Local News

Charles Murphy News 3/29

News Cast for March 29th:

An Okeechobee man won a 5 million dollar Florida lottery flamingo scratch off game. 68-year-old Walter Nelson decided to accept a onetime lump sum payment of nearly 3.7 million. He purchased the ticket at the New Express Food Mart on South East 34th Avenue in Okeechobee.

State representative Dr. Cary Pigman resigned as chairman of the House Health Quality subcommittee after his DUI arrest. An administrative law judge also ruled Pigman should be cleared in an ethics case involving the Okeechobee school district.

The Florida ethics commission last fall found probable cause that Pigman violated a state law in the districts effort to secure 60 million in state funding for a new high school.  A local principal claimed Pigman asked the school superintendent to fire her due to personal reasons. The law judge said the claim lacked credible evidence.

Okeechobee is helping Maine figure out what is happening to their great blue heron. Wildlife biologist Danielle D’’Auria is part of a study that tracks the herons and their winter migration. One of the herons stayed this winter at the Kissimmee Prairie State Preserve and another flew to near Vero Beach. The blue heron is listed as threatened in Maine.

In the courts, 57 year old Miguel Balvino was sentenced to 10 years in prison on sex related charges.  A then 10 year old girl reported Balvino molested her several years ago in Indiantown.

2 locked up on charges of trafficking methamphetamine after a traffic stop for dark window tint on route 710. 33 year old Ervey Ponce of Okeechobee and 20 year old Lynzi Hendrix also were charged with possessing three prescription drugs. 31 year old Christine Maier of okeechobee was charged with child neglect after she allegedly threw three hypodermic needles into the back seat of a car in a traffic stop in Boca Raton with a toddler sitting nearby.

Sports Cast for March 29th:

Okeechobee baseball lost to Port St. Lucie last night 4-1. Baron Stuart pitched five innings and struck out seven and Mason Adams had two hits for the Brahmans. Chess Goodman pitched a complete game, scattered seven hits and struck out four for the Jaguars.

Port St. Lucie Coach Johnny Rhoden says his young team did a good job of keeping their heads in the game. Charles Bowden added an RBI single as the Jaguars scored twice in the third to take a 3-1 lead.

Brahman Coach Eric Kindell says his team needs to get back to basics.

Moore Haven softball defeated Sebring 7-4 and baseball lost to St. John Neumann 10-0.

On the sports schedule today, OHS JV baseball visits John Carroll at 4.



TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Lottery announces that Walter Nelson, 68, of Okeechobee, claimed a $5 million prize in the $5,000,000 FLAMINGO MULTIPLIER Scratch-Off game at Florida Lottery Headquarters in Tallahassee.

Nelson chose to receive his winnings as a one-time, lump-sum payment of $3,671,280.00. He purchased his winning ticket from New Express Food Mart, located at 3621 Southeast 34th Avenue in Okeechobee.

The $20 game, $5,000,000 FLAMINGO MULTIPLER, launched in September 2015, and features more than 7.6 million winning tickets and more than $346 million in total cash prizes! The game’s overall odds of winning are one-in-2.97.

Scratch-Offs are an important part of the Lottery’s portfolio of games, comprising approximately 65 percent of ticket sales and generating more than $734 million for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) in fiscal year 2015-16.


The Florida Lottery is responsible for contributing more than $31 billion to education and sending more than 750,000 students to college through the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The Florida Lottery reinvests 98 percent of its revenue back into Florida’s economy through prize payouts, commissions to more than 13,000 Florida retailers and transfers to education. Since 1988, Florida Lottery games have paid more than $52.4 billion in prizes and made more than 1,900 people millionaires. For more information, please visit www.flalottery.com

Birth Certificates NOW being issued at the Indiantown branch of the Tax Collector’s Office

Birth Certificates NOW being issued at the Indiantown branch of the Tax Collector’s Office

Martin County Tax Collector, Ruth “Ski” Pietruszewski, is proud to announce the Tax Collector Office’s recent partnership with the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics that will allow Florida-born citizens to acquire a certified copy of their birth certificate at the Tax Collector’s office.

