Monday, January 30, 2017

Commissioners Give $1 A Year Lease To Humane Society

HENDRY COUNTY, FL. -- The following is a highlight of the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners meeting held on Tuesday, January 24 at the LaBelle Commissioner Chambers including awarding a 30-year lease at $1 a year to the local Humane Society.

Awards, Appearances, and Presentations

1. Pan Florida Challenge, Maura Plante – Last year the Pan Florida Challenge had 110 bike riders who rode from Naples to West Palm with an overnight stay in Hendry County. Their efforts raised $1.1 million to feed hungry children in SW Florida. The Pan Florida challenge has partnered with the Hendry County School System, Operation Back Pack, United Way, RCMA, United Methodist Church Clewiston, and Hendry County Tourism to feed 400 local youth every weekend with a power pack. They are working with Meals of Hope to create power packs that meet the USDA recommendations of quality and quantity so that children will have nutritional meals over the weekends. This year’s Pan Florida Challenge will be held March 11-12.

2. Current State of Economic Development – Achieving a different result requires a different approach. The Hendry County Economic Development Council previously had backing from the community, but there was little to no effort at establishing a regional network. The approach to economic development was reactive, not proactive. In the first year as Economic Development Director, Brent Kettler and the EDC Board updated their website and has a better understanding of who their target audience is. They have hired a full time local business representative, Ruben Puente, to work with local businesses to help them grow and assist any other needs they may have. A look to the future shows Hendry County growth needs include creating 800 new jobs by 2020 and 1,200 new jobs by 2030. The EDC is improving a regional network by working closely with Florida’s Heartland Economic Region of Opportunity, CareerSource, and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation just to name a few. The EDC received a grant of $30,000 from the State of Florida to create videos for LaBelle, Clewiston and Hendry County which will fund a great new way to the tell the story of our area.

Staff Reports

Courthouse Repairs – A request from staff for a change order to the Courthouse repairs due to an unexpected issue that was uncovered during the roof repairs on the Administrative Wing of the Courthouse. The BOCC approved the change order, and requested that staff be proactive and have the remaining portions of the project reviewed to try and avoid more change orders if possible.

Florida Department of Transportation Work Program Priorities – The Board of County Commissioners approved Transmittal of the Florida Department of Transportation Work Program Priorities list to the Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization. Hendry County has ranked in order of priority roads upgrades for the various funding programs available.

Lease of Parcel off of Rodeo Drive to Caloosa Humane Society – The BOCC approved leasing county-owned land located off of Rodeo Drive to the Caloosa Humane Society. The lease has an initial term of 30 years and the rent is $1.00 per year. This newly leased sight will be the home of the new Caloosa Human Society who is currently fundraising for their new facility.

Hearing of the Public

Settlement of delinquent solid waste liens – Until 2004, the County collected annual solid waste special assessments by sending invoices to landowners and recording liens if the land owner did not pay. The liens accrue interest which can reach substantial sums of money. Recently the County was approached by two landowners to forgive the delinquent interest if the landowner paid the principal amount. The BOCC approved forgiving delinquent interest amounts on solid waste liens if the principal amount of the lien is paid. If you are a landowner with a solid waste lien please contact the Special Districts Office at 863-675-5252.

LIHEAP Resolution – LIHEAP, which stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, is a federal program that helps low income households pay for heating or cooling their homes. The BOCC approved a resolution requesting U.S. Congress follow the enabling laws of the program and increase funding for the entire program by $100 million. If successful the State of Florida would increase their annual share from $68.7 million to $72.6 million and Hendry County would receive a proportionate share of these funds. To receive more information on Hendry County’s LIHEAP program contact the Agriculture and Labor Program, Inc. at P.O. Box 3126, Winter Haven, Florida 33885,(863) 956-3491 Phone, (863) 956-3357 Fax, or

Polo Continues At Wellington Club

WELLINGTON, FL. -- Saturday featured a high-scoring triple-header as the 2017 Ylvisaker Cup continued at Wellington's Polo Club. 

Coca-Cola defeated Villa del Lago Modere 14-8, and Horseware rolled over Equine Liquid Biocell 17-7 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. 

Valiente 1 took a 10-5 victory over Mt. Brilliant in the third game, which took place at Valiente Polo Farm.

Photo Credit: Del Walton, Hilario Ulloa © David Lominska

The Seminoles - A Walk Across Florida

Excerpts from A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich
I came to a trading post grocery. I went inside and since business was slow, an Indian lady proprietor and I got to talking.

After I answered her question about what I was doing, she told me some interesting Indian stories and information. She talked about when she was a little girl living on a hammock in the Everglades. As a girl, the proprietor had many duties. One of them was to help grind corn meal. She said that her family would squeeze the juice out of the sugar cane to make syrup. They had a chickee (a palmetto thatched open side shelter over a cypress log frame.) She still has one next to her house to have picnics under…...

She said that her children learned three languages. Some of their words today are the same as Spanish. Until 1821 Florida was under the control of the government of Spain. The Indians moving into Florida would have interacted with the Spanish, learned their language, and used some of their words.

She talked about a medicine man she knew who would pray to God when he made his herbs. She remembered when the first Christian Seminoles came from Oklahoma to visit him.

The Seminole Indians have a very difficult but interesting history. They are made up of Creek Indians who moved to northern Florida from the Georgia and Alabama river valleys during the early 1700’s and again in the early 1800’s. They moved because of pressure from both other Indian tribes and the white men moving inland from the coast and wanting their land.

The story of these Indians was an ongoing saga of betrayal and deceit. It was a story of treaties made between the U S Army, the government, and the settlers with the Indians, with no intention of ever abiding by them. It was a story of the land set aside by these treaties not being protected from incursion by the land-hungry settlers. It was a story of meetings called under the pretense of a white flag of truce and then the Indians and their chiefs arrested and imprisoned. Their life journey was overwhelmingly sad.

The Indians were joined by runaway slaves from southern plantations. Most of the slaves who escaped were from the colonies of Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana. They were originally from the West African coast. The Indians had their freedom (they thought), but these blacks were fighting for theirs and this together with their many similar customs: ownership of the land by the tribe, close family groups, drums and rattles as part of their customs, magic, headdresses used for special occasions, decorating of the face by painting, and animal stories and myths. They also brought to the Indian way of life their knowledge of agriculture. Their African system of tribal justice also served them well in the Indian formal meetings.

The first Seminole War started in 1817 when a U.S. military commander attacked a Seminole Indian village to take their chief captive….. In 1830 the U.S. government passed and President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act…..

The Second Seminole War was from 1835-1842. There were 3,000 Seminoles fighting a guerrilla war against 20,000 to 30,000 U. S. troops. Even with the odds in their favor, the U.S. government had many embarrassing defeats. In October of 1837 their leader Osceola was captured by the U.S. Army using a ruse saying that they wanted to talk peace…..

The third and final war was in 1855. The government used three methods to capture the last of the bulk of the Seminoles: the enormous number of forts manned with troops, boat patrols running up, down and around the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee and the Big Cypress Swamp, and lastly a bounty system* put in place to bring them in…..

The Seminoles never surrendered as a nation. They call themselves the “Unconquered People.” Most of the Seminole Indians living in Florida today are descendants of those 200-300 Indians who eluded capture.

The remaining Seminoles lived in the back country of the Everglades on the high areas called hammocks. There they could plant food and hunt. They only started to venture out to trade during the last part of the 18th to early 19th centuries. Today there are six Seminole Tribes on Florida reservations. These are Brighton, Big Cypress, Hollywood, Immokalee, Fort Pierce, and Tampa. The Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation* has a land area of approximately 57,000 square miles. Its population is somewhere in the area of 800 to 1,000 persons. There is vegetable, sugar cane, orange and grapefruit farming, along with cattle ranching.

