Sunday, May 31, 2015

Glades County - New School And Emergency Operations Center

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades county and Moore Haven officials opened the new Moore Haven Middle High School and Glades Emergency Operation Center to the public Saturday morning.

On hand in Moore Haven were elected officials including Superintendent of Schools Scott Bass who invited all to walk the halls of the new $23 million middle and high school building. Visitors were offered a lunch served by Moore Haven student athletes.

Earlier Saturday officials were on hand at the new Glades County Emergency Operations Center where visitors were able to tour the facility to see how EMS personnel work and a were able to look at the new facilities used during local storm emergencies where generators and communications equipment will be working 24/7 to provide community support.

(Video: A tour of the new school and a look at the EOC building.)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

John Benkert Appointed To School Board By Governor Scott

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of John E. Benkert as a Hendry County School Board Member to replace former member Pat Langford. Langford had previously been chosen by Governor Scott to be Hendry Tax Collector, replacing retiring Peggy Hampton. Hampton chose to retire before the expiration of her elected term.

Benkert's term on the school board will run from May 29 to November 21, 2016.

Benkert, 50, of Labelle, has been the chief executive officer of CPR Tools in LaBelle since 2004. He served in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 2004. 

Benkert is a member of the Rotary International and American Legion and is a former member of the Hendry Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees. He received his associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force in 1990, his bachelor’s degree and his Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Adam Moffett Sentenced In Child Porn Case

FORT MYERS, FL—United States District Judge John A. Steele has sentenced Adam Moffett (32, Ft. Myers) to 10 years in federal prison for distributing and possessing child pornography. The Court also ordered him to serve a life term of supervision as a sexual offender. Moffett pleaded guilty on February 25, 2015.

According to court documents, Moffett utilized private Internet chat rooms to communicate with other individuals, distribute, and receive child pornography. After a search warrant was executed at his residence, Moffett was found to be in possession of over 600 child pornography images. 

This case was investigated by the Lee County Sherriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation Unit. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tama Koss Caldarone.

More Stolen Cars In Clewiston Canals

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Clewiston Police Chief Don Gutshall reports CID located a number of stolen vehicles during the course of an ongoing investigation while two more vehicles were driven into canals during the week. One on Avenida Del Rio and another on Sonora, reports Gutshall. There were no injuries in either of the latest two accidents. 

Most arrests this week in the city were for suspended drivers license or shoplifting. Gutshall notes Code Enforcement is down in numbers significantly this week. The enforcement department assistance was critical in a major, ongoing criminal investigation with CID, he said. "This is no indication of a lessened resolve to Code Enforcement, but rather a necessary blip that will happen from time to time." 

Gutshall says, "The relationship our Animal Control Officers have fostered with Doctor Martin out of Jupiter has continued to work well. We are grateful for their generosity and assistance. I should offer thanks to Cathy Irey as well. She is vastly unrecognized. Kathy continues to put in several hours of volunteer work daily at the facility as she has for several years." 

A synopsis of the week’s police department activity: 1299 Commercial / Residential Security Checks, 614 Complaints Investigated. 23 Arrests Made, 15 Traffic Citations Issued, 35 Red Light Camera Violations, 22 City Ordinance / Code Violations, 60 Merchant Escorts, 15 Alarm Responses, and 5 Traffic Accidents Investigated.

E-Books Coming To Hendry Libraries

LABELLE, FL. -- . In another 4-6 weeks, Hendry county residents and visitors should have access to a collection of e-books.

The electronic books can be loaded onto devices such as Kindle and computers thanks to the South West Florida Library Network which is putting up the $10,000.00 needed to get the product for the Hendry County Library System. Training for staff started this week.

Hendry-Glades Mental Health Office Closing

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Hendry Glades Mental Health facility located at 601 West Alverdez Avenue in Clewiston has lost their funding and will be closing. 

Two of the counselors previously employed by Hendry Glades Mental Health have relocated. One is Sweetest Town Counseling who has moved to Sunshine Medical at 115 South Gloria Street and Cardentey Counseling Service has opened an office at 330 West Sugarland Hwy., Suite #3.

Florida Seniors Health - The Good And The Bad

A new study from America's Health Ranking indicates Florida seniors did well on some counts but not so well on others.

This study of state’s senior health ranks Florida number 27 out of the 50 states for senior health characteristics. Vermont was ranked No. 1, and Louisiana was ranked last. Florida did well on community spending for seniors, as well as a low rate of seniors who have fallen in the past year. 

But the study says Florida needs improvement in the areas of getting seniors to volunteer and also getting seniors to be vaccinated for the flu. The study also found seniors in Florida have a high use of intensive care units.

Today 1 in 7 Americans are aged 65 and older. Taking an in-depth look at the health of seniors and the specific challenges they face as a population is key to understanding and addressing our health as a nation, says the report.

New Middle-High School Grand Opening Saturday

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The community is invited to attend the official Grand Opening of the newly constructed Moore Haven Middle High School on May 30th, 2015 at 11am.

The new $23 million building complex will be open for the public to inspect after a brief ceremony with Superintendent of Schools Scott Bass and other elected officials. The Moore Haven Band will perform at the opening ceremony.

Location: 700 Terrier Pride Drive, Moore Haven, Florida

BBQ Luncheon will be provided by the MHMHS Athletic Dept. (Donations are appreciated)

Heritage Museum Installing Officers At Potluck Dinner June 4

LABELLE, FL. -- The incoming officers and director for LaBelle Heritage Museum will be installed following a 6 o'clock potluck dinner on the grounds of the museum at 360 North Bridge Street on the evening of Thursday, June 4th. 

The museum will be furnishing paper goods, drinking cups, plates and eating utensils, and ice as well as authentic Mexican tamales and both barbecued chicken and ribs. We do ask members and guests to bring a covered dish -- hors d'oeuvres, salads, casseroles, or desserts -- to share with each other.

We will have chairs available as well as some long tables and card tables, too. If you have a card table or individual TV tables, you may want to bring them with you.

Outgoing LHM Vice-President Elinor Jones with the able assistance of Diane Penn has set up an interesting display in the 1935 H. A. Rider Law Office which, along with the 1905 George Aiken/Rider House and the 1911 William H. Poole main museum building, will be open for you to browse.

Governor Scott Visits LaBelle For State Funding Announcement

LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Rick Scott will present school recognition funding awards to Hendry County schools at LaBelle Middle School on East Cowboy Way at 8:30 A.M.

