in 2013 of more than 4 cents gal.

The other two Big Box clubs, Sam’s and BJ’s, were ranked 5th and 6th in the GasBuddy tally, with respective discounts that were 10.1 cents gal and 9.3 cents gal below local rivals. 

Northern California based Quick Stop was the most aggressive traditional convenience store, taking the bronze number three slot among marketers that had the 50 sites necessary to qualify for the ranking. Quick Stop priced its stations some 12.5 cents gal below competitors.

Other notable chains making this year’s Top 25 list were USA Petroleum, Maverik, Murphy USA, Delta, Jet-Pep, Raceway, Murphy Express, Kwik Shop, RaceTrac, E-Z Mart, Wawa and the Flying J and Pilot truckstop chains owned by Pilot Flying J.

Thomas O'Ferrell Dies At 70

Thomas F. "Tommy" O' Ferrell, age 70, of LaBelle, passed away January 13, 2014 in Lehigh Acres. He was born Feb. 28, 1943 in Greensboro, NC, to the late Jesse Lewis and the late Irma (Ray) O' Ferrell. 

Tommy was a longtime resident of LaBelle. He worked as a beekeeper for many years in the family business J.L. O' Ferrell & Sons in LaBelle. He also worked for many years as a maintenance supervisor with Hendry County Public Schools. Tommy was a member and Trustee of Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church. He also was a member of United Methodist Men and the LaBelle Quarterback Club.

Survivors include his wife: Linda K. (Hickman) O' Ferrell, son: John T.(Holly A.) O' Ferrell of Alachua, daughter: Lori K. (David) Acosta of Fort Worth, TX, brothers: Raymond (Beth) O' Ferrell of NC, Lawrence (Peggy) O' Ferrell of LaBelle and John W. (Marie) O' Ferrell of LaBelle, and grandchildren: Amanda Burkett, Lauren Burkett, Lindsey O' Ferrell, James O' Ferrell and Trayton Acosta. He was also preceded in death by his grandson, Casey O' Ferrell

A memorial service will be held Friday, January 24, 2014, 4:00 pm at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, LaBelle with Pastor Joe Wallace, Pastor Rob Atchley and Pastor James Holden officiating. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the memorial service at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be sent to Hope Hospice, 9470 HealthPark Circle, Fort Myers, FL 33908, Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, 310 Campbell Street, LaBelle, FL 33935, Operation Backpack c/o Carlson Memorial UMC or Tommy O' Ferrell Benefit c/o First Bank of Clewiston, 301 West Hickpochee Av, LaBelle, FL 33935. 

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hazardous Waste Day In Moore Haven

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades county will be accepting hazardous wastes on Saturday, January 25, 2014 from 8:00AM – 12:00 PM BESIDE THE DOYLE CONNER BUILDING - MOORE HAVEN. QUESTIONS: CONTACT 863-946-6000


Leave products in their original containers

DO NOT mix different or unknown materials together

Label or leave labels on all containers

Check containers for leakage; transport in a sturdy box or tray

DO NOT eat, drink, or smoke while handling or transporting


END OF LIFE ELECTRONICS: Computers, Monitors, Keyboards, Televisions, Stereos,

Printers, Fax Machines, VCR’s, DVD Players, Video Cameras, Video Game Consoles, andWireless Devices

Examples of Household Hazardous Materials accepted

Oil-based paint or latex paint thinners, stains, varnishes, strippers, wood preservatives, solvents, spot removers, brake fluid, anti-freeze, flammable liquids, kerosene, stale gasoline, metal and furniture polish, engine degreasers, unknown chemical & aerosols, used oil – limit 5 gal, hearing aid, button batteries, unbroken fluorescent bulbs, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, swimming pool chemicals, photo chemicals, chemistry sets, poisons, household cleaning fluids – bleach, ammonia, drain openers, oven cleaners, all batteries EXCEPT alkaline



In The Service - Jalisia Watts

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Army Pvt. Jalisia M. Watts has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville, Mo.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received instruction in drill and ceremony, weapons, rifle marksmanship qualification, bayonet combat, chemical warfare, field training and tactical exercises, marches, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, traditions, and core values.

