Saturday, October 31, 2020

James HInes of Glades County, Fl. Dies, Aged 77

James "Jimmy" Hines died on October 28, 2020. He was born on September 15, 1943. He was a Glades County Resident for 45 years. 

He enjoyed fishing, hunting, air boating, and taking pictures. Jimmy retired from South Florida Water Management District. 

Mr. Hines was preceded by his mother, Roxie Hines, father Virgil Hines, brother; Doug Hines, and brother Pail Hines. 

He is survived by his devoted wife; Pearl Ann Hines, brother; Fred Hines and wife Carolyn, sister; Abby Roberts and husband Bob Roberts, daughters; Genele Clark, Debbie Cowles and husband J.D., Judy Hubbard and husband Ray, and son; Reuben Bullard, many nieces, nephews and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

Celebration of Jimmy's life will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, November 2, 2020 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston, where Pastor Phillip Williams will officiate, visitation will be one hour prior to celebration. Burial will take place at Ortona Cemetery. 

Celebration arrangements handled by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Florida Keys' Watercolor Kapers by Bob Kranich - Episode 16

Florida Keys' Watercolor Kapers 
by Bob Kranich

No Name Key, (Part 7, Excerpt 16)

In this part, Our two main characters, Manuel and Hector have joined up to free Cuba with the Freedom Fighters. They are secretly being flown to Guatemala in Central America for training.

They all threw their bags to the loadmaster, grabbed ahold and climbed up. Each one helped the other get into the plane. The door slammed shut. There were jump seats dropped down on either side of the aircraft looking towards the center. As they got into their seats and were buckling up, the engines revved , they taxied a sort distance, the engines roared, and the plane leaped forward and raced down the dark runway. Before they knew it, they were airborne.

They all seemed to close their eyes at once and tried to resume their interrupted sleep. The drone of the props helped.

Manuel opened his eyes. Where was he? Then he remembered. He saw Enrique who was pulling back a small amount of the tape that was covering the windows.

“We’re over a jungle. It appears to be Guatemala,” he said.

The plane started to lose altitude.

The loadmaster said, “ Buckle up guys. We’re going in!”

The plane dropped down some, at the same time keeping horizontal, then down some more. They started to bank and went around losing some more altitude. It went in for its final approach, and you could hear the whine of the motors lowering the wheels. There was a squeal and a bump as the wheels touched the runway, then the sudden slowing and loud noise rush as the props were feathered and the air backwashed.

The plane taxied up, stopped, and the loadmaster opened the door. This time there was a portable step. They all grabbed their bags and headed down, Enrique in the lead.

There was a Cuban lieutenant at the bottom, “Who’s in charge?” He asked.

“I guess I am,” Enrique said.
“Is this all you have? Climb aboard that truck, men!”

They pulled up to a building. It appeared to be something that was thrown up somewhat hastily.

“Ok men, inside.”

“Sir!” The lieutenant saluted a captain, “These five are all they brought.”

“That’s all right lieutenant. We’ll take all we can get. These men are to be a heavy weapons platoon. Train them on the 57 mm recoilless rifle and bazooka. They will carry their own ammo and load. Get them up to the 6th and start training immediately. We don’t have much time.”

“Yes sir! Men, follow me.”

They went back out to the truck and loaded up. The truck pulled out and drove along a road paralleling the runway. Manuel could see a lot of huge two and four-motor prop cargo transports lining the runway. There were also some smaller two-motor prop bombers lined up.

Enrique said, “Some of those big ones can drop paratroopers. There’s some C-46’s and C-54’s.* The two engine bombers are Douglas A-26’s.* I’ve been around them before.”

“Where do you think they are taking us?” Manuel asked.

“I heard the captain say to get them up to the barracks…then ‘heavy weapons’ training. Something about, not much time, and to get that training done first. Did you see the guards on the perimeter of the airstrip? I recognized the uniforms, definitely Guatemalans!” Enrique exclaimed.

The truck bounced off the pavement and onto a small dirt road. They were gaining some elevation.

“You seem to know quite a lot,” Hector said. “How do you do it?”

“Oh, I get around some,” Enrique stated.

The truck pulled up to a gate. The guard lifted the crossbar and said, “Passé.”

They drove up to what appeared to be another hastily constructed single-story wooden building. The truck came to a screeching stop. The lieutenant jumped out.

“Ok men, this is it. Your home until we get out of here. Line up right here, side by side. What I need to tell you is, you’re in an army. You’re to act and behave like recruits. The only problem is you’ve missed basic training! That is because you’re the last of the Cuban Freedom Fighters who will be admitted. We’re running out of time. Welcome to Brigade 2506. Be proud of it, and do your best.”

Just then the screen door to the office building opened and slammed shut as two guys stepped out. The first was an Anglo, followed by a short muscular khaki-dressed Cuban with a military fatigue hat on. The first guy looked almost like Frank back at the deserted Opa-locka air base. He was tall. This guy had no dress suit, but he had tan long pants, a short -sleeved tan dress shirt, and the usual dark sunglasses.

The lieutenant stiffened and hollered, “Men, attennn-tion!”

All five of the guys stood up straight, arms at their sides. The guy with the sunglasses stepped off the porch followed by the uniformed guy. “Welcome, gentlemen. Welcome to Base Trax. My name is Joe, and that’s all you need to know. This here is Sergeant Jimenez. He is going to train you in heavy weapons. You pay attention to him, and learn it fast and good! That will be all, Lieutenant. Sergeant Jimenez, they are all yours!”

Sergeant Jimenez stepped forward, “Gentlemen, at ease. I’ve got all your paper work here. Enrique, you’re in charge of the heavy weapons platoon. You will be a corporal, the rest privates. Remember to salute all officers. Those are the ones with the shiny or gold cloth insignias on their collars or hats. Sound off with your first names from left to right. Loud!”

“John.” “Sam.” “Hector.” “Manuel.” “Enrique.”
Enrique, march these men down to the second building on the right. Pick out five bunks together, and stow your gear. Then march them over to the building directly across from it, the mess hall. Get something to eat. I’ll see you back at the bunk house at 1300 sharp. Don’t be late!”

“Yes Sir!” Endrique replied, “Men face right, forward march. Left…Left...left, right, left.”

They got back to the barracks just before 1300. Sergeant Jimenez was there waiting for them.

“OK men, we’re going to form up outside. We’re going to start getting in shape, it’s double time everywhere you go. Move out! Quickly! Endrique, we’re going across the parade ground in front of the mess hall. HQ building on the far side with the brigade flag. Move ‘em!”

Endrique shouted, “Ten-shut men, move out...forward march! Left...Left...Hup-two-three-four, double time...Go!”

They arrived huffing and puffing.

“All right men, move through that door.” Sergeant “J” pointed, “The first guys will give you your boots, second guy at the counter...your gear, the third guy will give your shots! Then go left down the hall, first room on the right. A classroom, see you there.”

They came into the room with sore shoulders and also realizing just how much out of shape they were. They were carrying packs filled with a couple of sets of t-shirts, fatigues, canteen, and toiletries.

“Men, have a seat. Take a few minutes to get settled. Your shoulders and leg muscles will ache for a few days. You will get over it. Pay attention. You’re going to be a heavy weapons team,” Sergeant Jimenez stated. “Pay very close attention. Your life and your buddy's life will depend upon it.”

