Local News

Florida Forest Service Releases New Fire Information App

Florida Forest Service Releases New Fire Information App

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service today announced the release of “FLBurnTools,” a new mobile app to inform the public about drought, wildfire danger and wildfire activity. Prescribed burn practitioners can also use the app to plan and submit authorization requests. The “FLBurnTools” app is now available in both Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.

“By providing Floridians with better access to the latest wildfire information, we can help protect people, wildlife and property,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Residents can now see real-time conditions in their area and take the appropriate safety precautions.”

The Florida Forest Service’s prescribed fire program is a nationwide leader, treating more than 2.1 million acres last year and providing approximately 88,000 burn authorizations annually. In addition to administering Florida’s prescribed fire program, the Florida Forest Service responds to wildfires during Florida’s year-round wildfire season. Last year, more than 2,100 wildfires burned 53,476 acres in Florida.

The “FLBurnTools” app provides the following tools:

  • Drought information
  • Interactive fire maps
  • Wildfire information
  • Burning authorization requests
  • Smoke dispersion models
  • Spot weather forecasts

“Wildfire activity is on the rise and wildfire danger is expected to increase greatly in the coming months,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester. “Floridians equipped with the ‘FLBurnTools’ app can view the locations of nearby wildfires and see up-to-date drought and wildfire danger information.”

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

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


Charles Murphy News 2/20

News Cast for February 20th:

15 Fort Drum homes were saved after a wild fire burned 90 acres off North East 304th Street Friday afternoon.  Several evacuations were ordered by deputies.  The cause was under investigation.  One abandoned home and a shed were lost and two sheds and two vehicles were damaged but no one was hurt.  The Florida Forest Service and county fire rescue put out the blaze.

State Senator Denise Grimsley announced she would run for agriculture commissioner in the 2018 election. Grimsley has served our area both in the house and in the senate. She grew up in agriculture and her family owned a gas company in Wauchula.  She is now a hospital administrator. Grimsley admits it’ll be an ordeal to win a state wide election. She plans to prioritize cures for citrus greening, consumer services, and a state wide water policy.

Protests are growing against the 515 mile sabal trail pipeline that could one day pass through Okeechobee County. Environmental groups say the pipeline will lie on top of Florida’s aquifer and could threaten water supplies. John Quarterman, an environmentalist, says solar power is a better option, both for the environment and also in job creation.

A guard at Martin correctional was charged with helping inmates smuggle cell phones into the prison.  Florida’s department of law enforcement alleges James Yearby was paid 15 hundred dollars to bring in two phones and was being offered 5 thousand dollars to provide cell phone minutes to inmates when the arrest occurred.

Sports Cast for February 20th:

Okeechobee walloped Glades Day 9-1 in high school softball Friday. Jill Crosby pitched a complete game and added a two run homerun for the Lady Brahmans.

Janel Aponte added an RBI Triple and an RBI double and Lauren Bostwick had three hits and two runs batted in for the Brahmans. Megan Hargraves reached base four times in the game.  She rehabbed a knee injury for a year and was glad to get back on the field. She played travel ball this summer and is now 1 hundred percent.

She also likes the young talent around her this year

The Lady Brahman junior varsity won 16-0.

There are no sports at Okeechobee high today due to Presidents Day.


Governor Rick Scott Appoints Barbara Clowdus to Early Learning Coalition of Indian River, Martin and Okeechobee Counties, Inc

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Barbara Clowdus to Early Learning Coalition of Indian River, Martin and Okeechobee Counties, Inc

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Barbara Clowdus to the Early Learning Coalition of Indian River, Martin and Okeechobee Counties, Inc.

Clowdus, 70, of Stuart, is the publisher of Martin County Currents. She attended West Virginia Wesleyan College and is appointed to fill a vacant seat for a term beginning February 17, 2017, and ending April 30, 2020.


Giant Bass Await Elite Series Anglers At Florida’s Lake Okeechobee

Giant Bass Await Elite Series Anglers At Florida’s Lake Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — The last time B.A.S.S. visited the south Florida big-bass factory was in 2012, when Hughson, Calif., pro Ish Monroe weighed one of the heaviest four-day limits in Elite Series history. Fans can expect much of the same at the 2017 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee, Feb. 23-26.

The second event of the 2017 season will be a stark difference from the season opener, which took place last week on Tennessee’s Cherokee Lake. Cherokee was won with hefty smallmouth pulled from deep, 50-degree water under harsh winter conditions.

Okeechobee will likely be the polar opposite with warm weather, shallow water and big Florida-strain largemouth.

