Monday, June 18, 2018

Free Family Movie Summer Starts July 3

LABELLE, FL. -- The 36th Summer Movie Fest will begin Tuesday July 3, with animated movie “Peter Rabbit”

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

The family Movie Festival started out as a first summer program in LaBelle 36 years ago. The first five or six years we use 35mm film shipped from Disney pictures. The Festival was so popular that people came from Clewiston and Fort Myers.

 High-quality movies and a combination of air conditioning and the community getting together quickly filled the building at each showing. As time went by they converted projection equipment to DVD and Blu-Ray. 

To offset the cost of all the air-conditioning and videos they asked the businesses of the community to help sponsor the festival each year. Some of the businesses from the beginning years are  Family Eye Care, Nisbet Enterprises McDonald’s and Big V Restaurant.  This year appointed was Julie Wilkins as Festival coordinator.  if you know someone or business that would like to sponsor this event call Julie at 863-673-4529.

July 10th will be Pastor Avery’s all time funniest movie “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.” Other titles will be released as they are available.

The 36th 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. Contact 675-0900 or e-mail

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Betty Lou Meeks Dies At 90

Betty Lou Meeks, age 90, of Oxford, FL passed away June 14, 2018 in Oxford.She was born Aug. 13, 1927 in Williamsville, DE, to the late Harvey Franklin and the late Elva Mae (Widgeon) Dennis. She was a former resident of Athens, GA, LaBelle, Bradenton and Inverness, FL.

Betty retired as a teacher from LaBelle High School in 1992 and was a charter member of Delta Kappa Gamma. She was a member of the United Methodist Church.

Survivors include her daughters: Betty Ann (Clyde) Aiken,The Villages, Barbara Jan (Mike) Gann, Inverness and Donna Sue (Don) Trask, Lakeland, brother: Robert Dennis; sister: Jacqueline Cleveland, grandchildren: Ted (Kristi) Aiken, Steve (Jean Lavoie) Aiken, Michael Gann; Allison (Billy) Guynn, Andy Howard and Amy Sherrill and great-grandchildren: Joshua, Caleb, Luke and Noah Aiken, Morgan, Clayton and Logan Guynn and Mason, Madi and Myla Gann

She was preceded in death by her husband: James E. Meeks, son: Eddie Meeks, brother: Charles Dennis and sisters: Judith James, Barbara Dennis and Vivian Dennis.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, July 8, 2018, 4:00 pm at Manatee United Methodist Church, Bradenton with Dr. Gene Maddox and Chaplain Seth Howard officiating.

Interment was in Fort Denaud Cemetery in LaBelle.

'Little Toot' The Giving Tugboat Arrives In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- Little Toot the Giving Tugboat, a 1973 Crosby Tugboat returned to his home in LaBelle, Florida with Captain Christopher after four years of refitting and making ready for voyages around the waterways of the U.S.

The 26' tugboat is operated by Captain Christopher where it was purchased from it's LaBelle, Florida owner four years ago and sailed to Fort Myers for refurbishing. 

Captain Christopher, a writer, volunteers with the Freedom Waters Foundation, storytelling and giving marine related experiences to special needs families and veterans in South Florida. 

Little Toot, named after the best selling children's book was the first fiberglass recreational tugboat built by the Crosby Yacht Yard in Osterville, Massachusetts in 1972.

Little Toot, said the Captain, is the "Giving Tug who has come home for his 'grass rOOts tour' of Florida and share his stories while Captain Christopher writes The New Adventures of Little Toot."

Ortona lock Open After Maintenance Reparis

ORTONA, FL. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has resumed normal operations at the Ortona Lock on the Okeechobee Waterway, following completion of maintenance and repairs.

Completion of the work allows the Corps to resume normal operations as of Sunday, June 17, locking vessels on demand between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last lockage beginning at 4:30 p.m., seven days a week.

"We know that everyone who uses the Okeechobee Waterway has been anxious to have the lock back open and operational. We recognize these repairs have posed an inconvenience to boaters, both commercial and recreational," said Carol Bernstein, Jacksonville District Operations Division Chief. "Our thanks goes out to the boating community for their patience and understanding while we completed repairs to keep our infrastructure safe and our waterways open in the future. Planned maintenance minimizes the chance of costly emergency closures in the future, which typically take much longer to complete."

"This was the first lock closure along the Okeechobee Waterway in six years. We had to inspect and maintain our locks, and replace the gate seals," said Gary Russ, Chief of the South Florida Operations Office located in Clewiston. "Despite the long days and tough work, this was a great team effort. We waited for manatees to move to safety and electrical storms to pass, and worked long hours in the south Florida heat. Wayne Sullivan's team of skilled workers brought years of knowledge and experience and worked together as a team, each person depending on others to get the job done. It was a job well done."

Maintenance is necessary periodically to repair aging and damaged infrastructure, in addition to improving public and vessel safety. Repairs required the lock chamber to be dewatered for crews to perform inspections, replace gate seals and repair Manatee Protection System (MPS) components. During the closure, barges, floating cranes and divers worked in the lock entrance, required vessel operators in the area to use minimal speed and caution for safety.

The Corps of Engineers published a notice to navigation interests and coordinated with marinas, commercial and recreational vessels, and members of the public in advance of the closure of the Ortona Lock for maintenance June 4 through 16.

