Tuesday, August 31, 2010

LaBelle's Hunter Douglas Arrested

LaBelle Man And Woman Arrested At Motel

LABELLE, FL. -- While investigating a burglary in the city limits of LaBelle a subsequent burglary was reported in the same neighborhood. Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden and Investigators began an all day search of the suspect, 38 year old Douglas Hunter of LaBelle.

In the evening hours Sheriff Whidden was able to track down Hunter at the River's Edge Motel where he found him with 25 year old Margaret Astorga. After being invited into the room Hendry County Sheriff's Deputies were given permission to search for suspected property that had been taken earlier on.

Deputies located 19 pieces of crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and approximately $7,600.00 suspected to be have been taken previously from a residential floor safe that had been forced open. All but $2,081.00 monies spent by Hunter and Astorga was returned to the owner.

Margaret Michelle Astorga was charged with Possession of Cocaine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and is currently being held on a $4,500. Hunter is being held on two counts of Burglary Unoccupied Structured, and two county of Larceny. He is currently being held on $18,000.00 bond and is suspected to be involved in numerous other burglaries.

Sheriff Whidden stated, ''Due to the above average burglary rate, I have commanded all my Command and Administrative staff to dedicate 50% of their time to be on the street in an effort to quell the burglaries. It does appear to be working as there has been a decline in the number of reported burglaries and thefts. This does take away from their normal duties, but due to the financial situation and high call volume this is a must.''

If anyone has any information regarding any burglary or crime in Hendry County you are encourage to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hendry Store Burglary Nets Four Arrests

Montura Store Burglary Results In Four Arrests

CLEWISTON, FL. -- At approximately 1:08 am on August 29, 2010 Hendry County Deputies responded to an alarm activation at 115 Avenida Del Club, Mary Lou�s General Store, in Montura.  Deputies discovered that a vehicle had been used to smash the front doors of the business.  Deputies Ricardo Garcia and Leonard Richardson found that the doors had been broken in however, the suspect(s) had not made entry.

While responding to the scene both deputies noticed a vehicle parked in front of the Azteca Store located just around the corner from Mary Lou�s.  After checking the area of the General Store, deputies returned to the Azteca where they made contact with 28 year old Mark A. Guasp and 26 year old Victor M. Duprey.  Deputies discovered Guasp standing beside the truck and Duprey laying on the ground under the truck. 

Earlier in the evening both deputies stopped Guasp driving the same vehicle with Duprey as the passenger.  During the traffic stop they noted the license plate attached to the rear bumper and no damage to the front bumper area.  As they approached they noticed a large fresh dent on the right side of the bumper and stucco on the fresh dent. 

Deputy Richardson responded back to Mary Lou�s and met with the store owner and together viewed the video tape from the front of the store and at that time were able to make a positive identification of both individuals and the vehicle used in the crime.

Both Mark Guasp and Duprey were arrested and charged with Damage Property and Burglary to a Structure with damage over $1,000.  Duprey is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on a $28,500.00 bond. 

Mark Guasp had been involved in a previous attempted burglary to a home in the Montura area and again had been positively identified by the victim as the suspect.  In addition to the charges of attempted burglary to Mary Lou�s, Guasp was also charged with an additional count of attempted Burglary to an occupied dwelling.  He is being held on a $42,000 bond.

On August 30, 2010 at approximately 4:54am, Deputy Garcia was requested to respond to Mary Lou�s General Store for a second time in response to another alarm call.  Once he arrived on scene he met with three employees who appeared to be detaining two suspects, later identified as 18 year old Luis Angel Fundora and 19 year old Cori Shane Russ of Gainesville, Florida. 

When the store owner arrived on scene Deputy Garcia once again viewed the store video tape and was able to identify Fundora and Russ as well as another unidentified person.

Some property as well as narcotics was recovered from Fundora.

Luis Angel Fundora and Cori Shane Russ are both being held in the Hendry County Jail.  Fundora and Russ are charged with Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure, Grand Theft, Resist Officer without Violence, Possession of Controlled Substance without Prescription and is currently being held on $18,000.00 bond.

