Monday, February 29, 2016

Thomas Mere Paying $40K For Park Discrimination Allegations

FORT MYERS, FL. -- The Justice Department announced today that Thomas Mere, the owner and operator of Mere’s Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Park in North Fort Myers, Florida, has agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations that he discriminated against African Americans in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The settlement, which is in the form of a consent order, must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The government’s complaint, also filed today, alleges that the defendant falsely told African Americans that no mobile homes, recreational vehicles or recreational vehicle lots were immediately available for rent, but told similarly-situated white persons that they were, in fact, available for rent. According to the complaint, the defendant encouraged prospective white renters to consider residing at Mere’s Park and discouraged African Americans from residing there by, for example, referring African Americans to another mobile home and RV park, making discouraging comments about units that were available for rent and failing to provide African Americans complete and accurate information about available units and lots. The lawsuit is based on the results of testing conducted by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.

“Owners of rental properties cannot pick and choose residents based on race or color,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to hold owners who violate the law accountable for their discriminatory conduct.”

“All citizens and their families should be free to choose where they want to live without fear of discrimination,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida. “Our office is committed to eradicating all forms of housing discrimination in the Middle District of Florida.”

Under the settlement, the defendant will establish a settlement fund of $30,000 to compensate victims of his discriminatory practices and pay a civil penalty of $10,000 to the United States. The agreement also requires that the defendant implement nondiscriminatory application and rental procedures at the park, undergo fair-housing training and provide periodic reports to the department.

Individuals who have information about, or who believe they may have been discriminated against at Mere’s Park, located at 1555 North Tamiami Trail, 1051 North Tamiami Trail and 1699 Ixora Drive in North Fort Myers, should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743, option 96, or by email at The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.

River Rides, Food, Music At Swamp Cabbage Festival

LABELLE, FL. -- Saturday was the big day for the 50th Annual Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle, Florida. Two days of music, food, dancing, and more as thousands hits the streets on the last full weekend of February. Each year hundreds of food booths and exhibits are set up at Barron Park along the Caloosahatchee River in Hendry County as visitors from far and wide come to get a taste of country living and watch the annual parade, car show, the river, musicians, and each other. 

Video: Scenes from the park and streets of LaBelle during the Festival

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Budweiser Clydesdales March In Saturday Parade

LABELLE, FL. -- The Budweiser eight-horse team of Clydesdale draft horses arrived Saturday in LaBelle for the 50th annual Swamp Cabbage Festival Parade.

Ten horses, the famous red, white, and gold beer wagon and other essential equipment are transported in three 50-foot tractor-trailers but only eight pull the wagon. Cameras mounted in the trailers are connected to monitors in the cabs that enable the drivers to keep a watchful eye on their precious cargo during transport. The team stops each night at local stables so the “gentle giants” can rest. Air-cushioned suspension and thick rubber flooring in the trailers ease the rigors of traveling.

In April 1933, August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father, August A. Busch, Sr., with the gift of a six-horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition. The Clydesdales later made a stop in Washington D.C. to reenact the delivery of one of the first cases of Budweiser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The St. Louis hitch also toured in celebration of the ending of Prohibition, stopping in Chicago and other Midwestern cities.

Shortly after the hitch was introduced, the six-horse Clydesdale team was increased to eight. On March 30, 1950, in commemoration of the opening of the Newark Brewery, a Dalmatian was introduced as the Budweiser Clydesdales’ mascot. Now, a Dalmatian travels with each of the Clydesdale hitches.

To qualify for one of the traveling hitches, a Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age, stand 72 inches at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, have a bay coat, four white legs,a white blaze, and a black mane and tail. Anheuser-Busch owns approximately 250 Clydesdales.

Clydesdale horseshoes measure more than 20 inches from end to end and weigh about 5 pounds which is more than twice as long and five times as heavy as the shoe worn by a light horse.

Each harness and collar weighs approximately 130 pounds. The harness is handcrafted with solid brass, patent leather, and stitched with pure linen thread. The harness is made to fit any Clydesdale; however, collars come in various sizes and must be individually fitted to the Clydesdale like a finely tailored suit.

The Budweiser Clydesdales can be viewed at the Anheuser-Busch breweries in St. Louis, Mo., Merrimack, N.H., and Ft. Collins, Colo. They also may be viewed at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and at Warm Springs Ranch, the 300-plus acre Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Mo.

Information from

Video: Budweiser Clydesdales by Don Browne

Blessed Dreams - Bill Neville

Commentary by T.W. Bill Neville

I have a quandary of a conflicting nature that I trust will be alleviated, as has been the case, in the past. However, I'm operating on drastically different ground rules, this time. I don't have my lovely, understanding wife at my side anymore, to act as that caring, "sounding" board, of over 65 years.

So, if you don't mind, I'm going to ask any one reading this article to listen to my story, and maybe that will
clear my mind of this "nagging" feeling that I'm substituting "DREAMING" as a substitute for the reality of losing my wife.

I never used to "dream", she was the "dreamer", and many breakfasts were occupied with her recounting her dreams, while I listened and commented accordingly. Now, I'm the "dreamer", and fortunately, or unfortunately, with one exception, they have all involved her, and incidents we shared over the years.

Just this past week, I awoke from a deep sleep, from such a dream, and spent the rest of the night trying to interpret it's meaning. The only thing I could think of was having just received a very moving "Memorial medallion" keepsake that reads, "Goodbye is not forever. Goodbye is not the end. It simply means, I will miss you, until we meet again."

The significance of this is that she had developed an intense dislike for the word "GOODBYE" and always suggested that "So long" or "See you soon" be used. It took me a little while for me to get her to explain why, and it was simply, upon leaving all the families, up north, "GOOD BYE" sounded too "FINAL", and she might never see them alive again.

This "medallion", coming as it did, just that afternoon, had to have triggered the "DREAM", which was a "replay" of what she went through, every time we left the "families", up-north, over the last 22 years of her life.

THANKS for allowing me to come into "your" lives and "use" your "COUCH" for how ever long it took for you to read my "plea" for solace and quandary relief. IT WORKED! and I can, now, treat the "dreams" as "MEMORIES" and a "CELEBRATION" of the GREATEST TIMES of my LIFE!

2016 Swamp Cabbage Festival Car Show

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle celebrated it's 50th annual Swamp Cabbage Festival Saturday with a 5k run, an hour long parade down Bridge Street, fun, food, and music at Barron Park, and a classic and antique car show. Crowds this year were record breaking with more activities will follow on Sunday.

(Video: Car Show)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kenneth McKee Dies At 98

Kenneth Bell McKee, age 98, of LaBelle, FL, passed away February 23, 2016 in LaBelle.

He was born Oct. 12, 1917 in Methuen, MA, to the late Mortimer Thompson and the late Mary (Marco) McKee.

He grew up in Hanover, NH and was also a veteran of the Navy and served in the South Pacific in WWII. He also graduated from Bucknell University and was a former resident of Audubon, NJ. Kenneth retired as District Manager of the Philadelphia District from Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in 1985. He then worked as Golf Director for Cunard Cruise Line from 1985 to 1995. Ken resided in LaBelle since 1988.

Survivors include his sons: Kenneth T. McKee and James W. and wife Lynn McKee of Audubon, NJ, grandchildren: Christina, Jim and Melissa and great-grandchild: Blair. He was preceded in death by his wife: Imogene White McKee in 2011

A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 5, 2016, 12:00 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Father Chester Domaszewicz officiating. Visitation will begin 30 minutes prior the memorial service at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Kingshouse Retirement Center, 151 S. Missouri St, LaBelle, FL 33935.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Free Training For Amateur Radio LIcenses

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Emergency Management Department sponsors amateur radio activities in Hendry county and is cooperating with the Big Lake Amateur Radio Club in free training to aid interested persons in getting their FCC amateur radio licenses and ultimately on the air.  

The next class is scheduled for Saturday, April 16 from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm at the Emergency Operations Center west of LaBelle on SR80.  The class will include testing.  