The Ortona Lock is located on the Caloosahatchee River, 15.5 miles west of the Moore Haven Lock on the west side of Lake Okeechobee, and 27.9 miles east of the W.P. Franklin Lock near Olga and Fort Myers. The Ortona Lock and Dam were constructed in 1937 for navigation and flood control purposes. The Ortona Lock is one of five locks located along the 152-mile Okeechobee Waterway, which allows safe passage of vessels from the Atlantic Ocean near Stuart to the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Myers.

Learn more about the Ortona Lock:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Priscilla Hapke Dies At 75

Priscilla Marie Hapke, age 75, of LaBelle, passed away June 12, 2018 in Fort Myers.
She was born Apr. 2, 1943 in Janesville, WI, to the late John and Hazel (Schmaling) Schultz.
Survivors include one son: Delbert Hapke
two daughters: Susan Gomez and Cathleen Cruz,
9 grandchildren 9 great grandchildren
She was predeceased by her husband Delbert Hapke.
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

A Walk Across Florida - Key West At Last

Excerpt From A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich

I was way ahead of schedule, and the weather was perfect. I crossed the bridge over Boca Chica Channel and now was on Stock Island. This was the Key next to Key West where historically livestock were raised for the market on Key West. The highway here was busy. The last bridge over Cow Key Channel was a real milestone for me. I had counted a total of 40 bridges that I had crossed, including the 4 bridges I had to ride because they were too dangerous to walk. I was now on Key West. This last bridge connecting Stock Island and Key West was a divided highway with a sidewalk.

That is when I came upon a Navy man and his girlfriend taking a picture at the Key West city sign. I told them that I would take their picture with their camera if they would take mine. It was a deal!

Now there was lots of traffic. People waved out of their cars to me. The tourist rubber tire Conch Tour Train went by, and all of the tourists riding on it waved and hollered. I noticed a couple of motorcycle policemen watching me. A boy on a bicycle came up as U. S. Highway 1 ended and I turned onto North Roosevelt Boulevard. He talked to me about my trip as we walked along. He stayed with me until I crossed over North Roosevelt to First Street to look for my relative’s house which was on Fogarty.

A man walking on the sidewalk coming towards me said,  
 “From Homestead?”
 I say, “Even longer…from Georgia.” He looked stupefied….

I had just completed my walk across Florida...700+ miles in 5 1/2 weeks!

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or


A Note from the author after two years of excerpts from his book A Walk Across Florida:

To Don and all of the fine readers of Don Browne’s Southwest Florida News,

It has been my pleasure and honor to send the 41 episodes to you from my book, A Walk Across Florida.

Please keep in mind that it is a 306 page paperback with 116 pages of watercolors, sketches, and maps. Most of the pages of photos have two photos on each of them. The 41 episodes  are about 41 of it’s pages. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I did doing the hiking ,writing and selecting the episodes.

I have just completed my sequel to A Walk across Florida,. It will be a 350 page paperback book. It will have the watercolors I made of Key West with true and fictional stories of those watercolors. The book is in editing and just as soon as I have it published, my good friend Don Browne will get a copy of it for his review. If he finds it suitable he may allow me to send you out episodes of it.

Take care, the best of luck, and God Bless you—all.

Bob Kranich

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Obituary - Charles R. DeMuzzio

Charles R. DeMuzzio, age 82, of LaBelle,FL passed away June 9, 2018 in Cape Coral.
He was born June 4, 1936 in Pittsburgh, PA, to the late Charles C and Florence Evelyn (Bianchi) DeMuzzio.
He served in the Coast Guard from 02/18/1954 to 02/17/1962.
Survivors include three daughters: Vicki Greene, Kim Thomas and Sherrie Franklin,
one brother: Edward DeMuzzio
one sister: Janice Boots
3 grandchildren
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Museum Seeking Pioneer Families

LaBelle Heritage Museum is researching available records and archives for names of families who have been in the LaBelle area for at least 50 years and even earlier who have never been honored as the LaBelle Swamp Cabbage Festival Pioneer or Pioneer Family since Corrine Poole Forrey was chosen as the 1969 Festival’s Pioneer and the Alvah Burke Family was honored as the Pioneer Family.

After that first year, an area family whose LaBelle roots were planted in earlier days has been honored annually as Swamp Cabbage Festival Pioneer Family. It seemed over the years that those early families had all been honored. However, there are a number of our early families who still have strong connections with LaBelle that have never been honored by name include the Jack Ridgdill Family, the Carley Barnes Family, the King Curry Family, the Judge John Caldwell Family, the Robert V. Hedges Family, the Clarence and Daisy Dozier Family, the George E. Curtis Family, the Paul and Susie Martinez Family, and the J. O. Davidson Family; although, some individual family members may have been honored by virtue of being descendants of other named Pioneer Families.

