Local News

News Cast 11/22

News Cast for November 22nd:

Okeechobee County Firefighters are investigating the cause of a structure fire that happened Monday morning. Crews were called to the thirty four hundred block of SE 38th Avenue just after 11:15 for a single wide mobile home that was showing light smoke from all four sides of the building. Crews entered through the front door by breaking the window and found the fire at the corner, getting it under control in just under five minutes. No one was home at the time so no injuries reported. Damage is estimated to be about $1250.00.

Firefighters were later called to the thirty seven hundred block of SW 13th Terrace just after 7:30 pm for a fire and found the blaze on top of the toilet in the bathroom and extinguished it in just under five minutes using water from the sink. The homeowner returned home and told crews she accidentally left a burning candle in the bathroom. No one was hurt and no sign of the blaze spreading to other parts of the home. Damage is estimated to be about $1250.00.

With November being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County is encouraging all women to receive regular screenings to promote early detection and treatment of the disease. Public Information Officer Brian Sell says if you haven’t because of lack of insurance, you may be eligible for a free or reduced pap smear or mammogram through the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Sell says awareness and communication is key to successful treatment. To see if you qualify for the Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Awareness Program, you can call them at (863) 462-5800.

Brian Sell-Breast Cancer Awareness

A Moore Haven man is being treated for serious injuries after a single vehicle accident early yesterday morning. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 26 year old Kurtis James was driving his Toyota Yaris on Highway 721 in Glades County near 78 just before 3:15 when he ran off the road trying to negotiate a tough left curve and collided with a tree, then he hit a sign, culvert and fence before his car overturned and he was ejected. James was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt. James was taken to Hendry Regional Medical Center for treatment.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Jose Antonio Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to appear in court for charges of driving on a suspended license, burglary, dealing in stolen property and providing false ownership to a pawn dealer. His bond is set at $77,500.00.

33 year old Ashley Ann Melvin of Okeechobee was arrested for forgery. Her bond is set at $5000.00.

38 year old Lucas Colson of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft auto, possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $8000.00.

54 year old Dean Daniels of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant for drug possession with intent to sell. He was released after posting a $15,000.00 bond.


News Cast 11/21

News Cast for November 21st:

Okeechobee County Firefighters are investigating the cause of a structure fire that happened yesterday. Crews were called to the thirty four hundred block of SE 38th Avenue just after 11:15 for a single wide mobile home that was showing light smoke from all four sides of the building. Crews entered through the front door by breaking the window and found the fire at the corner, getting it under control in just under five minutes. No one was home at the time so no injuries reported. Damage is estimated to be about $1250.00.

Firefighters were later called to the thirty seven hundred block of SW 13th Terrace just after 7:30 pm for a fire and found the blaze on top of the toilet in the bathroom and extinguished it in just under five minutes using water from the sink. The homeowner returned home and told crews she accidentally left a burning candle in the bathroom. No one was hurt and no sign of the blaze spreading to other parts of the home. Damage is estimated to be about $1250.00.

A Moore Haven man is being treated for serious injuries after a single vehicle accident early this morning. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 26 year old Kurtis James was driving his Toyota Yaris on Highway 721 in Glades County near 78 just before 3:15 when he ran off the road trying to negotiate a tough left curve and collided with a tree, then he hit a sign, culvert and fence before his car overturned and he was ejected. James was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt. James was taken to Hendry Regional Medical Center for treatment.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Jose Antonio Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to appear in court for charges of driving on a suspended license, burglary, dealing in stolen property and providing false ownership to a pawn dealer. His bond is set at $77,500.00.

33 year old Ashley Ann Melvin of Okeechobee was arrested for forgery. Her bond is set at $5000.00.

38 year old Lucas Colson of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft auto, possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $8000.00.

54 year old Dean Daniels of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant for drug possession with intent to sell. He was released after posting a $15,000.00 bond.


News Cast 11/20

News Cast for November 20th:

Privatizing of lunchroom employees was a topic of discussion at last week’s Okeechobee County School Board Meeting. It was discussed that responsibility of some cafeteria employees’ wages, hours, insurance, etc. would no longer be a responsibility of the school board, but instead be transferred to a private company known as Sudexo. Frank Peterman of the Florida Education Association says Sudexo’s bosses would decide what employees will earn, which employees would be hired, which ones would be retained from the previous regime and more. Peterman says if the decision is made to privatize, the school board can never get them back. Peterman also says it’s basically a cost-cutting move by the school board and once it’s done, the school board has no say or control.

