Friday, April 30, 2010

Panther Kitten Killed In Hendry County

Six Month Old Panther Killed

LABELLE, FL. -- FWC responded to a vehicle killed panther kitten Thursday April 29 in Hendry County at the intersection of Church Road and South Church Road near the Hendry County landfill.  The kitten was estimated to be about 6 months old, weighed 32 pounds, was a female, and did not have a kinked tail, cowlick or transponder chip. 

Because of the kittens age (still dependant on its mother) and our history with mothers hanging around the vicinity until the fate of their kitten is known, the FWC left the kitten near the scene over night in the hopes that the mother would find her if she was still looking for her. 

The area was thoroughly searched for adult female tracks (clues as to where the best place might be to leave the kitten) but none were found.  Therefore, the kitten was left in the most logical place nearest the collision site and cameras were set up to monitor the scene. 

There was no activity near the carcass and no additional tracks were found after another thorough search of the surrounding areas. 

The kitten was removed Friday morning and is currently being maintained at the Naples office.  A necropsy will be performed at a later date after which the remains will be archived at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

LaBelle Drawbridge Closing For Construction

$5 Million Project Will Close LaBelle Bridge

LABELLE, FL. -- A large construction project on the LaBelle Drawbridge will close down the bridge and State Road 29 traffic over the Caloosahatchee River for several weeks in July and August while delays may be experienced through 2011.

The job is scheduled to start June 1, 2010 and finish early 2011, weather permitting. The department's contractor will be making electrical, mechanical, and structural repairs to the bridge. This $5 million rehabilitation project will extend the service life of the bridge approximately 15 years with continued routine maintenance.

During some work activity, the State Road 29 drawbridge will be closed to motor vehicle traffic. Variable message boards will be placed at locations in Glades and Hendry Counties to alert drivers to bridge closures:

- 24/7 full bridge closure from July 5 through August 8, 2010
- 20 nighttime/overnight full bridge closures (8 p.m. – 5 a.m.), some occurring in June
- 20 nighttime/overnight one lane closures (8 p.m. – 5 a.m.)
(Flaggers will direct two-way traffic using one lane on the bridge.)

Local traffic, with the exception of heavy trucks and other heavy vehicles, may use the Ft. Denaud Bridge. Motorists are advised the Ft. Denaud Bridge has a 5-ton weight restriction. The detour route during bridge closures will be State Road 78 and State Road 80 (east/west) and State Road 29 and U.S. 27 (north/south). Other routes also are available depending on destinations.

The Florida Department of Transportation is hosting an open-house information meeting to acquaint people with the rehabilitation project's estimated schedule and detour for traffic. Please stop anytime during the two hour meeting to ask questions and talk one-on-one with the project team. There will be no formal presentation.

The information meeting is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at the LaBelle Civic Center (behind City Hall).

(3-D LaBelle Bridge Photo - Don Browne)

At The Glades County Commission Meeting

Better Roads Gets $2 Million In Paving Contracts

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- At the Glades County Commission meeting Monday night the Board adopted an ordinance that would allow 5% preference given to local bidders at the discretion of the county manager for purchases under $50,000 and the Board would have authority to provide 3% preference for items over $50,000, and awarded two large street paving contracts to Better Roads of Highlands county. 
The new ordinance means that when invoked, this ordinance would allow a local bidder to be awarded the bid if the bid comes within 5% of the lowest bid when the purchase is under $50,000 or if within 3% of the lowest bid when the purchase is over $50,000.  The determination of when the preference will be used will be stated at the time bids are requested by the county.

The Board awarded a bid to Better Roads for $264,633 for paving and resurfacing projects throughout Glades County in 2010.  One other bid was received from Lynch Paving in the amount of $368,186.
The Board moved to award the resurfacing of Rainey Slough Road to Better Roads for $1,741,313.96.  Four other bids were received ranging from $1,819,489 to $2,029,488.  It was noted that awards for asphalt projects funded by FDOT must go to the lowest bidder.

