Sunday, January 31, 2016

Obituary - Nathaniel White

Nathaniel "Nate" Gray White, age 19, of Felda, passed away January 25, 2016 in Felda. He was born April 12, 1996 in Springfield, IL, to the late Matthew A. White and Lori C. (Jones) White.

He is survived by his mother: Lori C. (Jones) White; brother: Valda "Val" E. White; grandfather, Carroll Jones; grandmother, Sheron Jones; great grandfather, George Gray; uncle, Brett Jones (Robin); uncle, Randy M. White, Sr. (Nancy); uncle, Steve White (Mary); aunt, Debbie Galbreath; aunt, Shannon Parker (Doug); aunt, Patty Murphy Tramell (David) and many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Matthew A. White.

A gathering of family and friends was Friday from 2-4 p.m at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Wings - Bill Neville

Commentary by T.W. Bill Neville

With my deceased wife of 65 years 85th birthday coming up on Monday, February 1, I'm still not sure how I find myself in uncharted waters. Some might translate my philosophical mutterings, as being, "Up the creek without a paddle," and they would be parenthetically correct. So be it, but if she were alive, she wouldn't be making a big fuss over it. How else, do you think she put up with me for over 65 years. If it had to depend on either one of us counting the years as anything other than just a continuing authentication of our "LOVE" for each "OTHER" and our wonderful "FAMILIES", it probably could have ended when we learned to count to "twenty", just to make sure we still had "all" of our toes.

You might, with due cause, ask how this simplistic acceptance of something so demanding as being married and becoming parents could take place, I remember when we were blessed with an incredible way to look at God, such as: "When God solves our problems, we have faith in "HIS" abilities." and "When God doesn't solve our problems, HE has faith in our abilities." As simple and straight forward, and common sense as these 2 sentences are, they provided the "key" to our successful, marriage's longevity.

The success of this short, "pivotal" prayer in our life also resonated with the "timing" of it's arrival in our lives and marriage. We had 3 of our, to be, 5 sons, with # 4 on the way, when I was informed that my job was being eliminated in 3 months, and I had no short term prospects to be found, in our home town.

That's where the timing on this "prayer" came in, as it not only "woke" me UP, but it gave us the confidence to put our faith in GOD and move the family away from next door to her family, 550 miles away, to a job, with no experience in the available job, and "NO" net under the "HIGH WIRE."

In short, we trusted our lives to God, and broke out of the "shackles" of mediocrity. "ALL" as a result of the "prayer" and the confidence that it instilled in our hearts and minds. It is based on this "life" changing experience that I know that, "If God puts you into the situation, believing in him will get you through it" The "tricky" part this time will be "doing" it alone, since "SHE" was the "force" beneath my "WINGS!"

Mickey Acree Dies At 74

Mickey Keith Acree, age 74, of Perry, FL passed away January 27, 2016 in Moore Haven. He was born September 6, 1941, in Pahokee, FL, to the late William H Acree, Sr. and the late Amelia Doris (Padgett) Acree. He faithfully attended the Palmdale Baptist Church in Palmdale, FL and Athena Missionary Baptist Church in Perry, FL.

Mickey received his United States Army draft notice on November 22, 1963, serving actively from December 12, 1963, to December 10, 1965, and then in the reserves through December 11, 1969. He proudly served with the men of the 123rd Transportation Company APO SF 96321 USARV as supply handler/radio operator, rank of SP E4(T), decorations of Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Sharpshooter (rifle). He is a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Upon returning home to Belle Glade, FL, on March 13, 1966, he became business partners with W.H. Acree, Jr. and Rudolph Hooks, Sr. as a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee, as owner/supervisor serving the Lake Okeechobee area. The second generation business partners are nieces, Doris Acree Lewis and Lisa Acree Barton.

He is survived by his loving wife of 49 ½ years, Nina Dale Powell Acree; daughter Kara Acree Cline (Earl); son Mickey K. Acree, Jr. (Melanie); sister; Judy Acree Arthur, and preciously loved nine grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and so blessed by many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, W.H. Acree, Jr. (Florence), Donald G. Acree (Maryann) and sisters, Peggy Acree French (Terry) and Nanette Acree Warren (Willis).

Funeral services was held Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 3:00 pm at Maple Grove Baptist Church, 12777 E SR 78 NW, Moore Haven, FL 33471 with Pastor Earl Cline and Pastor David McMullen officiating. Visitation was one hour prior to the service.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle

Saturday, January 30, 2016

William Rivera Dies In Crash With Bus

LABELLE, FL. -- William Rivera died at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning in a crash with a bus in southern Hendry county a half mile north of the Collier county line.

A 2006 Toyota Sienna driven by William R. Cruz Rivera, 22, of Felda was southbound on SR 29. An International bus driven by Rufino Guzman Ortiz, 52 of Immokalee was northbound on SR 29.

For unknown reason, Rivera crossed the center line into the northbound lane. Ortiz attempted to avoid a collision by steering to the right. The front left of the Toyota collided with the front left of the bus.

Due to the collision, the Toyota rotated counter clockwise and came to final rest facing north in the roadway. The bus continued in a northwesterly direction across the southbound lane and into the ditch and continued through the ditch and collided with a barbed wire fence and metal gate.

The bus came to final rest facing northwest in a cow pasture on the west side of the road. There were 35 passengers in the bus ranging in age from 19 to 61 and all were from Immokalee.

There were no injuries on the bus, said the FHP.

Sierra Stough Dies In Early Morning I-75 Crash

Sierra Lynn Stough, 29 of Fort Myers is dead after a crash on I-75 Saturday morning at 1:10 a.m.

Stough was northbound on the entrance ramp from westbound Alico Road to northbound Interstate 75. Her 2012 Ford Fusion ran off the roadway into the grass and the driver lost control, said the FHP.

The driver overcorrected and the Forda entered a counterclockwise rotation, crossed both northbound lanes of the access road adjacent to I-75 and struck the concrete barrier in the separator. The vehicle was redirected to the north and came to final rest on the inside paved apron of the access road.

The crash was alcohol related and Stough was not wearing a seatbelt according to homicide investigator Corporal J. R. Moore.

Friday, January 29, 2016

John Smith Dies In Canal Crash

John Smith of Moore Haven died in a crash Thursday afternoon in Hendry County, Fl.

Michael Ronnie Doctor, 27 of Clewiston, FL was traveling southbound in a 2004 Ford Excursion on County Road 833, hauling a wide trailer about 8:16 pm Thursday.

John Howard Smith, 84 of Moore Haven, in a 1987 Toyota pickup truck was northbound on County Road 833. As Doctor passed Smith, the front left wheel housing of the trailer collided with the front left corner of the Toyota. Due to significant left front wheel damage, it was redirected toward the northwest, across the southbound lane and onto the west shoulder of County Road 833.

The pickup truck continued northwest on the shoulder and overturned into a water-filled canal where it became completely submerged. Smith was found in the truck when it was removed from the canal.

Smith was pronounced deceased at the scene. Charges are pending said the FHP.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Healthy Weight Community Champions

Today, Florida Department of Health announced the 80 communities recognized as 2016 Healthy Weight Community Champions, including communities in the Hendry, Glades and Lee county areas. The recognition program highlights local government efforts to increase physical activity and improve nutrition as part of Healthiest Weight Florida.

 Examples of criteria for the recognition include whether a jurisdiction maintains a system of parks, provides incentive programs to attract grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods and prioritizes personal safety in areas where people can increase physical activity.

Glades County is partnering with Goodwheels to provide public transportation from rural communities to Okeechobee Publix and Walmart locations, as well as local farmers markets, increasing access to fresh produce.

"It's a great honor to be named a Healthiest Weight Community Champion," said Commissioner Tim Stanley, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. "We could not have done it without a tremendous amount of help from our community partners in Glades County."

Hendry County participated in the Healthier Me campaign, which promotes weighing less by participating in more physical activity. Additionally, the school district adjusted their menus to align with national guidelines.

"We are thrilled to be named a Healthiest Weight Community Champion," said County Administrator Charles T. Chapman, IV. "We hope the Healthier Me campaign is just the first step toward helping all citizens of Hendry County embrace a healthier lifestyle."

LeeTran has had a three year increase of 35 percent in ridership and has updated bus stop locations using grant funding amenities such as shelters with solar powered lighting and (where spacing permits) a trash receptacle and bike racks. Currently, LeeTran has completed approximately 37 upgrades (out of a total of 50) to bus stops, with more locations being selected.

"Being named a Healthiest Weight Community Champion is something that could not happen without all residents in Lee County making the decision to be healthy," said Stephanie Figueroa, Human Resources Director for Lee County. "We are looking to continue our efforts in to 2016."

Patty Brant's Newest Book - Full Circle

Patty Brant, editor of LaBelle's weekly newspaper The Caloosa Belle, will be at LaBelle Heritage Museum on Saturday, February 6th, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. promoting her latest book Full Circle which takes Molly Martindale, the heroine of Bitter Secrets, on a new series of events. 

