Saturday, August 31, 2013

29-Year Old Male Found Dead With Chest Stab

Case Under Investigation -  Suspect Under Arrest

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- Okeechobee County Sheriff’s officials report that on Saturday, August 31, 2013 at approximately 4:34 a.m. Deputies responded to the 3400 block of N.W. 16 Ave. Upon arrival deputies found the body of a 29-year old Hispanic male that had been stabbed in the chest.

The victim died at the scene.

The name has not been released as family has not yet been notified.

The suspect Manuel Navarro age 50, was found walking from the scene and was taken into custody. Investigators and crime scene responded and are continuing the investigation to determine motive.

Additional details will be released when they are received.

This case is still under investigation. No further information to be released at this time said Okeechobee public information officer .Michele Bell.

Arrest Made - 17 Pounds Of Marijuana Confiscated

Man Arrested After 17 Pounds Of Marijuana Found

LABELLE, FL. --  On Friday, August 30, 2013 at approximately 3:25 pm, members of the Hendry County Narcotics Unit conducted a controlled delivery of a package suspected of containing marijuana at a North LaBelle home, which resulted in the arrest of a 24 year old man.

A narcotics investigator, posing as a parcel serviceman, delivered the suspicious package to 610 Caloosa Estates Drive., in North Labelle, which appears to be a rented home occupied by the subject.

After a short period of time, Narcotics Investigators witnessed a white Jeep driven by the suspect, 24 year old David Ramirez Jr. pull into the driveway of the home.

Investigators witnessed Ramirez pick the package up and take it inside the home. Approximately 15 minutes later Ramirez stepped outside the residence to speak with a guest who had arrived. Investigators then approached the house and detained Ramirez in the home.

At that time Sheriff's Investigators conducted a search of the home and located approximately 17 pounds of marijuana, with a street value of $17,000.00, inside a red duffle bag. 

Ramirez was taken into custody and transported to the Hendry County Jail. Ramirez is charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Sell and Possession of Marijuana over 20 Grams. He is currently being held without bond.

Avoiding Time Share Ripoff Scams

Florida One Of Top States For Timeshare Resale Fraud

During tough economic times, many timeshare owners become desperate to sell their unwanted properties. Owners should be cautious of scammers who lure victims with the promise that it is the “best time ever to sell,” says Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

While there are numerous variations of timeshare resale fraud, the following are two of the most commonly used practices by fraudulent timeshare resellers.
A timeshare reseller poses as a licensed real estate broker and then requests that a payment be made up-front (typically by wire transfer) in order to receive their service. Unfortunately, no service is provided.
A timeshare owner is contacted by an “agent” that has found a “ready and willing” buyer for their timeshare (regardless of whether or not the timeshare is currently listed for sale). They claim the sale is about to happen, but there are no buyers and consumers may lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

These false and misleading sales pitches are typically made from telemarketing boiler rooms using scripts and smooth talking fraudsters, usually promising the owners that they can sell their property within a specific period of time. They may charge owners in advance for closing costs, legal and processing fees, as well as advertising costs.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has worked in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General’s Office to crack down on the rising rate of timeshare resale fraud. In the last two years, U.S. and Florida officials have filed nearly 200 civil and criminal cases for timeshare fraud. Victims were defrauded out of more than $14 million. In each case, the businesses allegedly called timeshare owner(s) and claimed that they had buyers ready to purchase their property or that they would sell their timeshare within a certain period of time.

The following are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to timeshare resale scams:
Get it in writing. Request a copy of the contract and a written disclosure of all fees and costs.
Beware of up-front fees. It’s preferable to do business with a reseller that receives its fee once the timeshare has been sold. If you are required to pay in advance, request that the reseller provide their refund policies and promises in writing.
Verify their license. If you were contacted by telephone, research whether the telemarketer or telemarketing salesperson is registered with FDACS and if there have been any complaints filed against them. This can be done by utilizing the Business/Complaint Lookup or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) and asking a member of our Consumer Assistance Center staff.

In addition, ask if the reseller’s agents are licensed to sell real estate where the timeshare is located.

You can verify if the real estate broker or agent is properly registered with the state of Florida by contacting the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850-487-1395.
Read the fine print. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that the company is selling your timeshare, not just charging you to advertise the listing. Not all timeshare companies are deceitful, but it is important to do your homework and research the company prior to any agreement.

If you feel that you have been victimized or contacted by someone perpetrating one of these scams, file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services online at, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) within Florida, (850) 410-3800 from outside of Florida or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en EspaƱol.

Truck Crash Sends Man To Hospital With Critical Injuries

PUNTA GORDA, FL. -- A Thursday evening crash left a Moore Haven man in critical condition.  Woodrow Allen Hough, 36 was driving a 2010 Ford pickup truck eastbound on CR 74 (Bermont Road) approaching the
intersection with Bronco Road. 

A 2007 International truck driven by Daryl Scott Collins, 27 of Punta Gorda  was stopped for traffic ahead of the pickup truck.  Hough did not stop in time causing the front of the truck to strike the rear of  Collins' truck. 

Hough was seriously injured in the crash and was taken by Med Flight to Lee Memorial Hospital.  He was listed being in critical condition at the hospital.

Collins was uninjured in the crash. The crash is still under investigation.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Major Road Construction Continues On State Road 80 And US27

CLEWISTON, FL. -- SR 80 from CR 833 to east of US 27: Work expands two-miles of SR 80 to four lanes from east of County Road 833 to west of US 27. Crews are paving asphalt, installing drainage and stabilizing shoulders. Bridge crews are driving pile and pouring concrete. Drivers should pay attention to traffic signs and barricades throughout the construction project, stay alert, and use caution in the work zone. Estimated completion is spring 2014. The contractor is C.W. Roberts Contracting, Inc. No work activities are scheduled Monday, September 2 in observance of the holiday.

SR 80/US 27 Interchange: Construction project: Construction project: Work continues to modify the intersection with construction of an overpass for SR 80 traffic eastbound to US 27 northbound and for US 27 traffic northbound to SR 80 westbound. The project also realigns US 27. Crews also will widen approximately 3/4 mile of SR 80 to four lanes approaching the intersection, add a traffic signal at the overpass and install lighting at the interchange. Work currently involves placing fill dirt, installing drainage and constructing the new overpass and roadways. US 27 traffic is using the newly constructed lanes. The SR 80/US 27 intersection is temporarily shifted to the north. Motorists travelling east and west on SR 80 must use caution at the US 27 intersection and follow the posted speed limit of 25 MPH. Motorists are advised to be aware of construction vehicles entering and leaving the work zone and to use caution driving in this area. Project completion is estimated at end of year 2013. The contractor is Ajax Paving Industries of Florida, Inc.

SR 80 from Birchwood Parkway to Dalton Lane: Construction project: This project expands five miles of existing two-lane roadway to four-lanes. Crews are constructing two new 12-foot lanes to the south of existing roadway, installing drainage and building new bridges over the C1 Canal. Eastbound traffic is shifted to the south onto the newly constructed lanes from west of Birchwood Parkway to east of Cowboy Way. Drivers should use caution and expect possible delays. Motorists also should expect trucks to be entering and exiting the roadway throughout the project. Estimated completion is summer 2014. The contractor is C.W. Roberts Contracting, Inc.

Grand Theft Of Millions In Red Light Camera Program Says Trooper

Retired Trooper Says Official Misconduct In Red Light Camera Programs

MONTICELLO, FL. -- A retired Florida Highway Patrol trooper is filing a complaint with the Florida Attorney General office today about alleged crimes encountered in Florida's red light camera (RLC) program in Florida, a program designed to prevent intersection crashes, and incidentally raising millions for the state and local communities in fines.

Paul Henry, of Monticello, Florida says according to an annual analysis, the Division of Motor Vehicles reported nearly one million notices of violation for fiscal year 2012, which runs from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, with about 985,000 being paid.

