Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Osterholm Warns School COVID Precautions Not Effective

Michael Osterholm in the latest weekly University of Minnesota COVID-19 podcast warns that schools may not be following proper procedures to keep children and staff safe from infection.

Osterholm says guidelines for three-foot spacing and using plexiglass partitions in schools are just not effective and points out the airborne virus is going to spread under those conditions, advocating instead at least six foot spacing, better room ventilation and air filtering, and better quality masks.

He summarized that in order to protect school environments here are the most important schemes to implement in order of importance to prevent COVID spread:

First in importance is vaccination, then environmental controls (swapping air 5-6 times per hour in classrooms and using HEPA filtration), then create more physical spacing at least 6 feet apart, then frequent COVID testing, and finally quality masking with N95 or KN95 masks as cloth masks are much less effective.

He explains how a simple effective room filter can be assembled with a regular box fan, and add an air conditioner filter rated at MERV 13 on the front to blow the air through. (Corsi Box instructions)

Listen to 20 minutes of his weekly podcast starting at minute 47:42. Link for Podcast here.

Dr. Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), and an adjunct professor in the Medical School, all at the University of Minnesota. In November 2020, Dr. Osterholm was appointed to President-elect Joe Biden's 13-member Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.

Obituaries - Larry Payne, Rachel Puente

Larry B Payne, age 60, of Moore Haven, passed away August 29, 2021 in Clewiston.

He was born Feb. 3, 1961 in Flint, MI, to the late Raymond Larry and Bernitta Ann (Harger) Payne.
He worked as a Finish Carpenter for Hammerhead Construction, and was well known for his superior skills.
He was a Semi-Pro Bass Fisherman, and he lived for fishing.

Survivors include one daughter: Sara Demarco
grandchildren: Cameryn and Issac Demarco
two brothers: Kevin Payne and Rick Payne
one sister: Gina Bradshaw

Memorial Services are pending.
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Rachel Puente
February 10, 1962 - August 26, 2021

Rachel was born February 10 1962 in the town of Edinburg Texas. She was the daughter of late Carlos Puente and Altagracia Gonzalez Puente. 

Shortly after birth, her family settled in LaBelle FL. where she graduated from LaBelle high school in 1980. 

She is survived by her son Carlos Jose Puente of LaBelle and many loving family members. 

Rachel was always a hardworking woman, having been instilled with the trait at a young age by her parents in the agriculture industry. She followed in her father's footsteps, working in agriculture for her entire adult life. Her hard work ethic and sacrifice was an inspiration to all. 

Rachel was also very active in her home life caring for and fostering a wide variety of animals. She cherished her time spent with family at gatherings and cookouts. 

Rachel was a beautiful soul who defined what it meant to be a strong, independent, and loyal woman. Rachel will be eternally missed but never forgotten. She will forever be in our hearts. 

Visitation 10-11am Service, 11:00 am, September 7, 2021 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in LaBelle and Burial at Fort Denaud Cemetery.

Health Department Free COVID Testing Saturday September 4

LABELLE, FL. -- The Florida Department of Health Hendry & Glades has coordinated a mobile testing unit to provide FREE COVID-19 Testing on Saturday, Sept 4th at:

Health Department in LaBelle - 1140 Pratt Blvd - 8am to 1pm

Health Department in Moore Haven - 1021 Healthpark Dr - 2pm to 3pm

Fire Department in Clewiston - 120 Commercio Street - 3:30pm to 7pm

Aerial Drone Photo by Don Browne

Monday, August 30, 2021

CDC Recommends Masking Of Teachers, Staff, Students, Visitors

Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.

As schools go back to in-person learning, many offer free, regular COVID-19 testing for students and staff.

Regular testing, along with COVID-19 vaccination, helps protect students, staff, family members, and others who are not currently vaccinated against COVID-19 or are otherwise at risk for getting seriously sick from COVID-19.

Testing programs help keep students in the classroom and allow them to take part in the other activities they love.

Learn More about Testing for COVID-19 in Schools

-From the CDC

Elwood Robinson Given 3 Life Sentences In Alva Murders

Fort Myers (August 30, 2021) – This afternoon Elwood Robinson was given three Life in Prison sentences for two counts of Second-Degree Murder and one count of Aggravated Battery with a Firearm. He was also sentenced to 5 years in prison for Aggravated Assault and 30 years in prison for False Impersonation of a Police Officer. He was found guilty following a trial in Lee County in June.

The crimes happened in 2018, in Alva, at a gathering spot called “Linwood,” near the Caloosahatchee River. The defendant heard a loud argument from the area while in his house. He drove his truck there, encountering a teenager, who flagged Robinson down and asked for a ride home. Robinson told him he was a police officer and would take care of the situation. The teen then got into his truck.

Another teen then tried to drive out of the area in a car and Robinson tried to block the car. He then chased the car at speeds of over 100 mph. The teen was able to lose him. The first teen was still in the defendant’s front passenger seat during the chase.

Rather than take the teen home as he requested, the defendant went back to the Linwood area. A male and female showed up to retrieve her car. When they arrived, the defendant got out of his truck, pointing a 357 revolver, and ordered the male to the ground. He told him he was a police officer and would take him to prison. He then ordered the female to get the first teen out of his truck claiming it was his son.

Two more people arrived, friends of some of the captive teens, and saw the gun. One, attempting to protect his friend on the ground, tried to disarm the defendant and pushed him. The defendant stumbled and then got up and shot the teen on the ground and the teen who pushed him, killing them both.

The defendant then turned and fired at the female. She was struck in her right hand, the bullet grazed her shoulder, partially hitting her neck. She survived. The defendant then pointed his firearm at another girl but did not shoot. The teens then fled to a friend’s house where 911 was called. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation.

Assistant State Attorney Andreas Gardiner of our Homicide Unit and Assistant State Attorney John Dommerich Jr., Lee County Assistant Felony Division Chief, prosecuted the case.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Hendry Hospital Unable To Accept Incoming Ambulances

Clewiston, FL (August 29, 2021) – Hendry Regional Medical Center announces Emergency Department Diversion. Emergency Department (ED) Diversion is when the ED is unable to accept incoming ambulance traffic.

Due to the influx of Covid-19 patients exceeding capacities, HRMC is on ED diversion status until further notice. HRMC is still treating patients, however with so many critical patients it has requested EMS redirect patients to other facilities at this time.

This happens when the ED is unable to safely accommodate additional patients. Thus, the hospital goes on "diversion" status. Sometimes diversion is for a few hours, other times a few days.

"If a patient walks into the hospital, regardless of the situation, we are going to treat them," stated R.D. Williams, CEO, "patients should not worry about not receiving care during an emergency, however, wait times are much longer due to the overwhelming number of critical COVID patients we are experiencing."

If possible, please seek care through your primary care physician or HRMC clinics conveniently located in Clewiston and LaBelle.

If patients are only seeking COVID testing HRMC offers drive-through testing Monday-Friday at 1:00pm. Testing can be scheduled by calling 863-902-3000.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Hendry County Cautions Using 911 AS COVID Rises

LaBelle, Fla. – Due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, Hendry County Public Safety (Fire and EMS) has seen a dramatic increase in 9-1-1 calls.

Emergency Rooms throughout the entire region are also experiencing high volumes of patients and hospitals are currently at or over capacity. Due to this situation, there are instances where EMS is waiting as much as 2-3 hours at the ER for a bed for a patient they are transporting.

Hendry County would like to remind our residents that the 9-1-1 system should be used for life-threatening emergencies.

If possible, please use an alternative method of receiving medical care such as primary care physicians, telemedicine or urgent care (walk-in clinics) for issues such as ear infections, sore throats or other non-emergencies.

Individuals seeking COVID testing should seek testing outside of the Emergency Department utilizing such services as physician offices, urgent care centers and pharmacies

Using these services instead of calling 9-1-1 will benefit area hospitals, emergency services and, most importantly, the patient.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Florida COVID - A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words


The latest data from the CDC indicates Florida is in pretty sad shape leading the country in COVID-19 new cases and among the top four states in cases per 100,000, total cases and total deaths.

Chart above: new cases in Florida (red line is moving 7-day average)

Glades County Public Safety Cautions Public On Emergency Calls

MOORE HAVEN, FL -- Due to recent increase in COVID-19 cases, emergency services, Fire and EMS, have seen a dramatic increase in 9-1-1 calls and Emergency Rooms are also experiencing high- traffic volume.

