News Cast for April 24th:
Lt. Colonel Leo Gray, a Red Tail pilot for the Tuskegee airmen, the first black pilots to fly for the United States Air Force came to Okeechobee this week to give an inspiring message to prisoners. Gray is now 91 and talked about his childhood, how he became a pilot, the discrimination he received from the public and military and his desire to persevere and overcome life’s trials. Cole said he wanted to show the prisoners that they can become productive members of society
More photos on our Facebook page.
A 45 year old Orlando man was hospitalized Thursday afternoon after a near head on collision on route 70 at Jordan Terrace in Highlands County. The Florida highway patrol says Jose Ramos was west bound on 70 and somehow crossed the center line and struck a Semi truck driven by 73 year old William Fath of Ohio. Ramos was listed in serious condition at Raulerson Hospital.
No charges were filed after what is being described as an accidental discharge of a firearm in the Taylor Creek Camp Ground. A 75 year old man apparently had fired the gun accidentally inside of his home, had been drinking and fell asleep. Attempts to contact him by phone were eventually successful.
Sports Cast for April 24th:
The Okeechobee track team couldn’t get any state qualifiers this year.
Daniel Shelley finished 12th in both the 16 hundred meters and 32 hundred meters to highlight the day for the boys.
Shelley said he enjoys the track when he compares it to cross country races. The 4 by 800 relay team finished in 14th place.
Hunter Sills said the team was nervous but have really put in a lot of work this spring. Devion Wigfall finished 16th overall in the shot put competition.
Moore Haven baseball lost to Evangelical Christian 5-4 in their district tournament to end their season.
The Lady Brahman basketball awards banquet set for tonight at 6 pm.
Commissioner Adam H. Putnam Announces 81 Gas Pump Skimmers Found in Statewide Sweep
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam is dedicated to protecting Florida consumers, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been sweeping through Florida checking gas pumps for “skimmers,” devices that capture consumers’ credit and debit card information. He announced today that inspectors have checked more than 6,000 gas stations and found 81 skimmers at gas pumps throughout Florida.
“From Okaloosa County to Miami-Dade County, these skimmers are being placed on gas pumps throughout the state,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Our inspectors will continue to work to safeguard Floridians and tourists who shouldn’t have to worry about having their credit or debit card information stolen as they fuel-up.”
There are steps consumer can take to protect themselves, such as:
- Pay in cash inside the store to ensure the credit card information stays safe.
- Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with. Many stations are now putting a piece of security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened by unauthorized individuals.
- Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away from the store so they are not noticed as quickly.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
- If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of a debit card. That way, the PIN number is safe.
- Monitor bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges.
- Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company.
The counties and numbers of skimmers found are as follows:
- Alachua – 2
- Bay – 1
- Brevard – 5
- Broward – 9
- Charlotte – 1
- Citrus – 2
- Duval – 3
- Hernando – 2
- Hillsborough – 6
- Lee – 2
- Marion – 2
- Martin – 3
- Miami-Dade – 14
- Okaloosa – 2
- Orange – 4
- Osceola – 2
- Palm Beach – 8
- Pasco – 1
- Pinellas – 1
- Polk – 3
- Sarasota – 1
- Lucie – 1
- Sumter – 1
- Suwannee – 2
- Volusia – 2
- Walton – 1
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.
Florida Crime At Odds With Incarceration Rates
Tallahassee, Fla. – With Florida’s crime rate at its lowest point in nearly five decades, the latest report from the state’s nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog group, Florida TaxWatch, recommends policy improvements to reduce cost and improve the efficacy of the criminal justice system. The data from the report show the contrast between Florida’s falling crime rate and rising prison population. The ballooning prison population has resulted in a 300 percent increase in corrections spending, which now totals $2.2 billion.
“It is clear that tough-on-crime policies are not working for Florida, as our state’s crime rate is still 15 percent higher than the national average, even while crime rates across the nation continue to fall,” said Robert Weissert, Senior Vice President of Research at Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog.
Since 1980, Florida’s inmate population has increased steadily by an average of five percent each year, much faster than the population growth that has averaged two percent annually. The state’s incarcerated population is five times larger than it was two and a half decades ago, making Florida 11th in the nation for per capita incarcerations.
The report also makes recommendations to improve the corrections system while minimizing expenditures. Options for reform include policies designed to keep low-level, nonviolent offenders out of expensive state prisons, such as the use of civil citations, electronic monitoring, and greater judicial discretion in sentencing. Other policies would reduce the costs associated with recidivism and reduce the likelihood of inmates returning to prison after release, including conditional early release for elderly or infirm inmates, and reentry programs to help former inmates assimilate back into society.
