Local News

News Cast 7/19

News Cast for July 19th:

The workshops for the Okeechobee County Budget for the next fiscal year will continue for the second straight day this morning. Commissioners will listen to budget proposals for the senior services department, parks and recreation, tourism, community development, economic development and mental health services. The workshop will be held at the Historic County Courthouse beginning at nine o’clock.

Speaking of the county budget, several departments presented their budgets to the commissioners in day one of the workshops yesterday. First up was Property Appraiser Mickey Bandi. Bandi says while some of his costs are up, such as legal expenses and personal services, he feels confident his $1.5 million dollar plus budget will be approved. The biggest concern he has is a software system that will cost just over $260 thousand dollars to install. Kresta King from the county library also discussed her budget with the commissioners and reports her budget this year will be just under $520 thousand dollars, which was a bit less than last year’s budget. King says since the library’s new flooring was installed, library visits have been up five percent. King is confident that the commissioners will approve her proposed budget for this fiscal year. Other county budgets discussed yesterday include the health department, medical examiner, guardian ad litem and 19th Judicial Circuit Court.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man and woman in county jail at this time on charges of animal cruelty in connection with a series of incidents that goes back to last month. Animal Control officials responded to a home on the 19 hundred block of NW 3rd Avenue on June 14th after the previous tenants, 40 year old Heather Rose Perry and 33 year old Craig Michael Martin, were evicted and in county jail on unrelated charges. Animal Control officers found the house was not only full of garbage but also cat urine and feces and there were about 14 cats found there with no food and no water, to the point where they were drinking out of the toilet. Some dead cats were also found in the home. Animal Control officers went back to the house several more times and had to set traps in order to get all the cats out of the house so it can be cleaned. Martin and Perry were charged with causing animal cruelty, suffering and death. Their bonds are each set at $15 hundred dollars apiece.

It was a special day for a longtime Okeechobee City employee. At their meeting Tuesday night, the city council honored their city clerk, Lane Gamiotea, with a 30 year longevity service award. Gamiotea says she’s “honored and humbled” to receive this award and she says what makes her come back to do this job day in and day out is simply the fact that she enjoys the work she does. Two of Gamiotea’s peers attended the meeting to honor her and present her with a gift. One of those women was Lakisha Burch, the town clerk for Loxahatchee Groves. Gamiotea began working for the city on July 14th, 1989. She worked as the deputy city clerk for 14 years under Bonnie Thomas before assuming the lead position.

An Avon Park woman is dead following a vehicle accident early yesterday morning in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 41 year old Mayra Teresa Torres Muniz was riding a Suzuki GSX motorcycle east on Bell Street approaching an intersection at Hart Avenue in Avon Park a little after 1:30. Muniz didn’t stop at the stop sign of the intersection and collided with a Chrysler 300 sedan on its left side. The impact sent the sedan rotating clockwise and sent Muniz’s bike into a fence on the shoulder of the road, ejecting her from the bike. Muniz was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. The driver of the sedan, 20 year old Lewis Gunter also of Avon Park, was not injured. FHP officers are investigating.

On the arrest report:

43 year old Traci Michelle Evans of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

61 year old Kevin Bertrand Halter of Babson Park was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and controlled substances without a prescription after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $21 thousand dollars.


News Cast 7/18

News Cast for July 18th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners will be starting their first of five workshops this morning to address the county budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Representatives from the county property appraiser’s office, facilities maintenance, health department, county library, medical examiner’s office, guardian ad litem program and the Agri-Civic Center will discuss their budgets and concerns they may have with the commissioners. This morning’s workshop will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at nine o’clock.

While the budget workshops for the city of Okeechobee are not due to begin until next month, the city council did set their advertised millage rate for the 2019-2020 fiscal year at their meeting Tuesday night and it ended up going through a few numbers before they came to one they can agree on. The original millage rate was to be advertised at just over 8.99 percent, but that was defeated by a vote of three to two. A millage rate of 7 percent was proposed but was not seconded. Councilmembers did agree on advertising a millage rate of just over 7.99 percent. The proposed millage rate was agreed upon by all councilmembers except for Mayor Dowling Watford. Watford believes the millage rate should’ve been higher because if it’s advertised at a lower rate, it would be difficult to raise that rate back up if funds were needed for certain expenses. According to Watford, if the advertised millage rate is at its maximum, you also have the necessary flexibility to cover your expenses should they arise. Budget workshops for the city are set to begin on August 6th and again on August 20th.

