Thursday, May 14, 2020 News

Hendry County officials ordered evacuations for the Duda Labor Camp in LaBelle yesterday due to a 250-acre brush fire burning on Sears Road. South SR 29 from Sears Road to Keri Road was shut down in both directions due to extremely low visibility. The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office said the fire was fast-moving and all precautions needed to be taken. As of Wednesday evening, the fire was 100% contained, according to Hendry County commissioners. 

Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, frustrated by all the contention about a West Palm Beach nonprofit feeding program declining a donation from three sugar companies, says it’s highly inappropriate and wrong to drag in political battles when the objective is to assist the needy. What he’s talking about is Kimberly Mitchell, a former West Palm Beach city commissioner who refused to accept a $30,000 donation from United States Sugar Corporation, Florida Crystals and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative to go toward a charity a friend of hers established that was delivering thousands of free meals for weeks to Glades families in need because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our sugar industry, our farmers, they are pillars of our community and people need to … clearly understand that. So, an attack on them is an attack on our community.”

Due to social distancing guidelines, many graduation ceremonies have been canceled. But that’s not stopping the communities around the lake from celebrating anyway. The Student ACES Center in Belle Glade is calling their students “champions of character.” The non-profit helps mentor over 30,000 high school student athletes in the tri-county area. At least five seniors from either Glades Central or Pahokee High School were honored at Wednesday’s surprise driving parade. There were 15 to 20 vehicles driven by teachers and parents.

According to an article, a judge has dismissed a lawsuit by three plaintiffs who claimed they were injured by the smoke from sugarcane burning. The lawsuit was filed against United States Sugar Corporation and several other sugarcane growers and corporations. According to the lawsuit, the defendants farm sugarcane on approximately 400,000 acres in the areas south and southeast of Lake Okeechobee and around the towns of Belle Glade, South Bay, Pahokee, Clewiston and Moore Haven. They use a method of harvesting sugarcane that burns off the outer leaves prior to harvesting. The preharvest burns are done on 40- to 80-acre tracts of land at a time and are regulated by the Florida Forest Service. Two of the plaintiffs live in Belle Glade; one lives in Clewiston. They claim they have been harmed by the smoke from the sugarcane burning. The court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing, and will permit plaintiffs to attempt to re-plead only three of the seven counts. The plaintiffs have until May 22 to refile a second amended complaint. Defendants will then have a week to respond to their refiled complaint.

We’re up to 165 positive cases of Coronavirus in Hendry County since testing began. Currently, however, the number of ACTIVE positive cases in the county is 131. The Florida Department of Health in Hendry County will provide free COVID-19 Testing in Clewiston and LaBelle starting Thursday, May 14, 2020 by appointment only. Residents of Hendry County can secure an appointment for testing by calling the Hendry County Health Department Clewiston or LaBelle. There is no criteria for testing, however, appointments are required and individuals must be 18 years and older. This is a “drive-thru” service and individuals must stay in their vehicles during the process. Results may take 3 to 5 business days. Mobile Testing Dates, Times and Locations: Clewiston 1100 S. Olympia, Tuesdays and Thursdays only from 10am to noon and 1pm to 3pm. In LaBelle 1140 Pratt Blvd, Wednesdays and Fridays only from 10am to noon and 1pm to 3pm. The Florida Department of Health in Glades County will provide free COVID-19 Testing in Moore Haven starting Wednesday, May 20, 2020 by appointment only. Residents of Glades County can secure an appointment for testing by calling the Glades County Health Department. At 1021 Health Park Drive, Moore Haven Starting May 20th – Wednesdays and Fridays only from 10am to noon and 1pm to 3pm.