Monday, March 30, 2015

Florida Shorebird Lecture At Audubon By Charlie Ewell

LABELLE, FL. -- Have you ever wanted to learn how to identify the shorebirds found along lakes, ponds, and the beaches?

Charlie Ewell will present a lively program on “Shorebird Identification” on Monday April 13th at 7 p.m. at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle.

He will share stories of birding in Southwest Florida, how to identify birds, migration and other interesting facts during this free program hosted by Hendry-Glades Audubon. Charlie Ewell is a longtime educator and Lee County Bird Patrol guide who leads tours and monitors bird activity Bunche Beach in Lee County and volunteers during STA-5/6 (Stormwater Treatment Area 5/6) birding trips in Hendry County.

Eight Dead In US 27 Crash - 10 More Injured

15 Passenger Church Van Crashes Into Canal - 18 Aboard

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a single vehicle van crash on State Road 78 and US 27 in Glades County. There were eighteen occupants inside the church van at the time of the crash.

The van was a 2000 Dodge Ram Wagon B3500 Maxi with all occupants from Fort Pierce, Fl. and were traveling from Fort Myers back to Fort Pierce. The van was affiliated with Independent Haitian Assembly Of God Inc. out of Fort Pierce. The FHP indicates the van had a standard seat capacity of 15 people, but had 18 people aboard on this trip.

The crash occurred at approximately 12:31 am on March 30, 2015. The van was traveling eastbound on State Road 78, passed through a posted stop sign and traveled across all lanes of US 27. The van then traveled into a steep partially water filled canal located on the US 27 east side grass shoulder.

The male driver of the van and seven passengers are confirmed deceased. The identification of the deceased five males, and four females is pending notification of kin.

Update 3/31/15: The FHP identified as deceased theses passengers: Jude Petit-Frere, 66; Obernise Petit-Frere, 58; Madeleine Williams, 53; Dazillia Joseph, 79; and Servilus Diedonne, 71 (of St. Lucie, Fl.)
Update 4/2/15: The FHP has released the identities of the deceased driver and two deceased passengers: Driver: Volsaint Marsaille, 58 (The FHP indicates tests are pending for alcohol), passengers: Lifaite Lochard, 58 and Wanie Larose, 60.

Ten other passengers were transported to a total of four local hospitals in Lee, Highlands, and Hendry county.

Passengers listed in critical condition are Jose Zimero, 26; Clodette Fleurvil, 44; Innocent Roseme, 89; Esperant Lexine, 57; with serious injuries Jean Rafael, 73; Macaty Jean Jacques, 53; Marilia Dieudonne, 65; Faeyana Desirus, 4; with minor injuries Nozaire Nore, 48; Nicholas Alexis, 57. The last three have been released from the hospital.

The crash remains under active investigation the FHP said Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Getting Ready For Hurricane Season

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Hurricane Expo was held Saturday, March 28, 2015 at the Barron Library in LaBelle from 10am to 1pm.

Several Agencies and Community Partners provided preparedness information and demonstrations. The Kiwanis Key Club (LaBelle High School Students) provided a bounce house and refreshments for the attendees.

It’s never too early to start preparing for Hurricane Season, which officially starts June 1st.

Photo: Brenda Barnes (right) of the Hendry-Glades Health Department demonstrates water safety and storm flooding health hazards

Friday, March 27, 2015

Obituaries - Marcos Alvarez, Cecilia Braunstein

Marcos Juvencio Alvarez, age 87, of Clewiston, passed away March 25, 2015 in Clewiston.

He was born June 18, 1927 in Yara, Oriente, Cuba to the late Pedro and the late Matilda (Guerero) Alvarez Garcia. Mr. Alvarez married Candida Rosa Milanes. He worked for Okeelanta Sugar for many years.

Survivors include his wife: Candida Rosa Alvarez, sons; Marcos, Jr and Pedro Alvarez, two grandchildren and one great grandchild, one brother; Oracio Alvarez.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 11:30 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston with Minister Steve Hildebrand officiating. Interment will be in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation will be Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Cecilia Braunstein, age 75, a resident of Montura Ranch Estates since 1982, passed away March 25, 2015 in Montura Ranch Estates, Clewiston. 

She was born July 22, 1939 in Barranquilla,Colombia, SA to the late Jose Angulo and the late Consuelo Miret.

Survivors include her son: Ricardo Ortiz, daughters: Martha Ortiz and Yvette Ortiz-Carrillo, brothers: Eduardo Angulo, Ramiro Angulo, Carlos Arturo Angulo, Jairo Angulo, sisters: Graciela Duncan, Sofia Saja, Rosita Libre De Marulanda, grandchildren: Stephanie Wilson; Rick Anthony Ortiz; Jan Michael Ortiz; Amanda Ortiz; Alejandro Carrillo; Clarisa Carrillo, Elisa Carrillo and great-grandchildren: Andreas Wilson, Eric Wilson, Mark Wilson, Carter Wilson and Micah Ortiz.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

FTC Gets Tough On Car Dealer Scams

The Federal Trade Commission and 32 law enforcement partners today announced the results of Operation Ruse Control, a nationwide and cross-border crackdown to protect consumers when purchasing or leasing a car, encompassing 252 enforcement actions. The six new FTC cases include more than $2.6 million in monetary judgments.

“For most people, buying a car is one of the largest purchases they’ll make,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Car ads must be truthful, loan terms must be clear, and dealer practices must be honest. That’s why our partners are working together to crack down on deceptive marketing about car sales, leasing and financing.”

Cases Involving Vehicle Purchase Add-Ons
For the first time since receiving expanded authority over auto dealers under the Dodd-Frank Act, the FTC has taken two auto enforcement actions involving add-ons, which is the practice of a dealer or other third party adding to the vehicle sales, lease, or finance agreement charges for other products or services. A few examples include extended warranties, payment programs, guaranteed automobile protection (commonly called GAP or GAP insurance), credit life insurance, road service, theft protection, and undercoating.

National Payment Network, Inc. (NPN): The FTC charged that NPN, headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., allegedly violated the FTC Act by deceptively pitching consumers an auto payment program – both online and through a network of authorized auto dealers -- that it claimed would save consumers money. NPN failed to disclose that the significant fees it charged for the service often cancelled out any actual savings. The fees to enroll in NPN’s program averaged $775 on a standard five-year auto loan.

Matt Blatt Inc. and Glassboro Imports, LLC (Matt Blatt dealerships): In a related case, the FTC alleged that Matt Blatt dealerships, with multiple locations in New Jersey, violated the FTC Act by failing to disclose or adequately disclose the fees associated with NPN’s add-on service and that many consumers would not save money overall due to the program’s significant fees. Matt Blatt dealerships received a commission for each of the more than 1,000 consumers they enrolled.

NPN and Matt Blatt dealerships have agreed to settle the FTC charges, and under proposed consent orders are prohibited from misrepresenting that a payment program will save consumers money, unless the amount of savings is greater than the total amount of fees and costs charged in connection with the program. They also are prohibited from misrepresenting that the payment programs or their associated fees will improve, repair or otherwise affect a consumer’s credit record.

NPN will refund more than $1.5 million to consumers, and waive another $949,000 in fees to current customers during the fee waiver period. Matt Blatt dealerships also will pay $184,000 to the FTC as part of the settlement.

