Local News

Benjamin Butler Sworn in at SFWMD Governing Board Meeting

Benjamin Butler Sworn in at SFWMD Governing Board Meeting

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Benjamin Butler was sworn in today as a member of the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board at its monthly meeting. Butler was appointed last week by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I would like to thank Gov. DeSantis for appointing Benjamin Butler, a respected members of our vital agricultural community, to the SFWMD Governing Board,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Chauncey Goss. “With Benjamin’s impressive credentials and a track record of community involvement, the entire District will benefit from the Governor’s wise pick as our newest colleague on the Governing Board.”

Butler, of Lorida, is the manager of Butler Oaks Farm, a family owned dairy farm. Butler Oaks Farm has operated for more than 80 years and has received the Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Butler has been the director of the Okeechobee Farm Bureau since 2007 and the president and past director of the Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show since 2008. He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in animal science from the University of Florida.

“My family has lived, worked and played all around South Florida for generations. We have always prided ourselves on being good stewards of one of Florida’s most precious natural resource, its water,” Butler said. “I am honored that Gov. DeSantis has chosen me to represent the District’s important heartland area and look forward to serving on the Governing Board.”

Butler’s father, Robert Butler, was present at the SFWMD Governing Board meeting today in Fort Myers to administer the oath of office to Butler along with Butler’s mother, Pam Butler, his wife, April Butler, and his daughter, Hannah Butler.

Butler will serve as an at-large Governing Board Member representing an area that includes Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties. This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

For more updates on SFWMD’s work:

Follow SFWMD on Twitter


News Cast 11/15

News Cast for November 15th:

The Okeechobee County School Board met Tuesday night and one of the items on their agenda was honoring their achievement of the Gold Level award from the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation at the beginning of the school year. The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation is a non-profit group created by the state legislature to expand access to affordable child-centered health insurance. Okeechobee County Schools got the Gold Level award because of their going above and beyond when it comes to providing those health initiatives such as social and emotional learning, providing access to health clinics and a dental program. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says he’s pleased the district received this award and he’s found that if you take care of students’ health issues, chances are those students will do quite well academically. Kenworthy says the school district is well ahead of other districts in fostering policies for good student health because Okeechobee is a smaller district than most and the staff can focus more on fostering solid relationships with students, not to mention the fact they’re more approachable. This is the second time Okeechobee County has received this award.

Kenworthy-Healthy Kids Gold Award 1

Kenworthy-Healthy Kids Gold Award 2

The Okeechobee City Council took the time to recognize one of the city’s longtime employees at their meeting last week. Sue Christopher, the administrative assistant for the City Fire Department, received a service award from the council for her 20 years of service to the fire department and the city. Christopher has worked under former City Fire Chief Keith Tommy and now works for current Chief Herb Smith. Christopher says it’s great to be recognized and it’s nice to be appreciated by the council and she says the best part of her job is the people she’s worked with and continues to work with over these last two decades. Christopher, a Fort Pierce native, worked for several different businesses in Orlando and with the school board before answering an ad in the newspaper for this position with the Okeechobee City Fire Department. She calls Chief Smith the “best boss she’s ever had.”

Christopher 1

A vehicle fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County Firefighters early Sunday morning. Crews were called to the six thousand block of SE Highway 441 a little before 4:30 and arrived to find a motor home with a fire burning in the engine compartment. Crews got the blaze controlled in a few minutes with no one getting hurt and no other structures damaged. Investigators say the owner of the mobile home had been using it as a storage facility for a while. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A Clewiston woman is dead after a vehicle accident Wednesday night in Hendry County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 74 year old Judy Nell Vann was driving a Dodge Caravan north on Flaghole Road approaching the intersection of US-27 in Clewiston a little after 8:30, the same time a freightliner truck was going east on US-27 approaching the Flaghole Road intersection.  Vann failed to stop at a posted stop sign and the front of her vehicle collided with the right side of the trailer that the driver of the freightliner truck was towing. The impact sent Vann’s vehicle rotating and she was ejected from the vehicle and collided with the road and the vehicle collided with a guardrail. Vann was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. The freightliner truck driver was not injured. The accident is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

55 year old Robert Allen Pohl of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license and resisting arrest after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

20 year old Jessica Alexis Camp of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past drug possession charges and failing to appear in court. She’s being held without bond.

