Saturday, December 30, 2006

Home Sales This Month In LaBelle

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- For the month of December, there were 11 homes
sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $147,545. About
half the homes were in the Port LaBelle subdivision.

1) $205,000 on 7th Ave
2) $139,000 on El Rio Grande Dr
3) $138,000 on Fraser Ave
4) $188,000 on Gramercy Rd
5) $199,000 on Keystone Cir
6) $180,000 on Rainbow Cir
7) $85,000 on Rainbow Cir
8) $94,000 on School Cir
9) $30,000 on Sherwood Cir (lot)
10) $155,000 on E Palomar Cir
11) $210,000 on S Balsam Cir

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

In The Service

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Army Pvt. Marnelia R. Grijalba Parra has
graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army
mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and
received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military
weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony,
marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading,
field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic
first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.

She is the daughter of Jose R. and stepdaughter of Sonia E. Grijalba
of Old Muse Road, La Belle, Fl. Grijalba Parra is a 2006 graduate of
Moore Haven High School, Fl.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Land Owners Receiving Offers By Mail

Bait and Switch Tactics?

CLEWISTON, FLORIDA (December 26, 2006) -- Property owners around Hendry and Glades county are receiving postcards from N.R.L.L, an out-of-state real estate company offering to buy "for cash" if you are "interested in selling your vacant land quickly."  But, be very careful. If an offer sounds "too good to be true" it probably is, experts warn.

N.R.L.L. Inc., a holding company in Irvine, California has been soliciting land owners for many years in Florida and California. NRLL buys land and lots at very low prices, buys or transfers title in the names of one of its other associated companies, and then holds local auctions in large cities around the country, reselling the lots at much higher prices, and sells them "as-is."

Locally, in Hendry county, NRLL has offered Port LaBelle lot owners prices that seemed to be reasonable at first. One owner reports that an offer was made to buy a lot for $26,500 several months ago by NRLL. On contacting the company they wanted  the owner to sign a sales contract that did not provide any closing date, so the buyers could theoretically close whenever they wanted. After the seller objected, they sent a contract that did provide for a 90 day closing, but that still didn't get a quick sale either.  The contract "was subject to inspection" and sure enough, NRLL contacted the seller and said they weren't interested at the contract price after a so-called "inspection" of the property, but would "maybe" buy for $10,000 instead of $26,500. The seller elected not to go for what he believed to be a scam, and NRLL would not commit to a price at the time.

More recently, NRLL is sending postcard solicitations to owners in Pioneer Plantation, again offering a "quick sale."  When contacted at their 800 phone number, the company takes your information, and says because they are "so busy," someone will call you back in about a week. So, much for a "quick sale."

Actual prices paid by NRLL in Hendry county recently have amounted to just several thousand dollars per lot, according to county courthouse records. A recent Port LaBelle lot sale was to a Pompano Beach man for $26,500 last week.  NRLL gets their mailing lists from the county tax assessor's records, which are public records.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Minimum Wage Up To $6.67

Ag Information for Hendry and Glades County

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- Gene McAvoy of the Hendry Agricultural Extension Office reports that the minimum wage will change for the State of Florida on January 1st!   Florida's minimum wage will go to $6.67 an hour on January 1, 2007, a 27 cent an hour increase to match inflation as required by an initiative passed by the legislature.  McAvoy tells employers to  remember to check that your payroll programs are correctly calculating the new minimum wage and that you have changed your Worker Information - Terms and Conditions of Employment forms (WH-516) to show the new minimum wage of $6.67. 

The Agency for Workforce Innovation has created a new poster that must be displayed after January 1 informing the workers of the new Florida minimum wage.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) poster with the $5.15 minimum wage STILL needs to be posted - and the rate not altered.  This is a Federal rule - even though Florida’s minimum wage is higher than the Federal law the FLSA poster must still be displayed. 

New Sticker Requirements for Farm Labor Vehicles

This coming year new stickers will be required for Farm Labor vehicles that transport agricultural workers.  The vehicles must have the new sticker on the left rear bumper or body by January 31, 2007. The stickers are issued for specific vehicles so if you have more than one van or bus make sure the sticker matches the vehicle you put it on.  If you lose it or it gets stolen you must ask for a replacement by writing a note explaining the circumstances of why you need a replacement sticker and for which specific vehicle.  It is recommended that you make a copy of the sticker before you apply it to the vehicle and then keep that copy with your tag registration.