Cases Involving Deceptive Advertising
Three auto dealers, Cory Fairbanks Mazda of Longwood, Fla., Jim Burke Nissan of Birmingham, Ala., and Ross Nissan of El Monte, Calif., have agreed to settle charges that they ran deceptive ads that violated the FTC Act, and also violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and/or Consumer Leasing Act (CLA). According to the FTC complaints, ads touted sales, lease or financing options that seemed attractive but were cancelled out by fine-print disclaimers. In other instances, the disclaimers did not disclose relevant terms, such as required down payments.

All of the financing offers, lease payments, and $0 down references in this ad are completely undermined by the fine print, which requires $3,000 down for all deals.

The proposed settlements in these actions prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting the purchase cost or any other material fact about the price, sale, financing or leasing of a vehicle. Jim Burke Nissan and Cory Fairbanks Mazda are also prohibited from representing that a discount, rebate, bonus, incentive or price is available unless it is available to all consumers or all qualifications and restrictions are clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
The Commission votes to issue the three administrative complaints and accept the proposed consent orders were 5-0. The agreements will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through April 27, 2015, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent orders final. Submit a comment electronically:
Cory Fairbanks Mazda

Auto Loan Modification Case
At the FTC’s request, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida temporarily halted the practices of Regency Financial Services of Lake Worth, Fla., and its CEO Ivan Levy, who allegedly charged consumers upfront fees to negotiate an auto loan modification on their behalf, but then often provided nothing in return. The court also froze defendants’ assets, and last month entered a Stipulated Preliminary Injunction Order. The FTC’s lawsuit filed on Jan. 26, 2015 is ongoing, and the Commission is seeking a permanent injunction to stop defendants’ deceptive practices and to return ill-gotten gains to consumers.

According to the FTC’s complaint, defendants violated the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule by misrepresenting that they would obtain auto loan modifications for consumers and provide full refunds if they failed to do so.

This operation follows the FTC’s sweep against 10 auto dealers announced in January 2014, and is part of the agency’s ongoing effort to protect consumers purchasing and financing a new vehicle.

Consumers in the market for a new or used vehicle should read the FTC’s new blog post, Add-On Auto Finance Plan Gets a “D” for Deception, along with Are Car Ads Taking You for a Ride? and Buying and Owning a Car. Businesses can check out new guidance in the FTC’s blog post: Operation Ruse Control: 6 Tips If Cars Are Up Your Alley.

Worden Carlson Dies At 85

Worden T. Carlson, age 85, of LaBelle, passed away March 24, 2015 at home in LaBelle, FL.

He was born Dec. 25, 1929 in Miami, FL, to the late Shim Carlson and the late Mary Trigg (Newman) Carlson. He was preceded in death by his son, Steven Carlson.

Ward served in the U.S. Army for 8 years in both World War II and the Korean War. He started and operated Carlson Fence Co in Miami for 39 years then retired to LaBelle 16 years ago. He was a life member of Miami Lakes Lions Club.

Survivors include his wife of 26 years: Virginia L. Gibson, son: Keith Murrah, sister: Charlotte Carlson, brothers: Tom and Gordie Carlson, step children: Kenneth Gibson, Mark Davis and Ron Davis & spouses: Gina, Penny and Adriana, six grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Ward was always there for his family and friends.

A memorial gathering honoring his life will be held Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 1:00 p.m. at Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in LaBelle with Rev. Alan H. Kelmereit officiating. Inurnment will take place at South Florida National Cemetery, Lake Worth, FL.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Miami Lakes Lions Club in Miami. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Health Of The Nation's Counties - New Ratings Published

Hendry And Glades - A Great Place To Live But Big Health Problems Surface In Report

LABELLE, FL. -- The sixth annual nationwide county health rankings has been released by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and for many counties, especially the poorer and more rural ones, results are a mixture of good news and bad.

Hendry county's overall health rankings fell about in the middle of all Florida counties at number 30 of 67 counties, in what the report calls "Health Outcomes" which includes length of life and and quality of life.  Glades county came in slightly higher at 25.

"Health Factors", including health behaviors, clinical care, and social and economics factor brought Hendry county to the bottom of the county list. DUI deaths, drinking, smoking, and obesity rang clear as problems in Hendry, while lack of doctors and dentists, and high amounts of the uninsured brought the county to the bottom.

On the bright side, the physical environment factors of Hendry and Glades county, including lack of air pollution, good drinking water, no long commutes to work, and lack of severe housing problems, brought Hendry to the top at number 3 in the state and Glades to number 2.

The top three counties overall in the state were reported as St. Johns, Collier, and Martin.

The Florida Department of Health and the local Hendry-Glades Health departments issued statements today saying:

“Health has no boundaries,” said Pat Dobbins, administrator and health officer of the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties. “This report reflects county level rankings, but we realize that to promote health and preventative care, it truly involves many partners including governmental agencies, educational departments, businesses, civic organizations, as well as private citizens in the community. This report helps our communities to see where we live, work, learn and play can have an effect on our overall health.”

"These rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. The department works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Hendry and Glades Counties. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care."

See the Hendry and Glades Health Ratings from new report

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

John Haldemann Pleads Guilty To Three Bank Robberies

FORT MYERS, FL—John Haldemann, 31 of Naples, Fl. plead guilty today to armed robbery of three southwest Florida banks.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III said John Robert Haldemann today pleaded guilty to three counts of armed bank robbery. He faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison for each count. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, Haldemann committed three armed bank robberies last summer. On June 4, 2014, he robbed a Capital Bank in Venice. He then committed an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo Bank in Naples on July 12, 2014. And, in Punta Gorda on July 25, 2014, he robbed a Bank of America. 

During each armed bank robbery, Haldemann displayed what appeared to be a firearm and demanded money from bank employees.

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

Meet Commissioner Mike Swindle March 31

LaBelle, FL – Hendry County is offering a unique opportunity for its citizens to speak with their elected commissioners by district and county staff.

Last year Hendry County Government held a series of Community Values Workshops to engage local residents and receive insight into their level of agreement on various public service investments. Using these insights during the 2014 budget season, County Commissioners and staff prioritized efforts to enhance Hendry County.

Hendry County Government is once again hosting this series with a fresh new concept to engage local citizens, Speed Date Your Commissioner. The premise of the speed dating format is to encourage people to meet and engage with a large number of individuals in a short amount of time and efficiently voice their ideas.

At the conclusion of the speed dating citizens will be able to anonymously vote for their top priorities. The votes will be calculated and utilized to once again be a guiding principal for the upcoming budget season.

The first Speed Date Your Commissioner Event will be Tuesday, March 31, 2015 with Commissioner Michael Swindle at the Montura Club House from 5:30-6:30 pm.

Big Brothers Organization Visits Kiwanis

At a recent LaBelle Kiwanis meeting, Tanya Schrott, Community Resource Director with Big Brothers Big Sisters was the guest speaker. 

