Dates to Remember
April 7, 2023 – Good Friday Holiday – City Offices Closed
April 17, 2023 City Commission Meeting
April 20, 2023 - Golf Course Advisory Board Meeting
Office of the City Manager
Citizens, Business Owners & Other Interested Parties:
Following the last census, federal congressional districts were reshaped in Florida as they are after each ten year period. The result for Clewiston was representation by a new Congressman Scott Franklin effective this year. Previous to the change Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart had represented Clewiston and Hendry County.
We were blessed with unwavering support from Congressman Diaz-Balart for a number of years. Specifically in the last couple of years before the change, his strong support for Clewiston resulted in the City being approved for almost a million dollars in grant funding in 2022 to continue streetscape improvements to the section of Ventura Avenue between Deane Duff and W.C. Owen. The City is in the process of planning those improvements with the design, bidding and construction process to follow. In his last budget action before the district boundary and representation change took effect in January, 2023, Congressman Diaz-Balart championed the City’s request for financial assistance to begin the effort to upgrade and expand the vintage early 1980s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) which serves the area in and around the City in eastern Hendry County. The City was approved for $3 million in federal funding to begin initial design, permitting and first phase improvements for this essential large priority capital project.
In recent months, the City also filed a request for WWTP funding with the Florida Legislative delegation for an additional $11 million which is currently being considered. The state legislative request is supported by our excellent delegation comprised of State Senator Kathleen Passidomo and State Representative Lauren Melo who are sponsoring the project funding request for inclusion in the state budget. Clewiston is further blessed to have these two fine public servants representing our community on the state level. Although there is no guarantee and a long process remains before the state budget is finalized, city officials are optimistic about our chances to receive state funding. Whatever the outcome of this year’s WWTP appropriation request, city officials are confident our elected state legislative delegation members will do their very best to help us achieve our goal of improving this critical infrastructure piece which is so vital to the future of the entire eastern section of Hendry County including the City. Not coincidentally, the City’s efforts to secure state support for the WWTP project funding have been boosted by the unwavering support received from the Hendry County Commissioners and staff and the Hendry County Economic Development Council.
As for the process going forward in terms of continued federal government support from our new Congressman, I am pleased to report that the relationship thus far has been awesome. Congressman Franklin’s staff have been in close communications with city officials before and during the transition period. They will soon announce their plans to continue the tradition started by Congressman Diaz-Balart of providing mobile office hours in Clewiston periodically. In fact, planning is underway to get that outreach service started in collaboration with city officials in May of this year. The Congressman’s staff have also been extremely supportive of the City pursuing additional federal funding for infrastructure needs including the WWTP project which will be critical if collective funding efforts to date fall short of the total need. Given the overall fluctuations in capital project costs due to inflationary pressures being experienced of late and the length of time a project of this scale entails, the City cannot take for granted that current projections for the total project cost will be adequate. It is possible, additional funding could be needed when the project design and bidding stages occur, so it is only prudent that the City have contingency plans for identifying any needed additional funding resources to prevent further project delays.
With the significant opportunities for Clewiston and Hendry County to see positive economic growth in the coming years, it is absolutely imperative that the City’s critical utility infrastructure be in place to meet ongoing demand while satisfying state and federal regulatory requirements and preserving the wonderful quality of life we enjoy. To be able to accomplish the referenced WWTP project upgrade and expansion with the requested federal and state financial support will be a key achievement for the community and its citizens, businesses and visitors. I look forward to keeping the community apprised of how these efforts progress in the months ahead.
Thank you for your continued support and interest in the City of Clewiston.
Recreation & Leisure Services Director Lauren McGinnis reports:
This month we were thrilled to host the Sweetest Taste competition to kick off the week of Sugar Festival. It was so nice to see not only those who entered the contest but also all of the families come out to enjoy the festivities. It was a great way to kick off a fun filled week celebrating our sweet town!
We rounded out Sugar Festival week with the Clewiston Police Department taking on the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department in one of the best games this season! The stands were packed and the field was perfect for both teams to show their skills. It was a great game full of laughs, the Police Department even got a few new members for the game.
