Friday, February 27, 2015

Sydney Williams Indicted For Concealing Cash In Bankruptcy Case

NAPLES, FL. -- Sydney Williams and wife Lorie Williams indicted for concealing $332,300 cash in their 2010 bankruptcy filing. In his bankruptcy proceedings, Sydney Williams allegedly concealed from the Chapter 11 Trustee and the creditors, property belonging to his estate, specifically, a safe deposit box held at a bank.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III is charging Naples residents Sydney Jackson Williams, Jr. (66) and his wife, Lorie Ann Williams (48), with conspiracy to evade transaction reporting requirements and structuring cash withdrawals and charges Sydney Williams with concealing property belonging to his bankruptcy estate and making a false declaration in relation to his bankruptcy proceedings. 

According to the indictment, from March 3, 2010, through April 22, 2010, Sydney and Lorie Williams conspired with each other to knowingly structure, assist in structuring, and attempt to structure withdrawals from a bank. The purpose of the structuring was to evade bank reporting requirements for currency transactions in excess of $10,000. As part of the conspiracy, Lorie Williams opened a checking account at a bank and wrote checks made payable to cash, each in the amount of $9,500. The couple then made 35 withdrawals by cashing the $9,500 checks, totaling $332,500.

If convicted on all counts, Sydney Williams faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, and Lorie Williams faces a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. The indictment also notifies the couple that the United States intends to forfeit $332,500, which is alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses.

The indictment also alleges that on September 30, 2010, Sydney Williams filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition with the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Middle District of Florida. On October 27, 2010, he signed, under penalty of perjury, and filed his Schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs in connection with his bankruptcy petition. 

Chico's Closing 120 Stores In Cost Cutting Move

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Chico's FAS, Inc., a clothing retailer based in Fort Myers, Fl. issued a statement Wednesday indicating it's closing 120 clothing stores.

On the other hand for fiscal 2015, the company plans to open approximately 40 new stores, but significantly less than the openings of 125 stores in 2012, 135 stores in 2013, and 109 stores in 2014.

"The Company has also determined to increase the rate of domestic store closures to improve the overall productivity of its store fleet. Under this plan, the Company expects to close approximately 120 stores starting in fiscal 2015 through 2017. These 120 store closings are expected to ultimately result in expense savings of approximately $55.2 million upon completion."

For fiscal 2015, the Chico's plans to close approximately 35 stores.

The company made changes that resulted in the elimination of approximately 240 existing positions, which is expected to result in approximately $38 million of annualized savings. The corporate organizational realignment resulted in a 12% reduction of the Company's headquarters and field management employee base.

Todd Vogensen , Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Chico's FAS, said, "The changes to the Company's capital allocation and cost reductions announced today were carefully considered to ensure that we continue to operate from a position of strength and drive profitable growth and value creation."

The Company, through its brands – Chico's, White House | Black Market, Soma Intimates, and Boston Proper, is a specialty retailer of women's private branded, casual-to-dressy clothing, intimates, accessories, and other non-clothing items.

As of January 31, 2015, the Company operated 1,547 stores in the US and Canada and sold merchandise through franchise locations in Mexico.

Mental Health Clinics Shut Down Unexpectedly

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry-Glades Mental Health Clinic, Inc. with two offices in Hendry county has closed it's doors. Doing business as Hendry Glades Behavioral Health Center, it received funding from the Florida Department of Health, county governments and the United Way.

Officers of the non-profit corporation are Raymond Williams, President; Dr. Martha Valiant, Secretary; Christopher Shupe, Treasurer; Mara Duke, VP; and Joseph Hosick Jr., CEO/CFO,

A court case was filed against the non-profit organization and the Hendry Sheriff's Department in 2012 by Jerome Odom. The complicated case just this week had a proposal for settlement filed, although depositions are still scheduled for March 20.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Governor Announces Florida Medical Examiners

Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced one appointment and seven reappointments of District Medical Examiners.

Thomas Beaver, 59, of Marathon, is the interim medical examiner of District Sixteen. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and endingJuly 1, 2017.

Pedrag Bulic, 56, of St. Augustine, is the chief medical examiner of District Twenty-three. He is reappointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and ending July 1, 2017.

Marta Coburn, 56, of Naples, is the chief medical examiner of District Twenty. She is reappointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and ending July 1, 2017.

Rebecca Hamilton, 49, of Alva, is the chief medical examiner of District Twenty-one. She is reappointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and ending July 1, 2017.

Marie Herrmann, 61, of Ormond Beach, is the chief medical examiner of District Twenty-four. She is reappointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and endingJuly 1, 2017.

Riazul Imami, 81, of Port Charlotte, is the chief medical examiner of District Twenty-two. He is reappointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and ending July 1, 2017.

Roger Mittleman, 66, of Palm City, is the chief medical examiner of District Nineteen. He is reappointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and ending July 1, 2017.

Sajid Qaiser, 59, of Melbourne, is the chief medical examiner of District Eighteen. He is reappointed for a term beginning February 25, 2015, and ending July 1, 2017.

Are Fortune 500 Companies Feeding Off Taxpayers?

Integrity Florida Makes Recommendations

A newly published study by Integrity Florida indicates Fortune 500 companies operating in Florida may not be paying their fair share of taxes despite the amount of government contracts they receive.

Nonpartisan research institute Integrity Florida released a study today to provide more transparency about the actual corporate profit tax rates being paid by the Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in Florida to state governments in the U.S.

The key findings on the report:

* While the corporate profits tax rate in Florida is 5.5 percent, the 13 profitable Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in Florida paid a 2.7 percent average corporate profits tax rate to state governments in the U.S. between 2011 and 2013.
* The 13 profitable Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in Florida made $35.1 billion in estimated corporate profits between 2011 and 2013.
* Florida taxpayers paid more than $2.4 billion to 10 of Florida's 17 top Fortune 500 corporations for state government contracts between 2011 and 2013.
* Florida taxpayers have provided 13 of the 17 Fortune 500 corporations headquartered in the state more than $147 million in subsidies.
* Floridians gave the largest profitable corporations in the state more public money through government contracts and subsidies than those corporations paid back in state taxes on their profits nationally between 2011 and 2013.
* Policies that allowed these corporations to take advantage of low corporate profits tax rates, along with large government contracts and subsidies, could be a result of the corporations' significant lobbying and campaign contributions, including the more than $22 million they spent for those purposes in Florida just between 2012 and 2014.