Watford-Advertised Millage Rate 1

Watford-Advertised Millage Rate 2

A complaint of a suspicious vehicle led to the drug related arrest of an Okeechobee man early Saturday morning. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 12 thousand block of Route 70 West a little before eight o’clock and found a Chevy Tahoe with the driver fast asleep at the wheel and his passenger, 25 year old Garrett Lee Chapman, also fast asleep in the vehicle. As deputies made contact with both men, they noticed Chapman was acting erratically; jumping around and was also sitting and standing continuously. Deputies also noticed an orange syringe cap near Chapman. They removed Chapman and detained him while a vehicle search commenced. Syringes which tested positive for methamphetamine were found. Chapman was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. He was taken to county jail and his bond is set at $55 hundred dollars. The driver of the vehicle was not charged and later released.

A report of a brush and grass fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Tuesday evening. Crews were called to the 16 thousand block of NW 29th Street just before 6:45 and arrived to find an area roughly the size of a quarter acre of heavy grass and brush burning slowly. Firefighters used about fifty gallons of water on the fire to keep it down close to the roadway. Crews from the Forest Service arrived to put a line around the fire. Investigators say lightning strikes from a storm that just passed through the area were the likely cause of the fire. No one was hurt and no structure damages reported.

Firefighters in St. Lucie County also had their hands full with a fire early yesterday morning but this one turned out to be a lot more serious. Crews were called to an area on Glades Cut Off Road and C24 Canal in Port St. Lucie a little before 3:30 for what was initially reported as a brush fire. However, firefighters arrived to a house completely covered in flames. The fire completely destroyed the one story home and investigators say the homeowner reportedly kicked out a hurricane shutter to escape the house. Red Cross volunteers were called in to help the six people-four children and two adults-that were displaced as a result of the fire. It remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

20 year old David Alejandro Sandoval of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for leaving the scene of a crash that involved property damage following a vehicle accident. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

18 year old Michael George Harvey of Okeechobee was arrested on a local warrant for robbery with a firearm. His bond is set at one hundred thousand dollars.

39 year old Martha Marie Vandiver of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia following a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

33 year old Sierra Savanna Poswencyk of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court and failing to appear for her hearing on past charges of petit theft. She’s being held without bond.

36 year old Olger Alberto Cano-Castillo of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

33 year old Carlos Alberto Abreu Mendez of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from St. Lucie County on past charges of driving on an expired license. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

34 year old Brian Alan Perry of Port St. Lucie was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing for past drug offenses. He’s being held without bond.

24 year old Jessica Lynn Swain of Lake Placid was arrested on an Okeechobee County warrant on past charges of fleeing and eluding law officers and reckless driving. Her bond is set at eleven thousand dollars.


Social Media – Too Much? How Much?    

Social Media – Too Much? How Much?

By Glenn Mollette 

glennmollette.com

Social media is just like mom’s apple pie, it’s not good to eat a whole pie every day.

Over three billion people are social media users worldwide. While social media helps keep the world connected, social media addiction is becoming a global problem that keeps growing. As of 2018, one third of the global population used social media.

Internet and social media addictions continue to grow as our dependence on technology increases. Over 210 million people suffer from internet and social media addictions worldwide.

A 2018 study found that teens who spend 5 hours per day using their phones were almost twice as likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than counterparts who dedicated only one hour on their phones. The relationship between excessive mobile use and depression appears to be strongly inked to gender with 58% more females than males experiencing depressive symptoms. A recent study containing over 23,500 participants between the ages of 16 and 88 found that being a young single female was most strongly associated with displaying addictive social media behavior. Addictive social media behavior was also strongly related to narcissistic personality traits and low self-esteem.

Social media addiction doesn’t just affect behavior during the day; it even damages the ability to sleep. A study found that 71% of Americans sleep with or next to a mobile device. Some 47 million people in America do not get enough sleep and 55% more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991. Exposure to screens before bed is a large factor in exacerbating sleep disorders. Thirty-five percent of people using phones less than average experienced sleep difficulty compared to 42% of those with average or above average phone usage.  Forty-five percent of people check social media instead of sleeping and roughly 10% of teens check their phones more ten 10 times per night.

