Local News

News Cast 3/19

News Cast for March 19th:

Okeechobee residents with a concern on their minds they’d like to address with the city council will now have their chance. Councilmembers will host a town hall meeting tonight for residents to voice their concerns on what’s important to them. Councilmember Bob Jarriel came up with the idea during the council comments portion of the February 5th meeting, believing there are many people he didn’t get the chance to speak with during his campaign and he wants to give them that opportunity to speak on issues of concern. Jarriel says the format of this special meeting will have just residents speaking. Each person who wants to speak will have about three to five minutes to do so. Jarriel believes that the city taxes, millage rate and traffic are likely to be subjects most commonly brought up tonight for discussion. The town hall meeting will take place at six o’clock tonight in the auditorium at the Freshman Campus.

Speaking of meetings, the local chapter of the Republican Party met last night at Cowboys BBQ and they had as their guest speaker Christian Ziegler, the Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Ziegler’s purpose was to get feedback from the attendees and help plan for the re-election of President Donald Trump in 2020. Ziegler says he believes that was accomplished at this meeting last night. Of the 45 or so attendees, one of them was Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper. Culpepper says while the meeting delved into the issues facing Okeechobee, notably Lake Okeechobee, he believes that didn’t deter the purpose of the meeting because he believes the root of how you get support for a candidate is by addressing these issues. Ziegler, a Philadelphia native, is a White House surrogate for President Trump and spent the last 20 years as advocate for conservative principles such as limited government and protecting unborn children.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on some very serious charges involving two underage girls. Deputies say 35 year old Rodolfo Martinez reportedly touched a thirteen year old girl in a sexual manner as she slept at her cousin’s home Sunday night. Deputies say Martinez had also been touching another thirteen year old girl in a sexual manner, also while she slept, over the course of three to four months, beginning in November. Investigators interviewed both victims and found their stories to be believable while Martinez came in to the sheriff’s office voluntarily in an attempt to clear his name. He was later arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious molestation on a child between the ages of twelve to sixteen and custodial sexual battery on a child between the ages of twelve and eighteen. He’s currently being held without bond at Okeechobee County Jail.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a report of a grass fire on their hands Saturday evening but were not burdened with the task of having to put it out. Crews were called to a home on the 20 thousand block of NW 266th Street a little after 8:30 and found a debris burn pile measuring about 25 by 25 feet had gotten out of control. Firefighters told the homeowner to burn the remainder of the debris and then overhaul with equipment and they then left the scene. No one was hurt and no damages reported.

An Immokalee woman is dead following a vehicle accident early yesterday morning in Lee County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 23 year old Magan Raynor was driving a GMC Terrain SUV east on Corkscrew Road in Estero at around 1:20 when a Honda Fit sedan was approaching from the opposite way. Raynor somehow lost control of her vehicle, causing her to travel into the path of the Honda Fit, resulting in a head-on collision. Both Raynor and the Honda Fit driver were pronounced dead at the scene. FHP is investigating the accident.

On the arrest report:

42 year old Jack Billie of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for drunk driving after a traffic stop and subsequent field sobriety test. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

32 year old Gerardo Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

30 year old Joseph Roy Powell of Okeechobee was arrested for child abuse and battery during a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

43 year old Michele Elaine Mixon of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant for violating probation on undisclosed charges. She’s being held without bond.

43 year old Christopher Michael Barney of Okeechobee was arrested for obstruction without violence stemming from a report of domestic violence. He was released after posting bond.

51 year old Kendra Marie Cutcher of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of retail theft, battery on a law officer and resisting arrest.  She was released after posting a $25 hundred bond.

21 year old Oneisha La Rae Brown of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of driving without a license and failing to appear in court. She’s being held without bond.

61 year old Jorge Isaac Martinez Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to register his vehicle with the DMV after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Anthony James Downing of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition. He was released after posting bond.

46 year old Lisa Aguilar Garcia Cardena of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of cocaine possession. She’s being held without bond.

26 year old Shawn Clyde Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

29 year old Terrelle Cameron Harriell of Ft. Pierce was arrested on a warrant from Okeechobee County for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.


OYLS President Speaks To Kiwanis (AUDIO INCLUDED)

OYLS President Speaks To Kiwanis

(AUDIO INCLUDED)

The week of the Okeechobee County Fair is very busy for everyone involved in the Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show, but the president of the organization, Ben Butler carved out some time to speak to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee.

