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News Cast 8/7

News Cast for August 7th:

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department says construction at SE 40th Avenue at the intersection of SE 8th Street, will still be going on a while longer to replace a culvert underneath the road. Detours are still set up at SE 6th Street and SE 10th Street for the duration of the work. This closure was originally scheduled to end this past Thursday. Keep listening to WOKC as to when the work is completed and the road reopens.

Last night, Okeechobee residents gathered in the Osceola Middle School gymnasium to listen to candidates for local offices speak on their qualifications for that particular office and answer submitted questions from the public. Four of the five candidates vying for the office of county court judge were there last night. One of those candidates was Roger Azcona, a 25 year long resident of Okeechobee County and an attorney who has represented over two thousand cases in ten or twelve county and district courts. Azcona believes one aspect of the judicial system he intends to focus on if he’s elected is the issue of people who re-offend. Another candidate for county judge is Donald Chinquina, who believes his over 25 years’ experience as an attorney will be a major factor in him being the successor to retiring Judge Jerry Bryant. But Chinquina also says another asset he has is good judicial demeanor and the ability to listen to all sides. Other candidates who spoke last evening include Dixie Ball, incumbent for the School Board District 3 seat and her opponent, Melisa Jahner; and District 4 County Commissioner incumbent Terry Burroughs and his opponent Fred Brown.

Political Forum 1

Political Forum 2

Political Forum 3

Political Forum 4

The Landing Strip Café at the Okeechobee County Airport was the site for a very special birthday celebration yesterday. Okeechobee native and World War II veteran Walter Brown celebrated his 95th birthday at the airport with a birthday lunch and a ride in a small aircraft, something he hasn’t done in ten years. Mr. Brown, a US Navy veteran who was aboard the USS Missouri the day the Japanese surrendered, was quite surprised when he got his birthday present. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper, himself a US Navy veteran and one of many who helped put this together, says it felt good to be a part of this event. Officials from the Landing Strip Café played a major role in putting this birthday celebration together for Mr. Brown.

WW2 Vet Birthday 1

WW2 Vet Birthday 3

WW2 Vet Birthday 3

WW2 Vet Birthday 4

Despite the fact that we are in the wet season, it didn’t stop Okeechobee County firefighters from having to fight a brush fire Sunday night. Crews were called to the sixteen thousand block of North Highway 98 just after nine o’clock for a small bale of hay that caught fire. Crews needed only about ten minutes to douse the fire, using about 25 gallons of water. No one was hurt and no damages. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

A traffic stop turned into an arrest for an Okeechobee man and woman this past Thursday night.  Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a four door passenger car, driven by 45 year old Nezzie Elizabeth Howling on the north side of 441 just before eight o’clock, for not wearing a seatbelt. As deputies were asking for her license, she gave him her ID card and dispatch confirmed Howling’s license was suspended. Another deputy came up to the passenger side and noticed a clear plastic bag outside next to the door after he noticed 25 year old Timothy Sherman Courson, throwing it out. Courson was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and Howling was charged with driving on a suspended license. Howling was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond and Courson is being held on a five thousand dollar bond.

On the arrest report:

44 year old Diana Cruz Casiano of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for tampering with an electronic monitoring device. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

23 year old Carly Morgan Walls of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from St. Lucie County for drug possession charges and violating probation. She’s being held without bond.

32 year old Heather Louise Adkins of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court for past charges of driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

42 year old Miguel Elias Moreno of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid license. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

33 year old Christine Marie Lukasievich of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on past charges of driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

31 year old Amy Jo Jones of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on an expired license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

37 year old Enrique Santiago Conejo Junior was arrested on a warrant from Highlands County for petty theft. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old William Nicholas Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for grand larceny and possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell. His bond is set at $35 thousand dollars.

37 year old Thomas William McGill of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession and resisting arrest charges. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

49 year old Susan Jean Van Cise and 28 year old Cory Allysa McLaughlin, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for shoplifting. Both were released after posting bonds of $750 dollars apiece.

33 year old Melissa Maria Vivar of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

22 year old Enrique Santillan of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.


