New homeowners get keys to Habitat homes

MOORE HAVEN — Two Glades County residents received the harvest of their own sweat equity and Habitat for Humanity’s commitment to assisting lower-income individuals in finding affordable housing on Friday, Aug. 23.

Also, on Aug. 26 the Glades County Board deeded another single-family home lot it declared as surplus property to the Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity group, which operates here as well as in Charlotte, for construction of a home for a low-income local family.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Glades County residents Dana Steele and Jacquay Johnson were given the keys to their new homes during a dedication ceremony Aug. 23 at 185 and 199 Ave. M. Above, Trish Bellois, new H4H homeowner Ms. Johnson, Chasity Kosnik and Amy Bombace were all smiles during the event. The women with Ms. Johnson are from the Charlotte County Habitat office.

Habitat has already built two houses in Glades County, according to local Habitat spokeswoman Beth Mercer. She is the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service To America) for Glades County. A dedication ceremony took place at 185 and 199 Ave. M in Moore Haven for new Habitat homeowners Jacquay Johnson and Dana Steele.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Dana Steele and her daughter Kaylee.

Around 65 people were in attendance, and County Commissioner John Ahern and Moore Haven City Councilman Jake Eighner gave remarks. A closing prayer of dedication was offered by Pastor Cory Masterson from Moore Haven Church Of God.

County Administrative Secretary Susan Whidden told county commissioners at their meeting Monday the City of Moore Haven and Charlotte Habitat for Humanity (H4H) had asked that the county declare the home site at 211 Oakmont Ave. surplus property so that a deed could be prepared to transfer ownership from Glades County to H4H to better serve the community with housing. The lot has an assessed value of $7,385.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
The two recipients also were given gifts from several local businesses, including Providential Builders, Cafe 27 and Ellie’s Flower Shop.

“This home will continue to help a Glades County family achieve the dream of homeownership through the Habitat program. Together we will continue to address the affordable housing needs of those less fortunate in Glades County,” said the letter of request sent by Mike Mansfield, CEO of Charlotte H4H.

At the county meeting, Commissioner Donna Storter Long questioned whether the board needed to accomplish the action via resolution rather than a simple motion since it had to do so previously.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Gabrielle Reineck, senior director of outreach for Charlotte H4H, stands with homeowners and others during the dedication opening.

County Board Chairman Tim Stanley asked County Attorney Richard Pringle to clarify. He said there were several ways under state statutes to donate surplus county property to a nonprofit such as H4H, suggesting that the county staff could create and the board could approve an inventory list of available publicly owned properties that would be suitable as home sites. Then, he encouraged the board to do that but also said their way of doing it Monday night was legally fine, too, under a different state statute.

H4H has local office now
Mr. Stanley said he totally supports the Habitat program but was concerned that adjacent property owners should be made aware the county is disposing of a property so they could have a chance to look at it if they might be interested in purchasing it. Staff said they would be able to do that in the future if it hadn’t already been done.

Ms. Mercer also said the group has established office space at the J.J. Wiggins Youth Center building, 1765 N. U.S. 27 in Moore Haven. Their office inside the building, which is owned by fellow nonprofit agency the J.J. Wiggins Memorial Trust, is open daily, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their number is 863-301-4798.

The main H4H office is at 1750 Manzana Ave., Punta Gorda, FL 33950; 941-639-3162.

To learn more about the organization and its various projects, go online to On Facebook, search for Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity to find them.

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