Monroe’s 108-pound, 5-ounce four-day winning catch in March 2012 ranks as the 19th all-time heaviest total weight since the Elite Series’ inception in 2006. He is excited to return to the “Big O” — which covers more than 450,000 acres — and vie for the $100,000 first-place prize.

“It’s the only tournament I can remember where I culled one 5-pound bass after another,” Monroe said, reminiscing about the first day of that 2012 tournament. “I can still recall having 34-5 in my livewell by noon on the first day. Where else in the world can an angler do something like that?”

Okeechobee is a relatively shallow lake, averaging 8 feet, 10 inches in depth, and that plays to Monroe’s strengths.

“I love fishing shallow water, and when I can catch bass that way, life is gravy,” he said. “It’s also appealing to me because for the entire year, you can keep a heavy flipping stick in your hands and catch fish everywhere with the potential to win every single time.”

He said the lake is full of different types of vegetation, including hydrilla, milfoil, hyacinth, pencil reeds, alligator grass, pennywort and lily pads, and patterns can be so diverse that it’s almost impossible to predict a winner among the 110-angler field. He suggested that a 100-pound winning string of bass is possible, but putting together 25-pound limits every day isn’t easy, even on Okeechobee, which appears to be in excellent shape.

“Since 2007, the lake has been getting healthier as a system, and fishing output is a reflection of that,” said Barron Moody, regional fisheries administrator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Coming out of a couple hurricanes between 2007 and 2009, we endured significant habitat damage from storm surges in the lake, and the relatively low water conditions that occurred as a result actually helped the lake recover long term.”

Moody said that lower water conditions allowed for more sunlight penetration, which in turn promoted vegetation growth as the lake recovered. State workers and volunteers also collaborated to improve habitat during the low-water period.

And it’s paying off today.

“Based on our sampling data, I would not be surprised at all to see multiple fish over 8 and 9 pounds weighed in; even a fish in the 10-pound range is a real possibility,” he said.

Takeoffs will occur daily Thursday through Sunday at 6:45 a.m. ET at C. Scott Driver Park in Okeechobee, Fla. Weigh-ins will take place in the same location at 3:15 p.m. each afternoon.

The Bassmaster Elite Series Outdoors Expo will also be taking place at C. Scott Driver Park on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3:15 p.m. The Expo will feature the latest products in the industry, as well as free giveaways. Mercury, Nitro, Triton, Skeeter and Yamaha will be giving demo rides at the venue. All activities are free and open to the public.

The event is hosted by Okeechobee County Tourism.

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Power-Pole, Yamaha, Berkley, Huk, Shell Rotella, Humminbird

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Shimano, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Livingston Lures, T-H Marine, Lowrance, Phoenix Boats

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.


Charles Murphy News 2/17

News Cast for February 17th:

Okeechobee school board this week

  • Honored five students who have had perfect attention at school for at least three years, Ayan Desai, Jasmine Desai, Kalysta Fowler, Stephany Rosales and Isabella Lagos.
  • Okeechobee achievement academy teamed up with Suncoast mental health services to provide more counseling and assistance to at risk kids.  They will help fund five new positions including more teachers to help with counseling, mentoring and family issues.
  • Corey Wheeler was named the new finance director for Okeechobee Schools.
  • The board also honored the school resource officers who make our schools safer.

Moore Haven city council applied for a 7 hundred thousand dollar grant that could improve sewer service in Washington Park and move 21 residents off septic tanks.

  • They also discussed demolition efforts for the Lundy Building and Anne-tique buildings downtown.
  • They also approved a medical marijuana ordinance that prohibits any permits for related business for the next six months.

Arrests today include 51 year old Kirk Rayman and 51 year old Karen Rayman on charges of cultivation of marijuana and felony possession of marijuana.  Nearly 11 pounds of the drug was seized along with 21 plants when deputies say they searched the home on North EASt 60th Court Wednesday and found a grow house operation.

An Okeechobee jail guard was suspended for three days without pay and placed on probation for putting false information in jail logs in the attempted suicide of 16 year old inmate Kendrink Renick in December.  Jail officials say the inmate was on close watch but was not considered a suicide risk when he tried to hang himself with a bed sheet.  Inmates actually alerted jailers to the attempt and may have saved his life.

Sports Cast for February 17th:

Dillard looked like the defending state champion as they jumped out to a 29 point halftime lead and blew past the Brahmans in the boys basketball regionals last night, 70-27.

