Friday, October 30, 2015

'In God We Trust' - Sheriff's Latest Controversy

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry Sheriff Steve Whidden's patrol cars are now sporting donated "In God We Trust" decals prominently on the rear end of three dozen patrol cars. The move has resulted in quite a stir in and outside rural Hendry county.

Whidden said, "I am proud to announce that we started rolling out our "In God We Trust" decals. As you can see the Deputies are proud to have them and I'm proud of that!"

The Sheriff said he wants to "spread the message." He reportedly told a local reporter “If you don’t like it, don’t look at it."

Putting in a plug for a local business, he said,  "I want to give a special thank you to Kim Sanders Marroquin from Ragin' Graphics who donated all the decals. I'm proud to serve this awesome community!!"

Hundreds of social media comments are taking sides on the issue including Stefan Hendrichen commenting, "That's legal in America? I was hoping for a religious neutral law enforcement."

But most support the decals as Lynda Liker commented on Facebook,  "This is wonderful Hendry County Sheriff's Office! What a welcome sight in such a messed up world."

View Facebook comments on "In God We Trust"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sheriff Issues Scariest Night Tips

LABELLE, FL. -- The night of ghouls, ghosts, goblins and super hero’s is fast approaching and Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden wants everyone to have a fun-filled evening.

This year Hendry Sheriff’s Deputies will be at First Baptist Church’s Trunk or Treat, on Main Street in LaBelle and at the Rodeo grounds on State Road 29 South.

Below are some safety tips to help you and your children have a safe and fun Halloween!

Parents and Caregivers

• Purchase or make costumes that are light colored and clearly visible to motorists

• Decorate (and get the children to help) or trim costumes, “goody bags,” and other containers with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights

• Reflective tape can be purchased at bicycle, hardware, and sporting goods stores.

• Make sure costumes are short enough so they don’t cause children to trip or fall

• Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes

• Accessorize with flexible props, should be made of cardboard or styrofoam

• Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over the child’s eyes


• Carry a flashlight or glow stick

• Walk, Don’t Run

• Stay on Sidewalks

• Obey Traffic Signals

• Stay in familiar neighborhoods

• Don’t cut across yards or driveways

• Make sure costumes don’t drag on the ground

• Approach only houses that are lit

• Stay away from and don’t pet animals you don’t know

• DO NOT EVER go in a stranger’s house for any reason. If a stranger invites you inside, say “no”, get away and tell a trusted adult


• Make sure your yard is clear of such things as ladders, hoses, dog leashes and any other debris that could cause a child to trip

• Pets get frightened on Halloween. Put them up to protect them from cars or inadvertently biting a trick- or-treater

• If you use candles, place the pumpkins well away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing. Battery operated jack-o’-lantern candles are preferred to a flaming candle

• Instead of candy, offer non-food treats; plastic rings, pencils, stickers, erasers or coins


• Stay alert

• Remember that kids will be excited, and may be trying to visit many houses within a specific time frame. Trick-or-Treaters may suddenly dart into traffic from between parked cars

• Be particularly careful where cars are parked along the side of the road

• Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks

• Be patient and SLOW DOWN. Give children lots of time to cross the street

• Remember kids will be excited and may forget to “stop, look, and listen”

If going to an adult Halloween party, make sure that you don’t drink and drive. Use a designated driver if alcohol is being consumed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rafael Marquez Burial Thursday October 29

Rafael "Ralf" "Rafa" Marquez, of LaBelle, Florida, passed away on October 23, 2015.

Ralf was born in Emiliano Zapata, Sain Alto, Zacatecas on October 4, 1963. He was married to Susana Reyes-Marquez on December 4, 1987.

Ralf owned his own business, Gold Spur Clearing and Grading. He was a hardworking and loving family man and will be deeply missed.

Rafael is survived by his wife, Susana; parents, Leonardo and Petra Marquez; son, Manuel Marquez; daughters, Eva and Rosa Marquez; sisters, Isabel (Meliton) Marquez-Loredo and Maria (Martin) Marquez; brothers, Juan Marquez, Leonardo (Ivette) Marquez, Jose Luis (Necole) Marquez, and Miguel Marquez. He is preceded in death by his sister Lupita Marquez and his brother Manuel Marquez.

A mass of Christian burial will be held at 11:00 am on October 29, 2015 at Mision de los Santos Martires in LaBelle, Florida. Father Luis Albarazine will be officiating. Burial will follow the funeral at Fort Denaud Cemetery.

Susana would like to thank family and friends for all the love and support they have shown in this difficult time.

Rafael "Ralf" "Rafa" Marquez de LaBelle, Florida fallecio Octubre 23, de 2015

Rafael nacio Octubre 4, 1963 en Emiliano Zapata Sain Alto, Zacatecas, Mexico. El se caso con Susana Reyes-Marquez en Deciembre 4, 1987. Fue propertorio de el negocio Gold Spur Clearing and Grading. Era un hombre trabajador y amoroso con su familia y lo extrañaremos profundamente.

Rafael es sobrevívido de su esposa Susana; padres, Leonardo y Petra Marquez; hijo Manuel Marquez; hijas, Eva y Rosa Marquez; hermanas, Isabel (Meliton) Marquez-Loredo y Maria (Martin) Marquez; hermanos, Juan Marquez, Leonardo (Ivette) Marquez, Jose Luis (Necole) Marquez, y Miguel Marquez. Fue precedido en muerte por su hermana, Lupita Marquez y su hermano, Manuel Marquez.

El funeral sera Octubre 29, 2015 en la Mision de Los Santos Martirez a las 11:00 am en LaBelle, Florida. Padre Luis Albarazine officiara la ceremonia. Seperio sera en el cementerio de Fort Denaud.

Susana agradece y quiere dar las gracias a todos su familiares y amistades que la han acompañado en su dolor. Gracias por todo su apoyo y carino.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Carl Swink Dies At 78

Carl Eugene "Wink" Swink, age 78, of LaBelle, passed away October 22, 2015 in Fort Myers.

He was born June 9, 1937 in Mount Pleasant, PA, to the late Robert and the late Helen Marie (King) Swink.

Wink was a resident of LaBelle for the past 19 years and was retired master plasterer. He was a member of the South Central Florida Car Club and enjoyed restoring 1937 Chevy coupes and convertibles. He also enjoyed bass fishing and is a former member of Bassmasters.

