Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Students Graduate From Construction Course

New Students Ready For Construction Jobs

LABELE, FL. -- Graduating last week from the construction trades classes in Port LaBelle were five newly trained graduates ready to  begin a construction career. Pictured are: Geri Yoraschek, Chairman ECSWF,  Dave Smith (rear), Construction Trades Worker Instructor,  Rhonda Haag SFWMD Consultant,  Michelle Waldron (front) Student Graduate,  Ed McGlynn (rear) CFO for Steeltek (Training Contractor),   Andre Gonzales (front) Student Graduate,  Joni Bearden (rear) Assistant Instructor,   Betty Williams (front) Student Graduate, Donald Harris Student Graduate, Sonny Hughes (rear) Executive Director ECSWF, Judy Nothdurft SFWMD Ass. Director for West Coast,  Saul Gonzalez (not in picture) Student Graduate.

The mission of the ECSWF is to provide the skills and training requirements of business and industry in rural Southwest Florida by offering classes, seminars, and other educational and training programs designed to establish a workforce ready for career employment. 

The ECSWF will work cooperatively and in conjunction with existing public and private schools and with public and privately funded programs already established.  The ECSWF will service residents of rural southwest Florida counties including Glades, Hendry, Lee, Collier and Charlotte.  The service area also includes the Big Cypress, Immokalee and Brighton Seminole Indian reservations.

The Education Center of Southwest Florida, Inc., South Florida Water Management  District and the SWFWorkforce Development Board are working together to have "Construction Trades Worker" classes start every six weeks in LaBelle.

Level 1 -Training will consist of First Aid, CPR, OSHA Training, as well as, learn Safety, Employability Skills, Blue Print Reading, Basic Rigging, Construction Math, Masonry, Carpentry, Plastic Pipe, and introduction to Hand and Power Tools. It is a 5 week course.

For further information regarding this Training Course, please contact Sonny Hughes, Executive Director for the Education Center of Southwest Florida Inc., (863) 675-6800 or e-mail SHughesedcenter@embarqmail.com. Next class will start March 3.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Three Arrests In School Break In

Teens Accused Of Thefts

LABELLE, FL. -- Sheriff Lee, announces that Hendry County Sheriff's Office Investigators have arrested three individuals in connection with the break in of Upthegrove and Country Oaks Elementary Schools.

Two juveniles Miguel A. Ramirez age 15, of 460 Clay Street, LaBelle, charged with dealing in stolen property 1 count and possession of marijuana less than 20 grams; Antonio M. Arenivar age 16 of 460 Clay Street, LaBelle has been charged with dealing in stolen property 2 counts, burglary 2 counts, Felony criminal mischief 2 counts and grand theft 2 counts.

Justin B. Williams age 18 of 4555 Clay Street, LaBelle was also charged with burglary 1 count, Felony criminal mischief 1 count and grand theft 1 count.
Country Oaks Elementary, had been burglarized January 29, and Upthegrove Elementary was burglarized on February 22, 2008. Some of the Stolen Property has been recovered and traced back to Hendry County Schools. Investigation is continued and more arrests are anticipated.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Poll - The Worst Hendry School Board Member Is?


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Sounds And Sights From The Festival Parade

Watch live video from Don Browne - Florida on Justin.tv

LABELLE, FL. -- The Annual Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle got off to a rousing start Saturday morning with the Festival Parade. Community organizations once again pulled together to delight this year's large crowd of residents and visitors with music, parade floats, and fun.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

LaBelle Home Sales

LABELLE, FL. -- From February 12 to February 19, there were four homes sold in the LaBelle, area for an average price of $143,000. The sales included:

1) $150,000 on Clark Street, LaBelle
2) $107,000 on Fire Court, Port LaBelle Unit 5
3) $153,000 on Hercules Road, Port LaBelle
4) $162,000 on Springview Circle, Port LaBelle Unit 5

Local Real Estate Report Sponsored by:
Helen's Barber Shop, 100 Lincoln Avenue, LaBelle, Florida (863) 674-1333

Weeks Family Gives To University

$6 Million Gift From School Teacher/Ranchers

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has received nearly $6 million from the estates of two South Florida cattle ranch owners, Harriet Weeks and her daughter, Robin Weeks. This is the largest private gift ever received by the College.

Harriet and Robin were both schoolteachers and part-time ranchers until Robin's father and brother passed away after running a 300-head cattle ranch. Harriet Weeks died in February 2005 and Robin Weeks died shortly thereafter. The majority of their estate assets consisted of agricultural real estate in Glades County.

