Local News

News Cast 5/24

News Cast for May 24th:

With the time to discuss county budgets coming up soon, the Okeechobee County Commissioners discussed the issue of funding the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in county schools at their meeting yesterday. Sheriff Noel Stephen spoke at the meeting and he says historically there been a 50/50 split with the sheriff’s department and the school board to fund this program, which costs just over a million dollars to fund per year. Some commissioners brought up the idea that the school board should be putting up more funding for this program. Commissioners say a workshop is in order to discuss what can be done to secure more funding by the school board for the SRO program. Stephen believes this workshop will be a good idea because SRO’s are definitely needed in county schools (SRO Funding 1). Currently there’s thirteen SRO’s patrolling schools in Okeechobee County. The workshop will be done at some point in the coming weeks.

The city of Okeechobee will be getting a new emergency generator, just in time for Hurricane Season. At their meeting Tuesday night, city councilmembers approved the purchase of a new emergency backup generator for the city Fire Department and City Hall which will be needed when the city has a power outage due to a hurricane or other issue. City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca says the previous generator was damaged severely when someone crashed into it during a high speed pursuit with law enforcement last month. The new generator is worth just over $24 thousand dollars but the city’s insurance company will pick up just over $23 thousand dollars of that tab while the city’s capital fund will handle the rest. The generator will be installed by Ft. Pierce-based Newman’s Power Systems, a company that the city has worked with before on their previous generator.

Detectives from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the theft of a rather large piece of equipment. Detectives say a 2018 Orange Kubota Mini Excavator was reported stolen from the 13 hundred block of SE Highway 441, sometime between Wednesday, May 15th and Wednesday, May 22nd. This mini-excavator, which is on tracks, has three teeth on the bucket and has a value estimated at twenty thousand dollars. The serial number on it is #30483 and the model number is #KX41-3VR1. If you have any information as to where this excavator may be or who may be responsible for stealing it, please contact the Sheriff’s Department or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477 if you’d like to remain anonymous.

An unauthorized burning caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called to a home on the 31 hundred block of Highway 710 a little before two o’clock and found several burn piles. Okeechobee County firefighters were met by firefighters from the Department of Forestry (DOF) who asked that the burn piles be extinguished. Investigators say the homeowner was denied a burn permit and he was trying to break down old burn piles but they ended up igniting again. He tried to get them extinguished but he could not do it. Firefighters needed about ten minutes to put the fires out with about five hundred gallons of water. No one was hurt and no structures damaged.

A Fort Pierce man will be going to prison for a while after recently being convicted of drug and firearms possession. A US District Court judge in the southern district of Florida sentenced 33 year old Jose Antonio Morales earlier this month to seven years in prison for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a handgun. According to court records and evidence presented at his trial in February, Morales, a convicted felon, had two pounds of high grade marijuana and a loaded nine millimeter pistol in a safe in his bedroom when law officers came to execute a search warrant at his home last June. Prosecuting attorneys commended the work of officers in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department in bringing Morales to justice.

On the arrest report:

57 year old John Keith Agnew of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on out of county warrants for violating probation on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

35 year old Christopher Kyle Baker was arrested for violating probation on past burglary and grand theft charges. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

23 year old Diana Rendon of Okeechobee was arrested for resisting arrest following a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

25 year old Jesus De La Paz of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.


News Cast 5/23

News Cast for May 23rd:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet this morning and they will proclaim the month of May as National Community Action Month and they will consider a draft letter compiled by officials from Martin County staff for five other counties including Okeechobee, regarding the management of Lake Okeechobee. The meeting will begin at nine o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse and it will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

Speaking of the Okeechobee County Commissioners, they have given the green light to the Tourist Development Council (TDC) to submit a proposal to host next year’s Bass Pro Tour Major League Fishing Tournament. TDC coordinator Sharie Turgeon presented the proposal at the commissioners’ last meeting and they voted unanimously in authorizing funds in the amount of $55 thousand dollars to cover the host fee and host deliverables such as hotels, meeting rooms and a couple of motor homes for interviewing the fishermen and base of operations. Turgeon says she was approached on the idea of Okeechobee hosting from a man running Major League Fishing who was incidentally her contact when the county previously hosted the Bass Master Elite Series two years ago. Turgeon says she hopes the issues surrounding the levels of Lake Okeechobee will not be a concern when the tournament begins next year. The host city for this tournament should be known in the next few months.