At the state receives $83 out of the $158 fine, this would be over $81 million, says Henry. But he says the Department of Revenue reported the state receiving only about $51 million during this same time period. $78 of each fine goes to the local community who sponsors the red light camera system.

Henry say either of one of two possible crimes are being committed to explain the missing millions of dollars. He says either public officials are committing the offense of Grand Theft by stealing public funds, or public officials are committing the offense of Official Misconduct by falsifying records by inflating the number of violations issued for an official document.

Henry also says he has proof that the cameras are not preventing intersection crashes, alleging that the red light camera programs around the state are just money generating machines and not a pubic safety feature at all.

Henry said, "The red light camera program here as elsewhere generates millions of dollars annually. When millions of dollars are at stake, the opportunity for corruption increases, so public scrutiny must likewise increase."

He said one red light camera system vendor Redflex was involved in an illegal bribery scandal in Chicago and elsewhere that resulted in the resignations of the CEO and several high ranking company employees as one indication that the red light program needs closer monitoring by Florida officials.

Henry's Complaint To the Florida Attorney General

Risk Of Dementia Increases In Patients With Infections

Link Found Between  A Single Case Of Infection And Dementia

Elderly patients who were hospitalized with infections, such as pneumonia, were more than twice as likely to develop dementia than those who did not have an infection, according to a University of Pittsburgh study, which also found that patients with dementia may be more susceptible to infection.

Dementia is a broad term for loss of memory and other cognitive skills severe enough to impact daily life. Dementia, which is not part of normal aging, is caused by damage to brain cells that affect thinking, behavior and feelings.

“These findings explain in part why seemingly healthy older adults progress to a state of disability following infection and how a single episode of infection may lead to cognitive decline in older adults,” said Sachin Yende, M.D., senior author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Most people think infection is a short-term illness, but patients who look and feel recovered may have downstream consequences.”

The researchers examined data from 5,888 participants over age 65, in four areas: Forsyth County, North Carolina; Sacramento County, California; Washington County, Maryland; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1989 through 1999; 639 were hospitalized with pneumonia at least once. Pneumonia is the most common infection leading to hospitalization in the United States, but the study found that any type of infection in the elderly can accelerate the onset of dementia. 

For reasons that the researchers do not yet understand, patients who showed signs of impaired cognitive function before their hospitalizations had an 11 percent higher risk for pneumonia and other infections than those with healthy cognitive function.

“Even a small change in cognition predisposed patients to pneumonia. Once they had an infection, they were at a higher risk for worsening of cognitive function and dementia. This cycle could perpetuate and ultimately lead to disability and loss of independence,” said Faraaz Shah, M.D., lead author of the study.

The results of the study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, are available online and published in the September 1st edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

IRS Recognizes Same-Sex Marriages For Tax Returns

 Some Gay Couples May Be Entitled To Refunds For Past Tax Years

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes.

The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26 Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Under the ruling, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or a foreign country will be covered by the ruling. However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.

Legally-married same-sex couples generally must file their 2013 federal income tax return using either the married filing jointly or married filing separately filing status.

Individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.

Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances, such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open, that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier.

Additionally, employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.

Local Forest Ranger Back From Utah Firefighting

PALMDALE, FL – Florida Forest Service Forest Ranger Tom Hopkins returns home after battling a wildfire in the State of Utah and serving eighteen days as a Squad Boss on a twenty-person wildland firefighting hand-crew.

Recent rainfall has allowed the State of Florida to provide aid to other states in need. Ranger Hopkins works at the Florida Forest Service Palmdale Site located near US27 and SR 29.

He is a State Wildland Firefighter fighting wildfires in Glades County and in the State of Florida usually driving a firefighting bulldozer with plow.

The Florida Forest Service established a hand-crew consisting of 20 nationally qualified wildland firefighters who served as the infantry of wildland fire forces.

Working side by side, the crew’s main responsibility was to construct a “fireline” – a strip of land cleared of flammable materials and dug down to mineral soil – around the State Wildfire to control it and mop up after the fire.

“After the brisk hike up the mountain, the real action unfolded,” Forest Ranger Hopkins explains. “Most days we were working in tandem with airtankers and helicopters to help construct containment lines.” Retardant and water drops can help reinforce firelines. While retardants do not stop advancing fire, they slow a fire's progress allowing handcrews to do their job.

Forest Ranger Hopkins handcrew's day started at sunrise by sharpening their suppression hand tools. “Every morning during briefing we would obtain our assignment for the day,” Forest Ranger Hopkins explains. “Then we would be transported to the base of the mountain, unload our firefighting gear weighing 35 pounds and hike several miles to the wildfire. Once we got on scene, we would work for 12 hours digging firelines in brush. Finally, we would hike back and return to camp.”

“This was my first experience being Squad Boss of a handcrew,” stated Hopkins. Depending on their qualifications and skill levels, a twenty person handcrew may be divided into squads with 5 firefighters each. “As a Squad Boss, I reminded the crew to always keep an eye on the fire, and their mind on safety. I wanted each and every one of my crew members returning home to Florida with me.”

Hopkins said, “I was overwhelmed with the outpour of appreciation from the community. Several people held signs as we drove through town saying THANK YOU FIREFIGHTERS. When the need arises, I will go out on another wildfire assignment again.”

Courthouse Gets New Face - Sandblasting And Painting Ongoing

New Paint For Old Building

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Courthouse in Moore Haven is currently in the process of being pressure washed and repainted by Service Florida Painting from Ft. Myers to update the exterior of one of Glades county's government buildings.

The staff at the Courthouse is also currently in the process of replacing the air conditioners and working on more ways to make the Glades County Courthouse more beautiful and safe. Any suggestions?

Passenger Dies In 2-Car Crash

86-Year Old Passenger Dies After Crash

NAPLES, FL. -- One death resulted after a crash on Immokalee Road Wednesday night. Two vehicle drivers were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries.

A 1999 Honda Civic was traveling west on CR846 (Immokalee Road) Wednesday night about 8 p.m. in the left turn lane approaching Aston Drive as a 2003 Hyundai Elantra was traveling east on Immokalee Road in the inside lane approaching Aston Drive.

Jacob A. Knight, 37 of Naples failed to negotiate a left turn and the front wheels, followed by the rear wheels of his Honda which collided with the raised median and then traveled across the median and into the inside eastbound lane of Immokalee Road into the path of the Hyundai.

The front of the Hyundai driven by Carrie Lynn Muni, 38 of Naples collided with the right front of the Honda in the intersection.

As a result of the collision the Honda rotated counter clockwise in the intersection. The Hyundai
rotated clockwise in the intersection as a result of the collision. The Honda came to final rest in the intersection facing south. The Hyundai came final rest in the intersection facing southwest, northwest of the Honda's location.

Knight was taken to Naples Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. A blood alcohol test is pending. Muni was taken to Naples Community Hospital with minor injuries. 

Muni's passenger Esther M. Smith, 86 of Naples had fatal injuries. She was not wearing a seatbelt according to FHP Trooper Sean R. Ellis and homicide investigator Corporal Andrew Close.

Charges are pending investigation.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Zackary Reyna Funeral Service At His School Saturday

Zachary Cole Reyna, age 12, of LaBelle, passed away August 24, 2013 in Miami Beach.
He was born June 7, 2001 in Fort Myers, FL, to Jesus and Betsy (Villarreal) Reyna, Jr.

Zachary is survived by his parents Jesus and Betsy (Villarreal) Reyna, Jr.; two brothers: Matthew Reyna, Brandon Villarreal; sister: Amanda Reyna; paternal grandparents: Jesus Reyna, Sr. and Elvita Reyna; maternal grandmother, Simona Villarreal and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm at the LaBelle Middle School Gymnasium, with Minister Eric D. Molina officiating.

