Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hendry County Restaurant Food Inspection Ratings

Many Food Violations Found In Clewiston And LaBelle Restaurant Kitchens

LABELLE, FL. -- In the latest survey of 48 LaBelle and Clewiston restaurants, none were found with no food safety violations after the most recent inspections in November by the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

The only Hendry restaurant having no violations during the latest inspection was Abbie's Deli in Port LaBelle. Abbie's opened in July and has steadily improved it's food safety history.

In our restaurant food safety rating survey in February, 2011, Flora and Ella's and Rodeo Grill were included, now both have gone out of business.

The Country Place Restaurant took over the Flora and Ella's building and had numerous problems with food safety issues starting in August with 14 critical violations found. A follow up inspection was required and made October 10, with 2 critical violations.

A Country Place follow up was required and made Oct. 20 with 7 violations found, including 3 repeat violations. Many of the violations found dealt with storage and cooking temperature violations.

For some reason it appears LaBelle's "fast food" franchises seem to be cleaner than Clewiston's, with about half as many food safety violations found compared to LaBelle's. McDonald's in Clewiston had 10 total violations in November, compared to three at LaBelle's Mcdonald's.

The area eatery with the worst food safety history continues to be LaBelle's Fortune Cookie restaurant, now with 12 follow up inspections having been required since June 2010 due to the number of critical violations found. Dixie Fried Chicken, in Clewiston, had 10 critical violations.

And in Clewiston the most problematic eatery is the Florida Cafeteria with a warning issued on September 7 for 25 safety violations, 23 being "critical." It was later discovered the cafeteria had no current restaurant license nor had filed plans for a remodeling extension into the space next door adding 28 more seats and a bar.

The Florida Cafeteria had the same problem with no license and remodeling without permission on an October 7, 2010 inspection when 17 violations were found. A warning was also issued and an administrative complaint recommended by the inspector.

And the only eatery with no violations in October, LaBelle's Chalkboard Deli, unfortunately during a November 17th inspection, found were 3 critical violations. No Clewiston restaurant had zero violations on first inspection.

The LaBelle and Clewiston, Florida restaurant list below includes the name, date of last inspection and number of violations found by inspectors. (Unless noted, restaurants are in LaBelle.)

Update  11/2/2011: More restaurant food safety inspections have been added to the list below.
Update 12/3/2011: Latest updated inspections included.

Abbie's Deli  11/17/2011 none (9/21/2011 1 critical, 4 critical on 7/20/2011 1st inspection)
Palateria Los Mayas 6/30/2011 1 critical
Nuttin' Fancy Cafe 11/3/2011 1 critical (10/20/2011 2 critical)
Top Draw Bar & Grill 11/19/2011 2 total, 1 critical including plumbing
Riverbend Motorcoach Resort 3/8/2011 2 critical including raw food stored over cooked food
Chalkboard Deli 11/17/2011 3 critical incl. no employee training (10/19/2011 None, 8/11 warning issued for no food manager or employee training)
Port LaBelle Inn (Oxbow Grille) 5/13/2011 3 critical incl. metal shavings and crusted material on can opener
Log Cabin BBQ 11/19/2011 5 critical, warning issued, unable to determine employee training, manager certification, fire prevention compliance (10/4/2011 3 total, 2 critical)

Burger King LaBelle 10/19/2011 2 critical - hand washing issues
Burger King Clewiston 8/31/2011 2 total, 1 critical
Wendy's LaBelle 9/12/2011 2 critical
Wendy's Clewiston 8/17/2011 4 total, 2 critical
Little Caesar's LaBelle 8/29/2011 2 total, 1 critical
Little Caesar's Clewiston 8/30/2011 4 critical
Subway LaBelle 10/4/2011 3 total, 1 critical (consumer complaint filed)
Subway Clewiston 11/14/2011 3 critical (9/9/2011 4 total, 2 critical)
McDonald's LaBelle 9/21/2011 3 critical - hand washing issues
McDonald's Clewiston 11/14/2011 10 total, 5 critical incl. handwashing and slime in machines (8/1/2011 8 total 3 critical, 5/3 warning issued for flies, slime on shake dispenser

Hungry Howie's 8/29/2011 3 total, 2 critical
Hungry Howie's Clewiston 8/17/2011 1 critical
Popeye's LaBelle 10/4/2011 3 total, 1 critical
Popeye's Clewiston 8/17/2011 8 total, 2 critical
Big V 9/21/2011 4 critical
El Tarasco 10/13/2011 4 critical including employees not washing hands
China Buffet Clewiston 10/26/2011 4 total, 2 critical
Jones EZ Food 10/3/2011 3 total, 2 critical
Vicky's Lunch Box 10/19/2011 3 total, 2 critical
Rodeo Grill 2/23/2011 9 critical (incl. slime in ice machine) - Out of business
Flora And Ella 2/23/2011 4 critical - Out of business

Holiday Inn Express Hotel Clewiston 7/5/2011 5 total
Taco Bell/KFC LaBelle 10/10/2011 5 total, 4 critical including toxic item stored by food. Warning issued 8/16 for flies and cooler temps
Kentucky Fried Chicken Clewiston 8/26/2011 8 total, 3 critical
Clewiston Inn Dining 6/15/2011 4 total, 2 critical (200 seat restaurant)
Contrera's Restaurant 10/12/2011 5 total, 4 critical
La Margarita Tex-Mex 9/12/2011 5 total, 4 critical (no certified food manager - given 30 days to get one)
Taqueria San Juan 10/13/2011 6 critical
Purkeys BBQ 10/26/2011 6 total, 4 critical
Clewiston Country Club 7/18/2011 6 total, 4 critical, "stop sale" notice due to adulterated food (120 seats)
Best Western Of Clewiston 8/31/2011 7 total, 4 critical (180 seats)
Suzy B Lounge Clewiston 11/7/2011 7 total, 4 critical
Sonny's Real Pit Bar BQ Clewiston 7/12/2011 7 total, 4 critical incl. slime in ice machine
A Country Place Restaurant & Bakery 10/20/2011 7 total, 6 critical including 3 repeat violations, 8/11 warning issued
Beef O Brady's LaBelle 10/19/2011 7 total, 5 critical including 1 repeat violation
Beef O Brady's Clewiston 10/25/2011 7 total, 5 critical
Don's Restaurant 8/17/2011 7 total, 5 critical
Forrey Grill 10/19/2011 8 critical, warning issued, re-inspection 10/20 none

Fortune Cookie 8/29/2011 5 critical (previous history includes a "full complaint" inspection and 12 follow up inspections have been required here since June 2010)
Cely's Canteen Clewiston 11/9/2011 10 total, 4 critical including "stop" sale order
Dixie Fried Chicken Clewiston 9/9/2011 11 total, 10 critical, warning issued, "stop sale" notice for "temperature abuse", 9/15 Re-inspection None
Florida Cafeteria Clewiston 9/9/2011 4 total, 3 critical, no restaurant license ( 9/7 25 total, 23 critical - warning issued)

Also read for comparisons 2009-2010 Sunday Morning News/Southwest Florida Online Restaurant Safety Ratings: Hendry Food Safety

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wild Ride For Hendry Deputy In Rain - Vehicle Overturns

Wet Weather Contributes To Deputy's Crash On Rural Road

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A Hendry county Florida deputy crashed his patrol car early Saturday morning after entering an area of standing water on a rural county road.

Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Cruz, 45, driving a marked 2007 Ford Crown Victoria patrol car was traveling westbound on County Road 835 during a heavy rain about 12:10 a.m. Saturday morning when the vehicle entered a large area of standing water on the roadway. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the patrol car entered the south muddy shoulder on the roadway then overturned one full rotation. Cruz' vehicle came to finally rest upright, facing northwest. 

Cruz suffered no injuries. He was wearing a seatbelt. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Things To Do In Hendry/Glades County

What's Going On In Hendry And Glades County?

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden and the Hendy County Sheriff’s Office is hosting the First Annual Brian Haas Memorial Golf Tournament 4 Man Scramble on November 12, 2011 at the Clewiston Golf Course, in Clewiston. Registration begins at 8:00am and teams will be accepted based upon availability, that morning; shotgun start is at 9:00am. Cost of play is $75 per player or $300 per team, this includes lunch, greens fee and cart fee.

