Saturday, September 30, 2006

Foley Resigns In Sex Scandal

CLEWISTON, FLORIDA -- Congressman Mark Foley, Republican
Representative for the 16th Congressional District that includes a
broad swath from the Florida east coast to the west coast including
parts Glades and Hendry county has resigned his office.
In September 2006, it came to light that a former House page (age 16)
had shared with Hill staffers what he believed to be inappropriate
e-mails sent to him by Foley. The e-mails asked questions such about
such topics as his age, what he wanted for his birthday, and what he
liked to do in his spare time. Foley also requested a picture. Foley
claimed that he was merely being friendly and that he routinely asks
for page's pictures in order to remember them when writing recommendations.
On September 29, 2006, Foley resigned effective immediately after
other pages came forward with sexually suggestive instant messages
that Foley had sent to them. In a statement, Foley said, "I am deeply
sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of
Florida I have had the privilege to represent." Florida Republican
leaders immediately planned to meet and name a replacement to run for
Foley's seat in the November 2006 elections. Florida election law,
however, prevents the substitution of the new candidate for Foley on
the ballot.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) responded to the resignation by
asking the chairman of the House's page board, Rep. John Shimkus
(R-Ill.), to investigate the page system. He stated, "We want to make
sure that all our pages are safe and the page system is safe." With
regards to Foley's actions, he continued, "None of us are very happy
about it."
During 2004 Senate campaign, long standing rumors surfaced that Foley
is either gay or bisexual and is in a long term relationship with a
man. Initially published only in the gay press, the New Times broke
the story in the mainstream press which led to other papers including
the New York Press addressing the topic.
Foley held a press conference to denounce the "revolting" rumors and
stated that his sexual orientation was unimportant. "He wanted
reporters to know that he won't answer questions about his sexuality;
it has nothing to do with his candidacy." A few weeks later, he
withdrew his Senate candidacy, saying he wanted to spend time with
his ailing father (the seat was later won by Republican Mel Martinez).
The official 16th District Congressional website is at:
Ironically the House of Representatives has an official website
linked on Foley's former webpage called "Kids in the House" at
-Information for this story from

Six Homes Sold In LaBelle

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- From September 12 to September 26, there were six
homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $222,500. All
but the CR78 and Davis Street homes were in Port LaBelle.

1) $236,000 on County Road 78
2) $249,000 on Detroit Drive
3) $255,000 on Kew Court
4) $188,000 on South Davis Street
5) $221,000 on South Rosebud Circle
6) $186,000 on West Briarwood Circle

Trash Costs On Glades Residents Minds

No Contract Means Company Charges What They Want

MOORE HAVEN, FLORIDA -- At this week's Glades County Commission meeting, garbage was on the minds of county residents complaining about rising fees. County Manager Taylor stated he had received a number of calls about the garbage hauling rate increase and had told callers that the county cannot control the company's prices, that Waste Management gave bad information on their statements, and the County has no contract with them at this time.  He said he informed the callers that for about two bucks a week they could haul their own garbage to Ortona, or residents in Lakeport and Buckhead Ridge could take it to Okeechobee, or they could get a large dumpster for a cheaper rate, or could contact another hauler.

At the meetin, Mrs. Opal Corey stated she had moved to Lakeport from Bradenton and was questioning why the garbage hauling rate was so high as she understood the cost was only $111.56 a year in Okeechobee County and they furnished cans, and wanted to know why she can�t get the same price. Commission Chairman Jones explained that Okeechobee County has 30,000 people and Glades has only have 11,000, and they got their price with the landfill contract, and Commissioner Beck agreed that Waste Management agreed to that price to be able to put a regional landfill there. 

Mrs. Curry asked why can�t Glades County get a contract and bill it on the property taxes.  Beck responded that will come under a mandatory garbage ordinance.  Mrs. Corey stated she will try to get a big dumpster with the Lake Haven neighbors as it is 1/3 the price. Waste Management�s franchise agreement with Glades County expired while the County was negotiating for operation of the landfill and the negotiations reached an impasse and the issue was not addressed.

