Thursday, December 31, 2015

Amateur Radio Activates Hendry County Net January 5

LABELLE, FL. -- Amateur radio stations in Hendry county get off to a quick start Tuesday, January 5, 2015 with the first The Hendry Emergency Management/Amateur Radio Emergency Services radio net at 7:30 pm on the Labelle repeater.

On air radio nets will be the first and third Tuesday of each month, said assistant Emergency Coordinator Andrew Frame. Frame's FCC amateur radio callsign is WD4RCC.

Follow Hendry Ham Radio on Twitter.

(For ham radio operators: the frequency for the LaBelle 2-meter repeater at the EOC tower is 145.470 with a PL tone of 97.4)

The purpose of the on-air radio net is to become proficient at message handling and net control operations and communications skills.. Everyone that wants to, will get an opportunity to be the net control station.

Come to the in-person meeting January 25th at the Emergency Operations Center west of LaBelle on SR80. Meetings are the fourth Monday of each month at 7 pm at the EOC, and alternating with a location to be determined in Clewiston.

Upcoming ham radio activities:
- February 27th - Swamp Cabbage Festival special event radio station N4N
- March 19th - Sugar Festival Festival special event radio station W4W
- June 25th - Amateur Radio Field Day

One-day licensing classes for newbies and those ham radio operators upgrading, and CERT training to expand preparedness and disaster response skills are all in the works.
For information: Andrew Frame WD4RCC, Phone EOC office: 863-674-5404

James Herrmann Arrested On Animal Cruelty Charges

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On December 30, 2015, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Investigators served a search warrant at 787 Appaloosa Ave., Clewiston, Florida, the residence of 75 year old James Thomas Herrmann.

This resulted from an ongoing animal cruelty complaint made by Clewiston Animal Control. It had been reported to the Deputies that Herrmann had several animals inside the residence and that the home was in poor condition.

Animal Control Officers told HCSO Investigators that Herrmann had been starving his dogs. They reported witnessing the animals fighting causing injuries to one another. At the time Herrmann did not provide medical care for the animal’s wounds. Animal Control Officers reported to Investigators that the smell of urine and feces made it nearly impossible to enter the residence. They went on to report that the animal feces had become embedded in the dog’s hair and had caused sores and other health issues.

Upon entering the residence on Wednesday, December 30, 2015, Animal Control Officers discovered 9 full grown dogs and 3 puppies. Officers had to sedate some of the dogs in order to stop them from fighting and to safely remove them from the residence. All of the dogs were seized and taken into custody by Gulf Coast Humane Society.

At this time Herrmann is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $5,000.00 bond.

UPDATE: The Sheriff's department took control of the 12 dogs in an agreement with Herrmann and under a pre-trial diversion program and consent by the State Attorney's office, they did not prosecute him and the case was closed.

Ed Villarreal, Courtney Hernandez Arrested After Failed Hiding Attempt

LABELLE, FL. -- Edward Villarreal and Courtney Hernandez were arrested Thursday after a K9 dog finds Villarreal hiding in a closet under clothing, and Hernandez hiding under a bed. A third suspect, Victoria Lopez was also arrested.

On Thursday, December 30, 2015, Glades County Criminal Investigations Unit contacted Hendry County Investigators to make them aware of information that they had received on a stolen ATV. Glades County Investigators reported that the stolen ATV was being stored at 680 Kell Mill Blvd., in LaBelle. When detectives arrived at the residence they observed 26 year old Edward Villarreal and 28 year old Victoria Lopez removing the stolen ATV from the shed behind the home. Investigators were aware the Villarreal had 3 active Hendry County warrants and Lopez had one warrant.

As they approached Villarreal he immediately went into the residence and refused to come out. Lopez was taken into custody on scene. With the cooperation of both agencies a search warrant was obtained and conducted at the residence. After entering the home Villarreal still refused to turn himself over to law enforcement officers and remained hidden. After attempting to convince Villarreal to cooperate, a law enforcement K9 located him in a bedroom closet hiding underneath a pile of clothing.

Deputies also located and took into custody 22 year old Courtney Hernandez who had two outstanding Hendry County Warrants and was found hiding under a bed.

The recovered Blue Honda ATV was identified as being reported stolen out of Glades County. Glades County Investigator seized the ATV and returned it to the owner.

Edward Villarreal is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on charges of 3 Felony Violation of Probation, Obstruction, and Dealing in Stolen Property.

Victoria Lopez is being held on an active felony warrant. Courtney Hernandez is also being held on two warrants. At this time, bond has not been set.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Richard Chavez Dies In Motorcycle Crash

NAPLES, FL. -- Richard Chavez, 52 of Naples is dead after a crash Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. in Collier County involving a car and three motorcyclists.

Three Motorcycles were traveling South on 55th St SW from 20th Pl SW. A white Toyota Echo driven by Sergio Franco, 26 of Bolivia, South America was stopped on 55th St SW facing North in front of 2351 55th St SW.

The White Toyota initiated a left turn to enter into the driveway of 2351 55th St SW, pulling in front of all three motorcycles and violating their right of way. The first motorcycle, a 2013 Harley Davidson, driven by Chavez impacted the front right of the Toyota, the second motorcycle impacted the right side back door of the Toyota and the third motorcycle impacted the rear of the first motorcycle.

The driver of the first motorcycle was flown by helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital where he died from the injuries sustained. None of the other motorcyclists or driver and passengers were injured. Franco was charged with failing to yield right of way.

The traffic homicide investigation is still ongoing.

School Principal Tim Wilder Loses In Court Against Board

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Tim Wilder, current principal at Moore Haven Junior-Senior High School in Glades county has lost a lawsuit against his former employer the Dothan City, Alabama School Board where he was Superintendent of Schools.

Wilder sued the school board after he was fired in November 2014.  Allegations surfaced that Wilder sexually harassed Torrie Ethridge, a school board employee. Wilder was fired after a public hearing on the allegations.

Wilder sued the board to be reinstated as Dothan's Superintendent of Schools but the court instead granted a summary judgment in favor or the school board, denying Wilder's claim's.

Wilder was Dothan school superintendent from 2011. He was on the school board in the 1990s.

Daniel Ross Edmonds Dies At 33

Daniel Ross Edmonds, age 33, of Clewiston, passed away December 22, 2015 in Clewiston.

Ross was born Nov. 3, 1982, in West Palm Beach, FL, to David and Barbara (Kelting) Edmonds. Ross was a veteran of the United States Navy. Ross was currently a Future Farmers of America teacher for Clewiston High School and was attending FIU College of Law. He also attended First United Methodist of Clewiston.

Ross leaves behind his parents of Clewiston, daughters; Layla and Bella Edmonds, his brother; Ryan and his wife Rachel Edmonds, many other loved ones including; Jessica Acree, Alex Acree, Alyssa Rodriguez, Derek Center, and Brennen Dalke.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 10:00 am at First United Methodist Church, Clewiston with Pastor Jeff Smith officiating. Interment with military honors provided by the United States Navy was in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston.

Visitation was Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

48 Arrested For Cock Fighting

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Sunday, December 26, 2015, at approximately 5:00 pm, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at the address of 435 S. Utopia, Clewiston, in the Montura Ranch Estates community, a rural area in central Hendry County.

Hendry County Sheriffs Deputies with the assistance from the Florida Agricultural Criminal Intelligence Unit (FACIU) deputies from Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Palm Beach County, Florida Wildlife Commission and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Air Support unit, arrested 48 men.

During the raid Saturday, law enforcement and animal control officers found 83 caged roosters. There was a full-scale fighting ring set up inside an illegally built structure on the property.

Of those arrested very few were from Hendry County; most were from Dade, Collier, Lee, Hillsborough and Palm Beach County and ranging from 21 to 86 years of age.

All those arrested were charged with Fighting and Baiting, a 3rd Degree Felony, and released on $3,500 bond.

Free: Quit Smoking In 2016 Plan

With the help of Tobacco Free Florida, you can double your chances of quitting smoking in 2016. Floridians can make a quit plan, set a quit date and enjoy a healthier start to the New Year, says the Florida Department of Health.

“Since 2007, more than 137,000 Floridians have successfully quit smoking using one of Tobacco Free Florida’s cessation resources,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “We are committed to helping every Floridian who is struggling to quit tobacco break the addiction through our comprehensive services.”

There are plenty of reasons to quit smoking. The average pack-a-day smoker in Florida can save more than $2,000 for the 2016 holiday season if they quit smoking on New Year’s Day. Not to mention, quitting smoking can add up to 10 years to life expectancy. The health benefits of quitting smoking begin almost immediately after the last cigarette and continue for years if they quit for good.

