Local News

SFWMD Transitions Back to Seasonal Readiness Following Storms

SFWMD Transitions Back to Seasonal Readiness Following Storms

Regional system moved stormwater while balancing the need to save for supply

West Palm Beach, FL — The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) began returning the regional flood control system to typical summer operations today following weekend rainfall from remnant tropical activity.

From Friday morning through 8 a.m. today, approximately 2 inches of rain fell District-wide, with local maximums to 7.5 inches over the three-day period. The rains were mostly associated with remnant moisture from dissipated tropical storms Danny and Erika. Additional rain is expected today.

“The SFWMD was well prepared,” said Jeff Kivett, SFWMD Director of Operations, Engineering and Construction. “We moved water ahead of the storm and throughout the weekend and are quickly returning the system to seasonal water levels for future supply.”

For the first time, the new 15,000-acre A-1 Flow Equalization Basin (A-1 FEB) in western Palm Beach County was used to slow flows to the Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs), which use plants to clean phosphorus from the water before it reaches the Everglades.

This action helped prevent prolonged high-water levels in the STAs, which can impact their water-cleaning effectiveness. The FEB is part of a suite of projects in the State’s Restoration Strategies plan to improve water quality in the Everglades.

As of Monday afternoon, drawn-down canals in Palm Beach County had returned to seasonal levels, while canals in Broward and Miami-Dade counties were close to recovering.

There were no reports of flooding associated with the regional flood control system, and all SFWMD infrastructure operated as designed.

Useful Storm Links


Sheriff’s Office Warns Public Regarding Nigerian Scam

Sheriff’s Office Warns Public Regarding Nigerian Scam

Osceola County – Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies want to warn the public about a common scam. Recently, several Osceola County residents have received correspondence regarding the Nigerian scam, typically known as an Advanced Fee Scam or 419 Scam, which offers a large sum of money on the condition you help them transfer it out of the country. The scammer will indicate he/she has a large sum of money “trapped” in central banks or other countries or that they have a large inheritance restricted by taxes in their country. Contact is commonly made by email, letter, text message or social media.

The Sheriff’s Office is providing the following tips:

  • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by mail.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for upfront payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
  • Do not agree to transfer money for someone else. Money laundering is a criminal offense.
  • Seek independent advice from someone you know and trust if in doubt.
  • Verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organization directly. Do not use the contact information provided in the message sent to you.
  • Beware, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is…
  • If you think you have provided your account details or personal identification information, contact your financial institution immediately.

We encourage citizens to report scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center who works in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Their Complaint Referral Form is located at https://complaint.ic3.gov/. Reporting your incident helps warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Please include details of the scam contact you received, for example, email or screen shot.


PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES TO PREVENT MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES TO PREVENT MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES

Okeechobee, Fla. – Due to recent rainfall, officials at the Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Okeechobee County emphasize the importance of Florida’s residents and visitors protecting themselves against mosquito-borne diseases.

DOH recommends the public to remain diligent in their protecting themselves from mosquito bites by following the “5 D’s,” which include:

  • Dusk and Dawn – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are seeking blood. For many species, this is during the dusk and dawn hours.
  • Dress – Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.
  • DEET – When the potential exists for exposure to mosquitoes, repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) are recommended. Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are other repellent options. If additional protection is necessary, a permethrin repellent can be applied directly to your clothing.  Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Drainage – Check around your home to rid the area of standing water, which is where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.

Tips on Repellent Use

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before applying a repellent to skin. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET are generally recommended. Other potential mosquito repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of 3 years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than 2 months old.
  • Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when mosquitoes are present.
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Tips on Eliminating Mosquito Breeding Sites

Elimination of breeding sites is one of the keys to prevention.