Since 1968, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids' perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. They have thousands of volunteers, donors, and advocates. In 2011, additional expansion of service delivery occurred in the areas of Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry and Glades Counties.
According to BBBS, researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Big Brothers, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in the program, were:
46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
27% less likely to begin using alcohol
52% less likely to skip school
37% less likely to skip a class
33% less likely to hit someone

They also found that the they were more confident of their performance in schoolwork and getting along better with their families.
If you're interested in learning how to become a Big Brother or Big Sister, or for more information, please contact Tanya Schrott at: Phone: (239) 288-4224

Free Rides For Hendry Veterans

LABELLE, FL. -- Free rides to medical appointments for veterans are available on the following days. Veteran must have appointments from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM

West Palm Beach VA Medical Center

Tuesdays – Wednesdays – Thursdays
Pick Up and Drop Off Point
Moore Haven IGA parking lot
Harlem New Bethel Church
Clewiston McDonalds Fast Food

Lee County Veterans Healthcare Facility (Cape Coral)

Mondays – Wednesdays – Fridays
Pick and Drop Off Point Hendry County Sheriffs Parking Lot, behind jail

To schedule a ride call 863-675-5255. Leave Name, Telephone number, Last four social security number and date, time and facility name. A driver will contact you the evening before to confirm and
inform you what time and where your pick up will be.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monkey Breeding Protests Increasing

LABELLE, FL. -- An animal rights group is claiming a second macaque monkey breeding facility has been secretly given permission to raise non-human primates for eventual sale to biological experimenters in Hendry county.

Another facility in western Hendry is under fire by citizens suing Hendry County government for approving the facility under agricultural rules without public hearings. They claim that there is no designation in the Hendry county zoning code for non-human primate breeding and the county has slipped the business under the guise of an agricultural zoning. this week published a story indicating "The newly-discovered facility has already been built and is owned by the Mauritius-based company Bioculture. Bioculture is leasing land from Primate Products, a company that breeds monkeys and manufactures equipment for use in monkey labs.

Biolculture reportedly lost a court case in Puerto Rico after attempts to operate a monkey breeding facility there. "In 2012, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled that Bioculture’s already-constucted monkey breeding facility in Puerto Rico could not be opened because it was illegally built on land that was zoned for other purposes," said the TheirTurn story.

Hendry county responded in a press release today saying "Recent press articles and media coverage regarding Hendry County and a second primate facility in the works near Immokalee are inaccurate.

"The facilities in question, Primate Products, Inc. and BioCulture, are located on lands owned by Panther Tracts, LLC. The Panther Tracts, LLC property has been used for primate breeding purposes dating back more than ten years. Additional buildings were approved to be added on the land already in use for related activities.

"Hendry County is formally requesting a retraction or correction of all stories regarding the above mentioned due to erroneous information."

In an additional statement Tuesday the county said,

"Panther Tracts, LLC has been in operation through the proper required permits since 2001 and is up to date with all required building permits with Hendry County.

"The leasing or operations on a property are the responsibility of the property owner as long as operations comply with the approved federal, state and local permits required to conduct business.

"During the 2012 approval of the site development plan, the review met the approval of the Fire Marshall, County Engineer and the Hendry County Health Department.

"Subsequent building permits were issued by Hendry County in compliance with the approved site development plan as recently as 2014.

"This project falls within the permitted uses in the Agriculture future land use category and the General Agriculture zoning district, therefore, no public hearing was required.

"Hendry County stands by the rights provided to our property owners contained within the language of our comprehensive plan and land development code."

A group opposing experimental animal breeding is holding a news conference regarding the Primate Product facility Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Hendry County House Commission Meeting Room

Walter Thomas In Serious Crash Sunday

LABELLE, FL. -- Walter William Thomas, 70 of Muse was seriously injured in a crash Sunday afternoon at 3:41 p.m. near LaBelle.

His 2014 Porsche 911 was westbound in the parking lot at the establishment of 732 State Road 29/ Main Street (Sal Cal Pizzeria) in Labelle. A Cadillac was properly parking facing west at the establishment as Thomas attempted to place the Porsche in an unauthorized (no parking) area of the lot. 

Two independent witnesses observed the vehicle's movement within the lot. Both witnesses exited the establishment to make contact with Thomas. While making numerous attempts to park, Thomas failed to observed the position of the Cadillac. As a result, the left side of the Porsche struck the rear of the second vehicle. 

Thomas then exited the parking lot and initiated a right turn (south) onto State Road 29/ Main Street, then proceeded to make a right turn (west) onto County Road 80A/ Cowboy Way and continued westbound on County Road 80A/ Fort Denaud Road until he failed to negotiate a curve (north of the Huggetts Road intersection) and then lost control as the car departed the roadway and struck a directional device on the west shoulder of the roadway before coming to final rest against a utility pole.

Thomas was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital by Hendry County EMS and is in stable condition. He has been charged with careless driving and failure to remain at the scene of an accident with property damage.

Friday, March 20, 2015

John Rimes Dies At 90

John (Jaybird) Louis Rimes, age 90, of LaBelle, passed away March 19, 2015, in Oakbrook of LaBelle. He was born Mar. 1, 1925, in LaBelle to the late Adolphus Rimes and Tomsie K. (Howard) Rimes. He was lifelong resident of Hendry County. Jaybird was a true cowboy who will be missed by many.

He is survived by his wife: Patricia (Kisela) Rimes, daughter: Sandra Rimes Lee and husband Tony Lee. Jaybird has three surviving sisters; Elgin Shore, Laura June Wilson and Bobbie Jo Cline. He also has two grandsons; Zachary and John and two great grandchildren, Sophia and Trae.

The funeral service will be held Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor L. W. Howard officiating. Interment will follow at Fort Denaud Cemetery in LaBelle. Visitation will be Tuesday from 10 a.m. until service time at the funeral home.

Cassadee Pope Headlining Sugar Festival Entertainment

Clewiston FL - Another up and coming entertainer will be coming to Clewiston to perform at the 29th Annual Clewiston Sugar Festival in hopes of getting the “Sweet Touch.”

West Palm Beach, FL native Cassadee Pope has been named the headline entertainer for the 2015 Sugar Festival. Ms. Pope was winner of The Voice (Season 3) as part of Team Blake (Shelton), also a former headliner entertainer at Sugar Festival.

The Clewiston Sugar Festival has a knack for selecting up and coming entertainment that “make it big” just months after performing at this annual festival.

In its beginnnings, the Sugar Festival was a community event with a large meal, music and dancing where community members celebrated the end of the sugar cane harvest. This year, the U.S. Sugar Corporation has come forward to be the grand sponsor of the Sugar Festival which was started to celebrate the occupation that this corporation is known worldwide for, the production of sugar.

Along with Cassadee Pope as the headline entertainer, country music artists Native Run and Josh Dorr will bring the live and FREE concert entertainment throughout the afternoon on Saturday, April 11th. A full list of events are planned for April 9-12 including, the Seminole Heritage Day at the Clewiston Museum; a bass tournament by the Clewiston B.A.S.S. Federation; a 4X4 truck showcase by Savage Truck of Fort Myers; sugar industry displays by U.S. Sugar Corporation; a 5K Run/Walk by CrossTraining Ministries and much more.

“It takes many volunteers to plan and make this event what people want to bring their families to each year,” said Sugar Festival committee president Pam Kelley. “Volunteers begin a full year ahead to plan and work to make each year special. We are very thankful to U.S. Sugar Corporation for teaming up with our committee for this year’s event and are hopeful that people from everywhere in South Florida will come join us for a lot of fun.”

The Sugar Festival is always the second Saturday of April with this year’s main events on Saturday, April 11.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Echo Food And Farm Fest Saturday

FORT MYERS, FL. -- ECHO will be hosting a food and farm festival Saturday, March 21 from 9 until 3 at it's location in North Fort Myers on Durrance Road. 

For 23 years, ECHO has been host to Southwest Florida’s premier festival focusing on sustainable living, agriculture, and food. Partnering with local organizations and businesses, ECHO’s Global Food and Farm Festival has provided thousands of attendees with the opportunity to taste exotic foods, experience life in a foreign country, and explore the Global Farm, learning about food and culture in a new way.

