Tag Archives: pahokee

Kudos to the Up and Coming! SLR/IRL

One of the most rewarding parts of my advocacy is the people I meet, especially the “young people.” As a former teacher, and having no children myself, I feel a special connection. If they ask for advice, I encourage them in every way possible to relay their story and their concerns, uncensored. “Speak out! Speak out for the environment!”

A few months ago, a young lady by the name of Mariya Feldman contacted me. She had been working as a teacher in Pahokee, Florida, and was concerned about the poor air quality caused by the burning of nearby sugar fields and the effects it had on her students’ health.

I have experienced this burning from both the air, and the ground; I was interested in her story.

Burning sugarcane fields in the EAA. (Photo Ed Lippisch and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2012.)
Well, months later, Mariya contacted me again, this time she had completed her video production. She intermixed her topic of interest, poor air-quality and human health, with the health issues regarding the 2016 toxic algae outbreak in the St Lucie River caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee. In the months previous, I had spoken openly to her and allowed her to record my interview and use it in her video. My interview, interwoven with others is included. Mariya has collaborated well to get her point across. She is a modern day student investigative reporter. I am excited to see where her talents, technological abilities, and passions will take her in the future.

I feature her work today in a You Tube Video below. Please watch it. It will make you think!

I thank Mariya and all the young people working for a clean and healthful environment for the next generation. Never give up. Never stop speaking up! It is up to us for sure.

Link to video:(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPVPyBbo2kc&feature=youtu.be)

Mariya is completing her education at Green Mountain College, Vermont, https://www.facebook.com/GreenMtnCollege/ and can be contacted via her website Earth First https://feldmanmariya9.wixsite.com/feldman; https://feldmanmariya9.wixsite.com/feldman/bio Earth First – Promoting a positive and peaceful education system through community involvement and intensive research.

People Credited in Mariya’s production:

Tomorrow, Pres. Negron Visits Pahokee with Dem. Senate Leader Braynon to Discuss the Future-Join In! SLR/IRL

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A quaint church before the water tower, Pahokee, “Welcome Home,” JTL
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Braynon

Senate President Joe Negron’s District 25 includes the Treasure Coast south to Palm Beach County, and inland to the City of Pahokee in the Glades. Pahokee will be hosting President Negron and Senate Democratic leader Oscar Braynon tomorrow, March 17th at 5p.m. to talk about Senate Bill 10, and the future of the area.

This is a good opportunity to meet our neighbors and learn what they, the people, have to say about Senate Bill 10, and what they want for the future of their historic community. I encourage coastal residents to attend.

The people we support; the environmental destruction of  our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, we cannot. The waters of the great Lake Okeechobee flowed south for thousands of years before the rich soils it created were discovered, and our environment was put at risk.

Isn’t there a way more water can flow south as God and Nature intended while enhancing the economics and life style for the people of this area? Can’t we let the people speak for themselves? 

Let us try.

Thank you.

Jacqui

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Press Release: Glades County Democrat Newspaper

Area residents invited to hear Senator Joe Negron
Mar 15th, 2017 · by Special to the Glades County Democrat
PAHOKEE — Florida Senate President Senator Joe Negron and Florida Senate Democratic Leader Senator Oscar Braynon will be at the Glades Community Discussion on Friday, March 17, at 5 p.m. to discuss the future of our historic communities.

This discussion is open to all communities of Pahokee, Belle Glade, Clewiston, South Bay, Canal Point, LaBelle, Okeechobee and Moore Haven.

The Glades Community Discussion will take place at the Pahokee High School located at 900 Larrimore Road.

Free locally grown food for Glades residents will be served. There will be chicken dinners, corn boil and corn giveaway for Glades families.

Photos of beautiful, historic, Pahokee

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Hanging in the Presidient Negron’s office if this historic photo from Pahokee of the corn harvest.
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Pahokee is famous for its streets lined with stately royal palms. JTL…
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Pahokee’s rich muck soils yield tremendous produce.
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Black gold up close
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A home in Pahokee.
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Homes in the Glades are built on multiple stilts in the mucky soils. Soil subsidence is an issue.
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The sugar mill nearby-there are concerns about job loss if land in the EAA is purchased for a reservoir. The area already has a high unemployment  rate. The question is, is the present situation the situation Glades residents want for their future?
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Number sticker on a car in the Glades
2016-statewide-district
Senate Districts Florida

 

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Sunset over Lake Okeechobee at Canal Point, neighbor to Pahokee, by Todd Thurlow

#SupportJoeNegron

“What The Muck?!” SLR/IRL

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Flying over the black gold of the EAA. JTL
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Fields in Pahokee, JTL

Road Trip Series.

