Friday, February 26, 2010

Assistance For High Electric Bills

State Programs Help Pay Electric Bills

LABELLE, FL. -- After a cold start to January in Florida, Governor Charlie Crist reminds eligible Florida residents of the help available to them through the state�s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides emergency financial assistance to low-income families to help heat their homes.

The state announced in early 2009 that a total of $101 million was made available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for LIHEAP, more than tripling the annual amount for federal fiscal year 2009.  With these funds, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which administers the program for the state, and its local provider agencies have already assisted thousands of Floridians and expect to assist more than 150,000 residents overall with crisis utility payments. 

To find out about eligibility, residents should contact their county�s local LIHEAP provider.  Eligibility is based on the number of people in the household and their annual gross income.

Governor Crist also wants to remind residents of the state�s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which received more than $175 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and provides significant energy efficient improvements to homes, thereby reducing the energy burden on residents.

These funds will provide up to $6,500 in energy improvements to the homes of more than 19,000 Floridians, including replacing or repairing water heaters, windows and doors, and installing insulation and weather stripping.  Residents interested in this program should also check with their county�s local WAP provider.

Glades County: Agricultural & Labor Program, Inc.: (863) 946-0411

Hendry County: Agricultural and Labor Program, Inc., Labelle: (863) 675-5356, Clewiston: (863) 983-1469

Florida Rates F In Child Dental Care

Disadvantaged Youth Not Provided Adequate Dental Care In Florida

LABELLE, FL. -- A recent study by the Pew Center On The States says Florida is one of nine states graded lowest in providing dental care to the disadvantaged.

In grading states on providing effective dental care for disadvantaged children, six states received an A because they implement at least six of eight policy approaches to ensure dental health and access to care for this population. Florida is one of nine states that received a grade of F because it implements only one or two of these policies.

An estimated 17 million low-income children in America go without dental care each year, representing one out of every five children between the ages of 1 and 18. Lack of dental care can cause problems with early growth and development, school readiness and performance, and overall health.

Untreated dental conditions among children also impose economic and health costs. Between 2009 and 2018, annual spending for dental services in the United States is expected to increase 58%, from $101.9 billion to $161.4 billion. Approximately one-third of the money will go to dental services for children.

Free Fishing Gear For New License

Free Stuff For Fishermen

LABELLE, FL. -- Beginning March 1, the first 3,000 anglers to upgrade to a 5-year freshwater Florida fishing license will receive a special incentive in the form of free tackle, publications and fishing accessories that add to the convenience and cost savings already associated with a 5-year license. 

A 5-year license costs just $79, plus a convenience fee, but in return you know the fees won't increase while you have your license, and you don't need to worry about renewing for five years.

The first 3,000 customers to upgrade to a 5-year freshwater fishing license after March 1 receive a free bonus package by mail with samples, magazines and coupons from fishing-related companies. Some of the items offered include free hooks from Tru-Turn and Owner, jigs from Fish Vision, a free spool of Spiderwire fishing line from Berkley, lead-free sinkers from Bullet Weights, and biodegradable lures from Fish Bites and Stubby Steve�s. 

Also in the package is a variety of useful literature to help ensure a safe-and-sustainable fishing trip, including Florida Wildlife magazine, freshwater regulations booklet, boating safety, fish ID charts, Polk County fishing maps, and a Nature Rocks brochure. Also thrown in are Catch-and-Release (Sure Life) for your livewell, a retractor for your angling tools (Power Pole), instructions and special �Fishhook Removal String,� plus coupons for fishing or paddling trips (Bass Online, Canoe Outpost), educatonal programs (Ladies, Let�s Go Fishing), fuel supplements (Fuel Medics) for your boat motor, and top-of-the-line polarized fishing sunglasses (Ocean Waves).

Five-year licenses are available online at and or by calling, 888-347-4356. In addition, they may be purchased at any license agent, such as retail stores that sell fishing supplies and bait-and-tackle shops or at local county tax collectors� offices. Even if your current license hasn�t expired, you can order a 5-year license now and have the effective date for the license set for up to 60 days after the purchase.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Glades Big Bass Tournament 50th Year

Celebrating 50 Years In Glades County

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Despite a break one year, Moore Haven will host the 50TH annual Chalo Nitka Big Bass Tournament Saturday, February 27 at Alvin Ward Park.

Purported to be the oldest fishing tournament in Florida, according to Florida Sportsman magazine, the Chalo Nitka Big Bass Tournament harkens back to the days before the �catch and release� rules were established, when strings of bass an arm lengh�s across were displayed during the Chalo Nitka Festival itself and live bait was not a dirty word among professional anglers.

