Local News

Commissioner Putnam Reads to Fourth Grade Students in Celebration of Ag Literacy Day at the Capitol

Commissioner Putnam Reads to Fourth Grade Students in Celebration of Ag Literacy Day at the Capitol

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam celebrated Florida Agriculture Literacy Day on Tuesday by reading a new book on Florida farming to fourth graders from Governor’s Charter School in the historic Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.

“Florida Ag Literacy Day helps our next generation learn about the Floridians who provide everything from beef, pork and poultry to strawberries, oranges and corn to meet the needs of the world’s growing population,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

Commissioner Putnam read the book as the children followed along with their own copies. The children talked about their favorite foods and completed craft activities, including a cotton ball sheep and a cow mask.

For the 12th Annual Florida Agriculture Literacy Day, Commissioner Putnam joined readers across the state, including Florida farmers, growers, ranchers, Florida Farm Bureau members, Florida Cattlemen and Cattlewomen members, FFA students and teachers, 4-H students and teachers, and University of Florida IFAS extension agents and master gardeners, who will read in honor of today’s event.

This year’s Ag Literacy book, Drive Through Florida: Livestock and Poultry, is the first book in a new series of non-fiction books that highlights the beef, dairy, equine, poultry, swine, goat and sheep industries in Florida. Volunteers will visit more than 2,400 elementary classrooms, reaching more than 48,000 Florida students in 52 counties around the state with the message of the importance of Florida agriculture.

Florida Ag Literacy Day is sponsored by Florida Agriculture in the Classroom Inc., a nonprofit organization that develops and trains teachers and agriculture industry volunteers in agriculture curriculum in order to educate students on the importance of agriculture. It also provides grant money to teachers and volunteers for projects that teach children where their food comes from and the importance of Florida’s farmers. The nonprofit is funded by sales of the specialty agricultural license plate known as the Ag Tag.

“Florida Agriculture Literacy Day has grown in popularity in our industry because it allows farmers and other agriculture industry representatives to visit elementary school classrooms around the state and educate students about the important role agriculture plays in students’ daily lives,” said Tamara Wood, chairman of the Florida Agriculture in the Classroom board of directors and a representative of Florida Citrus Mutual.

For more information on Ag Literacy Day and Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, please visit FlAgintheClassroom.com. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.


Restoring the Everglades During Climate Change Requires Continued Federal Commitment

Restoring the Everglades During Climate Change Requires Continued Federal Commitment

President Obama’s Visit Underscores Natural Resource Priorities

TALLAHASSEE – President Barack Obama’s historic visit is a welcome acknowledgement from our nation’s top leader that the Florida Everglades are a national treasure worth saving, and that making sure the nation’s premier fresh water marsh gets priority over other water uses during climate change is a top priority.

“There needs to be a decision by the Obama Administration, especially as we face water shortages that come with climate change, that the ecological needs of the Everglades don’t take a back seat to water-hungry commercial interests, like sugar plantations,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest.

“Our experience over the last quarter century is that the federal government’s enforcement of our clean water laws has been the driving force of Everglades restoration,” Guest said. “Big Agriculture has a choke-hold on our state government, and the federal Clean Water Act is the only way to loosen its grip.”

Pollution from huge sugar and vegetable operations in the Everglades causes a monoculture of cattails that impedes water flows and chokes out other native vegetation.

Earthjustice first got involved in the fight to restore the Everglades more than two decades ago. It was 1988, and the U.S. Attorney sued Florida because the state was failing to keep pollution from flowing into Everglades National Park and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Earthjustice joined the U.S. Attorney in the call for cleanup, intervening on behalf of many Florida and national environmental groups.

Since then, Earthjustice has represented many dedicated Florida citizens in a series of  legal cases to protect the Everglades and clean up Lake Okeechobee. Our clients have included the National Parks Conservation AssociationFlorida Wildlife FederationNational Wildlife FederationAudubon Society of the EvergladesSierra ClubDefenders of WildlifeEnvironmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Save Our Creeks. A summary of our legal cases is available online here.

In 1994, corporate farms negotiated an exemption that gave them access to state lands for 20 years, and they’ve been polluting those public lands, and adjacent lands, ever since while taxpayers fund the multi-billion-dollar state and federal restoration project to fix the damage.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Rick Scott rubberstamped the polluting operations that are causing the problem to operate within the Everglades for another 30 years, an incredible decision that has frustrated the taxpayer-led clean up and worsened the pollution. In February 2013, Earthjustice sued on behalf of Florida Wildlife Federation to get these polluting operations out of the Everglades for good. A few days later, Big Sugar proposed legislation to block the suit and allow the extension. Despite efforts to stop it, the Florida Legislature passed Big Sugar’s bill and the governor signed the bill into law in June, 2013, allowing the pollution to continue.