Friday, August 27, 2010

LaBelle Plumbing

LaBelle Plumbing Corporation
(863) 675-1155
"Quality and Ethics in Everything We Do"
Over 45 years Experience - CFC040014
Residential, Commercial, Water Treatment

Dade City Site Of Battle Re-Enactment

Memorial Day Places To Visit

DADE CITY, FL. -- For 36 years, the Florida Pioneer Museum and Village in Dade City, Florida has been hosting Pioneer Days on Labor Day weekend.

Thousands of people from all over Florida and beyond join us to step back to a time when settlers carved a living out of Florida's wilderness, Seminoles fought for their land against Federal soldiers, and citrus and cattle were just starting to become Florida trademarks.

A signature performance in this year's event are the soldier's encampment and musket demonstrations and Seminole raids on the Overstreet House. The event is the non-profit Pioneer Museum's yearly fund raiser.

LaBelle Home Sales

Still Great Prices On Bank Owned Homes

LABELLE, FL. -- From 8/10/2010 to 8/24/2010, there were 5 homes sold in LaBelle and Port LaBelle area for an average price of $45,000. All but the Springview home were apparently bank owned or short sales resulting in extremely low prices for these 'as-is' properties.

1) $120,000 on Springview Circle - Laruel Oaks
2) $20,000 on Tropicana Street - LaBelle
3) $26,000 on East Sunflower Circle - Eucalyptus Village
4) $39,000 on North Hall Street - LaBelle
5) $20,000 on West Sunflower Circle - Eucalyptus Village

Bullying Website Intends To Inform

Controlling School Bullying

For children and youth to thrive in their schools and communities, they need to feel safe and be safe - socially, emotionally, and physically. According to a new website, youth, parents, schools, communities, and others have a role to play in building positive, supportive environments for children and youth, promoting acceptance and respect among all individuals, and ultimately, fostering youth development and learning.

The site says bullying is a form of youth violence, aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. This new web site is a 'one-stop' site for parents, educators, and community members seeking federal resources on bullying. It includes a question and answer section as well as videos, feature articles, and tools schools and communities can use to educate members about bullying.


Glades Readies For Property Value Arguments

Getting Ready For Citizen's Property Tax Value Complaints

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Value Adjustment Board will meet on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:00  AM in the County Commissioners' Meeting Room, Glades County Courthouse, Moore Haven, Florida 33471.

The purpose of the meeting is as follows:

1.   Ratify the retention of an attorney for the Value Adjustment Board.
2.   Organize the Board.  (Elect Chairman / Vice Chairman)
3.   Approve minutes of the following meetings: October 31, 2006, October 21, 2009, October 23, 2009
4.   Hire a Court Reporter for the hearings.
5.   Schedule hearing dates for the petitions.
6.   Establish fee for filing petitions.
7.   Approve and adopt the specific provisions of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Administrative Code relating to Value Adjustment Board policies and  procedures, specifically to include and discuss  the new provisions of Florida Statutes, and the finalized Florida Administrative Code Sections 12D-9, 12D-10 and 12D-16. All interested parties are invited to attend.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Check Florida Businesses And Charities Online

Check For Complaints And License Expirations

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson this week announced that consumers can now go online and check the complaint history of any company or business that has generated complaints to his department.

Residents can visit the Division of Consumer Services website at http://www.800helpfla.com and access the complaint data by choosing a box on the left hand side of the page entitled "Business/Complaint Lookup." Complaints can also be made directly from the website.

A check of Hendry county's registered charities, as one example, lists 15 in LaBelle and 5 in Clewiston. None had any complaints registered. Consumers could also look up an auto repair company or pawn shop, for example, to see if it is registered.

The Division of Consumer Services regulates and licenses a broad array of business entities in Florida, including auto repair shops, interstate moving companies, health studios, dance studios, travel companies, business opportunities, pawn shops, charities, game promotions, professional surveyors and mappers, and commercial telemarketers.  In addition, it mediates disputes that consumers have with those businesses, as well as disputes that consumers have with unregulated businesses.

In addition to providing the complaint history of a company, the database also provides information on the kind of license, if any, the company has with Bronson's department.