48 year old Willard Heath Leitner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.


KIWANIS WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

KIWANIS WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee welcomed in six new members to their club recently. Joe and Kathie Papasso, Carly Olivares, Ashley Douglas, Kevin Kline and Doc Thrift all completed the mandatory requirements and were voted in by the board. The club held a membership drive in October and some of the new members discovered Kiwanis that way. The Club held a short presentation and welcomed in their new members.

The Kiwanis Club is a service organization devoted to improving the lives of youth in Okeechobee County. The Club was founded in 1971 and this year won the Chamber of Commerce Award for contributions to the community. The Club meets every Thursday at noon at Lakeside Grill


New Airport Manager Speaks to Kiwanis (Audio Included)

New Airport Manager Speaks to Kiwanis (Audio Included)

(Caption) Adam Hied (right) pictured with Kiwanis Club President Don Hanna

Adam Hied spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee recently to introduce himself to the club and layout his plans for airport development. Hied was hired in March. Hied spoke on his upbringing and his path that led him to Okeechobee.

Hied’s overall goal is to maximize the economic impact that the  airport has on the County. One of his goals is to get the businesses that have committed to the industrial park in. He also wants to the conservation easement that was levied in 1996 mitigated and the airport master plan for expansion approved by the FAA. This has been an ongoing problem for many years but Hied believes it is close to being resolved.

CLICK THIS LINK TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE HIED INTERVIEW (RUN TIME 2:12)


News Cast 11/14

News Cast for November 14th:

A service dog was unfortunately killed Monday night after he reportedly attacked two Okeechobee police officers who were attempting to revive the dog’s owner after he was found passed out on the street. Officers were reportedly told by a passerby that a man was passed out on the side of the road on the seven hundred block of South Parrott Avenue. Officers arrived just before midnight and found Lawrence Massey unresponsive. Massey previously informed officers that due to a medical issue, he is subject to seizures. While officers were assisting Massey with a sternum rub, Massey’s dog growled and attacked one of the officers, grabbing his right pants leg and tearing it, causing the officer to push the dog away with his foot. The dog went after the officer again, grabbing the officer’s arm and later lunging at his face, forcing the officer to protect himself and others by shooting the dog. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian, but died upon arrival. The dog was reportedly not wearing a vest that would identify it as a service dog. The case is being investigated and officials from the police department did not wish to comment at this time.

Looks like the two week long stay of execution on the fate of the racquetball courts at the Okeechobee County Sports Club have come to an end. At their meeting last week, county commissioners decided to place the courts, which have been the site of vandalism and graffiti and safety issues, back on the surplus list and they will be scheduled for future demolition. Community Services Director Denise Whitehead says the cost of repairs for the courts were estimated at just over $95 thousand dollars and she felt it was not a wise use of taxpayer money to save the courts, which haven’t been used for their intended purpose much if at all. Plus it was clearly an issue of safety and best use of facilities for the public. Besides a splash pad and a trail hike, Whitehead says another possible use for the site is a multi-use facility to be used by as many people as possible and not something used to isolate people (Racquetball Courts Gone 1). Commissioners approved the placement of the courts back on the surplus list for demolition by a vote of three to two, with Commissioners Terry Burroughs and David Hazellief dissenting. Hazellief says there are people who do want to use the courts for racquetball. The demolishing of the racquetball courts will be done possibly before the end of the year.