“It’s our hope that President Obama will continue the federal government’s long tradition of stewardship in the Everglades, because the state is obviously not up to the job,” Guest said.

This release is available online at: http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2015/restoring-the-everglades-during-climate-change-requires-continued-federal-commitment


5th Annual O.L. Raulerson, Jr. BBQ

5th Annual O.L. Raulerson, Jr. BBQ

April 21, 2015

The 5th Annual O.L. Raulerson, Jr. BBQ was held on March 20th and March 21st at the Agri-Civic Center. A total of forty-four teams competed. Thirty-seven of those were in the Pro Division and seven in the Backyard Division.

The overall winner in the Pro Division was Grand Champion Team Hot Wachulas, followed by Reserve Grand Champion team Smokin Flames BBQ.

The overall winner in the Backyard Division was team Grand Champion HKSA, followed by Reserve Grand Champion team EWS.

The 2015 car show winners were:

Best in show: #33 Ivan Wilber, Okeechobee, 1965 Shelby Cobra

1st Runner up: #7 George Trohalides, West Palm Beach, 2006 Hummer H2

2nd Runner up: #36 Charles Farmer, Okeechobee, 1956 Ford F100

“Smokin’ Hot”: #3 Harry Horton, Port St. Lucie, `972 Plymouth Duster

“Most Wanted:

  • #37: Ray Adkins, Palm Bay, 1940 Ford Deluxe Sedan
  • #29: Don Weir, Okeechobee, 1969 Chevy Camaro
  • #28: Jerry Lendman, Okeechobee, 1979 Ford Ranchero
  • #23: Louis and Marion Raymond, Okeechobee, 1968 Chevy Camaro Convertible
  • #34: Bud Carlson, Smithport, PA, 1934 Chevy Sedan (Hot Rod)

This year’s BBQ raised $25,000. Monies raised are for scholarships to attend a law enforcement academy for a career in law enforcement. Since the inception of the scholarship fund, two people have graduated from the academy and are now employed with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.

Michele Bell, PIO


Gov. Scott to President Obama Before FL Visit: Repair Lake Okeechobee Dike and Restore Everglades Funding Cuts

Gov. Scott to President Obama Before FL Visit: Repair Lake Okeechobee Dike and Restore Everglades Funding Cuts

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Scott issued the following statement prior to President Obama’s visit to the Everglades on Wednesday.

Governor Scott said, “Florida is blessed with a pristine environment and our natural resources help create a foundation for our growing economy.  We are focused on real solutions when it comes to protecting our environment and we have made strategic investments to better protect our state’s natural treasures, including an $880 million Everglades water quality program.  To date, we have invested $1.9 billion in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP), almost a billion more than the federal government, and this year we are proposing a dedicated source of revenue that will provide more than $5 billion for Everglades restoration over the next 20 years.
“President Obama needs to live up to his commitment on the Everglades and find a way to fund the $58 million in backlog funding Everglades National Park hasn’t received from the federal government.  This has caused critical maintenance delays in the Everglades to linger for over a year.  We also need the federal government to step up their commitment to Everglades restoration by immediately requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to repair the Lake Okeechobee dike. As we continue to make important investments in our environment, the President’s latest budget cuts millions from the repair of the Lake Okeechobee Dike – the rehabilitation of which is critical to the protection of south Florida’s estuaries. Our environment is too important to neglect and it’s time for the federal government to focus on real solutions and live up to their promises.”


Charles Murphy News 4/21

News Cast for April 21st:

In the courts, two Indiantown men received state prison terms for robbery charges. Martin deputies say 20 year old LC Wilkins and 22 year old David Thompson robbed two victims in Stuart in January of 2013.   Wilkins received nine years in prison and Thompson 10 years.

64 year old Revis Napier of Glades County received two days in jail for a shooting last March involving Hendry County deputies. Napier allegedly struggled with deputies after being caught in a pasture at night near Evans Road in LaBelle. He allegedly fired 5 to 6 shots at deputies. He was found guilty of only a misdemeanor, improper exhibition of a firearm at his trial.

A prowler is accused of videotaping a 16 year old girl as she showered at the Kings trailer park last week. The girl looked up and saw an arm and cell phone reaching through the window of her bathroom, screamed and the person ran off. A K-9 search didn’t turn up any suspects.