For more information, contact the EOC at 863-674-5404.  The club will also have a table set up at the Swamp Cabbage Festival near the Barron Library on Saturday.  Stop by the table to take a look or try your hand at talking around the corner or the world at our special event station. - Big Lake Amateur Radio Club website

Weekend Festival Kicks Off With Big Parade

Budweiser Clydesdale Eight-Horse Team And Dalmation In Saturday Parade

LABELLE, FL. -- Thousand of visitors will be traveling to  the city of LaBelle in western Hendry county this weekend for the 50th annual Swamp Cabbage Festival. By far the county'a largest event, it's held every year on the last full weekend of February, this year the 27th and 28th.

The famous Budweiser Clydesdale draft horse team will be in the parade this year, with eight horses pulling the Budweiser beer wagon.

Road closings for the morning 5K run will affect SR80 and SR29:

SR 80 from Cowboy Way to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard: Motorists should expect the outside westbound lane closed from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 27 for the Swamp Stomp 5K. Drivers should use caution while runners use the roadway.

SR 29 over the Caloosahatchee River in the City of Labelle: Motorists should expect the bridge closed from 9:45 a.m. to noon on Saturday, February 27 for the Swamp Cabbage Parade. Motorists should follow detour signs and expect delays.
Watch highlights of the 2015 Parade above (video - Don Browne)

Click here for More info on the Festival and videos from past years
Click here for 2014 Festival Car Show Video

Activities follow in the park after the 10 a.m. parade which travels north on Bridge Street to the Barron Park on the Caloosahatchee River:

Saturday Feb 27

7:30 AM 5K Run
10:00 AM Parade
11:30 AM Opening Prayer and National Anthem
11:45 AM Queen/Princess introduction and performance
12:00 PM- Lester Beleau Bank
1:10 PM Introduction of the Pioneer Family and Grand Marshal
1:20 PM Country Rhythm Cloggers
2:15 PM Shannon Reed Band
3:30 PM Showtime Cloggers
4:35 PM Infield band
7:00 PM Rodeo $10 at Rodeo Grounds
9:00 PM Country Dance $20 at Civic Center

Sunday, February 28

9:00 AM Dave Redant
10:00 AM Press On
10:45 AM Posse Band
11:30 AM The Dance Company
12:35 PM Queen/Princess introduction and performance
1:15 PM Lynette White
2:15 PM 64 To Grayson
6:00 PM Rodeo $10 at Rodeo Grounds

Dennis Tankersley Dies At 69

Dennis Gene Tankersley, age 69, of Clewiston, passed away February 19, 2016 in Clewiston. He was born Sep. 14, 1946 in Wauchula, FL, to the late Thomas Grady and the late Beulah Mae (Stanhersy) Tankersley. 

He served his country in the United State Marine Corps, working up to the level of Corporal. He was a maintenance worker for the Palm Beach County School Board for many years. He lived in Clewiston for over 30 years.

Dennis is survived by his loving and caring sister; Dovie "Boots" Peaden and her husband Charles of Okeechobee, Florida, two children; William C. and Rhonda Jean Tankersley.

Graveside service to honor Dennis will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. in Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

David Bartley Dies At 61

David Curtis Bartley, Sr., age 61, of LaBelle, passed away February 17, 2016 in Loxahatchee. He was born Oct. 5, 1954 in Clewiston, FL, to the late Eugene Vernon and the late Mada Mary (Thielen) Bartley Casey.

Survivors include two sons: David Bartley, Jr. and Darrin Bartley of Orlando, daughter: Jamie Rene Bartley (Sim Harrynarine) of LaBelle, brothers: Darryl Bartley and Dan (Trish) Bartley, sister: Debra (Jimbo) Weeks and grandchildren: Gavin, Dylan and Alex and nieces & nephews: Garrick, Morgan, Amy, Darryl James, Daniel and Cooper.

A memorial service will be held Friday, February 26, 2016, 3:30 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston with Dr. William R. Taylor officiating. Visitation will start 1 hour prior to the service at the funeral home.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Daily Zika Virus Updates From Florida Surgeon General

In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware about the status of the Zika virus, State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong will issue a Zika virus update each week day at 2 p.m. Updates will include a CDC-confirmed Zika case count by county and information to better keep Floridians prepared.

As of today, one new Zika cases have been confirmed in Seminole County and the Declaration of Public Health Emergency has been expanded to include the county.

On Feb. 12, Governor Scott directed State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for current Florida residents and visitors, as well as anyone planning on traveling to Florida in the near future. The hotline, managed by the Department of Health, has assisted 648 callers since it launched. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

All cases are travel-associated. There have been no locally-acquired cases of Zika in Florida. None of the confirmed cases involve pregnant women. For more information on the Zika virus, click here.

State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, no matter how seemingly small. A couple drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding location for mosquitoes. Residents and visitors also need to use repellents when enjoying the Florida outdoors.

More Information on DOH action on Zika:
On Feb. 3, Governor Scott directed State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong to issue a Declaration of Public Health Emergency for the counties of residents with travel-associated cases of Zika.
The Declaration currently includes the 11 effected counties – Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Santa Rosa, Seminole and St. Johns – and will be updated as needed.
DOH encourages Florida residents and visitors to protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water; covering their skin with repellent and clothing; and covering windows with screens.
DOH has a robust mosquito-borne illness surveillance system and is working with the CDC, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and local county mosquito control boards to ensure that the proper precautions are being taken to protect Florida residents and visitors.
Florida currently has the capacity to test 4,859 people for active Zika virus and 1,268 for Zika antibodies.

Federal Guidance on Zika:
According to the CDC, Zika illness is generally mild with a rash, fever and joint pain. CDC researchers are examining a possible link between the virus and harm to unborn babies exposed during pregnancy.
This week, the FDA released guidance regarding donor screening, deferral and product management to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmission of Zika virus. Additional information is available on the FDA website here.

For more information on Zika virus, click here.

Pat Johnson Featured At Museum Meeting March 3

LABELLE, FL.-- Mary Ann Driggers Kirkland, famed midwife, entrepreneur and matriarch of the Upper Caloosahatchee Valley know to many as "Aunt Polly Powers" will be the focus of Patricia Newell Johnson's presentation at LaBelle Heritage Museum's March 3 monthly program meeting celebrating Women's Heritage Month at the museum located at 360 North Bridge Street immediately across the street from the Harold P. Curtis Honey Co. at 7 o'clock. 

The meeting is open to the public. Parking at the museum is limited, and Rene Curtis Pratt of Curtis Honey Co. has said overflow parking will be available at 355 North Bridge Street.

Ms. Newell-Johnson says the program, which will feature a slide show of photos of Mary Ann Kirkland and a number of her distaff descendants will center on this almost legendary figure and how she and her many descendants helped define LaBelle's heritage.

Monday, February 22, 2016

U.S. Sugar Corrects Misinformation On Lake Water Releases

CLEWISTON, FL. -- In a effort to stem criticism of the recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water releases into the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee U.S. Sugar has released a statement on what they call "Misinformation spread by environmental critics regarding water quality of the Lake Okeechobee discharges."

Judy Sanchez, long time communications public affairs director at the sugar company released the following statements to news organizations: 

Recently, some environmental critics have attempted to spread misinformation about the source of nutrient pollution in the discharges that are being released from Lake Okeechobee by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide facts and information to help inform your ongoing coverage:

· The water from the backpumping undertaken by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) represents only a minuscule amount – less than three quarters of an inch – of the more than 13 inches that has entered into Lake Okeechobee (Source: SFWMD, “Just the Facts: Historic 2015-2016 Dry Season Rainfall).

· Contrary to claims that backpumping is used primarily to benefit sugarcane farmers, backpumping is a necessary flood control measure that benefits “thousands of families and businesses” in the Glades communities (Source: SFWMD, “Just the Facts: Historic 2015-2016 Dry Season Rainfall).

