Local News

Charles Murphy News 1/20

News Cast for January 20th:wokc photo martin luther king jr parade photo 2

IMG_0662The Dr. Martin Luther King celebration in Okeechobee included a parade downtown, several speeches in Flagler Park, and a day of events in Douglas Park Monday. President of the Okeechobee Community Improvement Association George Roberson says he would like to see the celebration be more inclusive, with participation from the white community and Hispanic community. He also emphasized opportunity, with many of our young people, doing well and becoming professionals. Former educator Ethel Delegall spoke on the contributions 12 black men made to get the black population jobs and housing years ago. She also challenged students to get an education and make something of themselves.

George Roberson on Martin Luther King observance

Raw video of the Parade and the speeches will be on our Facebook page.

Among arrests, 32 year old Demetrio Flores of Indiantown was charged with felony fleeing and eluding, battery on law enforcement and dui with property damage after an alleged hit and run accident in Stuart. Flores allegedly hit two parked cars, and then led deputies for miles at speeds that reached 85 miles per hour before being stopped. Martin County deputies say Flores was driving on a suspended license.

IR 1-19-15 CR-510 and Michael Creek Cir

wokc news bombers at airport 1Three, World War 2 bombers, including a B-51 were welcomed by a crowd of Shane and Blayne O'Cain B17 Flying Fortress WWII Bomberveterans and history buffs at the Okeechobee airport Monday. The Collings Institute Wings of Freedom tour will be at the airport today and Wednesday for tours.

Scott Proctor will host another celebrity sporting clay tournament on January 31st at Quail Creek Plantation in Okeechobee. Other major league players scheduled to attend are Mike Timlin, Jim Johnson, and Kyle Farnsworth. Over 30 thousand dollars was donated to local organizations through the charity. The event begins at 8 am.

Hendry County – CR858 – FATAL

Sports Cast for January 20th:

WOKC photo boys soccer vs Sebring photo 2Erik Gaitan was named the Brahman Award winner for the OHS swim team this year. He said it was a blast swimming for the last two years. He specialized in the breast stroke. Gaitan says he wasn’t expecting the award. He was praised by the coaches to be early for practice and for putting in extra time to improve.

He noted he wanted to be at his best. Gaitan plans to study to be an orthopedic surgeon in college.

Eric Gaitan on OHS swim Brahman award

Video from the OHS Swim team banquet is on our Facebook page.

On the sports schedule today.

Girls’ basketball at Clewiston 6/7:30 pm

Moore Haven girls’ basketball hosts Southwest Florida Christian 6 pm

Osceola middle school basketball at PECS, 5/6:30 pm

OHS boys’ soccer vs LPA at PSL in districts at 3 pm.

Moore Haven boys soccer at Jupiter Christian vs Atlantic Christian District 1A-11 tournament 3:30 pm

West Glades versus Moore Haven middle school basketball 5/6:30

Governor Scott Issues Proclamation for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Governor Scott Issues Proclamation for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott issued the following proclamation recognizing today, January 19, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:


WHEREAS, to honor the legacy of one of America’s most admired civil rights leaders, in 1983 Congress passed a bill providing for the third Monday of January to be observed as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law; and


WHEREAS, Dr. King held peaceful assemblies, gave passionate speeches, and attended non-violent protests to advocate his vision of a nation built on a foundation of equality for all; and


WHEREAS, one of the civil rights movement’s high profile events was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech; and


WHEREAS, Florida honors innovators like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream for racial equality in the state’s 2015 Black History Month theme of “A Celebration of African-American Innovation and Innovators”; and


WHEREAS, Dr. King’s work inspired hope and justice in the hearts of innovative men and women in the Sunshine State, across the nation, and around the world; and


WHEREAS, as our state and nation observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the many contributions that Dr. King made to the civil rights movement are honored and the cause of justice and equality for all people is celebrated;


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing January 19, 2015, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to be affixed at Tallahassee, the Capital, this 16th day of January, in the year two thousand fifteen.

Charles Murphy News 1/19

News Cast for January 19th:

The highway patrol looking for a hit and run driver that rearended a Highlands County school bus Friday on route 70. The bus driver and 35 students on board the bus were not injured.

Highland Co Schoo Bus Press Release 1 16 15

Among arrests, 23 year old Dakotah Snyder of LaBelle was charged with possession of methamphetamines and prescription pills and brass knuckles after a traffic stop by Glades County deputies investigating a burglary compliant in Muse.

Picture from boating accident.

Picture from boating accident.