Privatizing 1

Privatizing 2

If you’re a homeowner or renter getting rental assistance from FEMA, and you still need that assistance, and you’re eligible for it, you need to complete and submit an application for Continued Rental Assistance. FEMA may provide up to two months of initial rental assistance if you qualify but you’ll need to re-apply if you continue to need it. FEMA spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough says it’s been a godsend for most (Lynn Kimbrough-FEMA Rental Assistance). Kimbrough says once you re-apply, you need to provide documentation such as, copies of your lease or rental agreement, proof of your current income and receipts proving you’re using the FEMA Rental Assistance funds properly to be eligible for continued funding. A reminder that applications for FEMA assistance need to be submitted by November 24th.

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another tourism record by welcoming the highest number of visitors of any nine months in the state’s history with 88.2 million visitors, according to VISIT FLORIDA. This represents a 3.3 percent increase over the 85.4 million visitors from the same period in 2016. This includes 77.6 million domestic visitors, 7.9 million overseas visitors and 2.7 million Canadians visitors. Governor Scott made the announcement at Azucar Ice Cream Company, a locally-owned ice cream boutique that has been nationally recognized as one of Little Havana’s top tourist destinations.

On the arrest report:

22 year old Dakota John Rogers of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery on his girlfriend after a domestic dispute. He’s being held on $7500.00 bond.

48 year old Julie Anne Hager of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on an out of county arrest warrant for petty theft. She’s being held without bail.

32 year old Hivan Medrano of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license and being a habitual offender of it after a traffic stop. He was released on $1500.00 bond.

49 year old Josephine Martinez of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges after an incident at a bar. She was released after posting a $500.00 bond.

28 year old Danny Anthony Bonilla of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250.00 bond.

58 year old James Neville Dunson of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and alprazolam after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $6000.00 bond.


SFWMD Identifies Initial Concepts for EAA Storage Reservoir

SFWMD Identifies Initial Concepts for EAA Storage Reservoir

Ongoing public meetings highlight project features under consideration that will be modeled to determine EAA Storage Reservoir benefits

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) this week sought public input on initial concepts being considered for the proposed Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir Project.

These project concepts under consideration will be modeled further by SFWMD staff in the coming weeks. Modeling results will be presented at future public meetings as part of the extensive ongoing public review process for the EAA Storage Reservoir Project. The project began as Senate Bill 10. Earlier this year, the bill was authorized by the Legislature, an effort led by Senate President Joe Negron, and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

“This is an exciting step in a rapidly moving process,” said SFWMD Federal Policy and Coordination Bureau Chief Matt Morrison. “The public received a first look at the conceptual project features and provided additional valuable feedback. Next, we will undertake detailed modeling on the array of initial concepts to determine what features provide the most benefit while making the best use of taxpayer dollars.”

The initial concepts discussed by SFWMD staff at two meetings this week included:

  • A 240,000 acre-foot reservoir that would require 10,000 acres for storage and another 6,300 acres of stormwater treatment areas (STAs) to treat water and meet the project goals by sending additional clean water south to the Everglades. This alternative includes a total project footprint of approximately 16,000 acres.
  • A 360,000-acre foot reservoir that would require 22,000 acres for storage and another 9,500 acres of STAs to meet the project goals by sending additional clean water south to the Everglades. This alternative includes a total project footprint of approximately 31,000 acres.

SFWMD is currently engaged in an extensive series of public meetings to receive public input that helps inform the scope and modeling for the project. Six public meetings have been conducted to date. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 9 a.m. at SFWMD Headquarters in West Palm Beach. This protocol is consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process necessary to ensure the project remains eligible for federal cost sharing.

For the modeling data and more information on the meetings, including agendas and presentations, visit www.sfwmd.gov/eaareservoir.

