Local News

News Cast 1/18

News Cast for January 18th:

A Lake County man will be going to prison for the rest of his life after being sentenced in Okeechobee County Court yesterday. 49 year old Cordell Allen was given a life sentence for his role in the attempted murder of a fellow inmate three years ago. Allen, who with the help of fellow inmate Vincent Mariner of Virginia, stabbed 58 year old Kenneth Gardiner of Port St. Lucie close to twenty times in the chest and upper bank with a prison made stabbing weapon on New Year’s Eve, 2015. Allen, already serving a life sentence for second degree murder, was convicted December 18th. It isn’t known what prompted Allen and Mariner to attack Gardiner. Prosecutor Don Richardson couldn’t be happier with the judge’s decision in this sentencing hearing. Mariner was to go on trial this month for his part in the stabbing of Gardiner but ended up accepting a plea deal for aggravated battery and was sentenced on Wednesday to fifteen years in prison. Mariner was already serving a forty year sentence for a murder he committed in Virginia before being brought to Okeechobee as part of the Interstate Compact. Attorneys for Allen and Mariner could not be reached for comment.

Richardson-Prison Stabbing Case Sentencing 1

Richardson-Prison Stabbing Case Sentencing 2

The Okeechobee City Council took the time this past Tuesday night during their first meeting of 2019 to present a service award and retirement plaque to Okeechobee Police officer John Paul (J.P.) Ziegler. Ziegler, who has been a police officer in Okeechobee for thirty years, will be retiring at the end of this weekend. Ziegler says he’s “very moved” and “very blessed” the city council took the time to recognize him and his career as a police officer. Ziegler says his favorite part about being a police officer is the opportunity it grants him to help others in need. Ziegler, a native of Melbourne and Okeechobee resident for thirty years, began his law enforcement career in Okeechobee this month in 1989, first on road patrol, moving up to detective in 2003 and then returning to road patrol in 2013. After his retirement on Sunday, he will continue to work with the department on a part-time basis. He is also an ordained minister.

Ziegler 1

Ziegler 2

Narcotics officers from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department arrested a local man Wednesday evening on some serious drug offenses as part of a sting operation the officers conducted last fall. Officers say on October 30th, they met with a confidential source for the purpose of purchasing Hydromorphone Hydrochloride, otherwise known as Dilaudid, from 48 year old Earl Victor Williams Junior. The confidential source met with Williams and purchased the Dilaudid from him with officers documenting the transaction and recording the conversation between the two. The confidential source was then shown a photograph of Williams, identifying him as the man who sold him the Dilaudid. Williams was arrested just before seven o’clock Wednesday night and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at one hundred thousand dollars.

A Fort Pierce man is in serious condition at Raulerson Hospital and is facing charges following a vehicle accident Sunday afternoon where several people were severely injured and a baby was killed. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 33 year old Jose Alvarez Herrera was driving a Dodge Durango east on Highway 70 near 721 in Highlands County just after three o’clock when he went into the opposite lane to pass other vehicles in front of him and collided head on with an oncoming Nissan pickup truck. The impact caused both vehicles to overturn. Two of Herrera’s passengers, 34 year old Godoy Concepcion also of Fort Pierce, was seriously injured, and a three month old child from Fort Pierce was severely injured and died the next day. Concepcion is being treated for his injuries at Raulerson Hospital. The occupants of the Nissan Pickup truck, 54 year old Eliseo Pastor Mendoza of Lake Placid and his 16 year old male passenger from Lake Placid are being treated for serious injuries at Lake Placid Hospital. Herrera is charged with driving without a license and improper lane changes. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

43 year old Timothy James Burke of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from Osceola County for violating probation on past charges of driving on a suspended license, drunk driving and drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Elizabeth Eileen Shaw of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of trafficking stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 1/17

News Cast for January 17th:

The first Okeechobee City Council meeting of 2019 took place this past Tuesday and newly elected councilmember Bobby Keefe wasted no time in making his presence on the council known. Following the re-appointment of Dowling Watford as Okeechobee Mayor, Keefe introduced a measure that would call for each councilmember to serve as mayor on a rotating basis and would do so on a one year term  instead of the two year term which it is now. Keefe’s reasoning for this is it would bring a fresh approach to the job as mayor and a renewed sense of duty and obligation to the community and the council. The measure was defeated by a four to one vote. Keefe says he was disappointed in the result but he believes Watford is a superb leader and is honored to be serving on the council with him as the mayor.