Pre-COVID, Glades County Public Safety were responding to more calls than in the past, now with the increase in COVID cases it has increased even more. Sometimes a patient is having to waiting on our stretchers for 2 to 3 hours for a bed in the Emergency Rooms.

Glades County first responders have also felt the strain of dealing with Covid-19 on a personal level, which puts a further drain on emergency services.

The county services reminds residents that the 9-1-1 services should only be used for true emergencies like when a life is on the line, such as fire, terminal illness, or if you have an accident.

If you have other ways of getting medical care for issues like ear infections, sore throats or other non-emergencies, it is asked that you exercise those options, so that emergency services can be used for true emergencies.

Ad Targets Governor DeSantis COVID School Safety


The Lincoln Project has released a new ad targeting Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida for his willingness to politicize COVID-19 mitigation efforts and school safety.

The ad, titled “Pro-Life,” will air August 28-29 in the Tallahassee media market on Fox News and the Weather Channel, as well as during the Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC.

“Ron DeSantis has failed Florida’s families,” said Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson. “A public official's first priority must be keeping their citizens safe. Governor DeSantis has not only failed to keep Floridians safe from the COVID-19 pandemic, but he has placed one of his state’s most vulnerable populations — school children — in grave danger. The Governor has shown no remorse for his actions, indeed leaning into his pro-COVID policies of banning mask and vaccine mandates, under reporting cases, declaring war on school officials, and promoting fake COVID remedies. All this in an attempt to win over Trump’s base and lay a foundation for a future presidential campaign.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Freshwater softshell turtles and yellow-bellied sliders taking prohibited

On Aug. 26, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued executive order #21-19 that states the take or transport of all freshwater softshell turtle species or yellow-bellied sliders is currently prohibited until the order is repealed.

These temporary regulation changes were made to help conserve freshwater turtle species that continue to be affected by a fatal disease caused by a virus called Turtle Bunyavirus (TBV). The virus has been detected throughout the state in the following turtle species: Florida softshell turtles, peninsula cooters, Florida red-bellied cooters, yellow-bellied sliders and red-eared sliders.

All currently permitted activities may continue under the Executive Order. This includes the purchase and transport of turtles from registered breeders, with proper documentation as outlined in 68A-25.002 F.A.C. Under this executive order, members of the public may continue to bring sick or injured turtles to wildlife rehabilitation facilities for evaluation, treatment and TBV testing. The FWC should be notified before transport by calling or texting the FWC Turtle Hotline at 352-339-8597.

The FWC began monitoring TBV in 2018 due to reports of sick and dead freshwater turtles, and has issued updates periodically. The FWC is working with partners to learn more about this virus as well as the overall effect it is having on turtle populations throughout the state. The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is aiding in the continued monitoring of the virus thanks to a grant from its recently redesigned Conserve Wildlife license plate.

The FWC is asking the public for help by taking the following actions:
Report sightings of sick or dead turtles to the FWC by calling the Turtle Hotline at 352-339-8597 or through the FWC Reporter App. Photos can be uploaded via the FWC Reporter App and will aid researchers in turtle species identification and condition.
Do not touch or attempt to move sick turtles.
To avoid spreading the virus, do not capture and transport freshwater turtles, even those that appear healthy, to release at new locations.
Do not eat turtles that appear sick or unhealthy.

For updates about the Turtle Bunyavirus, executive order and resources for more information, visit MyFWC.com/FreshwaterTurtles and click ‘Learn More’ on the Turtle Bunyavirus banner.

Hendry Hospital Says No More Elective Surgery Starting Next Week

Clewiston, FL (August 26, 2021) – Hendry Regional Medical Center will suspend elective surgeries effective Monday, August 30.

Elective procedures have been placed on hold while the dedicated staff of HRMC attends to the front lines and battle the COVID19 pandemic within the community.

“We continue to evaluate our safety procedures and make the necessary changes to ensure the safety of our patients and staff. We look forward to once again offering full-service healthcare in a safe manner for all in the future” stated R.D. Williams, CEO.

Hendry Regional will continue to monitor COVID prevalence in Hendry County and reevaluate the suspension of surgeries in the coming weeks.

Health Department Job Openings

The Department of Health in Hendry/Glades Counties is currently advertising for the following positions (links below):

Closing Date: 8/30/2021

SENIOR REGISTERED NURSE - 64081827 (School Health)-LaBelle
Closing Date: 9/01/2021

Closing Date: 8/31/2021

Closing Date: 8/26/2021 **Closes at midnight**

FAMILY SUPPORT WORKER - 64082237 - Clewiston
Closing Date: 7/28/2021 (reposting again)

OPS CASHIER - 64926075 -Clewiston
Closing Date: 8/26/2021 **Closes at midnight**


If you, or someone you know, is interested in applying, please go to the website shown above & click on the job to apply.

Port LaBelle Owners Get Hit With $30 Mosquito Fee

PORT LABELLE, FL. -- Property owners in Hendry County's largest subdivision will probably be paying $30 extra for mosquito control if the county levies an assessment at it's 5:30 meeting at Clewiston City Hall on September 14.

Photo: Clarke Mosquito Control office

It seems curious that a meeting that will affect thousands of Port LaBelle owners takes place on the farthest side of the county away from Port LaBelle, and also curious how the fee schedule is set to favor acreage owners over residences, vacant lots and commercial owners.

The county currently has a contract with Clarke Mosquito Control, based at a county building on Utility Drive in Port LaBelle to cover most rural area in Hendry County except Port LaBelle. Adding Port LaBelle will presumably increase it's revenue from Hendry County by $250,00 or more. They collect almost a half million dollars from the county currently.

The county says it will collect $775,930 from the mosquito tax, including $293,200 from the Port LaBelle owners if the commission votes yes.

Banyan Village - Lonely Home To Get Mosquito Control?

The county commission is planning to vote for a $30 tax per home, vacant lot, or commercial lot for all owners in "developed blocks" of Port LaBelle. Developed lots are in Port LaBelle Units 1 through 9 currently. 

Acreage owner are getting break paying only $1 per acre with a maximum of $100. All the other Port LaBelle property owners, most all are 1/4 acre lots, have maximums of $200 to $500 but pay $30 per lot.

Banyan Village, 5 miles east of the developed areas of Port LaBelle, includes units 10-13 and has only one house and under the proposed scheme that house and the empty lots around it would be charged for mosquito control. 

Reportedly, 35 Banyan Village lots have water hookups now connected, presumably for new homes to be built soon, so all those homes and the empty lots around those homes when completed will pay the $30 fee.

Objections will be heard at the Commission meeting September 14, or by written objections to Hendry County Administrator, Box 2340, LaBelle, Fl. 33975.

Jose Cuellar Dies At 55

Jose S Cuellar, age 55, of LaBelle, passed away August 24, 2021 in Miami.

He was born May 13, 1966 in Mexico , to the late Jose Cuellar and the late Maria De Jesus Aranda Cuellar.

Survivors include his wife: Billie Jo (Barnett) Cuellar
four sons: Jose Jr, Benjamin, Jacob, Nikolas
one daughter: Angelica
step son: Billy Villegas
five brothers: Felix, Ruben, Cornelio, Carmelo and Guadalupe
three sisters: Ramona, Cunja and Concepcion
Grandchildren: Isaac, Jacob Jr; Melanie; Georgia; Jaxyn

He was preceded in death by a brother Antonio

Funeral services will be held Thursday, September 2, 2021 at 6:00 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle with Pastor W. T. Maddox Jr. officiating.

Visitation will be Thursday from 5 to 6 PM at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, LaBelle, FL.

Free COVID Vaccinations Saturday August 28 At Health Departments

LABELLE, FL. -- The Health Departments in LaBelle and Clewiston will be offering FREE COVID-19 Vaccinations this Saturday August 28th from 11am to 5pm.

Pfizer Vaccine and Johnson & Johnson Vaccine will be available.

NOTE: Booster doses will not be available at this event.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Florida Keys' Watercolor Kapers by Bob Kranich

The Sponge Adventure, (Part 3, Excerpt 34)

This is the first part a story titled, The Sponge Adventure. Captain Bob and his two mates, Dave and Amos fish the Gulf out of Key West in Bob’s sea-going Trawler, Sea Breeze. Dave is interested in the old methods of sponge fishing and has a small skipjack fishing boat he has just restored. The men are getting ready to go out.