The Florida School Recognition Program provides public recognition and financial awards to schools that have sustained high student performance or schools that demonstrate substantial improvement in student performance. The program was created by the Florida Legislature in 1997 and funds were first appropriated for awards in 1998. The A+ Plan for Education standardized program criteria and awards in 1999.

Schools eligible for recognition awards include those receiving an “A” school grade, improving at least one letter grade from the previous year, or improving more than one letter grade and sustaining the improvement the following school year. Alternative schools that increase their school improvement rating or are rated “Improving” also qualify for awards.

As previously announced in February, Hendry schools will receive $132,183 of $123 million distributed to 1,500 schools around Florida. Glades county received $99,539 in recognition funds.

Florida schools received a major portion of funding from the state. In 1973 the Florida Legislature enacted the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) and established the state policy on equalized funding to guarantee to each student in the Florida public education system the availability of programs and services appropriate to his or her educational needs that are substantially equal to those available to any similar student notwithstanding geographic differences and varying local economic factors.

To equalize educational opportunities, the FEFP formula recognizes: (1) varying local property tax bases; (2) varying education program costs; (3) varying costs of living; and (4) varying costs for equivalent educational programs due to sparsity and dispersion of the student population. 

The FEFP is the primary mechanism for funding the operating costs of Florida school districts.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Robert Bugbee, Serious Inujuries From Motorcycle Crash

SEBRING, FL. -- Robert P. Bugbee, 83 of Sebring, Fla. suffered serious injuries after a crash at 8:55 am Thursday on his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Bugbee was traveling westbound on SR 17 attempting a right turn onto CR 17 A south. His 2012 Road King motorcycle traveled into slick fluid on the roadway and he lost control and overturned onto the bike's left side

Bugbee was ejected onto the roadway. The cycle came to final rest on its left side facing south in the roadway. He was transported to Florida Hospital Heartland.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spectacular Summer Hiking At Okaloacooche State Forest

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Forest Service challenges you to get the kids in your life out on the trail this summer, because part of preserving our local forest for future generations is teaching youth to appreciate and enjoy nature. 

Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is located in Felda, Florida and has over thirty-eight miles of forest roads for hiking. Spend quality time with the family over summer break without breaking the bank; as it is only a $2 entrance fee per person.

Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is a 32,370-acre pristine slough marsh that is just a short drive away from Palmdale, FL (40 minutes), Sebring, FL (80 minutes) and City of Okeechobee, FL (90 minutes). Plan your adventure for early morning when wildlife viewing is abundant. Here are five tips to making the hiking adventure fun for the whole family:

1. Keep it easy and feature friendly. For at least the first few times, select a hike that isn’t too long or too strenuous. For kids, the hike is about the experience. The Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest has marshes, flatwoods, dome swamps and a boardwalk that will keep kids occupied and give them a goal to reach.

2. Time is your friend, so plan for lots of it. Kids are natural explorers and want to pick up and touch everything. This is one of the greatest things about hiking, there is so much of the natural world for kids to discover and examine, make sure they have time to get their state forest fill.

3. Plan frequent energy stops. Hiking requires a lot of energy. Energy-drained kids often equate to cranky kids. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluid and food. You can also promote energy breaks as a way to keep your child moving by saying, “at that large pine tree, we’ll take a break and have a snack.” Chances are by the time they have a snack, they will be eager to continue.

4. Make it fun! The key to hiking success is to keep the kids motivated and having fun – so why not combine the two? Create games that you and your children can play out on the trail. Have them look for signs of wildlife (scat, animal tracks, bird holes in trees) or count wildflower species. Organize a scavenger hunt and have them find things that are bumpy, smelly, small, big, living, wet…the list goes on!

5. Get kids involved with the preparation process. Have them look at maps, choose the correct clothing, help with the food and select a favorite non-electronic toy to bring along. Give them their own daypack and outfit it with an emergency whistle, rain jacket, compass and mini first-aid kit with colorful kid bandages. Show them how to use their gear in case of emergency.

Start a family tradition of going hiking one or more times a month. Kids love the sense of adventure and doing something new. There’s a wide range of trails, terrain and sights for children to behold. With kids spending a good chunk of their time indoors during the week, hiking on the weekend is a perfect way to get them outside.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Frank Polhill Dies At 88 - Former U.S. Sugar Exec

Frank Leonard Polhill died Saturday, May 23, 2015 at his home in Clewiston, Florida. He retired from U.S. Sugar Corp after 33 years.

Frank was born in Boyd, Florida on February 1, 1927 to Peck Smith and Elizabeth Holmes Polhill. He grew up on a small rural farm in Taylor County where he learned a strong work ethic and a love for agriculture. He was voted Most Athletic in his high school where he excelled in both football and basketball. He served proudly in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier Philippine Sea during WWII before returning to marry his high school sweetheart in 1947.

Upon graduation from the University of Florida in 1952 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture he began his career as County Extension Agent in Flagler County. After serving a short stint in Sarasota County, he found his home of 58 years in Clewiston after accepting the Hendry County Extension Agent position in 1957.

He served in that capacity until 1960 before ultimately accepting a position in the agricultural department as field chemist for United States Sugar Corporation. He had a long and successful career with US Sugar, retiring after 33 years as Senior Vice President of Agriculture. He continued to work in the agricultural industry for over 20 years never departing from the farming life of which he so truly loved.

Over his career, he oversaw many changes and innovations in agriculture and served on many boards as ambassador for his community, company and the agricultural industry. He was the first Florida recipient of the National 4-H Award for the tireless work he accomplished, afforded him by the company he served, to promote the success of youth through agriculture.

He was a devoted husband, father and Gator fan. He organized The Hendry County Gator Boosters and served as board of Director for his region for The University of Florida Gator Boosters. He loved a Friday night at Cane Field and a Saturday afternoon in Gainesville in the fall. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and his ultimate pleasure of spending time with his grandkids. We will always think of his character, his loving spirit and his quick wit with a joke as we remember and honor his life. R.I.P. Papa.

