Tag Archives: Senator Joe Negron

From Protest to Prayer… Join Citizens4CleanWater Saturday, February 18, SLR/IRL

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If you are from Martin or St Lucie County, I’m sure you remember….how the river movement came to an unexpected raging head during the Summer of 2013. It was after the River Kidz had held a gathering at the locks; and after the public had been screaming the St Lucie River was a putrid mess; it was after the Stuart News had been writing; and it was after organizations that had been working for years continued to bang their fists. Yes, after all this, that something new occurred…a surfer named Evan Miller posted on Facebook to protest the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Evan had no idea! Social media was new. Shockingly, over 5000 people attended the event: mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, business people, local city and county politicians, environmentalists, people from afar, long time residents and newbies…..”everyone” was there…even Senator Joe Negron…

Things were never quite the same after this as a true movement materialized, and the seriousness of the matter was exposed. The event was reported across the state catching the attention of Florida’s most powerful and influential.

Shortly after, more protest were called by Miller who with help from Leon Abood, the beloved chair of the Rivers Coalition, reactivated and expanded the local Citizens 4 Clean Water chapter drawing members mostly from the younger generation.

Well, Evan called me yesterday and said “times are calling for a new kind of protest” and the young people of C4CW are calling for prayer and meditation, rather than protest in support of what is called the Negron Bill, Senate Bill 10, that calling for land purchase in the EAA for a reservoir.

“Wow,” I thought. How does the saying go? “God works in mysterious ways…”

C4CW’s Facebook page reads: “Rock painting with Children For Clean Water begins at 4pm at Sandsprit Park.  Viral photo of thousands in prayer 5:30 pm. See everyone there to support the SB 10 bill in legislation now. Let’s get that land! #buytheland #senditsouth https://www.facebook.com/events/1874182396131037/?ti=icl

Well “times are a changin”…and miracles do occur!

Please join Citizens4 Clean Water Saturday for a new kind of photo for our river. A photo of thousands in prayer. https://www.facebook.com/citizens4cleanwater/

Sandsprit Park
3443 SE St Lucie Blvd
Stuart, FL 34997

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Evan Miller at a Rivers Coalition meeting 2013
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From protest to prayer for the St Lucie River, photo Jenny Flaugh

C4CW’s Mission Statement: Take the challenge and become a Citizen For Clean Water by becoming part of the revolution to bring forward people who will lead the way for a cleaner and brighter tomorrow. When you become a Citizen For Clean Water you are taking on the responsibility of taking care of your environment teaching others your knowledge and stepping up to make a leading example for the rest of the world by becoming a voice for the voiceless. http://www.citizensforcleanwater.org

President Negron’s Memorandum to the Florida Senate, Senate Bill 10,”Protecting Coastal Counties from Polluted Discharges” SLR/IRL

For me this memorandum, perhaps more than other work published, helps the everyday person understand Senate Bill 10. Thus I share today. Thank you Senate President Joe Negron, “Champion of champions,” for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

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THE FLORIDA SENATE

SENATOR JOE NEGRON President

MEMORANDUM

SUITE 409, THE CAPITOL, 404 SOUTH MONROE STREET ▪ TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA 32399-1100 ▪ TELEPHONE (850) 487-5229 Senate’s Website: http://www.flsenate.gov

TO: All Senators

FROM: Joe Negron, President

SUBJECT: Protecting Coastal Counties from Polluted Discharges DATE: January 26, 2017

I greatly appreciate the support many of you have provided over the last several years as my home community and others across our state have been flooded with billions of gallons of polluted water that destroys our estuaries and harms our local economies. Today Senator Bradley filed Senate Bill 10, an act relating to water resources, to begin the formal process of purchasing land to increase water storage south of Lake Okeechobee. This legislation provides a clear plan to address this plague on our communities in a manner that respects the interests of the agricultural community and private land owners. While I have had the opportunity to discuss this critical issue with each of you, I wanted to provide a brief summary of how we arrived at this solution as well as a summary of Senator Bradley’s legislation.

Background: Record rainfall this past year resulted in unseasonably high water levels in Lake Okeechobee, which threatened the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike. To maintain safe water levels, the Army Corps of Engineers authorized the release of billions of gallons of water from the Lake to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. Such freshwater discharges cause significant environmental damage by lowering the salinity levels of the estuaries and introducing pollutants into coastal waters. Due to the discharges this summer, massive amounts of toxic algae that originated in Lake Okeechobee were sent to the estuaries and coastal waterways.

