Local News

Charles Murphy News 9/15

News Cast for September 15th:

Student of the Month lunch, they had 21 students chosen by faculty.  Nominations are based on the student's PRIDE.  (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Dependability, Ethics)  Students dined on pizza

Student of the Month lunch, they had 21 students chosen by faculty. Nominations are based on the student’s PRIDE. (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Dependability, Ethics) Students dined on pizza

The Okeechobee school board finalized their over 65.8 million dollar budget last week. The millage rate declined slightly to 7.391 mills. 11.3 million in local tax dollars will be collected for schools.

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy said he has offered the union one step increases for all employees and has also looked to increase the beginning salary offered to teachers.

In other actions the Board awarded 24 students who had perfect scores on sections of the FCAT test in local elementary schools.

Ken Kenworthy on budget, bonasera, etc

They also officially terminated the former Union President and Everglades Teacher Tom Bonasera for violation of multiple district policies.

The enrollment of students continues with over 60 students enrolling in school in the past week.

In the courts, 26 year old Richard Beebee pled no contest to two counts of battery in a plea deal and received one year probation. Two people were hospitalized after a fight outside a local bar last September, one was left unconscious with a broken ankle. A tire iron was allegedly used.

Tara Boshell pled no contest to attempted workers compensation fraud and received one year probation. Adjudication was withheld and prosecutors dropped two counts of workers compensation fraud.

Sports Cast for September 15th:

A 40 yard touchdown pass from Austin Kuyrkendall to Clayton Kidwell was the difference as Martin County defeated Okeechobee 10-3 in high school football action Friday night dropping the Brahmans to (0-3) on the season.

Okeechobee was a miserable 3 for 20 through the air, and was held to 106 total yards.

Coach Chris Branham said his defense was stingy but his offense still has work to do. Martin County had just 199 yards in total offense.

Luke Kendall had a 34 yard field goal for the Tigers and Jarrett Mills hit a 36 yard field goal for Okeechobee.

Brahman senior Greg Hernandez says the defense did get frustrated having to play so many minutes. Bubba Fludd caught a 27 yard pass and ran for a 21 yard gain while Zeke Matthews caught a 30 yard pass from QB Brandon Shockley.

Defensive tackle Joseph Benjamin says the slow start on the season wasn’t something they expected this year.

Port Martin Country Interview (2)

This week the Brahmans are on the road at Fort Pierce Westwood.


SFWMD Awards Construction Contracts to Improve Everglades Water Quality

SFWMD Awards Construction Contracts to Improve Everglades Water Quality

Two key structures will help water flow to cleansing wetlands

West Palm Beach, FL — Work is set to begin on two structures that will route water where it can be stored and cleaned as part of Governor Rick Scott’s Restoration Strategies plan to improve Everglades water quality.

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board this week awarded contracts to build a new gated structure and improve an existing structure to move water to and from the massive L-8 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB).  This storage reservoir will capture peak stormwater flows so water managers can move water into a Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) at a steady rate to optimize its performance and achieve water quality improvement targets.

“This is where a plan on paper becomes a working construction project on the ground,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Daniel O’Keefe. “Seeing earth movers and heavy equipment means we are closer to achieving this agency’s goal and the Governor’s vision of cleaner water for the Everglades.”

(Click on the map for a larger version.)

With an approximately $4.4 million investment, Douglas N. Higgins, Inc., will construct a vertical-lift gated structure located in the L-8 Canal, about 2.6 miles north of State Road 80 in Palm Beach County. The fully automated, concrete reinforced structure has two basic functions:

  • When closed, it will allow water levels in a portion of the L-8 Canal to be raised and held without affecting water elevations in the remainder of the canal north of the structure.
  • Filling of the L-8 FEB by gravity and also pumping of water out of the L-8 FEB to nearby STA-1E and 1W without impacting flood control and water supply for L-8 Canal users.