He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 68 years Virginia Grant Polhill, three children; Frank Smith Polhill (son) and Bebe Polhill, Elizabeth Polhill Williams (daughter) and Daniel Williams, John Thomas Polhill (son) and Emely Polhill. Seven grandchildren Kameron Williams DeMarco, Chase Williams, Caleb Polhill, Joshua Polhill, Grant Polhill, Myles Polhill and Ryland Polhill. He also had six great grand children, Harrison, Lawson, Corbin, Brooks, Monroe and Emerson. His sister Sarah Polhill Hilton of Sarasota, Florida preceded him in death.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church Of Clewiston, Clewiston with Rev. Bill Derryberry officiating. Entombment will be Friday, May 29, 2015 in Pineview Memorial Cemetery, Perry, FL. Visitation will be Tuesday from 6:00-8:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

$2 Million A Year Water Storage Program Begins

Ft. Myers, FL —The South Florida Water Management District has begun supplying water for the first time from the Nicodemus Slough water storage area in Glades County to benefit the health of the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary and local agricultural fields.

In a cooperative agreement with Lykes Brothers, the District is leasing the property for an investment of $2 million a year for 8 years, with an option to extend the agreement.

“Nicodemus Slough successfully provided some relief from high discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries when there was too much water earlier this year,” said Jeff Kivett, SFWMD Director of the Operations, Engineering and Construction Division. “Now, the project is proving its potential to also provide water supply to the regional system, including flows needed to maintain healthy salinity levels in one of the region’s vital waterways.”

With Lake Okeechobee’s level falling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, announced last week it was following its federal guidelines by reducing flows from the lake to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary.

District engineers, in coordination with the Corps, determined water could be moved from Nicodemus Slough to the river to replace some of the decreased, but needed water.

Water is currently moving by gravity through gates at the site at about 1.3 million gallons-an-hour, with potential to increase the water deliveries. From there, it follows a route through the C-19 Canal and into Lake Hicpochee, which will see some rehydration benefits, and into the river.

Operations at Nicodemus Slough will continue until it’s no longer environmentally desirable or the water can no longer be delivered via gravity.

Located south of Fisheating Creek on the western bank of the lake, the Nicodemus Slough project was intended to provide interim water storage until projects such as the Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir are completed.

The project can store an annual average of 34,000 acre-feet of water, or about 11 billion gallons.

In response to high water levels in Lake Okeechobee in January, the SFWMD began operation of Nicodemus Slough to capture some of the water being released by the Corps from the lake before it reached the river and estuary.

Full-capacity pumping sent water onto the 16,000-acre project area, utilizing four pumps moving more than 30,000 gallons of water each per minute.

Nicodemus Slough is one of multiple actions the SFWMD has taken to expand water storage opportunities. Since 2005, the District and a variety of partners worked together to enhance water storage opportunities on private and public lands through the agency’s Dispersed Water Management Program.

Approximately 87,000 acre-feet of water retention and storage has been made available in the greater Everglades system through the program, with the majority located in the Lake Okeechobee watershed. Nearly 100,000 acre-feet of additional storage, including six new projects approved in December 2014, are under development.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Motorcyclist Dead In Multi-Vehicle Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Jeffrey Greenough, 66 of Naples, Florida is dead after a crash Saturday night about 10:51 p.m. on U.S. 41 after being struck by another vehicle.

Robert James Morgan, 27 of Fort Myers, Florida was traveling south on U.S. 41 (State Road 45) approaching the intersection of Woodland Boulevard and College Parkway. Greenough on a 2002 Harley Davidson Road King was traveling north on U.S. 41 approaching the intersection of Woodland Boulevard and College Parkway.

Roberto Hernandez, 20 of Bonita Springs, Florida was traveling west on Woodland Boulevard at the intersection of U.S. 41 waiting for the traffic signal to cycle in order to proceed south.

Morgan failed to observe the motorcycle approaching the intersection and as a result attempted to make a left turn onto Woodland Boulevard. Consequently, the front-end portion of the motorcycle collided with the passenger-side portion of Morgan's vehicle. After the initial impact, Morgan's vehicle was re-directed and traveled through the center median located on Woodland Boulevard and collided with Hernandez'vehicle.

Morgan had minor injuries. The third vehicle's driver and passengers had no injuries. Charges are pending as is results of alcohol testing.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

One Dead, Five Seriously Injured In Head-On Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- An unidentified male driving a 2007 Dodge Caravan dies in a head-on crash Friday night about 11:34 p.m. Five occupants of a second vehicle were seriously injured.

UPDATE 5/25/15: The FHP has identified the deceased driver as Rajesh D. Quinn.

For unknown reasons, the Caravan was traveling westbound on State Rd 82 near Eisenhower Blvd. in Lee County in the eastbound lane. A 2011 Nissan Rogue was traveling eastbound on State Rd 82 in the eastbound lane. The front of the Caravan collided with the front of the Nissan head-on.

After impact, the Caravan came to final rest facing southeast in the westbound lane of State Rd 82. The Nissan came to final rest on the south shoulder of State Rd 82 facing west.

The driver of the Caravan was pronounced deceased on scene, and the name is not being released pending notification of kin.

The injured were Fritz Lindor, 40, Wilda Joseph, 42, Jason Joseph, 14, Ashley Joseph, 12, and Eveline Lindor. All were from Lehigh Acres and were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Obituaries - Walker, Stiehl, Britt

Ronald D. Walker, age 67, of Alva, passed away May 21, 2015 in Lehigh Acres. He was born Dec. 29, 1947 in Fort Myers, FL, to the late Kenneth C. and Estelle (Smith) Walker.

Ronald served in the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1969 in Vietnam and was awarded a Purple Heart. He was a lifetime resident of Lee County. He was a deputy in Lee, Collier and Hendry Counties and was also a fireman in Lee County for a brief time. Ronald was a member of the Alva Church of God and was involved in many missions in various countries. Ronald was a great wood worker and enjoyed spending time making beautiful furniture at his sawmill.

He is survived by his loving wife of 27 years Esther (Mason) Walker, son: Charles Walker (Patti) of Clewiston, FL and two daughters: Lena King (Donnie) of Lehigh Acres, FL, Kayla Walker of Alva, FL, mother Estelle Walker, three brothers: Kim Walker (Carol) of Alva, FL, Freddie Walker of Alva, FL, Norman Walker (Lorraine) of Alva, FL and two sisters: Rita Mathis (Billy) of Nahunta, GA, Rebecca Johnson (Donnie) of Alva, FL, seven grandchildren and may wonderful friends.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 10:00 at Alva Church Of God, Alva. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Agnes Molly Stiehl, age 97, of Moore Haven, FL, passed away May 17, 2015 in Clewiston. She was born Feb. 15, 1918 in Imlay City, MI, to the late Stephan and Agnes (Vavrick) Stoklas.

