Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Enchilada Lunch June 23 For Sheriff's Explorer Post

LABELLE, FL. -- Help out the Hendry Sheriff's Explorer Post June 23 for a lunch or dinner. The post is raising money to attend the State Explorer Competition.

Obituaries - Edwardo Nieves, Kenneth Carter

Edwardo Nieves, age 58, of LaBelle, passed away May 29, 2016 in Fort Myers. He was born Feb. 1, 1958 in New York, NY, to the late Juan Antonio Nieves and Ester (Almodovar) Cabascando.

He is survived by his wife: Rosa Elena (Rosado) Nieves, children: Rachel Rosado (Christopher), Rosemarie DeLeon (David), Ruby Nieves (Juan), Edwardo Nieves, Jr. (Tiffanie) and Nataile Burke (Kevin), mother: Ester Cabascando, seventeen grandchildren, three great grandchildren, three brothers and two sisters.

Visitation will be Wednesday from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Kenneth Michael Carter, age 72, of Moore Haven, passed away May 30, 2016, in Weston. He was born April 26, 1944, in Camp Atterbury, IN, to the late George Roy and the late Ada Mae (Barker) Carter. 

He was a resident of Moore Haven for the past 10 years. He loved his dogs, fishing, going to church, the Indianapolis 500, and his wife and family.

Survivors include his wife: Lona June (Ellis) Carter; daughter: Cynthia Carter; sons: Michael (Dawn) Carter, and Brian (Courtney) Carter; grandchildren: Holly, Jessica, Kate, Luke, Audrey, and Edith; and great-grandchildren, Makayla, Haylie, C.J., and Dylan.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, June 5, 2016, at 12:00 p.m. following the 11:00 a.m. regular service at Community Presbyterian Church, Clewiston, with Rev. Thomas Slager officiating. Flowers are welcome for the service or donations can be made to Community Presbyterian Church, 407 Royal Palm Avenue, Clewiston, FL 33440.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Monday, May 30, 2016

35th Year For Free Summer Movie Programs

LABELLE, FL. -- The 35th Summer Movie Fest will begin June 7 with the animated movie “The Good Dinosaur”

There are showings at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. The movie are completely free thanks to our business sponsors. We have a snack area for those that would like to buy candy, pop corn the money eared goes to Florida Children’s Ranch.

The 35th Summer Movie Fest is located 135 Fraser Avenue, in the LaBelle Assembly of God chapel, everyone is welcomed. Groups of 25 or over please call so we can reserve you a place. Contact 675-0900 or e-mail labelleone@hotmail.com

Friday, May 27, 2016

Tourist Development Council Offers To Fund Marketing Efforts

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Tourism will offer matching marketing support to those desiring to market their program, event or festival outside of Hendry County to garner attendance from tourists. This program is envisioned to help projects get off the ground or expand so that these projects eventually will succeed without the financial assistance of the TDC marketing program.

The objective of Hendry County Tourist Development Council grant program is to provide matching marketing support for innovative and collaborative ideas to drive tourism to Hendry County that generate quantifiable overnight stays and/or large scale economic impact.

The TDC may help match advertising and promotional expenses in media that runs outside of Hendry County in conjunction with an activity or event or promotion to increase the number of overnight visitors to Hendry County. Examples are: printing and distribution of promotional pieces prior to the event or exhibit including creative design, printing, copying, ad placement cost and distribution of direct mail and creating an internet web site promoting the event or activity linked to the TDC’s website to increase participation, attendance and awareness of the event and to generate hotel room nights and spending throughout Hendry County.

Deadline for submission is Friday, July 15, 2016.

Panther Released In New Big Cypress Home

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- A two year-old Florida panther is now back in the wild at its new home in Big Cypress National Preserve. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and National Park Service staff successfully released the panther Wednesday afternoon near Gum Slough in the southwest corner of the Preserve.

The panther was originally captured by the FWC and USFWS on April 12 at the Farm Worker Village neighborhood, near Immokalee in Collier County. Based on observations of the panther’s behavior, including evidence that pets and feral domestic cats in the neighborhood had frequently been preyed upon by the panther, as well as the specific layout of thick vegetation in and around Farm Worker Village, a decision was made to remove and relocate the panther as a safety precaution and as a form of aversive conditioning intended to change the panther’s behavior.

Once captured, FWC staff transported the panther to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo where it received multiple health assessments, primarily to ensure that it did not test positive for feline leukemia. Zoo veterinary professionals gave the panther a clean bill of health and determined it was ready to be returned to the wild in a more remote area.

Biologists believe the panther was dispersing from its mother, attempting to find a suitable home range. With the release of the male into the Preserve the main threats it continues to face are being killed by another territorial male in the vicinity or being killed by vehicle collision as it continues to roam to find a suitable home range.

The FWC and USFWS staff are working with residents of the Farm Worker Village to prevent future conflicts with Florida panthers. Biologists have made numerous site visits and have held multiple meetings at the Village to provide information about steps residents can take to reduce risk and to deter panthers and bears from lingering in the area. The FWC and USFWS are also working with the property manager to address overgrown vegetation in and around the neighborhood.

Jail Transport Van Hits Cow In Early Morning Crash

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A cow in the middle of US 27 near Moore Haven was killed when hit by a Sheriff's jail transport van Friday morning about 6:03 a.m.

