Local News

Charles Murphy News 12/22

News Cast for December 22nd:

Okeechobee County invested over 750 thousand dollars last week to upgrade their fleet at Fire Rescue. Two ambulances, two tankers and a support vehicle will be purchased. Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says the ambulances will be brand new and that should improve service to the community. They will replace some equipment older than 20 years old. The county is also considering red and black as the colors for their ambulances and fire trucks.

Clayton Williams was given a key to the city by Mayor Jim Kirk last week as he retires from public service after 12 years on city council. Williams had his family on hand for the moment and said that made things special. Williams plans to move to Dunnellon and spend more time with his children and grandchildren. Video is on our Facebook page!

All charges were dropped in connection with a June rape in Four Seasons against suspect, 33 year old Evi Serrano Mojica. A female claimed she was raped in her own home by a former roommate, alleging he put three knives at her, tried to set her kitchen on fire and claimed he had just given her full blown aids. Mojica had faces armed burglary, sexual battery and other charges.

A 30 year old Okeechobee man, Craig Morgan held on 1 hundred thousand dollars bond after an alleged domestic disturbance in Highlands County.   He was charged with fale imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery. The victim claimed Morgan grabbed her by the throat and slammed her into a wall and forced her by knife point to drive him to Okeechobee. She was treated at Raulerson hospital.

Craig Morgan Arrest Report

Press News Release Highlands County Case Results in Federal Convictions

Press Release -S7 – Indian River – 12-20-14

St. Lucie Fatal 12-17-14 I-95 and mm 126.5

Eliot Lupkin and lawyer for Robert Cory case

Noel Stephen on criminal justice council

Sports Cast for December 22nd:

Bubba Fludd had nine points and six rebounds to lead the Brahman boys basketball team to a 39-35 victory over West Shore at the John Carroll Holiday tournament Friday. Gerald McKee and Adel Zamora both had six points for Okeechobee.

The Brahman boys’ soccer Christmas tournament to be held today with Vero Beach taking on Desoto at 1 pm and Okeechobee meeting Desoto at 3 pm in the nightcap.

Alberto Diaz says the team hopes to have a good turnout of fans for the tournament today and Tuesday. Giovanny Garcia says the boys’ team is playing better after a slow start to the season with four wins in their last five matches.

Okeechobee battles Vero Beach Tuesday at 1 pm in the final match of the tournament.

Moore Haven boys basketball fell to (6-6) with a 67-63 loss at home to Hialeah Education Academy on Friday.

Moore Haven girls basketball defeated Hialeah Education Academy 49-28.

Tons of video footage and interviews on our Facebook page!

Joe Smith and Cheyenne Nunez after win vs Jensen Beach 12-15-14



More Than 700,000 Florida Jobs Created in Less Than Four Years

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida businesses have added 715,700 private-sector jobs since December 2010, far surpassing his goal to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. In November 2014, Florida experienced the highest single month of private-sector job growth since Governor Scott took office, with 38,600 jobs created. Florida’s statewide unemployment rate in November was 5.8 percent, the lowest since May 2008. Governor Scott made today’s announcement at Viewpost, a financial services company that will be creating 262 new jobs over the next three years in Maitland.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Four years ago, we unveiled an ambitious plan to fix Florida’s economy and turn the state around. Our goal was to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Today our goal was reached three years early, with 715,700 private-sector jobs created in Florida since December 2010. I applaud our job creators across the state who sacrifice and work hard to create new jobs. Every job impacts a family and we will keep working each day to make Florida the world’s number one destination for jobs.”

Since December 2010, Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped 5.3 percentage points, from 11.1 percent down now to 5.8 percent in November 2014. Florida’s unemployment rate has declined or held steady over the month for 48 of the last 51 months. Florida’s November unemployment rate is also down 0.2 percentage point from last month, and down 0.7 percentage point from the November 2013 rate of 6.5 percent.

Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “Florida’s incredible economic turnaround story had one of its best chapters yet in November. Our private sector continues a long-term trend of nation-leading job creation, decreased unemployment, labor force growth, and record job demand. Pro-growth policies work and Florida’s economy is proof.”

More Floridians Getting Back to Work

  • Florida’s annual job growth rate has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012.
  • Florida’s private sector job growth month-to-month has been positive for 45 of the last 48 months.
  • November’s private-sector job growth is an increase of 226,900 jobs over the year.
  • All ten major industries experienced over the year job gains.
  • Private-sector employment has increased by 212,900 jobs in 2014.
  • Florida has created 715,700 new private sector jobs since December 2010.
  • Florida job postings compiled by the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board showed 279,394 openings in November 2014.
  • According to the quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey that project hiring intentions, 22 percent of businesses surveyed expected to hire more workers in the first quarter of 2015.