“Bird walk on the Boardwalk” - “first time ever” AIAC early birding/photography opportunity November 5, 6, 2011 at Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, 34725 Boundary Road, Clewiston, FL 33440 (on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation) at 7:30 am at the front to the Museum. Cost: $9.00 Adults, $6.00 Seniors/Students (includes admission to American Indian Arts Celebration and Museum)

American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) November 4-6, 2011 Daily 10am – 5pm. Cost Adults $9 - Child/Senior $6 at Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle is sponsoring the Annual Kiwanis Kid’s Day Event on Saturday, October 29th, 2011 from 10am to 2pm.  There will be free popcorn, free snow cones, free balloons, free play time in bounce houses, games, clowns, bike rodeo, entertainment, and community partners set up in the Barron Park in LaBelle. (Cancelled - To Be Rescheduled Due To Weather)

The memory bus will be parked at the Glades County Health Department on Tuesday, November 1st from 9:00am to 2:30pm The Glades County Health Department is located at 1021 Health Park Drive, Moore Haven, FL 33471.

The SWFL MicroEnterprise Project is administered by Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. Program partners include Edison State College, Lee County Department of Human Services, SCORE, and ACCION USA. Additional funding is provided by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Florida Community Bank, and First Bank- LaBelle. Persons interested in applying to the Southwest Florida MicroEnterprise project, or who would like to mentor future small business owners may call (863) 675-1412.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hendry County Empties Medicine Cabinets

Drop Off Unused Drugs At LaBelle And Clewiston Stores

LABELLE, FL. -- Empty your medicine cabinet of expired, unused, unwanted prescriptions and over the counter drugs and bringing those to the local Operation Medicine Cabinet™ drop off location on Saturday, November 5th, 2011.

(Video: Bianca Ross, from Hendry Health Department, Sheriff's Explorers provided food at event)

Because medications should not be flushed down the toilet or thrown in the garbage, and because they pose a risk to children in the home Drug Free Hendry County and the Hendry County Sheriff's Office have partnered with J&J and K&M Family Pharmacies to offer this community program for the 3rd time in Hendry County. 

70% of people over 12 who abuse prescription drugs report they get their drugs from a family member. Don't be the supplier. 

Ayman Kaki, owner of J&J Pharmacy in Labelle, will be providing hamburgers and hot-dogs to those who come by the store.

Medication drops offs will be welcomed during Operation Medicine Cabinet between 10 am and 1 pm on November 5th, 2011 at the stores in LaBelle and Clewiston.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Attorney Jose Baez "Embarrassed And Ashamed..."

Casey Anthony's Attorney Baez Defends Jurors

Casey Anthony defense attorney Jose Baez blasted TV journalists, while defending Casey Anthony jurors, indicating his disdain for reporters seeking interviews with jury members. Baez believes jurors should be let alone and not hounded for interviews.

Baez successfully defended Anthony at trial on charges of killing her daughter Caylee. Anthony is now serving a one-year probation  for bad check charges at a secret Florida location.

The court released the names of the murder trial jurors this week, after a "cooling off" period mandated by the judge. Reporters in Pinellas county, Florida have been trying to contact the names released.

Baez told a reporter "It's ridiculous, absurd, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed to be a part of this process," saying jurors were picked, and didn't choose to be a part of the infamous trial and should be let alone.

Video: WTSP - Tampa, Fl.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Clewiston's Butch Wilson To Speak At LaBelle Museum On Indian Wars

Florida Indian War Forts Topic Of Museum Program

LABELLE, FL. -- Butch Wilson, curator of the Clewiston Museum, will speak on 2nd and 3rd Seminole War's Fort Center at LaBelle Heritage Museum's November 3 program meetiing at LaBelle City Hall begining at 7 o'clock.  

Wilson's talk will focus on Fort Center, located at the mouth of Fisheating Creek on Lake Okeechobee in Glades county, but will also touch on Fort Thompson in LaBelle, another 2nd and 3rd Seminole Wars military camp located near Lake Flirt's Falls of Thompson on the Caloosahatchee  River.  

Wilson is no stranger to LaBelle Heritage Museum; and his talks on area history provide new insights for local museum patrons.

A short business meeting will follow refreshments after Wilson's presentation.  Joe Thomas will recap LaBelle Heritage Museum's application for a Florida Bureau of Historic Preservations $50,000 Small Matching Grant to move the 1905 H. A. Rider home and 1935 H. A. Rider law office to 360 N. Bridge Street where they will join the 1911 William Hardy Poole General Store as the LaBelle Heritage Museum Complex in LaBelle's Downtown Historic District.  

The public is always welcome at LaBelle Heritage Museum programs and events.

How's Your Verizon? - Very Bad Say Many

Verizon Wireless Service - Customers Getting Less Than Advertised

LABELLE, FL. -- Wireless and cellular data customers may be surprised to learn they are not getting what they pay for. New iPhone 4S customers have speed problem with Sprint nationwide, while others say Verizon has slow speeds in some areas.

In many areas of the country, advertised data rates and wireless speeds are not reaching the rates advertised. For example in Hendry county Florida's city of LaBelle, Verizon wireless promises data rates for cell phones and wireless computer services at download speeds of about 1.6 Mbps and upload speeds of about .6 Mbps for "3G" service.

Map of Verizon 3G Coverage In LaBelle, Florida Area

But tests for the last several weeks using indicates Verizon's service is actually downloading at a speed of only .07 Mbps and uploading data at about the same rate, or at about 1/10th the speed promised for uploading and 1/100th the download speeds advertised by Verizon.

The newer and faster 4G Verizon service is not available in Hendry and Glades county, and none is expected anytime soon, says the company.

Sprint customers using the new iPhone 4S have reported similar slow speed problems around the country since the introduction of the new phone. Sprint denies any problem publicly and blames Apple's iPhone software for some of the problem. In a statement Sprint said:

"Overall, iPhone performance on the Sprint network is consistent with our expectations and the rest of our high-end portfolio. Sprint also did benchmarking of Sprint's iPhone against competitors' iPhones, and the testing showed little to no performance difference. We are seeing a very low return rate for this device, but we are watching the reports of speed issues very closely. We do see opportunities to optimize performance, specifically in high network capacity areas. We see this as typical optimization work and do not have any specific area of concern. Sprint is committed to providing the best possible experience for our customers. We are listening to our customers and working closely with our partners at Apple to ensure optimal performance of iPhone devices on our network."
Many Verizon customers in the LaBelle area are unaware there's a big problem with Verizon's speeds, thinking the slow speeds and dropped connections are a "user" problem or temporary glitch.

Some LaBelle area customers have been complaining to no avail, as Verizon's customer service reps lay the blame on customer's devices. Although 20 area slow speed complaints were registered in one single day to Verizon last week, according to one rep, no action has yet to be taken to remedy the super slow Verizon service.

Tests of other cellular sites outside of the city of LaBelle show the normal 3G, or EVDO service is working fine, including Glades and Highland county where speeds of download and uploading data are normal.

To test your cell phone or computer speeds use the following links.

Test Your Internet Provider's Download/Upload Speed:
App To Test Your Cellular Phone Download/Upload Speed:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sheriff Welcomes Halloween Goblins & Ghosts


LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden would like to take the opportunity to invite Hendry County's ghosts and goblins, super heroes and princesses to stop by the Hendry County Sheriff's Office for a special treat from him.

"Although Halloween lands on a Monday this year, many festivities are expected to take place throughout the weekend, placing a large number of both youth and adult partygoers on the road at that time," said Sheriff Steve Whidden.  "Staying safe is a challenge on Halloween night.  However if motorists and parents do their part to make pedestrian safety a priority, they will make Halloween fun and safe for everyone".

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Della T. Ridgdill, age 91, of LaBelle and a pioneer resident of Hendry County, passed away October 19, 2011 in LaBelle. She was born March 24, 1920 in Felda, the daughter of the late Asa Barton Townsend and the late Nancy Jane (Altman) Townsend. 

She was a member of Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church in Felda, the LaBelle Garden Club and The LaBelle Heritage Museum. 

Survivors include her son: Donald W. Ridgdill of LaBelle, daughter: Beverly Jo Ridgdill of LaBelle, grandchildren: Stephanie J. Ridgdill of Englewood, Patricia "Shellie" Reinbott of Live Oak and C. Michael Ridgdill of West Palm Beach, great-grandchildren: William Patrick Murphy, Courtney Reinbott, Dustin Reinbott and Grayson Reinbott. She was preceded in death by her husband: S.J. "Brown Tiger" Ridgdill Sr and sons: S.J. "Jack" Ridgdill Jr., Rodney B. Ridgdill, and Ronald E. Ridgdill. 