If you are a member of a LaBelle area family who has never been honored or know of a family you believe should be recognized, please contact LaBelle Heritage Museum either by calling (863)674-0034 and leaving a message or by email to Joe Thomas and the LHM officers and volunteers will be glad to help you in putting together information to submit to the Swamp Cabbage Festival Committee for selection as the 2019 Swamp Cabbage Festival Pioneer Family.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Obituaries - Robert Cochran, Maria Delfinado

Robert Dalton Cochran, Jr., age 38, of LaBelle, passed away June 7, 2018.
He was born Nov. 6, 1979 in Ft Myers, to Robert Dalton and Cheryl Yvonne (Roberts) Cochran.
Survivors include two daughters: Nevaeh Cochran and Arianna Cochran,
Parents Robert Dalton and Cheryl Yvonne (Roberts) Cochran,
Sister: Kimberly Harn
He owned a carpet cleaning business.
Visitation will be on Wednesday June 13, 2018 from 11AM to 12 PM at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home 560 E. Hickpochee Ave. LaBelle.
Funeral services will be held at 12:00 pm. In lieu of flowers a gofundme account has been set up
Maria H. Delfinado, age 89, of Clewiston, FL passed away June 6, 2018 in Clewiston.
She was born Aug. 30, 1928 in Phoenix, AZ.
Survivors include four sons: Christopher Delfinado, Larry Delfinado, Darryl Delfinado and Leonard Delfinado,
one daughter: Maria
many Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren.
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Manuel Rangel Dies In Motorcycle Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- Manuel Rangel, 32 of Cape Coral was traveling east on State Road 80 in Hendry county at 7:45 P.M. Thursday. In the attempt to negotiate a curve to the left in the roadway, his 2006 Honda motorcycle ran off the roadway onto the right shoulder. The front right corner struck the guardrail located on the south shoulder of State Road 80.

As a result, Rangel was separated from the motorcycle and thrown into the canal south of State Road 80.
It came to final rest on the south shoulder of State Road 80 facing south. The driver of the mtorcycle sustained injuries that were fatal on scene.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Taylor Marie Hicks - Obituary

Taylor Marie Hicks, 21, of LaBelle, FL. passed away May 27, 2018 in Alva, FL. She was born Sep. 5, 1996 in Ft. Myers, FL. to David and Priscilla (Williamson) Hicks.

Survivors include: Father David Hicks. Mother Priscilla Williamson-Hicks, Brother: Aaron Hicks. Grandfather, Kenny Williamson, Aunts, Terrie Thompson; Amie (Tom) Grant; Lea Burnside; Rebecca Williamson; Melissa C Dixon; and Heather Rock

She worked for Culver's.

Visitation was held on Friday June 1, 2018 from 10 AM to 12 PM at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Labelle. Funeral services were held Friday, June 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle. Interment was Friday, June 1, 2018 in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Info Sought In Shooting In Harlem Sunday

CLEWISTON, FL. -- At approximately 6:55 pm, Sunday, June 3, 2018, Hendry County Deputies and Investigators responded to the area of 1068 Harlem Academy, Clewiston, Florida.

When Deputies arrived on scene they located one victim who was conscious and suffering from gunshot wounds. The victim was transported for medication attention.

Witnesses have reported that the vehicle was black in color but they are not certain of the make, model and year. After the shooting the suspect(s) left the area.

The Sheriff's office said they do not believe the community is in danger. The motive for the shooting is currently unknown.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Hendry County Sheriff's Office at 863-674-5600 or call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477), where you can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a $1,000.00 reward.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Baby Injured In Port LaBelle Accident

LABELLE, FL. -- One year old Miranda Maciel is in serious condition after being hit by a mail vehicle at 1:25 p.m. Saturday.

A 1996 Jeep Cherokee driven by Leslie Murray, 53 of Fort Denaud was westbound on West Broad Circle at Ike Court in Port LaBelle and then came to a stop at the residence of 9005 West Broad Circle in order to facilitate delivery of the mail. Murray is a contract mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in LaBelle.

Upon bringing the Jeep to a stop, Murray began to interact with Yurida Arroyo, 28 of LaBelle, the parent of the one-year old Miranda Maciel. The child then entered the roadway and approached the left front side of the Jeep.

Subsequent to her interaction (communication) with Arroyo, Murray returned to the vehicle and then placed it in drive gear.

As a result, the left front tire of the vehicle struck the child while she was in the westbound lane of the roadway. The parent then signaled Murray to bring the vehicle to an abrupt stop.

The child was later transported by Lee Flight to Tampa General Hospital and is in stable condition.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

George Thomas Sapp Dies At 73

George Thomas "Tommy" Sapp, age 73, of St. James City, passed away May 26, 2018 in Fort Myers.

Tommy was born in Nocatee, Florida on July 8, 1944 to Thomas Virgil and Eva Elizabeth Summeralls Sapp. He grew up in rural Moore Haven, graduated from Moore Haven High School, and went into the United States Air Force where he was stationed in Turkey at Incirlik Air Base, then he transferred to London, England where he became a military mail handler at Heathrow Airport- he received and dispersed mail to all the military installations across the region. Tommy is survived by his love and soulmate, Donna, daughter; Alana Drennon and son-in-law; Barry, five grandons, one granddaughter, two great grandchildren, one step-son Reg Lewis. He was preceded by his son; Todd Thomas Sapp and his parents.

Coming home to Clewiston and started working for the United States Postal Service working in Clewiston until he retired in 1995. He married his partner of Life Donna in 1990 and they celebrated their 28th anniversary this past January. Tommy dearly loved to fish and hunt. His biggest passion was fishing on Lake Okeechobee for most of his life. Life was good, great people in the community became "family" and fishing was a daily adventure and he loved bringing in fresh fish and frying them up for dinner with grits and hush puppies

Celebration of Tommy's life will be 12 noon, Saturday June 2, 2018 in Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Hurricane Support Group Offers Help

Do you have unmet needs resulting from Hurricane Irma and have exhausted all other resources? 