Watts is the daughter of Teri Watts of Clewiston and she is a 2011 graduate of Clewiston High School.

Plant A Tree For Arbor Day - Plant, Nurture, And Celebrate

Plant a Tree in Celebration for Arbor Day
January 17, 2014 is Arbor Day and the Florida Forest Service wants to inspire you to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. “Now is the best time to plant a seedling tree (bare root), explains Senior Forester Calin Ionita, Florida Forest Service. “Winter and early spring in general are a good time for planting trees because trees enter a dormant period. They slow their activity during the winter thus making it easier to handle the tree with the least amount of stress.” Already established “root ball” trees can be planted all year round in Florida.

Florida has been celebrating Arbor Day since 1886. Arbor Day was first celebrated on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The founding father of Arbor Day is J. Sterling Morton who moved from Detroit to Nebraska; living in Nebraska he missed the serenity of trees. In 1872 he introduced tree planting day resolution to the State Board of Agriculture. On April 10, 1872, Arbor Day was celebrated and it was believed that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska that day.

Help us celebrate J Sterling Morton’s legacy of Arbor Day by planting and tree. “Plant a tree to grow with your family” Senior Forester Calin states. “Trees reduce sound, produce oxygen, store carbon, clean the air, provide shade, reduce wind and erosion and increase property values.” There are other ways to celebrate Arbor Day including: taking a walk through a forest, state, county, city park; reading a book about trees to a loved one; baking with nuts or seeds from trees; painting, drawing or writing about the trees in your area.

For more information about trees (planting tips, types of trees and diseases), please contact Senior Forester Calin Ionita (863) 655-6409 or at

Knobby Knee Trail Hikers To Meet January 20

PALMDALE, FL. -- Mark your calendar for a leisurely hike on the Knobby Knee Trail and covered dish dinner with the Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Association Sub-chapter. 

Hikers, birders, photographers, and families are invited to meet at 3 p.m. on Monday January 20th in the Screen Room at the Fisheating Creek Campground in Palmdale. Everyone will need to check in at Camp Store. 

The day use fee will be waivered for Florida Trail Association members. Non-members will need to pay the campground day use fee. Bring a covered dish to share, chair, hat, closed toed shoes, water, and insect repellant. 

For Information Contact: Betty Loomis 863-532-9339 or Margaret England 863-517-0202. Visit the

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Early Morning Deadly Crash Into Pole

FORT MYERS, FL. -- 27-year old Crystal Lee Thomas of Fort Myers died early Sunday morning in a crash on Evergreen Road.

A 2006 Ford F-250 was westbound on Evergreen Road about 12:27 a.m. approaching the intersection of Piney Road as Thomas lost control and crossed into the eastbound lane of Evergreen Road. She attempted corrective action by steering to the right. The truck began to rotate clockwise and traveled back across the roadway, entering the north shoulder.

The truck struck a utility pole and overturned, ejecting Thomas from the vehicle.

Saint Matthews House Drug/Alcohol Rehab Plan To Fail?

Planned Hotel Purchase A No-Go For Drug Rehab-Homeless Shelter Group?

LABELLE, FL. -- St. Matthew House of Collier County's planned purchase of the 48-room Port LaBelle Inn and it's Oxbox Restaurant may very well fail, if the Hendry Commissioner take the advice of it's Planning and Zoning Department.

St. Matthews House applied for a special exception in November to allow religious and institutional uses, a substance abuse recovery program within an agricultural and and high intensity commercial zoning district. The organization has a contract to purchase the Port LaBelle Inn subject to getting permission to operate a private drug and alcohol rehab program on the property.

Hendry county's zoning and planning department this week issued it's report saying the proposal by St. Matthews House is not consistent with the comprehensive land use plan for the leisure recreation category, and recommends denial of the St. Matthews House petition for a special exception.

