Friday, October 30, 2009

Home Sales Up Again In LaBelle

More Homes Sold - One Million Dollar Sale

LABELLE, FL. -- From October 13 to October 27, there were 10 homes sold in the LaBelle, Florida area for an average price of $182,000. A home on River Blossom Lane sold for $1.2 million. The home sales, with nearly all being in the Port LaBelle community are:

1) $30,000 on Anchor Ln
2) Unknown price on Dustin Dr
3) $82,000 on Penny Cir
4) $40,000 on Rainbow Cir
5) $1,215,000 on River Blossom Ln
6) $61,000 on Riverbend Dr
7) $210,000 on Riverbend Dr
8) $32,000 on School Cir
9) $70,000 on Tide Cir
10) $80,000 on E Briarwood Cir

Monday, October 26, 2009

Positive Numbers For Florida Real Estate

Sales Up - Buyers Going For Lower Priced Homes

LABELLE, FL. -- Statistics released by the Florida Association of REALTORS® on September 2009 sales of existing homes and condominiums indicate that sales were up overall statewide while median prices overall were down statewide. 

Existing home sales in Florida for September 2009 versus September 2008 were up 34% statewide, with median sales prices down 19%, although some areas experienced significant differences.  Existing home sales in Fort Myers were up 77%, with median sales prices down 37%, while home sales in Tallahassee were up only 1% with median sales prices up 2%.

Existing condo sales in Florida for September 2009 were up 77% statewide compared to September 2008, with median prices down 33% statewide.  Orlando showed existing condo sales up 302% with median prices down 51%, while Melbourne showed condo sales up 10% with median sales prices down 22% compared to September 2008. 

30 Hour LaBelle Music 'Event' Cancelled

County Nixes Rodeo Grounds Concert After Discussion With Promoter

LaBelle, FL ­ The 30-hour musical event, Solace, originally announced to be in LaBelle on November 7-8 at the LaBelle Rodeo Grounds, has been postponed according to concert producer Joseph Stubblefield, of Team Jesus Wins. ''Unforeseeable circumstances'' were the reasons stated by Stubblefield.

The Hendry Recreation Board had given permission for the use of the grounds without cost,  not knowing that Stubblefield was intending to sell camping spaces for up to 120 24' x 24'  sites at $45 to $55, and sell admission tickets from $8 to $15. Stubblefield,  who runs the for-profit company Team Jesus Wins, apparently got free use of the rodeo grounds by not telling county officials the full details, and by associating the event with a local church ministry.

The event was to be ''sponsored'' by Bull Pit Outreach Ministry of LaBelle, according to a previous press release. A ''portion'' of the proceeds was to benefit the American Red Cross, he said. Stubblefield's press release said the LaBelle Rodeo Grounds can host 3,000 in the arena, and the first 1,000 War Veterans to show a Military ID card were to get in free.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Log Cabin BBQ Opens - 6 Food Safety Violations

BBQ Restaurant Gets It's First Food Safety Inspection

LABELLE, FL. -- The state of Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants is required to do periodic inspections of restaurants, hotels and motels each year, and publishes the results of each inspection online for the public. The local restaurant Log Cabin Barbeque of LaBelle re-opened in LaBelle recently, and it's first state inspection resulted in six critical food safety items to be addressed by the new owners, including no evidence of required employee training.

The restaurant is at 480 State Road 80 in downtown LaBelle, owned by Glenn Schofield operating as Log Cabin Barbecue of LaBelle LLC. Schofield has been active in real estate investments in the area for a number of years.

A summary of the violations found during the inspection are listed below. The department cites violations of Florida's sanitation and safety laws, which are based on the standards of U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Code. In general, critical violations are those that, if not corrected, are more likely to contribute directly to food contamination, illness or environmental damage. Although we use the industry-standard term "critical", varying degrees of severity and potential risk to the public require inspectors to assess each situation in determining the appropriate action.