About 25 thousand dollars in property damage was reported Sunday afternoon after a fire at 823 North East 31st Terrace. Fire rescue said the fire started in the kitchen area and destroyed the kitchen, living room and dining room. Four dogs perished in the blaze. The American Red Cross came to the assistance of Adelaide Lavelle and other residents of the home. One firefighter suffered minor injury Monday after a fire in Dewberry Gardens.

The autistic child whose beating recorded on video became a worldwide sensation was arrested on Friday charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of alcohol. City cops say he threatened to cut another man with a knife in the City McDonalds after he argued with a female.

41 year old Jennifer Mansfield of Moore Haven was arrested for introduction of contraband into the Hendry county jail. She was also charged with possession of cocaine and three counts of possession of controlled substance, oxycodone and morphine. She was sentenced to 150 days in jail on all the charges.

Sports Cast for April 21st:

OHS volleyball is busy this year with a conditioning program and also attending team camps. Coach Taylor Pritchard said while she wants the players to improve, she also wants her coaching to take the next step. The team went to the regional semifinal for the second consecutive year.

Pritchard said she feels the girls are maturing and are willing to do the work that is needed to be in the state title conversation.

Pritchard 1

Pritchard 2

OHS baseball’s district play in game was washed out by rain yesterday; they’ll try again tonight to play Westwood at 7 pm.

Moore Haven baseball also opens their district tournament at St. John Neumann in Naples today at 4 pm. The Terriers lost to Clewiston 5-1 and Oasis 6-5 last week.


Corps to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee

Corps to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee

With levels in Lake Okeechobee falling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has announced additional reductions in water releases over the next week.

The adjustment in discharges will take place tomorrow (April 17).  The new target flow for the Caloosahatchee will be a seven-day average of 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers.  The target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary is unchanged at a seven-day average of 0 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart.  Flows at one or both locations could occasionally be exceeded by runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins—those flows will be allowed to pass through the structures as necessary.

“We continue to see dry conditions south of the lake, which has resulted in increased demand for water,” said Jim Jeffords, Operations Division Chief for the Jacksonville District.  “The lower flows will also help improve the saltwater-freshwater mix in the Caloosahatchee Estuary which is helpful for the environment.”

Today, the lake stage is 13.65 feet.  It is currently in the Operational Low Sub-Band as defined by the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS).  Under current conditions, LORS authorizes the Corps to discharge up to 3,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee and up to 1,170 cfs to the St. Lucie.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.


Sheriff’s Office Warns Citizens About Fraudulent Warrant Scam

Sheriff’s Office Warns Citizens About Fraudulent Warrant Scam

Osceola County -The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about a schemed to defraud scam. Recently, two citizens have been contacted by an individual who identified himself as a deputy with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. He tells the person he will issue a warrant for the victim’s arrest and they can avoid being arrested if they wire money via Western Union or meet the individual in person.

In one of the scams, the suspect creates a fictitious posting on Craigslist. When the victim responds to the posting, the suspect tells the victim the post he was looking at was an attempt to solicit a minor and a warrant would be issued for the victim’s arrest. In both cases, the suspect uses the name of a deputy employed by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Both victims were suspicious of the suspect and reported the incidents to law enforcement.

Here is some basic information if you receive a call:

  • Never give out personal information when you respond to an online advertisement.
  • If the caller asks you for money, do not make arrangements to provide payment.
  • The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office does not contact individuals via the Internet or phone calls when a warrant has been issued or to resolve a warrant.
  • Citizens may call the Sheriff’s Office to verify warrant information.

Anyone with information or has received a similar call is asked to call the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office at (407) 348-2222 or Crimeline at (800) 423-TIPS (8477). Calls made to Crimeline remain anonymous, and tips that lead to the felony arrest of suspects and/or the recovery of stolen property and drugs are eligible for cash rewards of up to $1,000 dollars.


Charles Murphy News 4/20

News Cast for April 20th:

Loving our heroes is a local group that sends care packages to our troops overseas. Local mom, Gina Bulhmaier said she sent some supplies to her son in the military and the effort ballooned from there. The group acceps monetary and material donations like toiletries, beef jerky, snacks, trail mix, and drink mix pacakges. For more information contact Gina at 261-1774, that’s 261-1774.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO GINA BUHLMAIER’S ENTIRE INTERVIEW (RUN TIME 3:08)

WOKC Photo boys school search day 3 photo 2Glades County commissioners rejected the only bid they received on the Moore Haven canal Moonshine March project. The only company was a barge company that specializes in water projects, Gator Dredging. Their bid was 1 point 85 million dollars. The county received a 1 million dollar grant to do the work from the South Florida Water Management District. They intend to advertise and change the scope to make it more of an excavation project.