Visitation will be Saturday, 2 hours prior to service at LaBelle Middle School Gymnasium, LaBelle, FL. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

The funeral arrangements are being made by Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle.

Rare Dengue Fever Hits Florida

100 Million Cases Worldwide, But Rare In U.S.

Florida Department of Health officials have confirmed a total of eight cases of dengue fever in Florida. Seven of the cases were reported in Martin County and one case in Miami-Dade County.

Some people may experience little to no symptoms, but the most common symptoms of dengue fever include high fever, severe headache, joint or bone pain and rash. People who have symptoms of dengue fever should immediately contact their health care provider.

The affected individuals in the two Florida counties had no history of recent international travel, so the exposure to dengue fever was most likely from local mosquitoes. Locally-acquired dengue is rare in the United States.

Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more than 100 million cases of dengue fever each year. Dengue fever is a disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Dengue fever cannot be transmitted from person to person.

The Department of health says being outside means you're at risk for mosquito bites. Everyone can take basic precautions to avoid getting mosquito bites and prevent mosquitoes from multiplying. The best way to reduce mosquitoes is to eliminate the places where the mosquitoes lay their eggs, like containers that hold water in and around the home.

To protect yourself, use insect repellent on your skin and wear long sleeves and pants for additional protection. Also, make sure window and door screens are not loose and repair any holes in the screens.

For more information about mosquito-borne illnesses, you can visit the Florida Department of Health website at or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at

Matt Hudson Speaks At Kiwanis Club

LABELLE, FL. -- The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle had a special guest at their meeting Tuesday night August 27th, State Representative Matt Hudson.

Hudson was the guest speaker for the evening and is one of 120 Florida State Representatives. He represents House District 80 which includes Hendry County and parts of Collier County (East of I-75).

Hudson is on several committees including Healthcare Appropriations and Health and Human Services. Representative Hudson has an office in LaBelle, Collier and in Tallahassee.

He talked to the club and club visitors about some of the changes in the state and some of the bills that have been passed during his last six years in office. He also gave club members the opportunity to ask questions or voice their concerns. He calls our area “home” and wants to see positive growth in Hendry County.

Photo: State Representative Matt Hudson receiving a “certificate of thanks” from Brenda Barnes-President for the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle, thanking him for being a guest speaker at the club.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Parents Can Help Kids' Who Stutter

New Video From Foundation May Help Parents

Why is my child stuttering? Will he outgrow it? Does she need professional therapy? Did I cause his stuttering? How can I help?

“The so-called ‘wait and see’ approach, advocated by some, is a bitter pill for a parent to swallow when they find their child struggling to speak,” said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. “Parents often think it is their fault and wonder what they have done wrong. This should help ease their fears while focusing their efforts on doing things that will help the child right away,” added Fraser.

In a new video produced by the 66-year old non-profit Stuttering Foundation, four speech-language experts talk about how to promote easier talking as they interact with their preschool-age children. The professionals offer simple tips that parents can begin to use immediately.

The 16-minute video is titled, “7 Tips for Talking with the Child Who Stutters.”

The video features some of the world’s leading hands-on therapists working with preschool children who stutter. They include speech-language consultants Frances Cook, MSc, MRCSLT (Hons), Cert CT (Oxford), and Willie Botterill, MSc, MRCSLT, Cert CT, Elaine Kelman, MSc, MRCSLT, Cert CBT, from the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in London; Lisa Scott, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, of The Florida State University’s School of Communication Science and Disorders; and Ellen Kelly, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Scam Alert: Persons Impersonating Utility Company Employees

Electric Company Customers Being Scammed Says Attorney General
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi warns Florida’s utility customers about an increasingly prevalent scam involving individuals impersonating utility company employees in order to obtain credit card or prepaid debit card information. The imposters call customers and request credit card or prepaid debit card information, threatening to shut off power if the information is not provided by the customer. They then use this information to make fraudulent purchases. Some thieves are using caller ID spoofing, making it appear that the call originates from the customer’s utility company.

Customers can protect themselves from this scam by:

· Not providing credit card or prepaid debit card information over the phone in response to a phone call they receive;

· Knowing that utility companies never ask for or require a prepaid debit card for bill payments and never call a customer seeking personal information or credit card numbers. Additionally, in the field, utility company employees carry picture identification badges and never ask a customer for money;

· Hanging up the phone when such a request is made and then calling the utility company at a number that you know is accurate, or contacting the company through its website; and

· Reporting suspected scams to the appropriate utility company:

o Florida Power & Light Company customers should call 800-226-3545

o Duke Energy Florida, Inc. customers should call 800-700-8744

o Gulf Power Company customers should call 800-225-5797

o Tampa Electric Company customers should call in Hillsborough County 813-223-0800, in Polk County 863-299-0800, and other counties 888-223-0800.

Sheriff Lays Off 38 Employees To Save $2 Million

County Budget Reduction Means 38 Will Go
OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- On August 27, 2013, Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul C. May advised he had met with his employees who will be laid off due to a budget reduction of 2 million dollars. Sheriff May advised that in order to make this budget work he has laid off a total of 38 employees.

Sheriff May’s budget for the current 2012/2013 budget is $14,824,611. He had requested a 15.3 million dollar budget for 2013/2014. The Okeechobee County Commissioners advised him he needed to reduce the budget even more, by $2.5 million dollars which would take the budget back to the 2004/2005 budget year.

Since the 2007/2008 budget, Sheriff May has reduced the Sheriff’s Office budget by $3,516,791. The number of staff has gone from 225 employees to 208 employees for current year and with the layoffs, staff will be reduced to 170 employees, which goes back to the 2000/2001 fiscal year.

Sheriff May also advised that in the last 5 years he has returned $6,071,103.01 in unspent budget funds and also returned to the BOCC an additional $1,056,765.46 in revenue received from other sources. Sheriff May also said that at 208 employees the shifts in the jail were staffed properly, the shifts on the road had enough Deputies and the Court Security was at a decent level.

“Now that we have done these layoffs, we will have had to go to what I consider to be an unsafe number in the jail, on the road and at the courthouse,” stated Sheriff May. Therefore, the Sheriff said he will appeal this budget to the Governor and Cabinet in Tallahassee.

The Sheriff also said that one of his employees advised him that the Okeechobee County website had employment applications for 3 full-time and 4 part-time positions. The Sheriff said, "Some of my employees expressed to me that they could not understand how we could have to lay off 38 employees and they could hire 7."

Sheriff May also advised that his current budget of 14.8 million dollars is the same budget he worked from in the 2005/2006 fiscal year. “I do not feel that working on the same budget this year that we worked on 8 years ago is unreasonable. I do not like the idea of going to Tallahassee but I will not ask people to do this job when I know the staffing level is unsafe and this goes for law enforcement, the jail, and the courthouse security.”

Although the Sheriff’s Office is the largest budget in the county, the Sheriff’s Office is operational 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. This budget includes road patrol deputies, detectives, narcotics unit, school resource officers, school crossing guards, administrative personnel, county jail detention deputies, cooks, nurses, clerical, control room operators, booking clerks, and maintenance plus courthouse security personnel.

Glades Still Searching For New County Manager

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- At this week's Glades Commission Meeting, several applicants were removed from the list of prospective county managers.

The Board agreed to accept one application that was received by USPS before the August 23 deadline but delivery by USPS was delayed due to the county’s change of mailing address.

And the Board moved to accept County Attorney Pringle’s determination that three applicants for County Manager were non-responsive because they listed no Florida government experience. Applicants removed from consideration were John Granger, Fred Vella and Patrick Jordan.

Chairman Donna Storter stated that two applicants listed military history but only one claimed veteran’s preference and Mr. Pringle will review the current requirements for the Board to consider proper application of veteran’s preference.