Recommendations from the study suggest Florida policymakers should consider adoption of the model state corporate profits tax disclosure act. Saying "At a minimum, any corporation seeking a government contract or taxpayer-funded subsidy should be required to disclose publicly the organization's corporate profits tax rate and amount of state and local tax revenue paid during the years the entity receives a government contract or subsidy."

Additionally, it is recommended that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Economic Development Incentives Portal should be expanded to publicly disclose the details of every state and local subsidy deal while Florida's lobbyist disclosure laws should be enhanced to detail the exact compensation provided by clients to their lobbyists as well as the specific legislative and executive policies being influenced by their lobbying activities.
Because there is currently no registration requirement for agents, the report says "Site selection consultants and other professional services firms that seek subsidies for corporations should be required to register as lobbyists."
And finally it recommends, the Florida Legislature should implement budget transparency recommendations to help the public follow the money of lobbyists and agents.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kathleen Cushman Dies At 91

Kathleen Cushman, age 91, of Lakeport, formally of Ashtabula, Ohio passed away February 22, 2015 in Clewiston.

She was born Aug. 16, 1923 in Chicago, IL, to the late Leo and Eva (Rex) Farrell. She married Eugene M. Cushman on February 22, 1946, he preceded her in death on December 10, 2001. She was a homemaker raising her four daughters, caring for and helping raise her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She enjoyed playing cards, working puzzle books, playing bingo, going out to eat, working with plastic canvas and reading magazines.

She moved to Florida 15 years ago to live with her daughter, Mary Harless. For the past 3 years her daughter Eva has been caring for her in Lakeport.

She was the last of thirteen children to pass away, her brother; David Farrell preceded her in death.

She leaves behind her four daughters; Mary Harless and her husband Ronald of Lakeport, Eva Weir and her late husband Larry also of Lakeport, Kathleen Thornton and her husband Rudy of Albion, PA, and Peggy Muck and her late husband Gary of Ashtabula, Ohio. She leaves twelve grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren, two expectant great - great grandchildren, and many extended family and close friends.

The family would like to extend their gratitude for the loving care their mom received and the support given to the family from the doctors, nurses and supportive staff at Hendry Regional Medical Center in Clewiston.

Memorial services celebrating her 91 years will be held on March 2, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in Maple Grove Baptist Church in Lakeport. Arrangements were handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Viola Williams Dies At 86

Viola Keel Williams, age 86, of Alva, FL, passed away February 19, 2015 in Alva. She was born Nov. 12, 1928 in LaBelle to the late Benjamin Franklin and the late Lula Frances (Fussell) Guy. 

She was a lifetime member of the Alva Church of God. She was married to Charles C. Keel Nov. 23, 1953 until his death Feb. 15, 1983 and Henry M. Williams from Sept. 11, 1992 until his death Nov. 26, 2002.

Survivors include daughters: Sharon (Steve) McCormick of LaBelle, Pamela (Ronald) Barnard of Alva, Iris (Comer) Taylor of Alva and Edith (Ernest) Clemons of Fort Myers Shores, son: Sherral (Brenda) Keel of Alva, eight grandsons, eight granddaughters, nine great-grandsons, five great-granddaughters, sisters: Rosa Lee Hull and Lucille Welch of LaBelle and Martha Sullivan of Satsuma, brothers: Ben Art Guy of LaBelle, Tommy Guy of Naples and Billy Guy of Tennessee.
She was also preceded in death by her sisters: Evelyn Langford, Connie Baker and Mary Cussin.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 10:30 am at Alva Church Of God, Alva with Rev. Earl Daniels officiating. Interment will follow in Alva Cemetery. Visitation will be Monday, Feb. 23 from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Fort Myers.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Passenger Dies In Early Morning Alcohol Related Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- An unidentified 26-year old male passenger in a truck died this morning after a crash on Helms Road at Camel Drive in Port LaBelle.

A 2009 Ford F-150 was eastbound on Helms Road when for unknown reasons, it exited the paved portion of the roadway in a northerly direction. The driver Ramiro Gaona, 19 of LaBelle then lost control of the vehicle which overturned several times on the north grassy shoulder.

The passenger was ejected from the truck which came to final rest upside down facing southwest. The passenger was pronounced deceased during transport by Hendry County EMS. The driver was transported to Lehigh Acres Medical Center with serious injuries.

The FHP reports the crash was alcohol related.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Parade And Swamp Cabbage Attracts Thousands To Small Town Florida

LABELLE, FL. -- The largest festival in Hendry county once again attracted thousands of visitors to the city of LaBelle today, clogging streets like no other weekend, and creating a temporarily boon for local businesses.

Held the last full weekend of February the annual gathering at Barron Park along the Caloosahatchee River provided opportunities for hundreds of vendors of food, crafts, and assorted goodies for visitors from around Florida to peruse this weekend.

The two-mile long Swamp Cabbage Festival Parade kicked off at 10 a.m. Saturday with palm frond decorated floats, local politicians, marching bands, dogs, horses, and lots of flags.

Entertainment and food offerings continue through the weekend.

(Video- Highlights from the Saturday morning parade and activities around Barron Park.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Drunk Driving Reduced But Drugged Drivers Increase

Drunk driving has decreased by one-third since 2007 and three-quarters since 1973, based on oral fluid or blood samples collected from 11,100 drivers at 60 locations across the country. 

But, nearly one-quarter of drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety, which has been conducted five times during the last 40 years. 

Drivers with evidence of drugs in their system on weekend nights climbed from 16.3% in 2007 to 20% in 2014, and those with marijuana in their system grew by nearly 50% during that same period.

Cold Shelters Open For Third Night

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County announced today that Cold Weather Emergency Shelters will be open tonight (February 20) at 6:00 pm at the United Way House, located at 133 N. Bridge Street in LaBelle, and at the Clewiston Youth Center, located at 110 W. Osceola Avenue in Clewiston. 

While not expected to be as cold as last night, the weather is expected to be extreme enough in Southwest Florida to open shelters for the third night in a row this week.