The Board heard county attorney Pringle�s explanation of the class action lawsuit initiated by Monroe County which now includes approximately 59 Florida Counties as plaintiffs that alleges that, Travelweb, Travelocity, Site59, Expedia,, Hotwire, Trip Network d/b/a and Orbitz have failed to pay the full amount of tourism development taxes due to Monroe County and other counties that have enacted Tourism Development Tax.

County attorney Pringle informed the Board that he had received notice that Glades County may be named a defendant in a class action lawsuit related to occupational licenses, also known as business tax receipts.  Mr. Pringle, as directed at the April 13 meeting, has prepared an ordinance for the Board to consider rescinding ordinance 72-1 which imposed the tax, and the ordinance will be advertised for adoption in May.
The assertion is that these internet based businesses charge customers a �tax recovery charge� based on the wholesale rate rather than the retail rate actually paid by their customers who utilize their services for reserving tourism accommodations.  No action was required to remain part of the lawsuit and no costs will be accrued by Glades County. 
It was discussed that if this litigation is successful, tax revenue collected and remitted to Glades County will be nearly nil.  The Board chose to remain as members of the plaintiff class.


Drinking Big Factor In Florida Motorcycle Deaths

Alcohol Is Factor In 41% Of Motorcycle Fatalities

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration�s National Center for Statistics and Analysis reported that impaired motorcyclists in Florida with a blood alcohol concentration of .08+ accounted for 33 percent of motorcycle fatalities, while impaired motorcyclists with a blood alcohol concentration of .01+ accounted for 41 percent of motorcycle fatalities.

The Florida Department of Transportation Safety Office announced this week a partnership with the Georgia Governor�s Office of Highway Safety and the Alabama Office of Highway Safety to conduct Ride Straight State to State, a public outreach program designed to urge motorcycle riders to never drink and ride. This program kicks off Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month during May 2010.

''By reaching out to our regional partners, we can reduce crashes in Florida and across the nation,'' said FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos. ''Alcohol is a major factor causing motorcycle crashes, that�s why we encourage motorcyclists to completely avoid alcohol consumption before they get on the road.''

''Unfortunately, many riders think they can have a drink or two and still safely ride their motorcycles,'' said Marianne Trussell, FDOT Chief Safety Officer. ''The reality is you are five times more likely to crash after consuming even one alcoholic beverage.''

On April 29, motorcyclists from Florida, Georgia and Alabama will participate in a motorcycle run to promote safe choices while on the road. Motorcyclists from Georgia and Alabama will ride to meet Florida motorcyclists at the Florida Welcome Center on U.S. 231, at the Alabama-Florida state line (just west of the Georgia-Alabama border).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Henry County Recycling - What It Costs

How Your Dollars Are Spent For Recycling

LABELLE, FL. -- Earth Day brought to the LaBelle soccer fields Thursday afternoon exhibits from the Florida Department of Agriculture with free oak trees, the Hendry county special districts office with free products made from recycled goods, a demonstration by Port LaBelle Utilities, and the Hendry 4-H with a goat exhibit. Just a glimpse of how Hendry tackles recycling and reuse.

Hendry county's special districts office has been a leader for many years promoting recycling in LaBelle and Clewiston. Headed by Terri Grillo-Cross, paper, plastic, glass, and metals are sold to four different companies offsetting the fees property owners pay to the county for two-time weekly trash pickup and a third special pickup in some areas for recycled goods.

Recouping some of the costs of recycling are receipts from four companies who buy Hendry's sorted trash. Highest trash prices paid to the county are for metals from CMA Recycling, paying $800 per ton for aluminum and $210 for metal. Next in line is $129 per ton for paper sold to Southeast Paper. Plastic buyer Garden Street pays $100 per ton. Garden Street also buys cardboard for $56 a ton, and newspaper at $47.50 per ton. Least profitable to the county is glass, picked up by Strategic Materials at $19 a ton.

