Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Buildings To Be Illuminated With Purple Lights Tomorrow

In recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Attorney General Pam Bondi will have the Old Historic Capitol in Tallahassee illuminated in purple on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m. 

The Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College in Miami and the SunTrust Financial Centre in Tampa are also joining this effort. 

Florida is home to 42 certified domestic violence centers that provide emergency shelter to more than 15,000 survivors and their children. 

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 187 individuals died from domestic violence in 2013, accounting for more than 19 percent of all Florida homicides.

“By raising awareness about domestic violence, we can empower victims to seek help,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Victims in need of assistance can call Florida’s toll-free domestic violence hotline at1-800-500-1119.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tampa Couple Guilty In Child Sex For Money Operation

TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces today that Derrick L. Hayes, a/k/a “D-Man,” (27, St. Petersburg) pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of children by force or coercion, and two counts of sex trafficking of children by force or coercion. His girlfriend, Keosha Jones has plead guilty for her role in the criminal acts. 

According to court documents, in December 2012 and January 2013, Hayes conspired with his girlfriend, Keosha Renee Jones, to arrange for two 14-year-old victims to engage in commercial sex acts in St. Petersburg. 

After meeting the victims, Hayes took them to a residence and directed them to engage in sex acts with his associates. With Hayes’ knowledge, Jones also took the victims to a hotel in St. Petersburg, where the victims engaged in additional sex acts for money. 

Hayes visited the hotel regularly, collected the proceeds from the sex acts, and directed the victims to engage in additional sex acts with his associates. Hayes also beat and threatened Jones in the victims’ presence, and threatened the victims.

Hayes faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison on each count. Hayes also must register as a sex offender. His sentencing hearing has been set for December 12, 2014.

On September 19, 2013, Jones pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy. She is awaiting sentencing.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. 

For more information about Project Safe Childhood: www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Free Pesticide Pickup In Operation Cleansweep

Operation Cleansweep is a program for collecting and disposing unwanted pesticides from Florida's commercial pesticide users – such as farms, ranches, nurseries, golf courses, pest control companies, etc. The program has been funded this year by the Florida legislature.

This program provides pesticide users a free (first 500 pounds, then 89¢/lb) pick up and disposal service. They can register on line starting now.

FDACS expects the collections to begin in November and continue until the funding runs out (it usually does run out, so first come, first served).

Pesticide wholesalers and governmental entities can participate, too, but must pay all the costs at the very attractive state contract rate of 89¢/lb, picked up.

For more information contact: Shannon Turner, FDACS:
Toll free number: (877) 851-5285
Email: cleansweep@freshfromflorida.com

CLEANSWEEP WEBSITE: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/cleansweep-pesticides/

Archaeologist Slated For Museum Free Lecture

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle Heritage Museum, through a collaboration with the Clewiston Museum and the Florida Humanities Council, will present archaeologist Katie Smith at LaBelle City Hall's Commission Chambers, 481West Hickpochee Ave. (State Road 80) on Wednesday evening, October 8, at 7 o'clock. 

Ms. Smith, a classically trained archaeologist who studied Ancient Hebrew, Palestinian, and Greco-Roman peoples and their languages as an undergraduate, has broadened her sphere of interest to include the prehistoric Belle Glade Culture that once inhabited Florida's Lake Okeechobee region. Limited information on the Belle Glade created more questions than answers on these prehistoric people. Through modern technology, archaeologists are now starting to fill in some of the missing links as they research these mysterious people that time forgot. Archaeologist Katie Smith will share discoveries from the ongoing research she conducts on the skeletal biology of the Belle Glade people. Her findings are based on the “Belle Glade” skeletal collections held at the Smithsonian Institution.

This presentation, the first of four scheduled for the 2014/2015 Program Year, is made possible by a Florida Humanities Council Neighborhood Grant awarded to the Clewiston Museum who invited LaBelle Heritage Museum to collaborate on this Special 2 Year Speakers Program bringing guest speakers to small communities that otherwise might not have experienced and benefitted from such programs. The remaining three programs, scheduled for November 2014 and January and February 2015, will feature noted area paleontologist Mark Renz, archaeologist Melissa Timo on water traffic on the Caloosahatchee and the Big Lake in earlier times, and story-teller Butch Harrison, who perpetuates the almost lost art of Cracker story-telling.

The public is welcome at these admission-free programs but is asked to arrive early enough to be seated for the 7 o'clock program since the presenters often have some distance to travel at the conclusion of their programs.

Drug Free Program Results In Arrests And Citations

Two Clewiston Police Officers With Drug Kits Bring Lots Of Arrests
CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Drug Free Hendry County (DFHC) Program at the Florida Department of Health and Clewiston Police Department partnered together to launch an alcohol and drug awareness and enforcement program. This program is part of DFHC’s goal to increase enforcement of drug and alcohol laws.

The program was launched Friday September 12, 2014 in a joint effort to educate motorist and the community to not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and to enforce the laws in violation of this activity. The program lasted four days (September 12th, 13th, 19th, and 20th).

The program was funded by Drug Free Hendry County Coalition and Administered by Bianca Ross of Drug Free Hendry County. The coalition provided funding for overtime for two police officers totaling four (8) eight-hour shifts. The coalition further provided funding of over eight-hundred dollars ($800.00) to purchase the roadside drug test kits to test suspected drugs to be used by the police department.

The program resulted in:

82 Citations being written
24 Moving Violations
58 Non-Moving Violations
10 Criminal Traffic Arrests
2 Open Container (Alcohol) Arrests
1 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Arrest
4 Drug Arrests
1 Methamphetamine
2 Cocaine
1 Felony Marijuana
4 Vehicles Seized Estimated at ($35,000)

The coalition partners with the local school district, law enforcement, privately owned businesses, elected county officials, churches, substance abuse treatment providers, healthcare providers and practitioners, teachers, parents, and youth to accomplish the goals of reducing substance abuse among youth in the entire county. The coalition serves all residents of Hendry County, Florida with the primary focus on the youth, ages 11-18. The coalition also has a working relationship with neighboring county coalitions and regional alliances in order to reduce substance abuse within 11 counties.