I was truly enjoying talking to this Indian lady. We must have conversed a couple of hours. My detour to go through the Brighton Seminole reservation had been well worth it. She wished me well, and I was off.

About the Author: After getting out of the Army, Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

Russell Shane Parker Involved In Bicyclist Death

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Russell Shane Parker was involved in a crash Sunday evening in Lee County which resulted in the death of a bicyclist. Parker, a professional engineer is the Public Works Director for Hendry County,

A 2001 Ford F-250 truck driven by Russel Shane Parker, 46 of Fort Myers was westbound in the inside lane on SR 80 (Palm Beach Blvd) at 6:55 p.m. Sunday approaching Iozzi Ct. as an unidentified bicyclist was facing south in the right turn lane on SR 80, east of Iozzi Ct.

The bicyclist, without any lighting on the bike, proceeded south and crossed the westbound lanes of SR 80 and entered the path of the truck, and as a result the truck struck the left side of the bicycle with the front of the truck.

After impact, the truck swerved to the left and entered the center median and then collided with a tree with the front of the truck. Prior to the arrival of the FHP, the truck was moved into the center median facing west. The bicyclist came to final rest in the inside lane on SR 80.

The crash is under investigation and the identity of the bicyclist is withheld pending notification to relatives.

Emergency Response Team Exercise Feb. 9

LABELLE, FL. -- CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) trained volunteers are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking an active role in emergency preparedness projects. Preparedness exercises help volunteers to be better prepared to serve in our community.

Anyone who has completed CERT training is invited to participate in the “Line Search” and “Search Markings” exercise at 7:00 pm on Thursday February 9th to be held at the Hendry County Emergency Management located at 4425 W. SR 80, LaBelle, FL 33935.

Bring gloves and flashlight. Wear closed toed shoes. Please RSVP to or leave message at 863-674-5400

Friday, January 27, 2017

Obituaries - Ilene Lamb, F.T. Mason

Mrs. Ilene "Ike" Smallman Lamb, 82 of Labelle, passed away January 23, 2017 at Hope Hospice HealthCare Services in Lehigh Acres. She was born June 30, 1934 to the late Sarah and Dempsey Smallman in Balken, Ky. She is predeceased by her husband Archie, three brothers; Ray, Charles and Randle Smallman.

Ike was a resident of Labelle for over 30 years. Survived by her sister, Betty (Jerry) Frezza , sister-in- laws; Polly and Phyllis Smallman. Also survived by many nieces and nephews and caregivers who were at her side before and during her illness and many of her friends. She was employed by General Motors as a Factory Worker.

A Memorial Mass will be offered Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 10:30 AM at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, 355 South Bridge Street, Labelle, Florida. All are Welcome. A Celebration of her life will he held on Monday, February 6, 2017 from 4 to 6pm at Forrey Grill on Bridge Street.

In lieu of flowers donations to Our Lady Queen of Heaven, 355 S. Bridge Street, LaBelle, FL or Hope Health Care Services, 1201 Wings Way, Lehigh Acres, Fl. 33936

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

F. T. Mason, age 84, of Alva, passed away January 24, 2017 in Alva. He was born May 3, 1932 in Lyons, GA, the son of the late Franklin Thomas Mason and the late Lecy (Salter) Mason.

F.T. was a minister, evangelist and pastor with the Church of God for 68 years. After retirement, he served with both the jail and tract ministry.

Survivors include his wife: Ora Mae (McCollough) Mason, sons: Thomas Mason, Larry Mason and David (Dawn) Mason, daughter: Esther Walker, six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. He was also preceded by his death by his son, Samuel Mason and grandson, Chaston Mason.

Funeral services will be held Sat. January 28, 2017, 11:00 am at Church Of God-LaBelle in LaBelle with Rev. Cliff Gobble and Missionary Larry Mason officiating. Interment will follow in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation will be held Friday, Jan. 27 from 6-8 p.m. at Church Of God-LaBelle, LaBelle, FL.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Art Contest For Lake O Region

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance is proud to announce its first county-wide art contest, that aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion among youth whose families live and/or work in the Everglades Region to answer the question “what is it like living in the Glades?” With art, the Lake O Alliance seeks to tell the story of the Glades communities through un-jaded eyes.

Florida’s water quality woes and Everglades restoration have been critical topics for all Floridians this past year. Environmental groups have chosen to point the finger at farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) for water pollution and subsequently claim a 60,000-acre land purchase south of Lake Okeechobee to build a water storage reservoir the answer to fixing Florida’s water issues and restoring the Everglades. The South Florida Water Management District and several independent research institutions on the other hand, say the science and data do not support an EAA land purchase. With the threat of having more productive farmland in the EAA take away looming over Glades residents’ heads, many in the Everglades Region are in constant worry over job losses and their livelihoods.

Hendry County Superintendent Paul Puletti fully supports the youth art contest stating, Imagery of this summer’s algae bloom along with negative commentary about farming in our area has made headlines. I think it’s great this project will be pushing science further out into the public.

The month-long art contest will begin February 1st. The Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance (Lake O Alliance) aims to create a fun competition while educating and motivating youth who live, work, and play in the Everglades Region to be proud of their community and way of life. The organization has plans to hold similar contests in Okeechobee, Glades, and Western Palm Beach counties in the months ahead.

Board members of the Lake O Alliance plan to hold additional contests in Glades, Okeechobee, and Western Palm Beach counties in the months ahead. The Lake O Alliance board will judge the contest and select one winner and one runner-up from each grade category based on composition, creativity, and issue impact. Winners will receive cash prizes as well as a Lake Okeechobee boat tour, compliments of Roland Martin Marina.

Contest Period:
The contest begins February 1, 2017 and ends on February 22, 2017

Who Can Enter:
The contest is open to all K-12 students in Hendry County.

How to Enter:
Artwork rules and regulations can be found on Lake Okeechobee Business Alliance’s website ( or picked up from any Hendry County School front office. Submissions may be turned in to a Hendry County School front office or mailed directly to Lake O Alliance, PO BOX 2953 Clewiston, FL 33440, on or before February 22, 2017.

Winners will be announced February 28th, 2017.

Jaguar Crashes Into Canal - Driver Missing

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a single vehicle traffic crash on State Road 80 at a canal bridge just west of Everhigh Acres Road in central Hendry County.

On January 25, 2017 at 11:20 pm, the Florida Highway Patrol received a report of a single vehicle (2003 Jaguar) traveling eastbound on State Road 80 striking a guardrail located in the north grass shoulder. The vehicle then traveled down an embankment and became submerged into a water filled canal.

The Florida Highway Patrol, along with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Wildlife Commission have searched the area inside the canal and the outside surrounding wooded and vegetative area utilizing aviation, ATV’s and dive members. The search has continued through todays date as well. At this time, the vehicle was removed from the canal, however the driver of the vehicle has not been located.

The crash remains under investigation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Obituaries- Flora Sims, James Bailey, Beatrice Ballard

Beatrice Ballard, age 95, of LaBelle, passed away January 19, 2017 in Lehigh Acres.

She was born Nov. 18, 1921 in Alva, FL, to the late Willie Francis and the late Pleaman (Morgan) Green. She was a member of Church of God-LaBelle for the past 72 years and served as Sunday School Secretary for 65 years.