Contact Hendry/Glades Unmet Needs Coalition Coordinator: Terri Miazga Phone: 813-892-5021 Fax: 863-675-9393 E-mail: c/o LaBelle United Way House 133 N. Bridge Street LaBelle, FL 33935

Non-profit representatives and other interested parties who would want to help Hendry and Glades County residents with unmet needs because of Hurricane Irma are invited to meetings at the following locations and dates:

Meetings at Glades Regional Training Center located at 1030 Industrial Drive Moore Haven, FL 33471 on Friday June 8, 2018 @ 5:30 pm and Friday June 22, 2018 @ 5:30 pm: First United Methodist Church located at 331 West Osceola Avenue, Clewiston, Florida 33440 on Friday, July 6, 2018 @ 1pm and Friday, July 20, 2018 @ 5:30 pm

Taylor Hicks Dies In Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- Taylor M. Hicks, 21 of LaBelle was traveling west in a 2016 Ford Fiesta in the left turn lane of SR-80 (Palm Beach Blvd), approaching Joel Blvd at 7:43 P.M. Sunday night.

Hermelo Maya Arias, 40 of Alva was traveling east in a 2000 Chevy Tahoe in the right lane of SR-80 (Palm Beach Blvd), approaching Joel Blvd. The right front of the Ford collided with the right side of the Chevy truck.

The Ford came to final rest facing north on the grass south shoulder. The truck came to final
rest facing south on the grass south shoulder.

Hicks was pronounced deceased on scene. Arias and passenger Jair Cuuvas Salinas, 23 of Alva were transported to Lee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Patricia Billings Dies At 69

Patricia Ann Billings 69, of Moore Haven ,FL. passed away May 23, 2018 in Moore Haven.

She was born Feb. 14, 1949 in Arcadia, FL, to the late Edward F. and Montene Ethel (Crews) Pent.

Survivors include a son: Harold Wayne Billings. a daughter: Tammy Billings. one sister: Ola Norman. 9 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren

She was predeceased by her husband Harold Wayne Billings Sr, grandson Harold Wayne Billings III, her parents and siblings.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday May 29, 2018 from 6 to 8 PM at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home 560 East Hickpochee Ave. Labelle.

Funeral Service will be Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 11:00 am at Ortona Cemetery Pavillion with Rev. Frank Deerey officiating.

Key West And Boca Chica Key - Walking Across Florida

Excerpt From A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich

My next conversation was with an electric pole construction crew. The causeway was so narrow that a person couldn’t help but bump into them. They had lots of questions and were all ears to hear my story of starting from Georgia.

Big Coppitt Key, and about a mile further, I crossed a two-fifths of a mile bridge over Rockland Channel and I was on Boca Chica Key. I could already see the Navy planes taking off and landing from the big naval air station.

I could also see three blimps in the background. The Hawkeye aircraft carrier radar planes with large disks on the top were coming and going. To a novice like me, it appeared that they were practicing takeoffs and landings. These aircraft provided all-weather airborne early warning. They also had many advanced capabilities that supported aircraft carrier groups.

This particular naval base was started in 1940 when Monroe County gave the U. S. Army Air Corps a county airport on Boca Chica Key for fixed-wing aircraft. It was later transferred to the U. S. Navy and became part of Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West. Today it is a training facility with the latest and best equipment and facilities. It is used for training by air-to-air combat fighter aircraft of all the military services. The weather here is almost perfect for flying year round. Since it is in the Atlantic and Gulf, aircrews can begin training as soon as they get airborne.

I came to a “Share The Ride” location where some Navy guys were waiting for a ride into Key West. I stopped and joked with them, that they could share the ride with me, but it was a long walk. I kidded them about going AWOL (absent without leave). When they learned that I had been in the United States Army just a year and one half ago, we got along real fine. They all said that they would rather “Fly Navy” than walk. I wished the guys good luck.

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gualberto Gamboa Arrested Again On Cocaine Charges

LABELLE, FL. -- On Thursday, May 17, 2018, at approximately 10:30 pm, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit was requested to respond to the home of 35 year old Gualberto Gamboa, who resides at 4291 Ft. Keis Ave., LaBelle. The mobile home at that location, according to Hendry records is the homestead property of Sandra A. Golemme.

It had been reported that a State Probation Officer was currently inside the residence conducting a home search of a probationer. Gamboa is on State Probation for Charges of Cocaine Possession once in July of 2013, again in August 2013 and for the third time in late August 2013 Possession of Cocaine with intent to Deliver/Sell/Manufacture (Trafficking Cocaine). The State Probation Officer stated that while searching the home he located a substance which appeared to be and tested positive for Cocaine. A larger amount of cocaine was located in a separate room.

HCSO Narcotics Unit obtained a search warrant and entered the residence. As a result, Narcotics Deputies seized 1.5 pounds of cocaine, 200 grams of marijuana, 8 marijuana vape pens, and numerous packaging materials to include baggies, scales and tools to facilitate the processing of cocaine. Deputies also seized $1,182.00 from the residence as proceeds of the sale of narcotics.

Gamboa was taken into custody and charged with Possession of Cocaine w/ Intent to Sell, Trafficking in Cocaine over 28 grams, Possession of Marijuana w/ Intent to Sell, Possession of Marijuana over 20 grams, Possession of Drug Equipment and Violation of Probation.