Come down to LaBelle Heritage Museum, 360 North Bridge Street, to show Patty your support and take a look around the museum if you have not visited us lately.

The Museum's regular meeting program will be February 4 at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

K C Craichy Shares Nutrition Info With PGA Golf World

LABELLE, FL. -- More than 40,000 golf industry professionals, pro golfers, trainers and golf enthusiasts will descend on the Orange County Convention Center this week for the annual PGA Merchandise Show, where former LaBelle resident K.C. Craichy will speak on nutrition and sports performance. 

Craichy is the son of the late Sharon Craichy, former mayor LaBelle for many years.

KC Craichy serves on the Nutrition Advisory Board for Titleist Performance Institute and advises elite trainers and top professional and collegiate golfers how the right nutritional choices can improve their health and their game. He will be speaking at the TPI exhibition area this Thursday at 9:30am on the subject of "Maximum Human Performance through Superfood Nutrition - The Key to Unlock Your Potential."

"Golfers are leading the way in getting the importance and power of excellent nutrition on their physical and mental health and performance," Craichy said.

Craichy, who has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television programs and is co-host of LivingFuelTV, said he is looking forward to the opportunity to share natural health and performance insights with attendees at the PGA Merchandise Show.

Craichy said "I love to present leading edge science to this group because they generally reject tired, conventional nutritional thinking and are eager to know the truth!"

The PGA 2016 Merchandise Show and Conference is open this Wednesday - Friday, January 27-29, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, located off Interstate 4 near Disney World.

KC Craichy is a health advocate, researcher, and recognized expert on natural health and performance nutrition. His extensive study of leading-edge health research and collaborative work with top medical and nutritional practitioners and researchers to solve his wife Monica’s health problems—anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts—led him to the answers for Monica’s healing and to the founding of Living Fuel, Inc. As a result of overcoming this health crisis, KC and Monica have helped numerous people become overcomers in their own health situations. Together they are now cohosts of the popular Internet TV program.

KC lives in Orlando, Florida, with his wife, Monica, and their five children.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Walmart Hearing February 4 On Big Signs

LABELLE, FL. -- Walmart Stores, Inc. will ask the City of LaBelle's Variance Board next week to install signs of greater area than allowed by the Land Development Code.

Walmart wants to install seven large signs on the new "Supercenter" retail and grocery store building being constructed west of LaBelle totaling 676 square feet. The development code allows 200 square feet for buildings of more than 100,000 square feet in area. Walmart's building is 156,000 square feet.

Walmart says not granting the sign variance would "result in an unnecessary hardship as the signs at the requested size are needed to properly promote the Walmart." They add they expect a "loss of revenue" is the larger signs are not allowed.

Additional signs they say will advertise gasoline prices at the fuel station.

Community members can comment at the public hearing at 6 p.m. February 4 at LaBelle City Hall.

600 Shoes For Kids - Laces Of Love Project

CLEWISTON, FL.- U.S. Sugar and its employees partnered with the Healthier Hendry Glades Task Force to provide new shoes for 600 local students through Laces of Love.

As part of its annual Health Fair activities, U.S. Sugar hosted a contest in which the company would match employees’ donations of new shoes. Over several weeks, employees of U.S. Sugar, Southern Gardens Citrus and South Central Florida Express donated 300 pairs of new shoes. To match that, U.S. Sugar bought another 300 pairs from Hibbett Sports.

The 600 pairs of new shoes will be distributed to students at 13 schools throughout Hendry and Glades counties. The company also partnered with area school nurses to provide specific shoes for special needs children.

“The health and well-being of the students in our community is important to all of us,” said U.S. Sugar President and CEO Robert H. Buker, Jr. “The Laces of Love shoe drive was a way for our company to match the generosity of the people of U.S. Sugar and give back to the community.”

“These shoes go a long ways toward helping our students come to school ready and eager to learn,’’ said Glades County School District Superintendent Scott Bass. “For many of our families and students, a new pair of shoes can make a huge difference.’’

Hendry County School District Superintendent Paul Puletti said the donations help boost students’ self-esteem, allowing them to better focus on their education.

“No student should have to go school in shoes that are old and worn or don’t fit,’’ Puletti said. “Many of our children wear shoes that have been passed down from a sibling or a cousin. This gives them a chance to have a new pair of their own that they picked out.’’

U.S. Sugar’s Laces of Love project was managed by Carl Stringer, vice president of information technology and employee benefits, and his team. According to Stringer, the employees had donated more than 200 pairs by the time the drive ended just before the holidays, but several employees asked for more time to try and reach 250 pairs.

“Over the holidays, we really hit the ground running (pun intended),” Stringer said. “It’s amazing. By last week, 300 pairs of shoes had been collected, and the company provided an equal match allowing us to reach 600 students who need shoes for school.”

Bill Burke - Retired School Superintendent Dies At 83

William Cargyle (Bill) Burke, superintendent of Hendry County Schools from 1983 to 1992 died Saturday morning, January 23, 2016.

He was born in Chosen, Florida on November 17, 1932 to Flora Moore Burke and Patrick Leon Burke and grew up and attended school in Belle Glade, FL.

During these years he began playing football and golf and he never lost interest in either one. After graduation Bill attended and graduated from the University of Florida where he played football for his beloved Florida Gators.

He later received his Masters degree from Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, FL. Bill began his professional career in Wauchula, FL where he taught and coached football. His next move was back home to Belle Glade where he also taught and coached the Belle Glade Rams for many winning seasons.

West Palm became home for a few years where he taught and coached at John I. Leonard High School. Bill also became the Coordinator of Federal Projects in 1975 and spent a few years traveling from Ft. Lauderdale over to the West Coast. While making his frequent trips from coast to coast he became interested in the little town of LaBelle, and much to it's delight he moved his family here in 1976 and became the Director of Federal Projects.

In addition to his job with the Federal Program, Bill immediately became involved with the LaBelle Quarterback Club Program and worked endless hours doing anything he could to help the student athletes.

In 1982 he was appointed to fill the term of Superintendent of Hendry County District Schools, a position he held for 10 years. Because of his integrity and hard work, Bill ran unopposed in two elections and was instrumental in the building of several schools and other projects throughout the district.

He decided in 1992 it was time to retire and spend more time on the golf course, which was his second love after football.

Bill was the recipient of many awards over the years, and in 2012 he received the Hendry County School District's first Heritage Award, for Service to Dedication which reads: "by word and deed, your presence has enriched the lives of students…and served as an example for all". Bill loved his family and was always happy to be involved with them, especially to watch the little ones grow.

He was adored by all the small children in his extended family, whom he loved teasing, but always followed it up with a handful of gummy bears. He was affectionately known as Papa Bear.

Bill is pre-deceased by his parents: Patrick and Flora Burke, wife: Frankie Burke, siblings: Doris, Herbert and Ella Catherine. He is survived by his loving wife: Vicki Patton Burke, children: Shellie (Karl) Schmidt, Pat (Julie) Burke, Kellie (Jim) Feyas, Scott (Susan) Wegscheid and Wendy (Wesley) O'Ferrell. siblings: Lee (Mary Frances) Burke, Mary McGill and Joyce (Lee) Rogers. He has 11 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren and a host of adoring nieces, nephews as well as great nieces and great nephews.

The visitation will be at Akin Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle, FL on Thursday, January 28, 2016, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

The Celebration of his life will be on Friday, January 29, 2016, 10:00 a.m. at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church in LaBelle. The graveside committal service will follow at 12:30 p.m. at Foreverglades Cemetery in Belle Glade.

In lieu of flowers Bill would love to have donations made to Operation Back Pack, which provides food for the weekend for children in need. If you are interested please make checks to: First Baptist Church, 330 N. Main St., LaBelle, FL 33935 or Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, 310 Campbell St., LaBelle, FL 33935 and earmark your check for Operation Back Pack.

Nathaniel White Dies In 3-Vehicle Crash

Nathaniel Gray White, 19 of LaBelle died in a three vehicle crash Monday night on State Road 29 at 6:40 p.m.

Erik Depaz Morales, 21 of Clewiston was northbound on SR29 passing other vehicles on the left in the southbound lane of SR29.

White was southbound on SR29 and steered left to avoid the head on collision. The front of Morales' 2012 Nissan Altima collided with the right side of White's 1999 Chevy S10.

The Nissan came to rest facing east, blocking the northbound lane of SR29. The Chevy came to rest facing east in the northbound lane of SR29, south of the Nissan.

Gilberto Perez, 43 of Lehigh Acres was northbound on SR29 and collided with the right side of the Nissan. which rotated clockwise and exited the paved portion of the roadway. Perez' vehicle front then struck the Chevy's right side.

White's Chevy came to final rest partially submerged in a canal facing west. White was unrestrained and was ejected from the vehicle, and came to rest partially in the canal, north of the Chevy and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The Nissan rotated counterclockwise and came to final rest on the west shoulder of SR29 facing south. Perez's vehicle came to final rest on the east shoulder of SR29 facing north.

