Clewiston, LaBelle, Belle Glade, Moore Haven, Lake Okeechobee - Sunday Morning News

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for Hendry, Glades and western Palm Beach County

(Archived Page From February 22, 2004)

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Dealers Take Car Buyers For A Ride

Former LaBelle Dodge manager alleges rip-offs

Brett Sams talks to CBS News

LABELLE, FL. (Feb. 22, 2004) -- CBS News, in a recently broadcast investigative report, interviewed a group of car buyers and dealership managers, who allege some car dealers manipulate finance contracts of consumers, ripping them off using fraudulent and unfair business practices. A group of Florida car buyers, the report said, are suing their dealers for being taken for thousands of dollars in extra charges.

In photo at left, former LaBelle Dodge Chrysler Jeep manager Brett Sams talks to CBS News investigative reporter Jim Acosta about car dealership scams.

Standing alongside the disgruntled consumers are automotive industry insiders, blowing the whistle on unfair business practices at car dealerships. Brett Sams, former manager at Plattner's LaBelle Dodge Chrysler Jeep said "My specialty was doctoring the credit application and making you feel good about paying 12, 14 percent interest when you could have gotten six." Another former dealership manager said "I was taught to steal money from taking advantage of people who trusted in me." Sams said he felt remorse about his past in the automotive business and wants dealers to stop using their deceptive business practices against consumers.

Citrus Quarantine Reduced in HendryLABELLE, FL. (Feb. 16, 2004) -- The Florida Department of Agriculture has reduced a citrus quarantine area in Montura from 16 square miles to about 4 square miles. There are three other quarantined areas in Hendry county due to citrus canker: Pioneer and Everhigh area (19 sq. miles), Sears Road area 2 sq. miles),and western Hendry county (4 sq. miles). Refer to this link for maps of the affected areas where citrus cannot be removed or planted:

In The Service

Army Spec. Terry A. Sotolongo has deployed to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, to serve as a member of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) contingency on the peninsula. The MFO is comprised of 12 nations on a peacekeeping mission to enforce the Camp David Accord signed between Israel and Egypt in 1979.

During the deployment, the soldiers will participate in combat water survival training in the Red Sea, and qualify for the Expert Infantry Badge during squad live-fire exercises and rifle competition. The specialist is a personnel service clerk with 11 years of military service. He is the grandson of Ethel Johnson of W. Obispo St., Clewiston.

Sheriff Introduces Project Lifesaver

LABELLE, FL. (Feb. 20, 2004) -- Hendry County Sheriff Steve Worley introduced a new program being deployed in Hendry County, Project Lifesaver. Project Lifesaver is an innovative rapid response program aiding victims and families suffering from Alzheimer's disease and related disorders such as Down Syndrome and Autism.The Project Lifesaver program works by electronically tracking a small transmitter worn by the client, which enables the search team to effectively locate the person.

Currently across the United States, the program has proven to be very successful, recovering lost persons in an average time of less than 30 minutes. Over 870 searches that have been conducted using the Project Lifesaver Program have resulted in every person being found alive.

Fifteen law enforcement officers with the Hendry County Sheriffs Department received specialized training from the Project Lifesaver national staff in the operation of the equipment and in conducting the special search procedures in January 2004.

Grandparent Caregiving Without a Choice

by Barbara Marshall

Among the many reasons you as a grandparent may be needed to care for a grandchild is that the parent may be unable to do as a result of drug or alcohol dependency. Your challenge is twofold: you are required to balance the added stress of parenting your grandchild as well as the ongoing demands of parenting an adult child who is a substance abuser. You must search for a way to manage both sets of responsibility without getting crushed in between. In all likelihood, the parent has been addicted since before the birth of the child. The children only serve to make an already difficult situation that much more complex. The impact of all decisions, actions, conflicts, and disagreements must now be weighed in terms of their potential impact on the well being of a child.

Under such difficult and emotionally conflicting circumstances, you should be aware that there is rarely ever a "win-win" solution to any given problem situation. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer, and whenever it's present, someone invariably gets hurt. Your role as a grandparent is not to feel responsible for stopping all hurts from happening but to minimize the damage in whatever way possible.

Make safety your top priority. While you may find your adult child's substance abuse problem difficult to handle, you should know that having a substance abuse problem in itself does not make an individual dangerous. Simply being exposed to a chemically dependent person is not necessarily damaging to a child. Supervised visits may be the only option for a parent who cannot adequately account for the well being of the child. And remember, a parent who is actively under the influence of any substance is always a safety risk.