News Cast 8/6

News Cast for August 6th:

Motorists still need to be a bit more patient as it pertains to a recent road closure, per the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. Due to some unforeseen complications this closure, which was necessary to replace a culvert underneath SE 40th Avenue at the intersection of SE 8th Street, will be going on a little while longer. Detours are still being set up at SE 6th Street and SE 10th Street for the duration of the work. This closure was originally scheduled to end Thursday. Keep listening to WOKC as to when the road will reopen.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a mobile home fire to contend with late Wednesday night. Crews were called to the 81 hundred block of SE 99th Trail just before midnight and found the blaze in one of the bedrooms and it was venting though the windows. Crews arrived and needed about ten minutes to get the fire controlled while using about 250 gallons of water. No one was hurt and the fire was contained to the one bedroom. Investigators say the fire was caused by a burning cigarette that fell onto the bed. Total damage is estimated at about $15 thousand dollars in property and contents.

Earlier last week, one of our own Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies received a special award for his efforts in the Click it Or Ticket National Challenge. Senior Deputy Sheriff Adrian Rogers was presented the Safety Recognition Award for this event, which is designed to encourage law enforcement to increase their efforts in vehicle occupant protection enforcement and create awareness for safety belt usage. Sheriff Noel Stephen is quite proud of Senior Deputy Rogers and he says it’s all the more impressive considering that Rogers is the sole traffic officer in the department. Senior Deputy Rogers received this award based on the amount of citations he wrote and the number of residents in the community. He was one of several to receive this award in the state.

Stephen-Click it Or Ticket Award 1

Stephen-Click it Or Ticket Award 2

A very special birthday will be celebrated today for an Okeechobee native and World War II veteran. Walter Brown will be celebrating his 95th birthday and there will be a celebration planned for Mr. Brown at the Landing Strip Café at the Okeechobee County Airport. Mr. Brown is a US Navy veteran who was on the USS Missouri the day the Japanese surrendered. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says Mr. Brown will likely get a very special treat before the birthday luncheon begins. Culpepper says Mr. Brown’s whereabouts and background were found by Okeechobee resident and war veteran Greg Baynard. The birthday luncheon begins shortly before noon and Mr. Brown’s scheduled airplane ride begins at 10 am.

Culpepper-WW2 Veteran 95th Birthday 1

Culpepper-WW2 Veteran 95th Birthday 2

On the arrest report:

33 year old Robert Durwood Cochran Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it. His bond is set at $115 thousand dollars.

52 year old Gregory Jackson of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of hydromorphone with intent to sell it near a place of worship. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

28 year old Cory Ray Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

30 year old Elmer Paul Leitner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it near a park. His bond is set at $150 thousand dollars.

41 year old Catherine Lee Frost of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to sell it near a park and a place of worship. Her bond is set at $210 thousand dollars.

45 year old Lisa Cardena of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession charges. She’s being held without bond.

29 year old Charles Allen Fox of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

29 year old Leon Anthony Cotton of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

25 year old Kayla Victoria Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of hydromorphone with intent to sell. Her bond is set at $80 thousand dollars.

28 year old Bryan Daniel Corwin of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $11 thousand dollars.

38 year old Amy Elizabeth Fink of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 8/3

News Cast for August 3rd:

Motorists need to be a bit more patient as it pertains to a recent road closure, per the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. Due to some unforeseen complications this closure, which was necessary to replace a culvert underneath SE 40th Avenue at the intersection of SE 8th Street, will be going on a little while longer. Detours are still being set up at SE 6th Street and SE 10th Street for the duration of the work. This closure was originally scheduled to end yesterday. Keep listening to WOKC as to when the road will reopen.

Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department last month conducted “Waste Management Traffic Detail” to help combat the speeding and accident causing reckless traffic, mostly by trucks heading to the landfill, on Dark Hammock Road from 441 North to NE 128th Avenue south to 710. Sheriff Noel Stephen says this detail called for two off duty deputies being compensated for their salaries by Waste Management by conducting traffic stops in that area. Stephen says he came up with this idea and the Waste Management Supervisor Tony Bishop, was all for it. In all, there were 86 traffic stops made over a four day period, with 46 citations given and one arrest made.

