Local News

Hunter safety courses offered in 4 counties 6/10-6/25

Hunter safety courses offered in 4 counties

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety courses in four counties (List follows.)

All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.

Internet-completion Courses


June 10 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

June 25 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)


June 10 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

Palm Beach

June 10 (7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)

Traditional Courses 


June 23 – 25 (23rd 6 – 10 p.m.; 24th 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.; 25th 7:30 – 9 a.m.)

The specific locations for these classes will be given to those who register in advance. Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s regional office in West Palm Beach at 561-625-5122

Florida Kiwanis Governor Pays Visit To Okeechobee (Audio Included)

Florida Kiwanis Governor Pays Visit To Okeechobee (Audio Included)

Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee member Greg Thogerson presents a donation to Club President Terry Burroughs. The money is to be used for the purchase and installation of two new benches for Kiwanis Park in Okeechobee

Florida Kiwanis Governor Gary Frechette visited Okeechobee last week to speak on his state-wide project called Hats-A-Yard, where hats are collected to give to children fighting cancer throughout the state going through chemotherapy.  The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee made a $329 donation to the project and presented Governor Frechette with a box of hats at the meeting. Governor Frechette’s message during his term as Governor is “Shine a light and make some noise as we sail into service”.  During the meeting, club member Greg Thogerson presented a check to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee to be used for two new benches that will be added to Kiwanis Park in Okeechobee.


Charles Murphy News 5/26

News Cast for May 26th:

A 67 year old Okeechobee woman died in a two vehicle crash on route 710 at South East 86th Boulevard on Thursday morning. Donna Flora was killed when an east bound Nissan started to hydroplane and the driver, 38 year old Don Flora lost control and struck a west bound Chevy pickup driven by 58 year old Angel Valeriano Ramirez of Okeechobee.   Don Flora was flown to Lawnwood in Ft. Pierce in critical condition.

Okeechobee city police arrested 25-year-old Joseph Voss on charges of lewd computer solicitation. Cops say Voss asked a 16-year-old girl to send him an illicit photo of her.

Okeechobee County commissioners Thursday:

  • Received two bids from Bass Pro and Guy Harvey Outpost to redevelop the Okee tantie recreation area.
  • Commissioner Bryant Culpepper suggested the county build a new fire station on 70 east.
  • Fire Rescue proposed a 5.5-million-dollar budget that asks for two new positions.
  • The county applied for a 1.2-million-dollar grant to start a mental health court
  • Learned Public Works Director Lee Evette is no longer employed by the county.

Graduation tonight for close to 390 Okeechobee seniors. Principal Dylan Tedders says this was a bright group academically. Graduation begins at 7 pm at the Ag Civic Center.

An oak tree fell through a mobile home at 2915 south east 36th Avenue on Wednesday causing considerable damage.  There were no injuries reported.

Sports Cast for May 26th:

Baron Stuart was named the pitcher of the year for the Brahman baseball team this week. Stuart was slowed by an illness late in the year but still finished his high school career strong. He says he will have a lot of great memories about playing high school ball. Stuart will be the third Brahman ever to pitch in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association games this weekend in Lakeland.

He has been throwing bullpens and getting back into shape so he can perform well.

Stuart will pitch for South Florida State College in Avon Park next year.

On the sports schedule tonight, Pahokee football holds their spring game at home against Lake Worth with kickoff at 7 pm.

Additional Rain Needed to Alleviate Wildfire Risk

Additional Rain Needed to Alleviate Wildfire Risk

After much needed rainfall returned to our area, another drying trend is forecast. “We need multiple bouts of rainfall to alleviate the dry conditions”, said Forest Area Supervisor Trevor Taylor, Florida Forest Service. “A constant steady rainfall is needed to quench the parched land and seep deep into the soil where the fire is still smoldering.”

The rainfall did help extinguish a few smaller wildfires, but the wildfires in thick vegetation or burning in muck had little effect on them. The Florida Forest Service, Okeechobee District has eight active wildfires that continue to produce heat and smoke.

The Florida Forest Service, Okeechobee District also wants to remind everyone to enjoy this Memorial Day Weekend by using caution while enjoying the outdoors. “Often wildfires are accidental, caused by something as benign as hot charcoals being dumped into dry vegetation or the grill not being extinguished properly.” explains Taylor.

To keep you and your family safe while grilling, follow these general guidelines:

  • Only use charcoal and propane grills outside and away from structures.
  • Clear the ground around the barbecue of all dry vegetation and other flammable material.
  • Keep children and pets away from grills.
  • Make sure there are no overhanging tree limbs.  The heat from a barbecue can reach well above the grill’s surface.
  • Never leave the grill unattended when cooking or while it contains residual heat.