The report notes that there are 60 townhouses and condos across the street from the Port LaBelle Inn and the proposed change in use for a drug and alcohol rehab facility is not an established use for property in this area and the closing of public accessibility to the hotel would not be consistent with the intent of the county's comprehensive land use plan.

The 7.2 acres site is currently used as a hotel and pasture and the county's future land use plan calls for the area to be used for "leisure and recreation." There formerly was an 18-hole golf course surrounding the hotel. Currently there is a fenced basketball court, shuffleboard and tennis court, and swimming pool on the property.

Also working against the Collier county organization's plan for a drug and alcolhol rehab facility is the Birchwood Parkway Community, Inc., a grassroots organization of residents of the Laurel Oaks, Port LaBelle Ranchettes, The Villas At River Run, and Oak Haven Estates communities, led by Jack Zorn, Joe Flint, and Sam Bradley.

The group hired attorney Matthew Uhle to oppose any proposed change in use of the Port LaBelle Inn. In recent years the group successfully fought a developer's plan to build a sports car racing track on the grounds formerly occupied by the golf course.

Saint Matthews House Inc.'s petition will go before the Hendry Advistory Board for their recommendation at it's Wednesday evening public meeting, and then finally to the Hendry Commission public meeting on January 28 where the commissioners will decide based upon testimony by the public and St. Matthews House and consider the recommendation of the advisory board and the planning and zoning department.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Frederick Arthur Green, Sr. passed away on Saturday, January 4, 2014, at the age of 76 at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

He was born in Rochester, NY, on May 6, 1937. He was the fourth of five children of Samuel Green and Dorothy (Effrige) Green. He spent his childhood in Southbury, CT, graduated from Seymour High School, attended the University of Connecticut, and moved to Miami after a spring break trip made him fall in love with South Florida. 

He married Ethel B. Gibbon in November 1964, becoming a step-father to her three sons, Keith, Gregory, and Kevin Smith, and having another son, Frederick Jr., in 1970. His job as a marketing manager for the convenience store U-tote-M/Circle K took him from Miami, to Kansas, to Colorado, to Oklahoma, and finally back to South Florida. 

After retiring he moved to Clewiston, where he later joined the Elk Lodge. He became a widower with the passing of Ethel in 2003. 

He came from an old New England family that traced their roots back to the Puritan migration in the 1630's. 

He is survived by a sister, Marilyn Talarico, a sister-in-law, Elinor Green, and a brother-in-law, Joey Steward, and he was predeceased by two other sisters, Mari Steward and Dorothy Manville, a brother-in-law, Richard Manville, and a brother, Samuel Green. In addition to his four sons, Fred had six grandchildren: Jeanne and Andrew from Keith and Helen Smith, Kari and Emily from Kevin and Deborah Smith, and Emma and Connor from Fred Jr. and Vikki Green. 

He is also survived by five great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He truly loved and enjoyed his family and friends, and he lived life to the fullest. 

Services will be held at the Akin-Davis funeral home in Clewiston, FL, at 1:00 pm on Saturday, January 11, with a viewing for family and close friends from 12:00 to 1:00. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his memory to the charity of your choice. At a future date he will be buried in Pine Hill Cemetery in Southbury, CT.

Rylan John Billie, age 4, of Clewiston, passed away January 7, 2014 in Hollywood. He was born Jan. 27, 2009 in Miramar, FL, to Nathan Billie and Natasha Billie.

He is survived by his father: Nathan Billie, mother: Natasha Billie, brother: Joshua Billie, sister: Aubriana Billie, grandmother, Almira Billie; grandfather, Ronnie Billie, Sr.; grandfather, Lonnie Billie; grandmother, Constance Williams.

A graveside service will be held Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 10:00 am at Big Cypress Cemetery, Big Cypress Reservation with Rev. Paul Buster officiating.

17-Year Old Motorcyclist Dead In Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- 17-year old Sean Edward Parke of Fort Myers died in a crash while driving a 2006 Suzuki motorcycle Thursday afternoon about 1:57 p.m. crossing the path of a turning Dodge van.