Charges are pending.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Brent Kettler Takes Economic Executive Director Desk

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Economic Development Council has announced Brent Kettler as their new Executive Director. Kettler is a veteran of SWFL economic development, having spent several years with the Lee County EDO, and recently coming off several contracting engagements, most notably as the data lead for the SWFL Community Foundation's FutureMakers effort.

Kettler comments “I come to Hendry County with a great deal of excitement, I see opportunity for the County having watched and experienced economic development over the last several years. I am excited to leverage what I have learned and my experience to help advance economic development in Hendry County.”

Tuesday Tritt, President of EDC Board of Directors said “Brent’s wealth of experience and industry knowledge has already made him a key addition at the EDC. We view his appointment as a sign of our commitment to moving Hendry County forward. We are very fortunate that we were able to find someone of Brent’s caliber to fulfill this role. I’m confident that Brent will play a key role in providing and implementing high quality solutions for Hendry County.”

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Schzamm! - Bill Neville

Commentary by T. W. Bill Neville

For all you fans of the long-running Andy Griffith show as the Sheriff of Mayberry, I trust you are as mystified as I have been to what Goober really means when he says "SCHAZAMMMM" every time he is surprised by a vocal or physical activity.

With that in mind, ever since my wife of 65 years died last June, I have been inundated with "SCHAZAMMMM" moments, without a "clue", as to the "cause" resulting in the "effect."

Suddenly, out of the "BLUE", I came across an article related to Senior Citizen "cause" and "effect" issues relating to what they are calling the "SEENAGER" syndrome.

According to them, it demonstrates it's effects in the sudden realization that you, as a "SEENAGER", has, at long last, everything that they ever wanted as a "teenager", only many decades later. They don't have to go to school, work, or anything they don't want to do. They get a monthly allowance, without even having to ask for it. They don't have a curfew or a 'wake up" call agenda. No more unneeded chores,schedules, or commitments.

Once I got used to the idea of being a "SEENAGER", and all of the "free" time it now makes available for doctor's appointments, social outings, family visits, world travel, and truly rewarding Senior Citizen, "earned" activities, I was able to truly understand hat life is too short for "drama" or "petty" things.

So laugh often and hard. Love truly and forgive quickly. Live like you're still alive. Try to understand that the reason we sometimes seem slower thinking, "SCHAZAMMMM", maybe it's because we have so much valuable information stored from our years of experience and application initiatives, that it might take a minute to find it.

Unlike a true "teenager" when we go into a room and then forget why we are there, it is a part of our doing more physical exercise to facilitate the "me-tabulation" of the brains ability to decipher whether a mental or physical response is appropriate? Much like"THIS" and "MANY" of "my" articles seem to 'EFFECT" the readers?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Trump: The Greatest American Who Ever Lived?

Donald Trump's race to the Presidency in an animated virtual realty short film. The video is formatted in virtual reality 360 degree, using your keyboard arrow keys to move the view anywhere front, side or behind Trump. As appeared on Tomo News channel at

Obituaries - John Brendle, James Christmas

John T Brendle, age 65, of North Canton, passed away January 12, 2016 in Clewiston. He was born Oct. 5, 1950 in Akron, OH, to the late John H and the late Barbara (Pearch) Brendle.

He is survived by his wife, Pauline Brendle, daughter, Michelle Bailey, sisters, Paula Del Savio, Janet Shover and brother-in-law, Denny Wright.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

James Elijah Christmas, age 84, of Labelle FL
, died Jan. 17, 2016. He is survived by his son Johnny, his granddaughter Jackie Lynn, great granddaughter Jada and daughter in law Dora Christmas. He was preceded by his wife Jeanne, sons Jerry and Jack, mom Anna, dad Elbert, brother Lewis and sister Susie. There was a family memorial followed by cremation.

In lieu of flowers a Memorial Contribution may be made in his name to the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida. 9981 S. HealthPark Dr., Fort Myers, FL 33908 T: 239-343-5437

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Deputy Mike Lilley And K-9 Neko Graduate From Academy

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden is pleased to announce that Hendry County K-9 Deputy Mike Lilley and his K-9 partner Neko, graduated from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Canine Patrol and Narcotics Academy on Tuesday, January 15, 2016.

The Canine Patrol and Narcotics Academy is a six (6) month academy. Deputy Lilley and K-9 Neko are certified through the Florida Law Enforcement Canine Association (FLECA) in standardized certification in narcotics detection, man tracking and patrol. K-9 Neko is a 2 year old Belgian Malinoi/Shepherd mix. Before coming to the Hendry County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Lilley worked for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a law enforcement officer and canine handler.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of both D/S M. Lilley and K-9 Neko. Both are a tremendous asset to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office”, said Sheriff Steve Whidden.

Tour The Franklin Lock And Dam With The Suttons

ALVA, Fla. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will offer free tours of the W. P. Franklin Lock and Dam on the Okeechobee Waterway in Alva through March.

The 45-minute tour begins with a presentation at the Visitor Center, followed by a narrated visit to the lock. Visitors can learn more about the Corps and its water management systems. Tours are offered everySaturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and at 3 p.m. Group tours are also available by appointment Mondaythrough Friday.

Both the indoor and outdoor portions of the tour are handicap accessible.

Photo: Volunteers Betty Ann and John Sutton host the Franklin Lock tours

Visitors are encouraged to sign up for tours in advance. For more information and to sign up for a tour, call the W. P. Franklin Visitor Center at 239-694-2582.

The Visitor Center is open daily between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and offers interactive hands-on displays.

The W. P. Franklin Recreation Area features picnic areas, is located at 661 South Franklin Lock Road, Alva, Florida, and is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Google Targets Bad Advertising - 780 Million Ads Removed

"Some ads are just plain bad—like ads that carry malware, cover up content you’re trying to see, or promote fake goods," say Google. In it's effort to screen out the bad ads it has a team of more than 1000 people worldwide fighting bad advertisers.

Last year Google disabled more than 780 million ads from webpages served with ads from Google's ad servers.

Some bad ads claim to help with weight loss, but mislead people, said Google. Others help fraudsters carry out scams, like those that lead to “phishing” sites that trick people into handing over personal information. Through a combination of computer algorithms and people at Google reviewing ads, we’re able to block the vast majority of these bad ads before they ever get shown. Here are some types of bad ads categories busted in 2015:

Suspended were more than 10,000 sites and 18,000 ad accounts for attempting to sell counterfeit goods (like imitation designer watches).  And blocked were more than 12.5 million ads that violated it's healthcare and medicines policy, such as ads for pharmaceuticals that weren’t approved for use or that made misleading claims to be as effective as prescription drugs.

Weight loss scams, like ads for supplements promising impossible-to-achieve weight loss without diet or exercise, were one of the top user complaints in 2015. 30,000 sites were suspended for misleading claims.

 10,000 sites were disabled for offering unwanted software, while ads designed to look like system warnings from your computer were rejected to the tune of more than 17 million.

Google stopped showing ads on more than 25,000 mobile apps because the developers didn’t follow it's policies. and rejected more than 1.4 million applications wanting to use Google Play.

Maybe you’ve just seen way too many car ads recently. “Mute This Ad” lets you click an “X” at the top on many of the ads and Google will stop showing you that ad and others like it from that advertiser. You can also tell them why.

Google says, "We want to make sure all the ads you see are helpful and welcome and we’ll keep fighting to make that a reality."

Campaign Targets 86 Million American Adults with Prediabetes

Losing weight and being healthier are at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolutions. But, despite the best intentions, work, kids, and social events often push lifestyle changes to the bottom of the list. While many are familiar with type 2 diabetes, fewer are aware of prediabetes, a serious health condition that affects 86 million Americans (more than 1 in 3) and often leads to type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes have higher than normal blood glucose (sugar) levels, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Nearly 90 percent of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it and aren’t aware of the long-term risks to their health, including type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Current trends suggest that, if not treated, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. The good news is that prediabetes often can be reversed through weight loss, diet changes and increased physical activity. Diagnosis is key: research shows that once people are aware of their condition, they are much more likely to make the necessary lifestyle changes.

To raise awareness and help people with prediabetes know where they stand and how to prevent type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have partnered with the Ad Council to launch the first national public service advertising (PSA) campaign about prediabetes. The PSA campaign, featuring first-of-its-kind communications techniques, was developed pro bono by Ogilvy & Mather New York for the Ad Council.

The campaign launched today and has a simple but strong message: No one is excused from prediabetes. Humorous PSAs in English and Spanish encourage people to take a short online test at to learn their risk. People can also take the risk test in real-time through interactive TV and radio PSAs, and learn more about the risk factors associated with the condition. The campaign website features lifestyle tips and links to CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, which connects visitors to a registry of CDC-recognized programs across the country. The campaign also includes an integrated SMS texting initiative which will allow people to take the risk test via text message and receive ongoing support and lifestyle tips. 