Before now, consumers could obtain the information by calling the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services toll-free hotline at 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352).  That service remains available, but those with access to a computer can now check out businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

While the new service is designed to provide consumers with instant access to a company's complaint history and licensing information, it also enables businesses to track complaints against them and lets them know when their licenses are scheduled to expire and therefore need to be renewed.

The Division of Consumer Services regulates and licenses a broad array of business entities in Florida, including auto repair shops, interstate moving companies, health studios, dance studios, travel companies, business opportunities, pawn shops, charities, game promotions, professional surveyors and mappers, and commercial telemarketers.  In addition, it mediates disputes that consumers have with those businesses, as well as disputes that consumers have with unregulated businesses.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

LaBelle's Tovar - Army Graduate

LaBelle's Oscar Tovar Finishes Basic

LABELLE, FL. -- Army Pvt. Oscar Tovar 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.
He is the brother of Elizabed Tovar of Noble Pine Drive, La Belle, Fla.  Tovar is a 2007 graduate of La Belle High School.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nine Homes Sold In LaBelle Area

LABELLE, FL. -- From 7/6/2010 to 8/10/2010, there were 9 homes sold in LaBelle area for an average price of $65,333.

1) $56,000 on Courtney Ct
2) $157,000 on Norris Rd
3) $58,000 on Pecan Cir
4) $34,000 on E Sunflower Cir
5) $31,000 on N Edgewater Cir
6) $70,000 on N Tulip Rd
7) $63,000 on S Oak St
8) $45,000 on S Obisbo Cir
9) $74,000 on W Briarwood Cir

Thursday, August 12, 2010

State Finalizing U.S. Sugar Purchase

26,800 Acres To Be Acquired For $197 Million - $7351 Per Acre

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved unanimously with one abstention a revised strategy to acquire land from the United States Sugar Corporation for Everglades restoration. The amended agreement provides for the initial purchase of approximately 26,800 acres of strategically located land south of Lake Okeechobee, with options to purchase another 153,000 acres should economic conditions allow in the future.

Under the amended terms, the District would initially invest approximately $197 million in cash to immediately acquire 26,800 acres, or 42 square miles, of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) and C-139 basin for water quality and environmental restoration projects. The District would have options to purchase the remaining 153,000 acres of land from U.S. Sugar for up to 10 years.

Highlights of the amended acquisition include:
  • Acquisition of 17,900 citrus acres in Hendry County to improve water quality in the C-139 basin, where phosphorus loads have been historically high. This parcel, just west of thousands of acres of existing constructed wetlands, can be used for water storage and treatment facilities that would improve the quality of water flowing into the Everglades.
  • Purchase of 8,900 acres of sugarcane land in Palm Beach County to benefit the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge by expanding existing Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) and increasing water quality treatment for the S-5A basin, just east of Lake Okeechobee.
  • An exclusive 3-year option to purchase either a specifically identified 46,800 acres or the entire 153,000 acres at a fixed price of $7,400 per acre. U.S. Sugar could sell the option property to a third party but must retain the District's option.
  • After the exclusive option period, a subsequent 2-year, non-exclusive option to purchase the approximately 46,800 acres at Fair Market Value. U.S. Sugar could sell all or a part of the option property, but subject to a Right of First Refusal by the District.
  • A subsequent 7-year, non-exclusive option to purchase the remaining acres at Fair Market Value. U.S. Sugar could sell all or a part of the option property, but subject to a Right of First Refusal by the District.
  • Under the revised contracts, closing on the 26,800 acres would take place in October 2010.
In identifying the 26,800 acres for this acquisition, the District evaluated science and engineering factors as well as its existing requirements and mandates, all of which drive the agency's restoration and water quality improvement efforts. This acquisition, together with the Talisman lands, would give the District access to more than 50,000 acres of land south of Lake Okeechobee needed for project construction that will bring meaningful water quality and environmental improvements to the Everglades.

Today's action by the SFWMD Governing Board is the culmination of more than two years of work since Governor Charlie Crist first announced on June 24, 2008, that the District would begin negotiations with the U.S. Sugar Corporation to acquire land south of Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration.

The downsized, more affordable acquisition recognizes that economic conditions have changed dramatically since the original announcement and a subsequent revised agreement approved by the Governing Board in May 2009. The District's property tax revenues have declined by nearly $150 million, or 30 percent, since 2008.