The OYLS is celebrating 50 years this year and Butler emphasized what participating in not only the event, but that raising animals in general can help the development of children in several areas.

The Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show, Inc. is a Non-Profit organization seeking to promote and educate the young people of Okeechobee County, primarily in the field of agriculture and community development, since 1969. Through many of its community outreach programs, OYLS, Inc. strives to provide opportunities for young people.

Butler listed responsibility, leadership and public speaking as just a few of the tools showing animals can help develop in a child.

The culmination of the OYLS is the Livestock Show and Sale which is held at the Agri-Civic Center  the third weekend in March which normally coincides with the final weekend of the Okeechobee County Fair. Show participants that want to sell their animals for market will have the opportunity to have their animal auctioned off. A portion of the monies (5%) go back to the OYLS which in turn a portion is used to fund a scholarship.

CLICK THIS LINK TO LISTEN TO BEN BUTLER’S INTERVIEW (RUN TIME 1:59)


News Cast 3/18

News Cast for March 18th:

Officials from the Okeechobee Police Department say they had a report of a 2017 green Yamaha ATV four-wheeler stolen a little after four o’clock Thursday morning from a homemade flatbed trailer. Police say the ignition switch was cut from the ATV. The trailer has since been recovered but the four-wheeler is still missing. Surveillance cameras from a store caught two vehicles involved with at least four people in this incident. Three people were caught exiting one of the vehicles and walking to the location where the ATV was. Another store camera caught a white four door vehicle pulling the trailer on Route 70 West. The trailer was recovered on the side of a road in the Treasure Island area. If you have any information about this incident, please contact the Okeechobee Police Department or Crime Stoppers at (800) 273-8477.

Looks like Okeechobee County will be getting a very important piece of America’s history for everyone to see. At their meeting last week, commissioners made it official that they will purchase a doctor’s carriage, or buggy, that was used during the late 1800’s for travel. The idea to purchase this item was spearheaded by Commissioner Bryant Culpepper during their February 28th meeting and while it was approved then, it was brought back for discussion at Thursday’s meeting because there was some question as to where it will go when the county receives it. The decision was made to put it in the lobby of the Historic Courthouse. Culpepper says there was talk that it would go in the Historic Schoolhouse on Highway 98, but Culpepper convinced them that it would be wrong to put it in the schoolhouse. Culpepper hopes the arrival of this doctor’s buggy, which he says is in mint condition, will stir the minds of young people into learning about the history of this country. Commissioners will each pay two hundred dollars to purchase the buggy and it should arrive possibly before the end of this week.

Just as Okeechobee City Councilmembers decided to make March a red month at their meeting earlier this month, Okeechobee County Commissioners followed suit at their meeting this past Thursday; that being “Red Cross Month.” County Commissioners voted unanimously to proclaim March as Red Cross Month in the county. Local Red Cross volunteer Peggy Du Bose was on hand to accept the proclamation and while she’s happy to receive it, she wishes there were more Red Cross volunteers. Du Bose says despite the need for more volunteers, she feels the Red Cross as a whole is very strong. Du Bose says Red Cross volunteers are currently working with people still recovering from Hurricane Irma while some have been in Alabama to help those affected by the tornado that struck there earlier this month.

A Pahokee man is dead following a vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 72 year old Rodolfo Rivera was driving a Ford Explorer SUV north on Highway 27 near Palm Beach a little after 1:15, when for unknown reasons, Rivera could not maintain his vehicle in a single lane and veered into the grass median. Rivera then swerved his vehicle to the right and overcorrected, causing the vehicle to go over the travel lanes and overturn on the outside shoulder. Rivera was pronounced dead at the scene by FHP officers. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

38 year old Sherry L. Daniels of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery and making false statements to a law officer following a previous domestic dispute. Her bond has not been set.

32 year old Jeremy Lamont Jones of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to sell. His bond is set at $60 thousand dollars.

54 year old Don Lawton Morgan of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell. He’s being held without bond.

34 year old Joshua S. Raynor of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, cannabis, drug paraphernalia and a firearm by a convicted felon. He’s being held without bond.

37 year old Janet Nicole Raynor of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, cannabis, drug paraphernalia and a firearm by a convicted felon. She’s being held without bond.

 


News Cast 3/15

News Cast for March 15th:

Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say there will be a prescribed burn today in the south end of Lake Okeechobee near Belle Glade. FWC crews and others will be burning about a thousand acres of green cattail, or cattail that has not been sprayed by herbicides. FWC biologist Dan Roberts says this prescribed burn is being done to help preserve and improve the habitat of fish and wildlife in Lake Okeechobee, reduce the threat of wildfire and ensure ecosystem. Roberts says this burn will be conducted by crews using a helicopter. The burn will be conducted by FWC and crews from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is set to begin at eleven o’clock this morning.