Members of the South Florida Water Management Governing Board will soon be swept away. Last week, newly elected Governor Ron DeSantis called for the resignations of the members of the Water Management Governing Board at a press conference January 10th in Stuart. Governing Board member Brandon Tucker says a letter was sent to all board members thanking them for their service while issuing an executive order outlining a “bold vision” for environmental protection and water quality. Tucker says while Governor DeSantis has asked for the members to resign, it won’t be happening right away. Tucker says it didn’t come as a shock when he heard that Governor DeSantis asked for the board to resign based on news reports he’d been hearing about over the last few months. As of yesterday, board members Dan O’Keefe and Carlos Diaz have tendered their resignations.

Officers from the Narcotics Division of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s office arrested two men on Tuesday evening on several counts of drug trafficking during a sting operation. Officers arrested 28 year old Robert Anthony Williams of Port St. Lucie and 29 year old Nicholas Delgado of Melbourne a little after 7:30 after undercover officers had set up the purchase of cocaine and marijuana from Delgado and Williams last November and did so again this past Tuesday. Officers say the drug buys were conducted in areas such as Marathon Gas Station on the 86 hundred block of SE Highway 441 and at the Wal-Mart parking lot on the 21 hundred block of South Parrott Avenue. Delgado was arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking and two counts of marijuana possession; Williams also was arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking, two counts of marijuana possession using a two way communication device to facilitate a felony and grand theft of a firearm. Delgado and Williams were booked into county jail. Williams’ bond is set at $240 thousand dollars and Delgado’s bond is set at $220 thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a fuel spill to contend with this past Saturday morning. Firefighters were called to the 22 hundred block of Highway 70 West just after eight o’clock and found at least seven gallons of spilled fuel. Firefighters then applied some oil dry to soak up the fuel and kept it from contaminating the nearby grass. The spill was contained to the concrete and there were no damages and no injuries reported.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Steven Wayne Hungerford of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating conditions of pretrial release. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

36 year old Kristie Lea Medders of Okeechobee was arrested on warrants from St. Lucie County for trafficking stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. She’s being held without bond.

48 year old Daniel Thomas Meara of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on one of his employees after accusing him of stealing money from his shop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.


Chamber of Commerce Speaks At Kiwanis (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Caption: From left to right: Kiwanis President-Elect Don Hanna pictured with Chamber Office Manager Mariah Parriott and Chamber Director Paulette Wise

Chamber of Commerce Speaks At Kiwanis

(AUDIO INCLUDED)

Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce Director Paulette Wise and Chamber Office Manager Mariah Parriott were guest speakers recently at the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee weekly meeting.

Wise spoke about how important it is for the Chamber to support and promote the local businesses in  Okeechobee through advertising and promotion tools. Examples that Mrs. Wise gave were  the monthly Rise Up with the Cahmber and After Hours networking events that the Chamber organizes and local members host.

Parriott spoke about the Okeechobee Leadership class that is currently taking applications for it’s upcoming 6th class. The program is eight months long and participants travel the county one day each month learning about Okeechobee and leadership tools.

To learn more about chamber events or the Leadership program, call the Chamber office at 863-467-6246 or visit the Chamber website at okeechobeebusiness.com

 

CLICK THIS LINK TO LISTEN TO AN INTERVIEW WITH CHAMBER DIRECTOR PAULETTE WISE (RUN TIME 4:05)


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News Cast for January 16th:

The Okeechobee City Council reconvened last night for their first regular meeting of 2019 and one of their first orders of business was to appoint a new mayor and councilmembers chose to re-appoint Dowling Watford as the mayor for the second time. Watford says he’s “very honored” to be re-appointed mayor and “very humbled” to have another opportunity to serve a second term as mayor of Okeechobee. Watford says in his second term he will be better and more courteous at handling complaints from residents and he will also try to better understand the responsibilities of being the mayor. Watford’s second term as Okeechobee Mayor will last until January 5th, 2021.

