News Cast for April 22nd:
A traffic homicide some 31 years ago near Hollywood, South Carolina, led to an arrest in Okeechobee this weekend. 57 year old Edgar Ochoa faces charges of reckless homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. The crash claimed the life of Clarence Sharlow and injured Leo Tijerina on route 162.
Major Eric Watson of the Charleston County South Carolina Sheriff’s office said an audit of old warrants found this case had been removed, once they put it out nationwide, they got a hit in Okeechobee, and deputies here made the arrest. Watson says the district attorney plans to prosecute the case and Ochoa is awaiting extradition.
Highlands County deputies investigating the homicide of 34 year old Lee Andrew Thomas of Moore Haven early Monday. Thomas was shot to death in the Highway Park neighborhood of Lake Placid near a liquor store at 2 in the morning.
Jobless rates remained virtually the same in March in Okeechobee with 7.4 percent of the workforce collecting benefits. That compared to 7.5 percent in February. Last March the rate stood at 8.4 percent.
Glades County remained the same at 7.6 percent.
Glades was tied for 10th highest among Florida counties while Okeechobee ranked 16th.
Around the region, Palm Beach had 6.3 percent, Martin 6.5 percent, St. Lucie 8.1 percent, and Highlands 7.3 percent.
Among arrests, 23 year old Antonio Vela was charged with resisting arrest, and two counts of assault on law enforcement. Deputies say Vela tried to prevent them from arresting another man on a battery charge on South West 2nd Way early. Vela was accused of trying to bite the hand of a deputy and tried to spit on them. He was pepper sprayed.
Sports Cast for April 22nd:
Laporche Morris caught a 65 yard touchdown with 15 seconds to play to help Okeechobee stun St. Lucie
West Centennial 21-20 in girls flag football action last night at Brahman Stadium. Senior Tiffany Bowers caught the winning conversion pass for Okeechobee.
Morris said she was glad to make a play when her team needed it. Morris added a 64 yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Baylee Farless added a short touchdown reception and also threw a touchdown pass.
Coach Jimmy Mills admitted things looked bleak for his team when Centennial scored on a 30 yard pass with 33 seconds left.
Alyssa Coleman added two touchdown passes for Okeechobee.
They meet Martin County in the district tournament next Monday at 5:30 pm at Jensen Beach high school.
Boys’ baseball opens up their district tournament today with a semifinal game with Jensen Beach at 1 pm at Port St. Lucie High School.
Ready for a Career in Business? Start Here!
IRSC School of Business Hosts Information Session in Okeechobee
Gainingthe competitive edge in today’s business climate is more critical than ever, and a degree from Indian River State College is the ideal platform for business success. Find out how IRSC can provide the skills to advance a career in business at the upcoming School of Business Information Session on Tuesday, April 29 at 6 p.m. in C-112 at the Dixon Hendry Campus at 2229 N.W. 9th Avenue in Okeechobee.
Information on financial aid, scholarships, program options and registration will be available. Attendees will have the opportunity to find out more about degrees offered by the IRSC School of Business, including Associate Degrees in Business Administration, Marketing Management and Accounting as well as learn about Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration and Organizational Management. Participants can also learn about certificate programs and Business Technology programs, including Aquaculture, Landscape and Horticulture and Golf Course Operations
It’s Taxpayer Independence Day!
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: Morgan L. McCord|
|April 21, 2014||850.212.5052|
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida taxpayers have a reason to celebrate on Tuesday, April 22nd. The date marks Taxpayer Independence Day as estimated by Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. April 22nd, 2014, is the first day in the calendar year that Florida taxpayers, on average, will begin earning income that does not go toward federal, state and local taxes.
“This symbolic day puts taxpayers’ responsibility in perspective, showing us how much of a presence government, at different levels, has in our lives.” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “It has taken Florida taxpayers 111 days, or more than three and a half months, to finally stop paying off their 2014 tax burden.”
This year’s Taxpayer Independence Day is three days later than in 2013, and marks the third consecutive year that Taxpayer Independence Day has moved later in the year. The time to pay off a Floridian’s tax burden is later in 2014 due to faster increasing federal taxes.
More than 70 percent of the average Floridian’s tax burden is make up of Federal taxes, which are expected to increase by 9 percent in 2014, largely accounting for this year’s later Taxpayer Independence Day.
