News 3-25-2020

To keep Florida residents and visitors safe, informed and aware about the status of the virus, The Florida Department of Health has launched a COVID-19 dashboard that will be updated twice daily. As of 6 p.m. 3-24-2020, there are 1,467 total Florida cases. Two people have died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Pinellas and Lee counties. New Florida cases include:

55 additional positive COVID-19 cases reported to the Florida Department of Health. There are no confirmed positive cases of the virus in Hendry or Glades or Okeechobee Counties. Palm Beach County has a reported 104 positive cases, and, as of March 24th at 10am at least one of those positive cases, has been reported out of Belle Glade. For more information, visit the COVID 19 dashboard.

The South Florida Water Management District invites the public to learn more about the Caloosahatchee Reservoir Water Quality Feasibility Study and provide input and ideas about additional water quality improvements for the Caloosahatchee Reservoir Project. The Working Group for the study is seeking public input on additional water quality treatment technologies that could be suitable for pre-treatment, in-reservoir treatment, and/or post-reservoir treatment applications to improve water quality. The public workshop will be online only today from 6-8 p.m. The workshop will be conducted through Zoom. Zoom is a free online meeting tool that can be used from a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Register for the workshop by going to www.sfwmd.gov/caloosahatcheemeeting.

Please be advised that Hendry County Road & Bridge Department’s asphalt contractor will be milling and paving the following areas on County Road (CR)78 and Huggetts Road today between 8am-5pm:

  • CR 78, 1/2 mile west of Hidden Hammock
  • CR 78 at Jacks Branch bridge
  • And of course, Huggetts Road

Motorists should expect lane closures and allow extra time for their commute. 

Please use extra caution when driving through the work zone.

Residents with questions or concerns can contact the Hendry County Engineering Department at 863-675-5222.

With K-12 schools closing across the country, the world’s premier aviation institution – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – has ramped up free online course offerings on topics ranging from aeronautics and meteorology, to computer applications, history and more. No-cost options are available for the general public as well as Embry-Riddle employees. Visit https://worldwide.erau.edu/ for more information. And of course you can go to fldoe.org for details.

Beginning today (on Wednesday, March 25, 2020,) Florida students will have access to free, live Advanced Placement (AP) review lessons delivered by AP teachers from across the country. These optional, mobile-friendly classes are designed to be used alongside work that may be given by schools. In addition, for the 2019-20 AP Exam administration only, the College Board is developing secure 45-minute online exams for each course. These streamlined digital exams will not require any test booklet shipments, external proctors or any additional workload for schools. The exam content will focus on what schools were able to complete by early March. Students can take the exam on any device they have access to – computer, tablet or smartphone – and other options may be available by contacting the College Board. For more information, visit AP COVID-19 update.

The Department of Education has lists of free educational resources and district meal plans to help families while school is closed. The emergency response page contains educational resources such as CPALMS – Florida’s online toolbox based on the state’s standards for teachers, students and families – Khan Academy, Floridastudents.org and many others who are stepping up to serve Florida families free of charge, with thousands of online courses, lessons and practice exercises and videos so students can continue their education. The page also contains extensive information on the state’s response to COVID-19, and parents of K-12 students can find a free meal through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Summer BreakSpot. For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit www.fldoe.org.

Governor DeSantis has declared that all Florida School Facilities will be closed to students until April 15, 2020. All Glades County School District Staff reported to school on Monday, March 23rd. During this time, instructional personnel completed the first steps necessary in the GCSD Instructional Continuity Plan. This plan, which begins Monday, March 30th, provides for the tools and procedures for parents and teachers to collaborate for successful “learning-from-home.” All staff are following the CDC guidelines of 10 or less in any occupied space while on campus.

In partnership with the transportation department, food service personnel began preparing and delivering two individual meals daily to all GCSD students. The District will operate two drive-thru locations from 11:00-11:30 am daily at West Glades School and Moore Haven Elementary School.

 Chrome Book distribution will begin Tuesday, March 24th.  Students that do not have a device will be able to pick one up from their prospective schools.  Each school has outlined a schedule that will be posted on our Glades County School District website.  Schedules will also be posted on the GCSD Facebook page. 