Electronic waste is given to Creative Recycling for free.

Green colored glass can not be recycled and costs the county to dispose of. Even so, the public sends tons of green glass to recycling centers yearly. The large dumpsters around the county are brought to the recycling center where all items are sorted by hand. Bottle caps from plastic and glass bottles are all removed by hand before they are sorted and sold to recycling companies.

Green glass bottles, which typically contained bottled water, are actually worthless and are a money loser for the county. It costs much more to collect, sort and ship green glass than what they can be sold for. An over supply of green glass worldwide, and no market for anyone to sell it at a high enough price makes it unprofitable to recycle.

Not accepted for recycling are Styrofoam, plastic grocery bags, and envelopes with plastic windows. Also pottery, dishes, and other ceramic glassware are not recyclable.

Terri Cross says the costs to the county for curbside recyclable trash pickup is $2.25 a month per home. However, home owners pay $221 a year ($18.41 a month) which includes normal garbage pickups. The Special Districts department is 100% funded by special property tax assessments, and are collected by the Hendry county tax collector.

According to Cross, expenses for recyclable collection for 2007-2008 included $195,719 for five employees and support programs. $8932 was spent for repairs, electric, and fuel. No figures were provided for current costs and no figures were given for net income from sales to the recycling companies, so it cannot be determined how much money is lost each year on Hendry county's recycling programs.

Cross says, "At the direction of the BOCC, Districts has been working with our Waste Management Consultant on renewal of our hauling contracts, as well as evaluations of our current Recycle Programs. The BOCC wants to make sure our current processes are feasible and explore contracting a portion of or all of the recycling to Lee County.''

The proposal to contract with Lee, will negate the need to construct a new facility.

''We are expanding the curbside portion of the programs one area at a time until we have the entire county covered. This expansion will result in larger amounts of recyclables, which requires expansion of the facility. We have been building upon and saving capital funds in the Solid Waste Special Assessment Account for over 10 years for the new Recycle Center.

''So, the funding is in place, with no increase in assessment needed. But, before we move forward with any new construction, the BOCC wants to have a clear picture that it's what's best for the residents and tax payers of Hendry County. We hope to show that it is, especially since it has the potential to create jobs here.''

Friday, April 23, 2010

Clewiston Police Officer Arrested

Clewiston Police Officer Charged with Aggravated Child Abuse
CLEWISTON, FL. -- Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) Sebring Field Office on Wednesday April 21 arrested John Herrera, 30, of Clewiston, Fla. for aggravated child abuse, a first-degree felony. Herrera is an officer with the Clewiston Police Department.

The Hendry County Sheriff's Office asked FDLE to investigate allegations that Herrera physically abused a child. Herrera was charged with one count of aggravated child abuse.

Herrera was booked into the Hendry County Jail. His bond was set at $35,000. The State Attorney�s Office, 20th Judicial Circuit, will prosecute the case.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Immokalee's Lake Trafford Fish Bonanza

FWC Stocking Lake Trafford With 150,000 Bass

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will stock 150,000 Florida largemouth bass fingerlings in 1,500 acre Lake Trafford, the largest lake south of Lake Okeechobee. 

Over the past few years, the lake has been the focus of a multimillion-dollar, multi-agency restoration project.  So far, participants have dredged the lake of 8 million cubic yards of muck that, in the past, triggered algal blooms and fish kills.  To date, the FWC has contributed over $3 million for dredging and re-vegetation of Lake Trafford.  Dredging could be complete by 2011. 

As part of the restoration, the FWC will restock the lake with native largemouth bass on Thursday, April 22.  The agency will stock an additional 50,000 advanced fingerlings about four weeks from now. These fingerlings are from the Florida Bass Conservation Center in Richloam.

'We are working to re-establish a self-sustaining, healthy fish population in the lake,' said FWC freshwater fisheries administrator Barron Moody. 'We anticipate that this stocking, and a similar effort planned for next year, will bring about the return of largemouth bass fishing to the lake.'   

