Tuesday, June 29, 2010

LaBelle Bridge Closing July 5th

$5 Million Project Will Close LaBelle Bridge For Month

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

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 (after 10 p.m.7/5) through August 8, 2010
- 20 nighttime/overnight full bridge closures (8 p.m. – 5 a.m.)
- 20 nighttime/overnight one lane closures (8 p.m. – 5 a.m.)
(Flaggers will direct two-way traffic using one lane on the bridge.)

Garbage collection in North LaBelle, north of the bridge, will start at 6 a.m. because of the construction in July and through August 8th. South of the bridge, collection may be delayed from the normal hours of collection.

The bridge construction job started June 1, 2010 and will 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.

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. Expect heavier than normal traffic on Ft. Denaud Road.

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 Alva bridge is also under construction and has a 30-ton weight restriction. No through truck traffic is permitted at the Alva Bridge.

(3-D LaBelle Bridge Photo by Don Browne -click on image to see how to make a 3-D photo)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Alva Woman Pilot Wins X-Country Race

Terry Carbonell's Cessna Wins Long Distance Air Race

LABELLE, FL. -- A three-pilot team of Terry Carbonell, Ellen Herr & Laura Ying Gao won the 2010 Air Classic Race for women Saturday after racing from Fort Myers, Florida to Frederick, Maryland in Carbonell's single-engine aircraft.

The 20 all-women pilot race teams, flying in private general aviation aircraft flew 2500 miles zig-zagging from Florida through the southern states to Arkansas, Missouri and then through the midwest from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio to West Virginia, and a final landing in Maryland.

Carbonell, a lawyer who lives in Alva, Florida is a veteran women's air racer, flying a well-equipped Cessna Skylane 182 with retractable landing gear making for a speedy aircraft.  Carbonell headed up her 'Team Wild Mamma' with co-pilots Ellen Herr and Yin Gao.

Carbonell is a frequent customer and friend of LaBelle's Vernon Conly who operates Vernon Conly Air Service at the LaBelle Municipal Airport.

Arriving in Frederick, MD. on Carbonell's birthday, she said in a blog posting the the crew 'was greeted by a pile of reporters, had pictures taken and finally got to the business of cleaning out the plane' after a long 4-day journey.

LaBelle's Sharon Craichy Dead

Former LaBelle Mayor And City Commissioner

Sharon (Sherri) Spivey Craichy, 72, former LaBelle Mayor and real estate brokerage company owner passed away Saturday, June 26 at approximately 11:30 a.m. in Fort Myers, Florida.

Craichy was the former Mayor of the City of LaBelle and one of the first female Mayors to be elected in Florida. She was active in LaBelle church activities including the Carlson Methodist Church and the LaBelle Assembly of God, and attended church services over the years at most area churches.

Craichy founded LaBelle Real Estate, Inc. and had offices on North Bridge Street in LaBelle.

She was born Oct. 31, 1937 in Auburndale, the daughter of the late John Clyde and the late Dorothy Alvina (Ryals) Spivey. Sherri served as Mayor for the City of LaBelle (1993-2005) and on the LaBelle City Commission (1980-1987) and LaBelle City Variance Board (1988-1993).

She also served on the City of LaBelle's first zoning board and helped write the city's first comprehensive land use plan. Sherri worked as a real estate broker in LaBelle since 1972. She also served on various local committees including Swamp Cabbage Festival and the Fourth of July.

Survivors include her children: Julie Wilkins (Wayne) of LaBelle, K. C. Craichy (Monica) of Tampa, and John Craichy (Karen) of Raleigh, NC; brother: Jim Spivey (Linda) of Auburndale; and grandchildren: Matthew, Coby, Montana and Jacqueline, of LaBelle; Kyle, Austin, Sarah, Grace and Joshua, of Tampa; and Jonathan, Michael and Charlie, of Raleigh.

Sherri leaves behind many friends. In her words, "A small town is a big family.''

Funeral services will be held Wed. June 30, 2010, 9:00 am at Barron Park in LaBelle with Pastor John Bennett officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church in LaBelle. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Florida Prescription Drug Prices Online

You May Save Money By Comparing Pharmacy Prices

LABELLE, FL. -- This new expansion of a searchable database helps users find the most current prices on the top prescription drugs. The expansion by the Office of the Florida Attorney General and the Agency For Health Care Administration includes information on 50 additional prescription drugs and their generics, now providing users now with 150 searchable prescription drugs and generic formulas.