Survivors include her children: Joan (Joseph Martin) Thomas, Jeanette (Dale) Small and Sam (Cyndi) Ballard, all of LaBelle, grandchildren, Tina Limberger, Teri Marroquin; Stephanie Stratton, Nerissa Williams and Bart Ballard; nine great-grandchildren and nineteen great-great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Hiram Ballard, parents, brother: Francis Green, sisters: Marie Thomas, Ruby Brown, Mae Summerall and Laura Walston and grandchildren: Tami Ballard and Steven Williams.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 10:00 am at Church Of God-LaBelle, LaBelle with Rev. Cliff Gobble and Steve McCormick officiating. Interment followed in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle. Visitation was Monday from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

James Bailey, Jr. age 84, of Alva passed away January 19, 2017 in Lehigh Acres Hospice. He was born July 29, 1932 in Columbus, OH. James is the son of the late James and the late Ola (Beaver) Bailey, Sr.

He served in the Korean War from 1954-1956, as a PFC in the Army. James was employed by GM as an Autoworker for 29 Years in Michigan.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years; Pauline A. (Remore) Bailey , Daughters: Valerie (Andy) Watring and Regina (Dan) Nellis, and sons: Roy (Pam) Bailey & Bill (Catherine) Bailey, Also survived by Grandchildren; Jennifer Watring, Nick (Kim) Bailey, Ken (Katelyn Howell) Nellis, & Angela Nellis, Stephanie (Mike) Allen, Great Grandchildren; Mia & Seren Allen.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Oak Park/RAC or contributions may be made to the Burns Grange #160, c/o Peggy Johnston 404 S. Oak Street, Durand, Michigan 48429. Jim was a Grange member for many years, helping with chicken dinners and some building updates.

The family is planning a Celebration of Life for Oak Park friends this winter and for Jim's northern family and friends there will be a Celebration of Life in Michigan this summer. Details will be shared at a later date. Cremation arrangements by the Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Fort Myers.

Flora L. Carver Sims, age 84, of Clewiston, passed away January 23, 2017 in Lehigh Acres.

She was born Aug. 2, 1932 in Sweet Water, TN, to the late Alec and the late Suzie (Williams) Lance. She was a homemaker, raising her children. She married Carl Carver; he preceded her in death, she later married Foy Sims; he preceded her in death on July 4, 2007. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother who will be greatly missed by her entire family.

Survivors include her children; Harry Carver, Connie Wilson and her husband Malcolm, Carla Carver, Robert Carver and one sister Dorothy Abercrombie, seven grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren.

Flora was preceded in death by her two children; Bruce Carver and Denise Jones, two grandchildren; Karrie Jones and Christopher Wilson.

Graveside service will be held at 11:00 am, Friday, January 27, 2017 in Ridgelawn Cemetery with Pastor Johnny Abercrombie officiating. Visitation will be held from 5-7 pm in Akin-Davis Funeral Home.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

24 Immokalee High Students At Presidential Events

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Four students from The Immokalee Foundation were interviewed in Immokalee this week for national news broadcasts scheduled to appear on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on Friday, Jan. 20, and CBS Sunday Morning on Jan. 22.

The students discussed with CBS Correspondent Steve Hartman their expectations for the presidential inauguration, which they are attending with a group of 24 students – sponsored by The Immokalee Foundation – who are traveling by bus to Washington, D.C., to witness Friday’s swearing-in ceremonies.

“For many students in the group, this is their first trip out of Immokalee and Southwest Florida,” said Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation. “Witnessing such a historic event will not only be an incredible educational opportunity, but also a cherished memory for their lifetimes.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Massive Crash Sends 25 To 5 Hospitals

PALMDALE , FL. -- A four vehicle crash involving a school bus, two semi-trucks and a one-ton pickup truck left 25 injured Friday night and US 27 in Glades county closed for several hours.

A school bus with 16 child passengers was traveling northbound on US 27 north of State Road 29 as a semi was southbound. A Dodge 2500 pickup, with four children passengers was southbound behind the semi, as a second semi was behind the pickup.

The school bus, driven by Thomas Edward Chism, 45 of Lauderhill, Fl.  turned left through the paved median and made a u-turn to travel south on US27 and while doing so entered the southbound outside lane into the path of the a semi driven by Jorge Ernesto Leyva-Joya, 48 of Miami. The driver turned left attempting to avoid a collision with the bus and the right front struck the rear of the bus. 

The pickup driven by Michael David Black, 42 of  Jupiter slowed but the second semi driven by Luis Felipe Arevalo Tur, 66 of Hialeah failed to slow and the right front of their vehicle struck the left rear of the pickup. 

The bus rotated clockwise and overturned. The semi crossed the grassy median and collided with a fence and bushes.

The pickup with four child passengers overturned, while the second semi traveled onto the median and burst into flames.

25 victims were transported to various hospitals including Florida Hospital, Hendry Regional Hospital, Raulerson Hospital, and Highland Regional Hospital.

Charges are pending further investigations said the FHP Saturday morning. Alcohol was not a factor said the FHP.

Kevin Long Instructs New CPR Method To Save Lives

HENDRY COUNTY, FL. -- A new and easy method of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation otherwise known as CPR was recently introduced to the LaBelle community at several locations last week by the Florida Department of Health in Hendry county. The new method of instruction only takes minutes to learn.

Kevin Long, Senior Registered Nurse with the FDOH stated, “Most people are afraid to do CPR because of mouth to mouth contact or simply hurting the victim. A new method has been introduced by the American Heart Association that reduces these fears; this new method is called Hands Only CPR. By simply establishing unresponsiveness, calling 911, and providing chest compressions only, the victims’ chances of surviving a sudden cardiac event is increased by 2 to 3 times.

Pictured: Kasey Bouchard, Kevin Long-RN, Kadedra Gadsan, Maddison Hunter, JeanLuc Banks, and Cathy Rogers

“Taking the time to learn this simple method can enable more people in our community to help potentially save lives.” said Joe Pepe, Health Officer and Administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties.

The program was delivered through cooperation of the LaBelle Walmart, LaBelle Kiwanis Thrift Store, Log Cabin Restaurant and Barron Library, in just two days Nurse Kevin Long and Jean Luc Banks from the Florida Department of Health in Hendry County trained 272 people in the new skill that can save a life.

Friday, January 20, 2017

25 Injured In US 27 Crash - School Bus Involved

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Northbound and southbound US 27 was closed for about five hours Friday night due to a multiple vehicle crash approximately 5 miles north of SR 29 at 7:48 p.m. after a crash involving two semis, a passenger vehicle and a school bus.

The bus occupants are from 7th Day Adventist Church in Sunrise Florida. There were a total of 19 on the bus including three adults and 16 children.

All occupants on the bus have been transported to various local hospitals according to the FHP. From the other three vehicles involved there were a total of six injured, all transported to local hospitals as well.

At 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning southbound lanes on US 27 are back open. One northbound lane was open. At 2:05 a.m. Saturday morning all lanes were reopened.

Updates will be provided as information is confirmed. Motorist were advised to find an alternate route as it was anticipated that US 27 would be closed for several hours.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Severe Weather Exercise January 25

HENDRY COUNTY, FL. -- The 2017 Severe Weather Awareness Week will be held January 23 - 27, 2017. The goal of Severe Weather Awareness Week is to promote preparedness by all Floridians for all types of hazards. On Wednesday January 25th, 2017 around 10:10 am, Hendry County Emergency Management will participate in the largest community Tornado Drill in the State of Florida.

This mass tornado drill event was originally started and hosted by Seminole County Emergency Management. This is the second year for this event, and it has garnered participation from state and local community leaders throughout Florida.

Historically, January to April marks the time of the year in which the most deadly tornados have impacted the State of Florida. Florida is recorded as one of the top locations in the country for tornado frequency, often occurring due to the colliding of coastal sea breezes and approaching cold fronts.