“This partnership adds another level of convenience for our taxpayers and since a birth certificate is one of the items needed to obtain a driver license or identification card, the partnership makes our DL/ID issuance process easier and faster. If a Florida-born citizen does not have a birth certificate, we will have the ability to issue them one on the spot and not have to send them away to get one,” commented Ruth Pietruszewski. “A win-win for everyone.  Implementation of this partnership will substantially improve our service to the public.”

We have just begun this new service at the Indiantown Branch office, 16550 Warfield Blvd., Indiantown, FL  34956

(Also available at our Palm City Branch, 3001 SW Martin Downs Blvd., Palm City, FL  34990)

Charles Murphy News 3/28

News Cast for March 28th:

An 18 year old Okeechobee man was charged with trafficking in LSD.  Daniel Long was charged March 2nd with three other drug related charges. 31 year old Jessica Harris was charged with trafficking in methamphetamines.  Deputies pulled over a Toyota sedan Friday afternoon for dark window tint and a K 9 allegedly alerted to the vehicle.  She allegedly possessed 15 point 9 grams of methamphetamine.

A wild police chase early Monday left two patrol cars in the body shop and a 38 year old Okeechobee man in the county jail. Austin Dale was pulled over for erratic driving on 441 south but took off when deputies found he was wanted in Illinois for parole violation.

The chase lasted some 9 point 8 miles and went through several streets in the south west section before the fleeing Toyota pickup flipped over on South West 5th Avenue and 2nd Street.

There were no reports of any injury.

Dale faces local charges of aggravated battery on law enforcement, assault on law enforcement, reckless driving and fleeing and attempting to elude police.

The Florida Sierra Club will hold a meeting Thursday in Ortona as they try to convince sugar growers to change from burns to mechanical harvesting in the Glades. Sugar growers say the muck soil won’t work for equipment. Ferguson says members in Ortona have complained about the burns during the winter which impact their boating and fishing hobbies. He says palm beach county growers don’t burn when there is an east wind but there is no restriction on when the winds are blowing smoke westward into the Glades, Hendry and Glades county.

The meeting is held tonight at the Ortona community center at 6 pm.

Sports Cast for March 28th:

Brahman baseball coach Eric Kindell says his team’s defense let them down in a key district loss Friday at Martin County. He also agreed the team failed to come up with clutch hits leaving seven runners on base. Kindell praised starter Mason Adams night as he pitched into the sixth inning and kept the game close. He says they have a lot of work to do this week with three big home games.

On the sports schedule, today, OHS JV softball hosts the Treasure Coast at 5 pm and Pemayetv Emahakv at 7 pm.  OHS flag football will host Glades Central with JV at 6 and the varsity game to follow.

OHS baseball hosts Port St. Lucie at 6:30 pm.  OHS track visits South Fork this afternoon.

OHS tennis visits Lake Placid at 4:30 pm.

Moore Haven baseball hosts St. John Neumann at 6 pm and Moore Haven softball visits Sebring at 6 pm.



Fort Lauderdale’s Bartlett tops Co-angler field

CLEWISTON, Fla. (March 27, 2017) – Jessie Mizell of Sarasota, Florida, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division event on Lake Okeechobee Saturday with a five-bass limit totaling 23-pounds even. For his victory, Mizell pocketed $4,915.

“I began the day fishing near Bird Island, but the wind picked up and muddied the water,” said Mizell, who earned his second career-win on Lake Okeechobee in BFL competition. “I stayed there for a while and caught a couple of small ones. By 1 p.m., I knew I needed to change things up.

“I went to a little cove by the North Shore that was out of the wind and fished really slow in the calm water,” continued Mizell. “I focused on some small lilypads. I went back and forth along a 100-yard stretch and caught my limit by 3:30 p.m.”

Mizell said he used a Red Ear-colored Spro Dean Rojas Bronzeye Poppin’ Frog 60 on a 7-foot, 11-inch medium-heavy 13 Fishing rod to craft his limit.