From the Author: 

My second full-length book, Florida Keys’ Watercolor Kapers is composed of 336 pages. There are 12 stories running from 6 pages to as many as 72 pages. It is fully illustrated with 88 watercolors and sketches. The watercolors I made roaming around Key West after I finished my 750 mile hike from Georgia to Key West. (See book or Don Browne’s SouthWest Florida Online News, A Walk Across Florida.) As you read these stories you will experience Key West, the Keys, and the Caribbean. These stories span the time of the early 1800’s to 1969.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

How To Check To See If Your Mail-In Ballot Has Been Received In Hendry-Glades

LABELLE, FL -- Hendry County and Glades County welcomes early voters, open for those registered for the 2020 General Election until Saturday October 31 at 4:30 p.m. 

In LaBelle today, there were no lines and the LaBelle and Clewiston offices are open from 9 until 5. Hours during weekdays are 7 until 7 pm.

As of 9:40 a.m. Thursday in Hendry county there were 2,981 mailed votes received and 5,272 early votes comprising 43% of possible votes. 

19,057 citizens are eligible to vote this year in Hendry. 

39% of votes received so far are from Democratic Party voters, 49% Republican, and 12% from No Party and Other.

In Moore Haven in Glades County, early voting is from 8:30 to 4:30. 

Of the 7,097 registered Glades voters, 1,585 have cast ballots so far by mail, and as of Thursday at 9:40 early voting, 842 have voted in person. 34% of registered voters have already cast their ballots.

Glades county Democrats comprise 35% of those votes cast, Republicans 51%, with 14% No Party and Others casting votes so far.

The public viewing of the Glades vote by mail ballots will be held Monday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m.

To check to see your registration status, nearest November 3 polling location, and if your mail in ballot has been received or if you voted early, check here, requiring your name and date of birth: - Glades voters - Hendry voters

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Scam Alert - Fake Delivery Text Message From USPS, FedEX, UPS

There’s a text message scam making the rounds that could target you, your business mail room staff, receptionist, or other employees. The FTC has tips on how you can protect you from this text scam.

The FTC Consumer Blog describes a text message people are receiving that claims to be a FedEx tracking notice. In variations on the scheme, fraudsters also are falsely invoking the names of UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. According to the text, there’s a “delivery” that needs to be scheduled by clicking on a link. From there, people are taken to an “Amazon” page, which invites them to complete a customer satisfaction survey. Then they’re told they’ve won a free prize. Just input a credit number to cover shipping and handling.

But as the blog post explains:

The text isn’t from a delivery service.
There is no package.
That isn’t a real Amazon page.
That’s not a customer survey.
And there’s no free prize.

It’s another scam designed to get people to turn over their personal account information – or your company credit card number. The Consumer Blog also introduces a new article, How to Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages.

In addition to subscribing to FTC Business Blog Alerts, you can sign up for FTC Consumer Alerts to stay in the know about what you, your family, and friends can do to protect yourselves from the latest scams.

-from the FTC website

U.S. Sugar Distributing 'Trunk Or Treat' Sweets To Kids In Small-Towns Florida

Clewiston, FL– This Halloween, the people of U.S. Sugar are teaming up with the cities of Moore Haven, LaBelle, Clewiston, Belle Glade, and Indiantown as well as local sheriffs’ departments to safely distribute sweet treats to area children. Candy will be available to all children in attendance at the below events.

“The sweetest time of year is upon us, and the people of U.S. Sugar are happy to be doing our part to help provide Glades-area children with a safe place to get sweet treats,” said U.S. Sugar Community Relations Manager Brannnan Thomas.

“Allowing families to safely receive candy in our communities on Halloween is a priority here in Moore Haven,” said Glades County Sheriff David Hardin. “We appreciate the support of U.S. Sugar to help bring together families in our community.”

“While COVID-19 has prevented us from doing many things, it has not stopped our children’s’ desire to safely trick or treat this Halloween,” said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden. 

At all community event locations, children and families are encouraged to follow all Centers for Disease Control guidelines. These include maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and the use of face masks. When possible, U.S. Sugar and its partners will be distributing candy to vehicles as they drive through event locations.

Details on community Halloween events

Moore Haven | Fri. Oct. 30
Glades County Trunk or Treat: 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Chalo Nitka Grounds - 998 S US 27
Decorate your car- Please wear a face covering

Village of Indiantown | Sat. Oct. 31
No Tricks, Just Treats Drive-By: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
The Village Hall – 15516 SW Osceola St.

City of Belle Glade | Sat. Oct. 31
Octoberfest: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Louis Butts Park - 1224 SW Ave. E Place
Food, Music, Haunted House, Candy & Costume Contest
Face coverings required. Children must be accompanied by an adult

City of Clewiston | Sat. Oct. 31
Mobile Trick or Treat: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
John Boy Auditorium - 1200 S WC Owen Ave.
Collect Halloween candy from the safety of your car

LaBelle | Sat. Oct. 31
Third Annual Trunk or Treat: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
LaBelle VFW 10100 - 20 Veterans Way
(Next to the Rodeo Grounds)
Free hotdogs, juice & chips for the kids

LaBelle | Sat. Oct. 31
Caloosa Baptist Church Trunk or Treat: 5 p.m.
Caloosa Baptist Church - 550 W. Hickpooche Ave.

LaBelle | Sat. Oct. 31
Hometown Trunk or Treat: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Davis Prati Park - 1287 Lillian St.

Moore Haven | Sat. Oct. 31
First United Methodist Church Trunk or Treat: 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
300 Avenue L
Kids vote for the best decorated trunk

Photo: Courtesy Barbara Whelan

Sheriff Steve Whidden Hires Deputies That Lie, Cheat, And Steal Says News-Press Front Page

LABELLE, FL. -- A front-page article in the Sunday, October 25th Fort Myers News-Press, and the USA Today Network of newspapers in Florida, written by Devan Patel says Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden has hired 51 deputies "with histories of personal and professional misconduct, including racism, lying, fraud, misuse of position, and paying for sex."

Whidden is running for a fourth terms as rural Hendry County Sheriff, and the New-Press article claims that 24 of the 51 deputies hired had been fired or resigned from previous jobs when accused of misconduct. 

Also claimed that 27 deputies had committed offenses that would have been classified as moral character violations, including "DUI, theft, possession of drugs, falsifying records, making false statements, and prostitution." 

Records indicate they all had admitted misconduct or were found guilty, said the article.

Thirty-two of those deputies remain with the Sheriff's Office out of 112 full-time law enforcement and corrections officers in Hendry County.

Among those named in the article are Sgt. Nestor Echevarria, fired from Florida Department of Corrections in 2007; Herman Bledsoe, lied about paying an informant for sex 20 years ago; Captain Donald Weathers, fired by Fort Myers Police three years ago; Lt. Mike Favara, fired one year before Whidden took office, and then re-hired in 2009; Allison Bennett, fired for failing Sheriff's field training, fired by Department of Children and Families in 2014 for intervening in a child custody case involving Hendry Sheriff Chief Deputy Kevin Nelson's former son-in-law.

