Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Homeless Shelter Group In Control Of Hotel And Restaurant

Port LaBelle Inn And Restaurant Taken Over By Religious Group

LABELLE, FL. -- Reports received today indicate the Port LaBelle Inn and Oxbow Grill will be taken over by the Saint Matthews House of Collier County. The non-profit organization operates homeless shelters and alcohol and drug rehab centers in Southwest Florida.

The hotel and restaurant has been in controversy over recent firings of personnel along with food safety and building safety violations in recent months and public outcry over the possibility of a rehab operation taking over the hotel.

Controversy reigned last year as St. Matthews House of Collier County applied to Hendry County officials for a special use to turn the hotel, restaurant and bar, and conference center into a drug rehab center, with a sale by the current owner contingent upon county approval.

The Hendry Commissioners turned down the request after public comments opposing the use, and Hendry zoning officials also not recommending the change.

St. Matthews House is reportedly closing down the bar, which has a 7COP Retail Beverage License where alcohol sales have been ongoing for many years. At this time is not clear if St. Matthews House will attempt to place drug and alcohol clients in the 50 room hotel, or operate the facility as a public hotel.

At a meeting with employees Tuesday night, the owners said because advance reservations have been taken for the hotel for the next few months, the bar will remain open. No definite date for it's closing was offered although it is a surety that the religiously oriented organization will close it.

The previous owner, a truck stop operator from Ohio, bought the property for $900,000 in 2008.

Public Safety Issues Reported By State Inspections:

The hotel and restaurant has had it share of state inspection problems going back for many years. A March 18, 2014 inspection by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation found two high priority code violations against the hotel, including no certificate of a balcony inspection and also finding the front desk clerk did not know where the hearing-impaired smoke detectors were located. Warnings were issued and a follow-up is now required for compliance.

According to the state, the hotel has been operating without an elevator license which expired August 1, 2013.

Further problems were found in the restaurant. An inspection by state food safety inspectors in January found three violations including two high priority:

08B-37-4 Basic - Food stored in a prohibited area. Greens in contact with wet towel. Greens voluntarily discarded. **Corrected On-Site** **Warning**
08A-05-4 High Priority - Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food. Raw beef over oranges in reachin cooler, as well as beef over cooked chicken. **Warning**
53B-01-4 Intermediate - No proof of required state approved employee training provided for any employees. To order approved program food safety material, call DBPR's contracted provider: Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (SafeStaff) 866-372-7233. **Warning**
02B-02-4 Intermediate - Raw/undercooked animal food offered and establishment has no written consumer advisory. Raw animal foods must be fully cooked prior to service. **Warning**

A follow up inspection March 18, 2014 found two "intermediate violations" with a follow up inspection required for correction:

53B-01-4 Intermediate - No proof of required state approved employee training provided for any employees. To order approved program food safety material, call DBPR''s contracted provider: Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (SafeStaff) 866-372-7233. **Warning** on callback 3/18/14 observed no proof of any employee training.
02B-02-4 Intermediate - Raw/undercooked animal food offered and establishment has no written consumer advisory. Raw animal foods must be fully cooked prior to service. **Warning** on Callback 3/14/14 observed no consumer advisory for establishment.

Who's Protecting Your Environment?

LABELLE, FL. -- Some of the local services provided by the Environmental Division of the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties include:

Food and Waterborne Disease Investigations
Inspection of Public Pools, Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Parks, Food Establishments, and Group Care Facilities
Inspection of Tanning Facilities
Monitoring of Drinking Water Systems
Investigations of Groundwater Contamination
Institutional Inspections
Septic Tank Inspections
Monitoring Medical Waste
Rabid Animal Investigations
Regulation of Migrant Labor Housing
Drinking Water Lab

Environmental Health regulates private and small public water supplies by collecting and analyzing water samples for bacterial contamination, and permitting and inspecting well installations. We check for setback compliance, possible contaminant sources and proper well installation to prevent contamination.

Any Onsite wastewater treatment and disposal (septic) system installed or repaired in any county is required to have a permit. We will help to design the new system based on anticipated water use, type of soil at the site, proximity to surface water, and separation from the wet season groundwater elevation. Due to the high water tables in SW Florida, drain fields are elevated in a mound to prevent groundwater contamination.

Food programs in “not for profit” agencies, or adult care facilities (Schools and fraternal organizations) are licensed by us. Food safety inspections are conducted on a regular basis in these facilities. The Dept. of Business & Professional Regulation inspects restaurants however outbreaks of food illness, (regardless of the source) are investigated by Environmental Health.

Regulating the housing for Migrant Farmworkers and inspect for compliance with minimum housing standards, sanitary site conditions, overcrowding, safe water supply and sanitary wastewater disposal.

No one is allowed to house more than 4 unrelated migrant farmworkers without first obtaining a permit. Housing units are inspected a minimum of 8 times per year. Investigations are conducted routinely for unpermitted migrant housing.

Regulating and inspecting Mobile Home Parks and Recreational Vehicle Parks to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the residents, by checking for insect and rodent harborages, safe water supply and sanitary sewage disposal.

Public swimming pools and spas are licensed and monitored semi-annually for compliance with disinfection and safety regulations. If a pool is considered as “non-compliant”, the pool is closed.

Due to the risks associated with ultraviolet light, tanning salons are regulated and inspected. We check the facilities for safe operations and sanitary operations of the tanning beds and eye protection equipment.

When biomedical waste is improperly disposed of, it can create a significant health hazard for sanitation workers and the general public. We enforce rules for health practitioners who generate bio-hazardous waste, and provide education and supplies for “in-home” generated sharps (needle) disposal.

Because of the endemic nature of Rabies in Florida (raccoons and other wild mammal populations), we investigate all animal bite reports. A suspected animal will either be quarantined for ten days or euthanized and the brain sent to a lab to be analyzed for rabies infection. Rabies is considered a fatal disease when contracted by humans.

We also investigate and enforce abatement of sanitary nuisances which are considered a public health hazard. (This is a requirement by Florida Statute). This may include sewage on the ground, harborages for flies or rats, dead animals, and/or decomposing garbage.

The Environmental Health Division staff members are trained and knowledgeable about our communities. If you have any questions, or if you would like further information about Environmental Health Programs, please contact the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties at the following numbers: LaBelle & Clewiston (863) 674-4041 xt152 and Moore Haven (863) 946-0212 ext. 201

Monday, April 28, 2014

Obituaries - Bishop, Sauls

Albert Monroe Bishop, age 73, of Clewiston, passed away April 21, 2014 in Fort Myers.

He was born Aug. 30, 1940 in DeFuniak Springs, FL, to the late Caro Harold and the late Pauline Bishop. He married Carolyn Faye Lagos; she preceded him in death on December 17, 2009.

Survivors include one son: Michael Bishop of Clewiston, FL and three daughters: Debra (John) Hunter, Mary Ann (Bud) Whitney, Judy (Brian) Necaise, one sister: Shirley Taylor, fifteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

He was also preceded in death by his son; James Albert Bishop on July 13, 2008.

He was a welder for U.S. Sugar Corporation for many years. He was a loving father, grandfather and brother. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. He loved to go fishing, when he was not working, he was fishing.

Funeral services celebrating his life were held 3:00 p.m. Thursday, April 24, 2014, with a visitation one hour before at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, with Rev. Earl Cline officiating. Burial is in Ridgelawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations be given to Hope Hospice or American Cancer Society.

Charles Monroe Sauls, age 75, of Clewiston, went home to be with the Lord on April 22, 2014 in Clewiston.