Gamboa is currently being held with No Bond. (Photo below: Seized Evidence)

'Space" Truck Sits In LaBelle Garnering Stares

LABELLE, FL. -- Nour Addine Ayyoub, CEO and Founder of Zai Lab Software managed to get his military surplus V-10 turbo diesel monster "Space" truck from Cape Town, South Africa to Florida on a road tour promoting his corporate communication center company.

Plans are to travel around the U.S. at conferences and heading to Tampa this week after a trip to Orlando earlier. But seems it's apparently stuck at Main Street and Hickopochee in LaBelle for a few days.

The futuristic design is to capture attention and serve to demonstrate it's software and hardware products on it's travels around Africa, and now the U.S. as well as to promote his foundation's Voices of Humanity project. The huge truck now captures looks by passing motorists in downtown LaBelle.

FHP Operation P.E.D.S. For Street Safety

FORT MYERS, FL. -- On May 22, 2018, the Florida Highway Patrol, held Operation P.E.D.S. (Pedestrian Education and Developing Safety details) on State Road 80 (Palm Beach Boulevard) between Marsh Avenue and Channel Lane from 8:00 am til 10:00 am.

The purpose of this detail was to decrease the amount of injuries and deaths through a series of highly concentrated education and enforcement details in areas prone to pedestrian and bicyclist involved crashes.

Troopers passed out educational flyers, installed bicycle lights/reflectors and provided other safety material to those in need including 87 Pedestrian educational encounters and 14 Bicycle lights installed.

Lt. Gregory Bueno said during the operation the troopers make "citizen encounters to share safety info. They are relatively brief, sharing info, installing a bike light if in need or sometime just hand out if they do not have the bike and remind everyone to be aware of surroundings especially whenever near roads or crossings."

Friday, May 18, 2018

Obituaries-Cummings, O'Ferrell, Padron, Harris, Morejon, Pellot

Merritt Max Cummings, age 88, of Clewiston, passed away May 15, 2018 in Palms West Hospital.

Max was born Apr. 9, 1930 in Avard, Oklahoma to Lester and Bernice (Hosman) Cummings. He honorably served his country in the United States Navy from 1947-1952. He met and married the love of his life and wife Angielean Nazworth in Jacksonville, Florida. He and Angie have lived in Jacksonville, Florida, Melbourne, Florida, Wichita, Kansas, Oklahoma, and finally making Clewiston their home in 1993. He and Angie were members of First Baptist Church of Clewiston. Max was a loving Christian man who loved his family and enjoyed spending time with each one of them.

Max leaves behind his loving wife of 66 years Angielean of Clewiston, children; Kay Walker and her husband Byron of Plantation, Florida, Sandi Schaper and her husband Doug of Loxahatchee, Florida, six grandchildren; Kendra Wells and her husband Dr. Brian, Derek Davis and wife Amie of Dallas, Texas, Amanda Walker of Plantation, Florida, Brandon Walker of Plantation, Florida, Alicia Hobson and her husband Darryl of Lake Worth, Florida, Austin Schaper and his wife Maria of Loxahatchee, Florida, eight great grandchildren, one sister; Winnie Woolcock of Hayward, California

Max was preceded in death by his daughter; Sheila Curtis, sister; Jean Murphy, brothers; Gary Cummings, and Carl Cummings.

Celebration of Max's life will be held Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. in First Baptist Church with Rev. Raul Zaldivar officiating. Visitation will be one hour before service. Burial will be in Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Laura K. "Peggy" O'Ferrell, age 82, of LaBelle, passed away May 15, 2018 in Fort Myers.

She was born Mar. 11, 1936 in Miller County, AR, to the late Earl Edward and the late Ina (Brint) Krieger.

She is survived by her loving husband: Lawrence H. O'Ferrell, son: Larry O'Ferrell (Tammy), daughters: Regina Richardson (Allen) and Tammy Powell (Mark), brother: John Krieger, sister: Nellie Fraizer, grandchildren: Brad Richardson, Greg Richardson, Trey O'Ferrell, Justin O'Ferrell (Kayla), Staci O'Ferrell Tomlinson (Learon), Gavin Powell, Dillon Powell, Jada Powell and great grandchildren: Deacon O'Ferrell and Prezley Powell.

She was preceded in death by her brother; Edward Krieger and sisters; Pansy Chambless, Carrie Martin and Shirley Jones.

A memorial service was held Friday, May 18, 2018 at 11:00 am at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, LaBelle. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church. A luncheon will immediately follow the service at Christ Central LaBelle.

Nelson Valdes Padron, 72, of Clewiston, passed away May 14, 2018 in Clewiston. He was born Apr. 14, 1946 in Cuba, to the late Silvino and Carmen Valdes Padron.

Survivors include two sons: Ernesto Valdes and Alexis Valdes, two brothers: Guillermo Valdes Padron and Arnaldo Valdes Padron, one sister: Caridad Valdes, Grandchildren,

Graveside service will be held Friday, May 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm at Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Dora "Ethelene" Harris, age 88, of LaBelle, passed away May 13, 2018 in LaBelle.

She was born May 25, 1929 in Port Salerno, FL, to the late James Archie Whidden and the late Leona (Blackman) Messor.

She is survived by her two daughters: Lucretia Strickland (James) and Iris Lynn Wooten, grandchildren: Chad Perkins, Ed Harris, Shelley Wooten and nine great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank W. Harris, her son, Edwin "Birdie" Harris and granddaughter, Amanda Daniels.

