Hendry County families have unmet needs from Irma damage

LABELLE — The Hendry County Board of Commissioners talked about residents still needing help to recover from Hurricane Irma damages during their Dec. 17 meeting in the commission chambers in LaBelle.

The meeting opened with the reorganization and appointments for the 2019-2020 board of commissioners. Appointed to represent the Hendry commission at the Florida Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization was Mitchell Wills. Appointed to represent Hendry County for Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP) was Karson Turner, with Mitchell Wills as an alternate representative.

Some confusion was expressed about what the Hendry-Glades County Community Alliance was. “Mr. Chair, I’m embarrassed to ask this, what’s the Hendry-Glades Counties Community Alliance?” Silence overcame the room as no one had an answer. “I’m not as embarrassed anymore, because y’all don’t know, either,” said Commission Chairman Karson Turner.

Margaret England presented a snapshot regarding Hurricane Irma recovery and the local advisory board formed by volunteers, known as the Hendry-Glades Unmet Needs Coalition. She explained on how funds were used from local fundraising, Red Cross, Kiwanis and other entities. Ms. England reported that 76 homes were repaired or are under repair, and 283 families were referred to disaster case management. They plan to continue to make sure they seek families in need and provide safe and secure housing for them. Commissioners Darrell Harris and Emma Byrd both reported that they knew of people in their districts who still have not received help. Lisa Sands of the LaBelle United Way House recommended that they call 211 to see if they qualify for assistance or to follow up on qualifications. The commissioners praised the Unmet Needs Coalition, thanking them for all their hard work.

In other business at the Dec. 17 meeting:
• The commissioners rejected the bids for Architectural and Structural Engineering Services for Jail and Jail Annex Facility. Only one bid was received.
• The RFQ (request for qualifications) on Architectural and Structural Engineering Services for Clewiston Sub-Office was scheduled for further discussion and investigation.
• The commissioners adopted an amendment to the Hendry County Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map. BHT Properties Group LLC represented Johnson – Prewitt & Associates Inc., 4164 County Road 833, Clewiston. The applicant requested changing the future land use designation from agriculture to industrial on the subject property.
• A Land Development Code amendment — to change the Hendry County Code of Ordinances Airglades Planned Industrial District (APID) and create a new zoning district called Airport Operations Planned District (AOPD) and rezone land from APID and A-2 to AOPD was presented by Margaret Emblidge. There was no public comment, and this agenda item was approved to move forward by unanimous vote (5-0.)

The last part of the meeting consisted of district reports and comments from commissioners. Commissioner Michael Swindle urged Chairman Turner to heavily advertise Pioneer community meetings to encourage attendance and input. Commissioner Byrd asked for a public hearing in order to allow for legal and safe nighttime driving of golf carts, and making possible amendments to the existing golf cart ordinance.

The commission normally meets twice each month on the second Tuesday at Clewiston City Hall, Commission Chambers, 115 W. Ventura Ave., Clewiston; and the fourth Tuesday in the Hendry County Courthouse, Commission Chambers, 25 E. Hickpochee Ave., LaBelle.

Meetings are also livestreamed on the Hendry County Facebook page. Meetings start at 5 p.m. unless otherwise announced.

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