A graveside funeral service was held Friday, October 21, 2011, 2:00 p.m. at Fort Denaud Cemetery with Pastor Preston Long officiating. Interment followed at Fort Denaud Cemetery.

Andrea Marie Kellogg, age 77, of Moore Haven died Monday, October 17, 2011, at home in Moore Haven. Andrea was born April 1, 1934, in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. She is the daughter of the late Ray William and the late Olive (Hendrickson) Sheffer. She married Willis John Kellogg September 24, 1986. 

She proudly served her country in the United States Marine Corps. She was employed by 6-L's Farm as an Accountant. Andrea was a loving wife and mother. She was a working mother and her priority was her family. 

She is survived by her husband: Willis John Kellogg; four daughters: Melanie Pederson, Diane Shaw, Christine Martinez, Missy Van Guilder, and six sons: Melvin Arendt, David Arendt, Milton Arendt, Jon Arendt, Todd Willis, Troy Kellogg; many grandchildren and great grandchildren and her loving dog Smokey. 

She was preceded by her son Mike Arendt. Cremation arrangements were handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home of Clewiston.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reliant Land Trust - Oregon Company Scamming Florida Land Owners?

Land "Trust" Offering "Quick" Cash But Low Prices To Property Owners

Seeking willing vacant land owners in Florida and other states, Reliant Land Trust, of Portland Oregon is sending first class letters offering "some money in exchange for your property."

The company began business in Oregon in March 2009, as an assumed business name of Radius Corporation, owned by Stephen Seal, sending out thousands of letters a month to property owners around the country, hoping to pick up land from uninformed owners at very low prices.

Property owners not knowing the current value of their land may be persuaded by the company's offer of "a fast, trouble-fee sale, as well as a fair price and immediate cash." They say they will pay "all of the fees" for title search, recording, etc.

All their letters are signed by "Charity Lechuga" as account manager. Ms. Lechuga is actually the Vice-President of Purchasing.

Seal, a sole proprietor, owns numerous other Oregon companies including Radius Facilities LLC, 8925 Investors LLC, Auction Acres.Com, Land, Land Research Foundation, Auction Dirt, I Buy Houses, Synergy Management LLC, Land Easy Management LLC, Radius Holdings LLC, Radius Management LLC, Radius TLC I LLC, Riviera 53 LLC, and Seal, Kennett & Lechuga. 

Despite using the word "Trust" in the name and account manager "Charity," the company is an Oregon for-profit outfit. His company seems not be registered with the Florida Secretary of State.

The company is not a land trust in the usual sense of the phrase, where land is purchased for long term ownership, by a non-profit organization, sometimes for ecological purposes. Reliant, reportedly makes a quick profit by buying at very low prices, usually a few hundred dollars, and selling as quickly as possible, although their web site says they hold land for long-term. 

The company says they operate primarily in western states, but Florida has been receiving their letters as well. Although the letters give a toll free number to call, they will not give you a price over the phone. Although they offer a "quick" sale with immediate cash, an actual sale may take from one to three months, according to their website.

A typical "offer" to buy from Reliant may only be a few hundred dollars, customers are saying. Beware of any low offers for land that may be actually worth ten times more than their offer.

The Better Business Bureau in Oregon gives Seal's company an "F" rating, citing two consumer complaints filed since 2009 that received no company response.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hendry Sheriff Whidden On Wild Ride To Arrest Bryan Boyle

Bryan Boyle Arrested For 22nd Time After Attempt To Flee

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry Sheriff Steve Whidden captured a fleeing Bryan Scott Boyle Wednesday afternoon after a run through the rural streets and fields of Port LaBelle.

Sheriff Whidden, accompanied in the squad car by his father visiting from Groveland, Florida, was led on a chase by much arrested Boyle as Whidden was attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Boyle.

Today's arrest makes the 22nd jail booking for Boyle, and the eighth time booked into the Hendry jail this year. His last arrest was September 30. Boyle was arrested once again on charges of violating restrictions on his driver's license, and additionally for failure to appear in court on a previous charge.

(Video: Sheriff Steve Whidden watches loading of Bryan Boyle's truck after the arrest. Boyle was carrying two knives.)

Leading the Sheriff over ditches and through the greenbelts of Port LaBelle, Boyle stopped at 8001 Sherwood Circle in Port LaBelle.

The home is occupied by Harriet F. Green, AKA Harriet Smith, Harriet Hunter, and Kit Green. Green, a friend of Boyle, was arrested earlier this year on charges of possessing a firearm by a convicted felon. She's due in court this Friday for a pre-trial conference before Circuit Judge John Duryea.

Well-worn truck tracks in the empty lots next to side and rear of the Green residence indicate a lot of truck traffic backing up to the back yard of the 2,082 square foot home.

Boyle, the son of the city of LaBelle's Superintendent of Public Works Michael A. Boyle, has a lengthy record in Hendry county including numerous misdemeanor and felony arrests going back to 1993.

Boyle lives with his mother, Susan Lynn Kennedy, aka Susan K. Denning at 4502 Springview Circle in Port LaBelle, the scene of an April, 2011 arrest of his friend John Robert Munson for probation violation. (Video of Munson's arrest.).

Kennedy, like her son, has a long arrest record of 16 bookings into the Hendry jail in the last 9 years.

Munson was given six months in jail. Munson is the son of pharmacist John K. Munson, who formerly owned Hendry two county drug stores and is now owns a store in Highlands county in Lake Placid.

Boyle's truck was confiscated and towed. Seen regularly illegally driving a camo 4-Wheel ATV, he reportedly recently bought a one-ton flatbed truck with welding equipment from Mike Puletti. Boyle has reportedly been seen regularly at the Port LaBelle Marina, and on occasion at Puletti's boat docked there.

Puletti is the brother of City of LaBelle Mayor Paul Puletti.

Boyle was released from jail within hours of his arrest Wednesday night, a typical scenario for Boyle. Maybe that's why he's smiling in the mug shot?

(Update 11/14/11: Mike Puletti says he did not sell a vehicle to Boyle, and that Boyle was on his boat (Picocat) at the Port LaBelle Marina hired to do cleaning.)

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Amanda Lauren Lee Hoover, 32, passed away suddenly on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011. She was born March 22, 1979, in Pahokee, to Cathleen (Threlkeld) and Samuel Larry Lee. She attended Belle Glade and Waynesville, North Carolina Schools. 
She married Johnny Lewis Hoover April of 2001. This union blessed them with two sons. With the birth of her boys, Amanda spent her life as a homemaker and working part-time in the service industry. 

She is survived by her husband, Johnny; sons, Seth, 10, Gabriel, 8 of Fort Myers; sister Bridgette Webb (Walter) of Valdosta, Ga.; mother, Cathleen Rhinehart (Danny) of Moore Haven; maternal grandmother, Ellen Threlkeld of Belle Glade; uncle, Jeff Threlkeld of Belle Glade; aunt, Lisa Ellis (Paul); six cousins and numerous extended family members and friends. 

She was preceded in death by her father; Samuel Larry Lee, March 29, 2002. 

To celebrate Amanda's life please join our family on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston. Viewing will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Memorial Service will begin at 6 p.m. and end at 7 p.m. 

In lieu of flowers please make contributions to YMCA of Palm Beach County, who operate Harmony House. Their address is 2200 North Florida Mango Road, Ste 102, West Palm Beach, Florida 33409. 

James Keith Keiser, age 76, of Moore Haven passed away suddenly Thursday, October 13, 2011 at home in Moore Haven. James was born October 24, 1934 in Calhoun County, Iowa. He is the son of the late Lester Joseph and the late Lois Katherine (Sudenga) Keiser. 

He is survived by his one daughter: Teresa S. (Bruce) Fry of Jupiter, FL and two sons: Bruce Keiser and Brian Keiser. He is also survived by his sister Georgia (Lenus) Schramm. He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers. 

A private memorial service will be held at a later date. Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle 

Faye Darlene Wingard, age 64, of LaBelle died Tuesday, October 11, 2011 in Fort Myers. Faye was born December 31, 1946 in Staunton, Virginia, daughter of the late Jesse Fitzgerald and the late Nellie Clifton Fitzgerald. . 