A boat accident on the Kissimmee River left three people with minor injury last week. The Florida Fish and Wildlife says 56 year old Perry Howard of Mount Sterling, Kentucky, was assisting his wife to retrieve a line in the water, the boat spent out of control and slammed into some Brazilian pepper trees on the west side of the river. Mr. Howard suffered a broken arm.

The incident happened on Tues (1/13) After 2 pm on the river north of the Hwy 78 bridge.

Operator:  Perry F. Howard age 56 of Mt. Sterling, KY

Occupant 1:   Susan D. Howard age 51 of Mt. Sterling, KY (Spouse)

Occupant 2:  Elyse N. Howard age 22 of Richmond, KY (Daughter)

The occupants claim that Mrs. Susan Howard became unconscious as a result of the accident, however,  she was conscious and verbally responsive when FWC arrived on scene.   The accident occurred when Mr. Howard (operator) tried to assist his wife in retrieving a line in the water that was attached to the rear port side cleat of the vessel while traveling approximately 30 miles per hour.  When Mr. Howard turned to assist his wife, the steering wheel turned hard left steering the vessel into the Brazilian Pepper Trees that line the West side of the Kissimmee River ultimately coming to rest between two Cabbage Palm Trees.

All 3 individuals went to the hospital and were released. The male boater suffered a broken arm.

FWC is currently investigating this incident.

Beef prices are at or near all-time highs which makes things rosy for our cattle industry in Okeechobee. Ashley Hughes with the Florida Beef Council says prices should be high for a while. Hughes says many producers in Florida, due to the drought in the Midwest, are increasing the size of their herds to meet the growing demand for beef in the world.

Hughes 1

Hughes 2

Florida Governor Rick Scott continues to focus on job creation and the economy in his second term. He notes unemployment rates have fallen by 5 percent since he first took office. This past month Florida surpassed New York as the third largest state as population here approached 20 million. Scott is proposing a billion dollar tax cut over the next four years.

Press News Release Plane Crash at Sebring Airport UPDATE

Sports Cast for January 19th:

Brahman boy’s hoops lost their third straight road game Friday as they fell to Sebastian River 69-46. Demetrius Clark had 17 points to lead Okeechobee. Elijah Finney and Roshell Thomas both added 7 points for Okeechobee.

Boys’ soccer finished off the regular season with a 5-1 victory on senior night against Sebring Friday.

Daniel Rodriguez had three goals in possibly his final home game. He said the team came to play in this match. Okeechobee scored three goals in the first 10 minutes of the match and took control.

Sears 2

Coach Lonnie Sears said the team played solid soccer throughout the night.

There are no school sporting events today due to the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior holiday.



High Court agrees to review all four Sixth Circuit marriages cases encompassing Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee which upheld the right for the people of a state to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
(Orlando, FL) Today, Friday, January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced it would take up a historic same-sex marriage case on whether states have a right to define marriage.  According to the official SCOTUS BLOG:  “The Court said it would rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state.  A total of two-and-a-half hours was allocated for the hearings, likely in the April sitting.  A final ruling is expected by early next summer, probably in late June.”

Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“The issue is still very much an open question until the United States Supreme Court weighs in and determines whether states have a right to define marriage.  It is very possible a five vote majority exists in favor of state’s rights and a decision of this nature would immediately reinvigorate the authority and enforceability of the Florida marriage amendment passed by just under five million voters.  People should have the right to vote on defining marriage and we are very hopeful the high court will uphold that right.”

For more information or for media interviews contact:  Media@FLfamily.org or call 407-251-5130

Governor Scott Honors 121 Veterans with Governor’s Veterans Service Award

Governor Scott Honors 121 Veterans with Governor’s Veterans Service Award

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott awarded 121 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation. The Governor’s Veterans Service Award honors Floridians who have served in the U.S. Military. The front of the medal depicts the Great Seal of the State of Florida. The back of the medal displays the five seals representing the five branches of U.S. Military with an inscription that reads “Honoring Those Who Served.”

Corps awards contract for Kissimmee River Restoration

Corps awards contract for Kissimmee River Restoration

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has awarded one of the four remaining construction contracts for the Kissimmee River Restoration project, moving this large-scale Everglades restoration project one step closer to completion.

The $4.65 million MacArthur Ditch Backfill construction contract was awarded to Herve Cody Contractor from Robbinsville, North Carolina on Jan. 15. The contract involves backfilling the 18,000 foot-long MacArthur Ditch, located northwest of the S-65C lock and spillway in the Kissimmee River Basin, to eliminate the channel’s ability to convey water. The ditch will be backfilled to natural grade in order to prevent water flow from bypassing the historic Kissimmee River, and to restore the natural sheet flow in this area of the floodplain.