Funeral services were held Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 11:00 am at Church of God-LaBelle. Visitation was Thursday one hour prior to service at Church of God-LaBelle. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Abel Arnaldo Morejon, 54, of Clewiston, FL passed away May 11, 2018.

He was born July 26, 1963 in Cuba, to the late Nicandro and Dalia (Mayonada) Morejon. Survivors include two daughters: Anisleidys Morejon and Yusaidys Morejon, three brothers: Nicandro Morejon Jr, Jorge L Morejon and Miguel A Morejon,

Funeral services were held Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston. Interment was Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation was Wednesday from 11 AM to 12 PM at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Martha Yolanda Pellot, 68, of LaBelle, passed away May 15, 2018 in LaBelle. She was born Oct. 15, 1949 in Honduras, to the late Ogdulio and Maria (Reyes Ortiz) Mejia.

Survivors include her husband: Geobany Pellot, two sons: Eduardo Guzman and Jose Guzman, one daughter: Geovanna Pellot,  one brother: Marcos Antonio Ortiz, five sisters: Raquel Montoya Ortiz, Julia Maradiaga, Lillian Mejia, Maribel Sorto and Vilma Ortiz, 9 grandchildren

Carol Mae Thorman, 84, of LaBelle, FL. passed away May 10, 2018 in LaBelle. She was born Apr. 25, 1934 in Cleveland, OH. to the late Adolph late Edith (Mansfield) Aerni.

Survivors include one son: David Thorman, one daughter: Nancy Steuber, two granddaughters Shelby Steuber; Joeanna Steuber

World Class Barbershop Gets Ready For Summer

World Class Barbershop Of LaBelle, owned by Hugo Vargas, invites area residents and visitors to visit the barber shop located at 216 South Main Street in LaBelle to start out 2018 with an expert trim, shave or haircut to get ready for your upcoming summer events and vacation.

Among services Hugo and his barbers offer are regular & scissor cuts, flat tops, shaves, and hair styling for all ages.  

World Class Barbershop is open Tuesday through Friday from 8:45 am until 5 pm and Saturday from 7 am until 2 pm. 

Phone: (863) 674-1775

World Class Barbershop is a sponsor of Southwest Florida Online.

Friday, May 11, 2018

15th Century Ship Replicas "Pinta' and 'Nina" Arrive At Fort Myers

FORT MYERS,  FL. - –On Friday, May 11th, at 12:00 pm the ‘Pinta’ and the ‘Nina’, replicas of two of Christopher Columbus’ ships, arrived in Fort Myers. The ships docked at Pinchers Restaurant, at the Ford Edison Marina, 2360 West 1st Street, and will be docked there until their departure early Monday morning May 21st.

The ships open to the general public Saturday, May 12th. The Nina was built by hand and without the use of power tools and is considered to be the most historically correct Columbus Replica ever built. The ‘Pinta’ was recently built in Brazil and is a larger version of the archetypal caravel. Historians consider the caravel the Space Shuttle of the fifteenth century.

While in port, the general public is invited to visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission charges are $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $6.50 for students 5 – 16. Children 4 and under are Free. 

The ships are open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. No reservations necessary.

Teachers or organizations wishing to schedule a 30 minute guided tour with a crew member should call 787 672 2152 or visit our website, click on ‘Take a Tour’ and fill out online form. Minimum of 15. $5.00 per person. No Maximum.

Photo by Don Browne

William "Eddie" Perry Jr Dies At 84

Mr. William "Eddie" Edward Perry, Jr., 84, of Leesburg, GA, passed away on his birthday Friday, May 4, 2018, at his home while surrounded by his family.

Mr. Perry was a former principal at LaBelle Middle School.

A memorial service will be conducted at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, May 12, 2018, at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Albany. The family will receive friends following the service at the church.
Born May 4, 1934, in Sweet Water, TX, Mr. Perry was the son of the late William E. Perry and Vallie Curtis Perry. He proudly served his country in The United States Army, coached Pop Warner football, high school football and was an FSU Booster for many years. Mr. Perry earned his master's degree from North Texas State and retired as a principal from LaBelle Middle School in LaBelle, FL. He was active at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Albany, GA.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Perry was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Patricia, and son, Steven Carl Perry.
Survivors include his daughter, Lisa Perry Faircloth of Leesburg, GA; son, Scott Perry of Galveston, TX; grandchildren, Weston Edward Jones, Jarrett Case Jones, Ryan Edward Perry and Sean Patrick Perry.
In William "Eddie" Perry's memory, "In Lieu of flowers," an account has been set up to offset the costs of cancer treatments for his daughter-in-law, Cathy Perry. Eddie and his wife, Patricia, both battled cancer, and in their honor, we would prefer that tax-deductible donation be made to assist another loved one at this time. Should friends desire, contributions may be sent to CenterState Bank, c/o Cathy Perry, 45 N. Bridge St., LaBelle, Florida, 33935, bank phone: 863-675-0224.