Waste Management Traffic Detail 1

Waste Management Traffic Detail 2

The magic number is five, as in five local people being considered for the vacant spot on the Okeechobee City Council. These five applicants are John Abney Junior, owner of Abney Building and Consulting, Inc., Georgeann Kirk, Chief Administrative Officer and VP of Administrative Operations of Florida Community of Health Centers, Inc., Ted Danisuk, Sales Manager of Sears Hometown Stores, Robert Keefe Junior, Administrative officer of VA Medical Center in West Palm Beach and Robert Jarrriel Senior, former owner of Sunshine Aluminum Specialties, Inc., now retired. City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca says originally, a decision wouldn’t be made on filling the vacancy until the end of the summer, but the decision was made to fill it sooner. One of the five applicants will be chosen at the next city council meeting Tuesday night. The seat was vacated at the beginning of June when former city councilman Mike O’Connor resigned amid charges of domestic violence.

De Oca-City Council Applicants 1

De Oca-City Council Applicants 2

Narcotics officers from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department have a local man in custody on charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it after serving a warrant Wednesday night. Officers served a warrant at the home of 50 year old Charles Wayne Suarez just after eight o’clock and asked if there were any drugs in the home. They searched the home and found two separate bags of methamphetamine tied in a knot under a dresser, a syringe with a clear liquid in it and on top of the dresser was an open clear bag of the drug. Suarez was arrested and booked into county jail. His bond is set at $35 thousand dollars.

A serving of an arrest warrant turned into more drug charges and arrests last night. Narcotics officers from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department came to the home of 42 year old Duane Ford Thomas of Okeechobee to arrest him for possession of heroin with intent to sell it. Officers came into the house and 32 year old Erin Millheiser of McAlpin showed them where methamphetamine was hidden. Officers found the methamphetamine and some cocaine. Officers continued to search the house and went into the bedroom of 24 year old Matthew Lee Cox and found drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine. Cox and Millheiser were both arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, and Thomas was charged with trafficking heroin. Thomas’ bond is set at $100 thousand dollars and Millheiser and Cox’s bonds are set at $11 thousand dollars and six thousand dollars, respectively.

 

On the arrest report:

33 year old Robert Durwood Cochran Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it. His bond is set at $115 thousand dollars.

52 year old Gregory Jackson of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of hydromorphone with intent to sell it near a place of worship. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

28 year old Cory Ray Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

30 year old Elmer Paul Leitner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it near a park. His bond is set at $150 thousand dollars.

41 year old Catherine Lee Frost of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to sell it near a park and a place of worship. Her bond is set at $210 thousand dollars.

45 year old Lisa Cardena of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession charges. She’s being held without bond.

29 year old Charles Allen Fox of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

29 year old Leon Anthony Cotton of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

25 year old Kayla Victoria Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of hydromorphone with intent to sell. Her bond is set at $80 thousand dollars.

28 year old Bryan Daniel Corwin of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $11 thousand dollars.

38 year old Amy Elizabeth Fink of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 8/2

News Cast for August 2nd:

The Okeechobee County School Board will meet again tonight for the fourth time in as many weeks to listen to the public before approving their proposed millage rates and budget for the upcoming school year. The meeting begins at 6pm in the school board office.

Once again, this is just a reminder that motorists need to be aware of a road closure, per the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. This closure is necessary in order to replace a culvert underneath SE 40th Avenue at the intersection of SE 8th Street. Detours are set up at SE 6th Street and SE 10th Street for the duration of the work. This closure will be in effect until sometime today.

Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department have announced they will be holding a public forum tonight regarding the new Palmetto Berry laws that are now in place by the Florida Department of Agriculture. These berries which are used to improve prostate health, are usually harvested in the middle of August and can be quite profitable when sold on the open market. Sheriff Noel Stephen will be hosting this forum and he says the new laws are that you must have a permit to harvest and transport these berries for selling and you must have written permission from the landowner to take Palmetto berries from someone’s property, otherwise it’s a misdemeanor offense. Stephen says before this new law came into effect, his office would be flooded with calls about people stealing them from their lands and it’s just as much of a headache for the landowners. The Palmetto Berry public forum will be held at the Civic Center on Highway 98 beginning at 7pm tonight. It will be recorded and footage will be available on the sheriff’s website.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a litany of charges following an incident Tuesday afternoon. Deputies responded to the three thousand block of North Highway 98 just after 12:30 for a complaint of a suspicious person. Reportedly, 43 year old Janvar Singleton jumped into the back of someone’s pickup truck as the driver was heading down the road and found him holding a metal rake while sitting on the truck bed. Singleton refused to comply with the deputy’s order to step off the truck and drop the rake. Deputies grabbed the rake, causing Singleton to grab a two by four and raise it as if he was about to strike a deputy with it. Deputies grabbed Singleton’s wrist, making him drop the board then turned him around and cuffed him. Singleton was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, assaulting a law officer, resisting arrest and giving false information to a law officer. He also had an outstanding warrant on him for previous burglary and assault charges. His total bond is just over $62 thousand dollars.