“Awareness is crucial in the effort to stop type 2 diabetes,” said David Marrero, Ph.D., Director of the Diabetes Translation Research Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine and former President, Health Care & Education at the American Diabetes Association. “Take one minute to take the risk test today and share it with your loved ones. The prediabetes risk test will help you know where you stand and help us get closer to our vision of a life free of diabetes and all of its burdens.”

“Knowing that you have prediabetes is just the first step in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes,” said AMA President-Elect Andrew W. Gurman, M.D. “As soon as someone discovers they may be at risk of prediabetes, they should talk with their physician about further testing to confirm their diagnosis and discuss the necessary lifestyle changes needed to help prevent type 2 diabetes.”

“For the 86 million Americans with prediabetes, we need to communicate a sense of urgency -- that it’s time to take action,” said Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “By participating in a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention program, people with prediabetes can learn practical, real-life changes and cut their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.”

“I think the scary thing is that this really touches everyone – 1 in 3 could be your brother or sister, your best friend or partner,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “Our hope is that this online test and other campaign materials make it easy for people to know where they stand, and will motivate them to take steps to reverse their condition.”

Weird Water Plagues Homes

LABELLE, FL. -- Despite many years of water problems stemming most likely from failing pipes in the city's infrastructure, residents are still encountering water problems in some neighborhoods.

"City of LaBelle, fix the water! Change the pipes along Ft Thompson. You are so lucky you haven't been charged for all the ruined clothes and clogged appliance filters. 

"It has been like this for almost a year," says Kimber Ringler Smith of LaBelle on a Facebook page this week.

Your 'Numbers' For Ultimate Health

It's Not Only Weight That Matter For A Healthy Body
If you’re like many people, the number on the scale is the one you associate with your health. But many other numbers are just as important — if not more. 

Here are the numbers to watch:
1,800–2,200 — the number of calories a moderately active woman (who walks 1.5 to 3 miles per day in addition to activities of daily living) needs to eat every day to maintain her healthy weight
2,200–2,800 — the calories most moderately active men (see above) need to eat every day
120/80 or lower — a blood pressure reading that puts you in the “normal” category
35 or less (women) or 39 or less (men) — a healthy waist circumference, measured at belly button while sucking in your stomach
2 — the number of times weekly to build and preserve muscle with strength training, which protects your bones and maintains balance
30 minutes x 3 times a week — the number of minutes of aerobic exercise needed weekly to maintain basic fitness levels. Try walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, Zumba, and so on — as long as you get your heart pumping, it counts!

Submitted by Mary Ruth Prouty - Hendry-Glades Health Department

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

500 Senior Meals Thanks To BJ's Foundation

LABELLE, FL. -- Hope HealthCare Services has been named the recipient of a $1,000 grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation grant that will enable Hope to purchase food and prepare 500 meals for seniors served by the Hope Connections program in Hendry and Glades counties.

“We are very appreciative of the generosity of BJ’s Charitable Foundation in helping us address senior hunger,” said Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope HealthCare Services. “Grants, partnerships and donations help Hope Connections continue taking care of people in need throughout our community.”

Hope Connections, a program of Hope HealthCare Services that provides at-home senior support, provides more than 25,000 meals each year to underprivileged seniors in Hendry and Glades counties through home delivery and social meal centers. The program also offers services such as transportation to pharmacies and grocery stores, as well travel to and from Hope Connections Centers. Light housekeeping and counseling also is provided.

For more information about supporting Hope Connections, call 239-482-4673.

Sheriff Invites Citizens To 10-Week Law Enforcement Classes

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden will soon begin another Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy and is accepting applications at this time.

The Sheriff’s Academy is a 10 week program with each session lasting about two hours long. This instruction provides its participants with the latest trends and procedures in law enforcement as well as the duties and responsibilities of the various departments.

The start date for the upcoming academy is February 10, 2016 at the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) located at 4425 W. SR 80 & Congen Drive, LaBelle, Fl.

The Citizen’s Academy is for anyone over the age of 18 and it’s free. All participants must have a background free of felony and violent misdemeanor convictions. If you are interested and wish to learn more about the field of law enforcement in general and about the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office please let us know.

Sheriff Whidden and his staff encourage those interested in attending the next Sheriffs Citizens Academy to stop in and pick up an application at 101 S. Bridge Street, LaBelle, Fl or 100 E. El Paso, Clewiston, Fl. If you have any questions or want to learn more about the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy call Carmen Corbitt at 863-674-5628.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Family Emergency Preparing And Training

By Brian K. Newhouse, Director of Emergency Management, Hendry County, FL

With the recent occurrences of severe weather and tornadoes affecting our neighboring counties in the past week, the topic of this article is more important now than ever. There is a program right here in Hendry County that is a great way for you to get involved in your community, learn some new skills that may save a life, and make new friends while you are providing a much needed service to your community. 

The training is free and it is open to people of all ages, its call the Community Emergency Response Team or CERT for short. Here’s a great article written by Hendry County Emergency Management’s own EM Planner, Amy Howard, FPEM, about the program that she is very passionate about.

FEMA began promoting the nationwide Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in 1994. Since then, teams have been established in hundreds of communities around the country, including Hendry County. CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of neighborhoods, community organizations or workplaces in basic response skills. The CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability for the area.

If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the County’s professional response, CERT members can assist community members by applying basic life support response and organizational skills that they learned during training. These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. Team members maintain and refine their skills by participating in training exercises and other activities throughout the year. They can attend supplemental training opportunities offered by the sponsoring organization or other agencies to further their skills and expand their knowledge base. Finally, CERT members can volunteer for projects that improve Hendry County’s emergency preparedness.

Once the training is complete, team members will participate in a final exam and exercise or drill to put into practice the skills they learned. This training consists of twenty (20) classroom hours and can also be tailored to fit the community’s needs. CERT training will teach each participant to :

1. Describe the types of hazards most likely to affect their homes and communities.
2. Describe the function of CERT and their role in immediate response.
3. Take steps to prepare themselves for a disaster.
4. Identify and reduce potential fire hazards in their homes and workplaces.
5. Work as a team to solve different problems.
6. Apply techniques for basic first aid, conducting triage, performing a head to toe assessment, selecting and setting up treatment areas.
7. Identify planning and size-up requirements for search and rescue situations.
8. Use safe techniques for debris removal, victim rescue and describe ways to protect rescuers during the search and rescue effort.

The CERT program has been in place in Hendry County since 2006 and has provided training to many people over the years. Each CERT trainee that completes the training will receive a CERT KIT (containing tools to use as a CERT member), as well as a Certificate of Completion. The classes are free of charge and are taught by the County’s Emergency Management and response personnel.

If you have received this training in the past, and still want to participate, we need to hear from you to update your contact information. If you have never taken the training but would like to learn more about it, please contact Hendry County Emergency Management at 863-674-5400.

The Hendry County Emergency Management CERT Coordinator, Margaret England will be having an organizational meeting for those interested in continuing as or becoming a CERT member at the Hendry County EOC on February 4th, 2016 at 6:00 PM. The EOC is located at 4425 West State Road 80, about 6 miles west of LaBelle. It is located on the south side of SR80 about a mile past the old Berry Plant.

Here’s your Emergency Kit shopping list:

Things to do:

 Purchase and install smoke detectors, if needed.

Items to Purchase

 Extra batteries for flashlights, radios and smoke detectors
 Broom, mop and bucket
 1 bottle of shampoo
 1 box of latex gloves
 1 package of sanitary wipes and/or liquid sanitizer
 1 large tube of toothpaste
Shopping lists are just a guide. Please adjust to your family’s needs.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Chandler McGraw Dead After Motorcycle Crash

Chandler McGraw died Sunday afternoon after a crash on State Road 29 in Collier County, Fl.

Ashley Nicole, 22 of Jerome, Florida in a 2014 Ford Mustang was traveling northbound on State Road 29 north of Wagon Wheel Road at about 1:17 p.m. Chandler R. McGraw, 58 of Camden, Maine was traveling southbound on State Road 29 on a 1991 BMW R1000GS motorcycle. 

Nicole attempted to make a left turn into a driveway, said the FHP. McGraw entered the path of the Ford and he attempted to slow and stop and caused the motorcycle to overturn onto its right side prior to the collision. 

McGraw separated from motorcyle and slid in a southwesterly direction and came to final rest in the west grassy ditch. The front of the cycle struck the right side of the Mustag. The car was redirected and came to final rest facing a northwest direction in the southbound lane of State Road 29. 

The motorcycle came to final rest facing a southerly direction in the northbound lane of State Road 29. McGraw was transported to Physicians Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased at 3:10 p.m., by Dr. Michael Repele. 

Charges are still pending said FHP investigator Justin Martin and homicide investigator Corporal Julio Torres.

