Thursday, 31 May 2007 01:00
Hurricane season starts Friday. Officials are getting ready - and asking residents to do the same.
If and when another storm comes through southwest Florida, thousands of residents may need temporary shelter. That’s where the American Red Cross comes in. Executive Director for the Red Cross in Lee County Heidi Ruster says one of the challenges is providing shelter for people with special needs.
"It’s very important that you work with your doctor and determine is there a need for you to be in a special needs shelter. Is there care requirements of having a medical personnel available that would have to sign for you to be in that special needs shelter."
Another challenge people face is what to do with their pets. Lee County Animal Service’s Ria Brown says pet owners need to have a plan.
"We want to encourage people, first of all not to rely on somebody else and to make sure that you know you have a plan for your pet and to take those steps for yourself"
For information on Red Cross shelters visit the Red Cross website. For information about pet shelters go to the Lee County Animal Services website.
Thursday, 31 May 2007 01:00
Florida Democratic U-S Senator Bill Nelson is travelling in Africa this week. Nelson says the trip is an effort to bring more attention to the problems of Darfur.
Senator Nelson visited Chad Thursday – getting there via Kenya and Uganda after being denied access to Sudanese air space. Nelson was accompanied by the U-S ambassador to Chad, Mark Wohl. The two visited a camp in Chad occupied by Sudanese refugees from Darfur. Earlier this week President Bush ordered sanctions on Sudan for the genocide occurring in Darfur. Nelson, speaking from Chad, says the president has the right idea but needs to do more to help end the violence.
“This effort should have been made two years ago. This slaughter has been going on for four years. I think the president has made a statement in the right direction. And it is my hope that he will put the full weight of the white house behind this effort in the remaining year that he has.”
Nelson says he wants to see a U-N force of at least 20-to-25 thousand troops in the area. He did say that some of those troops could be American. He says they could include pilots enforcing a no-fly-zone.
U-S Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida wants America to do more to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The senator was travelling with American ambassador to Chad, Mark Wohl, visiting refugee camps in the area. Wohl says the U-S is working with the U-N and the African union to try and find peace.
“We’re working constantly in the United Nations with our international partners to build up an international commitment to do whatever is possible to bring peace to Darfur and on the Chad Sudan border.”
Nelson says there has to be a U-N force in the region. But it all starts with leadership from the United States, which could mean some U-S troops. Earlier this week President Bush announced sanctions on the Sudanese government. Nelson also says Russia and China need to stop helping the Sudanese government and do the right thing.
Thursday, 31 May 2007 01:00
Members of Southwest Florida’s state legislative delegation were guests at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in Ft. Myers Wednesday.
Lawmakers briefed business leaders on what to expect from the upcoming special legislative session – aimed at reducing Floridian’s property tax burdens. Republican State Senator Burt Saunders says whatever the outcome, he thinks the state’s Save our Homes Amendment – which limits property tax increases on homesteaded properties – is here to stay.
“now that we are there however, Save our Homes is a permanent part of the Florida Constitution, I don’t believe that homesteaded property owners are going to do anything to change the constitutional amendment – it would require 60 vote of electorate to change that – and most people who vote are homesteaded property owners – so that’s not going to change.”
Saunders says therefore lawmakers have to work around the law. And that in the upcoming special session they need to find a way to make the system fairer for all ad valorem tax payers, business owners, second home owners and renters. The special session begins June 12th.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 01:00
Commuters in southwest Florida are dealing with more than crowded roadways these days. The biannual love bug infestation has been added to the equation.
A thirty minute commute on I-75 leaves cars splattered with love bug guts, and carwashes are doing a brisk business. That’s because love bugs not only blur windshields but can also corrode paint. But it’s not because they’re bodies are acidic. That’s according the author of “Living with Lovebugs” and director of the integrated pest management program at the University of Florida Dr. Norm Leppla.
“they are actually neutral until they get baked onto your car and then they turn acidic and penetrate the paint – so the way to protect your car is to keep a good coat of car wax on the front of it and get those love bugs off as soon as you can…if you do that you don’t have damage to the car.”
Love bugs are an alien invasive species which made their way to Florida from Central America around 1950...their present range is all the way north to South Carolina. Leppla says he believes environmental pathogens keep their population naturally in check in their traditional range, but that those checks are not present here in Southwest Florida.
And he says there’s very little research being done into ways to control the amorous bugs bi-annual love fest.
“it’s done as a hobby or a sidelight because we’d like to help, there’s no funding for it and its not a major part of our work…7:30 we put our energy into things that are a concern to public health and to agriculture and things that will be harmful and we put a low priority on nuisances even though they can be quite a pain in the neck…”
The good news – says Leppla…the current infestation is beginning to wane. The bad news – they’ll be back like clockwork in September or October.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 01:00
Roughly three thousand people turned out during the fourth annual Asia Fest recently in Fort Myers. WGCU’s Luis Hernandez was there and has this video postcard.