Quitting smoking can be difficult. In fact, most people try several times before they finally quit. Those who have attempted to quit but relapsed are encouraged to try again. Having a comprehensive quit plan can increase your chances of success.

Tobacco Free Florida can help you create a personalized quit plan and offers free nicotine replacement therapy, like the patch or a combination of the patch and nicotine gum, while supplies last and if medically appropriate. 

Tobacco Free Florida’s resources are free and easy to access:
CALL: Call Tobacco Free Florida at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach® who will help you assess your addiction and help you create a personalized quit plan.
CLICK: Tobacco Free Florida’s online cessation tool can be accessed
COME IN: In person help is available with the help of Area Health Education Centers, find one near you at

Monday, December 28, 2015

Obituaries - Harold White, Blanche Thomas

Harold Bryant White, age 49, of Riverview, FL, passed away December 24, 2015 in Riverview. He was born Jan. 28, 1966 in West Palm Beach

Survivors include his sons: Michael Holden White and Justin White, mother: Susan Stewart White, brother: Scott (Hope) White and sister: Suzanne (Scott) Martin. He was preceded in death by his father: Clyde Harold White.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, December 29, 2015 at 10:30 am at Evangel Assembly Of God, Clewiston with Pastor Gary Corley officiating. Visitation is Monday Dec. 28 from 5-7 p.m. at Evangel Assembly Of God.

Blanche Alice Parson Thomas, age 80, of Clewiston, passed away December 21, 2015 in Clewiston. She was born Aug. 10, 1935 in Mt. Harmony, TN, to the late Eugene Blake and Delcie Lou (Baker) Wilson.

She is survived by her children: Virginia (Ronnie) Davis of TN; Rickey Jones of Clewiston, Veronica (Robert) Hodges of Clewiston, Rodney (Sissy) Parson of TN; Angelina Hollon of TN; Nicole (Curtis) Green of Clewiston and Joshua (Patty) Parson of Clewiston, brothers & sisters: J.R., Barbara, Imogene, Elizabeth, Hubert and Ralph; fifteen grandchildren, seventeen great-grandchildren and one great-great Grandchild. She was preceded in death by her husband: Doy Thomas and daughter: Debra Buckner.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 2, 2015, 11:00 a.m. at Clewiston Gospel Ministries, Clewiston with Rev. Jim Yates officiating.

Spirit Of The Wild Land Management Plan At Hearing

CLEWISTON, FL. -- A 10-year plan for the Spirit-of-the-Wild Wildlife Management Area will be presented at a public hearing in Hendry County on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016.

People are invited to the 7 p.m. public hearing at John Boy Auditorium, 1200 South W.C. Owens Ave., Clewiston.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff will present the draft land management plan for the FWC-managed Spirit-of-the-Wild WMA, and people will be encouraged to comment and ask questions. For more information on the upcoming local public hearing, go to and select “Terrestrial” then “Management Plans.”

The Spirit-of-the-Wild WMA is south of the Caloosahatchee River and about 40 miles northeast of Fort Myers. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the Spirit-of-the-Wild WMA through seasonal hunting, wildlife viewing, scenic drives, hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Wood storks, swallow-tailed kites, roseate spoonbills, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises and the Carter’s large-flowered flax plant are species native to this area. The Spirit-of-the-Wild WMA along with the Okaloacoochee Slough WMA, Dinner Island WMA and Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest conserve over 64,000 acres of contiguous habitat. This in turn conserves the watershed of public lands downstream, including Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

“The Spirit-of-the-Wild WMA was purchased to ensure the conservation of fish and wildlife resources, other natural and cultural resources, and for fish and wildlife-based public outdoor recreation,” said Lance Jacobson, FWC land conservation planner. “This draft plan will specify how we intend to do that.”

All lands purchased with public funds must have a management plan that ensures the property will be managed in a manner consistent with the intended purposes of the purchase. Hunting and fishing regulations are not included in this plan or meeting; those are addressed through a separate public process.

To obtain a copy of the draft land management prospectus for Spirit-of-the-Wild WMA, contact Sarah Pierce at 850-487-7063 or

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Alberto Cruz Dead In Midnight Go-Cart Crash

LAKE PLACID, FL. -- Alberto Cruz Jr.,  15 of Lake Placid died in a crash early Sunday morning when the unlighted off road go-cart he was driving was hit by a car.

Cruz was northbound on Highlands Blvd approaching Fairhill St. in Highlands county in a ManGo 169CC off road go-cart with no lighting at 12:50 a.m. Sunday morning.

William Dresselt, 24 of Lake Placid was southbound on Highlands Blvd just south of Fairhill St. and entered the northbound lane of Highlands Blvd in order to pass traffic ahead, failing to observe the go-car due to the lack of vehicle lighting.

The front left of the Chevy Impala collided with the front left of the go-cart. This collision caused the go-cart to rotate in a counter clockwise direction and travel in a southeasterly direction onto the east shoulder. As it continued southbound in the northbound lane it began to rotate in a counter clockwise direction and came to final rest facing southeast on the east shoulder just south of Fairhill St.

The Chevy came to final rest facing northeast on the northbound lane just south of Fairhill St.

Cruz was deceased at the scene said the FHP. The Dresselt and his two passengers had no injuries.

Unless Is More - Bill Neville

Commentary by T. W. Bill Neville

Here we go! "STAGGERING" out of 2015, as I "approach" my 88th birthday, I have "resolved" NOT to make any "RESOLUTIONS!" UNLESS-----"UNLESS"------ is MORE!

"UNLESS" I find a way to count my blessings instead of my "crosses."

"UNLESS" I discover a way to count my gains instead of my "losses."

"UNLESS" I find a way to count my joys instead of my "woes."

"UNLESS" I discover a way to have more friends, than "foes."

"UNLESS" I find a way to have more smiles than "tears."

"UNLESS" I discover ways to have more courage than "fears."

"UNLESS" I find a way of counting my full years instead of the "lean."

"UNLESS" I discover doing more good deeds, than "mean."

"UNLESS" I find a way to value my health instead of my "wealth."

"UNLESS" I discover a way to totally count on God, instead of "myself!!"

Of course, in "TODAY'S", take no responsibility for your own actions, or inaction's, and "joining" the "NANNY" state as your "2016 RESOLUTION", for success, might I suggest that "UNLESS" there is a "MIRACLE" and the "MAKERS" suddenly start outnumbering the "TAKERS", you'll be up that proverbial "CREEK" without a "PADDLE!"

Thursday, December 24, 2015

First Christian Church Christmas Dinner 3 P.M. Friday

LABELLE, FL. -- The First Christian Church in LaBelle again invites everyone for Christmas Dinner at the church on Christmas afternoon. The church annually welcomes to dinner those who may be unable to be with family or friends on Christmas Day.

Dinner will be served at 3 p.m. December 25 at the church at 138 Ford Ave, LaBelle, FL.  The church is one block east of Bridge Street.

90' Theater Ship Amara Zee Docks At Port LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- The Caravan Stage Company, with its 90 foot "tall ship", the Amara Zee, has been docked at the Port LaBelle Marina for a few weeks, providing an unusual visual feast for visitors and yachtsmen at the docks off the Caloosahatchee River.

The custom built wooden ship carries about 40 performers and crew members around the world providing multi-media performances to viewers on shore.

The founding directors, Paul Kirby and Adriana Kelder started the non-profit Caravan performance company to bring original contemporary theater to audiences; it's original traveling mode being six large Caravans pulled by teams of Clydesdale horses and performing in a large tent with a capacity of 800 people. 

For 20 years, the Caravan toured with horse and wagon along the west coast of Canada and the USA, Ontario and Florida, but in 1993 the company changed its mode of transport by building the Amara Zee custom-built theater ship. The ship was built to be the stage for the theater and house the performers and theater technicians who would then double as crew from site to site. The audiences sit on shore watching the performance staged on the decks and in the rigging of the ship.

The Caravan, established in 1970, is one of Canada’s oldest non-profit theater companies.

Photo: Caravan Stage Company ship docked at Port LaBelle

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Santa Wins - Bill Neville

Commentary by T.W. Bill Neville

Memories of "Back Then" Christmases are flooding to the surface as the day of "reckoning" approaches. Over the span of at least 84 of my 87 years, several stand out.

I think number one was in 1933, when I was five years old, living on the west side of Logansport, Indiana. I was getting to be a "smart alec" by then, having run with some older kids, who were saying that there was no Santa, just our parents, playing Santa.

I had shared this with my younger brother and when Mom got wind of it, I was cautioned to quit telling my brother that there was no "Santa", because there was one. For those that believed.

I remember as Christmas eve approached that Mom said, If things worked out and Dad didn't have to work, we were going to a Christmas play and treats at our Parish meeting center.