The Sponge Adventure

“Hey! Honey, I’m home.”

Bang!...The screen door slammed shut.

“I thought you adjusted that door?”

“I did, I thought,” Bob apologized.

“What’s David up to?” she asked.

“He’s coming along with that boat. I’m going back after lunch to help him.”

“You sure do love boats, Honey. You’re on them 24 hours a day sometimes, and then on your time off, you rest by working on them! I’ll never understand you...but I love you!”

David and Bob finished the jib sail. They then attached it to the jib boom and roped all the grommets to the fore jib rope. The hoisting ropes then went up to the top of the mast through pulleys and then back down to the deck.

“She’s a good looker, Dave. What are your plans for taking her out?” Bob asked.

“You know Capt’n, it’s been a long time. I’ve been working on this boat for a year and a half or more. I’m straining at the leash. I think I will throw some provisions on her, get the sponge boat prepared for towing with my sponging equipment, and head out early next Saturday. Cap’n, you could come out with me.”

“I would like to David. But if I do…You’ll be the Captain, and I’ll be the First Mate.”

“But Capt’n, that doesn’t seem to be right.”

“Nope, it’s your boat, and that’s the only way I’d do it. On my boat I’m the Captain, and on your boat, you’re the man!”

“Ok, thanks, Captain Bob.”

Monday always has a way of coming around, and Bob was moving slow.

“Honey, after I eat this toast and drink my coffee, I’m going to go over to the boat. Amos was going to go over this morning. I’ve got him mending the nets. I’ve got to pull some maintenance on the engine and some general clean-up. I guess I’ll get David to service the booms.”

“When you going back out?” she asked.

“I figure we’ll head back out tomorrow. We’ll go past Tortuga and then into the Bay. We should be back in no later than Friday. Pray we run into another mess of shrimp like we did last week!”

“See you, Honey.”


Captain Bob loved where he lived. This walk to his boat he relished. He loved seeing the coconut palms, bright flowers year-round, old brightly painted wooden Bahamian and Key West houses. He was happy. He turned into the marina.

“Morning, Amos, how’re the nets looking?”

"Not too bad, Capt’n. But you were right. They needed some work.”

“Seen David?”

“Up here, Capt’n,” David hollered, “You never did look up.”

Captain Bob looked up. David was up on the mast.

“Getting those cables checked?” Bob asked.

“Yes sir, I’ve got a few preventative maintenance repairs to make.”

Amos said, “I’ll take the other boom, David, and we’ll get done faster. Then I’ll rustle up some lunch.”

“David, when you get to it, let’s lower the outriggers.* It will be smart to check and grease all those pulleys and inspect everything related to them.”

“Ay, aye, Sir.”

After a few hours of work…

“Amos, I’ll make the coffee if you do the honors of preparing that food you promised us.”

“Well Capt’n, looks like all this refrigerator is going to do for us is bacon and eggs.”

“We’ll take it!” David and Bob said in unison.

“Tastes good! Thanks Amos. Guys, I thought that we’d go out tomorrow for a couple-three days.”

“Sounds good, Capt’n. We thought you’d never ask,” David joked.

“About 6:30? Amos, come by with your pickup truck to the house. While we’re getting provisions and from what you said, we need some, David will fuel and ice up. I checked on the weather, and it seems like it will hold for our trip.”

“We’re with you, Capt’n,” they both said.

It was about 8:30 AM. “Not a bad start for a shrimp trawler,” Captain Bob exclaimed.

He was aft* looking at the wake.* David was at the helm,* and Amos was stowing the provisions in the galley.* There was a faint diesel odor in the air, but this didn’t bother him. After all, this was his choice and living. He could see the tour and fishing excursions getting ready for the tourists and sport fishermen.

He waved as he was occasionally hailed by a captain or crew member on these boats. Captain Bob was well known and liked. He had a lot of seamen friends. They left Garrison Bight behind and turned to the left, entering the "Man of War Harbor" and went past the ‘Inner Harbor.’ This was also known as the Key West Bight. This natural, large deep water harbor had been a very nice stopping place for seamen and their sailing ships for as long as man was sailing these Caribbean waters.

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 South West 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. bkranich.wixsite.com/bobkranich

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Preston Watson Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison

LABELLE, FL.  (August 24, 2021) – Preston Watson has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for multiple drug, assault, and weapons charges in Hendry County. He was adjudicated guilty of the following:

Actual Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon – 3 counts
Possession of a Place with Knowledge of Trafficking, Sale, or Manufacture of a Controlled Substance – 2 counts
Sale of a Controlled Substance within 1,000 ft. of a Public Park – 2 counts
Aggravated Assault with a Firearm – 1 count
Trafficking in Amphetamine (14 grams or more) – 1 count
Conspiracy to Traffic (7 grams or more) in a Controlled Substance – 1 count
Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device - 1 count

Watson was arrested as part of an investigation in 2019 by the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit into a criminal organization selling drugs and firearms in Hendry County. 

Watson was running a “trap house” in LaBelle, meaning a house utilized to sell drugs. He sold drugs to undercover law enforcement claiming it was heroin. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysis determined it was a mixture of methamphetamine and fentanyl.

In another investigation, Watson arranged to sell a trafficking amount of methamphetamine to undercover law enforcement. During the arranged sale in the home Watson was running, he pointed a firearm at the officer and cocked the trigger.

During a third investigation, Watson and co-defendant Angel Herrera, sold a “Tommy Gun” style firearm to the undercover law enforcement officer.

Watson did an open plea to the court, which is a defendant’s right to plea directly to a judge, giving up their right to a jury trial. It is not a plea agreement.

Co-defendant Angel Herrera was sentenced to a 3-year minimum/mandatory sentence for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

Assistant State Attorney Clark Cary prosecuted the cases.

COVID Testing Returns To Hendry/Glades August 28

LABELLE, FL -- The Florida Department of Health has coordinated a mobile unit to offer TESTING for COVID-19 on Saturday, August 28th

LaBelle – Hendry County Health Department: 1140 Pratt Blvd from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Moore Haven – Glades County Health Department: 1021 Healthpark Drive from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Clewiston – Clewiston Fire Department: 120 Commercio Street from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

UPDATE: The Health Departments in LaBelle and Clewiston will be offering FREE COVID-19 Vaccinations this Saturday August 28th from 11am to 5pm.

Pfizer Vaccine and Johnson & Johnson Vaccine will be available.

NOTE: Booster doses will not be available at this event.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Obituaries - Bartlett, Tarin, Gatica, Griffin

Marianne I Bartlett, age 82, of LaBelle, passed away August 22, 2021 in LaBelle.

She was born Aug. 24, 1938 in El Dorado, KS, to the late Norbert and Harriet I (Matteson) Mensing.
Survivors include her husband: Wesley Bartlett
two daughters: Kathy Foster and Cynthi Wagner
two brothers: William Lucht and Robert Lucht
5 Grandchildren and 2 Great Grandchildren

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Loyce Garcia Tarin, 64 years of age
Born March 23rd, 1957 in Ruskin Florida
Passed August 17th, 2021

Resident of Labelle for 42 years

Survived by children
Chelo Tarin Lopez (Eddie Lopez), Little Joe Garcia (Kristine), Julian Garcia (Rose), Peggy Sue Garcia, Angelica Maria Garcia (Daniel)
11 Grandchildren
Melanie Racquel Lopez, Charlize Lauren Lopez, Navidad Maria Garcia, Little Joe Jr Garcia, Julian Garcia, Anahi Garcia, Julissa Garcia, Julius Garcia, Alina Sylvia Aguirre, Abigail Reyna Melgar, Daniel Valentin Mendoza
1 Great Grandchild
Aquileo Garrido
Sister Maryanne Garcia Martinez
Niece Caricia Martinez

Preceded in death by her father Floyd Garcia and her Mother Sylvia Garcia; Grandfather Fred Garcia and her Grandmother Carolina Luna Garcia

Filiverto Solarzano Gatica, age 70, of LaBelle, passed away August 17, 2021 in Lehigh Acres.
He was born Aug. 22, 1950 in Guatemala, to the late Mardoqueo Solarzano and Maria Gatica.