If anyone has any information regarding this incident please contact the Florida Highway Patrol, Corporal Julio Torres at 239-344-1730 or you can remain anonymous by contacting 1-800-780-(TIPS).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Grandpa - Bill Neville

Commentary By T.W. Bill Neville

After 87 years of taking up space on planet earth, 23 of them in Labelle, Florida, I was beginning to feel neglected. Practically everyone over 65 that I know had received a "GRANDPA" call, except me, but this past Tuesday morning, that changed.

The phone rang while I was still at breakfast, contemplating my naval, when the phone rang and a "younger" voice said, hello Grandpa, do you know where I am? At first I thought it sounded enough like my Grandson in Illinois, who was supposed to be in Las Vegas. But the voice didn't "quite" make the "grade" having just a hint of Hispanic undertones, and when he asked me where i thought he was, I decided to have some fun with him.

I said Peru, Indiana, and he responded that I was half right, he was in Lima, Peru. By this time I had put two and two together and knew I was being "targeted" by the "Grandpa Scam." So I decided to "play" along and see how long I could keep him on the "hook", we were already about 20 minutes long.

I commented that I thought he was going to Las Vegas and Circus Circus, which like Peru had lots of Circus animals in Winter quarters. He said no, that he and 3 of his buddies had contracted for a fishing trip, So I inquired as to what kind of fish were they after and he said Tuna, which prompted me to ask what bait did they use, and that's when he decided to "set" the "hook" in ME.

There was no boat and when they couldn't come up with the money being demanded, they were put in jail.and could I wire $800 immediately I don't know why, but I immediately fabricated a story, and responded that his timing was perfect because a next door neighbor had called the Sheriff about a stray dog and a deputy was just then pulling up in his driveway, and I would get the Deputy on the phone for his advice as to what I should do. Suddenly, the phone went dead, and I was no longer "connected" and ON the "HOOK."

Funny, how I don't feel so "neglected" anymore, and, "yes" my Illinois Grandson was in Las Vegas and got a big kick out of my "finally', nearly, joining the "Grandpa Scam!!" club. As I write this article, I'm having a "Tuna" salad sandwich and a beer, in celebration of my "NEAR", initiation, into the "CLUB!"

Friday, January 15, 2016

Geocaching And Trail Hiking Program

LABELLE, FL. -- The Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Association Sub-Chapter will meet Thursday January 28 at 6 p.m. at Beef O’Brady’s 21 S. Lee Street LaBelle. Stephen Nisbet will present an informative program on “Geocaching”.

Learn “How to Become a Florida Trail Association Activity Leader”. Nominations for the 2016 Chairman and Officers will be taken from the floor. Enter a drawing for 1 of 7 wooden walking sticks. New and renewing members who submit applications during the meeting will receive a registration fee discount. 

For information about FEC/FTA phone or text Margaret England at 863-517-0202.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Robert McClenithan Dies At 74

Robert Wayne McClenithan, age 74, of Fort Myers, passed away January 11, 2016 in Fort Myers. He was born July 13, 1941 in Fort Myers to the late John Francis and the late Marie Pleman (Green) McClenithan Thomas. He loved hunting and fishing. Robert worked as a surveyor for many years with Johnson Engineering. He was a lifelong resident of the area.

Survivors include his son: Michael McClenithan of Fort Myers, daughters: Sandra L. (Leeroy) Mills of LaBelle, Lori (Todd) Raycraft of Punta Gorda, sister: Carolyn McClenithan of LaBelle, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 16, 2016, 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor W. T. Maddox Jr. officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Visitation will be Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until start of the funeral service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle

Obituaries - Damascus Cypress, Nichole Billie, Arnold Cypress

Damascus L. Cypress, age 5, of Clewiston, passed away January 9, 2016 in Clewiston. He was born Jan. 5, 2011 in Pembroke Pines, FL, to the late Arnold and the late Nichole L. (Billie) Cypress.

Survivors include, four brothers: Dillon Thomas, Trey Thomas, Trent Thomas, Gage Billie and three sisters: Brittany Thomas, Janet Thomas, Alyssa Thomas, many aunts, uncles, cousins and many other family members.

Nichole L. Billie, age 45, of Clewiston, passed away January 9, 2016 in Clewiston. She was born Apr. 13, 1970 in Broward County, FL.

Survivors include four sons: Dillon Thomas, Trey Thomas, Trent Thomas, Gage Billie and three daughters: Brittany Thomas, Janet Thomas, Alyssa Thomas, two brothers: Amos Billie, Clifton Billie and one sister: Caroline Kingsland, many aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members.

Arnold Cypress, age 40, of Clewiston, passed away January 9, 2016 in Clewiston. He was born Mar. 22, 1975 in Clewiston, FL.

Survivors include one son, five daughters, brother: Patrick Cypress and sister, Jenell Roberts, many aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members.

Funeral services were held for all on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 9:00 am at Big Cypress Cemetery, Big Cypress Reservation with Rev. Paul Buster officiating.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Monkey Argument Going To Trial

LABELLE, FL– The Animal Legal Defense Fund  today said that it's lawsuit challenging Hendry County, Florida’s approval of development permits for two new primate breeding facilities, is headed to trial, after Judge James D. Sloan denied both parties’ motions for summary judgment.

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund looks forward to laying out the facts documenting the county’s illegal conduct at trial,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The county clearly violated the Sunshine Law by quietly approving these wild primate facilities in back-door meetings without notice or a public meeting, despite their far-reaching and serious impacts.”

The lawsuit, on behalf of local landowners in Hendry and Lee county, alleges that the county’s permitting of the SoFlo Ag and Panther Tracts primate breeding facilities in closed-door conferences, without public notice or meetings, violated the state’s open government law, the Sunshine Law.

The SoFlo Ag and Panther Tracts primate breeding facilities would raise thousands of exotic macaques for sale to the biomedical research industry. The location of the SoFlo Ag facility, on the border of Hendry and Lee county within a few hundred yards of family residences just south of State Road 80, threatens property values and residents’ peaceful enjoyment of their homes, claims the plaintiffs in the case.

The proposed primate facilities is also alleged to pose a public health danger because of deadly infectious diseases the monkeys can carry; the risk of monkeys escaping; and threats to the surrounding ecosystems and water quality. Some investigations have revealed horrendous conditions for monkeys at other Hendry County primate breeding facilities, including cruelty and neglect, said ALDF.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, ALDF files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law.

Cristina Maldonado Graduates From Air Force Training

CLEWISTON, FL. -- U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Cristina Maldonado graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Maldonado is the daughter of Luis A. Maldonado III of Clewiston, Fla.

She graduated in 2009 from Clewiston High School, Clewiston, Fla., and earned a bachelor's degree in 2013 from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Two Adults, Three Teens Arrested In Shooting Of Samantha Johns

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Investigators arrested two adults and three juveniles in the shooting of 34 year old Samantha Johns on January 4, 2016.

The two adults and three juveniles had planned to burglarize the home of 34 year old Johns in the early morning hours on January 4, 2016. When Johns unexpectedly returned to the residence and found 14 year old Brandon Stevens and 14 year old Dalton Lee inside the home. As the subjects fled the residence Johns was able to grab hold of Lee when the firearm reportedly went off striking Johns.

Savannah Lynn Tiger (photo below), 19 years of age, of Clewiston, Fl., was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Burglary with Assault. She is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail with a $75,000 bond.

Richard Thomas Stevens (photo above), 34 years of age, of Clewiston, Fl., was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Burglary with Assault. He is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail with a $75,000 bond.

Dalton Gregory Lee, 14 years of age, of Clewiston, Fl., was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Burglary with Assault. Lee was transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice, where he is currently being held.

Joan Alexander Arellano, 17 years of age, of Clewiston, Fl., was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Burglary with Assault. Arellano was transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice, where he is currently being held.

Brandon Stevens, 14 years of age, of Clewiston, Fl., was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Burglary with Assault. Stevens was transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice, where he is currently being held.

Flying Kids At Belle Glade Airport Saturday

BELLE GLADE, FL. – The Florida Cub Flyers on Saturday treated more than 60 Glades area high school, Future Farmers of America and 4H students to a day of flying as part of efforts to teach young people about careers in agricultural aviation and agribusiness.

The students were paired with pilots from the Florida Cub Flyers and the Experimental Aircraft Association who flew them over sugarcane fields, vegetable farms, a sugar mill and Lake Okeechobee in the Everglades Agricultural Area. The event featured about a dozen airplanes that took off and landed from the Belle Glade Municipal Airport.

“The event gave students a great bird’s eye view of the exciting job opportunities in today’s precision agriculture,’’ said Judy Sanchez, senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for U.S. Sugar, which provided fresh Florida orange juice and doughnuts for the event. “Our hope is that hands-on experiences like these encourage students to get an education in agriculture, then return to the area to pursue a career in farming.’’

“These young men and women are the future of our companies, our communities, and our country,” Sanchez said. “Hopefully, they learned today that ‘the sky’s the limit’ when it comes to planning their futures.”