Christmas Eve came, Dad didn't have to work and we were treated to the promised play and treats, arriving home late enough that we went straight to bed.

As soon as it was daylight we were out and into the living room where our stockings were hung, and bulging with our "annual" California Navel orange, candy canes, and Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

Partially hidden behind the tree, was the greatest surprise of our young lives, a full scale Lionel Western Flyer electric train, on track, with houses, crossing gates, the "works!"

My Mother came into the room and said, "See I told you there was a Santa for all that believed!" I remember that moment clearly as I couldn't possibly doubt that there was a Santa, and it couldn't have been our parents because we were all together, all evening, with no chance to assemble and set up the train set.

I also remember that I was the engineer and in my excitement passed a little gas, and said to my brother "Did you hear me whistle for that crossing?" My brother, who still lisped a little, quickly responded "NO--but I melled the MOKE!!" Years later, I learned that the neighborhood "Samaritan", Mrs Frye, with an "e", had done the "Santa" deed while we were at the church play.

SO MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL-----and----TO "ALL" a GOOD NIGHT!--and--I "NEVER" forgot THERE "REALLY" is a SANTA---For THOSE who BELIEVE! HOW about YOU?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Could Florida's Lottery Be Fixed?

State Lotteries Investigated For Possible Fraud
After a security director for the Multi-State Lottery Lottery Association was convicted of fixing Iowa lottery jackpots, more states are investigating to see if Ed Tipton or his associates were involved in fixing other state lottery jackpots.

As reported by the Associated Press, lotteries in four states were allegedly victims of tampering of software code to allow insiders to know the winning numbers. Because the alleged mastermind worked for the Multi-State Lottery Association that administers games available for use by 37 states, it is feared other state lotteries may have been victims to fraud over the last several years.

The Multi-State Lottery Association is a non-profit, government-benefit association owned and operated by its member lotteries. Each MUSL member offers one or more of the games administered by MUSL including Powerball®, Mega Millions®, Hot Lotto®, Wildcard®, 2 by 2®. MegaHits, and All or Nothing.

All profits are retained by the individual state lotteries and are used to fund projects approved by the legislature authorizing each lottery. 37 states are members, including the Florida Lottery.

21st Century Oncology Paying $19 Million Settlement In False Billing Case

'Whistleblower' To Receive $3.2 Million Reward

FORT MYERS, FL. -- 21st Century Oncology LLC, has agreed to pay $19.75 million to the government to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by billing federal health care programs for laboratory tests that were not medically necessary. 21st Century is a nationwide provider of integrated cancer care services that is headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida. 

The settlement resolves allegations originally brought in a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private parties to bring suit on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. The whistleblower, a former 21st Century Oncology LLC medical assistant, will receive $3.2 million as her share of the recovery in this case.

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that 21st Century submitted claims to Medicare and Tricare for fluorescence in situ hybridization, or “FISH,” tests that were not medically necessary. FISH tests are laboratory tests performed on urine that can detect genetic abnormalities associated with bladder cancer. 

The government alleged 21stCentury submitted claims for unnecessary tests that were ordered by four of its urologists, Dr. Meir Daller, Dr. Steven Paletsky, Dr. David Spellberg and Dr. Robert Scappa, all of whom practiced in the Fort Myers area. The government also alleged that 21st Century encouraged these physicians to order unnecessary tests by offering bonuses that were based in part on the number of tests referred to 21st Century’s laboratory. Today’s settlement resolves the civil liability of 21st Century only.

“These tests were ordered to increase profits, not improve the healthcare of patients,” said Special Agent in Charge Shimon Richmond of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).

Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $26.7 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $16.8 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

The lawsuit is captioned United States, State of Florida, ex rel. Mariela Barnes v. Dr. David Spellberg, 21st Century Oncology and Naples Urology Associates, Civil Action No. 2:13-cv-228-FtM-38DNF (M.D. Fla.).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sebastian Rojas Dies After Motorcycle Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Sebastian Rojas, 25 of Lehigh Acres, FL. died as the result of a motorcycle crash Thursday morning at 12:04 am.

Rojas was traveling south on the inside lane on US-41 south of Pettys Drive on a Harley Davidson FXDB. The motorcycle struck the curb of the median and became airborne. Rojas was ejected from the motorcycle, reported the FHP.

He was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where he died from his injuries.

Port LaBelle Water Again Violates Contaminant Standards

Port LaBelle Treatment System Violates Standards For Trihalomethanes

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has once again cited the Port LaBelle Utilities water treatment system for failure to keep byproducts of disinfection below contaminant safety standards.

Laboratory analysis for the last four quarterly samples of Total Trihalomethanes from the public drinking water system indicate average concentrations of 112.73 micrograms per liter from one sampled location and higher than allowed amounts from other locations. The DEP has determined the levels are higher than the 80 micrograms per liter maximum standard. It is also than the last averaged sample of 103.03 ug/Ll. The state maximum contaminant safety level is 80 ug/L.

The last test results were from October 31

In July the water system filter membranes were cleaned, but the action was not successful at correcting the problem. An independent investigation indicates reverse osmosis membranes need to be replaced and pressure relief valves installed. These corrections are planned to be completed by March 2016.

Some people who drink water with excess trihalomethanes over many years may experience problems with liver, kidneys, or central nervous system and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

The DEP and Roger Greer, administrator of the Port LaBelle Utility System say this is not an immediate risk but until the problem is corrected, those concerned may wish to use alternative sources of water such as commercial bottled water or treat water with a home water treatment device for reducing trihalomethane in drinking water.

For more information call Roger Greer at (863) 675-5376 at Port LaBelle Utilities or Patty Baron at DEP at (239) 344-5615, email:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fred Robbins Found Dead From Gunshot

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On December 16, 2015, at approximately 1:00 am, Hendry County deputies were dispatched to the 800 block of Harlem Gardens Apartments after receiving a call of gunshots in the area.

Deputies arrived on scene and located 37 year old Fred Robbins dead from a gunshot wound in the residence of 809 Harlem Gardens.

Hendry County Investigators along with FDLE Agents currently have a person of interest and are actively investigating and following up on any and all leads.

If you have any information on the shooting please contact Lt. L. Morales at 863-674-5600; or you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477) and remain anonymous. You may be eligible for up to $1,000.00 reward.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Southwind Village Mobile Home Park Settles Fair Housing Violations

NORTH FORT MYERS, FL. -- The Justice Department announced today that Southwind Village LLC, the owner and operator of Southwind Village Mobile Home Park in North Fort Myers, Florida, has agreed to pay $60,000 to resolve allegations that it discriminated against African Americans in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The settlement was approved today by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The government’s complaint, filed on Sept. 30, 2015, alleges that Southwind Village’s then-manager, Carl Bruckler, refused to rent recreational vehicle lots to African Americans. The settlement does not resolve the government’s lawsuit against Carl Bruckler.

 According to the complaint, Bruckler falsely told African Americans who inquired about residing in the park that no lots were available or that there was a waiting list, and discouraged African Americans from making future inquiries at the park. The lawsuit is based on the results of testing conducted by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.

Under the terms of the agreement, which is in the form of a consent order, Southwind Village will establish a settlement fund in the amount of $35,000 to compensate victims of their discriminatory practices and pay a civil penalty of $25,000 to the United States. The agreement further requires Southwind Village to take steps to ensure that African Americans are no longer restricted from renting recreational vehicle lots at Southwind Village Mobile Home Park, located at 1269 River Road in North Fort Myers, and to provide periodic reports to the government. 

Individuals who have information about, or who believe they may have been harmed by, the defendants’ conduct should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, option 9992, or e-mail the Justice Department

Monday, December 14, 2015

June Howard Dies At 81

June Margaret Howard, age 81, of Alva, passed away December 13, 2015 in Fort Myers. She was born June 5, 1934 in LaBelle to the late Lewis Jackson Nobles, Sr. and the late Bonnie Belle (Raper) Nobles. She was a former resident of LaBelle and Naples.

Survivors include her husband: Cary Carl Howard, sons: Michale Lewis (Cindy) Howard and Timothy D. Howard, sisters: Dorothy Mae Pinion and Joanne Craft, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She also was preceded in death by her son: William Cary Howard and an infant son; and brother: Lewis Jackson Nobles, Jr.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor Rankin McGougan, Pastor Bud Stephens and Pastor Kevin Compton officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery in LaBelle. Visitation will be Thursday for1 hour prior to the funeral service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle.

Garden Club Potluck Dinner Meeting Sunday

LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Garden Club will meet Sunday December 20th, 2015 at 5:00 PM at the home of Kaye Cuddeback, 1044 Dutch Ct. Port LaBelle (315-594-2160). 