Taylor had informed the Board on July 24th that Waste Managemen has not increased their rates in 12 years and would be changing their rates.  The current price for Ortona residents is $324 per year paid in quarterly increments and represents a 75% increase.  Ellen Geake of Indian Hills stated that BFI is now Florida Recycling out of LaBelle and she now pays $49.11 for three months.  She also stated that she and Dr. Geake now own the vacant medical clinic in Moore Haven and planned a celebration on November 11, Saturday at 2 PM in the City Park (also celebrating Dr. Geake�s birthday) and then the next Monday would be open. She also noted they had hired a Physician�s Assistant.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Greed At Port LaBelle CCD?

Development District Proposing 53% Budget Increase and 75% tax increase

PORT LABELLE, FLORIDA --  At the Port LaBelle Community Development District's next public meeting on Monday September 25, the board will be asked to adopt a new budget that is 53% higher than last year at a cost to property owners of an ad valorem tax rate of 1.7871 mills or a little less than one-fifth of a percent of assessed property value for each parcel. Included in the budget are expenses of $265.300 for administration and $390,200 for the road department. The total expenses in the new budget total $843,400.

Ralph Nicholson, who oversees the Development District Office as well as the Barron Water Control District explained that the opportunity to gain extra funds for road repairs and other benefits came at an opportune time as tax assessment values skyrocketed this year on Port LaBelle property. Nicolson said new this year will be $100,000 to be spent for Hendry and Glades county deputies to patrol the area. Builders have complained recently about thefts at their building sites and more patrols should cut down on criminal activity at their building sites. Hendry county's Sheriff will receive $68,000 while Glades county Sheriff get $38,000 for patrols of the area north of State Road 80.

Other costs from the administration budget beside the Sheriff's patrols will be a fee of 6% to the Glades property appraiser and tax collector for their service, while Hendry county's appraiser and tax collector get a 3% fee.  Nicholson says his salary doesn't get paid from the CCD directly, but is paid by the Barron Water District. The CCD pays $50,000 to  the Barron District though. An administrative assistant has a $32,000 salary. Fees for attorney services are $8,000 and an accountant's yearly audit costs $9,000.

Last year's tax levy for the district was $433,324 but because of huge tax assessment increases to property owners, as much as 300% higher than last year. Nicholson is asking for a property tax levy income this year of a proposed $759,904 or 75% higher than last year. 

Only a dozen or so taxpayers attended the last public meeting including a representative of CHL, Inc. who owns a majority of the vacant lots in Port LaBelle. CHL has been lately waging a battle with government officials and the tax assessor over the huge tax liabilities imposed this year by county government and local boards like the Community Development District. CHL filed over 1100 petitions to the Value Assessment Board at the courthouse this week to try to lower their tax assessments.

The Monday public meeting where the budget and millage rate will be decided is at 5:30 pm. at the CCD office at 3293 Dellwood Terrace in Port LaBelle, north of the Port LaBelle waste treatment plant.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Glades Commissioners Want 23% More Taxes

Glades Commissioners Licking Lips For More Taxes

MOORE HAVEN, FLORIDA -- The Glades County Commissioners are planning on raising an additional $1,518,104 in property taxes over last year at the proposed millage rate for property tax. The Glades County Board of County Commission has tentatively adopted a measure to increase its property tax levy to $8,199,568 compared to last year's $6,681,464, a 23% increase.

Commissioners have their eyes on the windfall amounts to be gained as property tax assessments increased dramatically this year. The county commission could theoretically lower the millage rate from last year by 23% and still have the same amount as last year.  However, this is unlikely, as politics usually calls for lowering the millage rate a few percent to coddle voters, but still gaining more actual tax income than the previous year, in this case 23% more taxes. The tax increase will be voted on at its next meeting September 27 at 6 p.m.  at the Glades Count Courthouse. A FINAL DECISION on the proposed tax increase and the budget will be made at this hearing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In The Service

Port LaBelle Man Graduates From Air Force Training

PORT LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Air Force Airman 1st Class Steven Preston has graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. During the six weeks of training, the airman studied the Air Force mission, organization, and military customs and courtesies; performed drill and ceremony marches, and received physical training, rifle marksmanship, field training exercises, and special training in human relations.