A 2006 Ford Econovan, a marked Hendry County Jail transport van was northbound on US 27 (SR25) in the inside lane south of CR720, south of Moore Haven in Glades county as a small cow was standing in the middle of US 27 northbound lanes.

The cow dashed or darted west across the northbound US 27 lanes towards the grassy median but the front left corner of the van collided with the cow. The van was driven to a controlled stop in the paved median north of the area of collision.

The cow was deceased.

There were no injuries to the van driver, Zorone Octavie Evertette, 39 of Clewiston.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Safe Phone Zones For Florida's Memorial Day Weekend Drivers

June 1 marks the first anniversary of Safe Phone Zones in Florida. In 2015 GEICO sponsored Safe Phone zones in Florida’s 64 Rest Areas, Welcome Centers and Turnpike Service Plazas as “Safe Phone Zones”. 

This provides a place where drivers can safely and conveniently use their phones and other mobile devices for calling, texting, navigating and accessing mobile apps.

This Memorial Day weekend more vehicles are expected on our highways, and the Florida Department of Transportation reminds motorists to avoid distracted driving. 

Obituaries - Stanley Jones, Kathy Veale

Stanley Jackson Jones, age 96, of LaBelle, passed away May 16, 2016 in LaBelle.

He was born Aug. 5, 1919 in Okeechobee to the late Thomas Jackson and the late Virginia (Raulerson) Jones. Stanley was a veteran of the Army and served during WWII. He worked for many years as a commercial fisherman.

Survivors include sons: Howard Jones and wife Sharon, Lloyd Jones and wife Mae and Robert Jones, daughters: Hazel White, Paula Laka and husband Henry and Linda McCormick and husband Brad, numerous grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Gertie Mae Jones in 2014. A memorial service will be held on a later date. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Kathy J. Veale, age 68, passed away at home May 22, 2016. She was born March 26, 1948 in South Haven, MI, to the late Hubert E. and Edna D. (Brooks) Hall.

Kathy was a resident of Clewiston since 1971, until moving to LaBelle three years ago. She was the librarian at the City of Clewiston Library. Kathy loved to read, garden and spend time with family.

She is survived by her loving husband of 43 years, Allan R. Veale; two daughters, Michele Lewis Wright (Marshall) and Dawn Veale Gonzalez (Ernesto); honorary son, James Vickers; sisters, Glenda O'Bannon, Barbara Revels, Diane Kuntz and Peggy Miller; grandchildren, Tyler, Thomas (Tiffany), Jordan, Nicholas, Jacob, Michael and Nathan and many other family members and loving friends. She was preceded in death by her brother Danny Hall, her brother Wayne Hall and her son, John Daniel James Lewis.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 10:00 am at First Christian Church, LaBelle with Pastor W. T. Maddox Jr. officiating. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Wednesday from 6:00-8:00pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fort Denaud Bridge Closed For Repairs

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Road & Bridge will be conducting maintenance and repairs on the Fort Denaud Bridge. The bridge is currently CLOSED to ALL vehicular traffic until further notice. ALL emergency vehicles will need to have an alternate route as the bridge will be set in the open position to allow for boat traffic to pass during the closure.

If you should have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Hendry County Engineering Department at 863-675-5222.

UPDATE: May 27 -- The bridge has been reopened

New Kid's Play At Firehouse Theatre June 10

LABELLE, FL. -- Have you ever wondered what would happen if Dorothy from “Wizard of Oz” and Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” were in a room together?

Well, the Firehouse Community Theatre Inc. (Children’s summer play) will introduce that scenario on stage when they present “Dorothy Meets Alice.”
Julia, the main character, has waited until the last minute to read her assigned book for school. With a choice between “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” she falls asleep the night before the book report is due and finds herself in a dream. Through her dreams, the audience will encounter a cast of familiar characters such as the Cowardly Lion, the White Rabbit, the Tin Man, the Mad Hatter, the Scarecrow, the Dormouse, the Queen and the Witch!
The comedy/adventure play written by Joseph Robinette is acceptable for audiences of all ages. The play is directed by Kristin Green.
The play will run June 10th and 11th at 7pm and a Sunday show June 12th at 2pm.
Get your tickets at www.firehousecommunitytheatre.com or call the ticket hotline at (863) 675-3066 (leave message)

Pictured: Four of the cast members from Dorothy meets Alice. Left to right (Jack Richards, Alyssa Jedrykowski, Abbey Green, Rainia Ward)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

James Billie II Crashes Into Canal Sunday Morning

James E. Billie II crashed into a canal Sunday morning about 3:50 a.m. and was transported to the hospital in serious condition.

A 2003 Ford F-150, driven by James Edward Billie II, 24 of LaBelle was southbound on Trebol Street, south of Horse Club Avenue in Montura Ranch Estates in central Hendry county as it came to a water filled canal south of the roadway. The FHP says Billie failed to bring the truck to a stop.

As a result, it departed the roadway and the front of the pickup truck then struck the south face of the canal before coming to final rest partially submerged. Subsequent to the crash, Billie was transported by Hendry County EMS to Hendry Regional Medical Center in Clewiston.

Billie was later transported by EMS to Saint Mary's Hospital in Palm Beach County where he is in stable condition.

Billie is the owner of Kree's Trees Inc. and the son of James Billie of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Bille is being charged with careless driving, said the FHP.

Raleigh Fred Dyess Dies At 72

Raleigh Fred Dyess, Sr, age 72, of Clewiston, passed away with his family at his side on May 14, 2016 in Clewiston.