In addition, while an establishment may have multiple violations, the inspectors' training and judgment formulate the overall result of the inspection to ensure the public health and safety. While most establishments correct all violations in a timely manner (often during the inspection), the division's procedures are designed to compel compliance with all violations through follow-up visits, administration action or closure when necessary.
Violation    Observation
02-13-2    Critical. Required consumer advisory for raw/undercooked animal food not provided.
22-17-1    Critical. Observed soiled reach-in cooler gaskets.
32-04-1    Critical. Bathroom not enclosed with tight-fitting, self-closing doors.
32-08-1    Critical. No waste receptacle provided at handwash lavatory with disposable towels.
32-16-1    Critical. Hand wash sink lacking proper hand drying provisions.
53B-08-1    Critical. No proof of required employee training provided. All public food service establishments must provide the division with proof of employee training upon request, including, but not limited to, at the time of any division inspection of the establishment.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Florida To Keep Criminals Out Of Care Facilities?

Concerns Over Caregiver Criminals In Facilities Sparks Review

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Governor Charlie Crist has announced he will convene select state agencies charged with reviewing legal requirements for screening individuals to work in facilities that provide care to children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. The group's findings will be presented to the Governor by November 2, 2009.

Hendry county has several group homes and child care facilities who have convicted felons working at them, including one child care facility owner who has a current criminal case pending against them.

''When it comes to the safety and security of Florida's vulnerable populations, we must make every effort to ensure that their professional caregivers do not have criminal histories,'' Governor Crist said.  "I want to thank the members of the media and especially the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – for examining the current practice of background screening to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable individuals."

Currently, certain employees of child day care centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other residential care settings must pass a criminal background check as a hiring requirement. The agencies will review the use of criminal background checks, the process for granting exemptions, and the process that allows employees to begin working before background checks are completed. The group's findings will be presented to Governor Crist to improve the safety of Florida's children and vulnerable adults by using available technology to streamline procedures and revisiting the process of granting exemptions.

The following state agencies will participate:

·         Agency for Health Care Administration
·         Agency for Persons with Disabilities
·         Florida Department of Children and Families
·         Florida Department of Education
·         Florida Department of Elder Affairs
·         Florida Department of Health
·         Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
·         Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Upon learning of the recent news reports, Governor Crist ordered a complete review of current background-screening policies. At the Governor's direction, Deputy Chief of Staff Dave Foy first met with agency representatives on August 21 to begin gathering information, which has continued during the past two months. The agencies will meet for the first time Thursday at 4:00 p.m. in the Governor's Large Conference Room.

Previous Story On Hendry's Caregiver's Criminal Histories -

Two Arrests In Hendry's Montura Burglaries

Two Men Caught In Burglary

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On October 18, 2009, deputies with the Hendry County Sheriff's Office responded to 208 Pine Lane, in Montura Ranch Estates, a rural community west of Clewiston, after receiving a report of a burglary in progress. Once deputies arrived they made contact with two men, 24 year old Ralph Herbert Landrum (photo left) and 21 year old Ben Milton Wilson who were repairing a flat tire on a silver truck they were driving.

Deputies were told by Landrum that the owner, his stepfather, had given him permission to be on the property. Based on the complaint received from a witness, deputies contacted the property owner, William Burkett, who did tell deputies that he had not given anyone, including his stepson, permission to be on his property nor had he given them permission to remove any property.

Deputies walked around the rear of the home and found the rear window open with the screen torn off and a green plastic chair next to the window. The suspects, Ralph Herbert Landrum and Ben Milton Wilson were then taken into custody and placed under arrest.

Deputies found, located inside the silver truck that was being driven by Landrum and Wilson, miscellaneous items that had been removed from the home, to include prescription medication that was later returned to its owner. It was further found that a tire and rim that the suspects were going to use to replace their flat tire belonged to a neighbor. The suspects had taken it from the porch area of the neighbor�s home and it was also returned to its owner.

Landrum, a convicted felon, and Wilson were arrested and charged with Criminal Mischief, Unoccupied Dwelling Unarmed, Trespassing in a Structure or Conveyance, Larceny, Synthetic Narcotic Possession, and Drug Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription.

Landrum is currently being held in the Hendry County jail on $16,000.00 bond and Wilson is being held on $11,500.00 bond.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bonita Springs Man Dead At Raceway

Crash Into Sebring Raceway Wall Kills Man

SEBRING, FL. -- A 63-year old man from Bonita Springs died in a crash Friday night about 11 p.m. at the Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida.

Douglas K, Martin was traveling westbound in 2002 GMC pickup truck on a closed portion of the Sebring race track and traveling at a high rate of speed as he entered turn 17 which was a right turn. Martin was unable to maintain control of causing the vehicle to skid into a tire barrier wall.