A traffic stop turned into a drug arrest for an Okeechobee woman Tuesday evening. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Plymouth sedan, driven by 36 year old Kelly Charmaine Chapman, on the two hundred block of 17th Avenue just before 6pm for driving in the middle of the road. Chapman gave deputies permission to search the car and they found a bag containing crack cocaine and a glass pipe next to the passenger door which had been dropped out of the car as Chapman was ordered to step out of the car. They also found a black rod normally used for the drug. Chapman was arrested and booked into county jail on charges of possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.

What was reported as a vehicle fire Tuesday afternoon turned out to be something a little less than that. Okeechobee County firefighters were called to the 32 hundred block of 441 South just after four o’clock and found a pickup truck with some smoke coming from the passenger side window but no signs of a fire. Crews opened both doors of the truck to ventilate it and used about ten gallons of water on the passenger seat to cool it off for about five minutes. No one was hurt and no damages. The incident is under investigation.

A Sebring man will be in prison for the rest of his life for murder after a judge’s recent decision in a Highlands County courtroom. 51 year old Richard Conway Strickland the Third was sentenced last month to life in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder of his roommate, 51 year old Shirley Anne Temple, also of Sebring, in May of last year by stabbing her 99 times with a half dozen knives. Strickland had been indicted on first degree murder charges. Highlands County Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says it wasn’t a surprise to him that Strickland did not receive the death penalty. Strickland, a former sanitation worker, says he didn’t remember much of the incident.

On the arrest report:

20 year old Megan Jean Choate of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for assault. She was released after posting bond.

38 year old Kenneth Earl Peacock of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct. He was released after posting bond.


News Cast 8/1

News Cast for August 1st:

This is just a reminder that motorists need to be aware of a road closure, per the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. This closure is necessary in order to replace a culvert underneath SE 40th Avenue at the intersection of SE 8th Street. Detours are set up at SE 6th Street and SE 10th Street for the duration of the work. This closure will be in effect until tomorrow.

Just when you thought the workshops for the Okeechobee County budget were finished, they had one more yesterday. Commissioners met and discussed some ways to tweak the budget and they had another discussion with Sheriff Noel Stephen regarding his budget. As it stands, Stephen’s budget for his department stands at $17.8 million dollars and he is looking to increase it to $18.8 million dollars mainly to help raise the salaries of his deputies to keep them from leaving Okeechobee for better paying work elsewhere. Stephen says while the idea of the upcoming power plant and Bass Pro might help initially with needed county revenue to help fund the sheriff’s budget, it’s not sustainable. Stephen says what will ultimately help is more economic development in the county. Stephen says he’s looking forward to more workshops with the commissioners and the general public to help solve his budget issue.

Seventh Budget Workshop 1

Seventh Budget Workshop 2

Seventh Budget Workshop 3

Seventh Budget Workshop 4

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a host of charges after an incident Monday night. Sheriff’s deputies on patrol in Lock 7 came across some people standing by a bench just after ten o’clock and as he came up to them he smelled marijuana emanating from a pickup truck. The truck belonged to 20 year old Felipe Aguirre and as deputies looked in the truck, they noticed an alcoholic beverage, a black scale and a rolled up dollar bill. The scale and dollar bill had powder on them and it tested positive for cocaine. Further searches turned up bags of marijuana. Aguirre was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine, drug paraphernalia, alcohol by a minor and intent to sell drugs within a thousand feet of a specified area. His bond has not been set.