The shelters will be open until 7:00 am Saturday. If there are none seeking shelter by 12:00 am, midnight, the facilities will close and the volunteers will be allowed to go home. The shelters are being staffed by American Red Cross and local volunteers.

The shelters are open to anyone who needs a warm place to stay, including those without adequate heat in their homes. Please urge anyone considering seeking shelter to be in place prior to 12:00 am.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cold Weather Shelter Opens In County

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County announced today that Cold Weather Emergency Shelters will be open tonight (February 19) at 6:00 pm at the United Way House, located at 133 N. Bridge Street in LaBelle, and at the Clewiston Youth Center, located at 110 W. Osceola Avenue in Clewiston.

Temperatures are expected near freezing tonight with wind chill factors below freezing.

The shelters will be open until 7:00 am Friday. If there are none seeking shelter by 10:00 pm, the facilities will close and the volunteers will be allowed to go home. The shelters are being staffed by American Red Cross and local volunteers.

The shelters are open to anyone who needs a warm place to stay, including those without adequate heat in their homes. Please urge anyone considering seeking shelter to be in place prior to 10:00 pm.

Water Released From Lake Okeechobee To Estuaries This Week

LABELLE, FL. -- To help protect South Florida’s estuaries, the South Florida Water Management District has begun boosting and also starting up pumping operations at several Glades and Lee county water storage sites in response to an increase in water releases from Lake Okeechobee.

With Lake Okeechobee’s level at 14.78 feet NGVD today — almost a foot higher than this time last year — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been increasing releases from the lake to both estuaries.

This week, SFWMD engineers activated all three pumps at the District’s Caloosahatchee Water Quality Treatment and Testing Project site in Glades (property formerly owned by BOMA Corp.), strategically located in the Caloosahatchee watershed. The site has approximately 1,500 acre-feet, or about 489 million gallons, of water storage capacity, with pumps pulling water directly from the Caloosahatchee River before it reaches the estuary.

While the site will one day become a nitrogen removal project to improve water quality, District engineers determined water could be stored there on an interim basis. The site was also used in 2014 for emergency storage.

Pumping into the Mirror Lakes property in Lehigh Acres began last week. The project was built to rehydrate Mirror Lakes Preserve with 1,000 acre-feet, or about 326 million gallons, of water storage. The project will also restore flow south of State Road 82 with 500 acre-feet, or about 163 million gallons, of water storage and move water to the Estero watershed with 2,000 acre-feet, or about 653 million gallons, of water storage.

The SFWMD helped fund Phase 1 of the effort, and engineers determined there is capacity now to pump water into the site. The District is working with its local partners in the project to begin pulling water onto the site from the surrounding watershed. This water would have otherwise flowed to the Caloosahatchee Estuary.

In January, the District began full-capacity pumping into the new Nicodemus Slough water storage area in Glades County. To send water onto the 16,000-acre project area, four pumps are each moving approximately 30,000 gallons of water per minute.

Through early February, about 6,700 acre-feet, or 2.2 billion gallons, of water has been pumped onto the site, which has a full pumping capacity of 120,000 gallons per minute.

Big Bass Caught By John Stewart

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- During a recent fishing tournament, John Stewart, 54, of Alva caught, documented and released an 8-pound, 2-ounce Florida largemouth bass on Immokalee's Lake Trafford.

Over the past several years, Lake Trafford has been the focus of a major multi-agency restoration project. Restoration efforts included the dredging of over 6 million cubic yards of muck from the lake and re-establishing native vegatation. In the past, the muck triggered algal blooms and fish kills.

Largemouth bass had been the sport fish species most impacted by the degraded habitat conditions over the past 20 years.Excessive amounts of muck lead to low oxygen levels that nearly eliminated the largemouth bass population from the lake. The lake’s poor condition also impacted bluegill, crappie and redear sunfish, but to a lesser extent. After dredging, the FWC stocked about 500,000 largemouth bass fingerlings to supplement the native Lake Trafford community and jump-start the recovery of the fishery.

“Almost four years ago to the day, I had the privilege of participating in the honorary ‘first cast’ into the freshly dredged Lake Trafford at the celebration of our collective restoration efforts,” said FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron. “This is exactly the kind of success I envision for all the fish and wildlife of south Florida, including the Everglades, when I speak about our need to work together for the benefit of the environment.”

The FWC continues to contribute to restoration and habitat enhancement at Lake Trafford, and across Florida, through its Aquatic Habitat and Conservation Section.

How are other anglers doing on Lake Trafford?

“A week after the tournament where John Stewart caught his fish, Gary Stenic caught an 8-and-3-quarter pounder,” said Lake Trafford Marina owner Ski Olesky, “We’re seeing real improvement in the size and quality of bass being caught.”

For making the first approved TrophyCatch submission from Lake Trafford, Stewart qualifies for a special set of prizes including a U.S. Reel casting reel, a Glen Lau DVD and a gift certificate from Alligators and Airboats at Lake Trafford Marina, as well as the standard TrophyCatch incentives.

Deadly Toxin Producer Sentenced To Prison

LABELLE, FL. -- A Florida man was sentenced today to 110 months in prison for producing and selling potentially deadly toxins ricin and abrin for use as weapons and conspiring to kill a woman in the United Kingdom, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Jesse William Korff, 20, of Labelle, Florida, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan on Aug. 12, 2014, to an information charging him with five counts of developing, producing, transferring and possessing toxins, five counts of smuggling toxins and one count of conspiring to kill a person in a foreign country.

Korff was arrested in Florida on Jan. 18, 2014, following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI of Korff’s sales of toxins through an underground, Internet-based marketplace known as “Black Market Reloaded” (BMR).

“Jesse Korff peddled his poison in a shadowy, online network favored by cybercriminals,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “He also offered guidance on its effective use, and his sentence today appropriately took account of his participation with an overseas customer in an attempted murder plot. Fortunately, law enforcement was able to intercede before Korff could conclude his deadly transaction.”

“This sentence should serve as a warning to those who capitalize from the use of underground websites such as BMR,” John P. Woods, acting special agent in charge of HSI Newark, said. “HSI will maintain its unrelenting commitment to protecting our land borders as well as virtual borders from individuals like Korff. Anyone who mistakenly thinks that they can get away with these types of crimes by hiding in the endless depths of the internet must know that HSI will seek them out and bring them to justice.”