For additional information, see Just the Facts: Reviving the River of Grass ­ Second Amended & Restated Agreement for Sale and Purchase.

Documents relating to the U.S. Sugar acquisition are posted online at www.sfwmd.gov/riverofgrass .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LaBelle's Watson Graduates From Air Force Training

In The Service - Brittany Watson

LABELLE, FL. -- Air Force Airman Brittany M. Watson 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.
She is the daughter of Ana Hernandez of Vacaro Street, Labelle, Fla., and granddaughter of Ruben Hernandez of N. Sendero Street, Clewiston, Fla.
Watson is a 2009 graduate of Clewiston High School.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Record Hot Weather For Hendry/Glades

Locals Experiencing Record Heat And High Utility Bills

LABELLE, FL. -- July 2010 continued the streak of hotter than normal temperatures across South Florida so far this summer. Regional climate sites were in the top 5 warmest July periods on record. This comes on the heels of record-breaking hot temperatures in May and June.

Over interior sections, temperatures soared into the upper 90s to around 100 degrees from July 8 to July 10, as well as during the last week of July. Most households were finding higher than normal electric bills for the last several months, due to using more air conditioning.

Unofficial high temperature readings of 101 degrees were recorded at Oasis Ranger Station on July 8th and at Brighton Reservation in Glades County on July 28th and 29th. Big Cypress Reservation hit 99 degrees on July 29th. 

Most of south Florida received near to slightly below normal rainfall in July, as the dominant high pressure pattern across the eastern United States limited the overall coverage and duration of showers and thunderstorms.

Precipitation in July was above normal in an area covering most of Hendry County and extending east and southeast across the peninsula to parts of the Broward and Miami-Dade county metro areas. Another area of above normal precipitation was noted over southern sections of Collier County and over the far southern Everglades.

July rainfall totals and departure from normal in inches

Moore Haven         7.99                               +1.32
Canal Point         8.93                               +2.71
Immokalee             7.75
LaBelle               5.48                   -2.21
Big Cypress Res   4.67
Brighton Reservation 5.86
Ortona       6.91

Friday, August 06, 2010

LaBelle Gets New $15M Water Plant

$15 Million Plant Coming To LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- The City of LaBelle is replacing its 30-year-old water treatment plant with a new facility thanks to $15,310,430 in United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development funds.

Facing near term treatment capacity with its existing facility, which is operating at approximately 86 percent of its 999,999 gallons per day (gpd) production capacity, the City of LaBelle has secured a $10,091,000 loan and a $5,219,430 grant from USDA Rural Development to construct a new water treatment facility. Loan terms include a 3.25 percent interest rate with a 40-year term.

'The city leaders of LaBelle are to be commended for their foresight and efforts to ensure clean, safe drinking water is available to the current and future residents and businesses of this community,' said USDA Rural Development State Director Richard A. Machek. 'USDA Rural Development is proud to play a role in this important project.'

The new facility, to be built on land south of the city in the central part of the service area, will consist of a new 1.5 million gallons per day (mgd) reverse osmosis water treatment plant withdrawing water from the Lower Hawthorn Aquifer, three wells, a ground storage tank, high service pump stations and associated transmission and distribution piping.

To accommodate potential growth, expansion of the distribution system is part of the planned project.

Glades Crash Kills Driver

Driver Killed In State Road 78 Crash

MOORE HAVEN, FL. --  On August 6 about 6:45 P.m., a 1985 Ponitiac was northbound on S.R. 78 and traveling at approximately 60 miles per hour. According to witnesses, the vehicle drifted off the roadway and drove onto the east shoulder. The driver appeared to make no corrective action and struck a palm trim causing the vehicle to overturn and come to rest on the driver side facing east on the east shoulder.

Glades County EMS responded to the scene and pronounced the driver deceased upon their arrival. The name of the 51-year old driver from Fort Myers is being withheld pending relative notification.

An investigation continues on possible alcohol use by the driver, according to the FHP accident report.