Roberts-Prescribed Burn 1

Roberts-Prescribed Burn 2

With this being the week of the Okeechobee County Fair, it’s also a busy time for those involved in the Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show. This week, Ben Butler, president of the Livestock Show, spoke to members of the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club and talked about what this show is, what it does for Okeechobee students in the 4H and FFA youth clubs and what this opportunity of raising and then showcasing animals at the show does for the development of young people. Butler says the Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show and the Kiwanis Club are quite similar in their missions regarding youth (Butler 1). The Okeechobee Livestock Show, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to help promote and develop Okeechobee’s youth since 1969, will take place tomorrow at the Agri-Civic Center.

Butler 1

Butler 2

Okeechobee County now has a resolution to support a healthy Lake Okeechobee. At their meeting yesterday, county commissioners voted unanimously to create and adopt a resolution to support the lake; something that has never been in effect before in Okeechobee County. Commissioner Bradley Goodbread says the reason why it’s never been in effect before is simply because people took Lake Okeechobee for granted. Goodbread says agriculture must be a part of this resolution because counties like Okeechobee would not survive without agriculture. Agriculture is the second largest economy in Florida behind tourism. Other concerns that are to be a part of this resolution include navigation, recreation and commercial fishing. Commissioners began discussing this issue at their February 28th meeting.

 

Goodbread-Lake Okeechobee Resolution

An Okeechobee man has died while receiving treatment for injuries he received in a vehicle accident last week in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say on the afternoon of March 5th, 27 year old Philip Kinzie was driving a golf cart south across Highway 98 from the driveway of a gas station near the 79 hundred block of Highway 27 in Sebring a little after 12:15 when the driver of a Cadillac Escalade was approaching the gas station driveway at the same time. FHP officers say Kinzie drove into the path of the Cadillac Escalade, and Kinzie’s golf cart was hit on the right side. The impact caused the golf cart to go onto the shoulder, ejecting Kinzie from it. He ended up in the westbound lane of Highway 98. Kinzie was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce for treatment and was pronounced dead by medics Wednesday. The Cadillac driver was not injured. FHP is still investigating the accident.

Okeechobee County firefighters had their hands full with a fire to a water heater early Wednesday morning. Crews were called to a house on the 36 hundred block of NW 30th Avenue a little after 2:30 for what was originally reported as a structure fire but arrived to find the water heater of the house was actually on fire. Investigators say firefighters probed the water heater and did not find any signs of fire but they found signs of heat all over it. Firefighters removed the cover plates and the water heater flamed up again, forcing them to extinguish the fire by dousing it with some water. Firefighters then drained the water heater and cut off power to it until it can be checked by an electrician. No one was hurt. Total damage to the water heater is estimated at five hundred dollars. Cause is being investigated.

A traffic stop led to a drug related arrest and incarceration for two local women Tuesday night. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Chrysler four door passenger van, driven by 48 year old Lisa Janeen Sills, on the 15 hundred block of Route 70 East a little after 8:30 for having a defaced license plate. Deputies say both Sills and her passenger, 44 year old Mildred Inez Hardison, were very nervous as deputies were talking with them, causing deputies to request a K-9 unit to search the van. Prior to the search, Hardison says there was methamphetamine in the van and told deputies where it was. Deputies found two plastic bags of the drug and there was also a morphine pill in the van which belonged to Hardison, as well as a methamphetamine pipe and a wooden pipe with marijuana residue on it. Hardison and Sills were arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Both were taken to county jail and are being held without bond.

On the arrest report:

48 year old Patricia Jane Edwards of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of cocaine possession. She’s being held without bond.

35 year old Rjay Armstrong of Okeechobee was arrested by police on warrants of driving on a suspended license and driving through a stop sign. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Erik De Soto Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest after he was found at a house party. His bond has not been set.