Parke was traveling westbound on Cypress Lake Drive in the outside lane at a high rate of speed, approaching the intersection of Lake Breeze Drive. The traffic signal for westbound Cypress Lake Drive was solid green.

Evelyn Miozza, 78 of Fort Myers Beach in a 2008 Dodge van was in the process of making an unprotected left turn from eastbound Cypress Lake Drive onto Lake Breeze Drive. The traffic signal for eastbound Cypress Lake Drive was solid green. The van turned left into the path of the approaching motorcycle. 

As a result the front of the motorcycle struck the right side of the van within the intersection. The motorcycle came to final rest within the intersection. The van came to final rest on Lake Breeze Drive facing north, said FHP Trooper Charlie Vazquez and homicide investigator Corporal John Benton. 

Miozza suffered minor injuries and her passenger Shirley A Sylves, 80 suffered serious injuries. Both were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital.

Charges are pending further investigation. It is not yet known if alcohol was a factor in the driving of the motorcyclist said the investigator's report.

If anyone witnessed this traffic crash, please contact the Florida Highway Patrol Corporal John Benton at 239-938-1800. 

Former Deputies Charged In Inmate Civil Rights Case

Assault On Prisoner, Falsification Of Records And Perjury Alleged
ARCADIA, FL. -- A federal grand jury in Fort Myers, Fla., indicted former Desoto County Sheriff’s Office deputies Steven Rizza and Jonathan Mause today for charges related to the violation of the civil rights of an inmate who was assaulted by Rizza at the Desoto County Jail and the ensuing obstruction of the investigation into that offense.

The six-count indictment charges Rizza with one count of violating the civil rights of another, and charges both Rizza and Mause with one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury to a grand jury. Additionally, the indictment charges Mause with one count of making a false statement to a federal investigator.

The indictment alleges that on May 25, 2013, Rizza assaulted an inmate at the Desoto County Jail. Further, according to the indictment, on May 26 and 27, Rizza and Mause falsified an incident about the assault by changing the incident report to conceal Rizza’s conduct. 

The indictment also alleges that Rizza subsequently made false statements about the May 25 incident to a Desoto County Sheriff’s Office investigator and to a federal grand jury. According to the indictment, Mause made false statements about the May 25 incident to a federal grand jury and a federal investigator.

If convicted, Rizza could face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years on the civil rights violation count. Both Rizza and Mause could each face a statutory maximum of 20 years for the obstruction of justice and falsification of records counts and a maximum of five years for the perjury count. Further, Mause could face a maximum of five years for the count of making a false statement to a federal investigator.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are investigating this case with the assistance of the Desoto County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Jesus M. Casas of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Douglas Kern of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting this case.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

One Dead In Early Morn Crash Into Tree

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Jason Dean Bickford, 36 of Lehigh Acres is dead and his passenger suffering injuries after a crash at 12:45 a.m. Thursday.

A 2004 Toyota Corolla was traveling east on Lee Blvd (CR-884) east of Lee St. when Bickford lost control and the vehicle began to rotate in a clockwise manner. It traveled onto the southbound shoulder where the left side collided with a tree. 

After the collision the Toyota continued to rotate in a clockwise manner traveling in a southeast direction. Bickford was pronounced deceased and Kellie Ann Birch, 28 of Lehigh Acres was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

It is unknown at this time if alcohol was a factor said FHP Trooper Alexander Mangels and homicide investigator Cpl. Juan Quintana in their report.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Woman Arrested On $60,000 Medicaid Fraud Charges

NAPLES, FL. -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced today that her office arrested a Naples woman on charges of Medicaid fraud and grand theft for allegedly defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $60,000.

Barbara Hilliard Brown was arrested today on a felony warrant by investigators from the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with assistance from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. The Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities referred the case to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Brown is charged with one count of Medicaid Fraud, a first-degree felony, and she is charged with two counts of grand theft, both second-degree felonies. If convicted, she faces up to 60 years in prison and more than $300,000 in fines. The case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Twenty Florida Panthers Dead In 2013 - Vehicles Primary Cause

Florida Panther Deaths Reduced In 2013
In the world of the endangered Florida panther, 2013 brought less mortality, a female panther successfully released back into the wild, and significant public participation in reporting panther sightings.