Turgeon-Bass Pro Host Proposal 1

Turgeon-Bass Pro Host Proposal 2

The Okeechobee City Council recently approved a proclamation deeming this week as National Public Works Week. This is a time to recognize and appreciate the importance of your public works department as put together by the American Public Works Association. Okeechobee City Public Works Director David Allen was on hand to accept the proclamation and he says whether it’s turning on your lights or using your bathroom, it’s all because of public works. Allen also says the best part of his job is that no two days are alike. Allen says he’s discovered that public works tends to be unappreciated or taken for granted until something goes wrong such as a power outage or backed up plumbing. Allen has been Okeechobee’s Public Works Director for six years.

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for an Okeechobee man Tuesday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies stopped the driver of a Dodge four-door sedan on the five hundred block of Route 70 East a little before 2:30 for having a malfunctioning taillight. The driver looked very nervous, as was the passenger, 38 year old Mitchell Andrew Douglas, when they were questioned by deputies and they were not making eye contact. A K-9 unit was called to search the vehicle and the search revealed a cigarette box in the glove compartment with a clear bag in it containing methamphetamine and it belonged to Douglas. Douglas was arrested and charged with methamphetamine possession and booked into county jail with a bond set at five thousand dollars. The driver was given a verbal warning regarding his taillight and released.

An Indiantown man is dead and several others are in serious condition following a vehicle accident early Sunday morning in Martin County that kept the roads closed to traffic for several hours. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 38 year old Lavar Fairfax-Byrd of Port St. Lucie was driving a Mercedes sedan west on SW Citrus Boulevard in Palm City a little after 5:30 at the same time a GMC van, driven by 54 year old Miguel Marroquin of Indiantown, was approaching from the opposite way. For unknown reasons, Fairfax-Byrd drove onto the opposite lane and collided head on with Marroquin’s van. The impact sent the van rotating counterclockwise and ending up on the right shoulder of the road where another vehicle approaching from behind Marroquin’s van hit it head on. Marroquin was pronounced dead at the scene. His passengers, 79 year old Juan Diego Marroquin, 65 year old Juan Tomas Gabino, 18 year old Francisco Andres Frances and 49 year old Andres de Andres Lorenzo, all from Indiantown, were airlifted to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Ft. Pierce for treatment. Fairfax-Byrd, who has charges pending against her in this accident, was seriously injured and taken to Martin Memorial South Hospital for treatment. The accident remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Ryan Jeffrey Euard of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to appear in court for past undisclosed misdemeanor charges. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old Ashley Nicole Harden of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of drug possession and introducing contraband into the jail. She’s being held without bond.

47 year old Sandra Jean Allen of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and driving with a stolen license plate attached to her vehicle after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

35 year old Marc Doffy Jeune of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest. He’s being held without bond.

27 year old Jolanda Mekal Chamberland of Okeechobee was arrested for obstruction during an investigation. Her bond is set at $750 dollars.

43 year old Christy Dawn Kackley of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of drug possession. She’s being held without bond.

38 year old James Michael Kendall of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft of another man’s equipment for his job and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.


News Cast 5/22

News Cast for May 22nd:

Okeechobee Police are investigating some vandalism done to some of the attractions at Flagler Park. Police say this past weekend, the Huey helicopter received damage to the paint. Where the paint had oxidized, offenders reportedly wrote and walked on the paint leaving marks. Police took photos of the damages and the helicopter was also processed for latent fingerprints. Damage is valued at around three hundred dollars and it’s since been repaired by ex-service personnel. If you have any information as to who may be responsible, please contact the Okeechobee Police Department at 863-763-9784.

It looks as if the conservation easement and wetland mitigation that has hamstrung the development of Industrial Park at the Okeechobee County Airport and the airport itself is on the way to being removed. At their last meeting, county commissioners received a report from representatives of Orlando-based engineering firm Avcon concerning the easements on the airport land and commissioners gave staff direction to move forward on funding the removal of the easements and wetlands. Airport Director Adam Hied was happy with the commissioners’ decision and this will benefit not just Industrial Park, but the airport as a whole. The removal of the easements will cost around two million dollars. The issue will be discussed further at a later meeting.

Recently, officials at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) declared this week as Water Re-use Week in Florida. Libby Pigman of the Water Management District says April and May are typically the driest months of the year and it’s the time of heightened awareness of how precious our water availability is and what we can do to better conserve it. Pigman says besides taking shorter showers and flushing your toilets only when necessary, you can also limit your irrigation water usage. Water Re-use Week was also approved by Okeechobee County Commissioners and the City Council as proclamations at recent meetings.

