The extraordinary work of a Bravo Station Lee County Sheriff's Deputy in Lehigh was recognized by members of the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce at their weekly monthly luncheon.
Capt. John Haberman, commander of Bravo Station in Lehigh, said that Cpl. Steve Cart was asked to handle a complaint from the Lehigh Acres Child Care Center concerning vagrants living in a wooded area next to their facility which also includes a playground. The site is across the canal near the Lehigh Regional Medical Center.
Officials at the child care center said people living in the wooded area do things that were in their words, "vulgar and within view of the children and in and around the day care center."
Cpl. Steve Cart, third from left, was given an award at the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon for his solving of a problem near a children’s day care center. Shown from left to right are Capt. Jim Haberman, commander of the Bravo Station in Lehigh, Sgt. Robert Hogan, who heads community policing, Cpl. Hart, and Chamber CEO and President Inke Baker.
Cart, once given the assignment to looking into the matter, immediately got in touch with the child care center and other businesses to identify the problem and find solutions, said Capt. John Haberman, Bravo Station commander.
Once inspecting the area, Cart got in touch with the owner of the wooded property who lives away from Lehigh and said he was not able to pay for clearing the vegetation or brush to alleviate the problem, but gave an okay to clear it out if possible.
Cart was able to arrange for inmates from the Lee County Sheriff's Office Corrections Bureau to come out to Lehigh and remove a great amount of garbage from the property.
The workers, Cart said, were unable to access much of the property due to the dense vegetation.
It was then that Cart asked for the help of the State of Florida corrections Work Camp. He called William Havens and explained the problem and with the help of Havens was able to organize work crews to come to the site and remove the dense vegetation the vagrants were using to conceal themselves.
To make the situation worse, Cart was confronted with the task of removal of the trimmed vegetation that the work crews did not have the capacity to take care of - so he proceeded to call the East County Water control District (ECWCD) and asked for their help.
Mike Cook, an official at the ECWCD, agreed and said he would provide a chipper and dump truck as well as workers to help in the cleanup.
Haberman said during the next two days, Cart, the Sheriff's Office inmate workers, the State Department of Corrections and the ECWCD worked together to clear out and fill six dump truck with loads of mulched and several additional tons of garbage from the property.
Haberman said deputies often do things to help alleviate crimes by doing things like this without much recognition.
"This project is only one example of the tireless effort that Corporal Cart has displayed in an effort to make Lehigh Acres a safer place to live and work. The gratitude extended by the child care center cannot be understated now as the project has also created a much safer environment for the children who attend the day care facility daily, and also the public who are behind some of the businesses adjacent to the day care center, including a restaurant, Rib City, that specializes in ribs," Haberman said.
Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce Interim CEO and President Inke Baker emceed the meeting on Feb. 26 in the Crown Room of the Majestic Golf Club on Homestead Rd. For several months, Baker said the chamber luncheons had been held in a large meeting room of the Microtel Inn.
"We are going to be moving around to other locations for our luncheons. We will be here for around four months, but members should be sure to check their email to know where our future luncheons will be," she said. The price for members to attend the luncheon also went up from $12 to $15.
No other awards were given and Baker encouraged area business leaders and members to watch for outstanding workers at their businesses and consider nominating them for recognition by the chamber, which holds its luncheons on the last Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. of every month.
Kurt Goerke, who has been associated with the American Lung Association for 20 years, spoke about the leading cause of death in the U.S. He said when the lung association was referred to as the TV and respiratory Society of America but that "TB put us out of business."
"The leading cause of death in America today is smoking. Even though 82 percent of Americans say they don't smoke, deaths from lung disease is the number one killer for both men and women in the U.S.," Goerke said.
He spoke of new ways real estate agents are finding that secondhand smoke is causing problems, especially for children who live in joined unit condos and in taller buildings where town houses and condos are separated by walls.
"Smoke is entering the electrical outlets and any other crevices there may be in these buildings and even thought you may not be able to smell the smoke, it is leaking into others' living spaces and the second hand smoke is causing problems," Goerke said.
Baker noted that the public was invited later that day to the opening of an office for State Rep. Matthew Caldwell, who was at the luncheon.
The Republican who represents Lehigh Acres in Tallahassee hosted the grand opening of his office from 4 to 6 p.m. State lawmakers, county and city officials were among the invited guests for the grand opening. Caldwell was first elected to office in 2010 and reelected for a second term in August of 2012.
Following redistricting, Lee County gained a fourth House seat which is now House District 79. The district includes the communities of Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers, Alva, Buckingham and fort Myers Shores/Olga.
The predominate boundaries to the district are the county line to the north and east, SR 82 to the south and the city boundaries of Cape Coral and Fort Myers to the west. When he ran for the office, he made a promise to open a site in Lehigh for the public.
Caldwell is asking citizens and public officials in the new district to loan or donate materials for display in the office, including photos, maps and paraphernalia reflective of the local area and its history.
The new office is open full-time and is located on the outskirts of Lehigh at the Lee County Mosquito Control District off of Buckingham Road. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. daily. The phone number is 239-694-0161 and the public is invited to visit with any questions they may have concerning state issues.