Local News

Charles Murphy News 2/27

News Cast for February 27th:

No major concerns were raised as the County Commission discussed a proposed from Elite Resort managers to redevelop the Okee Tantie Campground and Marina Thursday. The near 3.5 million dollar plan would include a multi passed, family oriented, and RV based destination resort. 257 RV sites would be renovated, the recreation area would be expanded with a lodge, swimming pool, deck and playground and the restaurant renovated. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said he’s willing to keep an open mind. A presentation from the group is scheduled at the Board’s March 12th meeting at 7 pm.

The drowning death of Richard Basnight in Taylor Creek still bringing up discussions in the community. WOKC News Legal Analyst, attorney Richard Seymour, a former prosecutors and currently defense attorney, says the other man, Clarence Corkey had no legal duty to save Basnight and the case would be difficult to prove for the state.

Sports Cast for February 27th:

Okeechobee exploded for six runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth to rout Jensen Beach, 11-2 in high school softball action last night.

Brahman Coach Mary Huff said her team came to play and really swung the bats well during the rallies. Cheyenne Nunez had three hits in the game. Jordan Lawlis pitched a complete game for Okeechobee. She only struck out three but was able to keep the ball down and get outs

Lexi Ward had a two run double in the fifth. She also was part of a huge, 1 to 4 to 2 double play to stop Jensen from rallying..

Tionna Caffey hit a homerun for Jensen Beach.

Elisia Garcia drove in four runs for Okeechobee which remained unbeaten at (7-0)

The Lady Brahman JV also won with five runs in the final two innings to defeat Jensen 5-4.

Boys baseball was rained out at Sebring.

On the sports schedule, the tennis teams compete at the Heartland Conference Tournament in Sebring Friday and Saturday.

Charles Murphy News 2/26

News Cast for February 26th:

An Okeechobee man, 52 year old Eugene Edmonds drowned after his boat sank in Lake Okeechobee last week. Volunteers from the area and Florida Fish and Wildlife officers recovered the body on Sunday. A passenger in the boat, 52 year old Darlene Harvey was rescued hanging on to a floating jug in the water. Neither were wearing life jackets.

US Senator Bill Nelson asked the US Department of Justice to probe the Dozier school for boys. Okeechobee deputies plan to bring cadaver dogs to the former Eckerd boys school in April to look for bodies. Former clients say that boys were beaten to death by staff.

A 24 year old Okeechobee native was killed in a crash on A 1 A at River Road in Martin County. Troopers say a Volkwagen driven by 51 year old Traci Bruno pulled into the path of Michael Coker as he drove his motorcycle in Stuart Tuesday morning.

Florida Governor Rick Scott announced 1 hundred and 24 thousand dollars for Okeechobee schools and nearly 1 hundred thousand for Glades County schools for high performances in the past year.

Florida’s low income pool program which reimburses hospitals that treat the uninsured and low income patients will run out at the end of June. If no agreement is reached with the federal government, the state stands to lose 2.2 billion.

Bruce Rueben, President of the Florida Association of Hospitals says the federal government has been telling Florida to rework its system to keep getting those funds.

Democrats say the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid is one of the main reasons for the crisis.

Two people, 54 year old Duward Harden, and 55 year old David Harthan able to escape a burning RV on South West 24th Avenue near 27th Street Tuesday. The 1989 Jayco RV was a total loss as county firemen put out the blaze.

Sports Cast for February 26th:

Sean Osceola threw six strong innings and Paul Jackson had three runs batted in as Okeechobee defeated Vero Beach 4-1 in high school boys’ baseball action.

Osceola struck out seven and added an RBI double for Okeechobee. Coach Eric Kindell said his team had some redemption on their minds. Osceola was in command throughout allowing just one run. His focus was keeping the ball over the plate

Jackson’s two run single in the fifth broke open the game for the Brahmans. He was looking for a fast ball on a 2-0 pitch that he could handle. The Brahmans travel to Sebring tonight and then host Avon Park on Friday.

Canterbury got four RBI’s from Sam Keating as they defeated Moore Haven 19-0 in boys’ baseball action Tuesday night.

Girls’ softball tonight hosts Jensen Beach with Junior Varsity at 5pm and varsity at 7 pm.