The renovation of the City Pool is going great! We are thrilled to be on track for this summer. While the renovations are in the repair stage, the splash pad will remain closed. This is to ensure the safety of any who enter the area. As soon as the pool is repaired and the pipes are replaced we will notify everyone of its reopening. Check social media for more up to date details.
The 1st Annual Easter Egg hunt is coming up! We are thrilled to bring another FREE community event to life. There will be an Easter Egg Hunt in Civic Park by the Gazebo at 10 am and will be followed with pictures with the Easter Bunny, games, bounce houses, and so much more. We hope the whole family will come out and enjoy the event!
YMCA is hosting summer camp again this year. Signups are currently open. For more information please go to https://www.ymcaswfl.org/summer-camp.
The Youth Center is open daily. The hours of operation for students to enjoy our building are 2:30 – 6:00 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. on Friday. We invite all of our youth to come and enjoy all of the board games, books, xbox game systems, and 3D printers at the Youth Center every day after school.
Are you or your student looking for volunteer hours? We have opportunities here for you! We are looking for volunteers to run a club afterschool, as well as help students when they need it. If you or someone you know is interested please give us a call.
If you have any pictures enjoying any of our parks or facilities that you would like to share please tag us on facebook or email them to email@example.com. We love to see our community enjoying the many spaces we have to offer.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook for up to date information on all events and activities going on at the Youth Center.
Library Director Natasha Hayes reports:
• Library staff provided ready reference/computer assistance, circulation activities, and patron programming to 1, 689 patrons this month.
• This month’s programming activities have included:
o There were 35 participants who completed March’s scavenger hunt challenge. Be sure to check out the new theme and find what’s hidden around the library.
o Crafternoon Wood Mosaic Art was held on Wednesday, March 8 with a total of 12 participants.
o Drop-In Craft was held on Wednesday March 15 with a total of 14 participants.
o Video Game Club was held every Tuesday with a total of 58 participants. Make sure to swing by the library and join the fun!
o Anime Club Via Zoom and In-Person was held every Monday and Friday with a total of 21 participants.
o Giant Game Day was held on Wednesday, March 22 with a total of 23 participants.
o LEGO Builders Club was held on Thursday, March 23 with a total of 11 participants. This month’s challenge was to build an under the sea themed.
o At this time 54 patrons have utilized the free tax assistance services provided through VITA United Way at the library. Please call and make your appointment for free tax preparation and filling for individuals earning less than $66,000 a year.
o AWE Learning Stations were accessed and used by a total of 49 children. The AWE learning computer will allow young children the ability to learn about Literacy, Math, Science & Nature, Art & Music, and Writing & Computer Skills. Make sure to stop by and let the kids try it out!
Highlighted Programs and Events:
• Scavenger Hunt: Stop by the library anytime starting Wednesday, April 5 until Friday, April 21 to find the rabbits and solve the riddle!
• Super Smash Bros Tournament: Test your skills and enjoy some friendly competition. Registration begins April 11.
• Crafternoon String Basket: Get creative! Join the fun on Wednesday, April 12 at 3:30 p.m. Please call the library or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Children ages 8-12. This program is designed for children and accompanying adults.
• Book Club: Come join the fun at our next TWO meetings: Monday, April 17 at 2:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. to discuss the newest book club title, “The Maid ” by Nita Prose. With lively discussions, this group truly enjoys their meetings as they exchange their thoughts about each new title. New readers are always welcome.
• Afterschool Club: Don’t miss out! Join us for Snack Decorating Wednesday, April 19 at 3:45 p.m. Please pre-register by phone 863-983-1493 or email email@example.com
• LEGO Builders Club: Love LEGO bricks? Come join in the club and build your own masterpiece! LEGO Club meets again on Thursday, April 27 at 3:30 p.m. This is a free STEAM activity aimed for children aged 5-12.