He was born Feb. 1, 1939, in Panama City, FL, to the late Dannie Eason and the late Pearlie (Pitts) Sauls. He was a mechanic for over 30 years for United States Sugar Corporation. He loved spending time with his family and friends. He enjoyed working on auto bodies and painting the vehicles afterwards.

Survivors include two sons: Charles Steven Sauls and wife Anita, Randy E. Sauls, two brothers: Robert Sauls (wife Kaye), Donald Sauls (wife Rhonda) and three sisters: Rita Bunting (husband Jay), Mayvon Givons (husband Jerry), Patsy Robbins (husband Joe), Grandchildren, Courtney Sauls, Logan Sauls, Kirstan Sauls, Brittany Adams and Cody Nail; Preceded in death by Brother, Ronald Sauls (wife Darlene);sisters, Doris Sauls, Beatrice Frostick, Annie Ruth Cebo

Cremation rites were handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Jane Velez-Mitchell Alarmed Over Monkey Import Scheme

Hendry County "The Capital Of Captive Monkeys For Animal Experimentation?"

Jane Velez-Mitchell, cable news host is sounding an alarm over the importation of thousands of monkeys to Hendry County, Florida.

Velez-Mitchell reports, "Animal Defenders International claim there’s a business in Mauritius, a small island off the coast of Africa, that’s working on plans to supply wild monkeys to a proposed breeding facility in Hendry County, Florida.

"While this proposed facility has yet to be confirmed, critics are worried about potential health risks a facility like that could pose for people living in the United States if it were to become a reality."

In recent months discussion has arisen among Hendry county officials and departments about zoning a parcel of land in western Hendry, near the Lee county border to house a large number of research monkeys.

Southwest Florida has numerous "captive wildlife" facilities, including Primate Products, Inc. near the Hendry/Collier county line,north of Immokalee. Primate Products sells "non-human restraint systems" for experiments on animals and reportedly has an unknown amount primates housed at it's facility in south Hendry county. The company sells the monkeys to experimental labs and universities around the country.

From Primate Products catalog, "The Primate Products' restrainer was designed for animal comfort and easily adjusts to accommodate nonhuman primates of different sizes. The standard restrainer is essentially an aluminum frame that provides minimum restraint and maintains easy animal accessibility for investigators.

"The open-air design keeps the primate cool and comfortable while being in the restrainer for long periods of time. Roller bars on the perch assembly are intended to move with the animal when it makes normal movements, thus helping prevent sores on the animals’ hind limbs.

"Optional accessories are often added or removed, as needed, to prevent the primate from feeling excessively confined while perching in the restrainer, or to customize the chair to the primates particular needs."

It's associated company, Panther Tracts LLC owns 640 acres, in turn owned by Pacific Venture Investments, Inc., has one square mile of land valued at about $2.5 million for raising primates in south Hendry county. The property includes a half million dollar building for offices and the monkey population. 

Click for a Google Map of the 28 Primate Products buildings housing thousands of monkeys in South Hendry County, Fl.

Click for a map of Collier, Lee and Hendry captive wildlife facility locations.

(Video: courtesy HLNtv.com)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reward - Missing 4-Year Old Cat


-- Beloved 4 year old indoor neutered male cat
-- Orange with white paws
-- Not used to being outside
-- Broke out window screen and got lost in LaBelle, Florida near Beef O'Brady restaurant
-- On (medication) lysine powder daily
-- Shy with strangers
-- Micro-chipped
LOST: 9pm on Sunday, March 9, 2014
FROM: 80 South Riverview; LaBelle
PHONE: 863-675-1376 (home)
WORK: 863-674-4041 x124 (work)

New Goodwill Center Opens With Added Employment Services

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. cut the ribbon on the new Goodwill Job-Link Center in Moore Haven on Tuesday, April 29. The new Job-Link location provides employment services, skills training, and family strengthening resources and is located within the new Moore Haven Goodwill Retail & Donation Center (1150 US Highway 27).

“We are excited to expand our presence in Moore Haven by offering more opportunities for employment services through this new Job-Link location,” says Goodwill spokesperson Madison Mitchell. “Between our store and the Job-Link Center we hope to be seen as a resource by the community.”

The Moore Haven Job-Link center will be one of 16 Job-Link Centers operated by the organization. The center will be open Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. but, will be closed the first and fourth Monday of every month and open the first and fourth Saturday of every month.

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. is committed to assisting people with disabilities and disadvantages by providing life-changing opportunities to achieve independence. In 2013, more than 37,000 Southwest Floridians received assistance from Goodwill, ranging from Job-Link services to disability-accessible housing, career guidance and mentoring programs for teens, and the SWFL MicroEnterprise project, a small business education program.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fallen Sheriff's Deputy Remembered 10 Year After

10 Years After Fatal Accident, Brian Haas’ Memory Looms in Hendry County
LABELLE, FL. -- 10 years ago, in the early morning hours April 25, 2004, a young, energetic and dedicated Deputy Sheriff Brian Haas was on duty. He had been employed with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office for about 2 ½ years and was well on his way to fulfilling his lifelong dream of being a deputy sheriff with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office.

He started out as a correctional officer in 2002 and transferred to road patrol by December 1, 2003. Early on April 25, 2004 that all changed. Deputy Haas, along with Deputy Keith Bennett, were responding from Clewiston to a delayed burglary call in Montura. On the way Deputy Haas was involved in a traffic crash that ended his life at the age of 21.

In the minutes that followed his tragic crash, the world was turned upside down for the Haas family. However, during their time of loss, both Bob and Norie Haas were determined to keep their son’s memory alive. In 2005 the Haas family established a scholarship fund for Hendry County Sheriff’s Office employees, Explorers, and volunteers who wish to further their career/education in criminal justice. To date the Haas family has awarded over $30,000.00 in scholarships.

In 2004, then Hendry County Sheriff, Steve Worley, dedicated the newly built training facility as the Brian Haas Memorial Training Facility and placed a granite monument in front of the building.

Within the community of Hendry County and members of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, many of whom knew and worked with Brian, still remember and speak of him fondly. “I remember Brian well. He was a wonderful young man, set to take on the challenges of law enforcement and dedicated to the citizens of this county,” said Sheriff Steve Whidden. “His parents, Bob and Norie, are seen frequently at holiday and other department functions,” he continued, “and they remain involved in Concerns of Police Survivors and participate in an annual retreat that addresses parental survival”.

Those of us who knew Brian are fortunate to have known this young man, who chose to serve his community with dedication, and his family, who lost their son, but chose to keep his memory alive, by serving others in law enforcement and those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Obituaries - Stewart, Dukes

Scheryl A. Stewart, age 66, of LaBelle, passed away April 11, 2014 in Fort Myers. She was born Sep. 11, 1947 in Columbis, OH to the late Donald E. and the late Anna Ruth (Burrus) Hicks. 

Scheryl was a former resident of Miami and worked at Lorenzo's Italian Market. She was a member of Wilton Manors Christian Church and the Optimist Club.

She is survived by her husband: Glenn Stewart, two daughters: Candace Eileen Stewart and Tiffany Glennelle Stewart and brother: brother: Douglas Eugene Hicks.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 26, 2014, 1:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor Jeffrey Zimmerman officiating.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Richard Dukes, age 72, of LaBelle, passed away April 15, 2014. He was born Sep. 11, 1941 in Fort Myers, FL to the late William Dukes and the late Elizabeth (Johnson) Dukes. 

He was preceded in death by his wife, Rose Marie Dukes.