An Okeechobee man, already on probation for past drug offenses, is in trouble again in connection with a domestic disturbance following an incident last Thursday evening. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home in Okeechobee sometime around 6:15 after receiving reports from family members that 38 year old Tony Allen Harlow Junior had attacked his father, leaving him with a black left eye and severe swelling on his face after he had drunk a liter of whiskey. Deputies say Harlow’s son left the room during the attack because he was afraid of his dad who was in a rage. Harlow was found lying in the hallway by deputies and he was yelling obscenities and could not stand or walk. Harlow reportedly attacked his father the previous night as well but authorities were not called. Harlow was attacking deputies as he was being transported to the county jail. He was arrested and charged with causing bodily harm and resisting arrest. He was booked into county jail and he’s being held without bond. He also violated probation on past drug possession charges with intent to sell.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public’s help after multiple cases of criminal mischief were recently reported.  Sheriff’s officials say between November 9th and 12th, deputies responded to the area of NW 192nd Avenue near NW 282nd Street and NW 294th Street, otherwise known as the Peevine area in northern Okeechobee County in reference to mailboxes being damaged or destroyed, and mail that was tampered with. Officials say in one case, someone’s mail was strewn all over the road and in one area, burned in a pile. Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477 if you’d like to remain anonymous.

On the arrest report:

34 year old Ashley Marie Cyr of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for trespassing, possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon, methamphetamine possession and resisting arrest. Her bond is set at $26 thousand dollars.

32 year old Adam Noel Rosa of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Polk County on an undisclosed charge. His bond is set at $33 thousand dollars.

39 year old Thomas William McGill Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to have proper endorsement on his license and possession of drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at one thousand dollars.

56 year old Veronica Lebron Miles of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine, oxycodone without a prescription, drug paraphernalia and permitting an unauthorized person to drive after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $12 thousand dollars.

20 year old Gustavo Adolfo Alvarado of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of driving on a suspended license, drunk driving causing an accident, reckless driving, grand theft, child neglect, possession of alcohol by an underage person and tampering with physical evidence. He’s being held without bond.

46 year old Elaine Camille Lamb of Okeechobee was arrested for methamphetamine possession. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

34 year old Robert Gerard Fortier Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of Xanax without a prescription after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

33 year old Amanda Leigh Williams of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on her mother, criminal mischief and hindering communication with law officers following a domestic dispute. Her bond is set at two thousand dollars.

56 year old Kenneth Robert Addison of Okeechobee was arrested by police for aggravated battery with a motor vehicle. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.


News Cast 11/13

News Cast for November 13th:

The Historic Courthouse in Okeechobee County was the setting last night for a joint workshop between the city councilmembers and county commissioners to begin determining the future of fire services in this community. The idea of merging the city and county fire departments is a possibility to help save the city money and prevent city officials from dipping into their reserves to help balance the budget, but there’s the possibility that not all of the twelve city firefighters will be retained if this merger were to happen. Among those who spoke at the meeting last night was Dan Ciorrocco, a lieutenant and ten year veteran of the county fire department and he says if even one city firefighter is not retained, merging both departments is not worth it. On the other hand, according to Okeechobee resident G.M. aka “Hoot” Worley, the city could possibly save approximately $600 thousand to a million dollars if the departments merged and that’s something that must be considered. Commissioner Brad Goodbread says the issue should be left up to the voters via a referendum. The issue will likely be discussed further at a commissioners’ meeting later this month.

A reported structure fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County Firefighters on Friday night. Crews were called to a home on the 77 hundred block of 81st Court just after ten o’clock and were told by dispatch that the home was fully covered in flames and threatening a vehicle in the driveway. Crews arrived and found the fire emanating from a side window and it was extending into the roof area and along the front porch. Firefighters entered the home and found the fire in one of the bedrooms near the front door. Crews needed about an hour and a half to extinguish the fire while using about seven hundred gallons of water to put it out. No one was hurt. Total damage is estimated at $65 thousand dollars. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Glades County Sheriff’s deputies have a man in custody on a host of charges in connection with a string of robberies that happened Monday morning into Monday night. Deputies responded to a reported robbery and carjacking at the Old Sportsman’s Boat Ramp around 11:30 but the perpetrator fled the scene before they arrived. Deputies then responded to the Aruba Campground about an hour and a half later because of a report of a stolen vehicle and evidence gathered at the scene pointed to the same suspect. After a Be on the Lookout (BOLO) was issued to surrounding counties, another robbery and carjacking took place at Ridge Market in Buckhead Ridge that evening and evidence once again pointed to the same suspect, 32 year old Charles McKinley Williams. Williams was eventually apprehended on Route 78 south of Buckhead Ridge at around 11:30 that night. He was arrested and charged with multiple counts of robbery and carjacking, grand theft auto, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and fleeing law enforcement. He’s also listed as a suspect in a similar crime in Lee County. He’s being held without bond in Glades County Jail.