Okeechobee Police arrested a local man Friday afternoon on a host of charges in connection with a stolen debit card. Police arrested 47 year old Alton Aquilar Hunt Junior after it was discovered he stole a debit card that belonged to woman he was renting a room from. Police say the woman contacted police saying there was suspicious activity on her debit card after receiving an email from her bank saying it only had ten dollars on it. She told police that Hunt had been residing in her home and the debit card, normally in her bedroom, was now gone and there was no one else in the home. She believed Hunt took it and made six hundred dollars in purchases with it. Hunt was questioned and then arrested and charged with larceny and credit card fraud. He’s in county jail in lieu of a $21 thousand dollar bond. The case is being investigated.

A trash fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Saturday morning. Crews were called to the 18 hundred block of SE Highway 441 a little before 10:30 and found an area measuring about three by five feet where some yard debris was burning near the roadway and left unattended. Firefighters say a witness was trying to put it out himself with dirt but to no avail. Crews got the fire extinguished in about five minutes with some water and with no one getting hurt and no damages reported. It’s under investigation.

On the arrest report:

26 year old Ryan Andrew Tiger of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of discharging a firearm while in a moving vehicle and fleeing and eluding a law officer in Broward County. He’s being held without bond.

40 year old Juan Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on an expired license for more than six months following a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

44 year old Jack Madison Bunting the Fourth of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute when he reportedly strangled her. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

30 year old Melinda Amy Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested for passing a forged check. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

23 year old Austin Shane King of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on past charges of grand theft auto fleeing law officers at high speeds and driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

55 year old Renee Bethene Lang of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and introducing contraband into a detention facility when she tried bringing marijuana into the jail. She was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

27 year old Gregory Thomas Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past simple battery charges. He’s being held without bond.

39 year old Tracy Wayne McKinney of Okeechobee was arrested for fraud after not returning leased property. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

42 year old Ernie Paul Higginbotham of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Hernando County for failing to pay child support. His bond is set at almost seven hundred dollars.

49 year old Raymond Lloyd Herndon of Okeechobee was arrested for withholding child support. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

59 year old Tony Allen Harlow of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

35 year old Vanessa Sirmons of Fort Pierce was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident after she reportedly hit a pedestrian. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

49 year old Julian Martinez Calderon of Fort Pierce was arrested for driving on an expired license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.


SFWMD to Participate in South Florida Wet Season Outlook Press Conference 5/22

SFWMD to Participate in South Florida Wet Season Outlook Press Conference

District partnering with National Weather Service to educate public on outlook for upcoming wet season

MIAMI – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will take part in the National Weather Service’s wet season outlook press conference on Wednesday, May 22, at 11 a.m.

The press conference will be held at the National Weather Service’s Miami office at 11691 S.W. 17th St., Miami, FL 33165. National Weather Service and SFWMD officials will discuss the outlook for the upcoming rainy season. Media must RSVP with National Weather Service to attend.

What: National Weather Service Wet Season Outlook Press Conference
When: Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 11 a.m.

 

Where: National Weather Service Miami Headquarters 11691 S.W. 17th St.

Miami, FL 33165

 

RSVP: National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Robert Molleda at (305) 229-4522 ext. 223 or

Robert.Molleda@noaa.gov

 


News Cast 5/21

News Cast for May 21st:

An arrest has been made in the death of a man whose body was found inside his vehicle in Taylor Creek Friday morning. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s investigators arrested 36 year old James Wade Hodges yesterday and charged him with second degree murder in the death of 43 year old Paul Murphy when his body was discovered inside his vehicle a little after seven o’clock submerged in the creek near the one thousand block of NE 39th Boulevard and Cemetery Road. Examinations by county fire and rescue squads confirmed Murphy’s cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to his body. Sheriff Noel Stephen says Hodges and Murphy were no strangers to each other (Taylor Creek Murder 1). Interviews, evidence gathered at the scene and a phone call from Murphy’s wife to the sheriff’s department led investigators to Hodges. He was taken into custody and he’s being held in county jail without bond.

Okeechobee City Councilmembers meet this evening and they will be proclaiming this month as Mental Health Awareness Month. They will also present a certificate of appreciation to Elbert Batton for his service on the Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and Design Review Board and conduct a review on the performances of city attorney John Cook and city administrator Marcos Montes De Oca. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in City Hall.

Speaking of the Okeechobee City Council, at their last meeting earlier this month, city administrator Marcos Montes De Oca presented a video to the council illustrating the need to have a traffic light installed at North 9th Street and Highway 441. De Oca says it’s the most dangerous intersection in the city which has been the scene of 34 traffic accidents over the past two years and it’s also been a problem with congestion with heavy semi-truck traffic along with other heavy traffic. De Oca says it’s been a problem since 2001, long before he took the city administrator job in 2015. De Oca says the members of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) are the ones who can install this badly needed stoplight but De Oca says the problem is two-fold. De Oca says with the support of the county, a traffic light will be installed there, possibly by the end of the summer.