Survivors include his son: Rick Dukes, daughter: Lisa Sands and grandsons: Shane and Reese Sands.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Cremation Arrangements by: Akin-Davis Funeral Home-LaBelle

Monday, April 21, 2014

Killing Being Investigated - Cash Reward For Information

LAKE PLACID, FL. -- Highlands County Sheriff’s Detectives are investigating a shooting of a Moore Haven man that occurred early Monday morning in the Highway Park neighborhood of Lake Placid. 

At approximately 2:00 AM Central Dispatch received a call of shots fired in the area of Vision Street and Crestmore Avenue in Lake Placid. Upon arrival deputies found Lee Andrew Thomas, Jr., 34 years of age, of Moore Haven, Florida with a gunshot wound. 

Thomas was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. 

Thomas had numerous arrests in Hendry county and Glades county including possession of a weapon by a felon, battery on an officer, DUI alcohol or drugs, and resisting arrest.

The investigation is continuing at this time. Anyone with information is requested to contact the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Unit and Detective Roger St. Laurent at 863-402-7447 or 863-402-7250. 

Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS(8477), or click on the "Give-A-Tip" tab on this site. Anonymity is guaranteed.

Photo: Lee Andrew Thomas, Hendry County Sheriff's Office booking photo

Historic Downtown Revitalization Topic At Museum Meeting

LABELLE, FL. -- Shellie Johnson, principal at En-Site, Inc, the City of LaBelle's planning agency, will be the guest speaker at LaBelle Heritage Museum's Thursday, May 1, program meeting in LaBelle City Hall's Commission Chamber, 481 W. Hickpochee Avenue, at 7 o'clock in the evening. 

Ms. Johnson and a group of local citizens have initiated a revitalization campaign for Historic Downtown LaBelle. Recognizing the need to rejuvenate our economic and historic commerce center, they are committed to recreating a vibrant, economically successful Downtown while preserving its unique historic character and resources.

This commitment goes hand in glove with LaBelle Heritage Museum's statement of purpose to discover, protect, and promote our history and heritage. Rather than serving only as a dot on the map of a major corridor between two sides of the state, this group proposes to promote LaBelle’s Downtown Walking District, its cultural offerings and significance along the Caloosahatchee River as a treasured location for residents and visitors to enjoy. 

The success of any such effort lies in the hands of the community through local engagement and volunteerism. Creating a unique area to reflect our civic pride in the heart of our community will effect the future of LaBelle Heritage Museum for years to come.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

AARP Smart Driving Course - Save On Insurance

LABELLE, FL. -- Hope Connection, at 475 East Cowboy Way will host the AARP safe driving course on Thursday, May 8, 2014 from 9 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.

You will learn: Defensive driving techniques; Proven safety strategies; New traffic laws /Rules of the Road. Upon completion, receive a multi-year discount certificate on your car insurance.

Lunch- 30/40 Minutes -Bring a bagged lunch.

Register for the class by calling 513-532-3431- Alameda Harper; Price: $15 AARP Members/ $20 Non-Members - Pay by check day of class.

Future classes may be offered at this location as demand dictates.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guilty Plea In Bridgestone Price Fixing Scandal On Auto Parts

A former Bridgestone Corp. executive has agreed to plead guilty and to serve 18 months in a U.S. prison for his role in an international conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today. 

To date, 33 individuals have been charged in the government’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. Additionally, 26 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay a total of more than $2.29 billion in fines.

According to the one-count felony charge filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo, Yusuke Shimasaki, along with co-conspirators, engaged in a conspiracy to allocate sales of, to rig bids for, and to fix, raise and maintain the prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. – more commonly known by its brand name, Subaru – and certain of their subsidiaries, affiliates and suppliers, in the United States and elsewhere.

According to the charge, Shimasaki participated in the anti-vibration rubber conspiracy from at least as early as January 2001 until at least December 2008. During that time period, he was employed by Bridgestone as a sales manager, an executive vice president at Bridgestone APM Co., in Findlay, Ohio, and as a general sales manager. According to the plea agreement, in addition to serving time in prison, Shimasaki has also agreed to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and to cooperate in the department’s investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.

Bridgestone manufactures and sells a variety of automotive parts, including anti-vibration rubber parts, which are comprised primarily of rubber and metal, and are installed in suspension systems and engine mounts as well as other parts of an automobile. They are installed in automobiles for the purpose of reducing road and engine vibration. On Feb. 13, 2014, the Department of Justice announced that Bridgestone had agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $425 million criminal fine for its role in the conspiracy. On April 15, 2014, Yasuo Ryuto, Isao Yoshida, two former executives of Bridgestone Corp., and Yoshiyuki Tanaka, a current executive, were indicted their roles in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts.

Shimasaki is charged with price fixing and bid rigging in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. The maximum fine for an individual may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Southbound Lanes On I-75 Closed After Vehicle Damaged Bridge

FORT MYERS, FL. -- An excavator traveling southbound on Interstate 75 in Lee County struck the Tice Street Overpass earlier today. The overpass has been inspected and the two outside lanes of southbound Interstate 75 at the Tice Street Overpass are currently closed awaiting repairs of the overpass.

It is anticipated that the two lanes will remain closed until 6am Thursday. The two inside lanes remain open.

Drivers should be aware of potential delays as they travel south on Interstate 75 in the area of the Tice Street Overpass.

The Florida DOT issued this advisory today as well:

Two southbound lanes on I-75 just north of Luckett Road (exit 139) will remain open to traffic while crews repair three beams damaged in a traffic incident about 9:30 a.m. today. Right lanes southbound on the interstate in this location are closed. The westbound shoulder on the Tice Street overpass will remain closed until crews complete all repair work.

Bridge damage is minor and repair work should finish early Friday morning. This afternoon crews are removing loose concrete from the overpass and then will begin patching outer concrete on three beams. Crews will continue repair work tonight/overnight. Right lanes will reopen to traffic at 5 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, April 17, and stay open all day. Right lanes will close again at 9 p.m. tomorrow night and remain closed until overpass repair work is completed (by 5 a.m. Friday, April 18).

Next week during nighttime/overnight hours crews will remove and replace interstate pavement damaged from this incident.

Hunter Course Free At Sheriff's Range

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will host a free hunter safety course on April 26, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Hendry County.

Participants must successfully complete the online portion of the course prior to attending and bring the final Web report to the FWC course on April 26. The form does not have to be notarized.

Students will learn about several topics including hunting laws, safe gun handling and hunter ethics/responsibility before taking the final test. The course also includes live-firing instruction on a shooting range.

The class will be held at the Hendry County Sheriff's Office Shooting Range, between Clewiston and LaBelle. The address is 700 Witt Road, near the Pioneer Plantation Community.

Participants can sign up at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s South Region Office at 561-625-5122. A link to the online part of the course and a statewide schedule of hunter safety classes are available at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Parents or legal guardians must accompany children under 16 years of age to all classes. To participate in live-fire exercises, children under 18 years old must present a parental release form signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised).

Obituaries - MacKenzie, Davis, Pepitone

Phyllis A. MacKenzie, age 78, of LaBelle, passed away April 13, 2014 in LaBelle.

She was born April 6, 1936, in Harrisburg, Illinois, to the late James and the late Juanita (Bennett) Pankey. Mrs. MacKenzie married James Lownds.

Survivors include her husband of 21 years: James Lownds, son; George "Butch" Archie and wife Denise, daughter; Ronda Mosher and husband Ralph, daughter; Cherri Labadie and husband Tim, grandchildren; Joshua and Jessica Archie, Melissa and Rachel Labadie, brother; James Pankey, Jr.

She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend to all who knew her. She will be greatly missed.

Geraldine W. "Jerie" Lippincott Davis passed on to paradise on April 11, 2014. She was 81 years old. She was born in Alva to one of the early settling families.