28 year old Danielle Erin Harden of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on her mother after a domestic dispute. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 3/14

News Cast for March 14th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet this morning for the first time in March and they will recognize the retirement of Kathy Scott as the director of the county airport and they will also consider a proclamation to make March American Red Cross Month in Okeechobee County. Commissioners will also look at a request from the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club to install a free lending library at Kiwanis Park. The meeting begins at nine o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse. It will also be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

Speaking of the commissioners’ meetings, the subject regarding the purchase of a piece of American history may be brought back up at today’s meeting. At their last meeting, commissioners approved the purchase of a doctor’s buggy used during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s for travel but it may have hit a bit of a snag. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper, who suggested the idea of buying this buggy from a man in Massachusetts, says another buyer may be interested in it, but Culpepper says the real issue is where to put this doctor’s buggy. While Culpepper says it belongs in the Historic Courthouse, there is a possibility that it will be put in the Historic Schoolhouse on Highway 98 across from the airport instead. Culpepper says the Historic Courthouse is the right place for this buggy, bar none. If the county does end up purchasing this buggy, Culpepper says he hopes it will raise interest in young people’s desire to learn about this country’s history.

Culpepper-Doctor’s Buggy 1

Culpepper-Doctor’s Buggy 2

A trial has been set for next month in the case of an Okeechobee woman accused of several charges in connection with an attack from her pet spider monkey last spring. An Okeechobee County court judge yesterday set a trial date for April 17th in the case against 56 year old Tina Darlene Ballard, charged with maintaining captive wildlife in a neglectful manner when her pet spider monkey named Spanky attacked a Home Depot employee on June 4th last year. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says Ballard’s attorney appeared in court yesterday on behalf of his client, who was not present yesterday and interestingly, is now living out of state. The case has gone through several continuances since last year, when Ballard’s original attorney withdrew from the case and she was subsequently represented by an attorney from Regional Conflict Counsel. Ballard missed two bond hearings after she fled the area last summer and was picked up in July at a North Carolina county jail after she had been jailed on a fugitive warrant and then brought back to Okeechobee County. That added a tampering with evidence charge which is her most serious offense. Ballard’s attorney, Jim Volpi, could not be reached for comment.

Albright-Ballard Hearing 1

Albright-Ballard Hearing 2

An Okeechobee man is facing charges of grand theft auto in connection with an incident Tuesday morning. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 46 hundred block of Highway 441 North just after seven o’clock and were told by the victim’s boss that 32 year old Brian James Prescott had taken the victim’s pickup truck and drove around in it for a while after he quit his job the night before. Deputies say Prescott drove the truck to Douglas Park, the road next to Race Trac gas station then across from Kings’ RV Park. Deputies found Prescott and the truck sometime later at the same address where the victim reported it stolen. Deputies say the truck had some new damage to the front bumper and the GPS had been disabled. Prescott was arrested and charged with grand theft auto and transported to county jail. He was released after posting a ten thousand dollar bond.

A fire to a piece of equipment caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Monday night. Crews were called to the 39 hundred block of SE 38th Avenue shortly before eleven o’clock for initially a reported structure fire but instead arrived to find a type of box beside a travel trailer that was on fire. Firefighters say there was a large plastic tool box near the patio that was smoldering and small spot on a carpet had burned in the house. Firefighters got the fire extinguished in a few minutes with some help from the neighbor who used a fire extinguisher. Investigators say the neighbor noticed the fire and called 911. The owner was reportedly out of town and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. No one was hurt. Total damage to the tool box and carpeting is about $350 dollars. Cause of the fire is being investigated.

A Sebring man has died while receiving treatment from a vehicle accident he was involved in late last month in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say on the evening of February 28th, 81 year old Philbert Neil Pettigrew was driving a Buick Lacrosse sedan on Davis Citrus Road, east of Route 27 in Sebring when he stopped at a stop sign. Pettigrew was turning onto the northbound lanes of Route 27 when he didn’t see a Ford Fusion sedan approaching and Pettigrew drove right into the path of the Ford Fusion, causing a rear end collision. The impact caused Pettigrew’s car to rotate and end up on the inside northbound lane of Route 27. Pettigrew and the Ford Fusion driver, 36 year old Aimee Michelle Wilson of Lake Wales, were taken to Advent Health in Sebring for treatment. Pettigrew succumbed to his injuries earlier this week and Wilson is still being treated for serious injuries. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

41 year old Jason Edward Strange of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for burglary. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

33 year old Dawn Nicole Helfinstine of Okeechobee was arrested for withholding child support. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

38 year old Heather Kristin Ellsworth of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of threatening people. She’s being held without bond.

23 year old Austin Spencer Adams of Clewiston was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.