Watford Re-Appointed Mayor 1

Watford Re-Appointed Mayor 2

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in jail on some serious charges following a domestic incident Sunday afternoon. Deputies responded to the 34 hundred block of 34th Avenue just before 2:15 after getting a call from a woman who lived there that she and her boyfriend, 27 year old Terrence Simler, were involved in a physical altercation and she was eight weeks pregnant. Deputies say Simler got mad when his girlfriend’s brother called her and grabbed her and shook her. He then threw her down and she hit her head on a bed post, threatened to kill her and then hit her on the lower back several times with a cup. Deputies took Simler’s girlfriend to Raulerson Hospital for treatment and Simler was also taken there for treatment of a bruise on his head and he got verbally combative with deputies and staff there before being restrained. Simler was arrested and charged with committing aggravated battery, resisting an officer with violence as he was being arrested and battery on law enforcement. His bond has not been set.

Firefighters from the Florida Forest Service and Glades County Firefighters are currently fighting a smoldering fire on the western part of Lake Okeechobee, Curry Island at Vance Whidden County Park. Forest Service Spokesperson Melissa Yunas says the fire started this past Saturday and it began as a three hundred acre blaze but it eventually became 15 hundred acres. Yunas says fire investigators believe this fire is arson because of the remote area where the fire began. Yunas says firefighters utilized a “burn out” technique where they set fire to the dead fuels in the main fire’s path, destroying the dead fuels so when the main fire gets close, it loses its strength, making it easier for firefighters to get it controlled. If you have information on who might have started this fire, please contact the Forest Service at (863) 467-3221. It could lead to a reward. So far, no one has been hurt and no structure damages.

Yunas-Curry Island Fire 1

Yunas-Curry Island Fire 2

An Okeechobee woman is facing some serious charges in connection with an incident last Thursday. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home on the 35 hundred block of NW 18th Street for a domestic issue. Deputies arrived and found a young man with his hands bleeding and he told deputies he was run over by 25 year old Kasandra Lashawn Baker. According to witnesses, the boy was trying to get his clothes out from Baker’s truck after she dropped him off and she tried to run him over. Deputies say Baker at one point started screaming at the young man and then put the truck in reverse and tried to hit him as he was on the phone. Baker was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. She was released after posting a fifteen thousand dollar bond.

This is just a reminder that Berman Road at the entrance of Waste Management will now have deputies from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department performing traffic detail there. This is in response to the rising number of calls from residents complaining to the sheriff’s department about the huge influx of trucks entering and exiting the landfill constantly. Deputies’ traffic detail will be going on every day from six o’clock each morning until one o’clock each afternoon until further notice. Expect delays on a daily basis and choose an alternate route if possible.

Okeechobee County firefighters had their hands full with a short circuiting transformer early Monday morning. Crews were called to the 19 thousand block of Highway 441 North a little after 3:15 and found the transformer, which was apparently sparking when they arrived and could’ve potentially caught fire. Crews remained at the location until officials from Glades Electric could arrive and fix the faulty transformer. There was no one was hurt and no damages reported.

On the arrest report:

58 year old Mark Anthony Haas of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Justin Troy Moore of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft, dealing in stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

59 year old Robert Lee Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and having knowledge of it. His bond is set at $250 dollars.

32 year old Sterle Leon McNeil Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession and driving without a license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $55 hundred dollar bond.

44 year old Jason Patrick Yerkes of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a bond of $5,750 dollars.


News Cast 1/15

News Cast for January 15th:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will meet tonight for the first time in 2019 and they will appoint a new mayor and they will also look to designate Okeechobee as a Gateway Community to the Florida Trail Association. The meeting begins at six o’clock in Okeechobee City Hall.

Okeechobee School Board members will also meet tonight for the first time this year and they will hear presentations from area school officials on improvements they intend to make and they will also consider a memorandum of understanding with county commissioners to provide internet access at the Douglas Brown Community Center. The meeting begins at six o’clock in the school board office.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers are looking for a vehicle and the driver of that vehicle responsible for the death of an Okeechobee man Sunday evening. FHP officers say 38 year old Anthony Michael Pipitone was lying on the west shoulder of Highway 441 near SE 99th Trail in Okeechobee at around 7:30 when an unknown vehicle heading south on 441 ran over Pipitone’s head and kept going. The impact killed Pipitone instantly. At this time, FHP investigators have no leads as to who the driver of the vehicle was or the make and model of that vehicle. If you have any information on this incident, please contact the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department or the Florida Highway Patrol immediately.