“This year, the Florida Legislature and the Florida Department of Corrections are working together to incorporate some of our recommendations in a new corrections framework for Florida,” added Weissert. “The Legislature expects to pass a prison reform package, championed by Senator Greg Evers and Representative Carlos Trujillo, that will open the door to taxpayer savings by allowing infirmed prisoners to leave the costly corrections system, and will facilitate data collection to make informed decisions about the elderly prison population. Lawmakers are also considering a bill by Senator Garcia and Representative Clarke-Reed that will expand the use of juvenile civil citations, ensuring fewer young Floridians are exposed to the criminal justice system for nonviolent misdemeanor crimes. Others have proposed similar Florida TaxWatch recommendations, such as Representative Katie Edwards, whose proposal to reduce the number of elderly, non-threatening inmates in state prisons could save taxpayers up to $40 million. We look forward to working with these lawmakers who have committed themselves to improving the state’s criminal justice system in the future.”
Lake Istokpoga aquatic plant management meeting set for May 4
The public is invited to attend a meeting to review and comment on the Lake Istokpoga aquatic plant management plan for 2015-2016. Representatives from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Highlands County will be available to answer questions about planned upcoming aquatic plant management activities.
The meeting is scheduled for May 4, from 10 a.m. to noon at H.L. Bishop Park, 10 Lake June Clubhouse Road, Lake Placid.
The agenda will include presentations and discussion regarding FWC aquatic habitat restoration and enhancement projects, an FWC invasive plant management update on hydrilla, plans for upcoming treatment areas as well as an update of ongoing maintenance work around the lake.
Public input from user groups in the Sebring-Lake Placid area is critical to create a well-balanced approach to managing aquatic plants.
“This meeting is part of an ongoing process that maintains a regular dialogue with stakeholders. We hope everyone interested in aquatic plant management efforts will attend this meeting and provide input,” said FWC invasive aquatic plant biologist Kelle Sullivan.
Those having specific questions regarding the management of the lake may contact FWC regional biologist, Kelle Sullivan at 863-534-7074 or via email at Kelle.Sullivan@MyFWC.com.
If you would like more information about invasive aquatic plants, visit MyFWC.com/Wildlife or call the FWC’s Lakeland regional office at 863-648-3200.
News Cast for April 23rd:
On the arrest list, 30 year old Malinda Yates was charged with sale and possession with intent to sell methamphetamine. She allegedly sold the drug to a confidential informant in January in an operation by the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force. Bond was set at 1 hundred thousand dollars.
Glades County commissioners passed a resolution of support for the Governor’s budget that includes 1 hundred and 50 million dollars for Everglades restoration. Included in those funds would be development of the C-43 reservoir along the Caloosahatchee River and a cleanup of Lake Hicpochee.
A third lawsuit has now been filed against the Sheriff’s office over the fatal crash involving deputy Joseph Gracie at McDonald’s 18 months ago. In addition to the two victims, a rear seat passenger, Isamar James, who survived the crash, has filed the negligence suit.
Her attorney Richard Schuler maintains the Deputy admitted in a deposition he was hesitant to use the police radio to get permission from a superior officer because of their policy to keep the radio clear when a deputy responds to a violent domestic dispute. The policy was in place to protect the other deputies when they respond to emergency situations. The three litigation are proceeding but are not close to any trial date.
Sports Cast for April 23rd:
Okeechobee baseball lost to Jensen Beach in District Semifinals 4-2 on Wednesday. Baron Stuart and Sean Osceola pitched well but the Brahmans left too many men on base. Paul Jackson scored a run on a Falcon error and Gabe Greseth drove in Trenton Hickman with a fifth inning single.
Jensen rallied in the late innings. Coach Eric Kindell was disappointed in the loss but stressed his team played a solid game. Wade Walton and Kyle Gutveg had RBI singles for Jensen Beach who improved to (18-6).
Moore Haven softball defeated Bradenton Christian 10-0 in the Class 3A regional quarterfinal. They will host Naples St. John Neumann on April 28th.
Lady Brahman softball are at Pembroke Pines Charter School tonight in the Class 6A regional quarterfinals, first pitch at 7 pm.
Seven Brahman athletes will compete in the track regional in Miramar hosted by Miami Northwestern Today. The 4 by 800 meter relay team of Daniel Shelley, Isaac Garcia, Gerardo Saucedo and Hunter Sills, Jajuan Cherry in the 100 meters, and Devion Wigfall in the shot put. Shelley also will compete as an individual in the 16 hundred meters and the 32 hundred meters.