With an approximately $2.3 million investment, Murray Logan Construction, Inc., will upgrade the existing gated structure known as S-5AS near the C-51 Canal along State Road 80 west of Wellington. This upgrade will enable the structure to move water sent from the L-8 FEB to be treated in the STAs.

Both of these structures are key to fully utilize the operation of the L-8 FEB.

The reservoir is one of two Flow Equalization Basins under construction as part of the Restoration Strategies plan, providing 105,000 acre-feet of combined water storage for delivery of consistent flows needed to optimize performance of the region’s Stormwater Treatment Areas.

 

L-8 Reservoir Quick Facts
  • 950-acre former rock mine
  • Watertight geology allows for deep, below-ground storage
  • Below-ground storage minimizes water loss through seepage and minimizes levee safety concerns
  • Initially approved in 2002, the project is capable of storing 15 billion gallons of water
  • This is enough to fill 34,000 football fields one foot deep
  • The reservoir will be able to accept up to 3,000 cubic feet per second of inflow from the L-8 Canal

The L-8 Reservoir has already provided regional water resource benefits, including:

  • Approximately 3.1 billion gallons of water from Tropical Storm Isaac were directed into the reservoir to help alleviate flooding from historic rainfall in Palm Beach County.
  • The City of West Palm Beach utilized more than 600 million gallons of water from the reservoir for water supply during the historic 2007 drought and again drew from the reservoir during a prolonged dry period in 2011.
  • During a 2011 pilot project, the District used small pumps to send fresh water from the reservoir north to benefit the Loxahatchee River.

For More Information:


Charles Murphy News 9/12

News Cast for September 12th:

The county approved their tentative budget and lowered the millage rate to 8.547 mills due to a stronger than anticipated July revenue report. This is a 3.13 percent tax decrease this year, or about 401 thousand dollars.

Commissioner Joey Hoover said he still feels the county taxes its citizens too much. Chairman Frank Irby said he was disturbed with changes in the sheriff’s budget. He noted jail employees have been cut and questioned why those cuts were made. Sheriff Paul May said he supported the budget compromise and that the jail will be adequately staffed.

Joey Hoover on budget

Paul May on budget hearing

Okeechobee County approved temporary use permits to allow music festivals and concerts at the Sundance Trails development on Dark Hammock Road. Such entertainers as Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton are among the acts being targeted by the promoter. Concerts would take place in March and November each year over the next three years. County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says he thinks this would benefit Okeechobee.

Bryant Culpepper on sundance trails concert

A 26 year old Okeechobee resident, Catlin Corson was charged with DUI after pulling in front of a tractor trailer at 721 and route 70, while driving a Dodge Ram pulling a horse and trailer. Two of his dogs died as the pickup overturned. A horse in the trailer survived. The truck driver, 62 year old Calvin Parrotte of Port Charlotte was not hurt Wednesday night.

Among arrests, 48 year old David Schwendenmann of Okeechobee was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, improper exhibition of a firearm and use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol. He allegedly made threats to harm a female while armed with a 12 gauge shotgun Wednesday evening.

Sports Cast for September 12th:

Garrett Casuey was the winner of the Yearling award for boys basketball this past season. He moves onto the high school team this year. He said he tried to have a good attitude and support his teammates this past year. Yearling finished (6-6) last year.

Garrett Causey Yearling award for basketball

Abigail Myers had 8 assists in a losing cause as Osceola fell to Oslo in Volleyball last night in a close match, 25-21, 17-25 and 11-15 in Okeechobee.

Alexie Morgan had for aces and three kills for Osceola.

Martin County swept the Okeechobee swim teams on Thursday.

On the sports schedule this weekend, Brahman football hosts Martin County tonight at 7 pm. Both teams are (0-2). OHS bowling hosts Treasure coast this afternoon at 3:30 pm and Moore Haven football travels to Glades Day for a 7 pm kickoff. The cross country team holds a fundraiser tomorrow morning at the Ag Civic Center. OYFL teams host Winter Haven at Okeechobee high school Saturday starting at 9 am.