A traffic stop led to the arrest of an Okeechobee man on charges of aggravated assault Thursday night. Police were conducting a traffic stop when he was flagged down by a woman who said she was assaulted by 26 year old Ryan Andrew Tiger with a gun and he threatened to kill her, her fiance and her son. Police say the woman, who was scared and shaking, had gone over there to pick up a friend when Tiger approached her with the gun and threatened her and her son and fiancé, who were both in the car at the time. Additional police officers were called to the scene and spotted Tiger, who began walking away when he saw the officers but eventually stopped and held up his hands. Tiger was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and possession of a gun by a convicted felon. He was booked into county jail and his bond has not been set.

Some downed power lines caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters yesterday. Crews were called to the 33 hundred block of SE 35th Avenue just before two o’clock and found some downed power lines and they were arcing on the ground. Witnesses alerted crews to the downed lines and the lines were on the fence and in people’s yards and across the roadway. Crews notified Florida Power and Light and waited for them to arrive and repair the downed lines. No one was hurt.

On the arrest report:

44 year old Michael Lee Graf of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of synthetic cannabis after deputies responded to a suspicious incident at a gas station. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

30 year old Mark Edward Joiner of Okeechobee was arrested for felony battery during an incident at a bar last month when he punched another man. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

23 year old Austin Shane King of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of grand theft auto, driving on a suspended license and fleeing a law enforcement officer at high speeds. He’s being held without bond.

43 year old Jose Luis Leon of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

26 year old Oscar Rivera of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $65 hundred dollars.

39 year old Manuel Guzman of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

47 year old Jerrett Ray Swafford of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Hendry County for an undisclosed charge. He’s being held without bond.

26 year old Crystal Faye Hays of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft. She was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

29 year old Theresa May Carter of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

40 year old Jennifer Marie Eastman of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Glades County on an undisclosed charge. She was released to Glades County authorities.

36 year old Jose German Guijosa Ramirez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and possession of cocaine after a traffic stop. He was released after posting an $11 thousand dollar bond.

35 year old Justin Allen Hoover of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and battery. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.


News Cast 5/20

News Cast for May 20th:

Officials at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department are currently working on a possible homicide of an unidentified white man found early Friday morning in a submerged vehicle within Taylor Creek adjacent to the bridge off of NE 38th Boulevard, known locally as Cemetery Road. Investigators say the man was found at around seven o’clock and criminal investigations units are working to identify the man and notify any next of kin and determine the nature of his death. Investigators declined to comment any further at this time as this is an ongoing investigation.

Speaking of the Sheriff’s Department, members of the department’s Narcotics Task Force took down a drug house Friday morning for the second time in just over a month. The Narcotics Task Force, along with officers from the department’s SRT Team and DEA agents served a search warrant to occupants of a home on the 78 hundred block of NW 86th Court a little after seven o’clock and the search turned up methamphetamine, THC resin, marijuana, heroin and two rifles. Officers arrested three people in the raid; 48 year old Kevin Jurich, 44 year old Richard Wainer and 37 year old Kira Krantz, all Okeechobee residents. Sheriff Noel Stephen says the raid was the result of phone tips from neighbors to the sheriff’s department, who then kept the house under surveillance before gathering enough evidence to secure a search warrant for the house. Stephen says once again, a big thanks go to the members of his narcotics investigations unit. No one was hurt in this incident. Bonds for those arrested have not been set. Narcotics officers performed a successful raid of a drug house in the Douglas Park area on April 16th; six people were arrested in that incident and several drugs, weapons and cash were seized.

A downed semi-truck caused the partial closure of a road in Okeechobee County for a while Friday afternoon. The northbound lane of 441 North at 240th Street was closed to traffic for about four hours after the truck somehow ended up on its side a little after one o’clock. Fire and emergency crews were called to the scene and found the truck, which was leaking sewage into the road and a nearby ditch. The driver of the truck was not injured and no other vehicles were involved in the accident. Crews needed to get the truck upright again and clear the road of the sewage. The incident is being investigated.

Hurricane Season officially begins in 12 days. Recently, it was National Hurricane Preparedness Week, designed to give information on better preparing yourselves in the event of a hurricane. One last area of concern as part of hurricane preparedness is helping your neighbors. Mitch Smeykal of the Okeechobee County Emergency Management Center says people can help their neighbors by putting up their hurricane shutters or boarding up their homes with plywood; basically simple things you can do to help, specifically if your neighbor is physically unable to do so. Smeykal says the idea of helping your neighbor prepare for hurricane season came from Craig Fugate, former FEMA director, who said take care of yourself, take care of your family and check on a neighbor. Smeykal says doing things like servicing your neighbors’ generators or removing trees are things you should not be doing. Any further questions can be directed to the Emergency Management Center.