What's New With The Florida Scrub Jay

LABELLE, FL. -- Dr. Reed Bowman , a world renowned Avian Researcher, Author, and an avid photographer, will present an informative program " Research on the Florida Scrub-Jay: What have we learned in 40 years and what more is there to learn?" on Monday October 13 at 7 p. m. at the Cooperative Extension, Dallas Townsend Building 1085Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle.

For information about this free program hosted by Hendry-Glades Audubon Society contact Butch Wilson 863- 983-2870 or Margaret England (863) 674-0695sta5birding@embarqmail.com

Saturday, September 27, 2014

80-Year Old Pedestrian Dies After Early Morning Crash

LEHIGH ACRES, FL. -- Shirley Ethel Burns, 80 of Lehigh Acres/ Florida died early Saturday morning in Lee County after a vehicle collided into her.

At about 6:55 a.m. Saturday a 2003 Chevy Tahoe was traveling east on 16th St W just west of Colin Ave N. as Burns was walking east on 16th St W, west of Colin Ave N, in front of the SUV.

As the driver, Jose Dolores Ramirez, 22 of Lehigh Acres approached the pedestrian, he attempted to steer to the right to avoid a collision but was unsuccessful.

Consequently the front left portion of the vehicle collided with Burns, who was propelled towards the northeast and arrived at final rest near the north edge of the roadway.

The crash remains under investigation said FHP Tpr. Alexander Mangels and homicide investigator Cpl. Jeff Rongish.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Volunteer Transporters For Veterans

The Volunteer Transportation Network of the Department of Veterans Affairs VA Medical Center in West Palm Beach and Bay Pines VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg are currently accepting applications for Volunteers who live in the Hendry and Glades counties to transport Veterans to and from their medical appointments from Hendry County to West Palm Beach and Cape Coral medical facilities.

Volunteer Transportation Network is a part of the National Program in the Department of Veterans Affairs, which coordinates and recognizes and rewards Volunteers for their giving of time and caring to help Veterans. Once a Volunteer, you will become a part of a special family of millions of Volunteers across America!

Interested applicants and or questions please contact Hendry County Volunteer Transportation Network coordinator David Abney, Hendry County Veteran Service Office at 863-675-5255/863-675-5250

How To Find The Perfect Pet

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry and Glades county residents have the perfect place to find the perfect pet. Whether it's a kitten, adult cat, puppy or full grown dog, there's plenty of friendly animals at local shelters just waiting to be adopted.  

At the Caloosa Humane Society volunteers are always needed to walk dogs and to come in and pet the dogs and cats. The Caloosa Humane Society is open Monday through Saturday. There are normally up to 50 dogs and dozens of cats for adoption or available for foster homes. 

The shelter is conveniently located at 1200 Pratt Blvd in LaBelle right across from the LaBelle Dog Park and next to the Hendry Health Department and the LaBelle Airport. Call (863) 675-0997 for more information or to make an appointment to come in and visit.

(Video: Some of the dogs come out to play.)

Stacia Ferguson Dies At 51

Stacia Ann Simpson Ferguson, age 51, of Everglades City, passed away September 25, 2014 in Everglades City.

She was born in Orlando, Florida to the late Buddy and Patricia Marshall Simpson and raised in Kissimmee. She married Brooks Ferguson; he survives. She graduated from Florida Southern College with a degree in Citrus then later received her Master of Science Degree in Education from Walden University. She taught school in Hendry and Collier counties for almost two decades.

She was a beloved wife, mother, daughter and friend to many, she will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

She is survived by her husband; Brooks Ferguson, three sons; Marshall Heath Robbins, Howard Levi Robbins and Raymond Ferguson, one brother; Clint Simpson and his wife Dee, her mother and step-father Patsy and Donald Morris, sisters; Susan Miller and Judy Brock, uncle; Harry Marshall and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her biological father; Buddy Simpson.

Celebration of her life will be held Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. in First Baptist Church of LaBelle, visitation will be Friday evening in Akin-Davis Funeral Home from 5-8 p.m. Another visitation will be held Monday, September 29, 2014 in Sims Funeral Home in Bonifay, Florida from 6-8 p.m. followed by a graveside service on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 in Vernon Cemetery, Vernon, Florida.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Student Arrested For Posting Threats On iPhone App

17-Year Old Middle School Student In Custody For Alleged Threats
CLEWISTON, FL. -- A Clewiston Middle School student has been arrested charged with making threats on an iPhone app.

On September 22, 2014 at approximately 9:00 pm, the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office responded to an address off Laurel Drive in Clewiston regarding an informational report. Upon arrival, the Deputy met with the Clewiston High School Principal who advised that someone posted threatening comments to injure students at Clewiston High.

Hendry County School Resource Officers (SROs)and detectives were contacted and they immediately began attempting to locate and identify the poster(s). While the post was continuing to be monitored by the SROs,investigators began contacting the iPhone Application Corporation, who provided investigators with the gps coordinates of the poster.

Investigators made contact with Manual Castanon, 17 years of age, a student at Clewiston Middle School. Castanon admitted to Investigators that he did make the post.

Castanon was taken into custody by Hendry County Sheriffs’ Deputies without incident and transported to the jail. Castanon was charged with Written Threats To Kill or Do Bodily Injury. Castanon is currently being held in the Juvenile Detention Center.

“I am very proud of the efforts of our deputies and the relationship that has been established between the SROs and school officials. Everyone acted immediately to protect our students and staff at Clewiston High School,” said Hendry Sheriff Steve Whidden. 