Fifty percent of people driving are checking social media. 90% of drivers admit to using smartphones behind the wheel. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each day nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured as a result of smartphone use while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens are the largest group reported for distracted driving.

Over 240 million Americans check Facebook daily or 74% of all Americans. The majority of Americans use Facebook and most users check the app daily. Approximately 68% of Americans have an account and 51% report checking Facebook several times daily.

Question – is it possible you might accomplish more of what you want and need to do if you would spend less time on social media? Another question – Is social media making you a better and happier person?

Is it possible you should cut back on your daily portion of social media?


News Cast 7/17

News Cast for July 17th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners will be starting their first of five workshops tomorrow addressing the county budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Representatives from the county property appraiser’s office, facilities maintenance, health department, county library, medical examiner’s office, guardian ad litem program and agri-civic center will discuss their budget concerns with the commissioners. The workshops will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at nine o’clock.

Three Okeechobee County juveniles will be in court today and they’re pleading not guilty to charges in connection with an incident where they allegedly spat into the food of sheriff’s deputies at a restaurant they were working in last April. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says attorneys for 16 year old Molly Spearow, 17 year old Alex Armstrong and 17 year old Logan Pope presented written pleas of not guilty in court on behalf of their clients last month on charges of violating the Florida Anti-Tampering Act for Food and Battery on a law enforcement officer when surveillance camera footage at the Highway 55 restaurant caught the three juveniles spitting into the deputies’ food.  All three were released from their jobs and later arrested by Okeechobee Police. Albright says prosecutors chose to charge the juveniles as adults not just because of the seriousness of the crimes under the law, but also because of the ages of the three juveniles. All three are expected to be in court sometime this morning. Attorneys for the juveniles, Roger Azcona and Shannon Eighmie, declined to comment.

It didn’t take very long nor did Okeechobee County School officials have to look very far in choosing their next principal for Okeechobee High School (OHS). Lauren Myers was tapped to be Dylan Tedders’ successor on Monday after serving as OHS Assistant Principal for the past three years under Tedders. Myers says she’s “very honored” to be offered this opportunity and realizes she has some big shoes to fill. Myers says she truly believes in the work that teachers and school staff do and what they do matters every day. When she begins her new duties as OHS Principal next month, Myers says she’d like to expand on the “Brahman Way” instituted by Tedders, not just in the school but in the community and she also wants the school and its staff to continue the great path they’re currently on as it pertains to academics (New OHS Principal 1) Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy says Myers will do a great job in her new role in carrying on Tedders’ legacy. Kenworthy says Myers’ familiarity with OHS was a major reason she was the one who got the job. Myers, originally from Bristol, Tennessee, has been a teacher and administrator in Okeechobee County Schools for 14 years. Tedders will be taking the job of Assistant School Superintendent, succeeding Renee Geeting who’ll be retiring in September.

On the arrest report:

36 year old Carlos Manuel Ocasio of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

60 year old Glenn Scott Levy of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of resisting arrest without violence. He’s being held without bond.

23 year old Veronica Nicole Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of passing bad checks with intent to defraud. She’s being held without bond.

22 year old Ozmani Robles of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of criminal violation of a domestic injunction. He’s being held without bond.

38 year old Angela Kay Allyn Hughes of Sebring was arrested for obstruction. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

64 year old Lance Roger Mullins of Moore Haven was arrested for trespassing. His bond is set at $250 dollars.


News Cast 7/12

News Cast for July 12th:

The discussion on the future of Fire Station Number Two in the southwest area of Okeechobee County was a topic of discussion at yesterday’s county commissioners’ meeting. It’s come down to two options; either repairing the over 35 year old station or renovating it. Commissioners and Fire Chief Ralph Franklin are mostly leaning towards renovating the station; which will cost roughly $770 thousand dollars. Commissioners have instructed Franklin to speak with the state grant administrator and find out how much of the $500 thousand dollar grant the county received can be used to renovate the station because that defers some of the money the taxpayers have to pay. Franklin says also to keep in mind with this issue is the need for a second ambulance in that area. The issue will likely be brought back before the board during Franklin’s budget hearing on July 22nd.