Twenty panther deaths were documented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in the past year, compared with the 27 panthers that died in 2012. Vehicle strikes continue to be the primary cause of mortality, with 15 panthers dying last year because they were hit while crossing highways compared with 18 in 2012. The birth of 21 panther kittens also was documented in 2013.

A brother-and-sister pair of panthers, rescued as kittens in 2011 and raised at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, was returned to the wild in 2013. The female, released in January in Picayune Strand State Forest in Collier County, was documented last June to have given birth to a kitten. However the male, released last April in the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area in Palm Beach County, died Jan. 4 due to unknown causes after being located a day earlier in a very lethargic state and then taken to a veterinary clinic. That was the second panther death recorded in 2014, after another panther was killed Jan. 2 due to a vehicle collision.

Meanwhile, a 9-month-old female panther kitten, found in Collier County last May with a fractured rear right leg probably caused by a vehicle collision, is recovering at White Oak and scheduled for release later this year.

Additionally, more than 1,100 panther sightings have been reported statewide since the FWC launched an online site in August 2012 enabling the public to report when and where they have seen a Florida panther or its tracks and upload photos: Though only 5 percent of the sightings as of last August were verified as panthers, the FWC’s panther team considers public reports of panther sightings vital to the management of this species brought back from the brink of extinction.

“Forty years ago when the Endangered Species Act was passed, some people wondered if any panthers remained in Florida,” said Carol Knox, head of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section. “Where once a sighting of a panther was almost unheard of, today, more and more Floridians and visitors are having the thrill of seeing and even photographing this elusive cat in the wild. This demonstrates the great progress Florida has made in conserving its panthers and the effectiveness of our partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and others that work with the FWC on these efforts.”

“Despite the mortalities in 2013, the FWC is confident the Florida panther population continues to expand,” Knox said.

As for vehicle-caused panther fatalities, “People who slow down and drive carefully in rural areas, especially where panther crossings and speed zones are identified, can make a difference,” Knox added. “It is especially important to slow down and keep a careful lookout at dawn or dusk, when panthers are most likely to be on the move.”

In 2013, three panther deaths also were attributed to territorial aggression among panthers. Another panther’s cause of death was undetermined, and one died of an apparent gunshot wound.

City Proclaims 73% Of Residents Are Fat

Fat Reduction Program Undertaken To Improve Eating Habits And Exercise
LABELLE, FL. -- The City of LaBelle officially proclaimed recently that 72.9% of Hendry County, Florida citizens are either overweight or obese. Not so nice words to hear, but the city is just one of many Florida communities undertaking a program to reduce pounds in 2014.

The Hendry-Glades Health Department is commencing a new program to help residents lose weight and start a new healthy lifestyle in 2014. Titled the "Healthy Me Year," counties around Florida will compete to lose pounds and improve healthy by healthy eating, lifestyle, and exercise.

73% of Hendry county residents are overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Health Department. 71% do not eat the needed minimum five servings daily of fruits and vegetables. While 70% do not meet minimum physical exercise recommendations of 30 minutes daily.

The first community in Hendry/Glades counties to join the Healthy Me program is the City of LaBelle, making an official proclamation to join, encouraging the loss of 2,014 pounds in the year 2014 among all the participating agencies and businesses in the area.

St. Matthews House Official 'Loses It' At Community Meeting

Substance Abuse Rehab-Homeless Shelter President Argues With Community

LABELLE, FL. -- Homeless shelter and drug and alcohol rehab operator Saint Matthews House of Collier County sent officials and a lawyer along with two rehab clients to the Port LaBelle Inn Monday night for an "informational" meeting with neighborhood residents to explain their plans to purchase the 1981 motel and restaurant facilities.

The Collier county non-profit has contracted with the owners of the Port LaBelle Inn to buy the multi-million dollar facility and change it from Hendry county's only combination hotel/restaurant into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility and "retreat" center.