Survivors include his wife: Judith A. (Wiggins) Swink, son: Darrell Shane Swink, sisters: Viola Knerr and Rita Clark, Stepchildren: Novella Ricker, Denise Micheli Higgins, James Glen Weaver, Jerry Michael Weaver, Thomas Russell Weaver and Kindra Dawn Weaver; fifteen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and special nephews: Mark & Christopher Swink. He also was preceded in death by his brother, Robert Jerome Swink

A Celebration of Life will be Nov. 14, 2015, 12:00 noon at 4213 Fort Keis Ave, LaBelle. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Obituaries - Irma Thomas, Francisco Garza

Irma Jean Thomas, age 89, of Clewiston, passed away October 20, 2015 in Clewiston.

Irma was born Dec. 27, 1925 in Brantley County, GA, to the late James Elmer and the late Viola Margaret (Amons) Wildes. Irma was married to Ira Carl Thomas until he passed away on October 5, 2010. Irma was a member of First Baptist Church of Clewiston.

Irma leaves behind her two daughters; Sharon Bell and her husband Steve, Carlette Redish, two brothers; Griffith Wildes and Max Wildes, grandchildren; Chelsa Hilliard and her husband Joe, Jerome Redish, Nichole McCants and her husband Brad, Natalie Colon and her husband Juan, great grandchildren; Haden Redish, Rana Hilliard, Jack Hilliard, Ansley Redish, Grayson Redish, Mason McCants, Wildes Redish and Stella Colon.

Irma was preceded in death by her brothers and sisters; Adrea Smith, Sara Scruggs, Jimmy Wildes, Jack Wildes, and John Wildes.

Irma was a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend who will be sorely missed by all who loved and cared for her.

Celebration of Irma's Life will be held Friday, October 23, 2015 at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church Of Clewiston, with Rev. Bill Derryberry officiating. Interment will be in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation will be Thursday from 5:00-7PM at Akin-Davis Funeral Home.

Irma's family would like to extend a special thank you everyone at Hope Hospice for the wonderful care and concern you should her during her illness.

Francisco Garza, Jr., age 50, of Clewiston, passed away October 14, 2015 in Loxahatchee.

He was born Nov. 24, 1964 in Brownsville, TX, to Francisco and Bernarda (Gonzalez) Garza, Sr. Mr. Garza married San Juana Saucedo. He worked in agriculture for over 30 years. He was a life long Dallas Cowboys Football fan.

Survivors include his wife of 38 years: San Juana Garza, one son: Francisco (Rosie) Garza, III of Clewiston, FL and five daughters: Cruz (Margarito) Martinez, Melissa (Eduardo) Contreras, Jennifer Garza, Juanita (Daniel) Figueroa, Erica (Heath) Billie, one brother: Armando (Yolanda) Garza of Indiantown, FL and four sisters: Sandra Garza of Indiantown, FL, Vivian (Junior) Herrera of Indiantown, FL, Brenda (Juan) Sanchez of Indiantown, FL, Crystal (Julio) Ramos of Indiantown, FL, twelve grandchildren and 15 nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 10:00 am at Camino A La Gloria, Clewiston with Rev. Manuel Manzano officiating. Interment will be Thursday, October 22, 2015 in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation was Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Rafael Marquez Dead After Car Strike On US27

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Rafael Marquez died after being hit by a car on US 27 Friday morning at 7:09 a.m. in Glades county.

A Kia Optima driven by Sarah Ibietatorremendia, 21 of  Moore Haven, FL was traveling south in the inside lane of US 27 (State Road 25), approaching County Road 720, in Moore Haven.

Rafael Marquez, 52 of LaBelle / FL was walking west on the paved turn around on the median of US 27 and County Road 720. Marquez was flagging for crossing farm equipment and was attempting to cross the southbound lanes of US 27.

Ibietatorremendia failed to observe Marquez enter the inside lane of US 27. Subsequently, the front left side of her 2014 Kia Optima collided with Marquez.

The Kia came to stop facing southwest on the west grass shoulder of US 27, south of County Road 720. Marquez came to rest on the paved turn around median of US 27, and County Road 720. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Charges are pending said the Florida Highway Patrol.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Home Owner Associations - Not Always Without Huge Drawbacks

Survey Relays Home Owner Concerns About HOA Living

LABELLE, FL. -- Seventy-million Americans may reside in condominiums and homeowners associations, but it is not a perfect lifestyle.

One of the biggest attractions of shared-community ownership is the so-called “carefree living” aspect. Often, there are no yards to maintain, grass to cut, snow to shovel, windows to wash, decks to stain or roofs to repair. All an owner has to do is sit back, pay his or her monthly assessment, and enjoy the recreational amenities.

However, the community association lifestyle often isn’t always pretty. A new national survey by the Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest found that 95 percent of community association residents feel that “lack of transparency” and “poor communication” was at least a moderate problem, while a shocking 84 percent felt that it was a “very serious problem.” 

“Our survey, which rated the level of concern on 26 commonly reported issues, found that a broad spectrum—from voting and election procedures to power of the board to fine owners—were viewed as major problems within condo associations and HOAs by respondents,” said housing advocate Sara Benson, a CHPPI board member. 

“An overwhelming 93 percent of survey respondents felt there is at least a moderate problem within their condo or HOA’s power of the board to issue fines,” noted housing advocate Deborah Cassano Goonan, a CHPPI board member based in Florida. 

A whopping 96 percent of those who were surveyed said they believe there is at least a moderate problem in their condo or HOA with “apathy and lack of involvement.”  Eighty-eight percent of respondents said there is at least a moderate problem with “unreasonable limitations on residents’ rights in HOAs, and 86 percent said there is a moderate problem with “discrimination against owners.” 

Seventy-two percent of all respondents said they have been involved in a “significant dispute” with a condo or HOA, one that was difficult to resolve. “The president ran the HOA like Captain Bligh,” said an owner in an HOA community in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

“There’s so much wrong with the HOA concept. It’s the blind leading the blind,” said a condo owner in Fort Myers, FL. “Many HOAs are a con game, like a Ponzi scheme, devised and implemented by crafty lawyers, unqualified property managers, and inexperienced board volunteers.” 

“A huge number of HOA boards are out of control,” said an owner of single-family home in a Texas HOA. “Many HOA board members have not read or do not understand their own governing documents so they are failing to comply with them. Some board members, committee members and management companies are involved in conflict of interest situations.”

“Detailed financial records should be easily accessible to all owners in condo associations and HOAs, and the board of directors and management companies should be transparent to all owners,” said an owner in a townhouse community in Houston, TX.  

Forty-percent of those who replied to the survey said they have filed a complaint against their condo or HOA with a state agency.  Thirty percent of the respondents said they have “taken legal action” against their condo or HOA as a plaintiff.  Nearly half of all respondents said that HOAs “need to be significantly reformed.”