Okeechobee County schools will soon have a vaccination program for students. At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the board voted to have the Care Dox Vaccination Program plan put into effect in county schools. Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy says this plan was needed because of the overwhelming number of students entering seventh grade are forced to leave because they haven’t had their required vaccinations beforehand. This program allows for trained medical professionals to administer those vaccinations in school. While Kenworthy says there may issues with some students who aren’t getting those vaccinations because of reported allergic reactions, that decision will be left up to the parents and not students themselves. The plan was introduced to the board by Britni Manners, an account executive at Jacksonville-based Healthy Schools. Manners says this plan, which also includes administering flu shots to students, is a proven success. The plan will have flu shots available during the fall and the required immunizations for sixth graders in the spring and is completely free to parents and students. The measure passed by a three to two vote, with Joe Arnold and Amanda Riedel dissenting.

A Fort Pierce man and woman were arrested in connection with two separate shooting incidents that occurred at different times on July 4th. Police responded to the 23 hundred block of Avenue G a little after 10:20 after receiving reports of gunshots being fired. They saw a woman identified as 29 year old Keyondra Raymond holding a shotgun. Police say when they approached her, they found 12 fired shotgun shells and a warm shotgun leaning against a wall behind Redmond and she also had two shotgun shells in her pocket. She was charged and arrested with firing a weapon in public. She was booked into St. Lucie County Jail. She’s free on a $750 dollar bond.

About two hours later, Fort Pierce police were called to North 32nd Street and Avenue F after another report of fired gunshots and witnessed a group of people scatter when they arrived. Officers say a man identified as 32 year old Eddie Bell, began to walk away until he was stopped by officers. Bell, a convicted felon and known gang member, reportedly had a handgun in his pocket and a bag of methamphetamine. He was arrested on charges of weapons possession by a convicted felon, firing a weapon in public and methamphetamine possession. He was booked into St. Lucie County Jail before being released on a $22 thousand dollar bond.

On the arrest report:

26 year old Jonathan Torres of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling and petit theft. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

37 year old Philip Hawkins Hoy of Okeechobee was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident. His bond has not been set.

24 year old John David Brighton of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

32 year old Daniel Devin Anderson of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court. He’s being held without bond.

35 year old Joshua S. Raynor of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis. He’s being held without bond.

36 year old Rosa Zamora of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

37 year old James Doheny Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession, driving on an expired license, and driving a vehicle with an expired registration after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $35 hundred dollars.


SFWMD Governing Board Continues Efforts to Preserve the Everglades Headwaters of Shingle Creek

SFWMD Governing Board Continues Efforts to Preserve the Everglades Headwaters of Shingle Creek

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved another land purchase to help preserve the Shingle Creek Management Area in Orange and Osceola counties, which serves as the headwaters for Florida’s Everglades.

“Preserving Shingle Creek is critical to preserving the Everglades and all of South Florida’s water resources,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Chauncey Goss. “Every parcel of property we can secure with our partners for conservation is a step forward and a worthy investment in the future of our environment.”

The Governing Board approved purchasing 2.52 acres from two willing sellers in Shingle Creek. The District has been purchasing land around Shingle Creek for conservation since 1991 — originally, through the Save Our Rivers program and, subsequently, with mitigation funds — because of the creek’s unique hydrologic function and environmental value for the Everglades. SFWMD now owns nearly 2,500 acres for conservation within Shingle Creek. Another 1,100 acres is privately owned.

About Shingle Creek

Recognized as the headwaters of Florida’s Everglades, the Shingle Creek Management Area is the largest natural area in the Greater Orlando area. It is comprised primarily of hardwood swamps with some upland habitat and is home to 154 different wildlife species. The swamp plays a critical role in providing regional flood protection and ensuring water quality. This area also offers extensive public recreation opportunities for thousands of residents and visitors each year and includes activities such as kayaking, hiking, biking, fishing and wildlife viewing


News Cast 7/11

News Cast for July 11th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet this morning and they will discuss a resolution regarding the realignment of the Martin Highway at its approach to Route 710 and they will also receive a report from County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin on the Fire Station 2 project. The meeting will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at nine o’clock and it will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

Speaking of the county commissioners, at their last meeting they decided to honor a local war veteran who paid the ultimate price. Local resident Betty Williamson appeared before the commissioners and requested that a part of Route 70 in the Bluefield area that stretches between Okeechobee County and St Lucie County be renamed in honor of Corporal Earl Henry Hansel. Cpl. Hansel served with the US Navy in World War II and again in the Korean Conflict. Cpl. Hansel was captured and died a Prisoner of War (POW) in Korea. Williamson was a childhood friend of Hansel and she described him as a “humorous, well-liked Okeechobee guy” who loved chewing tobacco. Commissioners eventually decided to consider several street options to be renamed in honor of Cpl. Hansel and it will be revisited at a later meeting. Cpl. Hansel was the recipient of several awards including the Prisoner of War medal, National Defense Service medal, Combat Infantryman badge and United Nations Service medal.