To learn more about SFWMD’s ongoing planning projects that are part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, visit www.sfwmd.gov/cerpplanning


News Cast 11/17

News Cast for November 17th:

Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department have announced that their lead investigator met with the state attorney’s office and presented the evidence regarding the allegations of cattle abuse at Larson Dairy last week and they say arrest warrants have been issued for the individual or individuals responsible. Sheriff Noel Stephen last week held a press conference saying he received a letter and photos illustrating the alleged abuse of cattle at Larson’s Dairy, causing at least one person to be fired and two others suspended from their jobs. Names of those being sought in this case have not been released at this time.

A Lake Placid man is facing a litany of charges after an encounter with Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies last night. Detectives say 40 year old Dederrian Leevan Williams was arrested at a storage facility in Lake Placid after a month long investigation revealed he was conducting a drug dealing operation. Williams pulled up to the storage facility and when he gave a false name to deputies, he tried to escape but was eventually caught in the woods near Highway 27. Detectives found over 12 grams of cocaine, nearly 5 grams of crack and a gram of marijuana in Williams’ car and over 55 grams of cocaine and over thirteen hundred dollars in cash in the storage facility. Williams was booked on aggravated battery on a law officer, cocaine trafficking, possession of cocaine and marijuana near a church and resisting arrest. His bond is set at $154,000.00.

National Farm City Week is alive and quite well in Okeechobee County. It started off with a luncheon and agri-education expo at the Okeechobee KOA Campgrounds yesterday. Lots of food, kids presenting their 4H projects were part of the fun. Davie Dairy’s own Bill Berman and Glenn Rutledge were given a special recognition award as part of the festivities. Berman, as appreciative as he was for receiving the award, praised his office manager, Alice Murphy, who introduced him and has been working at the dairy for over 30 years . Davie Dairy has been a staple of Okeechobee County since 1962.

Berman 1

Berman 2

If your blood type is A, B, AB or O, come on down to the Freshman Campus Auditorium behind Golden Corral this weekend for the 11th annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup. Officials from One Blood will be there, accepting blood donations Saturday and Sunday and there will be prizes awarded to donors via a raffle. Some restrictions are if you’re on blood thinners, have a fresh tattoo or you’ve given blood in the last 56 days, you cannot donate. But according to coordinator Raye Deusinger, you can donate platelets even if you gave blood within the last 56 days. The Okeechobee Blood Roundup begins at 9am on Saturday and ends at 6pm and on Sunday it goes from 9am to 5pm. Every donation saves 3 lives.

Deusinger 1

Deusinger 2

Today is an early release day for children in Okeechobee County schools. Okeechobee High will run from 7:05 until 10:50; Okeechobee Freshman campus will go from 7:18 till 10:30; Okeechobee Achievement Academy (Middle/High) will go from 7:20 till 10:30; Achievement Academy (Pre K/Elem) from 8:15 until 11:10; Middle Schools from 9am until 12:20; Central, Everglades and Seminole from 8am until 11:55 and North and South from 8:10 until 11:30.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Kathyari Aponte of Frostproof was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia following a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $12,500.00.

30 year old David Glenn Jennings of Sebring was arrested for driving on a suspended license and being a habitual offender of the same charge. He is being held on $10,000.00 bond.

26 year old Rachael Nicole Hennon of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to appear in court for misdemeanor offenses and contempt of court. She’s being held without bond.

54 year old Frank Laperuta of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of cruelty to animals. He’s being held on a $1000.00 bond.

68 year old James Arthur Snell of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to appear in court for misdemeanor offenses. He’s being held without bond.


News Cast 11/16

News Cast for November 16th:

Okeechobee City Council members recognized one of the unsung heroes of the police department at Tuesday night’s meeting. Dispatcher Tiffany Noel was presented with an award for her five years of service to the department. Noel, a breast cancer survivor, says while it was a battle to be able to balance her work with her cancer treatment, she knows she’s got the support she needs. Noel who said she was “speechless and excited” about getting the award, says the hardest part of her job is not being able to go out and help her fellow officers in the field.

Tiffany Noel 1

Tiffany Noel 2

Another officer receiving an award at Tuesday night’s meeting was Raul Marrero, who got a life-saving medal and ribbon after performing CPR on 62 year old Ken Glassburn after he went into cardiac arrest at his Okeechobee home on October 2nd. While Marrero says he is very appreciative of the award, to him, the award means he and his fellow officers have the city’s full support. Marrero’s efforts allowed Glassburn to live an extra week and a half.