· Only 3 percent of the water and 5 percent of the nitrogen in Lake Okeechobee comes from the South (Source: SFWMD, Update on Nitrogen Water Quality Conditions in the South Florida Water Management District).

· As much as 80 percent of the nutrients are coming from the local basins in both the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. (Source: SFWMD, Update on Nitrogen Water Quality Conditions in the South Florida Water Management District).

· According to Mote Marine Laboratory, “there is no direct link between nutrient pollution and the frequency or severity of red tides caused by K. brevis” (Source: Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida Red Tide FAQs).

These statements from the environmental community, which have been repeated in the media, are harmful to the well-being of the hardworking men and women who work in agribusiness throughout our region. Our farmers are proud of the progress they are making in water quality achievements. Last year, they reached a historic 79 percent in phosphorus reductions – the most successful yet. While others talk about cleaning up the environment, U.S. Sugar’s farmers are on the front lines of restoration efforts across the Everglades Agricultural Area.

The Facts on Water Quality in the Lake Okeechobee Releases As Reported in the Media

"Citing SFWMD scientists, the group added that:
• The quality of water from south of the lake is no different than water from other sources “except that it had lower nutrient levels than many other sources” that feed into the lake.

• It would be extremely difficult for water to make its way from southeastern pumps to discharge sites on the other side of the lake’s littoral zone.

• Less than three percent of lake water comes from back-pumping.

• About 70-80 percent of the flow to the Caloosahatchee River is from local run-off.

Citing a SFWMD water quality report, the group wrote that the back-pumped water is cleaner than most storm water drainage “and not some toxic water that is different from anyone else’s storm water.”

“These are critical facts that would have been extremely helpful to your discussion this morning,” the group wrote.”

- ‘Lake O’ cities’ response to Lee County mayors: We deserve flood protection too, WINK-TV, February 11, 2016

“The discoloration is caused almost entirely from naturally occurring tannins in the 1,400-square-mile Caloosahatchee River Basin involving runoff from 900,000 acres on both sides of the river.”

- Lee County Commission Chairman Frank Mann, Ft. Myers News-Press, February 16, 2016

“The environmental damage caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges and local rainwater runoff extends beyond the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.”

- Black water plume from St. Lucie River threatens offshore coral reefs by Tyler Treadway, Treasure Coast News, February 16, 2016

“But researchers at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium say red tide, which existed before human settlement, develops up to 40 miles offshore and there is no direct link between red tide and polluted water.”

- Mayors: Funding, transparency needed to address ‘Lake O’ water releases by Stephanie Susskind, WINK-TV Ft. Myers, February 10, 2016

“While much of the attention right now is directed toward the Lake Okeechobee discharges, it’s important to remember that 60 percent to 80 percent of the pollution that makes its way into the Caloosahatchee comes from our local basin runoff.”

- Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, Ft. Myers News-Press, February 5, 2016

“Despite the initiation of increased Lake Okeechobee regulatory releases, over the last four days approximately 70% of the current water flow is runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed.”

- Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane, Ft. Myers News Press, February 5, 2016

“The Florida Health Department at Martin County on Friday warned people to stay out of the St. Lucie River at the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart and at Leighton Park near the Old Palm City Bridge. Test results Thursday show unacceptable levels of enteric bacteria, which inhabit the intestinal tract of people and animals and indicates fecal pollution. The bacteria can come from pet, people and wildlife waste in rainfall runoff. Potential health risks for those who ingest or come into contact with contaminated water include upset stomach, diarrhea, eye irritation and skin rashes.”

- “Health department: Stay out of St. Lucie River at Stuart, Palm City,” Treasure Coast News, January 22, 2016

Two Car Crash In Port LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- No details are yet available as the Florida Highway Patrol investigates a crash at Collingswood Blvd, and Helms Road in the Port LaBelle area of Hendry county this afternoon about 3 p.m.

Elbur Long Dies At 72

Elbur Milton Long, Jr, age 72, of Palmdale, FL, passed away February 19, 2016 in Sebring, Florida.

Milton was born July 3, 1943 in Miami, Florida to the late Elbur Milton and Louis Fair Long, Sr. A husband, brother, father, grandfather and friend. Milton was a hunter, diver, mechanic, Christian, buggy ridin', stubborn tough lovin' old man.

Milton is survived by his loving wife, Judy Long, brother; Wally Long, sons; Jeff (Jodi) Long, Buck (Jaime) Long, daughters; Barbara (Rusty) Smith, Kim (Shane) Lewis, grandchildren; Ashley, Jared, Andres, Jade, Caleb, Josh, Noah, Abby and Barrett.

Celebration of Milton's life will be held Monday, February 22nd, 2016, 3:00 p.m. at Cowboy Ministries, Venus, Florida with Frank Dana Officiating. A time of visitation and refreshments to follow.

In lieu of flowers, family has requested donations sent to Cowboy Church Ministries.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Zika - A Mosquito Transmitted Virus, What You Need To Know

LABELLE, FL. -- One of the latest publications from the University of Florida and IFAS is about Zika viruses. Zika is a mosquito-transmitted virus that has spread broadly in tropical regions and caused epidemics, especially in the past 8 to 9 years. 

In its native range in West Africa and Uganda, the Zika virus stays in the forest for the most part, and human infections are considered incidental and medically inconsequential. In 2015, however, Zika became a larger concern when a strain of the virus traced to outbreaks in French Polynesia emerged in northeastern Brazil. 

This strain provoked alarm because of increased incidence of microcephaly in babies born to Zika-infected mothers. Local transmission, mainly by the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, has now been documented in most tropical countries of the Americas but has not yet been detected in the continental United States. 

This 7-page fact sheet written by L. P. Lounibos, B. W. Alto, N. D. Burkett-Cadena, C. C. Lord, C. T. Smartt, C. R. Connelly, and J. R. Rey and published by the Department of Entomology and Nematology describes the Zika microbe, its mosquito hosts, and the disease it causes. 

A history of the virus and its migration are included, along with some details about the virus in the state of Florida and preventative measures people can take to avoid infection. The best way to avoid contracting Zika (and other mosquito-borne diseases) is not to get bitten in the first place. Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Enough! - Commentary From Bill Neville

Commentary By T.W. Bill Neville

I have just received an e mail from a friend of over 40 years of business and social validation. It was centered on a family situation regarding "Burnt Biscuits for Dinner."

This brought to mind an incident featuring me and my Dad at the supper table back in the latter part of the1940's. We were poor, but everybody we knew was poor, so, being poor, didn't carry any special stigma, back then.

My Mother, having been orphaned and put in an County "Orphan's"home, in her teens, with two, younger brothers, had learned a lot about how to feed a family of three males. I was in my teens and my brother, sub-teen, with healthy,growing appetites.

My Dad, thin as a rail, ran a Gas station, and could really "mow" the food away, when Mom worked her "miracle", not quite matching Jesus and the "fish and loaves" miracle, and it just so happened to be that our supper. this night, was one of my favorites, the Thursday night "special", home-made, baking soda biscuits and, meatless, flour gravy, and home canned, Michigan, Hale Haven peaches. There was no money for meat, or poultry, except for Sundaydinner. I think that Thursday menu was made all the more appreciated for 2 reasons, Mom flavored he gravy with meat "drippings" scrounged from Sunday meat and fowl meals, and the other reason was knowing that Friday's supper would be canned, pink salmon, and creamed, canned peas.

I had a good portion and was in the process of passing my plate for "seconds" when my Dad returned my empty plate and said, "Bill, you've had ENOUGH!", as he loaded up his plate,again.

That was the night that I learned the "TRUE" meaning of "ENOUGH!". and I NEVER forgot that night and truly learned how much my parents accomplished, with so little income, and a "LOVING" Mother, "DRIPPINGS", and "all.

It galvanized my belief in the fact that "charity" does begin at home, and I and my brother were never neglected, or denied our basic needs.We always had a roof over our heads, warm clothes on our backs, and "ENOUGH" food in our bellies. With NO fear of an "Orphan's" home, hanging over our heads!!