Understand that your relationship with the parent will be very different from your grandchild's relationship with the same parent. Your grandchild has not experienced the ongoing conflicts you have had with the parent. Thus, your grandchild's perceptions of his or her parent will be very different from yours. Therefore, never deny the parent access to the child solely based on your disagreements with the parent. You may rarely agree with the parent's lifestyle or choices, but these alone should not stand in the way of the parent's ability to build a separate (and even loving) relationship with his or her child.

Support for Family Caregivers

Are you a caring for a loved one 60 years of age or older? Are you a grandparent 60 years of age or older raising a grandchild? You are welcome to attend the Family Caregiver Support Group. Support groups are held each month. The next group will take place on February 25, 2004 at 4 p.m. Moore Haven Senior Center (Moore Haven.) Topic of discussion will be: Financial & Legal Issues - Planning for the Future by the Alzheimerís Association. For additional information contact Barbara Marshall at (863)675-1446.


Volunteer Training will be held on February 24, 2004 from 2 - 4 p.m. at the L. J. Nobles Senior Center in LaBelle. Bring a friend and learn about volunteer opportunities in LaBelle. Call Barbara Marshall (863)675-1446 for more information.



My sixteen year old grandson was on his way to Labelle High School, he was stopped by a local man and beat up. The sheriffs department was call twice and did not response to these calls. Later the local man was call and ASKED to come to the sheriffs department to give himself up. Why is this man not in jail, there was two witness to this. I always thought beating up on a minor was against the law. Does this not hold true in your small town.This action should not go on anywhere. Would some one please contact me on this matter.

-Connie Gahafer

For Sale - Port LaBelle Building Lots

Great quarter-acre Port LaBelle investments in beautiful area, ready to build with water and electric in block. Near Collingswood and Eucalyptus Circle. Email.

For Sale - Clewiston Harlem lot, invest in the future or build your home here and retire! Email.

Wanted - Hendry County lot or home: Do you own a LaBelle area lot or home in any condition you need to sell quickly? Email the location, address and your selling price, and I'll give you a quick answer. No closing costs to seller, and cash in days. Email.


Ripped Off By Car Dealers? Save Thousands on Cars, Trucks

Former top-selling auto and truck salesman from Plattner LaBelle Dodge Chrysler Jeep is available for consumer consultation on car and truck buying. Four-year's experience at large Plattner Dodge dealership will save you thousands on your next car purchase anywhere. Learn to avoid the car dealer "tricks" in car sales. Email if you've been ripped off.

Computer Alerts

Like all computer users, we've been receiving 95% junk email with many containing various viruses that may destroy computer files. To do a free check of your computer for existing viruses and some free ways to eliminate them from your computer, go to

Symantec, a well-known software company, provides the free service in their "computer security check" section of the webpage. The free virus check may turn up viruses you didn't know you had. Try it, and help the world eliminate the viruses coming daily through emails.

Be very careful about emails telling you to go to Ebay or Amazon, etc. to update your personal information. These are fake emails and look very convincing. If you click on the links you will not be going to the legitimate business site. If in doubt go directly to your business website to look at your personal info, but don't click on the links in the email if it's asking for anything personal to be updated.

The best tip to reduce the possibilities of your computer becoming infected, is to not open any attachments to email you may receive, or go to websites mentioned in unsolicited emails.


From the Hendry Courthouse

The official records index (deeds, mortgages, liens etc ) is now available on the Internet go Clerk's website, click on Official Records,, read disclaimer then click of I Agree. This takes you to the statewide official records database.

(The comments in the Letters section are not necessarily the opinions of the editor of the Sunday Morning E-News or its sponsors, and are the expressions of Sunday Morning News readers. Ed.)

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StratoNet - Internet access for Labelle

New internet access for LaBelle by StratoNet. StratoNet, serving Florida since 1992 offers the LaBelle community a local internet access number. StratoNet has been in the internet business since 1992, and is one of the oldest internet service providers in the state, and now offers LaBelle area internet users a local phone number to access the internet. Rates include unlimited access to a local phone number to access the internet from the LaBelle area. StratoNet has unlimited free technical support for customers and free personal web page space. Call 888-382-8503 or go to for details.

StratoNet service also in Lee, Collier, and Okeechobee counties as well as 14 other south and central Florida counties!

Phone toll-free 1-888-382-8503 StratoNet to sign up today!


Are you looking for the perfect wedding accessories to compliment your wedding attire? Check out Connie Killebrew's Veils Etc...Specializing in the design and creation of wedding veils, headpieces, hats, purses and a variety of other bridal accessories. Call 863-674-1412.


Need computer help? Contact Gary Peters by email or visit the website of Gary Peters Computer Services.

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