Free Lunch & Learn Breast Cancer Seminars

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Hendry Regional Medical Center invites the public to a free lunch and breast cancer seminar in LaBelle and Clewiston at noon on October 14, 2014. Call (863) 983-2735 to reserve seats.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obituaries - Kit Cutler, Edith Brewer

Kit E. Cutler of Cape Coral, Florida, age 41 passed away at Cape Coral Hospital on Thursday, September18, 2014. He was born July 5th 1973 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Resided in Rockford, Michigan till his family moved to Florida in 1982. Went to school in Rockford, Michigan and Coral Springs, Florida. Taking business courses at FGCU.

Being the social person he was, friends often called him "The Mayor" so no one was surprised when he went into phone sales, selling everything from insurance to car parts to time shares to magazines. When was well, he love to bowl, golf, play cards and spend more time with family and friends. Later when being so weak, he settled into a less strenuous game, playing the penny arcade at Vicki's Arcade.

He was devoted father, son and brother, and great friend to a lot of people whom are going to miss him so so very much.

Kit is survived in death by his son, Dominic daughter Corrie. His mother and father; Lannis and Patricia Janssen. Sisters; Kyle Hess and husband Tony, Master Sergeant Jodi Janssen, Prudence Leverence and husband Seth, Monica Harrison and husband Gary, brother; Lannis Janssen and wife Kym. He was preceded in death by his biological father Dale Cutler in 2009. A brother, Corey Cutler in 1970. Grandfather Richard Hendricks in July 2014 and a cousin Curt Kleynenberg in 2009.

Memorial service celebrating his life will be held on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. in the Akin-Davis Funeral Home, located at 13932 Palm Beach Blvd, where Pastor Ron Smith and Mrs. Patricia Jenkins will officiate. Visitation will begin on hour before the memorial service. A fellowship of family and friends will be held immediately after the service at the funeral home.

Edith A. Brewer, age 62, of Clewiston, passed away September 17, 2014 in Clewiston.

She was born Oct. 2, 1951 in Ft. Myers, Florida to the late Bryant B. and the late Pauline Elizabeth (Strickland) Baker. She married Delbert Brewer; he preceded her in death in 1999.

Survivors include one step son: Richard Franklin Brewer and one step daughter: Vicky Jo Hughes. Many Grandchildren; Many Great Grandchildren

She was a waitress for many years. She was a loving stepmother, friend to many and who will be missed greatly by all who knew and loved her.

Memorial services will be held Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm at First Baptist Church of Clewiston, Clewiston.

Prison Being Foreclosed? - Mortgage In Default

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- At the latest Glades County Commission meeting Glades Sheriff Stuart Whiddon informed the Board that the mortgage holder has served notice of default on the detention facility that houses the jail. 

He said Glades Correctional Development Corp, owner of the facility has been able to only make half the principal and interest payment due to the low numbers of detainees held in the facility. The facility was built to hold 985 prisoners. Operating costs are met but due to low numbers of detainees for which ICE is paying, there was not enough revenue generated to pay the full annual mortgage payment, the Sheriff explained.

Glades County Commissioner Echols, who serves as the county commission's representation on the GCDC Board of Directors, informed the Board that they have met with ICE, the lobbyist recently hired, and a representative of the area's congressman to discuss the financial issues of the facility. ICE has indicated they will not guarantee a number of detainees at the current rate, but offered to contract for a much lower per diem rate, a rate that will not cover expenses, according to the Echols.

He said the County and Board is responsible for providing for incarceration of county prisoners, of which there are 39 to 45 on any given day. He again stressed the importance of getting the old jail facility renovated for use should the larger facility be closed.

Sheriff Whiddon stated that if county prisoners are moved back to the old jail facility, he will bring 20 or more Marshall prisoners with them; he stated the county needs to consider renovating the old health department building for an administration building for the Sheriff if the prisoners are moved back to the county’s jail.

Monday, September 22, 2014

19 Taken To Hospital After Bus-Car Crash

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Drivers of a car and a bus along with 17 others were taken to area hospitals this morning after a crash at 6:49 a.m. Monday in a rural road in Hendry County.

A 2010 Nissan was traveling westbound on CR 846 (Immokalee Road) east of County Line Road as a bus was traveling eastbound on CR 846. The auto crossed the center line and the driver of the bus attempted to evasively steer toward the right grass shoulder. As a result, the left front of the Nissan struck the left front of the bus. 

The car rotated and came to rest facing northeast, from within the north grass shoulder. The bus came to final rest from within the south grass shoulder facing southeast. 

The Nissan driver, Joseph Augustus, 46 of Riviera Beach, FL sustained critical injuries and was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital.

The bus had 45 passengers, all farm workers on board at the time of the crash. 12 passengers and the driver, Silverio Ramirez-Santiago, 56 of Immokalee, FL were transported to Hendry Regional Hospital, 

Five additional passengers were transported to Lehigh Regional Hospital. All occupants transported sustained minor injuries. The crash remains under investigation.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Coalition Asks State To Stop U.S. Sugar's Giant Land Plan

Sugar Hill Residential/Industrial Plan Gaining Opposition

CLEWISTON, FL. --  A coalition of community groups and the Sierra Club has asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to prevent U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Brothers from implementing a very large "sector plan" to change zoning on eastern Hendry county agricultural lands to commercial and residential use.

The group says the plan Sugar Hill, already approved by the Hendry County Commission for transmittal to the State for final approval, will interfere with Florida's existing option to purchase some of the land for Everglades restoration and other environmental reasons, citing a probable increase in spectulative land values among other reasons.

Last week, Sierra Club was joined by more than two dozen coalition partners and members in speaking out against Sugar Hill at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board meeting in West Palm Beach.
A letter sent to Scott explains, "Approval of this Sector Plan could end any realistic chance of doing this – either directly by allowing the approval of development that would preclude restoration, or indirectly by increasing the speculative market value of the lands needed for restoration. The proposed Sector Plan appears inconsistent with numerous requirements of Florida’s land use planning law, as a result of its failure to acknowledge state’s restoration efforts, and the suitability of this land for development relative to drainage, water management, water supply and other issues."