On the arrest report:

54 year old Bennie Lee Crowell Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license and cocaine possession after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $35 hundred dollars.

29 year old Jarrod Wayne Hair of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

74 year old Irene Ann Dopman of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. She’s being held without bond.

26 year old Guadalupe Sanchez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

49 year old Errol M. Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was released after posting a $75 hundred dollar bond.

39 year old Catrela Denise Stallworth of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and causing property damage in an accident. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

25 year old Jamie Michele McCarty of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft and trespassing. Her bond is set at three thousand dollars.

70 year old Glenda Eileen Hulbert of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

35 year old Sheena Michele Watford of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

44 year old Shannon Marie Levans-Johns of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

59 year old Pamela Gaye Roberts of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

35 year old Andres Rodriguez of Ft. Pierce was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid license. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

29 year old Ajusta Williams of Port St. Lucie was arrested for habitually driving on a suspended license. His bond is set at $75 hundred dollars.


News Cast 11/12

News Cast for November 12th:

The future of fire services in Okeechobee County and the city of Okeechobee will be discussed tonight in a joint workshop meeting with the city council and county commissioners. There is the very real possibility that the Okeechobee City Fire Department may merge with the county fire department in an effort to save the city more money and prevent city officials from having to dip into city reserves to help balance the city’s budget. City Fire Chief Herb Smith has said previously it’s not a good idea because, quite simply, there are too many lives and jobs involved with this issue and his view hasn’t changed, but he remains hopeful. The fire services joint workshop will be held in the Historic County Courthouse tonight and it begins at six o’clock.

Fire Workshop 1

Fire Workshop 2

The Okeechobee County School Board also meet this evening and they will do a re-organizing of the board with a new board chairperson and vice chairperson and they will also be honoring students from the HEC Honor Choir and recognizing district photographers and noting the school district’s achievement of the gold level award from Florida Healthy Kids Corporation. The meeting will be held in the school board office beginning at six o’clock tonight.

Speaking of the Okeechobee County School District, there is a new assistant principal at the Freshman Campus. Nicole Smith took the job after a stint at Forest Grove Middle School in St. Lucie County serving as their dean and athletic director. Smith, a Tallahassee native, began her education career in Martin County after graduating from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, where, much like high school, she excelled as a basketball player. She later became a coach and believes her athletic background and her coaching career especially, best prepared her for her new role. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says while Smith’s background played a huge role in her hiring, it’s her ability to easily interact with students that really made her the right choice. Smith says she is “excited” about building relationships with students and the community. She was formally appointed at last month’s board meeting but actually began her job three weeks before. She replaced Brent Stewart, now the assistant principal at Okeechobee High School (OHS).

New Assistant Principal 1

New Assistant Principal 2

A bomb threat caught the attention of sheriff’s deputies in Glades County Friday afternoon. Deputies responded to a Goodwill store on the eleven hundred block of Route 27 North in Moore Haven a little before 3:30 after store employees say there was a “suspicious cylinder” inside a shipping box. Deputies say the shipping box contained items sent to the store from another Goodwill store in Lee County. Employees got the cylinder out of the store and deputies and other emergency personnel evacuated the store after it was discovered that the cylinder resembled a pipe bomb. Bomb squad officers from Lee County arrived and examined the cylinder and removed it after it was deemed not explosive. The incident didn’t cause any traffic issues or closings of any businesses in the area and no one was hurt. The incident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Brian James Prescott of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, ammunition by a convicted felon and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $21 thousand dollars.