Glades county commissioner Donna Storter Long remembers Weeks saying, "I knew Mrs. Weeks and she was a wonderful person, very talented. She was very creative in making flower designs for the Methodist Church in Moore Haven. When I once asked her if she could attend a certain ladies' function, she kinklhy said she could not, that she had a ranch to run."

The gifts will be used to create an endowed chair in veterinary medicine and an endowed professorship in bovine medicine, as well as an endowed fund to support teaching, research and programs at the college. The largest private gifts ever received by the college, the monies are eligible for matching funds from the state of Florida major gifts trust fund, which would raise the total to $12 million.

A previous installment of $1 million from the Robin Weeks estate enabled the college to meet its $4 million private funding goal and to obtain $57 million in state funding for a new small animal hospital.

The most recent gifts consist of $3.5 million from Robin Weeks' estate and $950,000 from the estate of Harriet Weeks, earmarked to the UF veterinary college. An additional gift of approximately $500,000 is expected when the estates are totally settled.

Monday, February 18, 2008

CBS President Les Moonves Calls LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. --- Sunday Morning News and Southwest Florida Online publisher Don Browne received a surprise California phone call from CBS's Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves Saturday morning.

Browne was broadcasting his live internet video broadcast from his home in LaBelle when Moonves called to talk about internet broadcasting.

Moonves was joined on the phone with Browne by "PcEasy", a well-known internet broadcast producer, and producer of the "East Coast Vegas Show."

"PC" and Moonves questioned the Sunday Morning News publisher about the booming trend in live internet video broadcasting, and talked a little gossip about personalities and internet broadcasters around the county.  Moonves is investing in internet businesses including the recent purchase of internet music social site Last.FM.

Leslie Moonves is President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation. He was co-president of Viacom, Inc. the predecessor to CBS Corporation. He was formerly the president of CBS entertainment and Warner Bros. Television, where he initiated the hit shows Wings and Survivor. He also created the CW Network in January 2006.

Sometimes wacky and eclectic Moonves married Julie Chen on his 56th birthday in 2004. Chen is 21 years younger and is the host of Big Brother and appears on CBS's The Early Show. Moonves fired radio personality Don Imus in April 2007 after Imus used an alleged racial slur on his radio show.

Moonves resides in a mansion in the hills above Brentwood, California, and has three children: Adam, Michael, and Sara, with his former wife of 26 years, Nancy Wiesenfeld Moonves.

Swamp Cabbage Festival Saturday!

Swamp Cabbage Festival Parade Live On Internet

LABELLE, FL. -- Saturday brings the annual Swamp Cabbage Festival back to LaBelle. The weekend festivities start off with the traditional parade through the streets of the county seat of Hendry county. LaBelle's annual Swamp Cabbage Festival Parade will be broadcast live on the intenet this year for the first time. You can subscribe to the free webcast by clicking the link below:

Swamp Cabbage Internet Webcast
Swamp Cabbage Festival Information

Vote For LaBelle's Live Daily Internet Videocast:

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Largest Beef Recall In History

U.S. Orders Largest Beef Recall in History

LABELLE, FL. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef produced by a California slaughterhouse in what is now believed to the be largest meat recall in history.

Chino, California's Westland/Hallmark Meat Companhy provides meat to school lunch programs, and the recall affects beef products dating back to Feb. 1, 2006. There have been no reports of illnesses linked to the recalled meat, and USDA officials termed the health threat small.

An undercover Humane Society video showed crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts at the company's plant. Felony and misdemeanor charges were filed last week against some employees of the company, and an official investigation continues.

Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat has already been eaten. Most of the beef was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages, and the USDA was planning to work with the distributors to determine how much meat remains.

Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease.

About 150 school districts around the nation have stopped using ground beef from Hallmark Meat Packing Co. Two fast-food chains, Jack-In-the-Box and In-N-Out, said they would not use beef from Westland/Hallmark. Other chains, such as McDonald's and Burger King, said they do not buy beef from Westland.

-from AP and Washington Post

MENSA Looks For Very Smart People

Are You Smarter Than Your Friends?

LABELLE, FL. -- Are you curious? Do you enjoy playing board games, solving mind-numbing puzzles and speaking in puns? Are you interested in meeting others who think as quickly as you? Do you want to hang out with people who get your jokes? Then, you may be interested in joining Mensa.

"One in fifty people qualifies for Mensa membership," said Jeff Avery, president of Mensa.  "You know 49 people who aren�t as bright as you are, don�t you? The local Mensa Chapter serves all of Collier and Lee County, as well as portions of Charlotte and Hendry County.