During the event, agricultural businesses in the region set up booths with career information and educational materials, and working professionals told students about their career paths. Florida Crystals provided a barbecue lunch.

“It’s amazing to see kids get fired up about agriculture and all of the career possibilities in their own back yard,’’ said Larry Robinson, executive director of the Florida Cub Flyers, and a pilot at the event. “We’re proud to contribute to the next generation of food producers.’’

Pill Mill Doc Jacinta Gillis Sentenced To 30 Years

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution announced a 30 year prison sentence, followed consecutively by 30 years of probation, against Dr. Jacinta Irene Gillis, a pill mill clinic operator. 

Gillis, 41, of Fort Myers, operated two pill mill clinics, one in Pinellas County and one in Lee County, where she saw between 50 and 70 patients a day. In a two-year period, Gillis issued more than 33,000 prescriptions and more than 2.6 million pills of oxycodone, profiting more than $1.3 million. Gillis, in turn, used the money to fund her lifestyle including purchasing a house and multiple cars, as well as hosting lavish parties.

In 2011, the collaborative efforts of Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office led to Gillis’ arrest and the closure of her clinics.  

The Honorable Thane Covert, Circuit Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, sentenced Gillis on one count of racketeering, two counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance and more than $500,000 in fines.

Glenda Sloan Dies At 88

Glenda Novel Sloan, age 88, of LaBelle, formerly of Fort Myers, passed away January 9, 2016 in Lehigh Acres. She was born Oct. 18, 1927 in Arkansas.

She is survived by her son: Brian Keith Sloan of Fort Myers, daughter in law, Sharon Sloan of St. Charles, MO; niece, Wendy Sloan of Troy, MO and grandchildren: Jason Sloan; Aaron Sloan and Jessica Sloan.

Visitation will be Thursday, January 14, 2016 from 5-7 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Ft. Myers. The memorial funeral mass will be held at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Ft. Myers on a later date.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dr. Geraldine Burchard Nobles Honored By PACE Center

PACE Center for Girls of Lee County has selected three more women to be honored at the Eighth Annual Grande Dames Tea honoring some of our community’s most revered women, including Dr. Geraldine Nobles of LaBelle.

This year’s honorees are:

● Dr. Geraldine Burchard Nobles of LaBelle – Geraldine, 78, went from bussing tables at her mother’s famous LaBelle restaurant, Flora & Ella’s, to becoming a successful mental health counselor in private practice and bringing Hope Hospice services to LaBelle and Hendry County. She is the first certified abuse counselor in Florida. A fifth generation Floridian and descendant of the LaBelle pioneer Poole and Forrey families, Geraldine and her husband, the late L. J. Nobles, Jr. worked in their Collier County agri-business raising fresh produce and operating the largest tomato packing facility in Southwest Florida. The LaBelle Senior Center is named after her late husband L. J. Nobles.

● Betty Anderson of Fort Myers– Betty, 86, is a Fort Myers native who spent 15 years in Africa as a missionary with her husband, the late Dr. Robert Anderson. The couple sold their Fort Myers home and his dental practice in 1976 to move to Africa to provide dental care to Africans who had never seen a dentist. The Andersons spent four years in the bush villages of Ghana followed by 10 more years in Nigeria. Sometimes the lines were 75 people deep waiting for care. The couple retired from their missionary work in 1991 and returned for Fort Myers, where Betty dedicated her time and talents to First Baptist Church as part of a team assisting the homeless.

● Rusty Brown of Fort Myers – Rusty, 86, is a writer/dramatist who has reinvented herself again and again as a musical comedy singer, journalist, greeting card company publicist and adjunct professor. In Fort Myers, she’s best known as a playwright and actor, bringing to life remarkable women such as Mina Edison, Clara Barton, Katharine Hepburn and others in her popular and original one-woman shows. As a journalist with The Cleveland Press, she launched a column on women’s concerns and the Women’s Movement that was nationally syndicated and appeared in 200 newspapers. She also wrote for Women’s Day and Ms. Magazine and published a book, “Women As We See Ourselves.

“These three outstanding women come from varied backgrounds and are sure to have some insightful advice for the audience and the PACE girls,” said Deanna Hansen, chair of the Grande Dames Tea.”

This is the eighth year of the historic Grande Dames Tea. Previous honorees have included Berne Davis, Eleanore Kleist and the late Barbara B. Mann in 2009; Jeanne Bochette, Helen Hendry and Veronica Shoemaker in 2010; Myra Daniels, Kathleen Nealon and the late Mimi Straub in 2011; Michel Doherty, Mavis Miller and Anna “Boots” Tolles in 2012; Thelma Hodges, the late Helen O’Rourke McClary and Ettie Francis Walsh in 2013; Barbara Norris Brown, the late Sarah Sciple and Margaret Sirianni in 2014; and Sharlene Hamel Dozier, M. Jacqueline McCurdy and Melvin Morgan in 2015.

The Grande Dames Tea was originated by PACE Center for Girls of Lee County to honor women who have played major roles in Southwest Florida history through decades of service, philanthropy and helping others.

The Grande Dames Tea honoring the three women will take place Tuesday, March 22, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Broadway Palm at 1380 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.

Laura Strickland Spicer Dies At 53

Laura Marie Strickland Spicer, age 53, of Naples, passed away January 6, 2016 in Naples. She was born June 10, 1962 in Clewiston. She graduated from Clewiston High School.

She is survived by her mother; Lydia Strickland, brother; Robert Strickland and wife Sharon, two sons, Peter Webb and Matthew Webb, two daughters, Betty Spicer and Sara Sanocora and husband Nolen.

She is preceded in death by father, John Strickland, and husband Dwight Spicer. Graveside service will be 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Emergency Planning For Families

By Brian K. Newhouse, Director of Emergency Management, Hendry County, FL

Welcome to week 2 of our series on Emergency Preparedness on a budget. Have you ever been witness to an emergency and didn’t know what to do or how to react? Have you stood helplessly and watched as a friend or loved one suffered until professional responders arrived to restore order to a hectic situation? 

When you dial 911, help is only minutes away, but in some situations, seconds could mean the difference between life and death. I’m sure you are asking yourself, “What can I do to help?” The key to any survival situation is preparation and knowledge!

Free is a price anyone can afford! There are many low and no cost resources right here in Hendry County that can help you help yourself. Training is the key. Be it a basic CPR and First Aid class all the way to advanced Incident Management training and a myriad of other specialty classes, you can get it in Hendry County. 

In the past year, the combined emergency services in Hendry County have hosted numerous classes and most were free of charge. Some of the classes included topics such as CPR, Basic Firefighting, Biohazard Investigations, Shelter Management, Management of Faith Based Organizations in Disasters, Incident Command, Logistics, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training and Amateur Radio licensing to name a few. Classes already scheduled for this year include a four class series on Medical Quarantine Operations in Rural Settings, CERT, Amateur Radio and CPR.

You can contact Hendry County Emergency Management at (863) 674-5400 and we will put you in contact with the correct agency to get you trained. While you’re getting trained, you should think about how you can put all the knowledge to good use while keeping your skills sharp by volunteering. 

The Emergency Management Reserve Corps is always looking for volunteers. Age isn’t a factor. We have something for the young and old alike. If it’s an adrenaline rush you’re looking for, every fire department in Hendry County is all volunteer and they are always looking for help. We also have a growing group of Red Cross volunteers responding to the needs of our residents.

Long story short, it is everyone’s responsibility to be prepared by being ready and able to respond to a disaster, large or small. The more prepared you are before a disaster, the less affect it will have on you. We at Hendry County Emergency Management and our various community partners stand by ready to assist in your training needs.

Here’s your Emergency Kit shopping list for week 2:

Week 2: Items to Purchase

Flashlight and batteries
Utility knife
Vise grips
Heavy duty work gloves
Plastic safety goggles
Shopping lists are just a guide. Please adjust to your family’s needs.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Timothy Gardner Dead In I-75 Crash

SARASOTA, FL. -- Timothy Gerald Gardner, 47 of Cape Coral died as a result of a crash at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning on I-75.

A 2005 Ford F-250 truck was southbound on I-75 in the left lane near the 174 mile marker. As it began to change to the right lane, Gardner lost control of the vehicle,  veered to the right and began to rotate clock wise.

The pickup truck exited the roadway onto the west shoulder. Once on the shoulder, the front struck the guard rail and the vehicle continued traveling southbound on top of the guard rail. The collision with the guard rail caused the truck to overturn.

The driver was then completely ejected from the truck. It overturned one time and as it began to upright it started to roll forward, then entered the inside emergency lane causing the front to strike a concrete bridge rail.

The truck came to final rest in-between the inside emergency lane and left lane of I 75 facing east. The driver was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Gardner was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the FHP.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Two Adults And One 6-Year Old Dead In High Speed Crash

Car Vaults Over 75 Foot Canal At High Speed

BIG CYPRESS, FL. -- Three are dead, including a child and one other child seriously injured in a crash Saturday on Hendry county road 835 and Rogers Road at the Big Cypress Reservation in rural southern Hendry county.