39 year old Manal Yamin of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic battery and simple assault. Her bond has not been set.

20 year old Artemio Martinez of Indiantown was arrested for driving on a suspended license and possession of alcohol by someone under 21 years old after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

21 year old Jesse James Mond the Fourth of Ft. Pierce was arrested on an out of county warrant for an undisclosed charge. He’s being held without bond.

 


News Cast 11/11

News Cast for November 11th:

Today is Veterans’ Day, a time to recognize and honor those who have served in the US Armed Forces. Coincidentally, the Okeechobee County Commissioners have done that through a special measure they approved at their meeting last week. Veterans are being honored within the community through a designated parking space at participating buildings in the county. These designated parking spaces will come with a sign that reads “Veterans Parking Only, Thank You for Your Service” with a USA flag symbol centered at the top and the space will be painted red, white and blue. Veterans’ Services Officer Sarah Carter says she’s quite proud and happy this measure was approved and it all started via an idea from the Sheriff’s Department’s Community Services officer Jack Nash and the idea grew from there. Some places in the county that will get these Veterans’ Parking Spaces include the Historical Courthouse, County Library and the County Airport.

Following the situation surrounding the death of a horse and near starvation of other horses which led to the resignation of the lead officer of the Animal Control Division of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department last September, there is a new Animal Control Director and her name is Amy Fisher. Fisher, who previously worked with Animal Control in billing and animal intake, says despite the recent issues, there will be no major changes to the Animal Control Department, and they will all work as a team. Fisher says the morale around the Animal Control Department was bad at first when she took the job; akin to a “punch in the throat” as she says, but things have steadily improved. Meanwhile, the former Animal Control Director, Sgt. Arlene Durbin resigned her post, effective October 11th, but she rescinded it on October 4th, believing she hastily made that decision. Sheriff Noel Stephen says Durbin’s 20 year unblemished history with the department until this incident and her admitting to her mistake led Stephen to re-hire Durbin and she’s been reassigned as a detention deputy, a role that Stephen says Durbin has accepted quite well despite everything that’s happened. While there’s still an investigation going on, Stephen says it’s unlikely Durbin will face any charges in this incident. The criminal investigation has thus far resulted in the arrest of Bobby Travis who owned the horses.

This past Friday, the United Way of Okeechobee kicked off its fundraising campaign. The United Way works with several charitable organizations in the community to pool efforts in fundraising and support. United Way’s focus is to identify and resolve pressing community issues and to make measurable changes in communities through partnerships with schools, businesses and others. This year, Okeechobee County Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy was chosen to be this year’s campaign chair. Kenworthy says he was contacted by United Way of Okeechobee manager Nick Blount to be the new chair and he says how can you turn down an agency like the United Way and the work they’ve done, especially for the school district? This year’s campaign goal is just over $167 thousand dollars and Kenworthy says it’s definitely reachable. Last year, under previous campaign chairs Mayor Dowling Watford and County Administrator Robbie Chartier, the United Way of Okeechobee raised $156 thousand dollars. Some agencies and programs working with United Way include Hospice of Okeechobee and Healthy Start.

On the arrest report:

59 year old Louis Frank Masiello Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of the controlled substance fentanyl without a prescription. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

36 year old Jason David Luna of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

26 year old Joshua David Grossman of Okeechobee was arrested on local capias warrants for sending threats to kill someone. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

50 year old Lasene E. Pack of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on an undisclosed charge. She’s being held without bond.

51 year old Kelly Lorraine Tanner of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond is set at $250 dollars.

55 year old Gregory James Spencer of Okeechobee was arrested by police for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. His bond has not been set.