Home Sales Robust

  • Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 33.7 percent from December 2011 (Florida Realtors).
  • Florida median home prices were up 4.6 percent over the year in October 2014.

Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment

  • In November, Florida’s 24 regional workforce boards reported more than 33,900 Floridians were placed in jobs. An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a CareerSource Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals, 6,779 previously received Reemployment Assistance.
  • In 2014 to date, more than 377,500 individuals have been placed into jobs through the regional workforce boards, including more than 23,000 veterans.
  • In 2013, more than 479,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with 135,384 former claimants finding employment.

To view the November 2014 employment data, visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases

Children Benefit from Shop With A Cop Program

Children Benefit from Shop With A Cop Program

Osceola County – This month, men and women with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office volunteered their time to help make Christmas a little brighter for some special girls and boys. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office once again participated in Shop With A Cop, a nationally recognized program that matches deputies with a disadvantaged or displaced child to help them make purchases for the holidays. Each child was provided a $100 gift card generously donated by Walmart Supercenters and Target. Many times, instead of purchasing gifts for themselves, the children bought needed items for their parents or presents for their siblings.

This year, deputies were able to shop with more than 114 children at Walmart and Target stores located in Kissimmee, St. Cloud and Poinciana.

Shop With A Cop is a valuable and worthwhile program the Sheriff’s Office has supported for many years.  It makes a difference in the lives of many children in our community and it helps build positive relationships with young people and law enforcement,” stated Sheriff Bob Hansell.

Free hunter safety course offered in Okeechobee County

Free hunter safety course offered in Okeechobee County

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering a free hunter safety course in Palm Beach County.

The class is at the OK Corral Gun Club, 9449 NE 48th St., Okeechobee. Instruction is from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30. Students must attend both days.

An adult must accompany children under the age of 16 at all times. Students should bring a pencil and paper with them to take notes.

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.

People interested in attending this course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling FWC’s South Region Office at 561-625-5122.

Florida Raises Bar on High School Grades, Grad Requirements

Florida Raises Bar on High School Grades, Grad Requirements

Latest data shows students, teachers and schools rising to higher expectations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) released A-F grades earned by Florida high schools for the 2013-14 school year. These school grades reflect a higher grading scale set after last year’s record 79 percent of high schools earning an A or B. Since so many high schools earned As or Bs last year, the grading scale increased by five percentage points. Even with the more rigorous grading scale, 55 schools earned a higher letter grade this year.

The department reports that 71 percent of graded high schools earned an A or a B in 2013-14 on the more rigorous grading scale compared to 79 percent the year prior. A total of 95 percent of graded high schools and combination high schools earned a C or higher, according to the DOE.

Graduation rates were also announced today. Today’s data reflects the first class of Florida graduates required to earn a grade level score to pass the state English and Algebra I tests to graduate. The DOE reported that statewide graduation rates increased to an 11-year high of 76.1 percent, an increase of 0.5 percent.

“This year’s results demonstrate once again that students and educators rise to the challenge of higher expectations,” said Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (@ExcelinEd). “Asking more of our students in order to earn a diploma means that piece of paper has more value than ever before. I am proud we have a record high percentage of students earning a high school diploma and hope we can one day say that number is at 100 percent.”

Policies based on strong accountability have produced tremendous results in Florida. Fifteen years ago, under the leadership of then-Governor Jeb Bush, Florida adopted and implemented the A+ Plan for Education. Since then, Florida has reversed a generation of decline in education.

As more and more states follow Florida’s lead by moving to A-F school grading rather than fuzzy indicators for how schools are doing, ExcelinEd is working to encourage more user-friendly information for parents, policymakers and other education stakeholders. Visit www.myschoolinfochallenge.com for more information.

Charles Murphy News 12/19

News Cast for December 19th:

The Outdoor channel show, fishing university is filming in Okeechobee over the next few days. They visited Okeechobee high school yesterday to film an assembly with students to encourage them to consider careers in the outdoors. Today and Saturday they’ll be focusing on Lake Okeechobee. Tourist Development council executive Director Kathy Scott says they should produce the show on Okeechobee quickly and air it in the next two months. She said it will be a great promotional tour for our community.

Okeechobee City police are cracking down on speeding on route 70 in the downtown area in the construction area. They are using a number of strategies to slow the traffic. Chief Denny Davis said motorists need to be careful. He advises motorists to avoid the main intersection if possible.

Police are making more traffic stops, have emphasized traffic enforcement with dummy cars that are sometimes manned, and with warnings and citations. They are cracking down also on red light running which resulted in a fatality last week.