This year, the plan is to involve the schools and healthcare facilities to ensure preparedness planning for tornados in order to protect our most vulnerable populations. Hendry County Emergency Management would like for you to be a part of this event.

On Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 around 10:10 am a NOAA weather radio will play a special alert advising participants to locate their tornado safe area and practice their tornado plan. Participants will also receive alerts via the Prepare Hendry mass notification system. At that time, participants should locate a safe area wherever they happen to be. A safe area is the lowest level floor in the most interior room possible without windows (a closet, a pantry, an interior hallway, etc.).

Once in the safe area, participants should snap a selfie and post it in Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hash tags: #tornadodrill as well as #preparehendry. Let’s take this opportunity to make preparedness a fun activity.

“Severe weather can strike anywhere and with little to no warning. Living in Southwest Florida, residents must be prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones at a moment’s notice. Hendry County Emergency Management works hard to provide useful information to our residents in a timely manner through multiple means, but ultimately, your safety depends on you taking the right protective action at the right time. Information is power,” said Emergency Management Director Brian Newhouse.

“A great way to stay in the know and to stay safe is to sign up for free alerts of all kinds through Hendry County’s mass notification system known as ‘Prepare Hendry’, and by following us on social media. An additional free resource that is excellent is the FEMA mobile app available from your favorite app store.” Added Newhouse.

To register your home telephone, cell phone, and email address with the Prepare Hendry emergency alert system use this link:

or text HENDRYFLA to 88877 from your cell phone

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

James Whobrey Dies At 40

James Michael Whobrey, age 40, of LaBelle, passed away January 14, 2017 in LaBelle.

He was born Dec. 24, 1976 in Fort Myers, FL, to the late James Cornell and Helen (Royalty) Whobrey. He was a self-employed small engine mechanic for many years. He was a loving son, father, brother, uncle to all of his family and he will be greatly missed.

Survivors include one son: Jordan Whobrey of LaBelle, FL, mother; Helen Whobrey of LaBelle, three sisters: Debbie White, Paula Cockram and Tammy Landrum, many aunts, uncles and extended family members and close friends.

Celebration of James' life will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, January 19, 2017 in Ortona Cemetery Pavilion with Pastor Lester Grant and Pastor Nathan Campos officiating. Visitation will be from 10 am to 12 noon on Thursday in Akin-Davis Funeral Home.

Heritage Museum Programs

LABELLE, FL. -- LaBelle Heritage Museum is pleased to present eminent Chautauqua performer Phyllis McEwen's portrayal of Florida African American author Zora Neale Hurston in a Special Speaker Program made possible by the Florida Humanities Council at LaBelle High School on Wednesday, January 25, at 7 p.m. Since LaBelle High School students will be attending, general admission seating is limited -- to insure you have a seat, please register for a free seat by going to our website for your FREE seats.

Jim D. Hull's popular "Wild Cow Hunting" will be continued at our regular February 2 program meeting at the Felda Community Center at 7 o'clock. He expects Ronnie Raulerson and Kirby Lee Williams to join him "the Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise."

We have two programs in mid-February made possible by grants from the Florida Humanities Council. On Wednesday, February 15, Janie Gould and her program "When Manatees were Sea Cows" will be presented at LaBelle Heritage Museum at 7 o'clock.

The following evening, Thursday the 16th, another eminent Chautauqua performer and scholar Ersula Knox Odom appears at Hendry-Glades Center, FSW State College, 1092 East Cowboy Way, in a Special Black History Month Program "Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Comes to Life" highlighting the life of the founder of Bethune Cookman University and member of FDR's "Black Cabinet" ~ admission to both programs is FREE.

The 22nd Old Timers Dinner is set for Thursday, February 23, at LaBelle Civic Center with Woody Hanson and Billy Murphy serving as joint MC/Live Auctioneers. Advance tickets are available online at if you are using a credit card. For cash or check reservations, please contact Pat Johnson at (239)910-1538.

To round out the month of February, we are repeating last year's "Caloosahatchee Excursions" on both Swamp Cabbage Festival Saturday and Sunday, February 25 and 26, with boat tours at 8:30 and 11 in the morning and 1:30 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Tour guides aboard M/V River Queen (which now has restroom facilities) will include Amy Bennett Williams, Scott Cooper, Margaret England, and Joe Thomas. Advance tickets are $30 and available online at Again, for cash or check reservations, please contact Pat Johnson at (239) 910-1538.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Babcock/Webb Wildlife Area Event Saturday

PUNTA GORDA, FL. -- For families and others looking for outdoor opportunities this weekend, the state’s original wildlife management area has ample offerings. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will host a free public event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area, 29200 Tuckers Grade, Punta Gorda, Florida 33955. 

The event will honor the 75th anniversary of Babcock-Webb’s creation, which launched the state’s vast WMA system.

Attendees can take a hayride with a biologist, cast a line at a kids’ fishing clinic, participate in archery and shooting sports activities, develop kayaking skills and learn about conservation at various hands-on exhibits. There will also be exciting displays, including an FWC law enforcement K-9 demonstration. Food trucks will be on-site as well.

The WMA system is one of Florida’s greatest natural treasures. Babcock-Webb was established in late 1941 in Charlotte and Lee counties. By the 1960s, there were 28 WMAs. Today the FWC is the lead manager or landowner of over 1.4 million acres, and works in partnership with other public and private landowners on another 4.5 million acres. These healthy habitats are essential to Florida wildlife – both common and imperiled species. The FWC uses its scientific expertise and a comprehensive ecological approach to manage a variety of wildlife while encouraging public access to these wild lands.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Honoring Seniors At MLK Day

LABELLE, FL. -- Lois James at Alton "Kid" Jones Park Monday for MLK Jr. Day in Ford-Sunset Park.

Slow Pitch Softball In LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. --  Men are invited to join the LaBelle Slow Pitch Softball games every Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at Davis-Pratt Park in LaBelle,

Photo by Don Browne

MLK Day In LaBelle - Parade And Morning In The Park

LABELLE, FL. -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as celebrated in LaBelle, Florida in Hendry County each year. Community leaders and citizens join a walking parade up MLK Boulevard, marching a mile and a half around the community to the Alton "Kid" Jones Park, listening to short talks and then moving to the James Singleton Community Center for lunch.

Also see the video of Shywona Williams' recitation of the famous Martin Luther King "I Have A Dream" speech performed today at the celebration in the park..

My Favorite Husband February 11

LABELLE, FL. -- The Firehouse Community Theatre, Inc. presents: "My Favorite Husband"

Get ready for some fun and lots of laughs as the Firehouse “Goldies” (Senior Actors) give their portrayal of an “Old Time Radio Show ~ My Favorite Husband”. Produced and Directed By: Deborra Higgins-Soja.

Photo Rear: Deborra Higgins-Soja, John Jones, Ed Soulliere. Front: Doug Patterson, Bob Heidenreich, Laurie Waninger

“My Favorite Husband” was the name of an American Comedy Radio Program in the 1940’s and became a network television series. The original radio show, starring Lucille Ball, evolved into the groundbreaking TV sitcom I Love Lucy. The series was based on the novels Mr. and Mrs. Cugat, the Record of a Happy Marriage (1940) and Outside Eden (1945) written by Isabel Scott Rorick.

My Favorite Husband was first broadcast as a one-time special on CBS Radio on July 5, 1948. The couple lived at 321 Bundy Drive in the fictitious city of Sheridan Falls, and were billed as "two people who live together and like it." An average of three "plugs" for Jell-O were made in each episode.