  • Clean out eaves, troughs and gutters.
  • Remove old tires or drill holes in those used in playgrounds to drain.
  • Turn over or remove empty plastic pots.
  • Pick up all beverage containers and cups.
  • Check tarps on boats or other equipment that may collect water.
  • Pump out bilges on boats.
  • Replace water in birdbaths and pet or other animal feeding dishes at least once a week.
  • Change water in plant trays, including hanging plants, at least once a week.
  • Remove vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.

Symptoms of West Nile virus may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion. Physicians should contact their county health department if they suspect an individual may have a mosquito-borne illness. DOH laboratories provide testing services for physicians treating patients with clinical signs of mosquito-borne disease.

DOH continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, malaria and dengue. For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit DOH’s Environmental Health Web site at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html or call your local county health department at 863-462-5819.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.


Stay legal with these hunting tips for Florida’s bow seasons

Stay legal with these hunting tips for Florida’s bow seasons

By Tony Young

Hunting with a bow or crossbow is a great way to get a jump on the gun hunters. Bowhunters are allowed in the woods a month-and-a-half earlier and get that first crack at the deer. Plus, during archery season, you can also take antlerless deer, which really increases your chances of putting venison in the freezer.

Maybe that’s why bowhunting continues to be so popular in our state, accounting for more than 10 percent of all deer harvested, 15 percent of harvested does and 25 percent of the deer taken on wildlife management areas. Last year, more than 30,000 people bowhunted in Florida.

And along with hunting the rut, early bow seasons provide a great opportunity to take a trophy whitetail and arguably are among the best times to do so. In northwest Florida, it’s even better because bucks are still hangin’ out in their bachelor groups.

If you’re stealthy enough and have done your pre-season homework, you have a good chance of a nice one coming within shooting range of your bowhunting setup. In the early season, before the deer are under as much hunting pressure, they are more active during daylight hours. When gun season hits, you might not see that big ’un again for the rest of the year, except for maybe a picture of him taken from your trail camera in the middle of the night.

Season dates by zone

Hunting season always comes first in Zone A in south Florida.

The boundary line between zones A and C begins at the Gulf of Mexico and runs northeast through Charlotte Harbor and up the Peace River until it intersects with State Road 70. The line then follows S.R. 70, running east until it meets U.S. 441 north of Lake Okeechobee. It then follows U.S. 441 south, where it proceeds around the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. The line then turns off U.S. 441 and onto S.R. 80 and runs just a few miles before turning east and following County Road 880, running just a few miles before joining back up with U.S. 98/441/S.R. 80/Southern Boulevard until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. Archery and crossbow seasons south of that line started Aug. 1 in Zone A.

This year, archery and crossbow seasons in Zone B start Oct. 17, but there’s been a change to the western boundary line of Zone B. The western boundary used to be the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s been moved eastward and is now Interstate-75. However, the zone’s northern boundary line is still S.R. 50, the eastern border remains U.S. 441 and the Kissimmee Waterway, and the southern boundary is still S.R. 60.

But that means all lands that were previously located in Zone B west of I-75 are now part of Zone C and, as a result, have earlier fall hunting season dates. This change was initiated by local hunters and landowners who wanted earlier season dates to better coincide with the rut.

The line that divides zones C and D begins at U.S. 27 at the Florida-Georgia state line (in Gadsden County) and runs south on U.S. 27 until it meets S.R. 61 in Tallahassee. From there, it follows S.R. 61, running south until it hits U.S. 319. There, the line follows U.S. 319, continuing south to U.S. 98; it then runs east along U.S. 98 until it gets to the Wakulla River, where the river becomes the line, heading south until it meets the St. Marks River and continues going downriver until it meets the Gulf.

If you hunt west of that line, you’re in Zone D, where archery and crossbow seasons begin on Oct. 24 this year. In Zone C (east of that line), archery and crossbow seasons open Sept. 19.

License and permit requirements

But, before you go, you need to make sure your license and required permits are up to date. To hunt during archery season, you’ll need a Florida hunting license and an archery permit. During crossbow season, you’ll need a hunting license and crossbow permit. If you’re a Florida resident, an annual hunting license costs $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months. Archery and crossbow permits are $5 each, and all deer hunters must have the $5 deer permit.