News Cast 3/13

News Cast for March 13th:

It looks like the wait to find out what legal proceedings await an Okeechobee woman accused of several charges in connection with an attack from her pet spider monkey last spring will finally be over today. The case against 56 year old Tina Darlene Ballard will finally be heard in an Okeechobee County courtroom. The case was originally scheduled to be heard in late January but Ballard retained another attorney after her previous attorney withdrew and her new attorney needed time to get familiar with the case, forcing another continuance. Ballard is charged with maintaining captive wildlife in a neglectful manner and culpable negligence causing harm when her spider monkey named Spanky attacked a Home Depot employee on June 4th. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says there have been many continuances in this case and he says that’s not very surprising. Ballard missed two bond hearings after she fled the area last summer and was picked up in July at a North Carolina county jail after she had been jailed on a fugitive warrant and brought back to Okeechobee County. That added a tampering with evidence charge which is her most serious offense. Her court appearance is set for nine o’clock.

You may have noticed a new addition to the Okeechobee Police Department and no, it’s not a new officer or a new addition to the building. This new addition is on the street in front of the police department and it’s in the form of a blue center line. Detective Bill Saum says this new blue center line is a moniker to support police in general but all of law enforcement. Saum characterized it as the “thin blue line” that law enforcement officers are between good and evil, or what stands between the law abiding citizens and those who wish to cause trouble or do harm unto others. Saum says this “thin blue line” is a kind of special standard that police try live up to. Saum says the idea to install this blue line was backed by Chief Bob Peterson. Saum says this same practice is being administered by other police stations throughout the country.  The blue center line was installed on Monday.

Saum-Blue Line 1

Saum-Blue Line 2

Okeechobee County firefighters had another grass fire to contend with Monday night but surprisingly were not left with the task of extinguishing it. Crews were called to a home on the four hundred block of SW 87th Terrace a little after 8:15 and found the grass fire, which measured about five by eight feet, surrounded by a dirt mound. Firefighters told the property owner that the fire could not be left unattended and the owner told firefighters that he would extinguish the blaze himself, which he did by smothering it with dirt from his tractor. No one was hurt and no damages reported.

A vehicle accident claimed the life of a Belle Glade man and woman early Friday morning. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 50 year old Sylvester Gibson was driving a Chevy Lumina sedan east on Runyon Village Road near Highway 441 in Palm Beach County at around 5:45. Gibson was turning onto 441 when the driver of a Ford Explorer was coming from the south on 441 and didn’t see Gibson’s vehicle approaching, causing the Ford Explorer driver to collide with Gibson’s vehicle on the front of the driver’s side. The impact caused Gibson’s vehicle to end up facing south in the northbound lanes of 441. Gibson and his passenger, 41 year old Sharon White, were pronounced dead at the scene. The Ford Explorer driver, 52 year old Samuel Solis Patino of Pahokee, was treated at the scene for minor injuries. FHP is investigating the accident.

On the arrest report:

60 year old Darris Dale Mills of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for harassing people for money as they were leaving the Race Trac gas station. He was released after posting bond.

50 year old Michael Judson Harmon of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.


News Cast 3/12

News Cast for March 12th:

A vehicle accident in Okeechobee County early yesterday morning left a Palm Bay man dead and an Okeechobee man injured and shut down traffic in one direction for a while. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 26 year old Jose Emilio Reguero was driving a Chevy Blazer SUV westbound on County Road 68 a little before seven o’clock and was about to turn onto the southbound lane of Highway 441 when a Chevy Silverado pickup truck, driven by 43 year old David Lee Niehaus, was approaching the intersection of 441 and Route 68 at the same time. Reguero drove right into the path of Niehaus’s truck, and Niehaus collided with the left side of Reguero’s SUV. The impact caused Reguero’s vehicle to overturn and end up in the northeast corner of the intersection. Reguero and Niehaus were taken to Raulerson Hospital for treatment. Reguero was later pronounced dead by medics while Niehaus is being treated for his injuries. The accident shut down the northbound lanes of 441 for approximately four hours as crews cleaned up the debris and traffic was re-routed. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Okeechobee County, get ready, because tonight kicks off the 13th annual Okeechobee County Fair. The Agri-Civic Center just off Highway 710 will be the site of lots of fun and thrill rides and entertainment. Linda Syfrett, president of the Okeechobee County Fair Association, says there will be a petting zoo, a pirate show and a magic show featuring the return of Josh Knotts to the fair, along with lots of other entertainment. Besides the great rides and entertainment, Syfrett says there will be, as she puts it, “quite a wide array of food”. The fair opens tonight at five o’clock and it will be one dollar a night tonight, meaning everything, rides, admission and some foods will only cost a dollar tonight. The fair will run every night through next Sunday night, March 17th St. Patrick’s Night. The final day of the fair will feature a demolition derby.