For, you see, in my family, "ENOUGH" was not just a "WORD" but a "PARENTAL" ritual born of "LOVE" and sustained by, not their "BANK ACCOUNT", but by taking "RESPONSIBILITY" not only for their actions, but for OURS!

Jimmie Gene Marshall Dies At 85

Jimmie Gene Marshall, 85, of Labelle, Florida and Waynesville, North Carolina, died February 18, 2016. His loving family was at his side in his home in Waynesville. 

He was born August 28, 1930 in Talihina, LeFlore County, Oklahoma, to the late Nat Marshall and Virginia LeFlore Marshall. He grew up in Talihina, where he was quarterback for the high school football team. Jimmie was an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a proud supporter of a variety of tribal initiatives. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and was an alumni of Oklahoma State University.

Jimmie met Wilene Dyson, a nurse, while she was working at the Choctaw Indian Hospital in Talihina. They were married in Stillwater, Oklahoma on February 17, 1950 and just celebrated 66 years of marriage. Their first son, Gene Vance Marshall, was born at the Choctaw Indian Hospital in Talihina. Their second son, Jon Allen Marshall, and their daughter, Gale Rae Marshall, were born in Orlando, Florida.

He began his work in the citrus industry in Orlando in 1951 with Minute Maid. Later he became a Citrus Associate of the New York Cotton Exchange and past Director of Trade Associations at state and national levels. After retirement from A. Duda and Sons in 1991, he volunteered and served as a Project Manager for USAID in Poland.

In 1952 he was raised a Master Mason and was a charter member, Perpetual Member, and Past Master of LaBelle Lodge No. 379. He was also a Perpetual Member of Talihina Lodge No. 73 AF&AM. He was active in the Scottish Rite and Araba Shriners in Fort Myers, Florida and was a 38-year Jester and Past Director of the Fort Myers Court.

Jimmie served several years as a member of the Regional Planning Council in Southwest Florida and was also appointed to the Site Selection Committee for Florida Gulf Coast University by the late Governor Lawton Chiles. He was a past president of the LaBelle Chamber of Commerce and honored as Boss of the Year and Man of the Year. He was an active in the First Christian Church of Labelle and was lovingly welcomed by the Francis Cove Methodist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina.

Many lives were touched by his generous spirit. He will forever be remembered for his unending love of family and friends, his tremendous sense of humor, and his zest for life.

In addition to his parents, Jimmie is preceded in death by brothers, Nat, Charlie, and Jon Marshall and one sister, Virginia Eve.

He is survived by his wife, Wilene Dyson Marshall; sons, Gene Vance Marshall Sr. (Becky) of Fort Myers, Florida and Prospect, Kentucky, Jon Allen Marshall (Roxann) of Houston, Texas and Healdsburg, California; and a daughter, Gale Rae Marshall of Canton, North Carolina; four grandchildren, G. Vance Marshall Jr. (Jennifer) of Florence, Kentucky, Jared A. Marshall of San Diego, California, Lindsey R. Marshall of Houston, Texas and Lacey N. Marshall of Los Angeles, California. He is also survived by sister-in-law, Evelyn Marshall of Talihina, Oklahoma.

A memorial service will be scheduled at a future date. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children - 12502 USF Pine Drive Tampa, Florida 33612-9411 or the church of your choice.

Wells Funeral Homes & Cremation Services of Waynesville is in charge of arrangements.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Adventist Hosptial Pays $2 Million Settlement

Whistleblower Gets 15% Of Settlement

TAMPA, FL –  The Adventist Health System Sunbelt Healthcare Corporation has agreed to pay the government $2.09 million to resolve allegations that patients were administered portions of single-dose vials of chemotherapy drugs that were left over from administrations to prior patients.

Subject to a very few strict exceptions not applicable here, these single-dose vials of chemotherapy drugs can only be accessed once and their contents (whether some or all) can only be administered to one patient. That is because these single-dose vials lack any anti-microbial ingredients or other preservatives, and accessing them can introduce harmful agents that can be passed on to subseqent patients.

This settlement also resolves allegations that some platinum based drugs were administered inappropriately; that certain infusion services were upcoded; and that some patients had to be admitted for treatment as a result of the foregoing acts and omissions.

These events occurred between late 2007 and mid-2011, at an Adventist location in Central Florida, and resulted in the submission of improper claims to federal government health care programs, including Medicare, TRICARE, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. In January 2012, 

Adventist voluntarily self-disclosed certain of the above-described conduct to the United States and repaid $819,828.82 to the United States. The company will receive a credit of that amount toward the $2.09 million obligation.

"These actions put patients at needless risk in an attempt to boost profits at taxpayer expense," said Shimon R. Richmond, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "This settlement demonstrates that such practices have consequences."

The settlement resolves allegations in a lawsuit filed by relator Heather Huddleston in February 2013. Huddleston’s suit was filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which authorizes private parties to sue for false claims on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery. Huddleston was formerly employed by Adventist and had disclosed certain of the conduct internally to Adventist in 2011. The relator will be receiving $376,452 from the proceeds of the settlement.

The lawsuit was filed in the Middle District of Florida, and is captioned United States ex rel. Huddleston v. Adventist Health System Sunbelt Healthcare Corporation, Case No. 8:13-cv-710-T-27-EAJ (M.D. Fla.).

Friday, February 19, 2016

Jordan Snidow Seriously Inured In Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- Jordan White Snidow, 72 of Midlothian, VA. was seriously injured Thursday night about 8:17 as he attempted to direct traffic on State Road 80 in Hendry county.

Conley Trigg Snidow, 73 of Midlotian was driving a 2008 GMC Yukon with a towed trailer northbound on Haman Drive. Patricia M. Colon, 57 of Moore Haven was eastbound in a 2007 Toyota Corolla on State Road 80 as Jordan Snidow entered the eastbound lane of State Road 80 and attempted to regulate eastbound traffic in order to facilitate the truck's reentry onto State Road 80.

As a result, the Toyota struck the left rear of Snidow's towed trailer in the eastbound lane. Collision impact forced the trailer to move in a lateral direction (east).

Jordan Snidow was then struck by the trailer in the eastbound lane. Subsequent to the crash, he was transported by Lee Flight to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers and is in serious but stable condition. Colon had minor injuries and was taken to Lehigh Medical Center.

Charges are pending investigation said the FHP.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Obituaries - Manning, Richardson, Lewis

Willie Sue Manning, age 76, of Clewiston, passed away February 11, 2016 in Loxahatchee. She was born Aug. 17, 1939 in Monroe, TN, to William Dendy Thomas and Julie Geneva (Lance) Bearden.

She was a member of the Clewiston Pentecostal Holiness Church. She was a loving and loyal wife of 56 years to Ralph Douglas Manning (predeceased), a loving mother to her three kids, and a loving Grandmother to her precious Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren.

Survivors include her Three kids: Eddie Manning, Robert Manning, and Teresa Usher-Manning, Sister: Carolyn Rice, Grandkids: Jessica Manning-Carey, Josh Manning, Meghan Manning, Krystal Manning-Hevey, Brett Usher, Brian Usher, Great Grandkids: Madison Manning, Ariana Hevey, Brianna Hevey, Aubrey Usher, Logan Carey, Elissa Carey.

A Celebration Of Life for Willie Sue Manning will be held Saturday, February 20, 2016, 11:00 am at Clewiston Pentecostal Holiness Church, Clewiston with Rev. Johnny Abercrombie officiating.

Oleta T. Richardson, age 89, of Moore Haven, passed away February 12, 2016 in Moore Haven. She was born Aug. 2, 1926 in Los Angeles, CA, to Arthur and Roberta (Harris) Taylor.

Oleta retired in 2001 as Judicial Assistant for Judge Sullivan at the Glades County Courthouse. She was a member of First Baptist Church of Moore Haven where she also taught Sunday School.