“I could see a slight wake under the frog that most people wouldn’t notice,” said Mizell. “I paused and let the bait sit for about 10 or 15 seconds. When I moved it, they’d eat it.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:

1st:          Jessie Mizell, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 23-0, $4,915

2nd:         Brianne McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla., five bass, 22-4, $2,658

3rd:          Jim Hurlock Jr., West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 19-9, $1,640

4th:          Cody Davis, Deerfield Beach, Fla., five bass, 18-9, $1,147

5th:          Nicholas Hoinig, Delray Beach, Fla., five bass, 18-8, $1,083

6th:          Mike Surman, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 18-6, $1,201

7th:          Dustin Royer, Davie, Fla., five bass, 18-5, $819

8th:          Jesus Villegas, Virginia Gardens, Fla., five bass, 16-12, $737

9th:          Frank Mackin, New Port Richey, Fla., five bass, 16-9, $1,405

10th:        Kyle Monti, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 16-4, $573

Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.

Mackin caught the heaviest bass of the tournament, a fish weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces, which earned him the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $750.

Brandon Bartlett of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, weighed in five bass totaling 19 pounds, 9 ounces, Saturday to win the Co-angler Division and the top prize of $2,833.

The top 10 co-anglers were:

1st:          Brandon Bartlett, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five bass, 19-9, $2,833

2nd:         Matthew Wolfe Jr., Orlando, Fla., five bass, 15-7, $1,429

3rd:          Fernando Rosa, Plantation, Fla., five bass, 13-9, $817

4th:          Richard Mongiovi, Indian Lake Estates, Fla., five bass, 12-10, $573

5th:          Garrett Carter, Middleburg, Fla., five bass, 12-8, $471

5th:          John Hendry, Crystal River, Fla., five bass, 12-8, $471

7th:          Michael Carter, Bokeelia, Fla., five bass, 12-2, $460

8th:          Andrew Pulliam, Spring Hill, Fla., five bass, 11-13, $369

9th:          Robert Alton, Fort Pierce, Fla., five bass, 11-11, $328

10th:        Hayden Scharf, De Leon Springs, Fla., five bass, 11-10, $287

Bartlett also caught the biggest bass among Co-angler Division anglers, a fish weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $375.

The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 19-21 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.

The 2017 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six regional tournaments where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.

For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the BFL on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

About FLW

FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 274 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Snapchat

Charles Murphy News 3/27

News Cast for March 27th:

State representative Cary Pigman was released from jail after a DUI arrest early Friday on the Florida turnpike in Port St. Lucie.

Pigman issued a statement after the arrest.

“Last night I was pulled over by the Florida Highway Patrol on the Turnpike in St. Lucie County after a long drive back from Tallahassee. I was charged with driving under the influence. I want to apologize to my family, my constituents, and my colleagues in the Legislature, for the embarrassment this has caused me and them.” Pigman represents Okeechobee and Glades county in the state legislature. He’ll be arraigned on the misdemeanor on March 31st.

A winning fantasy five ticket sold in Okeechobee at the Town Star on 70 west for Saturdays drawing.  There were 10 winners across the state. The winning numbers were 3-5-7-8-and 12.

Okeechobee could host mudfest again in August. The organizers will have to face additional regulations like the Okeechobee Music Fest does.

Some recommendations for improvement to the music fest include ending the festival early Sunday night, some traffic flow revisions at the entrance and again some shifting of stages for noise concerns.

County Administrator Robbie Chartier also has an issue with parking on the road. Jenny the Pup is fully recovered after being thrown over the animal control fence and breaking a leg in December.

Barbi Moline with Nalas New Life Rescue says they received the dog from animal control and took her immediately to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frederico Latimer of Jupiter for surgery

Sports Cast for March 27th:

Brahman boys baseball lost to Martin County in a district game and split a double header with St. Albans this weekend. The Tigers scored late to defeat Okeechobee 3-1 on Friday. Mason Adams pitched a strong game and Trevor Thomas had two hits.

Saturday in the opener against St. Albans Ethan Root pitched a strong game into the sixth inning and Sean Osceola blasted two homeruns and drove in five in a 12-2 Brahman victory.

Osceola says he got good pitches to hit. Root allowed just four hits and no earned runs while striking out three. He said a five run third by Okeechobee helped him to relax.

Okeechobee is now 7-7 on the season.

Okeechobee softball defeated Lake Wales 8-4 and lost to Auburndale 9-8 at the Bartow tournament.