Whidden and none of the deputies or former employees named in the article responded to requests for comment, according to the News-Press.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Catherine B Tharpe of LaBelle Dies, Aged 78

Catherine B Tharpe, age 78, of LaBelle, passed away October 25, 2020 in Lehigh Acres. She was born Nov. 1, 1941 in Apalachicola, FL, to the late Stanford Bragdon. 

She retired as a Retail Manager. 

Survivors include two daughters: Catherine (Mark) Charneski and Sally Lynn (Alex) Storey, two brothers: Thomas Bragdon and James Bragdon Grandchildren, Jessica (Farron) Williams; Jason (Glenda) Hallmon; Tristan Story; Nathaniel Corey; Gavin (Devan Taylor) Corey; Luke Storey; Alexia Storey; Steve Storey; Great Grandchildren , Abby Williams;, Bryant Williams; Madison Williams;, Jason Hallmon Jr; Tanner Hallmon; Mason Hallmon; Jaden Hallmon; Alyce Storey; Peyton Dees; Kenzie Dees; Alana Baxter; Lily Baxter; Faithlyn Fuller 

She was Predeceased by her husband E.B. Tharpe, and a brother Richard Bragdon. 

In Lieu of Flowers please consider donations to the Dachshund Rescue of South Florida P.O. Box 267386 Westin, FL 33326. 

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Dr. Jerry Jackson and Audubon of LaBelle Hosts Presentation On Anhingas November 9

Anhingas! Zoom Presentation by Dr. Jerry Jackson

Anhingas! Their adaptations and behavior for life in Florida swamps. Zoom Presentation by Dr. Jerry Jackson, Professor Emeritus, Florida Gulf Coast University

Monday November 9 @ 7:00 pm Hosted by Hendry-Glades Audubon

For Invitation contact Steve Buczynski or Margaret England or text 863-517-0202

Anhingas are characteristic of freshwater habitats in the Southeast and are nowhere more common than in south Florida – yet their behavior and ecology are not well known. In this presentation I will focus on their nesting, chick development, some of their unusual, previously unknown behaviors, physical characteristics, and problems that they face.

Jerome A. Jackson is Professor Emeritus of Ecological Sciences and former Whitaker Eminent Scholar in Science at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Professor Emeritus at Mississippi State University. Jerry's expertise focuses on forest and coastal ecosystems, bird management issues associated with aviation, and the history of ornithology. He is author/editor of 25 books and more than 300 articles in the professional and popular literature. Dr. Jackson has hosted a daily public radio feature in southwest Florida called "With the Wild Things" for the past 20 years, He is a world renown researcher and teacher Club. He and his wife Bette, also an ornithologist and former Chair of the Biological Sciences

Attachments area

Monday, October 26, 2020

COVID Testing Resumes At Hendry and Glades Health Departments October 28

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The Florida Department of Health in Hendry & Glades Counties will offer free COVID-19 Testing Wednesday, October 28th in Clewiston and Monday, November 2nd in Moore Haven. (Weather permitting)

Open Testing – No Appointments Needed. No criteria or restrictions for testing

Testing Adults& Children over 5 yrs (with Parent Consent)

Wednesday, Oct 28th – 9am-11am, Hendry Co Health Dept 1100 S. Olympia, Clewiston.
Monday, Nov 2nd – 9am-11am, Glades Co Health Dept 1021 Health Park Drive, Moore Haven.

Persons tested will be given instructions on how to receive their test results.

Clewiston, Fl. Obituaries - Roger Milton Bechtold, aged 77, Migdalia D. Alamo, aged 90

Roger Milton Bechtold, age 77, of Clewiston, passed away October 13, 2020 in Clewiston. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Migdalia D. Alamo, age 90, of Clewiston, passed away October 15, 2020 in Clewiston. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Hendry-Glades Counties Election Turnout Strong with 32% and 22% Voted To Date


LABELLE, FL -- Both Hendry County, and starting today, Glades County welcomes early voter, open for those registered for the 2020 General Election.

In LaBelle today on Saturday, there were no lines and the offices are open from 9 until 5. Hours during weekdays are 7 until 7 pm.

As of 1 p.m. Saturday in Hendry county there were 2,622 mailed votes received, and 3,519 early votes, comprising 32% of possible votes. 

19,057 citizens are eligible to vote this year in Hendry. 

40% of votes received so far are from Democratic Party voters, 48% Republican, and 11% from No Party and Other.

In Moore Haven, early voting is from 8:30 to 4:30. 

Of the 7,097 registered Glades voters, 1,571 have cast ballots so far by mail, and on this first day of early voting, at 1 p.m.: 186 have voted in person. 22% of registered voters have already cast their ballots as of this afternoon.

Glades county Democrats comprise now 40% of those votes cast as of this afternoon, Republicans 48%, with 13% No Party and Others casting votes so far.

Friday, October 23, 2020

How To Celebrate Halloween Safely October 31

Fall celebrations, such as Halloween and Día de los Muertos, often include crowded parties and other large gatherings of families and friends that may put people at increased risk for COVID-19. There are several safer ways to participate in festivities and enjoy the season.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, stay home. Learn how to care for yourself and how to help protect other people in your home and community.

Below are some additional considerations for hosting or attending an in-person holiday gathering:
Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities, always keep a distance of at least 6 ft. from others and wear a face mask.

If an outdoor event is not possible, or if you choose to attend an indoor event, always wear a face mask, and avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, and fully enclosed indoor spaces.
Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible.

Check with the event host, organizer, or event venue for updated information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy. For example, bring extra masks (do not share or swap with others), hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and tissues.

If you are planning to attend in-person gatherings with people outside of your household, consider strictly avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before and after the gathering.

Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs

Consider not going to parties or bars to celebrate with others in enclosed environments.

Consider avoiding travel to a fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19. 

Lower risk activities: These lower risk activities can be safe alternatives

Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household
Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at least 6 feet apart, wearing a face mask, with neighbors or friends
Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
Having a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt with your household members in or around your home. Usually, costume masks (such as for Halloween) will not stop COVID-19 spread. Be sure any mask is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can make it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Moderate risk activities

Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to stay at least 6 feet apart

Higher risk activities: Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door
Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
Attending crowded parties held indoors
Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors

For additional information please see the page for Trick-or-Treating and Other Halloween Activities

LaBelle Obituaries - Jack Pelley, aged 73 and Lanora Kelting, aged 80

Jack Scott Pelley, age 73, of LaBelle, passed away October 20, 2020 in Lehigh Acres.

He was born Dec. 15, 1946 in Miami, FL, to the late Eugene Dale and Helen (Decourcy) Pelley. He served in the Marine Corps from 13 JAN 1966 to 10 JAN 1969. He worked in Construction as a Mason. 

Survivors include his wife: Rosetta (Shane) Pelley three daughters: Elisha Ann Pelley, Dawn Marie Pelley and Tracey Lynne Pelley, 

He was predeceased by his brother Douglas Wayne Pelley. 

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Lanora Faye Kelting, age 80, of LaBelle, passed away October 14, 2020 in LaBelle. 

She was born Aug. 24, 1940 in Brewton, Alabama, to the late Lawrence and the late Ethel Marie (Elliott) Wiggins. 

Faye was married to Ervin A. Kelting, Sr and he passed away on March 9, 2006. She later married Norman D. Chancy. 

Faye worked for many years as a real estate broker in the Clewiston area. 

She was a member of the Evangel Assembly of God Church in Clewiston. 