Mensa is an organization open to anyone who scores in the top two percent on an accepted, standardized intelligence test.
The Southwest by South Florida Mensa will be holding a testing session on Wednesday evening, February 27, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. at the Wilson Miller building, located at 3200 Bailey Lane in Naples.  This event will feature a "two for-the-price-of-one" special, meaning that the normal testing fee of $40.00 per person will be split between two test takers.  Prospective members should pre-register by calling Gavin Jones at 775-6026 for a reserved space.

Mensa hosts a variety of activities each month including discussion forums and social gathering at local restaurants. Members may also attend national events, receive the Mensa Bulletin magazine or join Special Interest Groups that range from astronomy to zen.

Friday, February 15, 2008

FBI Wants Your Biological Identifiers

$1 Billion To Get Your  Palm Prints And Eye Scans

LABELLE, FL. -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people's physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

A report from CNN says the bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information- from palm prints to eye scans. Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI's Biometric Services section chief, said adding to the database is "important to protect the borders to keep the terrorists out, protect our citizens, our neighbors, our children so they can have good jobs, and have a safe country to live in."

"It's the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Project.

The FBI already has 55 million sets of fingerprints on file. In coming years, the bureau wants to compare palm prints, scars and tattoos, iris eye patterns, and facial shapes. The idea is to combine various pieces of biometric information to positively identify a potential suspect.

-from CNN report

Tomato Blight Appears In Immokalee

Disease Can Devastate Vegetable Crops

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Late blight has been found on tomato and potato plant in several locations around Fort Pierce and this week  Leon Lucas of Glades Crop Care has reported that late bight has been found near Immokalee on tomato plants.  This report was confirmed microscopically by the UF/IFAS Plant Disease Clinic in Immokalee.

At present, barring further reports from Southwest Florida, the find in Immokalee appears to be isolated to one location and limited in area. 

Given the fact that late blight is present in South Florida and the weather forecast for the next few days call for increased chance of showers and condition conducive to the spread of the disease, growers are advised to
increase scouting efforts and apply protectant fungicides, says Gene McAvoy of the Hendry Ag Extension Office in LaBelle.

Late blight is caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans, which is a pathogen of potato and tomato.  Very few vegetable diseases cause more concern to growers.  The disease can spread quickly and devastate a tomato  or potato field within a few weeks if not properly controlled said McAvoy.

Since the disease can spread so rapidly, McAvoy says growers should scout their fields thoroughly each day, especially when cool and wet conditions conducive to disease development prevails.

LaBelle Home Prices Drop Further

LABELLE, FL. -- In the week of January 29 to February 5 there were three homes in the LaBelle area sold for an average price of $97,333. The three homes demonstrate the price drop in area real estate, this week in the Port LaBelle subdivisions.

1) $99,000 on School Circle
2) $103,000 on Sherwood Circle
3) $90,000 on North Edgewater Circle

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In The Service

Greer Graduates From Training

LABELLE, FL. -- Army Spec. Amber L. Greer 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, and physical fitness.

She 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 Roger and Debborah Greer of County Road 78 W., LaBelle, Fla. Greer is a 2007 graduate of LaBelle High School.

Everglades City School Storm Damaged

Overnight Storms Wreck Havoc

EVERGLADES CITY, FL. -- The School District of Collier County has closed Everglades City School for the day because of storm damage to the school campus suffered during last night's storms.  Principal Bobby Jones reports wind damage to the roofs of three buildings, water leaks inside those buildings, and some ceiling tiles are down. 

Cancellation of the school day was announced Tuesday morning.  Students who were en route on buses were returned home.  The transportation department called all parents to make sure they would be home to receive their children, and some parents picked their youngsters up from the bus stops.  All students were returned to their parents by 8:10 this morning.  The student population at the school is 135, Pre-Kindergarten thru grade 12.

Principal Jones says that there are a few trees and tree limbs down, some signs were knocked down, and because the school is next to the waterfront, crab traps and buoys were strewn across the campus.  There is also some playground damage.

The district office dispatched a maintenance team and a roofing contractor to the school first thing this morning to survey the damage and make the necessary repairs.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Subscribe To Free Swamp Cabbage Broadcast

Swamp Cabbage Festival Parade Live On Internet

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle's annual Swamp Cabbage Festival Parade will be broadcast live on the intenet this year. You can subscribe to the free webcast by clicking the link below:

Swamp Cabbage Webcast
Swamp Cabbage Festival Page

Vote For LaBelle's Live Internet Videocast:

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Flavored Drugs New Threat To Children

Drugs Dealers Getting Bold To Attract New "Customers"

LABELLE, FL. -- Candy-flavored meth, marijuana gumballs and other threats could endanger elementary, and middle schools warn law enforcement officials. Attorney General Bill McColluum and the Florida Association of School Resource Officers this week issued a consumer advisory warning parents, teachers and school administrators of an alarming trend with dangerous implications for Florida school children.