Port LaBelle Hit With More Assessments

Port LaBelle Property Owners Face 15 Years Of Extra Costs

LABELLE, FL. -- Property owners in Port LaBelle's Banyan Village are receiving letters in the mail this week notifying them of a special assessment to cover $1,067,050 in extra costs incurred by Hendry county for cost overruns and miscalculations in costs of construction of water lines in the county's largest vacant lot subdivision, located a few miles east of LaBelle.

The extra costs will be billed to lot owners through a municipal service benefit unit (MSBU) being created to add the fees to tax bills for the next 15 years.

In 2005, the County Commissioners approved a resolution to bill each lot owner $1640 to install water lines to each of thousands of vacant lots, for which owners are now paying on their tax bills. The construction was finished several years ago, however the actual construction costs exceeded the estimated costs by over a million dollars, or about 18% more than planned, says the county.

The Hendry county commission will vote on the proposed assessments of $43.87 yearly for 15 years, added to property tax bills starting in November, at it's meeting at the LaBelle courthouse August 24 at 5 p.m. The county is estimating a financing cost of about 12 percent, and says each owner may also be liable to pay an additional amount to pay back the financing costs as well unless the lot owner pays the $298.81 assessment in full the first year.

Banyan Village has thousands of empty lots, and only one home, never occupied. No water is being used in the huge subdivision. Observers now wonder why in a down economy where no homes may be expected to be built in Banyan Village in the near future, lot owners should start paying even more money for water lines, in addition to the previous $1640 water line assessments of 2005.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

New State Web Site Features Rural Communities

Rural Economic Development Assistance Available

Governor Charlie Crist today announced a new Web site to assist rural communities with diversifying local economies, creating jobs and improving the quality of life of rural residents. The Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), coordinated by the Governor�s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, provides technical assistance and referrals to regional, state and federal organizations.

For more than a decade now, the State of Florida has awarded funds to rural communities resulting in the creation of more than 14,000 jobs. This Web site will give rural communities a portal to resources available at the state and federal levels, which will in turn make it easier for rural businesses and communities to create jobs and make capital investments in their regions, the Governor explains.

On the Web site, www.florida-redi.com, residents and leaders of rural communities will find information about economic development programs and incentives targeted for rural communities. Program descriptions, resources and contact information are also available under the various program pages.

The Rural Economic Development Initiative is a multi-agency effort involving state and federal agencies and regional organizations. The group assists designated rural communities in their efforts to access necessary state and federal funds, which spur job creation and capital investment, while also working to resolve permitting and regulatory issues. Established under Section 288.0656 of the Florida Statutes, REDI facilitates the location and expansion of major economic development projects in rural communities and works to minimize adverse impacts of regulations on rural areas. Since 1999, the State of Florida has awarded more than $150 million in economic development incentives and infrastructure improvement grants for projects in rural counties.

While comprising approximately nine percent of the state�s population, Florida�s rural communities are home to nearly 80 percent of the state�s land and natural resources. Currently, 32 counties are designated rural by Florida Statute.

Local Plumbing Services


Just In Time Plumbing

24 Hour Service
LaBelle, Clewiston, Alva, Moore Haven, Belle Glade
No Job Too Big Or Too Small
(863) 673-6073

DJ's Plumbing & Water Works, Inc.
24 Hour Service

Alva, Lehigh, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral
New Construction, Re-Models, Re-Pipes, Drain Cleaning & Service Repair
(239) 229-6545 CFC#1428198

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Everglades US Sugar Purchase Considered

Water Management Board To Hear Amended Purchase Contract Details

On August 12, 2010, the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board will consider an amended transaction for the acquisition of land from the United States Sugar Corporation for Everglades restoration. The amended acquisition, subject to
Governing Board approval, is designed to address changing economic conditions while providing access to land for restoration and water quality improvement projects.

• On December 16, 2008, the Governing Board of the South Florida WaterManagement District voted to accept a proposal to acquire more than 180,000 acres of agricultural land for Everglades restoration from the UnitedStates Sugar Corporation, pending financing.

