Local News

Charles Murphy News 12/12

News Cast for December 12th:

The locks at J&S Fish camp were closed down for repairs to the manatee protection system today. Water managers hope to have the locks back open early next week. Water managers approved deals to store more water to keep it out of Lake Okeechobee and the coastal estuaries.

The Russakis and Adams Ranch at the St. Lucie and Okeechobee line and the MacArthur Agro Research Center in Glades County will be used for water storage.

A load of citrus was damaged after a strap broke on a tractor trailer on route 68 east early Thursday. An estimated 8 thousand dollars in tangerines was lost.

Among arrests, 44 year old Pamela Sleeper was charged with battering a Martin County sheriff’s deputy trying to break up a fight outside Hurricanes Bar. She was also charged with disorderly intoxication. 22 year old PJ Oldfield was knocked out during the altercation and taken by ambulance to Martin Memorial North.

Martin County deputies say 15 thousand dollars in cash, jewelry and other items were taken in two burglaries in Indiantown this week. Two arrests were made in connection with a burglary on South West Fox Street. Facing charges of grand theft and burglary are 22 year old Christopher Scales and 19 year old Kareem Brown.

An Okeechobee man was accused of using a knife during a domestic dispute early Wednesday and then running from deputies on 441 south east near Lake shore curve. 31 year old Santos Diaz Gabriel faces resisting arrest and aggravated assault charges.

In the courts, 34 year old Theophilus Brooks of Clewiston pled no contest to second degree murder with a firearm and was sentenced to 45 years in prison in Glades County. Brooks was accused of shooting 21 year old Erica Vassell after some kind of argument and leaving her body along route 720 near Lake Okeechobee in February of 2 thousand 11.

Press News Release Media Alert K-9 Certifications

Highlands Co Fatal Tractor-Trailer crash

Okee Fatal 12-8-14 SR-70 and 8th Ave

Sports Cast for December 12th:

Cheyenne Nunez scored 17 points and returned to the game after a twisted ankle to push Okeechobee to a 46-37 defeat of Port St. Lucie last night in girls’ basketball action. Taylor Trent added 13 points, and Sha Dajia Williams added five steals and 10 rebounds. Shakenia Polk led Port St. Lucie with 16 points.

Brahman Coach Joe Smith noted it was a physical game and shows an example of how much the team has improved despite some ugly moments.

Joe Smith on win over PSL

Kareem Rodriguez on PSL hoops win

Treasure Coast shut out the Lady Brahmans in girls’ soccer at the stadium last night 5-0, putting three goals in the net in the first 10 minutes of the match.

Lady Brahman Coach Lori Harper-Kyle was enthused her girls didn’t quit after the slow start.

Lori Harper-Kyle on loss to Treasure Coast

On the sports schedule today, OHS girls’ basketball travels to Fort Pierce Central at 6 pm. Boys’ soccer travel to Clewiston with JV at 5:30 and varsity to follow, OHS boys basketball visits Westwood with JV at 5:30 and varsity to follow, OHS girls soccer visits Port St. Lucie today at 5 pm. Moore Haven girls and boys basketball visit Evangelical Christian tonight.

Saturday is the Big Lake Classic for high school wrestling, 10 varsity teams will compete all day, starting at 9 am.

Regino Garcia on win over Westwood

Lonnie Sears on win over Westwood

Erin Morrow on loss to Oslo


Governor Rick Scott Highlights $3.8 Million for Southeast Florida Rural Roads

Governor Rick Scott Highlights $3.8 Million for Southeast Florida Rural Roads

BELLE GLADE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott highlighted the three rural communities in Southeast Florida – Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay – that will receive $3.8 million in transportation improvement funds. This funding is part of Governor Scott’s Rural Areas of Opportunity program that is designed to help Florida’s rural communities continue to grow.

For more information on the funding, click HERE

SFWMD Sees Successful Response to Program for Local Water Projects

SFWMD Sees Successful Response to Program for Local Water Projects

Cooperative funding will help communities protect water resources

West Palm Beach, FL —The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) received a robust response from local communities across South Florida seeking support for stormwater management, alternative water supply and water conservation projects.

In October, the District requested proposals from communities for a new Cooperative Funding Program that provides financial incentives for local projects that can complement the agency’s multi-purpose mission: water quality, flood control, natural systems and water supply.

The District received 198 applications in the following categories:

  • 115 Stormwater Management projects
  • 58 Alternative Water Supply projects
  • 25 Water Conservation projects

“This excellent response is just the beginning for this program and provides the District with valuable insight into the water resource protection needs of our local communities,” said SFWMD Executive Director Blake Guillory. “I expect this effort to expand as the regional economy grows and revenue allows for additional financial support to further safeguard South Florida’s water resources.”

District staff is conducting preliminary evaluations of the applications and will present their findings to the SFWMD Governing Board at its February public meeting. Workshops will then be scheduled to refine the evaluations and provide the Board with additional information prior to funding decisions later next year.

Building on the Success of Three Cost-Share Partnerships

For nearly two decades, the District has provided support to local governments, special districts, utilities, homeowners associations, water users and other public and private organizations for projects consistent with the agency’s core mission.