41 year old Crystal Michelle Watson of Sebring was arrested for violating probation on past charges of methamphetamine possession. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 11/8

News Cast for November 8th:

It’s official. There will be a workshop next week to determine the futures of fire services in Okeechobee County. County Commissioners and city councilmembers agreed to a set date for this workshop during their respective meetings yesterday and Tuesday night. There is the very real possibility that the Okeechobee City Fire Department may merge with the county fire department in an effort to save the city more money and prevent city officials from having to dip into city reserves to help balance the city’s budget. Former Okeechobee City Councilmember Gary Ritter spoke on the issue and he believes it’s not a good idea to consolidate both fire departments because the city’s fire department is a cornerstone of the city of Okeechobee, much like the police and road departments and we shouldn’t do away with that. Ritter continues by saying Okeechobee should follow the example of a councilmember from the city of Stuart who dealt with this same issue with his fellow constituents at one point. City Fire Chief Herb Smith says it’s not a good idea because, quite simply, there are too many lives involved with this issue. The joint workshop between the city council and county commissioners will take place on Tuesday, November 12th in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at six o’clock. County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin declined to comment.

The Okeechobee County Public Works Department officially has a new facility. Just before their meeting yesterday, the county commissioners and many other local leaders and residents gathered at the site of the new Public Works building for a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house. This building will house the Public Works Department and the Road Division. County Engineer John Howle says it’s exciting to be in this new facility that’s equipped to handle the needs of his and the Public Works Department. Howle says it’s great that this new facility has a generator which will come in handy. Donnie Oden, Director of Facilities Maintenance and Development Services says it’s a “long time coming” for this building considering that they’ve been working in a trailer for quite a while and they were “due for a new building.” The new Public Works Building is located on the eight hundred block of NW 2nd Street.

If you want to get a look at a great art exhibit of cows, today is your last day. The lobby of the Okeechobee County Historic Courthouse has been the scene of many paintings of cows and other livestock over the past month, done by local artist Kathie Papasso. Bridgette Waldau, the Arts and Culture Director of Okeechobee Main Street says Papasso’s cow paintings are sort of the kickoff to the cattle drive sculpture project that will be done in Park 5 in the next few years. Waldau says this and other exhibits by local artists are visited by more people because rural art is more unique than urban art. Papasso, a native of New Jersey and Okeechobee resident since 2005, says she loves painting cows and other livestock because of their uniqueness. Waldau says this part of the Artist Series Exhibit that began in 2013 in the Historic Courthouse. Papasso has a private studio called the Park Street Gallery.

A report of an arcing power line got the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters early Tuesday morning. Crews were called to the 40 thousand block of NW 24th Drive a little after 6:45 and were told by the owner that there was an electrical problem and there were sparks coming from the power pole. Crews arrived and found no hazards were present. Florida Power and Light (FPL) were called to come and fix the problem firefighters stayed on scene and kept it clear until they arrived. No one was hurt. It is under investigation.

Starting today, there will be a new traffic pattern for parents when they pick up their children at Okeechobee High School (OHS). To help address the problem of complaints to the sheriff’s department regarding vehicles parked on NW 23rd Lane, the south gate of OHS will open at 1:30. Vehicles are to enter the south gate, go to the left lane and proceed to the parking lot entrance where they will stop and wait for the bell to ring and all buses have cleared, before proceeding to the pickup line. Sheriff’s Department officials say it’s imperative that no one block the outside lane used by the buses at any time. Any questions can be forwarded to the sheriff’s office.

On the arrest report:

26 year old Hilary Cody Josh of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of grand theft of a firearm. Her bond has not been set.

28 year old James Earl Reed of Okeechobee was arrested for providing a false name to law officers after he was arrested on an undisclosed charge. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

57 year old William Sodano of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic battery. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

64 year old Henry Lewis Norman of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

42 year old Randy Gerald Whaley of Okeechobee was arrested for withholding child support. His bond has not been set.

39 year old Manal Yamin of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and domestic battery. Her bond has not been set.