Get your tickets now as there are only two chances to see this wonderful production which runs Saturday, February 11th at 7:00 pm and on Sunday, February 12th and 2:00 pm.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Obituaries - Robert Richardson, Nancy Sellers

Robert Lynn Richardson, age 58, of LaBelle, passed away January 8, 2017 in LaBelle.

He was born May 14, 1958 in Seymour, IN. Robert married his wife of 35 years, Robin, Dec. 12, 1981. He loved fishing, driving, spending time with family and attending church.

Survivors include his wife: Robin, daughter: Kristina Richardson of LaBelle, mother: Paulann (Criswell) Sedam of N. Vernon, IN, brothers: Glen (Connie) Richardson and Leslie Richardson of Commiskey, IN, father in law: Robert Mace, sisters in law: Tracy (Mike) Murphy and Jennifer (Gary) Bentle, all of Moores Hill, IN, brothers in law: Robert Mace Jr of Arcadia and Scott (Trisha) Mace and Tim (Odette) Mace of LaBelle, several aunts, uncles,nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and many friends. He was preceded in death by his father: Leslie Richardson and mother in law: Patricia Mace.

A memorial service was held Saturday, January 14, 2017, 11:00 am at Whisper Creek RV Park Recreation Hall, 1887 N State Road 29 in LaBelle with Pastor W. T. Maddox, Jr. officiating.

Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Nancy Lee Sellers of Alva passed away peacefully at Oakbrook Nursing Home in Labelle, FL, on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. 

She is survived by her loving husband of 49 years, James Sellers of Alva; her son, Danny (Staci) White of Alva; her daughter, Shirley Jeanne Barr of Buckingham; her granddaughter, Christana Joy White; her grandson, Daniel James White (his fiance, Alyssa Ploskonka and her daughter, Chloe Elizabeth Leflamme) of Alva; her two great-granddaughters, Dakota Gayle Courtade and Haylee Lyn Courtade and their father, Eric Courtade (his fiance, Ashley Field) of Alva; her brother, Roy "Grub" Gay of Lehigh; her sister, Joy Taylor of Lehigh; several nieces and nephews; and ex-daughter-in-law, Bonnie Shamburger and her son, Michael David Morrissey. 

The family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the many months of care provided by the staff at Oakbrook Nursing Home. Services were held on Sunday, January 15, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., at SonShine Worship Center, 12925 Palm Beach Blvd., Ft. Myers, FL
Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Fort Myers.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Takata Gets $1 Billion Penalty Pleading Guilty To Wire Fruad

Tokyo-based Takata Corporation, one of the world’s largest suppliers of automotive safety-related equipment, agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and pay a total of $1 billion in criminal penalties stemming from the company’s fraudulent conduct in relation to sales of defective airbag inflators. An indictment was also unsealed charging three Takata executives with wire fraud and conspiracy in relation to the same conduct.

“Today’s criminal charges of the Takata Corporation and three of its employees should be a reminder to other corporations and their employees that if they commit fraud, the FBI and its law enforcement partners will ensure they are held accountable for their actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Gelios. “Whether it is the manipulation of test results which impact customer safety, defective product development or any other type of fraud, we will continue to aggressively investigate corporate fraud allegations to protect consumers in the United States and elsewhere.”

“I offer my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who died and to those who were injured as a result of the Takata Corporation’s failure to fulfill its obligation to ensure the safety of its airbag systems,” said Inspector General Scovel. “Because safety is and will remain the highest priority for my office, we will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners in pursuing those who commit criminal violations of transportation-related laws and regulations. Along with similar settlements with General Motors in September 2015 and Toyota in March 2014, today’s agreement makes clear to all auto manufacturers and parts suppliers their duty in keeping the public safe.”

According to the company’s admissions, in the late 1990s, Takata began developing airbag inflators that relied upon ammonium nitrate as their primary propellant. From at least in or around 2000, Takata knew that certain ammonium nitrate-based inflators were not performing to the specifications required by the auto manufacturers. Takata also knew that certain inflators had sustained failures, including ruptures, during testing. Nevertheless, Takata induced its customers to purchase these airbag systems by submitting false and fraudulent reports and other information that concealed the true condition of the inflators. This fraudulent data made the performance of the company’s airbag inflators appear better than it actually was, including by omitting that, in some instances, inflators ruptured during testing. Takata employees – including a number of key executives – routinely discussed the falsification of test reports being provided to Takata’s customers in email and in verbal communications. Even after the inflators began to experience repeated problems in the field – including ruptures causing injuries and deaths – Takata executives continued to withhold the true and accurate inflator test information and data from their customers. In addition, Takata took no disciplinary actions against those involved in the falsification of test data until 2015, despite the fact that senior executives had been made aware of the fraudulent conduct years earlier.

Takata has agreed to plead guilty to a one-count criminal information filed today in the Eastern District of Michigan and assigned to U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh, charging the company with one count of wire fraud. Under the terms of the agreement, Takata will pay a total criminal penalty of $1 billion, including $975 million in restitution and a $25 million fine. Two restitution funds will be established: a $125 million fund for individuals who have been physically injured by Takata’s airbags and who have not already reached a settlement with the company, and a $850 million fund for airbag recall and replacement costs incurred by auto manufacturers who were victims of Takata’s fraud scheme. A court-appointed special master will oversee administration of the restitution funds. Takata has also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, retain a compliance monitor for a term of three years and cooperate fully with the department’s ongoing investigation, including its investigation of individuals.

The three Takata executives – Shinichi Tanaka, 59; Hideo Nakajima, 65; and Tsuneo Chikaraishi, 61, all Japanese citizens – were each charged in an indictment filed on Dec. 7, 2016, in the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud for their alleged conduct in connection with the above-described fraud scheme.

The department reached this resolution based on a number of factors, including Takata’s extensive cooperation with the government’s investigation. However, the company did not receive more significant mitigation credit, either in the penalty or the form of resolution, because of the nature of the conduct to which the company is pleading guilty, including the approximate 15-year duration of the fraud, the pervasiveness of the scheme into the executive level of management and the potential risk the fraud posed to drivers and passengers.

Joshua Rubush Dies In Morning Crash

LEHIGH ACRES, FL. -- Joshua Rubush died in a crash in Lee county Friday at 5:05 a.m.

Joshua G. Rubush, 21 of LaBelle was traveling south on CR-884 (Joel Boulevard) north of Leighton Court in a 2006 Honda Civic and failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway while approaching Leighton Court.

Subsequently, the Honda traveled across the northbound lanes of CR-884 (Joel Boulevard) causing the front to collide with the guardrail face on the east shoulder. The vehicle came to final rest in the north travel lane of CR-884 (Joel Boulevard) facing east.

Rubish was pronounced deceased on scene. Results of testing for alcohol are pending.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hendry Government Annual Report

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County released their 2016 Annual Report. The report highlights the accomplishments of Hendry County government over the past year.

The report contains multiple areas of interest, but some of the more significant impacts to the County in 2016 were:

· 25 new grants were secured valued at $77,256,184.00. These grants support existing services and enhance infrastructure.

· Veterans Services helped obtain $18 million for veterans and their dependents from claims and pensions.

· Experienced a 91% increase in single family home permits

· Harlem Library provided services to 1,885 youth through various programs for increase in participation of 117% over FY2015

A great feature of the report is the “Tracking the Annual Budget” section. The dollar bill infographic depicts where the $69 million budget comes from, and how it is utilized. The 2016 budget is $21 million less than 2008, and Hendry County tax assessment falls below the state average.

The 2017 business year is developing under a theme of back to basics with an emphasis on greater information sharing with residents and building stronger community relationships both at home and regionally. County leadership is continuing to improve the organization to become increasingly efficient, customer friendly and focused on providing relevant and valuable services to the community.