Survivors include her husband: Billy Joe Wingard of LaBelle, sons: Kenneth Wingard (Jennifer) of LaBelle, Daniel Wingard of LaBelle, brothers: Steve Fitzgerald and Preston Fitzgerald (Linda ) , both of Fishersville, VA, five grandchildren: Rebecca Wingard, Kevin Wingard, Sarina Wingard, James Galusha and Christina Hager and great-grandchild: Regina Hager. 

A memorial service was held Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, 10:00 a.m. with Dr. Les Morgan officiating.  Cremation arrangements by: Akin-Davis Funeral Home-LaBelle.

Social Security Benefits Increasing

Monthly Benefits Going Up

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $110,100 from $106,800. 

Of the estimated 161 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2012, about 10 million, or less than 10% will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum

Lakeport Residents In Glade County Suffered Wind Damage

Help On Way To Glades Residents Hit By Heavy Winds

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades County encountered strong winds near the Lakeport Volunteer Fire Department on State Road 78 Tuesday night between 7:00pm and 8:00pm, according to the Glades County Emergency Management Office.

Damage was reported by residents to their homes and the Lakeport Volunteer Firehouse. Power lines were down and debris was in the streets. Other property damage in the area is likely, say county officials.

Glades County will assess the damage beginning at 8:00am on October 19, 2011 and clean-up, repairs, and the use of tarps will begin immediately as needed.

Update: Tornado activity in the vicinity of the Lakeport Volunteer Fire Department on State Road 78 last night between 7:00pm and 8:00pm damaged approximately 38 houses and structures. The structures included, among others, porches, garages, boat houses, roofs, barns, carports, and the firehouse. There were no human injuries reported.

Cleanup of public roadways have been completed; electrical service is back to normal. Volunteers helped with tarping of roofs and removal of storm debris. Major repairs are to be made now.

Tornado activity with winds of 85 mph with a path of one mile by 50 yards wide in the Lakeport area was confirmed by National Weather Service.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why Florida Higher Education Costs So Much - Salaries?

High Salaries - Abundance Of Staff Contribute To High Costs?

FORT MYERS, FL. -- One major factor contributing to high tuition costs at Florida universities may be the cost of personnel.

From a recently released Florida university employee salary schedule, for example, 64 employees at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida make over $100,000.

The University has 1,213 employees including about 1,050 full timers. Enrollment shows about 12,000 students including part time students, or about 10 students for each employee.

The latest salary numbers released show 132 employees in an earnings bracket between $75,000 and $99,999, while 289 are in the bracket between $50,000 and $74,999. 572 employees are between $25,000 and $49,999.

The balance of about 160 people at FCGU are part-time employees making up to $24,999.

Salaries can be searched for any Florida University by employee name and university at:  Florida University Salaries

Two Hendry Teens Charged As Adults

Arrested After Home Invasion

Francisco Javier Bustamante, 17 years of age and Sergio Gomez, 16 years of age arrested on September 20, 2011 for Home Invasion Robbery and Aggravated Battery Causing Bodily Injury and Burglary of Structure and Petit Theft.

Gomez received an additional charge of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and now facing new charges.

On October 11, 2011 and again on October 13, 2011, Bustamante and Gomez were arrested after the State Attorney's Office issued warrants on both teens charging them as adults.

Both Bustamante and Gomez are being held in the Hendry County Jail each on $116,000.00 bond.

Clewiston's Deese - Worker Of The Year

Health Department's Marilyn Deese Gets Award 

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Hendry and Glades County Health Departments announced this week that Marilyn Deese was awarded Healthy Start Worker of the Year at the recent Healthy Start Annual Meeting and Banquet that was held in Estero, Florida.

Marilyn is the only Healthy Start worker at the Clewiston site of the Hendry and Glades County Health Departments.

For her constant dedication and loyal services that she has rendered to Healthy Start clients, she is known locally as an “angel”. She was “given” this name because of her ability to magically find resources in communities where resources are very scarce.

Although Marilyn manages full case loads of English and Spanish speaking clients, she willingly took on additional caseloads in Glades County. Marilyn has gone above and beyond the scope of the normal Healthy Start standard of care which is shown through her care coordination outcomes and empathy shown to clients.

Pat Dobbins of the Health Department says, "Marilyn has been, and continues to be a true asset to the communities in Hendry and Glades Counties and the Hendry and Glades County Health Departments are very proud of her accomplishment!"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Environmentalist Ellen Peterson Dead At 87

Friend Of The Florida Environment Dies At 87

Ellen Peterson nee Salisbury 87, of Estero, Florida passed away on October 14th, 2011. She was born in Georgia on December 5, 1923. She is survived by a niece, Rhonda Romano (Thomas) of St. Petersburg, Florida, a nephew, James Davis (Barb) of Grand Rapids Michigan, and Grand nieces Megan and Michelle. She was predeceased by a sister Mary Alice Davis.

(Video: One of the priceless Florida environments saved by Ellen Peterson, Fisheating Creek at Glades County)

Ellen spoke at countless county commission hearings, and her presence was powerful, always intelligently informed, and unrelenting. She was responsible for saving one of the most beautiful places in all of Southwest Florida, Glades and Highland county's Fisheating Creek. At a Water Management District annual meeting, after a video about the creek and Ellen’s speech, there was not a dry eye in the audience. 

Ellen fought to save the Florida panther, heritage trees, and many other listed and endangered species. She succeeded in obtaining outstanding Florida waterways designations for many of our local rivers and streams, providing them higher levels of protection. With the help of several environmental groups, Ellen fought and won the battle to stop a coal-fired power plant from going into Glades County, north of Moore Haven. 

Ellen wanted two going-away celebrations to be held: one in Estero in Lee county and one at Fisheating Creek in Glades county.

The celebration to be held at Fisheating Creek in Palmdale will take place on Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 1:00 in the afternoon at the Fisheating Creek Outpost off US 27 at Palmdale. 

As a part of the celebration, in accordance with Ellen's wishes, participants will paddle a short distance down Fisheating Creek to the huge bald cypress known as the Memorial Tree. 

Canoes, kayaks, and a few john boats will be available to use, but please bring your own if you can. Please contact Paula House if you need any additional information at:
She graduated from the University of Georgia in 1945 with a degree in Chemistry and she received her Masters in counseling in 1963 from Appalachia State. She came to Southwest Florida shortly afterwards, and served as the Director of the Counseling Center at Edison College for many years. She also became a fierce advocate for our wildlife and wild places.

Ellen was a warrior when it came to the environment; she cared deeply and devoted her life to saving the planet and protecting Mother Earth. She served on many boards and advisory committees such as: the Agency for Bay Management, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Save Our Creeks, the Responsible Growth Management Coalition, The Everglades Committee, the Environmental Peace and Education Center and the Sierra Club’s Calusa Group. Ellen founded the Calusa group over 30 years ago and remained the chairperson until her death.

The Agency for Bay Management was formed as a result of a lawsuit about where FGCU would be built; Ellen was the only member who refused to sign off on the settlement agreement.

She protested and picketed against nuclear plants and was arrested for civil disobedience. She created a presentation to save the Imperial River and was successful in preventing the Water Management District from eliminating the oxbows, an action which could have destroyed much of the river, such as killing off fish hatcheries during flood events.

Ellen fearlessly attended meetings to speak out against those who threatened the Big Cypress National Preserve, even when her opponents showed up on swamp buggies and carrying guns.

Ellen herself was threatened on many occasions, and at least one attempt was made on her life. Even so she pressed forward and continued her good works. She continually fought to protect several of our local beaches and islands. With the backing of several local environmental groups, Ellen filed suit against the developers who wanted to overbuild and destroy our density-reduction ground water resource area. She was responsible for involving a scientist whom Lee County would later hire to do water quality testing. This scientist discovered that our red tides were directly linked to the releases from the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee.

Ellen led the efforts to investigate the minimum flows and levels for our ground water, and the research showed a sustained level of harm. She also sat on a Committee for the Route 951 Extension, because some of the proposed alignments invaded listed and endangered species habitat.