U.S.. Sugar and Hilliard have teamed up to get quick approval for the plan, which some say is a way to get the real estate values increased on the 67 square miles of now primarily sugar cane fields, in preparation for a probable sale later to the state of Florida.

The U.S. Sugar plan calls for 18,000 homes and commercial zoning in the region south and west of Clewiston..  Hendry county recently approved two other sector plans which would allow for about 44,000 homes to be built.

The rural county has a population of 37,000 people now and many thousands of acres of existing empty residential lots are still available in Hendry county's Port LaBelle subdivisions, the largest subdivision in the county.

Text of letter sent to Gov. Scott

Friday, September 19, 2014

Crash Into Ditch Results In Serious Injuries

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Maryann Hatch, 55 of Port St. Lucie is in serious condition after a crash into a ditch Friday morning.

The 2007 Ford Explorer was northbound on County Road 721 near Bullhead Rd. in Glades County when it crossed the centerline and entered the southbound lane, then departed the roadway. The right front of the truck a tree on the west grassy shoulder. Collision impact redirected the rear of the vehicle in a clockwise direction. 

It came to final rest in a water filled ditch. Hatch was later transported by air to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers and is in stable condition. She was charged by the FHP with careless driving.

County Commission Votes To Raise Tax Rate 10%

County Taking More Money For Property Taxes

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Board of Commissioners have voted to tentatively raise property taxes for the county by 10% above last years millage rate, making the proposed new rate 8.4909 or $849.09 for each $1000 of property value.

This tax rate is .77 mills higher than last year or 10% more.

The commissioners will make a final vote at the next public meeting Tuesday, September 23 at the LaBelle courthouse.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What's A Literacy Buddy?

September is National Literacy Month and the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida is seeking volunteers for their 2014-2015 Literacy Buddies Program. Take a small step to help a Southwest Florida child learn to read and write!

Volunteers, called Literacy Buddies, agree to receive letters and book requests from a child in an early learning facility served by the Early Learning Coalition. The Buddy will in turn respond by sending the child a letter and a quality book. The children learn literacy skills through correspondence, and develop an appreciation of reading. These exchanges take place three times

In existence for the past six years, the Literacy Buddies program provides children with high quality books to start home libraries. For some of the children, this program is their only opportunity to have books of their own.

For more information on the Literacy Buddy Program initiative or to download an application to be a Buddy, direct questions by email to literacybuddies@elcofswfl.org.

The Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida exists to enhance the quality of children's lives by providing low-income families, early childhood educators, caregivers and community partners in Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties, with opportunities to positively impact the future. For details on services or to donate, visit elcofswfl.org or call  (239) 935-6194.

Naples Man Charged With Two Armed Bank Robberies

$12,308 Taken From Two Banks Says FBI

FORT MYERS, FL. -- United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces today an indictment charging John Robert Haldemann (30, Naples) with two counts of armed bank robbery. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison. The indictment also notifies Haldemann that the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of $12,308.00, the total proceeds of the armed bank robberies.

According to the indictment, on July 12, 2014, Haldemann committed an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo Bank, in Naples. The indictment further alleges that on July 25, 2014, he committed an armed robbery at a Bank of America in Punta Gorda.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Violent Crimes Task Force, the Punta Gorda Police Department, the Naples Police Department, and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David G. Lazarus.

Another School Bus Crashes Into Car

ARCADIA, FL. --  A Desoto County school bus driven by Annette Theresa Arguijo, 44 of Arcadia, with 37 passengers ran into a car Thursday morning. A very similar crash occurred Wednesday morning in Hendry county.

The bus and a 2005 Cadillac, driven by Timothy Taylor, 45 of Punta Gorda were both northbound on US-17. Taylor's vehicle had come to a stop while waiting for oncoming traffic to clear. 

The bus was attempting to turn left into the driveway for Sun Bulb Inc at 1615 US-17 and failed to stop and the front of the bus struck the rear of the car. The bus driver stated she turned around to check on the passengers and when she looked back forward the other vehicle was stopped. 

The bus driver was charged with careless driving. There were no injuries to the children or bus driver. Taylor had minor injuries and was taken to Desoto Memorial Hospital.

Emergency Training Classes In October

LABELLE, FL. -- Do you want to participate in the free 24 hour training available to volunteers in our community who would like to learn how to respond to emergencies in your neighborhood, workplace, or community? 

Nancy Tanner Training and Exercise Coordinator with Hendry County Emergency Management will be teaching the 20 hour Basic CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training. 

Training class is from 9:00 a.m.-4:00p.m. Monday and Wednesday October. 6, 8, 13 and 15 at the Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall located at 310 Campbell Street, LaBelle. Participants will need to bring their lunch.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, 

CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

To register before October 5th contact Nancy Tanner at the Hendry County Emergency Management 863-674-5400 or call Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church 863-675-0656. Enrollment is limited to 20 participants

Tai Chi Exercise For Older Adults

Free Classes Beginning In Tai Chi Quan

LABELLE, FL. -- The fifth session of free classes in Tai Chi Quan will begin in LaBelle at Hope Connections at the L.J. Nobles Senior Center on Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 10 a.m. The first class was offered to the community in January 2013 when about 30 people took up the challenge to improve their health and balance, and help prevent falls.

Classes will be on Tuesday and Thursday for 12 weeks. Participants must be willing and able to attend all 24 free classes. Participants will be required to conduct a pre and post course balance test.

The course, Tai Ji Quan - Moving For Better Balance was designed by Dr. Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute in 2003, and has been recommended by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention as an effective method to prevent falls in older adults, and to strengthen muscles and improve balance.

This 12-week class is designed for adults 60 and over to help assist with balance and movement. This is a basic beginner eight-movement Tai Chi falls prevention workshop.