The tournament will get underway February 27 from safe light until 1 p.m. There is no age limit, anyone can fish, but each person on the boat must pay an entry fee.  First place is $1200, Second, $700, Third, $400, down to $100 for seventh place.The angler weighing in the biggest bass and wearing a 2010 Chalo Nitka t-shirt will win an additional $100.

A Critter Division is sponsored by Ahern�s BP, giving the angler who brings in the largest Mudfish, Garr or Catfish to win $100. All of the money received for this event is used for event prize payback, polygraph testing and a portion of  proceeds will go to Project Graduation at Moore Haven High School.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hendry Sheriff Citizen Academy Graduates 1st Class

Sheriff's Welcomes First Graduates

LABELLE, FL. -- The graduation ceremony of the Hendry County Sheriff's Department's first Citizens Academy was held on Saturday February 20th. Sheriff Steve Whidden was proud to see a turn out of over 30 citizens from all walk of life attend the classes. The Citizens Academy classes met weekly since November 11th 2009.

The Sheriff's Academy is a 14 week program with each session lasting about two hours long.  This instruction provides its participants with the latest trends and procedures in law enforcement as well as the duties and responsibilities of the various departments.  The participants spend a day at the firing range learning firearm safety and firing weapons as well. (Photo courtesy John Hollingsworth)
The Citizen's Academy is great for anyone over the age of 18 and it's free.  All participants must have a background free of felony and violent misdemeanor convictions. A second class will be starting soon, says Lt. Susan Harrelle at the Sheriff's office.

How To Make Your Own 3-D Photos

Now you can make your own 3D photos and share them with your friends or the world. A new website, shows you how to do it with either a standard digital camera or a 3D camera if you have one.

It's a farily simple process of taking two photos of the same scene, moving your camera about 3 inches between the two shots. Upload the two photos to and in a few seconds you can see and share your new 3D photos.

We give the idea and the website 5 stars!

3D Photo Above: Sunday Morning News/Southwest Florida Online's Don Browne

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LaBelle's Murphy Graduates

Completes Basic At Lackland A.F.B.

LABELLE, FL. -- Air Force Airman William P. Murphy graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.
Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.
He is the son of Patrick Murphy of Belmont St., Labelle, Fla. Murphy is a 2007 graduate of Labelle High School.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Illicit Drug Use To Increase Among Older Adults

Study Finds Adults 50 And Older Using More Drugs

A government study suggest older adults will be increasing use of illicit drugs in coming years. High rates of lifetime drug use among the baby boom generation (persons born between 1946 and 1964), combined with the large size of that cohort, suggest that the number of older adults using drugs will increase in the next two decades.

It has been predicted that by the year 2020, the number of persons needing treatment for a substance use disorder will double among persons ages 50 or older as the baby boom generation moves into older adulthood. An estimated 4.3 million adults ages 50 or older, or 4.7% of adults in that age range, had used an illicit drug in the past year, based on data from 2006 to 2008.

Marijuana use was more common than nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs for adults ages 50 to 54 and those ages 55 to 59, but among those ages 65 or older, nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs was more common than marijuana use.

Child Abuse Around The County Decreasing

1 IN 58 Children Abused Says New HHS Study

According to a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a surprising number of children are abused or neglected, although the numbers have decreased since a prior study in 1993.

The study says more than 1.25 million children experienced maltreatment during the study year (2005-06). This corresponds to one child in every 58 in the United States. A large percentage (44%) was abused, while most (61%) were neglected.

Most of the abused children experienced physical abuse (58% of the abused children). Slightly less than one-fourth were sexually abused, while slightly more than one-fourth were emotionally abused. Almost one-half of the neglected children experienced educational neglect, more than one-third were physically neglected, and one-fourth were emotionally neglected.

These figures reflect a 19% decrease in the total number of maltreated children since an earlier, 1993 study.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Fiber Access For Hendry-Glades?

Download  Movie In 5 Minutes Says Google

LABELLE, FL. -- Google is asking local governments and residents to express their interest in a experimental high-speed internet fiber optic trial, and to provide information about their community by completing a request for information.

From a blog post Google says:

Imagine sitting in a rural health clinic, streaming three-dimensional medical imaging over the web and discussing a unique condition with a specialist in New York. Or downloading a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes. Or collaborating with classmates around the world while watching live 3-D video of a university lecture. Universal, ultra high-speed Internet access will make all this and more possible. We've urged the FCC to look at new and creative ways to get there in its National Broadband Plan – and today we're announcing an experiment of our own.