On the arrest report:

42 year old Jennifer Lynn Sickles of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for trespassing and possession of a drug pipe with cocaine residue in it. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

30 year old Cherise Marie Lawrence of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

22 year old Cody Wyatt Adams of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his sister during a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

38 year old Carlos Vasquez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

27 year old Jordyn Brice Miller of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on charges of driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

28 year old Esteban Mendez Isidoro Obispo of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

58 year old Walter Floyd Fowler of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond has not been set.

30 year old Justin Lewis Berry of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

18 year old Giovanni Monter-Cruz of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana, a short barreled gun and a concealed weapon. His bond is set at just over $12 thousand dollars.

 


News Cast 5/17

News Cast for May 17th:

The last of the three local men charged with a home invasion robbery earlier this month has been arrested. 21 year old David Joseph Gardner was arrested a little after one o’clock on Wednesday in connection with a May 3rd robbery where he, along with 21 year old Michael Wayne Cheney and 21 year old Aaron Bradley Hill, reportedly all armed with knives, allegedly came into the apartment of a man and took his wallet by force. Cheney and Gardner fled the scene while Hill was arrested by detectives the day of the incident. Hill remains in county jail in lieu of a thirty thousand dollar bond and Cheney was apprehended and arrested Tuesday afternoon. Cheney’s and Gardner’s bonds are set at fifty thousand dollars each.

The Okeechobee County School board met this past Tuesday night for the final time before students go on their summer vacations and it was a night full of student recognitions. One of them was the Science Olympiad teams of Central Elementary, North Elementary and Seminole Elementary Schools. Many of them got to compete at science fairs in Orlando. Twelve of those students from Central Elementary created projects such as a tennis ball catapult and water bottle rocket. Amie Eldred, the math and science teacher of Central Elementary, was one of the coaches of the science Olympiad team and says she was glad to be a part of this team and she saw the kids really enjoyed doing it, despite only having twelve practices and competing against math and science schools that have had over a hundred practices. Eldred says the best part of being the coach of this team was seeing how excited the kids were during competition day. Other student recognitions include students from Okeechobee High School and Yearling Middle School being recognized for their participation in the competitions for the Florida FFA Association.

If you’re still interested in taking the course on Bleeding Control and you missed Tuesday night’s class, believe it or not, you have just one more chance to register. There will be a second class being taught at the Okeechobee Emergency Management Center tomorrow beginning at 9am and there are about six spots left. You must sign up before five o’clock this afternoon. The original deadline was yesterday but it’s been extended through today. Okeechobee Fire Captain Ryan Hathaway says this course teaches techniques on handling and treating excessive and life threatening bleeding by the use of tourniquets and more. Hathaway says this is especially important when time is of the ultimate essence in a massive bleeding situation. Remember, deadline to register for the course is five o’clock today. Call the Emergency Management Center at 863-763-5544 to register. The course is free of charge and there are six spots remaining.

A report of a fire to a truck’s tire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters early yesterday morning. Crews were called to the 26 hundred block of Route 70 East a little after 2:30 and arrived to find a sod hauling truck with one of its rear tires hot to the touch but not burning. Crews used about two hundred gallons of water to cool off the tire with no one getting hurt. Reported cost of damages was about two thousand dollars. Cause is under investigation.

A vehicle accident Wednesday afternoon in Lee County left a Labelle man without a scratch but unfortunately claimed the life of a Lehigh Acres woman. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 32 year old Jenny Lee Esquivel was driving a Honda Accord north on Sunshine Boulevard, approaching the intersection of 31st Street in Lehigh Acres a little after 1:30, when a dump truck, driven by 54 year old John Joseph Gujardo, was approaching the intersection from the opposite way. FHP officers say Esquivel for unknown reasons drifted across the center line, into Gujardo’s path, and both vehicles collided head on. The impact caused Esqivel’s car to rotate clockwise and end up on the grass shoulder. Esquivel was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. Gujardo was not injured. The accident is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

18 year old Logan Dwayne Pope of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for reckless tampering of a consumer product and battery on a law enforcement officer. He was released after posting a $55 hundred dollar bond.

21 year old Malcolm Jehmal Williams of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony after a fight with another man. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old James Ronald Kelley of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on charges of driving without a license tag or registration. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

51 year old Alonza Robert Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

36 year old Tacara Kantrail Lawton Holmes of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

20 year old Harvey Hugh Barr Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. He’s being held without bond.

21 year old Michael Jeffrey Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at $750 dollars.


