LABELLE — The Hendry County Board voted Aug. 27 to convey a surplus antique fire truck, Engine 56 which went into service in 1950, to the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corp. (LDRC) for $1.
Commissioner Karson Turner asked to pull the item from the board’s consent agenda to discuss the donation briefly with fellow board members.
According to the staff report from Office of Management and Budget Coordinator H. Ian Proverbs, the clerk’s office sought disposition of the vehicle because it had been listed at public auctions seven years ago but received no bids; its engine is obsolete; it’s not working and can’t be used for spare parts.
The county board’s resolution to dispose of the vehicle by donating it to the nonprofit LDRC, says that the organization “applied to (the county) for donation of the fire truck to be used to promote and preserve history, culture and architecture in the Downtown District.” The only condition was that “the corporation shall be responsible for all labor necessary to relocate the fire truck from the County Road and Bridge (Department) compound.”
Commissioner Turner remarked: “I’d like for us to not only give that to them but I’d really like for us to have a proactive conversation with either taking Tourism Development (Council, TDC) dollars or … I don’t want to touch any of Shane’s budget (Public Works Director Shane Parker’s) … but, I just think that we don’t need to make that organization go out of pocket to refurbish something that is going to essentially be a gem that we want to have … encouraging visits, and so I think that’s something we ought to look at.”
Commissioner Darrell Harris replied, “I don’t think they are.
Questioned by Mr. Turner, he added, “They are going to take it, but I don’t think they’re going to do anything out of pocket.”
Commissioner Michael Swindle asked, “They want it refurbished?”
Mr. Harris answered that the LRDC does, “and I think they have somebody in mind.”
With that, Commissioner Turner moved and Mr. Harris seconded that the donation be made. It was approved 5-0.
The Hendry County Board also took several actions after public hearings:
• Approved the rezoning of 238 acres along CR 835, southeast of Clewiston and immediately south of the Weekly Industrial Park, from agricultural to heavy industrial.
• Assented to a special exception for 0.34 acres at 712 Georgia Ave., Harlem, to allow the establishment of a child daycare facility by Carol Mixon-Rushing. Commissioner Swindle remarked: “Glad to see it. I know the Rushing family, it’s a good family. They are longtime teachers and in health care. I’m glad to see them opening a business.”
• Approved an amendment to a previously OK’d Planned Unit Development that approved mining at Circle C Farms, 765 Mims Road, to add agricultural processing to the list of uses permitted. The PUD was put in place in 2010 for a previous owner; the new owner who purchased the property in 2012 established a slaughterhouse that was not properly permitted. This resulted in code enforcement action that resulted in a court order to follow the process. County Attorney Mark Lapp explained that the amendment was to close the code case and bring the slaughterhouse operation into compliance.
In consent agenda actions, the county board:
• Authorized the chairman to execute a contract with Kissinger Campo & Associates for the design of curve safety improvements on County Road 835, including at the curve where the turnoff for CR 846 is, in an amount not to exceed $305,978. The Florida Department of Transportation is financing the improvements through a Local Agency Program Agreement with Hendry County, and the total cost is set at $1,523,136. Five curves will be improved, but the actual construction work will not start for well over a year. Commissioner Turner asked that the document be posted on the county’s website, anticipating public criticism over the time frame, which he said he would understand because of the conditions of the road and the number of his constituents who must use it daily to commute to jobs.
• Approved a change order in the amount of $56,623, requested by staff, for the contract with Chris-Tel Construction for remediation of the facades of the administrative and judicial wings of the non-historic courthouse building. The purposes are to address unforeseen issues and also improve accesses to the courthouse so they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Approved a resolution accepting the reappointment of two members of the Hendry County TDC, Daniel Peregrin and Hillary Hyslope, to renewed terms ending in 2023.