Pre-­registration is required and there is no cost to participants. There is limited space and reservations for those interested can contact Sherry Young at (866) 413-5337.

Funding for Tai Ji Quan - Moving For Better Balance is provided by a grant through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and administered by the Fort Myers office of the Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Florida.

The Nobles Senior Center is on Cowboy Way next to the LaBelle airport.

(Photo courtesy B. Whelan)

School Bus Hits Vehicle - Driver Cited

LABELLE, FL. -- A Hendry County school bus with 39 passengers was traveling East on County Road 80A (E Cowboy Way) Wednesday afternoon approaching the intersection of Birchwood Pkwy when it struck another vehicle.

A 2002 Toyota Sienna driven by Melvin Gregorio, 36 of Labelle, FL was stopped facing East on County Road 80A (E Cowboy Way), waiting to attempt a left turn onto Birchwood Pkwy.

For unknown reasons, the bus driver, Nora Knespler, 61 of Labelle, FL failed to observe the vehicle stopped at the intersection. The front left of the bus collided with the left rear of the other vehicle.

Both vehicles were removed from final rest prior to the arrival of the FHP. There were no injuries. The bus driver was charged with careless driving.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

DUI Patrol Scheduled For Hendry Saturday

Evaluation Of Drivers Showing Signs Of Alcohol Or Drug Impairment

LABELLE, FL. -- On Saturday, September 20, 2014, the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office will conduct a DUI Saturation Patrol in Western Hendry County. 

Officers involved in the Saturation Patrol will be looking for signs of impaired driving and other traffic violations. Motorists who show signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment will be evaluated and appropriate enforcement action will be taken.

The purpose of this program is to place additional officers in and around the Hendry County area with the goal of detecting and deterring impaired driving.

These “saturation” patrols are an enhancement to the daily commitment to remove impaired drivers from our roadways with the ultimate of reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Man Falls From Bridge After Crash

Serious Injury After Man Falls From Caloosahatchee River Bridge

FORT MYERS, FL. --  Ismael Ramos Vargas, 50 of Spring Hill, Florida was traveling in the southbound outside lane on I-75 in a Peterbuilt truck crossing the Caloosahatchee Bridge approaching State Road 80 and collided with a vehicle in front of him Monday morning about 7:39 A.M.

Fernando Ochoa-Silva, 32 of Lehigh Acres, Florida driver of a 2000 Ford F-350 truck had minor injuries after being struck from behind. Both vehicles came to final rest within the outside lane of I-75 blocking the southbound lane for approximately and hour and a half this morning.

After the crash, passenger Francisco Silva, 38 of Cape Coral, Florida, attempted to exit the Ford truck, and in doing so fell off the bridge into the water below.

Construction workers working below the bridge assisted with retrieving Sanchez from the water. EMS transported him to Lee Memorial Hospital. He had serious injuries.

Vargas was charged in the crash.

Community Emergency Response Training September 19

LABELLE, FL. -- The first CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Refresher Class will be held this Friday, September 19th from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall at the Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church located at 301 Campbell Street, LaBelle. 

Please share this information about this free class with everyone you know who has completed the Basic 24 hour CERT Training and would like to participate in the CERT Refresher Course. 

Almost 400 participants have completed this program. For more information, contact Nancy Tanner at the Hendry County Emergency Management 863-674-5400.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gerty Jones Dies At 89

Gertie Mae Jones, age 89, of LaBelle, passed away September 7, 2014 in her home surrounded by her loving husband and family.

She was born Oct. 20, 1924, in Okeechobee, FL, to Claudie and Nero (Williams) Tyner. She married Stanley Jones in 1942; he survives. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great-great grandmother. She will be dearly missed by her entire family and her friends.

Survivors include her loving husband: Stanley Jones, three sons: Howard and wife Sharon Jones, Lloyd and wife Mae Jones, Robert Jones and three daughters: Hazel White, Linda and husband Brad McCormick, Paula and husband Henry Laka, fifteen grandchildren; eleven great grandchildren, and four great-great Grandchildren.

Memorial services were held Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor Howie Grimm, officiating. Visitation was Saturday from 1 hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Paulette Timm Dies At 65

LaBelle, FL - Paulette Marie (Penny) Timm went home to be with the Lord on September 11, 2014. She was born on October 3, 1948 in Buffalo, NY. Daughter of Robert & Louise Rush (Sweeney) Graduated with a Masters Degree from University of Central Florida.

She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Richard F Timm of LaBelle, Florida, four children, Rebecca (Marc) Uhteg, Amy (Scott) Crosier, Joseph Timm, and Bradley Timm; eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Visitation to be held on Saturday, September 13th, 2014 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle. Funeral services will be at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church, LaBelle, FL 3p.m. , Sunday, September 14th, 2014 with Father Chester Domaszewicz officiating.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home-LaBelle.

$8,000 To Zac Reyna Memorial Playground

LABELLE, FL. -- The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle was proud to present a total of $8,000 to the Hendry County Recreation Board for the Zac Reyna Memorial Playground; a project that the LaBelle Kiwanis believes in and has physically labored to get the property ready and worked along with other volunteers from the Boy Scout Venturing Crew, St. Mathew's House and many other individuals to help make this dream become a reality. ($1,000 of the money presented was given to Kiwanis by an anonymous donor). The Kiwanis motto is “Improving the world, one child and one community at a time”. 
Pictured left to right is: Commissioner Darrel Harris - Hendry Rec. Dept. Chair, Arlene Bettencourt – President for LaBelle Kiwanis, and Romero Rodriguez, Director of Parks and Recreation forHendry County.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Karson Turner Defends U.S. Sugar Giant Land Plans

Will U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Brothers Bring Good Times To Hendry County?

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Hendry County Commissioners Karson Turner replied to a stand taken by the Sierra Club about the U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Brothers plan to change zoning (click link for previous stories) in a large portion of eastern Hendry county over the next six decades.