Since I began my Glades “Road Trip” Series, I have read three books by Lake Okeechobee historian, Laurence E. Will: Okeechobee Hurricane, Swamp to Sugar Bowl, and A Cracker History of Okeechobee.

These books hold amazing stories of the Glades; if Mr. Will hadn’t written, there would be very few first-hand accounts of farming that became a Florida mega-industry just over the first half century of the 1900s. Today, I will transcribe some of his most interesting descriptions of Lake Okeechobee, the magical landscape that was transformed into today’s contoversial Everglades Agricultural Area, for none other than its MUCK.

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EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map SFWMD)
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Photo of pond apples also know to locals as custard apples in Big Cypress- shared on Flicker by photographer Mac Stone, allow us to envision what this incredible forest looked like. 32,000 acres rimming the southern and eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. The best muck built up over thousands of years under these roots that worked like a seine as the lake overflowed its edge then running south through the sawgrass. The Everglades….

When I was on my recent tour with former mayor of Pahokee, J.P. Sasser, I learned the nick-name for Pahokee is “The Muck,” named so for the “black gold” soil that accumulated over thousands of years under the roots of a custard apple forest that rimmed the lake. (Kind of like fresh water mangroves today in the Indian River Lagoon.)

When one drives deeper into the Glades, one finds similar nick-names or “muck mottos,” that have to do with the muck. For instance, Belle Glade’s motto is “Her Soil is Her Fortune;” Clewiston’s is “America’s Sweetest Town,” and South Bay’s refers to its highways, “Crossroads of South Florida,” named so for its intersection of two major roads, East-West State Road 80, and North-South, U.S. Highway 27, roads that get one into the muck, or out of it….

Will first experienced the Lake in the early 1900s as a boy when his father was developing Okeelanta, located about four miles below today’s South Bay. Okeelanta, today a mill location for the Fanjul holdings, was located not in an apple custard forest, but rather in the miles of sawgrass lying south. Although the soil here is excellent, it is different, more peaty and not as “mucky.” Thus the most productive lands lie closer to the lake, deep in the MUCK.

Here is a moving account by Will about the land of muck in “Cracker History of Lake Okeechobee:

“Before the dredges crashed through the custard apple woods to start the first canals, the lake most always stayed high and clear, unbroken except for those islands Kreamer, Torry, and Observation. When I first saw the lake it was still wild. Excusing the trifling settlements at Utopia, Ritta, and Tantie, a score of fishing camps, and the openings to four unfinished canals, it’s swampy shores hadn’t changed since Zachary Taylor found the redskins or probably not since DeSoto anchored in Tampa Bay. It sill was just as the good Lord had fashioned it. The lake was lonely Mack, silent and mysterious as well. But I tell you boy, it was beautiful, and sort of inspiring too.”

Will was absolutely pro development, pro farming/agriculture,  but he, like most of the old timers, recognized the tremendous awe-inspiring beauty of the place.

Most all the natural beauty the lakeside shoreline in Martin County, where the FPL Power Plant is today, and north to the town of Okeechobee has also been radically altered as well.

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FPL solar plant and “cooling pond” in Martin County looking west towards “Barley Barber Swamp.” This area was once a forest of mostly giant cypress trees and others. JTL

Excerpts by Lawrence E. Will:

“Dense forest ringed the lake around. Along its northern half water oak, maple, cypress, potash, rubber and palmetto trees crowded each other on the lakeshore ridge…the south shore and half way up the eastern side was something else… Here were custard apples, a solid belt of tropical trees, blanketed with a moonvine cover, which stood, two miles or more in width, without break or opening, from near Clewiston’s Sand Point, slap around to Port Mayaca. 32,000 acres of custard apple woods there were, the most of these trees, I wouldn’t doubt, on the whole blamed continent of America.”

“…Although the shores were for the most part black muck, low and flat, there were some fine sandy beaches too. Along the east side for eighteen miles lay beautiful East Beach…”

“Now if Zachary Taylor or Hamilton Disston could return to Okeechobee they would find that farmers have exterminated the custard apple woods. Highways, service stations, super markets and housing projects have replaced the cypress, rubber and maple trees along the ridge. A levee occupies the onetime shore and drainage has lowered by half a dozen feet the water’s elevation. Tractors cultivate the former seining grounds, and unless you as old–and no amount, as some of us, your never heard of town of Tantie, Utopia or Ritta. Civilization has re-made the lake and I’d be the last to say it isn’t better so, but the lakeshore’s one time natural beauty is long gone, and man, wasn’t that old lake a fascinating place.” 

Well, to the land of Lake Okeechobee! For all she was, and for all she is. It’s enough to make one exclaim:”What The Muck?!!!”