The extent and severity of the blooms resulted in Governor Scott declaring a state of emergency in four Florida counties.

These algal blooms have occurred before and will occur again unless high volume discharges from Lake Okeechobee are stopped and pollution in the Lake Okeechobee basin is abated. Algal blooms are not simply an unsightly nuisance for residents and tourists. They bring real health risks to humans and wildlife and result in severe economic damage to local businesses.

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As a result of the high volume discharges, coastal communities experienced enormous harmful algal blooms with devastating impacts not only to the ecology of local waterways, but also to residents, fishermen, and local businesses.

Despite the sincere efforts of our state and federal government to plan and fund long-term solutions to address rising water levels and pollution in Lake Okeechobee, year after year as the Lake levels rise, the solution is to flood my community and many others across our state with billions of gallons of polluted water.

From Governor Jeb Bush’s historic support of the bipartisan Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in 2000 to the recent University of Florida Water Institute study commissioned by the Senate and completed in 2015, for nearly two decades, there has been scientific consensus and recognition by state leaders that additional water storage south of Lake Okeechobee is necessary to stop this ongoing problem. This sentiment was reiterated as speaker after speaker addressed our Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources calling for increased storage south of the Lake.

Senate Bill 10 authorizes bonding a portion of proceeds from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, set aside by the voter-approved Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1, 2014), to purchase land and construct a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Senate Bill 10 Summary: Senate Bill 10 authorizes the issuance of bonds to raise over a billion dollars to acquire 60,000 acres of land and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.The reservoir is expected to hold 120 billion gallons of water, approximately as much water as was discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary between January and May of 2016. The creation of significant storage capacity south of the Lake will help manage Lake levels in anticipation of periods of high rainfall like this year’s predicted El Nino weather pattern. Storing water during the wet season provides the additional benefit of allowing water to be sent south to hydrate the Everglades and Florida Bay, or for agricultural use, during the dry season.

The estimated cost of a reservoir on 60,000 acres of land providing 120 billion gallons of storage in the area south of Lake Okeechobee is roughly $2.4 billion. With the federal government paying at least half of the cost of such a reservoir, the state’s commitment would be $1.2 billion. The bill authorizes the use of approximately $100 million of documentary stamp tax revenue set aside by the Water and Land Conservation  Amendment (Amendment 1, 2014) annually over the next 20 years to finance land acquisition and construction of the reservoir.

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The bill directs the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to begin the formal process of purchasing land from willing sellers. The project is subject to Congressional approval to secure the 50/50 cost sharing agreement authorized for other CERP projects.

If the SFWMD is unable to identify sellers of land appropriate for a reservoir through an open solicitation by the end of 2017, the legislation authorizes the Board of Trustees to exercise the option with U.S. Sugar entered into in 2010 to buy 153,000 acres of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area, for the purpose of securing the 60,000 acres necessary for the reservoir and to begin planning the construction of the reservoir.

If the state is ultimately unable to purchase land for the reservoir by November 30, 2018, the legislation increases the ongoing Legacy Florida appropriation by an additional $50 million for the CERP, which includes a reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area as a key component. This is in addition to Legacy Florida’s existing commitment of $200 million. Legacy Florida also requires preference among these projects to be given to projects that reduce the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee Estuaries.

As we move forward, I have a personal mission to work with the agricultural community, to work with Florida’s best scientists, and to work with every member of the Legislature, to protect our estuaries, to protect our lagoons, and to put the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee that destroy our environment and harm our economy into the past pages of history instead of the daily front pages of newspapers. I appreciate your consideration of this proposal and look forward to discussing it further in the days and weeks ahead.

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(For a full copy of Senate Bill 10, go to http://www.flsenate.gov/ and put 10 into “Bill” section at top of page.)
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Map of Public Lands in the EAA, Lands Owned by the State, SLR/IRL

Reporter Tyler Treadway’s Stuart News articles today poses the question: “Can State Build Reservoir on Public Land to Move Lake O Water South?”So, I thought I’d share this map of Everglades Agricultural Area Lands in Public (State) Ownership along with a list of owners created by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. The piece noted in the article is the around the lighter looking triangle, #10 . It’s a great map and very educational…In any case, with any argument, #SupportJoeNegron

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#s enlarged

‘For his part, Negron said he just wants to get whatever land is needed to “store, clean and move enough Lake Okeechobee water south to reduce and ultimately eliminate the discharges. I’m open to considering all options: private land, state land, federal land or any other.” ‘ Stuart News

Tyler Treadway, TCPalm http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2017/01/13/lake-okeechobee-st-lucie-river-everglades/96484530/

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President of the Senate, Joe Negron
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Senator Negron’s proposed map for land purchase in the EAA.