According to the report, Floridians are expected to contribute more than $250 billion in taxes to federal, state and local governments in 2014, which is $18 billion in revenue above current collections. The tax increases are accompanied by an increase in average personal income, though taxes are expected to rise at a faster rate.
Based on average personal income, each Floridian will work 2 hours and 26 minutes per day to pay all of their owed taxes, meaning workers don’t begin earning wages for other expenses until 11:26 a.m. This daily tax independence takes five minutes longer than in 2013. Taxes are the largest per-day expense – more than food, housing and clothing combined.
Despite a later Taxpayer Independence Day, the report does have good news: Floridian’s buying power is also expected to increase in 2014, allowing the average household to spend 1 percent more this year.
“Floridians can use Taxpayer Independence Day to evaluate the cost of government, and ensure that our citizen responsibility to support our government is appropriately weighted against protecting our own personal and economic freedom,” added Calabro.
News Cast for April 21st:
In the courts, Artavistus Ware of Moore Haven received 17 years in prison convicted at trial of cocaine sale charges in Glades County.
19 year old Ethan King received 42 months in prison for various charges related to the theft of two vehicles from Seminole Cove and Enchanted Forest Trailer park last year. He was convicted of nine crimes in the plea deal.
55 year old Mark Risner received 15 years’ probation to charges he ran a brothel with prominent politicians in Orange County including former state representative Mike Horner, who represented this area. Horner resigned when the brothel visits came to light.
Arthur Nancy Dale of Glades County recently released a book on the history of our cattle industry in this region. The book also talks about ranchers from around the nation and their lifestyles and hardships they have faced. Dale says during her research on the book she got to meet a lot of interesting people in the cattle industry. Her fifth book is called, Deadly risk, American cattle ranching on the Mexican border and other true cattle ranching stories. Dale has been trying to help save the Cypress Knee museum in Palmdale and was inspired to write about Florida Cow hunters by Patrick Smith’s a land remembered.
Two people were transported to the hospital Saturday after a Jeep ran into the back of a farm tractor on route 721 at Bull Head Road in Glades County.
20 year old Jacob Williams apparently fell asleep at the wheel and ran into the tractor, operated by 55 year old Abelardo Gonzales of Clewiston. Williams was treated at Raulerson hospital for minor injury.
Sports Cast for April 21st:
The Brahman boys 4 by 800 meter relay team qualified for regional this year with a strong performance at the district meet in Palm Beach Gardens last Tuesday.
The team consists of Daniel Shelley, Isaac Garcia, Emmanual Gaona and Gerardo Saucedo.
Shelley, a freshman, said his first district meet was memorable. Garcia, a sophomore, knew what to expect from districts but is excited to make his first regional. He said the team has modest goals because the talent will be tough at Miami North Western High school this Wednesday.
Gaona also qualified to run in the 16 hundred and the 32 hundred meter finals.
Tabatha Henry rebounded from a back injury to qualify for regional in the 32 hundred meters as well.
On the sports schedule today, the flag football team will hold their senior night game against St. Lucie West Centennial; game time is 5 pm today.
Gov. Scott Awards Power Grid Engineering with Governor’s Business Ambassador Award
WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. — During today’s jobs announcement at Power Grid Engineering in Winter Springs, Governor Rick Scott recognized the company’s owners for their commitment to creating jobs in Florida. The Governor’s Business Ambassador Award is given to individuals for their efforts in creating jobs and opportunities for Florida families.
Governor Scott said, “These four individuals have demonstrated their commitment to creating jobs and opportunities for Florida families. We thank Power Grid Engineering for its continued growth and expansion here in Florida. Since December 2010, Florida has added more than 563,000 private sector jobs. Our goal is to create an opportunity economy in Florida where businesses can create jobs that will last for generations to come. Thanks to companies like Power Grid Engineering, we are making this goal a reality.”
Michael J. Wright, President, Power Grid Engineering said, “We were honored to host Governor Scott today and are proud that our company is among those in Florida that are growing and expanding. We look forward to continued growth and appreciate the Governor’s policies that support business.”
Andre Uribe, Vice President of Business Development, Power Grid Engineering said, “Governor Scott’s commitment to growing jobs in Florida has helped our economy continue to turnaround. Here at Power Grid we look forward to creating even more jobs over the next year, as our company has continued success.”
Gov. Scott: Florida Businesses Created 20,900 Jobs in March
TALLAHASSEE—Governor Rick Scott today announced that Florida’s private sector created 20,900 jobs over the month in March 2014. Since December 2010, Florida has added 563,900 private sector jobs.