Syfrett-Fair 1

Syfrett-Fair 2

Okeechobee County firefighters had a vehicle fire to contend with Friday night that required not one but two trips to the scene. Crews were called to the 12 hundred block of NE 48th Avenue just before 7:15 and arrived to find an extended cab Ford F-150 pickup truck with the engine and passenger compartments fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters got the blaze extinguished in a few minutes while dousing it with about 250 gallons of water. No one was hurt. Crews left the scene a little before eight o’clock but were called back to the scene twenty minutes later after the fire rekindled. Investigators say the area near the front tires caught fire. Firefighters needed a few minutes to get it extinguished, again with no injuries. Total damage to the vehicle was just over four thousand dollars in property and contents. State fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

A parked car at an abandoned residence led to the arrest of an Okeechobee man, woman and two juveniles Thursday evening. Sheriff’s deputies say they received reports that a white Chevy Malibu sedan was parked at a recently abandoned residence on the 38 hundred block of NW 38th Avenue sometime before six o’clock. Deputies arrived on the scene and as they were approaching the car, they smelled the odor of marijuana emanating from it. As deputies looked through the rear window, they noticed two adults smoking marijuana in the back seat; they were identified as 19 year old Kassandra Salmeron and 19 year old Luis Flores-Jaimes. Two juveniles were occupying the front seats of the car. They were arrested and charged with drug possession and taken to a juvenile detention facility while Flores-Jaimes and Salmeron were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and contributing to the delinquency of minors. They were booked into county jail. Flores-Jaimes’ bond is set at $15 hundred dollars while Salmeron was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

Okeechobee Police had its own drug related arrest Saturday night. Police were called to Wal-Mart on Parrott Avenue a little after 7:30 for a report of trespassing by 40 year old Misty Laurae Willis. Police say Willis was told by store officials that Willis, who was trespassed at Wal-Mart as of last January, was found in the children’s section of the store and police came and arrested her. She resisted several times before having to be carried out of the store by police. Willis was searched by police after she was taken to county jail and they found a cut straw and a clear glass pipe used for methamphetamine and they found some methamphetamine in Willis’s bra and in her pocket. She was arrested and charged with trespassing, possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, introducing contraband into a detention facility and resisting arrest. Her bond is set at just over $12 thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

39 year old Yulexis Gregoris Alfonso of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

20 year old Wilian Rodolfo Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his father after a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

33 year old Nancy Lynn Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for withholding child support. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

48 year old Patricia Jane Edwards of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug offenses. She’s being held without bond.

34 year old Joshua S. Raynor of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

29 year old Justin Wilton Honeycutt of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft from several locations. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

58 year old Euel Ray Edwards of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

38 year old Heath Ellsworth was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed charges. She’s being held without bond.

26 year old Donald Lewis Gram the Third was arrested on warrants from Putnam County for drug possession. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

23 year old Austin Spencer Adams of Clewiston was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $250 dollars.


News Cast 3/11

News Cast for March 11th:

There was a bit of excitement in Okeechobee Friday afternoon and no, it was not the Cowtown Rodeo. A power line snapped near the 15 hundred block of South Parrott Avenue a little after three o’clock and fell into the road. Police say the power line came down right onto someone’s vehicle but no one was hurt in the incident. Police Lieutenant Justin Bernst says the incident did cause some traffic problems for a bit. Bernst says once Florida Power and Light (FPL) crews arrived on scene, it took only about twenty minutes to clear the area and traffic flow resumed. No indication as to why the power line snapped and fell. The downed line and repair caused some power outages in the area for a while.

Bernst 1

Bernst 2

Speaking of excitement, even with the Cowtown Rodeo and Speckled Perch Festival in the rear view mirror, the excitement in Okeechobee County continues as the 13th annual Okeechobee County Fair will take place beginning tomorrow. Fun and thrill rides and lots of great food and entertainment will be present at the Agri-Civic Center beginning at 5pm. Linda Syfrett, president of the Okeechobee County Fair Association, says there will be a petting zoo and pork chop revue featured at the fair along with lots of entertainment. Syfrett says there will be a special pirate show this year at the fair. The fair opens tomorrow at five o’clock and it will be one dollar a night tomorrow night, meaning everything, rides, admission and some foods will only cost a dollar. The fair will run every night through next Sunday night, St. Patrick’s Day.