Condolences and memories may be shared at
Joseph W. Jones Funeral Home of Leesburg was given the honor to serve the Perry family.
Joseph W. Jones Funeral Home
Leesburg, GA
Graveside service officiated by Fr Panel Guerrier of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church will be held Saturday, June 2nd at 9 AM

at Fort Denaud Cemetery in LaBelle Florida followed by a reception for Ed's LaBelle Friends details to follow. Ed was a member and Junior Warden at Good Shepherd LaBelle, for a number of years

Monday, May 07, 2018

Ortona Lock Closed June 4

ORTONA, FL. -- Notice is given that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is notifying the public, marinas, commercial and recreational vessels traveling the Okeechobee Waterway that Ortona Lock will be closed for maintenance 4 through 16 June 2018. This will be the first lock closure along the Okeechobee Waterway in 6 years

Maintenance is necessary to repair aging and damaged infrastructure in addition to improving public and vessel safety. Repairs will require the lock chamber to be dewatered for crews to perform inspections, replace gate seals and repair Manatee Protection system components. 

During the closure, barges, floating cranes and divers will be working in the lock entrance, requiring vessel operators in the area to use minimal speed and caution for safety.

Note: The other locks on the Okeechobee Waterway (other than Ortona) and Canaveral remain in full operation.

What's Happening - Audubon, Unmet Needs Coalition

Mark your Calendars for the Hendry-Glades Audubon May Covered Dish Dinner and program at Dallas Townsend Agricultural Extension
located at 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle on Monday May 14th.  The Covered Dish Dinner begins at 6:30 pm.  Bring a side dish or dessert to share.
 At 7pm Mike Knight, District Biologist for the Caloosahatchee District of the Florida Forest Service will present a forestry related program.
  For information about or to become a member of  Hendry-Glades Audubon contact Butch Wilson 863-983-2870 or Margaret England 863-517-0202

Faith-based organizations, volunteer and social agencies, governmental agencies, community-based organizations, business and individual volunteers who seek
to address the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the individuals and families affected by Hurricane Irma are invited to join the Hendry/Glades Unmet Needs Coalition.
The next meeting HGUNC will be meeting on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 1pm at the RCMA child facility (Redlands Christian Migrant Association )
551 West Cowboy Way LaBelle, Florida 33935 For information Phone: 561-516-2103, E-mail:

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Social Media And Smartphone Use By Seniors

LABELLE, FL. -- Depending on age, seniors are using social media with greater frequency in a recent survey.

Most used social media are Facebook and YouTube, while half or more seniors are using smart phones, and about a third of all seniors use some social media.

Planting Sunflowers At Children's Garden

LABELLE, FL. -- Judy Paskvan, Kiwanis Club of LaBelle Board Member read "The Tiny Seed" story to the kids at Children's Garden of LaBelle before helping them to plant sunflower seeds. 

The plants are now 2 inches tall and the kids water them every day.
Judy, among several LaBelle Kiwanis members read stories to kids with the Reading Pals Program at Children’s Garden. 

They will be looking for volunteers to read to the VPK class next school year.
If anyone is interested in reading to pre-school children, they can contact Nancy Coker at United Way, in Fort Myers, 239-433-2000.

Back Barnstorming - T.W. Bill Neville

Back Barnstorming
Commentary by T. W. Bill Neville

BACK in Indiana where basketball was the “plasma” of all sports, I remember only one other challenging crowd pleaser, “BARNSTORMING!”

For those of you not familiar with “it”, it consisted of WW-One airmen who would go from town town trailing air ads that offered airplane rides to those brave enough to spend $5 for a minute ride while they were “dusting” farmers fields on contract.

I never had either the $5 dollars or the courage to go, but several of my buddies did and secured “bragging” rites in the neighborhood. That and their driving every Saturday night in either the “demolition” derbies, the midget car and the Harley/Indian motorcycle races, confirmed their bragging rights all over the County.

The best I was able to accomplish was the Soap Box Derby and when I could afford it some “Glider” flights. Little did I know, then, that those experiences were preparing me for a lifetime as a ”travelling” salesman.

Oh, and by the way, my first commercial flight was in 1952 in a Lake Central DC 3, out of Indianapolis to Detroit and return. Little did I know that in 1958 I would take a job where over a span of almost 40 years, I would be flying on business at least once a week. Upon retirement, one of the requisites of our move to Florida was that we would be within 2 hours of an airport so that my wife could fly to be with families in Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, South Carolina, Illinois, and France. BON VOYAGE!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

$322,430 Pledged For United Way Campaign

LABELLE, FL. -- The 2017-2018 Campaign for the United Way of Hendry & Glades raised a total of $322,430 for its 27 United Way Partner Agencies. The announcement was made by the United Way Campaign Chairs Tommy Perry and Carey Soud at the “Swing Into Spring” event at RiverBend Motorcoach Resort. 

Tommy Perry said as he unveiled the campaign thermometer, “I am extremely pleased to tell you we have made our campaign goal. Our community can be proud that it recognizes and supports the organizations that help our neighbors in need have a better life. Considering Hurricane Irma and the need in our community, reaching goal was critical so that we can fully fund the entire network of United Way Partner Agencies and programs that help thousands of people in our community.”

Nearly 200 people attended the dinner which also featured music by Caloosahatchet and Lee Conwell, a large silent auction, live auction and other games. Swing Into Spring is the signature fundraising event for United Way of Hendry and Glades. It was sponsored at the Platinum level by Verandah; Gold level by Pat and Stanley Heath, Child Care of Southwest Florida, and Kiwanis Club of LaBelle; Silver level by White’s Furniture and Appliances, and CenterState Bank; at the Bronze level by Johnson-Prewitt & Associates, Sue and Tim Stanley, McDonald’s, Lyons Printing, K&M Drugs, U.S. Sugar, and First Bank. A photo booth for all of the attendees to have their pictures taken was sponsored by Direct Industrial Products. The Heads-Tails game was sponsored by Muddy Water Entertainment.