Freeze Outlook for This Winter

The Southeast Climate Consortium has released an updated analysis of the risk of severe freezes in Florida during this winter. Being an El Niño year, that risk should be reduced. El Niño typically sets up a jet stream pattern with a strong subtropical jet flowing across the southern U.S. The position of this subtropical jet tends to "block" the intrusions of artic air masses that are needed for the severe freeze events. Keep in mind that severe freezes are unique weather events, and there's always a chance that they could occur in any phase of the Pacific Ocean.

Check on the link below on agricultural weather and the probability of the temperature in your county reaching: 32F or less, 28F or less, 25F or less, 22F or less, and 20F or less, during this winter.  There is also information there on the probability of dates of first and last freezes. for climate information.

CREW Helping Make Holiday Cheer

CLEWISTON, FLORIDA (December 21, 2006) -- CREW, a non-profit
organization in Clewiston has been busy this month making sure as
many people as possible have a good Christmas. Due to some private
individuals who live in Cape Coral, CREW was able to make the wishes
come true for 86 children in Hendry and Glades counties. Staff and
Board members with kids from the Baptist Church spent the day
Thursday before Christmas delivering gifts that had been handpicked
for these specific kids.

Volunteers from East Lake United Methodist came and worked on
replacing drywall in damaged homes in Moore Haven on December
2. First Presbyterian Church came and hung drywall, cabinets, and
doors in Clewiston on December 16.

CREW staff says the New Year will see volunteers coming every week
beginning January 6 until some time in March, and they are still
scheduling for anyone who would like to help work. Donors have
generously provided for the materials and costs of the repairs they
are still making due to Hurricane Wilma, and there are still some 350
families needing to recover from Hurricane Wilma, and a handful from
Tropical Storm Ernesto and from local fires.

A committee meets every month and finds local agencies and other
donors and volunteers to help meet the unmet needs of these
families. So far CREW has been able to help, or find others to help
over 300 families. CREW also helping low income residents strengthen
their homes against future storms and disasters, through the
statewide My Safe Florida program. For information contact Trish
Adams at (863) 983-2390.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Local Broker Counters Bad Real Estate News

Real Estate May Be On "Hold" In Coastal Counties, Local Broker Says Different Here

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- With the overwhelming news reports around South Florida of bad times in the real estate market, a local real estate broker wrote to the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper to counter their "falling real estate market" news articles. The Sun-Sentinel has gained a reputation for "doom and gloom" reports about the east coast real estate market over the last few months.

Paul Roser and wife Nikki have been active in Hendry county real estate for many years and felt it was time to get the other side of the real estate market news to those in the coastal counties. He sent the following letter to the editor of the Sun Sentinel in response to a recent "Bottom Falling Out of South Florida..." article published there:
"I realize that there are few 'Positives' these days but you might want to consider sending a reporter sometime to LaBelle to check us out...  Nikki and I have, personally - small two person agency, recently sold 30 acres at $218,000 per acre ($6,300,000) to an investment company next to projected new Wal-Mart site, a small mobile home park for $550,000, an old historic wood house for $300,000, and others...
Recently opened Burger King and Wendy's, local airport expansion, many new homes being built, new commercial construction all over the place. Several 1,000 - 5,000 residential units developments and waterfront villages, etc. being planned. Our Economic Development Commission and Chamber of Commerce are 'humming'...
The Bonita Bay Company, alone,  has invested MILLIONS in LaBelle and Hendry County all the way to Clewiston - most recently purchased even our famous Flora and Ella's Restaurant...
Many other  investment groups from Naples, Ft Myers, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, etc. are also buying here in droves. Does this sound like the 'sky is falling'? Would be happy to meet with you and give you my insight at your convenience. I think the public would like to hear some POSITIVES and not always the negatives..."
Paul and Nikki believe those coastal investors should take a look at the real estate opportunities in Hendry county. For more information: local Hendry county real estate as published on Southwest Florida Online.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

One Of Your Friends May Be In Jail

One In Every Two Hundred In Hendry Jail

LABELLE, FLORIDA (December 16, 2006) -- The monthly jail population report by the Florida Department of Corrections shows Hendry County near the top in highest percentage of county population incarcerated at the county jail.  The report says 5.8 people for every 1000 in Hendry county was locked up in October, that's a little more than 1 in 200.  If you have 200 friends, maybe one is in the jail. Glades county has a lower rate of 3.5 per 1000 according to the report.