Agnes retired in 1974 from General Motors where she worked as a factory worker. She was a lifetime member the VFW Women's Auxiliary.

She is survived by her sons: James (Mary) Stiehl of Houghton Lake, MI, John J. Stiehl of Moore Haven, Jerry (Loraine) Stiehl of Naples and Joseph Stiehl of Cedar Springs , daughter: Janice (James) Gorman of Fife Lake, MI, brother: Henry (Joanne) Stoklas of Owosso, MI and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Henry Melvin Stiehl, son: Henry S. Stiehl and daughter: Judy Kay Schweitzer.

A celebration of life will be held Sunday, May 24, 2015, 1:00 p.m. at Ortona Locks Park North. Anyone may call John Stiehl for more information on the celebration at 863-675-8445 or 732- 779-0183. Inurnment will take place at Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, FL. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Eddie Franklin Britt, age 67, of Moore Haven, passed away May 21, 2015 in Moore Haven. He was born July 5, 1947 in Chattanooga, TN, to the late Franklin and the late Pauline (Pickett) Britt. 

He served his country proudly in the United States Marine Corps during Vietnam. He worked as a city police officer for the city of Belle Glade for 25 years, retiring in 2007. He was a member of the American Legion Post 130 and a member of the Legion Riders in LaBelle. He was a member of Caloosa Baptist Church also in LaBelle. He married April Burroughs; she survives him.

Also surviving include his son; Dlane Britt, daughters; Amy and her husband Robert, and Sherri along with eleven grandchildren and four great grandchildren, two brothers; Mike Moore and Edgar Hodge along with many extended family members and close friends.

Eddie was a great man with a hug heart and will be missed all who loved and knew him. A gathering of family and friends will be held on Sunday, May 24, 2015 from 1-3 pm in Akin-Davis Funeral Home – LaBelle. Cremation rites will be accorded following the gathering.

Beach Swimming Suspended - Algal Bloom Blamed By Corps of Engineers

ALVA, FL. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has temporarily suspended swimming and other water activities at the W.P. Franklin South Recreation Area located near Fort Myers.
The Corps was notified this afternoon by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that an algal bloom upstream of the beach had tested positive for microcystin, a substance produced by freshwater cyanobacteria. Tests of water in the immediate vicinity of the beach were negative. However, the Corps has decided to suspend water activities at the beach until further notice.

“Public safety is our highest priority,: said Steve Dunham, chief of the Jacksonville District’s South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston. “We will request DEP to conduct weekly tests until the issue is resolved.”

The beach itself will remain open to visitors who wish to sunbathe or play in the sand. Visitors will be prohibited from swimming or otherwise playing in the water. Use of the boat ramp will still be allowed.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Obituaries - Emilio Lopez, Barry Key

Emilio Rodriguez Lopez, age 87, of Clewiston, passed away May 16, 2015 in Clewiston. He was born Dec. 31, 1927 in Cuba to the late Emilio and the late Aurora (Lopez) Rodriguez.

He married Isabel Maria Novoa Arguilla; she preceded him in death on September 14, 2012.

Survivors include one son: Emilio G. Rodriguez of Clewiston, FL, Grandchildren; Elvira Mercado, Estefany Rodriguez, Nikita Rodriguez, Kaula Rodriguez, Diciembre Maria Rodriguez; Emilio Rodriguez, Jr; Great Grandchildren, Joshua Brewington, Isabel Maria Rodriguez Jacob Israel Perez, Layla Mercado, Peyton Brewington, R J Brown, Rakayla Aneliz Brown, Isaiah Brown, Macie Mercado, Jordon Howard, Tyler Howard.

Funeral services were held Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 10:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston with Deacon Juan Tenorio officiating. Interment will be in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation was Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Barry Keet Key, age 76, of Clewiston, passed away May 13, 2015 in Clewiston.

Barry was born in Los Angeles, California to James Berry Key, Jr and Lula Mae O'Shields, he married Bonnie Collier; she preceded him in death on January, 3, 2009.

Barry leaves behind his children; Paula G. Horsky, Karen Bass, and Tracy Biondolillo, and seven grandchildren.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Sewage Treatment Workshop At Health Department

LABELLE, FL. -- Workshop for Onsite Sewage Treatment Disposal Systems is being held June 17 at the Health Department.

Would you like to know the updated information regarding onsite sewage and treatment disposal systems?

An onsite sewage treatment disposal system (OSTDS) update and workshop will be held at the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County on June 17, 2015 at 9:00am (1140 Pratt Blvd, LaBelle). 

All septic system contractors, plumbers, etc., that do work in Hendry or Glades Counties are welcome to attend this workshop to voice concerns or questions regarding code requirements, operation and enforcement protocols, and other areas of program concerns.

Kiwanis Adult Scholarship Deadline Approaching

LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Kiwanis Club is accepting applications for adult scholarships through June 15th. The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle believes in education and awards annual scholarships to adult students which are selected by the club’s scholarship committee. Applicants will be contacted and interviews will be scheduled. Recipients will be announced on or about July 1st. 

The scholarships are designed to recognize and support exceptional students looking to achieve higher education. The scholarships are applied towards the student’s tuition. 

Applications can be picked up at the Kiwanis Thrift Store which is located at 155 S. Bridge Street or on the website Please return completed applications to PO Box 2161, LaBelle, FL 33975 to the attention of “Scholarship Committee”.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Giant Banks Plead Guilty - Paying Billions In Criminal Fines

Five major banks – Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, The Royal Bank of Scotland plc and UBS AG – have agreed to plead guilty to felony charges. Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, and The Royal Bank of Scotland plc have agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the foreign currency exchange (FX) spot market/ 

The banks have agreed to pay criminal fines totaling more than $2.5 billion. 

A fifth bank, UBS AG, has agreed to plead guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and other benchmark interest rates and pay a $203 million criminal penalty, after breaching its December 2012 non-prosecution agreement resolving the LIBOR investigation.

Additional Billions More In Fines Against The Five Banks

In connection with its FX investigation, the Federal Reserve also announced that it was imposing on the five banks fines of over $1.6 billion; and Barclays settled related claims with the New York State Department of Financial Services, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority for an additional combined penalty of approximately $1.3 billion. In conjunction with previously announced settlements with regulatory agencies in the United States and abroad, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, today’s resolutions bring the total fines and penalties paid by these five banks for their conduct in the FX spot market to nearly $9 billion.