Survivors include her children: John W. (Sharon) Richardson Jr. and Leeanne Criswell, grandchildren: Aaron Richardson, Amanda Richardson, Tony Richardson and Brianna Criswell and one great-grandchild.

Funeral services are Sat, February 20, 2016, 10:30 a.m. at Ortona Cemetery Pavilion with Rev. Sherrill Tillery officiating.

Kenneth O. Lewis, age 78 of Clewiston, Florida passed away on February 16, 2016 in his home 
surrounded by his loving wife and caring children at his side.

Kenneth was born in Nashville, Georgia, the son of Willie Lester and Ora Lee Corbitt Lewis. He proudly served his country in the United States Navy from July 30, 1955 to December 19, 1958. He worked as a plumber and a carpenter for most of his adult life. 

If you knew Kenneth, then you knew he was always straight to the point and did not hide around the bush about anything in his life. He was the one who always had a smile on his face, had a great wit and sense of humor all the time. 

He enjoyed fishing in his spare time and woodworking to take his mind off of life's problems. He was very much a family man, he cared about his family greatly and loved seeing his children and grandchildren grow up. He especially loved spending time with his great-grandchildren. 

He was a former member of the Jaycees and the Elks Lodge. He respected by everyone who knew and loved him. He married the love of his life, Sue Linkous on December 6, 1957 in Warrenton, North Carolina.

Kenneth is survived by his loving wife of 59 years; Sue L. Lewis, children; Kenneth Mark Lewis of Pahokee, Florida, Matthew Brian Lewis and his wife Janice of Belle Glade, Florida and Lisa Lewis Stevens and her husband Mike of Clewiston, Florida. He is also survived by his loving seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He will be missed by his two brothers; Ronald Lewis and his wife Terry and Donald Lewis and his wife Kathy of South Carolina and his sister Ona Lee Herrington and her husband Jack of Clewiston. He is also survived by two sisters-in-law; Betty Lewis (late husband Garth L. Lewis), and Carol Lewis (late husband Gene Lewis).

Celebration of Kenneth's life will be held on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. in Akin-Davis Funeral Home, where visitation will be one hour before the service. Burial will immediately follow the celebration in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston, Florida.

Auto Dealer Hagood Sentenced For Million Dollar Fraud

FORT MYERS, FL.  – U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell today sentenced Roger Eugene Hagood, 44 of Fort Myersto four years in federal prison for bank fraud. As part of the sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $677,722, the proceeds of the fraud. Hagood pleaded guilty on November 17, 2015.

According to court documents, Hagood operated Coral Palm Auto Sales, a used car dealership. Coral Palm Auto Sales received financing through a third-party lender to purchase automobiles. Vehicle titles were provided as security to procure the loans, and loan payments were made using proceeds from the vehicle sales. Once each loan was paid in full, the third-party lender would release the vehicle titles used to secure the loan back to Coral Palm Auto Sales.

In November and December 2011, Hagood engaged in a check-kiting scheme by writing 13 checks, totaling $1,592,121 on his business checking account, made payable to the third-party lender, knowing that the account lacked sufficient funds to cover the checks. As a result, the third-party lender wrote new loan checks on its account made payable to Coral Palm Auto Sales. Hagood’s scheme caused two federally insured banks to suffer a total loss of $1,037,770.01.

On March 29, 2015, Hagood attempted to surreptitiously dispose of 20 banker’s boxes containing records and documents pertaining to Coral Palm Auto Sales by throwing them in a dumpster located more than a mile from his residence. A video surveillance camera partially captured Hagood attempting to dispose of the boxes. The boxes were retrieved by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and turned over to the FBI. A portion of the records and documents that Hagood tried to destroy were responsive to a federal subpoena previously served on him earlier that month.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

No Cost Dental Sealant Program Prevents Kid's Cavities

LABELE, FL. -- February is Children’s Dental Health month and the Florida Department of Health joins dental professionals nationwide to promote good oral health for children and families. The Florida Department of Health in Hendry County provides a School-Based Sealant Program which offers preventive dental services at no cost to schools, parents or children. For every $1 Florida invests on dental sealants saves $1.88 in fillings.

“Dental health matters for overall health,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “The department is committed to promoting healthy teeth and gums through a variety of services across Florida’s communities.”

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic condition affecting children in the United States and in Florida. Left untreated, dental decay can result in:

• Infection, pain, inadequate tooth function and tooth loss;
• Impaired nutrition and inadequate speech development;
• Costly emergency department visits; or
• Poor school performance.

In 2014, department dental programs provided sealants to nearly 37,000 children. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of molar teeth and are 86 percent effective in preventing tooth decay. The school-based sealant program began treating patients at no cost in January of this year.

“This program will help keep our children healthier so they can focus on learning” said Joe Pepe, Administrator/Health Officer, Florida Department of Health Hendry/Glades.

Dental sealants performed by the department were analyzed for cost effectiveness by comparing the cost of receiving one dental sealant to the cost of one dental filling on an unsealed tooth. The cost savings over three years for 36,955 children receiving one dental sealant is more than $2.3 million.

To learn more contact Megan Shanahan, Dental Hygienist, School Based Dental Sealant Program at the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County (863) 674-4041.

Jacqueline Brown Arrested In Glades Bank Robbery

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Jacqueline Dean Brown, 48 of 657 NW Avenue E, in Moore Haven was arrested Tuesday afternoon a few hours after a bank robbery at the First Bank.

Surveillance video reportedly helped in identifying her as a suspect in the robbery.

She is being held at the Glades County Jail in Moore Haven. She had been charged and arrested in June 2015 with petit theft, altering a bank check, and uttering a false check.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

High Winds Demolish And Damage Homes In Glades County

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF0 tornado touched done in Moore Haven this morning. The tornado was approximately 50 feet wide with a length of track approximately 1.6 miles. It is not believed that the tornado was on the ground for that entire track but hopped from one location to another.

This morning around 5:22am Glades County Sheriff’s Office notified Emergency Management that a citizen had called dispatch saying her roof had been damaged. A few pieces of the homeowner’s roof was found in a field across the Caloosahatchee River.

Emergency Management also noted that a tree fell on Riverside Drive blocking part of the road, Moore Haven Fire Department responded to clear the debris and found another power line down. Glades Electric responded to fix the power lines. River Road, across from the Caloosahatchee River, had limbs down that were cleared by EM and MHFD. 

 Further assessments found that on Park Ave a porch had been torn off of a mobile home that was not being lived in at the time. Also, two older mobile homes were demolished off of Yaun Road, they also were not being lived in at the time. Other damage at Yaun Road was a truck window that was broken due to flying debris. On Park Ave the top of a tree had been torn off. The damage is believed to have been caused by a possible tornado.

The vast majority of tornadoes are designated EF1 or EF0, also known as "weak" tornadoes. However, weak is a relative term for tornadoes, as even these can cause significant damage. F0 and F1 tornadoes are typically short-lived—since 1980 almost 75% of tornadoes rated weak stayed on the ground for 1 mile (1.6 km) or less.

EF0  damage is characterized by superficial damage to structures and vegetation. Well-built structures are typically unscathed, sometimes sustaining broken windows, with minor damage to roofs. Billboards and large signs can be knocked down. Trees may have large branches broken off, and can be uprooted if they have shallow roots. Any tornado that is confirmed but causes no damage (i.e. remains in open fields) is always rated EF0.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Swim Club Coming To Firehouse Theatre

LABELLE, FL. -- Get ready for a play that will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart!

The Dixie Swim Club is a hilarious and touching comedy-drama written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wotten.

It will be directed by Mike Shough; the cast includes: Brenda Barnes, Richelle Battams, Janice Groves, Tammar Hammer and Nancy Steuber

It’s the story of five southern women whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team. They get together each August at the same beach cabin to share their lives, butt into each other’s business and have a few laughs! The play focuses on four of those weekends and spans a period of thirty-three years! The characters have five very different personalities with different perspectives on life and how it should be lived. It’s a wild rollercoaster ride of life, hurricanes included!