Hendry county shares the highest rates of locked up persons, over 5 per thousand people with Bay, Desoto, Escambia, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardee, Jefferson, Levy, Madison, Marion, Monroe, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Wakulla, and Washington counties.
Some counties may be experiencing high incarceration rates due to the contracting of bed space for federal inmates, says the report.

Sixty percent of Hendry prisoners were awaiting trial. The average daily jail population was 222 each day. The lowest county incarceration rate is Union county with only  1.7 per thousand.

Port LaBelle May Get Lowered Taxes?

LABELLE, FLORIDA (Dec. 14, 2006) -- In what may turn out to be an embarrassing situation for long-time Hendry Tax Appraiser Kristina Kulpa, this week's tax assessment hearings continued with evidence that sky-high property tax assessment values might have been a tad too high in Port LaBelle.

Special Master Dan Stevens, for the Hendry Value Adjustment Board, continued hearings Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning on petitioner CHL Holdings, Inc. and CHL Home Builders, Inc. try at reducing tax assessments values on their extensive holdings of vacant lots in the remote dozen square mile Banyan Village subdivision east of LaBelle and also those owned in Units 1 through 9, just east of LaBelle. Stevens found that CHL has overcome the presumption of correctness that county tax appraisers are given under Florida law. Tax Appraiser Kristina Kulpa's office says the lots are worth $26,500 in Banyan Village and about $34,000 in the other closer-to-town units. CHL's owner Charles Svirk says he's today paying not more than $5000 to buy lots in Banyan Village, but maybe they are worth $6000 to $8000. Stevens is now giving CHL the apportunity to prove the lots are worth less than the tax appraiser says.

(Photo: left, appraiser's attorney Jay Wood; right, county appraiser chief Cliff Wood)

Some Embarrassing Letters

Charles Svirk, Jr. as 100% stockholder of the two real estate companies testified Wednesday that he had letters sent out to all 2005 buyers of the four Banyan Village Port LaBelle Units10 through 13 a few months ago asking if those buyers knew that building homes on their lots is illegal at this time. The letter also asked if the vacant lot owners knew when water would be available giving choices to check on the letter survey. 13% said they didn't know water was not available, 10% said they thought water would be installed in 2005, 39% said in 2006, and 30% didn't know. The Svirk letter, written by former company attorney Mark Lapp, now attorney for Hendry county, and the letter signed by Svirk also suggested that because Svirk's company planned to fight the higher property assessments, Banyan Village property owners property taxes would be lowered if his "legal actions" were successful.

But Special Master Stevens became visibly upset by the letter, pointing out that the letter was untrue, and that no property owner's taxes would be lowered, because Svirk's petitions would have no effect on any other lot owner. Stevens also pointed out that the survey asking lot buyer's knowledge of water lines in the subdivision was misleading at best. Stevens said that none of the answer choices given on Svirk's survey were correct answers. Water is not expected to be available in Banyon Village until 2007 or 2008 said Stevens, but the questions in the survey presumed water availability in 2005 and 2006. Stevens told Svirk that the letter was flawed in that it was promising things that were not true. County tax appraisal staff said they had received lot owners' phone calls asking when their "new" lower tax bill would be coming, because they thought CHL was handling their cases with the Value Adjustment Board, only to be told that's not going to happen.

Banyan Village was platted about 1972 and has laid vacant for 35 years because no water or sewer lines have been installed even though money has been available for years. Water lines were first promised by the county back in 2002, and then again in 2005. The county went to bids in June 2006 for the work. Svirk's companies have for many years sent out postcards to all Port LaBelle lot owners offering to buy lots, and if contacted sellers were offered as low as $100 per lot. CHL got thousands of responses from owner's tired of waiting for the land to be developable but still owed property taxes year after year. Svirk also bought hundreds of tax certificates from the county when taxes were not paid on the vacant lots, and eventually had the lots sold for taxes at public auction and ended up as the eventual buyer of significant numbers of Port LaBelle lots over the years.

CHL Overcomes Presumption of Correctness

After ten hours of testimony this week, Special Master Stevens announced CHL and Svirk had overcome the "presumption of correctness" that Hendry Tax Appraiser Kristina Kulpa's staff have by law in setting values for these Port LaBelle lots. Stevens found that 51 acres of commercial land in Banyan Village was highly overvalued by the county appraisal and set the new number at $15,000 per acre. For all the Banyan Village residential lots, Stevens found that the tax appraiser failed to include in their calculations hundreds of sales.