That was not the only one; sheriff’s deputies have an Okeechobee woman in county jail for drug charges as well after a traffic stop Monday night. Deputies stopped a car, driven by 38 year old Christina McCourts on the two hundred block of Highway 98 for not wearing her seatbelt. A check through dispatch revealed McCourts’ license was recently suspended. A search of her car turned up a marijuana “roach” on the floor and she had an electronic cigarette capsule on her that had cannabis in it. McCourts was arrested and booked on charges of marijuana possession and driving on a suspended license. Her bond has not been set.

Officials from the Highlands County Sheriff’s office say they’ve recently arrested two Sebring men in connection with a shooting at a restaurant in Avon Park last month. Detectives say 19 year old Somore Versace Fagan and 25 year old Erick Joseph Rondil were arrested July 13th for the shooting that took place at Maryland Fried Chicken on June 21st that left a man with a bullet wound in his leg. Spokesperson Scott Dressel says thankfully the victim will make a full recovery. Reportedly, Rondil, who had Fagan shoot the man, had a past friendship with the victim. Dressel says Rondil and Fagan were already in custody on unrelated charges. No one else was hurt in the incident.

On the arrest report:

45 year old David Peewee Herrin of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from Polk County for failing to appear in court. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

25 year old Patrick Neal Naugle of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession charges. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Gabrielle Doctor of Okeechobee was arrested on four counts of fraud while making a bank deposit and failing to appear in court on past charges of lying to a pawnbroker. She’s being held without bond.

19 year old Travis Julian Williams of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

52 year old Scott Wesley Reiss of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. He was released after posting bond.

36 year old Randy Ted Thornton was arrested for violating probation on past charges of burglary and trafficking stolen property. He’s being held without bond.

 


News Cast 7/31

News Cast for July 31st:

Motorists need to be aware that there will be a road closure beginning today, per the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. The closure is necessary in order to replace a culvert underneath SE 40th Avenue at the intersection of SE 8th Street. Detours will be set up at SE 6th Street and SE 10th Street for the duration of the work. This closure will be in effect until Thursday.

An Okeechobee woman is dead after a vehicle accident Friday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 38 year old Jamie Kay Vickers was driving a Toyota Camry north on Country Road 721 towards Bullhead Grade in Glades County just before 9:30 when she didn’t approach a right handed curve properly and went off the road before her car hit a tree and rotated clockwise around the tree causing the rear of the car to hit a utility pole. Vickers was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Ft. Pierce for treatment before succumbing to her injuries. The accident is being investigated.

The Okeechobee County School Board approved their mental health allocation plan for the upcoming school year at their meeting Thursday night. This plan will allow all students, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, the chance to get the help and support they need for good mental health and hopefully take away the stigma as it pertains to mental health treatment. Pat McCoy, the assistant superintendent for instructional services in Okeechobee County, says plans that are already in place such as Stranger Danger and Bullying Awareness, will be joined by a new program called Cloud 9. McCoy says this program focuses on character traits. McCoy says this mental health allocation plan, which came about as a result of tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, will not cost the school board at all; it’s funded through the Sandy Hook Foundation.

McCoy 1

McCoy 2

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a host of charges after an incident Friday afternoon. Deputies were called to a home on the 33 hundred block of NW 29th Avenue just after two o’clock after the resident said 28 year old Bryan Daniel Corwin began yelling at a woman who was there to pick up some of her belongings. Corwin punched her in the face as she was looking for her belongings, causing her nose to bleed profusely. Deputies arrived and arrested Corwin, charging him with battery. Corwin also had an active warrant against him from an unrelated case last month on charges of burglary, aggravated battery and false imprisonment. His bond is set at $120 thousand dollars.

Two Orlando men were arrested Saturday afternoon in Okeechobee after they pointed a gun at someone. Deputies received a call from a motorist who claimed an African-American man driving a Kia sport utility vehicle pointed a gun at him near the exit of the Florida Turnpike. Deputies spotted the SUV near the nine thousand block of Highway 441 and followed the vehicle in a brief high speed pursuit before the driver, 25 year old Dajuan Marquis Key finally pulled over. Deputies say they found the pistol on the front seat near his passenger, 22 year old Armani Rashard Forster. Both men were arrested and charged with possession of a concealed weapon and Key was also charged with driving on a suspended license. Key and Forster were released after posting bonds of $15 hundred dollars and a thousand dollars, respectively.