News Cast 5/16

News Cast for May 16th:

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office was the setting yesterday for the annual law enforcement memorial service to honor those men and women law officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2018. Of the 158 law officers killed in the line of duty nationwide, eleven of them were officers in the state of Florida. Sheriff Noel Stephen says a law officer is a “modern day knight” and there’s a need for more of them. Stephen says a day like this, with the number of officers killed in the line of duty, it’s a reality that hits hard despite the fact that his officers do their jobs day in and day out, oftentimes without thinking they may not come home after their shifts. Police Chief Bob Peterson says while it’s a day to honor these fallen officers, it’s also a day of disappointment and sadness for their families. So far in 2019, there have been forty law enforcement officers reported killed in the line of duty in the United States.

Speaking of law enforcement, it’s a case of two down, one to go. Okeechobee City Police detectives are actively searching for a local man in connection with a home invasion robbery that happened nearly two weeks ago. 21 year old David Joseph Gardner has an active warrant out on him in connection with the robbery of a man at his home on the eight hundred block of NW 9th Avenue on May 3rd when Gardner, 21 year old Michael Wayne Cheney and 21 year old Aaron Bradley Hill, reportedly all armed with knives, allegedly came into the apartment of a man and took his wallet by force. Cheney and Gardner fled the scene while Hill was arrested by detectives. Hill remains in county jail in lieu of a thirty thousand dollar bond and now Cheney has been apprehended as of Tuesday afternoon. Cheney’s bond is set at fifty thousand dollars. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Gardner, please contact the Okeechobee Police Department at 863-763-5521. You may also contact Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477 if you’d like to remain anonymous.

If you’re interested in taking the course on Bleeding Control and you missed Tuesday night’s class, you’re in luck. There will be a second class being taught at the Okeechobee Emergency Management Center this Saturday beginning at 9am but you must sign up before five o’clock this afternoon. Okeechobee Fire Captain Ryan Hathaway says this course teaches techniques on handling and treating excessive and life threatening bleeding by the use of tourniquets and more. Hathaway says this is especially important when time is of the ultimate essence in a massive bleeding situation. Officials from the Emergency Management Center are teaming up with Trauma Training Group to present this course in recognition of Stop the Bleed Month. Remember, deadline to register for the course is five o’clock today. Call the Emergency Management Center at 863-763-5544 to register. The course is free of charge.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail on a host of charges from two separate incidents between Monday and Tuesday. Sheriff’s deputies were patrolling the 18 hundred block of SE 40th Avenue at around 10:30 Tuesday morning when they noticed 56 year old Joseph Hardy Haney riding his motorcycle there. Deputies had a “be on the lookout” notice for Haney’s arrest because of possible charges of burglary and criminal mischief in connection with an incident on Monday afternoon. Deputies arrested Haney yesterday and found a syringe with methamphetamine in it on his possession. He was arrested for those two charges and he was also identified as the one who burglarized a home Monday afternoon on the 92 hundred block of SE 59th Drive and grabbed the occupant’s neck and began choking her after he had taken several unnamed items from her home. Haney was arrested and charged with burglary with assault and criminal mischief, added to the methamphetamine possession charges rom Tuesday. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at just under $16 thousand dollars for all charges.

A Belle Glade woman is dead and a Port St. Lucie woman injured following a vehicle accident this past Thursday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 38 year old Camille Bedward was driving a Toyota sedan west on State Road 80 in Belle Glade at around 12:45, right behind a Hyundai Sonata, with a Nissan SUV approaching from the opposite direction. Bedward, driving very fast, rear-ended the Hyundai Sonata, causing Bedward’s car to go to the left side, crossing the median and colliding with the Nissan SUV head on, and then crashed into the passenger side of another car. Bedward was pronounced dead at the scene by medics and the Nissan SUV driver, Trecia Bryson of Port St. Lucie, was taken to an area hospital for treatment. The drivers of the other vehicles were not injured. It’s under investigation.

On the arrest report:

30 year old Cory Blake Pethybridge of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of battery, trafficking stolen property and drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

27 year old Gregory Thomas Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for prowling and loitering and carrying a concealed firearm. His bond is set at seven thousand dollars.

43 year old Joseph Earl Dudwoire of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

46 year old Jessica Lee Allen of Okeechobee was arrested for child neglect without causing bodily harm. Her bond has not been set.

70 year old Blanco Espinozo-Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

33 year old Tabitha Danielle Coulombe of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on her boyfriend during a domestic dispute. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Scottie DeWayne Clark Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by police for violating a court injunction ordering him to refrain from having contact with his girlfriend. His bond has not been set.