Faye was a loving woman of God who loved to share the message of the Lord with everyone who she met. She will be dearly missed by everyone who knew and loved her. 

Survivors include her husband: Norman Don Chancy, daughter; Charlotte Drake Ryan and her husband Marty Ryan of Liberty, Kentucky, son; Ervin A. Kelting, Jr and his wife Kandis (O'Dell) of Callahan, Florida, three grandchildren; Kourtenay Devlin, Timothy Kelting and Maliri Kelting and one sister; 
Jeannette Wiggins of Liberty, Kentucky, plus many extended family members and church friends. 

A celebration of life service for Faye will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. in Evangel Church of Clewiston. Faye will be laid to rest next to her first husband Ervin in Ridgelawn Cemetery. 

Funeral arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Fort Denaud Bridge Over Caloosahatchee River In LaBelle Closed


LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County authorities announced this morning the Fort Denaud Bridge in western Hendry County is currently closed to vehicular and boat traffic due to a mechanical issue. 

Please seek an alternate route to reach your destination either across the LaBelle Bridge or the Bridge in Alva in Lee County.

An update will be sent out as soon as additional information becomes available.

UPDATE: As of 1:20 p.m. Thursday the bridge at Fort Denaud is now open for vehicular and boat traffic.

Hendry County Home of Heartland Values Small-Town Tension Say Tampa Writer

LABELLE, FL. -- Claire McNeill, writer for the Tampa Bay Times writes today in a story about rural Hendry County in Southwest Florida that the people in small towns LaBelle and Clewiston are, "Divided, wedded to an old, patriotic vision. Warring over health care, classrooms and jobs, insiders and outsiders. Its residents are exhausted, anxious, unsure their votes really matter."

A few weeks back, McNeill visited Hendry with Times photographer Ivy Ceballo and interviewed local folks notable in politics and business among the citizens of the county of 42,380, most living outside the county's two towns.

Among those interviewed were Charlie Harris, coffee shop owner: Brenda Hoots, Supervisor of Elections; Debbie Klemmer and Vicki Reynolds, restaurant owners; Steve Nisbet Sr., McDonalds owner; David Harrod, Facebook page creator; Cythia Santana De La Salas, Montura resident, County Commission candidate; Nora Ned, retired Elections clerk, community organizer; Becky Rhodes, Jennifer Wingard, Chrisina DeVault: three generation family from Port LaBelle, community activists; Brandon and Dori Jett, teachers; Janet Taylor, former Commissioner and community organizer; and Emma Moore, Harlem resident.

Tampa Bay Times article by Claire McNeill

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Early Voting Begins In Glades County On Saturday October 24 - 18% Of Votes Already In

MOORE HAVEN, FL -- Early voting for the 2020 General Electino in Glades County begins Saturday, October 24 and ends October 31 at 598 Ave J in Moore Haven. Hours are 8:30 a.m until 4:30 p.m.

The 2004 Legislature passed legislation which standardizes early voting throughout the state. Early voting is defined as "casting a ballot prior to Election Day at a location designated by the Supervisor of Elections and depositing the voted ballot in the tabulation system."

In the 8 days preceding each election, you may vote at 598 Avenue J, Moore Haven. Voting early is just like voting on election day. Early voters should remember to bring a photo and signature identification with them. 

"Early voting has become very popular since it was put into effect in 2002. Many voters consider early voting to be very convenient," said the Glades County Supervisor of Elections office. 

Early voting in Glades County will end on the Saturday prior to election day. There will be no early voting on Monday immediately preceding election day.

The registered voter in Glades includes those in the Democratic Party, 2,328; Republican Party, 3,389 and Others, 1,393.

So far, 18% or 1,306 have sent in ballots so far, including 42% Democrats, 45% Republicans, and 13% no party affiliation and other.

The last day to request a vote by mail ballot is Saturday, October 24. A public viewing of vote by mail ballots will be on Monday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tea For Three At LaBelle Firehouse Community Theatre October 29

LABELLE, FL. -- The Firehouse Community Theatre presents “Tea for Three” (Comedy/Drama), written by: By Eric H. Weinberger and Elaine Bromka.

What is it like for a woman when her husband becomes the president of the United States -- and she is suddenly thrust into the spotlight? This witty, sly, whimsical and deeply moving story explores the hopes, fears and loves of Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Betty Ford.

The play will be presented on the Firehouse Community Theatre stage on the following dates: October 29th. 30th & 31st & November 1st and November 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th
Thursday, Friday & Saturday shows start at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday shows start at 2:00 p.m.

To get tickets or more information about the theatre, please call (863) 675-3066. Please leave a detailed message and your call will be returned!

Free COVID Testing Continues At Barron Park In LaBelle Saturday Oct 24

Free COVID-19 Testing – Barron Park - LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Health in Hendry County will offer free COVID-19 Testing on Saturday at Barron Park.

Open Testing – No Appointments Needed
Testing Adults& Children over 5 yrs (with Parent Consent)

No criteria or restrictions for testing

Location: Barron Park - 1559 Desoto Ave, LaBelle 33935
Saturday, October 24th - 10:00 a.m. a 1:00 p.m. (Weather permitting)

Persons tested will be given instructions on how to receive their test results.

Obituary - Sylvia Sierra Hernandez of Moore Haven

Sylvia Sierra Hernandez passed away October 20, in Palm Beach, Florida.

Sylvia's laugh, smile brought so much joy to everyone she met. She began her career in 1986 with Glades County Health Department as a DCF social worker, health supporter and direct service aid for the Hispanic community for 12 years. 

She retired then began working for the Glades County Sheriff's Office in 1998 as a medical assistant and retired after completing 4 years. 

Sylvia had a passion to work with children, so she began working at the Moore Haven Middle High School in 2001 part-time, helping the special needs and migrate students. She enjoyed her time so much; she retired after 14 years as a full-time paraprofessional. 

The world truly lost a beautiful soul, who had a desire to help the community. 

She was born June 3, 1958 at Boynton Beach, Florida to the late Pascual and Gloria Sierra. She was a Glades County resident for 62 years. 

She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Daniel Hernandez, Sr of Moore Haven, sons; Juan Carlos Hernandez and Daniel Hernandez, Jr; daughter; Gloria Cesilia Luevano, nine grandchildren, one brother; Pascual Sierra, Jr, sisters; Yolanda Cosme, Iris Delia Cardona, Rita McQuiad, and Juanita Cardona. 

Visitation will be on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston. Celebration of life will be Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at Arching Oaks Ranch, LaBelle, following the celebration of life the burial will take place in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hendry County Early Voting Starts Monday October 19 In Clewison And LaBelle

LABELLE, FL. -- Early voting will take place in Hendry county beginning Monday, October 19. A qualified voter may vote early in person 15 days prior to the election and through the Saturday before election day at the Hendry County Supervisor of Elections Office. 

The voter must present a Florida driver's license, a Florida identification card or another form of picture and signature identification in order to vote.

NOTE: It doesn't matter where you live in Hendry County, you may go to either of the Early Voting sites and cast your vote there.

General Election - Early Voting Hours

October 19-31, weekdays 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and weekends 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m


Supervisor of Elections Office, 25 E. Hickpochee Avenue, LaBelle
Supervisor of Elections Office, 1100 S. Olympia Street, Suite 504, Clewiston

Vote by Mail drop boxes also available at each location.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Hollie Jere McCaleb Dies In Clewiston, Aged 73

Hollie Jere McCaleb, age 73, of Clewiston, passed away October 13, 2020 in Clewiston.