“Hendry County is a very special place in South Florida. We are proud of our accomplishments in 2016, but look forward to strengthening relationships with our residents and continue to make strides forward. As the community engages in the conversation we are here to listen. It’s our goal to be the best county government we can be for our residents,” states Charles Chapman, County Administrator.

The 2016 Annual Report is available to the public at all Hendry County government buildings, and can also be found online at

Hendry Commission Meeting - Highlights

LABELLE, FL. -- The following is a highlight of the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting held on Tuesday, January 10 at Clewiston City Hall.


Item E1 – Sherriff’s Department Law Enforcement Trust Fund Request was pulled from the consent agenda and tabled until next month’s meeting to allow for a presentation by the requesting non-profit entity.


1. Proposed Land Development Amendments – This was the first of two hearings on a proposed definition of a Mobile Home Subdivision in the Hendry County Land Development Code (LDC). Currently there is not a definition in the LDC for Mobile Home Subdivision. The new definition designates a Mobile Home Subdivision as an area with individually owned lots that is developed with mobile homes. See agenda item for the full definition. Adoption is expected at the January 24th BOCC meeting.

2. Proposed Future Land Use (FLU) Map Amendment – The County initiated the reclassification of approximately 38+ acres located in North LaBelle from Residential, Low-Density to Residential, Medium Density. Staff recommended this change due to the area being zoned for mobile homes. The change to the FLU would make these properties consistent with the intended use. Allowing property owners the opportunity to further advance their properties in line with their intended use. The BOCC approved this to be transmitted to the State of Florida for review. Adoption is expected at the first BOCC meeting in March.

3. Proposed Comprehensive Plan (CP) Amendments – For more than a year the Hendry County Planning and Community Development Department has been working on changes to the CP. These changes include creating a user friendly document for the public by moving the data and analysis portions to a separate document. The document also takes all of the CP amendments over the past few years and adds them in the correct order and place, which required renumbering the entire document. The BOCC approved this to be transmitted to the State of Florida for review. Adoption is anticipated in the next sixty days.


Florida Association of Counties (FAC) Board of Directors Vacancy – The FAC Board of Directors for District 28 was formerly represented by Hendry County Commissioner Don Davis. The FAC Board of Directors is composed of one commissioner from each Florida Senate District, elected to office by commissioners of the counties within the respective Senate District. Board members serve staggered two-year terms. The BOCC nominated Chairman Michael Swindle to fill the vacancy with term ending in June 2018.


Approval of Workshop Schedule – The BOCC approved a workshop schedule to coincide with regularly scheduled BOCC meetings. Topics for workshops to include: East Recreation, Affordable Housing, Mental Health Service, Budget Priorities and more. The BOCC directed staff to include a legislative priorities planning workshop and to invite both city councils to participate. The public is encouraged to attend these workshops. A listing of the proposed workshop topics and dates are attached. All dates, times, locations and topics are subject to change. The legislative priorities workshop has yet to be scheduled and an update will be provided shortly.


A member of the public requested clarification on why chickens were not allowed on his property which is zoned at A3 (agriculture3). The question spurred conversation on further discussion of animals allowed on specific land designation types in the County. Further discussion on this topic will be heard at the workshop for Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code Update and Review scheduled for February 28, 2017 in LaBelle from 3:00-5:00 pm. All dates, times, locations and topics are subject to change.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Brighton - A Walk Across Florida

Excepts from Bob Kranich's A Walk Across Florida

It was getting dark now and I could hear lots of cows mooing off in the distance on the north side. I just couldn’t see any. A few dark building shapes appeared as I came into Brighton, and that’s about all there was, a few buildings. The place was all dark, kind of deserted. I could see one exception. There was a faint glow coming from a window in a one-story building on the north side of the highway. I walked by a couple of beat-up pickup trucks. The door where the light was shining was an old wooden screen door. I looked in through the screen and saw what appeared to be a cook shack with a dining room. Since the screen was slightly ajar, I opened it, stuck my head in and hollered.

“How ya doin’, I need some directions.”

A guy with a real chef's hat looked up from a frying pan with some sizzling catfish in it and said,

“Come on in.”

I walked in, pack and all. On the left was a sink built in a table and three large guys wearing cowboy hats, hunched around cleaning a mess of catfish.

“Here’s one needs a shave,” one of the cowboys said. I guess he thought at first I was a new hired hand.

“Don’t mind him none,” the cook said, “What-sha need?”

“ I heard that there was a fire tower down the road towards the Seminole Indian Reservation.”

“Yep, you're right, just a short distance.”

“Well, thanks a lot,” I said as I backed out……..

The next morning….Little did I know that I was soon to have a forced hitch-hike!

I was resting up against a huge Australian pine, when a cowboy drove up pulling a horse van with a jeep pickup. Now, this guy really looked the part, big hat, fancy shirt with those fancy pearl buttons and one of those small cigars dangling out of his mouth, A real sight! Kind of looked like Clint Eastwood. He nodded.

“Howdy, I’m going to give you a ride about three miles down the road,” he said.

“No thank you, I’m hiking,” I said.

“But you don’t understand. We’re going to drive about 500 head of cattle down this road and with you walking along they’ll go right through the fences.”

Ok, that was enough of an explanation: “I’m with you!”

I put my pack in the truck. A short distance down the road we stopped and picked up a small, weather-beaten, tanned cowboy. He was just sitting on a fence rail. He also had his big hat and all the trimmings. In fact he looked like he had just stepped out of a movie, spurs and all! I was beginning to think that I was on a movie set. I found myself looking around for the cameras.

We drove about three miles, just over Indian Prairie Canal, and stopped. I got out, and they thanked me for my cooperation. They then drove through an open gate along the opposite side of the road, left their truck and trailer parked in the field, and rode off into the range on the two horses that they had tied there. I would like to have stayed and watched but that would have defeated their purpose. I then saw the sign on the side of their truck, Lykes Ranch. They must have been connected to the people I saw at the cook shack the night before.

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

Phyllis McEwen Chautaqua Program January 25

LABELLE, FL. -- Phyllis McEwen will become noted Florida African American author Zora Neale Hurston at her Chautauqua inspired program featuring the late author's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" at a LaBelle Heritage Museum Special Speaker Program at the LaBelle High School Auditorium on Wednesday, January 25, at 7:00 p.m. 

The museum's Special Speaker Programs over the past several years are made possible by grants from the Florida Humanities Council and have brought a number of speakers including Rick Smith's programs on his father Patrick Smith, author of "A Land Remembered" to LaBelle. 

Ms. McEwen says Zora Neale Hurston has been an inspiration to her. Hurston, born to former slaves in Alabama, moved to Florida at an early age and was influential in the Harlem Renaissance during a time when African Americans shed light on their culture through the arts. 

Hurston's influence waned and she was almost forgotten at the time of her death. She was rediscovered and is now recognized as one of America's foremost women writers of the first half of the 20th Century and her works are studied by students in both high schools and colleges.

The program is open to the public at no charge. Advance reservations are suggested since seating is limited. Contact the museum at (863)674-0034

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sheriff's Academy Begins February 7

LABELLE, FL. -- 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 7, 2017 at the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) located at 4425 W. SR 80 & Congen Drive, LaBelle, FL.

The Citizen’s Academy is great 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 are excited about this program and would 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.

Eleazar Perez Dies At 60

Eleazar P. Gamez Perez, age 60, of Moore Haven, passed away January 4, 2017 in Moore Haven. He was born May 20, 1956 in Mexico to the late Maximiliano and the late Enedina (Perez) Gamez.