The tax appraisers left out "group" sales where one deed contained many lots sold or bought by one owner, and left out many purchases by CHL itself, a major purchaser of lots. Of the 500 lots sold in the Village in 2005, the appraiser only used 144 in calculation of the assessed value. Stevens said that the group sales "most closely approximate the situation" of all the lots. "How much, I'm not sure," he said. Stevens additionally found that during the last six months of 2005 there was a downward trend in prices that the tax appraiser did not considered, and presumably he was inferring that they should have. The tax assessment value is mandated by law to be the property value as of January 1st of each year. Stevens also indicated the uncertainty of the available date of water lines completions would effect lot value.

Stevens said he may give consideration to CHL for a possible downward adjustment in their tax assessment value because they were not legally able to sell lots in Banyan Village in 2005. CHL is not registered with the Florida Department of Land Sales to be enabled to sell lots that do not have utility infrastructure like water lines. Registration with the state to sell such undeveloped lots is required of anyone selling 25 or more lots a year. Speaking for the tax appraiser's office, east coast attorney Jay Wood, objected to Steven's premise and said he would provide the Special Master with law cases why this type of deduction is not proper. The law allows a deduction if a government prevents a use or sale of land, but in this case it would seem CHL is only prevented from selling because they chose not to register with the State for this type of undeveloped land sales.

Decision Likely In January

In order to determine a new tax appraisal value, Stevens gave CHL and the appraiser's staff 10 days to exchange their sales data with what they considered relevant sales in the last six months of 2005, and then both were given until January 12 to send Stevens their critiques of the data and a written argument as to their opinion of correct value. Stevens said he would then adjust downward by 15% the numbers that he determines to be the correct price in order to account for "cost" of selling by a land owner. This deduction is standard by the tax appraiser to determine the tax assessed value, i.e. the tax appraised value is about 15% less than the median sales price in the neighborhood to be.

Stevens ruled also that he was not going to hear petitions filed late. The Florida Statutes mandate filing deadlines for petitions to the Value Adjustment Board, but this year because of over 1,000 petitions being filed, mainly by CHL, the Clerk of Court decided to publicize and allow late filings. Stevens said he would allow CHL's late petitions for good cause as they had been originally timely filed but were returned to them by the Clerk's office for minor filing errors, at which time they were corrected and re-filed.

A final decision by Special Master Stevens on any changes to CHL's Port LaBelle property valuations won't be made until after January 15. Then his recommendation will be forwarded to the Value Adjustment Board, composed of two county commissioners and a school board member, who will make the final decision at a public meeting on all petitions Stevens has heard during the last two weeks of hearings.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Port LaBelle's CHL Battles Tax Appraiser

LABELLE, FLORIDA (Dec. 13, 2006) -- Port LaBelle's major property
owner battled it out with the Hendry County Tax Appraiser this
morning at the Hendry courthouse. Charles F. Svirk, Jr., the
principal and owner of CHL Holdings, Inc. and CHL Home Builders, Inc.
is attempting, in two scheduled days of hearings to reduce the tax
appraisal values on the thousand plus parcels of Hendry county real
estate his two companies own. Svirk, the only shareholder in the two
land and home building companies, is easily spending tens of
thousands of dollars in attorney fees and real estate appraisals to
convince Special Master Dan Stevens that the Hendry tax appraisal
office wildly overvalued his properties, and thus increased the
property taxes due this year by as much as three times what they were
last year.

Svirk brought in a Sarasota attorney, a local real estate appraiser,
and several witnesses to help convince Attorney Stevens that the tax
appraiser made errors in her valuations of Port LaBelle lots this
year, and a mistake on Svirk's personal home on the Caloosahatchee
River. Deputy Tax Appraiser Cliff Wood, represented by attorney Jay
Wood, apparently agreed somewhat with Svirk's home valuation and they
agreed to reduce the home value from $340,000 down to $124,000
without hearing. But Svirk and Wood disagreed on the land value of
the two acre river front parcel, and after one and one-half hours of
evidence, Special Master Stevens said that the land portion should be
valued at $720,000 up from Svirk's claim that it should be worth
$669,000, but less that the tax office's value of $800,000. Svirk
said he bought the property for $250,000 four years ago. Svirk lives
in New Hampshire.