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Agriculture’s Eradication of the Mythical Pond Apple Forest, Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL: https://www.google.com/amp/s/jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/04/15/agricultures-eradication-of-the-mythical-pond-apple-forest-lake-okeechobee-slrirl/amp/?client=safari

Black Gold and Silver Sands, Snyder/Historical Society of Palm Beach County https://floridafoodandfarm.com/book-reviews/turning-soil-gold-silver-look-back-palm-beach-county-agriculture/

Lawrence E. Will: http://museumoftheglades.org

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War map of the Everglades created during the Seminole Wars, 1856.

*Custard Apples are also known as Pond Apples. The old photos of the trees are from Mr Will’s books or the Florida Memory Project.

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Pond apple blossom. Photo by Lisa Jefferson, 2015.

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Proposed land purchase in the EAA, Senator Joe Negron 2016/17.

The False Edge of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

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Road trip series:

Today we continue our road trip in the Glades atop the Herbert Hoover Dike.

In the short video below you can see my Glades tour-guide, former mayor JP Sasser, driving, –in his hometown of which he knows so much about–Pahokee. On the right lies the city, and on the left is Lake Okeechobee. A precarious position indeed!

Pahokee is actually unusual in that this little town is “high-ground.” According to JP, about 13 feet above ground. This is not the case for most of the Glades.

Interestingly, in the video, JP discusses how the Army Corp recently decided where to strengthen the dike in Pahokee, because if they had extended it out 500 feet as was done along the rest of the eastern shore, the town of Pahokee would have been covered up as it is located right beside the dike.

Video: Driving along dike:https://youtu.be/fQILKYeQbeU

Lake Okeechobee’s dike and its history are fascinating just as is all our area of the Northern Everglades including the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon that in 1923 became the primary exit point for waters that could no longer flow south after the Herbert Hoover Dike was built.

According to historian and Gladesman Lawrence E. Will:

“…following the floods of 1923 and 1924 water stood over farm lands nearly the entire winter. To protect the farms, the state of Florida had then constructed an earthen dike along the whole south shore. It was some five to eight feet above ground level but this dike was never intended to withstand a hurricane.”

Regarding the expansion of the dike, as the “Herbert Hoover,”after the horrific hurricanes of 1926, ’28 and again in again in ’49, Mr. Nathaniel Reed notes in his writing “Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades: “The Corps of Engineers studied the average size of Lake Okeechobee and designed a dike around it…”

Now this is where things get very interesting.

“The average size of the lake….” what’s that?

Now if we look at this slide taken from a 2016, presented by Jeff Sumner, who was at the time Office Chief State and Agricultural Policy, SFWMD, it shows the size of the lake pre-development. One can see it was about once about 1000 square miles in size and today it is 750.

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The checkered fields were once lake bottom. L. E. Will, “Okeechobee Hurricane”
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L.E. Will Swamp to Sugar Bowl. The Glades area, today’s Everglades Agricultural Area has  become one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world…

Of course the size expanded and contracted based on rainfall, but one still gets the point…this lower area was nature’s shoreline, a boggy marsh with rivers leading into a sawgrass “river of grass” bordered by a forest of over 30,000 acres of Custard Apple trees that functioned like mangroves extending up to five miles or more south into what is today’s Belle Glade. As Mr Lawrence Will would have said: “Who wudda thought!” (http://museumoftheglades.org)

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Pahokee is in upper right. Map Laurence E Will
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The lake once went further south here and there following the rivers to  Hwy. 80
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Land ownership today
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Sen. Joe Negron’s map for land purchase

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My Tour of the Glades with JP Sasser, Part#1, SLR/IRL

Roadtrip Series:

Part 1, Pahokee

I would like to thank former mayor of Pahokee, JP Sasser for on November 29th guiding me through a seven hour tour of the Glades! At first you may think JP and I are unlikely “friends.” Actually we have something very much in common in that we have both been mayors of small Florida cities.

Yes, there are also a few serious things we don’t have in common such as our opinion regarding land purchase in the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), for a reservoir to alleviate the destruction of the St Lucie River. Also, Sasser has written extensively about concerns regarding the direction of the Rivers Coalition. I have been on the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund for six years. Mayor Sasser and I have not always been on the same page. For me this is O.K. JP and I having differences of opinion shouldn’t preclude working together. At this point in my river journey, I am going to do all I can to build relationships. To find common ground. “Common muck” should I say?

Anyway, enough politics. My tour was awesome! For this post, I will just concentrate on Pahokee.

JP and I met at Canal Point, at the USDA Sugarcane Field Station that dates back to 1920 about ten miles south of the Martin County/Palm Beach County line at the WPB Canal.IMG_7552.jpg

Pahokee has about 6000 residents. It has beautiful new schools. Many of the lands are owned by family farmers and the Fanjul family. The population is about 80% black and 20% white. Everyone I met was friendly and happy to see me.