The vehicle then caught fire upon impact with the tire barrier wall and came to final rest against the tire barrier wall facing in a
north westerly direction. Martin expired in the vehicle as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.

Investigation continues to determine if alcohol was involved. FHP Trp. Jesse DeBoom was the accident investigator and Cpl. Albert Middleton the homicide investigator.

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Dean At Hendry-Glades College Center

Edison State College Welcomes Familiar Face to Hendry/Glades Center Leadership Position

LABELLE, FL. -- Edison State College names Dr. Robert Jones as new Dean to oversee the Hendry and Glades County Center serving students in Hendry and Glades Counties. Dr. Robert Jones has accepted the new leadership role effective November 1, 2009.

''This is an important time for Edison State College and our commitment to Hendry and Glades Counties," said Dr. Kenneth P. Walker, President of Edison State College. ''We carefully balanced the needs of the community, the students and the college. I feel confident Dr. Jones brings a well-qualified background to the Center and will be welcomed by the students he will serve.''

Jones was instrumental in developing the relationship between Edison State College and the Hendry and Glades communities throughout his tenure at the college. Administrators say Jones led the partnership between Edison and LaBelle High approximately 10 years ago.

Most recently Jones worked to secure the purchase and move to the Center's new location at 1092 E. Cowboy Way that opened this Fall with an increased student enrollment.

''I look forward to building upon the hard work, enthusiasm and achievements that have come from Edison State's partnerships in Hendry and Glades Counties,'' said Jones.

''The communities of LaBelle, Moore Haven, Clewiston, and Alva will benefit from his exceptional experience in administration combined with his longstanding familiarity with the local community,'' said Dr. Randall Parrish, Edison State College Board of Trustees Chairman and Hendry County representative. ''His breadth of knowledge of these communities provides a natural pathway for expansion and new opportunities."

Leaders at Edison State College say they feel strongly the Hendry/Glades Center will continue to thrive and expand in the next few years.

''I feel so confident the students at our Center will thrive with the experience Dr. Jones brings to the position,� said Julia G. Perry, Edison Board of Trustees member representing Glades County.'' This campus will become an educational and cultural center that will one day become home to two and four year degree programs.''

Edison has served Southwest Florida for nearly 50 years with campuses in Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties. The Hendry/Glades Center at Edison State College serves approximately 500 students each semester.

Dr. Jones has served Edison State College since 1991. He holds a Doctorate in Education from NOVA Southeastern, an MBA from the University of Texas at Tyler and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin with a major in Economics.

He and his wife, Betsi have two daughters, Kate and Emily.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

LaBelle Home Sales Up And Down

More Homes Sold This Week - Compared To Previous Week

LABELLE, FL. -- From October 6  to October 13, there were eight homes sold in the LaBelle areA for an average price of $75,250. The sales this week were split among Port LaBelle, City of LaBelle, and rural county properties. The sales recorded were:

1) $60,000 on Brazil Circle (Port LaBelle)
2) $95,000 on Case Rd
3) $150,000 on Cemetery Rd
4) $50,000 on Evans Rd
5) $170,000 on Oklahoma Ave (City of LaBelle)
6) $32,000 on School Circle (Port LaBelle)
7) Unknown price on E Yeomans Ave (City of LaBelle)
8) $45,000 on South Edgewater Circle (Port LaBelle)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hendry Sheriff Whidden Speaking To Students

Hendry Sheriff's Office To Meet Edison Students

LABELLE, FL. -- The Mass Communications Class at Edison State College, LaBelle, Florida presents for the first time: a ''Sheriff's
Forum'' Friday October 16th at 3 p.m.  Axl Jones, Facilitator and panel members Tiffany Santiago, Keyniza Browne, Nancy Burnette,and Devon Bowman have researched questions to ask Sheriff Whidden and Lt. Susan Harrelle, Public Information Officer about crime concerns in Hendry County. 

Edison State College Students are also invited to participate in the event.  Nancy Burnette is the official hostess and will greet the news media at the front of the college. The social committee includes Tiffany Santiago, Marco Escalante, Mariner Perez, Darrell Cash, Keyinza Browne, Devon Bowman and T J Timms.
The Mass Communication course is an elective course that addresses, through research and application projects in public relations, internet innovations in communication, broadcast television /radio news, advertising, newspaper production, first amendment rights/laws, global communication and the impact of the ''Age of Information."