Brahman Boys baseball took it on the chin against Sebring, losing 11-0 at the Avon Park preseason classic Thursday.  A six run fourth and a four run fifth did in the Brahmans.  Seth Cannidy drove in three runs for Sebring.

Lady Brahman softball overcame Moore Haven 6-4.  Lauren Bostwick had two hits and an RBI.  Haley Underhill pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts.  Underhill says she has enjoyed the transition to high school softball. She played travel ball for three years in Jensen Beach

Moore haven baseball loses to Immokalee at the Indians Preseason classic 11-1.

On the sports schedule today, wrestlers compete in districts in Jensen Beach beginning today.

OHS softball hosts Glades Day this afternoon with JV at 4 pm and varsity to follow.


Charles Murphy News 2/16

News Cast for February 16th:

One of the final people pardoned by former President Barack O’Bama was Qustion Dingle of Okeechobee.  He was serving 18 years for possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine and possession of crack cocaine.

The sentence was shortened to 11 years and he will be not placed on eight years’ probation.  He’s due to be released in 2 thousand 19.

Among arrests, 27 year old Charlene Mayfield was charged with child neglect and battery.

Deputies say they observed Mayfield arguing with a man on the roadside in the 22 hundred block of US 441 south east.  A 4 year old child was standing alongside the road and precariously near speeding traffic while the adults paid no attention to the child.

The attendance woes continue at Okeechobee schools this year.

Director of Student Services Toni Wierma says a large percentage of students are missing an alarmingly high number of school days. Wiersma says these students get so far behind in their work that many do not earn promotion and many do not eventually graduate.

In the courts,

18-year-old Jordan Cutler was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 54 months’ probation for charges of lewd and lascivious battery on a child and interference with custody.

Lawmen alleged Cutler had sex with a 14 year old girl who had run away from school.  He was found hiding in an attic at a residence in Whispering Pines last March 10th.

Sports Cast for February 16th:

Okeechobee boys’ basketball gets another shot at Dillard tonight in the regional playoffs in Class 7A.

Dillard was defending state champion last year and eliminated Okeechobee in the first round in a competitive game.

Coach Demetre Riles says the team was down after the loss in the district championship game but had to shake off those feelings. Tip tonight is planned at 7 pm.

Glades Central boys’ basketball takes on Oxbridge Academy in another regional game in West Palm Beach.

Both OHS tennis teams were swept by South fork 7-0

On the sports schedule today

OHS tennis visits Fort Pierce Westwood at 3:30 pm.  OHS softball travels to Moore Haven with junior varsity at 4:30 pm and varsity to follow.  OHS baseball takes on Sebring at the Avon Park preseason classic at 5 pm.  Moore Haven baseball tangles with Immokalee at 7 pm in the Indians preseason classic.


Children’s Services Council of Okeechobee County Request for Proposal

Children’s Services Council of Okeechobee County

Request for Proposal

The Children’s Services Council announces they are seeking proposals from public agencies and legally incorporated not-for-profit and for profit agencies.  Any agency that receives funding for KCSpecial Projects and Summer Programs are also required to attend the meeting on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 The purpose of these proposals is to improve and expand services to the children of Okeechobee County by providing new, expanded or continued services for priority need areas.  This year there will be approximately $350,000.00 available to fund these proposals.

The schedule for the proposals is as follows:

  • March 14, 2017 4:00 p.m. Request for Proposal Meeting

Okeechobee County School Board, Room 303

Application forms available to be picked up at this meeting. There may be more than two Children’s Services Council members attending this meeting.

Any questions should be directed to Cheryl Sutton, Secretary to the Executive Director of Children’s Services Council at 863-462-5000, extension 239 or Cathleen Blair, Executive Director, at 863-610-0176.


Heavy Smoke Due to Wildfire

Heavy Smoke Due to Wildfire

The Florida Forest Service responded to seven wildfires in Martin, St. Lucie & Okeechobee Counties that have burned over 130 acres.  Residents will see glowing and smoldering debris in the woods tonight. Firefighters will be monitoring the wildfires near residential areas throughout the night. Typically, at night relative humidity goes up and fire activity goes down.

Areas in Martin County will be inundated with smoke tonight and into the morning. If you have breathing issues, please consult a doctor, or call 911. Keep your windows, vents and doors closed. If you can, plan ahead of time, go to a family’s or friend’s house for the night into the morning. Avoid driving in this area. If you must drive in these conditions, then DRIVE SLOW & SAFE; for more information:

http://www.fl-dof.com/publications/fire_pdfs/smoke_brochure.pdf.