“Today’s historic resolutions are the latest in our ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes, and they serve as a stark reminder that this Department of Justice intends to vigorously prosecute all those who tilt the economic system in their favor; who subvert our marketplaces; and who enrich themselves at the expense of American consumers,” said Attorney General Lynch. “The penalty these banks will now pay is fitting considering the long-running and egregious nature of their anticompetitive conduct. It is commensurate with the pervasive harm done. And it should deter competitors in the future from chasing profits without regard to fairness, to the law, or to the public welfare.”

“These resolutions make clear that the U.S. Government will not tolerate criminal behavior in any sector of the financial markets,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “This investigation represents another step in the FBI’s ongoing efforts to find and stop those responsible for complex financial schemes for their own personal benefit.”

According to plea agreements to be filed in the District of Connecticut, between December 2007 and January 2013, euro-dollar traders at Citicorp, JPMorgan, Barclays and RBS – self-described members of “The Cartel” – used an exclusive electronic chat room and coded language to manipulate benchmark exchange rates. Those rates are set through, among other ways, two major daily “fixes,” the 1:15 p.m. European Central Bank fix and the 4:00 p.m. World Markets/Reuters fix. Third parties collect trading data at these times to calculate and publish a daily “fix rate,” which in turn is used to price orders for many large customers. “The Cartel” traders coordinated their trading of U.S. dollars and euros to manipulate the benchmark rates set at the 1:15 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. fixes in an effort to increase their profits.

As detailed in the plea agreements, these traders also used their exclusive electronic chats to manipulate the euro-dollar exchange rate in other ways. Members of “The Cartel” manipulated the euro-dollar exchange rate by agreeing to withhold bids or offers for euros or dollars to avoid moving the exchange rate in a direction adverse to open positions held by co-conspirators. By agreeing not to buy or sell at certain times, the traders protected each other’s trading positions by withholding supply of or demand for currency and suppressing competition in the FX market.

Citicorp, Barclays, JPMorgan and RBS each have agreed to plead guilty to a one-count felony charge of conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the FX spot market in the United States and elsewhere. Each bank has agreed to pay a criminal fine proportional to its involvement in the conspiracy:

Citicorp, which was involved from as early as December 2007 until at least January 2013,has agreed to pay a fine of $925 million;

Barclays, which was involved from as early as December 2007 until July 2011, and then from December 2011 until August 2012, has agreed to pay a fine of $650 million;

JPMorgan, which was involved from at least as early as July 2010 until January 2013, has agreed to pay a fine of $550 million; and RBS, which was involved from at least as early as December 2007 until at least April 2010, has agreed to pay a fine of $395 million.

Barclays has further agreed that its FX trading and sales practices and its FX collusive conduct constitute federal crimes that violated a principal term of its June 2012 non-prosecution agreement resolving the department’s investigation of the manipulation of LIBOR and other benchmark interests rates. Barclays has agreed to pay an additional $60 million criminal penalty based on its violation of the non-prosecution agreement.

In addition, according to court documents to be filed, the Justice Department has determined that UBS’s deceptive currency trading and sales practices in conducting certain FX market transactions, as well as its collusive conduct in certain FX markets, violated its December 2012 non-prosecution agreement resolving the LIBOR investigation. The department has declared UBS in breach of the agreement, and UBS has agreed to plead guilty to a one-count felony charge of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to manipulate LIBOR and other benchmark interest rates. UBS has also agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $203 million.

According to the factual statement of breach attached to UBS’s plea agreement, UBS engaged in deceptive FX trading and sales practices after it signed the LIBOR non-prosecution agreement, including undisclosed markups added to certain FX transactions of customers. UBS traders and sales staff misrepresented to customers on certain transactions that markups were not being added, when in fact they were. On other occasions, UBS traders and sales staff used hand signals to conceal those markups from customers. On still other occasions, certain UBS traders also tracked and executed limit orders at a level different from the customer’s specified level in order to add undisclosed markups. In addition, according to court documents, a UBS FX trader conspired with other banks acting as dealers in the FX spot market by agreeing to restrain competition in the purchase and sale of dollars and euros. UBS participated in this collusive conduct from October 2011 to at least January 2013.

In declaring UBS in breach of its non-prosecution agreement, the Justice Department considered UBS’s conduct described above in light of UBS’s obligation under the non-prosecution agreement to commit no further crimes. The department also considered UBS’s three recent prior criminal resolutions and multiple civil and regulatory resolutions. Further, the department also considered that UBS’s post-LIBOR compliance and remediation efforts failed to detect the illegal conduct until an article was published pointing to potential misconduct in the FX markets.

Citicorp, Barclays, JPMorgan, RBS and UBS have each agreed to a three-year period of corporate probation, which, if approved by the court, will be overseen by the court and require regular reporting to authorities as well as cessation of all criminal activity. All five banks will continue cooperating with the government’s ongoing criminal investigations, and no plea agreement prevents the department from prosecuting culpable individuals for related misconduct. Citicorp, Barclays, JPMorgan and RBS have agreed to send disclosure notices to all of their customers and counter-parties that may have been affected by the sales and trading practices described in the plea agreements.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Health Department's Pat Dobbins Retiring

Pat Dobbins, administrator for the Hendry-Glades Health Department has written a letter to the community on her pending retirement after 30 years in public health service.

"Closing one chapter in your life and starting another can cause mixed emotions. As some of you may know, I recently announced my retirement with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). My last day in the office will be May 29th. It was not an easy decision to make because I truly enjoy Public Health and working with all of you in Hendry and Glades Counties. Please know that the staff members at FDOH Hendry and Glades are highly qualified professionals and they will continue the Public Health mission.

"I would like to take this opportunity to express thanks and my sincere appreciation to the County Commissioners, County Administrators, and Community Partners in Hendry and Glades Counties. Over my 30-year career in Public Health, I feel that the relationships that we have built have made a great impact on the communities that we serve and we have learned a great deal from each other. We know that it takes teamwork to keep moving forward with the progresses that we have made.

"It has been my privilege and honor to serve Hendry and Glades Counties, but it is time to “pass the baton” to someone else. Thank you again for your support over the years. I wish you all well and hope that the partnerships and relationships will continue to evolve."