Syfrett-2019 Okeechobee Fair 1

Syfrett-2019 Okeechobee Fair 2

Okeechobee County firefighters had a vehicle fire to contend with early Friday morning. Crews were called to the 34 hundred block of NW 128th Street a little before 7:30 and found the vehicle fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. The vehicle was found on the side of the road facing south and all four tires were burnt. Crews needed about 15 minutes to extinguish the blaze while using about two thousand gallons of water to put it out. No one was hurt. Investigators say the vehicle owner was driving south on 128th Avenue when his vehicle shut off and he noticed flames near the fuel tank when he got out to see what was wrong. Total damage to the vehicle is estimated at $15 hundred dollars in property and contents.

An Okeechobee man is facing some serious charges after an incident Thursday night. Sheriff’s deputies were in the middle of a welfare check at around 9:30 when they spotted a Dodge Dakota pickup truck weaving around the road on the ten thousand block of Highway 98 North. Deputies pursued the truck, driven by 61 year old Kenneth Flavel Kinser, and attempted to pull him over for a traffic stop, but Kinser kept going, leading deputies on a high speed pursuit. Kinser eventually stopped at NW 176th Avenue and Highway 98. Kinser was ordered to exit the truck and deputies checked the vehicle and noticed an open can of beer inside and they also smelled alcohol on Kinser’s breath. A check through dispatch revealed Kinser has been arrested for drunk driving three other times since 1992, twice in Florida. Kinser was arrested and charged with drunk driving and eluding law officers. He was booked into county jail and he’s being held without bond.

On the arrest report:

21 year old Michael Wayne Cheney of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for retail theft when he was caught stealing from Dollar General. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

28 year old Angelica Candelaria Chavez-Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license and leaving the scene of an accident when she hit someone’s car in a parking lot and fled the scene. She was released after posting bond.

41 year old Randy Gerald Whaley Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

40 year old Crystal Michelle Watson of Sebring was arrested on two counts of contempt of court during her hearing on drug possession and petit theft charges. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 3/8

News Cast for March 8th:

Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department are offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for a local man’s death nearly two years ago. Detectives say the body of 54 year old Clemente Garcia was found in a wooded area near NE 60th Avenue on March 24th, 2016. Garcia had been unemployed and was living with family members at the time of his death and he’d been living in Okeechobee for nearly ten years. Detectives say there were no visible wounds on his body but he had been injured and the case was being treated as a homicide. If you have any information on this case, please contact the sheriff’s department. If you’d like to remain anonymous, you can call the Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-273-8477 or log on to www.tcwatch.org.

With the weekend finally upon us, it’s time for the Okeechobee Cowtown Rodeo. This annual event begins tonight in the Cattlemen’s Association Arena on Highway 441 just across from Raulerson Hospital and it will feature bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and mutton bustin’ for kids. Todd Clemons of the Cattlemen’s Association says this rodeo is an important event for the Cattlemen’s Association not just for entertainment value but for traditional value as well. Outside of expenses, proceeds from the rodeo this weekend will be used to fund scholarships for high school students involved in agricultural programs. Clemons says the rodeo attracts spectators as far away as Miami. The rodeo begins tonight at six o’clock and at one o’clock on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are eighteen dollars apiece and children under the age of five are admitted at no charge.

Clemons 1

Clemons 2

Okeechobee City Councilmembers recognized one of the city’s longest tenured employees at their meeting Tuesday night and it was in a way, bittersweet. City Planner Bill Brisson was presented with a certificate of appreciation while also announcing that he will be leaving Okeechobee for a similar position in Holmes Beach near Bradenton. The 72 year old Brisson, who has been Okeechobee’s city planner since 2006 and is a resident of Bradenton, says while his advancing age and the two hour commute were factors in his decision to resign, there was a more personal reason. Brisson says what he’ll miss most about working in Okeechobee is the competent, helpful staff he got to work with over these 12 years and the small-town community feeling that Okeechobee offers. Brisson began his career as a city planner in Palm Beach in 1971 before coming to Okeechobee. Brisson’s last day as city planner will be March 21st.