Disposing of charcoal properly – Make sure charcoal is COLD:

  • Allow coals to burn out completely and let ashes cool at least 48 hours before disposing.
  • Dispose of cold ashes by wrapping in heavy-duty aluminum foil and placing in a non-combustible container. Be sure no other combustible materials are nearby.
  • If you must dispose of ashes before completely cooled, place them in heavy-duty foil and soak with water completely before disposing in a non-combustible container.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com

Charles Murphy News 5/25

News Cast for May 25th:

The Okeechobee Kiwanis Club donated to help children fighting cancer with chemotherapy. The Hats a Yard project is raising money across the state. Two new benches will be added to Kiwanis Park on North West 6th Avenue.

Glades County commissioners..

  • Changed the title of Road Superintendent to Public Works Director.  They are currently looking for a new Public Works Director.
  • Glades County will give all employees, Monday July 3rd off as it is already a state court holiday.
  • Chairman John Ahern has contacted choice motels and other large chains to try and recruit a motel to Moore Haven.
  • Commissioner Tim Stanley says the county should watch closely the selection process at Okee tantie and see if the runner up would be interested in development of a resort in Glades County.

Among arrests, 55 year old Guillermo Limdimas is charged with borrowing 36 hundred dollars from a disabled man for his food truck business and never trying to repay the money.  The Avon Park man faces exploition of the disabled and grand theft charges. Sheriff detectives say Limdimas owes money to several others in Okeechobee.

Okeechobee commissioners open and review the proposals for the development of Okee Tantie today at their  regular meeting.

Sports Cast for May 25th:

Zachary Kielbasa won the Brahman Award for the boys’ basketball team this year. He is one of the top students in his class with a perfect 4.9.  He was also a good leader in practice and games. Kielbasa says the Brahman Award was a great way to end his career. He also prided himself on always being ready to produce whether he started or came off the bench. He plans to attend the University of Florida and study engineering.

There are no sports events scheduled today.

Gov. Scott Signs Legislation for Boater Safety in Florida

Gov. Scott Signs Legislation for Boater Safety in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 711, which further reduces registration fees for boats equipped with safety features, such as an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). This legislation is an extension of a boater safety bill signed into law by Governor Scott last year.

Governor Scott said, “Just two years ago, we suffered the heartbreaking loss of two teenagers after sailing from the Jupiter Inlet. This important legislation encourages the use of safety measures to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again. I’m proud to continue our efforts to keep Florida’s families and visitors safe by signing HB 711 today.”

To view a copy of the transmittal letter, click HERE.

Charles Murphy News 5/24

News Cast for May 24th:

Encouraging a love for reading was the basis of this year’s battle of the books competition. Over 1 hundred elementary and middle school students took part. County coordinator Cynthia Kubit says it also encourages students to interact with others.

A Sebring man died after his Cadillac struck the rear of a tractor trailer driven by 41-year-old Joey Farris last night on US 98 in Highlands County. The victim, 22 year old Luis Lopez apparently failed to see the truck stop at a railroad crossing.  He died later at Highlands Regional Medical Center.

A new documentary follows the life of former Seminole tribe chairman Jim Billie. Andrew Shea presented Wrestling alligators at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. He says the film showed the fight for gaming in Florida. Billie served two tours in Vietnam, wrestled alligators for a living, grew up in poverty, and is an accomplished musician.

Sports Cast for May 24th:

Daniel Shelley was named the Most Improved wrestler for the Brahman wrestling team this year. The senior only joined the team this year but quickly moved into the lineup and made a difference for the team this year. Shelley says his biggest regret was not wrestling for four years in high school.

He says a visit to a wrestling match sparked an interest in him for the sport. He wrestled at 160 pounds. He says he did have growing pains but made quick progress

Shelley was also MVP for the boys cross country team over the past four years and was a two time district champion in boys track.

Check out our Facebook page for interviews with students in sports programs from all schools.

Commissioner Adam Putnam Provides Wildfire Update for Florida

Commissioner Adam Putnam Provides Wildfire Update for Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service announced today that 2,273 wildfires have burned over 171,000 acres in Florida this year, with 125 active wildfires burning as of today, May 22, 2017. Current conditions by county, burn bans and helpful tips regarding wildfires in Florida can be found here.

“Even with rain across parts of Florida over the weekend, much of the state is experiencing drought conditions and elevated wildfire danger,” Commissioner Adam H. Putnam said. “Residents and visitors need to pay attention to and comply with local burn bans and should take every precaution to help prevent wildfire.”