Master of Ceremonies was Paul Puletti, Hendry County School Superintendent, and LaBelle Mayor David Lyons gave the Invocation. Dr. Joe Pepe, of the Department of Health, was the Auctioneer for the Live Auction. 65 items were donated by businesses and members of the community to the auctions.

Lisa Sands, United Way of Hendry and Glades Manager said, “I want to thank RiverBend Motorcoach Resort, Lee Conwell, Caloosahatchet, Sprout Catering, our MC Paul Puletti, Auctioneer Dr. Joe Pepe, and Keepsake Plants for helping make the event so successful. Special thanks to our sponsors, and the Volunteer Committee consisting of Committee Chair Sally Berg, Vanessa Fischel, Karan Roach, Mary Bartoshuk, Kristina Rodriguez, Terri Lazar and Diane Johnson who dedicated several months of preparation for the event.”

All money raised is used to fund the 27 United Way Partner Agencies and 65 programs that provide direct client services in Hendry and Glades counties. Cliff Smith, President of the United Way commented, “This is a wonderful community, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity. Every gift has made a difference because when added together, they make a real impact and change people’s lives for the better.”

In the past year, over 29,500 people visited the Hendry and Glades United Way Houses in LaBelle, Clewiston, and Moore Haven. United Way 211 handled over 1,300 calls by Hendry and Glades residents seeking assistance. In September, United Way 211 became the Storm Information Hotline during Hurricane Irma, and took more than 40,000 calls from people in Southwest Florida.

Some of the agencies that will receive funds from the 2017-2018 United Way of Hendry, and Glades Campaign include: Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT), The Salvation Army, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Children’s Advocacy Center, Child Care of Southwest Florida, Healthy Families, and many others.

In addition to raising funds for human service organizations, the United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies, helping them to work together focusing on issues and solutions that continue to improve lives.

If you know someone who needs help or if you would like to volunteer, please call United Way at (800) 887-9234 or simply dial 2-1-1. You can also visit for more information.

Photo: Swing Into Spring Committee: from the left are Karan Roach, Lisa Sands, Vanessa Fischel, Sally Berg, Kristina Rodriguez. Seated are Mary Bartoshuk and Diane Johnson.

Two Dead In Crash Into A Canal

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Thelmakia Robinson, 20 of Belle Glade  was northbound in the inside lane of US-27 south of CR-835 (Evercane Rd) in Hendry County Wednesday at 6:09 p.m.. with passenger Evylen Ziggler, 71, of Belle Glade when the 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser crossed the outside lane and entered the east grassy shoulder.

The car began rotating clockwise in a northerly direction before overturning in a canal and came to final rest on its roof facing southeast in the canal east of US-27.  Passenger Ziggler died from injuries.

UPDATE 5-3-18 Driver Robinson was pronounced deceased on 5-2-18 at St. Mary's Medial Center. The crash remains under investigation.

Hiking to Key West - Bob Kranich

Excerpt from A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich

I was now on Summerland Key and I was about to be really surprised. I was nearing a gas station with a fairly large gravel drive. A big Greyhound bus pulled off from behind me and pulled into the drive parallel to the highway.
As I came along side, the door opened.
    “Hey, where you going? What are you doing?” the bus driver asked.
    “I’m hiking to Key West,” I said as I went over to him and looked up into the bus.
     “I’ve been seeing you at least two times every day, when I come down from Miami in the afternoon on my way to Key West, and then when I go back in the morning. Get on and I’ll give you a ride to Key West, no charge!”
By this time the bus passengers and even people at the gas station were looking, in fact staring.
    “Sir, I’m really grateful for the offer. In fact I don't know what to say. It’s just that I’m hiking from Georgia to Key West, and I have to keep on walking it.”
    “Wow that is really something else!” he exclaimed, “I’ll be a wild man! Well, good luck and take care.”
He closed the door, fired up the bus and pulled out, hesitated slightly, crossed the highway and shot off in a blast of black diesel smoke and a roar!
I was really taken back, What a nice offer!
I noticed a lonely phone booth standing like a sentinel along the road by a telephone pole. It gave me the idea to phone my Uncle Norman and Aunt Dolores.  I had talked to them before I left and by now they were probably wondering if I was still heading their way.
    “Hello, Aunt Dolores, It’s me, Bob.”
   “Yes Bobby, is that you?”
    “ It sure is.”
    “We knew you were in the Keys. Yesterday one of the men Uncle Norman works with had been out for a drive and saw a guy with a red pack walking along the road. By his description, we knew it was you!”
    “Well I should be along tomorrow afternoon if everything goes ok. So take care and tell Uncle Norman I said hello.”
I hung up and got back into my pack straps. This was the first realization that my adventure was fast drawing to a close.

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Georgina Kierych Dies At 68

Georgina May Kierych, age 68, of LaBelle,FL. passed away April 30, 2018 in LaBelle.
She was born May 25, 1949 in Surrey, England to the late John Ming and Grace May (Lanfear) Burford.
Survivors include one son: John Kovarik of LaBelle, FL
one daughter: Heather Ordonez
one sister: Jackie Fahey
4 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.