An 18-inch-minimum-length regulation for largemouth bass specific to Lake Trafford is in effect in anticipation of these stockings and to protect the fish from premature harvest.  For complete freshwater fishing regulations, go to

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Community Christian School Of LaBelle Closes

LaBelle Students And Teachers Surprised By Closing - Where's The Money?

LABELLE, FL -- After more than two decades of private schooling, the Community Christian School of LaBelle closed its doors to students April 9. The Hendry county school had this year relocated to a rented building on Dellwood Terrance in Port LaBelle after selling it's 19 acre property on Cowboy Way to Edison State College for $1.1 million.

The non-profit school's board listed by the Secretary of State's office includes Brian Beer, Pat Langford and Hendry county attorney Ralph Elver. The board made the final decision to close after reviewing the school's finances. Preston Long, a pastor at First Baptist Church has been volunteering to help out with finances involved in closing down the school.

10-year veteran teacher at the school, Jennifer Pepitone is manning the phone for questions by surprised parents and school supporters. Teachers, parents and staff were only given one day's notice on April 8, of the sudden closing.

The question on many minds is how did the school fail financially after receiving $1.1 million for the campus on Cowboy Way last summer. According to court records, after the sale the school paid off a $544,000 and $70,000 mortgage to First Bank of Clewiston in August. After paying off the mortgages is appears there would have been about $486,000 left, minus any selling expenses, seemingly enough to rent a building and equip the new campus, and pay the small staff..

They paid $1,350 monthly to the Port LaBelle Development District to rent the building with a lease ending in September with options to renew. Lester Baird, administrator of the PLDD says he has not received notice from the school of an intention to end the lease. The rent for April is due, says the PLDD. The school added playground equipment and added a portable classroom to the grounds, located next to the Port LaBelle Development District maintenance sheds and offices.

The school's board had been telling parents and staff since last year that the school had been heavy in debt and the board was glad to see the sale of the school's 19-acre Cowboy Way property to Edison State College.

The school had 30 elementary students, having lost the middle school students from last year. Four teachers, two of whom are state certified are losing their jobs, along with administrator Shelton Gwaltney, who lost his job at the school a month ago. Pepitone says half of the students have found placement in local public schools for the remaining school year, and half are now in private schools in Fort Myers.

The Eagle's Nest Preschool will remain open until June because of government funded obligations. The pre-school has a director and assistant who will finish out the school term.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend Fun - Highlands County

Platt Branch Mitigation Park In Venus

VENUS, FL. -- Twelve hikers enjoyed a beautiful five-mile day hike on Saturday, April 12th, at Platt Branch Mitigation Park in Venus located near the Glades/Highland county line. The hike was hosted by the Fisheating Creek Sub Chapter of Florida Trail Association. The activity leader was David Denham.

Platt Branch, a remote area west of U.S. 27 in Highlands county has miles of trails through prairie and pinewood forests.

-Photo courtesy of Susan Etchey

LaBelle's Ken Wallace In Foreclosure

Wallace's LaBelle Land Being Foreclosed

LABELLE, FL. -- Longtime Hendry county real estate developer Kenneth A. Wallace is being sued by the Synovus Bank, formerly known as First Florida Bank, to foreclose on three land parcels in the LaBelle area.

The bank has named Wallace, Kenton Industries, Inc.; K.A.Wallace, Inc.; Walrok, Inc.; Waltek Car Wash Systems, LLC.; and Anthony J. Gargano as defendants in the foreclosure suit to recover mortgaged property. Gargano, a Fort Myers real estate attorney and investor, owns Hendry river front property in the Old Fort Denaud subsivision off Ft. Denaud Road in western Hendry county.

One seven acre parcel being foreclosed is in the city of LaBelle on East Lincoln Avenue, a vacant industrial site valued at about $211,000 by the Hendry Property Appraiser. The land sold for $220,000 in 2004 and Wallace bought it and two other parcels, now under the mortgage being foreclosed for $400,000 in 2006. A 2nd parcel is a home on an acre at 463 E. Lincoln Avenue. zoned for single family homes and valued now at about $120,000.