Anyone planning on hunting one of Florida’s many WMAs must purchase a management area permit for $26.50. And don’t forget to pick up the WMA rules and regulations brochure for the area you wish to hunt. You can get brochures at the closest tax collector’s office, or you can print them from MyFWC.com/Hunting under “WMA Brochures.”

You can obtain all the licenses and permits you’ll need at a county tax collector’s office, any retail outlet that sells hunting and fishing supplies, by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Legal to take

During archery season and that part of crossbow season that runs concurrent with archery, you can take legal-to-take bucks (as defined by the regulations for the deer management unit in which you’re hunting) and antlerless deer, which are does and bucks with less than 5-inch antlers. You may never take spotted fawns. After archery ends, during the remaining portion of the crossbow season, you may only take legal-to-take bucks according to the specific DMU antler rules. The daily bag limit on deer is two. Bag limits for deer on WMAs can differ, so check the specifics of the area before you hunt.

You can hunt wild hogs on private lands year-round with no bag or size limits. On most WMAs, there’s also no bag or size limits, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. But on a few WMAs, bag and size limits do apply, so to be certain, check the brochure for the specific area.

In addition to hunting big game, it’s also legal to shoot gobblers and bearded turkeys during archery and crossbow seasons, assuming you have a turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents). You may take two turkeys in a single day on private lands, but the two-bird fall-season limit still applies, and the daily bag limit for turkeys is still one on WMAs. It’s illegal to shoot turkeys while they’re on the roost, over bait, when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when bait is present or with the aid of recorded turkey calls. In addition, it’s against the law to hunt turkeys in Holmes County in the fall.

If you’re hunting during the archery season, you may hunt only with a bow and you must have the archery permit. During crossbow season, you may use either a crossbow or bow, but you must have the crossbow permit. On WMAs, only hunters with a disabled crossbow permit are allowed to use crossbows during archery season. All bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds, and hand-held releases are permitted. For hunting deer, hogs and turkeys, broadheads must have at least two sharpened edges with a minimum width of 7/8 inch.

As far as legal shooting hours go, you’re allowed to let your arrow or bolt fly between a half-hour before sunrise and a half-hour after sunset. Except for turkeys, you’re permitted to take resident game over feeding stations on private property. It’s against the law to use bait on WMAs.

You can’t use dogs to hunt deer or turkeys, but you are allowed to use a dog on a leash to help you trail any wounded game.

Here’s hoping all your preparation and persistence pay off and wishing you all a great hunting season. And if you’re on social media, please follow our HuntFlorida pages at Facebook.com/HGM.FWC, YouTube.com/HuntFloridaTV and Twitter.com/HuntFloridaFWC.


Charles Murphy News 8/31

News Cast for August 31st:

  • City Hall offices will be closed on Monday, September 7, 2015, in observance of Labor Day. Our website, cityofokeechobee.com allows you access 24/7. We will reopen on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 8 AM. Have a Safe Holiday.
  • OCRA IS HAVING THEIR MONTHLY MEETING THIS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD AT 7:30PM IN THE SPORTS COMPLEX TRAILER. IF THERE’S TOO MANY PEOPLE, WE CAN MOVE TO THE FOOTBALL STANDS. ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE MESSAGE THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE, OCRA

More details came out about the methamphetamine ring bust Friday. 18 pounds of the drug worth about 8 hundred thousand dollars were taken off the streets. Lawmen say 59 year old Steven Lee Oakes of Davenport was the ringleader in the operation.

10 years ago this week Hurricane Katrina killed 14 people in Florida and over 18 hundred in other gulf states. It remains the deadliest and most damaging hurricane in history.

Environmental advocates say Florida has tougher building codes and has replenished beaches in the past decade. Raleigh Hoke with the Gulf Restoration Network says the gulf coast now has an opportunity for improvements due to the disbursement of BP Oil spill funds. Only 42 percent of Floridians in a recent survey had the recommended 3 day supply of non- perishable food and water for a hurricane.