Ellen received the 2008 John Kaber award from the Everglades Coalition and the Florida Wildlife Federation named Ellen outstanding environmentalist of 2008, and she has received numerous other grateful recognitions. Ellen lived to see her biggest goal realized: the creation of the Happehatchee center in Estero. Ellen turned her beautiful property and home into an eco-spiritual center for all in the community to enjoy. The center offers many different types of classes and workshops. Happehatchee is a sacred place, a place where anyone in the community can come to find personal growth by attending some of the seminars featured there, or to just get in touch with nature while enjoying the beautiful natural setting. Anyone who enters through the gates immediately feels the peace and energy of this very special place.

Ellen Peterson was a fierce, protective voice for all living creatures on Earth: human, animal, and plant. She championed many social causes, such as equal rights for women and fair wages for farm workers. She advocated for those who could not speak for themselves. Her absence is profound. She will be grieved for and missed. While the environmental community has suffered a great loss with her passing, we are inspired by her courage, her bright sense of humor, her compassion and her absolute dedication to service. Ellen is our hero!

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Happehatchee Center, P.O. Box 345 Estero, Florida 33929-0345 or Save Our Creeks, P.O. Box 135, Palmdale, Florida 33944.

Hendry Ask For State Help, Want To Raise Taxes

Hendry/Glades Leaders Ask For State Money/Ability To Raise More Taxes

LABELLE, FL. -- Representatives from Hendry and Glades county met with Florida State Representative Denise Grimsley Friday, asking for state funding help with projects from courthouse improvements to street widening, and a request to be able to levy additional taxes on utilities and communication services.

Photo: Hendry County Leaders At Meeting With Rep. Grimsley

Grimsley met Friday morning October 14 in Moore Haven with Glades county's School Superintendent and Glades county officials, and in an afternoon meeting in LaBelle met with School Superintendent Rick Murphy, City of LaBelle Mayor Paul Puletti, and Hendry county administrator Judi Kennington-Korf and other interested official public and private.

Hendry county's list of requests for state funding was by far the largest of the day. Despite a recent historic property tax increase of 12% voted in by Hendry Commissioners Darrel Harris, Janet Taylor, and Al Perry, county commissioners are still seeking funds for eight major projects, as well as a "legislative remedy" to allow Hendry to raise taxes on "Public Services" and "Communications Services."

Kennington-Korf provided Grimsley a list of items from the County Commission, with an explanation that the county was in it's sixth year of a declining tax base, (not unlike every other county across the country,) and a 17.9% unemployment rate and 22.6 poverty rate among it's 39,140 residents.

Per capita income for Hendry county is only $14,591. Yet, it's property tax millage rate is among the highest in Florida.

The county is seeking grants for "economic development, infrastructure needs, housing, and social services," according to the printed ten-page request given to Rep. Grimsley.

Hendry officials listed in order by category, priorities for needed grant funding.

County Wants To Wipe Out Huge Debt Owed To State

The first request was forgiveness of an $815,000 debt the county owes the Agency for Health Care Administration for medicaid charges from October 2008 through February 2011. The county was notified in April of $1.1 million owed, which the county says was a result of "maladies with the State Medicaid billing process," and "misinformation and miscommunication among agents."

Hendry county, as one of the poorest counties, is ranked third in the state for Medicaid recipients per capita, about 1 in 4 residents receive Medicaid,

Big Projects For Courthouse And State Road 80

$1.5 million was asked for to rehabilitate the 1926 original Hendry Courthouse on SR29 and SR80. The county says there is mortar joint failure and the concrete foundation falling away from the rebar, as well as a failed cast iron pipe from the Courthouse to the sewer main.

The county continued to support the widening of SR80 from Birchwood Parkway east to US27. Two segments have yet to be funded, with an estimated $27.6 million needed.

Walmart and Speculators Benefit From $3 Million Road Request

The county also supported a $3 million Helms Road extension project to extend Helms Road at SR29 west to SR80. The project would be a "shortcut" from SR29 to a future Walmart store that may be located on SR80 west of the city. Walmart bought the land several years ago but gave up plans to build shortly after.

A benefit not mentioned for the Helms Road extension is a good size housing subdivision originally platted in the 1930s and now surrounded by orange groves, is landlocked near the end of the proposed road. Much of the land, originally sold to South Americans years ago, is now in the hands of local speculators and investors, contemplating the road building, then benefiting from having access to the lots after the road is extended.

Airglades Airport Industrial Park White Elephant? $3.5 Million Request To Benefit "Developer"

The county requested $3.5 million from the Department of Environmental Protection for a wastewater main to pump sewage to the City of Clewiston's wastewater treatment plant. The airport currently has a wastewater treatment plant to service existing business.

The county has been trying to sell or lease the airport to a businessman, and the project would possibly help get FAA approval to sell or lease the property. The FAA says it's unlikely to approve a government airport change to private hands.

The county has lost money developing the central Hendry county's Airglades "Industrial Park," with limited success at getting businesses to relocate and then pay the rents. Ocean Boy Shrimp was the county's first stunning error in judgment in building a plant and then having to evict the company when rents were not paid.

Not mentioned is the treatment and plant costs incurred by the City of Clewiston to handle any future sewage pumped from mid-county all the way to Clewiston.

$500,000 To Repair Leaks In Port LaBelle Sewer System

The existing system is said to have leaks in the gravity sewer system.

Felda $1.25 Million And $500,000 IN NW Hendry For Stormwater Drainage

The county wants to "alleviate localized flooding" in rural Felda, south of LaBelle off SR29, and the "four corners" area of northwest Hendry where Charlotte, Lee, Glades and Hendry county meet. The county has already received $600,000 from the state for Felda, and $1.4 million as far back as 2002 towards Four Corners.

Selling Off Hendry County's Airglades Airport - A Longshot Business Gamble?

Hendry county and it's quasi-governmental Economic Development Office continues to work towards selling or leasing the largest of Hendry county's two airports to a once secret fledgling businessman's Florida Cargo Fresh, Inc. with little experience operating an airport.

"For nearly two years County staff has been working with an aviation company on a potential air cargo project," says the county commissioners' request.

Although the FAA must approve any transfer of a public airport to a private entity, and has indicated that is highly unlikely to do so, the county continues to argue for funds for water and wastewater appropriations and grants, citing this "potential" project.

Hendry Wants To Collect More Taxes On Phones, Internet And Utilities?
Concluding it's requests to the state, Hendry commissioners ask the State Legislature to "authorize non-charter counties the ability to levy a Public Service Tax; and, authorize non-charter counties the ability to levy a Communications Services Tax."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rewards For Florida Wildlife & Fishing Violations

See A Suspected Wildlife Violation? Text Or Call For Possible Rewards

The Wildlife Alert Reward Program has helped the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission catch thousands of violators through phone calls and online submissions from the public. 

The nonprofit, reward-based program was created 30 years ago to encourage citizens to report fish and wildlife law violations. The program offers rewards in exchange for information leading to arrests. 

Members of the public can call the Wildlife Alert Hotline or go to to report known or suspected violations. Now, they can also text or email to Most cell phones now allow users to send text messages directly to an email address; standard usage fees may apply.

"The text messaging option makes it more convenient for the public," said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWC's Division of Law Enforcement. "We also hope it will make Wildlife Alert even more effective in catching poachers and other violators."

When submitting information via text message, the FWC encourages including as much information as possible, such as the specific violation and the location. Once a report is initiated, FWC dispatch has the ability to respond via text message to the reporting party to gather additional details.

The FWC is committed to protecting Florida's fish, wildlife and people. However, FWC officers can't always do it alone.

"While we make every effort to be conscious of any threats to our valuable natural resources and people, we often rely upon support and tips from members of the public," Brown said.

The FWC encourages people to report any known or suspected illegal activity, such as illegal hunting, taking saltwater game fish out of season, taking protected wildlife species, boating under the influence and more.

To report violations by phone, call 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How To Avoid Jury Duty

Ninety-Five In One Hundred Don't Report For Jury Duty

LABELLE, FL. -- It seems really easy to ignore jury duty in Hendry county, Florida. About once a month the Hendry Clerk's Office summons up to 2000 citizens by mail to appear for jury duty. 1,900 people ignore the letters.

Although the official summons mailed to names drawn from county driver's license records requires an appearance to show up at the Courthouse, or at least to be on "stand-by," most everyone ignores the order.

The numbers showing up for jury duty over the years seem to be decreasing. In 2007, about 14% of those receiving a summons showed up at the Hendry Courthouse as required. By 2011, only about 4% heeded the summonses, from an informal survey by the Sunday Morning News/Southwest Florida Online.