He is survived by his wife: Virginia De (Parocua) Gamez Perez, two sons: Francisco Gamez and Eliazar Gamez, four brothers: Ernesto Gamez, Enrique Gamez, Luis Gamez and Arturo Gamez, and four sisters: Ofelia Gamez, Maria Gamez, Guillermina Gamez and Celia Gamez, and five grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 3:00 pm at Saint Joseph The Worker Catholic Church, Moore Haven. Visitation will be Sunday from 4-5 P.M. at Saint Joseph The Worker Catholic Church, Moore Haven, FL.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Charlie Brown The Musical Opens Thursday

LABELLE, FL. -- The Firehouse Community Theatre Presents: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Musical” ~ Opening night is this Thursday, January 12th.

Support your local theatre as the volunteers of the theatre have worked very hard to put on this wonderful play for our community.

This is a lovable production for people of all ages. (Reminder this not a play just for children! Everyone loves the "Peanuts Gang"!)

Get ready to enjoy your favorite characters of the Peanuts gang as Charles Schulz’s beloved comic comes to life in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Musical”.

Books, Music & Lyrics by Clark Gesner and directed by Maureen Doucette, Musical Director is John Wall. The play run January 12-13-14-15 and then January 19-20-21-22, 2017.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Burning Ban In Effect

LABELLE, FL. -- A burn ban is now in effect for unregulated fires for all of Hendry County as dry weather conditions impact the area.

An unregulated fire means any outdoor fire, other than a cook fire, which is not permitted by a governmental agency. Outdoor fires include but are not limited to bonfires, campfires, or burning of yard debris.

Those who violate the burn ban can be subject to a civil fine or charged with a misdemeanor based on the nature of the violation.

To obtain a burn permit for commercial and contractor services only contact the Florida Forest Service at 239-690-8001.

To report a burn ban violation contact the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number at 863-674-5600 or Hendry County Code Enforcement at 863-675-5247.

The burn ban is in effect until further notice.

Explosion Injury At Chemical Company

LABELLE, FL. -- At approximately 7:12 am Monday, Hendry County Sherriffs Office received a call for an explosion with injury at Paramount Chemicals & Plastics, Inc. south of LaBelle on State Road 29 in Felda.

The company specializes in the treatment of water via irrigation and injection systems for businesses and farms selling chemicals including acids, anti-scalants, bio-diesel supplies, chlorine, fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, hydrogen peroxide, insecticides, methanol, polymers, quaternary ammonium, salts, etc.

Immokalee Fire Department was first on scene followed by Hendry County First Responders.

The injured individual was transported via Lee Flight from the Felda Fire Department to Lee Memorial.

Hazmat Has cleared the scene, and investigators with the Hendry County Sherriffs Office and Florida Department of Environmental Protection are on scene conducting a full investigation in to this accident. OSHA has been notified and is in route.

Hendry County officials will update as more information becomes available.

Don Hamilton's Birds In Flight: Africa

LABELLE, FL. -- Don Hamilton Jr. will be presenting a program and photo essay “Birds in Flight: Africa” Monday January 16 at 7 pm. This free program hosted by Hendry-Glades Audubon will be held at the Hendry County Extension Dallas Townsend Building at 1085 Pratt Blvd. In LaBelle.

Don Hamilton Jr. a native Floridian living in Boca Raton Boca Raton is a passionate Wildlife, and Nature photographer. Don has been practicing Nuclear Medicine Imaging for over 30 years in South Florida. He is also a frequent contributor to the Clewiston News and the South Florida Water Management Districts publications. A passion to share nature’s many delights and to promote conservation is his driving force that propels Don to pursue excellence in photography.

Don’s fascination with wildlife and nature began at an early age. Having spent 10 years plus in Venezuela, and traveling thru out south America. From Macro photography to birds in flight…it’s a process, and one must be willing to put the time, energy and dedication to achieve that gratifying shot.

Don specializes in leading photography Tours/workshops in South Florida, Costa Rica, Canada, Chile and Ecuador. The one on one experience as well as small groups; allows each participant to learn, utilize and apply the concepts. Don enjoys Speaking, teaching and sharing his passion and the pursuit of excellence.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Cold Weather Emergency Shelter Opens

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County will be opening the Cold Weather Emergency Shelter in LaBelle tonight (January 7) at 7:00 pm at the United Way House, located at 133 N. Bridge Street in LaBelle.

The shelter will be open until 7:00 am Sunday, however if there are no guests in place by midnight the shelter will close and volunteers will be sent home.

The forecasted temperatures in Clewiston are not expected to trigger the temperature/wind chill threshold needed to activate a shelter.

The shelter is being staffed by local Hendry County Emergency Management volunteers.

"It is our responsibility as a community to reach out to those in need. The shelters are open to anyone who needs a warm place to stay, including those without adequate heat in their homes," said county officials.

Dr. Stewart Ross At Kiwanis

LABELLE, FL. -- At a recent meeting, the Kiwanis Club of LaBelle welcomed the Florida Kiwanis Membership Chairperson Dr. Stewart Ross. 

He spoke to the Kiwanis group about Project Capabilities, Recruitment, &the potential of starting a Kiwanis Club in Clewiston. 

Photo by Helen Mead (Dr. Stewart Ross and Tim Holland, Kiwanis Club of LaBelle President)

Friday, January 06, 2017

Thrift Store Seeking Manager

LABELLE, FL. -- The LaBelle Kiwanis Foundation is looking for a manager to their thrift store on Bridge Street.

Thrift Store Manager Application deadline January 12, 2017. Request applications for the LaBelle Kiwanis Foundation Thrift Store Manager online at:

Please complete and return the " Employee Application" and " Willingness Survey” plus an optional resume by Thursday January 12, 2017to:

Questions about this job will be answered during interviews.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Janice Henderson Dies At 77

Janice H. Henderson, age 77, of Moore Haven, passed away January 3, 2017 in Lehigh Acres.

She was born Dec. 31, 1939 in Wauchula, FL, to the late Gordon Hart and the late Juanita (Smith) Hart.

Janice was an employee of the Glades County Clerk of Courts for many years, after which she became the Glades County Probation Officer. Janice joined her husband in retirement in 2005 where they enjoyed traveling. Janice got the most enjoyment out of spending time at the lake house surrounded by all of her family especially the great grandchildren.

She is survived by her husband of 60 years Russell Henderson, son: Darrell W. Henderson (Gail), daughters: Sherri Fleming (Ross) and Dr. Sharyn Henderson, grandchildren: Courtney Brown (Eddie), Kelly McLaughlin (John), Krista Henderson, Wayne Henderson, great grandchildren: Kannon, Zane, Addison, Gavin, Juan, Almani and Kathleen, sisters: Pat Johnson (Billy) and Barbara Flood. She was preceded in death by her parents Gordon and Juanita and brother, Danny.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 11:00 am at First Baptist Church of Moore Haven. Visitation will be one hour prior to service at First Baptist Church of Moore Haven. Interment will be in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven.

Memorial donations may be made in Janice's memory to: Hope Healthcare Services, 1201 Wings Way, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936, The Gideons International, P.O. Box 140800, Nashville, TN 37214 or the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Inc., P.O. Box 2000, Boys Ranch, FL 32064.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Sheriff Citizens Academy January 31

LABELLE, FL. -- 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 January 31, 2017 at the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) located at 4425 W. SR 80 & Congen Drive, LaBelle, FL.

The Citizen’s Academy is great 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 are excited about this program and would 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.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Obituaries - Bobby Nelson, J,C. Rudd, Herman Lewis

Bobby Wayne Nelson, age 64, of Clewiston, passed away December 28, 2016 in Clewiston.