“Kissimmee River restoration is moving forward,” said Col. Alan Dodd, Jacksonville District Commander. “We have made significant progress on this project to date.  Awarding these final contracts will continue to drive the ecological success in the Kissimmee River Basin.”

In addition to the ecological benefits provided by the project, restoration of the historic river will slow the movement of water and increase the time it takes for it to get from Lake Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee, especially when the river is within its banks. To date, the Corps has completed 25 construction contracts as part of the Kissimmee River Restoration project and two contracts are currently ongoing. With the award of the MacArthur Ditch Backfill contract, only three construction contracts remain for the project.

The Kissimmee River Restoration project is a congressionally authorized undertaking sponsored by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, the non-federal sponsor. The project encompasses the removal of two water control structures, filling approximately 22 miles of canal, and restoring over 40 square miles of the river channel and floodplain ecosystem, including approximately 27,000 acres of wetlands.

In the areas that have already been restored, comprehensive monitoring has documented substantial improvements in the river and its floodplain, making the project a model for large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts.  Aquatic wading bird and duck populations in the restored river and floodplain region have soared, shorebird species have returned, organic deposits on the river bottom have decreased by 71 percent, and reestablished sand bars provide new habitat for native species.

Additional information on the Kissimmee River Restoration project available at: http://bit.ly/KissimmeeRiverRestorationProject

Corps proposes operations changes on Okeechobee Waterway locks

Corps proposes operations changes on Okeechobee Waterway locks

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District is seeking comment from the public on a proposal to reduce the operating hours at locks on the Okeechobee Waterway in accordance with a national strategy to standardize lock operations.

The new proposed operating hours at each of the five locks are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.  The proposed change would take effect on April 1, and would affect the following locks:

• Moore Haven Lock on the west side of Lake Okeechobee
• Ortona Lock near LaBelle
• Port Mayaca Lock on the east side of Lake Okeechobee
• St. Lucie Lock near Stuart
• W.P. Franklin Lock near Fort Myers

“These changes are the result of an evaluation of the service levels at each of the locks as the Corps and the Army seek methods to gain efficiencies on water transit systems across the nation,” said Jim Jeffords, Operations Division Chief for Jacksonville District.  “These changes will allow the district to reduce costly overtime while still maintaining operating hours that accommodate 95 percent of the boat traffic that passes through the locks.”

Written comments on this proposal are being accepted until February 13, 2014.  Comments may be submitted via –email to SFOO@usace.army.mil or mailed to the following location:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
South Florida Operations Office
525 Ridgelawn Road
Clewiston, FL  33440

The proposed changes won’t impact Canaveral Lock near Port Canaveral; it will continue to operate from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.  The Corps has issued a Notice to Navigation on this subject.  For more information on navigation notices concerning Canaveral Lock or the Okeechobee Waterway, please visit the following website: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Navigation/NoticestoNavigation.aspx.

Two Highlands County Men Plead Guilty to Firearm and Drug Trafficking Offenses

Two Highlands County Men Plead Guilty to Firearm and Drug Trafficking Offenses

– Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division; Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Amos Rojas, Jr., United States Marshal, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS); Hugo Barrera, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); John Burke and Addy Villanueva, Special Agents in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Ft. Myers and Miami Regional Offices, respectively; Susan Benton, Sheriff, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO); Paul C. May, Sheriff, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO); and Ken J. Mascara, Sheriff, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office (SLCSO), announce that Alex Guerrier, 29, and Robin Jean Guillaume, 28, both of Highlands County, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine hydrochloride and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking in West Palm Beach.

As to the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute charge, Guerrier faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to a maximum of life in prison, a mandatory minimum term of supervised release of five years, a maximum fine of $10 million and a $100 special assessment.  As to the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute charge, Guillaume faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison up to a maximum of 40 years in prison, a mandatory minimum term of supervised release of four years, a maximum fine of $5 million and a $100 special assessment. As to the possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking charge, both defendants face a consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to a maximum of life in prison, up to three years of supervised release, a maximum $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.