Survivors include his wife: Juana Andrea Menendez
daughters: Iris Barrientos and Brenda Solarzano,
two brothers: Ipolito Solarzano and Isamael Solarzano
three sisters: Melinda Solarzano, Elas Solarzano and Marta Solarzano
6 Grandchildren

Visitation will be on Tuesday August 24, 2021 from 10 to 11 AM at El Faro Assembly of God.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at 11:00 am at El Faro Assembly Of God, LaBelle with Pastor Contrerras officiating.
Interment will be Tuesday, August 24, 2021 in Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Barbara Howard Griffin, of Winter Haven, passed away August 13, 2021 in Winter Haven.
She was born Feb. 26, 1944 in LaBelle, FL, to the late Wendell and the Irene (Summerall) Howard.

She was preceded in death by her parents, daughter Teresa Rider Auger; brothers Emory and Morris Howard
Survivors include her husband: George Griffin
daughter Peggy (Mike) Moore
sons: Sean and Kyle O’Neal
brother: Jerry Howard
sisters: Evelyn (Butch) Cooper, Rena Williams
sister in law: Sandra Howard
12 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews.

Graveside services will be held Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 10:00 am at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle with Seth Howard officiating.

Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.


LABELLE, FL -- A few decades ago, drones were confined to science fiction or notions of the future. Today, unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, are rapidly becoming a part of our everyday lives. They are quickly increasing in numbers and complexity. The FAA has registered 869,336 drones.
The ways we use drones range from recreation to commercial and military applications.

Here's a snapshot of the current state of drones in the United States:

348,769 Commercial Drones
517,091 Recreational Drones
3,476 Paper Registrations
241,567 Remote Pilots Certified (certified pilots can operate commercially)

If you are flying solely for recreational purposes, you need to do the following:

Register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250g) and externally mark the drone with your registration number; Registration is good for three years
Pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and present your completion certificate (paper or electronic) to FAA or public safety personnel if asked
Keep your drone within your visual line of sight; If you’re flying First Person View (FPV) you’ll need to have someone next to you who can see your drone at all times.
Never fly over 400 feet above ground level
Use the B4UFly app to be aware of any airspace restrictions in your area
Check with your local community to verify any restrictions that could apply to the take-off or landing of your drone; Airspace authorizations may be obtained through our Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) via our approved service suppliers
Give way and do not interfere with any manned aircraft.

For questions contact your local DronePro Representative or the FAA UAS Support Center at: 844-FLY-MY-UA or UASHELP@faa.gov

-from FAA Safety Team

Friday, August 20, 2021

Glades County School 5th Grade Sent Home

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Schools have announced that all 5th grade students at one elementary school in Glades county north of LaBelle will be changed to virtual learning starting Monday August 23.

"The 5th grade at West Glades School is experiencing a large number of COVID cases and quarantined students at this time. We are moving ALL fifth grade classes at West Glades School to virtual learning starting Monday, 8/23 and will return to in-class learning on Tuesday , 9/7. 

"We apologize for any inconvenience that this might create for your families. It is very important for us to keep students as safe as possible. Prevention strategies are in place to prevent the spread of COVID and have been since school started. Rooms are being cleaned and disinfected daily, handwashing is strongly encouraged, students are six feet apart most of the day, and cohorting is used to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in contact with each other. 

"We are doing our best to stay in school but COVID-19 continues to circulate and is highly contagious. Community transmission in Glades County has moved from substantial to high in the past few weeks.

"Please continue to keep your families and your community safe. Remember to stay home if you are sick. Do not send your students to school if they are sick or someone in your house is experiencing COVID –like symptoms. If someone in your household is waiting for COVID-19 test results, please keep your student home."

Thursday, August 19, 2021

LaBelle Walmart Reopens 6 a.m Friday After Wednesday Close

LABELLE, Fl. -- LaBelle's Walmart plans to reopen at 6 a.m. Friday after closing down for a sanitization of the store.

Ashley Nolan, Global Communications Senior Manager issued a lengthy statement explaining the abrupt closing that took place Wednesday afternoon at the local Walmart west of LaBelle.

"As you know, several areas across the country have begun seeing a renewed increase in positive COVID-19 cases and we want to assist health officials working against the pandemic. As part of this effort, we have chosen to temporarily close our LaBelle store location 1951 W Hickpochee Ave. in LaBelle, ON Wednesday, August 18, 2021 at 2 p.m. as part of a company-initiated program. This will allow extra time for a third-party specialist to further sanitize the store and will also give our associates additional time to restock shelves and prepare the store to once again serve the community. We plan to reopen the store to customers at 6 a.m. on August 20, 2021.

"As an essential business and a member of the LaBelle community, we understand the role we play in providing our customers with food, medicine and other essential items, especially at this time.

"Given the rise in positive cases through the Delta variant, we will follow CDC guidance, which includes fully vaccinated people wearing masks in public indoor settings in counties with substantial or high transmission.

"In these counties and where there are state or local mask mandates, associates will be required to wear masks inside our facilities, including stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. You can find the county-by-county breakdown at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view. The CDC updates its data on transmission rates weekly, so the guidance on mask usage is likely to change over time in different locations.

"When the store reopens Friday, we will continue conducting associate health assessments, and all unvaccinated associates must still wear face coverings.

"In addition to offering COVID-19 vaccines to customers through walk-in or online appointments, we’re also offering easy access to vaccines for associates. Associates can receive their vaccinations at their home store pharmacy, on or off the clock.

"Should associates choose to schedule their vaccinations elsewhere, we will provide two hours of paid leave. Associates who receive the vaccine are given a $150 bonus for doing so and up to three days paid leave, should they experience and adverse reaction to the vaccine."

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Obituaries - James Horton, Samuel Griffin, Angelus Clemons, Roberto Silva

Pastor James E Horton, age 74, of Lehigh Acres, passed away August 14, 2021 in Fort Myers.

He was born Jan. 11, 1947 in Terra Haute, IN, to the late Roy and Jane (Ridenour) Horton Jr.
He was Pastor at LaBelle Baptist Temple.

Survivors include his wife: Sharon (Montgomery) Horton
two sons: Steve Horton and Darren Horton
a daughter: Teresa Vessell
7 grandchildren & 10 great grandchildren

Graveside services will be held Wednesday, August 18, 2021 at 10:00 am at Fort Denaud Cemetery, LaBelle with Pastors Don Strange and Jonathon Horton officiating. Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Samuel Asbury Griffin was born in 1937 on a houseboat on Lake Okeechobee. At the age of 12, he began guiding sport fishermen on Lake O. 

 His family developed and operated Uncle Joe’s Fish Camp in Moore Haven and Angler’s Marina in Clewiston until the mid 1970’s. In 1980, Sam began designing and manufacturing top water fishing lures. He and his wife Carol owned and operated Custom Lures by Sam until his death.

Sam was an outspoken advocate for Lake Okeechobee and Glades County, serving as County Commissioner and on the Lake Okeechobee Advisory Council, where he was instrumental in the establishment of a fisheries office in Okeechobee with Freshwater Fish and Game Commission. He truly shaped the way Lake Okeechobee looks today, cutting boat trails in the lake with the Corp of Engineers and marking channels.

In recognition for his contributions to the freshwater fishing industry, Sam was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2019. In June 2021, the Sam Griffin Scenic Tower in Lakeport was dedicated in his honor.

Sam served in the National Guard from 1959 – 1965 and was an active member of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Clewiston, where he served on the vestry board.

Sam is survived by his wife of 62 years, Carol; his son Samuel Joseph and wife Laurie; his daughter Crissy and husband Mike; his beloved grandchildren Danielle, Matthew, Katelyn, Connor and Emily; a large extended family and many, many loving friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joe and Thelma Griffin; brothers Stanley and Tommy Wayman and Richard Griffin; and his nephew Dennis Griffin.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church or a charity of your choice.

A private church service will be held for Samuel’s family. A Celebration of Life will follow at Lakeport Community Center 1239 Red Barn Road NW Moore Haven, Florida 33471 on Saturday, August 21, 2021 from 1-3 p.m. where all friends and family are welcome.

Angelus Marie Clemons, 75, who loved to be called Mimi, departed her loving family on August 11, 2021. She is now in the presence of the Lord.

Miss Angie, as she was known to friends, was a beloved member of the LaBelle community and faithfully attended church at the LaBelle Revival Center.