Yesterday marked the beginning of Farm City Week here in Okeechobee County, a time to bring consumers of agricultural products together with agricultural producers to tell their stories. There will be a luncheon and agri-education expo today at the Okeechobee KOA campgrounds beginning at 11:30. Vice President of Farm Bureau and Okeechobee Area Agri-Council Mickey Bandy says it’s a time to remind people where their food comes from and not take it for granted. A proclamation of the beginning of Farm City Week was recognized by the Okeechobee City Council Tuesday night. Council member Gary Ritter will be a featured speaker at the event.

Bandy-Farm City Week 1

Bandy-Farm City Week 2

Officials from Raulerson Hospital have announced that beginning January 1st, 2018, their facility will become completely tobacco-free. This announcement coincides with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, an opportunity for people to commit to healthy, tobacco-free lives not for just a day, but year-round. Since 2011, Raulerson Hospital has prohibited all employees from smoking on campus and restricted smoking to a designated courtyard.

Just a reminder that FEMA officials are teaming up with Home Depot and Lowe’s to answer questions and offer tips and techniques for building hazard-resistant homes as part of a mitigation outreach program for people to help prevent or reduce damage from future disasters. Covered topics include flood insurance, rebuilding flooded homes and elevating utilities. FEMA spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough says another option discussed is called elevating a home. FEMA will be at the Home Depot in Sebring on Highway 27 North from now until November 25th.  There are also disaster recovery centers still in operation at The John Boy Auditorium in Clewiston until this Saturday from 9am until 7pm and there is another in Sebring at the Bert Harris Agricultural Center until further notice also operating from 9 to 7 each day.

On the arrest report today:

48 year old Terry Ronald Miller of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies after a traffic stop and found he was driving drunk, refused to submit to a breathalyzer test and has a suspended license. He was released after posting a two hundred fifty dollar bond.

22 year old James Glenn Spiva of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant for violating probation on a prior drug charge after going to the county jail to visit his father. He was released after posting a twenty five hundred dollar bond.

38 year old Kristina Ann Yanez of West Palm Beach was arrested on charges of drug possession, giving a false name to deputies and identity theft and introducing contraband into a detention facility. Her bond has not been set.

42 year old Sheila Lynn May of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.

38 year old Edgar Rovirosa of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis after a traffic stop. He’s being held without bond.


News Cast 11/15

News Cast for November 15th:

An Okeechobee area boat repairman has to get his property cleaned up or face the consequences. City council members approved an enforcement of a court order for Marvin Brantley to get his business property on Parrott Avenue cleaned or he will face possible fines and jail time. Mayor Dowling Watford is confident that Brantley will have it cleaned up by the time the issue goes before a judge. The 74 year old Brantley, who was resigned to the council’s decision and plans on selling the property, has run the business for over 50 years.  He has been paying code violation fines since the court order went into effect in 2005.

Code Enforcement 1

Code Enforcement 2

Councilmembers also approved the purchase of twelve 2018 Dodge Charger Police Squad cars from Auto Nation in Pembroke Pines and approved the purchase of equipment for those cars from Dana Safety Supply in North Carolina, for a grand total of just over $285,000 dollars. They also proclaimed the week of November 15th thru the 22nd as “Farm City Week,”   presented a five year longevity service award to Police Dispatcher Tiffany Noel, a life saving medal and ribbon to Police Officer Raul Marrero and letters of commendation to Marrero, Sgt. Phillip Eddings and Officer Ryan Holroyd.

FEMA officials are teaming up with Home Depot and Lowe’s to answer questions and offer tips and techniques for building hazard-resistant homes as part of a mitigation outreach program to people to help prevent or reduce damage from future disasters like Hurricane Irma. Covered topics include flood insurance, rebuilding flooded homes and elevating utilities. FEMA spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough says another option discussed is called elevating a home. FEMA will be at the Home Depot in Sebring on Highway 27 North from now until November 25th.  There are also disaster recovery centers still in operation at The John Boy Auditorium in Clewiston until this Saturday from 9am until 7pm and there is another in Sebring at the Bert Harris Agricultural Center until further notice also operating from 9 to 7 each day.