Corps to make adjustments in flows from Lake Okeechobee

Corps to make adjustments in flows from Lake Okeechobee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will make minor adjustments in flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River starting Friday (Sept. 12).

The Corps will adjust the target flow from the lake to the Caloosahatchee Estuary to a seven-day average of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) near Fort Myers. However, as has been the case for much of the summer, local runoff outside the lake into the Caloosahatchee River will likely continue to cause flows to exceed this target on a frequent basis.

The target flow for the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) is unchanged at 0 cfs, although local basin runoff from the St. Lucie Canal (C-44) will continue to be allowed to pass through the St. Lucie Lock as necessary.

“The lake remains relatively stable as a result of operations and changed hydrologic and meteorological conditions ,” said Lt. Col. Tom Greco, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida. “Based on the multi-seasonal outlook, the water control plan calls for the Corps to reduce flows from the lake.”

Today, the lake stage is 14.50 feet. It is currently in the Operational Low Sub-Band of the Corps’ water control plan, the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS). The Corps will continue to monitor conditions and adjustments to discharges will be made as necessary based on LORS guidance.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management page at the Jacksonville District website:

via Corps to make adjustments in flows from Lake Okeechobee > Jacksonville District > Jacksonville District News Releases.


SFWMD Approves Investment in Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program

SFWMD Approves Investment in Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program

Revised program will increase community participation, opportunities

West Palm Beach, FL — With the goal of expanding opportunities and partnerships to restore and protect a unique Florida waterway, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved a $500,000 investment in the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRL NEP).

Just two days ago, the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board also approved a $500,000 investment in the program. These actions follow Governor Rick Scott’s direction to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to participate as well, by dedicating $250,000 a year in funding for the IRL NEP effort.

“The Indian River Lagoon helps define the quality of life along a vast stretch of Florida’s east coast, including Martin and St. Lucie counties,” said SFWMD Governing Board Vice-Chair Kevin Powers, a long-time resident of Martin County. “We are proud to join Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in dedicating funds to protect this valuable resource.”

SFWMD funding for the program comes a month after the Governing Board was briefed on proposed organizational changes designed to increase community participation and expand project opportunities. These enhancements include:

  • Reigniting community engagement,
  • Targeting the IRL for increased project funding at local, state and federal levels, and
  • Highlighting the importance of the IRL through outreach and education.

The IRL NEP was established in 1990 through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s designation of the IRL as an “estuary of national significance.” The IRL NEP provides a non-regulatory, stakeholder-driven, collaborative approach to coastal watershed restoration and protection.

The IRL is a diverse, shallow-water estuary stretching across 40 percent of Florida’s east coast from Ponce de Leon Inlet in Volusia County to the southern boundary of Martin County. The lagoon is a critical water body in the state and has experienced excess nutrient pollution in addition to excess freshwater flows for many decades. Widespread algal blooms appeared in the lagoon in 2011 followed by brown tide blooms in 2012 and 2013. Approximately 47,000 acres of seagrasses were lost, a reduction of about 60 percent of the lagoon’s total seagrass coverage.

The lagoon supports a multitude of industries and activities, from fishing and recreation to tourism and agriculture. A study concluded that the economic benefits of the Indian River Lagoon totaled more than $3.7 billion in 2007 alone and accounts for 15,000 jobs.


Rooney Introduces Bill to Protect Christians under Attack by ISIS

Rooney Introduces Bill to Protect Christians under Attack by ISIS

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) introduced bipartisan legislation with Representative Juan Vargas (CA-51) to provide refugee status for Christians and other religious minorities under attack in Islamic State-held territories in Iraq and Syria.

“The Islamic State came into these towns, marked the homes of Christians with an ‘N’ for Nazareth, and told the families to convert or be killed. Hundreds of men, women and children were murdered, hundreds more enslaved, and thousands fled for their lives. They are on the run, they face death and persecution, but they have nowhere to go. We have to help them. We have to give them a safe haven,” Rooney said.