Florida’s over the year job growth rate in March 2014 of 3.0 percent represents the fastest job growth rate since June 2006, meaning that the annual rate of growth from March 2013 to March 2014 was greater than any other month’s annual job growth rate since the June 2005 to June 2006 rate.
Governor Rick Scott said, “March’s job creation number brings more good news for Florida families, this means that more than 20,000 more Floridians will be able to provide for their families. Businesses in the state are continuing to create jobs– a total of 563,900 jobs since December 2010. Our improving economy is evidence that our policies are working and we will continue to work until every Floridian that wants a job can get a job.”
The state’s unemployment rate for March 2014 was 6.3 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from the March 2013 rate of 7.7 percent. For the eighth consecutive month, Florida’s statewide unemployment rate remains below the national unemployment rate, which was 6.7 percent in March 2014.
In March 2014, Florida’s labor force again increased over the month and over the year. Labor force was 9,575,000 in March 2014 and is defined as the sum of employment plus unemployment (those without a job but actively seeking work). Furthermore, Florida’s labor force participation rate, which is labor force divided by the total civilian noninstitutional population, was 60.5 percent in March 2014, up 0.3 percentage point from the February 2014 participation rate of 60.2 percent. In other words, although the unemployment rate increased slightly, 41,000 more people gained employment in March, and 59,000 entered the labor force.
Jesse Panuccio, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said, “Florida’s economic turnaround continued in March, with significant growth in private-sector jobs, high job demand, and an increasing employment reflecting renewed confidence among job seekers. These positive trends are the result of sound economic policy in Florida.”
February private sector job creation was revised up 34,400 jobs created, the largest one month gain since October 2010. In addition public sector jobs were revised down.
More Floridians Getting Back to Work
· Florida’s private sector job growth month-to-month has been positive for 33 consecutive months.
· Florida has created 563,900 new private sector jobs since December 2010.
· Florida job postings compiled by the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board showed 260,000 openings in March 2014.
· Florida’s unemployment rate has remained below the national unemployment rate for eight consecutive months.
Home Sales Robust
· Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 31.3 percent from December 2011 (Florida Realtors).
· Florida median home prices were up 10.0 percent over the year in February 2014.
Economic Growth Trends Up Across State
· A recent U.S. Census Survey reported that Florida experienced an influx of people moving into the state. Florida also led the nation in migrations from Puerto Rico.
· Florida is running a trade surplus of over $18 billion – with $90.4 billion in exports and $71.8 billion in imports in 2012, up from $86.8 billion in exports in 2011 and $62.4 billion in imports in 2011.
Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment
· In March, Florida’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards reported more than 40,890 Floridians were placed in jobs, a 24 percent increase over the year. An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a CareerSource Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals, 8,617 previously received Reemployment Assistance.
· In 2013, more than 479,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with 135,384 former claimants finding employment.
To view the March2014 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.
News Cast for April 18th:
Okeechobee City Council is at odds with the Florida Department of Transportation for downtown improvements proposed with the main intersection widening project.
The city has escrowed 72 thousand dollars so decorative cross walks can be constructed at several intersections. However the bid came in at 118 thousand dollars. City councilman Dowling Watford says the costs of the crosswalks have gotten astronomical. At their last meeting the Council decided to wait and see if the Department of Transportation will change their minds before approving any more funds.
Okeechobee County joined the new Highlands Metropolitan planning association last week. The 6 county regions along with the cities of Avon Park and Sebring will have voting rights.
Highlands County Assistant County Administrator Chris Benson says this group will have a lot of impacts on transportation and this region will have a lot of highway projects. Other counties involved include Glades, Hendry, Hardee and Desoto. Okeechobee will have one vote on the panel.
Among arrests, 26 year old Ronald Palmer was charged with possession of met amphetamine and grand theft of a welder from a local business.
A small arson fire under investigation in a bathroom at the freshman campus this week.
Glades County has requested 2 million dollars from the Florida Department of Transportation to construct a pedestrian access bridge across Harney Pond Canal in Lakeport. The county has asked the state to waive the local match because they are an area of critical economic concern in the state.
Sports Cast for April 18th:
OHS swimming took a step forward this season as the most ever swimmers qualified for the regional meet, set three school records and were close to two other school records.