He was born Dec. 6, 1946 in Cookville, TN, to the late Orville and the late Martha (Sliger) McCaleb. 

He served in the U.S.Navy 

Survivors include one son: Hollie Jere McCaleb II three daughters: Lori McCaleb, Lisa McCaleb and Kathy McCaleb, one brother: Baliey McCaleb one sister: Barbara Eldridge 4 Grandchildren, and 2 Great Grandchildren.

 Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Florida Keys' Watercolor Kapers by Bob Kranich - No Name Key Part 6

Florida Keys' Watercolor Kapers 

by Bob Kranich

No Name Key, (Part 6, Excerpt 15)

In this part, Our two main characters, Manuel and Hector have joined up with the Freedom Fighters. They are being escorted to Opa-Locka a deserted Second World War Army Air base in north Miami. They will soon be involved in the intrigue and operations of the CIA.

They were looking at a ‘57 Ford convertible, top down. A low rider. Probably lowered a couple of inches in the front and a full six in the rear! Sylvia opened the passenger door and pulled the seat forward so Manuel and Hector could get in. Ed threw their gym bags in the trunk.

Ed fired the Ford up and a sudden sound blasted out of the dual chrome pipes in the rear. Rupp-ah, Rupp-ah, the car roared as Ed swung out into the street from the parking space in front of the store.

“Cool car,” Hector said, “Will she move?”

“You bet!” Ed exclaimed, “I’ll give you a sample when we get out to the highway.”

When they got to the highway, Ed poured it on.

Ed looked over his shoulder and had to say kind of loud, over the roar of the dual pipes, “We’re going out to Opa-Locka. It’s an old deserted Army Air base in north Miami. There are some old barracks near the flight line. The flights are going out at night, lights out.

“Who is and to where?” Hector asked.

“Sorry Hector, can’t answer either of those questions. It will be best if you guys don’t ask anything. Just go along with the program.”

“Well Ed, we appreciate you getting us both right out there because we don’t have any place to spend the night,” Manuel said.

“They'll take care of you, don’t worry,” Ed replied.

They must have been doing 80! Ed slowed down for a turn. “Bam, Pow, tha...tha...tha, the Ford complained. A short distance from the main road in what appeared to be a deserted area, they came up to a gate across the road. A sign on the gate read:


There was a chain-link fence going to the left and right as far as they could see. Brush was growing on both sides of the fence. It sure looked deserted.

“Hector, will you take this key and jump out, unlock and open the gate. Please shut and lock it after I pull through,” Ed ordered.

Hector jumped back in and gave Ed the key. They drove down the road. There was a lot of trash on the road, and it was overgrown on both sides. They soon started to see deserted Second World War wooden barracks buildings, windows boarded up and glass broken out. Some were one and others two-story. They were all decorated with faded and peeling paint. It was a desolate scene. At one time this was a bustling and first class Army Air Base.

In 1927, the city of Opa-locka* was founded by the retired aviation pioneer, Glen Curtis. He and his partner-investor James Bright also developed the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah. Curtis then moved his aviation school to an airport he built nearby and named it Florida Aviation Camp. Curtis was instrumental in the establishment of commercial aviation such as Pan Am and Eastern Airlines. He willed the Aviation Camp to the U.S. Navy after his early death in 1930. In World War II the airport became Naval Air Station Miami and was the headquarters for the U.S. Naval Training Command.

There were at least 10,000 personnel, both military and civilians working at this base. After the war it fell into disuse. In 1959 the property was given to Dade County, and in 1962 it was renamed Opa-locka Airport.

They pulled up to a couple of single-story buildings near the flight line. These buildings appeared to be in somewhat better shape than the ones they had just passed by. Ed got out and said, “Here we are. Let’s go inside and see if anyone is around.”

There was a big two wheeled cart next to the door. It held a large red painted fire extinguisher. Ed knocked hard a few times. In a few minutes a face looked through the window, and the door opened up.

Ed said, “Enrique, you didn’t go with the last group?”

“No, the three of us just missed the flight. They said to remain here.”

Ed asked, “Did they take care of you? I mean food and clothes. I see that you have your fatigues.”

“Yes, we’ve got plenty of food. The refrigerator is full. The cupboard is stocked. We won’t go hungry.”

“What did they tell you?” Ed asked.

“They said to hang tight. Frank would be here tomorrow. Didn't say when we fly out,” Enrique informed him.

“What about John and Sam?” Ed asked.

“They're in their bunks, sacked out,” Enrique stated.

“Then Enrique, I want you to meet Manuel and Hector. They’ve just joined up. Show them where the fatigues and the food are. They need both,” Ed said,

“Hector, Manuel, I’m leaving you in good hands. Enrique will show you around. Is it all quiet at the administration buildings?”

“Yes, they all left a couple of hours’s dead over there!”
Ed and Sylvia left. The Ford could be heard starting up and then its dual pipes fading off in the distance as they headed back to the gate.
Enrique said, “The fatigues are there in some boxes. Not too fancy. Only medium, large and x-large. I would leave your civvies and pack what you can get in your bags. Food’s over there in the cupboard and refrigerator. Make yourselves at home. The back room has a bunch of bunks. John and Sam are back there sleeping. I recommend eating and sleeping because the C.I.A., I mean Frank and the others sometimes show up early. We’ve been here a couple of days, and they showed up at dawn yesterday.”

“Thanks Enrique. We’ll do just that,” Manuel answered.

“Manuel, while we’re eating I want to show you some things in our survival manual,” Hector said.

“Ok Hector, you read and I’ll cook. Enrique, I’ll cook enough for five. I don’t do so bad.”

“Thanks Manuel, I’ll tell John and Sam.”

About the time he got the food on the table, the three guys came up from the back. Introductions were made all around. The three were interested in Hector’s serious reading of survival techniques. They all took Enrique’s suggestion and bunked down early just as the sun was setting.

“Guys, we got to get up. Frank just pulled up.”

“Man, what time is it?” Hector asked.

“Around 4 am,” Enrique said, “Get cleaned up, and come to the front just as soon as you can.”

Since this was an old barracks it had a large wash room. The four were all there at one time trying their best to get woke up, shaved and dressed. When they came out front there was a man in a gray suit sitting at the table.

He said. “Guys, grab a chair.”

He was tall with dark brown hair and piercing brown eyes.

“OK guys, this is it. At 5 am, a C-54 is going to land. You five jump in it as soon as the loadmaster gives you the thumbs up! Eat fast and have your belongings ready to go. This is the last load out of here. Things are moving!”

“You guys, listen up. Enrique is in charge, and he will answer to the load master. You all got it?”

“Yes sir!” they said.

It wasn’t long before they could heard the drone of a large propeller driven aircraft.

Frank stuck his head in, “Enrique, I got the guys out with the lights. They will be down shortly. Get ready! You’re going as soon as they taxi up, turn about, and the loadmaster gives you the high-sign.”

They all filed out with their bags. They could see dark shapes of a car at each end of the runway. Next to each one was someone holding a blinking light, green at one end and red at the other.