The Dixie Swim Club runs: February 25, 26, 27, 28 and March 3, 4, 5, 6, 2016.
Evening performances are at 7:00 pm on Feb. 26-28 and March 4-6, and special matinee performances at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 28th and March 6th.

Photo: Brenda Barnes, Richelle Battams, Nancy Steuber, Tammar Hammer, Janice Groves

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Serious Injuries In Early Morning Crash

LABELLE, FL. --  Three injured in a two vehicle crash in Hendry County Sunday morning.

Guadalupe Ambrosio, 45 of Miami, FL was traveling southbound on State Road 29 in a 1995 Chevy Astro at 2:29 a.m. and was departing the intersection of Sam Lane as Vincent Vespa Jr.,70 of Colchester, CT. was traveling northbound on State Road 29 and was approaching the intersection of Sam Lane.

Ambrosio attempted to make an eastbound turn into a private driveway just south of  Sam Lane and entered the northbound lane of State Road 29, directly into the path of Vespa who was unable to decelerate in time, thus, causing his 2002 Cadillac front to collide with the Chevy's front. This damage is consistent with this crash, said the FHP.

After the collision, the Cadillac overturned onto the northbound shoulder of State Road 29 and came to final rest on its passenger side and was facing a northwesterly direction. The Chevy was pushed backwards in a northwesterly direction and came to final rest on the southbound shoulder of State Road 29 and was facing a southeasterly direction, upon the arrival of the FHP.

Ambrosio was taken to Lehigh Regional Hospital with serious injuries, and Vespa was taken to Lee Memorial with critical injuries and passenger Emilia Vespa, 71 was taken to Lee Memorial with serious injuries.

Charges are pending.

Valentine Daze

Commentary By T.W. Bill Neville

I remember how, in the third grade at St. Bridget's school, how I hated, what I called "VALENTIMES" DAZE. All because of Mary Jane Wagner insisting on giving me those "stupid", I "love" you valentines, while "nobody" else got any, from anyone.

Fortunately, my Mother, counseled me into relaxing and, that "this", too, would pass, and "it" did, so I was not "seriously'" deterred from "glandular" acceptance of the "real" purpose of the "DAY."

In fact, under the laws of today. I could have been cited for "harassment" by some of my Valentine targets. But, as you might suspect, all of these "hooligan" tactics faded away when "Cupid's" arrow struck me, and I joined that select group of going "steady" couples.

Now that my wife, one of the "steady's" is gone, I remember that with me being on the road for over 40 years, when I retired and we moved to Florida, I pledged 2 things. First I told her the story of Casey Stengel, the long time, over 60 years as a major League base ball Mgr., finally retired, and a New York Times reporter went to interview Mrs. Stengel.

Casey had this reputation of "off the wall quotes and stories: and the reporter wanted to know how Mrs. Stengel was going to cope with Casey being home all the time. She didn't hesitate a mini-second and fired back that she might have promised to "love, honor and obey, 'till death do us part"----"BUT i didn't marry him for LUNCH!"

Since I was "moving" my wife away from all her sons, daughter in laws, grand kids, sisters and a brother, this story was part of my sales pitch to get her to move to Florida in 1993. Fortunately for me, "lunch" was not "one" of the things i "pledged" to give up.

As I think more about those times, I believe my pledging to always "honor" her as "MY" ,one and only Valentine, on February 14, was a "clincher" for the 20 plus Valentine days in Florida before she passed,

NOW--------she's gone, and I'm back into my "VALENTIMES DAZE", with no one to "council" or "console" me.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Giant Balloon Event Cancelled This Year

Organizers Reluctantly Cancel ‘Balloons Over Paradise’ for 2016

IMMOKALEE, Fla. – A combination of reasons has forced organizers of the annual “Balloons Over Paradise” event to reluctantly cancel this year’s hot air balloon festival, which had been scheduled to take place April 2 and 3 at the Seminole Casino Hotel.

“Unfortunately, the water table at the event site is very high due to recent rains and as of now, it is too muddy for spectators,” said Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee, lead organizer of the event. “Nearby construction has also complicated the event planning process for this year.”

2016 would have been the fifth year for what has been an annual event. Organizers expect it to return in 2017.

Video: Past Year Balloon Festival At Immokalee, Fl.

Zika Virus Hotline Opens In Florida

Florida Governor Rick Scott has directed State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for Florida residents and visitors, as well as anyone planning on traveling to Florida in the near future. 

As of today, Florida has twenty confirmed Zika cases: Hillsborough (3 cases), Miami-Dade (7 cases), Lee (3 cases) Santa Rosa (1 case), Broward (3 case), St. Johns (1 case), Osceola (1 case), and Alachua (1 case). All of the cases in Florida are travel-related and none involve pregnant women. The Florida Department of Health is also issuing a daily update regarding the status of the Zika virus in Florida.

Governor Scott said, “We want to make sure Florida residents and visitors have access to an open line of communication so they can receive the latest updates on the Zika virus in our state. The Zika Virus Information Hotline will answer questions and advise callers on what steps they can take to protect their homes and families from Zika. With over 20 million residents and 100 million tourists, we have made it a priority to stay ahead of the possible spread of this virus in Florida, and we will continue to do all we can to keep our families safe.”

The hotline will be managed by the Florida Department of Health, and will answer questions on the Zika virus and the state’s preparedness efforts. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 855-622-6735.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Betty Jean Steinshouer - Through The Eyes Of The Author

Renowned Chautauqua influenced speaker Betty Jean Steinshouer will present a view of Florida's history through the eyes of three eminent authors -- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas -- at LaBelle Heritage Museum's third of four 2015/2016 Special Speaker Programs, made possible by a collaboration with the Clewiston Museum in a grant from the Florida Humanities Council, on Wednesday, February 17, at 7 p.m. 

The museum is located at 360 North Bridge Street, and overflow parking is available at Harold P. Curtis Honey Co., 355 North Bridge Street, immediately across the street from the museum courtesy of Rene Curtis Pratt.

Betty Jean Steinshouer, no stranger to LaBelle Heritage Museum regular program attendees, will assume the character of each of the three renowned authors for her presentation in LaBelle and will also appear at the Clewiston Museum, 109 Central Avenue, on Thursday, February 18, also at 7 p.m., in a similar but entirely different program in which she assumes the persona of various women writers who escaped to Florida over the years for a variety of reasons. Both programs are open to the public at no charge as they are funded by the Florida Humanities Council through its grants program.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Obituaries - Percha, Reich, Burtcher

Ephrem Paul Percha, age 89, of Alva, passed away January 29, 2016 in LaBelle.

He was born Dec. 17, 1926 in Detroit, MI, to the late Francis Paul and the late Clara (Boik) Percha. He was a veteran of the Army.

Survivors include his wife: Karen(Johnson) Percha, son: David (Nancy) Percha, daughter: Denise (Jay) Stotts, step son: Troy (Connie) Tyler, sister: Grace (Jim)

Grandchildren: Brandi (predeceased) husband David, Jason (Sarah), Andrew and Vincent, great-grandchildren: Dylan, Hailey, Austin and Ava.

A memorial service will be held Monday, February 15, 2016, 1:00 pm at Alva United Methodist Church, Alva with Rev. Ralph P. Cotten officiating. Military Honors will be performed by the Army. Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Ruth A. Reich (Nee Baumann) passed peacefully on February 5, 2016 at the age of 101. Preceded in death by her husband Paul. Loving mother of Bruce (Marilyn) Reich and the late Douglas (Shirley) Reich. Loving grandmother of Susan Parker, Wade (Mary) Reich, Lynn (Tom) Dow, and Dawn (Peter) Gerlach. Loving great-grandmother of Shane and Morgan Harris; Andrew Reich; Tara, Kathleen, and Madeleine Dow; and Paul and Megan Gerlach,

Preceded in death by sister Alberta Smith, brother Reinhart Baumann, and stepbrothers Edward and George Bluhm.