Spend the day at our 50-acre Global Farm and tour a tropical rainforest demonstration, the 300+ variety seed bank, take an educational tour of the fruit tree arboretum, or learn about alternative energies as they are demonstrated in the appropriate technology area! Kids of all ages can taste, touch, and experience their way around the world as they learn about world hunger and ways they can make an impact!

Tickets are just $5.00 per person, 10 and under are free if purchased in advance. You may also purchase tickets the day of the event for $7.00 per person, 10 and under free.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Larry Woosley Dies At 57

Larry R. Woosley, age 57, of LaBelle, passed away March 16, 2015 in Lehigh Acres. He was born Sep. 12, 1957 in Louisville, KY, to the late W.G. and the late Joann (Jennings) Woosley.

Larry was such a community minded person giving a lot of his time to the LaBelle Jaycees, LaBelle Lions Club and Moose Lodge. He loved music and loved the Lord so much that he was inspired to write and record a Christian CD "Guitars in Heaven". 

Larry was a member of the 1986 Swamp Cabbage Festival Pioneer Family and was chosen in 1999 as the Swamp Cabbage Festival Grand Marshall. Former member of the Buckshot and Southbound Bands. Prior to Larry becoming ill, he drove a school bus for Hendry County. Up until December he was continuing to give guitar lessons to local children.

Larry has been a member of First Christian Church most of his life, actively involved in the music ministry, serving as an elder and Board Chairman for many years. He was also very involved in the Gathering of the Christian Men and a past President. A great man, husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend to all!

He is survived by his wife: Ellen (Earnest) Woosley, son: L.M. Woosley, daughter: Ashley Brooke Woosley, sisters: Patti Nixon, Sherri Carpenter (Steve), Mara Woosley (Tim Loyd), grandchild, Christian D. Robertson and a host of family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Tommy Woosley and Danny Woosley.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 10:00 am at First Christian Church, LaBelle with Pastor W. T. Maddox Jr. officiating. Interment will be in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Visitation will be Friday, March 20, 2015 from 6:00-8:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Donations in his memory can be made to First Christian Church music ministry or Hope Hospice.

Matthew White Dies At 55

Matthew A. White, age 55, of LaBelle, passed away March 13, 2015 in Fort Myers. He was born Oct. 16, 1959 in Naples, FL, to the late Orville A. and the late Christine (Graham) White.

He is survived by his wife: Lori C. (Jones) White, sons: Nate White, Valda White and nephew Patrick White that was like a son to Matt, brothers: Randy M. White, Sr.( Nancy), Steve White (Mary), sisters: Debbie Galbreath, Shannon Parker (Doug), Patty Murphy Tramell (David), grandchild, Emma White. He was preceded in death by his son, Patrick White.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 11:00 am at Felda Baptist Church, Felda with Rev. Earl Daniels officiating. Interment will be in Felda Cemetery, Felda.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

No Butts - Weighing In On Tobacco Litter

CLEWISTON, FL. -- According to the CDC, cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world and America. Nowadays more people know about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, but many people may not know about the impact of tobacco litter on the environment.

Cigarette Butts not only litter the environment but they contain chemicals that leach into the environment and can contaminate the water, soil and are often ingested by wildlife and pets.

This year the City of Clewiston Public Works Department is organizing an Annual Spring Cleaning Event themed “No Butts About It” focusing on cleaning up cigarette butts in our community.

This event will start at 8:00AM on March 23 and conclude under the Chickee at the Youth Center at 11:00AM on March 28 with a prize to the group or individual with the most weight in cigarette butts.

You are invited to participate in the clean-up of our community and more precisely HRMC’s premises and our surrounding neighbors. To join in on the clean-up of cigarette butts please contact Amber or Angelica at the numbers or emails below.

Amber Conley, 863-674-4041 ext.
Angelica Peña, 863-983-1123 or

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dale Stanford Dies At 70

Dale Broward Stanford, age 70, of Moore Haven, FL, passed away March 13, 2015 in Loxahatchee. He was born Nov. 13, 1944 in Clewiston. 

He was a veteran of the US Army and served in Vietnam. He retired from the University of Florida Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade.

Survivors include his mother: Gladys Sweat Stanford of Moore Haven, sisters: Janice Bamburg of Clewiston, Phyllis Butler of Georgia and Sandra S. McClenithan of LaBelle and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, James B. Stanford.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 2:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston with Rev. Josh Caraway officiating. Interment will follow in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Visitation will be held Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. until start of the service at the funeral home in Clewiston.

Rosa Ann Nash Dies At 100 Years Old

LABELLE, FL. -- Rosa Ann Nash died March 8, 2015. She was born September 15, 1914 in Honduras and lived in Murfreesboro, TN.

Funeral Service will be Wednesday, March 18, 2015 11:00 AM at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL and Visitation on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 1 hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL. Interment at Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven, FL

Rosa is survived by her daughter, Millicent Nash Vilmerding of Murfreesboro, TN; two granddaughters, Melissa Nash of West Palm Beach, FL, and Maria Vilmerding of Murfreesboro, TN; two great-granddaughters, Amina Moore and Laila Moore of Murfreesboro, TN; two sisters, Carmella Mayton of Alamagordo, NM, and Julia Chappell of Jupiter, FL; one brother, Johnny Doub of LaBelle, FL as well as many neices, nephews and loving extended family.

Rosa was a member of the Brandywine Women's Club of Old Hickory, TN and was a parishioner of St. Stephen Catholic Community in Hermitage, TN.

Funeral services was Thursday, March 12 , 2015 at Roselawn Funeral Home, 5350 NW Broad St., Murfreesboro, TN.

Annual Easter Egg Hunt For LaBelle Kids

LABELLE, FL. -- KIDS! Ages 3-Years to 12-Years! It’s time to hop over to the Kiwanis Thrift Store of LaBelle on March 28th for the LaBelle Kiwanis Annual Easter Egg Hunt! The Egg hunt starts at 10am. (Please bring your basket or bag to collect eggs) Look for the Easter Bunny and have lots of fun!

The egg hunt is free and the hunt will be separated into three age groups: Ages 3 & 4, ages 5 to 7, and ages 8 to 10. There will be other fun activities (scavenger hunt) for ages 11 to 12.

No parents will be allowed on the “egg hunting grounds” with the kids, but Kiwanis Members and Kiwanis Key Club Students will be on hand to assist with the smaller kids.

ALL ages are welcome to come and take their photo with the Easter Bunny! Prizes will be awarded! There will be goodie bags for all kids!

We hope to see you there!

The Kiwanis Thrift Store of LaBelle is located at 155 S. Bridge Street. Kiwanis is global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time.

Birding Group Tours The Archbold Biological Station

LABELLE, FL. -- Birders visited the Archbold Biological Station during the annual birding festival this week. On Thursday, March 12th, a group of 15 people and their 2 leaders car pooled north from LaBelle for a rendezvous with Dr. Reed Bowman, Director of Avian Ecology. 

Dr. Bowman had delivered the keynote address for the Festival the night before, and brought all kinds of information about the ecology, breeding status and quirky character of Florida Scrub Jays.
The group went out into the wilds of the research station to see the birds close up. 

The Big “O” Birding Festival is an annual event held in LaBelle, Florida, 35 miles south of Archbold Biological Station. This is their 14th year and Archbold’s biological diversity and its Florida Scrub Jays are a magnet for birders. 