Storter directed Interim County Manager Jones to have County HR Director Whitney begin the verification of employment and references with report to be provided to the Board at the August 30 workshop at which time the Board will discuss the merits of each applicant but will not rank them until the September 12 meeting. No decisions are allowed by law to be made at workshop meetings.

In other business, Interim County Manager Bob Jones reminded the Board of the Friday
August 30 9AM workshop at which the Board will discuss the proposed Purchasing Policy, County Manager applicants, and finalize the 2013-2014 budget recommendations.

Jones discussed the need to replace the courthouse surveillance security camera system and will bring it back as a business item with two price quotes. Jones stated it has been difficult getting responses from contractors as only one electrician, one insulation contractor, and three air-conditioner contractors have responded to his requests for proposals.

Jones reported Globex Engineering will submit the permit renewal for the county landfill as well as jet cleaning leachate field pipes and prepare Technical Quality Water Reports.

Avant Brown reported that the 2012-2013 road paving was recently completed and reflectors and striping will be in place soon.

Brown stated the agreement with Aim Engineering for the resurfacing or Ortona Locks Road has been executed.

Chairman Storter inquired of the possibility of Road Sup’t Brown having the parking lot stripes repainted; Brown said with traffic, it may be something that will have to be done on a weekend.

Commissioner Beck commented on the progress of the Harney Pond Canal Park renovations, suggesting the commissioners and public drive out to see the improvements.

Commissioner Griffin commented that the Budget work had been a challenge and the deficit is still over $500k; he stated when the $30 fee is imposed on fines and penalties we can expect about $100,000 per year that will help with courthouse facility maintenance; he also stated that not hiring a county manager this year would save $135,000.

New Flood Maps Will Affect Property Owners

New County Flood Zone Maps Will Affect Insurance Premiums

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A presentation for the public will be held on the new flood maps and zone for Glades County on September 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Doyle Conner Building in Moore Haven.

Attendees will see paper or digital versions of the preliminary flood maps and information tables will be set up around the room, where staff from FEMA, local communities and engineering contractors will answer questions about flood insurance, engineering and development permit requirements. 

Attendees can also pick up a variety of printed information.
Some important reasons to attend the open house include:

See if your home or business is affected by changes in designations of high-risk special flood hazard areas;
Ask questions about how the map changes may affect your flood insurance premiums;
Learn more about the engineering behind the new maps,
Ask questions about permitting in the flood zone,
Understand your flood risk better,
Understand the map adoption process; and
Get information about how to file an appeal if you have better technical data.

A few weeks after the open house, there will be a 90-day appeal and comment period. Once all appeals and comments have been addressed, the community will have six months until the maps become "effective." The communities will use this time to adopt the new flood maps into their local ordinances.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Jerry Warren Portwood, age 73, of Clewiston, passed away August 26, 2013 in Fort Lauderdale.
He was born Jan. 28, 1940 in Miami, FL, to the late Harmon Harvey and the late Amanda M. (Lovett) Portwood.

Survivors include his son: Jerry Warren Portwood, Jr of Dasher, GA, brother: Harmon Harvey (Shirley) Portwood, Jr. of Clewiston, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

No License For Salt Water Florida Fishing

Today, Governor Rick Scott and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced a saltwater license-free fishing day for September 1. On this day, Florida residents and visitors can experience Florida’s unique saltwater fishing opportunities first hand without being required to have a recreational saltwater fishing license.

Governor Scott said, “The license-free fishing day on September 1is a great way for families to enjoy Florida’s incredible saltwater fishing opportunities during the Labor Day holiday. Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World and this license-free weekend is a great opportunity to introduce friends and family who may have never experienced Florida saltwater fishing to enjoy the Sunshine States’ bountiful waters and historic fishing communities.”

License-free fishing days, including freshwater days, were held earlier this year on April 13 and June 8for freshwater and June 1 for saltwater. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will consider adding four additional license-free fishing days to the calendar at the Sept. 5meeting in Pensacola. If approved, there will be two more saltwater and two more freshwater license-free fishing days before the end of 2013. All other regulations still apply.

An annual license for residents can be purchased at 1-888-FISH-Florida or at All fishing license fees are used to support Florida fish and wildlife conservation and help attain additional funding for Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration projects.

All bag limits, seasons and size restrictions apply on these dates. For fishing tips, locations and rules, visit

Gas Prices Down For Week, Month, And Year

l;ABELLE, FL. -- For the first time in months, retail gasoline prices at pump in Florida are lower than they were the week before, month before, and year before.

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 0.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.48/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.57/gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 25.2 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 12.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 9.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 16.6 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shooting Suspect Arrested After Bullet Injuries To 5-Year Old

Busy Police Work In City This Week
CLEWISTON, FL. -- City of Clewiston Police Don Chief Gutshall reports CPD officers responded to Hendry Sheriff’s Deputies calls for assistance on Redish Circle following a shooting a week ago on Sunday night. 

The Clewiston K-9 Officer and his partner were called upon to locate the shooter. Following a long trail across a canal and fields, the suspect was located and captured where he was hiding in a home. The shooting resulted in bullet injuries to 5 year old child and an adult male. Gutshall says "Excellent work by K-9 Handler Jackie Garrett and his partner, Javiar."

Gutshall reports two brief investigations on older cases were wrapped up this week. One resulting in the arrest of a man for multiple bicycle arrests, the other an arrest for burglary. 

In other calls there was a fairly serious dog bite occurence in the Aztec Trailer Park. It appears as though the victim was at fault as the animal was properly restrained, fenced in, and up to date on all immunizations. The child was on the dog owner’s property without permission or supervision, said the report.

A trailer was stolen from a residence on East Alverdez Tuesday night. The case has been turned over to CID.

The Chief says much of the department's annual training requirements have been met over the past two months. The remaining few needs are to be handled before September 1 as the department tries to get those training classes out of the way during the relatively slower summer months.

A brief synopsis of the week’s police activity:
1029 Commercial / Residential Security Checks
527 Complaints Investigated
31 Traffic Citations Issued
32 Arrests Made
5 City Ordinance Violations Issued
18 Alarms Responded To
55 Merchant Escorts Provided
28 Red Light Camera Violations
2 Traffic Accidents Investigated

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mystery Boeing Jet Flying Circles In Storms

Jet Flying Low Over Rural Town Mystifies Observers

LABELLE, FL. -- A mystery Boeing 737 or 757 jet has been seen flying around and through heavy rain and thunder storms the last week around the LaBelle Municipal Airport and over the city of LaBelle in the area of western Hendry and Glades counties.

A video of a unique Honeywell International, Inc. Boeing 757 spotted at Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale a week ago may be a clue to what was flying over LaBelle this week. (Note the pylon attachment to the front upper starboard fuselage at 45 seconds into the video. It's used to mount test engines on. There is none mounted now.)

Spotted by dozens of citizens during the last few stormy and thunder filled afternoons, the jet aircraft has been flying at a low altitude estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000 feet over the city of LaBelle and Port LaBelle. It seemingly was trying to fly under and around the stormy clouds that have been popping up this week, flying through heavy rains and among frequent lightning bolts.

Graphic: Storms over LaBelle Florida, Thursday around  5 p.m. as mystery jet weaved through area at low altitude.

Normally, aircraft would not legally be flying seeemingly randomly near storm clouds or in the extreme weather as has been observed when this jet plane has been flying around the Hendry and Glades county area..

Speculation says the aircraft, apparently on a VFR flight, on visual flight rules might be a government operation studying storm behavior, lightning or winds at low levels, or in fact is the Honeywell 757 shown in the video above. An ordinary flight would not attempt risky storm flying like this say local pilots.

Update: If the mystery  aircraft is the Honeywell Boeing 757, it arrived in Fort Lauderdale at Hollywood International Airport on August 9 from Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary airport, after having flown from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport where it is based. Speculation: It has some sort of Air Force equipment aboard to test.