Suddenly this huge black shape was coming down out of a dark sky. They then heard the screech of tires touching concrete and the sudden back-lash of feathered props. The huge shape came up towards them, spun around, the engines slowed down, and a side door opened up.

Frank said, “OK...Go!...Go! Straight for the open door. Look out for the props! Good luck!”

From the Author: 

My second full-length book , Florida Keys’ Watercolor Kapers is composed of 336 pages. There are 12 stories running from 6 pages to as many as 72 pages. It is fully illustrated with 88 watercolors and sketches. The watercolors I made roaming around Key West after I finished my 750 mile hike from Georgia to Key West. (See book or Don Browne’s SouthWest Florida Online News records, A Walk Across Florida.) As you read these stories you will experience Key West, the Keys, and the Caribbean. These stories span the time of the early 1800’s to 1969.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Hendry-Glades Obituaries - Efrain Rodriquez, Marcelino Caballero, Melmo Quintero

Efrain Rodriguez, age 47, of LaBelle, passed away October 7, 2020 in Tampa. He was born Sep. 7, 1973 in Mexico to Alfreda Mendoza. 

Survivors include his wife: Guadalupe (Aleman) Rodriguez two sons: Efrain Rodriguez Jr and Alan Rodriguez five daughters: Celene Ramirez, Aliza Rodriguez, Priscilla Rodriguez, Katie Rodriguez and Janet Rodriguez mother Alfreda Mendoza two sisters: Judith Reyna and Bertha Rodriguez 2 grandchildren 

The family will receive friends on Wednesday October 14 from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home 560 E. Hickpochee Ave. LaBelle, FL. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 10:00 am at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, LaBelle. 

Interment will be Thursday, October 15, 2020 in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.
Marcelino Caballero, age 72, of Clewiston, passed away October 7, 2020 in Clewiston. He was born Apr. 26, 1948 in Puerto Rico to the late Americo and the late Epifania (Camacho) Caballero. 

He worked for U.S. Sugar Corporation for many years as a tractor driver. 

He was a loving father, brother and grandfather who will be dearly missed by his entire family. 

Survivors include five sons: Eduardo Caballero, Carlos Caez, Juan Fuentes, Joel Caballero and Jose Caballero, and three daughters: Gloridell Caballero, Lynette Hadley and Liz Rodriguez, one sister: Zenaida Velez , Ex-Wife and Friend, Carmen Berrios; and many grandchildren and many friends. 

Celebration of Marcelino's life will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston, where visitation will start at 10:00 a.m. Burial will take place in Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Melmo L Quintero, age 76, of Moore Haven, passed away October 6, 2020 in Fort Myers, FL. He was born July 24, 1944 in Nicaragua, to the late Leonidas and the late Teodolinda (Cabrera) Quintero. 

Survivors include his wife: Bernarda Pilar (Mendoza) Quintero one son: Melmo (Katelyn) Quintero four daughters: Edith (Michael) McDuffie, Sara (Tony) Everett, Elizabeth (Charles) Devine and Emma (David) Strenth, one sister: Nina Quintero De Vallecillo 12 grandchildren & 3 great grandchildren. 

Funeral services will be held Friday, October 16, 2020 at 11:00 am at Ortona Cemetery Pavilion, Moore Haven with Pastors Charley Watts & Edgar Figueroa officiating. 

Interment will be Friday, October 16, 2020 in Ortona Cemetery, Moore Haven. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Still Time To Respond To 2020 Census And Help Your Community's Funding And Representation

As of Oct. 5, 2020, 99.7% percent of housing units have been accounted for so far in the 2020 Census through either self-response or Nonresponse Followup. Final numbers indicate that in 2010 a little over 99.6 percent of households were counted this way. 

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every 10 years to count all people—both citizens and noncitizens—living in the United States.

“We thank our nearly 400,000 national and community partners, all working as trusted voices to encourage people to respond, either with their neighborhood census taker, online, over the phone, or on paper,” said Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham. 

“Please join us in urging every household to respond when a census taker visits or to respond online at, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail.

The results of the Census, taken every 10 years, reapportions seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, helps redraw congressional, state, and local district boundaries, and determines the amount of funding that state governments and local communities receive from the federal government for the next decade. Governments and nonprofit organizations rely on decennial census data to determine the need for new roads, hospitals, schools, and other public sector investments.

It is important for everyone to respond to the Census to get the most accurate information possible. For example, when a particular household does not respond, neighbors might be asked for information, or other sources might be employed to estimate data for those who don't respond.

Genealogy researchers, and individuals can use the census data to add to family trees, although the individual information about each person is private for 70 years. Information currently is available for persons in the 1940 census, for example, and individual personal information from the 1950 census will be available in 2021. 

“This is a tremendous accomplishment, and the women and men of the U.S. Census Bureau, including their thousands of temporary workers in every community across the country, should be tremendously proud,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “We are committed to a complete and accurate count of every community across this Nation.”

Enumeration in 25 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are nearly complete, with their total response rates at or above 99.9%. Eight additional states are at 99.8% complete. Only six states remain below 99% complete, with five of those above 98%.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Okeechobee Waterway Recreational Areas Under New Guidelines In Lee and Glades Counties

CLEWISTON, FL. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District announces a second phase of reopenings starting October 9, at Corps-managed recreation areas along the Okeechobee Waterway that were closed in March to protect against the further spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“The health and safety of our employees, volunteers, and visitors remains our top priority. Our rangers have been hard at work, planning for this second phase reopening of our recreation facilities. They have implemented increased protection measures and signage to ensure everyone can enjoy our recreation areas safely and responsibly,” said Jeff Fallin, Chief of the South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston. “We know that everyone has been looking forward to the reopening of these additional facilities and appreciate the public’s patience and understanding during this unprecedented time."

These are the guidelines for this second phase of the gradual reopening of the recreation areas along the Okeechobee Waterway, based on the need for continued social distancing and other safety practices:

W.P. Franklin North in Lee County

The campground gate will be open to the public from sunrise to sunset. Access to the boat launch and fishing pier will be available during these hours.

W.P. Franklin South

The group shelters may be reserved for groups of 25 or less at The playground will be open. CDC guidelines are posted at all facilities that are open. The Visitor Center and lock viewing area remain closed until further notice.

Ortona North in Glades County

The large group shelter will be open to groups of 25 or less and may be reserved at CDC guidelines are posted at all facilities that are open.

Ortona South

The campground gate will be open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to sunset. The wooden fishing pier will be open to the public during these hours. The group shelter will be open to campers only for groups of 25 persons or less. CDC guidelines will be posted at the currently open facilities.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Obituaries - William H Buchanan, Soila Elia Rodriquez

William H Buchanan, age 63, of Lehigh Acres, passed away October 5, 2020 in Fort Myers. He was born Oct. 6, 1956 in Doylestown, PA, to the late John Ranson and the late Willie Frances (Hall) Buchanan. 

He retired from the US Army, where he worked in Intelligence. 

Survivors include his wife: Anita Gail (Sears) Buchanan two sons: William A Buchanan and Stephen Buchanan, one brother: Leroy Buchanan three sisters: Mary, Patty and Jackie 

He was predeceased by his brother Jonny. 