Angelus was born on December 12, 1945, in Mobile, Alabama. She is predeceased by her parents Wilson (Sandy) Miller and Bernice (Watson) Ross. Also, her late husband Charles (Charlie) Clemons.
Angelus leaves behind her children; Theresa Boring (Frank), of LaBelle, Ted Ross, Jr (Lynda) of Fort Myers, and Jason Long of Valdosta, GA. Nine grandchildren; Jared, Jacob, Jonathan, Kristen, Mercedes, Leah, Nathan, Natalie, and Landon, one great-grandchild, Andruw. Her brother Oliver (Evelyn) Miller of Leesburg and sister Tracie Hobby, of LaBelle.

Mimi is also survived by her furry companion Beauregard (Bo), her beloved pug.

Mimi loved Jesus, fishing, shooting, Horror movies, shopping (Walmart aka Wall Marks), costume jewelry, but most of all spending time with her family. She was the Matriarch of our family and a true Southern Bell who loved her hats.

The family will receive friends for visitation on Thursday, August 19, 2021, from 5 to 7 PM at the Akin-Davis Funeral Home 560 E. Hickpochee Ave. LaBelle.

Graveside Service will be held on Friday August 20, 2021, at 10 AM at Fort Denaud Cemetery with Pastor Lester Grant officiating.

Roberto A. Silva Jr. was born in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba on September 14, 1962. Roberto came to Clewiston when he was 4 years old, accompanied by his parents and his brother Rolando. His sister Carmen would be born 4 years later. 

Roberto was Cuban by birth and American by choice. Roberto was proud of his heritage but never had the desire to return to a communist country. The family had a good life in Clewiston until an accident at work would eventually paralyze his father leading Roberto to help take care of him from a young age. 

Roberto graduated from Clewiston High School in 1982 and was given a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon for art school however, due to family obligations he was not able to attend. His father passed away the year before and he was needed at home. Not attending art school was always one of his biggest regrets. 

Just a few short years later he went to work for Bell’s Radio Shack and working there became one of his greatest loves. He enjoyed managing Bell’s and came to an understanding of music like no other. Anyone looking for a certain song or album knew if they came to see Roberto, he had it or would get it for them. 

He eventually met the love of his life, Darenda, went he went to work for Royal’s Furniture store. They were married in Las Vegas in 1998. He worked in banking over 20 years, where he worked in the areas of management, loans, collections, and eventually as vice president of the loan dept. Roberto loved working with people, loved his job and worked until he became disabled. His coworkers loved him through this time, and he worked as a teller just a few hours a week to give him something to do. 

Roberto was an avid collector, artistic, loving, funny, a joker, and just a big kid at heart. If he was your friend, you were friends for life. He was an avid fan of the Miami Hurricanes and the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Roberto attended Glades Bible Church and prospered greatly over the last year under the guidance of his Pastor David Royal. 

He is survived by his wife Darenda of nearly 23 years, his daughter Miranda, his son Kevin (Brandy), and one of his greatest joys in life, Conner, his grandson, Caleb Redish grandson, and Carlie Redish granddaughter. He is survived by his brother Rolando Silva (Lisa), his sister Carmen Whitehead (Tim), brothers and sisters-in-laws, Les McMillan (Rachel), and Mary Beth Rodriguez (Santiago) and his nieces and nephews whom he always loved as if they were his own; Michael Silva, Christina Torres (Timothy), Angelina Whitehead, Christian Whitehead, Adrianna Whitehead, Heidi Ward (Kendrick) and Kayla Rodriguez. He is also survived by his cousin Sergio Rubio (Suzi), his godson Carlos (Nani), Alex (Natasha), Alexis, and Natalie, and by his loving fur babies Kiki, and Mama. 

Roberto is preceded in death by his parents Roberto and Carmen Silva, his loving aunt Daisy (Yeye) and his little cousin Sergio.

Celebration of Roberto’s Life will be held at 10 am today, Wednesday, August 18, 2021 at Glades Bible Church located at 705 S Olympia Street, Clewiston, Florida. Visitation was Tuesday, August 17, 2021 from 6-8 p.m. at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston. Burial will take place in Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Glades Schools Urge Keep Kids Home For Any Illness Symptoms

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Schools are urging parents to keep children at home if COVID like symptoms or any kind of illness appears or are awaiting tests.

The latest released numbers include 17 staff and students under quarantine at the Moore Haven elementary school, 15 at the Middle-High School, and two at West Glades.

From the announcement:

Please know that in order for us to remain open as a district we MUST have parents and family members cooperate to the following guidelines:

1. IF ANYONE in your home is showing COVID like symptoms or is awaiting a COVID test, DO NOT send your child to school. You must wait until cleared by the Department of Health
2. If a child has ANY kind of illness, they need to stay home until they feel better.
3. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!! You contact your child's school nurse AND the Department of Health immediately if you think your student may have COVID signs!!
4. At this time, it is better to err on the side of caution, than sending a student who may be potentially carrying the virus and spreading it through the school.
5. The district and the schools DO NOT make the quarantine or COVID positive decisions. Hence, the reason why you should stay in contact with the Department of Health. Please understand, under Federal Guidelines, the school is unable to discuss or relay this information, it HAS TO come from the Department of Health.

Monday, August 16, 2021

USDA SNAP Food Allowance - 21% Higher For 42 Million Families

First Update in More Than 45 Years Reflects Current Cost Realities

WASHINGTON, August 16, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. As a result, the average SNAP benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase for Fiscal Year 2022 beginning on Oct. 1, 2021.

The reevaluation concluded that the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost effective diet is 21% higher than the current Thrifty Food Plan. As a result, the average SNAP benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase by $36.24 per person, per month, or $1.19 per day, for Fiscal Year 2022 beginning on Oct. 1, 2021.
Changes in Benefits by State

As directed by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill – and with the expressed support of President Biden’s January 22 Executive Order – USDA conducted a data-driven review of the Thrifty Food Plan. The resulting cost adjustment is the first time the purchasing power of the plan has changed since it was first introduced in 1975, reflecting notable shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances over the past 45 years.

In its re-evaluation, USDA was driven by the latest available data on the four key factors identified in the 2018 Farm Bill: current food prices, what Americans typically eat, dietary guidance, and the nutrients in food items. For example, the revised plan includes more fish and red and orange vegetables to align with recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Additionally, the plan was calculated using updated purchasing data – collected from stores versus self-reported by households – to reflect the current price of foods in today’s marketplace. The revised Thrifty Food Plan also includes a modest increase in calories to reflect the latest data and support an active lifestyle.

The 2021 Thrifty Food Plan puts healthy food in reach for SNAP families. Recent evidence consistently shows that benefit levels are too low to provide for a realistic, healthy diet, even with households contributing their own funds toward groceries. A USDA study published earlier this summer found that nearly nine out of 10 SNAP participants reported facing barriers to achieving a healthy diet, with the most common barrier being the cost of healthy foods. These findings were echoed in listening sessions USDA held with a broad range of Thrifty Food Plan stakeholders.

In good times and tough times, SNAP is the most far-reaching, powerful tool available to ensure that all Americans, regardless of background, can afford healthy food. The program helps to feed more than 42 million Americans – 1 in 8 – each month. Evidence is clear that SNAP increases food security, including among households with children who have been disproportionately impacted by hunger during COVID.

Additional Resources:

What is the TFP? (Blog)
The Thrifty Food Plan and SNAP Benefits (Website)
The TFP Re-Evaluation Process (Infographic)
Changes in Benefits by State (Tables)
TFP Listening Sessions (Summary) (Blog)
SNAP Participants’ Barriers to Healthy Eating (Infographic)
Barriers that Constrain the Adequacy of SNAP Allotments (Report)
SNAP – Fiscal Year 2022 Cost-of-Living Adjustments (Memo)

Friday, August 13, 2021

Eladio Fernandez Dies At 83

Eladio Fernandez, age 83, of Clewiston, passed away August 10, 2021 in Clewiston.

He was born Jan. 8, 1938 in Havana,Cuba , to the late Jose and Epifania (Carrillo) Fernandez.

Survivors include his wife: Reineida Luisa (Morales) Fernandez
sons: Jose Luis Fernandez and Juan Carlos Fernandez
daughters: Melba Fernandez, Maria Fernandez and Maricela Fernandez,
12 grandchildren & 12 great grandchildren

He worked in the Construction Industry.
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston.