St. Matthews House spokespersons told about 50 neighborhood residents attending that the hotel would close for public use and the organization would spend about $500,000 to remodel and repair the 33 year old building for men undergoing drug and alcohol abuse rehab, housing them on the third floor.

The second floor would be used for "conference" guests. The restaurant bar would be closed and the restaurant kitchen used to serve meals to the rehab clients and conference guests.  Men in rehab would use separate dining areas from guests.

Under 24-hour surveillance, the men would not be able to leave the facility without permission, nor would they be allowed to have cell phones or use a car. St. Matthew House rules allow rehab clients to leave the facility once monthly for only four hours.

After a lengthy presentation including testimonies from two current rehab clients, the whole program sounding somewhat like a fund raising meeting, staff cited all the good deeds the drug and alcohol rehab organization does including operating Collier county homeless shelters, five thrift stores, laundries, and catering services.

When question were solicited from the audience, it was quickly apparent that the meeting attendees were not buying St. Matthews House's arguments that a rehab facility was needed in Port LaBelle, and certainly not right across the street from 100 condos and townhouses, and the Port LaBelle Marina, all sited in one of the nicer neighborhoods of western Hendry county along the Caloosahatchee River.

Joe Trachtenberg, Saint Matthews House Board of Directors Chairman and retired President and Chief Executive Officer of Victaulic Co., a producer of mechanical pipe joining systems with 3,600 employees in Easton, PA., took the podium to respond to complaints from one resident about the organization's plan. 

Trachtenberg made what sounded like a threat that if St. Matthews House didn't buy the hotel and use it for it's rehab program, the building may very well become a vacant building, and a target for vandals, resulting in broken windows and trash thrown in the pool.

An uproar quickly came from the audience after Trachtenberg's remark, and one voice shouted out they'd "had enough" and invited the audience to leave. About half of group did leave, leaving Trachtenberg and his presenters to carry on best they could to finish up the aborted meeting.

Driver Dead In Sugar Cane Field Crash

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A 51-year old truck driver is dead after a crash in eastern Hendry County early Tuesday morning at 3:20 a.m.

The FHP says a driver from Belle Glade was northbound on Blumberg Road hauling sugarcane from the field on Concrete Barn Road toward a destination of Townsite 3 on CR-835. 7 miles south of CR-835, when the truck exited the northbound lane of Blumberg Road onto the east shoulder. 

The vehicle struck a utility pole as it entered a ditch, jackknifed and overturned into the ditch. Hendry County EMS pronounced the driver deceased on scene. 

FHP Cpl. A.J. Close said release of the name of the deceased driver is pending notification of next of kin.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Emergency Shelters Opening Tonight For Freezing Weather

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County will be opening Cold Weather Emergency Shelters tonight at 6pm at the John Boy Auditorium (Beardsley Room) located at 1200 South W.C. Owens Ave. in Clewiston; and the United Way House, located at 133 N. Bridge Street in LaBelle. 

The shelters will be open until 7 am Tuesday. The shelters are being staffed by the American Red Cross in cooperation with Hendry County Emergency Management. Near freezing weather is forecast for the area Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Proposed Drug Rehab Center Plans Meeting Monday

St. Matthews House To Meet With Area Residents At Port LaBelle Inn

LABELLE, FL. -- In a letter to some local Port LaBelle area residents, Saint Matthews House, a drug/alcohol and homeless shelter in Collier county has announced holding a meeting at 6 p.m. at the Port LaBelle Inn on Monday, January 6, 2014 about the non-profit's proposed purchase of the 1980s hotel facility and restaurant.

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

Collier County's St. Matthews House has plans to use a reported multi-million dollar grant to buy the 1980s hotel and restaurant. The deal was contracted to close before the end of 2013, but delays in getting Hendry county zoning hearings has put off any eventual sale for now.

Members of area homeowner groups have argued against the proposed use and the non-profit's application with Hendry county for a special exception to allow for housing St. Matthew House clients at the hotel. And some are cautious about speaking, fearful of being accused of discrimination against those with substance abuse issues.