News Cast 5/15

News Cast for May 15th:

This morning will mark a special time in law enforcement. In front of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s office there will be the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service held in honor of all law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2018. Everyone is invited to attend and the memorial will begin at 9 am.

Speaking of law enforcement, Okeechobee City Police detectives are actively searching for two local men in connection with a home invasion robbery that happened nearly two weeks ago. 21 year old Michael Wayne Cheney and 21 year old David Joseph Gardner have active warrants out on them in connection with the robbery of a man at his home on the eight hundred block of NW 9th Avenue on May 3rd when Cheney, Gardner and 21 year old Aaron Bradley Hill, reportedly all armed with knives, allegedly came into the apartment of a man and took his wallet by force. Cheney and Gardner fled the scene while Hill was arrested by detectives. Hill remains in county jail in lieu of a thirty thousand dollar bond. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Cheney and Gardner, please contact the Okeechobee Police Department at 863-763-5521. You may also contact Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477 if you’d like to remain anonymous.

The last several weeks in Okeechobee have been a time of proclamations around the city and county for certain issues and happenings but none more important than mental health. At their meeting last week, county commissioners proclaimed the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. Tiara Weethee, director of marketing and communications of Suncoast Mental Health Center , was on hand to accept the proclamation and says she’s “really, really happy” the commissioners are bringing awareness to the issue and it’s something that’s not really recognized until something bad happens. Weethee says mental health is as real as physical health and just because you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have mental illness. Seventy years ago, Mental Health America designated May as Mental Health Awareness Month. Weethee says people can also call the 2-1-1 Helpline for assistance if they cannot turn to family or a counselor for help. There will be a Mental Health Awareness Brown Bag Lecture at Indian River State College (IRSC) beginning at 11 o’clock.

Okeechobee County firefighters had their hands full with a vehicle fire Friday afternoon. Crews were called to the 26 hundred block of NW 4th Street shortly before 1:30 and found a Chevrolet Duramax pickup truck with the engine covered in flames. Firefighters got the blaze extinguished in about ten minutes while using about 250 gallons of water. No one was hurt. Investigators say the owner stated that she started having trouble a couple of days earlier with the radio acting up and flickering on and off, and the truck was shutting off when turning. Estimated cost of damages to the truck is about five thousand dollars. It remains under investigation.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail on a host of charges stemming from a domestic battery incident during the early morning hours of last Wednesday. Sheriff’s deputies were called to an undisclosed address a little before five o’clock for a delayed domestic battery and was told by the woman living there that her boyfriend, 31 year old Justin Alan Driggers, hit her and bit her following a night of drinking at a local bar. Deputies noticed the skin on Driggers’ girlfriend was swelling up, forming a contusion and she told deputies that Driggers punched her following an argument they had and then bit her on her thigh, causing a bruise. Deputies say Driggers also pulled her hair and punched her several more times as they got back to her home and she called 911. Driggers also stole his girlfriend’s Galaxy Note, of which he later smashed the screen in and also took the keys to her Mercedes. Driggers was arrested and charged with domestic battery, grand theft and criminal mischief. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at just over $105 thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

35 year old Stephanie Michelle Starcher of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

22 year old Daniel Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his mother during a domestic dispute. He’s being held without bond.

52 year old Raul Estrada-Baltazar of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on an expired license following a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

29 year old Justin Wilson Honeycutt of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal use of someone’s identification. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

60 year old Ellen Marie Tyson of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. She was released after posting bond.

26 year old Ralph Henry Buchheit of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting bond.

36 year old Juan Carlos Sanchez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

57 year old Timothy Louis Kuegler of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

38 year old Daniel Markese Nesby of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past battery charges. He’s being held without bond.

59 year old West Bill Guyton of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drunk driving charges. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old James Robert Kelley of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a fugitive warrant from Massachusetts for armed robbery. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old Ajusta Sataye Williams of Port St. Lucie was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

24 year old Julianna Rose Herrera of Clewiston was arrested on a warrant from Hendry County for an undisclosed charge. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 5/14

News Cast for May 14th:

The Okeechobee County School Board will meet tonight for the final time of this school year and they will recognize the achievements of the science Olympiad teams of area schools and also recognize the retirements of several school teachers and employees and they will also proclaim this month as Mental Health Awareness Month. The meeting begins at six o’clock in the school board office.