A call for disorderly intoxication turned into more charges for an Okeechobee man Friday night. Police say 38 year old Roosevelt Butler Junior was causing a disturbance at the La Placita supermarket on NW Park Street just before 9:30 while employees were closing the store. Police arrived and arrested Butler for drunk and disorderly. While going through booking, Butler was charged with possession of a controlled substance and introducing contraband into a correctional institute when Oxycodone pills were found in his pocket. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Cherise Marie Lawrence of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation. She’s being held without bond.

39 year old Michael Van Bizzell of Okeechobee was arrested for battery during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

39 year old Damon Lee Cook of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of Alprazolam, a controlled substance after he was caught shoplifting. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

20 year old Michael Dillon Hawthorne of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of sexual battery and intimidation. He’s being held without bond.

23 year old Jaime Jimenez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

31 year old Melissa Dee Carnley of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of cocaine possession and eluding law officers. She’s being held without bond.

26 year old Arielle Elizabeth Rheaume of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault during a domestic dispute. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.


News Cast 7/30

News Cast for July 30th:

It’s been more than a week of budget discussion in Okeechobee County and the school board was no exception. The school board met on Thursday night and approved their budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year. Their budget will be just under $72 million dollars; just over $830 thousand dollars more from last year. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says if he has any concerns, it would be that he hopes kids will show up on the first day of school on August 10th. The raise in the budget is a result of the new school resource officers and mental health programs as required by state law.

Kenworthy-School Budget

Okeechobee County Commissioners got a presentation at their meeting on Thursday from a representative of the Ft. Pierce based Marine Cleanup Initiative, Inc. about something that can help clean up the algae that has been a growing problem in the state. Operations Director Dyana Voss says a special robot, using technology powered by solar and wind, can create temperatures so hot and pressure so great that it can break up the algae in a body of water. Voss says once the algae is broken up, the remains can be quite useful. Voss says this technology, already approved by the US Coast Guard as functional on a boat, will be used in a special demonstration next month in the Caloosahatchie River and she has invited county officials to observe. She hopes these robots, created by New Jersey based Solaris Cybernetics, can be available at some point for the general public.

Voss 1

Voss 2

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a host of charges after an incident early Thursday morning. Just after midnight, deputies were searching for 24 year old Salomon Serrano Junior after they got a report he had been involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend which violated his probation. Serrano left the house before deputies arrived and he was eventually found on the 24 hundred block of SE 25th Drive after he had ripped the screen off the porch door of someone’s house. He was arrested and charged with burglary, causing damage and resisting arrest after he refused to be put in the deputy’s squad car. He’s being held in county jail and his bond has not been set.

A report of a building fire in Okeechobee turned out to be a lot less serious Thursday night. Firefighters were called to the five hundred block of NW 27th Lane just before nine o’clock after dispatchers received the report and found it was a meter box about ten feet from the building that was damaged from a lightning strike due to passing weather and there was no fire. Building maintenance was notified because it was a county owned facility and Florida Power and Light was called in to shut down the power. No one was hurt and no damages.

On the arrest report:

44 year old Rhonda Latrelle James of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of drug possession and driving on a suspended license. She’s being held without bond.

38 year old Juan Solorzano of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and threatening his wife after a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

52 year old Paul Lamar Kemp of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $11 thousand dollars.


News Cast 7/27

News Cast for July 27th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners met yesterday in their regular meeting after six days of budget workshops and established the county’s millage rate of eight in order to keep property taxes down for residents and business owners. With that, some budgets were affected, specifically the sheriff department’s budget. Sheriff Noel Stephen was proposing a twenty million dollar budget to allow him to mainly help retain his experienced officers. With the established millage rate, Stephen’s budget will be set at just over eighteen million dollars, a number he’s disappointed with and not just because it doesn’t allow him to retain his experienced officers. Stephen goes on to say he wanted to work with the commissioners to establish a “happy medium” for his budget but apparently communication is an issue. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says he and his fellow commissioners would love to give the sheriff what he needs but with the mild recession the county is just getting over, the dollars were just not there to do it, without raising the millage rate and sending property taxes higher.