Dead are Arnold Cypress, 41, Nichole Billie 45, and Damascus Cypress, 6, all of Clewiston. Gage Billie, 7 was seriously injured.

A 2009 Volkswagon was traveling on south on CR 835 at a high rate of speed approaching a curve in the roadway at Rogers Road. The driver failed to negotiate a curve and as a result, it traveled into the south grass shoulder, rotated sideways and vaulted across a 75 foot water filled canal.

It then struck the south side embankment of the canal and overturned several times before coming to final rest in the grass on the south side of the canal.

No one was wearing seatbelts according to the FHP. Testing for alcohol use is pending.

The vehicle was discovered by a passing motorist. It is not known what time the crash occurred. All occupants were ejected from the vehicle. The driver of vehicle is currently listed as unknown until it's determined whether passenger Arnold Cypress or Nichole Billie was driving. This crash remains under investigation said the FHP.

Timothy Alexander Found Guilty Resisting Officers

Defendant Wins One, Loses One This Week At Trial

LABELLE, FL. -- After being found not guilty in two prior cases against him, Timothy Eugene Alexander, Jr. was found guilty by a six-member jury Friday afternoon of resisting a correctional officer with violence and criminal mischief.

In an unusual series of events over the past 26 months as he sat in the Hendry County jail, Alexander ended up defending himself against the State Attorneys Office without the services of an attorney this week in two separate jury trials.

His court appointed attorney, Richard K. Sullivan quit last year after alleging Alexander was "threatening and aggressive" in their discussions, and told the court Alexander had "physically threatened" him "with violence."

Alexander was arrested in 2013 on a charge of arson, and was acquitted in 2015. He went to trial again this week two times before Circuit Judge James D. Sloan, 34-year old Alexander acting as his own attorney on a charge of attempted escape and then on resisting officer with violence charges.

He was found not guilty by a  six-member jury on Tuesday on the escape charge.  But despite having apparently obtained considerable legal training while in jail was not successful in defending against the resisting officers case.

During the Alexander trials this week, Judge Sloan and Assistant State Attorneys Jill Cabai and Amanda Brown gave Alexander a bit of leeway in courtroom protocols, the prosecution failing to rise when objections may have been warranted, while Judge Sloan courteously corrected Alexander's procedural errors, Alexander apologizing even though it was clear that the 34-year old defendant had a surprisingly good handle on the rules of Civil Procedure and trial decorum.

On Wednesday, his second trial began charged with resisting a correctional officer and criminal mischief. Acting as his own attorney again, he told the jury in opening statements that he believed he was a victim of "malicious prosecution," presumably because of numerous criminal charges filed against him while he was in the county jail the last two years.

He argued to the jury that while in county jail, he had chest pains and insisted on being taken to the hospital. EMS personnel showed up at the jail but determined he didn't need to be taken to the hospital at that time. He attempted to make a case that the officers used undue force to restrain him and get him back to his jail cell.

Evidence presented at the trial included a video and testimony of Alexander resisting officers' commands to go back into his cell after he was told he would not be taken to the hospital at that time. After struggling, three corrections officers eventually placed him chained to a restraint chair after tazing several times, Deputy Floyd Drummond claiming Alexander head butted him. Officer Daniel Snow had two buttons ripped from his uniform shirt by Alexander.

Alexander is a former Lee County Emergency Medical Technician and Fire Fighter and also operated a limousine service from LaBelle.

Alexander has two additional trials scheduled to begin February 1 on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and criminal mischief. He also has an open case on charges of Sexual Battery and Assault.

Sentencing on this conviction is scheduled for March 4, 2016 at 9 a.m. at the Courthouse.

Update: On March 4, 2016 Judge Sloan sentenced Alexander to 24 months for resisting a correctional officer and 60 days for criminal mischief with credit for time served on both plus costs. He will be on state probation for 24 months. He is ordered to submit a DNA sample and within 30 day of release undergo a psychological evaluation and complete any treatment recommended.

After acting as his own attorney, Alexander has now been assigned a public defender to make an appeal of the case.

On February 4, 2016, he entered a no contest pleas to two counts of battery on a detention facility employee and received 364 day sentence on each with credit for time served plus costs. He has appealed this case as well. A separate case for battery on a law enforcement officer and criminal mischief was dropped by the State Attorney February 3, 2016.

Previous Timothy Alexander Stories

Friday, January 08, 2016

Walgreens And Salvation Army Free Flu Shots January 12

LABELLE, FL. -- Walgreens has partnered with the Salvation Army in LaBelle to provide free flu shots for those that qualify on Tuesday, January 12th, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Barron Park in LaBelle. 

The free flu shot program is targeted for those who cannot afford the shots and do not have insurance to cover the normal cost.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Full Moon River Hike January 23

LABELLE, FL. -- Join an evening hike along the Caloosahatchee River with the Fisheating Creek Trail Association.

What:Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Association Sub-Chapter will be hosting a Full Moon Hike.
WHERE: Along the Caloosahatchee River near LaBelle Marina
WHEN: January 23, 2016. Meet at 6:30 p.m.
LEADERS: Deanna Filkins 863-234-8181, and Margaret England 863-517-0202,
This will be approximately a 2.5 mile hike under the full moon along the Caloosahatchee River. The terrain is mostly flat. The full moon will light up the path, but in case the clouds come in a flash light may be necessary.

Meet at 6:30 p.m. and start hiking at 6:45 p.m. Please bring water, wear closed in shoes, and anything else for your comfort: like bug spray in case the mosquitoes decide to do one of their blood drives.
Directions: Take US 80 east out of LaBelle. Turn left on to Birchwood Drive (this is where the Port LaBelle Inn sign is location). Take first left on to Oxbow Drive. Go past the marina, Port LaBelle Inn, the villas, and the condos than take a right to the many parking areas. The marina has given permission to park here for the hike.

Photo: courtesy Waddy Thompson

Mark Terrell Talks Beetles At Audubon

LABELLE, FL. -- The January Hendry-Glades Audubon program featuring Mark Terrell will be held Monday January 11th at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle at 7 p.m.

Mark will present “A Tale of Two Beetles”, which will be a discussion comparing Red Bay Ambrosia Beetles and the Laurel Wilt they spread, with Air Potato Beetles, which we have been releasing on purpose. Both of these insects are having an impact on our local environment. He is a Plant Inspector for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in LaBelle .

For information about this free program contact Butch Wilson 863- 983-2870 or Margaret England (863) 674-0695. Send requests to subscribe to the free quarterly online “Crested Caracara” Newsletter to

Guest Speakers At Kiwanis

LABELLE, FL. -- The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle had a very interesting meeting recently with 4 guest speakers including Joe Thomas with the LaBelle Heritage Museum talking about the River Cruise during Swamp Cabbage. Plans have been made for 4 trips on Saturday February 27th. He also talked about a logo contest for the museum and a $500 prize for the winning entry.

The other speakers were Steve, Amanda and Tyler Nisbet. They gave a wonderful overview of the history of Boy Scouts and talked about some of the activities that Boy Scout Troop 514 will be involved in. Tyler, who is a member of Troop 514 entertained the club by singing a song.

Pictured: Kiwanis Club of LaBelle President-Nikki Yeager, Joe Thomas-LaBelle Heritage Museum, and Steve, Amanda and Tyler Nisbet.

Donald Russell Dies At 66

Donald Alan Russell, age 66, of Clewiston, suddenly passed away January 5, 2016 at his home.

Donald was born in Bremerton, Washington on November 26, 1949 to John and Barbara Linton Russell. He worked as supervisor for the Department of Agriculture before his retirement. He enjoyed spending time outside and with his family.

He leaves behind his two sons; Ryan and Phillip Russell, one granddaughter; Jennifer Russell, sister; Barbara Ficarra of Sarasota, his caring ex-wife Laura A. Russell-Slusser of Port St. Lucie and many friends and extended family members.

He was simple man and he would want a simple funeral. He is being cremated and remembered by his family as they wish.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Curtis Miners Dies At 87

Curtis Miners, 85, of Fort Myers, FL, passed away on January 2, 2016 in Fort Myers. Curtis was born in Lyons, GA to Leroy Miners and Bessie Usher Miners on February 17, 1930.

For over 50 years Curtis owned and operated numerous retail grocery stores in Pahokee and Immokalee, FL. He also sat on Pahokee City Council for several terms.

Curtis is survived by his wife of 65 years, Ruth Warren Miners, of Fort Myers, sons, Steve and Jay Miners of Fort Myers, sister, Beatrice Rollins of Vidalia, GA, grandchildren, Starr, Jared, Curt, Jeb and Justin Miners, also of Fort Myers, FL and great granddaughters, Aubrie, Emma, and Allie Miners, and also his many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins. He is preceded in death by son, Alan Miners and siblings, Mary James and Leroy Miners Jr.

