Thursday June 10, 2021

The Department of Health in Hendry has issued a Health Alert, for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in the Caloosahatchee River. This is in response to water samples taken on June 3. Brenda Barnes, spokesperson for the department says, the public should exercise caution in and around the Caloosahatchee River by not drinking, swimming or boating in waters, where there is a visible bloom. If you do make contact with the smelly water or the algae, wash your skin and clothing with soap and water. Be sure to keep your pets and livestock away, and do not attempt to boil the toxic water for use, as this procedure will not eliminate the toxins. The DOH says eating fillets from healthy fish caught in the freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe, but do not eat the shellfish in water with algae blooms. Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals. If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Hendry at (863)-302-6021.

Former Punta Gorda Police Chief Tom Lewis is back on the job with the Clewiston Police Department. Lewis was reportedly fired as a Punta Gorda Police Chief, following the death of 73-year-old Mary Knowlton. She was killed during a citizen’s training class in 2016 by officer Lee Cole. The weapon used during the training class had real bullets instead of blanks. Lewis was charged with misdemeanor culpable negligence, but was found not guilty. Cole, the shooter in the incident, was charged with Manslaughter, and accepted a plea of 10 years probation. Lewis is last known to be serving as Interim Police Chief, after Aaron Angel submitted his resignation effective June 1.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County named Anajiah Graham of Belle Glade the 2021 Palm Beach County Youth of the Year. The event celebrated the 17 local clubs’ mission, of enabling young people to reach their full potential, and raised more than $300,000. Graham, a Glades Central High School senior who has been accepted into Alabama State University, was named the winner after several rounds of essays, interviews and speeches. All finalists received a four-year Florida Prepaid College Scholarship; Graham also received, room and board. The teens were surprised with Chromebook laptops and a message from First Daughter Ashley Biden, who recently worked for Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. She sent a surprise videotaped message. Congratulations to all the finalists, honorees and winners.

 A 39-year-old Belle Glade man is facing DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges following an April fatal crash in West Palm Beach. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said it arrested Ronald Ray Cook on the charges following an April 16 wreck just south of Palm Beach International Airport. Cook was booked into the county jail Saturday and remained there Monday, with his bail set at $103,000. Jessie Bernard Fleming, 37, of suburban West Palm Beach was a passenger in the vehicle and died in the one-car wreck, in which PBSO said Cook’s car spun out at a high speed, and crashed into a tree. Paramedics declared Fleming dead at the scene. PBSO’s arrest report lists a charge of DUI manslaughter, but court records show that Cook also is facing a vehicular homicide charge. 

The Florida Department of Health and the Florida Division of Emergency Management have partnered to offer mobile vaccination units at several locations in Hendry County. The community will have the opportunity to choose from the Pfizer Vaccine for ages 12 and older or the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine for ages 18 and older. Today, at Veteran’s Memorial Park, in LaBelle (Across from the Hendry County Courthouse) vaccinations will take place between 11am-6pm. They will be in Clewiston tomorrow at the Clewiston Town Plaza, from 10am-6pm.