The flight out of Fort Lauderdale in the video above clearly shows a third engine is not mounted on the pylon where one normally is mounted for testing, indicating the plane is testing something else at low levels in thunderstorms, and not a test engine.

On August 10, according to FAA flight plan records it made a 19 minute IFR flight around afternoon storms and returned to Hollywood International.

On Monday, August 19 it made a 2 hour and 56 minute IFR flight flying among storms over western Palm Beach and Broward Counties between Fort Lauderdale and Pahokee at an altitude of 1,500 feet. The distance between the two cities is 60 miles.

Boeing 757-225 N757HW is normally flown as an engine test bed powered by a pair of Rolls Royce RB211-535E4B37 turbofans. It normally carries a smaller third jet engine on the right side of the forward fuselage. The construction number of N757HW is 22194. It first flew on February 4, 1983, delivered to Eastern Airlines as N504EA on February 28, 1983.

Jacob Kyser of Sarasota captured this photo of the mystery jet while traveling on the Tamiami Trail (US41) across the Everglades on August 17. Kyser, a pilot, said it was very unusual to see a jet flying that low,which he estimated at about 900 feet, around storm clouds. He said the plane appeared to be nose up as if in slow flight.

Update 2: Steve Brecken, Director, Global Media and Analyst Relations for Honeywell Aerospace said in a comment to the blog, "Honeywell's Boeing 757 test bed aircraft has been conducting wind shear testing in South Florida over the past week.

"The Everglades and Florida's predictable afternoon summer storms provide an optimum testing environment for our research and development aircraft. The information gathered during these low level flights will help improve aviation safety and benefit the flying public for years to come."

Boeing 737 Photo credit: Wikipedia
Boeing 757 Video credit: YouTube
Honeywell 757 info courtesy

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart Visiting Ag Interests

Round Table Agricultural Discussion On The Agenda

LABELLE, FL. -- An Agricultural "round table" meeting hosted by Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart will take place in LaBelle next week. 

This round table is to discuss issues affecting agriculture in LaBelle and Hendry County, says County Agricultural Extension Director Gene McAvoy, who adds "This is your opportunity to let your Congressman know what you are thinking."

The round table is scheduled for Monday, August 26, 2013 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. at the UF/IFAS Hendry County Extension Office Conference Room. The address is 1085 Pratt Boulevard, LaBelle, FL 33975-0068.

Please RSVP to or by phone 239-348-1620.

Florida's Rick Scott Says Obama "Late To The Party"

'President Certainly Late To The Party' - Rick Scott Says

ORLANDO, FL -- Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott released a statement in response to President Obama’s new proposals to rate and reward colleges on affordability and outcomes. The President unveiled the higher education proposals during a visit to Buffalo earlier today.

“President Obama announced today that he wants to improve the value of higher education by rewarding colleges and universities on their performance and affordability. The President is certainly late to the party on making higher education more affordable, but we are glad he’s here. We encourage him to look at the reforms we have made here in Florida to hold the line on tuition and reward colleges and universities who are able to graduate students with a great job and without debilitating debt because of the high cost of tuition. Florida is a national model in making higher education more affordable.

“The President said he wanted to encourage more competition in higher education to make degrees more affordable. In Florida, we held a competition encouraging our state colleges to craft a bachelor’s degree program for only $10,000. In just a short amount of time, every Florida college offering a bachelor’s degree crafted a degree program for only $10,000 in a high-demand job field.

“We are focused on improving the value of higher education for students and parents by fighting tuition hikes and rewarding schools that graduate students who get jobs. Just this year, we passed a budget that included $20 million in performance funding for universities tied to graduates who find jobs, the salary of those jobs, and the cost of their degree. Florida is taking the lead in making higher education more affordable and the nation is starting to follow.”

$77,000 In Average Mortgage Relief To Floridians

Foreclosure Settlement Agreements Exceed Predictions

The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, he national mortgage settlement monitor has released the fifth and final report on the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers’ self-reported homeowner relief under the settlement between banks and states. Highlights from the report, which remain to be verified by the monitor and which includes data available as of June 30, 2013, include:
· More than 120,000 Floridians have received more than $9.22 billion in relief under the settlement, with an average of $77,000 in relief per borrower;
· The $9.22 billion in bank-reported relief for Floridians exceeds the original estimate of homeowner relief by $800 million; and
· The relief provided to Florida’s homeowners accounts for 18 percent of the total national relief and is second only to California.

This relief is in addition to the approximately $107 million in direct payments that have been made to approximately 73,000 Floridians who lost their homes to foreclosure and received a check for $1,480. The State also received a payment of $334 million in penalties and to fund programs that will assist Floridians’ recovery from the housing crisis. 

The monitor plans to submit another report detailing the status of the banks' compliance with the settlement's servicing standards in November or December. In the meantime, the Florida Attorney General's Office continues its ongoing efforts to address specific borrower complaints it receives to ensure that they are resolved appropriately under the settlement. 

More information about the National Mortgage Settlement is available at
Further information about the national settlement monitor, Joseph Smith, and the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight is available at

In February, Attorney General Bondi entered a landmark $25 billion joint federal-state agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses and unacceptable nationwide mortgage servicing practices. In addition to the terms of the national settlement agreement, Attorney General Bondi separately negotiated an agreement with the nation’s three largest mortgage servicers to ensure that a guaranteed portion of the overall settlement funds goes to Florida borrowers. 

Brain Scan Can Find Bipolar Disorder Quicker

Four In Five Bipolar Patients Incorrectly Diagnosed
Brain scans measuring blood flow can help diagnose bipolar disorder at an early stage and distinguish the condition from depression, according to a study conducted by a University of Pittsburgh research team published today in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Currently, only one in five patients with bipolar disorder is correctly diagnosed when first assessed by a physician, with an accurate diagnosis often taking up to 10 years.

Bipolar disorder, characterized by mood swings that range from severe depression to very elevated or irritable moods, is difficult to diagnose and often is misdiagnosed as clinical depression, say the authors of the study. 

Problems with diagnoses can occur for various reasons, including miscommunications between patients and doctors. For example, patients with bipolar disease sometimes interpret manic phases as normal and do not disclose them to their physician.

Researchers used a new and promising imaging method called Arterial Spin Labelling to measure blood flow, in a non-invasive fashion, to brain regions associated with depression. They found that measuring blood flow could identify with 81 percent accuracy which women were depressed (unipolar depression) and which women had bipolar depression. They also used a new analytical method called Pattern Recognition Analysis that allows researchers to individualize brain differences to a specific person.

“Earlier and more accurate diagnoses can make an enormous difference for patients and their families, and may even save lives,” noted Jorge Almeida, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Pitt and lead author of the study. “This is a very promising finding that highlights the usefulness of neuroimaging to help identify biological markers associated with different mental health conditions.”

For this study, 44 females were evaluated: 18 with bipolar-I disorder, 18 with unipolar depression (also called major depressive disorder), and 18 healthy individuals to act as a control group. The women were carefully matched for demographic and clinical variables, and all were experiencing a depressive episode as they were assessed for the study.

“These results also suggest that we may one day be able to predict future bipolar behavior in younger adults who haven’t shown any symptoms, allowing for earlier and more accurate treatment,” added Dr. Almeida. “Researchers will now test these new technologies in a larger sample and in a multi-center study.”

Additional study co-authors include Howard J. Aizenstein, M.D., Ph.D., Amelia Versace, M.D., Edmund James LaBarbara, David J. Kupfer, M.D., and Mary Louise Phillips, M.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh; Janaina Mourao-Miranda, Ph.D., Michael Brammer, Ph.D., and Andre Marquand, all of Kings College London; F. Andrew Kozel, M.D., of the University of South Florida; and Hanzhang Lu, Ph.D., and Madhukar Trivedi, M.D., both of the University of Texas Southwestern.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Joan Elizabeth Kirkland, age 76, of Donalsonville, Georgia, passed away August 14, 2013 in Tallahassee. 