He was born Jan. 27, 1944 in Fort Myers, FL, to the late Earl S and the late Dorothy (Van De Valde) Dyess, Sr. Mr. Dyess married Glinda Murray April 18, 1966 in Dothan, Alabama. 

He served in the Navy from June 30, 1961 to January 26, 1965. Mr. Dyess worked for Evercane Sugar house for over 33 years as a Process Supervisor; worked for United States Sugar Corporation for five years, he served on the Hendry County School Board for 7 years, he was one of the main supporters for the Clewiston High School; he was also the main guy who pushed for the clear flashing lights to be installed on all of the Hendry County School buses. 

He was a member of the Hendry County Corrections Education Board, was a member of the Hendry County Hunting Club for several years, a 27 year member of the Elks Lodge.

Survivors include his loving and caring wife: Glinda "Kay" Dyess and two sons: Fred Dyess, Jr of Clewiston, FL and William "Billy" Dyess of Clewiston, FL, one brother: Sermon Dyess, Jr and his wife Ann of Clewiston, FL grandsons, Codey Dyess and Wyatt Dyess of Clewiston, FL, many nieces, nephews and other extended family members.

Fred was preceded in death by both of his parents and one uncle Bill Dyess.

Celebration of his life was Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston with John Martin officiating. Interment was in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston.

Visitation was Saturday from 1 hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mary Colon Dies In Crash Into Canal

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Mary Jane Colon, 36 of Clewiston died in a crash Friday at 10:28 p.m. in eastern Hendry county.

Colon was southbound on CR-833 just south of State Road 80 when her 2003 Acura MDX ran off of the roadway to the right, into a canal. The FHP said she was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Obituary - Pauline Elizabeth Green-Nelson

On May 17, 2016 Pauline Elizabeth Green-Nelson passed away. 

She joined her mother Pauline Elizabeth Robinson-Green, father Thadeus Hall Green, husband Norwood D Nelson, Jr., son Norwood D Nelson III, and daughter Pauline Elizabeth Nelson-NewBorn on a new journey to the promised land.

A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at the Bob and Suzanne Harper residence, 14825 Center Ave, Clewiston, FL 33440 (863)983-9785) on Sunday, May 29th at 1 PM. Bring your memories to share. Food and refreshments will be served.

Interment and a memorial service will take place in Waynesville, Ga at the Mount Olive Cemetery on June 25, 2016 at 11 AM, a birthday party for Elizabeth will follow at 6771 Browntown Rd, Waynesville, FL. No gifts please. Cake and refreshments will be served.

The family appreciates all of your wishes. In lieu of flowers anyone who wishes to make a memorial donation may make it to Hope Hospice or the Salvation Army.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Kevin McDaniel Dies At 54

Kevin Dean McDaniel, age 54, of Moore Haven, passed away May 17, 2016 in Fort Myers.

He was born Sep. 18, 1961 in Cahokia, IL where he also grew up. Kevin was a longtime resident of Lehigh Acres and worked as a golf course superintendent.

He is survived by his father: Gary Kenneth McDaniel, Sr., mother: Lois Jean (Bellm) McDaniel, brother: Gary Kenneth McDaniel, Jr. and sister: Teri Peasel.He was preceded in death by his Son, Kelly McDaniel

Memorial service will be held on a later date. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Swimming Suspended At Beach By Health Department

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 due to the presence of blue-green algae.

The Corps was notified this afternoon by the Florida Department of Health that an algal bloom was present at the W.P. Franklin Lock, and 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.

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.

For more information on blue-green algae, please visit the Florida Department of Health website:http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/cyanobacteria.html

For information on the W.P. Franklin Lock and Visitor Center, call 239-694-2582.

Emma White Dies At 93

Emma M. White, age 93 of LaBelle passed away May 15, 2016 in Lehigh Acres. She was born Sep. 27, 1922 in Boston, MA, to the late Peter and the late Louise (Paulselli) Panico.

Survivors include her daughter in law: Toni Clark of Las Vegas, NV, sister: Evelyn Panico of Las Vegas, NV, grandsons: Jeffrey (Mary) Clark of Las Vegas, NV and John (Elizabeth) Clark of Middletown, NJ; great-grandsons: Michael Clark and Brody Clark; great-granddaughter: Alyssa Clark, nephew: Donald Gomes and many friends at Aqua Isles.

She also was preceded in death by her husband: Frederick White and son: Raymond Clark.

A graveside service will be held on a later date at St. Mary's Cemetery in North Attleboro, MA. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Old Timers Dinner At Black Heritage Festival Thursday

LABELLE, FL. -- The Annual Old Timers Dinner at LaBelle's Black Heritage Festival is tomorrow, May 19th, at 6:30 p.m. The place is the James Singleton Community Center and the cost of the meal is $10 for some of the finest food in our area.

The festival honors the community's senior citizens, and recognition of students' outstanding sports accomplishments and others among the citizens of LaBelle and welcomes all to visit the vendor booths on Saturday at Kid Jones Park. 

An open mic between 10 and noon will give an opportunity for anyone to speak at the park. Carry out is available at both the Old Timers Dinner and on Saturday

Siomara Matias Dies In Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Siomara Dally Matias, age 22, of Reading, Pennsylvania, was walking north on the southbound lane of Columbus Boulevard South, just south of Ebb Street East in Lee county at 10:10 p.m. Tuesday.