It may have been just a formality, but it was an important one for this year for Okeechobee County schools. At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, board members approved the agreement between the school system and the Sheriff’s Department for the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The funding needed for the SRO program was just over $1.1 million dollars, with the school board covering a little over $618 thousand dollars of that amount. County School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says he’s thankful that all the entities-city, county and the school board-came together to get the needed funding for this all too important program. The agreement funds 13 SRO’s for county schools for the upcoming year. Kenworthy says having SRO’s in county schools provides a level of comfort for not just students and faculty, but parents as well.

A Lehigh Acres man is dead following a vehicle accident early Sunday morning in Lee County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officer say 18 year old Chris Johnson was dressed in black and walking eastbound on West 12th Street in the middle of the eastbound lane in Lehigh Acres a little before 2:45, right ahead of a Ford Edge SUV that was coming from behind Johnson. For unknown reasons, the driver of the SUV, 37 year old Markett F. Cherry, also of Lehigh Acres, struck Johnson. FHP officers say after the collision, Cherry stopped his vehicle on the shoulder of the road. Medics pronounced Johnson dead at the scene. The crash is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

35 year old Jennifer Marie Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested on out of county warrants for undisclosed charges. Her bond is set at just over a thousand dollars.

29 year old Telitha May Barksdale of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and violating probation. She’s being held without bond.

20 year old Nathan Lee Starcher of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court. He’s being held without bond.

34 year old Tanya Leigh Law of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of heroin, alprazolam, drug paraphernalia and introducing contraband into a detention facility. Her bond is set at $16 thousand dollars.

34 year old Dawn Marie Inman of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.


News Cast 7/10

News Cast for July 10th:

For the better part of three hours yesterday, the Okeechobee City Council held a workshop to lay the groundwork for a strategic plan for the city in the coming years. The plan addressed the city’s needs or goals for the next one, three, five and ten years and the objectives needed to attain those goals. The first year’s goals will mainly be about the beautification of the city, with landscaping and maintenance in the downtown area and re-striping of roads and re-doing sidewalks and roads. Councilmember Bobby Keefe, who spearheaded the idea of a strategic plan for the city at a previous meeting, says he’s “pleasantly surprised” with how the workshop went and says this plan was sorely needed. The idea of making the beautification of the city a top priority in this plan is a welcome thing for Councilmember Bob Jarriel. Other aspects of the plan in the first year include signage and parking and in the third year, working on putting together a viable workforce for economic development. In the fifth year, the strategic plan will address housing availability. The plan over the next few years will also address the issues of septic to sewer and implementing storm water plants for water quality improvement; something that former councilmember Gary Ritter says is essential. Other aspects of the plan in the first year include signage and parking and in the third year, working on putting together a viable workforce for economic development. In the fifth year, the strategic plan will address housing availability.

Strategic Plan Workshop 1

Strategic Plan Workshop 2

Strategic Plan Workshop 3

Strategic Plan Workshop 4

The city of Okeechobee is the proud recipient of forty thousand dollars. Last week, officials from the office of Governor Ron DeSantis say Okeechobee was one of six rural Florida communities to receive part of a $240 thousand dollar grant from the Competitive Florida Partnership Program. The grant is designed to fund the creation of a strategic plan to generate economic growth in the community. City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca says he applied for this grant with help from Central Florida Regional Planning and he was “honored” that Okeechobee was one of the six recipients of this grant. De Oca says a big factor in Okeechobee getting part of this grant is the support of the community. The grant will supplement ongoing efforts to generate economic development and, as De Oca says, keep Okeechobee thriving as a community. Other communities receiving this grant include Fort Meade in Polk County, Labelle in Hendry County and Crestview in Okaloosa County.

De Oca-Grant 1

De Oca-Grant 2

A traffic stop turned into an arrest for more serious charges for an Okeechobee man Friday morning. Police stopped an Audi sedan, driven by 61 year old Charles Cleveland Crispin, on the 37 hundred block of Route 70 East a little after 10:15 for speeding. A check of Crispin’s license through dispatch revealed he had an active warrant from Martin County for soliciting prostitution and using his car for prostitution. He was arrested and booked into county jail before being released on a $25 hundred dollar bond.