Governor Scott: Lifting Cuban Embargo Could Hurt Florida Agriculture
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott issued the following statement regarding the potential negative impact of lifting the Cuban Embargo on Florida agriculture:
Governor Scott said, “Agriculture is a vital part of our economy in Florida, and lifting the embargo on Cuba could do irreparable harm to it. Importing agricultural products from Cuba could drive down demand for Florida products, open our crops up to invasive pests and species, and give the Castro regime leverage to continue the suppression of their people. Florida agriculture has over a $100 billion impact on our state, and President Obama should be doing everything he can to support it. Sadly, he continues to stand side by side with the Castro regime. I will continue to oppose lifting the embargo, and fight for Florida families, farmers, and our agriculture industry.”
Rooney Highlights Everglades Restoration, Energy Security Projects in Appropriations Bill
Appropriations Committee Approves 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said that the 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill approved by the Committee today will provide critical funding for Everglades restoration, water infrastructure, and energy security projects.
“The Everglades restoration and water infrastructure projects funded by this bill are critical to keeping Florida beautiful and maintaining our state’s economic growth,” Rooney said. “I appreciate the Committee including my funding requests in the bill approved today.”
“In addition to funding critical water and restoration projects in Florida, our bill will help ensure the safety of our nation’s nuclear stockpile, advance energy independence, and strengthen our infrastructure, while meeting strict spending caps to save taxpayer money.
Funding requests submitted by Rooney and accepted in the 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations bill include:
- $64.1 million for Hoover Dike Seepage Control
- $9.5 million for Tampa Harbor operation and maintenance
- $2.75 million for the Okeechobee Waterway
- $123.7 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration
- $700,000 for Intracoastal Waterway operation and maintenance
- $400,000 for Manatee Harbor operation and maintenance
For the text of the draft bill, please visit:
For the draft bill report, please visit:
For a summary, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394139
Rooney Votes to Boost Programs for Veterans, Florida Defense Infrastructure
Appropriations Committee Approves 2016 Military Construction/VA Bill
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, said that the 2016 MilCon/VA Appropriations Bill approved by the Committee today will improve programs for veterans, troops and military families, while supporting Florida’s defense infrastructure.
“Without question, America’s veterans deserve better than the treatment they have received from the VA over the last several years,” Rooney said. “Our bipartisan appropriations bill builds on the VA reform we passed last year by increasing funding for VA health care services and benefit claims processing, while holding VA accountable for delivering the care our veterans need, where and when they need it.
“I’m particularly glad that our bill includes a number of requests I made to continue improving mental health services for returning veterans. While we’ve made tremendous progress, we must keep working to expand access, increase awareness, and research effective treatments.”
Requests to improve VA services submitted by Rooney and accepted by the Committee include:
- Urging the VA to calculate the need for additional VA nursing home beds, and to develop contingency plans to support the peak elderly veteran population.
- Encouraging the VA to utilize mobile health technologies to support rural and hard-to-reach populations and reduce wait times.
- Providing funds for the VA to research mental health treatments, including Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and canine therapy, and urging the VA Secretary to approve those found to be effective.
- Directing the VA to prioritize flexible partnerships with accredited VSOs to prepare and submit benefit claims electronically.
“By maintaining critical investments in Florida’s defense infrastructure, our bill helps keep America safe while improving quality of life for our troops and military families,” Rooney noted. The bill funds several Florida military construction projects, including:
- Navy – Jacksonville (Mission Control Center – $16.75 million), Mayport (Readiness Center – 16.16 million), Pensacola (Housing – $18.35 million), and Whiting Field (Training Facility – $10.42 million)
- Air Force – Cape Canaveral (Range Communication Facility – $21.00 million), Eglin (HQ Facility – $8.70 million), Hurlburt Field (Squad Facility – $14.20 million)
- Defense Wide – Hurlburt Field (Maintenance Hangar – $17.99 million), Mac Dill (SOF Operation Support Facility – $39.14 million)
- Army National Guard – Palm Coast (Readiness Center – $18.00 million)
- Army Reserve – Mac Dill (AR Center – $55.00 million)
- Air Force Reserve – Patrick (Support Facility – $3.40 million)
In total, the bill provides $76.6 billion in discretionary funding – $4.6 billion above the fiscal year 2015 level. This represents a 5.6 percent increase over the fiscal year 2015 level for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – including increases for health care, benefit claims processing, the Board of Veterans Appeals, medical and prosthetic research, and information technology. Military construction is increased by $904 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, which allows for full funding of family housing, construction of hospitals and health facilities, and support for critical overseas investments.
For the draft text of the bill, please visit:
For the draft bill report, please visit:
For a bill summary, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394141
News Cast for April 22nd:
Among arrests, 27 year old Charles Coney of Belle Glade was charged with smuggling cell phones into Moore Haven correctional facility. He was also charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly breaking the phone and trying to flush it down a toilet in his cell.