Pedestrians are also urged to avoid the main light due to no cross walks.

An Okeechobee man, Jeff Beamer was charged with capital sexual battery of a child in Glades County. Additional charges are pending in both Okeechobee and Glades counties. He was held on half a million dollars bond.

Sports Cast for December 19th:

Brahman boys’ soccer shuts out Port St. Lucie 2-0 in a physical battle last night. Fernando Perez had his fifth shutout of the year in net for Okeechobee making some exceptional saves. Perez says the team only had 14 players in uniform and he had to be tough in goal. Javier Hernandez and Alfredo Renteria scored goals for the Brahmans

Coach Lonnie Sears said Port St. Lucie played physical but his team battled without a lot of their players due to flu, grades, and family vacations. The boys host their Christmas tournament next Monday and Tuesday afternoon.

Yearling basketball was swept by Storm Grove, the girls 32-2 and the boys team 48-28.

Osceola was swept by Gifford, the girls 26-8 and the boys 55-21. Evan Neal had 12 points for Osceola.

On the sports schedule today, boy’s hoops compete in a holiday tournament tonight and Saturday at John Carroll in Ft. Pierce, they meet West shore tonight at 5:30 pm Moore Haven girls and boys basketball host Hialeah Academy starting at 4 pm.

Moore Haven girls and boys soccer host Berean Christian with matches beginning at 3:30 pm

Governor Rick Scott: Youth Arrests at Lowest Level in Over 30 Years

Governor Rick Scott: Youth Arrests at Lowest Level in Over 30 Years

Juvenile arrests dropped 8% in 2013-2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The number of juvenile arrests, including violations of probation, dropped another 8 percent in 2013-2014, resulting in a five year decline of 36 percent in juvenile delinquency, according to a report released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The report marks the lowest juvenile arrest level in over 30 years and shows a decline in overall delinquency throughout most of Florida including a drop in felony offenses by 3 percent, a decrease in misdemeanor offenses by 11 percent, and a decline of “other” offenses, which includes violations of probation, by 10 percent. The number of school-based arrests is also down by 14 percent.

Governor Scott said, “Making Florida the best state in the nation to get a job and raise a family is our mission – and that starts with making sure we have safe communities for our families and job creators. I would like to thank everyone at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and our hard working law enforcement community for their continued work.”

“This decrease in arrests over nearly every juvenile offense category, including serious offenses, shows that DJJ’s reform initiatives are working,” said Interim Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christina Daly. “Our department made a commitment to transforming our state’s juvenile justice system to provide the right services to Florida’s youth while remaining focused on increasing public safety.  While we are proud of the work we’ve done, this is only the beginning of what our agency, along with our many stakeholders, can accomplish.”

The DJJ began a multi-year reform initiative two years ago with the implementation of the “Roadmap to System Excellence,” which outlines the agency’s strategic plan to allocate its resources to the most effective programs, services, and treatments at the most impactful points along the juvenile justice continuum. Among the strategic measures, DJJ has worked to realign existing resources to community-based interventions as well as increase the availability of transitional services such as vocational programming, employment, education, family support, transitional housing, and transportation.

Florida has the nation’s largest, centrally organized juvenile justice agency, providing prevention, probation, detention (short-term secure housing) and residential (long-term secure housing) services for at-risk and delinquent youth in every community across the state. Reform efforts including the implementation of DJJ’s Civil Citation Initiative, The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), and the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project have placed the department at the forefront of juvenile justice models and contributed greatly to the decrease in juvenile crime.

Interim Secretary Daly said, “We are dedicated to a comprehensive strategy – working with these children to provide not only the treatment they need but the tools they need to stay on a successful path once they are no longer under our care. We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement and in the community to provide the services necessary to ensure all Florida youth are provided the opportunity to be successful.”

Charles Murphy News 12/17

News Cast for December 17th:

Magi Cable has been busy studying the last 1 hundred years of Okeechobee history to prepare for next year’s Centennial celebration. She has been reading newspaper articles and other books and resource materials to understand better what has occurred in Okeechobee. She says the Centennial will be something to remember. The state recently approved making the Peter and Louisiana Raulerson gravesite an historic site.

Among arrests, 49 year old James Dimaina was charged with false imprisonment and felony battery after a 4 hour standoff with deputies Monday night at a home on South East 29th Street. Sheriff Deputies surrounded the home after a female there was transported to the hospital with a broken hip and other injuries and stated she was afraid Dimaina would kill her. He gave up voluntarily after the standoff with the deputy’s special response team.

Lawyers for 22 year old Robert Cory say it took a jury less than 20 minutes to find he was not guilty of sexual charges on a minor child last week. Attorney Eliot Lupkin said his client denied any involvement in the case from the beginning. Cory did spend nearly 18 months in the county jail awaiting trial.