Dr. Bowman met the group at the Visitor’s Center and gave an overview of the mission of Archbold Biological Station and its history. Then off down the sandy trails to look for the birds. Seen nearby were great looks at Great Crested Flycatchers, a Pileated Woodpecker and White-eyed Vireo.

It was barely 10:00 am and the temperature was already in the upper 80’s. At the first stop the group learned that there are actually 4 species of scrub oak and also that the strings from palmetto fronds are the only material used by Scrub Jays to line their nests. Dr. Bowman explained that the 3 Scrub Jays being watched nearby were a young male and a mated pair having a conflict over territory. After Dr. Bowman left the group continued on their own and saw more jays, an American Swallow-tailed Kite, a Bald Eagle and a pair of Anhingas soaring high above the Station. 

Thanks to Dr. Bowman and the good folks at Archbold Biological Station for a memorable trip and a great learning experience.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fiery Death On U.S. 27 After Van Bursts Into Flames

Deputies Attempt Rescue Of Man In Burning Vehicle

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Richard McGoogan Rhynes, 78 from Sebring, Florida is dead after a crash on U.S. 27 near Lykes Road in Glades county Saturday.

Deputy David Springman and Sergeant Mark Taylor of the Glades County Sheriff's Office responded and unsuccessfully attempted to extricate the driver as the crashed vehicle became fully engulfed in flames.

The victim, in a 2012 Toyota Sienna was northbound on US HWY 27 from North Miami traveling towards Sebring at 5:40 a.m. when he failed to negotiate the right curve south of Boar Hammock as the left side tires of exited the pavement into the median. 

The Toyota van entered a clockwise yaw and returned to the roadway as the driver over corrected to the left and the vehicle crossed the northbound lanes and exited the pavement onto the east shoulder then entered a counter-clockwise rotation. 

It then rotated before the front struck the cantilever mast for a railroad crossing and burst into flames. Identification of the man was delayed for 14 hours pending notification of next of kin.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Two Out Of Three People Survive Cancer

Two out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survive five years or more, according to a CDC study published in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report found that the most common cancer sites continue to be cancers of the prostate (128 cases per 100,000 men), female breast (122 cases per 100,000 women), lung and bronchus (61 cases per 100,000 persons), and colon and rectum (40 cases per 100,000 persons). Among these common cancer sites, 5-year relative survival was 97 percent for prostate cancer, 88 percent for breast cancer, 63 percent for colorectal cancer, and 18 percent for lung cancer.

“We are pleased to include cancer survivor data in this report for the first time. We will review these data annually to track our progress,” said Jane Henley, epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and lead author of the study.

The cancer survivor estimates are from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries. CDC scientists reviewed the most recent data on cases of invasive cancers reported during 2011. With the exception of urinary bladder cancer, invasive cancer is defined as cancer that has spread to surrounding normal tissue from where it began.

The full report, “Invasive Cancer Incidence and Survival – United States, 2011,” can be found For more information about CDC’s efforts in cancer prevention and control,

Seminole Hotel And Casino Opens In Immokalee

Slot Machine Roar Contrasts With Hotel's Whisper Quiet Rooms

IMMOKALEE, Fla. (March 12, 2015) – With dancing Seminoles, police color guard, and introductions by Tribal Chairman James Billie, the Seminole Tribe of Florida opened it's latest money making venture of it's worldwide gaming, entertainment, and hotel empire.

Grand opening of the multi-million dollar expansion of the Seminole Casino Hotel in a dirt poor neighborhood of Immokalee was Thursday, March 12 at noon. Guests at the opening were able to tour the Seminole Casino Hotel, along with the 800-seat Seminole Center entertainment venue, the Lucky Mi Noodle House, the newly remodeled Paradise High Limit Room, the new Seminole Poker Room and a 5,600 sq. ft. expansion of the casino.

The Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee is the only gaming destination in Southwest Florida with slot machines or table games and the parking lot is always filled with hopeful gamblers in the extremely noisy and possibly ear-damaging casino.

But for peace and quiet, walk to the east end of the building and check into one of 99 new hotel rooms, which are nicely appointed and very very quiet. There's not much of a view. The windows and balconies face the giant parking lot.

The 99-room hotel features 19 well appointed suites and 80 normal size but comfortable guestrooms in the four-story edifice. plus a swimming pool with private Seminole Chickee cabana huts, a 24-hour fitness studio equipped with a wide variety of exercise machines and free weights and a small 24-hour Business Center next to the check in desk, complete with computer availability and internet access. 

Normal size rooms are 450 square feet and feature a modern décor with a fresh Florida feel with 55-inch LCD TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet connections, Keurig coffee makers, mini-refrigerators, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards. Front Desk concierge services include scheduling airport transportation, golf course reservations, package deliveries, auto detailing and floral purchases.

The hotel and casino expansion means more than 100 additional hotel jobs and a significant economic impact to Southwest Florida and specifically, Immokalee says the Tribe.

Adjacent to the new hotel and also opening is the Seminole Center, a new 800-seat indoor and 3,000 seat outdoor entertainment venue with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. The performance space and event venue plays host to multiple shows during the first quarter of 2015, including Ron White March 14 and KC & the Sunshine Band on March 21.

“Seminole Casino Immokalee is one of the Seminole Tribe’s most successful gaming venues,” said James F. Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming. Allen once worked for Donald Trump. “We’re pleased to expand its entertainment options and to offer a new hotel, which will be a welcome destination for Southwest Florida residents and tourists.”

Architects for the Seminole Casino Immokalee expansion and the Seminole Casino Hotel are BSSW Architects of Fort Myers and Naples. The complex expansion was built by the Seminole Stiles Construction joint venture.

First opened in 1994, the Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee is located at 506 South 1st Street on the Immokalee Seminole Reservation, about 30 miles east of Naples via State Road 846 and 30 miles southwest of Fort Myers via State Road 29.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Garden Club Touring River Bend Gardens

LABELLE, FL.-- The LaBelle Garden Club will meet Monday, March 23th 2015, at 6 p.m. at the RiverBend Motorcoach Resort, 5800 West State Road 80, seven miles West of LaBelle on 80. 

Garden Club members are to park outside the gates at the Nature Center (building located to the left as you pull into parking area from SR 80 or next to the outgate. 

The gourp will then have a tour of a few resident's gardens at RiverBend and then proceed to the Pool Clubhouse for the meeting. Refreshments served. Bring a treat if you'd like to share something. 

For more information, call President Dave at 863-342-8233 or Nikki at 239-564-2005

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

School Bus Hits Low Hanging Electric Wire

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- A school bus hit a low hanging power line Monday and resulted in minor injuries to the bus driver.

A Glades county school bus, driven by Cynthia Hallback, 57 of Moore Haven was traveling east on the eastbound lane of County Road 720, east of Langdale Rd.

A power line across County Road 720, east of Langdale Rd was hanging lower than its normal standard height. For unknown reasons, Hallback failed to observe the power line hanging lower directly ahead.

Subsequently, the front portion of the school bus collided with the power line. Hallback came to a controlled stop facing east on the eastbound lane of County Road 720, east of Langdale Rd.

She was transported to Hendry Regional Hospital prior to the arrival of the FHP trooper.