“Jesse Korff acquired abrin and ricin, potentially lethal toxins, through an underground internet-based marketplace, so they could be used for deadly purposes,” Richard M. Frankel, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Newark, said. “Thankfully, with the coordinated efforts of our law enforcement partners, and the tactical and technical expertise of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, he was intercepted and his potentially deadly threats did not become a reality.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Beginning in April 2013, HSI special agents in Newark launched an investigation of illicit sales activity on BMR. The website provided a platform for vendors and buyers to conduct anonymous online transactions involving the sale of a variety of illegal goods, including biological agents, toxins, firearms, ammunition, explosives, narcotics and counterfeit items.

From August 2013 through January 2014, Korff maintained a seller’s profile on BMR under the moniker “Snowman840.” Korff advertised the sale of deadly toxins and provided his prospective purchasers with information about quantities necessary to kill a person of a given weight, along with instructions on how to secretly administer the toxin so as to avoid suspicion by law enforcement officials. Korff sold various quantities of ricin and abrin to international purchasers located in India, Austria, Denmark, and England. Korff smuggled the toxins from Florida to the international purchasers by concealing the toxins in packages sent through the U.S. Postal Service.

On at least one occasion in December 2013, Korff agreed to produce, and ultimately provided, a quantity of abrin to a purchaser in London who intended to poison and kill an individual she claimed was her mother. After the purchaser’s receipt and administration of the initial dose, which was ineffective, Korff agreed to provide a second quantity of the toxin in order to assist the purchaser in the implementation of the murder plot.

Before Korff had an opportunity to smuggle the second dose of abrin to the London purchaser, an HSI undercover agent contacted Korff through BMR and commenced negotiations for the sale of two liquid doses of abrin. During their online conversations, Korff told the agent about his delivery methods – concealing vials in a carved-out and re-melted candle – and discussed how much abrin was needed to kill a person of a particular weight and how best to administer the toxin. Korff also assured the agent that a victim’s poisoning symptoms would mimic a bad case of the flu, subsequently resulting in death. Korff claimed that the toxin would not ordinarily be detected in an autopsy.

Korff and the agent agreed on a total purchase price of $2,500 for two doses of the poison, which was intended to be smuggled from Florida, through New Jersey, en route to a destination in Canada. Korff designated a prearranged location for the transfer of the toxins, and e-mailed the agent pictures of a specific spot at a rest stop approximately 10 miles outside Fort Myers, Florida, where he planned to leave a package containing the abrin.

On the arranged day, Korff dropped off a fast food bag containing two wax candles at the location. Another undercover agent collected the bag and left behind the required payment. Law enforcement had Korff under surveillance throughout the transaction.

Subsequent forensic analysis by the FBI of the liquid contained within the vials revealed the presence of active abrin. Even a small dose of the toxin is potentially lethal to humans if ingested, inhaled or injected – causing death within 36 to 72 hours from the time of exposure.

Following Korff’s arrest, law enforcement agents conducted an exhaustive, three day search of Korff’s property. As a result of those efforts, agents recovered several computers, castor beans, rosary peas, capsules, vials, jars, syringes, filters, respirators and other items commonly utilized in the manufacture, production, sale, packaging, and shipping of toxins and chemical substances, as well as numerous firearms. Among the items recovered was the second liquid dose of abrin that Korff had intended to ship to the London purchaser. Significantly, information and evidence obtained by U.S. law enforcement agents in this case was shared with, and successfully used by authorities in England, Denmark, and Austria to disrupt related criminal activities in those nations.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson sentenced Korff to five years of supervised release and fined him $1,000.

Everglades Hiking, Biking, And Paddling Event

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla.: Join National Park Service staff Saturday, February 21, for a chance to test yourself and experience the wilder side of Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve while paddling, hiking and biking.

For the first time, Everglades and Big Cypress will be offering a ranger-led, “Try-athlon” at park service sites along the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41), which runs through these two national park service units.

The Tamiami Trail Triathlon is not your typical triathlon, nor is it a race. Normally, participants can do each leg at their leisure, in any order, and on any day they choose. They don’t even have to complete all the legs in one day. But for the first time on Saturday, February 21, rangers will be leading visitors on an all-in-one day event to experience it all!

The day will start at Everglades National Park’s Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City at 9 a.m. Participants will paddle canoes 3.5 miles across Chokoloskee Bay to Sandfly Island and back. This will be followed with a drive east on Tamiami Trail/U.S. Highway 41 to the second leg of the triathlon, being held at the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve. Participants will hike a 3.5 mile loop through cypress, prairie, and pine habitats. Participants will then drive to the third and final leg, which takes place in Everglades National Park at Shark Valley. Bicyclists will pedal 15 miles on the paved tram route surrounded by the River Of Grass. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to each location and renting or bringing their own gear.

Additional details can be acquired by calling the Gulf Coast Visitor Center at 239-695-3311.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Marilyn Lizzotte Dies At 83

Marilyn L. Lizzotte, age 83, of LaBelle, FL, passed away Feb. 16, 2015 in Fort Myers. She was born Jan. 17, 1932 in Cincinnati, OH, to the late Charles Bost and the late Louise (Pennington) Bost. 

Marilyn was a resident of LaBelle since 1993. She was a former resident of Islamorada and worked many years as a bartender at the Tiki Bar at Holiday Isle.

Survivors include her husband: Jean M.Lizzotte, sons: Alan (Cheryl) Carter and Glenn (Diane) Carter sisters: Geraldine Miller, Gretchen Holland and Beverly (Jim) Wilson , four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Charles Klopp

A Gathering Of Family and Friends will be Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, 560 E. Hickpochee Av, LaBelle. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis.

Cold Weather Shelter Opens In Southwest Florida

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County announced today that Cold Weather Emergency Shelters will be open tonight (February 18) at 6:00 pm at the United Way House, located at 133 N. Bridge Street in LaBelle. 

The shelters will be open until 7:00 am Thursday. If there are none seeking shelter by 10:00 pm, the facilities will close and the volunteers will be allowed to go home. The shelters are being staffed by American Red Cross and local volunteers.