FEMA-Mitigation Outreach

Highlands County Sheriff’s detectives have two teenagers in custody, charged with a drive-by shooting in Avon Park Lakes on Sunday. Detectives say 18 year old Isaiah Tyree Golden and his 17 year old accomplice, both of Avon Park, are both charged with firing a weapon in public and firing a weapon from a vehicle into an occupied home on the two thousand block of North Berkeley Road. None of the seven people inside the house was hurt when the handgun was fired multiple times. Security cameras captured footage of a silver Ford Escape speeding away from the scene. Detectives found the vehicle a short time later at a nearby house, where the two suspects were found, also finding two .38 caliber revolvers in the house. Detectives say the shooting stemmed from a conflict between Jones and one of the people in the house.

Governor Rick Scott’s “Securing Florida’s Future” budget invests $2.9 billion to protect the health and well-being of Florida’s families and visitors. The Securing Florida’s Future Budget focuses on several key areas, including combatting the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse, implementing strategies to fight HIV and boost existing programs focused on protecting young children.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Benjamin Donald Dunnam of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of petty theft of an Okeechobee home and possession of marijuana. He was released after posting a 1250 dollar bond.

29 year old Christine Elizabeth Hunter of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and tampering with evidence after a traffic stop. She’s being held on a ten thousand dollar bond.

33 year old Jerrod Austin Tindall was arrested for criminal mischief after damaging some property at an Okeechobee home. He’s being held on a one thousand dollar bond.


PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office continues to receive complaints regarding money scams. These scams have numerous names such as the Grandparent Scam, Family Emergency Scam, Nigerian letter scam, the Advance Fee Fraud, to name a few. Each of these scams are sent unsolicited by phone, mail, fax, or most commonly by email, in the form of a letter.

Here a few examples of what the caller might say to you or the letter might say:

The “Grandparent Scam is a scam that targets the elderly in an attempt to steal a large sum of money through a wire transfer. Financial losses from this scam are usually several thousand dollars per victim. A grandparent receives a phone call or email from someone who claims to be their grandchild;  “You don’t know me, but your granddaughter is in jail in Michigan and needs money wired immediately…”

Con artists claim to be officials, businesspeople, lottery officials or the surviving spouses of former government workers in Nigeria or another country whose money is somehow tied up for a limited time. They offer to transfer lots of money into your bank account if you will pay a fee or ‘taxes’ to help them access their money. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive documents that look ‘official.’ Then they ask you to send money to cover transaction and transfer costs and attorney’s fees, as well as blank letterhead, your bank account numbers, or other information. They may even encourage you to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete the transaction. Some fraudsters have even produced trunks of dyed or stamped money to verify their claims. The emails are actually from crooks trying to steal your money or perpetrate identity theft. Inevitably, emergencies come up, requiring more of your money and delaying the ‘transfer’ of funds to your account; in the end, there aren’t any profits for you, and the scam artist vanishes with your money.

STOP AND ASK YOURSELF, IS THIS A SCAM???

*The first sign is the caller advising you to go and get a green card and send to… DON’T DO IT

*Don’t wire money and don’t send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.

*Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.

*Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.*Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.

*Check the story out with your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.

*Contact Law Enforcement and report the activity

DON’T BE A VICTIM!

Michele Bell, PIO


News Cast 11/14

News Cast for November 14th:

There will be a couple of meetings tonight in Okeechobee County. City Council meets and among the items on the agenda up for discussion is the purchase of twelve 2018 Dodge Charger police squad cars from Auto Nation  Chrysler Dodge/Jeep Ram in Pembroke Pines. The cost of these vehicles will be about twenty thousand dollars. Councilmembers will also look to approve related equipment for these cars from an out of state company and declaring the week of the 15th thru the 22nd as “Farm City Week.” City Council meets at City Hall, tonight at 6pm.

Okeechobee County School Board will also be meeting tonight and they will discuss the possible expulsion of three students, two eighth graders and one ninth grader. That meeting will commence at 6pm at the school board building auditorium behind Golden Corral on SW 2nd Avenue.

The National Milk Producers Federation has placed Larson Dairy on probationary status in the wake of a video and photos released last week of former employees kicking and poking the cattle with metal rebars. The situation sparked a protest Sunday by members of a group called Okeechobee Animal Save against the Larson Dairy. Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper came by in support of the Larson family, claiming this whole ordeal was a set up. Culpepper goes on to say that the Larsons are pillars of this community and are a good Christian family and if they’d known what was going on, they would’ve put a stop to it immediately. As of now, at least one employee of Larson’s Dairy has been fired and two more suspended. There have been no arrests made and no charges have been levied on current or former employees of Larson Dairy so far.