A 2007 Toyota Sienna van driven by Anivain Desprez, age 76, of Lehigh Acres, Florida was traveling north on Columbus Boulevard South.

The Toyota van traveled onto the southbound lane to pass a slower vehicle. The Toyota van struck Ms. Matias. Ms. Matias was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Gary Marbry Dies At 62

Gary Eugene Marbry, age 62, of LaBelle, passed away May 15, 2016 in LaBelle. He was born Nov. 29, 1953 in Dyersburg, TN, to the late William Eugene and the late Myra Sue (Mc Knight) Marbry.

Survivors include son: Sonny Bill Marbry, daughter: Pamela Sue Marbry, four brothers: Danny Marbry, Johnny Marbry, John Allen-Marbry and Rusty Marbry, three sisters: Linda Marbry, Gail Calvin Marbry and Debbie Marbry, grandchildren, Daniel, Christina, Adriana, Leticia, Brenda, Mario, Sonny III, Sandi and Mandi.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Larry Marbry.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 18, 2016,1:30 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor Jay Goforth officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Wednesday from 01:00 pm - 0130 pm at at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle.

Kristin Lee Dies In Seven Vehicle Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Kristin R. Lee, 38 of Iowa died in a seven vehicle crash Monday afternoon in Lee county at Summerlin and Winker Avenue.

Seven vehicles were traveling north on Summerlin Road about 3:52 p.m. in the process of slowing or stopped for traffic congestion.  Orlo L. Carson, 43 of North Fort Myers was traveling north on Summerlin Road in the outside lane approaching the other vehicles from the rear.

Carson's tractor trailer rear ended a 1998 Lincoln Towncar driven by James J. Cwanek, 70 of Fort Myers causing the Lincoln to rear end a third vehicle. Vehicles 4, 5, 6, and 7 were then struck as part of a chain reaction from  the initial impacts.

After the initial impact, the Lincoln did erupt into flames. The rear passenger, Kristin Lee was pronounced deceased on scene. The driver, James Cwanek and another passenger Austin A. Perkins, 34 of Minnesota were critically injured. Occupants of vehicles three and four were seriously injured.

The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending said the FHP.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tai Chi Begins May 31 - Reducing Falls And Gaining Strength

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 May 31, 2016. 

The 12-week course, taught by certified instructor Don Browne, 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 and the classes are free. 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 2016 Older Americans Act Title IIID

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

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Obituaries - Raymond Campbell, Linda Boone

Raymond E. Campbell, age 79, of Clewiston, passed away May 6, 2016 in Lehigh Acres. He was born Mar. 15, 1937 in Hartford, CT to the late Raymond Campbell and the late Catherine (McCormack) Campbell.

He is survived by six sons: William (Kathy) Kershner, Kevin Campbell, Scott (Cheryl) Campbell, Robert (Virginia) Campbell, Sean (Venessa) Campbell and Glenn (Jennifer) Campbell, and three daughters: Susie (Sergio) Rubio, Tamera (Antonie) Stam and Cara (John) Roxen, one brother: Brian Scanlan and two sisters: Jan Stringos and Kathy Harris, fourteen grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Linda J Boone, 67 of Palmdale, Florida, passed away Friday, May 6, 2016 in Lake Placid. She was born January 22, 1949 in Tampa, the daughter of the late Charles Todd and the late Joyce (Holt) Todd.

Survivors include her husband: Daniel E. Boone, son: James Bailey, daughter: Jenifer Pate (Kevin), brother: Charles Todd and two grandchildren.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home-LaBelle

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lisa Callahan Wins $1000 In Radio Promotion

LABELLE, FL. -- Congratulations to Lisa Beth Callahan for her $1000 lucky call to Fort Myers radio station Wink-FM this week.

"WINK At Work" is the station's promotion daily giving away the cash to the 15th caller during the special hours during the day. LIsa reportedly will take a vacation with her winnings.

How's Hendry Economic Development Doing? New Video

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County's Economic Development Council recently produced this elaborate video showing off some improvement to the county's infrastructure around the county and in the cities of Clewiston and LaBelle.

Also shown are big existing businesses and a lot of new ventures, not all of whom are quite the complete success the county would hope for. CPR Tools, for example, after several years in Hendry county, closed shop in LaBelle and left for benefits offered by Lee county.

Altair's 1150 acre training facility in southwestern Hendry has run into financial problems and is the subject of a foreclosure. It's not clear how Henkey Precast is doing despite acres on concrete stored at it's site and likewise next door at Recypoly with acres of waste plastic film "mountains" cluttering acres of land along SR80 west of LaBelle.

Post your comments below:

Donald Powers Dies In Motorcycle Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Donald Edward Powers, 53 of Cape Coral, Florida driving a 1982 Yamaha Virago motorcycle was traveling east on College Parkway about 4:40 a.m. Friday. For unknown reasons, he veered right and struck the south curb. and the vehicle jumped the curb and went airborne.

Powers and the cycle landed on the ground and crashed through heavy shrubbery. The motorcycle came to final rest on the south sidewalk, facing north. Powers came to final rest on the south grass shoulder. He was pronounced deceased on scene. The FHP said he was not wearing a helmet.

Transgender Student Bathroom Rules May Be Changing

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released joint guidance today to help provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.

The guidance explains that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity.

Recently, questions have arisen from school districts, colleges and universities, and others about transgender students and how to best ensure these students, and non-transgender students, can all enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment.