In 2010, a survey by the Community Association Institute found that more than half of the nation’s HOAs were facing “serious financial problems.” In 2013, Association Reserves, a California company that helps associations with budget and operational issues, noted that 72 percent of association-governed communities were underfunded, up from 59.5 percent a decade ago. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Deputy Michael Helms Overturns In Crash

SEBRING, FL. -- A Highlands county Deputy suffered serious injuries in a crash Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. while attempting to avoid a crash with a minivan.

A 2009 Chrysler minivan driven by Rae W. Cole, 72 of Sebring was traveling eastbound on Tanglewood Drive approaching a stop sign at southbound US 27 as a marked Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Patrol vehicle was traveling southbound on US 27 in the center lane. 

According to Deputy Michael J. Helms, Cole approached the stop sign at US 27 and stopped and looked left at southbound traffic and failed to observe his on-coming vehicle. 

Cole then pulled away from the stop sign, across the right lane, into the center lane of US 27, in front of the on-coming patrol car. Deputy Helms attempted to take evasive action and steered to the left. At that moment, Cole observed the on-coming patrol car and steered to the left. 

Deputy Helms then took additional evasive action and steered to the right. As a result, the patrol car began to rotate clockwise, entering into a slide.

The patrol car traveled at an angle in a southwest direction across all lanes of southbound US 27 and entered onto the grass shoulder, still in a slide at an angle. It's left front then collided into a utility pole. This impact caused the vehicle to rotate fully clockwise, lifting it off of the ground and then came down onto the driver’s side and overturned approximately 2 times and came to rest on its roof, facing east, near the wood line east of US 27.

No contact was made between the two vehicles. Cole pulled onto the east shoulder coming to rest and called 911 and attempted to render assistance to the deputy. Deputy Helms was transported to Florida Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Cole had no injuries.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tyrell Taylor Shot Dead At Zombicon In Fort Myers

One Dead, Five Others Injured By Shots Fired At Downtown Zombie Event

FORT MYERS, FL. -- The Fort Myers Police Department is investigating a shots fired incident that occurred during Saturday night's Zombicon event in Downtown Fort Myers leaving Tyrell Taylor, age 20 dead and five others injured and in the hospital.

The Saturday evening event on 1st Street at Dean St. in downtown Fort Myers, sponsored by a local arts for youth charity, was in it's ninth year, when just before midnight gunfire shots rang out causing hundreds of festival attendees to run for cover.

Five victims were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers. The identity of the deceased person has been reported as Expavious Tyrell Taylor.

Taylor was a student at Clewiston High School where he played varsity football. According to a Facebook profile he was married and living in Miami while attending college. He had previously lived in Okeechobee.

At an event that draws upwards of 20,000 people the police believe "valuable investigative information may have been captured on smart phones by those who attended" and ask anyone with information to call the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 321-7700, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS or text message C-R-I-M-E-S (274637) Keyword FMPD. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

(Photo credit: Facebook)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hot Dogs And Pumpkins At Church Fall Festival

LABELLE, FL. --  The annual Harvest Fall Festival Carnival is scheduled this year on October 25th at LaBelle's Assembly of God.

Free Hot Dogs, games, and lots of candy! Wear your favorite costume and enjoy an evening of family fun. Everyone welcome and everyone is a winner. The best games anywhere. 

The people of LaBelle Assembly labor in love each year to bring fun to the festival! Everyone Welcome,  For More information Call 675-0900, Sponsors this year T.M. Tree, D.A.V #130 and Heartland Construction. Everyone invited. Everything is FREE

Friday, October 16, 2015

Health Department And EMS Support School CPR Training

LABELLE, FL. -- Kevin Long, RN, Senior Registered Nurse-LaBelle School Health Consultant from the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County recently presented a Certificate of Recognition to Hendry County Emergency Services.

The certificate was given for the support and partnership to conduct CPR trainings at the health departments and in Hendry and Glades schools.

In addition to his school health consultant duties, Mr. Long is also an American Heart Association CPR/First Aid instructor. Mr. Long has conducted 14 CPR classes this year which resulted in 90 students being trained in CPR and First Aid. Without the support and partnership of Hendry County EMS, these classes would not have been possible.

Joe Pepe, Interim Administrator/Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades stated "Recent reports show that 12% of our citizens reported that they have had a heart attack, angina, or coronary heart disease. CPR and Compression-Only trainings are just one way our agency is helping to protect our community every day."

Immokalee Tomatoes Implicated In Chipotle Salmonella Illnesses

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Six L's Packing Company, doing business as Lipman Produce has been named as the source of tomatoes that sickened 64 Chipotle restaurant customers with Salmonella in August.

Nine were hospitalized, reports Food Safety Magazine about the alleged tomatoes from Lipman shipped to Minnesota restaurants. 

The report says "word leaked out that the Chipotle restaurant locations in Minnesota where patrons became ill in late August from Salmonella Newport were supplied with tomatoes by Six L’s Packing Co." adding the company was named as a new defendant in a previous federal lawsuit against Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

It is thought that Chipotle served 560,000 customers during the period of the illnesses and that even more people were sickened by the tomatoes in the Twin Cities area, but many infected don't seek treatment so it's believed many more were actually affected.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pond Management With Dr. Cichra

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Extension will conduct a pond management seminar to be presented by Dr. Cichra, UF/IFAS Fish Ecology and Management Specialist on November 10, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm.

Location/Registration Information:Hendry County Extension Office 1085 Pratt Blvd, LaBelle, FL 33935 863-674-4092 or 863-983-1598

The cost of the program is $10, includes meal. This program is for those who have ponds in their backyards/pasture as well as those who manage ponds. It will feature information on Species Selection, Stocking Rates, Pond Maintenance, Weed Identification & Control and Pond Water Quality. Bring a sample of your water and plants for analysis if you wish.

Deadline to Register is Wednesday, November 4th. CEU’s will be provided.

Gladys Owens Dies At 73

Gladys M Owens, age 73, of Clewiston, passed away October 12, 2015, in Clewiston.

She was born Apr. 29, 1942, in Sullivan, IN, to the late Harold Oliver and the late Nellie (Plew) Maxwell. She was a loving mother, grandmother, sister, mother-in-law that will be deeply missed by everyone who loved her.

Survivors include three sons: Thomas Owens, Jr. (Wife Lisa) of Clewiston, FL, Richard Owens (Wife Darleen) of Duluth, MN, Robert Owens (Wife Karen) of Maryville, TN and one daughter: Nancy Jones (Husband Russel) of Tampa, FL three sisters: Peggy Coe (Husband William) of San Antonio, TX, Nancy Stonefield of Belmont, NC, Mildred Smith of Las Vegas, NV, and eleven grandchildren.