Charles Murphy News 3/24

News Cast for March 24th:

Okeechobee county commissioners Thursday

  • Applied for a federal grant from the Justice Department to start a mental health court. Up to 3 hundred thousand will be received and the local match is 75 thousand dollars.  The county hopes to save money in the county jail by providing more services and treatment to mentally ill inmates.
  • The commission paid 4 hundred and 2 thousand dollars to repair segments of South West 3rd Terrace as part of the Southwest Drainage project.
  • Appointed Kelly Conrad as new finance director
  • Placed a moratorium on new cell phone tower applications
  • Scheduled an April 3 workshop with the Department of Transportation to discuss the route 710 extension.
  • Indicated interest in a for profit business using the old Okeechobee Rehab facility for a similar mission.
  • Learned the Coquina water management board will decide April 7th whether to keep traffic enforcement on their roads.

Water management also has determined the high bid for the Edna Pearce Lockett Estate.

Festival lawyer Cameron Bowman praised Okeechobee’s Music Festival for their changes in the way searches were conducted at the entrance this year. Last year many cases were not prosecuted due to violations of search and seizure laws.  This year the changes appear to have met court muster with over 20 cases pending. Bowman was not supportive though of a joint agency operation to arrest 99 drivers between Okeechobee and Fort Pierce during the festival. He called it police profiling with unwarranted stops for small violations including one for too much luggage on the hood of a vehicle.  He says the motive is getting revenue for the police.

Sports Cast for March 24th:

Damian Lusby pitched a four hit shutout to lead Sebring to a 3-0 victory over Okeechobee in high school baseball last night.  Josh Crouse added an RBI double for Okeechobee. Baron Stuart pitched six strong innings for the Brahmans with five strikeouts.

Bubba Fludd earned accolades from Okeechobee City Council.

Fludd recently was named all state and will play college football at Southern Mississippi. Fludd told the council he appreciated their honor. His coach Chris Branham says he appreciated the support of the city for the entire football program. He called Fludd one of those standout players he’s coached.

Sports today include the Lady Brahmans at a tournament in Bartow today and Saturday.

OHS baseball travels to district opponent Martin County at 7 pm.

Moore Haven baseball hosts Immokalee at 6 pm.

Moore haven softball competes in the Gulliver Prep Slamfest tournament this weekend.

Gov. Scott: West Palm Beach Area Added More Than 12,000 New Jobs Over the Year

Gov. Scott: West Palm Beach Area Added More Than 12,000 New Jobs Over the Year

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that the West Palm Beach area added 12,200 new private-sector jobs over the year in February. The area’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in February. In the last year, Florida businesses created 239,800 new jobs, bringing the total number of new jobs added since December 2010 to 1,346,200.

Governor Scott said, “It is great news that businesses in the West Palm Beach area created more than 12,000 new jobs over the year. Creating jobs for Florida families has been our number one priority and we will continue to make strategic investments in our economy so families can find the opportunities they need to achieve their dreams in Florida.”
The industries with the most job growth over the year in the West Palm Beach area were leisure and hospitality with 3,500 new jobs and construction with 3,300 new jobs. In February, the West Palm Beach area had 17,049 job openings, including 4,423 high-skill, high-wage STEM occupations.

Statewide, Florida businesses created 53,800 new private-sector jobs so far in 2017 and the unemployment rate was 5 percent. For the 59th consecutive month, Florida’s annual job growth rate of 3.3 percent is also exceeding the nation’s rate of 1.8 percent. More than 29,500 Floridians were placed in jobs by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the state’s other 23 regional workforce boards.

To view the February 2017 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases

Charles Murphy News 3/23

News Cast for March 23rd:

Among arrests, 23 year old Serafin Espinoza Ruiz was charged with fleeing and eluding police, and resisting arrest. City cops say he was doing donuts in a Mitsubishi sedan outside the McDonalds on North East Park Street Wednesday at 1:30 in the morning. The suspect fled the scene and tried to flee on foot in an alley between North East 5th And 6th Avenues, jumping through several back yard fences.

51 year old Brian Miggins of Buckhead Ridge was charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after allegedly stabbing two people on Lake Drive West Tuesday.

30 year old Lenard White was charged with DUI, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, grand theft firearm, and resisting arrest after a chase with Glades County deputies in Moore Haven.

It originally started as a speeding violation and ended in a short foot chase.  A stolen handgun out of Pasco county and close to 2 thousand dollars in cash was seized along with a small amount of marijuana. White has five previous felony convictions.