Sam Bradley, a home owner at the Villas At River Run condos across from the Port LaBelle Inn warned in a letter to some interested residents planning to speak at coming meetings and public hearings "If you are compelled to speak and simply refuse to follow the advice of the attorney representing Birchwood Parkway Community, (allowing for a statement by the community representative and a show of hands in support), then when you speak please remember that your speech if laced with words of prejudice and bigotry, (mentioning drug addicts and alcoholics), will play into the hand and plan of St. Matthew's House conversion of the Inn."

Bradley said, " speak and even mention recovering drug addicts and alcoholics as being bad for the community or in any derogatory way, is damning to the community position in opposition and can be used by St. Matthew’s House to argue bigotry and prejudice as the community’s real motive in opposition." (Editor's note: Housing regulations do protect the disabled against discrimination including those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, but generally do not protect from discrimination those convicted of dealing or manufacturing illegal drugs, or those with spotty employment histories or bad credit.)

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

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

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

Hearings have been advertised and scheduled by Hendry County in January for public input on the proposed change in use of the hotel.

Amanda Billings Teaching New Class

LABELLE, FL. -- Amanda Billings has accepted the position of teaching a class ages 2 through 6 in the LaBelle Assembly of God educational department. She teaches the class from 9:45 A.M. to 11 A.M. Each Sunday. This quarter’s curriculum contains: Bible lessons, music, handicraft, videos and a recreation time.

Mrs. Billings works at a preschool in LaBelle as an office manager. She has worked with other summer kids programs throughout Hendry and Glades Counties. She, has been a resident of this area her whole life.

Mrs. Billings is a energetic mother of 6 children of her own and loves children. She considers it a privilege to share the Bible stories and teaching of Scripture with her young students. 

She invites children ages 2 through 6 to join the class each Sunday morning. For more information call 675-0900.

(Story by Kim Harn and Photo by Kayla Harn)

One Dead In Motorcycle Crash - Two Critically Injured

ARCADIA, FL. -- Timothy Wayne Dudley, 46 of Port Charlotte is dead after a motorcycle crash Sunday afternoon. Two other riders were critically injured.

Dudley, on a 2001 Harley Davidson Road King cycle and Timothy William Schneider, 58 of Port Charlotte driving a 2007 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic were northbound on CR 769 (Kings Highway) at Peace River St. in DeSotok county with a group of motorcycles when the crash happened about 1:17 p.m. Sunday 

Dudley had attempted to take the lead of the group of motorcycles and in doing so had cut in front of Schneider and another motorcycle. Somehow Dudley lost control and the motorcycle crashed onto it's left side, which then slid towards the southbound left turn lane of CR 769 and traveled into the path of Schneider's cycle. 

Schneider steered left and attempted to avoid a collision but was unable to do so and the cycle also crashed onto its left side and skid towards the west grass shoulder of CR 769. 

The 2 motorcycle drivers and one passenger were transported via helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers. Dudley was later pronounced deceased from his injuries. 

Schneider and his passenger Rosemary Aresta, 49 of Punta Gorda are in critical but stable condition, according to FHP Trooper J.A. Irizarry and homicide investigator Cpl. J.E. Wilmeth.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Two Dead After Truck Hits Four Pedestrians

SEBRING, FL. -- The driver of a 2002 Ford pickup truck is in critical condition after striking four pedestrians Saturday morning at 8 a.m.,  leaving two dead.

Gregory Tocci, 54 of Sebring was south bound on Seattle Ave. approaching the 4 pedestrians north of Illinois Ave. The 4 pedestrians were walking north bound on the west side of Seattle Ave. north of Illinois Ave.

Update: The FHP reported that on January 7, the driver, Gregory Tocci died at Lake Regional Hospital from injuries resulting from the crash.

The pedestrians observed the truck approaching them and stepped onto the west shoulder of Seattle Ave. and continued walking north. For unknown reasons the truck traveled onto the west shoulder as it approached the pedestrians. The front of vehicle struck the 4 pedestrians. 