She is preceded by her parents Claude and Mary Lippincott, husband Bill Davis, bothers Duane and Dale Lippincott. She is survived by her five loving children; daughters Mary Walden and Rebecca Hanley, sons William, Kenneth and Michael Davis, her sister Rosemary McCoy and other loving family members.

Jerie will always be remembered as a loving mother, devoted wife and a beautiful caring person.
A memorial service for family and friends will be held Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm at Alva United Methodist Church.

Wayne D. Pepitone, age 67, of LaBelle, passed away April 10, 2014 in Fort Myers.

He was born Feb. 15, 1947 in Brooklyn, NY, to the late Anthony S. and the late Thelma R. (Hicks) Pepitone. He served in the United States Army and received a Purple Heart for his service during Vietnam from 1966 to1972.

He is survived by son: Michael W. Pepitone (Jennifer) of LaBelle, FL and daughter: Toni M. Kirksey, brother: Anthony J. Pepitone (Debbie), grandchildren: Morgan Pepitone, Michael A. Pepitone, Kaitlyn Jaser, Karen-Ann Kirksey and Alex Kirksey.

Military honors were held Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 11:00 am at Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Florida.

Watching The Eclipse Of The Moon

LABELLE, FL. -- Did you miss the Blood Moon on Tuesday morning. Here's a video and commentary of the eclipse of the full moon as the earth stood between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the moon; the stray sun beams around the edge of the moon creating a reddish hue on the entire moon for several hours early Tuesday morning.

Click on the YouTube logo (or click here) to go to the YouTube channel to select different sections of time to view parts of the 45 minute video.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Baby Alligator Visits Port LaBelle Homeowner

LABELLE, FL. -- The baby alligator pictured above was discovered by Port LaBelle resident Jack Zorn Monday on his patio. Zorn's home in Laurel Oaks has several small ponds surrounding it from which the baby gator likely traveled. Note the gator's size compared to the bicycle tire.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Speak To Bears In 'Calm, Assertive Voice' Says FWC

Another Bear Killed By FWC Officers In Orlando Area
LAKE MARY, FL. -- Monday morning the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission captured another bear that approached staff as they were on the scene of a recent bear attack in the Carisbrooke neighborhood of Lake Mary in Seminole County.

Because this bear showed no fear of people, staff determined that it was a threat to public safety and needed to be put down.

“The fact that we have come across so many bears with so little fear of humans indicates that these bears are highly habituated and are regularly receiving food from people,” said Dave Telesco, the FWC’s Bear Program coordinator. “Our staff is dedicated to wildlife conservation. Having to put down these bears is a very difficult decision, but it’s the right decision to ensure public safety. Unfortunately, the saying is true: ‘a fed bear is a dead bear.’”

FWC staff will remain in the area and continue trapping efforts to remove any bears demonstrating this lack of fear. No action will be taken against bears that display normal wild bear behavior and avoid human contact.

The FWC reminds residents in this area to be aware of their surroundings and always supervise pets and children while outdoors. The FWC relies on residents to report threatening bear behavior. Residents should contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) to report any threatening bear activity.

If you encounter a bear at close range, remain standing upright and speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice. Back up slowly toward a secure area, and be sure you are leaving the bear a clear escape route. Stop and hold your ground if your movement away seems to irritate instead of calm the bear. Do not run or play dead. If a black bear attacks you, fight back aggressively.

Officers Shoot "Dangerous" Bear And Kill Three Others

LAKE MARY, FL. -- Sunday evening, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement officer shot a bear that exhibited dangerous behavior towards officers and staff on the scene of a recent bear attack in Seminole County north of Orlando.

The bear approached FWC biologists at close range and showed no fear of humans. An FWC officer yelled at the bear but it did not retreat. Because of its behavior, the officer determined that the bear was dangerous and he took the appropriate action.

Other bears in the area also appear to be highly habituated to people. Three that showed no fear of people were captured and put down.

FWC staff also observed two other bears in the area that ran away at the sight of humans. This is typical wild bear behavior and no action was necessary with these bears.

FWC has positioned several traps in the area and we are reaching out to residents of this neighborhood to discuss actions they can take to avoid encounters with bears.

The FWC reminds residents in this area to be aware of their surroundings and always supervise pets and children while outdoors. The FWC relies on residents to report threatening bear behavior. Residents should contact the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) to report any threatening bear activity.

Motorcyclist Dead After Crash On Curve

BONITA BEACH, FL. -- Douglas Friend, 45 of Bonita Beach died in a motorcycle crash Sunday afternoon about 1:58 p.m. while negotiating a curve on Bonita Beach Road.

The motorcycle, a 2014 Harley Davison FLHX Gladiator, was traveling westbound on the inside lane of CR 865 (Bonita Beach Road) west of Barefoot Beach Road, approaching a curvature to the right in the roadway. 

For unknown reasons, the driver failed to negotiate the curve and the cycle began traveling in a northwest direction as the roadway curved north. 

Subsequently, it collided with the median curb and traveled through the median and continued traveling in a northwest direction, then traveled through both lanes of eastbound CR 865. 

It then collided with the outside curb of eastbound CR 865, continued traveling northwest, then collided with a fence and a tree. The motorcycle came to rest against a bench facing northwest in the grassy ditch of CR 865, according to FHP Trooper Danny Diaz and homicide investigator Corporal Juan Quintana.

Friend was not wearing a helmet and the FHP says it is unknown if alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bear Injures Florida Woman

LAKE MARY, FL. -- On April 12, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received a report that Mrs. Terri Frana was injured during an encounter with a bear in the yard of her Lake Mary home in Seminole County. 

Early media reports that Ms. Frana was attacked by several bears are inaccurate. There were several bears observed near the area, but one bear is responsible for her injuries. Mrs. Frana was treated for her injuries and released from the hospital.

The FWC responded to the scene, and the investigation is ongoing. The FWC has positioned several traps in the area and is reaching out to residents of this neighborhood to discuss actions they can take to avoid encounters with bears.

The FWC reminds residents in this area to be aware of their surroundings and always supervise pets and children while outdoors. The FWC relies on residents to report threatening bear behavior. Residents should contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) to report any threatening bear activity.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter Bunny Appears At Egg Hunt

LABELLE, FL. -- The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle sponsored the annual Egg Hunt and Scavenger Hunt at the LaBelle Kiwanis Thrift Store with approximately 50 kids participating in the event. 

Prizes were awarded in four age group categories:
Kids 2, 3 & 4 years of age (Egg Hunt)
Kids 5, 6, & 7 years of age (Egg Hunt)
Kids 8, 9 & 10 years of age (Egg Hunt)
Kids 11 & 12 years of age (Scavenger Hunt)

There were thousands of eggs scattered all over the field behind the Thrift Store. LaBelle High School Key Club Members and West Glades Builders Club Members helped the kids to gather their eggs while parents watched and snapped photos.

There were 40 scavenger hunt items hidden all over the Kiwanis property. Participants in the scavenger hunt had 10 clues; then they had to "guess" what the item was and then search for those items within a certain allotted time.

Of course the Easter Bunny (Mary) was there bringing smiles to everyone! The kids (of all ages) seemed to have a wonderful time!

Bears On The Move Looking For Food Warns FWC

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reminds the public to be aware that bears are now or soon will be on the move as they are leaving their winter dens. There are important things people can do over the next few months to reduce negative interactions with Florida’s largest land mammal.

“Now is the time to expect bears to show up looking for food,” said Dave Telesco, who directs the FWC’s bear management program. “If they can’t find food in your neighborhood, they’ll move on.”