Turner, not a wealthy man by any means, works for a family owned electrical contracting company and during his election campaign two years ago reported a negative net worth of minus $70,000. 

Understandably, he and other businessmen in one of Florida's poorest counties, with a traditionally highest unemployment among the Sunshine State's 67 counties, is hoping for better days ahead even if it means waiting 66 years as outlined in the "sector plan" advocated by U.S. Sugar.

Turner's letter to the Palm Beach Post opinion page: 

As a Hendry County commissioner and a local business owner, I am disturbed by a Sierra Club representative’s remarks in a recent Palm Beach Post article. I am disturbed but not surprised at the complete disregard of the employment reality, and as usual the apparent assault on the U.S. Sugar/Sugar Hill Sector Plan — “to get the sugar company gone.”

Let me make it perfectly clear to the Sierra Club and anyone else that is able to read and comprehend the reality of life around the Hendry/Glades communities. Getting rid of or destroying the sugar industry and/or agriculture in pretty much any way, shape, or fashion is synonymous with getting rid of or destroying Clewiston and most of, if not all of, Hendry County and the Glades. We exist because of agriculture. If agriculture does not directly employ you or your family, it employs a subsidiary industry that supports agriculture.

As it relates to U.S. Sugar, specifically, and Hendry County — U.S. Sugar pays approximately 25 percent of the county ad valorem taxes. Without U.S. Sugar, we would either have to double taxes or not fund numerous essential services. Hendry County and the two cities (Labelle and Clewiston) that lie within the county, are already experiencing net population decreases, and if taxation continues to increase, we will see that trend continue. Hendry County routinely has one of the state’s highest unemployment rates (12.5 percent), and without U.S. Sugar that would double — a devastating result.

U.S. Sugar — our largest taxpayer and employer, our largest economic engine and our most generous community benefactor — has led the region as the largest investor in our future. Over the last decade, U.S. Sugar has re-invested in the local community by modernizing its sugar factory, integrating the latest technology and best management practices in its farming operations, expanding its railroad operations to the western areas of Clewiston, and funding research and assisting the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to identify and fight crippling citrus diseases, as well as, assisting with other statewide initiatives. In most, if not all of these local movements, they utilize local people and resources. All of these efforts benefit our local economy in Clewiston and Hendry County.

Hendry County desperately needs economic development. I am personally involved in over 10 meetings each month which are geared towards nothing more than making sure there is an economy to speak of for the future of the Glades. I, and a number of my colleagues throughout the area, understand we have to diversify our economic portfolio. We are starting that movement by taking a fundamental look at our educational system and what we can do to help create a better future for our region.

U.S. Sugar is going through the sector planning process that the State of Florida has determined is best. Even if development occurs in the long term, the company will continue farming the rest of its acreage, providing employment and a viable tax base. The Sugar Hill Sector Plan along with the other sector plans which have been approved for our region are smart growth and the way growth must occur for the future of Florida.

From where I sit, The Sierra Club’s remarks were a typical misinformed and biased shot at agriculture (namely the sugar industry).

I will end like I end with most of the people I meet in this world. I invite anyone to come on out to Hendry County and take a tour of our backyard. You will be amazed at the natural beauty and sheer volume of wildlife — all perpetuated by generations of agriculture producers.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Obituaries - Ernie Ford, Jimmy Campbell

Earnel Charlie "Ernie" Ford, Sr., age 81, of LaBelle, passed away September 8, 2014 in LaBelle.

He was born May 13, 1933 in Desoto County, FL, to the late Roy Hollis Ford and the late Anna Belle (Jordan) Ford. Ernie was a longtime resident of LaBelle and retired as an Investigator with the Hendry County Sheriff's Office after 33 years of service.

He was a veteran of the US Navy and a member of both VFW and American Legion. Ernie was also a member of LaBelle Masonic Lodge #379 F. & A.M.

He is survived by his wife: Beatrice Jewel (Cockram) Ford, children: Joan (Cecil) Music of LaBelle and Billy (Grace) Ford of Moore Haven, five grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and; one great-great Grandchild. Ernie was preceded in death by his son: Earnel Charlie Ford, Jr. in 1971.

Funeral Services will be Thursday September 11, 2014 , 10:00 am at Fort Denaud Cemetery in LaBelle with Pastor L. W. Howard officiating. Interment will follow at Fort Denaud Cemetery.

(Video: Ernie Ford's Retirement Party January 2011 at Hendry Sheriff's Office)

Jimmy Reed Campbell, Sr. went home to be with the Lord on September 3, 2014.

He was born Oct. 23, 1934 in Nashville, TN, to the late George Waterson and the late Sylvia Mae (Reed) Campbell, Jr. He served his country in the United States Army.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years; Helen Corbitt Campbell of Okeechobee, Florida, one son; Jimmy Reed Campbell, Jr and wife Kim of Chelsea, Alabama, and one daughter, Stephanie Kandessi Campbell of Cape Coral, Florida, six grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held,on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. at the home of his brother-in-law, Tom Corbitt. . In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his name to Hope Hospice, 9470 Healthpark Circle, Fort Myers, Florida 33908

Monday, September 08, 2014

Democrats Meet In Clewiston

The Hendry County Democratic Executive Committee has scheduled a 9 o'clock breakfast meeting at Sunrise Restaurant, 842 East Sugarland Hwy (US 27) in Clewiston for the morning of Saturday, September 13. 

The meeting, like all Democratic Party meetings, is open to the public, but only Hendry County Registered Democrats may participate in the meeting. Voting on matters coming up at the meeting is restricted to actual members of the Hendry County DEC which includes precinct committee members and elected Democratic officials from Hendry County at the county level and higher.

Hendry County's ten election precincts are eligible for at least two precinct committee members, one male and one female, on the Hendry County Democratic Executive Committee with the larger precincts eligible for up to six committee members, three male and three female. 