The shelters are open to anyone who needs a warm place to stay, including those without adequate heat in their homes. Please urge anyone considering seeking shelter to be in place prior to 10:00 pm .

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Obituaries - Patricia Phillips, John Barfield

Patricia Ann Phillips, age 69, passed away February 14, 2015 in Fort Myers. She was born July 7, 1945 in Chipley, FL to the late Willie Broom and the late Thelma (Gainey) Broom. She was a resident of LaBelle for thirty years.

She is survived by her husband of fifty-two years: Windell O. Phillips, children: Trent Phillips; Cora (Charles) Phillips-Ward; Chad Phillips and Shone (Jessica) Phillips; brother: Anthony Broom, sister: Faye (Calvin) Walker and grandchildren: Blake Ward; Jared Phillips; Justin Phillips and Hayden Phillips. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Neil Broom and sister: Eloise Williams.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle with Pastor Clifford Avery officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

John "Allen" Barfield, age 61, of Clewiston, passed away February 15, 2015 in Clewiston.
He was born Aug. 5, 1953 in Pahokee, FL, to the late Ruben Ernest and the late Mary Elizabeth (Prince) Barfield. Allen was the co-owner of Everglades Machine Shop and the owner and crew leader of Muck Boyz racing crew.

He is survived by his loving wife: Carrol Louise (Rowell) Barfield, two sons: Ruben Barfield, Blake Barfield two daughters: Sarah Rowell-Herrera (Jesse), Beth Barfield, three sisters: Loretta Pate (Larry), Mary Youngblood, Kay Barfield-Collins (Chuck), grandchildren, Alex Barfield, Blake Barfield, Andre Guajardo, Jadin Herrera, Braylin Herrera, several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Friday, February 20, 2015 at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church Of Clewiston, Clewiston with Dr. Todd Buck officiating. Visitation will be Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Mason Cole Scholarship Fund.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Is Smokeless Tobacco For You?

The Florida Department of Health's Tobacco Free Florida Program is raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, like chew and dip, to help combat this deadly addiction. "Through With Chew Week", a national public awareness campaign created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people, takes place Feb. 15—21, with the Great American Spit Out on Feb.19.

While cigarette use among Florida youth has reached an all-time low, smokeless tobacco use has not decreased when compared to a decade ago. In 2014, 5.4 percent of Florida high school students reported current use of smokeless tobacco products compared to 5.6 percent in 2004, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.1

"Smokeless tobacco products have many health consequences and are highly addictive," said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Shannon Hughes. "Youth who use smokeless products are more likely to experiment with other types of tobacco. In fact, the use of multiple tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, is common among young people."

At least 28 carcinogens have been identified in smokeless tobacco.2 Users of smokeless tobacco have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users.3 Smokeless tobacco use can also lead to other oral problems, such gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss.4, 5

Currently, there is no scientific or medical evidence that proves smokeless tobacco use is an effective method to help people quit smoking. Floridians who want to quit any form of tobacco have access to the state's free and proven-effective resources.

Tobacco Free Florida offers 3 Free & Easy Ways to Quit:
CALL: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach who will help assess a user's addiction and help create a personalized quit plan.
CLICK: Tobacco Free Florida's online cessation tool can be accessed
COME IN: Local face-to-face help is available with the help of Area Health Education Centers, find one near you

Thousands Prepare For Swamp Cabbage Festival

LABELLE, FL. -- Thousand of visitors will be 'swamping' the city of LaBelle in western Hendry county this weekend for the annual Swamp Cabbage Festival. By far the counties largest event, it's held every year on the last full weekend of February, this year the 21st and 22nd.

Watch highlights of the 2014 Parade Above (video - Don Browne)

Clich here for More info on the Festival and videos from past years

Activities follow the 10 a.m. parade down Bridge Street this year at Barron Park on the Caloosahatchee River:

Saturday Feb 21st

11:30 am - Opening Prayer and National Anthem
11:45 AM -Queen/Princess introduction and performance
12:00 PM-China Grove
1:10 PM introduction of the Pioneer Family and Grand Marshal
1:20 PM Country Rhythm Cloggers
2:15 PM- Blackwater Band
3:30 PM- Showtime Cloggers
4:35 PM- Buckshot band

Sunday, February 22 2015

9:00 AM- Gospel Music
10:00 AM-Dave Randant
10:45 AM- Posse Band
11:30 AM- The Dance Company
12:35 PM Queen/Princess introduction and performance
1:15 PM Press On
2:15 PM- 64 to Grayson
3:15 PM- Day by Day

Lodging Note for overnight visitors:  The Port LaBelle Inn for the first time has no rooms available for the Festival weekend and has no restaurant. The motel now houses men for drug and alcohol rehab on the top floor and has only what appears to be 5 rooms available for the public for any particular date according to their online reservation page.(They claim by phone to have 22 rooms for the public.) The owner. St. Matthews House of Naples has closed the public restaurant and bar that formerly operated there. They also have a companion dog training business operating next to the motel.

Are Consumers Being Duped By Gasoline Industry?

Average retail gasoline prices in Florida have risen 11.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.31/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 8,237 gas outlets in Florida. This compares with the national average that has increased 7.6 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.25/g.

Including the change in gas prices in Florida during the past week, prices yesterday were 107.2 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 15.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 17.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 110.2 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

“Prices at the pump are starting to heat back up, mostly driven by a rebound in crude oil prices," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. "Nationally, almost 9 in 10 stations is selling over $2/gal, while a month ago, less than half of stations were selling over that price- clearly we're seeing the typical seasonal rebound in prices, being led higher by oil's rebound, and soon to be enhanced further by refinery maintenance season- which hasn't yet gotten well underway. Motorists in California are getting a taste of the sourness that will hit across the country in a month or two as Los Angeles switches over to cleaner burning gasoline, followed by San Fransisco in short order, with the rest of the nation making moves in the weeks and months ahead. I'm also starting to hear more frustration from motorists about rising prices- and while the concerns are well rooted, they should take solace that gas prices this summer are still expected to be some $1/gal lower than last summer," DeHaan said.

California, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, and Washington saw the largest increases in the last week- all saw increases over 10c/gal. The nation's cheapest 5% of stations were sellingSunday at $1.92/gal, a jump from last month's $1.68/gal. Idaho Falls, ID enjoyed the lowest gas prices, averaging $1.77/gal, while Kahului, HI saw the only average over $3/gal: $3.13/gal. Excluding Hawaii and Alaska, California cities took all 25 spots of the top 25 most expensive communities.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fred Johnson Dies At 66

Fred Johnson, age 66, of LaBelle, FL passed away February 11, 2015 in LaBelle. He was born Apr. 25, 1948 in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada to Wilfred William Johnson (deceased) and Diny (Arts) Johnson. 

He retired from Lee County Parks & Recreation as Landscape Architect in 2012. Fred currently was Design Chairperson for the LaBelle Main Street Program.
Survivors include his wife: Shellie (Walker) Johnson; son: Ben Johnson of Lehigh Acres; daughters: Alexis (Johnson) Crespo of Fort Myers and Meaghan Johnson of LaBelle; son-in-law Ernesto Crespo of Fort Myers; mother: Diny Johnson and sister: Ann Johnson, both of Canada, and of course his three dogs, Berkli, Polli and Maggi.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Forrey Grill in LaBelle on Friday, February 27th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Caloosa Humane Society, Inc.  Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Friday, February 13, 2015

How's Your Memory - Free Testing Day

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The “Memory Mobile” one of the Alzheimer Association’s initiatives and it is a mobile clinic that is open to anyone who is concerned about their memory or that of a family member or friend. 

The vehicle is an innovative way of bringing the issues of memory loss and dementia to the public and it has travelled county wide. It is a simple test and takes a few minutes. The idea is to detect the earliest stage of Alzheimer's. It is not only for seniors but for people of all ages. No appointments are necessary.

The memory bus will be available at the Clewiston Public Library, 120 W. Osceola Ave, Clewiston, FL 33440 on February 19, 2015 from 10:00am - 2:00pm.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 has some form of dementia and that number can increase to 1 in 6 for those over the age of 80. Early diagnosis and care for people with dementia, as well as educating those that care for them, is one of the strategic priorities for improving a person’s health and wellbeing. 

Memory problems can be common as people get older. Tiredness, stress, depression and certain medications can all affect memory. The important thing is for people to seek help if they have any concerns about memory loss. 

This event will allow people to talk, in confidence, with an expert. For more information, the national number is 1-800-272-3900 for Alzheimer’s Association.

Kids Plant Trees For Arbor Day Celebration

Muse, FL- On Monday morning in Muse, two groups of school children learned about the importance of trees and energetically pitched in, digging small holes to plant the seedling trees at West Glades School (Mrs. Drake's Service Learning Class and Mrs. Wright's Agriculture Class). The event was an Arbor Day celebration, where officials from Florida Forest Service discussed the importance of Arbor Day.

Giving the history of Arbor Day, Florida Forest Service Senior Forester, Calin Ionita said, “It was started by a man named Jay Sterling Morton, who lived in the Midwest at a place where there were no trees. He thought we should have a day to plant trees and help the environment”. Asking the kids, “Why are trees important?” Calin elicited eagerly raised hands. Many of the children mentioned trees are important for air, shade, and to help people breathe, and others said trees are important for lumber and as a habitat for birds and animals.

After Calin finished his presentation, it was time to get down to the dirty work. In several smaller groups, the children clustered around 35 Long Leaf Pine trees. The Florida Forest Service produces over 13 million bareroot pine seedlings, containerized pine seedlings and containerized wiregrass yearly at its Andrews Nursery located in Chiefland, Florida. Laughing and taking turns, the children shoveled out holes for ten seedlings on school property. Twenty-five seedlings were planted in pots by the children. “After you plant all the trees”, Calin explains, “you can watch your seedling trees grow throughout the year and measure their growth”.

Calin ended the day by explaining to the children how to properly care for the trees to prevent disease and infection. “When the tree is first planted, it goes into shock,” Calin states “The tree is not familiar with its new surroundings and where to find water and nutrients.” During the first two growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of your new trees’ life, it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. You can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil with wood-chip mulch.

"The students thoroughly enjoyed getting their hands dirty and contributing to the enhancement of our school's environment”, stated West Glades School Teacher, Crystal Drake. “We would like to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Calin, Mr. Callahan and Mr. Al Brown for all of their help. The Service Learning Class is designed to teach students how to actively be involved in their communities and this event was perfect."

If you have questions about tree identification, tree diseases, pests and insects, ask Florida Senior Forester, Calin Ionita. Calin can also answer your questions about local ordinances regarding burning debris, water quality, and tree cutting and removal.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Children's Dental Health Screenings In Florida

February is Children's Dental Health Month and the Florida Department of Health is working to promote good oral health for children and families through preventive care. The department's Public Health Dental Program, in partnership with the Florida Dental Hygiene Association and Head Start, is launching a new project to provide oral health screenings in 48 Head Start centers across 29 counties.

"The department is proud to partner with the Florida Dental Hygiene Association and Head Start to give children access to oral health education and services across our state," said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "Early dental care keeps children healthy, and this collaborative project helps to reach more children."

Tooth decay remains the single most common chronic disease in children and continues to impact people of all ages and backgrounds. To address this issue, local county health department dental clinics provided over 257,000 dental services to over 47,000 children ages 0–5 in 2014. The Public Health Dental Program works to promote prevention and emphasizes the importance of public health measures such as dental sealants and community water fluoridation for preventing tooth decay and keeping smiles healthy.

"The Florida Dental Hygiene Association is excited to partner with the Florida Department of Health on this Head Start Oral Health Screening Project," said Tami Miller, executive director of the Florida Dental Hygiene Association. "We will conduct the screenings at the centers, provide the children with oral health education and promote the significance of a dental home. We are hoping to make future smiles a little brighter and a lot healthier in the state of Florida!"

In addition to basic oral health screening and oral health education, each child will receive a toothbrush kit to take home and information for follow-up care with a local dental professional.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pork Dinners For Sheriff's Explorers

HCSO Explorer Post Dinner Tickets
LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 642 will be sponsoring a Pull-Thru Pulled Pork Dinner. The meal will be served on February 27, 2015. By purchasing a ticket you are guaranteed a dinner that will consist of a Pulled Pork Sandwich, Baked Beans, and Coleslaw.