Okeechobee County School Board members held a workshop last night to discuss the start times of county schools and the possibility of altering them, specifically at the freshman campus and high school, where they begin well before 7:30 each day. Changing these start times will affect start times of other schools and busing schedules. Dr. Serena Vindange, a pediatrician at Fred Brown Children’s Health Center, spoke on melatonin and how the secretion of it in adolescents causes them to go to bed later and have trouble getting up to go to school at such an early time, causing them to not get enough sleep. Dr. Vindange says this leads to poor performance in school and affects mental health and what‘s known as the “executive function” of an adolescent’s mind. Meanwhile, Dr. Joseph Stanley, Principal of Central Elementary says the school start times should remain the way they are because of day care and the reading schedules of students at that level. Melinda Gray, a science teacher at the high school, agrees that the school start times should remain as they are and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions regarding the melatonin study. Surprisingly, nearly half of high school students would prefer the start times remain the same and the other half wants a change. The issue will be discussed again at next month’s school board meeting.

School Start Times Workshop 1

School Start Times Workshop 2

School Start Times Workshop 3

School Start Times Workshop 4

School Start Times Workshop 5

School Start Times Workshop 6

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in county jail at this time on charges of aggravated domestic battery in connection with an incident Saturday afternoon. Deputies were called to the one hundred block of SE 16th Avenue just before 12:45 after reports of 20 year old Matthew Kevin Bass had struck his pregnant girlfriend in the face. Deputies say Bass got upset for some reason and Bass’s girlfriend went for a walk for a while to allow Bass to calm down. Bass ran up to her and began cursing at her before punching her in the face. Bass’s girlfriend had a bloody lip at the time deputies arrived. Deputies arrested and charged Bass with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

Berman Road at the entrance of Waste Management will now have deputies from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department performing traffic detail there. This is in response to the rising number of calls from residents complaining to the sheriff’s department about the huge influx of trucks entering and exiting the landfill constantly. Deputies’ traffic detail will be going on every day from six o’clock each morning until one o’clock each afternoon until further notice. Expect delays on a daily basis and choose an alternate route if possible.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Nathan Eugene Lamb of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on several counts of past grand theft and forgery charges. He’s being held without bond.

37 year old Edwin Martinez Rivera of Okeechobee was arrested for attempted sexual battery. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

50 year old Derrick James Hollis of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of driving on a suspended license, battery and trespassing and on a warrant from Jackson County for undisclosed charges. His bond is set at $18 hundred dollars.

53 year old Mitchell Francis Vitella of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

24 year old Luke Wilson Greeson of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Osceola County for drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

31 year old Adam Lee Murphy of Okeechobee was arrested for retail theft from the Dollar General Store on Highway 70 West. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

26 year old Josue Ayala of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft and contempt of court during his hearing on drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Elizabeth Shaw of Okeechobee was arrested for trafficking stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. She’s being held without bond.

55 year old Willie James Rosier of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

34 year old Shannon Michelle Toler and 26 year old Dana Lee Powers, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for contributing to the delinquency of minors. They were released after posting bonds of a thousand dollars apiece.


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News Cast for January 14th:

This is just a reminder that if you plan on driving towards the railroad crossing at NW 9th Avenue in Okeechobee this week, you might want to reconsider. City officials say work crews from CSX will be continuing work on the crossing and it will be closed to traffic beginning today. CSX officials say the crossing at NW 9th Avenue will be closed for two to five days while the work is going on. The work began last Friday. Plan an alternate route to avoid any inconveniences.