Commissioners also established tax assessment rates for some departments including a three percent increase for the fire department and 27 percent for emergency medical services. Solid Waste and Street Lighting for Oak Lake did not have any changes in their tax assessment rates.

Last week, the Okeechobee County Emergency Management, in partnership with several other county agencies, conducted a full scale exercise in the county. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says the exercise simulated an active shooter event combined with a hazardous materials incident where the shooter would carry the hazardous materials into a crowded area of the town. Smeykal says this was done because of the rise of more unusual type of threats over the last couple of years in the country. Smeykal says the exercise, which covered areas such as the Cattleman’s Rodeo Grounds and Raulerson Hospital, took a year to prepare.

An Okeechobee woman is in county jail on a host of drug charges after a traffic stop on Wednesday. Deputies stopped a Cadillac four door on the ten thousand block of Route 70, driven by 53 year old Valerie Michelle Malloy for a tint violation. Deputies then asked to search the vehicle and K-9 units arrived and searched it, finding a glass methamphetamine pipe, bags containing large sums of money, and other bags used to transport drugs. A further search turned up oxycodone and hydromorphone and Malloy’s bra also contained a bag of marijuana and methamphetamine. Deputies arrested Malloy and charged her with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, cocaine, controlled substances and drug paraphernalia. She’s being held on a $180 thousand dollar bond.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on charges of child abuse. Deputies were called Wednesday to the home of 45 year old Marcel Lopez on the 66 hundred block of SE 88th Boulevard just after five o’clock during an argument he was having with his fifteen year old daughter about a boy she was seeing that her parents didn’t approve of. When Lopez told her to sit down and she refused, they started arguing and he slapped her on the thigh and cheek and then threw a PVC pipe at her. Deputies arrested Lopez and booked him into county jail. His bond has not been set.

On the arrest report:

35 year old Kristi Elizabeth Fair of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for petty theft and fraud. Her bond is set at $750 dollars.

41 year old Coty Veach of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Texas for bigamy. He’s being held without bond.

42 year old Traci Michelle Evans of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Highlands County for an undisclosed charge. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

18 year old Diego Humberto Salcedo of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

26 year old Brandon Clinton Pitt of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license after he crashed his vehicle. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

25 year old Ashley May Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested for petty theft. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.


News Cast 7/26

News Cast for July 26th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet for their regular meeting this morning after six days of budget workshops and they will be looking to establish millage rates for the county and look at preliminary assessment rates for several county departments including solid waste and emergency management services. The meeting begins at 9 am in the Historic County Courthouse.

County Commissioners met up yesterday for their sixth county budget workshop and listened to more departments’ presentations. One of those departments was the tax collector’s office, presented by Celeste Watford. Watford says the Tax Collector’s budget this year is about a million dollars and no requests for any cuts. Watford says the reason for that is her budget is not completely funded by the county (Sixth County Budget 1). Watford says that her budget might be more if salary and insurance increases are accepted. Another budget discussed was the Guardian Ad Litem program, which is a group that is appointed to children in dependency cases to represent them and look out for their best interests. Circuit Director Paul Nigro says their budget this year is about $680 thousand dollars which mainly covers rent, utilities and equipment. Their request for an increase, which was granted, is to fund a project to create a new space for the program, preferably in the Fort Pierce area. Other budgets discussed include the Clerk of Circuit Court and Public Defender’s Office.

Last night was a very special night for the Okeechobee County Fire Rescue squad as they welcomed eleven new firefighters to the department in a special pinning ceremony held in the Historic County Courthouse in front of family and friends. One of the newest firefighters is 21 year old John Pieler of Port St. Lucie. Pieler decided to become a firefighter after hanging out at fire stations while growing up and an added bonus is his desire to work in Okeechobee; one of his favorite places. Fire Chief Ralph Franklin couldn’t be happier with the ceremony. The new firefighters went through a training and schooling which took over a year to complete. Some veteran personnel were promoted including Justin Hazellief who was promoted to Captain of Training and Earl Wooten becoming the new Deputy Chief.

