Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Walter Harold Greer Dies At 57

Walter Harold Greer, age 57, of Clewiston, passed away June 19, 2018 in Lehigh Acres.
He was born Sep. 7, 1960 in Sebring, FL, to the late Robert Blair and Marie (Eiland) Greer.
Survivors include three sons: Walter Jr, Gary and JC,
two daughters: Niki and Johanna,
7 grandchildren
He was a Heavy Equipment Operator.
The family will receive friends on Friday June 29, 2018 at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home 438 E. Sugarland Hwy. Clewiston, FL from 11 AM to 12 PM
Memorial Service will be held at 12:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home.
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

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.