Federal and state law enforcement agencies are reporting that flavored drugs, particularly methamphetamines, heroin and marijuana, are circulating throughout the United States, often enticing younger children. These drugs could be ingested by unsuspecting children and are extremely harmful, say authorities.

The flavoring reduces the bitter taste of the drug and does not affect the potency of the drug. Children may mistake the drug for candy pop rocks.

Additional reports of gumballs filled with marijuana and narcotics packaged or disguised as candy or other more enticing objects have raised concern from Florida law enforcement and should be considered serious threats by parents, teachers and school administrators.

Children should be advised not to accept any candy which may resemble one of these new drug forms and should turn over any in their possession to their teacher, principal, or school resource officer.

Parents should encourage their children to avoid any participation in distributing or using the drugs, no matter how harmless they may seem, and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities or a trusted adult.

Maddox Withdraws From Re-Election Bid

Commissioner Bill Maddox Not Running Again

LABELLE, FL. --  Hendry County Commissioner W.T. "Bill" Maddox Jr. has withdrawn his name from running again for a second commission term.

The Hendry Elections office said Maddox had notified them of his decision this week.  Maddox will be required to file a final report showing his use of any campaign funds, and return a pro-rated amount to any contributors to his re-election campaign.

Maddox, former law enforcement officer, son of a former Hendry County Sheriff, and cattle rancher is a well-known Hendry county personality.  In a current Sunday Morning News - Southwest Florida Online reader poll, Maddox was voted the  "Least Competent Hendry Commissioner."

Poll - Who Is The Least Liked Hendry Commissioner?

Sloan Applies For Circuit Judge Job

Jim Sloan Applies To Be One Of Two New Circuit Judges

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Judge James D. Sloan has applied to switch judge jobs, applying for one of two judicial openings in the 20th Judicial Circuit which includes Lee, Hendry and Charlotte county.

Sloan, now Hendry county's county judge, is one of 41 applicants for the position, left open by the death of one circuit Judge and the retirement of another. A nine-member commission will interview the applicants and then the nominees will go to Governor Crist for his choice, making the two new Judges  political appointees until their term expires, and then an election.

Most likely one of the two appointees will work in the Hendry and Glades county circuit court. The job pays $139.497 a year, or about $70 an hour, assuming a 40 hour work week.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Black AIDS Awareness Day

Leading Cause Of Death For Black Floridians

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Health recognizes February 7 as the eighth observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day addresses the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on the black community and encourages individuals to learn more about HIV/AIDS, to know their HIV status, to seek testing and counseling for the virus, and to advocate for the resources necessary to fight the disease.

While blacks comprise 14 percent of Florida�s adult population, blacks account for 48 percent of AIDS cases and 52 percent of HIV cases statewide.  For 15 consecutive years, HIV/AIDS has been the leading cause of death for black Floridians between the ages of 25 and 44.   

"In 2006, DOH launched a report entitled 'Silence is Death: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS in Florida�s Black Communities.'  Since then, Florida�s black populations have committed to fight this disease with every resource possible, not just once a year, but every day," said Thomas Liberti, Chief of DOH Bureau of HIV/AIDS.  "This observance is an important call to action for all Floridians, including advocacy groups, government agencies, and medical and faith communities to work together to expand prevention efforts, increase testing and link people to quality care."

Monday, February 04, 2008

Buckhead Ridge Addresses Changing

Letter From Glades Commissioner Donna Storter Long

BUCKHEAD RIDGE, FL. -- After house address changes to homes in the Buckhead Ridge subdivision in Glades County, Commissioner Donna Storter Long give advice to residents.

Commissioner Long says, "Some of you have recently received notice from the County that your physical street address has changed, and you were concerned over the costs of changing titles and registrations to reflect the new address.

"I just spoke with Mrs. Keen at the office of Glades County Tax Collector Gail Jones (863.946.6035) and she informed me that you are NOT required to get the address changed on your title to your vehicle(s) or boat(s).  She did suggest that if your title is still being held by a lien holder, you should notify them of your new mailing address so the title can be mailed to you when you pay it off.  (Your payment coupon may even include the form for that.)