If you'd like a Google fiber optic trial in your community, complete the section of the request link below.

Help For Wildlife - FWC Chaiman Barreto

By FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto

Sometimes wildlife needs a little help

Sometimes wildlife needs a little help, and sometimes it needs a lot. Things that affect wildlife can be manmade or natural or a combination of both. Sometimes it's best to let nature run its course; other times the situation requires human intervention.

An example of the latter is the cold snap last month that took a toll on several imperiled species – the American crocodile, Florida manatee and sea turtles. Obviously, this was a natural, yet uncommon occurrence. Cold snaps that packed this kind of punch most recently occurred in 1989 and 1977. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its state and federal partners were working feverishly to save as many animals as they could. Authorized non-profit and volunteer groups worked equally hard. Other people, too, when asked by the FWC, jumped in, eagerly doing what they could to help.

Helping wildlife doesn't end once a situation such as this occurs. A helping hand can be in the form of just being alert and slowing down for manatees, sea turtles and other species, and not just because law enforcement officers may issue a citation for speeding in slow-speed zones.

Slowing down and being alert in Florida panther territory could prevent an accident that could cost one of the endangered cats its life. This past year, 14 Florida panthers died on the state's roadways. Panthers are most active between dusk and dawn. Though the number of these animals has increased to approximately 100, the species remains in danger of vanishing forever, and the untimely death of a single one of them, nudges the species closer to the gaping jaws of extinction.

Other critters on the roadways could use a break as well.

Florida black bears are attracted to garbage, barbecue grills, bird feeders and pet food left outside. Once bears discover a recurring source of food other than what nature provides them in their natural environment, they often return to the source repeatedly and become a nuisance. Unfortunately, when a bear becomes a nuisance, it poses a threat to people, and, too often, the FWC must euthanize it. Fifteen or 20 minutes and a little bit of effort to put away attractants is the helping hand that that ensures survival of Florida's black bears.       

We all know that littering is illegal. Lots of bad things can happen to wildlife because of it. A bag of fast-food leftovers thrown on the side of the road brings wildlife close to the road and in danger of being hit by a vehicle. Discarded monofilament fishing line has injured and killed manatees, sea turtles, birds, fish and numerous other species. It happens every day.

Did you know the release of helium balloons (nine or more) is illegal? What goes up, must come down, and very often, lighter-than-air balloons come down in the water, where birds and aquatic and marine species, such as sea turtles, eat them and get entangled in the strings attached to them.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

LaBelle Man Dead In Estero Crash

Hendry County Man Dead After Fleeing Prior Crash Scene

Wayne P. Hull, 25 of LaBelle died in a 12:13 a.m.crash on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway north of Estero Parkway Saturday. His 1997 Dodge truck was driving southbound when he lost control on a curve.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Hull was fleeing a prior traffic crash.

A witness says he was driving erratically and possibly impaired. The truck became airborne and passed over a 2006 Volvo driven by 16-year old Austin Hendry of Ft. Myers. Hendry went to a nearby fire station to report the crash. Debris from Hull's truck caused $1000 worth of damage to the Volvo. Hendry had no personal injuries.

Hull was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Tests are pending for alcohol use by Hull.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Two Hendry Law Enforcement Vehicles Struck By Truck

Truck Runs Into Two Patrol Cars

CLEWISTON, Fl. -- A 2006 Dodge truck driven Tuesday morning about 2:30 a.m. by Clifford Earl III of Clewiston was traveling south on Hendry County Road 835 toward a Hendry County Deputy's 2009 Ford Crown Victoria and a Clewiston Police 2002 Ford Crown Victoria, both were properly parked on the west shoulder of CR 835 facing north on the sidewalk.

For unknown reasons Earl's truck failed to stay in the southbound lane and veered off the roadway almost striking the lead Hendry county Sheriff's department vehicle which was also properly parked on the west shoulder.

According to Hendry Deputy Sgt. Don Davis, 28, Jose Sanchez of Belle Glade, driver of the 2002 Crown Vic patrol car  advised that they had to jump out of the way in order to not be struck by Earl's truck.

Both of the patrol vehicles were unoccupied at the time of the crash. The truck then struck the first vehicle's front end, front right side with it's front end, front right side. After impact the 2009 patrol car was pushed backwards and made contact with the 2002 patrol car's
front end.
The truck came to final rest pressed onto the 2002 patrol car's front right side facing in a southwesterly direction. That patrol car came to final rest pressed onto the 2009 patrol car's front right side facing in a northerly direction.

