Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Governor Increases Budget for Teacher Pay

Governor Ron DeSantis announced $800 million in this year’s budget to raise minimum teacher pay and increase veteran teacher salaries. The $800 million is a $250 million increase over last year’s funding and brings Florida’s investments in teacher pay to greater than $2 billion since the 2020 Legislative Session. In 2020, the average starting salary for a teacher in Florida was $40,000, and with today’s funding, it will now be at least $47,000, which, according to the Governor’s Office, put our state 9th in the nation for starting teacher pay. Hendry County Superintendent Michael Swindle has been vocal about teacher retention locally, and what incentives teachers have to stay, with many dedicated teachers have a difficult time buying a home, paying student loans, and providing for their families. This situation is getting worse with inflation. According to AAA, the average cost of a gallon of gas in Florida is currently $4.17 and the cost of groceries rose 8.5 percent over the past year.

Clewiston Youth Center Makeover

The Clewiston youth center was given a complete makeover, with the help of City of Clewiston staff, and with support from U.S. Sugar. First opened in 1961, the Charles E. Wetherald Youth Center was originally donated by U.S. Sugar and named in honor of their former CEO. The youth center has long been a destination for Clewiston’s youth, to learn, play and spend time after school and during the summer months. The renovations include a new Apple computer lab, iPads, televisions, a 3D printer and furniture. It’s also complete with updated kitchen appliances and equipment for the meeting space. The youth center will be open on weekdays and during summer months and is available for reservation. The City of Clewiston plans to hire a new youth director before May.

Quarter Auction to Benefit Local Pregnant Woman

According to organizer Vicki Hernandez, 21-year-old Jasmain Hoopes, a Hendry County resident, became ill in her pregnancy, causing her to experience an array of medical issues including malnourishment and partial blindness. She is now in need of at home physical therapy. Jasmain is currently 6 months pregnant, so a quarter Auction will be held to benefit mommy and her baby girl, who will make her debut in July. The fundraiser will be held on March 24 at 6 pm at the Clewiston Elks Lodge. Contact Vicki Hernandez to be a vendor or to make a donation.

Clewiston Commission Recognizes Employees of the Year

The City of Clewiston had its regularly scheduled commission meeting last night. They discussed community building projects, the employees of the year and a proclamation to honor the memory of former City Attorney Gary Brandenburg. City of Clewiston Mayor Kristine Petersen, along with the full commission, presented the proclamation to Mr. Brandenburg’s son. Congratulations to the employees of the year Ashley Smith from the City, Tenisha Cohens from the Clewiston Police Department, David Germany of Public Works, Joel Simmons of Public Utilities and Director Danny Williams. They also gave virtual hugs to each and every employee, group and volunteer, who made Sugar Festival 2022 an amazing success.