Female bears that gave birth to cubs that were only 12 ounces in January are beginning to move around with their babies, which are now around 5 pounds. As the cubs continue to grow, the family unit will roam farther and could be more visible to people.

While black bears generally are not aggressive, a mother bear may try to defend her cubs. Never intentionally approach a bear. Do not assume when you see a lone adult bear that there are no cubs, because the cubs may be hidden nearby. When walking dogs, keep them close and be aware of your surroundings. Dogs can trigger defensive behaviors from bears.

Keep human sources of food, like garbage, birdseed and pet food, secure from bears so they won’t wander into your neighborhood this spring looking for an easy meal. Use a bear-resistant trash can, build a bear-resistant trash can shed or modify your existing trash can with hardware to make it more resistant. Instructions for these methods, plus a video on how to use an electric fence to deter bears can be found at www.pinterest.com/myfwc/bear-necessities/.

If you do not have a bear-resistant garbage can, consider building a bear-resistant trash can shed. In Collier County today, the FWC is partnering with local Boy Scout volunteers to build sheds that will deter bears from accessing garbage. The FWC received a grant from the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, using proceeds from the Conserve Wildlife license plate, to build and install 70 bear-resistant wooden trash can sheds for residents of two East Naples mobile home parks, who have no other way to keep their garbage away from bears.

As females and cubs increase their movements this time of year, they also increase the number of roads they cross. For the safety of yourself and bears, remember to slow down when driving, particularly on rural highways at dawn or dusk. Watch for road signs identifying bear crossing areas. Over 200 Florida bears were killed after being hit by vehicles in 2013.

Having conflicts with bears? Call one of the FWC’s five regional offices. Go to MyFWC.com/Contact, and click on Regional Offices to find the phone number for your region. Need to report someone harming bears or intentionally feeding them? Call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Friday, April 11, 2014

Crimestopper Tip Nets Lehigh Suspects - Reward Increased

LABELLE, FL. -- As a result of several Crime Stoppers tips, the two suspects in Monday’s bold daytime home burglary in Lehigh have been identified as Martha Helton, DOB 3/5/84, of Labelle, and Vincent Montilongo, DOB 2/14/74 of Lehigh Acres.

Martha Helton has turned herself in to Lee County detectives and Montilongo has been arrested at his Lehigh Acres home.

In the wake of the Moore Haven homicide of a 31 year old US Army veteran, Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers, the Glades County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are announcing an increased reward in hopes of finding the killer of Mario Hughes.

Hughes was murdered at his residence on East Park Avenue SE in Moore Haven shortly after 8 p.m. on Friday, January 31st. Now, more than two months after his life was taken, investigators are hoping an increased reward of $7,000 will encourage someone to step forward and provide information.

Trails Closing Around Lake Okeechobee

Portions of Lake O Scenic Trail And Boat Ramp Closing
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will close additional portions of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) as rehabilitation continues on the Herbert Hoover Dike, the earthen structure surrounding the lake.

The Corps will close about 10 miles of the trail between Belle Glade and Pahokee. The Corps will also close access to the boat ramp at Paul Rardin Park southwest of Pahokee. The closures are necessary for public safety while replacement of a nearby water control structure (Culvert 12) takes place.

Additionally, the Corps will close another 10 miles of the trail between Lakeport and Moore Haven. This is to facilitate replacement of other water control structures (Culverts 5 and 5A).

“We recognize the inconvenience caused by these closures,” said Steve Dunham, Chief of the Corps’ South Florida Operations Office (SFOO) in Clewiston. “However, public safety is our top priority. We want to keep people out of harm’s way, given the amount of equipment that will be in the area.”

Contractors are using heavy construction vehicles and large equipment within all of these areas. Truck traffic on the roads is a constant flow, and any additional traffic on the narrow trail or dike crest poses a safety hazard for recreationists and equipment operators. The trail and boat ramp are expected to be closed for the duration of construction, currently estimated to last about 18 months.

In addition to these new closures, the trail remains closed in various locations between Moore Haven and South Bay on the south side of the lake, and between Canal Point and Port Mayaca on the east side.

More information on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail and a map of current closures can be found at the following website:


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Pop Music Influences Youth Drinking Study Says

Binge drinking by teenagers and young adults is strongly associated with liking, owning and correctly identifying music that references alcohol by brand name, according to a study by the University of Pittsburgh and Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Based on a national, randomized survey of more than 2,500 people ages 15 to 23, the findings suggest that policy and educational interventions designed to limit the influence of alcohol-brand references in popular music could be important in reducing alcohol consumption in teens and young adults. The results are published online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

“Every year, the average adolescent is exposed to about 3,000 references to alcohol brands while listening to music,” said lead author Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and pediatrics and director of the Program for Research on Media and Health in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “It is important that we understand the impact of these references in an age group that can be negatively affected by alcohol consumption.”

Alcohol is considered the third-leading, lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Brand references may serve as advertising, even if they are not paid for by the industry,” said senior author James D. Sargent, M.D., co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire and professor of pediatrics in the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. “This is why it is useful to examine the influence of brand mentions.”

Of the 2,541 participants who completed the survey, 1,488, or 59 percent, reported having had a complete alcoholic drink, defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor at one time. Of those, 18 percent reported binging — or drinking heavily over a short period of time — at least monthly, and 37 percent reported having had problems, such as injuries, due to alcohol.

In the survey, which could be completed either online or on paper, participants were given the titles of popular songs that include alcohol mentions and asked if they liked or owned the song. They also were tested to determine if they could spontaneously recall what brand of alcohol was mentioned in the lyrics.

Survey participants who could correctly recall alcohol brands in songs had more than twice the odds of having had a complete alcoholic drink, compared to those who could not recall the brand, even after adjusting for factors including age, socioeconomic status, and alcohol use by friends or parents. The participants who could identify the alcohol brands in songs also had greater odds of having ever binged on alcohol.

“A surprising result of our analysis was that the association between recalling alcohol brands in popular music and alcohol drinking in adolescents was as strong as the influence of parental and peer drinking and an adolescent’s tendency toward sensation-seeking,” said Dr. Primack. “This may illustrate the value that this age group places on the perceived opinions and actions of music stars.”

Dr. Primack said that one possible solution could be to empower adolescents with critical thinking skills. “Media literacy is a growing educational methodology that may be successful in helping young people make healthier decisions,” he said. “In the case of alcohol, it may be valuable to help them understand how alcohol-brand references in music may manipulate their thoughts and emotions to sell them a product.”

Sheriff Says Jail Lost $1 Million In Two Months

Jail Losing Lots Of Money Say Sheriff - Planning Move And Firing Employees

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Glades County Sheriff Stuart Whiddon appeared before the Glades County Commission today saying he's lost $1,000,000 over the last two months because of a lack of federal prisoners at the new county jail.

Commissioner Donna Storter reported Whiddon's plight in her regular commentary to constituents: 

Storter reports Sheriff Stuart Whiddon informed the County Board of Commissioners today that he may be needing to move back into the old jail facility due to declining numbers of ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) detainees, he has lost $1 million dollars in the last two months.

Glades county's jail for the last several years has housed many more aliens arrested by Federal authorities than U.S. citizens accused of Glades county crimes.

Whiddon said the Glades Correctional Development Corp, [GCDC], operators of the facility have $3 million in reserves, and financial audits have drawn high marks for the operation and said the problem is "political" as the Federal administration cuts back on enforcement of the laws governing illegal aliens.
He said of the 800,000 persons detained last year by Federal authorities, only 200,000 were deported.