“Religious freedom is a founding principal of our great nation. As Americans, we cannot claim to be leaders of the free world and stand idly by while members of religious minority groups are being persecuted and killed for their religious beliefs,” said Rep. Vargas. “I am proud to introduce legislation that will bring these individuals and their families to our country, where they will be safe from terrorists and free to worship.”

The bipartisan Rooney-Vargas bill, HR 5430, would expedite the process for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities under attack by ISIS to receive asylum in the United States. It would allow individuals who are or were residents of a territory now controlled by the Islamic State to apply directly to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program as a refugee of special humanitarian concern, and provide the Administration with the authority to grant immediate removal of refugee applicants who face imminent danger.

The UN recognizes individuals as refugees only after they have crossed an international border. However, many refugees from the Mosul region were forced to flee without their personal effects, and have not been able to cross the border into neighboring countries without their official documents. The Rooney-Vargas bill would assist these victims by allowing individuals displaced by ISIS to apply and interview for refugee status in Iraq and through existing facilities in surrounding countries.


FHP ADVISES SOUTH FLORIDA DRIVERS TO USE CAUTION THIS WEEKEND

FHP ADVISES SOUTH FLORIDA DRIVERS TO USE CAUTION THIS WEEKEND

~ Approaching tropical system could bring heavy rain and flooding to area ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With a tropical wave forecast to move across South Florida this weekend, the Florida Highway Patrol urges motorists to use added caution over the next few days. The Florida Division of Emergency Management says the tropical system could bring heavy rain and possible flooding to parts of the area. Forecasts call for one to three inches of rain to fall across South Florida through the weekend. Localized rainfall amounts could reach as high as six inches.

The Florida Highway Patrol advises drivers to follow these safety tips that can save lives:

  • Stay Updated. — For real-time traffic and road condition reports, as well as maps and additional safety tips, FHP encourages motorists to visit www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/. Florida drivers also can call 511 on their cell phone or visit http://fl511.com/ for up-to-the-minute updates on traffic congestion, road construction, lane closures, severe weather and travel delays on interstates and major highways. Be sure to keep up with local weather forecasts.
  • Stay put. – Avoid driving in heavy storms. Often, injuries and deaths occur in the aftermath of storms. Sightseers impeding roadways cause obstacles for emergency personnel responding to those in need.
  • Slow down. – Roadways remain slick after storm so if you have to drive, decrease your speed to avoid hydroplaning.
  • Be cautious of high winds. – Windy conditions adversely affect all vehicles, particularly high profile vehicles, such as buses and trucks, as well as motorcycles. Gusty wind makes driving difficult, especially when it is rapidly changing speed and direction.
  • Pay attention. – You may come up on an intersection that is no longer controlled by a traffic control device. If a law enforcement officer is directing traffic, follow his directions. Otherwise, treat the intersection as you would treat an intersection governed by a four-way Stop sign.
  • Flooding safety. –Never drive into moving water. If you cannot see the roadway beneath the water, do not drive through it! The water may be deeper than it appears, and the road may be washed away.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. The Department is leading the way to a safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol. To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit www.flhsmv.gov or follow us on Twitter @FDHSMV.   You can find us on Facebook, too.


FWC offers hunter safety course in Glades County

FWC offers hunter safety course in Glades County

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will host a free hunter safety course on Sept. 20, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in Glades County.

Participants must successfully complete the online portion of the course prior to attending and bring the final Web report to the FWC course on Sept. 20. The form does not have to be notarized.

Students will learn about several topics, including hunting laws, safe gun handling and hunter ethics/responsibility before taking the final test. The course also includes live-firing instruction on a shooting range.

The class will be held at the Glades County Sheriff’s Office Shooting Range in Moore Haven, Longitude and Latitude: 26.895664 – 81.122469.

Participants can sign up at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s South Region Office at 561-625-5122. A link to the online portion of the course and a statewide schedule of hunter safety classes is available at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Parents or legal guardians must accompany children under 16 years of age to all classes. To participate in live-fire exercises, children under 18 years old must present a parental release form signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised).