• Anime and Manga Club
o In-Person (Open to 6th-12th graders): Anime Club meets every Friday from 3:30 -4:15 p.m. Come hang out and chat with other Anime fans. We will be watching anime provided courtesy of Crunchyroll and talking about your favorite manga.
o Via Zoom: We invite tweens and teens to join us every Monday at 3:30 p.m. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive Zoom log-in information. If you are under 18, please be sure to have a guardian’s permission to participate in this online event.
• Video Game & VR Club: You don’t want to miss this! Stop in at 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday for video games. We have Beat Saber, Roller Coaster Ride, Super Smash Bro’s, Mario Kart, Minecraft, Animal Crossing and the Oculus Quest! Open to all skill levels. Children ages 7 and up. Walk-ins welcome, but registering is always encouraged for better preparation.
• Amnesty Week: We are celebrating National Library Week by offering Amnesty Week from April 24 to April 28. Some restriction may apply. Please inquire at the circulation desk.
• Silly Eggs Hunt: We’re having silly eggs hunt all day on Wednesday, April 26 with a twist! Find an egg hidden in the library, tell us the joke or riddle inside, and win a prize!Stop by and have some fun!
• FREE Comic Book Day: The library is gearing up for FREE Comic Book Day in May. Stay tuned for more information.
FREE Tax Preparation: The library is partnering with VITA United Way to host free tax preparation on Thursdays during this tax filling season. IRS certified United Way volunteers prepare taxes for FREE for households earning 66,000 or less per year. Book your appointment today! Call the library at 863-983-1493.
Tax forms available at the library: A limited number of tax forms and instructions booklets are available at the library. If we don’t have the form you need, we can help you print it off from the IRS website. Please consider calling ahead to make sure the library has tax forms currently available.
• SHINE (Serving health Insurance Needs of Elders) and Area Agency on Aging-Southwest Florida will be hosting virtual classes for anyone interested in learning more about Medicare! To register for upcoming webinars, email email@example.com or call 863-983-1493.
• New Library Hours:
Monday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
• Need a place to hold a meeting? What about a computer lab to host your organization’s/company’s training? The Clewiston Library offers a classroom and computer lab with a total of 16 computers for use. For more information or to secure the room, please stop in or call the library at any time.
• If you have not done so already, please join our Facebook page (Clewiston Public Library) in order to remain up to date on the library’s events and programs.
• Please stop by the library to pick up a calendar with a list of events and programs so you can join in on the fun.
Recap of Upcoming Events:
• Wednesday, April 5
o Scavenger Hunt Begins
o Medicare 101 (with Medicare Part B Enrollment Demonstration) Via Zoom at nooon.
• Thursday, April 6
o Tax Preparation from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
• Friday, April 7
• Monday, April 10
o Manga Club Via Zoom at 3:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, April 11
o Video Game Club at 3:30 p.m.
• Wednesday, April 12
o Crafternoon String Basket
Golf Course Director Robbie Rush reports:
• Get all information of what’s going on at Clewiston Golf Course Facebook.
• Get on our E-mail list by going to the City of Clewiston Website. Go to the golf course division and at the bottom of the page you can sign-up on Constant Contact and get all Clewiston Golf Course information.
• Rates have changed for the Season for Non-members $45.00 Plus Tax 18 Holes and $22.50 Plus Tax for 9 Holes.
• Group Rates are available and we run a Monday Special after 12pm. Call the golf shop for more information.
• Walking is permitted all day.
• Golf Shop Hours are 7:45 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The first tee time is 8:00 a.m. Carts are due in at 7:00 p.m. daily. The golf course is open 7 days a week.
• Advertise a Tee Sign out on the golf course. If you are interested in advertising your business at the golf course call 863-983-1448.
• The Driving Range has a new token machine now. Get your tokens in the golf shop.
• Golf lessons and Club Repair are available at the club from PGA Professional Robbie Rush. Contact golf shop at 863-983-1448.
• Clewiston Golf Course can supply all your golfing needs. You can inquire in the golf shop for whatever merchandise you need.
• 72 ladies from all over south Florida competed in the LPGA AGA Sugar Bowl Saturday, April 1, 2023.