In addition, airmen who complete basic training earn credits toward an associate degree through the Community College of the Air Force.   He is the son of Michelle Burke of East Sunflower Circle, and nephew of Rob Spencer of Rainbow Circle, both of La Belle, Fla.  Preston is a 2006 graduate of La Belle High School.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Property Owner Swamps Hendry Clerk With Petitions

1,577 Petitions Filed Today By CHL, Inc. To Lower Tax Assessments

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Property owners in record numbers are filing petitions to have their Hendry county property tax assessments lowered. Today is the last day under the law for such filings at the Hendry Circuit Court for Hendry property owners.  CHL, Inc. also known as Country Homes and Land and various other corporate names, filed petitions on 1,577 parcels of mostly Port LaBelle lots they own.  Property assessments on Port LaBelle quarter acre lots went from around $12,500 in 2005 to $34,000 this year. Other areas all around Hendry county were similarly assessed with huge increases from last year.

After property assessment increases of up to 300 percent this year for area real estate owners, tax payers for the first time in history, have in huge numbers asked for hearings before the Hendry Value Adjustment Board to lower their property's assessed values, that are yearly calculated by the Hendry Property Appraiser's Office. Last year a few dozen real estate parcels went before the board on hopes of lowering the tax burden to the property owner, but this year filings have increased a hundred fold.  One of the county's largest individual lot owners, CHL, Inc. brought in baskets of petitions around noontime to the second-floor Hendry Clerk's Office at the county courthouse. The deadline for petition filing is 5 p.m.

A CHL representative said the company believes it has ample evidence in the form of comparable property sales to hopefully convince the Adjustment Board to lower it's Port LaBelle vacant lots' assessed values.  The burden is on the taxpayer however, to prove an error, as the state law says the presumption in all such hearings is that the Hendry Property Appraiser's office is correct in their assessment of market values.  Market value is generally the price a seller would get after subtracting usual costs of a sale including attorney, broker and other real estate fees. The tax assessors office usually estimates these costs to be about 15% of the sale price.

Property owners this year got hit with a double whammy. Not only did their property's assessment values increase, but local governments and special districts hit them with increased "real" tax rates as well. Government officials usually excuse the increases by saying they have increased costs for the services they provide the public, but neglect to disclose fully that they are getting increased incomes as the real estate assessed values increase dramatically.  The increased costs to property tax payers should soon be trickling down to everyone, including non-property owners. Tenants should see an increase in rents while consumers may see higher prices on most everything as increased taxes slowly pass from business and farm property owner to the everyday citizen.

Ronnie Lee - Sheriff Of The Year

Southwest Florida Group Gives Award

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Hendry County Sheriff Ronnie Lee was presented with the "Sheriff of the Year" award at the Annual Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Awards Luncheon. The Awards Luncheon, sponsored by the Southwest Florida Crime Prevention and Community Policing Association Region 9 covering Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte, Glades and Desoto Counties was held Saturday September 16th at the Verandah Country Club in Fort Myers.

Sheriff Lee was recognized for his outstanding achievements in crime prevention and successes in taking drug dealers off the streets and putting drug grow houses out of business in Hendry County, and for his outstanding record in humanitarian efforts in assisting citizens of Hendry County during disasters such as Hurricane Wilma. It was also recognized that Sheriff Lee is a leader in promoting special programs for school age children and senior citizens in Hendry County and Southwest Florida.

During acceptance remarks, Sheriff Lee stated, "An honor bestowed by your peers is always extra special and meaningful." He also thanked and gave special credit and recognition to the members of the Hendry County Sheriff's Office, his wife Cathy and sons Ron, Jr. and Ryan and the families of all Law Enforcement Personnel for the sacrifices they make every day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Home Sales This Week

New Construction Showing More Sales

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- From September 5 to September 12, there were ten homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $192,800.  It appears that newly constructed homes in Port LaBelle are finally starting to show some sales after weeks of inactivity. A number of contractors rushed last year to obtain building permits before new county impact fees took effect, artificially increasing the supply of new home construction in Port LaBelle. The county's plan for collecting additional building fees may have backfired, as builders are seemingly slowing down new construction projects in the area.