During the afternoon session Stevens will hear a continuation of
evidence on Port LaBelle Banyan Village lot valuation where Svirk's
company owns about 1300 lots. CHL claims that most of the buyers in
2005 did not realize that home building would be illegal because
there is no water lines there. Svirk claims that buyers were ill
informed and were paying tens of thousands of dollars for lots that
were unbuildable. He claims that he only paid an average of about
$6700 for his lots in 2005. Svirk said he was not able to sell any
lots in Banyon Village, however, because the Florida Division of Land
Sales prevent developers or land owners owning more than 25 lots,
like his company, from selling lots to the public where no water is available.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Rural County Futures Predicted In New Study

Glades and Hendry County Expected To Undergo Major Transformation

LABELLE, FLORIDA (Dec. 8, 2006) -- In a study by the University of Florida and the 1000 Friends of Florida, it is predicted that the Florida population and developed land will double over the next 50 years. The study asks what will Florida look like in 2060, when its population is projected to reach almost 36 million.The new study says roughly 7 million acres of additional land will be converted from rural to urban uses, including 2.7 million acres of existing agricultural lands and 2.7 million acres of native habitat.

More than two million acres within one mile of existing conservation lands will be converted to an urban use, which will complicate their management and isolate some conservation lands in a sea of urbanization. The counties projected to undergo the most dramatic transformation, in rank order, will be Glades, Hardee, DeSoto, Hendry, Osceola, Baker, Flagler and Santa Rosa.

The central Florida region will also experience "explosive" growth, with continuous urban development from Ocala to Sebring,
and St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach. Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties are expected to build out before 2060, causing an almost continuous band of urban development along the southwest Florida coast and population spillover into adjacent inland counties.

Southeast Florida will become mostly urbanized, with the exception of some agricultural lands north and south of
Lake Okeechobee. All vacant land in the Florida Keys is projected to be developed, including areas not necessarily accessible by automobile. Duval County is projected build out sometime after 2040, and by 2060 its population is anticipated to spill over into surrounding Nassau, Clay, St. Johns and Baker counties, forever changing their rural character. Only the Panhandle and Big Bend areas are projected to retain significant areas of open space, and this is only if current growth and development patterns continue.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Seminole Tribe Buys Hard Rock Cafes

Gambling Profits Help Tribe Make $965 Million Deal

CLEWISTON, FLORIDA -- The gambling operator Seminole Tribe of
Florida, with tribal reservations in both Hendry and Glades county,
have signed a contract to purchase the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant and
casino chain from a British gambling company.

The Rank Group says it is selling its 124 cafes, six hotels and two
casinos after an auction conducted by Merrill Lynch. Rank had posted
$70 million in profits last year on the properties. The Seminole
tribe bought the assets for $965 million, subject to Rank stockholder
approval in March.

The Tribe already operates two Hard Rock hotels in Tampa and
Hollywood, Fla, and have had many run ins with Florida officials
since 1979 when they opened the first tribal gambling operation in
the U.S., bingo games in Hollywood, Fla. The Tribe has attempted to
install full Las Vegas style gambling at their casinos for many
years, with officials objecting.

The Internal Revenue Service has also been targeting the tribe and
has been involved in litigation over the use of tax-free bonds used
by the Seminoles to build casinos.

$415 million in tax-free bonds were used for its casinos, which the
IRS said was illegal. Last year the tribe said it would issue $730
million in new bonds to pay off the original bonds and pay down other debt.

3,300 Seminole tribe members live around Florida.

The Old LaBelle

Commentary by Terry Hamilton-Wollin

Perhaps you never knew the 'old" LaBelle. That was surface-gentility made up of tough pioneer stock. These were folks who were willing to leave their homes and familiar things to try a new life in an unknown and very rugged environment.On surface the life was easy, a lovely tidal flow with folks ritualistically heading out to call on the ill and infirm. It was their duty.

Ladies played afternoon bridge, wearing their mother's pearls, and hoed the acre-or-so vegetable garden before the sun went down. Henry Goodno had a vision of a better life and made it his life's work to attract settlers to the untamed territory of LaBelle. And they came. They endured snakes, malaria, annual floods, tropical heat and loneliness, but they came and they stayed. The town grew, and grew civilized.

A part of that history was the cobbler, Joe Risley. From what I can tell, Joe came to LaBelle c 1910 from Tampa, and shortly his young son Joe Jr joined him. He lived in his shoe shop, and raised young Joe there. As the generations grew, so did the number of Joseph Roland Risleys: Joe Jr, then Joseph III "Pete" and finally Joseph IV "Jody." Joe Sr died in 1977 at approximately 85 years of age. 

Tragically, Joe IV, Jody, was killed in a car wreck in 2005.A few months later Joe Jr died at age 85 yrs. Then just this week, Joe III, Pete, died at the very young age of 63 yrs. His funeral is today. Joe Sr died before LaBelle began to change, and Jody was young enough that he never knew the way it used to be. But both Jr and III saw the unbelievable changes, the flight from a small town to larger cities, the influx of new residents. Everything changed.