A potluck dinner will be served. Bring your favorite dish. Ham will be provided. For more information, call President Dave at 863-342-8233 or Nikki at 239-564-2005

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Reminiscing - Bill Neville

Commentary by T.W. Bill Neville

It's that time of year when "memories" resume their annual, torrential, cascading out of my subconscious into the "REMINISCING" corners of my mind. 

This year, my Father would have been 105 years old, but his influence on my life and events supporting his "title" of Father always serve to get me into the "spirit" of Christmas.  That is specifically pertinent this year, with the "passing" of my totally "committed" to "all" things Christmas wife of 65 years.

My Father was, in spite of many health problems, and associated career setbacks, always the perpetual optimist.  When asked how he was doing, he always responded, "I'm in pretty good shape--for the shape I'm in."

He had a philosophy for life which he loved to extol, based on his karma that "Nobody gets out alive, so why spend time worrying about things you can't or don't control."

He also stoically expounded on the belief that you "should reduce everything to the ridiculous, and never get hung up on the minutiae cascading down on everyone".

His baseball career as a semi-pro pitcher and major league prospect were cut short because of arm trouble, but with inimitable pluck and resolve, he rescued his love of the game by becoming a home plate umpire, where he "encouraged" all his many "fans" to cheer and jeer his every call, behind the "plate!"  When I asked him if that "jeering" bothered him, he responded that "while they were picking on him, they were leaving someone else alone, and that to him, IT was not only a part of the GAME, but the GAME, within the GAME!"

Do I miss my Father?-You bet I do, but now that he and his favorite "little girl", as he called my wife, are
together again, I can hear him "SHOUTING" from on high------"Let's play ball and get on with the GAME!"
SO!  What's a SON to do?  At 87, with failing "eye" sight and bad "wheels", maybe I should take up "UMPIRING", TOO?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Earl Williams Dies At 77 - Masonic Memorial December 19

Earl Paul Williams, 77 of Alva passed away on December 4th from the dreaded disease of emphysema. He was born and lived in Lee County his whole life. He was a 1957 graduate of Fort Myers High School. He was in the National Guard for 6 years. He and his two brothers, Ralph and Bert, operated G. J. Williams & Sons, a glass shop and scrap yard for many years.

Survivors are Franceil, his wife of 54 years, sister, Norma Bundy of Texas, brother, Bert Williams (Carol) of Alva , sisters Corine Harrison (David Wayne) of Fort Myers, Peggy Miller of Tampa and nephews and nieces. Also, a special neighbor that loved and cared for him, Jackie Willcox and Susan May, who was a most supportive care giver. Two special dogs, Joey and Sophie.

He was Past Master of Tropical Lodge #56 F & AM, a 33? Scottish Rite Mason, Past Patron of Fort Myers Chapter #31 Order of the Eastern Star, a member of Araba Shrine, and Elks Lodge #1288 of Fort Myers.

His was a man's man with a personality that made everyone love and respect him as he respected others. He had a gift of laughter and personality that made everyone feel better that they had been in his presence.

A private funeral service was held for the family and interment was in Alva Cemetery.

Everyone is encouraged and invited to come and share the "Celebration of His Wonderful Life" at the Southwest Florida Masonic Center located at 10868 Metro Parkway, on Saturday, December 19th at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Former Deputy Michael Ronga Gets Six Year Prison Sentence

FORT MYERS, FL. -- U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell yesterday sentenced former Lee county deputy Michael J. Ronga (44, Cape Coral) to six years in federal prison for deprivation of civil rights under color of law and obstruction of justice. Ronga was convicted by a federal jury on September 1, 2015.

According to evidence presented during the six-day trial, on May 5, 2013, Ronga, a deputy with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, provided a courtesy transport to the victim identified only as R.L.C. 

Ronga subsequently assaulted R.L.C., causing bodily injury. He also robbed the victim of his cash and cellphone. R.L.C. reported the assault and robbery to the LCSO, and an investigation ensued. During the course of the investigation, Ronga lied to law enforcement about his interaction with the victim.

This case was investigated by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It was prosecuted by Chief Assistant United States Attorney Jesus M. Casas and Special Assistant United States Attorney Amira D. Fox.

Everglades Habitat Restoration Set For Former Grove

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Work to restore a former Hendry county citrus grove back to Everglades habitat is set to begin with a construction contract approved this week by the South Florida Water Management District.

The project is shaded in red.

Known as the Sam Jones/Abiaki Prairie C-139 Annex Restoration Project, the approximately 15,000-acre site in Hendry County will be restored to an expansive wet prairie system with scattered cypress domes, tree island hammocks and sloughs. The restoration effort is designed to attract wildlife back to the site, including hares, turkeys, hawks, eagles, bobcats, black bears and panthers and benefit the groundwater, surface water and water supply of the area.

“Returning this land back to its former nature will bring vast benefits for wildlife and overall Everglades ecology,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Daniel O’Keefe. “As the site is adjacent to our treatment wetlands, restoring it will help connect natural areas across an expansive region.”

JMS Construction Services, the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, was awarded the approximately $1.5 million contract. This initial phase of construction entails site preparation, including:

· Removal and replacement of existing infrastructure such as metal pipes
· Removal of 247 8-inch diameter drainage culverts
· Abandonment of 15 irrigation wells
· Demolition and removal of associated concrete pads and piping

The Sam Jones/Abiaki Prairie property is situated between the Seminole Tribe of Florida Big Cypress Reservation and Stormwater Treatment Area 5/6 in southeastern Hendry County.

At the District’s invitation, the Seminole Tribe chose to name the property the Sam Jones/Abiaki Prairie after their great spiritual leader and hero (known by both names), who was thought to have lived on the property.

Several tribal maps indicate his 19th century village was at the crossroads of numerous historical trails located on this site. The District is coordinating with leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida on the restoration effort of this environmentally sensitive land.

Dr. Ralph Lerman Demonstrates Woodcarving Monday


LABELLE, FL. -- Mark your calendar for a woodcarving program and 10-year anniversary of Hendry-Glades Audubon Society. Dr. Ralph Lerman will be demonstrating woodcarving and display his carved bird collection on Monday December 14 at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelleat 7 p.m.

Ralph L. Lerman, DPM is a practicing Podiatrist (Foot Specialist) in Fort Myers, FL. who specializes in Foot & Ankle Surgery. After his presentation cake will be served to celebrate Hendry-Glades Audubon's 10th year as an Audubon Chapter

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Dr. Joseph Pepe Named To Head Hendry/Glades Health Departments

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Health has announced Joseph Pepe, Ed.D. will be the Health Officer for Hendry and Glades Counties. Since May 2015, Dr. Pepe has served the Department for both counties as interim Health Officer. Prior to his tenure as interim Health Officer, Dr. Pepe was also the Planning Consultant for the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County, a role in which he facilitated all emergency preparedness planning and communication activities.

“Dr. Pepe has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to public health,” said Kim Barnhill, deputy secretary for County Health Systems. “His leadership in the public and private sector will make him a valuable asset to the people of Hendry and Glades counties.”

Before joining the Florida Department of Health, Dr. Pepe acted as the Executive Vice President of Administration for Hodges University beginning in 2012, where he served as Chief Administrative Officer and oversaw a staff of more than 400. In addition to managing personnel activities and strategic planning, he worked to establish over 100 additional community partnerships. Previously, Dr. Pepe worked for more than 12 years as the Executive Director for the regional campuses of Nova Southeastern University, providing oversight to nine campuses.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida in 1995, Dr. Pepe earned his Master of Administration from Central Michigan University in 1999. He went on to earn his Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2009.

Dr. Pepe is a member of the National Association of County and City Health Officials and currently serves as a board member for the Punta Gorda Housing Authority Family Self-Sufficiency Program as well as Junior Achievement. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor at Barry University, teaching courses related to emergency management and public administration.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Hearing Set For SoFlo Ag and Panther Tracts Monkey Breeding Facility

LABELLE, FL. -- The Animal Legal Defense Fund, an advocacy organization for animals, is continuing its fight to revoke permits for two new primate breeding facilities SoFlo Ag and Panther Tracts, heading to court on December 15 to argue a motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against Hendry County on behalf of three concerned residents.

The lawsuit alleges Hendry County officials’ granting of permits in 2012 and 2013 was a violation of Florida’s open government law, the “Sunshine Law.” The plaintiffs contend Hendry County was required to hold public meetings before approving the development of these monkey breeding facilities. They have told the court the facilities, which would breed thousands of macaque monkeys to be sold to the biomedical research industry for vivisection (animal testing), are slated to be built in areas zoned for “agriculture,” usually reserved for raising domesticated animals and growing crops only.