Coach Neafsey said he really is looking forward to the future of Okeechobee High school swimming. Brandon Ball and Aubrey Reister were named Most Valuable players from the swim team and Neafsey said they set great examples for their teammates..
Brahman Awards went to girls’ team captain Billie Leavitt and to Lucas Penido for the Boys squad. Coach Neafsey said the team lost just two seniors so they should return a strong corps of swimmers for next season. The main goal will be to find more boys to join the swim team next year.
Jensen Beach defeated South fork 1-0 to win District 13-6A softball crown last night.
Okeechobee club soccer will host games this Saturday.
Benefit for Frank Prescott
A benefit for Frank Prescott, was held on April 4, 2014. Lunch was served in the park and dinner was at the Shrine Club. A raffle for an “Ole Henry 22 Magnum Rifle” was won by Gordon Morgan. There was also a silent auction that was very successful with lots of great items.
We would like to thank everyone that participated, all the wonderful businesses that so generously gave and all the volunteers that made this event such a success.
The benefit raised a total of $15,330.00
Thank you Okeechobee!
Michele Bell, PIO
FWC transitions to surveillance in Lake Mary neighborhood
Based on staff observations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is transitioning efforts from trapping to monitoring in the Lake Mary neighborhood where a bear attacked a woman.
FWC biologists and law enforcement offers will remain in the neighborhood working with residents and local authorities.
The FWC had to take action against bears that demonstrated they were habituated to people and human food. In order to maintain public safety, these bears were put down.
There are several ways to reduce the chances of human/bear conflict. People should secure garbage until the morning of pickup, and not allow pet food, bird seed or other food items be left out overnight. Most importantly, residents should never intentionally feed bears.
“Not only is feeding bears illegal, it is dangerous for people as well as bears,” said FWC Bear Program coordinator Dave Telesco. “Feeding bears leads to their deaths, whether it’s because they are more likely to be hit by cars, poisoned or shot by frustrated neighbors or killed by the FWC to protect public safety.”
Citizens with any information regarding the intentional feeding of bears should contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). If you supply relevant information you may be eligible for a reward, and you can remain anonymous.
The FWC reminds residents in this area to be aware of their surroundings and always supervise pets and children while outdoors. The FWC relies on residents to report threatening bear behavior. Residents should contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline to report any threatening bear activity.
If you encounter a bear at close range, remain standing upright and speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice. Back up slowly toward a secure area, and be sure you are leaving the bear a clear escape route. Stop and hold your ground if your movement away seems to irritate instead of calm the bear. Do not run or play dead. If a black bear attacks you, fight back aggressively.
House and Senate Budgets Show Big Differences
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: Morgan L. McCord|
|April 17, 2014||850.212.5052|
TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida Legislature has a lot of work to do to pass a final budget before the end of the legislative session, according to a Report from Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. The TaxWatch Budget Watch reveals many significant differences between the House and Senate spending plans, which will have to be ironed out in the last two weeks of session.
The report highlights differences in funding for education, water and member projects, as well as tax cuts, as being potential sticking points during budget negotiations.
When Legislators return from a recess next week they are expected to begin the budget conferencing process, wherein members from both chambers negotiate differences in funding levels. The report urges members to refrain from adding new projects during the conference process, and only to resolve funding discrepancies.
“Budget conferencing is a very important step in the budget process, but it is a time to review and compromise the differences in programs already approved by the state’s elected officials,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “TaxWatch encourages lawmakers not to add new projects that have not been and will not be vetted by the full Legislative body during conference proceedings.”
Both budgets increase spending above current year funding, but the House budget is slightly higher, spending a total of $75.3 billion, or an increase over current spending by nearly $1 billion. The slightly more conservative Senate budget totals $74.9 billion, or $600 above current spending.
Each plan varies in nearly every budget category. The House appropriates more funding to Education, Human Services and Environment and Transportation, but the Senate spends more on Criminal Justice, General Government and Courts.
The TaxWatch report commends the Legislature for once again retaining a healthy level of reserves that amount to close to $3 billion in both the Senate and House budgets. However, the report does reveal a number of trust fund sweeps in both budgets, a practice TaxWatch has called Legislators to more carefully review. This year, the House and Senate propose to sweep $325 million and $198 million respectively from the state’s trust funds.
“Sometimes sweeping trust funds into General Revenue is necessary; however, the process should include transparency and accountability measures that allow lawmakers to better evaluate the need for breaking the trust,” said Kurt Wenner, Vice President for Tax Research.