Visitation will be held at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home 13932 Palm Beach Blvd. Ft. Myers on Friday October 9, 2020 from 10 to 11 AM. Funeral services will be held Friday, October 9, 2020 at 11:00 am at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Fort Myers. Interment will be Friday, October 9, 2020 in Alva Cemetery, Alva.

On Thursday October 1st, 2020, Soila Elia Rodriguez, loving wife and mother of three, passed away at age 60. Soila was born on February 26th, 1960 in Clermont, FL to Elidia Herrera. 

She worked for many years and spent the latter portion of her life caring for home and family. On August 27th, 1967, she married Ramiro Rodriguez. They raised two sons, Riko Rodriguez and Ricardo Rodriguez, and one daughter, Stephanie Dunn. 

Soila was a person who had an open heart, and the strength to bear everyone's burdens. There is nothing that she couldn't fix, be it a personal issue, or tips on constructing a house. She put in more work to her home and family then most do in a full lifetime. She will be in our hearts and in our prayers.

 Soila was preceded in death by her mother Elidia Herrera. She is survived by her husband, Ramiro, her three children, Riko, Stephanie, and Ricardo, nieces, brothers, sisters, cousins.

 A viewing will be held at Akin-Davis Funeral Home at 560 Hickpochee Ave, LaBelle, FL. on Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 from 6-8 pm Cremation Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Volunteer Tax Preparer Opportunities At United Way of Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee Counties

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee is seeking volunteer tax preparers, interpreters, and greeters to help our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites during the 2021 tax season. With the support of trained, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers, VITA sites provide free tax preparation to individuals and families earning less than $66,000 per year throughout the five county area of Lee, Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee, and Charlotte Counties.

Volunteers of all ages and levels of experience are welcome, though it is preferred that volunteers be comfortable working with a computer. There is a special need for bilingual Spanish speakers. Flexible hours are available January through April. Volunteers will receive specialized IRS certified training including learning how to prepare basic tax returns, using online tax preparation software, and learning about tax deductions and earned income tax credits that benefit eligible taxpayers. In addition, experienced agents, certified financial planners, and non-credentialed tax return preparers can earn continuing education credits when volunteering as a VITA tax preparer.

“Dedicated and passionate volunteers are the key to the success of the United Way VITA program. VITA volunteers not only make a financial but also a social impact in the lives of people in our community,” said Patrice Cunningham, Volunteer Center Director. “We are excited to offer virtual training opportunities this year, allowing us to expand and offer additional support for new and returning volunteers”.

Last year, 195 volunteers helped file more than 5,700 federal tax returns, bringing over $8.2 million in federal tax refunds back to the local community through the United Way VITA program. In addition, United Way VITA clients saved the cost of tax preparation by a commercial service, which totaled over $1.7 million.

Join us for online orientations and training classes for new volunteers in November. Small, in person, social distanced classes will be available as well. For tax professionals or experienced volunteers, an online training and certification tool is also available. Simply register online at, or contact Mary Meador at 239.433.7206 for additional information.

The United Way Volunteer Center connects individuals and companies to volunteer opportunities throughout our community. You can reach the United Way Volunteer Center by calling (239) 433-7567, or by visiting the United Way website at

Monday, October 05, 2020

Fast Air Conditioning Company In Fort Myers Sued By Florida Attorney General Office

FORT MYERS, FL. -- Attorney General Ashley Moody today announced a court action against Foster Air Supplies & Technical Services d/b/a Fast AC SWFL, and its principal Matthew Foster. 
According to an investigation by Attorney General Moody’s Consumer Protection Division, Fast AC deceived consumers, many of whom were seniors—some suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. The investigation uncovered that Fast AC representatives allegedly presented customers high-priced quotes for unnecessary services or unneeded replacement of air conditioning systems or parts.

According to the complaint filed in Lee County, Fast AC told numerous consumers that high-priced repairs were needed, but when the consumers obtained a second opinion from another heating, ventilation and air conditioning business, these consumers learned that the high-priced repairs were excessive and unneeded.

Fast AC is alleged to have victimized consumers, including an 86-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s that was sold an unneeded $2,407 ultraviolet germicidal light system even though the victim had an active maintenance program with another company. Then, despite the victim’s family notifying Fast AC to never return to the property, its technicians returned and unnecessarily replaced $2,550 worth of ductwork. The family again contacted Fast AC to request that they stop going to the victim’s home, only to learn that a few months later, Fast AC’s technicians went back and charged for an alleged faulty capacitor and freon.

Another alleged victim, an 88-year-old with dementia who was under the supervision of several caretakers, was contacted by Fast AC to service a working air conditioning unit. Despite the victim’s family canceling the appointment, Fast AC’s technicians arrived at the home while the caretaker was absent and convinced the victim that the air conditioning system needed to be replaced at a cost of more than $9,000 because a coil in the system was broken. No work permit was obtained and the existing system was dismantled by the time the caretaker returned. Another air conditioning company that regularly serviced the home later advised that the coil was under warranty and would cost only $600 to $800 to replace; confirming that a new unit was likely completely unnecessary and the price charged was outrageous.

The complaint names both the company and its owner, Matthew Michael Foster, and seeks full restitution for Florida consumers allegedly victimized by the deceptive and unfair trade practices. The court action also seeks to enjoin the defendants from engaging in these alleged unlawful business practices. Additionally, the Florida Attorney General’s Office is seeking civil penalties and court costs.

To view the complaint, click here.

Former Sheriff's Deputy William Teal Jr. Dies In LaBelle, Aged 75

William Robert "Billy" Teal Jr, age 75, of LaBelle, passed away October 1, 2020 in LaBelle. 

Billy was born March 14, 1945, in Clewiston FL, and was preceded in death by his parents William "Red" Teal Sr, and Ethel Hendry-Simmons, his grandparents Hubert "Pop" Edwards and Rhoda Hendry-Edwards. 

Billy is survived by his loving wife Marilyn Fox-Teal of LaBelle. Children, William and Lori Teal, Thomas Pastors, Scott Pastors, and Michael Teal, Granddaughter, Brandi Pastors. Brothers and Sisters, Shirley Daubner, Mary Vickers, Charles and Brenda White, Richard and Kathy Hendry, Gloria and Wayne Evans, Della and Mike Woodham, Brenda and James Clark, John and Lisa White, Denise Simmons and numerous nieces and nephews. 

Billy was a devoted husband, father and brother. Billy enjoyed helping others and solving problems. Billy served and retired as a Lieutenant for the Hendry County Sheriff's Office; he also was a Deputy for Glades County Sheriff's Office, a Police Officer for Clewiston Police Department, and the Belle Glade Police Department. 

Billy was loved by many for his personality and living by his own rules. Billy's influence will remain in the lives of all who knew him. 

Funeral services celebrating his life will be held at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle, with Pastor Jim Lanier officiating, there will be a Masonic Service at 6:00 p.m. Visitation will be from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. also at the funeral home on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Cremation arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Last Day To Register To Vote In Florida And Update Your Registration


LABELLE, FL. --- Today, October 5 is the last day to register to vote in Florida, either online or in person. You can also update and check your voter registration to make sure the correct address and information is listed for you.

Go here to register online and find directions for online or in person registration and checking your current voter information to correct addresses, etc:

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Arvin Eugene Kelting Dies, Aged 83

Arvin Eugene Kelting, age 83, of Talladega, passed away September 28, 2020 in Talladega. He was born Dec. 31, 1936 in Indio, CA, to the late Elwyn Wesley and the late Nellie Mae (Von Roeder) Kelting. 