-Patricia K. Dobbins, R.N., M.S./H.S.A., Health Officer/Administrator, Florida Department of Health, Hendry and Glades Counties

Two Children Die In Canal

Three And Four Year Old Brothers Dead In Canal Drowning

LABELLE, FL. -- On Sunday, May 17, 2015, at approximately 2:30 pm Hendry County Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting that two small children were missing in the area of DUDA Labor Camp on South State Road 29, south of LaBelle.

When Deputies arrived on scene they were informed, through a translator, that the three year old boy, later identified as Alex Matias Martinez, had been located by his father, Adrian Matias, in a canal near their home. Emergency personnel on scene had placed the young child inside the ambulance where paramedics performed CPR in an effort to resuscitate him.

A short time later, additional personnel arrived on scene and later located the four year old, identified as Noel Matias Martinez, in the canal. First Responders on scene pronounced both boys deceased.

Both parents thought the children were with the other parent. At the time they were noticed missing, the parents attempted to locate them for about one hour before law enforcement was called.

“This is a tragic situation,” said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden. “We know how incredibly painful this is for the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they come to terms with their loss”.

Nurses Get Rural Health Care Experiences

LABELLE, FL. -- Several nursing students from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) recently had a rotation of classes in Hendry County to learn about Public Health. Among their many experiences within the health department, they also learned about preparedness.

Amy Howard, the Planner for Hendry County Emergency Management gave the students a tour of the Hendry County Emergency Operations Center. (EOC). While at the EOC, they participated in a “Disaster Preparedness Training Class” and learned what happens when the EOC has to “activate” for a disaster. This class was facilitated by Brenda Barnes, the Planning Consultant & Public Information Officer from the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties.

Their professors wrote the following: “The students have really enjoyed the opportunity to see how nursing skills can relate to preparedness and response.”

Pictured: Brenda Barnes, along with the FGCU Nursing Students (In alphabetical order) Tatianna Dagenais, Janeen Douglass, Gabrielle Gardner, Melinda Lilie, Jennifer McKnight, Caileigh Minihan, Cherith Rickels, and Amanda Stanton.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Driver Rescued From Canal Crash

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Clewiston Police Chief Don Gutshall reports this week a traffic accident on East Avenida Del Rio, where CPD officers found a vehicle overturned inside the canal. The driver was unconscious and pinned inside the vehicle. Officers used a hammer tossed down by a bystander to break out a window in an attempt to free the man. 

They were unsuccessful and then wrapped a chain around the axle while the same bystander pulled with his truck managing to move the vehicle enough to free the door from the canal bottom. The driver was then freed. He remains hospitalized on life support. 

In other news one house on North Berner was broken into overnight during the week. Two vehicles on the North side of town have also been gone through. Officers have developed a couple of suspects in the cases. The investigation is ongoing. 

A handgun was stolen from a residence on West Del Monte. The suspect, who is an acquaintance of the victim, has not been located. 

Chief Gutshall visited with Lt. Mike Rowan who is recuperating from an auto accident. He is in good spirits, though still in pain. He’s hopeful to return to his desk in the next week or two. 

Synopsis of the week’s police activity: 
1161 Commercial / Residential Security Checks 
585 Complaints Investigated 
19 Arrests Made 
34 Traffic Citations Issued 
15 New Code Enforcement Cases Opened 
49 Red Light Camera Violations 
15 City Ordinance Violations 
67 Merchant Escorts Provided 
16 Alarms Responded To 
4 Traffic Accidents Investigated

Obituaries - Pam Hopper, Willis Kellogg

Pamela "Pam" Hopper, age 60, of Clewiston, passed away May 7, 2015 in Clewiston. She was born July 29, 1954 in Huntington, WV, to the late Oscar and the late Dorothy (Lowe) Ward. Pam worked at Southern Gardens Citrus Plant for the last 20 years in Clewiston, FL.

Pam moved to Florida in 1972, from Ashland, KY. Pam was a constant driving force for Relay for Life, Angels at Christmas through SGCP.

Pam is greatly missed by her daughter; Pamula McGraw, sister; Joyce Sammons, grandchildren; Daniel McGraw, Heather McGraw, Brandon McGraw, Brittani McGraw, Amber McGraw, Jenna McGraw, and Elijah Miles, son-in-law; Timothy McGraw, daughter boyfriend; Billy Gainto.

A memorial service will be held at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston, on Friday, May 15, 2015 from 6-8 p.m.

Willis J. "Butch" Kellogg, age 71, of Moore Haven, passed away May 12, 2015 in Moore Haven.

He was born Dec. 5, 1943 in Clewiston, FL, to the late Willis James and the late Ethel Lean (Langdale) Kellogg. Mr. Kellogg married Andrea Marie Sheffer; she preceded him in death. 

He served in the United States Air Force from 17 Mar 1961 to 8 Aug 1962. He worked as a commercial fisherman for many years.

Survivors include his two sons: Todd Willis Kellogg of Moore Haven, FL, Troy Kellogg of Moore Haven, FL, four brothers: Bob Kellogg of Hickory, NC, Orie Kellogg of Cape Coral, FL, Arthur Kellogg of LaBelle, FL, Harry Kellogg of Clinton, NC and three sisters: Patricia Lucas of Moore Haven, FL, Sarah Pittman of Cape Coral, FL, Ruby Boyles of Bradford, PA .Step-Children, Melvin Arendt, David Arendt, Milton Arendt, Jon Arendt, Melanie Pederson, Diane Shaw, Christine Rios.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Monkey Madness - Attack On Primate Refuge

Monkey Problems In Rural Hendry In Neighbor's Noise Dispute

LABELLE, FL. -- In a continuing attack on the increasing number of  Hendry County non-human primate farms and associated monkey facilities, a Pioneer Plantation family is continuing a four-year old court suit against the owners of The Talkin' Monkey Project, Thomas D. Misotti and Deborah D. Misotti.

The Misottis operate a facility in central Hendry county next door to Mary C. Harrison and James R. Harrison allegedly containing hundreds of animals.

The Harrisons, in an amended complaint filed this week in court claim the Hendry Board of County Comissioners have illegally allowed the Misotttis to house non-human primates in the rural community zoned as rural residential.  Additionally, they claim they are being deprived of sleep due to the constant noise coming from the wild animals.

They also filed under Federal Law for violation of their civil rights and due process because of rulings by the County Commission and zoning officials.

Although zoning regulations for the area do allow animal husbandry, domestic animals, and agricultural use, the Harrisons say monkeys and other non-human primates should not fall under those categories, saying animal husbandry under normal definitions is raising domestic animals for food or fur production, which is not happening at the property next to them.