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “

“Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right,” said Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “This guidance answers questions schools have been asking, with a goal to ensure that all students are treated equally consistent with their gender identity. We look forward to continuing to work with schools and school communities to satisfy Congress’ promise of equality for all.”

The guidance also explains schools’ obligations to:
Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status or gender transition;
Treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;
Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and
Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

At the same time, the guidance makes clear that schools can provide additional privacy options to any student for any reason. The guidance does not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces, when, for example, there are other appropriate options available; and schools can also take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Frontier Phone Customers Get Help With Poor Service

TALLAHASSEE, FL.—At the request of Attorney General Pam Bondi, today Frontier Communications Corporation committed to improving communications and customer services in Florida. Attorney General Bondi met with Frontier Executives Wednesday and now the company has agreed to several changes to improve services.

“After a lengthy, productive meeting with Frontier executives, I am cautiously optimistic that Frontier disruptions in services will be quickly resolved,” said Attorney General Bondi. “However, my office will continue to work with the company on each consumer complaint until they are all appropriately addressed.”

Frontier executives agreed to the following:
· Frontier Communications will immediately prioritize addressing complaints regarding seniors and medically disadvantaged individuals;

· A new Florida-based customer service number, (888) 457-4110, has been established that will be answered by live representatives from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The company also has set up a Chat Live platform for those able to go online;

· Frontier has instituted a “SWAT Team” to coordinate the rapid response to customer escalations and service outages; and

· Every customer who reported any out of service issue will be given a credit. The credit will be reflected on the customer’s bill no later than the end of June with no contact necessary with the company to receive this credit.

In a letter sent by Attorney General Bondi to Frontier’s CEO on Monday, the Attorney General outlined the serious service disruptions being reported to our office by Frontier customers. Customers complained of lost access to essential 911 services due to no phone service, lost internet service, extended waiting periods on customer service lines, missed service appointments, and no automatic billing credits for customers who lost service. To view the letter, click here.

At the meeting, Frontier provided the Attorney General with a written response to her letter addressing many of these issues. To view Frontier’s response, click here.

From March 29, through 10 a.m. today, the Attorney General’s Office has received 721 complaints about Frontier. The office is forwarding each of the complaints to the company as they are received.

Any Frontier customers experiencing problems can file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com or calling (866) 9NO-SCAM.

Alberto Morrell Dies At 98

Alberto Morrell, 98, died May 8, 2016 in Clewiston, Florida. He was born on October 31, 1917 in Havana to Andres Fernandez-Morrell and Serafina Coca. 

He attended Louisiana State University and graduated in 1942. He was married to Carlota Tonarely on June 13, 1943. Alberto brought his family from Cuba in October 1960 and was a resident of Clewiston for over 53 years, coming from Pahokee where he lived for 3 years. 

He was employed in the sugar cane industry his entire working life. 

He was preceded in death by sisters Luisa de Armas and Serafina, and brothers Andres, Alonso and Arturo (Coco). Survivors are his wife of almost 73 years Carlota; daughters Carlota Barwick (Jeff) of Clewiston; Luisa Jenkins (Mike) of Mooresburg, TN; Fina Marcone (Victor), of Northport, FL. Sons Alberto (Sandra) of Clewiston; Mandy (Patsy) of Mayking, KY; and Alfonso (Laina) of Canton, GA. 

He is also survived by 17 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. A memorial mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Saturday May 21st at Saint Margaret Catholic Church in Clewiston. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the church's building maintenance fund.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

22 Kiwanis Scholarships Awarded

LABELLE, FL. -- 22 LaBelle High School Seniors are the 2016 Kiwanis Scholarship recipients awarded $17,200 in scholarships last week. The Scholarship program has been a ‘pride and joy’ of Kiwanis since it was founded. It has continued to grow thanks to the community support of the Kiwanis Thrift Store. 

"Thank you for your donations that stock the store and thank you for shopping at the Thrift Store," said Nikki Yeager, President. Just within the last 5 years Kiwanis has been able to award $113,700 in high school scholarships. Adult scholarships are awarded during the summer each year.

Students were brought together for the presentation of their scholarships after being served dinner at Beef O’Bradys Restaurant in LaBelle. Once again Kiwanis would like to Congratulate each graduate and wish each the very best as they step into the next phase of their life.

Democrats Meeting For Big V Breakfast May 28

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Democrats will meet at LaBelle's Big V Restaurant, SR-80 West at Hall St., on Saturday, May 28, at 8:30 a.m. 

Local Democrats will plan for the upcoming Primary Election on August 30 and the General Election to be hold on November 8. Alina Valdes, who has qualified to run as Democratic Candidate for Congressional District 25, has already announced her intention to attend this meeting, Other local, district, and statewide Democratic candidates or their representatives are also expected to attend.

The meeting is an event on the Hendry County Democrats Facebook page. Voters planning on attending are asked to sign up on Facebook to let the Big V Restaurant have an idea how many people may show up for breakfast. This will be a good opportunity to learn more about the Democrats who will be on the Primary Ballot for Hendry County in August and also those Democrats who will only be on the November Ballot if they have no opponents in the August Primary.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

So, What Do You Think About Walmart's Grand Opening?

'Where's The Special Deals' Ask Customers

LABELLE, FL. -- The long wait is over today, as Florida's newest Walmart Supercenter officially opened it's doors at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday on State Road 80 west of the city of LaBelle.