She was born December 17, 1936 in Cairo, Ga. to the late Barney Lee and Isabel Kelley. Joan was a Real Estate Agent in Clewiston for many years. She also taught swimming and tennis.
She is survived by her brother Donald A. Kelley of Clewiston, her niece Wanda Crum Daniels of Crawfordville, as well as many other nieces, nephews, and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband Elton Lee Kirkland, her mother, father, two brothers Ronald Kelley and Randall Kelley, and five sisters Eudell Massey, Odessa Hathcock, Christine Daniels, Willow Dean Tull, and Voncile Faulkner.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, August 24, 11:00am at Akin Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston with Pastor Mark Murphy officiating. Interment will follow at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Clewiston. Visitation will held Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until to the start of the funeral service at the funeral home in Clewiston.

Billy Darryl Beckworth, age 50, of LaBelle, passed away August 14, 2013 at home.

Billy was loved by so many. He was an awesome brother, a wonderful very loving husband, an exceptional father, a great Pee Paw, and a friend to all he met. 

Billy loved spending time with his family, especially his grand babies, loved Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and loved the shared interest he had with his brother with CB radios. 

He has family and friends from Texas, where he was born: to Murfreesboro, Tn. where he spent most of his life growing up, and where he met his wife: to Labelle Fl. where he lived with his wife, surrounded by family and friends. 

He was the governor of the LaBelle Moose Lodge, and was also Sergeant of Arms with the District Moose Fraternity and really believed in what the Moose Lodge stood for. He was very dedicated to the Fallen Hero's Celebration and even played Santa a few times as well. He touched every person he met and will be missed by many.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor Lester Grant officiating. Visitation will be Saturday 1 hour prior to the service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Dead In Three Vehicle Crash

78-Year Old Passenger Dead After Multi-Vehicle Crash

LAKE PLACID, Fl. -- A three-vehicle crash left a passenger dead this morning at about 9:25 a.m. at US 27 and Tamoka Blvd South.

A 2004 Ford Freestar minivan was traveling northbound on US 27 (SR 25) attempting to cross US 27 northbound to turn left onto Tomoka Blvd S. as a 2003 GMC Hummer was traveling southbound on US 27 (SR 25) in the outside lane approaching the intersection of Tomoka Blvd S.

A 2003 Cadillac Escalade SUV was stopped on Tomoka Blvd S facing east in the right turn lane.

The driver of the minivan Horace Edward Ryan, age 82 of Lake Placid failed to see the Hummer approaching as he began to cross US 27 northbound. The front of the Hummer collided with the right side of the minivan which partially rotated in a counter clockwise rotation and traveled in a south westerly direction striking the front of the Cadillac.

Ryan, taken to Lee Memorial Hospital was critically injured and his passenger Floretta Ellen Ryan, 78, of Lake Placid  died.

The minivan came to final rest in a ditch on the west side of US 27 facing in south westerly direction. The Hummer partially rotated in a clockwise rotation and came to final rest facing in a northerly direction in the turn lane of Tomoka Blvd S.

The Cadillac backed up about three feet from the location of the accident to report the traffic crash said FHP Trooper Jesse DeBoom and homicide investigator Cpl Kim Benavidez. No charges have been filed.

Driver of the Hummer James C Anderson, 47 of Orlando / Florida had minor injuries treated on the scene and his passenger Melanie J Anderson, 47 of Orlando was taken to Florida Hospital in Lake Placid with serious injuries. 2nd passenger Griffeth R Anderson, 17 had minor injuries.

Driver of the Cadillac Cherie Lynn Starr, 47 of Lake Placid had no injuries.

Lake Okeechobee Water Releases Reduced After Guv's Visit

Corps reduces water releases from Lake Okeechobee

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce the amount of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee, saying it's a result of falling lake levels, drier conditions and an improving precipitation forecast.

Florida Governor Rick Scott visited the South Florida region this week and had criticized the Corps of Engineers steady release of water into the Caloosahatchee  River which cities on the southwest coast of Florida, including Fort Myers and Cape Coral said was causing dirty water and algae blooms, hurting tourism they say.

Some observers also wonder about the "drier conditions" they Corps mentions. There have been record rains this month in many areas of the southern and Southwestern areas of  Florida with daily downpours.

The new target flow from the lake to the Caloosahatchee Estuary is 6,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at Moore Haven Lock (S-77). The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary is 2,800 cfs, as measured at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) near Stuart.

The new target flows will be effective at 5 p.m. today, and are a result of the lake’s drop into the Intermediate Sub-Band as defined under the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), the lake’s water control plan. The current lake level is 15.74 feet.

Additionally, should the lake fall into the Low Sub-Band as defined by LORS (15.57 feet today), the Corps will further reduce the target flows to 4,000 cfs at Moore Haven and 1,800 cfs at St. Lucie. Water managers report this could happen within the next week, depending on precipitation.

"Lake levels have responded well to a combination of decreased inflows to the Lake, increased outflows, and relatively dry conditions," said Lt. Col. Tom Greco, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida. "The same water control plan that we used to increase water releases now calls for the Corps to decrease the discharges. There are still several months left in the wet season, so we will continue to monitor conditions and make adjustments as necessary."

Since May 8, the day the Corps began releasing water from Lake Okeechobee, the discharges have totaled 900,000 acre-feet, and has resulted in a lake stage nearly two feet lower than if no releases had occurred.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management page at the Jacksonville District website:

U.S. Getting Fatter!

"F" As In Fat - Historical Trend Shows More Fat On Americans

 A new study from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation indicates thirteen states currently have an adult obesity rate above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state has a rate above 20 percent.
Although Americans are far fatter than every before, in 2012, obesity rates remained level in every state except for an increase in Arkansas but the United States had experienced three decades of increases: in 1980, obesity rates in no state was above 15 percent; in 1991, no state was above 20 percent; in 2000, no state was above 24 percent; and in 2007, only Mississippi was above 30 percent.

Since 2005, there has been some evidence the rates have not been climbing as rapidly. In 2005, every state but one increased; in 2008, 37 states increased; in 2010, 28 states increased; in 2011, 16 states increased.

Of the states with the 20 highest adult obesity rates, only Pennsylvania is not in the South or Midwest. For the first time in eight years, Mississippi no longer has the highest rate — Louisiana at 34.7 percent is the highest, followed closely by Mississippi at 34.6 percent. Colorado had the lowest rate at 20.5 percent.

Rates vary by age. Obesity rates for Baby Boomers (45- to 64-year-olds) have reached 40 percent in two states (Alabama and Louisiana) and are 30 percent or higher in 41 states. By comparison, obesity rates for seniors (65+-year-olds) exceed 30 percent in only one state (Louisiana). Obesity rates for young adults (18- to 25-year-olds) are below 28 percent in every state.

Obesity rates vary by education. More than 35 percent of adults (ages 26 and above) who did not graduate high school are obese, compared with 21.3 percent of those who graduated from college or technical college.

Obesity rates vary by income. More than 31 percent of adults (ages 18 and above) who earn less than $25,000 per year were obese, compared with 25.4 percent of those who earn at least $50,000 per year.

Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of type 2 diabetes and hypertension are in the South.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Tammy Mae Ledbetter Hitchcock, age 50, of Clewiston, passed away August 18, 2013 in her home surrounded by her family.

She was born Nov. 15, 1962 in Miami, FL, to Harvey Leon and Dorothy Carol (Bush) Ledbetter.

