On Monday July 14, at around 3:25 pm, Deputies with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office responded to 1157 Harlem Academy Avenue in Clewiston, after receiving a report of gun shots. Investigators, with the help of some witnesses, were able to positively identify the shooter as 27-year-old, Mark Wayne Richards Jr. Further investigation revealed that Richards first fired shots at the victim, causing the second subject to act in self-defense, and fire back. Two days later, HCSO obtained an arrest warrant for Richards, on charges of Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon without Intent to Kill, Discharge Firearm from Vehicle, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Use or Display of Firearm during a felony. Richards turned himself in last week. He is currently being held in the Hendry County Jail on $55,000.00 bond.
On Friday, July 16, after a lengthy investigation, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search warrant at the Best Western Hotel, located at 1020 W. Sugarland Highway in Clewiston, in relation to a drug trafficking investigation. The HCSO Narcotics Unit determined that 20-year-old Thomas C. Ferguson, of Labelle and 19-year-old Angela Hanson, rented a room and possessed a large quantity of narcotics inside. They uncovered drugs, needles, pills that were pre-packaged for sale, a digital scale, drug manufacturing equipment, drug paraphernalia, over $600 in cash, some cell telephones, and a handgun. Ferguson was arrested and taken into custody on a slew of drug and other charges. He was released on July 18th on $186,000.00 bond. Hanson had some hefty charges as well. She is currently being held without bond.
The Belle Glade City Commission honored retiring City Manager Lomax Harrelle at his final meeting Monday. While giving honor and paying tribute to the outgoing city manager, the commissioners, which also included Mayor Steve Wilson, publicly interviewed 5 candidates, narrowing it down to just 2 finalists: Robert Rease, a pastor from Belle Glade, and Douglas Baber from St. Lucie County by way of Kentucky. The board will hold a special meeting on Monday July 26 to announce Harrelle’s successor. Meanwhile Harrelle, who had two tours of duty in the city, praised his staff for making it possible. Harrelle, in his 57 years in government, has dedicated many of them to the Glades communities, starting in 1975 with the City of South Bay. His first tour with the City of Belle Glade ran from 1990-1998. Harrelle’s last tour began in 2008.
The Hendry County School Board held a special meeting Tuesday night. One of the last agenda items included discussion about renovations to the 2-story white building near the Clewiston sub-office. Superintendent Michael Swindle says the building would potentially be the new unemployment office on the bottom, with school board offices on the second floor. Board Chair Stephanie Busin said she believed the funds to renovate the building could be used for higher purposes, purposes that would directly serve the constituents. She also expressed concern about traffic to the neighborhood and zoning issues. The board agreed 3 to 1 to table the issue until the August 3rd meeting. The Hendry County School Board meets for their regular meeting, every 1st and 3rd Tuesday.