Ping Pong For Parkinson's

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Aug. 13, 2021) – The Hope Parkinson Program is conducting a ping pong workshop this fall for those living with Parkinson’s disease. As a fun‐filled way to improve symptoms of PD, the workshop will include four lessons with USATT-certified and SafeSport trained instructors Purvi Naik and Anay Naik. A study published in the American Academy of Neurology recently showed that ping pong, or table tennis, may improve rigidity, slowness, mood, and cognition. Further research is underway to confirm the findings.

Lessons will be held every Saturday at 2 p.m. in September at the Estero Park and Recreation Center in Estero. Pre-registration is required. For more information about the workshop or to RSVP, contact PDevents@HopeHCS.org or call 239-425-9886.

After launching in 2009, the Hope Parkinson Program has enabled more than 3,000 people in Lee County to experience the fullness of life through knowledge, movement, and fellowship. As a community service of Hope Healthcare, membership is provided at no charge to participants. For more information, visit www.HopeParkinson.org.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Moore Haven Woman Dies In Port LaBelle Crash

LABELLE, FL. -- A 75-year old female from Moore Haven died Wednesday as a result of an 8:30 p.m. crash on SR80 at Birchwood Parkway. From the FHP report:

Vehicle 1, a sedan was traveling east on State Road 80. Driver 1 failed to maintain control Vehicle 1, traveled off the roadway right and entered the grass shoulder. Vehicle 1 collided with a speed limit sign, canal and trees. 

Driver 1 was pronounced deceased on scene, the crash remains under investigation.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Annual Backpack Giveaway Success In Immokalee

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- At the 11th Annual Backpack Giveaway from this past Saturday, August 7th with the help of sponsors, volunteers, and dedicated employees of Lipman Farms given away were 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, $10,000 in gift cards, 700 pairs of shoes, 80 bicycles, 4,000 breakfast tacos, 1,200 Italian ices, tons of free food from Harry Chapin Food Bank, 62 COVID vaccines, and whole bunch of smiles to the children and families in the Immokalee community.

With over 50 exhibitors in attendance including, The Florida Dept. of Health, The Immokalee Foundation, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and many more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Big Cypress Museum Re-Opens August 21 With Two New Exhibits

BIG CYPRESS SEMINOLE INDIAN RESERVATION, Fla. (August 10, 2021) - The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum will reopen Saturday, August 21, it was announced here today. The museum will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The reopening coincides with the museum’s 24th anniversary and the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s 64th anniversary of federal recognition.

With the health and safety of the Seminole community, staff, and visitors top priorities, masks will be required for entry to the museum and hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the campus.

The museum’s mile-long boardwalk will reopen to one-way traffic. Museum artisans will return to the Seminole Village and the Traditional Interpretation Coordinator returns to the Hunting Camp. Interactions with Seminole artists often become the highlight of any visit to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.

“We have been carefully preparing for the reopening of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, to ensure the safe return of our staff, visitors, and community,” said Director Kate Macuen. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the museum after 17 months of closure and offering a unique and safe place where our visitors can learn about and celebrate Seminole stories, history, and traditions.”

In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibits and the alligator wrestling exhibit that opened in the West Gallery in late 2019, visitors can experience two brand new exhibits:

Graffiti and Street Art: Expressions of Community Pride, 2021

Art ceases to be art without freedom of expression. Graffiti and street art provide a venue for this freedom. The current Mosaic Gallery exhibition celebrates this art form and the Tribal Members who produce it. At the beginning of the COVID lockdown, artist Alyssa Osceola used the abandoned Big Cypress Bingo Hall to make a statement about the resiliency of the Seminole people. She recovered her 11’x20’ mural during the destruction of the building. It now serves as an eye-catching centerpiece of this exhibition.

Also included is a program featuring artist Wilson Bowers. He has anonymously produced dozens of murals and iconic images at several locations on Big Cypress. His commentary now provides insight to the motivation, determination, and thoughtful messaging these pieces provide.

The Seminole artists featured in this exhibition produce thought invoking artwork. In many cases, it delivers a message; in others, it simply brings beauty and humor where it otherwise would have none. The visuals are a means to encourage, educate, and celebrate the history and culture of the Seminole people. The exhibition will run through November of 2021.

Two Worlds: Heenechatche, The Legacy of William Buffalo Tiger

This important and influential leader was not only paramount in the independence of the Miccosukee Tribe, but also an inspiration to the balance between progress and tradition. This upcoming exhibition will focus on his contributions to the sovereignty and education of native people and his lead in the fight to protect the Creator’s gifts. This exhibition will open in September and run through the spring of 2022.

Obtuaries - Susie Cypress Jumper, Jeff Brewster, Edith Alexander

Susie Cypress Jumper, age 65, of Clewiston, passed away August 7, 2021 in Pembroke Pines.
She was born Feb. 24, 1956 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to the late Stanley Cypress, Sr. and the late Mary Billie 

Survivors include one son: William Lee Jumper, Jr. and two daughters: Sherri Jumper and Yvonne Jumper, three brothers: Charles Cypress, Rugie Jumper and Charlie Cypress, and three sisters: Claudia Cypress Doctor, Sue Jane Cypress Bert and Betty Cypress King. 

She was preceded in death by Troy Jumper, Solomon Cypress, Andy Cypress and Mary Lou Cypress. 

A graveside service will be held Tuesday, August 10, 2021 at 11:00am at the Big Cypress Cemetery. 

Visitation will be one hour prior to the service Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - Clewiston

Jeff Brewster lost his battle with cancer on Thursday, August 5th. 

He was an avid Hotwheel collector and loved Nascar. He was loved by so many and will be missed every day. 

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Janis Leon Brewster. His 2 daughters and son in law, Margo and Paula Brewster and Travis Dawson. His grandchildren Kaylonni and Skylinn Dawson, and Jaymeson Trahan. His stepson Scott Trahan. His mother Inez Graf. 

His sister Vonda and Jeff put his younger sister Vicki to rest in 2015.

Edith V Alexander of LaBelle, passed away at 97 years old on August 3, 2021 in Lehigh Acres , Florida. Hope Hospice House .

Edith was born on September 5,1923 Cleveland , Ohio to the late Richard and Mary (Brown) Hampson.

She worked at Sears and Roebuck in Elyria , Ohio in the drapes and linens for many years before retiring and moving to Florida in 1978. She was of the Christian Faith. She was a member of Daniels Road Baptist church in Fort Myers . She also attended at Caloosa Baptist in Labelle. 

Edith was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, great great grandmother, and friend who will be dearly missed by everyone who knew and loved her. 

Edith was proceeded in death by her late husband Norman F Alexander (1-9-94) they were married for 54years. 

She was proceeded in death by her late sister Gladys Hampson, Her brothers William Hampson ,Emmett Hampson & Bert Hampson . She was also proceeded in death by Her step daughter Dorothy Alexander and Don Alexander of Florida. 

Proceeded in death her daughters Joyce Oates of Labelle & Joan Sickman of Ft Myers. She is also survived by her Niece Karen Mole of LaGrange, Ohio . 

Living children : Sons ..Richard Alexander of Benson ,North Carolina Norman Alexander and his wife Sandra Alexander of New Port Richy ,Florida. Roger W Alexander and Marsha Alexander of Labelle. David & Cindy Alexander of Labelle. 

She had 21 grandchildren. Rebecca Hargraves ,Cindy Patrick(deceased) , Michelle Alexander, Stephen Alexander , Michael Alexander ,John Orzech , RussellOrzech , Daron Orzech SR , Nathan Orzech . Keith Szczepanski , Terri Lynn Szczepanski , Darlene M Alaimo , Jackie Tahtinen , Roger W Alexander, Jeff F Alexander, Aaron G Alexander . Jennifer M Burdick & Edith A Fawley . Of course all the grandkids wives & hubby’s . Grandsons Nicholas , Logan & Shawn she has lived with the last 10 years . 

In Edith’s earlier years she assisted in raising Great granddaughter Natalie M Alexander ( Martin) . Edith also had 56 Great Grandkids & 33 Great Great Grandkids . She loved her family and was very proud of all her children and grands. Most remembered was Swamp Cabbage where she had family members from all different states over the last 40 + years visiting and partying with her.

Edith will be buried at Ft Denaud Cemetery along with her late husband. A celebration of Life will be-in February 2022 . In leau of flowers all donations can go to Hope Hospice & Lung Association.

Health Alert For Lake Algal Toxins

Moore Haven, FL - The Florida Department of Health in Glades County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Okeechobee. This is in response to water samples taken on August 2, 2021. The public should exercise caution in and around various locations in Lake Okeechobee. For specific locations please visit https://floridadep.gov/dear/algal-bloom/content/algal-bloom-sampling-results

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.

Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae, discolored water or smelly water.

Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.

Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.

Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.

Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Obituaries - Joseph Hogan, Aged 82; Suzanne Medina, Aged 79

Suzanne Medina, age 79, of Clewiston, passed away August 5, 2021 in Fort Pierce.
She was born May 24, 1942 in Archbold, OH, to the late Manuel and the late Juana (Rositas) Sanchez.

Survivors include five sons: Johnny, Jesse, Santiago, George and Jose
three daughters: Estefina, Patricia and Susanna
three brothers: Jesse, Juan and Pedro
Many grandchildren & great grandchildren

She was predeceased by a son Thomas and sister Luisa

Graveside services will be held Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at 10:00 am at Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston with Pastor Hernandez officiating.

Interment will be Wednesday, August 11, 2021 in Ridgelawn Cemetery, Clewiston.

Visitation will be Tuesday from 5 to 7 pm at Akin-Davis Funeral Home, Clewiston, FL.

Joseph H Hogan, Jr, age 82, of Palmdale, passed away August 4, 2021 in Palmdale.
He was born May 27, 1939 in Sebring, FL, to the late Joseph H and the late Ruth (Guess) Hogan.

He served in the U. S. Air Force.
He was the Owner of a Timber Company.
He was predeceased by his parents, brother Richard Claxton, and step son Donnie Brown

Survivors include his wife: Beverly (Mobley) Hogan
daughter: Shanna (Brian) Sanders
step daughters: Joann Carter and Sandy (Fred) Bailey
grandchildren: RJ Carter; Destyn Bailey; Kara Bailey; Logan Sanders; Rylan Sanders
great grandchildren: Reagan Carter; Lextyn Bailey; Tristyn Bailey; Emory McGee

Funeral Service will be held on Monday August 9, 2021 at 10 AM at the Ortona Cemetery Pavillion.
Arrangements by Akin-Davis Funeral Home - LaBelle.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Port LaBelle Neighborhood Gets 18 Hour Blackout


LABELLE, FL. -- Portions of the Laurel Oak neighborhood in Port LaBelle got a surprise at 8:40 p.m. Thursday night when the electric power went out and stayed off for 18 hours.

FPL sent it's first automated messages out to customers at 11:22 p.m. saying the power should be back on by midnight due to an equipment malfunction. Then, at 11:57 p.m. the time for restoration was moved to 4:45 a.m. Friday morning and confirmed by another message at 4:17 a.m. Friday morning.

But, no such luck as power was not restored and FPL trucks could be seen running up and down Birchwood Parkway and Springview Circle all morning and afternoon troubleshooting.

At 2:07 p.m. Friday afternoon a new message said power should be on at 3 p.m. That final message turned out to be true and power was back on after 16 hours without electric in the neighborhood.

It was determined a line had burned between two transformers, but tests on fuses failed to show a burned fuse due to a faulty indicator, and thus delayed the trouble shooting for hours as they traced down the faulty power cable.

Port LaBelle Utility System was on standby with a large mobile generator unit at the sewage lift station a few yards from the FPL transformers. PLUS needs power to read it's gauges as well as to pump sewage from the neighborhood homes to the treatment plant. The electric was restored to the lift station at the 16 hour mark and they didn't need to hook up the generator.

Photo: FPL "Smart Meter" as electric finally restored to neighborhood after 18 hour wait.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Health Department Offering Vaccine All Day Weekdays

Hendry and Glades Counties — The Health Departments in LaBelle, Clewiston and Moore Haven will now provide COVID-19 vaccinations (Moderna for adults) by walk-ins or appointment, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Hendry County Health Department - 1100 S. Olympia, Clewiston, FL 33440
Hendry County Health Department - 1140 Pratt Blvd. LaBelle, FL 33935
Glades County Health Department - 1021 Healthpark Drive, Moore Haven, FL 34471

Please continue to help stop the spread of COVID-19: Don’t go to work, school, church, or shopping while you are sick, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover your coughs and sneezes; cough or sneeze into a tissue NOT in your hands, clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces, avoid unnecessary travel and talk with your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.

You may also use the Vaccine Locator to find other locations in the surrounding area.

Dr. Martha Valiant Dies At 84

Martha "Marty" E. Valiant, M.D. died peacefully at home in LaBelle, Fla. on July 31, 2021 at the age of 84. 

Her more than 40-year career as a physician and advocate for children and public rural health improved the lives of many thousands of children and families. 

Marty was born in New York in 1936 to Rubye Lee and Wilson Korbel Valiant. 

Choosing nursing as a career, Marty graduated from Huron Road Nursing College in Ohio. But soon, her love of medicine and keen intellect led her to pursue a career as a physician. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University School of Medicine in 1969 and completed a residency in Pediatrics at Duke in 1973, including serving as Chief Resident of Pediatrics. 

Her interest in public health also led her to add a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina to her already extensive education in 1970. 

After residency, she became an Associate Professor for Duke University, and worked at a community health center in Durham. She supervised rotations of Duke Pediatric Residents and Physician Assistant students. 

In 1976, Marty moved to Clewiston, Florida, where she began to deeply connect with rural health care as she worked for the Palm Beach County Health Department in Belle Glade. Marty subsequently opened her private pediatrics practice in Clewiston, for a time providing the only pediatric specialty for families in the region. 

She maintained her private practice until she moved back into public health, culminating in her role as Director of the Hendry-Glades Health Department from 1991 to 2005. There, she created an imprint of her own as a physician who was truly dedicated to the health of the people of Hendry and Glades Counties. 

Marty had an incredible impact on thousands of families over her career as a private physician and leader in public health. That impact in the community was reflected in Hendry County leaders' decision to name the Health Department building in Clewiston after her upon her retirement. 

She also shared her passion for health care with many non-profit organizations, including Healthy Start of Southwest Florida, The Children's Hospital Health Planning Council, Hendry-Glades Behavioral Health and the Children's Advocacy Center. 

She was presented with many accolades throughout her career including the Outstanding Woman in Public Health Award from the USF College of Public Health, the Florida Rural Health Association’s Wendell Rollason Award, the Sidney S. Chipman Award, the Healthy Start Lifetime Achievement Award and the Greater LaBelle Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year Award. 

Most recently, she was honored to be named by PBS-affiliated television station WGCU, to its list of 21 Southwest Florida Makers, Women Who Made a Difference. In an interview in 2014 for her distinction as a Florida Public Health Hero, she explained simply what she wanted for her legacy. She said, "I hope that I am remembered as a doctor who made a difference in the lives of children and their families in rural communities.” 

In that vein, her family and friends have established the Martha E. Valiant M.D. Foundation which will benefit causes close to her heart in the area of health. 

Donations to the Foundation can be made via check to US Charitable Gift Trust, C/O Renaissance Philanthropic Solutions Group, 8910 Purdue Rd, Suite 500, Indianapolis, IN 46268 with a memo line of Martha E. Valiant M.D. Foundation. 

Her life will be celebrated in a private family memorial

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Florida Keys' Watercolor Kapers by Bob Kranich

The Sponge Adventure, (Part 2, Excerpt 33)

This is the first part a story titled, The Sponge Adventure. Captain Bob and his two mates, Dave and Amos fish the Gulf out of Key West in Bob’s sea-going Trawler, Sea Breeze. Dave is interested in the old methods of sponge fishing and has a small skipjack fishing boat he has just restored.

The Sponge Adventure

“How’s that boat coming along? You still thinking about sponging, David?”

“Yep, to answer your questions. The boat is looking good! I’m working on the canvas right now, and I’ll be sponge fishing in due time.”

“Tell you what, David, I’ll be by to check on your progress on that boat tomorrow morning. I’ll bring your check by after I pay Amos.”

“Sounds good, Captain Bob. See you then.”

Knock! Knock!

“Will you get that, Bob?” His wife hollered down from upstairs.

“Ok, Honey, I’m expecting someone,” Bob responded as he headed towards the front door.

‘Oh…Hi Amos. Come on in. Let me get your check.”

“When are we going back out Capt’n?”

“Amos, I figure we’ll take a day for maintenance. How about whenever you want to on Monday. Go on over to the boat, and check out the nets. I know that there’s some mending to do, and I know you’ll be first class with that project.”