Dead is Holly S. Fadely, 62 and Allen Wilson, 60, both of Sebring. William R. Fadely, 62 is in critical condition and James Amos, 73 suffered serious injuries. All were taken to Florida Hospital Heartland.

After striking the pedestrians it entered back onto the roadway and continued south bound approaching Delaware Ave. and a left curve in the roadway. 

The truck did not negotiate the curve and continued straight, it's front then struck a large concrete power pole with the front of the truck according to the report made by FHP Trooper J. Spencer and homicide investigator Cpl. R. Highsmith.

The driver suffered critical injuries and was taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital. Charges are pending and at this time it is unknown if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Driver In Serious Condition After Crash

Theopsie Payne Jr., 46 was seriously injured after a crash on State Road 80 at Wellington Parkway in central Henry county on the Glades count line Saturday morning at 11:27 a.m.

Payne in a 1996 Mac truck was traveling west on SR 80. Another vehicle, what the Florida Highway Patrol called a phantom vehicle was traveling east on SR80. The phantom vehicle veered into the westbound lane and the truck made an evasive movement to the north shoulder to avoid striking the second vehicle. 

The truck ran off the road way and overturned onto its right side, on the north shoulder and came to a final rest on the north shoulder, on its right side, facing west, said FHP Trooper Y. D. Valle,

Payne was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in serious condition.

Driver Dies After Hitting Trees

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Donald Ray Boger, 36 of Cape Coral died after a crash early Friday morning about 12:28 a.m. on Pine Island Road.

A 2012 International truck was traveling east on Pine Island Rd (SR-78) in the inside lane just west of SR-45 (US-41) and for unknown reasons Boger lost control of the truck which began to rotate in a counterclockwise manner in a northeast direction. 

The truck then traveled onto the grass median where the right side of collided with a traffic sign and a tree, then overturned and collided with a second tree.

As a result of the injuries sustained in this crash Boger was pronounced deceased on 01/03/2014 at approximately 6:12 AM by Medical personnel at Lee Memorial Hospital, according to FHP Trooper Alexander Mangels and homicide investigatort Cpl. J. Quintana.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Birth Defects Affect 1 In 28 Babies

The Florida Department of Health is raising awareness about the important steps families can take to improve the health of babies and decrease the impact of birth defects. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and the Department is encouraging women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy to take steps to have a healthy pregnancy.

“With birth defects impacting 1 in every 28 babies born in Florida, it is important that families are aware of this serious matter,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, Deputy Secretary for Health and Deputy State Health Officer for Children’s Medical Services. “The Department works hand in hand with health care providers, families and researchers to improve disease detection and ensure care.”

Birth defects are caused by genetic and environmental factors, or a combination of both. The majority of birth defects do not have a known cause. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the Department recommends that you:

· Go for a pre-pregnancy checkup and talk with your health care provider about any medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity or seizures.

· Women of child bearing age should take a vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.

· Eat a healthy balanced diet; maintain a healthy weight and exercise.

· Avoid cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs.

· Avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals.

· Check with a health care provider before taking any medications, including over-the-counter medications.

· Talk to your health care provider about vaccinations; many are safe and recommended during pregnancy. The right vaccinations at the right time can help keep you and your baby healthy.

· Seek prenatal care as soon as you think you may be pregnant.

· Discuss your family medical history with your health care provider and seek advice from a genetic counselor if there is a history of birth defects in your family.

Riverside Retreat Featuring Fossil Facts With Butch Wilson

LABELLE, FL. -- Butch Wilson, Curator of the Clewiston Museum, will be at Riverside Retreat Tuesday, January 14, from 10 to 2 p.m. with a talk on human history and the story told by fossils. 

This is a free program, open to the public. It will be held in the Small Pavilion (follow the direction signs) at Riverside Retreat. Registration can be made by phone at 863-675-0334 or email . 

Riverside Retreat is located at 7305 CR 78, LaBelle, FL.