A grass fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Saturday night. Crews were called to the 14 hundred block of NE 356th Court a little before nine o’clock and were told there were two fires burning, one on NW 356th Trail and the other on 365th Lane. Two sets of two fire crews were sent to each blaze and got them controlled in about two hours with no one getting hurt and no structure damages. Firefighters from the Department of Forestry assisted Okeechobee County firefighters in fighting the blazes. Causes of both fires are being investigated.

On the arrest report:

46 year old Sigfredo Estrada of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, child neglect, dealing in stolen property and violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

38 year old Michael Clayton Stewart of Okeechobee was arrested for assault, breach of peace and obstructing without violence during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a bond of just over $17 hundred dollars.

21 year old Bret McClain Corrales of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant for an undisclosed charge. His bond is set at $22 hundred dollars.

47 year old James Bryan Phillips of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery. He’s being held without bond.


News Cast 7/9

News Cast for July 9th:

While there is no formal meeting scheduled tonight, the Okeechobee City Council will be gathering for a special workshop. The city council will be conducting a strategic plan workshop this afternoon to determine the vision for Okeechobee’s future. They will discuss strategic planning and city goals for the next year and goals for the next five and twenty years. The workshop will be held at City Hall beginning at 3:30 this afternoon and the public is invited to attend.

That’s not the only gathering being held today in Okeechobee; the county school board will also be holding their monthly meeting and they will recognize this year’s Sunshine State Scholar and discuss their agreement with the sheriff’s department for the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in the school board office.

Speaking of the school board, they will soon be looking for a new assistant superintendent of county schools. Renee Geeting will be retiring in September after 33 years in education, the last 15 of those years spent here in the Okeechobee County School system. Geeting has been the Okeechobee County Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the past three years and before that she served time as an assistant principal and a principal and then the Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services in the county. Geeting, who says she’ll miss the students and people she worked with over the years, says her greatest memories are setting up the curriculum for the instructional services and addressing the safety concerns for the county schools, well before the incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Prior to working in Okeechobee County, Geeting worked for 18 years in the Martin County School system as a teacher in the elementary, middle and high school levels. She intends to spend more time on her land tending to her animals and visiting with family.

Geeting Retirement 1

Geeting Retirement 2

An accident in Okeechobee County claimed the life of a Sebring man early Sunday morning. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 23 year old Joel Orozco was driving a Dodge Durango SUV north on US 441 near NE 96th Street, right behind a Ford Fusion coupe a little after 7:30. Orozco was driving too closely to the car, causing him to rear-end it. FHP investigators say the impact of the crash killed Orozco instantly. The driver of the Ford Fusion, 38 year old Tamika Tichelle O’Neil of Tallahassee, and her passenger, 66 year old Shirley Ann English of Midway, were treated at Raulerson Hospital for minor injuries. The accident shut down the road in that area for nearly six hours while emergency crews cleaned up the area. It remains under investigation.

A traffic stop led to the arrests of two Okeechobee men during the early morning hours of July 4th. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Chrysler PT Cruiser, driven by 31 year old Joaquin Pinon-Monzon, on the 25 hundred block of Route 441 North a little before three o’clock for speeding. As deputies were speaking with Pinon-Monzon, they noticed he was hesitant to open the glove compartment for the vehicle registration, prompting deputies to search the vehicle. The search revealed a smoking device in the center console with an orange-brown liquid in it, which tested positive for marijuana. Pinon-Monzon and his passenger, 23 year old George Danny Martinez, were arrested and charged with possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia. They were booked into county jail and later released after they posted bonds of just under six thousand dollars’ apiece.

The fourth of July was a time of celebrating and it also was a time for grass fires unfortunately. Okeechobee County firefighters were called to the 38 hundred block of NW 50th Drive a little after 6:15 and arrived to find a brush fire that measured about five acres in size moving slowly. Okeechobee County fire crews were met by firefighters from the Department of Forestry, who put a plow line around the fire, allowing Okeechobee County crews to use about four hundred gallons of water to put out the fire which took about an hour. No one was hurt and no structures damaged. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

18 year old Joseph Daniel Toneges Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for burglary of an occupied building with assault and battery. He was released after posting a $50 thousand dollar bond.