1) $300,000 on Barbara Street
2) $232,000 on Buttercup Circle (new construction)
3) $105,000 on Clipper Circle (County Village)
4) $180,000 on Detroit Drive (new construction)
5) $41,000 on Fort Thompson Avenue
6) $236,000 on Maywood Circle (new construction)
7) $345,000 on Oklahoma Avenue
8) $135,000 on Showboat Plaza (Country Village)
9) $175,000 on State Road 80
10) $179,000 on East Sunflower Circle (Unit 4)

Mosquitos To Be Shot From Air?

Aerial Spray Treatments Begin But Confusion On Who's Covered

LABELLE, Florida (September 15, 2006) -- In an effort to reduce the exploding mosquito population in the wake of tropical storm Ernesto, Hendry County announced today that aerial spraying for mosquitoes will begin Saturday, Sept.16 and run thru Sunday, Sept.17.  According to aerial applicator officials, more than 65,000 acres will be treated.

According to a press release from Clarke Mosquito Control: “The mosquito broods, or number of mosquitoes that are going to hatch, are going to be huge,” said Lester Baird, County Administrator.  “We’ve already seen a doubling of mosquito counts in the course of 10 days due to the recent storm, and we believe they will double again.  This situation requires an aerial application with a fixed-wing airplane to treat a relatively large area in a short period of time to abruptly break the breeding cycle of the mosquitoes.”

Communities that will be treated include: Felda, Pioneer, Montura Ranches and Hooker’s Point.  Applications will begin at dusk and run to approximately 1:30 a.m.   Clarke Mosquito Control will administer the aerial application.  Last month, Hendry County awarded Clarke a long-term contract to implement comprehensive surveillance and mosquito control services in those areas for the county.

In addition to this week’s aerial application, Clarke is overseeing and implementing an integrated mosquito control program that provides surveillance of the mosquito population, larval control, adult mosquito control utilizing aerial spraying and increased truck spraying.  Clarke also plans to provide public education on mosquito-borne disease prevention (such as West Nile Virus) and information on how Hendry County residents can help prevent mosquito breeding in their own yards.

Confusion Reigns On Where And Who Does Spraying

For "up-to-date mosquito control" steps including spraying by trucks that the county is taking, Clarke says to look at the county's website for planned control activities for the week.  We looked and didn't find anything there. Clarke also says "To report heavy mosquito annoyance situations, call Clarke’s Hendry County “Mosquito Hotline” at (800) 203-6485." We called and found it was answered by a Clarke employee who could not tell us any information about where the treatments were to be located, and took our address assuring us that we would be put on a list for spray treatment.  Investigation revealed however, that Hendry county has not authorized mosquito spraying for large areas of Hendry county including 99% of the homes in Port LaBelle.  Port LaBelle's Laurel Village, Eucalyptus Village and Country Village are not covered by the Clarke contract, although we could not get that information from Clarke. Hendry Special Districts office told us that the Port LaBelle Community Development District or Barron Water Control sprays Port LaBelle. Well, yes and no.

The Port LaBelle CDD does spray area in Port LaBelle EXCEPT Laurel Oaks, Eucalyptus Village, and Country Village where nearly all homes are.  Barron Water Control District does no spraying although they do mow the canal and drainage ditches regularly. Port LaBelle Unit 4's business office (Eucalyptus Village) said they have done mosquito spraying in the past but have no licensed spraying company to do the work now. They also explained that they only spray after a certain amount of complaints are received at the office.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Got Mosquitos?

No Spraying Of Port LaBelle Unit 4, 5 and Country Village

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- With the recent record rains, Hendry county is swarming with mosquitos in most areas. The Hendry County Special Districts is coordinating spraying by trucks throughout the county under a contract with Clarke Mosquito Control. Clarke can be reached at (800) 203-6485 if you want to advise them of problems in your area.  Port LaBelle's Laurel Oaks, Eucalyptus Village and Country Village are not scheduled for any spraying. The Eucalyptus Village Unit 4 Property Owners Association hires its own sprayers but this season has no one available to do the spraying.