The issue of school start times and the possibility of changing them, specifically for the high school, was discussed a bit at last month’s Okeechobee County School Board meeting and now there will be further discussion on it. Board members will have a workshop tonight to discuss the possibility of changing the high school’s start time, which is presently at 7am, to a later time. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says there’s a possibility that it may need to be changed because of scientific data revealing that melatonin production in adolescents tends to keep them up later at night and as a result, they have trouble getting up in the morning. Kenworthy says this can negatively impact students in several ways in the classroom. Kenworthy says changing start times for the high school could possibly impact the busing for all schools in the district, leading to impacts on family. The workshop will be held at five o’clock in the school board office.

A power line that was emitting smoke got the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters early Friday morning at Northside Head Start School. Crews were called to the school at the 17 hundred block of NW 9th Avenue just after 8:15 for the smoking power line and immediately cut off power to that line from the transformer and notified Florida Power and Light (FPL). The building’s occupants, mostly small children and teachers, were evacuated from the building and parents were called to take their children home. No one was hurt and no damages.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Loxahatchee woman early Thursday morning in connection with a snatch robbery and aggravated battery incident last month in Okeechobee. Deputies arrested 45 year old Christina Alexis Stankiewicz just before 6:30 for her part in the purse snatching and subsequent injuring of 76 year old Janice Allen near the four hundred block of NE Park Street on December 6th. Deputies arrested Stankiewicz’s husband, 50 year old Charles Alton Stratton a few days after the robbery took place but Stankiewicz, who was her husband’s accomplice in the crime, was not apprehended and was sought in connection with the incident. Stankiewicz was booked into county jail and is being held without bond.  Stratton, meanwhile, is still in county jail himself, also being held without bond.

The issue of possibly implementing a sound ordinance in Okeechobee County was a topic of discussion at last week’s commissioners’ meeting. Commissioners say the issue of putting in such an ordinance came up after recent noise complaints by residents, specifically during special events at the Agri-Civic Center and the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival. Ideas for this possible ordinance suggest fines for people who are guilty of repeated noise violations. Commissioners eventually decided to discuss the issue with Sheriff Noel Stephen; something that Commissioner Bryant Culpepper believes is the right thing. Once Commissioners discuss the issue with Sheriff Stephen, it will then be discussed at a future commissioners’ meeting.

A Port St. Lucie man is dead and one of his relatives is in serious condition following a vehicle accident last Tuesday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 21 year old Arthur Charles Schuck the Third was driving a Chevy C1500 pickup truck north on I-95 near the 96 mile marker in Martin County just after 4:30 when he somehow lost control and overturned, causing the truck to cross into the opposite lane where three other vehicles collided with Schuck’s vehicle. Arthur Schuck was pronounced dead at the scene and his passenger and relative, 18 year old Dexter Schuck, was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach for treatment. Schuck’s other passengers, a 27 year old man and a 17 year old girl, were critically injured in the accident and are also being treated at St. Mary’s. The occupants of the three other vehicles were treated for minor injuries. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

23 year old Eric Anselmo of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for burglary and aggravated assault. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

24 year old Fonzo Lee Dickson of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $65 hundred dollars.

37 year old Jamie Eli Reese of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a warrant from Suwannee County for violation of an injunction. He’s being held without bond.


News Cast 1/11

News Cast for January 11th:

If you plan on driving towards the railroad crossing at NW 9th Avenue in Okeechobee next week, you might want to reconsider. City officials say work crews from CSX will be doing some work on the crossing beginning today and it will be closed to traffic beginning on Monday. CSX officials say the crossing at NW 9th Avenue will be closed for two to five days while the work is going on. Plan an alternate route to avoid any inconveniences.

Officers from the Okeechobee Police Department are still investigating the death of a person found floating in Taylor Creek on Wednesday afternoon. Detectives say while the body has not yet been identified, they are certain it is a man of Hispanic ethnicity. The police department got a call just after 3:45 that a body was floating in the creek near Burger King on the six hundred block of NE Park Street. Detective Bill Saum says according to initial investigations, foul play is being ruled out right now but it’s still being treated as a homicide investigation for now. Saum says there were no bullet wounds or stab wounds found on the body. A passerby and someone who had been boating in the creek found the body and reported it. Detectives say the body looked like it had been floating lifeless in the creek for the better part of twelve to eighteen hours. The identity of the body will hopefully be released within the next couple of days.