OHS tennis visits Fort Pierce Westwood at Lawnwood Stadium at 3:30 this afternoon.

Commissioner Putnam Presents Palm Beach County Schools with HealthierUS School Challenge Award

Commissioner Putnam Presents Palm Beach County Schools with HealthierUS School Challenge Award

Number of Florida Schools Now Honored for Focus on Healthy Eating, Physical Activity Has Grown From 24 to 374 in Three Years

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam presented the 374th HealthierUS School Challenge Award today to the School District of Palm Beach County at Allamanda Elementary School.

“I would like to congratulate Allamanda Elementary and the School District of Palm Beach County for focusing on healthy eating and physical activity for their students,” Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said. “In the past three years, the number of schools in Florida with this award has increased from 24 to 374, and we are so proud of each one.”

The HealthierUS School Challenge is a voluntary certification initiative recognizing schools that have created healthier environments by promoting nutrition and physical activity. It is a joint effort with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which manages Florida’s school lunch program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schools must meet specific criteria in a multitude of areas, from smarter snacks to physical activity.

On hand to accept the award from Commissioner Putnam were Mike Murgio, a Palm Beach County Schools board member, and Marilu Garcia, principal of Allamanda Elementary School. School district wellness staff provided a walking tour of the school, and “Fresh From Florida” healthy snacks were available to participants and students.

“These schools have taken an important step in helping their students make healthy choices, both in the cafeteria and at home,” said E. Wayne Gent, Superintendent for the School District of Palm Beach County. “We thank Commissioner Putnam for recognizing schools such as Allamanda Elementary for their commitment to creating healthier school environments.”

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

Mack Farms Joins Fresh Solutions Network

Mack Farms Joins Fresh Solutions Network

Fresh Solutions Network welcomes Mack Farms to their network of grower/shipper partners. This addition brings a major Southeast potato grower with significant early-season volume into the Fresh Solutions Network, as well as partnering with an owner-grower who shares the same passion for providing the highest-quality products and superior customer service.

Based in Lake Wales, Florida, Mack Farms grows and packs central and north Florida potatoes from early February through June, and offers the earliest new crop potatoes available each year. The company specializes in red potatoes, which account for around 65% of their total potato volume, with yellow potatoes becoming increasingly important, making up another 25% of shipments; the balance is split between white potatoes, Russets and Fingerlings.

Arnold Mack, president and CEO of Mack Farms, has a straightforward view about growing his business. “You’ve got to put profit back into growth or else you’ll stagnate,” he says. Mack Farms recently acquired Okeechobee, Florida-based Eagle Island Farms, adding 3,500 acres in South Florida and a second packing and storage facility to their operations.

Over the past five years, Mack Farms has doubled its cooler space and is in the process of adding another 25-30% to its refrigerated capacity. They have acquired new packaging capabilities for small potatoes, as well as investing in specialty grading equipment that gives them state-of-the-art sizing capabilities. Currently, Mack Farms is finalizing another major addition to their already-substantial acreage.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mack Farms as the newest partner to Fresh Solutions Network,” says Kathleen Triou, president and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network. “Their potato quality and range of offerings are the perfect complement to our other grower/shipper Network partners, and their Florida location strengthens our capabilities for servicing retail and foodservice customers in the southern states. Plus, their ability to harvest and ship the earliest new-crop potatoes will be a real value-adding benefit to our customers throughout the entire country.”

We believe in the power of collaboration, adds Triou. “Collaboration is so powerful precisely because of the uniqueness of each of our members, which is why we are so excited to add Mack Farms to our strong and unique Network.”

This entry was posted in Perishables, What’s New and tagged Fresh Solutions Network, Mack Farms, potatoes. Bookmark the permalink.


Innovative School Lunch App Sees 20 Million Hits in First Year

Innovative School Lunch App Sees 20 Million Hits in First Year

“Nutrislice” App Gives School Menu, Allergy Info, Recipes, More to Students and Parents

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Schoolchildren, parents and teachers across Florida accessed the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ innovative “Nutrislice” app more than 20 million times since its launch just one year ago, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced today

“Nutrislice is another tool in our arsenal to get our kids to eat healthy, wholesome food from right here in Florida,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This 21st century technology allows kids and parents both to see what’s being offered, encourage healthy eating and plan out that day’s meal at school.”