The clerk's office says they have no explanation for why so few show up. Those absent are not contacted to find out a reason. Technically, anyone not showing up as requested could be called before the judge to explain and face possible sanctions. This is a very unlikely scenario as it turns out.

Circuit Judge John E. Duryea and County Judge James D. Sloan recently wrote a press release pointing out how tax dollars "are wasted" mailing out thousands of summonses only to have most of them ignored.

Attorneys say the reason people don't show up is because it's just too easy to get away with a non-appearance. The judges, for political reasons don't want to drag people into court to ask them why they didn't show up. Judges are elected officials and don't want to rock the boat and lose a vote, they say.

Non-appearance can mean a fine of up to $100 and a contempt of court citation.

Because of the low turnout, the Clerk of Court is forced to mail out between 400 and 600 letters for each trial, hoping to get five out of one hundred to show up.

About 20 people are needed for a county court trial panel of jurors, and 30 for circuit court, and 400 letters must be sent to get 20 people to show up and 600 to get 30 to show.

Most of the prospective jurors are presumably out and about, doing their own thing, ignoring the summons for jury duty, each for their own reasons, defying the court's order. Some may be ill, some may have changed addresses without notifying the Driver's License Bureau, some may have notified the court beforehand of legitimate excuses, but most are just simply ignoring the summons.

For those who do show up, they may be entitled to a token payment of $12 daily for duty should they be one of six chosen for a jury, providing they are not being paid by their employers while at court. One courtesy postponement from serving can usually be requested per year should the dates called prove a burden. Make a request to the Clerk before the trial date.

For those not showing up, maybe they have a job and just can't afford to take a day off. Or maybe they're just lazy, and no nothing will happen if they don't appear.
Those not showing up for jury duty do face being called upon every few months to serve though. But presumably, those people who ignored the first summons ignore any others as well.

Once a possible juror reports to the Courthouse, they are not recalled for another year. And most usually cases are settled at the last minute by the parties so the juror pool is then excused and sent home without having done anything except spend an hour or two at the Courthouse waiting.

If a trial does go forward, trials last less than a day, and only a few extend to two days, say the judges.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Millions Running Out Of Unemployment Checks Soon

Federal Unemployment Benefits May Be Ending For Millions Of Workers

Nearly two million out-of-work Americans will be cut off from federal unemployment insurance in January alone if Congress fails to renew the programs before they expire on December 31st, according to a new analysis issued today by the National Employment Law Project.  

Millions more will face the same fate in subsequent months if the program is not reauthorized by Congress. The NELP report finds that in January 2012 alone, 1.8 million workers in need of federal aid will be cut off if Congress fails to act.  This includes nearly 1.4 million unemployed workers already receiving federal unemployment insurance, as well as more than 430,000 unemployed workers laid off as recently as July who will exhaust their state unemployment benefits in January. 

Without these expiring federal programs—called Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits—newly unemployed workers in many states will only be able to access, at most, 26 weeks of benefits through state unemployment insurance programs.

California, Florida, New York, Texas, and New Jersey top the list of states facing premature cut‐offs, according to the report's state‐by‐state breakdowns. 

The unemployment rate, currently at 9.1 percent, has remained near or above 9 percent for almost two-and-ahalf straight years.  And for almost two years, nearly 45 percent of the unemployed—more than six million people—have been out of work for six months or longer.  
Nearly seven million Americans are currently surviving on modest unemployment insurance benefits. The report points out that in 2010, due largely to the federal extension, unemployment insurance kept 3.2 million people (including nearly one million children) from falling into poverty.  Were it not for unemployment insurance, the number of people falling into poverty would have more than doubled in 2010.

According to the NELP report, the federal unemployment insurance programs have saved or created millions of jobs since first enacted in July 2008, including more than 1.1 million jobs in the fourth quarter of 2009 alone.  

Over the past three years, more than 17 million unemployed Americans have received federal unemployment insurance, pumping $180 billion back into local communities and economies hit hard by severe unemployment.  

Clewiston Man Graduated From Army Training

In The Service - Devonta Hunter

Army Pvt. Devonta J. Hunter has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.
During the nine weeks of training, the soldier received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions.  Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.
Hunter is the son of Shawn Brooks of Harlem Tenant Circle, Clewiston, and nephew of Joann Myers of Elmwood Street, Moore Haven. He is a 2011 graduate of Clewiston High School

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Faye Darlene Wingard, age 64, of LaBelle died Tuesday, October 11, 2011 in Fort Myers. Faye was born December 31, 1946 in Staunton, Virginia, daughter of the late Jesse Fitzgerald and the late Nellie Clifton Fitzgerald. .

Survivors include her husband: Billy Joe Wingard of LaBelle, sons: Kenneth Wingard (Jennifer) of LaBelle, Daniel Wingard of LaBelle, brothers: Steve Fitzgerald and Preston Fitzgerald (Linda ) , both of Fishersville, VA, five grandchildren: Rebecca Wingard, Kevin Wingard, Sarina Wingard, James Galusha and Christina Hager and great-grandchild: Regina Hager.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, 10:00 a.m. with Dr. Les Morgan officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hope Hospice, 9470 HealthPark Circle, Fort Myers, FL 33905

Cremation arrangements by: Akin-Davis Funeral Home-LaBelle.

LaBelle Man Arrested For Counterfeiting

Caught At Jail While Bailing Out Girl Friend
LABELLE, FL. -- On October 8, 2011, after bailing out girl friend Regina Powers from the Hendry County Jail in LaBelle, 35 year old Jory Scott Corbitt was arrested in the jail parking lot on charges of Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License.

Corbitt was seen driving into the lot by Hendry deputies. While he was inside, they confirmed their suspicions that his license was suspended. 

Corbitt has a long arrest record including an arrest for counterfeiting in Lee county earlier this year. Charges were dropped by the State Attorney in that case.

Corbitt’s license had been suspended indefinitely for failure to pay traffic fines in Hendry county and again on October 4, 2011 for failure to complete court ordered school.

After being taken into custody, Corbitt handed his ball cap, wallet, and cigarettes to Regina Powers. When deputies intercepted the handoff, they located, inside the hat, a small clear bag of what later tested positive for Crystal Meth. Corbitt’s wallet was then placed in his rear pocket to accompany him to the jail.

Regina Powers, aka as Regina Smith, Regina Kay Hicks, according to Hendry Sheriff arrest records, has a long arrest record, five times this year, the most recent for breaking windows Saturday night. She has also been arrested on drug charges F.S. 893.13.6a / drugs-possession of a controlled substance without prescription, violation of probation, and contempt of court for F.S. 784.047 violating an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence.

After being turned over to jail staff, an inventory of Corbitt's personal property was conducted by Corrections Officer, Deputy K. Kirk. Located in Corbitt’s wallet was 10 twenty dollar bills, and 1 ten dollar bill, later confirmed to be counterfeit.

Hendry County Investigator K. Herrera, along with a Secret Service Agent, responded to the Jail and obtained a confession from Corbitt.

Deputies then went to Corbitt’s residence at 5950 Kirby Road. There they met with Regina Powers, who also resides at the residence. With her consent, they confiscated a black printer along with paper that, reportedly, had been used to print the phony money.

Jory Scott Corbitt’s charges include, Driving While License Suspended, Possession of False Bank Bills, Possession of Tools for Forgery Counterfeiting, and Drug Possession. He was released on October 9, 2011 on $69,000.00 bond.

LaBelle's Firehouse Theater Opens With "Death And Taxes"

LaBelle's Firehouse Theater proudly kicks off it's 19th season with “Death and Taxes” by Pat Cook.  

The show opens October 28th at 7:00 pm at the theater's Bridge Street location.  

Other show times are October 29th, November 4th and 5th at 7:00 pm and October 30th and November 6th at 2:00 pm.  

Please join us we attend the weekly town council meeting at Hendricks High School that will quickly turn into an inquisition into the murder of a local IRS agent. 

Who murdered the agent? Was it the sheriff? The secretary? Or the mayor herself? They all had an opportunity; they all had a motive.....