He was a heavy equipment operator for many years. He also loved to write songs. He had been in the Clewiston area for more than 50 years. 

Survivors include daughters; Barbara Edmonds and husband David of Clewiston, Laura Kelting of Homestead, Sarah Curtis of Homestead, and son; Arvin Kelting, II and wife Gay of Talladega, AL, brother; Richard Joseph Kelting, sisters; Marilyn Bulifant and Margaret Hogan, nine grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren.

 He was preceded in death by his Daughter, Jeanine Kelting Burke and brothers; his twin Ervin Kelting, David Kelting, Elwyn, Jr, John Kelting, Edward Kelting, sisters; Maryann Kelting, Madelyn Kelting and Eleanor Jones. 

Celebration of Arvin's life will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, October 3, 2020 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home where visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Friday evening, October 2, 2020. Interment will take place in Ridgelawn Cemetery - Clewiston. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Old Fashioned Steam Locomotive Plows Through Clewiston, Florida

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Members of the Glades communities, local elected officials, pastors and the people of U.S. Sugar celebrated today the beginning of the company’s 90th harvest season at a dedication event for its historic steam locomotive Engine No. 148, which hauled the season’s first sugarcane train from field to mill.

Everyone safely gathered around the century old locomotive as it came to halt on the tracks before them and Mr. and Mrs. Buker smashed a champagne bottle of pure cane sugar over its coupler to christen the “Sugar Express” before sending the train on toward the mill. The Clewiston Tigers High School Marching Band was also on hand to play “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” as the steam locomotive was dedicated.

The City of Clewiston invited local residents and rail fans to view the train from a secure, pre-determined location as it chugged through town. The newly restored steam engine was also displayed for several hours at the U.S. Sugar Locomotive North Shop.

“While most steam locomotives originally ran on coal, U.S. Sugar’s fleet used cleaner burning diesel fuel. And because we’re always looking for innovation and sustainability, this steam engine has been designed to run on recycled vegetable oil,” said Buker.

U.S. Sugar plans to add passenger cars to Engine No. 148 in the future so visitors can see their farms and learn more about the company’s rich history and food production from a very unique perspective. The Sugar Express also is expected to help draw more visitors to America’s Sweetest Town as they come to experience a ride on a genuine steam locomotive.

Since 2016, U.S. Sugar has been working to restore Engine Number 148, a vintage 1920s-era steam locomotive the company employed decades ago to haul sugarcane from the fields to its mill. The steam locomotive, which the Florida East Coast Railway originally received delivery of in June 1920, ran throughout their system, including on the fabled Key West Extension. The Florida East Coast Railway, the only rail system along the east coast of Florida, maintained the locomotive until 1952, when it was acquired by U.S. Sugar. Engine No. 148 remained with the company until the 1970s, when it was sold to a tourist line in New Jersey and, over time, made its way to Colorado where it languished until being re-acquired by U.S. Sugar.

SNAP Households To Receive 5% Increase In Food Supplement Benefits

More Help For Access To Nutritious Food Starts Today

The previously announced 5.3% cost of living increase to the maximum benefit amounts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) takes effect today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminded. As a result, SNAP households will likely see an increase in their benefits starting this month.

Photo: Hendry County Deputies help direct traffic and Hendry jail inmates distribute free food boxes under the "Farmers To Families Food Boxes" program in North LaBelle today. Photo courtesy Barbara Whelan

Nearly all states have opted to automatically provide all SNAP households the maximum benefit for their household size under legislation passed in response to the pandemic. Therefore, with the increased maximum benefit amounts, a typical household of four will receive $680 a month, up from their previous amount of $646 per month, in addition to any benefits they receive from other nutrition assistance programs.

“The higher maximum monthly benefits will help ensure SNAP participants continue to have access to nutritious food during these unprecedented times,” said USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Pam Miller. “These individuals and families are also eligible for other FNS programs that are helping to meet an increased need.”

The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 mandates that maximum SNAP benefit allotments for each fiscal year (October through September) be adjusted to reflect the average cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in the proceeding June. The June 2020 Cost of Food Report revealed a 5.3% increase in the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan from last year, which is more than double the 20-year annual average increase of 2%, accounting for the rise in food costs.

The FY 2021 maximum SNAP allotments for the District of Columbia and all states other than Alaska and Hawaii are as follows:
Household Size Maximum Monthly Allotment
1 $204
2 $374
3 $535
4 $680
5 $807
6 $969
7 $1,071
8 $1,224
Each additional person $153

Maximum SNAP allotments are different for Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; those amounts can be found here.

Currently, as authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, nearly all states are also providing SNAP households with emergency allotments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These supplements bring benefit amounts for all SNAP households up to the maximum allotment for their household size, which will be higher beginning today.

SNAP households are also eligible for other USDA programs to help fulfill their nutrition needs. For example, SNAP participants may be able to receive:

Free school meals – Thanks to flexibilities provided by USDA, schools and other sites are currently able to provide meals at no cost to all children through FNS’ summer meal programs. Families can find meals at more than 87,000 locations across the country using FNS’ “Meals 4 Kids” interactive site finder.
WIC benefits – The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food, health care referrals, and nutrition education to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk.
Pandemic EBT – A new benefit, authorized in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, provides families of children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school with food-buying benefits similar to SNAP. In an average month, it provides an additional $114 per month, per child.
CSFP food boxes – The Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides boxes of nutritious, USDA-purchased foods to low-income seniors. ·
Support from food banks – Food banks often serve as the first line of defense against food insecurity for those in immediate need. USDA provides food and administrative funds to states, who in turn provide support to distributing agencies like food banks, through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). USDA has provided significant support to food banks throughout the pandemic.

The Farmers To Families Food Box Program has come under some criticism, the latest being a required letter from President Trump be included in each box. (See

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy. Follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition.

State Road 29 In LaBelle Closed After Muli-Vehicle Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- A multi-vehicle crash including a truck overturned with a load of sand sent traffic on detour routes Thursday morning as emergency crews and FHP investigators took over the scene on both lanes of State Road 29 in North LaBelle.

Photo: overturned sand truck and damaged cars at the scene Thursday morning.

Stephen Colbert And Late Show Tells How To Vote In Florida


The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is airing a how to vote series for all 50 states. Here is the instructions for Florida voters:

Register To Vote by October 5
Request Ballot By Mail by October 24
Return Ballot In Person or Mail by October 27 to be received by November 3 at 7 p.m.
Early Voting October 19 to November 1

Kiwanis of LaBelle Kids' Day Postponed Until January 2021

LaBelle Kiwanis Kid's Day Postponed Until January 23rd.

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle believes that the health and well being of our children is very important. Although the Governor has declared that Florida move into Phase-3 or our recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the club members made a decision to postpone Kiwanis Kid's Day until January 23rd.

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle will extend an invitation to the community at the end of December and will send out a flyer for the event prior to January 23rd.

The Kiwanis Club of LaBelle is looking forward to a fun-filled day for children and their families.

The Kiwanis Kid's Day event will be at the Barron Park in LaBelle on Saturday, January 23rd from 10am to 2pm. We hope to see you then!

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