“Sounds good Capt’n. See you Monday.”

“The wife and I may see you sooner. We’re going to come by your church Sunday. What time is the service?”

“Sounds real fine Capt’n, that will be 10:30. See you both then.”

Captain Bob walked Amos to the front door and said his good bye’s, turned and walked back in.

Bang! The screen door slammed shut.

“Honey, There’s that door again, can you adjust it?” Bob’s wife requested.

"Sure, Sweetheart, I’m going over to David's. I’ll be helping him with his boat,” Bob replied.

“Ok Dear,” she replied, “Please don’t forget the door, see you at lunch.”


It was only four long blocks to where David lived. Bob enjoyed the walk. Something was unusual about where David’s parents’ house was. It was located at the end of a small inlet. In fact the property was connected to the water. The basic house was an original Bahamian cottage. Down close to the water was an old boat house. This property had been in David’s family for several generations. Their great grandfather had built the cottage in the Bahamas and then dismantled, shipped, and reassembled it here in Key West.

The property was long and narrow. If it was any wider it would be sought after by the developers. As it was, it was still extremely valuable, but David’s parents were just content to stay there in the old home place.

He walked past the cottage and went back to the boat house. The skipjack sat there on the outside. In fact it was propped up and sitting on the ways.* David's ways were a double wooden track leading down to and into the water. Bob could see that it would be easy to launch her. He walked around to the back of the boat house. There David was, canvas all around him, a big needle in his hand.

“Hi David,” Bob said.

“Hi Captain, what do you think?” David asked. “The boats looking good, huh?”

“The boat looks ready. I see you’ve got her painted,” Bob exclaimed.

“Yep, did that a couple of weeks ago. I used a fiberglass paint,”

said David.

“It looks like you could use a hand with the sail,” Captain Bob exclaimed.

“Sure could, Capt’n.”

The skipjack* was flat-sided with the sides above the floor about 12 inches. The beam was 9 feet, 4 inches. Overall she was 22 feet long. There was a deck house over the cabin, and this had about 5 feet, 6 inches of head room. The cabin was about 10 feet long, and 7 feet wide. It was divided fore and aft by a center board trunk. This came up about 2 feet from the floor. There was room under the fore deck to stow gear, and there were two narrow bunks one on either side. The cockpit was in the rear. It was on the same floor as the cabin. The boat was steered by a tiller out the back, no wheel. With the center board down, she drafted 4 feet 6 inches. She had about 400 pounds of ballast.

The rigging was simple: two sails, jib and main. They were both laced to booms on one mast. The overhang of the booms, both front and rear, put out a lot of canvas.

“This is sure big! It’s a lot of canvas,” Bob remarked.

“That’s right Capt’n. But this is the jib. I finished the mainsail last week,” David said proudly. “This little boat will spread a lot of canvas and catch a lot of wind! Here, help me hold this and I will stitch the seam.”

He was using an awl to punch a hole through the canvas in the center of a grommet and then run the heavy cord through it with a large needle.

“I see, it appears you have all the grommets in,” Bob remarked.

“Yep...I also did that last week. I’ve been getting excited to take her out.”

They worked the rest of the morning.

“David, I had better get home for lunch. But I’ll come back after I eat and we’ll hang these sails.”

“Capt’n, you could eat here with us,” David offered.

“I’d like to, but I can’t disappoint the missus She’ll have lunch ready. Thanks though.”

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. bkranich.wixsite.com/bobkranich

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Mary Ruth Lee Langdale Dies At 84

Mary Ruth Lee Langdale, age 84, of Okeechobee, passed away July 29, 2021 in Okeechobee. Mary was born on January 23, 1937 in Rose Hill, Virginia to the late Champ Kaywood and the late Osa Mae Cheek Lee. 

She married Oscar Eddie Langdale on August 15, 1953; he preceded her in death on August 20, 2017 after 64 years of marriage. She along with Eddie owned and operated Langdale Dragline Services which they started in 1954 and operated until they both retired. Mary and Eddie enjoyed traveling to the Bahamas often. Mary enjoyed bowling, gardening and spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Mary was a member of the First Baptist Church of Belle Glade for many years. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and sister who will be greatly missed by everyone who loved and cared for her.

Mary leaves behind fond memories with her children; Michael Langdale and his wife Mercedes of Loxahatchee, and Susan Langdale Forrester and her husband James of Georgia, two grandchildren; Patricia Forrester Yount and her husband Rodney and grandson; James V. Forrester, III and his wife Julie, great grandchildren; Jonathon Bailey Hedrick, Hannah Hedrick, Katelyn Forrester, Jessica Lee Forrester, Madison Forrester, and Hailey Yount, one brother; Billy Jack Lee and sister; Jean Mann.

Mary Ruth was also preceded in death by her brother; Roy Alton Lee and sisters; Mae Lewis and Frieda Lambert.

Celebration of Mary Ruth’s life will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, August 4, 2021 at Akin-Davis Funeral Home in Clewiston where Mr. Steve Weeks will officiate. Burial will be in Ortona Cemetery next to Eddie.

CenturyLink Service Out For A Day In Montura - Cable Cut

CLEWISTON, FL. -- There is an interruption in service by CenturyLink, now known as Lumen, for a portion of Montura Ranch Estates near Woodland Blvd.

A CenturyLink cable was damaged by Hendry County during a pipe replacement on Woodland Blvd.

CentryLink is aware of the situation and should have the damaged cable repaired tomorrow August 4, 2021, and if not, by the end of the week on August 6, 2021.

Residents with concerns are encouraged to contact CenturyLink.

Lipman Family Farms Hosts 11th Annual Backpack Giveaway

Free school supplies available to children in Immokalee and surrounding communities on Aug. 7

IMMOKALEE, Fl. – No family should have to worry about their children’s essential school supplies being a financial burden. Lipman Family Farms, America’s largest open-field tomato grower headquartered in Immokalee, FL, has opened doors for thousands of Immokalee-area children through their Annual Backpack Giveaway scheduled for Saturday, August 7. The event, now in its eleventh year, will be the biggest giveaway to-date thanks to generous donations from sponsors, vendors, and the local community.

This event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at Immokalee High School, where Lipman will distribute thousands of backpacks full of school supplies, bikes, gift cards, haircuts and resources to children and their families to better prepare them for the school year ahead. The day will be filled with music, free food, face painting, games, and entertainment available to families in Collier and Lee County, where vaccines will also be available free of charge for attendees.

Having not been able to host an in-person event last year due to COVID-19, Lipman improvised by dropping off backpacks at each elementary and middle school of Immokalee. This year, Collier and surrounding counties displayed incredible support, raising over $60,000 at the 5K Run for Backpacks in April, which has been the largest amount raised thus far for this event. The proceeds generated this year will ensure every child in attendance at the Backpack Giveaway event will receive a backpack, eliminating the need for families to arrive early and form a line. Additionally, over 30 exhibits will be available to offer essential services and information to families in attendance, including The Immokalee Foundation.

“Over the years, Lipman Family Farms has been extraordinarily supportive of The Immokalee Foundation’s career-driven mission. It’s an honor to return to support this highly anticipated, joyful community event. Lipman and the Foundation share a time-honored commitment to the education of Immokalee’s youth alongside a deep respect for the people of Immokalee,” said Noemi Perez, President and CEO at The Immokalee Foundation.

Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to collect their backpack and supplies. Call 239-657-4421 for answers to any questions about the event or to find out how to participate.

Monday, August 02, 2021

Nester Echevarria Makes Day For 5-Year Old At Wal-Mart


“Mommy can I have a pen”, asked 5 year old Patrick Zimmerman.

Patrick and his mother, Chrissy Zimmerman, were school shopping at Wal-Mart this weekend when Patrick suddenly asked his mom for a pen because his “hero” was there. When his mother asked him what hero, he said the police officer. Chrissy handed her son her pen and he walked up to Sgt. Nester Echevarria and asked him to “sign his paper”. Chrissy went on to say that at first Sgt. Echevarria seemed a bit confused until she whispered to him that Patrick wanted his autograph. Sgt. Echevarria smiled and signed his school supply list.

Chrissy said it made her son’s day and the told everyone he saw and Wal-Mart and at home that his hero signed his paper.

We want to extend a sincere thank you to Chrissy Zimmerman for contacting us about this. You and Patrick made our day.

Good Luck to Patrick as you begin your first day of Kindergarten!