Okeechobee’s state representative Dr. Cary Pigman said he was able to bring home 9.5 million dollars’ worth of local project funds this year. Not among the funds is money to start a hurricane shelter building at the Ag Civic Center. He predicts that might take 4 to 5 years. Pigman said he served on the Health Care Quality committee, Health and human services appropriation committee, civil justice committee and local government affairs committee this session. He said he was also able to get money for several water projects for Glades and Okeechobee counties.

Pigman 1

Pigman 2

Sports Cast for August 31st:

Bubba Fludd had 144 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and Okeechobee’s defense held Glades Day to 88 rushing yards as the Brahmans defeated the Gators 28-14 in high school football on Saturday. The game was delayed for one day due to strong thunderstorms in Belle Glade Friday.

Fludd scored on runs of 72 and 55 yards in the first half, the first on a fourth and two from his team’s 28 yard line.

Coach Chris Branham said the team was primed and ready for this game.

Chris Branham on Brahman win over Glades Day

Okeechobee drove 90 yards in 14 plays over 7 minutes in the third quarter to take control of the game

Senior lineman Edrick Neal liked what he saw on that drive.

Neal 1

Lamar Williams rushed for 82 yards on 15 carries, and converted a 4th and two from the Brahman 18 yard line on the drive. He thanked his offensive linemen, who he says is the best he’s played behind.

Williams 1

Fludd also threw a 22 yard touchdown pass to Zeke Matthews.

Cory Surls threw for 112 yards and with a long touchdown pass to Gerald Jackson for Glades Day.

Christian Ellison returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.

This week Okeechobee plays Amherst County, Virginia at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.


AAA URGES MOTORISTS TO BE CAUTIOUS ON FLOODED STREETS

AAA URGES MOTORISTS TO BE CAUTIOUS ON FLOODED STREETS

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TAMPA, Fla. (August 28, 2015) — As Tropical Storm Erika strengthens, bands of heavy rain are anticipated throughout the state of Florida. AAA urges motorists to be cautious. Heavy rainfall can create dangerous driving conditions with little to no visibility.  It is very important that motorists adjust their typical driving style. Nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes occur each year on wet pavement with more than a half million injuries and 5,700 deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“It’s important that drivers heed official warnings and avoid driving on wet and flooded roads if able,” said Montrae Waiters, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. “Driving through standing water is especially dangerous, because you never know just how deep the water is or what you are driving over.”

If your vehicle shuts down while in standing water, do not try to restart it. Restarting a vehicle in standing water can cause more water to enter the engine and could cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Tips for Driving on Wet Roads

  • Check Tires: Make sure tires are properly inflated and have enough tread depth. This will allow the vehicle to have better traction and maneuverability on the road. Worn tires with little tread are much more likely to hydroplane on wet pavement, resulting in a loss of braking power and steering control. Check the tread depth of your car’s tires by inserting a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head at any point, it’s time for new tires.
  • Slow Down and Leave Room: Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as ½ inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway. Also, it is important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.
  • Avoid Cruise Control: This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.
  • Rainy Conditions Can Cause Low Visibility: Turn on your headlights to help you see better and to allow other motorists to spot you better. Avoid using your highbeams because you could blind other drivers and the extra light will reflect off the rain, causing more of a distraction for you.
  • Visibility While Driving: If you can’t see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance while driving during wet weather, pull of the road as far as you can and wait for the rain to ease up. Make sure to turn on emergency flashers to alert other drivers.
  • Avoid Standing Water and Flooded Roads at All Times: There is no way to tell how deep standing water is on a flooded road and driving through it can cause a vehicle to stall and result in severe damage to the vehicle from:
    • Flooding the engine
    • Warping brake rotors
    • Loss of power steering
    • Short in electrical components
  • If Your Vehicle Stalls in a Flooded Area: DO NOT remain in the car. Abandon it as soon as possible and seek higher ground. Flood waters can elevate quickly, sweeping away the vehicle and its occupants.

Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Announce the Largest Methamphetamine Distribution Takedown

Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Announce the Largest Methamphetamine Distribution Takedown in Okeechobee County History

15 Methamphetamine Distributors Indicted in Federal Court

29 Methamphetamine-Related Offenders Charged in State Court

            Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, A.D. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Office, Paul C. May, Sheriff, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, John J. Burke, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Fort Myers Regional Operation Center-Sebring Field Office, and Susan Benton, Sheriff, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) announce the filing of federal charges against 15 defendants for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, specifically methamphetamines, in and around Okeechobee and Highlands Counties.  The defendants have been charged in a single indictment in the matter of United States v. Steven Lee Oakes, et. al., 2015-CR-14046-Martinez.  In addition to the federal indictment, 29 individuals have been charged by the Office of the State Attorney, 19th Judicial Circuit of Florida for their alleged participation in a related conspiracy to commit narcotics involved racketeering offenses.  This coordinated takedown to combat the drug epidemic is one of the largest in the history of Okeechobee and Highlands Counties.

United States Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The continued collaboration between federal and local law enforcement agencies to attack drug trafficking activity is of paramount importance.  Methamphetamines continue to poison our communities at alarming rates.  Today’s indictment demonstrates that we are dedicated to protecting the public’s safety and improving the quality of life for law-abiding residents of South Florida by adopting proactive law enforcement initiatives.  We will continue to work with our State partners to prosecute individuals whose criminal conduct infects our communities.”

“Cooperative law enforcement is the enemy of these drug rings,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge A.D. Wright.  “These indictments and arrests demonstrate the commitment DEA has to combating organized networks that traffic drugs in our neighborhoods.  We would like to commend the federal and local law enforcement officers who worked side by side with the DEA.  We believe that citizens should be protected from rampant drug dealing and other criminal activity in their communities.”

            “This operation illustrates the value of bringing the assets of Federal, State, County and Municipal agencies together in a coordinated investigative effort for maximum impact on an insidious and destructive threat to public safety. FDLE is pledged to support any effort to attack methamphetamine and the host of other illicit drugs that threaten the safety of our residents and visitors,” said FDLE Special Agent in Charge John J. Burke.

Sheriff Susan Benton, HCSO, stated, “As we see the direct link between property crimes and the use of methamphetamines; this significant, large scale investigation will certainly impact local crime and our citizens will be safer as a result. Thank you to our partners at the state and federal level for the help they provide to local residents.”

The federal indictment charges 15 defendants in the Southern District of Florida for their alleged participation in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.  Charged in the ten count indictment are Steven Lee Oakes, a/k/a “Wildman,” 59, of Davenport, Jetta Lyn Frake, 45, of Lorida, Lacy Junior Locklear, 47, of Davenport, Stephen Patrick Hall, Jr., 35, of Dundee, Daniel John Alsdorf, 58, of Okeechobee, James Ledger Carter, a/k/a “Buddy,” 61, of Lake Port, Teresa Lee Green, 45, of Okeechobee, Tanner Lyn Carter, 22, of Lake Port, Felisha Michelle Leitner, 28, of Okeechobee, David Allen Sparks, 49, of Okeechobee, Jamie Lea Hewitt, 35, of Okeechobee, Jessica Marie Bell, 28, of Okeechobee, Vickie Lynn Johnson, 47, of Okeechobee, Travis Wayne Carr, 23, of Okeechobee, and Timothy Dale Reid, 49, of Okeechobee.

The indictment alleges that all fifteen defendants conspired to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine from as early as July 2014 and continuing to and including August 6, 2015, in Okeechobee and Highlands Counties, in the Southern District of Florida, and other locations, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, a number of defendants were also indicted for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in various amounts up to 50 grams or more, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1).