And this week the last of 4 generations of pioneer LaBelle stock left us. There is no Joseph V to follow. That important piece of our history is finished. It is remarkable that the town could have changed so much in such a short, 4 generations actually, period of time. I can't help wondering whether there is anyone left to notice, or to care.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Two Teens Arrested In Home Buglaries

CLEWISTON, FLORIDA -- Sheriff Ronnie Lee said one adult and one
juvenile were arrested on December 4, 2006, and charged for their
involvement in the burglary of three homes, and the vandalizing of
four homes and vehicles all located in the Clewiston area. Robby Alan
Reyes, age 18 of 1145 Sherwood Avenue Clewiston, Florida was charged
with three counts of Burglary, two counts of Grand Theft, one Felony
Criminal Mischief and two counts of Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief. A
16-year-old juvenile of Clewiston, Florida was charged with one count
of Burglary and one count of Felony Criminal Mischief. According to
Sheriff's Investigator Tiffany Arnold, the vandalized properties
included spray painted obscenities and gang-like graffiti, including
several obscenities and slanderous phrases which, in gang
terminology, means to murder or kill.

LaBelle Women Find New Way To Holiday Shop

By Amy Ofenbeck

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- As the holidays approach, shoppers are frantically looking for that perfect gift. Two women from Labelle have found a great place to find nearly everything they're looking for. This holiday season,  Rose Maloney and Carole Haas, both from LaBelle,  have limited their families to just buying gifts from Goodwill, and spending no more than $10. Some of the things they've bought include three pairs of Victoria's Secret pajamas for $10, a unique vase for $5.99, slotted serving spoons, and many other great items.

"We know we'll find stuff we like and we can afford it," Rose says. She also explains that she rarely goes to department stores now, because she's had such great luck finding things at Goodwill. Rose is a book lover and says Goodwill stores often have a lot of great books. "It's becoming more acceptable to shop at Goodwill now." Rose and Carole will hit area Goodwill stores at least once a week and come away with some great bargains they know they would never find in regular stores.
Beginning this January, Rose and Carole will begin teaching an art class at the Alliance of the Arts in Ft Myers that involves Goodwill. The class will explain how to turn used furniture into art and the pieces will then be sold at art galleries around the area.
Goodwill is a non-profit employment service for the disabled. They also help with housing with the Hatton B Rogers complex for seniors and housing complexes for the disabled. They also have a Four Wheels For Work program that allows low income families to obtain reliable transportation. High School High Tech is another one of Goodwill's services that lets disabled students explore careers or pursue secondary training in a technical field.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Home Sales Slow In LaBelle Area

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- For the month of November, there were only eight
real esate properties sold in the LaBelle area for an average price
of $175,000. All but two were sales in Port LaBelle. Port LaBelle
home builders now have an excess of inventory with little being
sold. One builder in desperation has resorted to placing plastic
signs and "open house" banners illegally on street corners and on
trees throughout Port LaBelle.

1) $150,000 on Albany Road
2) $229,000 on Buttercup Circle (new home)
3) $185,000 on Fraser Avenue (city of LaBelle)
4) $188,000 on Rainbow Circle
5) $184,000 on NE Beechwood Circle
6) $165,000 on S Edgewater Circle
7) $189,000 on S Edgewater Circle
8) $110,000 on S Main Street (city of LaBelle)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Humane Society Cancels Event

Last Minute Decision Effects Funding, Say Bonnell

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- The Caloosa Humane Society has cancelled it's fundraising Bluegrass Fest. The festival's band's leader has been taken suddenly ill and hospitalized, according to Executive Director Susan Bonnell, so the event would not have any entertainment, Bonnell said in a press release late Thursday night.

The event was to be on Saturday, December 2nd in LaBelle at the Rodeo Grounds on State Road 29. Bonnell said, "This is the humane society's largest money making events so this was not an easy decision to cancel. The shelter will have to cut back on it's ability to take in homeless animals for adoption because of the loss of the probable earnings from this one fund raiser. This is a serious financial problem for this small shelter that serves both Glades and Hendry Counties."

The pet shelter has set a raffle of a hand crafted art "Santa Doll" on Saturday December 9 with tickets selling at $10.  Florida law says raffles are illegal unless certain rules are followed including a statement of rules in all advertisements and on the tickets, and printing on all  tickets that a payment is not required to obtain a ticket.