• Moore Haven Terrier Booster Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, April 22, 2023.
• Ladies Day - 8:30am Tuesdays
• Senior Men’s Group - 9:00am Tuesdays and Fridays
• Men’s Group - Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Call golf shop for times.
For more information call the golf shop at 863-983-1448
Community Development Director/Fire Chief Travis Reese reports:
• The two new townhouse buildings located in Sweet Lake Villas have been issued a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.
• On Saturday April 1, 2023 the Clewiston Fire Department volunteered at the Autism Awareness 5K Walk event. The firefighters had Engine 12 on site for the kids to see. They also cooked hot dogs and hamburgers with Cross Training Ministries for the participants.
• A county wide burn ban is in effect for Hendry County.
• Clewiston Volunteer Fire Department is accepting prequalification applications for new firefighters. If interested please pick up the application at 121 Central Ave., Clewiston, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Is your swimming pool in compliance with City of Clewiston ordinance?
City of Clewiston Ordinance
Sec. 110-2. - Definitions and construction.
Swimming pool means a portable pool or permanent structure that contains a body of water 18 inches or more in depth of 250 square feet or more of water surface area and intended for recreational purposes, including a wading pool. The term “swimming pool” excludes an ornamental reflecting pool, fish pond, or other type of pool, regardless of size, unless located and designed so as to create a hazard or be used for swimming or wading.
ARTICLE VI. - Supplementary District Regulations
Sec. 110-524. - Fences, walls and hedges.
(18) Swimming pool enclosures. All swimming pools must be within a screened cage, or shall be enclosed on all open sides by a fence which is a minimum of four feet above the existing ground grade and a maximum of six feet above the existing ground grade. All gates which are part of a pool fence or screening cage must have safety locks.
Our Code Enforcement personnel will begin focused enforcement in April 2023 on this ordinance as well as continued enforcement of all City of Clewiston Ordinance.
The complete City of Clewiston Ordinances is available online and may be accessed utilizing the City of Clewiston website: https://www.clewiston-fl.gov/ or Municode Library website: https://library.municode.com/fl/clewiston/codes/code_of_ordinances
If you have any questions about how to achieve/maintain compliance with this or any other City of Clewiston Ordinance you may contact our office at 863-983-1454 extension 309 or Code Compliance Supervisor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Police Chief Tom Lewis reports:
On March 9, 2023, the police department hired a new Police Officer to fill the vacancy left by former officer, Ethan Rodriguez. We are happy to introduce Eric Williams as our newest full-time officer. He comes to us with previous police experience and will be completing his Field Training soon. Please help us welcome him to Clewiston.
On March 21, 2023, the police department hired a new Reserve Police Officer. We are happy to introduce Kenny Izma as our newest Reserve Officer. He comes to us with previous experience from the Department of Juvenile Justice and will be completing his Field Training soon. Please help us welcome him to Clewiston.
Accreditation Progress Update – Over the last 21 months, we have been working hard to prepare the police department to be accredited for the first time in the 98-year history of the city. We are very pleased to announce that we have secured three subject matter experts from around the state to provide our agency with a three-day mock assessment in September to better prepare us for the official state assessment. The dates of December 12-14, 2023 as our official accreditation assessment dates. During this time, the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) will send a team of subject matter experts to the Clewiston Police Department for a three-day on-site assessment. This accredited status will show the public, whom we proudly serve every day, that every aspect of our operation is operating under best practices and outside experts get a continuing first-hand look at our operation.
On March 10, 2023, Officer Buffie McLeod visited the Clewiston Christian School to talk to the kids during their Community Helper week. As part of the visit, Officer McLeod also let the kids see the inside of a patrol car.
On March 10, 2023, Administrative Assistant Adelys Valles was notified by the Department of Health that she successfully passed the certification training to become a 911 dispatcher. Adelys, not only kept up with her workload, but took on this journey voluntarily to simply be more available to help out when needed. This success is the culmination of months of hard work and dedication. Congratulations!