The truck had $4000 in damage and the Henry patrol car $5000. Charges are pending against Earl as blood test are being made.

Hendry Christmas Bird Count - 60,000

Annual Bird Count Included 45 Endangered Snail Kites

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On January 2, Audubon and its 35 volunteers made the trip to Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 5 just south of Lake Okeechobee in Hendry County for a day of intensive bird watching.

Of the diverse array of bird species sighted at the constructed wetland, American coots were by far the most abundant ­ as they were in 2009 ­ with more than 60,000 counted. Birders also took note of 45 endangered snail kites, which are native to South Florida and the Everglades, and spotted some rarer species such as a short-tailed hawk and a Cassin's kingbird, a species more common in states west of Texas.

The bird count at STA-5 once again served as a prelude to another partnership year of Audubon/SFWMD birding tours that showcase wildlife and public access on lands managed in perpetuity by the District for Everglades restoration. The 6,000-acre constructed wetland, just south of Clewiston, is today one of 489 sites on The Great Florida Birding Trail. Sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the sites are selected for their prolific bird watching or bird education opportunities.

Milicevic's Hendry Panther Zone Reaping Millions?

Approval Of Hendry Panther Dispersal Zone Nets Land Owner Possibility Of Millions

LABELLE, FL. -- Last month the federal government gave approval to create the 4,000-acre "Panther Passage Conservation Bank" in rural western Hendry County. The 4000 acre parcel is mostly wetlands 30 miles west of Lake Okeechobee and just south of the Caloosahatchee River.

The action may mean millions of dollars can be earned by the land owners by selling "credits" to developers and government agencies to gain development rights in other areas of South Florida in return for payments to the Panther Conservation Bank.
Originally purchased by Yugoslavian immigrant George Milicevic in the 1940s, a Hendry county parcel of 4,000 acres is part of several land holdings the family still owns in Florida, including property in Lake Wales and LaBelle.  Milicevic's heirs recently decided to honor the elder Milicevic's wishes to preserve the Hendry County land by creating a conservation area, which will be supported through the sale of habitat credits to developers and others who need to compensate for the environmental impacts of a project.
Conservation "banks" are typically used when it makes more sense for a developer to purchase conservation credits than to protect part of the area being developed (for example, when on-site conservation would result in small, isolated sites).

Money Now Pouring In To The Milicevic Family?

The land is worth $713,760, according to Hendry county tax records, but according to a story this week by the St. Petersburg Times, The Florida Department of Transportation paid more than $2 million to the family for credits to build future roadways in the primary Panther habits in the Collier county area.

The Times say average price per credit "is about $1,500, according to Desmond Duke, whose company is marketing the credits for Milicevic's heirs. Because they have been granted 96,000 of what are officially known as "panther habitat units" to sell, that means the panther business could be worth about $144 million to the family."

The Times says Brett DuBois of helped the Milicevic family convert their ranch into a conservation bank and now his company gets a percentage of every credit that's sold.

Some observers are asking why the state can't just step in and buy the 4000 acres to use as a mitigation area park, at probably a cost around $1 million dollars, instead of having state agencies buy "credits" from the Milicevic heirs for multiple millions of dollars.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Clewiston Man Air Force Honor Grad

Isaiah Escorcia Graduates With Honors

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Isaiah Escorcia graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
Escorcia is the son of Benjamin Escorcia of Commercio Street, Clewiston, Fla., and the grandson of Juana Barbosa of S.W. 296th St., Leisure City, Fla.
He is a 2007 graduate of Clewiston High School, and earned a degree in 2009 from Spartan College of Aeronautics, Tulsa, Okla. The airman earned distinction as an honor graduate.
The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.
Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Gas Prices In Florida Falling

Gas Prices Expected To Rise In March-April

LABELLE, FL. -- - Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 4.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.69/g today. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.67/g, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices today are 77.3 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 2.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 2.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 81.5 cents per gallon higher than this day a year ago.

"Prices will slowly fall across much of the country as a stronger dollar and better than expected gains in gasoline inventories push oil prices lower", says Senior Petroleum Analyst, Patrick DeHaan.

DeHaan says that motorists can expect to see lower prices at the pump through mid-February before rising in March and April as refiners complete work on their plants. He also notes the significant jump in prices compared to last year, saying "higher gasoline prices are making it hard for the economy to recover as many Americans are still jobless, looking for employment."