Gladys was preceded in death by her parents, and one sister; Martha Jenkins.

Celebration of Gladys' life will be held Friday, October 16, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in Akin-Davis Funeral Home – Clewiston with. Visitation will be one hour before also at the funeral home. Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

$7 Million Road Under Construction In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- The ground breaking for the new Helms Road Extension from SR 29 to SR 80 took place Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m.  On hand were Hendry county and city of LaBelle officials, department of transportation and county engineer staff and dozens of others involved in the planning and design of the new two-lane roadway expected which should be completed by 2017. 

The $7 million initial phase of construction is for a new two lane roadway with accommodations made for an ultimate four lane divided facility. The road will allow travelers to bypass downtown LaBelle when traveling to and from SR29 and SR80. The project will encompass approximately 2.67 miles of new roadway along with intersection improvements at SR 29 and SR 80. 

The road will open up former citrus grove and pasture land to possible development as well give entry to one of LaBelle's first speculative subdivisions, hundreds of small lots which have been land locked for many decades. The parcel contains very small lots which could not actually be built upon because there has been no road access to the subdivision. 

The new roadway ends west of the Walmart store now under construction west of LaBelle and exits directly across from Grandma's Grove RV Park.

Construction of the Helms Road Extension project is being funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by the Summer of 2017, with the help of Johnson Engineering, Inc. and Mitchell & Stark Construction Co., Inc. Land clearing is now taking place along the nearly 3 mile long strip of land south of SR80.

Sheriff's Office Granted Accreditation Again

LABELLE, FL. -- Sheriff Steve Whidden annouced today that the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office has been unanimously granted Reaccreditation status by the Commission of Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation during its meeting in Westin, Florida, on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

“Receiving accreditation is an honor which is earned. It is not just given, nor should it be”, said Sheriff Steve Whidden. “Accreditation is one of the primary ways to ensure professionalism and therefore the integrity of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office. Each member of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office contributes each day to this high honor. I commend and thank all of them for their hard work and dedication.”

Hendry County Sheriff’s Office received its initial Law Enforcement Accreditation on September 27, 2012. The current accreditation cycle is for a period of three years.

The benefit of accreditation is three pronged – the Community, Agency Deputies and the Sheriff.

For the Officer, it sets the foundation for policies, guidelines, procedures and training. It requires that those policies and procedures are available and accessible to all employees, at all times. It ensures safety and training and assures employees that the system is fair and equitable. It addresses officer safety issues and provides for adequate training and equipment for the officers.

For the Community, the accreditation process benefits them by ensuring that they (you) receive professional service from Sheriff’s Office personnel. Because of the policies and procedures set forth by the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, the public is directly affected. Accreditation, combined with the philosophy of community policing, work together to control and prevent crime.

For the Sheriff, Accreditation increases operation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and branches of the criminal justice system. It ensures that we are doing what we can to reduce agency exposure to liability and provides for accountability.

Scam Alert - Utility Company Warns Of Fake Employee Calls

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- October 14, 2015: Glades Electric Cooperative Members are increasingly the target of scammers attempting to fraudulently collect money by posing as utility employees.

During the past several months GEC has received calls from concerned members verifying the status of their account stating they received telephone calls from a person claiming to be a cooperative employee. The caller demands a payment to keep the member from having their electric service disconnected.

In some cases the member is instructed to provide a credit card payment immediately over the phone. At other times the member is told to purchase a pre-paid credit card and call another number to submit their payment.

Telephone numbers appearing on member’s caller ID shows a valid GEC telephone number, however, this is another trick of the scammers as the call did not generate from our office. GEC employees do not make phone calls to collect a payment.

Members are encouraged to call GEC directly to verify the status of their account and to report any suspicious activity to their local law enforcement agency.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Donald Mulligan Found Dead At Home - Roommate Is Suspect

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Donald Mulligan was found dead at his home outside of Clewiston yesterday according to the Hendry County Sheriff's Office. Rodney Cotton has been charged with the death.

On Monday, October 12, 2015, Hendry County Sheriffs Deputies received a report of a possible homicide at 902 North Gratton Road, in Clewiston.

Deputies went to the home to check on the resident, Donald William Mulligan. When they arrived they were unable to make contact with him. Based on the preliminary investigation and the information they received from the reporter of the incident, Hendry County Investigators were notified and responded.

Hendry County Investigators obtained a search warrant for the home, located at 902 North Gratton Road. During the service of the search warrant victim, Donald W. Mulligan was found deceased. Hendry County Crime Scene and FDLE Crime Scene Technicians processed the scene.

Hendry County Investigators interviewed Rodney Cotton, who lived in the home and suspect in the homicide. At the time of the interview Cotton was being held in the Hendry County Jail from an arrest made on, Sunday, October 11, 2015 on charges of Driving While License Suspended and Possession of Controlled Substance without a Prescription.

At this time 46 year old Rodney Cotton is charged with 2nd Degree Murder based on his confession and is being held in the Hendry County Jail without bond.

Obituaries - Conley, Holt, Dana

Nina N. Conley, age 65, of Clewiston, passed away October 10, 2015 in Clewiston. She was born May 12, 1950 in Athens, TN, to the late Clay Aaron and Barbara Josephine (Eaton) Duckett.

Nina was a member of the Lake Harbor United Methodist Church and was also a longtime resident of Clewiston. Nina spent many years working in administration at Southern Bell, US Sugar Corp and also at the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce.

She is survived by her loving husband: William C. Conley, two daughters: Michele Conley, Alison Stenstrom, mother: Barbara Josephine (Eaton) Duckett and grandchildren: Brianna Stenstrom and Brennan Stenstrom.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 10:00 am at First United Methodist Church, Clewiston with Rev. Rod Ruby officiating.

Memorial donations may be made to Lake Harbor United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 37, Lake Harbor, FL 33459.

JoAnne L. Holt, age 82, of LaBelle, passed away October 10, 2015 in LaBelle. She was born March 20, 1933 in Washington, DC, to the late William F. Terry, II and the late Jane Terry.

She is survived her husband: Franklin Holt, two sons: Michael Holt (Karen), Steven R. Holt, daughter: Cathy Wolfe (Howard), brothers: William F. Terry, III, George Terry, sister: Donna Forshey, six grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren.

A graveside service will be held Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 11:00 am at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle with Pastor Preston Long officiating.

Frank "Jay" Dana, Sr., age 74, of LaBelle, passed away October 11, 2015 in Lehigh Acres. He was born March 6, 1941 in Miami, Florida, to the late Roy J. and the late June "Rose" (Parsons) Dana.