49 students on the bus and one adult passenger had no Injuries. Driver Hallback was transported to Hendry Regional with minor injuries.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Frederick White Dies At 95

Frederick White, age 95, of LaBelle, passed away March 2, 2015 in Lehigh Acres. He was born May 15, 1919 in Pawtucket, RI, to the late Howard and the late Helen (McGill) White. He served in the Air Force.

Frederick loved living in LaBelle and had many friends in Aqua Isles Mobile Home Park. He was an avid golfer and enjoyed traveling across country with Emma in their motorhome.

He is survived by his loving wife of 35 years, Emma M. (Panico) White, son: Frederick White Jr.; daughter: Patricia Fickett; granddaughter, Melissa Allen; two step grandsons: Jeffrey Clark (Mary), John Clark (Elizabeth); two great grandchildren: Michaela and Damian Allen, three step great grandchildren: Michael, Brody and Alyssa Clark and sister: Elizabeth Reylea. He was preceded in death by his grandson Raymond.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Students Working Against Tobacco At Chalo Nitka Parade

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) – Moore Haven Middle/High School based club participated in the Annual Chalo Nitka parade on Saturday, March 7, 2015. 

 SWAT members designed a float themed, “Working To Save The Next Generation”; the group of empowered youth are committed to making Glades County a safer and healthier place for forthcoming generations to live, learn, and play. SWAT members work relentlessly in the schools and community providing education and information about the dangers of tobacco, raising awareness and concern to tobacco companies deceptive and manipulative marketing tactics that target youth, and advocating for tobacco-related policies that prevent exposure to secondhand smoke and young people from accessing tobacco products.

During the Chalo Nitka parade SWAT members distributed green whistles imprinted with - - “Students Working Against Tobacco” and balloons marked “Tobacco Free Florida - Fresh Air For All” to the youth onlookers of the parade. The youth also disseminated palm cards with facts about the dangers of flavored tobacco and information about the upcoming “Tools To Quit”, tobacco cessation class on March 18, 2015,at the Florida Department of Health in Glades County.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Obituaries - Jerry Hubbart, Martha Cross

Jerry Don Hubbart, age 65, of LaBelle, passed away Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at Hope Hospice House of Lehigh Acres, Florida. 

Jerry was born February 20, 1950, to Loyd and Billie (Hoar) Hubbart, at Holton, Kansas. Jerry graduated in 1972 from Kansas State University with a BS degree in Agronomy. He spent the last 40 years devoted to South Florida agriculture.
Jerry became a member of the LaBelle (Masonic) Lodge #379 on June 20, 1998, and, in 2001, he was elected Master of the LaBelle Lodge. He was also elected to serve as District Deputy Grand Master of District 29 (Southwest Florida) from May 2007 to May 2008. For the past 12 years, Jerry dutifully served as Secretary of the LaBelle Lodge. His dedication to Freemasonry is reflected in the many men to whom he has been a mentor and a friend.
Although he's been a Florida resident for 40 years, Jerry loved reminiscing about growing up in his home town of Augusta, Kansas. He left a part of his heart there, along with his sister and two brothers. 

He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Hardee Hubbart; daughter, Lori Driscoll; step-daughter, C. Caroline Hardee; granddaughters, Kennedy and Riley Driscoll; sister, Marilyn Williams; brothers, Linton and Leslie Hubbart; and nieces and nephews. 

Memorial services will be held at the LaBelle Lodge #379, Saturday, March 14, 2015, at 11:00 am. Donations may be made to the Masonic Home by check, payable to LaBelle Lodge #379 F & AM, with a notation for the Masonic Home, and sent to PO Box 1273, LaBelle, FL 33975. Requested dress for the memorial is suit or sportscoat.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, Florida

Martha (Crews) Cross, age 61, of Palmdale, passed away March 4, 2015 in North Miami Beach. She was born Oct. 14, 1953 in Sebring. She was a former, longtime resident of LaBelle.

Survivors include her companion, Charles Clifford Gillett, Jr. of Palmdale, FL; sister: Audrey (Jimmy) Curry of LaBelle, brothers: Larry Crews of Palmdale, Donald Crews of Fort Myers, step father: Jack Simpson of LaBelle, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband: Hayward D. "Gene" Cross, Sr., father: Joe Crews, mother: Elizabeth Crews Simpson, sister: Wanda Crews Searcy, grandparents: Gertrude and Booty Powers and nephew: Jason Curry.

Funeral services will be held Monday, March 9, 2015, 10:00 a.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor W. T. Maddox Jr. officiating. Interment will follow in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Visitation will be Sunday, March 8, 2015 from 2-4 p.m. at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle.

Serious Injuries In Four Vehicle Crash On SR80

LABELLE, FL. -- A four car crash on State Road 80 at Fort Denaud Road Friday at 3:14 P.M. left two drivers and two passengers with injuries, one with critical brain injury.

Four vehicles were eastbound in the inside lane of State Road 80 directly behind each other, when Savannah Noel Swann, 25 of Palmdale, driver of a Toyota Camry failed to reduce speed to avoid a collision. The front of her car struck the rear of a second vehicle. The front of that vehicle struck the rear of a third. Then, the front of vehicle three struck the rear of a fourth. 

Swann's car rotated counterclockwise faced northeast at final rest in the inside lane of State Road 80. She suffered serious injuries and was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital.

The second vehicle continued eastbound after impact and came to final rest faced south east in the outside lane of State Road 80. 

The third was faced east in the inside lane of State Road 80 at final rest. Vehicle four was faced northeast in the inside lane of State Road 80 at final rest. 

Passenger #2 in the second vehicle,  Tiffany Dawn Guinn, 20 of LaBelle was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered serious brain injury. The driver Danielle Kristine Tritt, 21 of LaBelle and another passenger Cassidy Suzanne Pascher, 17 of LaBelle has serious injuries. 

The driver and passenger in vehicle three were not injured nor was the driver of vehicle four.

Friday, March 06, 2015

15 Arrested In Sex Tafficking And Prostitution Network

Trafficking Suspects Rounded Up From LaBelle, Immokalee, And More...

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, along with the Collier, Charlotte, Hillsborough, Hendry and Lee County Sheriff’s Offices, arrested 15 suspects after an investigation revealed a human trafficking network involving multiple victims operating from Central to South Florida. Two suspects remain at large. 

The human trafficking ring operated in Collier, Lee, Hendry, Polk and Miami-Dade counties. The victims earned between $190,000 and $320,000 a year for their captors while they received a pittance and were forced to reimburse the suspects for food and rent while being subjected to substandard and restricted living conditions.

The investigation began in 2013 after the Collier County Sheriff’s Office discovered a human trafficking victim during a traffic stop. Investigators subsequently identified six women who were illegally smuggled into the United States after being promised legal jobs and to be reunited with family. However, once in the country, the women were forced to work as commercial sex slaves performing sex acts on 25 to 45 men a day, six days a week. Victims ranged in age from 25 to 35.

"Today's arrests demonstrate that human trafficking will not be tolerated in Florida," said Attorney General Pam Bondi. "I applaud my Office of Statewide Prosecution and FDLE for shutting down this huge sex trafficking ring. We will aggressively prosecute these defendants and anyone else looking to profit off the enslavement and misery of others."

“Some of these victims were forced into prostitution when they were just 18 years old,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “I appreciate the hard work of our agents and our law enforcement partners putting these dangerous suspects behind bars and ending the nightmare for these women.”

“This case has many victims and involves a criminal organization that has committed some of the most heinous crimes relating to a sex trafficking case that we have seen in our area,” Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said. “These arrests should send a strong message that human trafficking will not be tolerated in Collier County and offenders will be arrested and put in jail.”