City police arrested four juveniles this week on charges of burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief after the theft of over 7 hundred dollars in skate boards from the Skate Board Park on North West 6th Avenue. The items were recovered.
A 41 year old Lake Placid man avoided injury after a semi-truck carrying roofing tile went on fire on route 710 near Clementsville in Martin County. Benny Sholtz says a blown tire might have sparked the blaze. The department of transportation had to fix fire damage to the road as well.
An Indiantown man is jailed after trying to cut a bouncer with a knife at Las Tres Roses bar. The bouncer pulled out pepper spray and was wearing body armor. 21 year old Jorge Lopez allegedly ran into a wooded area, got into another confrontation with a man and was subdued.
A structure fire injured two local firemen on Monday. The small single family home suffered about 10 thousand dollars in damages on North West 1st Street. County firemen Robert Farmer was injured when a ceiling collapsed and his neck was burned. City firemen JR Wooten was treated for heat exhaustion. The state fire marshall will investigate and the American Red Cross was also at the scene to assist.
Sports Cast for April 22nd:
Evan Faulk threw a five inning perfect game with 10 strikeouts and Sean Osceola hit a grand slam as Okeechobee walloped Fort Pierce Westwood 11-0 in the first round of districts on Tuesday. Layton Thomas added a two run homerun for Okeechobee, who moves on to play Jensen Beach at South Fork in the semifinals this afternoon at 4 pm. Gabe Greseth added a two run single.
Faulk said he just wanted to help out his team and throw strikes. Osceola hit one drive with homerun distance that went foul but wasn’t discouraged. He said he felt comfortable at the plate and was looking for a pitch he could drive.
Coach Eric Kindell said he was pleased with how his team played and feels they are playing good ball right now.
On the sports schedule today, Moore Haven softball will host Bradenton Christian tonight in the Class 3A quarterfinals at 7 pm. OHS tennis holds their awards banquet at 6 pm at the high school cafeteria.
OKEECHOBEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
On Saturday, April 18, 2015, the 19th Judicial Circuit Victim’s Rights Coalition, along with Martha’s House of Okeechobee and the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office hosted a one day “Ride for Rights” motorcycle Fun Run. This ride was open to the public and consisted of both civilian riders and law enforcement riders traveling through multi jurisdictions; starting at the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, and traveling to the Port St. Lucie Police Department, Treasure Coast Harley Davidson, Martin County (Indiantown) sub-station, and into Okeechobee County. This was a 115 mile motorcycle run where all the bikes were escorted by Law Enforcement the entire ride.
This was the 10th annual ride and was established to provide awareness for victims of crimes. The Victim’s Rights Coalition Within the four counties of the 19th Judicial Circuit – Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee Florida, victim service providers help victims rebuild heir lives. We can help you learn about your legal rights and options, cope with the impact of crime, access victim compensation, develop a safety plan, and navigate the criminal justice and social service systemis comprised of members across the Treasure Coast to include Okeechobee, Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie Counties and are dedicated to assisting/advocating for victims of crime and their rights as victims.
Their Mission Statement is to increase community awareness to victim issues and to increase awareness of community services and support. The month of April from the 19th through the 25th is National Crime Victims Rights week. The 19th Judicial Circuit Victims Rights Coalition observes this week and hosts many events to give awareness to victims of crimes.
We would like to thank all that participated in this event to include the Fraternal Order of Eagles and Eagle Riders #4509 and the Blue Nights organizations, as well as all participants of the ride. Thank you to the sponsors/vendors: Gretchen Robertson State Farm, Treasure Coast Harley Davidson, Everglades Farm Equipment, Chobee Steelers Band, B & B Crafts, Big Red Bus, Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary, Superior Water, Plaster Playtime, Beck Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Chico’s Burrito Shack and the multiple agencies and officers that assisted with the escort.
During this event $1,130.00 was raised from the bike run and an additional $1,330.00 from the BBQ dinner. Within the four counties of the 19th Judicial Circuit – Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee Florida, victim service providers help victims rebuild heir lives. We can help you learn about your legal rights and options, cope with the impact of crime, access victim compensation, develop a safety plan, and navigate the criminal justice and social service systemWithin the four counties of the 19th Judicial Circuit – Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee Florida, victim service providers help victims rebuild heir lives. We can help you learn about your legal rights and options, cope with the impact of crime, access victim compensation, develop a safety plan, and navigate the criminal justice and social service system..
To support National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Within the four counties of the 19th Judicial Circuit – Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee Florida, victim service providers help victims rebuild heir lives. We can help you learn about your legal rights and options, cope with the impact of crime, access victim compensation, develop a safety plan, and navigate the criminal justice and social service system