The Sheriff�s Forum is the second exploration hosted by Mass Communications students at the LaBelle campus, into various forms of the media.  The first event was a news forum with Patty Brant, Editor of the Caloosa Belle.  Reporter, Anahi Guerra, media relations, submitted a report and pictures for publication in the newspaper.  
Following the Forum, students will meet "upfront and personal" with Sheriff  Whidden and Lt. Harrelle at the Mass Communications class social. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Glades Deer Struck - Three Injured

Driver And Two Passengers Taken To Hendry Regional Hospital

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A deer crossing US Highway 27 at Lykes Road in Glades county caused an accident leaving a motorist and two passengers in serious condition when their truck struck the deer.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol accident report, the 2002 Ford pickup truck was traveling southbound on State Road 25 (US Highway 27) at about 8 p.m. Sunday October 11, when a deer emerged from the center grassy median of US-27.

Driver Eva Elizabeth Nolasco, 27 of Homestead, Florida swerved to avoid colliding with the animal.

The front of the truck struck the animal in the inside southbound lane of the  roadway. She then lost control and the truck departed the roadway and overturned before coming to final rest in the center grassy median, overturned onto it's roof facing north.

The driver and passengers Maria E. Mateo, 47, and Geronimo Gusman, 39 were taken to Hendry Regional Hospital in Clewiston. A third passenger, Evert Nolasco, 4 was uninjured. All were from Homestead, Florida.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

LaBelle Woman Crashes Into Tree

SUV Crashes Into Tree In Muse

LABELLE, FL. -- A 48-year old LaBelle woman was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital after a crash into a tree in Muse, northwest of the city of LaBelle.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Corey Rozycki reports Nancy A, Alderman was east bound on Glades County Road 720 east of Fernwood when her 2005 Suzuki SUV traveled onto the south shoulder and into the ditch.

The front of the vehicle collided with a tree, according to the accident report. The crash was discovered at 11:49 a.m. on October 11, 2009, although the crash happened the night before around 8:15 p.m. The driver was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rewards For Florida Bass Anglers

Tagged Largemouth Bass Bring Rewards

CLEWISTON, FL. --Beginning this month, biologists are tagging largemouth bass with small, yellow tags along the back of the fish just below the dorsal fin. These tags carry a printed telephone number, e-mail address, tag number and reward value.  Anglers should carefully examine all bass caught in Florida lakes for reward tags, as biologists will tag fish in numerous lakes throughout the state.

Biologists encourage anglers to remove these tags by cutting them as close to the fish as possible and then treat the fish as they would normally. Once anglers remove a tag, they should immediately report it to the FWC Angler Tag Return Hotline at 800-367-4461 or e-mail

Anglers participating in the study will receive a reward for each largemouth bass tag they return to the FWC.  When reporting the tag, anglers should provide the following information: the species of fish, tag number, fish length, date and time of capture, name of the lake where the fish was caught, and whether the angler kept or released the fish.

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the University of Florida need assistance with a statewide largemouth bass research study. This year-long project is an interactive way for the public to help biologists obtain critical information necessary to manage the largemouth bass fishery for quality and trophy-sized fish.

From this study, biologists hope to learn how frequently bass are caught and harvested. They also hope to learn more about the size range of fish caught.

Anglers should mail the tags to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Attn: LMB Tagging Study, 601 W. Woodward Ave., Eustis, FL, 32726. 

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Only Two Homes Sold In LaBelle

Two LaBelle Real Estate Sales In Two Weeks

LABELLE FL. -- From September 22 to October 6, there were two homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $119,500.

$150,000 was the sales price for a home on Frontier Circle in the Port LaBelle Ranchettes. The Ranchettes are in Glades county, north of State Road 80.

The second home sold for $89,000 on East Fort Thompson Avenue in LaBelle.

The small number of sales contrasted with sales just a few weeks ago when a record number of sales were recorded for a seven day period. During the week of September 15th to September 22 there were 11 homes sales closed in the LaBelle area for an average price of $64,364. Eight sales were in Port LaBelle, three in the city of LaBelle.