The store is open 24 hours daily and features a pharmacy, garden shop, auto fueling center, and all the usual departments. The opening hour brought lots of cars and trucks, filling the parking lot to about three-quarters full. But, there didn't seem to be many buyers this morning, The dozens of checkout lines were mostly empty of paying customers.

Simple opening ceremonies this morning started with singing the national anthem, a prayer, and brief comments by LaBelle Mayor Dave Lyons, while the LaBelle Marching Band performed briefly out front and then marched through the store playing a vigorous march, one of the most smile-producing features of this morning's opening.

Former owner of the citrus grove land where Walmart now sits, Ben S. Moore Sr., was one of the visitors this morning.

Pepsi gave out bottles of flavored teas, and Entenmann's, donuts and muffin samples. Walmart personnel were out if force welcoming visitors and lots of presumed Walmart execs in suits congregated together in small groups.

Customer comments seemed to be focused on where's the "grand opening" special deals and prices. A sampling of prices seemed mostly higher than local stores, but huge stocks of merchandise throughout the store dwarfed any local store inventory.

See a 17-picture photo album of Grand Opening

UPDATE: At the Saturday May 14 "Re-Grand Opening" Walmart was giving away hot dogs, cupcakes and coffee outside under awning tents. The gasoline price was reduced from Wednesday's opening at $2.21 to $2.05 Saturday. There were considerably more shoppers buying good Saturday afternoon compared to Wednesday's morning grand opening.

Post your comments below, good or bad, about LaBelle's largest store.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hilton Hudson Dies At 65

Hilton Oid Hudson, age 65, of LaBelle, passed away May 6, 2016 in Fort Myers.

He was born Aug. 22, 1950 in Westville, FL, to the late Walter Lee and the late Elva Mae (Lashley) Hudson.

He is survived by his companion: Amanda Harrington, daughter: Kathryn Lynnette Tindall, brother: Glen (Sandy) Hudson, sisters: Mavis Hawthorne and Margaret Gunter, granddaughters: Kindall and Kaydence Tindall, nieces & nephews and sister and brother in laws.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 15, 2016, 2:00 pm at Community Harvest Worship Center, LaBelle with Pastor L. W. Howard officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the church or charity of your choice.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Health Department Outreach To Community

Florida Department of Health Hendry/Glades has partnered with the Healthier Hendry/Glades Task Force to conduct four Child Safety community outreach events, specifically addressing prevention of drowning and heatstroke in a vehicle. 
Golisano Children's Hospital provided a large thermometer that shows the outside temperature versus the temperature inside a vehicle to illustrate the danger of hot cars. Families will receive a complimentary car seat safety check and a bag of child safety materials provided by multiple area agencies. Families will also receive information about local agencies to connect them to services they may need, including Healthy Families!

Outreach events are being held at LaBelle Elementary, Redlands Children Migrant Association, Children's Garden preschool and the Walmart grand-opening celebration in LaBelle. DOH Hendry/Glades staff members are participating in these events (Healthy Families, Preparedness, and Healthy Start/Nurse Family Partnership staff.)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Walmart LaBelle Opens Wednesday 7:30 A.M.

LABELLE, FL. -- The new LaBelle Walmart Supercenter parking lot is empty today, but Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., it's certainly going to look a lot different.

Florida's newest 24-hour marketplace will open officially Wednesday morning with ceremonies at the new store just west of the city of LaBelle. On Saturday. local community organizations will hold displays of community interest at the new store.

Walmart intends to open 50 to 60 Supercenters and 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets in Fiscal 2017, which begins Feb. 1. In the same period, Sam’s Club plans to open in seven to 10 new locations. Internationally, Walmart intends to open between 200 and 240 stores during the coming year.

Frontier's Takeover Of Verizon Showing Rising Complaints

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi has been in contact with Frontier Communications Corporation, and today sent a letter to the company requesting better customer service for Floridians. Frontier acquired Verizon Communications wireless properties in parts of Florida earlier this year. Since then, more than 100 consumers have contacted the Attorney General’s Office with complaints about internet, security, phone and television services.

“The problems created during Frontier’s acquisition of Verizon are leaving some Florida seniors without the security services they paid for, and to complicate matters, without telephone service, many of them may not even be able to dial 911 in case of an emergency,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I asked Frontier to do the right thing, fix these problems as soon as possible, and issue refunds to all consumers who have experienced an interruption in their services, without the customer having to request a refund.”

Consumers have also complained about being placed on hold for up to two hours and poor customer service once they do reach a Frontier representative. Many report receiving higher than expected fees when trying to cancel accounts.

Following up on conversations last week with company representatives, Attorney General Bondi sent a letter demanding better service for all Frontier customers in Florida. To view the letter, click here.

From March 29, through May 9, of this year the Attorney General’s Office received 128 complaints about Frontier. The office forwarded each of the complaints to the company, and so far, the company has been responsive to at least 56 of these complaints.

The company recently set up an email address and phone number in an effort to better assist customers. To reach the company, emailConsumer.Affairs@FTR.com or call (800) 921-8101.

Any Frontier customers experiencing problems should also file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com or calling (866) 9NO-SCAM.

Alaskan Eagle And Covered Dish Dinner On Audubon Program

LABELLE, FL. -- The May 16 Hendry-Glades Audubon program "Haines Alaska, Eagle Festival" will be presented by Mary Giddens and Sandy Woodall.

This free event will be held Monday May 16 at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle at 7 p.m.