The 3rd and most valuable asset being foreclosed is a 5 acre parcel just east of the LaBelle Municipal Airport at 1477 Forestry Division Road. Valued at about $1.5 million, includes a 25,000 square foot manufacturing plant.

Wallace and investment partner Dr. Markus Sherry, a dentist, operating as Kenmark Properties, LLC, had in January 2010 deeded to the lender Sand Capital XI, LLC the mostly vacant dental office/store building at 813 E Hickpochee Avenue. The $1,000,000 building, built in 2008 by Wallace was pledged as part of a $2.4 million mortgage. The mortgage was originally owned by First Florida Bank who sold it to Sand Capital.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Moore Haven Grad Completes Training

In The Service - Christine Brown

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Army Pfc. Christine N. Brown completed Phase II of the Radar Repairer Advanced Individual Training (AIT) course at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.

AIT is designed to train soldiers to troubleshoot, test, install, replace and repair radar systems equipment using electronic and electrical test equipment. Students received a working knowledge of air traffic control, missile tracking, air defense and other radar systems consisting of receivers, transmitters, electronic assemblies and associated equipment and other components.

The classroom training included preparing and maintaining equipment logs, application of electronic principles and concepts, and inspection techniques and procedures.

She is the daughter of Nicole F. Murphy of Avenue K, Moore Haven, Fla. Her husband, Christian, is the son of Kimberly Brown of Fields Landing Road, Hayes, Va. Brown is a 2005 graduate of Moore Haven High School.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

LaBelle Home Prices Still Good Buy

Reasonably Priced Homes Big Sellers In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- Home sales in the LaBelle area posted in the last two weeks still indicate very reasonable pricing for existing homes. Most sales are coming from the Port LaBelle area, selling for under $100,000, but increasing numbers of upscale home have been sold in the last few months in the $200,000 range.

From 3/23/2010 to 4/6/2010, there were 11 homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $83,273.

1) $60,000 on Berwick Cir
2) $66,000 on Brazil Cir
3) $196,000 on Fort Denaud Rd
4) $220,000 on Hidden Hammock Dr
5) $60,000 on Lady Ln
6) $97,000 on Live Oak Ln
7) $65,000 on Palpano Cir
8) $50,000 on Palpano Cir
9) $34,000 on Spencer St
10) $30,000 on Summerall Rd
11) $38,000 on Tide Cir

2 Rescued - Lake Okeechobee Seaplane Crash

FWC rescues survivors of seaplane crash on Lake Okeechobee

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Simply by being in the right place at the right time, law enforcement officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were the first to respond to a seaplane crash Wednesday afternoon on Lake Okeechobee, near Observation Island.

The plane departed from Lantana Airport earlier in the day but soon went off radar. The Glades County Sheriff's Office contacted the FWC for assistance after receiving a report of a plane down. FWC officers quickly launched their boat and were able to pinpoint the plane�s location based on alerts coming from the EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radiobeacon).

The single-engine seaplane was almost entirely submerged when FWC officers arrived on the scene. The pilot, Thomas R. English, 57, of North Palm Beach, was sitting on the engine compartment. His passenger, Herman D. Bollrath Jr., 34, of West Palm Beach, was in the water and wearing a life vest. The two had been the plane's only occupants.

FWC officers rescued both men and transferred them to an awaiting Glades County Sheriff's Office boat. The pilot stated he was trying to land on the water when a wave hit and flipped the plane over. Neither man required medical treatment.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

LaBelle Restaurant Food Safety Ratings - Great To Awful

Insects, Pests and No Food Managers Among Citations Against LaBelle Restaurants

LABELLE, FL. -- In a survey of 22 LaBelle restaurants, only one was found with no food safety violations after the most recent inspections by the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants. Taco Bell/KFC came out with flying colors with a perfect food safety inspection, while all other LaBelle eateries were found with one or more 'critical' food safety violations.