“The public has a right to know what is going on in their backyards,” said Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director. “Florida’s Sunshine Law was designed to prohibit exactly the kind of back-room dealings that led to Hendry County’s approval of biomedical primate breeding facilities in a traditional agricultural neighborhood without any public notice whatsoever.”

ALDF contends not only are the proposed facility conditions cruel and inhumane for the monkeys being bred, but there are dangers associated with importing exotic animals to the U.S. Possession of primates like macaques is regulated by federal and state agencies due to the threat of disease carried by these animals, including Ebola, Herpes B, tuberculosis, and parasites.

A rhesus macaque was responsible for the death of a worker from Herpes B at the renowned Yerkes National Primate Research Center field station, and long-tailed macaques were responsible for an outbreak of the “Reston” strain of the Ebola virus at a Virginia research facility and a tuberculosis outbreak.

ALDF is also concerned about the potentially biohazardous waste produced by thousands of exotic primates. This waste could devastate the local environment, including the fragile ecosystem of the Big Cypress National Preserve—which is adjacent to the Panther Tracts facility—and pollute the wells of nearby residents, including those of the Plaintiffs in ALDF’s suit.

The motion for summary judgment will be argued on December 15, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. at the Hendry County Courthouse, 3rd floor. If ALDF’s motion is granted, the facilities’ permits will be revoked until a public hearing can be held on the matter.

Court information: Hearing on Plaintiffs’ and Defendant’s Motions for Summary Judgment, Stephens, Grey, and Cinkota v. Hendry County, Case No. 2014-CA-633

Sheriff Wants Citizens To Carry A Weapon?

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden indicates he's encouraging the public to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, or carry a gun in your vehicle. On Facebook yesterday Whidden said,

"In the wake of the recent attack on Americans in San Bernardino County, California, it is evident that we as a nation are under attack by radical Islamic terrorists. These people have vowed under their religion to destroy all who do not follow their beliefs. Radical Islam has openly declared war on us and has vowed to attack us here - on our soil - and they are here with more coming.

"They have promised that more Paris-style attacks are still to come. We do not know when, we do not know where, and we do not know how many will come against us. We also do not know the style of attack that will be chosen next.

"Our county is small in numbers and I feel that we are unlikely to be targeted by these evil people. However, as your Sheriff, I encourage all who are legally eligible, and trained to carry concealed weapons to do so. I do not want any of us to be helpless victims if we should fall under attack.

"The fact is that we will never be able to stop someone from attempting to carry out a violent attack, but we as armed citizens can mitigate the damage. If you do not hold a valid Florida Concealed Weapon Permit or hold one from a reciprocating state and are interested in possessing one, the Hendry County Sheriff's Office offers classes to assist you in obtaining your Concealed Weapons License.

"If you are interested, contact the Hendry County Sheriff's Office at 863-674-5628 or 863-674-5604 or you may e-mail us at or

"If you are not interested or do not have time to obtain a Concealed Weapon Permit, Florida Statute legally allows you to carry your loaded firearm inside your vehicle in a certain manner and it reads as such:

Florida Statute 790.25 (p)(5) POSSESSION IN PRIVATE CONVEYANCE.—Notwithstanding subsection (2), it is lawful and is not a violation of s. 790.01 for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for self-defense or other lawful purpose within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.

Nothing herein contained prohibits the carrying of a legal firearm other than a handgun anywhere in a private conveyance when such firearm is being carried for a lawful use. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to authorize the carrying of a concealed firearm or other weapon on the person.

This subsection shall be liberally construed in favor of the lawful use, ownership, and possession of firearms and other weapons, including lawful self-defense as provided in s. 776.012. )

"What this means is, your firearm can be carried anywhere inside your vehicle, loaded and ready to fire, as long as it is in a secure case such as a snapped holster or a securable case.

"I would also ask that when you are out and about, be aware of your surroundings. Report anything or anyone that appears to be suspicious.

"Thank you for your continued support and the support of our agency. If you have any questions, thoughts or concerns, give me a call.

"Times are getting bad and it is up to us to keep ourselves safe Please share this post with your friends and “If You See Something, Say Something”."

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Acting My Age - Bill Neville

Commentary By T. W. Bill Neville

With my "mate" of over 65 years gone to her reward in Heaven, I find myself in a stage of metamorphosing that I choose to call RENAISSANCE--bordering on "RUINAISSANCE?!"  After much internal commiseration, and external, consternation, maybe I should be brutally honest, with myself, and admit that my life is really morphing into a "rerun" of the "Walton Family" TV sitcom, on steroids.

For example, I keep telling myself that I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it.  Like, just last week I joined the procrastination group, and, now, we, as a group, can't decide on a meeting place, or date.  Last week while I was doing laundry, I had this thought about how great it would be to put ourselves in the dryer and come out wrinkle free and several sizes smaller.

I've decided I don't need anger management classes.  I just need to avoid people and situations that irritate me.  Now that I'm alone, I'm realizing that "old age" is coming a really bad time in my life.  I've always prided myself on having people skills, but there are so many idiots out there today, that I can't avoid them all, but that even if duct tape can't shut them up, it can help "muffle" the sounds.

If my wife were still here she would be "rolling" her eyes and "encouraging" me to "act" my age.  Kinda like giving up on being able to touch my toes anymore by saying "If God had wanted us to be able to do it, he would have put our toes on our knees."  She never bought into my idea that's OK to talk to yourself, since I believe that it's nice to be able,sometimes, to reach an agreement and not have to justify the outcome.

Come to think of it, that's exactly what she would probably have said about this article.  God love her for being the "power" beneath my "wings", and the best "critic" and "adviser", anyone could ever have in one lifetime.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Sue Yaun Dies At 72

Sue R. Yaun, age 72, of LaBelle, passed away December 2, 2015 in LaBelle. She was born Mar. 29, 1943 in Ravina, KY, to the late Leonard and the late Geneva (Miller) Richardson.

She is survived by her husband: John A.Yaun, son, Michael A. Yaun (Shelly) and daughter, Amanda A. Yaun (Robert DeCoste).

Funeral services will be held Monday, December 7, 2015 at 10:00 am at Ortona Cemetery Pavilion, Moore Haven with Rev. Warren Grant officiating.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Santa Parade And Christmas In The Park Friday

LABELLE, FL. -- The annual Christmas Parade down Main Street starts off at 5 p.m Friday evening in downtown LaBelle.

Santa Claus will head north from the Dollar General and travel north turning at the LaBelle Boat Docks, ending up at Baron Park along the Caloosahachee River where lots of fun activities will be available for the kids.

Video: 2014 Santa Parade And Christmas In The Park

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Marcus Van Billie Dies In Canal Crash

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Marcus Van Billie, 45 of Clewiston is dead after an alcohol related crash Wednesday morning at 5:22 a.m. in Hendry county.

A 1999 Chevy was northbound on County Road 835 near Rogers Rd. when it suddenly ran off of the roadway onto the east grassy shoulder. Driver Hope Overland, 38 of Hollywood, Fl. over corrected and the vehicle re-entered the roadway of County Road 835.

Overland then lost control as the vehicle began to rotate in a clockwise direction and while sliding sideways in a northeasterly direction, with its left side leading, exited the roadway a second time onto the east grassy shoulder. It overturned on the east grassy shoulder before coming to final rest in a water filled canal and came to final rest partially submerged.

Overland and passenger Michael Dean, 42 of Plantation were transported by Hendry County EMS to Lee Memorial Hospital. Both are in stable condition. Passenger Marcus Van Billie was pronounced deceased at the scene of the crash.

The FHP says the crash was alcohol related. Charges are pending.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Obituaries - Manning, Pace, Stallins

Ralph Douglas Manning passed away Nov. 28, 2015 in Clewiston Fl. He was born Dec 27 1935 in Lenoir Country, NC to the late Bernice Ham (Mother) & John Manning (Father). 

He worked as a quality controller for Wilkinson and Cooper. He was a member of the Clewiston Pentecostal Church. He was a loving and loyal husband to Willie Sue, a loving father to his three kids, and a loving Grandfather to his precious Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. 

Survivors include his loving wife of 56 years: Willie Sue, Three kids: Eddie Manning, Robert Manning, and Teresa Usher-Manning. Grandkids: Jessica Manning-Carey , Josh Manning, Meghan Manning, Krystal Manning-Hevey, Brett Usher, Brian Usher. Great Grandkids: Madison Manning, Ariana Hevey, Brianna Hevey, Aubrey Usher, Logan Carey, Elissa Carey.

A celebration of Ralph D. Manning will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday December 5, 2015 at the Clewiston Pentecostal Church. Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Richard Lowell Pace, age 74, passed away November 28, 2015 in Pahokee, FL. He was born January 18, 1941 in LaBelle, FL to the late Marshal and the late Cola (Carson) Pace.