Whiddon said investors in GCDC may choose to infuse money but that probably would only buy a few month's time. He stated he will confer with them on Friday, and will know then if he needs to be able to move from the facility by the end of the month.

He stated some minor repairs need to be done to the old jail facility next to the Glades courthouse which was renovated in 2008 with $1.4 million from one-cent discretionary sales tax revenue and  leased by GCDC for 15 months at the rate of $550,000 per year which produced approximately $625,000 to the county to house up to 100 female and juvenile detainees. 

The jail facility has been empty since 2009 except when used for storage of equipment and records.

Whiddon stated he had conferred with County Manager Carlisle about the matter and had recently examined the facility, and said equipment stored there would need to be removed and leaks would have to be fixed; he stated he would need administrative office space for accounting staff and proposed the county remodel the old health department facility for offices.

Whiddon stated he plans to have Federal Marshall detainees/inmates move with the county’s inmates as the facility has capacity for about 100 and he could house 20-25 Marshall’s charging approximately $55 per diem and help offset the county’s operating costs.

Commissioner Echols, the Board’s delegate member of GCDC, told the Board that it was simply a matter of mathematics, that it takes X amount of dollars for X amount of inmates to break even, and it is not financially feasible to operate the system with under 200 federal detainees. The facility was designed to house more than 400 with no contracts with the Feds.

Chairman Storter inquired of Attorney Pringle concerning emergency status of immediate repairs and readiness preparations for the old jail, and would the Board need consensus or official action to proceed.

He stated that repairs to the facility could be done without official action. Commissioner Echols stated approximately $1 million remains unencumbered in the one-cent fund and the spending limit before bids were required is $50,000. Sheriff Whiddon stated Wright Construction had renovated the building and are currently working with the county on another project and may be able to perform the repairs now.

Storter reminded the Board that the jail was the responsibility of the Board of County Commissioners, not the Sheriff, and assured the Sheriff that the Board would work with him expediently.

Along with the immediate need for office space, transfer of the 911 equipment for dispatch will be necessary. 911 Coordinator Terri Anascavage stated she had just applied for a rural county grant for the operation and maintenance of the county’s 911 system, and had she known, she could have applied for funding to move the system. The grant deadline was April 1.

Sheriff Whiddon stated he would have to lay off 80-90 corrections staff and some road patrol staff as well. He said if on Friday GCDC does not provide more funding, he will immediately dismiss staff. He says he does not need an office, but would immediately need offices for accounting staff.

Whiddon commented that he has a lot of equipment that will need to be moved that does not belong to GCDC. Echols inquired if the Sheriff could make some arrangement with GCDC for the county to keep the mobile fuel system and move it to the Road Dept, stating it would allow volume discounts and gas taxes. Whiddon said the county had constructed some storage buildings that GCDC may consider and allow the fuel system to goto the county.

Chairman Storter inquired and was informed by Public Safety Director Bob Jones that there is room in the county’s storage building at the Fire Dept in Moore Haven, and will have even more room when the Clerk’s storage building is completed and Clerk’s records can be relocated there. 

Storter commented that office space is available in the Community Development building; County Manager Carlisle stated there is a vacant office in the courthouse; Carlisle will work with Sheriff Whiddon to facility preparations for the move.

William "Ray" Clinard - School Board Chairman Dies At 73

William "Ray" Clinard was born September 22, 1940, in Springfield, Tennessee, to the late William Emmett and Verlie Sutton Clinard. He died on April 5, 2014. Clinard was the Hendry County School Board Chairman.

Ray lived in South Florida for 70 years, with the past 50 years being in Clewiston, Florida. He graduated from Belle Glade High School in 1959, and proudly served in the United States Air Force from 1959-1963.

He married the love of his life, Anna Postell Clinard on August 28, 1964. He was employed by United States Sugar Corporation for 23 years (1963-1986).

Ray thoroughly enjoyed working in the wholesale and retail automotive business and he was a licensed automobile dealer for many years. This was passed on to his son, Tod. Ray beamed with pride watching Tod walk in his footsteps. He always bragged on Tod and never missed the chance to express how very proud of him he was.

He loved to help with the youth of his community. He was proud to serve on the Hendry County School Board from 2008 until the time of his passing. He was the chairman of the board and represented district 5 in Clewiston. He was a very dedicated school board member, and he attended as many school functions as he possibly could.

Any student who visited with Mr. Clinard would always be asked the famous questions, "How is school going?" and "How are your grades?". His strong interest in the academic success of students in this community was passed on to his daughter, Kristi. He was extremely proud of her accomplishments and her desire to touch the lives of students on a daily basis.

Ray was preceded in death by his parents, William Emmett and Verlie Sutton Clinard and daughter, Connie Clinard.

Ray is survived by his loving wife, Anna; two children, William Tod Clinard and his wife, Yvonne, and Kristi Clinard Durance and her husband, Kevin, all from Clewiston, Florida. He has one brother, Milton Thomas Clinard and his wife Marilyn of Macon, Georgia; two brother-in-laws, Wilbur Postell and his wife, Ann of Clewiston, Florida and Dennis Postell and his wife, Mary of Punta Gorda, Florida.

He was a very proud Papa to five grandchildren, Tiffany, Yvette, and Garrett Clinard and Kacie and Kody Durance; a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Celebration of his life was held Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. in Evangel Assembly of God Church with Pastor Gary Corley officiating, interment immediately followed the service in Ridgelawn Cemetery. Visitation was held Monday, April 7, 2014, from 6-8 p.m. in Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston.

Hendry Obituaries - Willis, Williams, Mejia

Kristin Michelle Willis, age 30, of LaBelle, passed away April 6, 2014 in LaBelle.
She was born Mar. 2, 1984 in Fort Myers, Florida. She was a lifelong resident of LaBelle. 

Survivors include son: Hayden Willis, father: Bruce Terry Hanshaw, mother: Bonnie L. (Finks) Hanshaw, brother: Daren (Jessica) Hanshaw, grandfather: Don Finks; grandmother: Lyda Hanshaw and nephews: Bruce and Randy Hanshaw and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Funeral services were private. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida c/o Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, P.O. Box 2218, Fort Myers, FL 33908.

Hiram Steven Williams, age 52, of Lake Worth, passed away April 4, 2014 in Delray Beach.

He was born Aug. 1, 1961 in Fort Myers, FL, to the late Wayland and Beatrice Joan (Ballard) Williams. Mr. Williams married Deanna L. McKenzie.

Survivors include his wife: Deanna L. Williams, siblings: Stephanie Joan (Marion) Stratton of Russellville, KY, Nerissa Leighton Williams of Russellville, KY, Janna Thomas, Mike Thomas, Jill Thomas, Jody Thomas and Jennifer Thomas. Grandmother, Beatrice Ballard of LaBelle, FL; Uncle, Kirby (Linda) Williams; Aunt, Minnie Hansen; Uncle, Sam (Cindy) Ballard of LaBelle, FL; Aunt, Jeanette (Dale) Small of LaBelle, FL; Nephew, Cale (Kristin) Newman; Niece, Amanda Newman; Nephew, Cance (Brittany) Williams; Great Niece, Pressley Newman; Great Niece, Molly May Williams; Great Nephew, Ozzy Williams.

He was taught by his grandfather on how to operate heavy equipment and he ran them his entire life.

Funeral services will be held Friday, April 11, 2014 at 11:00 am at Church Of God-LaBelle, LaBelle with Rev. Cliff Gobble officiating. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Friday from 1 hour prior to service at Church Of God-LaBelle, LaBelle, FL.