Okeechobee city council:

  • Approved a six month moratorium on medical marijuana related facilities to give the state legislature time to develop regulations on the new industry.
  • Agreed to spend 2 thousand dollars to help with the costs of historical markers being pursued for the Okeechobee battlefield park by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • Scheduled a workshop meeting with the county commission and okeechobee utility authority board on March 30th at 6 pm at the US 98 civic center.
  • Honored police patrolman Cesar Romero for 10 years of service to the city.
  • Reappointed Karyne Brass and Les McCreary as regular members of the Planning Board and Bobby Keefe as an alternate member.

Okeechobee County commissioners Thursday:

  • issued the Florida’s Hometown USA Program, Inc. proclamation to Ms. Shelby Kirton in recognition of her commitment in volunteer work and service throughout our community.
  • Proclaimed National Library week from April 9th through the 15th.
  • Confirmed the appointment of Kelly Conrad as the New County Finance Director
  • Applied for a US department of justice for a grant of up to 3 hundred thousand dollars to start a mental health court.  The county would commit 75 thousand dollars over two years if they receive the grant.  One of the goals is to save the taxpayers money on mentally ill people who are incarcerated in the county jail.
  • Agreed to spend 4 hundred and 2 thousand dollars to repair 25 sites on the South West Drainage project and South West 3rd Terrace
  • Expressed concerns over damage to county roads in Bet Her Acres by water main work.

Sports cast for March 23rd:

Okeechobee softball feeling good after a run rule victory over Jensen Beach this week. Coach Mary Huff says the first time the teams played Okeechobee nearly blew a seven run lead and she didn’t want a repeat.
That tournament begins tomorrow in Bartow. Freshman pitcher Haley Underhill struck out seven and allowed just two hits. She also worked out of jam in the third and admits she’s used to high pressure situations. Jill Crosby led the offense with a  double, homerun and three RBI.   She says she tried to be patient at the plate

East Lee County rallied to defeat Moore Haven 6-5 in high school baseball Wednesday.

Vincent Leiba had two hits and two RBI for Moore Haven.

OHS baseball hosts Sebring tonight at 7 pm.

OHS JV baseball visits Fort Pierce Central this afternoon at 4 pm

Charles Murphy News 3/22

News Cast for March 22nd:

A 5-thousand-dollar reward has been offered by the State Fire Marshall in the suspicious blaze at Okee Tantie Recreation Area Sunday. Spokesperson Jon Moore says the public could hold valuable information A car was seen speeding away from the area at 4:30 am Sunday and flames started to show. Over 1 hundred thousand in property damage was done.

Three inmates arrested at Moore Haven correctional this month for allegedly smuggling in drugs and cell phones.

40 year old Ralph Lawson of Okeechobee was charged with smuggling in synthetic marijuana and a cell phone.

30 year old Vernice Hawkins was charged with smuggling in tobacco and synthetic marijuana.

31 year old Taureen Robers was charged with smuggling in 14 grams of methamphetamines and synthetic marijuana.

Local congressman Tom Rooney met up with a somewhat hostile crowd at a town meeting earlier this month in Englewood.  One of the hotly contested and debated issues was health care reform.

Rooney says the republicans don’t have the votes right now to pass a new health care plan. Rooney argued with more providers it’ll create more competition and lower premiums. Voters were also concerned about Russian influence in the election, the supreme court and environmental issues.

Sports Cast for March 22nd:

Demetrius Clark reached one of his goals this week as he signed to play college basketball. He will join teammate Shaquoy Ferrol in the panhandle of Texas at John Phillips College.

Clark says moving on has been on his mind. His father Bruce Snell has been a big supporter of Demetrius. He says the signing gave him a lot of joy.

Brahman Coach Demetri Riles was praised by both families for going above and beyond being a coach, but also being a supporter, mentor and positive influence.

He says he was glad to see these young men achieve.

Okeechobee pounded Jensen Beach in softball last night.

Jill Crosby drove in three runs and Haley Underhill pitched a complete game three hitter.

Moore Haven baseball had a combined no hitter as they walloped Everglades City 19-2.

On the sports schedule today, OHS tennis visits Martin County at 3:30.  Moore Haven baseball hosts East Lee County at 6 pm.

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