TCPRC:http://www.tcrpc.org

Talking About It! Even If They Didn’t Let Us Talk! FL Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, SLR/IRL

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Dr Wendy Graham, UF

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Committee Members: Senator Bradley, Chair; Senator Book, Vice Chair; Senators Braynon, Hukill, Hutson. Mayfield, and Stewart

Yesterday, January 11th, Florida’s Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources met in Tallahassee. The Legislative Session has not formally started, but as most things in life, the most important stuff happens ahead of time….”in committee.”

The topic was “Discussion and testimony relating to the options for reducing harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges and Everglades Restoration.”

This meeting is being held because of Senate President Joe Negrons’ proposal to buy 60,000 acres of land in the EAA south of Lake Okeechobee for a  Reservoir. file-page1.jpg

Yesterdays’ meeting was just informational, but first impressions are very important. And anything can be killed in committee.

I think the meeting went very well. “Everyone was represented:” East Coast; West Coast; Florida Bay; The Glades and agencies or organizations of those who presented. I thought it was great. Great to see people in power and those with knowledge talking about this important issue. Remember that just a few years ago, many in Tallahassee thought the Indian River Lagoon was a movie from the 50s.

Many people drove over 12 hours to speak but Chair Bradley did not allow public comment. Bullsugar, River Kidz, Glades Residents, Islamorada, Florida Bay, CaptainsForCleanWater, Stuart residents, Ft Meyers residents, Realtors, Hotel Owners, Business Owners and more…This is very disappointing, but certainly “The Powers That Be” knew everyone was there, and surely “They” are taking about it behind closed doors.  It makes an impression when the chamber is full because those politicians know that for every person there, there are hundreds, if not thousands behind him or her who did not come…The “Powers that Be” know this. And Senator Negron knows who came too. Surely he does. He appreciates this! He is motivated by this!

Having a full-house in a sub-committee room is not an everyday occurrence for these folks. Unlike our county government the State is not as practiced at this. They generally get to operate in a vacuum–Tallahassee being so far away! Not good!

Time was short and messages many, so Chair Bradley decided to cut the meeting presenters basically in half. Thus not all the presenters who came were allowed to speak either.

Those who presented were: Senate lawyer for the committee, Ashley Istler; UF’s Wendy Graham; ACOE’s Lt Col. Jennifer Reynolds; Independent, Dr Gary Goforth; and Exec. Dir of the SFWMD, Pete Antonacci .

Those moved to January 25th were: Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation; Drew Bartlett, DEP; and Ernie Barnett, EAA Landowners.

Overall takeaway?

There was a common theme: “we need more water storage everywhere. North, South, East and West and concerns about where the reservoir should first be or if it should be….

This is clearly a very exasperating experience for many. But isn’t it great that we are actually talking and learning about it. Together.

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Slide UF’s  Wendy Graham, needed water storage.

All presentations are linked here and are excellent resources:http://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Committees/2016-2018/AEN/MeetingRecords/MeetingPacket_3552.pdf

Committee meeting recorded by the Florida Channel Network:http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/11117-senate-appropriations-subcommittee-environment-natural-resources/

#SupportJoeNegron

How to Alleviate the Lake O Destruction to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

The chart below provides a good visual of 2016 Lake O releases though the C-44 Canal from S-80 comparing 2016, 2013, and 2015. S-80 discharges include the surrounding man-made basin as well as releases from Lake Okeechobee. This info has been compiled by my brother, Todd Thurlow, http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOLiveData/ via SFWMD. (Automatic updates every 7 days.)

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Via TT3
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Via TT3

In order to fix a problem, you have to know what the problem is…..yesterday’s visual makes clear to all the problem. Don’t be mistaken, this problem although overwhelming, can be greatly alleviated –“fixed.”

In March of 2015, the University of Florida published: OPTIONS TO REDUCE HIGH VOLUME FRESHWATER FLOWS TO THE ST LUCIE AND CALOOSAHATCHEE ESTUARIES AND MOVE MORE WATER FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE TO THE SOUTHERN EVERGLADES. This was an independent technical review by the University of Florida Water Institute.