There are currently openings for committee members in each of the ten voting precincts. Hendry County Democrats willing to serve as precinct committee members are asked to bring voter registration information cards and photo IDs, preferably Florida Driver License, with them to the meeting.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Evelyn Foss Dies At Age 106

Evelyn A. Foss, age 106, of LaBelle, passed away September 3, 2014 in LaBelle from complications of advanced age. 

Evelyn Allen Foss was born in Louisa County, Iowa on November 14, 1907 to Minton Allen and Louis Jarvis Allen. 

She was educated in public schools in Columbus Junction and at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa. 

Evelyn married Roy Badham. To this union, one daughter, Norma Royene Badham was born. Following, Mr. Badham's death she married August Foss. They were married 59 years and to that union, one daughter, Joanne Foss was born.

Evelyn and August were involved in their church, boy scouts, girl scouts, and the Avion Travelcade Club. Evelyn spent the first forty six years of her life in Columbus City, Iowa before moving to Largo, Florida. She later moved to Old Town, Florida where she lived forty five years before moving to LaBelle, Florida to be near her daughter Royene.

She is survived by her daughter Royene Hankins of LaBelle, Florida, son in law Dick Hendrickson of Washington, Iowa, four grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren, and seven great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Joanne Foss Hendrickson, son-in-law Wayne Hankins, both husbands, one granddaughter, her parents, five brothers, and one sister.

Funeral services will be held at a later date at Old Town Methodist Church. Burial will be in Old Town Cemetery. Memorials can be made to the Old Town Methodist Church, Old Town, Florida.

Cremation and Funeral arrangements are being handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle, FL and Rick Gooding Funeral Home in Cross City, FL.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Hope Connections Offering Free Events

Hope Connections will be offering the following events. Call 863-675-1576 for information and addresses.


Tai Chi Quan - Moving For Better Balance. Free twice weekly classes for 12 weeks. Age 60 or older. Starts September 9. Classes each Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. Limited space, Call Sherry Young at (866) 413-5337 to register

· Public Forum being held by the Area Agency on Aging of SWFL to address the current funding formula for allocations by the state for senior services in Hendry County: This is open to the public and we encourage local participation for our counties needs to be known. 10/7 10:00a.m-11:00a.m..

· Flu Shots 10/10 9:00am-2pm

· Memory Mobile: 10/20 9:00am-2pm, Free memory screenings to the public

· SHINE open enrollment assistance for persons needing to choose or change their Medicare Part D plans: 10/1710:00am-2:00pm

· Flu Shots 10/7 9:00am-2pm

· Memory Mobile: 10/21 9:00am-2pm, Free memory screenings to the public

· 10/21 10:00a.m. Grand Re-opening of the newly renovated Senior Center…Health Fair like vendors and Open House!! Let’s Celebrate!!!

· SHINE open enrollment assistance for persons needing to choose or change their Medicare Part D plans: 10/30 10:00am-2:00pm

· Flu Shots 10/8 9:00am-2pm

· Public Forum being held by the Area Agency on Aging of SWFL to address the current funding formula for allocations by the state for senior services in Glades County: This is open to the public and we encourage local participation for our counties needs to be known. 10/12 10:00a.m-11:00a.m..

· SHINE open enrollment assistance for persons needing to choose or change their Medicare Part D plans: 11/1410:00am-2:00pm

Buckhead Ridge:
· We are also offering a Buckhead Ridge Flu Clinic on 10/3 from 9:00a.m-2:00pm

Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti For Schools

Spaghetti Dinner at LaBelle Elementary School
The Rotary Club of LaBelle will be serving Spaghetti dinner
Tuesday evening,Sept 9th, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
The school is located at 150 W Cowboy Way, LaBelle, FL,
All you can eat dinners are $5.00 each with all profits contributed
to the school for special projects.

Spaghetti Dinner at Country Oaks Elementary School
The Rotary Club of LaBelle will be serving Spaghetti dinner
Thursday evening ,Sept 11th, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
The school is located at 2052 Eucalyptus Drive,
All you can eat , dinners are $5.00 each with all profits contributed
to the school for special projects.

Spaghetti Dinner at Upthegrove Elementary School
The Rotary Club of LaBelle will be serving Spaghetti dinner
Thursday evening,Sept 18th, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
The school is located just South of Curry Street and to
the West of Main Street, on Bronco Court,LaBelle.
All you can eat dinners are $5.00 each with all profits contributed
to the school for special projects.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Florida Power & Light Terminates Solar Energy Program

Florida Power & Light, without prior approval from the Florida Public Service Commission and approximately 60 days prior to the planned end of the 5 year solar pilot program, abruptly terminated access to $577,000 in funds used to incentivize solar energy efficiency improvements.

This comes as a shock to both industry participants and customers as other utility companies continue to participate in the program and may do so until allocated funds are exhausted or directed to cease program operation. 

FPL customers who had set appointments or had been arranging financing to participate in the solar hot water rebate program were surprised to find out the program was terminated early and without notice.

The early termination of the program and loss of almost $600,000 in rebates represents a loss in real revenue to Florida's economy said a spokesperson for the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association.

John Paul - Citrus Pioneer Dies At 75

John R. Paul, Jr., age 75, of LaBelle, passed away September 1, 2014 in Cape Coral.

He was born May 1, 1939 in Winter Haven, FL, to the late John R. and the late Ida Frances (Murrell) Paul, Sr. 

Paul was a pioneer in the Florida citrus industry and a leader in the agricultural community.

He is survived by his son: John R. Paul III, daughter: Julie P. Obney (Jeff), grandchildren, Beryl Paul, Jasper Obney, Juniper Obney, brothers: Gene Paul and Bryan Paul. He was preceded in death by his wife Julia Paul, brother: James Paul and sister: Carolyn Wheeler.