• In light of dramatic changes in economic conditions and predictions of a continued uncertain financial environment, the two parties in April 2009 agreed to revise the transaction and, on May 13, 2009, the Governing Board approved a purchase and sale and lease agreement that provided for an initial $536 million acquisition of close to 73,000 acres, with options to purchase the remaining 107,000 acres during the next ten years.

http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_rog_0804_2010.pdf - Fact Sheet On Amended Agreement

Florida Sets Record In Adopted Children

Governor Charlie Crist has announced that more than 12,000 Florida children in foster care have been adopted since 2007, including 3,368 children adopted in the past year. Florida's recent success reduces the number of Florida children in foster care by nearly 36 percent since 2007.

In 2009, Florida was awarded a $9.7 million federal bonus for outpacing all other states in the number of adoptions of children from foster care.  Florida set adoption records adoptions in fiscal year 2007-08 with 3,674, and in fiscal year 2008-09, with 3,777.

Florida's leadership position among the states in adoption of children from foster care is a result of the combined efforts of the Explore Adoption public awareness campaign through the Governor's Office of Adoption and Child Protection, the Florida Department of Children and Families, 20 community-based care agencies and other local partners that include Heart Galleries across the state.

A key to Florida's success, in December 2008, the Department of Children and Families established the "Longest Waiting Teens" list, which identified 103 teenagers and their siblings awaiting a permanent home. To date, 38 teens have been adopted and 14 have transitioned out of foster care upon turning 18.  Efforts continue to find loving, permanent families for 48 youth on the list who remain without an adoptive family.

The Explore Adoption campaign promotes the benefits of public adoption in Florida through public education, partnerships, Web-based outreach and a mass media campaign.  Explore Adoption educates Florida's citizens about the benefits of public adoption, including:

·         Costs little or nothing.  Compared to many private adoptions, which can cost $20,000 or more, virtually all costs to adopt a child from the public system – the home study, attorneys' fees, court costs and training – are borne by the state.

·         Is very secure.  Children are not made available for public adoption until a judge has terminated their birth parents' rights.

·         Provides financial supports.  Children adopted through the public system qualify for free health care until they turn 18, free college tuition at any state university, community college or trade school, and may qualify for monthly financial assistance, depending on the child's needs. 

·         Provides an opportunity to get to know a child.  Prospective parents can search for a child who matches their interests through a searchable database on www.adoptflorida.org. Prospective parents can then meet and get to know a child to make sure it's a good match for all.

·         Can be speedy.  The entire process – from orientation, training, background checks, and home study to getting matched with a child or children – can often be accomplished in about nine months.

Hendry Sheriff Get New Car

Plastic Wrapped Design Substitutes For Paint 

LABELLE, FL. -- This week Sheriff Steve Whidden is unveiling his newly designed patrol vehicle for Hendry County. The time-honored design is meant to blend the 'old with the new.' A time when children were taught that a police officer was there to help when needed. As crime increased over the years, the division between the police officers and the people they serve has widened. The traditional scheme compliments a modern police pursuit vehicle. 

The design is made up of a plastic wrap rather than expensive paint. At the end of its useful life, the wrap will be removed and the sheriff can auction a plain white car which will bring a higher return to the county. The 'slick top' patrol units with the designation of 'supervisor' on the front fenders, will be assigned to the patrol sergeants. 

As the sheriff's fleet is replaced, the new design will become more prevalent. Sheriff Whidden stated, ''I intend for this design to be a constant reminder to my deputies and the people we serve, that I insist on deputies being respectful and helpful to the residents and visitors to Hendry County. It is our duty, to not only protect our citizens, but we must accomplish it by showing respect and dignity to those we serve.''

Clewiston's Francisco Street To Be Closed

Francisco Street Closed For Repairs At Railroad Tracks

CLEWISTON, FL -- Hendry County Engineering announces that improvements are scheduled to be made on Francisco Street, at the railroad crossing, on August 14, 15, and 16, 2010.  Francisco Street is next to the Clewiston High School

During construction, that portion of the road will be completely closed to local traffic.

Pregnant Panther Injured Near Immokalee

Three Unborn Kittens Did Not Survive

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Sometime in the early morning hours Tuesday August 3rd, a female panther was struck by a vehicle on State Road 29 near Immokalee in Collier County. A passing motorist saw the injured animal on the side of the road, and in less than an hour biologists and a law enforcement officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were on the scene performing triage and assessing the condition of the panther.