The meals will be ready for a drive-thru style pick up from the LaBelle Fire Department between 5:00pm and 7:00pm. They will be selling meal tickets for $8 until February 24. You may purchase yours from any Explorer or Advisor. Tickets may also be purchased at the Sheriff’s Office in LaBelle Monday thru Friday between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm.

All donations will be used for training equipment, travel to conferences and competitions as well as uniforms. Please support “Tomorrow’s Leaders, Today”.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Isabelle Laidler Wins Weather Poster Contest

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Florida Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Director Bryan Koon and members from Florida DEM, Miami Weather Service and Hendry County Emergency Management were on hand to present the Severe Weather Poster winner Isabelle Laidler, from Central Elementary in Clewiston,

Isabelle is Hendry County's second winner in six years, and joins a small list of winners this year from around the state. Her winning poster will be displayed in Tallahassee next February, and will be part of a Florida DEM advertising campaign.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Marijuana For Kids With Epilepsy On Health Department Agenda

After two days of a marathon rulemaking workshop, the Office of Compassionate Use with the Florida Department of Health announced today the successful negotiation of a proposed rule to implement the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act which would provide the ability of providing marijuana to children with epilepsy and people with advanced cancer. 

This rulemaking negotiation is part of the department's commitment to working with all stakeholders to deliver medical marijuana to children with intractable epilepsy and people with advanced cancer as safely and quickly as possible.

"We came in with an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate and create a complete set of rules in just two days, and we did so successfully," said Patricia Nelson, director of the Office of Compassionate Use. "This rule brings us much closer to providing this product safely and efficiently to children and families dealing with intractable epilepsy and patients dealing with advanced cancer."

The 12 committee members who successfully negotiated the rule included nurseries, patient advocates, out-of-state experts and other interested parties. 

Highlights of the rule include a scorecard to guide the selection of applicants, timeline requirements for product development and application fees.

A copy of the rule is available at A public hearing, if requested, is scheduled for March 2, 2015, in Tallahassee.

Union Protests Food Service Privatization At Schools

CLEWISTON, FL – The Hendry County School Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, February 10, at 5:30 p.m. in Clewiston, FL to vote on whether to release a Request for Proposal [RFP] to privatize the school food service program, including all employees, for bidding to outside businesses. 

The motivation behind such efforts is by elected Superintendent Paul K. Puletti. Puletti claims the privatization push is to save money after a $50,000 loss from last year when Chief Financial Officer Michael Yanosik purchased new equipment.

Hendry County Education Support Personnel Association [HESPA] President Debbie Steelman and Treasurer Denise Brookins will be available for comment before the hearing at 5 p.m. and says it's HESPA’s position that workers should not have to shoulder the costs of administrative mismanagement. 

Food service workers claim “some of that equipment isn’t even plugged in,” says Steelman. She says the school district could save money just by going back to serving food made from scratch “instead of this packaged stuff the kids don’t even like and produces a lot of waste.” The community would benefit by keeping jobs and by providing fresher, healthier food to schoolchildren, the union says. 

“There’s no clear answer on what will happen to people’s jobs here,” says Steelman. “A private company might promise all sorts of things to get the district on board and then change everything later. That’s why having a union and a contract is so important. It’s there to make sure folks can’t just get fired for any reason. This is a community issue; and people’s livelihoods are on the line. Privatization would just be devastating.”

While the current RFP is purportedly a draft, the second page contains a clear timeline with dates on how privatization will occur. The February 10 school board meeting is a pretext to, according to the schedule, the release of the RFP to outside private companies on February 13. The schedule also states outside management would begin July 1.

HESPA plans to have a public showing of support by ESPs, teachers, parents and community members for the meeting.

Donovan Thomas Graduates From Army Combat Training

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Army Pvt. Donovan L. Thomas has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Ga.

During the nine-week training period, the trainee received instruction in drill and ceremony, weapons, rifle marksmanship and bayonet training, chemical warfare, field training and tactical exercises, armed and unarmed combat, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, traditions, and core values.

Thomas is the son of Gerard Nedd and nephew of Mae Hill of Clewiston, Fla. He is a 2011 graduate of Clewiston High School, Clewiston, Fla.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Florida Police Officer Awarded Medal Of Heroism

SEBRING, FL. -- During today’s Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott recognized Officer Sean Bueford of the Sebring Police Department with the Medal of Heroism for his bravery in saving the lives of two Floridians.

Governor Scott said, “I am honored to present Officer Sean Bueford with the Medal of Heroism today for his quick actions that saved lives. Florida Law Enforcement officers, like Officer Bueford, bravely and selflessly risk their safety every day to protect our families and homes. Last month, we honored our first responders during Florida First Responder Appreciation Week, and I encourage all Floridians to thank our heroes all year long.”

Officer Sean Bueford has received two Life-Saving Awards, the Exceptional Duty Award, and is a former Sebring Police Officer of the Year. Several years ago, Officer Bueford saved a resident from their burning home. Recently, Officer Bueford saved another life of an individual who was attempting to commit suicide by immediately applying first aid. Thanks to Officer Bueford’s quick actions and dedication to serving our communities, two lives were saved.

Sebring Police Department Chief Thomas Dettman said, “We are excited and very proud of Officer Sean Bueford on being chosen as the recipient of the Governor’s Medal of Heroism. In my 43 years as a law enforcement officer, Officer Bueford is one of the hardest working cops I have ever seen. He never has a down day and everything he does is in the best interest of the community.”

Looking For A Store Management Job?

LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Kiwanis is now hiring a full time Kiwanis Thrift Store Manager. Experience in sales-floor layout, personnel management, and accounts receivable in necessary and some computer skills required. (Bilingual a plus but not required). 

Interested applicants send their resume to 133 North Bridge Street, LaBelle, FL 33935. (Applications also available at this address) Application and resume may also be faxed to (863) 675-9393. Requirement: A written paragraph stating why you are qualified for this position.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

School "Locked Down" After Student Threats

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Two Clewiston Middle School students were taken into custody Wednesday morning after threats were allegedly posted on social media sites. The school was place on "lockdown" for a short time as the Hendry Sheriff's office investigated.