  • Steven Lee Oakes was charged with possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine on October 8, 14, and 28 of 2014, December 5, 2014 and April 26, 2015.  Oakes was also charged with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine on December 17, 2014.
  • Lacy Junior Locklear was charged with possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine on April 26, 2015.
  • Daniel John Alsdorf was charged with possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine on April 28, 2015.
  • Teresa Lee Green was charged with possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectible amount of methamphetamine on March 10, 2015.
  • Vickie Lyn Johnson was charged with possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of methamphetamine on March 31, 2015.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized a significant amount of methamphetamine.

This case was the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.

The federal indictment is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney L. Coker and Special Assistant United States Attorney Ryan L. Butler.   The state matters are being prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Ashley Albright.

If convicted in federal court, the defendants face the following possible statutory sentences: a mandatory minimum of ten years and up to life in prison for the conspiracy to distribute and/or possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; a mandatory minimum of five years and up to forty years in prison for possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine; and up to twenty years in prison for possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectible amount of methamphetamine.

Mr. Ferrer commended the collaborative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Okeechobee County Office of the State Attorney.   Mr. Ferrer thanked the OCDETF law enforcement agencies that assisted with this multi-faceted investigation, including the DEA, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force, FDLE’s Fort Myers Regional Operations Center Sebring Field Office, HCSO, the Okeechobee Police Department, Glades County Sheriff’s Office, Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, the Fort Pierce Offices of the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HIS), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Port Saint Lucie Police Department, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, United States Border Patrol, and Indian River County Sheriff’s Office

An indictment and state charging instruments are only accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Charles Murphy News 8/28

News Cast for August 28th:

Okeechobee deputies are in the process of arresting 44 people this morning in a joint investigation into methamphetamines. The near 18 month investigation will lead to 36 Okeechobee arrests, four in Glades County, two in Highlands and two in Polk County. 15 of the arrests are on federal indictments.

Other agencies involved included city police, Glades County deputies, Highlands County, Polk County, FDLE, the DEA and the US Attorney’s Office. Arrests began at 3 this morning.

15 thousand dollars in property damage was reported after a trailer fire at 4602 South East 28th Street Tuesday night. The double wide was full of smoke when firemen arrived. City fire provided mutual aid. Most of the damage was done underneath the floors. The fire apparently was due to a malfunctioning air conditioning unit.

In the courts, 32 year old Joshua Arnold was sentenced to 67 months in prison for charges he pulled a knife on a local deputy investigating a complaint of a suspicious person.   Arnold allegedly walked uninvited into a home on South West 3rd Street and upset the elderly couple living there as he brought along a pit bull dog. Deputies and city police caught up to him after a foot chase on South West 3rd Street.

Okeechobee’s counties foreclosure rate spiked again in July to second highest among Florida’s 67 counties. The realty firm, Realty Trac, said 73 foreclosures were filed in Okeechobee last month.

The Brat club is in the process of organizing a Labor Day parade and rodeo for Okeechobee this year. The club helps kids 12 to 16 to learn responsibility and develops young leaders. Board member Tammy Kelly spoke to the Kiwanis Club about a new effort to get computers to students that need them. The club also holds teen dances and project prom.

Kelly 1

Kelly 2

SERT Situation Report for Tropical Storm Erika

WOKC Photo JV football Clewiston 1Sports Cast for August 28th:

Trayquan Williams scored two touchdowns and had a game saving interception in the end zone in the final minute to give Clewiston a 14-8 victory over Okeechobee in junior varsity football action last night. Williams described his interception.

A key Clewiston goal line stand in the fourth quarter at their four yard line also saved the game for the Tigers.

Coach Brent Johnston praised his kids for overcoming some adversity including a pick 6 by the Brahmans.

Brent Johnston and Traquan Williams in Clewiston win

Matt Garcia returned an interception 32 yards for a score in the second quarter for Okeechobee.