"She was alive and responsive," said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. "We immobilized the animal and transported her to Golden Gate Animal Clinic in Naples, where veterinarian John Lanier discovered she was pregnant and carrying at least three mid-term kittens."

After the panther was stabilized, Erin Myers, a veterinarian with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Mark Lotz, a member of the FWC's panther team, transported her to the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, where veterinarians announced some good and some bad news. The panther would survive; however, the unborn kittens did not survive the trauma from the accident.

Land said that without a doubt the panther had been hit by a vehicle in an area where other panthers have been killed when struck by vehicles. This panther will survive, but others have not been so fortunate. Fourteen panthers have died so far this year on Florida roadways.

"When traveling in panther country between dusk and dawn, it is extremely important that motorists drive with caution," Land said. "Panthers are active during this time, and these roads go right through their habitat."

The panther population has increased steadily since the 1980s, when the population had dwindled to 20-30. Its increase to a current estimate of at least 100 is a success story, but one tempered with the knowledge that an increasing population means more opportunity for vehicle collisions. The natural expansion of the panther population means that panther sightings may start to increase throughout Florida, however, the majority of the population still resides south of Lake Okeechobee.

Land urges motorists to report injured or dead panthers to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

The injured panther will be taken to White Oak Plantation, a private wildlife conservation center in North Florida, where she will remain until ready to be released back into the wild.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Hendry Commissioners Get New Sign Law

Commissioners Exempt Themselves From Political Sign Laws

LABELLE, FL. -- In the months before the 2010 elections, the Hendry County Commissioners quietly changed the Hendry County sign ordinances to exempt themselves and other politicians from getting a sign permit for roadway advertising during campaigns.

All other signs in the county, including temporary signs, need permits except the category of official highways signs and directional signs. Before June, a sign permit was required for political signs, although ironically politicians, sworn to uphold the law, ignored the law.

The new sign ordinance doubles the previous number of days that signs are allowed and doubles the time for taking them down, after an election. And the ordinance eliminates any penalty for not taking them down.

On June 8, 2010 the Commissioners added a new ordinance, section 1-56-3, to the Hendry county code making political signs "exempt from regulation under this code."

Previously signs for politicians came under a temporary sign provision, requiring a permit, and the taking down of the sign within two weeks after an election. Failure to take down the signs formerly provided that  "the county may remove and dispose of the signs and recover the costs of removal and disposal against the applicant.''

The former law also allowed political signs to be erected 60 days before an election. The new law allows 120 days before elections and that they be removed before 30 days, instead of the former two weeks, with no penalty now stated, for non-removal.

The only restriction of the new law is that signs may not be placed on county or state right of way.

The commissioners apparently changed the law after a meeting between, Vince Cautero and Lucretia Strickland, the Hendry Elections Supervisor.

Bob Bott, Hendry building official says that his office has taken down signs found along county and state right of ways, and the signs were delivered to the Florida Department of Transportation office in LaBelle. Large signs for Hendry commissioner Darrell Harris and Glades commissioner Donna Storter Long were spotted, Bott says, and he asked the commissioners to remove them.

When questioned about the requirement for permits, Bott had been evasive, only saying the county code had recently been changed and that he would enforce restrictions on signs on road rights of way. Although the new ordinance did away with the requirement for permits, Bott would not speak definitely on whether a permit was required anymore and said he would get back to us.

Bott noted about the new ordinance that ''no provision for size or permits for political signs were included, (but) there are other pertinent regulations in Hendry County Code of Ordinances e.g. corner visibility we enforce.''

Hendry's Building Official Chain of Command And Who Interprets Code

Although Bott is the county's head of  Building and Zoning, and state licensed as a Building Code Administrator, Plans Examiner, and Inspector, he takes his orders from Vince Cautero, the county's planner, who is not licensed by the state. When questions arise about the code, it seems Bott gets his guidance and marching orders from Cautero, even though Cautero is not licensed as a building official.

Cautero does have certification from the American Planning Association as a planner. To become a certified planner, APA members must meet certain education and experience requirements and pass a written examination, given twice a year, in May and November. Cautero has been a member of the Association since 1986.