Cast and crew include:

Julie Wilkins as Kathleen Lyles
Mike Shough as Eddie King
Tina Kirby as Lydia Kleft
Lori Shula as Cora Sedgewick
Dave Johnson as Wesley Thorne
Jeff Schmidt as Carl Johanson
Deanna Shuler as Mattie Johanson
Jim Bishop as Dr. Efrem Bishop
Cate Moon as Evelyn Martindale 

Production Team
Joel Hawkins - Director
Myra Johnson - Producer
Terri Lazar - Stage Manager
Allen Avery - Lights and Sound
Meredith Marcum - Set Designer
Travis Dowhen - Props
Marie-Louise Kussmann - Props

Monday, October 10, 2011

How Low Will Florida's Gas Prices Go?

Hendry And Glades County Price Still Much Higher Than Average

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 3.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.34/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.42/g, according to gasoline price website

Although prices seems to be falling regularly, Hendry and Glades county prices are not falling as low as the rest of Florida. Prices in those two counties are still about 12 cents higher than average.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 57.9 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 25.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 24.0 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 61.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

"After oil prices briefly dropped to $75/bbl in the last two weeks, we've seen a mini-rally take place, driving prices up to a more recent mark of $82/bbl. The volatility we continue to see in oil prices isn't surprising, and will likely continue as a fragile economy and some upbeat investors play the market," said Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst. "What this means for motorists is a continued roller coaster ride at the gas pump. While I don't expect a huge of movement in either direction, these up and down fluctuations in gas prices will become the norm ahead of a volatile Spring 2012 time period," DeHaan adds.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Kids Count The Money For LaBelle's Rotary

Kids Count Money After Golf Tournament

LABELLE, FL. -- Tristen Hamilton and Ariel Brunetto, daughters of Rotarians Kim Hamilton and Michelle Brunetto, count the money while serving as assistant bookkeepers to LaBelle accountant Andy Higgenbottem, organizer of the annual Rotary golf tournament charity fundraiser held at the Veranda in Fort Myers on October 8.

LaBelle Landmark Grocery Out Of Business?

Employees Fired Without Final Paychecks

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle's U-Save Supermarket at the corner of State Road 80 and State Road 29 appears to be closed after decades of service to Hendry and Glades county area residents and visitors.

A sign found on the door Friday says the store will be closed for "remodeling," but the appearance of the store has taken a downward move in the last few months as shelves and freezer units were not restocked, leaving much of the store empty of both food and customers.

The LaBelle store, straddling LaBelle's Main Street and Bridge Street, before a sale September 3, 2010 to Oqab Abuoqab, was a part of the Tampa based B & B Cash Grocery Stores, Inc. chain, founded in 1923 that included a store in Moore Haven and LaBelle.

Along with the LaBelle store, Abuoqab bought U-Save stores in Clewiston, Belle Glade, Okeechobee, and Fort Myers. The Moore Haven store was not sold. At the time, he was said to own or operate 15 groceries or convenience stores in Florida.

U-Save Supermarkets around Florida are now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for possible violations of minimum wage and overtime pay

Owner Oqab Abuoqab, in recent years has purchased numerous low-budget grocery stores catering largely to Mexican and low-income customers in southwest Florida including the LaBelle store and in Fort Myers on Palm Beach Boulevard, advertising under the Bravo Supermarket name.

Sun Commodities, Inc. of Broward county filed a suit against Abuoqab and his companies in Federal court in Fort Myers on April 28, 2011 for violations of Federal Agricultural Commodities Acts.

Abuoqab purchased all the grocery stores with relatively small cash down payments, and highly leveraged the buys through bank loans and chattel mortgages with Associated Grocers.

His family also purchased three years ago, an Hispanic oriented retail strip mall on Ortiz Avenue in Fort Myers, also with a small down payment, and financing by the seller and First Bank.

He has been associated with former Hendry County Engineer Rock Aboujaoude, in various businesses, many now out of business.

Aboujaoude along with Rafic Aboujaoude owns Jacks On Joel, LLC, and owns Rock Enterprises Inc., a civil engineering firm in LaBelle for many years.

Abuoqab was the majority partner with Aboujaoude in LaBelle's Trading Post from late 2005 to 2009 when Abuoqab agreed to buy out Aboujaoude. Abuoqab was unable to pay, and sold the Jacks On Joel store to Aboujaoude, where Aboujaoude's brother Rafic runs the store.

Abuoqab operates along with Sana Abuoqab under numerous business names including S & O U-Save Group LLC, Quick-Check Food & Deli, Inc., Properties Of S & O LLC, Fiesta Five Supermarket Inc., MLK Trading Post Inc., and Fiesta Expo, Inc.

His business history includes many dissolved corporations formerly in the grocery and real estate business.

He also owns LaBelle Trading Post LLC, LaBelle Trading Post Laudromat LLC, Mi Tienda LLC, and with Mustafa Ayyad, both M & O Enterprises LLC, and Palm Beach Laundromat, Inc. His address is listed as 6821 Lake Devonwood Drive, Fort Myers with the Florida Secretary of State.

As of Friday, the LaBelle store's eight employees had not been paid their final paycheck.

The large parking lot on LaBelle's main street intersection is empty of cars and may remain that way for a long time.

Update: The Clewiston U-Save also closed on Monday October 10th. The Okeechobee store is still open as of Thursday October 13th. With the pending legal problems of the company it may be predicted that other stores owned by Abuoqab may end up like Clewiston and LaBelle's.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Hendry County Raises Tax Rates 12%

Raising Taxes? Commentary by T. W. Bill Neville


Taking a page out of the federal administration's "play book", the Hendry County BOCC voted, on Tuesday September 27, 2011 to raise the millage rate from 6.50000 to 7.28940.  

The vote was 3 to 2, with the TITANIC TRIO" of Harris, Taylor and Perry voting for the tax increase, and Chapman and Turner voting for the "roll back" rate of 6.81970, which, in effect would have kept taxes where they are.  

You DO the MATH, and see if you can still afford to stay in Hendry?

In essence the "Titanic Trio" voted to rearrange the "furniture" on the Titanic, in advance of the crash.  As it now stands this is like being on the Titanic and watching the "Trio" bickering with the "Duo" over the furniture arrangement, with "NOBODY" at the HELM!

Giving the "Trio" their due-----if you consider that Hendry County ranks first in the state in total unemployment, first in total poverty level, last in sales tax generation, and economic development, maybe they got it right?  What else could possibly go wrong?

The "Trinity" cited deep concerns that, even with the increased millage rate several peripheral services might not be able to function.  How this "survival/non-survival" list was determined was not explained other than to say all county departments had "cut their budgets, to the bone."

Adding insult to injury, the Hendry Regional Medical Center has chosen this time to "pile on" a full percent to their millage rate, which the county has to collect, but has to forward to HRMC.  Their justification is to cover "bad debts" and indigent care. 

HELP!!!  As a twenty year Hendry citizen, fixed-income taxpayer, and single family home owner, I didn't sign on to this apparently "ill fated" cruise.  So, what are my choices?  Go down with the ship---or----maybe I should be looking into booking a room at HRMC?  Since I'll be indigent, and I'll be getting 24 hour, secure safe housing, free medical, meals, cable, recreation, physical therapy, maid service and controlled visiting hours!  Hot diggity dog--BORN AGAIN! 


Mr. Neville, 
born in Logansport, Indiana was very active in business and community activities; President of the local Jaycees, and spent 4 years in the Indiana National Guard during the Korean war as a First Seargent.  At age 30, he moved family, wife and three sons with one more on the way to Buffalo where he lived for one year before accepting a plastics field sales position in Chicago where his fifth son was born. 

After opening up new sales territories from Chicago to the west coast, he accepted the regional sales manager position for the western half of the U. S. He retired from that position after 40 years in 1993, and built a home in Labelle, Fl.. "I've always enjoyed 'wordsmithing' and story telling, particularly when I feel that my words might either motivate or alleviate any of the many challenges that we each accept every day of our lives just by being here." 

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Bonerge Vanegas, age 52, of Clewiston died Monday, October 3, 2011 at Hendry Regional Medical Center of Clewiston, FL. Mr. Vanegas was born April 11, 1959 in El Salvador. He is the son of Leonardo and Eminia (Vanegas) Canales. He married Santos Yanes.

He was employed by as a tractor driver for United States Sugar Corporation. He was a member of Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal M.I. in Clewiston.