Brisson 1

Brisson 2

Two Okeechobee men are in county jail at this time on several drug offenses in connection with an incident Wednesday afternoon. Police say they spotted a vehicle in the Wal-Mart parking lot a little after one o’clock that had a smashed front end and a broken out driver’s side window. Believing the vehicle to be suspicious, police ran the license plate and found it was expired. Shortly thereafter, police spotted two men, identified as 36 year old Billy Gene Garmany and 33 year old Robert Gerald Fortier, getting into the car and leaving the parking lot. Police say they spotted Garmany and Fortier throwing items out of the car as they were conducting a traffic stop on them. Both men were forcibly removed from the car and handcuffed until K-9 units arrived to search the car and the items that were thrown out. The items thrown from the car were two metal storage containers with a white powder on them, which tested positive for methamphetamine. There was also some marijuana and rolling papers found at the scene. Garmany and Fortier were each arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Their bonds have not been set.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Jesus Delapaz of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery and simple assault on his girlfriend outside a restaurant during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

23 year old Bruce Snell Junior of Okeechobee, an inmate at the county jail, was arrested for fighting with another inmate. His bond is set at $250 dollars.

 


News Cast 3/7

News Cast for March 7th:

We are now into the month of March and with that, it’s “Red Cross Month.” At their meeting Tuesday night, Okeechobee City Councilmembers voted unanimously to proclaim March “Red Cross Month” in Okeechobee. Local Red Cross volunteer Peggy DuBose was on hand to accept the proclamation and while she’s happy to receive it, she wishes there were more Red Cross volunteers. DuBose says while the local Red Cross is still in charge of sheltering and health and safety, they’ve had to do some relocation and revamping lately. DuBose says Red Cross volunteers are currently working with people still recovering from Hurricane Irma while some will be going up to Alabama to help those affected by the tornado that struck there over the weekend.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail at this time on a host of thefts in connection with incidents that happened on Tuesday morning. Sheriff’s deputies say 26 year old Millard Wayne Bearden the Third broke into a woman’s pickup truck at her home on the 41 hundred block of SE 23rd Court just before nine o’clock and stole several items and then went into her shed and stole more items. Deputies were called and they say the items were later found at Bearden’s home in the fenced yard. The items Bearden stole include a pink RCA electronic tablet, a t-ball stand and a tool box. Deputies say all the items taken amounted to $635 dollars. Bearden was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary and grand theft. He was booked into county jail and his bond has not been set.

It was another weekend in Okeechobee County, another grass fire for county firefighters to contend with. Crews were called to the 14 thousand block of NW 264th Street a little after five o’clock Saturday evening and arrived to find a one acre sized fire burning mostly light grass and brush fuels in a vacant lot. Firefighters got the blaze controlled with the help of crews from Florida Forest Service in about twenty minutes while dousing it with a thousand gallons of water. No one was hurt. Investigators say the fire did threaten a couple of abandoned mobile homes in the area, but crews effectively kept the blaze from reaching the structures. Investigators say the fire started when a burn pile got out of control.

Three Stuart residents, one man and two women, are dead following a vehicle accident Friday night in St. Lucie County.  Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 35 year old Philip Joseph Royer was driving  a Chevy Cruze sedan south on the 63 hundred block of Route A1A at a very high rate of speed near the Florida Power and Light (FPL) plant at around eight o’clock when Royer rear-ended a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The impact caused the car to rotate clockwise across the road and end up in the northbound lane, causing both vehicles to catch fire. Royer and his passengers, 37 year old Catherine Ann Schoffler, 27 year old Ashlee Marie Gallant, all from Stuart and 18 year old Sandra Jane Burnham of Jacksonville, were all pronounced dead at the scene. The pickup truck driver, 26 year old Andrea Peavy of Jupiter, was treated for minor injuries. The deceased victims’ names were withheld for a few days pending family notification. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Dylan Colby Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for introducing contraband into a detention facility and violating probation. His bond has not been set.

27 year old Jason Michael Birchfield of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Hendry County on previous charges of driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

21 year old Jose Jesus Perez of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous escape charges. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old Bo Kenneth Moore of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

57 year old Michael Allen Anderson of Okeechobee was arrested by police for trespassing. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

38 year old Zarnell Fitzgerald of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief when he threw a bottle at someone from a car. He was released after posting bond.

25 year old Thomas Andrew Seals the Second of Okeechobee was arrested for assault and criminal mischief during a domestic dispute with his wife. His bond has not been set.

45 year old Jeffrey Michael Mullin of Sebring was arrested on a warrant from Highlands County for methamphetamine possession. He’s being held without bond.

47 year old Kimberly Ann Harris of Apopka was arrested for violating probation on past charges of giving false information to a pawnbroker. She’s being held without bond.


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