Although the Hendry Commission earlier had given permission for the facility at 1655 Panama Avenue, the Harrisons claim county officials are acting in secret and improperly interpreting zoning language.

The dispute between neighbors has been ongoing for years. In December 2011, Thomas and Mary Misotti filed an action against Mary Harrison for alleged violence, seeking an order of protection. The court denied the petition.

In late 2012 Mary and James Harrison were charged with breach of peace. The court found Mary not guilty April 11. 2013, but James was found guilty and the court withheld the adjudication of guilty and placed him on probation for six months plus assessing court costs of $570 and an order of no contact with Misotti..

In March of 2010 Deborah Misotti was charged with violation of county ordinance. She was found not guilty in April.

The current case is filed in Hendry Circuit Court under Case 11-32-CA.

Hurricane Professionals Honored At Orlando Conference

ORLANDO, FL. -- Governor’s Hurricane Conference Board of Directors members and participants at the 29th Annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference® today gathered at a luncheon in Orlando at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel to honor nine award recipients,including Robert Kosiba of Glades County for their various contributions towards hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation efforts at both the state and local level.

Awards Presented Today:

Distinguished Service Award – presented to Robert Kosiba, Regional Planner, Special Needs Consultant, 6-EM-Systems Administrator and Glades County Planning Section Chief for a 40-year career dedicated to disaster preparedness as an accomplished instructor, responding to numerous tropical events and other disasters.

Innovation Award – presented to Sally Bishop and Pinellas County Emergency Management for the creation and implementation of the Pinellas County Storm Surge Protector On-Line Viewer, a tool that allows citizens to personalize their own risk assessment for storm surge.

Tropical Meteorology Award – Andrew Devanas, National Weather Service Key West for a decade of initiative toward filling critical gaps in tropical training at Weather Forecast Offices in Florida and elsewhere significantly improving the content and quality of hurricane-related decision support and messaging.

Tropical Meteorology Award – David Sharp, National Weather Service Key West for a decade of initiative toward filling critical gaps in tropical training at Weather Forecast Offices in Florida and elsewhere significantly improving the content and quality of hurricane-related decision support and messaging.

Public Education/Public Information Award – Palm Beach County Department of Public Affairs for development of the Know Your Zone campaign, an effort that leverages the resources of several media platforms to provide tangible information to their county’s citizens.

Public/Private Achievement Award – presented to Gabe Tischler, Emergency Management Specialist, Florida Catholic Conference for his unwavering dedication and tireless work to support the needs of disaster survivors and his selfless and exceptional contributions from the not-for-profit sector.

Lifetime Achievement Award – John Dosh, Director, Escambia County Emergency Management for his 30 years in multiple fields of public service in planning for and responding to multiple hurricanes, tropical storms and other disasters.

Special Achievement Award – Dean Kelly for his 20-plus years as a dedicated Governor’s Hurricane Conference® Volunteer, selflessly serving in a variety of positions with professionalism, enthusiasm and sincere dedication to the organization and its goals.

Governor’s Award – presented to Karen Hagan, Retired Executive, American Red Cross for 30 years of exceptional and commendable service to the hurricane and disaster efforts throughout Florida and beyond, known as a stellar relationship builder who tirelessly carried the mission of hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation forward with passion and enthusiasm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Red Limey Water Flowing In Pipes - Solutions Being Studied City Says

LABELLE, FL. -- The city of LaBelle is currently working on a solution to water problems after water leaves the new water treatment plant and streams through older galvanized metal distribution pipes in the city causing reddish color combined with lime which is used to soften the water at the plant.

The City of LaBelle recently completed a new 1.5 million gallon a day $20 million Water Treatment Plant project funded by a USDA Rural Development loan/grant. The new plant is a state-of-the art Reverse Osmosis type plant. The water leaving the new plant is of the highest water quality and devoid of color. It meets all the requirements for safe drinking water.

Unfortunately this same water has caused some unforeseen consequences. Because the water is without similar properties to the previous water provided by the city, it is removing some of the buildup in the older metal/galvanized water distribution lines located in some of the older sections of the city. This removal causes the water to oxidize and produces a reddish color. Lime that was previously used to soften the water is also moving within the distribution lines. The situation has possibly been exacerbated by fire hydrant maintenance. As of today all fire hydrant maintenance activities have been suspended to stabilize the water flow within distribution system.

The city is also working on a permanent solution to the RO water and its more aggressive nature. Our engineer is working with USDA to get the solution installed in as timely a manner as possible and still meet all the legal, required advertising and USDA requirements. We anticipate this process will take several months to be installed at which time we believe all of the reddish water issues will be resolved. We appreciate all the residents’ patience in working through this solution which was an unintended and unexpected result of the new RO water.

The city apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused. For further information please call Joseph Thomas at 863-675-4684 or City Hall during regular business hours at863-675-2872.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Florida Fire Mapping Now Online

Through the Florida Forest Service’s Fire Management Information System, the Okeechobee District maps out all the wildfires and burn authorizations in their area on any given day. This interactive map is available for the public to use as a reference tool for identifying smoke columns in your area. Click here for a three minute YouTube tutorial.

“This mapping system is a simple a way to measure, track and differentiate wildfires and burn authorizations,” says Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Melissa Yunas, Florida Forest Service. “This is also a good reference tool to investigate unauthorized burns and to provide education on burning safely.”

In 2015, the Florida Forest Service has investigated 20 illegal burns while conducting routine fire patrols. Out of the 20 illegal burns, 15% have resulted in wildfires that required suppression. Landowners or burners can be issued a Notice of Violation and charged for the cost of suppression if their fire escapes regardless of whether it is authorized or not.

It’s important to note that not all burns require an authorization. What type of burning requires authorization from the Florida Forest Service?

· Acreage burns. If you’re planning to burn woodlands, grass pastures, home lawns or any other large area, you need an authorization.

· Pile burns. Whether you’re burning multiple piles of land clearing debris generated on site or simple yard debris you generated while trimming trees and shrubs, if the pile is greater than 8 feet in diameter, you need an authorization.

If residents are unsure if their planned burn needs to be authorized, please contact your local Florida Forest Service. Know the law before you strike that match or lighter.