A lifelong native of LaBelle, Florida. A rancher, husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

He is survived by his loving wife: Heidi (Hart) Dana, brother: Rookie (late Marion) Dana, sister: Frances (Skeeter) Colding, son: Frank (Cindy) Dana, daughter: Susan (Jason) Shiveler, step-son: Josey Scannell, grandchildren: Danielle (J.L.) Wright, Frank Robert Dana, Joe (Lauren) Thompson, Robert, Lauren, Addyson, great grandchildren: Chancey Jae Wright, Kaylee Jade Dana, and Ruger Joseph Thompson.

Funeral services will be held at Cowboy Church Ministries, LaBelle at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 with Frank Dana officiating. Visitation will be 30 minutes prior to service. Interment will be in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Red-Headed Cockaded Woodpeckers Moved To Management Area

CLEWISTON, FL — In an effort to boost diversity among South Florida’s wildlife, biologists on Thursday released 8 red-cockaded woodpeckers at the DuPuis Management Area as part of a partnership between the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to expand the population of these endangered birds.

Federally endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers and the nests they construct play a vital role in the web of life in southern pine forests. They are considered a “keystone” species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) because the cavities they peck into pine trees are used by a variety of other animals, contributing to the richness of species in the pine forest.

According to the USFWS, at least 27 species such as insects, birds, snakes, lizards, squirrels and frogs have been documented using woodpecker cavities.

Biologists obtained the birds in Citrus County from the Citrus Wildlife Management Area, which contains a large population of red-cockaded woodpeckers. The woodpeckers were carefully transported to South Florida by truck in special boxes and fed mealworms every hour.

Prior to the birds’ arrival, District staff prepared new woodpecker homes in the DuPuis Management Area, a 22,000-acre natural area located on the border of Palm Beach and Martin counties. The property is open to public recreation throughout the year. DuPuis was part of the historic Everglades and features an ecologically diverse and significant vegetative community, along with abundant wildlife.

DuPuis once supported a red-cockaded woodpecker population, but the birds disappeared many years ago because of changes to their habitat. District staff has worked to improve the woodpecker habitat so that the area can now support a sustainable population. Efforts included prescribed burning, vegetation control and the installation of artificial cavity inserts in slash pine trees.

Each fall since 2006, the SFWMD and the FWC have released about 10 birds, typically 5 males and 5 females, in wild areas such as DuPuis and the nearby J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area. Presently, there are 20 to 30 birds in the DuPuis population.

Obituaries - Marlin Hester, William McQueen

Marlin R. "Ronnie" "Buford" Hester, age 61, of LaBelle, passed away October 9, 2015 in Lehigh Acres.

He was born Jan. 24, 1954 in Clewiston, FL, to the late Marlin C and the late Irene (Carter) Hester. He worked for many years as an electrician for the Hendry County Maintenance Department. He was attending Christ Central Church.

Survivors include two daughters: Marti Lynn Hester, Bonnie Lee, three brothers: James Robert Hester, Don Richard Hester (Shelly), Robie Dewayne Hester (Cookie) and two sisters: Connie Weaver, Rita Long (Carl) and two granddaughters.

A celebration of his life was held Monday, October 12, 2015 at 10:00 am at Christ Central, LaBelle with Pastor Mitchell Wills officiating. Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

William Douglas McQueen, age 71, of LaBelle, passed away Oct. 10, 2015 in Lehigh Acres.

He was born Oct. 15, 1943 in Beckley, WV, to the late William D. Griffith and the late Shirley Nadine (Grose) Griffith McQueen. He was a resident of LaBelle since 1976 and worked for 43 years for Florida Power & Light.

He is survived by his wife: Dorothy Ann (Wolff) McQueen, sons: William D. McQueen, Jr., Scott Christopher McQueen, sisters: Sandra Reigh Griffith O'Brien, Cheryl Leigh McQueen (Robbie) Yeomans, stepmother: Patricia Griffith (Gil) Gregory and aunts, cousins, friends and coworkers. He was preceded in death by his son, Dennis Lee McQueen and stepfather: Howard L. McQueen.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, 1:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church of LaBelle with Pastor Preston Long officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of William to Florida Tri County Challenged Athletes Assoc., Hope Hospice and First Baptist Church of LaBelle-Building Fund. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Randall Leaver Drives Through Funnel Cloud

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. --- Randall Leaver, 56 of Wesley Chapel, Fl. got a unexpected ride in a possible tornado Sunday morning while driving a U.S. Postal Service truck over the Skyway Bridge south of St. Petersburg.

Leaver, in a U.S. Postal contractor semi truck was headed northbound about 9:42 a.m. Sunday in the right lane on I-275 in Manatee county at approximately the 7.5 mile marker when a funnel cloud approached the roadway from the west to the east, crossing the roadway.

The semi truck was lifted and turned onto its right side. Then the truck was then picked up a second time and placed upright. Leaver remained inside the vehicle for the duration of the event, sustaining no injury. At the same time a nearby construction site was damaged, a small boat was overturned and multiple signs were knocked over. There were no reported injuries.

Ramiro Gaona Arrested For Manslaughter After Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- Ramiro Gaona, 19 of LaBelle was arrested at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday on charges of DUI, DUI Property Damage, DUI Manslaughter, and Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

He is alleged to be responsible for the death of passenger Jose Gaona in a crash on February 22. The driver and passenger had been under the influence of alcohol said the FHP crash report.

Ramiro Gaoma was traveling east on the single eastbound lane of Helms Road, a two-lane rural roadway posted for 45 miles per hour when his vehicle reached a slight left bend in the roadway adjacent to the intersection of Camel Drive.

He failed to negotiate the left curve, causing the right side of the vehicle to enter the grass shoulder to the south when he over corrected toward the left causing the vehicle to cross the center lane divider and enter the grass shoulder to the north.

Then he over corrected toward the right, causing the vehicle to begin rotating clockwise and to overturned on the north shoulder, ejecting Jose Gaona Jr., 26 of LaBelle.

The vehicle rolled one and a half times and arrived at final rest on its roof, facing southwest on the north shoulder.  EMS attempted to transport passenger Jose Gaona to Lee Memorial Hospital, however he passed away en route.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Obituaries - Dominic Cappola, Catherine Rich

Dominic G. Cappola, age 82, of LaBelle, passed away October 6, 2015 in Fort Myers. He was born October 30, 1932 in New Haven, CT, to the late George E and the late Philomena (Copela) Cappola.