Agents believe there are additional victims. Anyone with information is urged to contact FDLE’s Ft. Myers Regional Operations Center at (239) 278-7170.

Suspects and Charges – Suspects will be booked into the Collier County jail.
· DALIA TORRES, 54, 484 Thigpen Road, LaBelle, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· AURORA DEL ROSARIO BARRIENTOS PIRIR, 31, 123 Hancock St. Immokalee, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· MARTIN ORTIZ, 33, 1400 Apache Circle, LaBelle, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; two counts-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; two counts- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· BALDOMERO DELATORRE, 66, 608 New Market Road, Immokalee, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· JUAN PABLO PEREZ, 37, 217 N. Second Street, Immokalee, one count-deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· ALVIA VELASCIA, 28, 217 N. Second Street, Immokalee, one count-deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· VICTOR BLANCO PANTOJA, 37, 2927 Lunar Circle, Lakeland, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; three counts-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; three counts- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· ANAHI BENGOECHEA, 59, 27566 Dortch Ave., Bonita Springs, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; three counts-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; three counts- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· DELIA MARADIAGA MAJANO, 39, 1960 Sunshine Blvd. Apt. C, Naples, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; two counts-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; two counts- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· ILARIO GONZALES, 33, 123 Hancock St., Immokalee, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; three counts-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; three counts- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· JOSE MERDADO BONILLA, 43, 1960 Sunshine Blvd. Apt. C, Naples, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; two counts-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; two counts- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· ALBERTO SIERRA, 55, 5236 Summerlin Rd., Fort Myers, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· ARMANDO OCAMPO HERNANDEZ, 30, 1057 Old South Drive., Lakeland, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· MOISES RODRIGUEZ, 66, 1059 Old South Dr., Lakeland, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· GLADYS MENDOZA TORRES, 65, 10830 SW 147th Court, Miami, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

Two suspects remain at large
· JOSE SENTENO, 43, 26197 Milagro Lane, Bonita Springs, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

· ALBA GUZMAN, 57, LaBelle, one count-conspiracy to commit human trafficking; one count-human trafficking using coercion for commercial sexual activity; one count- deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

How To Cope With Daylight Saving Time Change

Get A Good Night's Sleep As Time Changes
This weekend, as clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time, the Florida Department of Health encourages everyone to learn more about the importance of healthy sleeping habits for healthy outcomes, to include healthy weight. Across all age groups, but particularly among children, studies have shown an association between short sleep duration and excess body weight.

"Good sleeping habits are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle," said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "It's important for Florida's children, adults and families to know how much sleep is recommended for each age group and to plan for the right amount of sleep every night."

In addition to unhealthy weight, insufficient sleep is linked to other chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease and depression.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following hours of sleep for each age group:
Infants 3–11 months: 14–15 hours
Toddlers 1–3 years: 12–14 hours
Pre-schoolers 3–5 years: 11–13 hours
School-aged 5–10 years: 10–11 hours
Teens 10–17: 8.5–9.5 hours
Adults: 7–9 hours

Additional tips for smart sleeping habits include:
Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping, not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV or listening to music.
Avoid large meals before bedtime.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Jane Velez-Mitchell Asks What Chapman Is Hiding From

Big Monkey Business In County Secret Zoning?

LABELLE, FL. -- In town today for a court hearing, cable television personality Jane Velez-Mitchell asked Hendry County Administrator Charles Chapman what he's hiding.

Hendry county asked Circuit Judge James D. Sloan to dismiss a suit against them over a county commissioner and building and zoning officials' secret meetings and correspondence that changed agricultural zoning regulations to allow a monkey breeding facility for up to 3,200 Macaque monkeys in an agricultural zoned parcel in western Hendry county. Before the change, agricultural zoning applied to domesticated animals like horses, cattle, and goats.

The suit plaintiff's, a trio of land owners near the proposed facility including William Stephens, Carol Grey, and Keely Cinkota are claiming violations of Florida Sunshine Law whereby meetings leading to rules made by governmental agencies must be open to the public. It is claimed that building and zoning employees met without notice to the pubic resulting in a change in rules for animal breeding in an agricultural zone.

A mystery company, SoFloAg intends to build a controversial monkey breeding facility in western Hendry while the corporation's owners hide behind several straw companies. Record searches show one company after another owned by a separate corporation and ultimately owned by a company that is not licensed to do business in Florida. No individuals can be found as owners of any of those companies of record.

Animal rights organizations and local residents attended a courthouse hearing this morning and then went to the Hendry Zoning and Building Office to ask questions about the circumstances of the secret zoning change and the company behind it.

Local LaBelle company, Rock Enterprises seems to have lots of information about the owners and the companies, but they're not talking. Rock Enterprises did the engineering studies and acted as agent for getting governmental permissions and permits.

Building officials were out to lunch, the visiting group of several dozen were told, but County Manager Chapman made a brief appearance to read a prepared statement.

Chapman said, "The judge denied Hendry County’s motion to dismiss and is allowing the case to move forward to the discovery stage. Hendry County will now proceed to file an answer to the complaint.

"The judge’s ruling does not mean that the plaintiffs have won the case or that the County has violated the Sunshine Law. It simply means that the case continues to move forward through the judicial process. We look forward to our day in court to further substantiate that Hendry County did not overstep the bounds of the Government in the Sunshine Law.

“Hendry County stands by the rights provided to our property owners contained within the language of our comprehensive plan and land development code.”

TV personality Velez-Mitchell asked Chapman, "What is there to hide, sir?" but received no response as Chapman scurried back to his office inside the building.

S.A.E.N. Stop Animal Exploitation Now executive director Michael Budkie told the crowd that Primate Products, a primate facility near Immokalee had several monkeys killed there by electrocution and strangling in 2013 and 2014, and complaints were made by S.A.E.N. to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which monitors captive animal facilities.

Also, a representative from Animal Defenders International was at the event asking for support in ending importation of monkeys for experimentation, and to boycott Air France that still transports monkeys to the U.S.

ADI says monkeys are snatched from the wild for factory farms; newborn babies are torn screaming from their mothers and frightened infants are pinned down and tattoed, packed in boxes and flown to labs in the U.S. where among other atrocities they may have bolts and electrodes implanted into their brains by experimenters.

By starting a breeding colony for monkeys in Hendry county, companies who make a living buying and selling experimental monkeys will save the expense of importing 20,000 monkeys a year from Africa and other countries.

Jane Velez-Mitchell is well known for her animal rights advocacy and is a vegan and an environmentalist. In July 2009, Farm Animal Rights Movement awarded her the Celebrity Animal Activist Award at the Animal Rights 2009 National Conference held in Los Angeles, California. While working at Celebrity Justice, Velez-Mitchell’s reporting on animal cruelty earned that show two Genesis Awards from the Humane Society of the United States. She earned an additional Genesis Award for her show "Issues" in 2010. PETA awarded her their "Movers and Shakers Award" in 2012.

Video: Jane Velez-Mitchell, Charles Chapman and animal rights activists at Hendry Building and Zoning Department Thursday.

Other Southwest Florida Online stories on Monkey breeding and the primate breeding facilities

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

One Death In I-75 Eight Vehicle Crash

PUNTA GORDA, FL. -- A commercial motor vehicle with trailer driven by Robert Long, 48 of Fort Myers was traveling north on Interstate 75 in the outside lane on the Peace River Bridge in Charlotte County about 1:23 p.m. Tuesday as a 2013 Chevy Equinox was stopped in the outside lane for other traffic.