The website allows consumers to compare prices for prescription drugs charged by pharmacies in their city or within their individual zip code. The information is available in both English and Spanish, and the search results can be easily viewed and even downloaded to a spreadsheet so consumers can review all prices at their convenience.

Prices on the website reflect what an uninsured consumer with no discount or supplemental plan would normally pay for a prescription.


14 Homes Sold In Month

Home Sales Remain Steady In LaBelle Area

LABELLE, FL. -- From 5/25/2010 to 6/22/2010, there were 14 homes sold in the LaBelle area for an average price of $146,786. Historic low prices are the rule, while more homes priced above $200,000 are showing up as completed sales.

The LaBelle area home sales for the last four weeks included:

1) $60,000 on Brazil Cir
2) $60,000 on Caloosa Loop
3) $500,000 on County Road 78
4) $259,000 on County Road 78
5) $139,000 on County Road 78
6) $130,000 on Crawford St
7) $43,000 on Maddox St
8) $95,000 on Oklahoma Ave
9) $43,000 on Quebec Rd
10) $554,000 on Quebec Rd
11) $50,000 on Riverbend Dr
12) $32,000 on E Palomar Cir
13) $35,000 on E Sunflower Cir
14) $55,000 on S Elm St

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is Florida Seafood Still Available?

Florida Promoting Seafood Via Hotlines And Internet

TALLAHASSEE -- With many Americans making plans for Fourth of July get-togethers, some consumers are wondering if they will be able to celebrate with Florida seafood products. Florida seafood products continue to be harvested from waters unaffected by the Gulf oil spill and are available for everyone's enjoyment. So, get your grill ready to fire up and enjoy all of your Florida summertime seafood favorites.

"Because of the extensive news media coverage of the Gulf situation, many consumers are confused about whether Florida seafood is being harvested and if it is available in stores and restaurants," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. "We want consumers to know Florida's commercial fishermen are harvesting wholesome seafood products from clean waters. Florida seafood is safe, plentiful and available."

Seafood lovers can get daily updates about the ongoing commercial harvest by calling the toll-free Florida Seafood Hotline at 1-800-357-4273 or by visiting www.FL-Seafood.com. There they can get current information about the status of Florida's open and closed fishing harvest areas, the availability of seafood varieties, and general pricing information.

Visitors to the web site can also view the activity at various seafood establishments located in Florida's Panhandle Gulf Coast region. To help promote public awareness about the availability of Florida seafood, webcams have been placed at several restaurants and seafood retail markets to show that "Florida is in business." The seafood establishments being featured are located in Pensacola, Santa Rosa Beach, Tallahassee, Destin and St. George Island. Webcams are operational during normal business hours for each establishment.

"I invite consumers to check out the webcams and see first-hand that Florida seafood is being harvested and made available for sale every day," Bronson said. "Florida's seafood markets and restaurants are in business, and they would greatly appreciate your patronage. Our seafood industry workers are doing their part, and we hope that consumers will help out by enjoying delicious Florida seafood at home and when dining out."

Consumers can find an extensive list of Florida seafood retail markets and restaurants online at www.fl-seafood.com/consumers/wheretobuy.htm.

Male Panther Killed In Immokalee

13th Florida Panther Death In 2010

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- The remains of a 16-18 month old uncollared male panther (UCFP145) were collected on June 24, 2010 on State Road 29 approximately 3.7 km south of Farm Workers Village in Collier County. The Village is just south of the city of Immokalee.

The cause of death was trauma associated with a vehicle collision. The carcass is at the FWC Naples Field Office and will be sent to the FWC Wildlife Research Lab in Gainesville for necropsy.  The remains will be archived at the FL Museum of Natural History.