He was born Sep. 29, 1952 in Hollywood, FL, to Ronald and Sylvia (Carr) Nelson. Mr. Nelson married Margaret De Castro. He owned and operated Robert's Hair Salon in Clewiston for many years. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew and loved him dearly.

Survivors include his wife: Margaret Nelson, children; Daniel Marquith, Adam Marquith, Natalie Thompson and Kathryn Ryder, fifteen grandchildren, two sisters; Linda Havard and Karen Pratt, one brother; Kenneth Nelson. Many dear family friends and many loyal customers.

Memorial celebration of Bobby's life will be held 11 am Tuesday, January 3, 2017 in United Methodist Church of Clewiston with Pastor Jeff Smith officiating.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

J C Rudd, age 91, of Clewiston, passed away December 29, 2016 in Clewiston.

He was born Dec. 15, 1925 in Okeechobee, FL, to the late James Carl and the late Eva Mae (Clemons) Rudd. He served during World War II in the Army from 6 Nov 45 to 23 Nov 46. He worked for U.S. Sugar for many years as a Dump Operator. 

He was a loving husband to Frances who preceded him in death on April 19, 2013. He was a loving father, grandfather, great grandpa and great-great grandpa who will be greatly missed by all of his family and close friends. J C enjoyed fishing, hunting and pretty much doing anything outside. He also enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.

Survivors include two sons: R. V. Cochran and his wife Sally, Ronnie Rudd and his wife Barbara, two daughters: Carlene Cobb and Tanda McGee and her husband Bart, one brother; Gerald Rudd, two sisters; Hilda Jacob and Geraldine Harvey, fourteen grandchildren, twenty-four great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

J C was also preceded in death by his son; Durward Cochran.

Funeral services will be held Monday, January 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, with Pastor Dyoll McDuffie officiating. Interment will be Monday, January 2, 2017 in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston. Visitation will be Monday from 1 hour prior to service at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Herman "Travis" Lewis, age 75, of Alva, FL, died Saturday December 31, 2016. Born in Immokalee FL, he was the son of the late Frank and Fay Lewis. He was married for 55 years to his loving wife Betty Jean (Roper) Lewis. Travis was a lifetime resident of Alva Florida. He worked for the Agricultural Department for the State of Florida. He honorably served in the United States Marines from 1958-1961.

He is survived by his wife: Betty Lewis, daughters: Lisa Sears and Lora Lewis, sisters: Annette Conner (Dennis) and Louise Guffey (Thomas), grandchildren: Jessica, Jason, Kalin, Jarred, and Megan, great-grandchildren: Olivia, Rebecca, Levi, Colton and Cadence. He was preceded in death by his son, Travis "Mark" Lewis, his mother and father: Frank and Fay (Rewis) Lewis and brother, Herbert Lewis.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Fort Myers. The Funeral Service will be held Thursday, January 5, 2017, 11:00 a.m. at Alva Church of God in Alva with Rev. Dennis Edgar officiating. The graveside service will be held Thursday, 12:30 p.m. at Alva Cemetery where military honors will be conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps.

January Hikers Event Schedule

LABELLE, FL. -- Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Association Sub-Chapter is hosting 4 events in January for adults, families, and youth. 

Saturday January 7: Pot Luck Lunch, Kayak/Canoe or Fish at Bob Mason Waterfront Park, LaBelle: noon – 3pm Bring a dish to share.; 

Friday January13: (2.5 miles) Night Hike begins at 6:30 pm behind the Port LaBelle Villas; 

Sunday January 15: Hickory Hammock Hike (8 miles)Meet at Barron Park, LaBelle a 7:00 am or meet at Hickory Hammock at 8:30 am; 

Sunday January 29 Platt Branch Hike (3.5 miles) To carpool meet at Barron Park, LaBelle or Platt Branch WMA at 1:30; 

For information go to Fisheating Creek Florida Trail Association Facebook.;RSVP required to: Deanna Filkins cell/text 863-234-8181 or Margaret or cell/text 863-517-0202

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Port LaBelle Wildfire Contained

LABELLE, FL. -- Today, at approximately 12:30 pm, a 911 call was received by a passerby reporting a small fire on the edge of the road at the intersection of Peach Tree and Littlefield in Port LaBelle.

By the time fire personnel arrived on scene the fire had begun to spread into a wooded area covered with pine needles and dead brush. Other county fire departments including Felda, Montura, Flaghole, Clewiston and Pioneer Fire Departments responded quickly along with Glades Fire Department and strike teams from north and south Fort Myers.

Firefighters on scene determined that the evacuation of Castelton needed to take place to ensure the safety of the property and residents of the home. At this time the homeowners are allowed to return to their homes as they are no longer in any danger.

At the time of this report, the fire is contained. County Manager Charles Chapman said, "Today we had a multi agency fire and we are very happy with the response of our local county fire department and the cooperation we received from surrounding counties".

At this time there are no residential homes in danger and there has been no damage to any structure.

Kiwanis Honors Jackie Foster

LABELLE, FL. -- At a recent LaBelle Kiwanis meeting, club members surprised Jackie Foster with a cake to say thank you for her numerous years of service with Kiwanis. 

Ms. Jackie has given the inspirational devotional at the beginning of each Kiwanis meeting for years and she decided that in her "young" 80+ years, it's time to pass that tradition on to another Kiwanis member. 

Ms. Jackie was pleasantly surprised by the cake. Club members have been inspired by her enthusiasm for life and will miss her devotionals.
Pictured left to right: Kiwanis members Sue Williams, Jackie Foster and Nikki Yeager

In The Theatre Spotlight - Brenda Barnes

LABELLE, FL. -- Brenda Barnes thought about trying out for a part at the Firehouse Community Theatre for years, and her husband finally convinced her to do it three years ago. Her first role at FCT was the part of Randi in "Marry Walt" and then she was hooked! Since then she cracked people up in her role as Vernadette in the "Dixie Swim Club" and most recently her role as

Maxie in "Farce of Nature". She just loves the fellow actors/actresses that she has met over the last three years.

Once, a couple of years ago she sang on a Carnival Cruise Ship Stage as 'Cher', singing "If I Could Turn Back Time" with a live band and over 2,000 people in the audience!. (She even has pictures to prove it!...Brenda is not shy!)

Although Brenda does not claim to be a "singer"; she says she's just "goofy enough to get up there and do it"!!! She loves singing karaoke with Jeni at Don's Steakhouse too!

Brenda is a Board Member for the Firehouse Community Theatre and also writes articles and assists with Public Relations for the Theatre. She has also been an usher and assisted with the planning of the theatre's premier parties.

Brenda is married to Mike Felten and together they own and operate LaBelle Electric Inc. They have also been Corporate Sponsors of the Firehouse Community Theatre for the past three years. Additionally, Brenda works full time at the Florida Dept of Health as the Public Information Officer and Disaster Preparedness Coordinator. (She recently worked disaster response for Hurricane Matthew)

Brenda has been a busy community volunteer for many years as a Kiwanis Club of LaBelle member, Kiwanis Kids Day Chairperson, writing articles for the Caloosa Belle, assisting with the United Way Annual Fundraiser, Bell Ringer for Salvation Army and making desserts for the Caloosa Humane Society's fundraisers. Lately though her time is consumed by her two grandchildren: Jayna (5yrs old) and Kellan (3yrs old). She loves spending time with her family but also loves taking cruises "to get away from it all" for a little while.

You'll probably be seeing more of Brenda on stage at the Firehouse Theatre! She can't wait to see what crazy character she can play next season!