After graduating from La Belle High School, Richard served in the U.S. Army, after which, he was employed by United States Sugar Corporation. In 2003, Mr. Pace retired as foreman from U.S. Sugar after 44 years of service.

Survivors include his loving wife, Joyce of 50 years and their two sons: Richard Duane Pace and wife Elizabeth of TN, Gary Pace and wife Julie of West Palm Beach; three sisters: Gwendolyn Pace Martens of St. Petersburg, FL, Lurlene Pace Fraser of Fort Myers, FL, Carolyn Pace Miller of Fort Myers, FL Grandchildren: Sophie Pace, Micah Pace, Sadie Pace, Sarah Pace, Alyssa Pace, and Olivia Pace.

He was preceded in death by his two older brothers: Marshal and Meredith Pace.

Funeral services will be held Friday, December 4, 2015 at 11:00 am at Good Shepherd Church of God in Pahokee where Richard and Joyce were long time members. Reverend James Brewer will be officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at Good Shepherd Church of God. Interment will be in Clewiston at Ridgelawn Cemetery. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Christopher Justin Stallins, age 29, of Lehigh Acres, passed away November 30, 2015 in Lehigh Acres. He was born May 27, 1986 in Fort Myers, FL to Christopher Owen Stallins and Kalawatie (Ragoonanan) Stallins.

He is survived by his wife: Brianna Stallins, step daughter: Joszelen Gallegos, father & mother: Christopher & Kal Stallins, brother: Jordan Perry Stallins nephew, Jason Stallins; grandmother: Sookdaye Ragoonanan; great-grandmother: Bernice Trober; aunts: Seeta Mohammed; Geeta West and Neila Burchard; uncles: Prem Ragoonanan; Daharam Ragoonanan; Dave Ragoonanan; Kumar Ragoonanan; Sham Ragoonanan; Tommy Stallins and Jim Stallins; cousins: Jessica O'Sell; Josh Cline; Carlton Ragoonanan; Branagan Ragoonanan; Michael Thielen; Tiffany Donovan; Ryan Stallins; Alicia West; Cynthia West Bolin and David Ragoonanan.

Services will be held Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, 10:00 am at Ortona Cemetery Pavilion, Moore Haven with Pastor Larry Gregory officiating. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

SW Florida Holiday Boat Parades For December

LABELLE, FL. -- Have a festive holiday season along the waterways watching one of the many lighted boat parades in southwest Florida this year. Here's a listing of information on boat parades from Naples to Venice, Florida:

Bonita Springs Boat Parade
December 12th 2015, 5:00pm

This year starting at The Fish House Restaurant on Bonita Beach Road. The US 41 bridge in Bonita Springs, over the Imperial River is an excellent vantage point to see the parade. Parking is limited. Plan to park at neighboring plazas; Kmart, Fresh Market, Riverview Terrace Office Park and walk to the venue .Website

Captiva Cruises Lighted Boat Parade
December 12th, 6:00 pm 2015

More than 30 boats parade down Roosevelt Channel for this spectacular event. Visitors can choose to cruise in the parade with special passenger tickets or watch the parade from McCarthy’s Marina, ‘Tween Waters Inn, Jensen’s Marina or the Green Flash.

Cape Coral Holiday Boat Along
December 19th , 2015 7:00pm

Cape Coral's Holiday Boat A Long features a parade of beautifully decorated boats.The fun goes from 4-10PM. Located at Four Freedoms Park on Cape Coral Pkwy, the festival has food, Christmas music, and a visit from Santa Claus along with the parade. You can also watch as the boats line up in Bimini Basin for the parade which first passes by the park's beach before heading down various canals in South Cape Coral.

The parade starts at 7PM with fireworks. Paddle boats, and then boats of all types and sizes cruise by the park's beach.  To register to be in the boat parade, contact Sea Tow at (239) 549-0558, to perform at the festival call (239)573-3121, and for more information call (239)573-3123. Website

27th Annual Christmas Boat Parade - Fort Myers Beach
December 5th 2015 6:00pm

Come enjoy some Christmas spirit at the 27th Annual Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Last year over 30 boats participated and this year promises to be even more exciting. The parade will pass by such establishments as Big Game Waterfront Grill, Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Matanzas, Nervous Nellies, Doc Fords and Bonita Bills where you can kick back and enjoy the fun. The parade is from 6-8pm. For information visit This event is sponsored by the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.

LaBelle Christmas Boat Parade
December 12 2015 7:30pm

Along the Calossahatchee River at the bridge in LaBelle. All boaters welcome, any size boat, any amount of decorations, and a bronze plaque to be awarded all boats. For entry info or (239) 910-1538.

Lights of Love Christmas Boat Parade - Lakeport
December 6th 2015 6:00pm

The Lakeport Lights of Love Christmas Boat Parade, set for Dec. 6 at Harney Pond Canal in Glades County, will also be a toy drive. Entry fee is one new, unwrapped toy per person. The toys will be given to the local toy drive for Lakeport children. Santa will arrive at 6 p.m. There will be a prize for the best decorated boat. Registration for the event will be through Dec. 1, To register, or for more information, call Tom at 863-946-1146, or Lois at 443-463-2785, or Lorraine at 863-227-4301.

Marine Industries Christmas Boat Parade - Naples
December 12th 2015 6:15-8:30pm

The parade may be viewed from: Pincher’s Crab Shack, Riverwalk Restaurant, Naples City Dock, Naples Landing, Kelly’s Fish House, The Boat House Restaurant and Bayview Park. Donations will be accepted by the Marine Industries Association of Collier County. 100% of donations will be given to The Ricky King Fund which provides the unmet financial medical needs of local children. Make donation checks payable to The Ricky King Fund. Send check and parade entry form to MIACC, P.O. Box 9887, Naples, FL 34101 Website Route

Christmas Boat Parade - Okeechobee
December 19th 2015 6:00pm

The Okeechobee Yachette Club will host their 32 annual Christmas Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 19. Decorate your boat and meet the group on Taylor Creek by the Burger King and State Road 70 bridge between 5 and 5:30 p.m. in Okeechobee. The boat parade starts at 6 p.m. For more information, call Arnie at 863-634-4777.

Pine Island Lighted Christmas Boat Parade
December 12, 2015 6:00pm

The Pine Island Community Boat Parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m., in St. James City. There are many ways to enjoy the boat parade, including viewing from various restaurants, homes and other vantage points along the parade route. The parade route will remain the same as in previous years and will include Monroe, Cherry Estates and Henley waterways. Organizers will be collecting canned goods for the Harry Chapin Food Bank and the theme for this year will be in support of local law enforcement. Contact Capt. Mickey Brelsford at 786-298-6267 or email

Gasparilla Marina Christmas Boat Parade - Placida
December 15th, 2015 6:00pm

The Marina Christmas lighted boat parade assembles at the fuel dock at 5:30 PM and depart around 6:00PM heading north on the Intracoastal to Palm Island and then back to the marina. The parade is followed by a get together at the restaurant and awarding of prizes. Website Contact Jeff at the marina for particulars at (941) 697-2280.

Punta Gorda Boat Parade
December 19th, 2015 6:00 pm

Viewers get up very close to the boats at this parade that includes carolers, performers and great decorations. No entry fees, no judging, just a great time! No worries from winds or tides. It's Smooth Sailing as the entire parade is within protected waters of the PGI canal system. Website

26th Annual Peace River Lighted Boat Parade - Charlotte Harbor
December 13h 2015 6:00pm

The best viewing spots are Edgewater Lake in Charlotte Harbor, Fishermen's Village, the bridges of US41 North and Southbound (no chairs will be permitted at this location) and Laishley Park Marina as the final stop.  For further details, please call the Punta Gorda Chamber on 941 639 3720.

Registration free. This year, you'll be able to join the parade at three different stages. If you want to do the complete route (which we encourage), you will start in Edgewater Lake on the north shore and cross the harbor in parade format starting around 6pm (Stage 1). For those, uneasy about the harbor crossing at night, why not join us at Stage 2 (the entrance to the Isles Yacht Club channel) and join the parade from there. For small craft like dinghies, kayaks etc, stage 3 will be the Punta Gorda Boat Club launch, where you will make your way to Fishermen's Village and return via the shoreline to the Boat Club after the parade passes by.
Admission: Free Tel: (941) 769-0002 Website

Venice Christmas Boat Parade
December 5th, 2015

Christmas in Venice...the lights, the palm tress, the waterways. Celebrate the holiday season by decorating your boat and joining in the fun! There is no better way to start the Christmas Season than by joining the fun and participating in the Venice Boat Parade of Lights. Contact Information John Osmulski at 809-8100 or email Website

List Courtesy of

Sunday, November 29, 2015

James Patterson Dies At 85

James M. "Sam" Patterson, age 85, of LaBelle, passed away November 26, 2015 in LaBelle. He was born May 30, 1930 in Ocoee, FL, to the late Leonard and the late Lou (Fulford) Patterson.