(http://waterinstitute.ufl.edu/research/downloads/contract95139/UF%20Water%20Institute%20Final%20Report%20March%202015.pdf)

The 134 document summarizes three things necessary to give relief to the estuaries:

  1. 200,000 acre-feet of water storage within the St Lucie River watershed. (*For C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44 canal alone—not including releases from Lake Okeechobee through C-44 JTL)
  2. 400,000 acre-feet of water storage within the Caloosahatchee watershed.
  3. approximately 1,000,000 acres of water storage distributed north and south of Lake Okeechobee.

Senate President Elect Joe Negron’s plan for land purchase in the EAA fulfills part of #3. This reservoir would be “dynamic,” meaning that in simple terms it would hold, clean, and move water south to the Everglades. In other words, it would move multiple acre feet over time.

Our St Lucie River is degrading in ways that may not be reversible. We must work for land purchase south of Lake Okeechobee to begin to alleviate the destruction. —We must not just support, but also help Joe Negron. Get ready for Florida’s legislative session 2017.file-page1

News Press: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/2016/08/09/sen-negron-unveils-plan-buy-land-south-lake-o/88454356/

TC Palm, Tyler Treadway: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2016/08/25/expert-sen-negrons-reservoir-plan-needs-more-projects-policies-to-stop-lake-okeechobee-discharges/89563826/

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.

*JTL added for clarity

Stofin Co. Inc, part of the Fanjul Empire, Mapping Out Florida’s Water Future, SLR/IRL

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The Fanjul Brothers, Plantation Services Land Report 2012

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“Who Owns the Land? Mapping Out Florida’s Water Future.”

Stofin Co. Inc. is #7 on the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s (TCRPC) map of land ownership in the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA). These lands lie on the eastern side of the EAA and comprise 7,189 acres. Stofin Co. is affiliated with Fanjul Corporation more widely known to river activist as “Florida Crystals.” As we know, Fanjul Corporation is a large sugar and real estate conglomerate with interest in Florida, the Dominican Republic and soon to be in the brothers’ homeland, Cuba, once again. The family is very influential in all politics and donates extensively to both the Democratic and Republican parties.

We can see by doing just a bit of research that some of the same officers of Fanjul Corporation are also listed in Stofin Co. Inc. such as Erik J. Blomqvist and Luis J. Hernandez.

Fanjul Corp. Sunbiz (http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=FANJUL%20M516461&aggregateId=domp-m51646-9316409f-936a-40c1-9bc9-3acc902edee5&searchTerm=fanjul%20corp&listNameOrder=FANJUL%20M516461)

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Fanjul Corp. Sunbiz 2016

Stofin Co. Inc., Sunbiz (http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=STOFIN%201856420&aggregateId=domp-185642-9100e283-b064-4a5f-8083-da9865fd09e3&searchTerm=stofin%20co%20&listNameOrder=STOFIN%201856420)

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Stofin Co. 2016 (Note many of same officers) 

Looking at our TCRPC map I have colored #7 parcels in orange just as #2 Okeelanta Corp. and #3 New Hope Sugar Co. were. As we learned earlier those too are Fanjul Corp. lands. I have just added a purple dot to differentiate. So far all in ORANGE below is Fanjul holdings.

It is interesting to compare the TCRPC map with the historic maps also below and note the “shape” of the original “river of grass” before it was dammed and destroyed by agricultural development in the EAA. Note how the river veered off to the right, or in an eastly direction. Surveyor, Chappy Young’s map shows the westerly development over the years into the “Everglades’ agreeed boarder” from the east. We have swallowed her up in every direction. She needs to be restored. It only makes sense that some of the overflow water from Lake Okeechobee destroying the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is allowed to go south again. Thank you for reading my blog and for caring about the health of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and the Florida Evergldes.

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Everglades Unknown early map from negative
Historic map from 1948 book “Lake Okeechobee” written in 1948 by Alfred Jackson and Kathryn Hanna as part of the Rivers of America Series.
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War map of the Everglades created during the Seminole Wars, 1856.
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West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)
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Senator Joe Negron’s proposed aquisition map in the EAA, 2016.