Other outlying Port LaBelle units except those subdivisions mentioned above in are sprayed by the Port LaBelle Community Development District. The cities of Clewiston and LaBelle provide their own spraying for city residents. This week's unincorporated county schedule:

Monday Night September 11th  Montura Ranches
Tuesday Night September 12th  Felda and Surrounding, Flaghole, Pioneer and Surrounding
Wednesday Night September 13th  Labelle north of the river, Labelle south of river
Thursday Night September 14th  Hooker�s Point, Montura Ranches
Friday Night September 15th  Montura Ranches
Saturday Night September 16th  Montura Ranches

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Glades County To Get $3 Billion FPL Plant

By Donna Storter Long

MOORE HAVEN, FLORIDA -- The Glades County Board of Commissioners
today approved the announcement given by Glades County Community
Development Director Larry Hilton. Hilton announced to the Glades commission:

"Commissioners, as each of you knows, Glades County, as well as
several other counties, has been under consideration by Florida Power
& Light for a site to locate a power plant.

Glades County has been working with Florida Power & Light since the
first of February in a joint effort to locate the power plant within
Glades County. We have had several pre-application meetings with a
number of consultants and FPL staff. They identified two sites
within Glades County that meet all of their criteria. Last Friday I
received an application for site plan approval from Golder and
Associates as agent for Florida Power & Light to locate a power plant
in Glades County.

This power plant represents an investment in Glades County of over
three billion dollars, of which $2.6 billion will be taxable. The
advanced technology pollution control equipment is not taxable. It
will take several years before it will generate power. When the
plant becomes operational in 2012, it will begin paying property
taxes to Glades County and the Glades County School District. The
taxes from this plant are estimated to average $20 million per year
for the next forty years.

The technology that will be used at this plant is called "ultra-super
critical pulverized coal fired electrical generation". There is no
power plant in the United States currently operating using this
technology. It is currently in use in Japan and Germany. It is so
efficient that it requires 20% less coal to produce the same amount
of electricity. It is extremely environmentally friendly. The
ambient air quality in Glade will not exceed 10% of the National
Ambient Air Quality standards established by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency. There will be NO operational
discharge into the surface waters of Glades County and NO
deterioration of surface or groundwater supply sources. In fact,
even storm water will be stored on site for use in generating electricity.

Benefits to Glades County, besides the taxes, will include the
employment of 1600 workers that it will require to construct the
plant, which is a five year project. When the plant is in operation,
it will employee approximately 180 people, with an average salary of
$60,000 each. The location that Florida Power and Light has selected
is a 4900 acres parcel that is currently used by Lykes Brothers to
grow sugar cane, located about a mile west of SR78 behind the Glades
County Road Department. his site meets all the requirements of the
Glades County Land Development Regulations and the Glades County
Comprehensive Plan. The plans have been reviewed by county staff and
no major issues have been identified.

Approval by Glades County is only the first approval that FPL must
obtain. The Public Service Commissioner and the State Power Plant
Siting Board (which is the Governor and his Cabinet) must also
approve the location. This process is expected to take about 18
months. in an effort to show support from Glades County to both the
Public Service Commission and the State Power Plant Siting Board,
(County Attorney) Mr. Pringle has prepared a resolution for you to
consider adopting."

Glades County Commissioners gave their unanimous approval and support
and Chairman Jones signed the Resolution after Mr. Pringle read it
into the record.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Elderly Free Meals Begins Today

Hope Connections Offer Meals and More To Area

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Hope Connections, a Southwest Florida non-profit agency will provide daily congregate meals in La Belle and Moore Haven beginning Monday, September 11. The announcement was made today by Hope President Samira K. Beckwith, who said, �We are honored that the Area Agency on Aging asked us to provide meals and other services in Glades and Hendry counties. We have been providing home care services including home-delivered meals to our clients here since August first, and we are now glad to be able to open the congregate meal sites for them.�

In La Belle, the meals will be served at Hope�s new office, located at 60 Calhoun Street. In Moore Haven, the service will be provided at the Doyle Conner Building. Meals will be served Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 2 PM.  Hope Connections has maintained a congregate meal facility in Buckhead Ridge since August 9.