Not only does the app help kids make healthier choices, it also protects those that have food allergies, some of which are life-threatening. In addition, the app allows kids to vote for their favorite foods and engages kids in competitive activities while educating them about healthier eating.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partnered with Nutrislice to develop this interactive menu and provide it to Florida school districts free of charge.  Currently, 65 of the state’s 67 school districts are now using the app. Most visits to the site are early in the morning before school and in the evening as parents are planning the next day. A new meal planning widget introduced this year allows kids and parents to plan the entire meal and see the nutritional summary of each item on the menu.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees Florida’s school nutrition program, including school breakfast, school lunch and the summer feeding program. More than 2.5 million children in Florida are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

FWC requests public to share images, video of barge that sank in Fort Pierce inlet

FWC requests public to share images, video of barge that sank in Fort Pierce inlet

FWC Law Enforcement is continuing the investigation into the cirumstances surrounding a barge that sank in the Fort Pierce inlet on Feb. 24 and is asking the public for help gathering information.

Here’s what FWC Public Information Officer Amanda Phillips says the agency knows so far:

While traveling through the Fort Pierce inlet, a barge began taking on water and sank Tuesday evening. At the time, the barge was being towed by a 54-foot cabin cruiser. Rodney Grambo, 53, of Middleburg was operating the cabin cruiser and three passengers were onboard the barge. As a result of the accident, one barge passenger, Dominick Tortorice (DOB 04/28/1956) of Miami died. Charles Griffin, 33, of Middleburg; Reed Adams, 58, of Jupiter; and Grambo survived.

For boater safety, the Fort Pierce inlet has been closed by the U.S. Coast Guard until further notice.

FWC officers are asking for your help in gathering information. If you or someone you know has video or pictures of the barge or incident please send them to Tip@MyFWC.com. If possible, include your name and contact information in case investigators need to follow up on your report. Information submitted will be used by investigators working on this incident.

No other information is available at this time.

Fact Sheet: White House Highlights Exports in Florida, Announces New Actions to Help More Rural Businesses Export

Fact Sheet: White House Highlights Exports in Florida, Announces New Actions to Help More Rural Businesses Export

America had a breakthrough year in 2014, and the President is using middle class economics – the simple idea that anybody who works hard and plays by the rules should be able to get ahead – to ensure more Americans can contribute to and benefit from our success. Exports are a crucial part of the Administration’s strategy to keep our economy growing and the President is focused on taking action to help workers from businesses of all sizes from all parts of the country – including rural America – benefit from our economic resurgence.

Today, the Administration will highlight that merchandise exports from Florida hit $58.6 billion in 2014. Florida’s exports in 2014 helped the U.S. achieve a record high for goods and services exports: $2.35 trillion.

Exports from Florida supported an estimated 275,000 U.S. jobs in 2013, contributing to the 11.3 million jobs nationwide that were supported by both goods and services exports that year. On average, jobs in these export-related industries pay up to 18 percent more than non-export related industries.

The President will also announce a set of new executive actions to help grow manufacturing in rural areas and to provide new markets to small businesses across our nation’s heartland. As part of his “Made in Rural America” initiative launched in February 2014, the Administration is bringing together federal resources to help rural businesses and communities take advantage of new investment opportunities and access additional markets at home and abroad.

Today’s data will further demonstrate the important role that trade and exports have played in America’s economic recovery. In order to build on that momentum, the President is urging Congress to act on new trade agreements that increase accountability and high standards, uphold our values and open new markets to American goods and services. The countries involved in the trade agreements currently under negotiation – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – received 62 percent of U.S. goods exports in 2014, supporting an estimated 4.2 million U.S. jobs in 2013. TPA will allow these agreements to become a reality, spurring economic growth in the United States and our trading partners.

More than 95 percent of the world’s potential consumers, representing approximately 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power, live outside our borders, which means that critical opportunities for economic growth at home are created by selling abroad.