"But if you have the title in your possession, you do NOT need to get it reissued with your new address.

"If you want to change the REGISTRATION (not the title) to your vehicle or boat BEFORE it's time to renew it/purchase decal, you can do that for $2.50 at the tax collector's office. Mrs. Jones still has her office open in Buckhead on Wednesday.  

"But if you want to wait to change your address until you get the renewal sticker and registration, you can wait. 

"But please remember, it is necessary to notify the Division of Motor Vehicles of the address change for your driver's license and you can get the form and cost information online by clicking: http://www.hsmv.state.fl.us/forms/address_change.html

"And one of the MOST IMPORTANT offices you need to notify is the Glades County Supervisor of Elections.  Mrs. Whiddon is available at 863.946.6005 for instructions on how you can do that, or you can email her requesting information at hollywhiddon@embarqmail.com. 

"She does require your signature on a form, it cannot be a copy, and it must be original.  Or you can go to 

http://election.dos.state.fl.us/regtovote/webappform.pdf and fill out the form on-line then print it out and sign it to send by regular mail to Mrs. Whiddon.

"Of course an address change comes with some inconvenience­you need to get the packet of forms from the post office to send to folks that you want to have your new address.

"Also, when you mail back in payments such as credit cards or utility companies, you can mark on the remittance form to change your address, or put a note to that effect in the envelope.

"The change is necessary to eliminate duplication of numbers and street names, but the main purpose is so that when you dial 911 from your home phone, your accurate address will be displayed and available with GPS mapping for emergency services.  You certainly want an ambulance or law enforcement officer to be able to find you quickly in an emergency. 

"The county has been working on this project for several years and Mrs. Terry Helfinstine has done an outstanding job. Her email address is glades911@gladescofl.net if you have any more questions.

"You can reach any of the aforementioned Glades County offices toll free at 1.877.445.2337

"Please share this information with your BHR email friends and neighbors who may not have email."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Poll - The Worst Hendry Commissioner Is?

(Note click "undefined" to see results of the poll)

All Previous Sunday Morning News Polls

Bicyclist Dead In Crash

Bryant Avenue Scene Of Fatal Collision

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Parks says a bicyclist died at Lee Memorial Hospital about 4:25 p.m. from injuries in a collision with a car Saturday morning. 

Cyclist Roberto Estrada was ahead of a 1993 Ford sedan eastbound on Bryant Avenue in Labelle as the driver of the car, Rosa Carlene Whidden, 62 crossed into the westbound lane of Bryant Avenue.  Suddenly. Estrada entered the westbound lane ahead of the car. The right front of the car struck the rear wheel of the bicycle. Impact from the collision propelled the bicyclist onto the right side of the car's windshield. 

Estrada was transported by life flight to Lee Memorial Hospital where he died hours later. An investigation is pending for the use of alcohol by both parties.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Editor Keeps Top Broadcaster Ranking

Vote To Help Promote Hendry-Glades County

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- The Southwest Florida Online/Sunday Morning News editor kept his top ranking among the thousands of live broadcasters around the world again this week. Don Browne's live video channel has been ranked in the top 20 broadcasters this week.

Please continue voting by clicking on the banner to help to vote for the LaBelle, Florida video channel. Over 16,000 viewers have passed through the video channel in the last two months. (One vote is allowed per computer within a five hour period)


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Live Chat and Interactive Videocast from LaBelle, Florida

Friday, February 01, 2008

Lake Lock Closing To Boaters

Boat traffic not allowed beginning Monday, February 4th

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- The S-65E navigation lock at Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River will be closed to navigation as of Monday, February 4 due to safety hazards caused by low water levels in the lake. This navigation lock, which is operated by the South Florida Water Management District, will remain closed until water levels in Lake Okeechobee have returned to safe operating levels.
The level of Lake Okeechobee is currently at 10.07 ft. and is expected to continue to recede until significant rainfall occurs in the area. Low water levels inside the lock chamber have caused the concrete sill at the entrance and the manatee protection device installed in the bottom of the lock chamber to become a navigation hazard. Additionally, the lakeward approach to the navigation lock has become to shallow for boaters to navigate safely.
For more information please contact the South Florida Water Management District Okeechobee Service Center at 800-250-4200 or 863-462-5260.

Real Estate Sales In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- From December 25 to January 29, there were only five properties sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $124,800.

1) $30,000 on Meadow Circle
2) $275,000 on Niles Street
3) $69,000 on Ute Street
4) $150,000 on NW Beechwood Circle
5) $100,000 on S Elm Street