On March 11, 2023, Chief Lewis and Commander Tito Nieves participated in the Clewiston High School Criminal Justice Program’s Annual Campout. As part of the annual event, we assisted students in learning crime scene processing and use of force decision making.
On March 12, 2023, Chief Lewis joined Sheriff Whidden in being a guest judge for the Sugar Festival Sweet Taste Baking Contest. Congratulations to all of the winners!
On March 14, 2023, the police department met with The Center for Progress & Excellence, Inc. Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT). The MCRT now has a presence in Hendry County and will be offering their services to the City of Clewiston. The police department is excited about this new partnership as it opens additional resources to provide our mentally ill residents when they are in crisis.
On March 15, 2023, 2 members of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Accreditation Unit provided our agency training on the software platform used to provide accreditation-related training as well as building compliance files for the upcoming assessment.
On March 16, 2023, as part of the Sugar Festival festivities, the Clewiston Police Department played the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office in a celebrity softball game to benefit the Clewiston Tigers Baseball Program. What a great event that drew a large crowd from the community. Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden took home the trophy after the big win – congratulations to his entire team. We are certainly looking forward to next year!
As of March 28th, in the month of March 2023, Animal Services reported the intake of 33 cats and 75 dogs.
As Clewiston will soon see the start of kitten season, residents that are replacing bath towels or other linens can donate old ones to the shelter. These donations make our animals’ stay a little more comfortable before they find their way to their forever home! We encourage everyone to stop by and take a look at what your tax dollars are doing – and maybe even find a new face to bring home.
Another Partnership - Clewiston Animal Services has teamed-up with Career Source of Southwest Florida and Clewiston High School by linking high schoolers and employment opportunities at the shelter. Part-time kennel tech positions were created – free of charge to the shelter and will be filled by high school-aged kids, paid by Career Source.
Facebook Milestone – The Animal Shelter page reached 5,000 followers this week! The Police Department administration had set-out to increase our social media reach and exposure to increase our chances of animals getting reunited with their owners, getting adopted, or getting transferred to a rescue partner – not to mention exposure to more potential donations, volunteers, and fosters. We want to encourage everyone to visit us on our Facebook page, like us, and follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/ClewistonAnimalServices.
On March 14, 2023, the police administration, Animal Control Officers, and a shelter rescue partner held a roundtable meeting to discuss the shelter’s intake procedures and ways to improve those related services to become more efficient as well as protect staff safety. The police administration is continuing to seek ideas on way to reduce the stray cat and dog population in all of Eastern Hendry County.
On March 16, 2023, the Animal Shelter completed the installation of a brand new 10’ by 10’ outdoor kennel. The kennel along with fence privacy/shade material, artificial turf, and concrete pavers were all generously donated. The shelter now has a separate area to quarantine a dog if needed, increasing our ability to have a healthy environment for the animals in our care.
Volunteer Opportunities – Do you have a love for animals? Do you have spare time? You could be a perfect fit to be a volunteer at America’s Sweetest Shelter. If you are interested or have any questions about our volunteer opportunities, stop down and visit the shelter at 410 West Arroyo Avenue.
On March 7, 2023, Hendry County Emergency Management provided our agency and City Hall employees with training on Narcan and AEDs.
On March 27, 2023, officers received classroom and practical training on patrol rifles. The practical training portion included a qualifying course and patrol rifles are now deployed so our officers are better prepared to respond to active assailant situations. Each officer has been issued a Smith and Wesson M&P 15T .556 AR15 in addition to the traditional Mossberg shotgun and Glock 9mm handgun. As we train to respond effectively to the worst of situations, our officers are well trained on communication skills, de-escalation techniques, as well as crisis intervention techniques. We would like thank Sheriff Steve Whidden, as once again, he opened his gun range for our use in making this training a reality.
General Services Director Williams reports:
Last weekend, the Toyota Series three day fishing event took place on Lake Okeechobee. Our street department cleared US Sugar property to accommodate overflow parking for the 206 anglers who participated.
