Chamber offers monthly forum for Immokalee information

It was a big monthly meeting for the Immokalee Chamber of Commerce May 4 at Lozano’s Restaurant.

The CRA’s Christie Betancourt invited everyone to the May 18 joint Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the MSTU board meeting at the Seminole Indian Casino on May 18. Discussion will revolve around the transportation needs of the Immokalee community and will result in recommendations to the Department of Transportation. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. and will be held in the Casino Events Center.

Immokalee Fire Chief Paul Anderson invited any interested groups to take advantage of the department’s informational presentations, including public education classes on the use of fire extinguishers.

He continued to spread his message promoting the fire assessment on the August ballot. If it passes, the chief said it will provide the necessary funding for fire protection.

At this time, 60 percent of the total number of properties in the fire district pay no ad valorem taxes, which covers fire protection. That means that just 40 percent of Immokalee’s property owners pay 100 percent of the fire protection costs. Many Immokalee properties are not on the ad valorem tax roll because they are owned by nonprofit groups, the government or have agricultural exemptions.

Chief Anderson wants to lower the millage rate and add a fire assessment fee for all properties. That would more appropriately distribute fire protection costs, he said.

He said the data is being analyzed at this time. When it is complete, the budget information regarding the amendment plan will be on fire station’s website.

He also explained that he has managed to add firefighters to the roster due to SAFER grants and to add one unit to the fleet.

Nutrition program
Suzanne Fundingsland of the IFAS Family Nutrition Program noted that May is Drowning Prevention Month and said her group is working to help people improve their nutrition by highlighting healthy choices in local restaurants. Restaurant owners who would like a dietitian from the Family Nutrition Program to help them promote healthy choices can call the Collier County Extension at 239-252-4800.

She provided information on Quality Work and Quality Living, helping the workplace become more productive by making it healthier. Wellness classes for Immokalee employers are available in single classes or a series.

She also asked for business donations of bicycles or contributions to the purchase of bicycles to be raffled at Immokalee’s Ciclovia.

Reader Leaders
Bernardo Barnhart asked for community leaders to step up as guest speakers at Immokalee’s Top 25 Reader Leaders program June 1at iTECH College. This will be the second annual event and sponsors are needed to ensure its success. Checks can be made out to Rotary Club of Immokalee, 1300 N. 15th Street, Ste. 2, Immokalee, FL 34142.

Collier County Deputy Patty Calderon also asked for donations of children’s books appropriate for K-middle school aged students for the CCSO Summer Reading Program. The program is geared to help kids learn to enjoy reading and to challenge young readers.

Harry Chapin Food Bank new CEO Richard LeBer has only been on the job locally since February. The organization provides food for people in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Cherryle Thomas reminded people that the December 1 Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and December 10 Christmas Around the World winter festival are not far away. Planning is ongoing for the 24-year-old event. She noted that the festival allows the chamber to provide scholarships for promising Immokalee students.

County Commission District 5 candidates also attended and took the opportunity to get their respective messages to the community.

President Danny Gonzalez led the monthly session that gives members a chance to mix and network with others interested in working for Immokalee. The breakfasts are held the first Wednesday of every month.

Patty Brant, Publisher of the Immokalee Bulletin can be reached at pbrant@newszap.com

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