Brahman Coach Jeff Whitlock said his team fought hard but must finish games.

Jeff Whitlock on loss to Clewiston

The Brahman varsity team travels to Glades Day to take on the state ranked Gators tonight. Kickoff on WOKC is at 7 pm


What’s Brewing with Stephanie: Okeechobee County

What’s Brewing with Stephanie: Okeechobee County

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. —This week’s “What’s Brewing with Stephanie” took WPBF 25 News morning anchor/reporter Stephanie Berzinski to Okeechobee where she met with a very special nonprofit organization, 501 C 3, “Loving Our Heroes Care Packages, Inc.” that just celebrated its one year anniversary.

“We’re making boxes for the soldiers,” said 10-year-old Alycia Schriber. Shcriber was one of the fifth and sixth graders from Rock Solid Christian Academy who came to Create & Decorate craft store on South Parrott Avenue to decorate boxes.

Those boxes were then filled with donated supplies and will be shipped to U.S. service men and women overseas. Serenity Coffee Ship provided everyone free coffee for the What’s Brewing event.

“Loving Our Heroes Care Packages, Inc.” came about when Gina Buhlmaier’s son, Cory, was deployed. The family sent him packages, but some of his comrades were not as fortunate.

“Maybe their family can’t afford to send to them or they don’t have family so we think every soldier deserves something from home,” said Gina Buhlmaier, President of “Loving Our Heroes Care Packages, Inc.”

“It makes me so proud to be a part of Okeechobee County because they never stop amazing us,” add Kourtney Buhlmaier, sister of Cory and Vice President of Loving Our Heroes Care Packages, Inc. “They are the most giving people you’ll ever meet.”

“As a veteran I know the importance of getting mail and packages when you’re station away from home,” said Dowling Watford, an Okeechobee City Councilman.

Loving Our Heroes Care Packages, Inc. ships five boxes a week. The Buhlmaier’s goal is to send out 340 packages this year. Right now they’re at 185.

They can always use supply donations, see the donation list below; as well as monetary donations. It costs about $80 per week to just ship the packages.

Donation List:
– Health snacks: jerky, trail mix, granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers
– Drink Mix Packets
– Microwavable items: Easy Mac, popcorn, Chef Boyardee, Oatmeal, anything that has its own bowl
– Non-Perishable items: tuna, fruit cups, peanut butter, Nutella
– Toiletries (travel size): shampoo, conditioner, body wash, wet wipes, feminine products, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, non-aerosol Febreeze, stick ups

Loving Our Heroes Care Packages, Inc.
6391 NE 7th Street
Okeechobee, FL 34974

Contact Info:
Gina Buhlmaier 863-261-1774
Kourtney Buhlmaier 863-634-6225
Email: lovingourheroes@aol.com

http://www.wpbf.com/news/whats-brewing-with-stephanie-okeechobee-county/34969244


SFWMD to Update Media on Tropical Storm Erika Preparations

SFWMD to Update Media on Tropical Storm Erika Preparations

Water managers will provide information on actions being taken ahead of the storm

WHAT:          Following Thursday’s briefing on the operation of South Florida’s flood control system, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will hold a second media briefing to provide updates on planning actions related to the latest Tropical Storm Erika track.

SFWMD water managers and the warning coordination meteorologist from the National Weather Service Miami/South Florida Forecast Office will be on hand to answer questions. Representatives from the Lake Worth Drainage District, one of the many local flood control districts, will also be available to provide updates.

The District will provide media updates via email, www.sfwmd.gov and Twitter as necessary following Friday’s briefing, including the weekend.

WHEN:          Friday, August 28, 2015

TIME:            11 a.m.

CALL IN:      (855) 682-6800/Meeting ID: 990 685 125

WEBCAST:   www.sfwmd.gov

WHERE:        SFWMD Headquarters

B1 Auditorium

3301 Gun Club Road

West Palm Beach, FL 33406


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