There is typically minimal fire activity in the morning due to higher relative humidity. Later in the day, as temperature and wind increase, relative humidity decreases thus causing an increases fire activity. Firefighters will continue to be out there every day patrolling, monitoring and mopping-up. Firefighters will continue to fight the fire until it is controlled=DEAD OUT!

Patrolling         Driving and/or walking the entire wildfire while concentrating on the areas near homes. State Wildland Firefighters are looking for hot-spots or heat sources (smoke is a good indicator).  While visual inspection is good, another method is Cold Trailing- A method of carefully inspecting and feeling with the hand for heat to detect any fire, digging out every live spot, and trenching any live edge.

Monitoring      State Wildland Firefighters find hot spots and report activity daily.

Mopping-up    Rehabbing dozer control lines all the way around the fire; ensuring the fire is still inside the containment lines. Dozers push down snags (dead trees on fire).  Brush trucks drive the containment lines while saturating all smoldering vegetation/hot spots. Using hand tools to dig into the soil or root system to break up the compact vegetation and smothering it with water

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.

For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, please contact your local Florida Forest Service:

Martin County (772) 221-4045;    Saint Lucie County (772) 468-3915;  Indian River County (772) 778-5085;

Glades County (863) 674-4000;    Highlands County  (863) 655-6407;   Okeechobee County (863) 467-3221


Charles Murphy News 2/15

News Cast for February 15th:

OCSO participated in the Okeechobee Brahmans FFA Chapter bake sale on Valentine’s Day. Dayton and Morgan Buxton (pictured with Sheriff Noel Stephen), delivered our goodies. Everything was delicious.

An Okeechobee grand jury indicted 21-year-old Christopher Shows on charges he murdered a 25-year-old Okeechobee house wife Tuesday. Shows allegedly shot 25-year-old Amanda Suarez in her home on December 7th. Authorities say the motive was to learn what murder felt like.

In addition to murder charges, Shows will face armed burglary where a firearm is used and discharged, petit theft, abuse of a dead body and tampering with evidence.

Evidence from the victim’s cell phone led authorities to the killer. Okeechobee city is now part of the Florida mural trail.   The plan is part of an effort to promote visits and tourism to these cities.

Luann Malark started the program on the Space Coast. More information is on Facebook and the website florida mural trail dot com

Among arrests, 45 year old Roberta Carnley was charged with child neglect when she was allegedly babysitting and a 4 year old child left her property for 20 minutes unattended and was found in the street on North East 18th Avenue Monday.

37 year old Casey Sanders was charged with child abuse on a warrant from last September.  Its alleged Sanders purchased marijuana, smoked it in front of small children, and also smoked marijuana with one child last year.

2-8-17 Highlands Co Conley – ATV

Sports Cast for February 15th:

Zachary Jackson won the Most Valuable Player award for the Brahman boys swim team this year. Jackson says he thought he had a good season in the pool. Coach Angela Jones praised Jackson for dedication to the team and his effort this year.

A four run sixth inning rally paced Avon Park to a 5-1 victory over Okeechobee at the Red Devils preseason classic Tuesday night.

Josh Rivera drove home three runs for Avon Park.  Koby Chapman had two hits and Baron Stuart drove in a run for Okeechobee.

Moore Haven baseball defeated Gateway Charter at the Immokalee preseason classic 5-2.  John Wright threw a complete game with five strikeouts for the Terriers and Evan Navarro had two hits and two runs batted in.

There are no sports events scheduled in Okeechobee today.


Palm Beach County Resident is Sentenced to Prison in Connection with Jamaica Based Lottery Scam

Palm Beach County Resident is Sentenced to Prison in Connection with Jamaica Based Lottery Scam

Julius Lorenzo George Jackson, 32, of Palm Beach County, was sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment by U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch for his role in a Jamaica-based fraudulent lottery scheme.  Jackson previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Antonio J. Gomez, Postal Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, and Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), made the announcement.

According to court documents, including the criminal information and factual proffer, individuals throughout the United States were contacted and falsely informed that they had won millions of dollars in a lottery.  The victims were persuaded to pay bogus fees of several hundred to several thousand dollars in order to collect their purported lottery winnings.  During the course of the lottery scheme, Jackson would receive money from the victims, either directly into his bank account or through a wire transfer of funds.  Jackson would keep a portion of the victims’ money and would wire transfer the remaining portion to a co-conspirator in Jamaica.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of USPIS and ICE-HSI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha R. Mitrani

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov


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