Sports Cast for December 17th:

Treasure Coast defeats Okeechobee 63-45 in boys basketball action Tuesday night in Port St. Lucie as the Brahmans fall to (2-10) on the season. Gerald Mckee had a season high 16 points for Okeechobee. Roshell Thomas added nine points, and Demetrius Clark seven points.

The Titans led 17-9 after the first quarter and broke the game open in the third quarter.

Yearling girls’ basketball fell to Gifford 40-17. Mariah Spelts led the way with 11 points. Coach Erin Morrow says she sees some improvement in the team in recent games

Lady Brahman soccer tied Moore Haven 2-2, goals were scored by Karina Diaz and Diana Ordonez.

Javier Hernandez and Daniel Rodriguez scored goals to lead Okeechobee to a 2-0 boys soccer win at Sebring. The JV team also won 2-0.

On the sports schedule tonight, the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter school hosts West Glades for basketball at 5 and 6:30 pm. Osceola middle school visits Gifford at 4:30 and Yearling middle visits Storm Grove at 4:30 for hoops.

Also tonight is the annual Okeechobee high school football awards banquet at 6 pm at the high school cafeteria.

Charles Murphy News 12/16

News Cast for December 16th:

The county commission created a public safety coordination council to possibly improve the court system. Judges, prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement and politicians all get to discuss ways to get cases through the system faster and lower the amount tax payers have to incarcerate inmates at the jail. Under Sheriff Noel Stephen says it could mean potential cost savings in the corrections budget. He says the jail is overcrowded mostly due to female inmates.

In the courts, 30 year old James Partridge pled no contest to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery and was sentenced to 8 years in prison, two years house arrest, and two years’ probation in Glades County.   The Buckhead Ridge man had been accused of using pills to intoxicate a then 14 year old girl to engage in sexual relations with her. Prosecutors dropped 8 felony charges in the plea deal.

Among arrests, 37 year old Francisco Ramirez Ruiz was charged with hitting a sheriff’s patrol car and fleeing the scene on route 710 near Berman Road on Sunday night. He was charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and driving without a license.

Two clients at Vision Quest were charged with burglary and petit theft in an alleged escape attempt this weekend. The girls, ages 13 and 17, were captured nearby by Okeechobee sheriff deputies and were charged with breaking into a staff member’s vehicle.

27 year old Melissa Carnley of Fort Pierce was charged with drug charges after allegedly agreeing to sell pain pills like Xanax to undercover officers in Deans Court last Friday. Bond was 65 thousand dollars.

Sports Cast for December 16th:

Okeechobee won a defensive battle over Jensen Beach 26-21 in high school girls’ basketball action Monday, their second straight victory. Cheyenne Nunez led the way with seven points despite an ankle injury suffered last week. Okeechobee coach Joe Smith liked that his team battled and also likes that his team continues to show improvement. Okeechobee is now 3-9 on the season while Jensen Beach fell to (1-7). Nunez says the girls tried hard in the physical battle.

Sebastian Middle School swept Osceola yesterday in lop sided games, 27-9 in the girls game after taking a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. Judele Root had four points and six rebounds for the Lady Sharks.

Sebastian won the boys game 42-9. Evan Neal had 7 points and 9 rebounds for the Warriors.

On the sports schedule today, OHS wrestling travels to Sebring for a dual meet at 6 pm. Brahman boys’ basketball visit Treasure Coast with JV at 5:30 and varsity to follow. Girls’ weight lifting competes with Treasure Coast and Port St. Lucie at Treasure Coast High at 7 pm. Moore Haven girls’ basketball hosts Clewiston at 5 pm.   Moore Haven boys’ basketball visits Clewiston at 7 pm.

Rooney Statement on Cuba

Rooney Statement on Cuba

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) today issued the following statement following President Obama’s announcement on the normalization of relations with Cuba:

“Like all Americans, I welcome Alan Gross home and am relieved he is finally safe in the United States. I have serious questions for the Obama Administration about how this exchange was conducted, including what we gave Cuba now and what promises were made for the future.

“I cannot fathom why the Obama Administration would choose this time to begin sending American citizens and dollars into Cuba, a state sponsor of terror. The corrupt, brutal, communist Castro regime is on its final legs – why would we prop them up with economic activity and a stamp of approval from the United States?

“Make no mistake: any dollar that American tourists or consumers send to Cuba will directly assist a government that oppresses its own people and sponsors terrorism against us and our allies. President Obama’s policy changes will empower the Castro regime, set back efforts to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba and other Latin American nations, and compromise America’s national security.”


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