Tonight, Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue is teaming up with Trauma Training Group to present the nationally recognized Bleeding Control course to the community tonight at the Emergency Management Center. This course is designed to identify life-threatening bleeding, specifically from an active shooter or some kind of explosive event, and use military approved tourniquets and dressings on these types of wounds. Recently, as part of National Stop the Bleed Day, the Okeechobee County Health Department partnered with the Heartland Health Care Coalition to purchase and supply all county schools “Stop the Bleed” kits and each school employee was trained in treating wounds where massive bleeding is apparent. Okeechobee County Fire Captain Ryan Hathaway says cost and available training were reasons why Okeechobee didn’t have access to this kind of capability before. The time to sign up for tonight’s class is too late but there’s still time to sign up for Saturday morning’s class which begins at 9am. If you’re interested, please call the Emergency Management Center at 863-763-5544. The course is completely free of charge.

Hathaway-Stop the Bleeding 1

Hathaway-Stop the Bleeding 2

This past week, small businesses in Okeechobee County were recognized as part of Small Business Week. County commissioners proclaimed it so at their meeting on Thursday. Paulette Wise, executive director of the Okeechobee County Chamber of Commerce was on hand to accept the proclamation and she says it “feels great” that the proclamation was made and it’s something the Chamber is proud to make sure the community knows the importance of small businesses and this proclamation just jells that. Wise says without small businesses, it makes you wonder where this community would be. Small businesses around the country have been recognized at this time since the 1960’s. You can find out more about the Chamber of Commerce’s events by logging on to their Facebook page. Rise Up with The Chamber Breakfast will be coming up on May 29th.

Wise-Small Business Week 1

Wise-Small Business Week 2

An Okeechobee man is facing charges of domestic violence in connection with an incident Saturday evening. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 57 hundred block of SE 86th Boulevard a little after 5:30 after receiving reports that 35 year old Shaun Anthony Tedford punched a woman, possibly knocking her out. Witnesses told deputies that Tedford got into a fight with his wife reportedly over her meeting another man at a store. This upset Tedford and his wife then cut tires to their vehicle. Tedford went out and pushed her then punched her in the face, causing her son to step in and defend his mom. Tedford then picked up a shovel and started threatening people with it at the time deputies arrived. Deputies say they got word of this incident from a St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputy living in Okeechobee who was looking out his window at the time and saw it. Tedford was arrested and charged with domestic battery and was taken to county jail. He was released after posting a $25 thousand dollar bond.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in county jail on a host of charges following a report of a reckless driver Friday night. Deputies spotted a grey colored Jeep, driven by 43 year old Christopher Wesley Nourse, near the seven thousand block of Highway 441 North a little after 10:30 and he was driving erratically all over the road. Deputies performed a traffic stop of Nourse’s vehicle at a gas station on the 37 hundred block of 441 North and they had Nourse step out of the vehicle. Nourse was speaking in a thick tongued way, causing deputies to suspect he was on some narcotic. A K-9 unit was brought in to search the vehicle and it revealed Viagra pills which he didn’t have a prescription for, a backpack that contained methamphetamine and alprazolam. Nourse was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, controlled substances, drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license. His bond is set at $116 thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a report of a fire alarm going off at Home Depot early Thursday morning but it turned out to be a different kind of problem. Firefighters arrived at Home Depot on the 27 hundred block of Highway 441 South a little before six o’clock and found that workers there hit the riser and had some water flow. Firefighters found water from the supply lines on the ceiling on one of the aisles with some loss of product and about two to three inches of water across a third of the store. Crews responded to the pump room and shut off all the risers and opened the test drain to flow water from the system to stop the flow of water into the store. Crews kept the pump running for about fifteen minutes to evacuate the water. Repair crews were then called in to fix the problem and electrical power was shut down while repairs were being done. No one was hurt. Estimated cost of damages is not known.

On the arrest report:

44 year old Charles Edward Berryman of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for drunk driving after a traffic stop and subsequent field sobriety test. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

27 year old Jose Guadalupe Romero Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of marijuana possession. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

26 year old Emanuel Salvador Castaneda of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of throwing something off of a building. He’s being held without bond.

31 year old Hugo Leonel Martinez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

37 year old Larry Robert Wilson of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on charges of driving without a valid license. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.

21 year old John Paul Litteral the Third of Okeechobee was arrested for marijuana possession after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

31 year old Jose Angel Delacruz of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges for failing to redeliver leased property. He’s being held without bond.

22 year old Brandi Lee Lafferty of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Hillsborough County for possession of a controlled substance. She’s being held without bond.

31 year old Justin Alan Driggers of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of battery, grand theft and criminal mischief. He’s being held without bond.

42 year old Tavare Latrez Whitehead of Okeechobee was arrested by police for possession of Alprazolam. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

33 year old Antwan Jacques Wells of Fort Pierce was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on charges of driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

33 year old Kevin Joseph Murphy of Davie was arrested for drunk driving for the third time in ten years and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at one hundred thousand dollars.


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