He is survived by his wife: Santos(Yanes) Vanegas ; three daughters: Cindy Canales, Connie Canales, Rosa Emma Vanegas and two sons: Elvin Canales and Eric Josue Canales; his father Leonardo and mother Eminia (Vanegas) Canales; two sisters: Victoria Vanegas, Amelia Vanegas and four brothers: Jose Santos Vanegas, Ernesto Vanegas, Eduardo Vanegas, Isrmel Vanegas; and four grandchildren.

The funeral service will be held 7:00 pm on Saturday, October 8 at Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal MI, 312 S. W.C. Owen Av., Clewiston, FL with Rev. Benjamin Escorcia officiating. Burial will take place in La Union, El Salvador at a later date. Visitation will be Saturday, October 8 from 8-10 p.m. at Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal MI, 312 S. W.C. Owen Av., Clewiston, FL.

Arrangements are being handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston, FL.

Lottie Gladys Jim, age 71, of Clewiston passed away Wednesday, October 5, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Lottie was born October 3, 1940 in Collier County in the Everglades. She is the daughter of the late Buffalo and the late Susie (Dixie) Jim.

She was employed by the Ahfachkee School on the Big Cypress Reservation as a Teacher's Aide for 40 years, before her retirement a few years ago. She enjoyed children, especially her nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.

She is survived by her two sisters: Mabel Jim and Violet Jim; three brothers: Steven Jim, Noah Jim and Luis Jim; Nieces: Tina Jim, Rosie Jim, Jennifer Jim and Kiniah Jim; Nephew: Lenny Ray Jim; Great Nieces: Jade Jim and Ashley Jim; Great Nephews: Leighton Jim, Avahny Jim, Braden Jim and Ray Jim.

The funeral service will be held 10:00 am on Friday, October 7 at Big Cypress First Baptist Church, CR 833 (Big Cypress Reservation), Clewiston, FL with Rev. Paul Buster officiating. Interment will be in Big Cypress Cemetery, Big Cypress Reservation.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

LaBelle's Bryan Boyle Arrested Again

Boyle Celebrates 35th Birthday With 21st Jail Booking

LABELLE, FL. -- According to court records Bryan Scott Boyle, also known as Brian Boyle, and the son of City of LaBelle's Superintendent of Public Works Michael A. Boyle, has been arrested and booked into the Hendry county jail in LaBelle for the 21st time.

Boyle, born October 5, 1976, was arrested September 30 for violating restrictions placed on his driving license. He had been previously arrested September 23 on the same charge. 

Boyle was arrested August 22 for violation of drivers license restrictions, yes, on the same charge.

Boyle is often seen riding shirtless on a four-wheeled ATV around the streets of Port LaBelle and has been seen driving in Glades county at the marina area and driving the ATV along the river on the Army Corp of Engineer's property.

Sources say Boyle is unemployed and may have an alcohol or drug abuse problem and needs help, although the latest arrests found no drugs on him.

Boyle plead no contest at trial before Judge James Sloan and was adjudicated guilty on May 12 to a charge of violation of driver's license restrictions and unlawful attachment. He was given a sentence of 30 days in the Hendry County jail and court costs of $253.

Boyle was last found guilty of violation of probation on February 11, 2011 and a warrant was issued. He had been convicted of violating driver's license restrictions. Boyle had been in jail January 11, 2011 for violation of probation and released on $2500 bond.

His lengthy record in Hendry county includes numerous misdemeanor and felony arrests going back to 1993. Boyle's Hendry jail records shows 21 bookings on offenses since 1995, including seven charges this year alone.

Boyle lives with his mother at 4502 Springview Circle in Port LaBelle, the scene of the arrest of his friend John Robert Munson for probation violation in April, 2011. Munson was given six months in jail. Munson is the son of pharmacist John K. Munson, who formerly owned Hendry two county drug stores and is now owns a store in Highlands county in Lake Placid. 

(Click For The Port LaBelle Video of the Munson arrest)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Hendry Man Arrested Again After Undercover Drug Buy

Bond Set At Over Quarter Million Dollars

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Monday, September 26, 2011, members of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office arrested 46 year old Quirino “Javier” Ortega for the second time in one month.

Hendry County Narcotics investigators had again been conducting undercover buys from Ortega.

Ortega was arrested on September 2, 2011 after deputies served a search warrant for Ortega’s residence located at 360 Hunting Club Avenue in Montura. Investigators collected and took into custody several different prescription pills stored in pill bottles without labels along with powder cocaine.

In addition Investigators also located items on the property that had been reported stolen as well as large sums of cash. At that time Ortega had been the subject investigation revolving around the purchase of stolen diesel fuel.

Ortega was arrested and charged with Dealing in Stolen Property, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell, Possessions of Drugs without a prescription, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Trafficking. He was released on September 3, 2011 on a $41,000.00 bond.

Again on September 26, 2011, Ortega was arrested a second time following a series of undercover drug buys. Hendry County undercover narcotics investigators had been conducting drug buys purchasing prescription drugs from Ortega. 

At one point it was agreed upon by deputies to meet Ortega at the Montura clubhouse for the exchange of cash and drugs.

On Monday September 26, Deputies took Ortega into custody and charged him with Sale of Narcotics within a 1000’ of a park or recreation facility, Trafficking in Oxycodone, and Possession of a narcotic without a prescription. Quirino Javier Ortega is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $239,000.00 bond.

Dem Party Meets In Hendry-Glades

More than 30 Democratic Party organizers, elected officials and candidates gathered for a pot-luck dinner and election season kick-off meeting at the Indian Hills home of Ellen Hawk Geake, Chair of the Glades County Democrats.  

The September 29 event was the second joint meeting for the Hendry and Glades Counties Democratic Executive Committees.

Joe Thomas, Chair of the Hendry County Democrats said that the two county political groups would continue to rotate their monthly meetings between LaBelle, Clewiston and Moore Haven.

Explaining why the combined meetings, Thomas said "Hendry and Glades County Democrats have a lot in common. We share many issues and organizing challenges. And it's just a lot more fun to get together as a larger group in a more social setting. It encourages more people to come out and meet one another."

State party leaders Dee Dee Smith and Dave Dew attended to represent Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith.

Smith emphasized the need for Democrats to work enthusiastically to elect their candidates in the hard-fought political arena that is the American two-party system.  But she reminded the group that both parties are citizens working for a better nation and there is no place for hostility between fellow Americans.

Dew urged Hendry and Glades County Democrats to take a more active role by attending the Democratic Party state convention scheduled for October 28-30 at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World. The first night of the convention features a dinner with Vice President Biden as the keynote speaker.

Those wanting to participate in Democratic Party events and projects are invited to contact Ellen Hawk Geake at 863-983-2922, or Joe Thomas at 863-612-0413,

(photo: Joe Thomas, Dee Dee Smith, Ellen Hawk Geake, and Carol Griggs gather for a joint meeting of the Democratic Executive Committees of Hendry and Glades Counties.)

Monday, October 03, 2011

5 Million Floridians Register Emergency Info Online

If you are involved in a crash, who would you want police to notify?  In Florida, residents have the ability to make that decision before an emergency strikes. To date, more than 5 million Floridians have registered their emergency contacts with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  

Gov. Rick Scott signed a proclamation to name Oct. 2 - 8, 2011, Register Your Emergency Contact Information Week in Florida, and DHSMV is teaming up with the Division of Emergency Management to encourage all Floridians to register their contacts. 

The Emergency Contact Information program allows licensed drivers and identification card holders to submit two contacts to notify in the event of an emergency, such as a vehicle crash. The information can then be accessed only in the event of an emergency and only by law enforcement officers to find designated contacts.  

Signing up is quick and convenient.  Register from the convenience of your home or at work through the Internet at and at any driver license office in the state, to include those operated by county tax collectors. There is no cost to register your contact information.  

Florida Gas Dropping In Price

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 6.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.47/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 5.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.46/g, according to gasoline price website

Price in Hendry and Glades county remain as usual, about ten cents higher than Florida averages.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 70.9 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 23.0 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 20.3 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 73.3 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

"Motorists are certainly delighted that average gasoline prices are at their lowest since early March, but compared to prices a year ago, motorists are still feeling a pinch at the pump," said Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst. 

"It's great to see gasoline prices falling, but at the same time, prices a year ago were nearly 75 cents less per gallon. The good news is that over the upcoming weeks, there will continue to be factors that could put more downward pressure on oil and gasoline prices. I continue to expect that average gasoline prices will bounce between $3.25-$3.50 for much of the rest of 2011," DeHaan adds.