Stofin Co. Inc. (http://www.companies-florida.com/stofin-co-inc-1fym6/)

Stofin donations to politicians: (http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/indian-river-lagoon/health/ken-pruitts-lobbying-firm-harvested-150000-from-florida-crystals-since-2012-investigation-finds-ep-3-332700741.html)

Stofin donations to political parties: (https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?cycle=2016&ind=A1200)

New Hope Sugar Corporation; Can We Create More Than Hope? SLR/IRL

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TCRPC EAA map 2016
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Senator Negron’s possible land acquisition map 2016/17

 

 

 

 

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“Who Owns the Land South of the Lake? Mapping Out Florida’s Water Future.”

Today we discuss #3, New Hope Sugar Corporation. It is difficult to find much information on the company, however, it is part of the Fanjul family’s holdings. It is also the same name, as we learned yesterday, as the Fanjul charity: New Hope Charities whose mission is to help families in the Glades.

Let’s look at the charity again…

Their website reads: “New Hope Charities was incorporated as a 501(3)(c) charity in 1988 offering support to remote, distressed and underserved segments of society. The first program implemented by New Hope distributed food to needy families living in the “Glades” area of western Palm Beach County. Currently, we operate a multi-service center in Pahokee, Florida, the second poorest city in the United States. The Family Center consists of a Day Care Center, a Youth Center, an Education Center, a Health Center, basketball courts, and an open field for soccer, baseball and football.”

Now back to the land…

I have colored in New Hope Sugar Corp. in the same orange highlighter as Okeelanta Corporation, but added a red dot to differentiate. New Hope Charities above mentions Pahokee as the nation’s second poorest town. Pahokee is south of the Martin County Line along the rim of Lake Okeechobee; it is not far away.  The point of my blog series is to show landholdings, but I think the “New Hope” theme lends itself to a discussion on something more.

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New Hope Sugar Corp orange with red dot, #3. Fanjul holdings.
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Map south of Lake O, Pahokee is marked

I have been blogging for four years now,  it is becoming clear to us all that there is a bridge to be crossed, a hand to be held if we are going to go any further. Since the beginning of our river journey there have been cries from the interior of the state/south of the Lake. Cries of fear that we want to “send the water south” and destroy their cities and livelihoods…Even thought we know this isn’t so, this is understandable— and let there be no mistake about it: #GladesLivesMatter

I think it is time we talk about this openly. We must address the fears and the realities  and we must begin to help…because there is so much help we can do for these communities and for a better water future for our state.

What got me thinking on all this was researching New Hope Sugar Corporation, #3 on the TCRPC map. I realized I have never thought that much about these areas south the Lake, except maybe when my father told me some of the best football players come from Pahokee and Belle Glade. I have driven through before and I have flown over. But have I ever walked inside? No I have not. After I finish this “land south of the Lake series” I think it is time to go inside this world and see how we can help.

We have got start a conversation including the Glades communities, a plan to help the poverty in Pahokee and Belle Glade and other Glades communities. We have to talk about Everglades Restoration as a plan for everyone.  I am sure the Fanjul’s New Hope Charities with same name as their Sugar Corporation is doing great work, but why couldn’t Everglades restoration offer something more? Because in order to create more than hope, we must move beyond charity…

 

Links:

Glades Lives Matter: http://www.ussugar.com/news/icymi-glades-lives-matter/

New Hope Sugar Corp: Links: http://listings.findthecompany.com/l/29385192/New-Hope-Sugar-Company-in-West-Palm-Beach-FL

SunBiz: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=NEWHOPESUGAR%202486740&aggregateId=domp-248674-74190f46-1014-4027-89fb-78bffb22106a&searchTerm=new%20hope%20sugar%20corp&listNameOrder=NEWHOPESUGAR%202486740

Board of Dir. New Hope Charities: http://www.newhopecharities.com/about/our-board-of-directors/

Pahokee: http://www.cityofpahokee.com/Pages/index

Pahokee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pahokee,_Florida

Pakokee: http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc86312.php

Poorest Communities in Florida: http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/florida/poorest-cities-fl/

Excerpt NY Times Article, 2013… In the Glades, the “official” jobless rate has always been a joke because so few people are even on the books. Many of the agricultural jobs disappeared as vegetable production turned into sugar growing, now largely mechanized.

NY Times Article of Football Pahokee and Bell Glade and Hope of a Better Life: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/football-as-a-way-out-of-poverty.html?_r=0

New Hope Charities: http://www.newhopecharities.com

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Pahokee from the air, 2014 JTL
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Black gold around Pahokee known as THE MUCK