Executive Actions to Promote Rural Exports:

As part of the Obama Administration’s long-term, sustained effort to build jobs and economic security in rural America, the White House Rural Council has hosted a series of workshops across the country to connect rural leaders and businesses with resources to expand exports and to identify barriers to exporting for rural businesses.  Based on feedback gained at those workshops, the White House Rural Council has developed a number of new executive actions to further encourage increased goods and services from rural America including:

  • A series of reverse trade missions and outreach events for rural businesses to meet foreign buyers, partners, and trade experts and facilitate access to additional foreign markets.
  • An effort to double the number of rural businesses attending international trade shows and missions with the help and sponsorship of partners, including the Appalachian Regional Commission and Delta Regional Authority.
  • A new National Rural Export Innovation Team to help more rural businesses access export-related assistance, information and events.
  • A new partnership with community banks to educate local lenders on the needs of rural exporters and the federal export resources available to them and their customers.
  • A new partnership with the United States Postal Service to host “Grow Your Business” Day workshops at 75  U.S. Postal Service locations throughout rural America to provide rural businesses an opportunity to learn about exporting and e-commerce, learn how to file customs forms online, and calculate and plan for export shipping costs.
  • An effort to develop better financial indexing and metrics for rural infrastructure projects.  This will help underpin additional investments in roads, bridges, inland ports, water supply systems, information technology, and community facilities that are vital to manufacturing and exports.
  • A new effort to promote an entrepreneurial ecosystem mentorship program for rural communities.
  • Launching an i6 Rural Challenge, which will focus on providing funding to rural communities to build capacity for commercializing technology by collaborating across agencies and providing funding to Challenge winners.

Florida Exports

According to data released by the Department of Commerce, Florida’s goods exports in 2014 were led by a number of sectors, including computer and electronic products ($14.0 billion); transportation equipment ($8.7 billion); and chemicals ($7.2 billion).

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would create new market opportunities for Florida companies, supporting export-related jobs.

Florida exported $13.0 billion annually in goods to all TPP markets (2012-2014 average), which accounted for 21 percent of the state’s goods exports. Florida’s exports could benefit from new market access as a result of Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam eliminating their tariffs as part of TPP.

The EU’s tariff elimination as part of TTIP would provide new market access that could benefit Florida’s exports. TTIP will be an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement that offers significant benefits for U.S. companies and workers through eliminating existing trade barriers and better enabling U.S. companies and workers to compete. TTIP will provide new opportunities for U.S. industry, as approximately one-fifth of all U.S. goods and services exports go to the European Union (EU). In 2013, U.S. goods and services exports to the EU supported an estimated 2.5 million U.S. jobs.

Florida exported $6.5 billion annually in goods to the EU (2012-2014 average).

Florida’s top industrial goods exports to the EU include chemicals (tariffs range up to 6.5 percent); consumer goods (tariffs currently go as high as 15 percent); and information and communication technologies (tariffs range up to 14 percent).

Corps to increase flows from Lake Okeechobee

Corps to increase flows from Lake Okeechobee

Posted 2/26/2015

Release no. 15-024

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will increase discharges from Lake Okeechobee as part of its ongoing effort to manage water levels.

The releases will increase starting tomorrow (Feb. 27).  The new target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will be a seven-day average of 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers.  The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be a seven-day average of 730 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart.  Flows at one or both locations could occasionally be exceeded by runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins—those flows will be allowed to pass through structures as necessary.

“The lake level is unchanged from where it was at the beginning of February,” said Lt. Col. Tom Greco, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida.  “An increase in flows will help with the lowering of the lake so we’re in a better position when the wet season arrives.”

Today, the lake stage is 14.68 feet.  It is currently in the Operational Low Sub-Band as defined by the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS).  Under current conditions, LORS authorizes the Corps to discharge up to 3,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee and up to 1,170 cfs to the St. Lucie.

“The lake remains at its highest level for this time of year since 2006,” said Greco.  “We are working with the South Florida Water Management District to move as much water south as possible.  However, to bring the lake down, we have to use all available options within the system.”

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.


Charles Murphy News 2/25

News Cast for February 25th:

Highlands county deputies recovered from stolen calves from Okeechobee in the trunk of a car with their legs tied and their mouths taped shut. The deputy became suspicious when the driver 18 year old Tyler Smeal of Babson Park vomited on himself before the traffic stop. He heard kicking from the trunk area and investigated. Although the local farmer declined to prosecute, Highlands Deputies took Smeal in on charges of dealing in stolen property, grand theft and aggravated animal cruelty.