He is survived by his wife: Joan B. (Daddio) Cappola, two sons: George E Cappola, Richard D Cappola and brother: Peter Cappola.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Catherine Louise Rich, age 65, of Brunswick, Georgia passed away October 7, 2015 in Brunswick, Georgia.

Catherine was born in Key West, Florida on October 18, 1949 to William Francis and Eileen Ruth White Chaplin. She married Cook Lemuel "Larry" Rich in 1967, who preceded her in death on October 1, 2003.

Catherine leaves behind her children; Sophia Kelley of Hortense, Georgia, Larry Rich, Lorine Johnston and Judy Lopez-Reyes all of Brunswick, Georgia and her sister; Betsy Daniels of LaBelle, Florida and her brother; John Chaplin of Port Charlotte, Florida, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

A celebration of Catherine's life will be held at 10:30 A.M. on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 in Ortona Cemetery - Ortona, Florida. Her final resting will be next to her husband.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Helms Road Extension Shortcut To New Walmart

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County invites the public to the job site for the ground breaking of the new Helms Road Extension from SR 29 to SR 80. The almost 3 mile roadway will take motorists on a short cut from State Road 29 to the new Walmart which is now under construction on State Road 80 west of LaBelle.

The road is now a private dirt road. The new road will eliminate traveling a few miles northward and then through downtown LaBelle and then westward on SR80. Although there are only four traffic lights in LaBelle, the short cut will eliminate travel through all four.

The initial phase of construction is for a new two lane roadway with accommodations made for an ultimate four (4) lane divided facility. The project will encompass approximately 2.67 miles of new roadway along with intersections improvements at SR 29 and SR 80.

Construction of the Helms Road Extension project is being funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by the Summer of 2017, with the help of Johnson Engineering, Inc. and Mitchell & Stark Construction Co., Inc.

Obituaries - Parker, Howard, Wilson

William H. Parker, age 88, of LaBelle, passed away October 2, 2015 in LaBelle. He was born January 20, 1927 in Jacksonville, FL, to the late Claude Ray and the late Ruth Melinda (Posey) Parker. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

He is survived by his son: Larry Lester Parker of Cutler Bay, FL and daughter: Margaret Ann Morris (Donald) of Lehigh Acres, FL. He was preceded in death by his wife Margaret Parker.

Albert Lynn Howard, age 56, of LaBelle, passed away October 5, 2015 in Fort Myers.

He was born Jan. 9, 1959 in Fort Myers, FL, to Wayne Howard and the late Carolyn Gertrude (Collins) Howard. He was a lifelong resident of LaBelle and served as a law enforcement officer for 31 years.

Survivors include his wife: Louise Howard, daughters: Susie Howard, Sherry Howard-Richard (Tommy) and Jamie Howard, father: Wayne Howard, brother: Link Clay "Shorty" (Robin) Howard of LaBelle and Grandchildren: RayAnna and Hunter. He was also preceded in death by his brother: Darrell Howard.

A Graveside Funeral Services will be held Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 10:00 at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle with W.T. Maddox officiating. Visitation will be Monday from 6-8 p.m. at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle.

Edward "Bunk" Wilson, age 89, of LaBelle, passed away October 7, 2015 in LaBelle. He was born June 7, 1926 in LaBelle, to the late Joseph Samuel and the late Mattie Pearl (Davidson) Wilson. He served during World War II in the Navy.

He is survived by his daughter: Rennie Lietz; son: Michael Stanley Wilson; brothers, Buster Wilson and Jay Wilson. He was preceded in death by his son, Ronnie and sister, Maxie.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 10:00 am at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Thrifty Halloween Costumes At Kiwanis

LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Kiwanis Thrift Store invites all to browse their selection of Halloween costumes this month. At South Bridge Street in LaBelle.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Steven Emory Dies After Transport Accident On I-75

NAPLES, FL. -- Steven Emory died as a result of an accident on an I-75 entrance ramp in Collier county, Florida Wednesday afternoon.

At approximately 3:48 PM, three truck tractors were hauling three different 170 foot, 94-ton concrete beams. The rear of the beams were supported on dollies for the oversized loads. 

The trucks were entering I-75 from SR-29 (80-mm) heading eastbound. Due to the length of the load the rear dollies had to be unpinned so they could be steered down the entrance ramp by remote controls that steer the hydraulic rear dollies. 

As the trucks proceeded slowly down the ramp and a worker, Steven Ronald Emery, 43 of Clermont, Fl. walked along the rear dolly steering it until the beam was straight in alignment with the tractor. In doing so, Emery, steering the rear dolly of the lead truck and for an unknown reason fell underneath the dolly wheels.

Emory was transported to Physician's Regional Hospital.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Larry Hill Dies At 66

Larry Jefferson Hill, age 66, of LaBelle, passed away October 3, 2015 in Lehigh Acres.

He was born Aug. 4, 1949 in Fort Myers, FL, to the late Louis Jefferson and the late Leverne (Taylor) Hill. He married Sylvia Joyce Thomas March 10, 1969.

Survivors include his wife: Sylvia J. Hill, children: Gerald (Susan) Herndon, Darrell Herndon, Robert Cockram; Richard Cockram, Joyce (Bradley) Goode, Janet Hill and Michael Herndon, twenty-three grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. He also was preceded in death by his brother, Gary Hill and sister, Shirley Marie Burns.

A memorial services will be held Saturday, Oct 10, 2015, 11:00 am, Lighthouse Sanctuary, Alva with Pastor Norman Walker officiating. The family would like to thank Hope Healthcare Services in Lehigh Acres for the excellent care given to Larry.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home

T-Mobile Fraud Alert For 15 Million Customers

Credit Company Records Breached For T-Mobile Customers

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is warning current and former T-Mobile subscribers to be on alert as personal information may have been compromised in a recent breach of an Experian server. Attorney General Bondi is also providing tips to consumers to help guard against financial crimes related to identify theft.

T-Mobile used Experian to run credit checks on applicants for T-Mobile's services. 

The compromised Experian server contained information from credit applications for T-Mobile services from Sept. 1, 2013 – Sept. 16, 2015. The server stored approximately 15 million records, including 1.2 million Floridians’ records. 

Personal information compromised includes: name, address, date of birth, identification number, Social Security number and additional information used in T-Mobile's own credit assessment. At this time, Experian believes no payment card or banking information is involved in the breach.

To guard against identity theft, consumers can follow these tips:

Monitor credit and banking activity to identify any potential unauthorized transactions. If such transactions are found, contact your financial institution immediately;
Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on a credit report. A credit freeze locks down a person's credit report so credit may not be issued until the freeze is lifted. A fraud alert requires creditors to take steps to verify a person's identity before issuing credit in his or her name. 