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Locals fishing at marina

JP asked me where I wanted to go. I asked him to take me to the Pahokee Marina and Tiki Bar that he so famously worked for during his mayorship. This marina is within view of Port Mayaca in Martin County. JP’s dream was that this marina would become the basis for economic development and diversity of Pahokee. The city desires economic development. (http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/business/guy-harveys-resort-chain-eyes-site-in-okeechobee-c/nmwGw/)

I learned that Pahokee unlike much of the Glades is thirteen feet above the lake. It is high ground. The town is just a few miles long and 500 feet wide right along the dike. One sees dike, houses, road and then fields…Thus when the ACOE recently wanted to make improvements and “go out 500 feet out from the dike” they would have basically had to had to knock down the city.

I learned that much of the lands close to the Lake were covered with Apple Custard Trees that had been removed in the early 1900s and thus the lands have excellent deep muck soil that grows not only sugarcane, but sod, corn, vegetables, and supports tree farming. Pahokee is known as “Muck City.”

JP then took me off the beaten track to see his horses and donkeys. So here is something else we have in common. A love of animals!

We drove on…JP showed me the remains of the Pelican River which led to Pelican Bay that I had read about in my book. This was the area where the Palm Beach Times reported over 400 dead after the 1928 Hurricane. I tried not to imagine…

We then drove to Pahokee’s original graveyard that had to be moved along with its resting bodies to Port Mayaca in Martin County after the 1928 Hurricane. There was a plaque that listed those who had been buried there. A sad thought, but here is another way Martin County and the Glades are connected.

We visited the airport. Very nice. Right along the lake. In fact this area was once lake bottom. Bizarre. Hmmm…My husband Ed would like this airport I thought. More possibilities for economic development?

Again back to the dike. It always goes back to the dike…

We checked up on ACOE repairs where they had draped the pipes carrying water to the fields over the dike like spaghetti and then JP took to me to lunch….

Part #2  will be entitled: “The Best Fried Chicken of My Life.” Please see photos below.

 

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JP at Pahokee Marina
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Driving on road atop the dike by marina
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View from dike looking south. Homes stand right next to the dike.
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Old Pelican River
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Tree Farm looking from dike
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JP’s horese and donkeys

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Original Pahokee graveyard at base of dike

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Old Graveyard
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Pahokee’s nice new roads with lovey houses on right and fields on other side of road
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Canal and control structure to fields
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Location of airport, once lake bottom

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JP
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Repair of dike ACOE with water for irrigation from lake over dike so they can get to culverts

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Knowing the Hurricane Disaster Map of Lake Okeechobee, Road Trip, SLR/IRL

As you know, we are on a Road Trip. We are driving through not only to learn about the Glades, but also to learn about ourselves. Whether we realize it or not, we are all connected. We are related by history, by the drainage of the Everglades, and by a “better water future” we have no choice but to build together.

This map  of the Glades is from the Florida Memory Project. It maps flood damage from two great hurricanes. Notice that the 1926 Hurricane damaged mostly the western part of the lake near Moore Haven, where as the 1928 Hurricane most intensely hit the eastern communities around Belle Glade. The towns/areas of Canal Point, Pahokee, Bacom Point, Belle Glade, South Bay, Lake Harbor, Bare Beach, Clewiston, Moore Haven and Newell all had to rebuild. “Chosen” near Belle Glade was chosen to be lost…

 

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These past hurricanes define the history and the nature of some of the people of the Glades. The ones who “made-it” are survivors beyond anything we can possibly envision.

As Mr Lawrence E. Will an old family, a  politician,  and a prolific writer from the area wrote in HURRICANE:

“One word describes it. It was Hell. A raging inferno of rolling, swirling waters, of shrieking, demoniac winds, of lashing rain and of darkness, black and absolute. There were no atheists that night on the shores of Okeechobee! Then for the those still living came the second phase of hell; the phase of desolation and despair; of searching in the flooded woods and marshes, in elder clumps and sawgrass for the horrible remains of family and friends and neighbors; of loading them into trucks by unending scores; and finally of burning them in help of dozens when they could no longer be transported. It is hard to know which hell was worse…”

As we know in the 1930s the Herbert Hoover Dike was built to avoid such a disaster from happening again…but there is always the question of whether it will or not. It is dangerous to live on the low side of a dike.

As advocates of the St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon, we must be sensitive when discussing Senate President Joe Negron’s proposal for 60,000 acres to be purchased south of the lake to store, convey and move water south to the Everlgades. One can see how shouts of “Send the Water South” may send some people living south of the lake “over the edge…”

We must always make clear that when discussing Everglades resoration and improved health of the St Lucie River/Indin River Lagoon, safety, and economic prosperty for the Glades communties comes first. We know and respect their past…

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Chosen: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/chosen

Hurricanes: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/-hurricane