 Today, Governor Ron DeSantis, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, Congressman Matt Gaetz, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Danny Burgess and Florida College System Presidents applauded President Donald Trump and Congress for ensuring thousands of Florida veterans are able to utilize their GI benefits through remote or virtual instruction, after campus closures due to COVID-19. S.3503 supported by President Trump, gives the United States Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to continue GI Bill payments in the event of national emergencies and health-related situations without interruptions and allows for virtual instruction for both college and career and technical students. The bill also ensures monthly housing allowances will continue until January 2021, giving student veterans protection from uncertain economic times.

In 2018, Florida had over 43,000 student veterans using VA education benefits, and almost 36,000 of those veterans used the GI Bill. Without this important legislation, GI Bill veteran students were not able to use their benefits for virtual or distance learning, and would have seen a reduction of their monthly housing allowance, through no fault of their own. This emergency action will take effect immediately upon signature.

In response to the State of Florida issuing an extension on permits, Hendry County is extending the renewal for building permits that are set to expire during the period of March 17, 2020 through April 30, 2020 to be automatically renewed through May 29, 2020. If you have any questions regarding a permit, please call863-675-5245.

HENDRY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE NOTICE OF SUSPENDED PROGRAMS DUE TO COVID-19

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden asks that everyone please check the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/hendrysheriff or Web Page at http://www.hendrysheriff.org/  frequently over the next several weeks for changes and/or updates to current services that are offered by the Sheriff’s Office personnel.

Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Jail has suspended all Background Fingerprints until April 3, 2020. 

Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Jail has suspended the Weekend Work Program until further notice.  Check The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Facebook or Web page for updates or call the jail at (863) 674-5674.

Hendry County jail inmate Weekenders are instructed not to appear at the jail in person for Friday check-in but to call and check-in at (863) 674-5674 EVERY FRIDAY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

All inmate visitations will now be done remotely. The visitation center is closed until further notice. 

If you have any questions call (863) 674-5674 or (863) 674-5600.

While the Okeechobee County Commissioners and Emergency Management officials did not hold an emergency meeting on the Coronavirus, one particular meeting from last week garnered some attention that reached national levels. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper commented on a possible cure that he learned from watching a program on a 24 hour news network that involved holding a hairdryer just below your nose and letting the hot air blow through your nose and that would supposedly kill the virus. The comments were met by many unfriendly comments directed at Culpepper, some going as far as saying they are “ignorant” and “stupid.” Culpepper says he was making these comments mainly to address people who don’t have health insurance and cannot go to the hospital and allow them comfort of knowing that some simple treatments could work. Despite that, Culpepper says there is some truth to the hot air and the virus (Culpepper-Coronavirus Meeting 1). Culpepper admits he might’ve “jumped the gun” with his comments on this so-called Coronavirus cure but he says he’ll always think outside the box. He never thought it would get the attention it got and he believes the reactions he received were meant to destroy everything he’s tried to accomplish during his ten years as a county commissioner.

Yesterday, the Okeechobee County Commissioners and Emergency Management took a break from discussing the status of the Coronavirus in the county, however one of the meetings last week garnered some interest not just from here but in areas outside the community and outside the state. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper commented on a possible cure that he learned from watching a program on a 24 hour news network that involved holding a hairdryer just below your nose and letting the hot air blow through your nose and that would supposedly kill the virus. The comments were met by many unfriendly comments directed at Culpepper, some going as far as saying they are “ignorant” and “stupid.” Culpepper says he was making these comments mainly to address people who don’t have health insurance and cannot go to the hospital and allow them comfort of knowing that some simple treatments could work. Culpepper was surprised at the negative comments and did admit he was wrong but he says after researching the comments, he found they were aimed to destroy everything he’s tried to accomplish (Culpepper-Coronavirus Meeting 2). Culpepper says he might’ve “jumped the gun” with his comments on this so-called Coronavirus cure but he says he’ll always think outside the box. He never thought it would get the attention it got.