Everyone is invited to a covered dish dinner at 6:30 pm before the program. . Bring your favorite side dish or dessert to share. HGAS will provide ham and baked chicken.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day - Commentary By Bill Neville

Commentary By T.W. Bill Neville

With my Mother having left this world in 1976 and my wife,
the Mother of our 5 sons, in 2015, I'm facing the "first"
Mother's Day without a "Mother" at all. Never fear, those five
sons she gave me, provided 4 of the greatest Mothers in the world!
Four Daughter in Laws, 10 GRANDS. & 6 GREAT GRANDS.

With that as "MY" heritage from my wife of 66 years, will I
be happy on "this" Mother's Day? That's a "resounding"
YES, as I approach my 88th birthday, "courtesy" of my "own"

It was from "both" my Mother and my wife, who were, and
still are "role" models for those who were fortunate enough
to have known them. That "heritage", I speak of, is
best evidenced in what I learned from them, and what they
taught me about "LOVE."

LOVE is more than verses on a Mother's Day card, exchanging
"VOWS". pledging to love. honor and obey, or even two HEARTS
blending into "ONE." Once we learn that "LOVE" is HERE
and NOW, REAL and TRUE, and the most IMPORTANT thing in the
world, YOU are on your way to that "fabled" SHANGRI LA!

"TRUE" LOVE "radiates" such happiness that never fades, it's
mysterious, magical joy, is what sustains me, and is the
"greatest" treasure of "all", known "only" to those that have, or
are, experiencing "TRUE LOVE!!"

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Scam Alert - Fake IRS Agent Phone Calls

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous complaints from residents reporting that they are receiving calls from individuals identifying themselves as IRS agents.

The callers claim to be from the IRS and are telling residents that they owe back taxes. The victims are being threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of their driver’s license if they don't pay up. In most cases, the callers become aggressive and insulting.
It appears that the callers are trying to frighten their victims; and unfortunately it often works. Sheriffs Steve Whidden said, “Fortunately the callers who contacted us ignored the callers' demands recognizing it as a scam.”
If you received an e-mail, or message from an automated caller or if you speak with someone who says you owe back taxes, do not provide them with any personal information such as your social security number, credit card or bank number. 

If you actually owe money to the IRS you will first receive a notice in the mail. Sheriff Whidden warns not to fall for these scam artists on the internet or over the phone.

The IRS will not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, social media or text messages to get information from a person or ask for financial information. It also doesn't ask for pin numbers or other confidential access information.
If you believe you may be a victim to this scam, please contact law enforcement immediately.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Yaisel Rodriquez - 20 Years For Pornography

Fort Myers, Florida – U.S. District Judge John E. Steele has sentenced Yaisel Rodriguez (25, Cape Coral) to 20 years in federal prison for producing child pornography. The Court also ordered him to forfeit his computer, tablet, a thumb drive, and two DVDs that were used to commit the offense. Rodriguez pleaded guilty on January 5, 2016.

According to court documents, on four separate occasions between April 2014 and January 2015, an FBI agent was able to download files depicting child pornography that Rodriguez had made available for sharing over the Internet.

On March 5, 2015, the FBI executed a search warrant at Rodriguez’s home. During the course of an interview with agents, he disclosed that he had been downloading and viewing child pornography since he was a teenager. He also told agents that he had recently ended a two-year relationship with a minor boy who lived in Ohio. Rodriguez said that he had met the boy in a chat room and the two later communicated via Skype and Facebook. Rodriguez also told the agents that he and the boy had exchanged naked photographs and videos.

Rodriguez further admitted that he had traveled to Ohio on at least three occasions to visit the boy, stayed in his home, and that one of his visits had lasted for a month. According to Rodriguez, in the summer of 2013, the boy and his mother traveled to Cape Coral and stayed in Rodriguez’s home for two weeks. Rodriguez said that he and the boy had shared a bedroom, and that he had taken sexually explicit images of and with the minor during this stay.

A subsequent digital forensic examination of the computer and media found in Rodriguez’s bedroom revealed that he had collected more than 120 videos depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In addition, more than 500 images and 20 videos depicting the minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct were recovered.

Caloosahatchee River Reservoir Public Forum May 11

All are invited to attend a Riverwatch public forum to discuss the C-43 (Caloosahatchee River) West Basin Storage Reservoir being built in Hendry County by the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The forum will be Wednesday, May 11 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm in the downtown Ft. Myers branch of Lee County Library in Community Meeting Rooms A-D, attached to the Talking Books building at 1651 Lee Street, Ft. Myers.

The forum is co-hosted by the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (Riverwatch) and the Southwest Florida Watershed Council.

C-43 West Reservoir is a 600 million dollar water storage project covering 15 square miles. The reservoir will capture excess wet season Caloosahatchee River flows to the estuary and then release the water back to the estuary during the dry season. This water management strategy is designed to help balance the Caloosahatchee estuary salinity and improve its ecosystem. Riverwatch and Watershed Council will discuss the reservoir and what additional features or projects can improve its contributions to solving regional water problems.

Moderating the event will be Chad Gillis, journalist for the News Press. Presenters will include Wayne Daltry speaking on the reservoir project history, John Cassani discussing water quality considerations of the project, John Capece describing water storage and delivery valuation, and Jennifer Hecker highlighting the project benefits. After the brief introductory presentations, the floor will be open to public comment, questions and discussion.

