Hendry County: Hoping for LaBelle clinic; no PACE

Hendry County commissioners noted with pleasure the opening of local VA Clinics in Clewiston and Moore Haven at their September 22 meeting in LaBelle. They also expressed hope that the VA would open a similar clinic in LaBelle. The new clinic makes it possible for local veterans to get medical assistance without the long drives that so many veterans do not have the resources to make.

It is hoped that Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart will help accomplish that goal, since western Hendry County veterans must travel 40 miles to Cape Coral for VA medical help. Travel is a hardship for many veterans.

PACE
The board opted not to participate in the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) citing concerns about liability possibly landing in the county’s lap.

The request had been tabled at the previous board meeting after Property Appraiser Phillip Pelletier raised scenarios in which he felt the county could end up with liability.

PACE’s Martin Ogles appeared again and explained that PACE is a nonprofit agency that currently works with Charlotte and Pasco counties to help fund the weather proofing of business facilities and resident’s homes. He said its funding has been a “lifesaver” for business.

Johnathan Shafer program manager from Orlando also tried to persuade board members that supporting PACE would be a good move, saying it is a volunteer program governed by law that helps fund energy efficient businesses, buildings and homes and said that there is no liability for county taxpayers.

Ed Hill of Altair, the military-style training center located on the old HCI property in southwestern Hendry County, asked the board to support the request. He said Altair needs to expand its operations, but needs PACE funding assistance to do so.

Commission Chair Karson Turner expressed his support for Altair’s expansion and requested that the county support the program , but Commissioner Darrell Harris did not feel that PACE is a good fit for Hendry County. Chairman Turner was in favor of at least making the program available for Altair, but Commissioner Harris noted that, if the county supports it for one, it will have to do it for all.

The board declined to support PACE, but Chairman Turner stated that he would still like proponents to return to the board with more data to clarify their program.

Department of Health
Joseph Pepe, the interim Director of the Hendry-Glades Department of Health came to the meeting to seek the board’s support in being named to the post permanently. He said he is not living in Hendry County at this time.

Chairman Turner was clearly not in favor of choosing a director for a state agency and Commissioner Harris was adamant that he wants a Hendry County resident in the position. The board took no action on the request.

The next regular meeting will be held on October13 in Clewiston.

Patty Brant, can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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