Okeechobee city officials have scouted out property downtown for a possible city parking lot. Administrator Brian Whitehall says things are congested downtown but that is a good thing as it means there is business and traffic coming through. He admits the process hasn’t gotten past the survey stage.

Glades County was hopeful of getting more state funds this year for the Training Center project at the county business park.

Chairman Tim Stanley says cell phone users in Buckhead Ridge see a light at the end of the tunnel with two cell tower applications, however there has been a court case filed over the towers that could delay construction.

Sports Cast for February 25th:

Okeechobee destroyed Fort Pierce Westwood 19-0 in girls’ softball action last night to improve to 6-0 on the season.

Coach Mary Huff said the girls used the game to work on discipline at the plate, base running and staying focused. Kimmy Tijerina had two hits and Elisia Garcia added an RBI double. Kristen Dryden drove home three runs and Lexi Ward had two RBIS.

Garcia said they had to adjust to the slower speeds of the pitches, but she felt the girls responded well

Catcher Taylor Amadon was thrust into that role by injury. She admits it’s been a learning process to learn the position she has never played before. She added some offense in this game to boost her confidence.

On the sports schedule tonight, JV boys’ baseball visits South Fork at 6 pm.

OHS wrestling compete in their district tournament today at Port St. Lucie starting at 4 pm.

Cadaver dogs to search for bodies at Okeechobee School for Boys | Local News – WPBF Home

Cadaver dogs to search for bodies at Okeechobee School for Boys

Former students allege boys were killed, buried at sister campus

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. —As researchers exhume unmarked graves at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, detectives are searching for possible bodies at the sister campus in Okeechobee.

he Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office told WPBF 25 News they plan on bringing cadaver dogs to the campus in April.

When the notorious state-run reform school in Marianna became overcrowded, they opened a second Florida School for Boys campus in Okeechobee in the late 1950s. Several of the same staff members accused of brutal beatings in Marianna were transferred to the Okeechobee campus.

The school was meant to straighten out troublemakers, but former students at the Okeechobee campus in the 1960s tell WPBF 25 News they were subjected to bloody beatings. There were suspicions among the students that boys were being beaten to death and buried behind the school’s dairy barn.

“Some of the boys they would just beat, beat, beat, beat until they passed out,” former student Joseph Johnson told WPBF 25 News. “It was known among us that they would kill you. They would literally beat you to death.

Johnson remembers one evening in particular, when a boy was brought to a small office called the Adjustment Center. Johnson and other student claim there was a cot inside where boys were forced to lie face down and hold on while they were beaten repeatedly with a leather paddle.

“They had him in there for a long time, seemed like forever,” Johnson said. “He didn’t come walking out. They carried him out, they opened the back of the [school’s] station wagon, and they put him in.”

Johnson claims the station wagon drove behind the dairy barn, and when it returned the boy was no longer inside. A few days later, Johnson said he saw freshly dug mounds behind the barn. Staff members told him they had to bury one of the cows.

Marvin Mike, another student who was on the segregated black side of the school, remembers a number of his friends abruptly disappearing, and staff members telling him the boys had run away.

“If they ran away, why hasn’t anyone heard from them again?” Mike said. “They didn’t run away. They was carried away.”

Mike said his friend, Cherry Black, went missing for two weeks. Black’s body was found in a septic tank on campus. According to Mike and a newspaper article from the time, the staff claimed the boy had tried to run away, hid in the tank, and accidentally drowned in sewage.

Mike has never believed that story.

“They killed him and put him in there,” Mike said.

Over the decades, the school has switched hands, property was sold, and buildings were torn down. The exact location of the school’s dairy barn was lost, so WPBF 25 News reporter John Dzenitis set out to find it.

The land was sold and the dairy barn was torn down in the 1990s, and it’s now the front yard of a private home along Cemetery Road. The concrete foundation of the old barn is still visible.

The homeowner told Dzenitis he has not been approached by anyone before, but he would like to know if there’s anyone buried on his property. It’s unclear if the Sheriff’s Office is aware of where the dairy barn was, and if cadaver dogs will be searching in the right place.

The Sheriff’s Office detective organizing the search declined to be interviewed for this story.


Cadaver dogs to search for bodies at Okeechobee School for Boys | Local News – WPBF Home.

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