He served in the U.S. Army. After completing his duty with the Army, he joined the Forestry Service as a Ranger and served from 1954 through 1964. At that time, he joined Alico and was an asset to the company until he retired in 1995.

Sam's priorities in life were his beloved family, wife Joann of 61 years, son Len (Janie), his daughter Jan (Greg), his granddaughters, Jennifer and Haley and sister Dorothy Russo.

He will forever be remembered for his love of family and his love of the outdoors, hunting, fishing and golfing. He was a man of great character, honor, loyalty and respected by all.

He was a man of great faith, serving as an elder, trustee and Chairman of the Board and a member of the Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11:30 am at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, LaBelle, with Pastor Peggy Benson and Pastor W.T. Maddox, Jr. officiating. Visitation will be on hour prior to service at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Donations may be made to Hope Healthcare Services, 9470 Health Park Cir., Fort Myers, FL 33908 or Alzheimers Association of Fort Myers, 12468 Brantley Commons Ct., Fort Myers, FL 33907.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tai Chi Quan Class Graduates - New Class Begins Jan 5

LABELLE, FL. -- The latest class of tai chi quan students received their certificates of completion Tuesday morning at the Hope Center. Offered throughout the year at the L.J. Nobles Senior Center on Cowboy way, participants practiced 12 weeks of exercise to enable strengthening of muscles and improving balance skills to prevent falls.

The 12-week course is sponsored by the Florida Department of Health through the Area Agency On Aging and Hope Healthcare.

The next class will begin January 5, 2016. Those interested can call AAA of Southwest Florida at 866-413-5337 to register. There is no cost. Participants must be available to attend all 25 sessions on Tuesday and Thursday in LaBelle at 10 a.m.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Obituaries - Kariann Priestly, Christopher Buster

Kariann Elaine Priestly, age 50, of Clewiston, passed away November 18, 2015 in Clewiston.

She was born Dec. 30, 1964 in Detroit, MI, to the late Darrell Glen and the late Mary (Purcer) Priestly.

She is survived by her life partner, Harry Tommie, daughter: Jessica Preistly and two grandchildren.

A graveside service was held Monday, November 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm at Big Cypress Cemetery, Big Cypress Reservation with Dr. Arlen J. Payne officiating. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Christopher Buster, age 51, of Clewiston, passed away November 21, 2015 in Clewiston. He was born May 15, 1964 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to the late George and Sally (Buster) Billie.

He is survived by his mother, Sally (Buster) Billie, four sisters: Louise G. Osceola, Agnes Billie Motlow, Darlene Buster Primeaux, Diane Buster and many other family members and friends.

A graveside service was held Monday, November 23, 2015 at 9:00 am at Big Cypress Cemetery, Big Cypress Reservation with Rev. Paul Buster officiating. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Frostproof, Fla. – A timeless Christmas family tradition of selecting a Christmas tree comes alive at Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. Explore a beautiful state forest, select a sand pine tree from the Arbuckle Tract and harvest your own Florida Christmas tree for ten dollars.

“You will need to bring your own hand saw and recommend gloves,” states District Manager Kawika Bailey, Florida Forest Service. “We invite you to meet our State Forest representative at the McLean Cabin prior to cutting your tree to ensure you obtain a special permit, adhere to tree size limitations and specific cutting locations.”

There are natural areas of scrub and sandhill ecosystems that contain dense sand pine saplings on the Lakes Wales Ridge State Forest and for five years the Annual Sand Pine Christmas Tree Sale has helped to thin out some of these stands on the Arbuckle tract. As part of management within these ecosystems, sand pine removal is desired in order to help maintain these ecosystems by not allowing sand pines to dominate these ecosystems.

Tree thinning is a term foresters apply to the removal of some trees from a stand to give others more room to grow. Trees spaced closely together compete for sunlight, water and nutrients. As these trees grow, each places increasing demands upon the site’s resources. The larger trees simply need more water, nutrients and sunlight than they did when smaller. Eventually, the site reaches a point where it can no longer support all of the young forest’s trees; weak trees die from resource limitations.

“You can help create a healthy forest and take home your own Florida Christmas tree,” explains Kawika.

Please contact Lakes Wales Ridge State Forest for select dates and times

Lake Wales Ridge State Forest
(863) 589-0545
851 CR 630 East
Frostproof, FL 33843

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Museum Monthly Meeting Featuring Tour Of Pioneer Aiken House

LABELLE, FL. -- Patricia Newell Johnson will present a short slide presentation at LaBelle Heritage Museum's 7 p.m. Thursday, December 3rd program meeting of moving and setting up the H A Rider House and Law Office from its location on the corner of Hickpochee Avenue and Lee Street when Clewiston National Bank now Seacoast National Bank first donated the buildings to the fledgling local museum to its move to a temporary location on South Lee Street made available by the Board of County Commissioners to their final home as an integral part of the LaBelle Heritage Museum Complex at 360 North Bridge Street in the Downtown LaBelle Historic District.

Following the short program, members and guests will be invited to take a short tour of the house built in 1905 by pioneer blacksmith George Aiken that also served as home to both Paul Eddy, editor of LaBelle's first weekly newspaper "The Caloosahatchee Current" as well as being Hendry County's first School Superintendent, and E. M. Cornette, one of Hendry County's early County Judges, before it became the longtime home of H. A. Rider and his family. Rider served as County Attorney, County Judge and Mayor of LaBelle during his 40-odd years in LaBelle and still has descendants living here.

Museum Vice-President Keitha Daniels has been instrumental in the current renovation and restoration project in the Aiken-Rider House along with decorating it for the Christmas Holidays and the December 12th Festivities in the Downtown LaBelle Historic District culminating with the Lighted Boat Parade sponsored by the museum.

Parking at LaBelle Heritage Museum itself is limited. However, Rene Curtis Pratt at Harold P. Curtis Honey Co. immediately across North Bridge Street from the museum has graciously volunteered the use of the Honey House's parking lot to LHM members and guests for its evening programs.

Eric Smikle Dies At 85

Eric Smikle, age 85, of LaBelle, passed away November 16, 2015 in LaBelle.

He was born Jan. 1, 1930 in Mandeviile, Jamaica, West Indies to the late Albert and the late Isadora (Williams) Smikle. He has lived in Florida since 2010 and also resided in New York from 1974 to 2010, in London from 1956 to 1974 and in Jamaica from 1930 to 1956.

Survivors include his sons: Jason Smikle and Steven Smikle, daughters: Vivienne Smikle and Yvonne Smikle, sister: Amy Smikle, grandsons: Brian Dacosta, Jason Smikle, Jr., Warren Smikle, Trevor Smikle, Austin Smikle, granddaughters: Peterkay Smith, Xiomara Cardenas-Smikle, Dallas Smikle, Jordan Smikle, six great-grandchildren, sister in law, Mervel Smikle; nephews: Ian Smikle; Brian Smikle; Raymond Smikle and Joseph Williams and niece: Bridgette Williams and daughter-in-law, Calara Cardenas.

He also was preceded in death by his brothers: Richard Smikle, James Williams and Arnold Jones, nephew, Olive Jones and niece, Sissy Jones.

A memorial service was held Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tracy Miller Wins At Social

Tracy Miller won a Cappuccino Machine at the recent Kiwanis and Chamber of Commerce Social at the Kiwanis Thrift Store in LaBelle.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Obituaries - Brianne Kirschner, Eula Johnson

Brianne M Kirschner, age 34, of Clewiston, passed away November 13, 2015 in Wellington. She was born Sep. 2, 1981 in Homer, LA.

She is survived by her husband: Matthew C. Kirschner, son: Matthew Craig Kirschner,Jr and three daughters: Rachael Nichol, Shauna Peacock, Heaven Peacock, mother: Jessica. She was preceded in death by her sister Penny.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 11:00 am at New Harvest Church, Clewiston.

Eula Vivian Johnson, age 75, of South Bay, passed away November 15, 2015, in Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade, Florida.

She was born March 22, 1940, in Mitchell County, NC, to the late Braxton and the late Decima (Meredith) McKinney. Mrs. Johnson married Charles Johnson. Mrs. Johnson worked as an Agricultural Research Technician for many years before retiring.

Survivors include her husband: Charles Johnson one sister: Gladys Saxon, three brothers: Norris McKinney, Wade McKinney, Wayne McKinney and several nieces and nephews and friends.