Volunteer Fire Department Gets New Equipment

CLEWISTON, FL. -- On Monday, February 3, 2015 the Pioneer Plantation Volunteer Fire Department received a remounted Rescue Unit. The primary function of the Rescue Unit is to serve as a first responder to emergency calls.

The original 1998 vehicle is now a four-wheel drive, four-door vehicle which allows more personnel to respond to calls. The quick response vehicle also has the capability to assist with fire emergencies. "This unit is a welcomed upgrade and allows our 8 person volunteer fire department the opportunity to better serve the residents of Pioneer Plantation" says Fire Chief Raymond Timms.

Individuals interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter for Pioneer Plantation are encouraged to attend their weekly Wednesday night meetings at the fire station or call 863-234-7553.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Christopher John Jasiak Dies At 53

Christopher John Jasiak, age 53, of LaBelle, passed away January 30, 2015 in LaBelle. He was born Sep. 13, 1961 in Battle Creek, MI, to the late John L. and Nancy E. (Wood) Jasiak.

Chris was an active member of the LaBelle Moose Lodge and VFW, and worked at Oakbrook of LaBelle for many years. He had a kind smile and brought joyous conversation to many and will be sorely missed.

He is survived by one son: Christopher Jasiak and one daughter: Brytnie Lee Jasiak, mother: Nancy E. (Wood) Jasiak, two brothers: Kevin Jasiak, Courtney Jasiak (Colette) and one sister: Kim Jasiak. He was preceded in death by his wife Tracey Jasiak and father John L. Jasiak.

A memorial service will be held at the LaBelle Moose Lodge, contact information for the time and day please call the Lodge at 863-675-6255.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle

How To Have A Healthy Heart

Cardiovascular Disease Leading Cause Of U.S. Deaths For Men and Women

Hearts are everywhere in the month of February, so take the time to think about your own heart and show it some love.
February is recognized as American Heart Month. Do your heart some good and learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke. Choose to become “heart healthy”.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease (including heart disease, stroke & high blood pressure) is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women.

Try these strategies for a healthier heart. Try not to become overwhelmed; every step brings you closer to a healthier heart. Every healthy choice can make a difference!!

Here are a few tips to help you to become “heart healthy”
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthier meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high blood cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet can also lower your blood pressure.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, healthcare providers often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). Sometimes your waist and hip measurements are used to measure your excess body fat.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. It is suggested that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. So, if you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can quit smoking.
  • Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can cause high blood pressure.
  • Have your cholesterol checked. Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every five years. Talk with your healthcare provider about this simple blood test.
  • Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis.
  • Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, closely monitor your blood sugar levels. Talk with your health care provider about treatment options.
  • Take your medicine. If you're taking medication to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your healthcare provider's instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don't understand something.
  • Talk with your health care provider. You and your healthcare provider can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease. Discuss your treatment plan regularly and bring a list of questions to your appointments.

Know your signs and symptoms. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, however, most heart attacks start slowly and you may only feel mild pain or discomfort. Many people aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
·         Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
·         Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
·         Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.
·         Other signs. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

Physical activity in your daily life is an important step to preventing heart disease. You can take a few simple steps at home, at work, and at play to increase the amount of physical activity in your life.  Make A Date With Your Heart! Start taking steps to be heart-healthy.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Crocodile Farmers On The Next Audubon Program

LABELLE, FL. -- It's Crocodile Breeding season so your calendar for an entertaining fun-filled educational program presented by Allen and Patty Register owner/operators of Gatorama and Crocodile Adventures. 

This program featuring Crocodiles and Alligators will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday February 9 at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle. 

As pioneers in the alligator industry the Registers are a sixth generation cracker family living on the edge of civilization. They share their corner of the Glades and the story of the most successful sustainable use model in the world for the recovery of an endangered species with visitors to their park every day. Patty, Allen and Gatorama have been featured in numerous movies, TV shows and news publications.

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

How's Your Memory? Test It For Free

The Alzheimer Association Memory Mobile is Coming to LaBelle
LABELLE, FL. -- The “Memory Mobile” one of the Alzheimer Association’s initiatives and it is a mobile clinic that is open to anyone who is concerned about their memory or that of a family member or friend. The vehicle is an innovative way of bringing the issues of memory loss and dementia to the public and it has travelled county wide. It is a simple test and takes a few minutes. The idea is to detect the earliest stage of Alzheimer's. It is not only for seniors but for people of all ages.No appointments are necessary.

The memory bus will be available at the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County (LaBelle Site) February 06, 2015 from 10:00am - 2:00pm, 1140 Pratt Blvd, Labelle, Fl 33935.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 has some form of dementia and that number can increase to 1 in 6 for those over the age of 80. Early diagnosis and care for people with dementia, as well as educating those that care for them, is one of the strategic priorities for improving a person’s health and wellbeing. 

Memory problems can be common as people get older. Tiredness, stress, depression and certain medications can all affect memory. The important thing is for people to seek help if they have any concerns about memory loss. This event will allow people to talk, in confidence, with an expert. 

For more information, the national number is 1-800-272-3900 for Alzheimer’s Association.

Allan Quaid - Sugar Industry Pioneer Dies At 72

Allan D. Quaid, 72, of Queensland, Australia formerly of Clewiston, passed away January 24, 2015, in Saint Johns, Florida. 

Allan was a pioneer in the sugar industry, for which he worked nearly thirty years. He helped to bring the first mechanical harvesters to Florida and changed the way harvesting was done. Allan returned to his native Australia in 2008 to live his dream of farming and ranching.

He was born on December 27, 1942 in Queensland, Australia, to the late William and Alberta Quaid. Mr. Quaid was married to Kasady Dunwiddie Quaid, who survives the home along with their two sons, Trevor Allan Quaid and Connor Quaid. 

He is also survived by three daughters: Kathryn Quaid, Andrea Quaid, and Joyellen Horn, four siblings: Keren Plath, John Quaid, Richard Quaid, and Patrick Quaid, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by, a son: John Quaid, a sister: Kathleen Kelly, and a brother: Albert Quaid. Allan also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, relatives, and loved ones.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 11:00 am at AkinDavis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL. Please join us to honor his memory and celebrate his life. There will be a lunch to follow at the Clewiston Inn at 1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers the family asks for donations to be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children or the American Cancer Society.