Rooney Statement on 13th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

Rooney Statement on 13th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17) today issued the following statement on the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks:

“On this day 13 years ago, Tara and I were finishing up PT at Fort Hood, TX. Our first son, Tommy, was just five days old. Like all Americans, we were stunned and saddened as we saw the news of the horrific attacks against our nation.

“Americans will never forget where we were that day, and we will never forget the thousands of innocent lives that were lost in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon. Today, across the country, we will gather together for moments of silence and reflection. We will remember the fallen and the families who mourn them. We will honor the first responders who rushed into Ground Zero, many not to return; our men and women in uniform, who have continued the fight to keep us safe; and our veterans, who served our nation with great courage.

“We remain resolved to do all we can to prevent a tragedy like this from ever occurring again. We will never forget.”


Charles Murphy News 9/11

News Cast for September 11th:

In the courts, 41 year old James Mullins received 12 years in prison for manslaughter and culpable negligence. He won two new trails after being convicted of the traffic death of 24 year old Anthony Gehle and had been sentenced to 30 years in prison. He reached a plea deal last week. He will also serve five years’ probation.

Glades County Commissioners approved a 7.4 million dollar general fund budget this week. It carries a millage rate of just over 9.1 mills. Property taxes will rise just under 1.5 percent.

The budget also includes a 9 hundred thousand dollar shortfall.

Chairman Donna Storter Long says sooner or later the shortfall will have to be dealt with.

Key expenses will be completion of the new county business park, a training center project and the new emergency operations center being funded with state dollars.

County employees did receive a 38 cent per hour raise.

Cell phone coverage should no longer be a problem in Buckhead Ridge. Glades County planners approved two new cell towers to be located off state road 78 west. Special exceptions were approved on August 12 for a 250 foot tower on Linda Road and on September 9th for a 306 foot tower on route 78.

Among arrests, 48 year old Wayne Rowe was charged with violation of parole from the state of Pennsylvania.

26 year old Chad Garner was charged with possession and sale of cocaine within 1 thousand feet of a park after an Okeechobee narcotics task force operation in Douglas Park. Bond was set at 2 hundred thousand dollars.

No charges will be filed after an altercation between two men involving a knife and one man parts of two fingers, deputies ruled the 51 year old man was the aggressor and the other man was only protecting himself Saturday outside the Shell Station in Treasure Island.

Sports Cast for September 11th:

OHS volleyball Moore Haven OHS defeated local rival Moore Haven in three straight games Wednesday.

OHS volleyball Moore Haven OHS defeated local rival Moore Haven in three straight games Wednesday.

Okeechobee defeated Moore Haven in three straight, 25-15,25-13 and 25-16 last night to improve to 4-1 on the season. Okeechobee also defeated Port St. Lucie in three straight games on Tuesday. Baylee Farless said the girls played well and were glad to defeat a rival school.

Baylee Farless on win over Moore Haven

OHS bowlers swept by Lincoln Park, the girls lost 7-0; Jessica Olney rolled the top game at 195. The boys fell 6-1. Brian Chapman had the high game of 202.

Boys’ golf defeated Port St. Lucie Tuesday by 28 strokes with a score of 180. Daniel Fulleda led the way with a 39. Jarred Morgan and Kyle Mullins shot 47. Wednesday the boys finished second in a four way match for 18 holes with south fork, Jensen beach and Fort Pierce central. Fulleda, Zack Hudson and Kyle Mullins all shot 83 to lead the Brahmans.

On the sports schedule today, Yearling volleyball and soccer host Sebastian River at 4:30 pm, Osceola soccer and volleyball host Gifford at 4:30 pm. OHS swimmers travel to Martin County. JV Football travels to Clewiston kickoff at 7 pm. OHS boys’ golf competes at John Carroll at the PGA golf and country club at 3:30 pm.


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