Graveside service on Thursday, February 11, 1 p.m., Fort Denaud Cemetery, 1170 Cemetery Road, LaBelle, FL. Arrangements by: Akin-Davis Funeral Home-LaBelle

Timothy Wayne Burtcher, age 51, of Pembroke Pines, passed away February 8, 2016 in Sebring.

Timothy was born Dec. 16, 1964 in Fort Worth, TX, to Wayne and Carolyn (McGuire) Burtcher. Timothy was a Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary Officer for 13 years, then becoming a Florida Highway Patrol Officer and serving for 8 years until his death. He enjoyed fishing, spending time with friends and family. He always made friends no matter where he went.

Survivors include one daughter: Sarah Burtcher of Fort Myers, step-children; Daelan Wilson and Ashley Veale, one brother: Stephen Burtcher and his wife Diane of Boise, Idaho and one sister: Kelli Burroughs of Lake City, Florida and his girlfriend, Mary Wilson.

Life Celebration service will be held Friday, February 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm at John B. Boy Auditorium, Clewiston. Interment will be Friday, February 12, 2016 in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation will be Friday from 1 hour prior to service at John B. Boy Auditorium, Clewiston, FL.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Shelter Open For Cold Night Southwest Florida

LABELLE, FL. -- The temperatures in LaBelle are expected to fall to 40 degrees or below from 4:00 AM to between 8:00-9:00 AM Monday morning. In accordance with the Hendry County Emergency Management Cold Weather Shelter Plan, a cold weather shelter will be opened tonight at 6:00 PM in LaBelle at the United Way House located at 133 N. Bridge Street. 

A Volunteer Emergency Management Reservist will be manning the shelter. If no clients present requesting sheltering or other services by 11:00 PM, the shelter will be closed. This shelter is for any person or persons having inadequate heating or sheltering.

A shelter will not be open in Clewiston. The forecast shows temperatures in Clewiston to remain above the criteria established by county policy for opening shelters, largely due to lake effect warming. If the forecast is revised, the decision not to open will be revisited. Emergency Management Reservists are standing by to open and man the shelter if the need arises.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Janice Yates Dies At 74

Janice Y. Yates, age 74, of Clewiston died on February 1, 2016 in Fort Myers.

Janice was born Nov. 10, 1941 in Sneads, FL, to the late parents William Willard and Virginia (Roland) Watford. Mrs. Yates married Milton Minor Yates. Janice worked for the State of Florida as a counselor for the Department of Children and Families.

Janice leaves behind her husband: Milton Minor Yates, two sons: William Mergott, Robert Cherry and two daughters: Sandra Allen, Sandra Yates, one brother: William Watford, grandchildren, Buddy; Eric, Josh, Samantha, Ashley, Mallory, Madison, and six great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Janice's life will be Friday, February 5, 2016 at 10:00 am at Evangel Assembly Of God, Clewiston with Pastor Gary Corley officiating. .

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Chew And Dip - Awareness Week Seeks Reduction Of Use

LABELLE, FL. -- The Hendry County Tobacco Free Partnership and the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, like chew and dip, during “Through With Chew Week.” This public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people and help combat this deadly addiction. “Through With Chew Week” takes place Feb. 14-20.

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use, The Hendry County Tobacco Free Partnership and Hendry County SWAT Chapters will have a booth at Hendry County Fair in Clewiston. The Hendry County Fair takes place on February 12 to the 20th, 2016. The Partnership and SWAT members will be at the booth to provide information about “Through With Chew” week and 3 Ways to Quit.

Although youth cigarette smoking rates in Florida are at an all-time low, 9.8 percent of high school students in Hendry reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2014, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.

“Smokeless tobacco products contain harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer,” said Shannon Hughes, Director of the Florida Department of Health’s Community Health Promotion. "Youth who use smokeless products are more likely to experiment with other types of tobacco. Studies have shown that adolescent boys who use smokeless tobacco have a higher risk of becoming cigarette smokers.”

At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco users have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users.

Currently, there is no scientific or medical evidence that proves smokeless tobacco use is an effective method to help people quit smoking.

Urologist David Spellberg Paying $1 Million To Settle False Claims Charge

Former Assistant Gets $20 Million For 'Blowing Whistle' On Company

Fort Myers, FL – David Spellberg, M.D., has agreed to pay $1,050,000 to the government to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by causing claims to be submitted to federal health care programs for laboratory tests that were not medically necessary. 

The allegations that Spellberg was ordering unnecessary FISH tests were originally brought in a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private parties to bring suit on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. The whistleblower, a former medical assistant who worked directly for Dr. Spellberg, will receive $199,500 as her share of this recovery. 

This amount is in addition to a $3.2 million share she will receive as the result of the $19.75 million settlement previously reached with 21st Century Oncology.

Spellberg was a board certified urologist practicing as part of Naples Urology Associates, which was a division of 21st Century Oncology, LLC. 21st Century is a nationwide provider of integrated cancer care services that is headquartered in Fort Myers.

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that Spellberg submitted claims to Medicare and Tricare for fluorescence in situ hybridization, or “FISH,” tests that were not medically necessary. FISH tests are laboratory tests performed on urine that can detect genetic abnormalities associated with bladder cancer. Medicare does not consider a FISH test reasonable or necessary unless it’s used to monitor for tumor reoccurrence in a patient.

In January 2010, Spellberg became an employee of 21st Century and began referring all of the FISH testing ordered by him to a laboratory owned and operated by 21st Century. He was paid bonuses by the company based, in part, on the number of FISH tests he referred to the 21st Century laboratory.

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

William Cade Injured In Motorcycle Crash

William Russel Cade, 53 of New Castle, PA was critically injured in a crash involving a 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle Tuesday at 5:40 p.m.

Cade was entering the northbonnd entrance ramp of I-75 at Colonial Boulevard when s sedan in front of him began to slow down. Cade took an evasive maneuver to avoid striking the sedan but the motorcycle started to travel northeast onto the paved shoulder, lost control and overturned.

Cade was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained after being ejected from the motorcycle. He was charged with careless driving by the FHP.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Thomas Corbitt Dies At 73

Colonel Thomas (Dick) Richard Corbitt, United States Air Force (Retired), 73, of LaBelle, passed away on January 30, 2016, at Gulf Coast Hospital in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Tom was born in Miami to James Allan and Hazel Louise Corbitt on November 2, 1942. He attended Hialeah High School, graduating in 1960. After graduation, Tom joined the Air Force, serving as an enlisted man for 13 years. Following graduation from Florida State University in 1973, he received his commission and served his country with honor and distinction for 43 years, until his retirement in 2003.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Hanna Antonie Corbitt. He is survived by his wife, Linda Corbitt; daughter, Michele Surdam (James Surdam); son, Thomas Richard Corbitt II (Angela Corbitt); four grandchildren, Matthew, Alex, Wesley, and Lucas; his step-sons, Justin Papineau (Carolyn Papineau), and Jason Fela; brothers, James Allan Corbitt, Jr. and Jack David Corbitt (Jane Corbitt); sister, Helen Louise Campbell, and a multitude of nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016, 4:00 p.m. at his home on the Caloosahatchee River. Military Honors will be performed by the Air Force. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Friends of the Labelle Library, 461 N. Main St. Labelle, FL 33935.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Boil All City Water For 3 Days Says LaBelle Officials

LABELLE, FL. -- A precautionary boil water notice has been issued for the City of LaBelle water service area. All City of LaBelle water users are advised to bring drinking water to a rolling boil for at least one minute prior to consumption. The notice is necessary due to a water main break. Water pressure fell to 17 psi for several minutes until the pumps recovered. Crews are repairing the beak and service is expected to be back to normal as soon as possible.

This notice is effective immediately and will be in effect until Friday, February 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm when a Bacteriological Survey shows the water is safe to drink or a different notice is issued regarding the boil water action. 