An Okeechobee woman will finally be in court next month to face her charges after being out of the state since June.  56 year old Tina Darlene Ballard will be arraigned August 13th in circuit court after she fled to North Carolina to avoid facing charges including maintaining captive wildlife in a neglectful manner and culpable negligence causing harm when her spider monkey named Spanky attacked a Home Depot employee on June 4th. Ballard was returned to Okeechobee early Friday morning. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says while it may appear that way, it really hasn’t been a big ordeal to get Ballard back to Okeechobee. Ballard, who missed bond hearings last month and last week, was picked up at a North Carolina county jail after she had been incarcerated on a fugitive warrant. Her bond is set at just over $32 thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Heather Nicole Wofford of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for burglary and criminal mischief. Her bond has not been set.

35 year old Jeremy Dale Thomas of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous drug possession charges. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old Elmer Paul Leitner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. He’s being held without bond.

46 year old Vinson Edward Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

29 year old Justin Lewis Berry of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from St. Lucie County for criminal use of another person’s identification. His bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.

22 year old Veronica Nicole Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for fraud. Her bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

40 year old Lisa Christine Mullens of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on past charges of petty theft and dealing in stolen property. She’s being held without bond.

 


News Cast 7/25

News Cast for July 25th:

The jury has spoken and they have decided that a Portland, Maine man should be executed for murder. Yesterday, an Okeechobee County court jury deliberated for only forty minutes before voting unanimously during a sentencing hearing that 42 year old Michael Lawrence Woodbury should receive the death penalty for the murder of his cellmate, Antoneeze Haynes of Broward County, in Okeechobee Correctional Institute last September. Woodbury represented himself during the four day trial last May and entered a guilty plea on the final day. Prosecutor Ashley Albright, all the while saying Woodbury should receive the death penalty, couldn’t be happier with the outcome. As per Florida law, Woodbury will have one last chance to plead his case during another hearing on September 13th at which point the judge will decide if Woodbury deserves to be put to death. Woodbury was already serving three life sentences for murders he was convicted of committing in 2007 in New Hampshire.

Woodbury Sentencing Verdict 1

Woodbury Sentencing Verdict 2

Okeechobee County Commissioners met for the fifth straight day yesterday to listen to county department officials regarding their budgets. County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin presented his budget for the Fire/Rescue squad and noted that there was an increase in personnel costs to the fire department’s four million dollar budget mainly due to six new firefighters being added to the department last spring. Franklin noted that the costs in capital projects in both the fire and medical units decreased some and that’s because of cost control measures that his departments have done. About that brush truck, commissioners said that may not be something that the fire department can have this year but Franklin says he will wait and see. The proposed EMS budget was around three million dollars. Other budgets discussed yesterday include Public Works, Medical Examiner and Mental Health and Indigent Services.

Fifth Budget Workshop 1

Fifth Budget Workshop 2

Commissioners will meet again today for the sixth and final budget workshop and departments being heard today include Tax Collector, Public Defender and State Attorney’s office. The workshop begins at 9am in the Historic County Courthouse.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Sheriff’s deputies say 25 year old Justin Michael Neff was having a verbal argument with his live-in girlfriend when he pushed her to the ground and began choking her with his hands and then punched her in the eye. Deputies say the incident happened on Sunday morning and Neff was receiving treatment for a medical condition before an arrest warrant was issued for him. He was arrested and charged Monday with domestic battery by strangulation. He was booked into county jail and he’s being held without bond.

Okeechobee City Police officers are investigating the theft of two four-wheelers. Investigators say the thefts happened sometime between the dates of July 21st and 22nd from an enclosed area at Capital Pawn on the four hundred block of NW Park Street. One of them was a 1990 blue and white Yamaha Banshee with a Cadillac grill on the front and the other one was a 2016 Yamaha Raptor, 90cc also blue and white in color. If you have any information on these thefts, please contact the Okeechobee Police Department at (863) 763-9785.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Diego Javier Cintona-Corona was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

29 year old Avery Robinson of Okeechobee was arrested for attempting to sell heroin. His bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.

38 year old Amy Elizabeth Fink of Okeechobee was arrested for petty theft at Dollar General and violating probation. She’s being held without bond.


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