31 year old Zachary William Cowart of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Martin County for undisclosed charges. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

51 year old James Donald Beaty Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

34 year old Nicholas Andrew Cheville of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute and violating conditions of his pre-trial released. He’s being held without bond.

40 year old Michael Clay Wilson of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Indian River County for petit theft. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

33 year old Cody Dale Cooper was arrested for battery on his brother in law during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Dillon Jason Hill of Okeechobee was arrested for firing a weapon in public. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

37 year old Jason Michael Birchfield of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Hendry County for failing to appear in court on past charges of driving on a suspended license. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

38 year old Larry Robert Wilson of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

76 year old Donald Wayne Coates of Okeechobee was arrested for violating a domestic injunction in connection with a prior incident involving his estranged wife. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

41 year old James Howard Drawdy of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Charlotte County for failing to pay child support. His bond is set at just over three hundred dollars.

22 year old Simeon Lorenzo Washington of Okeechobee was arrested by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers for violating probation on past drug possession charges. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

23 year old Ricky James Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on charges of failing to appear in court. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

47 year old Rebecca Scott Maynor of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

31 year old Kyle Gaitano Giunta of Stuart was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.


News Cast 7/5

News Cast for July 5th:

While the fourth of July was officially yesterday, it doesn’t mean the celebration is over in Okeechobee County. There will be a celebration tomorrow at the Agri-Civic Center which will feature the Minimal Regatta; a showing of homemade boats for people to race and later on there will be a fireworks display to celebrate Independence Day. Sgt. Michael Hazellief of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department representing the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and JD Mixon, representing the Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta, helped spearhead these events and got the fee waived to use the Agri-Civic Center for the event at a commissioners’ meeting last month. Normally, the Minimal Regatta and Independence Day Fireworks events are held on separate days but Hazellief says both events will be held tomorrow as a matter of convenience for the community. The Minimal Regatta events begin at one o’clock and the Independence Day festivities begin at 6:30 with fireworks scheduled for nine o’clock.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail at this time on battery charges in connection with an incident Monday night. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 38 hundred block of NW 4th Street a little after seven o’clock after receiving reports from a woman living there that her roommate, 65 year old Bobby Jo Walker, had shoved her. Deputies were told that Walker and his female roommate were arguing over her moving out. It escalated and Walker began yelling at her then shoved her, causing her to fall backwards. She then called 911. Walker was arrested and charged with domestic battery and taken to county jail. His bond has not been set.

That was not the only one; about an hour and a half earlier, sheriff’s deputies were called to the 49 hundred block of NE 16th Court for a report of domestic battery and were told by the woman living there that she and her boyfriend, 32 year old Otis Glen Lee, were drinking outside their home and they began arguing about money. Lee then got upset and pushed her, causing her to fall back off her chair and scrape her elbow. Lee then fled the scene in his truck. Deputies found him later at his mom’s house and arrested and charged him with domestic battery. He was taken to county jail and his bond has not been set.

A Sebring woman walked away without a scratch but the same cannot be said for a Lakeland man following a vehicle accident involving three big rig trucks Tuesday afternoon in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 58 year old Mark Tomlinson was driving a Cascadia truck northbound on Highway 27 approaching a traffic light at the intersection of Highway 98 in Sebring a little before 1:30. Tomlinson didn’t stop in time and rear-ended a KW 2600 truck in front of him, propelling that truck into a third truck and the third truck was then propelled into a Chrysler Town and Country van, driven by 81 year old Diane Mish. Tomlinson was pronounced dead at the scene by medics while Mish was not injured, as were the drivers of the other two trucks. The road was closed for a while as emergency and maintenance crews cleaned up the area. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Zachary William Cowart of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

21 year old Marcus Damian Rutherford of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of simple battery and assault. He’s being held without bond.

25 year old William Gaither Shepherd the Third was arrested for drunk driving after he was found passed out at the wheel at a fast food drive thru and given a field sobriety test. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Robert James Leitner of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

48 year old Dawn Cheree Dowd of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on an officer and resisting an officer with violence. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

21 year old Quavian Aikeem Dozier of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of fraud. He’s being held without bond.

60 year old Edward Michael Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of felonious possession of a concealed weapon, failing to appear in court and drug possession. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

29 year old Denise Marie Stout of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

27 year old Justin Luis Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested by police for criminal mischief. He was released after posting bond.


Next Page »