Jose Raul Mejia, age 58, of Clewiston, passed away April 6, 2014 in Clewiston. He was born Feb. 22, 1956 in Medellin, Colombia to Raul and Teresa (Echavarria) Mejia.

Survivors include: one brother: Robert Mejia and two sisters: Lisa Sophia Harrison, Susan Medaglia, six nieces, four nephews, one great niece and three great nephews.
He served in the United States Navy. He was a carpenter for many years.

Canonization Of Pope John Paul II And Pope John In 3D

One Week After Easter, Historical Canonization Of Two Popes Broadcast Worldwide

On April 27, 2014, the whole world will meet virtually in Rome, in St. Peter's Square, by live TV and theater broadcasts in 3D to watch the sanctification the most beloved popes of the twentieth century into sainthood.

The canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II will be presided over by Pope Francis. A great unprecedented event, broadcast by the Vatican for the first time in 3D, and broadcast not only on television but also in movie theaters around the world, thanks to the production signed by the Vatican Television Center, in partnership with Sky TV in Britain. 

The technology in three dimensions provide the feeling of being present in St. Peter's Square. A large international production, the latest generation of 13 3D cameras with with unique camera positions will offer a totally immersive view of the historic ceremony. The whole world will be able to live this extraordinary Liturgy as ever did before, not only on television but also in cinemas around the world. 

John XXII, Pope John Paul II with Pope Benedict XVI and current Pope Francesco,  four pontiffs spiritually united in St. Peter's Square, an unprecedented event in the history of the Church, said the Vatican.

(Video Preview In 3D - watch with red/blue or red/green glasses and other 3D viewing modes on YouTube)

Monday, April 07, 2014

Lee Granims Dies At 72

Lee J. Granims, age 72, of Clewiston, passed away April 2, 2014 in Loxahatchee.

He was born Nov. 30, 1941 in Boston, MA. His parents were William and Grace (Cason) Easterly. Mr. Granims married Regina L. Swab.

Survivors include his wife: Regina L. (Swab) Granims, four sons: Travis, Tony, Todd, Alexander and one daughter: Tiffany, two brothers: Thomas and Michael Easterly one sister: Jan, twelve grandchildren and five great grandchildren;

He was a self-employed private investigator for many years. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

How To Report Gopher Tortoises

FWC Wants To Know When You See These Turtles
A gopher tortoise strolling across a road or through a backyard or field is a common sight during spring in Florida. Yet as tortoises become increasingly active this time of year, they are vulnerable to being struck by vehicles and injured or killed.

Don’t forget to look out for these slow-moving reptiles with their bony-plated shells and elephantine legs. They leave their burrows in search of green plants to eat and a tortoise to become their mate. From now through May, females will be laying eggs the size of ping-pong balls in the sandy apron outside their burrows.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages drivers to slow down on highways to help protect the state’s gopher tortoises. If a gopher tortoise is crossing the road, it is OK to pick it up and move it to safety – but keep it pointed in the direction it was heading and do not put this terrestrial animal into the water.

People also can help by downloading and using a new smartphone app to report to the FWC when and where they spot gopher tortoises. The free “Florida gopher tortoise” app recently became available on iPhone and Android. When users of the app take a photograph of a tortoise or its burrow, the photo and its GPS coordinates will be sent automatically to the FWC.

App-generated data collected by citizen scientists will help guide conservation of this threatened species. Biological information and a quiz testing the user’s knowledge of the only tortoise east of the Mississippi River also are included in the app.

The FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Management Plan spells out goals and actions to protect the tortoises, their burrows sheltering hundreds of other species and their habitat. Prescribed burning is critical to maintaining the sandy, open fields and forests, and the growth of soft-stemmed plants that tortoises need to survive. To access the management plan, go to MyFWC.com/Wildlife and select “Managed Species.”

People can report injured or dead gopher tortoises to the FWC by calling 850-921-1030 during weekdays or by contacting the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922. Harming a gopher tortoise, its burrows or eggs is against the law.

For "A guide to living with gopher tortoises," go to MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise and click on “Education Corner.” To find "Safe roads for people and gopher tortoises," go to MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise and select: “How you can help.”

Local Birders Teach Best Places To View Birds

Birding in Hendry and Glades County by Car, Boat, or on Foot
LABELLE, FL. -- Local birders will be presenting the April Hendry-Glades Audubon program. Learn where to go to by car, boat, or on foot to view the resident and migrating birds in Hendry and Glades County. 

Be prepared to be entertained during this program and to have an opportunity to share your photos and local birding adventures. . This free event hosted by Hendry-Glades Audubon will be held on Monday April 14 at 7 p. m. at the Cooperative Extension, Dallas Townsend Building 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle.

Elections for the 2013-2014 officers and board will follow the program. A list of nominations will be presented with additional nominations accepted from the floor.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday Scenes - The Pond At Port LaBelle

Motorcycle Passenger Critical After DUI Crash

Motorcyclist Arrested For DUI After Crash Into Car
FORT MYERS, FL. -- MICHAEL GIOVANNI AGOSTO, 27 of Delray Beach was arrested early Sunday morning after a crash which left his passenger CARLOS MONTALBAN, 32 of Delray Beach with critical injuries.

A 2003 Honda motorcycle and 2012 Honda Civic were both traveling north on US 41 about 3:21 a.m. Sunday. As the Civic was stopped for traffic, the motorcycle driver failed to reduce speed to avoid a collision.

As a result, the cycle hit the Civic in the rear as the driver and passenger were ejected as a result of the impact. The cyclist was charged with careless driving and DUI. He had minor injuries and was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital as was his passenger.

The driver of the car and two passengers had no injuries.

Hendry Obituaries - Alfred Clay Craichy, Tim Weaver

Timothy Jerrold Weaver, age 65, of Clewiston, died on April 2, 2014, in Gulf Coast Medical Center, Fort Myers.

Tim was born Oct. 4, 1948, in Pahokee, FL, to Dilburn Florice and Helen Mae (Rich) Weaver. Tim met and married the love of his life: Connie Weaver. He was a business partner in Best Electric Company.

Survivors include his wife: Connie (Hester) Weaver, three daughters: Penny Ezell and husband Mark, Rhonda Lowman and husband Tim, Wendy Kurtz and Ray Burgis, one brother: Doc Weaver and one sister: Flora Mae Bash, Grandchildren: Kristyn, Heather, Bradley, T J, Nicholas, Rachel, James, Marshall, Wyatt; Aubrey; Great Grandchildren, Paytton, Noah, Kadence, Emma.

Tim was preceded in death by his parents and one brother: Sam Weaver.

Celebration of Tim's life took place on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. in Evangel Assembly of God Church in Clewiston with Rev. Jim Yates and Pastor Troy Ezell officiating. Burial was immediately after the celebration in Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Alfred Clayton "Clay" Craichy, 87, active for years in LaBelle aviation and real estate businesses as well as community organizations, died Thursday, April 3, after an extended illness. 

Mr. Craichy moved to LaBelle in 1966 and was active in the Jaycees. He was involved during the early years of the Swamp Cabbage Festival, and organized the air show that for a number of years was a part of the festival. 

A veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne, he worked in the local area as a crop duster and pilot and also founded A. Clay Craichy Real Estate in the 1970s in LaBelle. Mr. Craichy worked as a crop duster and pilot in Central and South America and Nebraska. 

He is preceded in death by his parents Alfred and Gladys Craichy and his sisters Fran Chase and Josephine Stephens. Surviving are his children KC (Monica) Craichy, Julie (Wayne) Wilkins, and John (Karen) Craichy; a sister Alice (Linville) Helton; a brother Roger (Sharon) Craichy; grandchildren Charlie, Michael, Johnathan, Kyle, Austin, Sarah, Grace, Joshua, Chassey, Kristopher, Matthew, Coby, Montana, and Jacqueline; and many nieces and nephews. 

