Friday, August 18, 2017

Hiking The Florida Keys - A Walk Across Florida

Excerpts From A Walk Across Florida by Bob Kranich
I checked my map and looked south down the highway towards the Keys. I could expect a raised causeway, about 10 miles of Everglades swamp, and 10 miles of mangroves. It looked like the mangroves would be high on each side, so I couldn’t expect much breeze. The raised causeway is what Flagler’s two dredges built. The railroad was built on it where the highway is now. In April of 1905 two of Flagler’s huge traveling dredges set out from what now is the Florida City area, south heading for Cross Key to Jewfish Creek. The dredges worked side by side with the marked right-of-way in the middle. They piled up the fill between them making a canal on each side and the raised causeway in the center.

As the dredges moved along, rock was brought in and spread on top of the causeway and then tracks laid…..

Why build a railroad to Key West? One may ask.

There were a few reasons. We would be able to trade with Cuba. The Spanish American War with Spain was over, thus the Panama Canal could be completed. Key West, which was then the largest city in Florida with approximately 20,000 inhabitants, had a very nice economy and a natural deep-water harbor. That harbor and its location in the Caribbean would make it an obvious choice for trade from the Panama Canal and the Caribbean nations.

I started off with Australian pines lining the road on both sides. It was a narrow two-lane road so I was on the left side facing traffic. The Sunday traffic was fierce and heavy, but most of it was coming from behind me going to the beaches. Some kids went by in an open flatbed truck playing drums and mariachis. I got hot and stopped to cool off in the canal. I saw a big bass dart away and then some small minnows nibbled on my feet. Since I had left the Australian pines behind me there was no shade, so I just sat there and evaporated off.

All day, as I hiked along, I had to wave back at people. I guessed they didn’t see many hikers. When there was a break in the mangroves, I could feel an occasional breeze as well as a salt smell in the air, not entirely ocean, still some Everglades memories. I tried to get a photo of the ospreys which had some nests on the poles along the highway, but they seemed to scare easily and stayed away. This was sure a long straight stretch. The side of the road was marl and rough coral rocks, really putting my boot soles to the test. I almost felt like I would flake out! Then up ahead I saw a rise in the road. I figured that it must be a Florida flood control canal. It was at least a mile or so away but I poured on the speed and moved out with a last thrust of energy.

It was nice under the bridge, real cool with the breeze moving up the canal. I lay down like I was about to die. After a nice rest I ate my meager rations and drank some old canal water. I was back out on the highway, and in a couple of miles I came to a marina. I stopped for snacks and some fresh water. I had a long talk with some people who had seen me in the morning, on their way out to the beaches. I guessed that is why so many people waved at me the next five miles. They had seen me in the morning when they were driving out to have some fun and relaxation. Here it was late in the afternoon, and this guy is still hiking in the sun!

The traffic coming back from the Keys towards me was solid. Sometimes it stopped, bumper to bumper. Everyone was waving and hollering at me, actually encouraging me. It was like I was a one-man parade and they were all bystanders waving, hollering and whooping. What a time! The enthusiasm just carried me along.

About the Author: After getting out of the Army Bob Kranich backpacked from the Georgia border to Key West in a 40 day adventure walk across Florida. His recently published book A Walk Across Florida is available from his website or

Thursday, August 17, 2017

United Way Opens New Office

Moore Haven, FL  – United Way of Hendry and Glades celebrated the opening of a United Way House in Moore Haven with a ribbon cutting and open house on July 28th. The Moore Haven United Way House is located at 200 Second Street.

United Way Houses bring services to the communities where they are needed. The Moore Haven United Way House provides space for agencies to assist clients, making multiple resources available to residents in one location. Hope Connections is the lead partner agency for the United Way House.

“By partnering with United Way, Hope Connections can better serve our most vulnerable seniors in Hendry and Glades counties,” said Samira K. Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope Healthcare. “Last year, Hope provided more than 24,000 meals through home delivery and at Hope Care Centers like the one in the new Moore Haven House.”

With the addition of the Moore Haven House, there are a total of 19 United Way Houses throughout Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee Counties.

Over 80 people attended the ribbon cutting, and many toured the facility. Speakers included: Representative Cary Pigman and Glades County Manager Paul Carlisle. Additional speakers were Matt Hudson, Hope Healthcare Vice-President; Cliff Smith, President of the United Way; and Lisa Sands, Manager of the LaBelle United Way House.

Cliff Smith welcomed the crowd and thanked many people for their attendance including the Glades County Commissioners, School Board Members, School Superintendent Scott Bass, and United Way Partner Agency representatives. “Having a United Way House in Moore Haven is a priority for United Way, and we are thrilled that we are cutting the ribbon today on this new location,” said Smith.

“The idea behind the United Way Houses is that agencies can come together and offer their services to the community under one roof, and create an environment of collaboration and partnership. Last year, our 19 houses served over 310,000 individuals in our communities and this House will bring an increase in the numbers of families who are helped here in Moore Haven,” he concluded.

Lisa Sands presented special Community Partnership Awards to thank those involved in making the House a reality including: the Glades County Commissioners and County Manager Paul Carlisle; Shannon Hall of the Glades Electric Charitable Trust; Tommy Perry of Johnson-Prewitt; Micki Morgan of Clyde Johnson Contracting; and United Way Allocations Team Leader Scott Bass. Arlene Bettencourt, a former United Way employee, received special recognition for advocating bringing services to Moore Haven for many years.