Service members on active duty may place an active duty alert on their credit, requiring creditors to take steps to verify the service member's identity before issuing credit. 

Call one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert, active duty alert or credit freeze on a credit report or to check a credit report:
-- Equifax: 1 (800) 525-6285
-- Experian: 1 (888) 397-3742
-- Transunion: 1 (800) 680-7289
Keep all receipts to cross-reference credit and banking statements; and Call local law enforcement if suspicious of identity theft.

Brian Jones, Altair Military Training Facility Under Foreclosure

LABELLE, FL. -- Altair Training Solutions, Inc., Blue Spoon LLC and Brian Jones are being sued in Hendry Circuit Court for alleged failure to make payments under a $4,375,000 credit line and promissory note for the purchase and operation of a one-year old military and law enforcement training facility in southern Hendry County, Fl.

South Florida Ops LLC along with Robert White and R. Laken Mitchell filed the foreclosure suit September 24 alleging default on payments due. Also joined as defendants are Bryant Construction and Roofing and Guardian Fueling Technologies, both having possible claims against Altair.

In what some observers says was a dubious transaction when the state of Florida in 2014 sold the former Hendry Correctional Institution, a prison in south Hendry county. to Blue Spoon LLC a company owed by Brian Wilson Jones and Michelle A. Jones.

The Jones' had a a two-year old company called Altair Training Solutions, Inc and the $30 million purchase of 1,100 acres and an airfield was planned to expand the firms tactical training operations, according to Brian Jones.

Brian Jones, a 21-year Army veteran Sergeant Major radio/electronics repairman chief with what he claims as Ranger and Delta Force experience in describing Altair said last year "I realized the need for a world class facility that offers land, sea and air capabilities."

Jones at the time, filed papers with the state indicating plans to employ 200 people at the facility. A year ago, Hendry County gave Altair a property tax waiver deal for the promise to create 144 jobs with an average salary of $62,152. That's almost three times the average Hendry worker's paycheck. 

Michelle Jones, wife, Executive Vice President and co-owner was a guest speaker at a recent Kiwanis Club of LaBelle meeting and claimed they have created at least 35 new jobs.

She is a decorated combat veteran, who served 13.5 years in the Army as a logistician and planner.

She said Altair provides tactical training that include weapons, tactics, evasive driving, medical, water operations, and airborne operations for military, law enforcement and other response agencies.

This week Brian Jones reportedly claimed he now has 25 employees. 

Jones said of his Altair training facility, "ALTAIR was created to provide training solutions for government (military) specialized teams. The extensive training area consists of the 25-acre ALTAIR Deep Lake Training Complex, which used to be the Old Copeland Prison, deep in the Florida Everglades. It includes multiple shooting ranges, helicopter landing capabilities, obstacle courses, and various other specialized training solutions; The 22,000 acre ALTAIR airfield, the 10,000 Islands used for marine operations..."

Brian Wilson Jones military history has created some controversy as online blogs claim he has exaggerated his Army experiences and combat deployments. says "He claims medals that aren't in his file, wounds that aren’t supported by the award of any Purple Hearts, and, of course, PTSD which justifies his service dog business." says his claimed deployments to Panama, Somalia, Columbia, and Iraq are not correct according to records including his DD-214 obtained under FOIA about Jones.

(photo courtesy

Jeff Pultorak Dies After Motorcycle Crash

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Jeffrey Chester Pultorak, 63 of Fort Myers has died as a result of a motorcycle crash with pedestrians on October 2.

James Franklin Roberts, 47 of Bonita Springs, FL and Candace Lynn McHale, 45of  Fort Myers were walking west across the northbound lanes of US 41 just south of CR-850 (Corkscrew Road) on Friday night about 8:15 p.m.

Pultorak, on a 2002 Harley Davidson motorcycle, was traveling northbound in the center lane just south of CR-850. The two pedestrians walked into the path of the motorcycle causing the front of the cycle to strike them.

As a result, Pulotrak was ejected from the motorcycle and came to a final rest on the center lane of US-41 just South of CR-850. He was not wearing a helmet according to the FHP and was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital.

The crash is being investigated by the FHP and charges are pending.

Monday, October 05, 2015

John Mark Rambarran Funeral Service Tuesday

LABELLE, FL. -- The funeral service for John Mark Rambarran will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, 560 E. Hickpochee Ave., LaBelle, Florida. 

Visitation at 4 p.m. John Rambarran was born in 1989. 

El Faro Dead Crewmember, Life Boat Found Near Bahamas

MIAMI – Coast Guard crews continue searching for possible survivors from the huge cargo ship El Faro Monday, which is believed to have sunk during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 crew aboard. A heavily damaged life boat has been recovered and a deceased person found.

(Video: U.S. Coast Guard Ship investigates El Faro life boat)

A heavily damaged life boat with markings consistent with those on board the El Faro was located, said officials from the Coast Guard. Additional items located include a partially submerged life raft, life jackets, life rings, cargo containers and an oil sheen were located by Coast Guard aircrews within a 225 square nautical mile search area.

While searching in the vicinity of the ship's last known position 35 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Islands, Bahamas, the Coast Guard located a deceased person in a survival suit in the water.

The 737 foot U.S. flagged ship was bound from Jacksonville, Fl. to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and last heard from on October 1 at 7:30 a.m. from an Inmarsat satellite notification stating the El Faro was beset by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list.

The crew reported the ship had previously taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained. Hurricane Joaquin ravaged the Caribbean with high winds and seas after rapidly gaining strength from a Tropical storm. Aboard were 28 U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals.

Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico issued the following statement regarding ongoing efforts to locate and communicate with the El Faro and her crew.

“At this point in time, the entire TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico family is distressed that it now appears the El Faro sank at or near its last known position on Thursday October 1, 2015. We continue to hold out hope for survivors. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family members and we will continue to do all we can to support them," Nolan said.

The blue hulled El Faro with white superstructure was built in 1975 and previously named the Northern Lights when it was acquired by owner Tote Maritime, Inc, of Jacksonville.

In 2003 Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom brought with it a request from the United States Military Sealift Command to charter the S.S. Northern Lights to ship Marine Corps rolling stock, assist with the return of war equipment to the United States, and carry materials for rebuilding Iraq according to Tote promotional materials.

The El Faro was reported as carrying hazardous cargo. An automatic position reporting radio transmission was received at 4 a.m. showing it's position east of Cat Island in the Bahamas moving at 19 knots traveling in a southeastern direction.