For further information please call Joseph Thomas at 863-674-1145 or City Hall during regular business hours at863-675-2872.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Wackenhut Accused Of False Claims In Iraq War

$7.4 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
Centerra Services International Inc., formerly known as Wackenhut Services LLC, has agreed to pay $7.4 million to resolve allegations that Wackenhut violated the False Claims Act by double billing and inflating labor costs in connection with a contract for firefighting and fire protection services in Iraq, the Department of Justice announced today. Centerra is a security services company headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Wackenhut provided U.S. military bases with firefighting and fire protection services under a subcontract with Kellogg Brown & Root Inc. (KBR), the prime contractor for the Army’s contract for logistical support in the military theater, known as LOGCAP III. LOGCAP III is the third generation of contracts under the Army’s Logistical Civil Augmentation Program. The government alleged that from 2008 to 2010, Wackenhut inflated its labor costs by billing the salaries of certain managers as direct costs under the subcontract, when those salaries had already been charged as indirect costs. The government further alleged that Wackenhut artificially inflated its labor rate by counting its costs for holidays, vacation, sick leave, rest and recuperation and other variable labor costs twice in calculating the rate. Wackenhut billed KBR, which then passed on the costs to the government under LOGCAP III.

This settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by whistleblower Gary W. Reno under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The act permits private individuals to sue on behalf of the government those who falsely claim federal funds, or cause others to do so, and to receive a share of any funds recovered through the lawsuit. Reno will receive $1.332 million as his share of the recovery.

The case is captioned Reno v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. and Wackenhut Services, LLC, et al., Case No. 1:10-CV-504 (E.D. Tex.). The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

John Howard Smith Dies At 84

John Howard Smith, age 84, of Moore Haven, passed away January 28, 2016 in Clewiston.

He was born Sep. 25, 1931 in Giles County, TN, to the late Leonard L and the late Lena Mae (Wise) Smith. Mr. Smith married Margaret L. Roberts. He was a member of Baldwin Heights Baptist Church of Cullman, Alabama and First Baptist Church of Moore Haven, Florida. He enjoyed fishing, meeting people while he sold his fruits and vegetables in Moore Haven and riding his motorcycle.

Survivors include his loving wife of 63 years: Margaret L. Smith, two sons: John Smith, Jr, Kenneth Smith and five daughters: Wanda McEarchen, Linda K Crisp, Deborah Smith Plemmons, Virginia Williams, Judith L. Titus, two brothers: Fred Smith, James Smith and two sisters: Gladys Matthews, Mary Virginia Roberts; twenty-seven grandchildren and thirty-three great grandchildren. Plus many friends and extended family in both Florida and Alabama.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm at Baldwin Heights Baptist Church, Cullman, Alabama and another memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church of 
Moore Haven, on February 9, 2016 with Pastor Sherrill Tillery officiating.

Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Lumber Liquidators Sentenced To Record $13 Million Penalty

Flooring Company to Pay $13 Million, Largest Lacey Act Penalty Ever
Virginia-based hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators Inc. was sentenced today in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, and will pay more than $13 million in criminal fines, community service and forfeited assets related to its illegal importation of hardwood flooring, much of which was manufactured in China from timber that had been illegally logged in far eastern Russia, in the habitat of the last remaining Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in the world, announced the Department of Justice.

In total, the company will pay $13.15 million, including $7.8 million in criminal fines, $969,175 in criminal forfeiture and more than $1.23 million in community service payments. Lumber Liquidators has also agreed to a five-year term of organizational probation and mandatory implementation of a government-approved environmental compliance plan and independent audits. In addition, the company will pay more than $3.15 million in cash through a related civil forfeiture. The more than $13.15 million dollar penalty is the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act and one of the largest Lacey Act penalties ever.

Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty and was charged in October 2015 in the Eastern District of Virginia with one felony count of importing goods through false statements and four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, which makes it a crime to import timber that was taken in violation of the laws of a foreign country and to transport falsely-labeled timber across international borders into the United States. The charges describe Lumber Liquidators’ use of timber that was illegally logged in Far East Russia, as well as false statements on Lacey Act declarations which obfuscated the true species and source of the timber. This is the first felony conviction related to the import or use of illegal timber and the largest criminal fine ever under the Lacey Act.

According to a joint statement of facts filed with the court, from 2010 to 2013, Lumber Liquidators repeatedly failed to follow its own internal procedures and failed to take action on self-identified “red flags.” Those red flags included imports from high risk countries, imports of high risk species, imports from suppliers who were unable to provide documentation of legal harvest and imports from suppliers who provided false information about their products. Despite internal warnings of risk and non-compliance, very little changed at Lumber Liquidators.

For example, Lumber Liquidators employees were aware that timber from the Russian Far East was considered, within the flooring industry and within Lumber Liquidators, to carry a high risk of being illegally sourced due to corruption and illegal harvesting in that remote region. Despite the risk of illegality, Lumber Liquidators increased its purchases from Chinese manufacturers using timber sourced in the Russian Far East. In 2013, the defendant imported Russian timber logged under a concession permit that had been utilized so many times that the defendants’ imports alone exceeded the legal harvest allowance of Mongolian oak, Quercus mongolica, by more than 800 percent. The investigation revealed a prevalent practice in timber smuggling enterprises, where a company uses a seemingly legitimate government permit to log trees. Corruption and criminal activity along the supply chain results in the same permit being used multiple times and in areas outside of the designated logging area, sometimes vastly exceeding its legal limits.

On other occasions, Lumber Liquidators falsely reported the species or harvest country of timber when it was imported into the United States. In 2013, Lumber Liquidators imported Mongolian oak from Far East Russia which it declared to be Welsh oak and imported merpauh from Myanmar which it declared to be mahogany from Indonesia.

The illegal cutting of Mongolian oak in far eastern Russia is of particular concern because those forests are home to the last 450 wild Siberian tigers, Panthera tigris altaica. Illegal logging is considered the primary risk to the tigers’ survival, because they are dependent on intact forests for hunting and because Mongolian oak acorns are a chief food source for the tigers’ prey species. Mongolian oak forests are also home to the highly endangered Amur leopard, Panthera pardus orientalis, of which fewer than 50 remain in the wild. In June 2014, in response to illegal logging and the decline in tiger populations, Mongolian oak was added to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix III.

The $1,230,825 in community service payments is being provided to two Congressionally-chartered recipients, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NWFW) and the USFWS Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund. One project that will be funded is the development of a wood identification device that if successful, could fill a critical gap in enforcement when it comes to identifying the species of timber at a border or in an enforcement scenario. The device would be able to identify timber species that are listed on the CITES Appendices, including the species that were at issue in this case. If U.S. border officials would have had access to such a device in 2011, then perhaps Lumber Liquidators could have been flagged for violation years ago, thus averting the flow of money back to China and Far East Russia in support of illegal logging. Other projects would involve protecting, researching and preserving the Siberian tiger, Amur leopard and their habitat.

Brenda Brooks At Audubon February 8

LABELLE, FL. -- The February Hendry-Glades Audubon program featuring Brenda Brooks, the Executive Director of CREW Land and Water Trust will be held Monday February 8th at the Hendry County Cooperative Extension Dallas Townsend Building located at 1085 Pratt Blvd. in LaBelle at 7 p.m.

Brenda’s presentation, “Learn more about CREW!”, will highlight the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, CREW Project and why CREW is important not only because of water, but also wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.

For information about this free program contact Butch Wilson 863- 983-2870 or Margaret England (863) 674-0695.

Arts Saturday Along The Caloosahatchee River

LABELLE, FL. -- Saturday afternoon along the Caloosahatchee River artists, dancers and musicians were featured at the Arts of the Inland's 5th Annual Art, Craft, and Music Festival.

Featured during the day were Austin Church, LaBelle High School Jazz Band, Firehouse Singers, Robert Houghtaling, Press On, Bob Speckin, Temple Tribal Dancers, and  Xavier Cortada.

Photo courtesy Barbara Whelan