Seven restaurants were found with no required state certified food managers on staff: Jones EZ Foods, Burger King, Beef O Brady's, Palateria Los Mayos, Popeye's, Hungry Howie's, and Olivia's. Two restaurants were given full inspections as the result of consumer complaints, Jones EZ Food and Log Cabin BBQ.

Don's Restaurant had a food safety inspector note: "Observed presence of insects, rodents, or other pests on tables close to front door."

The worst food safety record was found at the Fortune Cookie Restaurant with 16 violations, including 14 'critical' violations. The Fortune Cookie routinely over the years for each inspection, has had much higher number of violations than other area restaurants.

The LaBelle, Florida restaurant list below includes the name, date of last inspection and number of violations found by inspectors.

Taco Bell 2/10/2010 no violations
El Tarasco 3/23/2010 1 critical
Riverbend Motorcoach Resort 3/23/2010 1 critical
Jones EZ Food 2/17/2010 2 total 1 critical (no certified food manager - follow up required due to consumer complaint)
Rodeo Grill 3/23/2010 2 critical
Flora And Ella 3/23/2010 2 critical
McDonald's LaBelle 3/9/2010 2 critical
Burger King 3/10/2010 3 total 1 critical (no certified food manager)
Wendy's 3/9/2010 3 total 2 critical
McDonald's Clewiston 3/4/2010 3 total 2 critical
Contreas 3/23/2010 3 critical
Beef O Brady's 2/17/2010 4 total 2 critical (no certified food manager)
Subway 1/7/2010 4 total 3 critical
Don's Restaurant 3/23/2010 4 critical (presence of insects, rodents, or other pests on tables close to front door)
Hungry Howie's 2/10/2010 4 critical (no certified food manager)
Popeye's 2/17/2010 4 critical (no certified food manager)
PALATERIA LOS MAYAS 1/7/2010 5 Critical (no certified food manager)
Olivia's 3/9/2010 6 total 4 critical (no certified food manager)
Log Cabin BBQ 2/17/2010 7 total 6 critical (follow up required due to consumer complaint)
Forrey Grill 12/16/2009 9 total 2 critical
Big V 2/17/2010 11 total 10 critical
Fortune Cookie 2/17/2010 16 total 14 critical

Monday, April 05, 2010

LaBelle Olivia's Restaurant Sanitation Problems?

Four Critical And Two Non-Critical Food Safety Issues Found

LABELLE, FL. --  The Sunday Morning News looked at the most recent health inspection of LaBelle's Olivia's Restaurant at 1 Oxbow Drive in the Port LaBelle Inn, probably the most well known restaurant in Hendry county. A Florida State Food Inspector found on his latest inspection numerous food safety issues including concerns about sanitation and lack of proper credentials for the food manager Hein Rott.

The restaurant is now operated by Food Masters, Inc. of Raleigh N.C., a food service and management company. The company filed for incorportation in Florida February 17, 2010. It was formerly operated by the Port LaBelle Inn.

A state food safety inspector observed the violations listed below on March 9, 2010. finding six health violations including four critical, which may be typical of a random spot check at this restaurant. The inspector found among other things, no properly certified food manager and apparently no chlorine or other sanitizer in the dish washing machine.

This is not the first time the restaurant at the Port LaBelle Inn has been found without a licensed food manager. Numerous past inspections have found the same issue under every owner of the restaurant. A certified food manager would also be required to train the staff in food safety.

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 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 the industry-standard term "critical" is used, 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.
Observations by State Food Safety Inspector:

Friday, April 02, 2010

Hendry - Florida's Most Unhealthy County?

Hendry #67 -Lowest In Health Ranking Of Florida Counties

LABELLE, FL. -- According to a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Hendry county is ranked dead last in health factors in the County Health Rankings, representing what influences the health of a county.