Survivors include: two brothers: Harvey Ledbetter, John (wife Cindy) Ledbetter and one sister: Holly Ledbetter of Clewiston, FL, many nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was a waitress at the Moore Haven Restaurant for many years. She was a resident of the Moore Haven and Clewiston Area for many years.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Margaret Ann McElroy Dies At 68

Margaret Ann Waters McElroy was born in Las Vegas, NV on February 15, 1945; she left this world on August 18, 2013 to join her beloved husband Pat. She leaves behind two children, Patrick McElroy and Lane McElroy Pool; a granddaughter, Kadyn Pool; her mother Lucille Waters; two sisters, Cheryl Waters, Bobbie Waters Spratt (husband Joe Spratt); and many nieces and nephews including greats and a host of life-long friends.

All but her short time in Las Vegas, Margaret has been a life-long resident of Clewiston. She graduated from Clewiston High in 1963, the only year CHS had a tie for Homecoming Queen. She shared that honor with Jane Johnson Waldrop.

She worked for USSC for a short time, bought M&M Sporting Goods; after selling that store she then managed Stride-Rite. Finally, she decided to stay home and be a mom, 2nd mom and mentor to many Clewiston children.

She was a member of the original Bass & Gals League. She traveled as far as Texas to fish in professional women's bass tournaments.

She loved to play golf, watch golf and talk golf; she even coached golf for a short while at LaBelle High School. The greatest joy of her life other than her children and always will be her granddaughter, Kadyn, whom she affectionately called "puddin' pot".

Services will be held Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. in First Baptist Church of Clewiston where Pastor Preston Long will officiate. Visitation will be held Tuesday evening in Akin-Davis Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m. Burial in Ridgelawn Cemetery in Clewiston.

Akin-Davis Funeral Home assisted the McElroy family with the celebration of life for Margaret.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lyme Disease Attack 10 Times More Than Previously Believed

Cause For More Alertness In Tick Bite Disease

Preliminary estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is around 300,000, about 10 times what was believed to be the numbers.

The preliminary estimates were presented Sunday night in Boston at the 2013 International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and Other Tick-Borne Diseases.

This early estimate is based on findings from three ongoing CDC studies that use different methods, but all aim to define the approximate number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease each year.

The first project analyzes medical claims information for approximately 22 million insured people annually for six years, the second project is based on a survey of clinical laboratories and the third project analyzes self-reported Lyme disease cases from a survey of the general public.

Each year, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC, making it the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States. The new estimate suggests that the total number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number.

This new estimate supports studies published in the 1990s indicating that the true number of cases is between 3- and 12-fold higher than the number of reported cases.

“We know that routine surveillance only gives us part of the picture, and that the true number of illnesses is much greater,” said Paul Mead, M.D., M.P.H, chief of epidemiology and surveillance for CDC’s Lyme disease program. “This new preliminary estimate confirms that Lyme disease is a tremendous public health problem in the United States, and clearly highlights the urgent need for prevention.”

Gas Price Falls Slightly This Week

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have fallen 1.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.49/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.57/gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 15.7 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 12.6 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 10.8 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 13.0 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

"Americans are now shelling out $50 million less per day than they were last year when pump prices averaged 13-cents more per gallon," said Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Most states are seeing their average below last year, and as summer slowly fades, gasoline prices may as well in many communities. Cooler weather typically brings relief as demand declines and discretionary travel ebbs. I expect that pump prices may drift lower over the next few days, much focus remains on the tropics," DeHaan said.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kiwanis Welcomes New Members To Club

LABELLE, FL. -- Last week, the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle proudly welcomed several new members to their club. Long time Kiwanis member Millard Wagnon sponsored two new members, Mary Bartoshuk and Myra Johnson while current President of the LaBelle Club Brenda Barnes also sponsored two new members, Valarie James and Tim Holland. President-Elect Arlene Bettencourt sponsored one new member, Carole Schroder.

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle said they are very excited that a few more folks have joined them in their dedication to "changing the world; one child and one community at a time".

Pictured from left to right: Mary Bartoshuk, Millard Wagnon, Valarie James, Brenda Barnes, Tim Holland, Carole Schroder, and Arlene Bettencourt (Not pictured: Myra Johnson)

Kids Line Up For Back To School Expo

LABELLE, FL. -- The "Back to School" Kids Expo on August 10th in LaBelle at the Agriculture Extension Office brought out the kids and parents by the hundreds.

Every little bit helps, and the community came together to help collect back packs, school supplies, provide educational information, give hair cuts to kids, and show support for local families getting ready to send their children back to school. 

There were about 140 Child Identification Kits completed in LaBelle for the event sponsored by the Hendry county community organizations, agencies, local businesses, students, and lots of volunteers.

Car Crashes Into Convenience Store

Window Shatters - Brick Wall Collapses As Car Hits Entrance

LAKEPORT, FL. -- 69-year old Angel Ramon Santiesteban of Lakeport suffered minor injuries after his 2002 Chevy Cavalier drove through a convenience store front.

FHP Trooper T. Parks said Friday at 2:53 p.m. the car was southbound in the parking lot of 735 State Road 78 East (Circle K convenience store) at Glades Count Road 721, when the driver failed to stop in the designated parking space north of the store entrance.

The Chevy then continued south over a parking lot barrier and onto the walkway of the establishment. As a result, the front of the car collided with the front entrance of the store. Collision impact shattered a window and forced a section of the convenience store's brick wall to collapse.

The front of the car then struck Kathy Ellis, 57 before coming to a stop. It came to rest partially inside the store and partially in the parking lot of the establishment. Ellis was working in the store at the time of the incident. She had minor injuries.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Shirley Lea Walker, age 78, of LaBelle, passed away August 14, 2013 in LaBelle.

She was born Feb. 23, 1935 in Winter Haven, FL, to the late Buddy Turner and the late Martha Dulcena (Whidden) Ponder. She was a member of High Haven Baptist Church in Clewiston.

Survivors include her sons: Johnny Norris Walker (Debby), Robert Walker (Denise), Tommy Walker (Regina), daughters: Sharon White (Johnie), Shirley Ann Walker, ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband: Clarence Walker and son: Donald Walker

Funeral services will be held Sunday, August 18, 2013, 10:00 a.m. at Felda Cemetery in Felda with Rev. Jerry Atkins and Rev. George Bryant officiating. Interment following in Felda Cemetery.

Defcon 2012 Documentary - Is This Legal?

DEFCON is the world's largest hacking conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2012 it was held for the 20th time. The conference has strict no-filming policies, but for DEFCON 20, a documentary crew was allowed full access to the event. 

The film, released August, 2013 follows the four days of the conference, the events and people (attendees and staff), and covers history and philosophy behind DEFCON's success and unique experience.

Running time: 110 minutes

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brain-Eating Amoeba Not Found In Drinking Water?

Health Department Releases Additional Information On Deadly Disease

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties today made additional comments about Naegleria fowleri, commonly called "brain-eating amoeba".

The latest victim of the disease is 12-year old Zachary Reyna, a LaBelle Middle School student. He lives with his parents, Jessie Reyna Jr. and Betsy Villareal on four acres in the Port LaBelle Ranchettes section of Glades County, Florida where it is believed he most likely was infected when water entered his nose as he played in a drainage ditch near his home.

Zachary Reyna is getting treatment with an experimental drug from Germany at the Children's Hospital in Miami, after receiving permission from the CDC for use of the drug.

Fund raising efforts, including two morning prayer meetings, t-shirt sales, and a bank account for donations have raised several thousands of dollars for the family. A dinner benefit is scheduled at Barron Park in LaBelle on Saturday.

Mr. Reyna and Betsy Villareal own J.R. Harvesting, Inc. and Mr. Reyna is an officer in Caloosa Cats, Inc. and Hooked Deals & Apparel, Inc. Between the two, they also own four homes in the LaBelle area.

Initial symptoms of PAM usually start within 1 to 7 days after infection. The initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly.

The longest survival time for any victim has been 12 days, with most dying within a few days to a week. Reyna is now believed to be in the 12th day with the usually fatal brain infection

Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba which is a single-celled living organism. It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Infections are rare, but can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. 

Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM (which destroys brain tissue). Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels. The peak season for this amoeba is July, August and September.

The exact water source of exposure cannot be exactly identified because the amoeba occurs naturally in warm freshwater sources such as rivers, lakes, ponds, canals, and ditches. Because the amoeba is found in most freshwater sources, and because of the inconsistency in test results, the CDC does not recommend specific testing of freshwater sources. 

For informational research, the CDC does collect information such as water temperatures, water depths, water clarity and air temperatures in the surrounding areas of where a case has been confirmed. The low number of infections makes it difficult to know why a few people have been infected compared to the millions of other people that used the same or similar waters across the U.S.

There have  been local news reports questioning exposure risks from water sprinklers. According to the CDC, there are no reports of infections from this route of exposure in the US and it would be very unlikely that this activity could lead to infection. If the sprinklers are using canal water, that would be a slightly higher risk but still very unlikely since people would not generally force that water up their nose.

The organism is most commonly found in warm freshwater like lakes, rivers, ponds, canals, and ditches. The organism should not be found in treated tap water that uses filtration and disinfection and would not be expected to be found in groundwater from private wells because the water is cooler than ideal for Naegleria growth and there would not be abundant bacteria for Naegleria to feed upon.

A Wikipedia article does note that two people in the U.S. were infected by water from a geothermal (naturally hot) drinking water supply. And in 2011, there were two unusual cases in which Louisiana residents died after becoming infected by using neti pots with household tap water, leading to CDC recommendations against using untreated tap water

Infections in other countries - Are swimming pools and tap water safe?

An article in Wikipedia notes that between 1962 and 1965, 16 young people died of PAM in Czechoslovakia as a consequence of bathing in an indoor swimming pool, although the CDC has not issued a warning about swimming pool water in the U.S.

Similarly the article notes from July to October 2012, 22 people in the southern part of Pakistan died within a week from Naegleria infection. At least 13 cases have been reported in Karachi, Pakistan, in patients who had no history of aquatic activities.

Infection likely occurred through ablution with tap water. It may be attributed to rising temperatures, reduced levels of chlorine in potable water, or deteriorating water distribution systems.

Health Department: Ways to reduce your risk from Naegleria fowleri infection

-Limit the amount of water going up your nose. Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when taking part in warm freshwater-related activities.
-Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
-Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

You cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking contaminated water and the amoeba is not found in salt water, says the health department.

For more information about Naegleria fowleri, visit the CDC website

Public Service Announcement regarding Naegleria fowleri:

Teen Arrested On Sexual Battery Charge

OKEECHOBEE, FL. -- Robert William Cory is in custody after being served an arrest warrant. Cory was arrested on an Okeechobee County warrant and charged with Sexual Battery on a victim under 12 years of age by a perpetrator under 18 years old.

Cory is being held in the Okeechobee County Jail on $250,000 bond.

No further information to be released at this time said Okeechobee Sheriff's Public Information Officer Michele Bell.

790 Panther Sightings Reported In South Florida

Panther Sightings Reported In Southwest Florida
LABELLE, FL. -- The public has been reporting hundreds of sightings of Florida panthers to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website launched a year ago, where people can record when and where they saw a panther or its tracks.

As of August 2013, the public had submitted 790 sightings to The verified panther reports were largely confined to southwest Florida, the well-documented breeding range for panthers in the state. There also were several verified sightings in south central Florida.

Only 12 percent of the reports included a photograph and could be evaluated by Commission biologists. Of those with photos, the majority were confirmed as panthers. Other animals identified by FWC biologists were bobcats, foxes, coyotes, dogs, house cats and even a monkey. 

Most often the reported animal or tracks belonged to a bobcat, when it was not a panther.

“The public’s willingness to share what they have seen or collected on game cameras is incredibly helpful and shows us where panthers presumably are roaming in Florida,” said Darrell Land, who heads the FWC’s panther team. “We thank everyone using the Report Florida Panther Sightings website and encourage others to participate in this citizen-science venture.”

“As the population of this endangered species grows, the FWC expects more Florida panthers to be seen in areas of the state where they have not lived for decades,” Land said. “To properly plan and manage for the expansion of the panther’s range in Florida, information about where the panthers are is vital.”

The FWC has a new “E-Z guide to identify panther tracks” available at

The Florida panther population is estimated to be 100 to 160 adults and yearlings, a figure that does not include panther kittens. As recently as the 1970s, the Florida panther was close to disappearing, with as few as 20 animals in the wild.

Kiwanis Club At Orlando Convention

LABELLE, FL. -- Last weekend, some members of the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle traveled to Jacksonville, FL to attend the Kiwanis Florida Convention. This convention gives members a chance to meet with other clubs from all across the state and attend valuable training about Kiwanis.

Back Row-Left to Right: Nell Broom, Judy Paskvan, Esther Bailey-Westerman, Mary Ruth Prouty
Front: Karan Roach and Arlene Bettencourt

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jeep And Cadillac Crash On Highway

Crash In Construction Zone Totals Jeep

LABELLE, FL. -- A crash between a red Jeep Wrangler with a utility trailer carrying landscaping equipment and a white Cadillac left substantial damage to both vehicles at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at Birchwood Parkway and State Road 80 in Port LaBelle..

At 4:30 p.m. traffic was being routed off of SR80 through a church parking lot until the Florida Highway Patrol shows up to clear the scene.

An investigation is continuing as to the cause of the crash  SR80 in undergoing major construction, adding two extra lanes to the existing two. The crash location is a construction zone and barriers are set up for lane changes at this time.

(Video: 2-Car Crash On SR80)

Hendry-Glades Obituaries

Gary Albert Hall, Jr., age 32, of LaBelle, passed away August 11, 2013 in Fort Myers.

He was born Sep. 16, 1980 in Clewiston, FL, to the late Gary Albert Hall, Sr. and Jullie Kay Smith Hall.

He is survived by his mother: Jullie Kay (Smith) Hall of LaBelle, sisters: Lisa Mae Hall Aguilar of Bradley, Betty Lynn Hall of Lehigh Acres and Joann L. Taylor of Felda, maternal grandmother: Betty Louise & (late) F.E. Smith of LaBelle; paternal grandfather: Harold Humble of Arkansas; uncle: Richard E. (Laura) Smith; aunts: Cheryll A. (Tony) Brooks; Judy Faye (Wade) Fuller and cousins: Justin Hall; Robert Smith; Joshua Smith; Teresa Ringer; April Golemme; Danielle Brooks and Shawn Hall and fiance : Debra Killackey of LaBelle.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 17, 2013, 11:00 am at Felda Community Center in Felda with Chaplain Chuck Wester officiating. A luncheon will follow the memorial at the Felda Community Center (friends please bring a covered dish). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Gary's favorite charity, St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Report 3 Florida Snakes Says FWC

Three Snake Species Reports Wanted - Dead Or Alive

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists are asking the public to report sightings of three rare snake species: Florida pine snake (photo above), southern hognose snake and short-tailed snake. Citizens can help with research on these species by reporting sightings online, whether the snake is dead or alive says the FWC.

“Reports from the public will aid us in determining where these snakes live and their status,” said Kevin Enge, FWC research biologist.

All of these snake species have been petitioned for federal listing. The three species are found in dry, upland habitats and spend most of their time underground. They are only occasionally seen moving along the surface or crossing a road.

For each report, the citizen is asked to provide the location where they saw the snake and the month and year the observation occurred. Researchers are also requesting citizens to submit photos of the snakes, when possible, to verify identification.

Although these species are nonvenomous, citizens should avoid handling or disturbing them.

For more information about living with snakes and to submit sightings to the FWC, visit, select “How You Can Conserve,” and choose “Snakes” under “Living with Wildlife.”