Funeral services will be held Friday, September 5, 2014 at 11:00 am at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, LaBelle with Pastor Joe Wallace officiating. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be Friday, 1 hour prior to service at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, LaBelle, FL.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

'Grannie' Pat Bell Dies At 78

Pat Bell, age 78, known to the Hendry county community as "Grannie" or "Aunt Pat" died Saturday, August 30, 2014 in LaBelle. 

She was born Mar. 27, 1936 in Buckingham, FL, to the late Lewis Dallas and the late Erie Estelle (Thompson) Flint. She was a longtime resident of LaBelle and employee of Hendry County Schools for more than 50 years. She was a member of Christ Central LaBelle.

Pat was survived by her daughter: Sissi Pack (Wayne) and sons: Flint Bell (Alicia) and Mitchell Wills (Tina), 10 Grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren as well as a many others who she considered her own. She was preceded in death by her husband, Klim Daniel Bell.

A Going Home Celebration will be held Saturday Sept 6, 2014, 11:00 am at LaBelle High School Auditorium with Pastor Mitchell Wills and Pastor Shannon Craft officiating. Interment will follow at Fort Denaud Cemetery in LaBelle. Visitation: Friday Sept. 5, 2014 from 6-9pm at Akin Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle.

Fellowship & Food will follow the graveside service back at LaBelle High School Cafeteria. LHS will be open at 9:00 am for those that would like to bring food and paper goods.

Tom Hopkins Returns From Firefighting In Oregon

PALMDALE, FL – Florida Forest Service Forest Ranger Tom Hopkins returns home to Glades County after suppressing wildfires in the state of Oregon. Tom served eighteen days fighting multiple wildfires across the state, including the Pumice Complex (Crater Lake National Park), running initial attack in the Chiloquin National Forest, and ending on the Murderers Creek Fire (John Day). 

As Assistant Crew Boss of a twenty-person wildland firefighting hand-crew, his days were full of eating smoke and battling flames, while at night he served as his crew liaison. The Florida Forest Service established a hand-crew consisting of 20 nationally qualified wildland firefighters who served on the front lines of wildland fire. 

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 wildfires to control it and to mop up after the fire.

“The sense of adventure and brotherhood is what drives me to this occupation,” Forest Ranger Tom expounds. “The cohesiveness and dependability that is developed between 20 strangers is amazing. Two weeks in a high stress atmosphere will let you know just how much you need those guys.” 

The wildland firefighters come together from the tip of the Panhandle, all the way to south Everglades, and everything in between. A hand-crew’s day starts before sunrise when they obtain the operational briefing. “Extended work hours, and sleeping on the ground is the only down side. The sense of pride, knowing we are battling nature one on one is fulfilling.” Tom states. “Our gear weighs roughly 35-40 lbs and climbing straight up a ridgeline is physically challenging but adrenaline, team work and humor get you through the day.”

Paskvan And Bobo Receive Awards

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Health in Hendry County had two staff members recognized by the Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida at the 5th Annual Golden Baby Shoe Awards on Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 at The Club at Grandezza in Estero, FL. This event celebrates the outstanding contributions of individuals who help give babies a healthy start in life.

Judy Paskvan, recently retired from Hendry’s Healthy Families Program and a member of the LaBelle Kiwanis Club received the “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Ms. Paskvan was very moved by the award and stated “I enjoyed being a part of a team working toward positive change for young families and their infants.”

Robert Bobo, the HIV/AIDS/STI Program Manager, received the “Golden Baby Shoe Award”. Robert Bobo stated “I am thankful for this recognition however the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County deserves the recognition; thank you to my colleagues Dr. Jeffrey Beal, Maribel Gonzalez ARNP, Debbie Goebel LPN, Tony Miracle RN, Pat Thicklin, Sadi Sanchez, Brenda Lastinger, Peggy Baxter RN and Gracie Urias RN as well as the Administrator/Health Officer Patricia Dobbins for her leadership and allowing silos to dissolve so the real work of public health can happen on a daily basis.”

Chris Schmiege Talks On State Forest Recreation

Forest Recreation and Management on Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest.
LABELLE, FL. -- Learn out about recreational opportunities in Hendry County's Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest as Forester Chris Schmiege of the Florida Forest Service presents a program on "Forest Recreation and Management on Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest" on Monday September 8 at 7 p. m. at the Cooperative Extension, Dallas Townsend Building 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle.

Okaloacoochee Slough is a 13,382 acre pristine slough located in Hendry County and 1 section in Collier County providing a large roaming area of contiguous habitat for a variety of wildlife species. The forest offers a variety of recreational activities for visitors.

Tai Chi Quan Free Classes Begin At Senior Center Sept. 9

Free Classes Begin In World's Most Popular Exercise Form - Tai Chi

LABELLE, FL. -- The fifth session of free classes in Tai Chi Quan will begin in LaBelle at Hope Connections at the L.J. Nobles Senior Center on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 10 a.m. The first class was offered to the community in January 2013 when about 30 people took up the challenge to improve their health and balance, and help prevent falls.

Photo: Participants in a recent LaBelle Tai Chi class

The Nobles Senior Center is on Cowboy Way next to the airport.

Classes will be on Tuesday and Thursday for 12 weeks. Participants must be willing and able to attend all 24 free classes. Participants will be required to conduct a pre and post course balance test.

The course, Tai Ji Quan - Moving For Better Balance was designed by Dr. Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute in 2003, and has been recommended by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention as an effective method to prevent falls in older adults, and to strengthen muscles and improve balance.

This 12-week class is designed for adults 60 and over to help assist with balance and movement. This is a basic beginner eight-movement Tai Chi falls prevention workshop.

Pre-­registration is required and there is no cost to participants. There is limited space and anyone interested may contact Sherry Young at (866) 413-5337.

Funding for Tai Ji Quan - Moving For Better Balance is provided by a grant through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and administered by the Fort Myers office of the Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Florida.