Funeral service will be held at LaBelle Church of God in LaBelle, FL on Friday, January 8, 2016 at 10am, with Rev. Curtis Rhoden of 103rd Street Church of God of Jacksonville officiating. Burial will follow at Port Mayaca Cemetery in Canal Point, FL. Visitation will be held at LaBelle Church of God on Friday, January 8, from 9am until 10am. Akin-Davis Funeral Home will be handling the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hope Hospice, 9470 HealthPark Circle, Fort Myers, FL, 33908. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Curtis' care giver of eight years, Landy Dennis of Fort Myers and her daughter LeAnn Batchelor, and to all who knew and loved him.

Obituaries - Faith Davis, Ken Avant, Jerry Volz

Faith Marie Davis, age 75, of Clewiston, passed away January 2, 2016 in Clewiston, FL. She was born Aug. 6, 1940 in Claysburg, PA, to the late Paul and the late Winifred (Shaffer) Baughman.

She is survived by her husband: Phillip Davis, Sr., two sons: Phillip Davis, Jr., Daniel Davis; three daughters: Sunday Peterson, Joy Dimbath, Gloria Davis, four brothers: Paul Baughman, Jr., Joe Baughman, David Baughman, Jim Baughman, two sisters: Delores Planes, Dawn Higginbottom and thirteen grandchildren & Twelve great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her daughters, Elizabeth Benway and Lola White and granddaughter Michelle Benway.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 3:00 pm. Visitation will be one hour prior, from 2:00 pm until 3:00 pm. Both being held at Lighthouse Apostolic Church, in Clewiston Florida with Pastor Mike Hall officiating. Interment will be in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston, FL.

Kenneth Allen Avant, Jr, age 54, of Clewiston, passed away December 25, 2015 in Clewiston.

He was born Dec. 12, 1961 in Ozark, AL, to the late Kenneth Allen and the late Joyce M (Thomley) Avant, Sr.

He is survived by his brother John Avant. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Jerry C Volz, age 68, of LaBelle
, passed away January 1, 2016 in LaBelle. He was born Aug. 5, 1947 in Olean, NY, to John Keller and Betty (Bisnett) Volz, Sr..

He is survived by his sister, Bonnie V. Stevens of Niceville, FL. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Mike Gatch Joins Kiwanis

LABELLE, FL. -- At a recent Kiwanis meeting, LaBelle club members learned some surprising new facts about recycling with Kiwanis' newest member, Mike Gatch who works for Henry County.

You can visit Hendry County's website for more information about recycling: or call Hendry County Special Districts 863-675-5252 * Hazardous Waste Disposal 863-673-0508

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle is excited to welcome Mike Gatch as their newest member.

Pictured: Kiwanis Club of LaBelle President-Nikki Yeager and Mike Gatch

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Emergency Preparation For Families

By Brian K. Newhouse, Director of Emergency Management, Hendry County, Fl.

This is the first in a series of articles to follow that will help you, the residents of Hendry County and the surrounding areas, to prepare yourself and your families to survive before, during and after a disaster strikes. Each week we will discuss a different topic related to the five main areas of Emergency Management: Prevention, Preparedness, Mitigation, Response and Recovery.

With last year’s hurricane season behind us as of November 30th, we now have had a chance to catch our breaths and enjoy the holidays with friends and family without the threat of a major storm or other disaster affecting our area. Just because it hasn’t happened in a while doesn’t mean it can’t. We cannot afford to let our guard down. There is only six months until the June 1st start of the next hurricane season and other disasters can happen anytime. Why not start planning now? Avoid the stress associated with rushing around trying to get ready because you procrastinated until an event was approaching.

This week, we are going to talk about disaster kits. Gathering all the needed supplies for a well stocked disaster kit can be expensive and time consuming but it does not have to be a hit to your wallet all at once. Using this 20 week plan, you can gather a handful of items during your weekly shopping trips that will help you build your disaster kit in no time, thereby giving you piece of mind knowing that you and your family are prepared for anything. Hendry County Emergency Management recommends your disaster kit contain water (3 gallons per person per day), food and supplies for a minimum of 72 hours, but, ideally for seven days. Additionally, you should store your kit in an inexpensive plastic tote to keep it mobile, organized, and dry.

Every family and situation is different, so you will need to personalize your kit to your family’s specific needs. Remember to consider special dietary needs, medications and your pets.

If you would like more information about preparedness or how you can get involved as an Emergency Management Reservist (volunteer), please contact the Emergency Operations Center at 863-674-5400 or 5404 or email me at You can also follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter @HendryCountyEM. On behalf of the entire team at Hendry County Emergency Management, I would like to wish each and every one of you a happy, health, prosperous and safe 2016! Here’s the shopping list for the week 1:

Week 1 – January 3rd - 9th, 2016

Things to do:

 If you haven’t already, make a Family Plan and a Pet Plan.
 If you have a current disaster kit, rotate out soon to be expired foods and medicines.

Items to Purchase

 1 gallon of water*
 1 can of meat*
 1 canned fruit*
 1 can of vegetables*
 Portable AM/FM radio with batteries or hand crank

* Per person

Note: Always check expiration dates. Make the item last as long as possible (at least through November 30). Shopping lists are just a guide. Please adjust to your family’s needs.

Sheryl Acevedo Arrested For Murder And Arson

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The body of Federico Gomez was found in a burned home in rural Hendry county Saturday and deputies have arrested Reinaldo Cueves for obstruction of justice, and Sheryl Acevedo as a suspect to arson and the death of Gomez.

On January 2, 2016, Deputies arrived at the residence of 151 Avenida Del Centro, Clewiston, Florida, in the community of Montura. When they arrived on scene Montura firefighters had extinguished the flames and found the body of a deceased male, later identified as 79 year old Federico Gomez, inside the home.

While on scene Hendry County deputies made contact with 69 year old Reinaldo Cueves who stated that he lived in a mobile trailer behind Gomez. Hendry County Investigators interviewed Cueves who continually changed his story.

When Investigators questioned him about the inconsistencies in his stories, he became confrontational. At this time Hendry County Investigators placed Cueves under arrest on charges of Obstruction of Justice. Cueves is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $1,500 bond.

On Monday, January 4, 2015, Investigators followed up on information they received identifying 42 year old Sheryl Denise Acevedo as a suspect in the arson and death of Gomez. Investigators obtained an arrest warrant and picked Acevedo up at her home located at 393 Perimeter Road in the Montura Ranch Estates area.

She was then taken into custody and after interviewing Acevedo, she was placed under arrest on charges of 1st Degree Murder, Arson and Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence. She is currently being held on Without Bond in the Hendry County Jail.

UPDATE: On December 13, 2017 she was found guilty of arson and manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Peak Flu Cold Season Precautions

Although contagious viruses are active year-round, we’re most vulnerable to them in fall and winter. That’s because, in large part, we spend more time indoors with other people when the weather gets cold.  Fortunately, you can fight back with several FDA-approved medicines and vaccines.

Colds and Flu
Most respiratory bugs come and go within a few days, with no lasting effects. But some cause serious health problems. People who use tobacco or who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more prone to respiratory illnesses and more severe complications than nonsmokers.

Colds usually cause a stuffy or runny nose and sneezing. Other symptoms include coughing, a scratchy throat, and watery eyes. There is no vaccine against colds, which come on gradually and often spread through contact with infected mucus.

Flu comes on suddenly and lasts longer than colds. Flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, dry cough, body aches, fatigue, and general misery. Like colds, flu can cause a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. Young children may also experience nausea and vomiting with flu. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. You also can get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it.
Flu season in the United States may begin as early as October and can last as late as May, and generally peaks between December and February. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • More than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu-related complications each year, including 20,000 children younger than age 5.
  • Between 1976 and 2006, the estimated number of flu-related deaths every year ranged from about 3,000 to about 49,000.
  • In the 2014-15 season, there were about 40 million flu-associated illnesses, 19 million flu-associated medical visits, and 970,000 flu-associated hospitalizations—the highest estimate for a single flu season.

Prevention Tips

Get vaccinated against flu.
With rare exceptions, everyone ages 6 months and older should be vaccinated against flu. Flu vaccination, available as a shot or a nasal spray, can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
It’s ideal to be vaccinated by October, although vaccination into January and beyond can still offer protection. Annual vaccination is needed because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may need to be updated, and because a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time. Annual vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for developing serious complications from flu. These people include:
  • Children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with certain chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease).
  • People 65 or older.
Vaccination is especially important for health care workers, as well as those who live with or care for people at high risk for serious flu-related complications, such as people older than 65 or with compromised immune systems. Because babies younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu vaccine, their mother should get a flu shot during her pregnancy to protect them throughout pregnancy and up to 6 months after birth. Additionally, all of the baby’s caregivers and close contacts should be vaccinated.
Although there was a less than ideal match between circulating flu strains and those included in the vaccine during last season, CDC estimates that the vaccines still provided about half the protection they did during the previous season. CDC also reports that this season’s vaccines better match circulating viruses.