• Electric Crew Activities:
o removed vegetation from power lines
o repaired broken service from tree damage
o repaired LED street lights
o installed new service (2) and underground primary
o installed new 300 KVA pad mount transformer for a new industrial customer
o repaired underground service on US 27 for new flag pole lighting
o removed pump at sewer plant
o assisted water/sewer department install (5) pumps
o replaced damaged underground primary cables in commerce park, installed new transformer
o assisted contractor with power service to lift station rehabilitation work
o repaired fish decorations
o replaced (3) rotten distribution poles and straightened (2) poles
o inspected plugs for Sugar Festival vendor booths, installed two poles to display 50’ flag, and hung festival banner
o changed transformer on Ponce De Leon
o installed (3) new AMI meters
• Water Sewer Crew Activities:
o Repaired numerous (21) valve leaks/water line breaks.
o Replaced (10) water meters, unclogged water line at residence; installed AMI meters (5) and water meter boxes.
o Pumped down Golf Course lift station (10). Replaced panel at the golf course lift station. Set 2 new pumps.
o Pulled pump at Ridgewood lift station
o Performed Lift Station inspections (50)
o Prepared space at warehouse for new AMI meter deliveries
o Replaced water filter at Della Tobias Avenue (7) and flushed line
o Flushed a hydrant
o Pulled old pump and put in new pump at the ball field lift station. Assisted electrician wire in panel
o Installed new water line at city pool.
o Prepped for new valve and backflow preventer for Clewiston Middle School water line.
o Assisted contractor make lift station rehabilitation.
o Checked water pressure at civic park to prepare for Sugar Festival
• Customer Service Department
o Your utility partners with customers to bring renewable power to the electric grid. If you’d like to learn more about net metering, please visit the FTC consumer information site at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0532-solar-power-your-home.
o Please remember to register with CodeRed (Reverse 911). This system allows us to contact you in case of an emergency or with other informational announcements. You may register by clicking on the CodeRed link at the bottom of the City‘s website page www.clewiston-fl.gov. You may update your information at any time through the same link.
o If you are considering replacing your air conditioner or attic insulation, remember the City offers a rebate program for those items. Most local contractors participate in the program and can give you more information. You can also visit our website at www.clewiston-fl.gov or call our office.
o It’s Lightning Season! Don’t forget to sign up for your meter based surge protection! Visit our office today.
Online Bill Pay Is Available on our web site at www.clewiston-fl.gov or www.municipalonlinepayments.com/clewistonfl.
• Facility Maintenance:
o Repaired ( 12 ) Air conditioners and changed filters
o made plumbing repairs at the City Hall, Library public restroom, Golf Course restrooms and concession stands at the ball fields
o repaired the sprinklers at the men’s soccer field, Royal Palm Ave and Sugar Festival grounds.
o replaced a tankless water heater for concession stand 3 at the ball fields.
• Street Division:
o helped to prepare for and worked at the 2023 Sugar Festival.
o performed routine street sign repairs, pot hole repairs, sweeped streets
o trimmed trees in city parks.
o Staff helped the electric crew clear holly trees from under a service line.
o installed ( 40 ) linear feet of new culvert pipe at the Boat Basin area and cleaned out the drainage ditch.
o Restriped “stop bars” at intersections throughout our city.
• Solid Waste:
o Staff helped to work at the 2023 Sugar Festival and removed 11.22 Tons of debris from the festival grounds.
o If you’d like to schedule a special pickup service, please call the Public Works Department at 983-1471
• Parks & Recreation:
o Performed routine maintenance at the John Boy Auditorium.
o ensured all City parks are well maintained and available to the public,
o helped make preparations and worked at the 2023 Sugar Festival.
o Staff is helping to clean all of the restrooms at the Ball Field facilities.
o Staff is using manual sprinklers at the Youth Center around areas where there is no sprinkler system.
• Central Garage:
o The City of Clewiston is searching for a qualified CDL driver to collect and load garbage, horticulture, and other material, and a Mechanic 1 to perform necessary repairs and routine maintenance of city vehicles. Please visit our website for more information: https://www.clewiston-fl.gov/