Hope Connections offers a variety of services in Glades and Hendry counties, including: Personal care, Homemaker services, Household chores, Transportation, Medical equipment and supplies, Counseling, Emergency response systems. All services are provided by experienced professionals and trained volunteers.To learn more about Hope Connections, call toll-free: (866) 659-7223.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Volunteer Group Helps At Moore Haven Event

C.R.E.W Attends Glades Hurricane Info Day

MOORE HAVEN, FLORIDA - A Hurricane Information Day and Community
Picnic was held at the Moore Haven City Park on September 9,
sponsored by the Glades County Emergency Management Department. CREW
gave out balloons and candy as Project Hope painted faces making it a
fun day for the kids. The kids had fun while the adults learned how
to better prepare for hurricanes.

CREW, with the help of Palmdale Fire Department, passed out health
kits and flood buckets to Ernesto flood victims, which were donated
by UMCOR and delivered by a Methodist Church in West Palm. Also
delivered was food donated by Catholic Charities.

During this information day, CREW was able to complete four
applications for one resident in Muse, one in Labelle and two in
Moore Haven. Executive director Trish Adams, LCSW was able to
deliver donated clothes to the First United Methodist Church for
Moore Haven's thrift store. CREW helped to organized and run the
raffle for Glades Emergency Management to help promote awareness and
get residents to register and to challenge their knowledge of knowing
when to evacuate.

Photo: C.R.E.W members Liza (case manager), Renee (volunteer
coordinator), Trish (director), Amanda (case manager)

Baby Gator Visits Port LaBelle

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- This young alligator was spotted at the back door of a Laurel Oaks residence in Port LaBelle this week. Recent record rains have raised canal and lake levels encouraging alligators to explore territory to which they otherwise had no access. This gator was estimated to be about one and one-half to two years old and was about three foot long. It wandered off shortly after the photo was taken.

It is against the law to feed or harrass alligators in Florida. If you do discover an alligator four foot or longer in a residential area, you may call the Sheriff's department or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Division who may send a trapper out if the gator poses a danger to the neighborhood.

Pete's Tractor Service


Pete's Tractor Service is available in the Alva, LaBelle, Muse, and eastern Lee county area for your land clearing needs. Pete Freud can arrange for your bush hog mowing, driveway, or pond construction projects.

Email Pete's Tractor Service, Alva, Fl. or call 239-728-6629. See Pete's Bush Hog Service Webpage

Friday, September 08, 2006

Home Sales In LaBelle

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- From 8/8/2006 to 9/5/2006, there were 7 homes
sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $181,714. The sales details:

1) $231,000 on Berwick Circle
2) $208,000 on Lady Lane
3) $265,000 on Pine Street
4) $120,000 on Schooner Drive
5) $150,000 on Springview Circle
6) $120,000 on Steamboat Circle
7) $178,000 on E Sunflower Circle

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

John Perry Loses School Board Seat

Primary Voters Make Local Changes

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Tuesday's primary elections shifted local positions, including the upset of long-time Hendry school board member John Perry, Jr. Perry lost to Matt Beatty who garnered 53% of the vote to Perry's 28%. Beatty was an early campaigner, and was seen in the Port LaBelle area going house to house several weeks before the election. Perry also made the house-to-house rounds, and  plastered plastic campaign signs on neighborhood street corners, although all were in violation of Hendry county sign ordinances that disallows signs on public property, or on private property without permission of the property owner. Cynthia Potter came in third with 19% of the votes.

In Glades county, Alvin Ward  took 58% of the vote to win the Glades District 2 Democratic Party County Commission position over Fran Koebert. The Moore Haven City Council race ended up with three candidates getting 26% of the votes: Bret Whidden, Mike Brantley, and John Ahern. David Dannerhauer received 24% of the votes.

Glades voters voted for the one cent sales tax, 59% for and 41% against. 745 voters said "no" to the Glades Property Tax Exemption and 742 said "yes."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Most Dangerous 25 MPH Road In Hendry?