Immokalee Farmer's Market Gets $8 Million

Hurricane Damaged Farmer's Market To Be Repaired

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced that the federal government will soon release funds totaling more than $8 million to help rebuild portions of the Immokalee State Farmers' Market that were extensively damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which operates the market, had filed an appeal in 2008 with the Federal Emergency Management Agency contesting FEMA's initial estimate of the

''We're pleased with the favorable resolution of our appeal so that the rebuilding process can finally begin,'' Bronson said.  ''The farming community in the Immokalee area depends on the infrastructure provided by this market facility.  We plan to move forward as quickly as possible now that the impasse regarding funding has been resolved.''

The Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency and the Florida Department of Emergency Management assisted FDACS in the appeal process.

The Immokalee State Farmers' Market has been serving this important agricultural area since 1951.  Agricultural products -- composed primarily of tomatoes, watermelons and mixed produce -- are marketed seasonally from this facility.  The destruction from Wilma has reduced the annual capacity of the market by almost half, down from $11 million to $6 million. Construction of new facilities and repair of damaged structures will restore the market to its pre-storm capacity, aiding in the marketing of crops grown in the region.

Shirtless Woman Dead In Hendry Accident

Woman In Roadway Struck By Truck

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Katina M. Avila, 37, of Clewiston was lying in the road, shirtless, when she was struck by a semi-truck flatbed trailer driven by Miguel Cruz, 58 of Naples around 4:45 a.m. Sunday in Hendry County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The accident happened October 4th on Hendry County Road 835 about two miles north of Dooley Road, as Cruz drove over what he thought was a dead animal in the road. He attempted to swerve but the 2005 Mack truck and trailer but struck the victim. It is unknown why Avila was in the roadway, in a remote area southwest of Clewiston.

An investigation is underway by the FHP to determine if she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Labelle's Don's Restaurant - Dirt, Slime In Ice

LaBelle Restaurant Found With 9 Food Safety Violations

LABELLE, FL. -  The state of Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants is required to do periodic spot inspections of restaurants, hotels and motels each year, and publishes the results of each inspection online. The Sunday Morning News looked at the most recent health inspection of LaBelle's well known restaurant Don's Restaurant on Hall Street.

A state food safety inspector observed the violations May 27th, 2009 finding 9 violations, 5 being critical. The inspector found among other things, slime in ice machine, soil in ice bins, and no chlorine in dish washer.

A summary of the violations found during the inspection are listed below. The department cites violations of Florida's sanitation and safety laws, which are based on the standards of U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Code. In general, critical violations are those that, if not corrected, are more likely to contribute directly to food contamination, illness or environmental damage.

Although the report uses the industry-standard term "critical", varying degrees of severity and potential risk to the public require inspectors to assess each situation in determining the appropriate action. In addition, while an establishment may have multiple violations, the inspectors' training and judgment formulate the overall result of the inspection to ensure the public health and safety. While most establishments correct all violations in a timely manner (often during the inspection), the division's procedures are designed to compel compliance with all violations through follow-up visits, administration action or closure when necessary.

Inspection: May 27, 2009 at 93 South Hall Street in LaBelle. It may be assumed that similar problems would be found at any random inspection here.

Violation     Observation
02-22-1     Critical. Ready-to-eat, potentially hazardous food prepared on site and held more than 24 hours with not properly date marked. walk-in cooler, some PHFs not marked.
05-08-1    Critical. No thermometer provided to measure temperature of food product.
15-30-1    Shelves in walk-ins not constructed of materials that are corrosion resistant, non-absorbent, smooth and easily cleanable. shelving is corroded.
20A-10-1    Critical. Dish machine chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength. ran 3x, 0 ppm chlorine; need to manually sanitize until machine is serviced. Technician was called to service machine.
22-20-1    Critical. Observed buildup of slime in the interior of ice machine. as indicated by alcohol swab
22-21-1    Critical. Observed soil buildup inside ice bin. beverage ice bin
33-13-1    Observed non-bagged garbage in dumpster.
36-15-1    Observed food debris accumulated on walk-in freezer floor.
37-11-1    Observed attached equipment soiled with accumulated dust. fan guard, walk-in cooler

Thursday, October 01, 2009

In The Service - Clewiston's Mathis

Sean Mathis Graduate Of Army Basic Training

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Army Pfc. Sean M. Mathis has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.
     During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions. 

Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman. He is the son of Shaun and Martha Mathis of West Avenida Del Rio, Clewiston, Fla.
Mathis is a 2009 graduate of Clewiston High School.