The truck failed to observe the stopped traffic and as a result, the front end struck with the rear end of the car. This caused a chain reaction collision with the seven other vehicles. The passenger of the car, Patricia Eisenhower, 72 of Lebanon, In. was transported and later pronounced deceased at Fawcett Hospital. The car driver, Charles Isenhower, 77 remains listed in critical condition at Lee Memorial Hospital.

Other motorists and passengers in the other vehicles had minor or no injuries.

Long was charged with careless driving. The investigation is still on going says the FHP.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Colon Cancer Screening Urged For Over 50s

More than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older
The month of March is recognized as “National Colorectal (Colon) Cancer Awareness Month”. Of the cancers that affect men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cancer killer in the United States. Take action! Screenings can help find pre-cancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. These polyps can be removed before they get a chance to turn into cancer. Having regular screenings can also help find colorectal cancer at an earlier stage and treatment during an early stage often leads to a cure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, about 140,000 people in the US are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 people die from it. However, about one-third of adults aged 50 or older (Which is the age group at greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer) have not been screened appropriately. The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age. More than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives, but many people are not being screened according to the national guidelines.

If you are 50 years old or older, get screened now. If you think you may be at higher than average risk for colorectal cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about getting screened early; it could save your life!

Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don't always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. Symptoms for colorectal cancer may include:
Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).
Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
Losing weight and you don't know why.

These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of these symptoms, the only way to know what is causing them is to see your healthcare provider.

There are some steps to help decrease your risk of getting colorectal cancer such as increasing the intensity and amount of your physical activity, avoiding obesity and weight gain around the midsection, and not drinking too much alcohol. You can also lower your colorectal cancer risk by not smoking.

If you think you may be at high risk for colorectal cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about when and how often to get tested.

You can get more information by visiting the CDC website:

Rusty Barnett Dies At 69

Russell Rousseau "Rusty" Barnett died February 27th at his home in Felda. He was 69.

Born in Lakeland in 1945, Rusty grew up in LaBelle and Pompano Beach. He spent much of his career in Tampa, where he worked at Tampa Volvo for many years. He later returned to LaBelle to join his family's farming business.

Rusty was an avid reader and Florida history buff. He loved the woods and water, especially the Florida pine landscape. He built a tin-roof cracker house in Felda, where he blazed beautiful hiking trails through the palmetto scrub. He enjoyed boating, camping, and other outdoor adventures before he became ill. He played a mean game of horseshoes.

He is survived by his daughter and his son, Cynthia Barnett and Mark Barnett, and six grandchildren, all of Gainesville; his two brothers, Randy Barnett and Jeff Barnett, both of LaBelle; his sister, Mindy Barnett of Gainesville; and his father, Ovid Barnett of Marco Island. He was preceded in death by his mother, Elsie Taylor Barnett, in 2005.

Rusty's family and friends will celebrate his life on Saturday March 7th from noon to 4 p.m. at the home of Randy and Pam Barnett in LaBelle.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Monday, March 02, 2015

FHP Still Looking For Car With Racing Stripes

FORT MYERS, FL. -- The Florida Highway Patrol is still asking for help by the public in finding a hit and run driver that killed a bicyclist in Fort Myers back in November.

The bicyclist was traveling in the southbound lane of Sunshine Boulevard without attached lights as a automobile was traveling south on Sunshine Boulevard when the front end collided with the bicycle.

The car then fled the scene. The bicyclist suffered fatal injuries as a result of this crash. 

The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for a red, 1990's model sports vehicle (general Motors Product: possible make example: Camaro), with dual white racing stripes down the center line of the vehicle. This vehicle may frequent the area of Lehigh Acres and have a loud custom exhaust system, low profile tires, and tinted windows. 

This vehicle may also have specialty rims. 

The Florida Highway Patrol requests assistance from the public, if anyone knows any information regarding the identity of this vehicle or its driver please contact Corporal Jeff Rongish at239-344-1730 Ext. 38164 (, or contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at1-800-780-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous

Caution: Turtles Nesting! Do Not Disturb!

It can be thrilling to watch a sea turtle crawl onto the beach at night and dig a large hole in the sand to lay dozens of eggs. Just remember that “Do not disturb” is the best behavior to follow when observing a nesting sea turtle.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission asks people not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles.

Spring is the beginning of sea turtle nesting season in Florida. From now through the end of October, thousands of sea turtles will land on Atlantic and Gulf coast beaches to lay their eggs. With Florida hosting one of the largest loggerhead nesting aggregations in the world, this becomes an opportunity for residents and visitors to play an important role in conserving these long-lived reptiles. People can help by taking turtle-friendly precautions on the beach.

“Take care when you’re on a Florida beach at night and do not disturb the nesting sea turtles,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who leads the FWC’s sea turtle management program. “People can help save threatened and endangered sea turtles by giving them enough space and privacy to safely and successfully lay their eggs. It’s as simple as keeping your distance and avoiding shining lights or taking flash photos of the nesting sea turtles.”

Loggerheads, leatherbacks and green turtles are the primary species of sea turtles that nest in the Sunshine State. Loggerheads had another good nesting year in 2014 with 86,870 nests recorded statewide.

“Conservation actions of Floridians and visitors to the state may have contributed to the general upward trend in sea turtle nest numbers in recent years. That’s wonderful news for the sea turtles,” said Trindell. “However, these species still face significant threats during their long-distance oceanic migrations. Whatever we can do to help our sea turtles will make a difference.”

Ways to protect nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings:
Remain at a distance from nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.
Remove chairs, canopies, boats and other items from the beach at night, because they block the movement of turtles and hatchings.
Turn off or shield lights along the beach, in order to prevent hatchlings from getting confused and going toward lights on land instead of the salt water, where they belong.
Use red LED flashlights on the beach at night, adjust cell phone screens to dark mode and don’t take flash photos.
Fill in holes that people dug in the sand during the day, so nesting sea turtles and hatchlings don’t fall in and get stuck there at night.
Correctly dispose of fishing line, so it won’t entangle sea turtles and other animals.
Remember it is illegal to harm, harass or take sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings, including getting too close to a nesting female.
Report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC).

Butch Wilson's Eco-History Tour Featured At Museum Meet

LABELLE, FL. -- Don't miss Butch Wilson's program "Historical Eco-Tours" which will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday March 9 at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle.

Learn about the Clewiston Museum's Historical Eco-Tours which feature the Clewiston Museum, Stormwater Treatment Area 5," One of Top 5 Florida Birding Hotspots, and the famous Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum at the Seminole Indian Reservation at Big Cypress.

Butch Wilson is a sixth generation Floridian who grew up on the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee. As a young boy, he enjoyed listening to stories of ole Florida, told to him by his great grandmother, grandparents and other Glades pioneers. This early heritage fascinated Butch and gave him an early appreciation for Florida History, Lake Okeechobee, and the wonders of the Everglades. 

Butch graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He was employed with United States Sugar Company for 32 years before retiring and starting a new career at the Clewiston Museum. Butch says the museum has given him the opportunity to share his passion for nature and the area’s heritage with others.

Registration materials for the March 11-16 Big "O" Birding Festival trips and programs, including a limited number of seats on the Clewiston Museum's Historical Eco-Tour on Friday March 13th, will be available at the meeting .

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