A Graveside service was held Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm at Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston with Rev. Rod Ruby officiating. Interment was in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston.

Tracy Martinez Arrested - Allegedly Using 47 Food Stamp Cards

LABELLE, FL. -- After a lengthy investigation, Hendry County Investigators arrested 53 year old Eugene “Tracy” Martinez on Charges of Fraud and Theft.

The six month investigation revealed that Martinez utilized and trafficked 47 different EBT Food Stamp cards over a period of one year.

An investigation into Martinez phone records disclosed he would call the automated EBT number on the card to check the balance on the associated cards and within a couple of days there would be a large transaction. The phone records belonging to Martinez indicated that a second call would be made to ensure that the there was a zero balance. This pattern occurred every month on all 47 cards for a year.

During the course of the investigation it was established that Martinez trafficked in EBT cards by purchasing them from the registered card holder for pennies on the dollar and then sold them to a third party for at a higher rate. Martinez also utilizied several of the EBT cards to complete purchases himself and at times used two different EBT cards to complete the transaction.

The Food Stamp office provided to Hendry County Investigators a list of transactions for each card. Investigators used this report, phone bills, and witness statements and began contacting locations where the EBT cards were used. They began collecting videos and photographs and were able to positively identified Martinez from the images captured on film.

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden said, “There is definitely a flaw in the welfare system. When it's that easy for people who are living off of your tax dollars to scam the system, something needs to be changed. There has been $60,000 scammed in our small town alone. I can't imagine how much is being scammed nationwide."

At this time it is thought that Martinez may be responsible for upwards of $60,000 in Public Assistance Fraud.

On November 16, 2015 Eugene “Tracy” Martinez, was placed under arrest on charges of Fraud, Grand Theft and Petit Theft. Martinez was released from the Hendry County Jail, Monday, November 16, 2015 on $11,500.00. It is anticipated there will be additional charges.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Red Cross Training Day December 5

LABELLE, FL. -- The American Red Cross will be teaching a day-long training that will cover an orientation to the organization during the first half and an introduction to sheltering fundamentals for the second half. Lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP by registering in Volunteer Connection or

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Saturday, December 5th, 2015. Call Amy at 863-674-5400 if you need help registering for this class.

Please sign-up no later than November 26, 2015, as a minimum of 25 registrations must be received by this date to confirm the class will be held.

Should you have any questions regarding the local jurisdiction or directions to the facility please contact Brian Newhouse at, or (863) 674-5404.

Harris Segal Welcomes New Kiwanis Member Kelly Bruckler

LABELLE, FL. -- The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle recent had a visit by the Kiwanis Division 19 Lt. Governor Harris Segal. He gave an overview of the Kiwanis goals for the next year and helped the LaBelle Kiwanis Club welcome a new member; Kelly Bruckler. Kelly has been around LaBelle for over a year and is active with the Firehouse Community Theatre.

Pictured: Nikki Yeager, President of Kiwanis Club, Harris Segal-Lt. Governor for Kiwanis Division 19 and Kelly Bruckler, newest LaBelle Kiwanis Member

Rolande Alcina Seriously Injured In Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- Rolande Alcina, 59 of Port St. Lucie was seriously injured in a crash while riding as a passenger Tuesday afternoon at 2:19 p.m. in Hendry County.

A 2014 Hyundai Accent was southbound on Birchwood Parkway in Port LaBelle at the intersection of State Road 80.

A 2014 Honda Accent driven by Lasundra Scheibner, 45 of Loxahatchee was westbound on State Road 80 just east of Birchwood Parkway.

The driver of the Hyundai, Elmira Pierre, 62 of West Palm Beach failed to yield the right of way to the Honda as the Hyundai entered SR 80. As a result, the Hyundai was struck by the Honda.

Alcina was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries. Pierre was cited for failure to yield right of way and had minor injuries and transported to Lehigh Regional Hospital.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Obituaries - Taylor, Hooks, Murphy

Herbert O'Neil Taylor, age 82, of Lake Placid, passed away November 14, 2015 in Lake Placid.

He was born Aug. 21, 1933 in Bartow, FL, to the late Herbert Cleo and Patricia Ruth (Barfield) Taylor. Mr. Taylor married Grace Ball. He worked as a farm manager for many years. He was a member of Moore Haven United Methodist Church.

Herbert was a loving and loyal husband to Grace, a loving father to his three daughters, and a loving grandfather to his precious grandchildren and great grandchild.

Survivors include his loving wife of 59 years: Grace Taylor, three daughters: Sheree Humphries, April (Malcolm) Etherton, Alison (Kenny) Bowers, one brother; Glenn Taylor and one sister; Audrey Whidden, granddaughters, Shelley Humphries-Jones (Jordan), Jodi (Patric) Etherton, Savannah Bowers, grandsons; Kenny Bowers, Waylon Bowers, Great granddaughters, Kaelyn, Leighla, and Tylee Jones and great grandson Xavier.

A celebration of Neill's Life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, November 20, 2015 at the Pavilion in Ortona Cemetery with Pastor Charley Watts officiating. Burial will follow immediately in Ortona Cemetery. In Lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to any local FFA Chapter or 4-H Club.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Audie Flanders Hooks, Jr., age 93, of Clewiston, passed away November 15, 2015 in Loxahatchee.

He was born Jan. 16, 1922 in Swainsboro, GA, to Audie Flanders and Iva (Christian) Hooks, Sr.

He married Nell Latham in 1948. He served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, was a member of Saint Martin Episcopal Church in Clewiston for many years. He owned and operated Bembry Motors for several years. He was a Clewiston City Commissioner in the 80s. He was a long time member of the Clewiston Elks Lodge # 1853.

He leaves behind his loving wife of 67 years; Nell Hooks of Clewiston, daughter; Jonell Biuso and her husband Dr. Joseph Biuso of Rome, Georgia, son; Ronald Hooks and his wife Pam of Canton, Georgia, sister; Jackie Rush of Miami, Florida, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Audie was preceded in death by his son; Donald Hooks and his brother; James Hooks.

A celebration of Life for Audie will be held at Saint Martin Episcopal Church on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Burial will follow in Ridgelawn Cemetery. Visitation will be held Thursday, November 19, 2015 from 5-7 p.m. in Akin-Davis Funeral Home – Clewiston.

Alma Gwendolyn Murphy, age 93, of Alva, passed away November 16, 2015 in Fort Myers.

She was born Oct. 22, 1922 in Alva, FL, to the late James Fred and the late Eddie Pearl (Fussell) Dyess.

She is survived by her children: Jo Kennedy (Jerry), Norman Murphy (Carol), Jim Murphy (Sandy), Kay Hass (Jim), John W. Murphy and many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Clyde Murphy and daughter, Joy Murphy Norris.

A graveside service will be held Friday, November 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm at Alva Cemetery, Alva with Rev. Dennis Edgar officiating. Visitation will be Thursday from 06:00-08:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Fort Myers, FL.

Shingles - A Concern As We Age

Usually thought of as a childhood disease, chickenpox can have lasting effects well into adulthood because the virus remains inactive in the body even after recovery. Years after you have had the chickenpox, the virus can reappear in the form of shingles. Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body and symptoms can last for several weeks.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 1 out of 3 people in America will develop shingles during their lifetime. Your risk increases as you get older. About half of all cases occur in men and women that are 60 years old or older. It is recommended that people 60 years of age or older to get vaccinated against this painful disease.

For people who have had chickenpox, shingles is not contagious. However, someone who has not had chickenpox and who has direct contact with the shingles rash could contract chickenpox, not shingles.

One of the first symptoms of shingles is pain, which can sometimes be mistaken for other issues (depending on the location of the pain). Typically, a rash appears after the onset of pain, but some people may experience the discomfort of shingles without developing a rash.

Other signs of shingles may include:
· Burning, numbness, tingling or sensitivity to touch
· Fluid-filled blisters
· Itching
· Fever or chills
· Headache
· Upset Stomach

There is no cure for shingles, but there are a variety of treatment options that can make symptoms less serious. Pain medicine may help relieve the pain caused by shingles. Wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths may also help relieve some of the itching, but please visit your healthcare provider promptly if you have symptoms of shingles. This is especially important if you experience pain or rash around the eye, if you are 70 years or older, if you or someone in your family has a weakened immune system or if the rash is widespread and painful.

Some people experience complications from shingles if they do not receive the right treatment. Shingles around the eye can cause painful infections and vision loss. The disease can also damage nerve fibers causing pain even after the disease is gone. If shingles blisters are not treated properly they can become infected.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect shingles. For more information, visit the CDC website at:

- submitted by Brenda Barnes, Communications Office, Hendry-Glades Health Department