Multiple Coast Guard crews continue to search for survivors from the El Faro. Assets involved in the search include:

Two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida
Two Navy P-8 fixed wing airplanes
One Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida
Coast Guard Cutter Northland, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia
Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida
Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton, a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in Key West, Florida.
Three commercial tugboats

UPDATE October 7, 2015: As the Coast Guard announces it's closing of rescue activities the ship crew list was provided.
Crew of the SS El Faro as provided by TOTE Maritime:
Louis ChampaPalm Coast, Florida
Roosevelt ClarkJacksonville, Florida
Sylvester Crawford Jr.Lawrenceville, Georgia
Michael DavidsonWindham, Maine
Brookie DavisJacksonville, Florida
Keith GriffinFort Myers, Florida
Frank HammJacksonville, Florida
Joe HargroveOrange Park, Florida
Carey HatchJacksonville, Florida
Michael HollandNorth Wilton, Maine
Jack JacksonJacksonville, Florida
Jackie Jones, Jr.Jacksonville, Florida
Lonnie JordanJacksonville, Florida
Piotr KrausePoland
Mitchell KuflikBrooklyn, New York
Roan LightfootJacksonville Beach, Florida
Jeffrey MathiasKingston, Massachusetts
Dylan MeklinRockland, Maine
Marcin NitaPoland
Jan PodgorskiPoland
James PorterJacksonville, Florida
Richard PusatereVirginia Beach, Virginia
Theodore QuammieJacksonville, Florida
Danielle RandolphRockland, Massachusetts
Jeremie RiehmCamden, Delaware
Lashawn RiveraJacksonville, Florida
Howard SchoenlyCape Coral, Florida
Steven ShultzRoan Mountain, Tennessee
German Solar-CortesOrlando, Florida
Anthony ThomasJacksonville, Florida
Andrzej TruszkowskiPoland
Mariette WrightSt. Augustine, Florida
Rafal ZdobychPoland

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Tribeca Shortlist - $4.99 Monthly For Best Of Best Video

A new premium subscription video on demand service, Tribeca Shortlist, created by Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises, launched this week with a mission to bring movie lovers a high-quality collection of hand-picked films recommended by popular actors, directors, insiders and influencers who know and love movies.

Tribeca Shortlist offers a select collection of approximately 150+ critically acclaimed titles that are hand-picked by industry experts covering all genres – current highlights include a roster of award-winning films, indie gems, foreign film favorites and legendary classics such as Crash, City of God, Chasing Amy, Adventureland, Dinosaur 13, Amelie, and The Producers – available via streaming to the Web and mobile devices.

With more than a third of the titles refreshed on a monthly basis, approximately 50 titles turn over each month. Tribeca Shortlist’s library features a mix of films from partners Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises as well as from major studios and independents with more partners coming soon.

The Shortlisters featured in October include voices from both behind and in front of the camera, including multi-faceted performer and award winning actor John Leguizamo (To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar, Ice Age films), actor and director Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, And the Band Played On), documentary filmmaker and producer Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold), actress Yaya DaCosta (The Kids Are All Right, TRON: Legacy), Tribeca’s Geoff Gilmore, producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity,Whiplash), fitness expert Bob Harper (The Biggest Loser) and actress and co-founder of Maker Studio, Lisa Donovan.

At launch, Tribeca Shortlist will be available at an introductory price of $4.99 a month until the end of the year. The regular monthly cost will be $5.99 starting in 2016. Sign up to the service also includes a 14-day free trial. Tribeca Shortlist contains no advertising and can be accessed via the Web at or downloaded via the App Store for iPad at launch, with the most popular mobile and in-home streaming devices to be added in the coming weeks.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Book Everyone Should Read But Won't

Ways Your Mind Can Help You Become A Saint

It's been a long year for me. Starting to read Peter Kreeft's 366-page book in January, I figured I'd be done in a week or so.

But not until October did I finally finish Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas published by Ignatius Press.

It wasn't from lack of interest or boring reading.

Kreeft's "350+ ways your mind can help you become a saint" tag made me think maybe this is a real shortcut to spiritual understanding and even living happily ever after.

A shortcut, no. But spiritual understanding, and living happily "ever after." Maybe a yes.

St. Thomas, a Dominican friar and Catholic priest who died over 740 years ago, is considered the Catholic Church's greatest theologian and philosopher.

Thomas, born in Italy, studied in Rome, taught there and became Papal theologian, later writing his most famous work, the Summa theologiae, which he conceived of as a work suited to beginning religion students.

Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, and bestselling author has made a masterful analysis of Thomas's classic work, which for me became a sort of study guide. For folks like me with a modest understanding of spirituality, religion, ethic, and philosophy, I was able to daily make my way through some heavy ready with some ease and lots of heavy thinking.

Broken into 358 short (usually one page) summaries of theological topics, it turned out a quick understanding was not to be the rule. After a week, I realized I could take one topic a day, digest and think, and move ahead slowly but steadily towards the end.

I reached the end of the book. But, now I realize it's only the beginning. Highly recommended to all seeking a better and fuller understanding of Christian theology.

Practical Theology by Peter Kreeft, published by Ignatius Press, San Francisco in paperback and e-book..

John Rambarran Dies In Motorcycle Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- Motorcyclist John Rambarran is dead after a crash into an automobile Thursday afternoon in LaBelle, Fl.

Adrian Rivera, 17 of  LaBelle, Florida was traveling west on the single westbound lane of County Road 80A (West Cowboy Way), in LaBelle, Florida about 5:30 p.m. Thursday. As he approached the intersection of Lillian Street, his 2009 Ford Fusion steered left and was brought to a controlled stop within the center turn lane.

Rivera reportedly paused for a few moments then accelerated through a left turn, violating the right-of-way of John Mark Rambarran, 26 of LaBelle, Florida on a 2001 Honda CBR900 motorcycle , which had been traveling east in the single eastbound lane of County Road 80A.

Rambarran braked but had insufficient distance to stop. The front center portion of of the motorcycle collided into the right front fender of the Ford. Rambarran was propelled into the right side of the Ford then fell to the roadway, coming to final rest within the intersection.

Rivera brought the Ford to a controlled stop on the west edge of Lillian Street, south of the intersection. Neither he nor passenger Peter Herdsman, 17 of LaBelle were injured.

Charges are pending investigation said the FHP.

The Florida Highway Patrol requests that witnesses or anybody having information regarding this crash contact either Corporal Jeff Rongish at 239-344-1730 or CRIME-STOPPERS to remain anonymous.

Rambarran worked in LaBelle at his father's tire store on Bridge Street. Hundreds of people have left memorials in front of the store which will be closed temporarily.