The forum is a follow-up discussion motivated by the News Press front page article on April 10 titled "Will reservoir be a dog?" by Chad Gillis. The article questioned water quality aspects of the C-43 West Reservoir Project. The story generated many responses and inquiries, including a South Florida Water Management District press release defending the reservoir project.

Leading up to the News Press article, the Riverwatch Technical Committee met on March 7 to begin the process of resolving its perspectives on the range of Caloosahatchee River water management issues, including the reservoir project. The News Press article of April 10 provides a unique opportunity for Riverwatch and Watershed Council to continue their deliberations and open these discussions on the C-43 West Reservoir to a more public audience.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Helen Marie Sampson Dies At 91

Helen Marie Sampson, age 91, of LaBelle, passed away April 28, 2016 in Lehigh Acres. She was born Feb. 9, 1925 in Deerfield, OH, to the late David and the late Leeta (Middleton) Sampson, Sr.

Survivors include her sisters; Ruth Jane Gintert of Rootstown, Ohio, Irma Head and Frances Davis, one brother; David Sampson, Jr.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Prayer Breakfast Thursday

LABELLE, FL. -- Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, Thursday, May 5th. LaBelle Civic Center

Doors open at 6:30 for a FREE breakfast. Prayer Program begins at 7:00 a.m.

Hosted by ‘The Gathering of Christian Men. Many local pastors will be participating. Thank you to all organizations who donated food and supplies & Kiwanis for set-up & decorations.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Balwinder Mann Dies In Motorcycle Crash

Balwinder Mann, 36 of Boca Raton died in a crash Sunday at 12:21 p.m. in Hendry County.

Dayana Venerero, 25 of West Palm Beach, in a 2013 Chevy Spark and Mann on a 2008 Kawasaki motorcycle were both westbound on State Road 80, approximately half a mile west of Hendry Isles Blvd.

Mann was traveling behind Venerero until the motorcucle began to pass on the left lane. The Chevy failed to yield the right of way of the motorcycle as it attempted to make a left turn into a private driveway on the south shoulder of State Road 80, consequently causing the front end of the motorcycle to collide with the driver's side of the car.

The Chevy came to final rest on the eastbound lane of State Road 80 facing south. The motorcycle came to final rest on the eastbound lane of State Road 80, overturned and facing north. Mann was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital.

Venerero was cited for failure to yield to a passing vehicle. Venerero had no injuries and a passenger in the Chevy had minor injuries.

Schools Game Day May 12

Hendry County Schools Game Day, Thursday, May 12, 2016 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Hendry-LaBelle Civic Park, 800 Jaycee-Lions Dr.

Please come out and support our Hendry County athletes.

We need volunteers, for this event to flow beautifully. To these students this is a Special Olympic Field Day being held at the soccer park where Zac’s Playground is located. Classes will be bused in. There will be 80-90 Special Needs students participating from all schools in Hendry County.

We need help setting up 8:00-9:30 a.m. and cleaning-up/closing down from 1-2.

Teachers will stay with their class. Events will be going on simultaneously so we need volunteers to man the various events throughout the morning.

Come for whatever time you can come. Please contact: Crystal Rodriguez M.S. ESE ~ 863-612-0750

Monday, May 02, 2016

Scam Alert - Jamaican Lottery Scheme

Two Florida Residents Charged In Jamaican Lottery Scheme
Orlando, Florida – Yanique Chantel Coach (25, Orlando) and Dwayne Breary (31, Ft. Lauderdale) have been arrested and charged for conspiracy to commit mail fraud in a scheme to collect money from the elderly.

According to the complaint, in October and November 2014, an 89-year-old woman in Virginia received phone calls from two individuals who claimed that she had won $3.5 million from the Mega Millions Sweepstakes. One of the callers said he was associated with the Mega Millions Sweepstakes and the other purported to be an attorney. 

The callers told the victim that her name had been entered into the lottery through a magazine subscription, but that she needed to pay fees and taxes before she could receive her winnings. From October 31, 2014, through November 25, 2014, the victim complied with the directions from the Mega Millions Sweepstakes callers and mailed $282,600 in cash to various locations in Florida and Georgia. She concealed the money in magazines and cereal boxes.

After the learning about the large withdrawals of money, the victim’s family contacted the FBI. On March 6, 2015, the victim was instructed by the callers to send $150,000 to an apartment in Orlando. On March 19, 2015, FBI agents conducted a controlled delivery of a UPS package, appearing to be from the victim, to the apartment. Agents had determined the apartment belonged to Coach. During surveillance, Breary signed for the package, using an alias, and accepted it. Agents then executed a search warrant and recovered the package from Coach’s bedroom.

Further investigation revealed that Coach and Breary had accepted the previously sent packages by signing a fake name. An individual from Jamaica then travelled to Florida to retrieve the cash. Coach and Breary were paid for their part in the scheme by that individual, who then returned to Jamaica with the victim’s money.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James D. Mandolfo.

Share The Road With Motorcycles And Bicycles

This May, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is reminding motorists to share the road with motorcycles and bicycles in recognition of Motorcycle and Bicycle Safety Awareness Month.

This month, DHSMV is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association and Ride Smart Florida to remind motorists that there is only one road and we must share it.

Additional information can be found on the Share the Road Campaign page. Click here for Motorcycle and Bicycle Crashes by County and use #SharetheRoad to help share this important safety message. All 2015 data is preliminary as of March 28, 2016.