Tuesday September 29, 2020

More than 1 million people have now died of the coronavirus worldwide, less than nine months after the first death was confirmed in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The US, Brazil, India and Mexico account for more than 50% of the total death toll. In Florida alone, over 14,000 people have died, 42 in Hendry, 4 in Glades. Although the number of deaths is on a steady decline, testing continues throughout the state. 5.2 million people have been tested in Florida and Hendry and Glade County has been no exception. Testing continues locally in Clewiston tomorrow and in Labelle on Friday from 9 a.m to 11 a.m.

The Hendry County Board of County Commissioners reports that Monday, October 5, Hendry County’s contractor, will be conducting construction services and roadwork on Sonora Avenue from W.C. Owen Avenue to Twin Lakes Drive in Clewiston, FL. The speed limit will be reduced through the project area. Expect lane closures and possible delays throughout the duration of the project and allow extra time for their commute. Please use extra caution when traveling through the work zone. The project is expected to have a completion time of up to 180 days. Construction operations will occur during weekdays, Monday – Friday, 7am – 5pm Evening work hours will vary. Estimated project completion is April 2, 2021.

Florida health officials reported 738 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday. According to data from the Florida Department of Health, that’s the lowest number of new cases reported since June 2, when the state reported 617 cases. It’s also the first time Florida has reported less than 1,000 cases in a day since early June. There are now 701,302 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. The health department also reported five new deaths on Monday and 1 on Sunday. The death toll stands at 14,037.

The Palm Beach County CARES Restart Business Grants Program is now active. The Board gave approval for individual grants up to $25,000 to help “restart” Palm Beach County businesses forced to close by State or County Executive Order.  The application process will be completed entirely on-line through the County’s portal. Interested businesses are encouraged to prepare for the Restart Business Grant Program Application as they will be processed on a first come, first eligible basis. The online application will be accessible through the Palm Beach County website for a two-week period closing on Friday October 9 at 11:59 P.M. For additional information, please visit https://discover.pbcgov.org/hes/Pages/default.aspx

A few areas of town are going to be checked for safety this week. Some bridges on SR 80 in Hendry County will be examined for asbestos and metal-based coatings. SR 80 east and westbound over Roberts Canal; and SR 80; east and westbound over Townsend Canal. Intermittent single east and westbound lane closures will occur on SR 80 from the Lee County line to Grandmas Grove Resort on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Hendry County.  Please use caution in the area and watch for workers near the roadway. 

Baldwin Electric Membership Corporation is the largest electric cooperative in Alabama, serving more than 80,000 members in the southwestern part of Alabama. So one can imagine the impact Hurricane Sally left after the cooperative took a direct hit from the storm, leaving 95 percent of their membership without power. Power was lost to 17 of their 22 substations, and 2,000 power poles and more than 4,000 spans of power line were lost, according to Baldwin EMC. Glades Electric Cooperative in Moore Haven responded their call for assistance. A crew of five Glades Electric linemen returned late on Friday, September 25 after spending a week near Summerdale, Alabama. Glades Electric’s crew spent much of their 17-hour work days replacing damaged lines. Welcome back gentleman and well done.

The Army Corps of Engineers announced last week that it will not be releasing water from Lake Okeechobee this week into the St. Lucie Estuary, despite high lake levels. Col. Andrew Kelly, Commander and District Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Jacksonville District, said the Army Corps and South Florida Water Management District were able to find more room south of Lake Okeechobee to store and move water for now. Kelly stressed that conditions change daily, and with the lake level at nearly 15.3 feet, releases are still very likely before the end of the hurricane season. One U.S Rep. wants to pass legislation that would ban the Army Corps of Engineers from sending Lake Okeechobee releases to the coastal estuaries when toxic algae blooms are present. The Army Corps of Engineers also announced Thursday that it received approval for harmful algal bloom deviation, allowing it to hold water back in the lake when there are algal blooms present.