47 year old Leslie Michelle Cay of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

48 year old Terrie Jo Ann Scherer of Zolfo Springs was arrested for driving on a suspended license and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.


News Cast 11/7

News Cast for November 7th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners will be meeting this morning and among the items on their agenda, they will look to approve a contract with Winter Park-based Vose Law Firm to be the successor to John Cassels as the new county counsel and they will also hear a presentation from Megan Smith, president of the Okeechobee County Economic Development Corporation. The meeting will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at nine o’clock this morning and it will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

The commissioners’ meeting this morning doesn’t start until nine o’clock, but the commissioners will meet about an hour earlier for a very special occasion. County commissioners will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house to celebrate the grand opening of the new county Public Works Facility. It will be the new home of the County Public Works Department and Road Division. Donnie Oden, Director of Facilities Maintenance and Development Services says it’s a “long time coming” for this building considering that they’ve been working in a trailer for quite a while and they were “due for a new building.” Oden says this building will be different than previous ones because it’ll be backed up with its own generator. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says the building only took about five or six months to build and the credit for that goes to Oden and his involvement on a very personal level with this project. The grand opening of the new Public Works facility will begin at 8:15 this morning and it’ll be located on the eight hundred block of NW 2nd Street.

At Tuesday night’s Okeechobee City Council meeting, councilmembers gave the green light to contract with an outside law firm to give a forensic analysis of the city’s computer system following a cyberattack last month. City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca says City Hall’s computer system suffered what he calls a “brute force attack” of ransomware on the city’s computer server. Ransomware essentially takes your system’s data and holds it hostage until you pay a fee. De Oca says this happened sometime on or around October 23rd just before the system’s Wednesday files were backed up. De Oca says because of this, they didn’t lose much data and he commended his staff for getting on the problem right away. De Oca says though it could’ve been much worse. The Ft. Lauderdale-based law firm Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard and Smith LLP will be handling the forensic analysis and De Oca says it may not cost much more than $10 thousand dollars. De Oca conceded that despite filing a police report, the odds are slim to none that the person or people responsible for this will be apprehended.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail on a host of charges stemming from a fight with another man that took place Friday night. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the six hundred block of NE 13th Avenue shortly before midnight after receiving reports of battery going on. Deputies say a man, who was intoxicated at the time, was accosted by 19 year old Robert Lamonte Futch and after punching the man several times, he took his wallet with about eighty dollars in it and also took the man’s eight hundred dollar smartphone. Deputies say Futch ran off as they arrived and he was eventually found Saturday evening near 13th Avenue. He was arrested and charged with battery, grand theft, strong arm robbery, obstruction and possession of oxycodone without a prescription when a pill was found in his pocket. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at just over $15 thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Erminia Meras of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on two counts of aggravated battery, robbery with a weapon following an incident in a mobile home park. Her bond is set at $125 thousand dollars.

58 year old Esta Dodd Huls of Okeechobee was arrested on a local warrant for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell. Her bond is set at $60 thousand dollars.

34 year old Joshua Bo Duke of Okeechobee was arrested on a local capias warrant for tampering with evidence. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

39 year old Nicolas Ruiz Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on an expired license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

22 year old Jose Marcos Jimenez Slone of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of drunk driving. He’s being held without bond.

37 year old Armando Augustin Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

34 year old Richard Marvin Chapman the Third of Okeechobee was arrested on a local capias warrant for corruption by threat. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

51 year old Paul Edward Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

28 year old Michael Ronald Holmes of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

34 year old Kevin Allen Wolf of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after he was spotted in a parking lot on his bicycle late at night. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

58 year old Jeffrey Scott Hultman of Okeechobee was arrested on a local capias warrant for battery. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

31 year old Jessica Pinon of Okeechobee was arrested for robbery with a weapon. Her bond is set at fifty thousand dollars.

22 year old Dakota James Carter of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license and fleeing law officers in a high speed pursuit while officers were trying to perform a traffic stop. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.


Next Page »