County May Face Liability For Lack Of Speed Or Warning Signs?

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- On what may be Hendry county's most dangerous residential street, vehicles running into trees and light posts on the median are a commonplace incident neighbors say. Over the last several weeks, two concrete street light poles and one palm tree has been hit and knocked to the ground by out-of-control pickup trucks.

(photo: FPL repairman repairs line on downed concrete light pole along Birchwood)

Residents of Port LaBelle's Laurel Oaks have complained to the Hendry county engineer's office about speeding vehicles and lack of signs at the curve on Birchwood Parkway just north of State Road 80 on the way to the Port LaBelle Inn.  The two mile long four-lane road section crosses into Glades county north of SR80. The Hendry county road department has no speed limit signs or curve warning signs on the Hendry section where the roadway changes from Glades county to Hendry county.  A dangerous curve surprises drivers who speed north and south bound along the road and find the forty-five degree turn coming upon them. Drivers get into trouble northbound after turning north from State Road 80 onto Birchwood because there is no speed limit sign until after the forty-five degree turn in the road, where there's a 25-mph speed limit sign, but it's placed in the wrong place for a driver trying to negotiate the road at 35 to 45 mph.

Drivers hitting the light poles or one of the dozens of trees on the median have little recourse after their vehicle is towed away, which is happening at a good pace in recent weeks. So far there have not been any serious injuries to motorists, but Florida Power and Light crews are kept busy replacing the concrete poles, and local auto body shops are reaping the business of hapless drivers along Birchwood Parkway.

Labor Day?

Commentary By Don Browne

LABELLE, FLORIDA (September 4, 2006) -- Labor Day is the day set aside to honor workers, and the only holiday that has nothing to do with wars, religion, race, or national origin. Despite much declining membership in organized labor unions over the last twenty years, unions are important for all working people union and non-union members alike.

Paid holidays such as Labor Day, paid vacations, the eight-hour workday and 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, employer-financed pensions, medical care and other fringe benefits, health and safety standards, the right to bargain collectively with employers, the right to have a voice in wages paid for work, and working conditions at the workplace -- working people owe all that, and more, to the labor movement.

But in today's working climate, do you have a voice in your working conditions, working hours and wages at your job? Or is it dictated by management and you must take it or leave it? Are you on a paid holiday today on Labor Day or are you working for straight wages?

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

But the workplace has changed. When if ever again will workers regain the right to a just living wage, family friendly work hours, and fair working conditions and benefits from employers?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Got Mosquitos? County Hires New Company

Call (800) 203-6485 To Report Mosquitos Company Says

LABELLE, Florida (September 1, 2006)  – The Hendry County Board of County Commissioners has awarded Clarke Mosquito Control a long-term contract to implement comprehensive surveillance and mosquito control services for Hendry County. 

Clarke plans to implement an integrated mosquito control program that will provide surveillance of the mosquito population, larval control, adult mosquito control utilizing aerial spraying and increased truck spraying.  Clarke will also provide public education on mosquito-borne disease prevention (such as West Nile Virus) and information on how Hendry County residents can help prevent mosquito breeding in their own yards.

After the abundant rains this week, mosquitos are making their presence known all around the county. “This agreement provides a cost savings to the County, and allows us to expand and improve our mosquito control services moving forward,” said Lester Baird, County Administrator.  Beginning today the public is encouraged to call Clarke’s Hendry County “Mosquito Hotline” at (800) 203-6485 to report heavy mosquito annoyance. 

In addition to the County’s mosquito control efforts, residents can take a number of steps to reduce mosquito populations around their homes this summer, including: Remove or empty water in old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles or other places where mosquitoes might breed. Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use.  If unused, drain swimming pools and keep dry. Change water weekly in bird baths, plant saucers and trays.  Store boats covered or upside down. Water bowls used by pets should be emptied and refilled daily.  Fill holes around home that may retain water.  Keep gutters around home in good repair to avoid water build-up.  Keep weeds and grass cut short, as adult mosquitoes look for shady places to rest  during hot daylight hours.   Be sure screens in homes are intact and tight-fitting to prevent entry of insects.