Protest-Culpepper 1

Protest-Culpepper 2

LARSON DAIRY Statement via OCSO

Recently, Okeechobee native and Forest Ranger with the Florida Forest Service, Rob Smith volunteered for a two week assignment in South Carolina as part of a team that processed shipments of water, mattresses, tarps for homes and power poles, among other things to and from Puerto Rico, whose people are still rebuilding and repairing following the devastation of Hurricane Maria last September. Smith says it was a combination of curiosity and selflessness that propelled him to volunteer for this assignment. Smith, who has worked for the Florida Forest Service for almost two years, would volunteer again if asked.

Smith 1

Smith 2

If you’re still in need of assistance from FEMA, you still have time. Officials from FEMA have extended the disaster registration until November 24th. Regarding the extension, it’s not as unusual as you might think according to FEMA spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough. To register, you can log on to disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 for more information and answers to your questions.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Robert Lee Simpson of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of 2nd degree burglary and petty theft. His bond is set at twenty five thousand dollars.

46 year old Christopher Wayne Cain of Okeechobee was arrested with possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a fifty-five hundred dollar bond.

46 year old Jeffrey Michael Hodge of Dunnellon was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a fifteen hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Ruben Antonio Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested for battery, simple assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest after a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a twenty five hundred dollar bond.


News Cast 11/13

News Cast for November 13th:

Okeechobee County firefighters were a little busy last week. Firefighters were called to the thirteen thousand block of SE 38th Street just before three o’clock Thursday for a brush fire behind a house. Investigators say the son of the homeowner set the fire, claiming he was burning a large pile of storm debris. The son then started to put the fire out with firefighters’ help just as the burn was starting to get to the grass around it. No one was hurt.

Emergency crews were called to two single vehicle accidents in Okeechobee County on Thursday. Both accidents required crews to extricate the vehicles’ occupants.  The first one happened just after three o’clock where the driver of the vehicle drove off the road at the 36 hundred block of NW 35th Avenue and hit a tree. The occupant was airlifted to a hospital for treatment. The second accident happened about two and half hours later at the 22 thousand block of 441 North. Crews found the vehicle about 100 feet into a pasture. The vehicle had moderate damage and the occupant also had to be airlifted to a hospital for treatment. Names of the injured are not known and both accidents are under investigation.

Okeechobee County will get some good advice the next time a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma comes. Commissioners last week approved a contract with DMS Disaster Consultants to work with Okeechobee County to provide expertise to augment our county’s capabilities to receive the maximum recovery funding from FEMA and the State of Florida. County administrator Robbie Chartier says this is necessary with the rules FEMA always evolving. DMS Disaster Consultants, based in Boca Raton, has worked on over twenty thousand projects and been responsible for eleven billion dollars in disaster recovery.

Florida Highway Patrol officers are investigating a vehicle accident that killed a four year old Ft. Pierce girl Thursday. Investigators say 24 year old Shaina Holder of Ft. Pierce was driving her 2001 Saturn south on Highway 1 in Indian River County when she inexplicably struck the left rear of the car in front of her, causing Holder’s car to rotate several times and overturn. Holder’s passenger, Isabella Sloane, was killed instantly. Holder and the occupants of the other vehicle sustained minor injuries.

The Okeechobee County Emergency Department will soon be getting a special vehicle for transporting patients. Commissioners accepted a school bus donated by the county school board and the emergency department will be remaking it into an “ambulance bus” where multiple patients can be transported to and from hospitals in the event of an emergency. Deputy Fire Chief Karl Holtkamp says this is a necessity in the event of mass casualties and because the county has only four ambulances and two on reserve an hour away. Holtkamp says this whole project is a major donation. Holtkamp says this ambulance bus should be ready to go in the next one to two months.

On the arrest report:

68 year old James Arthur Snell of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failure to appear in court from a DUI charge. His bond has not been set at this time.

22 year old Ashlee Lea Lightsey of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $10,500 dollars.

28 year old Patty Ann Goins of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.


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