Bringing down Hendry's rank to last among Florida counties were factors of greater adult obesity, higher vehicle crash death rates, higher chlamydia rates, high teen birth rates, more uninsured adults, lower number of primary care providers, more than average preventable hospital stays, low education, high unemployment, higher numbers of children in poverty, higher violent crime rate, higher single-parent households, more air pollution, and high liquor store density.

The County Health Ratings web site provides access to 50 state reports, ranking each county within the 50 states according to its health outcomes and the multiple health factors that determine a county's health. The rankings also consider health behaviors, clinical care, social, economic and physical factors that affect health.

Each county receives a summary rank for its health outcomes and health factors and also for the four different types of health factors: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. Each county can also drill down to see specific county-level data (as well as state benchmarks) for the measures upon which the rankings are based.

In Florida, the five counties with the best health outcomes were Collier, St. Johns, Seminole, Sarasota, and Martin. Madison, Washington, Levy, Putnam, and Union counties ranked the lowest in health outcomes. Hendry had a ranking about in the middle of Florida counties, of #32 in health outcomes. Outcomes ranking rates factors of premature deaths, poor mental or physical health, and low birthweights.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

iPhone Leads To LaBelle Arrest

Deputies Follow Signal To Port LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- Lee counties deputies had a fairly easy time apprehending a suspected thief Wednesday. After reporting two iPhones and chargers missing from his truck in Alva, victim Adam Troyer told investigators that he had a GPS application on his cell phone that should help locate the stolen phone.

Deputies and investigators were led by the GPS signal to Port LaBelle in Hendry county and started knocking on a few doors on Rainbow Circle. While questioning the occupant at 4041 Rainbow Cir., a second investigator outside began calling the missing iPhone's number, as a phone inside started ringing. Deputies tried it several times, and then arrested Eddie Deleon.

Deleon was booked into the Lee County Jail on two felony larceny-theft counts, two burglary counts, and violation of parole. Deleon is no stranger to the Lee jail system. He was arrested twice in 2009, the last time in December for violation of parole.

Immokalee Tomato Harvesters Get New Agreement

Harvesters To Get Additional 1.5 Cent Per Pound Premium

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and ARAMARK, a large food service company have reached an agreement to address farmworker wages and working conditions in the tomato fields of Florida. Similar to those previously reached between the CIW and other food service and restaurant groups, the agreement establishes a supplier code of conduct developed and implemented with input from farmworkers themselves.  ARAMARK will also pay a 1.5-cent premium for every pound of tomatoes picked, with the premium to be distributed directly to harvesters.

ARAMARK provides professional services, providing food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. ARAMARK has approximately 255,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries.

As a result of this agreement, ARAMARK, along with other CIW partner companies, will steer its tomato purchases toward those growers who make a genuine effort to meet higher labor standards and away from any grower who is found to be associated with abusive labor practices. 

Independent discussions between ARAMARK, the Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA), the CIW and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) have explored wage and working conditions of Florida tomato farm workers. As a result of these discussions, ARAMARK has signed this agreement, supporting the CIW�s Fair Food Program.

Still remaining to be brought to an agreement remain Publix Supermarkets and Sodexo. "If corporations like Sodexo and Publix are to truly embrace social responsibility and guarantee to consumers that the food on our tables is not the product of human rights abuse, they must step up and follow Aramark and several other industry leaders in agreeing to work with the CIW," said Meghan Cohorst, Student/Farmworker Alliance.

Farmworkers picking tomatoes for the food industry usually from dawn to dusk for sub-poverty wages at a piece rate (40-50 cents for each 32-lb. bucket of tomatoes) that has not changed significantly in over 30 years, says the Student/Farmworker Alliance.

Harvesters work, says the Alliance, with no right to overtime pay, no health insurance, no sick leave, no pension, and without the legal rights to form unions or to demand collective bargaining with their employers, stemming from New Deal-era exclusions of farm and domestic workers from many of basic labor and human rights found in other industries.