According to court documents, Guerrier and Guillame were part of a drug trafficking organization which operated in Highlands, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties within the Southern District of Florida and elsewhere. The drug trafficking organization was responsible for the distribution of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine hydrochloride, cocaine base, commonly referred to as “crack” cocaine, and other illegal narcotics.
This investigation was conducted by the DEA, USMS, ATF, FDLE, HCSO, OCSO, and SLCSO.  This case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Charles Murphy News 1/16

News Cast for January 16th:

Local congressman Tom Rooney has been working on veterans issues in congress, supporting the Hunt Act that provides more access to medical and mental health care for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Rooney says veterans are a large part of the population in his district. Rooney was named to the House intelligence committee this week. He supported the speaker of the house John Boehner in his re-election last week. 3 Florida republican congressmen did not.

Rooney Helps Veterans’ Issues

In the courts, 20 year old Justin Lee Martinez received 7 years in state prison for three charges of lewd or lascivious battery.   Three girls, ages 10, 13 and 14, claimed he molested them back in 2011.

19 year old Jerome Johnson won’t face charges from a night time attack of a Kings Bay woman last summer. Charges of grand theft and burglary were dropped against the local man. Johnson himself was shot in Deans Court days after the attack.

Glades County approved permits to remodel the Palmdale store so it can reopen. This week the board of adjustment and appeals approved a variance so the store can enlarge their storage room. Construction has been ongoing on the store off US 27.

Press Release

Suspect Arrested for Misuse of 911 and Making Threats to Harm Law Enforcement


Sports Cast for January 16th:

Port St. Lucie had 10, three point baskets as they defeated Okeechobee in 71-59 in district high school basketball last night.

Demetris Webster had 17 points and William Arnold had 15 points for the Jaquars. Demetrius Clark had 21 points, while Roshell Thomas and Antawyn Fludd had 10 points apiece for Okeeechobee.

Okeechobee travels to Sebastian River tonight.

Boys’ soccer earned a tie 1-1 with Clewiston.

Daniel Rodriguez scored the tying goal in the final five minutes of the match. He said it was an intense game and Okeechobee played with some motivation. Coach Lonnie Sears said the game plan was to possess the ball and for most of the first half Okeechobee did a good job at that

Lonnie Sears on last night’s game

The boys celebrate their senior night tonight at Brahman Stadium against Sebring, JV match at 6 and varsity to follow.

On the sports schedule, Moore Haven girls and boys hoops host Evangelical Christian starting at 6 pm.

Terrier boys’ soccer hosts Imagine School at 7 pm.

Okeechobee wrestlers compete at the Martin County tournament on Saturday.

SFWMD Approves Work to Boost Caloosahatchee Water Storage

SFWMD Approves Work to Boost Caloosahatchee Water Storage

Early start of construction on a major reservoir will provide storage benefits sooner

West Palm Beach, FL — With funding support from the Florida Legislature, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved a contract to begin early construction on the site of a future Everglades restoration reservoir near the Caloosahatchee River. The work will provide critical water storage in the Caloosahatchee basin and help to protect the downstream estuary.

“This work allows us to deliver some of the key benefits of the Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir before it is fully funded and constructed,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Daniel O’Keefe. “Every step we take to increase water storage means increased benefits to the river and estuary—and to the residents who depend on this vital ecosystem.”

The C-43 reservoir project, a component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, was authorized last year by Congress in the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014. It will one day hold approximately 170,000 acre-feet of water to be used during dry periods to help maintain a desirable minimum flow of fresh water to the Caloosahatchee Estuary. During the rainy season, the reservoir will store excess stormwater and regulatory releases from Lake Okeechobee, helping to prevent excessive fresh water flows to the estuary.

Since 2012, the SFWMD put the reservoir property to use with emergency water storage of summertime rainfall. Temporary pumps and levee improvements helped to capture approximately 4.2 billion gallons of water that would have otherwise flowed to the river.

Following this effort, engineers determined that early construction work on key features at the C-43 reservoir site could create up to 5,000 acre-feet of semi-permanent storage for the region, or the equivalent of 2,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Eventually, this storage site will be integrated into the full-scale reservoir project.

Today’s contract award is the first of three construction contracts that will be issued using an $18 million investment from the Florida Legislature to complete significant work on the project.

The first step, an approximately $2 million contract with Mitchell & Stark Construction Co., Inc., includes:

  • Demolishing existing features such as buried pipes, culverts and above-ground facilities at the storage site, a 3,500-acre impoundment approximately 15,000 feet long and 100 feet wide.
  • Construction of a berm, approximately 3 miles in length, to provide the northern boundary for the impoundment. The height of the berm will range between 3 and 8 feet and provide a maximum storage depth of 4 feet.

For more information on projects to protect and improve the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary, visit www.sfwmd.gov/caloosahatchee

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