Conditions are forecast to get even drier and warmer into late spring and early summer. May is traditionally one of the driest months of the year in Florida, and that is the expectation for 2017. Commissioner Putnam asked Governor Scott to issue an executive order on April 11, 2017 in order to provide full resources to combat wildfires. The last time a similar executive order was issued was in June 2011.


Wildfires in Florida usually start and spread quickly, leaving little time to prepare for a possible evacuation. Homeowners can complete a few simple tasks that will help to defend their home against wildfire. One of the best ways to reduce a home’s wildfire risk is to create 30 feet of defensible space around the home. When creating defensible space, begin with the area immediately surrounding the home, about 3 feet out on all sides. Make sure this space is free of tall, fire-prone plants and materials. Keep this area clean and free of dead plant material and flammable mulches. Instead, opt for low growing, fire resistant plants and materials and use mulches, such as rocks or chunky bark. Deliberately space all plants so that none are placed directly under windows or vents around the house.

To increase home survivability, Floridians can do the following:

  • Keep mulch and pine needles away from your home, fence, and deck;
  • Keep roof and gutter free of pine needles;
  • Keep flammables away from your home;
  • Store fire wood at least 30 feet from your home;
  • Remove dead vegetation and debris from under the deck and within 10 feet of your home; and
  • Make wildfire preparedness a family project.

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

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers online assistance for Florida marine event coordinators

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers online assistance for Florida marine event coordinators

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Florida’s boating support and waterway planners, as well as marine event coordinators, can now receive 24-hour online assistance to help plan projects that contribute to the conservation of manatees and other marine wildlife through the Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) website.  IPaC is an online tool which provides information on protected species and habitat that may occur in a specific area.

In December 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) introduced a new IPaC feature, an online list of questions to determine if projects comply with the Service’s current Florida Manatee Key and Guidance to Proceed with Marine Events Authorized by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).  Qualified projects receive a consistency letter from IPaC, which can be submitted with the Federal permit application to streamline the project review process.

The Florida Manatee Key addresses U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit applications for in-water activities throughout Florida, which include:  maintenance dredging; placement of fill material for shoreline stabilization; construction of docks, marinas, boat ramps, boat slips, dry storage or other watercraft access structures or facilities;  and construction or placement of other in-water structures.

The Guidance to Proceed with Marine Events covers in-water events authorized by the USCG in South Florida, including fireworks, boat regattas and parades, blessing of a fleet, fishing tournaments, sailboat and motorboat races, and non-motorized boat activities.

For more information, visit IPaC at https://ecos.fws.gov/ipac/.  A short video showing the new feature can be found at the top of the IPaC homepage.

State Preserves More than 5,000 Acres of Environmentally Sensitive Ranch Lands

State Preserves More than 5,000 Acres of Environmentally Sensitive Ranch Lands

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–The Governor and Cabinet today approved the preservation of 5,211 acres of environmentally sensitive ranch lands in Okeechobee and Highlands counties through cost-effective conservation easements, which prevent future development of the land and allow agriculture operations to continue to contribute to Florida’s economy. The purchases are a part of the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, where the state partners with Florida’s farmers and ranchers to preserve active agricultural operations and their immense economic and environmental benefits.

“With more than 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, we must continue to prioritize the preservation of our world-renowned natural spaces,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Through the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, we’re partnering with farmers and ranchers to preserve these invaluable pieces of our rural economy and environment for future generations in a cost-effective way.”

One easement will preserve 4,177 acres of the Triple S Ranch in Okeechobee County, where more than 25 percent of the easement is considered unaltered wetlands consisting largely of interconnected cypress domes. The second easement will preserve 1,034 acres of the S.Y. Hartt ranch in Highlands County. The easement is one mile south of the Avon Park Air Force Range and borders the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area and the Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program’s Rafter T Ranch conservation easement.

Today’s partnerships increase the total land preserved by the program to 36,706 acres over 37 conservation easements. Since 2011, the current Governor and Cabinet have approved the acquisition of 30 projects totaling 33,121 acres, a more than 900 percent increase in acres preserved by the program. Additional details on today’s purchases can be found here.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services created the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program in 2001 to protect working agricultural lands threatened by other uses, such as development.

The goals of the program include:

  • Protecting valuable agricultural lands;
  • Creating conservation easements that ensure sustainable agricultural practices;
  • Preventing conversion to non-agricultural land uses in the rural base of Florida; and
  • Helping to protect natural resources in conjunction with these agricultural operations.

Florida agriculture has an overall economic impact estimated at more than $120 billion annually, making it the state’s second largest industry. The agriculture industry supports more than 2 million jobs in Florida.

More information on the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program is available here.

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

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