The commission also approved the transfer of 20 thousand dollars from contingency to pay for required upgrades for the Clerk of the courts website, mandated by the state. Clerk Sandra Brown said it will put more information on line and help attorneys file their documents online. The total project is 43 thousand dollars.

The county also is looking for a new janitor for the court house. Long time janitor Shorty Garcia asked for a 5 hundred dollar per month increase, which is 20 percent more than his current bill. Commissioners said they couldn’t justify such an increase when county employees have gone several years without significant raises. They’ve advertised for bids for custodial work at the court house and might add some maintenance duties to the position.

In the courts, 24 year old Jarrod Hair was sentenced to nine months in the county jail and four years’ probation for charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. A charge of trafficking meth amphetamine was dropped by prosecutors. The sheriff’s office pulled over a vehicle on South East 40th Avenue last December 18th and allegedly saw smoke coming out of the vehicle and the smell of marijuana. 26 grams of methamphetamine were seized from the vehicle.

Press News Release Suspicious Incidents at Bus Stops

Sports Cast for April 20th:

Quentin Peters two run single in the first helped Lincoln Park build a quick 3-0 lead and they held on to defeat Okeechobee 3-2 in high school baseballs regular season finale Friday.

Trenton Hickman, Paul Jackson and Armando Rodriguez all had two hits for Okeechobee. Sean Osceola struck out 4 in two perfect innings of relief and Ryan Daniel pitched three shutout innings in relief for Okeechobee.

Rarely used senior Evan Faulk got the start in right field. He said he stayed with the team for four years because he liked the sport and being a part of the team. Paul Jackson said despite the loss the team isn’t discouraged. He said they played a clean game and didn’t just lose the game.

The boys host Westwood in a play in game for their district tournament tonight at 7 pm. Senior’s on the squad will be honored at 6:30 pm.

Okeechobee softball will travel to Pembroke Pines Charter School in the regional quarterfinal on Thursday night.

Moore Haven will host Bradenton Christian in Class 3A on Wednesday night.


Suspicious Incidents at School Bus Stops

Suspicious Incidents at School Bus Stops

SEBRING – On April 15, 2015, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office received information that a young girl was approached by a Hispanic male driving a white, four door sedan while she was walking from her home on Kerry Drive in Sebring, to the bus stop. The driver of the vehicle was further described as having black hair and wearing glasses. He asked the girl if she wanted a free ride, which she turned down. This incident occurred at approximately 7:30AM however it was not reported until later that afternoon.

The following day, April 16, 2015, at approximately 3:00PM, Central Dispatch received a call about a suspicious vehicle in the area of Grand Prix Drive and Citroen Drive in Sebring. The complainant told deputies that an older model white van with beige doors was driving slowly through the neighborhood. The driver of this vehicle was described as a white male, looking “very neat”, in contrast to the looks of the vehicle. This occurred during the time frame that juveniles get off the bus from school in this area.

At this time it is unknown if these two incidents have any connection with the incidents reported yesterday which occurred previously in the Avon Park area. Parents are once again advised to alert their children regarding suspicious vehicles and persons who may approach them on the way to or from school. Please tell your children not to interact with these persons and to find an adult and call 911.

Anyone with information on any suspicious vehicles or incidents involving children on their way to or from school is requested to call the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Special Victim’s Unit at 863-402-7357 and speak to Sergeant Anthony McGann. Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS(8477), contact us on the internet at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com or simply scan the QR code at right. Anonymity is guaranteed!


Free hunter safety course offered in Broward, Palm Beach, Okeechobee counties

Free hunter safety course offered in Broward, Palm Beach, Okeechobee counties

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering a free hunter safety Internet-completion course in Broward, Palm Beach and Okeechobee counties.

  • Broward County: April 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gun World of South Florida

1700 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach

  • Palm Beach County: April 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Gator Guns & Archery Center

2154 Zip Code Place, #7, West Palm Beach

  • Okeechobee County: April 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Shooting Range

5025 S.W. 26th Ave., Okeechobee

Students must complete the Internet course before coming to class and bring a copy of the final report from the online portion of the course. The final report form does not have to be notarized.

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 the FWC’s South Region Office at 561-625-5122.


« Previous PageNext Page »