Saum-Dead Body 1

Saum-Dead Body 2

The Okeechobee County Commissioners reconvened for their regular meeting yesterday for the first time in 2019 and among their first orders of business in this new year was a proclamation appreciating Okeechobee High School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) group who provided Thanksgiving dinner to over two hundred people at the high school. CTE’s leader and automotive education teacher Jason Anderson was on hand to accept the proclamation and he says the dinner was for anyone and everyone who was interested on a first come, first serve basis. Anderson says he’s very proud of the students that make up his CTE group who helped make this a success on Thanksgiving. Anderson says they had enough food to feed well over four hundred people. The leftovers were donated to officials at Big Lake Missions who feed the homeless.

A traffic stop turned into an arrest on a lot more charges against an Okeechobee man Wednesday evening. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a semi-truck, driven by 46 year old Michael Ray Rosier on the six hundred block of NE 15th Avenue just before 6:30, with deputies believing they had probable cause to arrest Rosier on sexual assault charges in connection with an incident a few days earlier. Rosier was handcuffed but not before a K-9 unit was brought in to search his truck because Rosier appeared very nervous when deputies addressed him. The search turned up crack cocaine in the driver’s side door console plus methamphetamine and a glass pipe. He was arrested on the spot for those charges and he was also charged a little later with sexual misconduct on a minor on Friday of last week. The total bond on both charges is set at just over $25 thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

21 year old Ozmani Robles of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past drug possession charges. He’s being held without bond.

43 year old Marsha Nichole Joiner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia following a traffic stop and introducing contraband into a detention facility. Her bond is set at $11 thousand dollars.

42 year old James Carlos Gillis Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by police for disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

48 year old Robert Reich of San Antonio, TX was arrested for possession of cocaine, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $21 thousand five hundred dollars.


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News Cast for January 10th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners will meet for the first time in 2019 this morning and they will be looking to confirm the appointment of a new deputy county administrator and they will also look at a memorandum of understanding between commissioners and the county school board regarding internet service at the Douglas Brown Community Center. The meeting will begin at nine o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse.

Officers from the Okeechobee Police Department are investigating the death of a person found in Taylor Creek yesterday afternoon. Detective James Pickering says the police department got a call just after 3:45 that a body was floating in the creek near Burger King on the six hundred block of NE Park Street. The body was reportedly found by a passerby and someone who had been boating in the creek. Pickering says while the cause of death is not yet known, it’s being treated as a homicide investigation at this time. Pickering says the body looked like it had been in the creek lifeless for the better part of twelve to eighteen hours. The identity of the body will be released following an autopsy report and next of kin notification which Pickering says will take about a day or two.

Officials from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) say there will be a prescribed burn in Lake Okeechobee today. The prescribed burn will cover about a thousand acres and it will take place in the Pearce Canal area of the lake. Water District Board member Randy Smith says the water has receded in Pearce Canal area of the lake and it’s a good location to burn some debris for lake operations. The burn is expected to begin at some point before eleven o’clock this morning. It will be conducted by the Water Management District, Fish and Wildlife and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

A Bradenton man is recovering from serious injuries he sustained in a vehicle accident in Okeechobee County on Monday evening. Sheriff’s deputies and emergency medical personnel were dispatched to the 32 hundred block of NW 344th Street just after six o’clock after witnesses reported that Sean McEIhimey crashed his ATV and broke his leg and began screaming for help. Deputies and medics say McElhimey also had several lacerations on his face. McElhimey was eventually airlifted to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce for treatment. The cause of the accident is not known and is being investigated.

A Belle Glade man is dead after a vehicle accident last Thursday morning. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 77 year old James McMillan was driving a Ford F-150 northbound on State Road 15 in Belle Glade, passing other northbound traffic when he hit an oncoming Freightliner semi-truck on the driver’s side door as he was in the southbound lane passing other vehicles. The impact caused McMillan’s truck to go in a northbound direction and skid into a guardrail and land on the other side of the guardrail and into a canal. FHP officers say the semi-truck driver was trying to avoid colliding into McMillan’s truck but to no avail. McMillan was pronounced dead at the scene. The semi-truck driver was not injured.

On the arrest report:

47 year old Robert Lee Hilger of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on previous charges of misusing the phone and resisting arrest. He was released after posting bond.