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 01:00
Many southwest Floridians enjoyed some time off Monday in honor of Memorial Day. Some went boating or beaching or shopping, or to the movies. Many others turned out at numerous Memorial Day services to honor the nation’s fallen soldiers. Hundreds of people – many aided by walkers, wheel chairs and canes – attended the annual day of Remembrance at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens. Producer Valerie Alker was there and prepared this audio postcard.
We heard from Dorian Gullage, Janine Deems, Bob Scott, Clem Concadora, Mary Lou Lock, Ralph Coltman, Chaplain David Goins, Jonathan Frantz and Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott. Lori Jerabeck sang the National Anthem.
Monday, 28 May 2007 01:00
MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS
The Veterans Council of Collier County is holding a ceremony at 9:30 am Monday at Naples Memorial Funeral Home and Cemetery at 525 111th Avenue in North Naples. 239-298-7935.
The Lexington Country Club Veterans Association is celebrating at 10:30 am Monday at 16225 Willow Crest Way. 239-437-1442.
American Legion Post 323 and VFW Post 4174 will have a service at 11 am Monday at Lee Memorial Park on State Road 82.
A field of nearly 3500 white crosses will be erected starting at 7 am Monday on the beach at Naples Pier at 12th Avenue South. Called Arlington South, the memorial remembers the soldiers killed in Iraq. At noon, taps will be played, and the soldiers’ names and ages will be read. 239-649-6863
The Memorial Day ceremony in Bonita Springs starts at 9 am Monday at Riverside Park. 239-949-6262.
American Legion Post 103 in Punta Gorda, and VFW Post 5690 in Port Charlotte, will hold a Memorial Day ceremony at Restlawn Memorial Gardens at 11 am Monday at 1380 Forrest Nelson Boulevard in Port Charlotte. 941-639-6337.
American Legion Post 110 in Port Charlotte is holding a ceremony and parade Monday in front of the post at 3152 Harbor Boulevard at 10 am. 941-629-7446.
American Legion Post 254 in North Port, and North Port VFW Post 8203’s Memorial Day service is at 11 am Monday at Memorial Park at U.S. 41 and Biscayne Drive with the North Port. 941-423-7311.
American Legion Post 159 in Venice will hold a Memorial Day service at 10 am today at the post at 1770 E. Venice Ave. 941-485-4748 or 941-484-8118.
The DeSoto County Veterans Service will hold a Memorial Day commemoration service to honor DeSoto County's fallen soldiers at 11 am at the DeSoto County Courthouse Veterans' Memorial in Arcadia. 863-993-4858.
Clyde Lassen VFW Post 10178 in Englewood is holding a service at 9 am at Gulf Pines Memorial Park on 2401 Englewood Road. 941-474-7516.
Friday, 25 May 2007 01:00
Friday, 25 May 2007 01:00
So far this year in Lee County there are no tragic stories to tell about children drowning. That's signifcant considering southwest Florida generally ranks as one of the top counties in the state for drowning deaths of children under 14. Parents just don't think it can happen to their kids, said a Health Department official during a recent 'safe pool party' in Fort Myers. WGCU's Luis Hernandez was there and has this report.
Thursday, 24 May 2007 01:00
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is preparing a legal challenge against Florida Power & Light’s proposed coal fueled power plant in Glades County.
Conservancy President – Andrew McElwaine – says they’re specifically appealing Glades County’s determination that the massive plant is consistent with growth management plans. And he says while he recognizes the state’s growing energy demands, this plant is not a proper solution…
“Now a smaller plant that represented the best technology like an integrated combined cycle plant I think we’d be open to discussing that with Florida Power & Light. But no this plant. This plant is really above and beyond what is appropriate for that landscape.”
FPL calls the proposed plant -quote “clean coal technology” – because it would burn powdered coal at super-high temperatures.
McElwaine says no matter what you call it…the plant would still emit nearly 200 pounds of mercury a year, in an environmentally sensitive area that’s already under mercury advisories. Glades commissioners…and many residents…support the plant – pointing to the economic benefit it would bring to the rural county.
A state administrative judge will be in Moore Haven beginning June 5th to hear from challengers and defenders of the proposed plant, which would sit about 5 miles from the small, rural town on the edge of Lake Okeechobee.
The massive coal burning power plant proposed by Florida Power & Light for rural Glades County continues to draw fire from environmental groups.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida says the plant is inconsistent with state and local growth management plans – and will be among the challengers at an administrative hearing set to begin June 5th in Moore Haven.
Conservancy President - Andrew McElwaine – says FPL’s proposal is the wrong choice.
“Glades County wants the power plant and I understand why, and we’re not against a power plant per se…we are against a 1.9 gigawatt pulverized coal plant that is not the latest technology.”
Called clean-burning by FPL…the plant would burn powdered coal at extremely high temperatures. It would be the biggest of its kind in the U-S.
McElwaine says clean-burning or not, it would still add roughly 200 pounds of mercury a year to a local ecosystem that’s already under mercury advisories.
In addition to the administrative hearing next month in Moore Haven the project also awaits sanction from the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities. Governor Charlie Crist and his cabinet have the final say on the matter.