This is the 13th panther mortality and the 10th road mortality for 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In The Service - Eliza Santana

Santana Completes Combat Training

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Army Pvt. Eliza Santana has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.
During the nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission and received instruction and training exercises in drill and ceremonies, Army history, core values and traditions, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, rifle marksmanship, weapons use, map reading and land navigation, foot marches, armed and unarmed combat, and field maneuvers and tactics.
She is the daughter of Crystal Santana of 16th St. W., Lehigh Acres, Fla., and granddaughter of Margarita Maldonado of Harvard Circle, La Belle, Fla.
Santana is a 2008 graduate of Moore Haven Junior-Senior High School, Fla.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Two Arrested In Hendry Grow House Deal

Port LaBelle's Balsam Circle Grow House Raided

LABELLE, FL. -- Members of the Hendry County Sheriff�'s Office executed a search warrant on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 3024 N. Balsam Circle, in the Port LaBelle area which revealed a sophisticated marijuana grow house.  Arrested were 46 year old Manuel Caceres (pictured), and 29 year old Yannery Diaz Pedroso, both of Hialeah, Florida. 

Upon entering the residence investigators located 82 live marijuana plants, weighing approximately 159 pounds with a street value of approximately $556,500.   Investigators located thirty 1000 watt bulbs, thirty transformers, 2 filtered A.C. blowers, CO2 tank, fertilizer and numerous other items that assisted in the cultivation of the marijuana. 

Caceres and Pedroso were both charged with Cultivation of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Trafficking Marijuana, Operating a Drug House, Possession of Marijuana with intent to sell within a 1000 ft of a Church.  Pedroso has been released on a $160,000 bond.  Caceres is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $160,000 bond.

The home is in a remote area of south Port LaBelle. The investigation is continuing.

Hendry Brothers Arrested In Drug Conspiracy

Believed Responsible For Cocaine Sales In Hendry

LABELLE, FL. -- Two brothers, 29 year old Cesar (pictured) and 23 year old Vincente Fortanel, both of LaBelle were arrested along with 25 other south Florida people indicted earlier this month on Federal charges of conspiracy to deal cocaine and other drug related offenses as part of a national operation takedown called Project Deliverance. 

Both have been individually charged with Cocaine possession in Hendry County.

The arrest of the Fortanel Brothers was part of the South Florida investigation started in August 2009 locally known as Operation Mexican Minute.   Part of a national operation takedown call Project Deliverance, a 22 month multi-agency law enforcement investigation, Hendry, Palm Beach, and Highlands Counties arrested approximately 19 of the 25 individuals wanted on Federal warrants. 

According to a release by the Drug Enforcement Agency, more than 2,200 arrests were made as the result of the 22 month long project. Seizures included 74 tons of illegal drugs, $154 million in cash, numerous vehicles and weapons. Locally, more than 4 ounces of powder cocaine, $18,000 cash and a vehicle were seized by the Hendry County Sheriff�s Office and DEA.

It is believed that the Fortanel brothers are responsible for a large flow of powder cocaine into and through Hendry County.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Giant Bat Found In Collier Forest

Rare Bat In Picayune State Forest

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently concluded the first-ever bat monitoring program in Picayune Strand State Forest in Collier County. During the course of their research, biologists came across a rare find: the state-endangered bonneted bat residing in the forest, which is co-managed by the Division of Forestry and the FWC.

Florida is home to 13 native bat species. With a wingspan of 19-21 inches, the bonneted bat is Florida's largest bat. The bat roosts in South Florida and gets its name from its large, broad ears that slant forward over its eyes.

"The find of the bonneted bat is significant because there are only a few hundred bonneted bats in existence,'' said FWC biologist and project leader Kathleen Smith. "Bats, like many other wildlife species, have lost a great deal of natural habitat to development.''

From August 2009 to May 2010, using acoustical monitoring, mist-netting, and roost surveys, FWC biologists caught 168 bats and captured six of the seven species thought to reside in Picayune. Mist-netting – a process where nets are suspended in the air between poles to capture flying animals – resumes again in the fall, but the recordings of bat activity levels will continue year-round.

FWC biologists are collecting data on species diversity to provide recommendations for optimal land management of Picayune. The state forest is currently being restored as part of the Everglades restoration project that will reinstate freshwater sheet flow into Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Paddlers Hit Glades' Fisheating Creek

By Susan Etchey

Members and guests of the Fisheating Creek Sub Chapter of the Florida Trail Association experienced the wildness and majesty of the famed Fisheating Creek on a seven-mile paddle trip from Burnt Bridge to the Fisheating Creek Campground.