21 year old Lillian Louise Geary of Okeechobee was arrested for loitering and prowling on someone’s property. Her bond has not been set.


Prescribed Burn Planned on Lake Okeechobee

Prescribed Burn Planned on Lake Okeechobee

Okeechobee, FL – A prescribed burn will be conducted on 1,000 acres of Lake Okeechobee in the Pearce Canal area on Thursday, Jan. 10, to improve fish and wildlife habitat on the lake.

This will be done as a joint effort by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), with SFWMD acting as the prescribed burn manager and the FWC and USACE assisting.

To help protect public health and safety, the agencies plan to conduct the prescribed burn under weather conditions that minimize smoke impacts to nearby towns and roads. Access to navigational trails through the marsh may be limited temporarily during the burn for safety reasons. If the prescribed burn needs to be rescheduled due to weather conditions, the burn will be conducted later in the week.

Application of prescribed burning is part of an integrated management approach on Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest lake. Lake Okeechobee is managed in partnership with the FWC, USACE, SFWMD and Audubon of Florida.

Prescribed burning is a safe way to apply natural processes, ensure ecosystem health and reduce the threat of wildfire. Ecologically responsible prescribed burns help improve habitat for fish, waterfowl, wading birds, the Everglades snail kite and other wildlife populations.

For more updates on SFWMD’s work:

Follow SFWMD on Twitter


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News Cast for January 9th:

Four inmates at the Okeechobee County Jail are facing more charges following an incident Monday morning. Sheriff’s deputies arrested 26 year old John Russell Harlow, 49 year old Mark Glenn Deschamps, 23 year old Michael James Raulerson, all from Okeechobee, and 24 year old Schuyler William Smith of Pennsylvania a little after eight o’clock after it was reported all four of them beat on a fellow inmate. Deputies say the victim made a comment about something they were all seeing on television that upset Deschamps, believing the remark was racist. Both men had words before Harlow came in and punched the victim in the face, and the other three inmates jumped in and battered the victim after he was forced into a corner. Deputies broke it up and arrested Raulerson, Smith, Harlow and Deschamps for battery on a fellow inmate. Their bonds have not been set at this time. The victim was treated for bruises on his head by on-site medics.

For the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department, one division’s loss will be another division’s gain. Sergeant Jimmy Mills, who had worked as a detective in the department since 2001, was promoted last Thursday to Road Patrol Lieutenant by Sheriff Noel Stephen in a special ceremony in front of the Sheriff’s office. Mills, who was been with the sheriff’s department since 1995, says this promotion is a chance for him to be more of a mentor to the less experienced officers in the department. Mills, an Okeechobee resident for much of his life, received his new gold bars from Sheriff Stephen and Mills’ wife Melissa was on hand to pin them on her husband’s uniform. Besides Road Patrol and Narcotics, Lt. Mills has also worked in the Criminal Investigations Division (CID).

Mills 1

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Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local woman in county jail on drug charges following a traffic stop Monday night. Deputies stopped a Dodge utility vehicle, driven by 45 year old Kimberly Ann Cook, on the three thousand block of Highway 98 North for not stopping at a stop sign at NW 18th Terrace just after nine o’clock. Deputies say Cook’s passenger did not have identification on him at the time and a K-9 unit was brought in to search the vehicle. Deputies say they found a half open can of beer in plain sight in a cup holder in the center console. Female deputies searched Cook and found a cartridge on her with some marijuana resin in it. Cook was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana resin and booked into county jail. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars. Her passenger was not charged.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a report of a gasoline spill to contend with Monday afternoon. Crews were called to the 33 hundred block of Highway 441 South just after 1:30 and found that the spilled fuel from a vehicle had been washed away with a hose by the owner. Crews placed oil dry around the vehicle before advising the owner to call a tow truck and not drive the vehicle. There was no one was hurt and no damages reported.

On the arrest report:

39 year old Stephanie Lee Booker of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on previous grand theft charges. She’s being held without bond.

29 year old D’Andre Markel Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his court hearing on charges of driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

23 year old Anthony Gavin Scott Liford of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

30 year old Steven Wayne Lawrence of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on one of his co-workers. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.


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