Burning is essential to Florida’s Agriculture and Land Management Communities. Ranchers/ Dairy farmers obtain pasture authorizations and accomplish burns that aid in increasing the diversity and structure of vegetation, which benefits wildlife and maintains livestock production. Citrus growers obtain pile burn authorizations for pruning and cleaning the citrus groves. Farmers burn the stubble of their crops they have been harvested; fire also enriches the soil and helps to combat disease, insects, and weeds. Land managers obtain ecological authorizations to manage their land for animal and water conservation or aesthetics.

Wild Earth Week Field Trips Successful

LABELLE, FL. -- Thanks and appreciation is extended to everyone who provided materials, donated services or volunteered to make Hendry/LaBelle Recreation's 8th Annual Call of the Wild Earth Week Field Trips a success. Over one thousand 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students from Upthegrove, County Oaks, LaBelle, and West Glades schools participated in the free field trips held April 20-23 at the City of LaBelle's Hendry House and LaBelle Nature Park.

Funding for the busses for LaBelle and Country Oaks Elementary was provided by the Rotary Club of LaBelle with the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle sponsoring the transportation for West Glades School.

Students had a chance to pet and learn about goats during the Hendry County 4-H's presentation by Sonja Crawford, Patricia Gonzalez, and Liz Shaw. Florida Forest Service foresters, Clark Ryals, and 

Melinda Avni Service lead the “ Nature Walk Using QR codes” and “Florida Exotics” programs. International Students from Intelligentsia International and FGCU Student Ashley Pascale used models and demonstrations during their interactive “Groundwater” activity. 

There were lots of hands opportunities as specimens were shared during the Florida Department of Environmental Protection “Oysters, Mangroves, & Seagrass” programs with Terry Cerullo, Julie Neurohr, and Tim Steeves . Vicki Parrish, representing Family Eye Care, made learning about sun safety fun during the “Don’t Fry Day: Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap” activity with each child receiving a UV ray bead bracelet.

Thank you to everyone for their generous donations of materials for students and teachers, services, and volunteer time with special recognition to: Hendry County Recycling, City of LaBelle, Hendry County Emergency Medical Service, Hendry County Health Department, Florida Department of Health, Riverwatch and 2015 Call of the Wild Planning Committee volunteers.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Garden Club Picnic Meeting This Month

LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Garden Club will meet Monday, Memorial Day, May 25th 2015, at 5 p.m. at 999 County Highway 78 (take the right driveway), the residence of the Lazars. 

 Please bring a covered dish for a picnic. Please bring a folding chair for everyone. 

 Check out the website, which is chock full of information on the unique conditions of gardening in LaBelle. For more information, call President Dave at 863-342-8233 or Nikki at 239-564-2005

Pedestrian Killed In Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- 55- year old Ted Knox of North Fort Myers was killed Monday afternoon at 3:49 p.m. as he walked along State Road 78 near Bayshore Road.

A 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by Jerry Bryant, 89 of Punta Gorda was traveling eastbound on State Road 78 (Bayshore Rd) east of Old Bayshore Rd. Mr. Knox was walking westbound on the pavement of SR78 east of Old Bayshore Rd, near the south grass shoulder of State Road 78.

Subsequently, the front right portion of the truck collided with Knox in an unknown location. Post collision the truck came to a controlled stop on the south grass shoulder. Knox was propelled in a east direction and came to final rest on the south grass shoulder.

The driver and his passenger were not injured.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Free Tai Chi Quan Class Starts In June

LABELLE, FL. -- The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida will offer Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance at Hope Connections at 475 East Cowboy Way, Labelle, FL 33935, starting June 2, 2015. 

The 12-week course consists of one-hour classes held twice weekly and will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. Participants must plan on attending both weekly sessions. 

The course helps older adults improve their balance and reduce the risk of falling. Participants will feel stronger, have better balance, greater flexibility and feel more confident after completing this evidenced-based Tai Chi program. Participants must be 60 years or older. There is no charge for the class.  For more information or to register for the class, contact the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida helpline at 1-866-413-5337.

Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance was developed by Fuzhong Li, Ph.D of the Oregon Research Institute and is offered free of charge through a grant for Disease Prevention & Health Promotion under the 2015 Older Americans Act, Title IIID through the Department of Elder Affairs.

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is the comprehensive resource for seniors and the disabled in southwest Florida.

What's For Mom This Sunday?

The Florida Retail Federation says Florida mothers are in for a nice treat this year as families expect to spend $172.63 on Mother’s Day gifts this year, up nearly $10 from last year. 

 According to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Mother’s Day Spending Survey, total spending nationwide is expected to reach $21.2 billion, the highest amount in the survey’s 12-year history.

When it comes to gifts, the majority of consumers will pick up a greeting card for mom (80%), spending more than $786 million, and more than two-thirds (67.2%) of those celebrating will buy flowers, to the tune of $2.4 billion. Shoppers also plan on gifting apparel and clothing items (35.8%), spending more than $1.9 billion, up from $1.7 billion last year.

Families will also surprise mom with a special brunch or activity ($3.8 billion), electronic items like a new smartphone or e-reader ($1.8 billion), personal services such as a spa day ($1.5 billion), housewares or gardening tools ($890 million) and books and CDs ($480 million).

34.2 percent of Mother’s Day shoppers are planning to splurge on jewelry, spending a survey high of $4.3 billion for the special day, up from 31.7 percent and $3.6 billion last year.

Two in five (44.2%) will give mom a gift card, spending more than $2.2 billion. The majority of shoppers plan to buy for their mother or stepmother (62.5%), while 23.2 percent will shop for their wife, 9.8 percent will shop for their daughter, 8.9 percent will shop for their sister and 7.4 percent plan to splurge on their grandmother.

Audubon Program For May - Sandhill Cranes

LABELLE, FL. -- Sandhill Crane Festival with Mary Giddens and Sandy Woodall. Mark your calendars for a presentation on the Sandhill Crane Festival, installation of the 2015-2016 Hendry Glades Audubon officers and board, and covered dish dinner on Monday May 11th at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle.

If you would like to attend the covered dish dinner, please bring a side dish or dessert to share at 6:30 p.m. The installation of officers and Sandhill Crane Festival program will begin at 7 p.m.

Local residents, Mary Giddens and Sandy Woodall, will present a program about their trip to the Sandhill Crane Festival in March where they watched and learned about the return of thousands of the migratory Sandhill Cranes to the Great Plains and Pacific Northwest. Hear how festival participants watched the birds from special blinds and attended informative programs.