Mr. Craichy spent his final year at Oakbrook of LaBelle, where services were held Saturday, April 5. 2014 with Pastor Clifford Avery officiating.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Driver Charged With Death Of Passenger In Crash

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Berta Alicia Villafuerta, 27 of Moore Haven has been booked into Glades County jail on charges of vehicular homicide.

Villafuerta was driving on U.S. 27 and has been charged with the death of Martha Prado, 37 of Clewiston. Prado was a passenger in a second vehicle involved in a crash Thursday at 12:13 p.m.

Villafuerte suffered serious injuries as did the driver of the second vehicle Franciso Pardo Garcia, 42 of Clewiston.

Clay Craichy Dies - Memorial Service Saturday

Clay Craichy died Friday morning at 3:33 a.m.at Oakbrook Nursing Home in LaBelle. The family will have a memorial service to honor "PapaClay" this Saturday, April 5 at 3:00 p.m., at Oakbrook Nursing Home, 250 Broward Ave, LaBelle, Fl.

Daughter, Julie Craichy Wilkins invites anyone who would like to come to the memorial service to celebrate PapaClay's life.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt At Kiwanis Store April 12

LABELLE, FL. -- Calling all kids from ages 12 and under! Hop on over to the LaBelle Kiwanis Thrift Store on April 12th starting at 10am for The LaBelle Kiwanis Annual Easter Egg Hunt! 

And of course the Easter Bunny will be there too! Lots of fun and lots of surprises! The egg hunt is free and the hunt will be separated into three age groups: Ages 3 & 4, ages 5 to 7, and ages 8 to 10. There will be other fun activities (scavenger hunt) for ages 11 to 12.
No parents will be allowed on the “egg hunting grounds” with the kids, but Kiwanis Members and LaBelle High School student Key Club Members will be on hand to assist with the smaller kids. Kids are asked to bring their own basket or any type of bag to put their eggs in during the hunt. Additionally, ALL ages are welcome to come and take their photo with the Easter Bunny!
Prizes will be awarded! There will be goodie bags for all kids! We hope to see you there! The LaBelle Kiwanis Thrift Store is located at 155 S. Bridge Street.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Businessman Walter R. Ferguson Dies At 90

Walter R. Ferguson, age 90, of Miami, passed away March 31, 2014 in Fort Myers. He was born May 5, 1923 in Charlotte, NC, to the late Walter E. and the late Margaret E. (Dixon) Ferguson.

Ferguson was one of the largest private landowners in Hendry and Glades county having an interest in the Port LaBelle Marina and other lands along the river as well as a home and business property in Miami.

He is survived by one son: Robert R. Ferguson (Ellen) and two daughters: Linda C. Krater, Susan F. Zerlin (Chester), one brother: Broughton Ferguson and six grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Friday, April 4, 2014 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Rev. Frank Deerey Jr. officiating. Interment will be on his private residence island at 3390 Ft. Denaud Road, LaBelle.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Sheriff's Deputy Arrested For Felony Battery On Girlfriend

Dispute On I-75 Leads To Deputy's Arrest

LABELLE, FL. -- A Hendry County Deputy has been arrested in Charlotte County on charges of felony battery on his girlfriend.

The Charlotte Sheriff's office reports 43-year old Simeon Harrynarine was arrested on I-75 Sunday after a call was received regarding a woman allegedly having been beaten.

Harrynarine, 5' 7" and 190 pounds reportedly told a deputy he was driving with his girlfriend and her child when the girlfriend open the passenger door while the car was in motion. Harrynarine says she was accidentally struck with his elbow while he tried to close the door.

The woman says Harrynarine was acting strange and she tried to get him to stop the vehicle and let her out and then he hit her. The child reported Harrynarine hit the mother several times in the face. She was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital to treat the injuries.

Harrynarine is on administrative leave from the Hendry Sheriff's department after an officer involved shooting last month that left a man dead in LaBelle.

Officer A. Nardi made the arrest according to booking records.

Harrynarine is divorced and has a high school education according to the Charlotte County booking records. He was booked into jail by Deputy K. Branscome on Sunday and released on $10,000 bond Monday.

Previous Stories About Officer Harrynarine

Debbie Crumb Dies At 50

Debbie S Crumb, age 50, of Clewiston, passed away March 24, 2014 in Clewiston.

She was born Dec. 3, 1963 in West Palm Beach, FL, to the late Bill and the late Carolyn (Pridgen) Sloan. Debbie was married to her loving husband Tim Crumb

Survivors include her husband of nineteen years: Timothy Crumb, two sons: Brandon Edwards, Greg Crumb and two daughters: Cameron Edwards Moss, Jessica Crumb, two brothers: David Sloan and Wife Holly, Craig Sloan and Wife Tara, Nieces, Kaitlin, Kelsey, Hailey, Isabella, Lexi, Tatum, Seven Grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11:00 am at Evangel Assembly Of God, Clewiston with Pastor Gary Corley officiating. Interment was Friday, March 28, 2014 in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Visitation was Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Ana Perez Dies At 84

Ana D. Perez, age 84, of Clewiston, passed away March 28, 2014 in Clewiston.

She was born June 20, 1929 in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico to the late Juan Demitrios and the late Cruz Maria (Perez Rivera) Ramos Velasquez. She was secretary and treasurer for many years for her church; Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal MI.

Survivors include four sons: Roberto Perez and wife Jenny, Alexis Perez and wife Esther, Jose Alberto Perez and wife Cheryl, Israel Perez and wife Dieni and three daughters: A. Esther Ramos and husband Nestor, Olga Marissa Perez-Hancock and husband John, Nancy Perez ,one brother: Norberto Ramos wife Juanita and one sister: Maria Gracia Olmeda and husband Inoceto, twenty-eight: grandchildren, forty-three: great grandchildren.

Ana was a loving wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great grandmother and friend. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 10:00 am at Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal MI, Clewiston with Pastor Benjamin Escorcia officiating. Interment is Wednesday, April 2, 2014 in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation will be Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. at Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal MI, Clewiston, FL.

Dog Found Hanged In Tree - Man Charged With Animal Cruelty

LaBelle Man Arrested for Animal Cruelty And Marijuana Production

LABELLE, FL. -- A man has been arrested in LaBelle, charged with being responsible for the death of a former girlfriend's dog, which was discovered by Hendry deputies hanging in a tree

On March 25, 2014, Hendry County Deputies followed up on a complaint of Animal Cruelty in the County Line Trailer Park. Deputies originally received the complaint on March 23, 2014 when it was reported that 29 year old, Gene Harris may be responsible for the death of a dog belonging to a former girlfriend.

Deputies arrived on scene and found the dog hanging in a tree. Witnesses reported that Harris was angry at his former girlfriend and took her dog onto the roadway, slammed onto the road, then hung it from a tree.

Witnesses stated they called out to Harris, asking him what he was doing. Harris then ran from the area.

On March 27, 2014, Sgt. J. Olvera went to the home of Gene Harris. Sgt. Olvera did speak with Harris at that time and he was placed under arrest.

Upon making contact with Harris, a marijuana plant was noticed next to him. When questioned about the Marijuana plant Harris admitted to finding it the trailer park, digging it up and taking it home. He went on to tell the Deputy he put the plant in a pot and fertilized it. He was then transported to the Hendry County Jail.

Harris was charged with Cruelty to an Animal and Producing Marijuana. Harris is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $10,000.00 bond.