The paddlers gathered on Sunday, June 6, at the campground and Fisheating Creek Outpost transported their canoes to the starting place. They enjoyed five hours paddling together at a leisurely pace under a shaded canopy of trees, stopping occasionally to talk, laugh, juice up and snack.
Photo: David Denham and Clint Pell paddle down Fisheating Creek

Tom La Barbera of Cape Coral said it was first FTA activity since he joined FTA in January - and he was ecstatic. "This is the most beautiful place I could possible imagine. It is so tranquil and peaceful,'' he said at the end of the outing on the creek.
Among the six paddlers were two active members of the Fisheating Creek Sub Chapter, Carol Grigsby of Venus in Glades County and Clint Pell of Port Labelle in Hendry County. Grigsby, a Clewiston schoolteacher, was the Co-Leader of the trip.
This new FTA sub-chapter hosts group hiking and paddling trips throughout the inland region of the Glades, including Glades County and Hendry County.  Due to summer vacations, the next meeting of the sub-chapter is September 28. Hikes and paddling trips will resume in October.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Hendry-Glades Gas - Highest Priced

Are Hendry And Glades Motorists Getting Ripped Off For 20 Cents A Gallon?

LABELLE, FL. -- Anyone buying gas in Hendry and Glades county may not be aware that they are paying as much as 22 cents per gallon more than motorists in nearby Lee county.

In recent weeks the gap seems to have become larger between what gasoline prices in Ft. Myers and prices in LaBelle, Clewiston, and Moore Haven.

One of the closest places this week to fill-up and save 22 cent per gallon are the gas stations on Palm Beach Boulevard starting at Riverdale (Buckingham Road) all the way to I-75.

Fuel sellers often blame high county mandated taxes on the higher gas prices in Hendry and Glades, but both counties actually collect less county fuel tax than all the neighboring counties. Hendry county currently levies nine cent per gallon of fuel raising an estimated  $1,805,188 in fuel taxes this year. Glades county levies seven cents per gallon raising about $392,967. All neighboring counties are taxing the maximum 12 cent per gallon, including Lee, Collier, Charlotte, and Palm Beach county.

There are several stations in the Palm Beach Boulevard area selling at $2.67 a gallon and one at $2.65. That compared to the lowest price in LaBelle at $2.87, at both the Shell and BP stations.

Both BP and Shell in LaBelle are going through their share of problems lately.

BP is under fire for possible boycotting by consumers as the oil spill continues in the Gulf of Mexico, although the local station is a franchise operated by Merit Oil with a franchise contract with BP. For several months now, the Shell station has experienced a slowdown in business, as it inconvenienced customers when the pump credit card readers don't work, Motorists must go inside the store to give the card, go out and pump the gas, and then return again to pay.

Here's where you can check to save money on fuel purchases:

Area's Lowest Fuel Prices:

Ft. Myers - $2.65
Alva- $2.79 http://www.motortrend.com/gas_prices/33/florida/lee/alva/index.html
Moore Haven - $2.82 http://www.motortrend.com/gas_prices/33/florida/glades/moore_haven/index.html
Clewiston - $2.82 http://www.motortrend.com/gas_prices/33/florida/hendry/clewiston/index.html
LaBelle - $2.87 http://www.motortrend.com/gas_prices/33/florida/hendry/labelle/index.html

Friday, June 04, 2010

FHP Reports Florida Memorial Holiday Results

Col. John Czernis, director of the Florida Highway Patrol, this week announced the preliminary enforcement results from the Patrol's Memorial Day holiday enforcement period. During the 4-day heightened enforcement period, the Patrol beefed up its force by having troopers postpone administrative duties in favor of road patrols and adding reservists and auxiliary troopers to patrol duty.

Troopers issued more than 14,300 traffic citations and made 135 arrests for Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. They cited more than 5,000 drivers for speeding and nearly 3,000 for failure to buckle up.

"Our troopers worked hard to help our residents and visitors have a safe and enjoyable holiday period,'' said Czernis. ''Motorists who operate their vehicles in an unsafe fashion are a danger that puts innocent lives at risk. The men and women of the Florida Highway Patrol did their part to identify the unsafe drivers and take the steps necessary to decrease that risk.''

The members of the Florida Highway Patrol would like to remind everyone that it is the law to Move Over when approaching any authorized emergency vehicle or wrecker displaying rotating or flashing lights stopped on the side of a roadway. Also, remember that *FHP (*347) dialed from you cell phone contacts FHP should you need to report an aggressive driver or require roadside assistance.