A local network of 27 United Way Partner Agencies will receive funds from the United Way of Hendry and Glades fundraising campaign. All money raised in the United Way campaign stays in the local community to help support the local human service network. These agencies include: Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT), The Salvation Army, Harry Chapin Food Bank, RCMA, Children’s Advocacy Center, Child Care of Southwest Florida, Healthy Families, and many others.

In addition to raising funds for human service organizations in our community, the United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies, helping them to work together focusing on issues and solutions that continue to improve lives.

Seniors Get Food Help In Hendry/Glades

Eligible seniors have four new enrollment dates to sign up for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) at Hope Connections. Qualified low-income seniors can sign up for the monthly distribution of 30 to 35 pounds of nutritious food on these dates and times:

 Aug. 22 and Aug. 28: Clewiston, 9 a.m. to noon, 1200 S WC Owen Ave. Phone: 863-983- 8942

 Aug: 25 and Aug. 30: Moore Haven, 9 a.m. to noon, 200 Second St. Phone: 863-946- 0366.

The CSFP program, run by the state agriculture department and operated by the Harry Chapin Food
Bank of Southwest Florida, is expanding in Hendry and Glades counties. The Harry Chapin Food Bank is seeking to increase the number of clients who participate in CSFP from 296 to 1,450.

They include clients like John, 71, who doesn’t have a car and can’t always get a ride to Hope Connections to pick up his CSFP food. But he manages to improvise. For the last CSFP distribution, John drove his riding lawn mower to Hope Connections, about a mile away from his home.

He’s done that several times so he can pick up the food he needs, John said. “It helps me a lot. I can get the juice. I love the juice. Everything they give me helps me.” The food package includes fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk, peanut butter/dry beans, potatoes/grains and more.

The lawn mower John drives is partially melted on one side. It had been in a fire, but he got a good deal on it and knew how to fix it, he said. “I’m not too good at making it, but I do the best I can.”

He was very grateful and happy" said Kristina Rodriguez, Hope Connections manager. "We are always humbled and proud to serve each day...but he reminds us ten-fold why rural programs matter when we meet seniors like him."

To qualify for CSFP, an applicant must be at least 60 years old and earn a gross income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. For example, a two-person household with an annual gross income of $21,172 would qualify.

The CSFP expansion is needed, said Samira Beckwith, president and CEO of Hope Connections, which has offices in LaBelle, Moore Haven and Clewiston. “Since we’ve worked here in Hendry and Glades for so many years, we know there’s real need and limited resources. We have people on all kinds of waiting lists for our different services. Somehow Hendry and Glades are often forgotten - the people of Hendry and Glades.”

The healthy food seniors receive aims to keep them from having to make hard choices like eating or
paying bills or buying medicine. So far, Harry Chapin Food Bank has signed up 1,102 clients for Hendry and Glades counties, with 348 needed.

The breakdown is:

 879 clients for Hendry County, with 161 needed

 223 clients in Glades County, with 187 needed

Seniors in Hendry and Glades counties interestet in applying for CSFP can also go to the Hope
Connections location in LaBelle at the Nobles Senior Center, 475 East Cowboy Way, during business
hours. Phone: 863-675-1576

Seniors may also call Annie Noel, CSFP coordinator at the Harry Chapin Food Bank, 239-334- 7007, ext.143 or email:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ryan Kinsey Dies In Motorcycle Crash Incident

Ryan J. Kinsey, 28 of El Paso, TX died after a hit and run crash Tuesday night at 11:47 p.m. in Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida.

A 2013 Harley Davidson Motorcycle was traveling northbound on US 41 (SR45) south of Cedar Creek Dr. when Kinsey fell off the bike onto the roadway and came to final rest in the right lane of US 41.

The motorcycle came to final rest north in the right lane of US 41 north of Kinsey. A Ford Taurus was traveling northbound in the right lane of US 41 approaching Cedar Creek Dr. and collided with Kinsey and continued traveling northbound on US 41 in an unknown direction.

It was described as Tan or Grey Ford Taurus. This crash remains under investigation

How To Protect Eyes During The Florida Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, Florida will experience a partial solar eclipse, and the Florida Department of Health reminds all Floridians to enjoy this rare event safely by following simple precautions and using proper protection. Severe retinal damage can occur from looking directly at the sun.

"The solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event that I'm sure many of us will want to experience,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. "I look forward to viewing the eclipse safely using approved solar eclipse glasses, and I encourage all of Florida's residents and visitors to practice caution while driving or walking outdoors during the period of darkness.”

Because Florida will not experience a total solar eclipse, it will not be safe the view the eclipse without the use of special solar filters like eclipse glasses. Sunglasses are not eclipse glasses. Not all glasses that market themselves as "eclipse glasses” are safe. Approved glasses have filters that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for safety. A list of vendors for approved eclipse glasses can be viewed on the American Astronomical Society (AAS) website. During the eclipse, be sure to take breaks and avoid staring at the sun for long periods of time, even with eclipse glasses.

Take simple precautions to protect your vision before, during and after the solar eclipse:
Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter;
Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device;
Always supervise children using solar filters; and
Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

You can read more about solar eclipse safety on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Eclipse 101 website.