The new program combines these three cost-share efforts into a single application process:

  • Stormwater Management: Managing stormwater runoff is a District priority that relies on successful local partnerships. Over the years, the District has helped fund hundreds of stormwater improvement projects that address both flood control and water quality issues.
  • Alternative Water Supply (AWS): Development of alternative water supplies is an important component of the District’s regional water supply plans. From 1997 to 2014, the District’s Alternative Water Supply funding program, in cooperation with the State of Florida, invested more than $193 million toward 488 AWS projects. To date, these projects have created 434 million gallons a day of water supply capacity, reducing reliance on freshwater sources.
  • Water Conservation: The District’s Water Savings Incentive Program, or WaterSIP, has provided matching funds to public and private water providers or to large users to implement water-saving technologies. Since 2003, the District has invested $4.9 million toward 172 projects throughout the agency’s 16-county region. These projects together have saved an estimated 2.76 billion gallons of water per year, or 7.6 million gallons of water per day. This program will continue to be administered separately in FY2015 and will be incorporated into the new Cooperative Funding Program beginning in FY2016.

FY2016 program guidelines and related information can be found at www.sfwmd.gov/coopfunding.

News Stories from Charles Murphy

FWC Find Donnie James in Lakeport

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission identified Donnie James, 65, of Fort Myers as the victim of a drowning in Lakeport on the Harney Pond Canal on Tuesday. James was on a fishing boat with his friend, Moses Cooper, 59, of Fort Myers. The two men were in the process of tying the boat to the pilon under the State Route 78 bridge when they both fell into the water. Cooper caught his foot on the edge of the boat and was able to crawl back inside. James never resurfaced. An autopsy was performed in Lee County which determined Mr. James died as the result of drowning. The Okeechobee Sheriffs dive team recovered the body in 25 feet of water at about 1:40 pm Tuesday.

Semi-Tractor Trailer Overturned

At approximately 2:21 am on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, a semi-tractor trailer hauling approximately 130 calves overturned on the northbound inside shoulder of the Florida Turnpike at mile marker 231 in Osceola County. As a result of the collision numerous calves were loose on both the northbound and southbound lanes of the Florida Turnpike. The northbound and southbound lanes were closed for the safety of the responders attempting to herd the calves from the travel lanes and for the public to prevent collisions with calves along the roadway itself. The driver of the semi-tractor trailer suffered minor injuries. Osceola animal control responded to assist with the calves, the vehicle owner was responding with additional cattle trucks.  There was a complete closure of the Florida Turnpike at mile marker 240 southbound (Kissimmee Park Road) and mm 193 northbound (Yeehaw Junction). At approximately 3:25 am a semi-tractor trailer (Fed-ex Truck) traveling southbound approaching the traffic back-up failed to slow or stop and collided with another semi-tractor trailer resulting in a collision involving a total of 3 semi-tractor trailers and 1 passenger vehicle. The collision resulted in the complete closure of the southbound lanes. The second collision occurred approximately ½ mile north of the original incident. The Florida Turnpike was closed. The second collision resulted in non-life threatening injuries to 6 drivers/passengers of the vehicles involved. As of 7:30 am, both northbound and southbound lanes remain closed at this time. Troopers expect the Turnpike to be completely reopened by 9:30 am (estimate only).

Charles Murphy News 12/11

News Cast for December 11th:

An Okeechobee jury found 22 year old Robert Cory not guilty of sexual battery of a child under 12. Prosecutors also dropped a charge of the use of a child in a sexual performance in the case last year soon after his arrest. He had been accused by a 10 year old Okeechobee girl of inappropriately touching her over a five year period and was arrested in July of last year.

Also in the courts, 29 year old Juan Antonio Ramirez received 536 days in jail for armed robbery in the city limits on May 26th of 2013. He allegedly robbed Moises Lara, an acquaintance, of 50 dollars. The victim as stabbed multiple times but the charge of attempted murder was dropped by prosecutors.

Former Martin correctional prison guard, 43 year old Ray Scott of Indiantown, received 20 months in prison for 101 felony crimes involving possessing child pornography. Scotts wife apparently found images on a jump drive in 2012 and turned him into Martin County deputies. It was also alleged that Scott placed a hidden camera in a guest bedroom of his home to record teenage girls.

Among arrests, 39 year old Waylon Jim of Lakeport was charged with criminal mischief, burglary and grand theft allegedly damaging two parked vehicles and a screened porch at Little Big Man’s RV lot. He allegedly stole a set of keys to a Dodge Ram pickup and when Glades County deputies came to investigate pressed the panic button on two occasions, raising suspicions.

Sports Cast for December 11th:

Demetrius Clark scored 18 points and missed just one shot from the floor and Lawhawn Mosley had 17 points and 11 rebounds as Okeechobee pounded Glades Day last night 59-25 for their second win of the season. Christian Fielder led Glades Day with 15 points. Clark said the boys were motivated after a poor performance Tuesday against Port St. Lucie. They held a team meeting Wednesday to rally the troops.

Boys’ soccer scores three goals in the second half to defeat Fort Pierce Westwood 4-0 Wednesday afternoon.

Coach Lonnie Sears said there was some improvement but too many missed opportunities. Josue Santibanez, Javier Hernandez, Geovani Garcia and Jose Jaimes scored goals for Okeechobee. Defender Regino Garcia said this win should help the team. Okeechobee girls’ soccer won for the second time, 2-0 at Westwood yesterday. Callie Swant and Jerri Sharpe had goals for Okeechobee.

On the sports schedule today, girls’ basketball will host Port St. Lucie at 5:30 and 7 pm. Girls’ soccer hosts Treasure Coast at 5 pm. Osceola middle school visits Oslo at 4:30 and 5:45, Yearling visits Sebastian Middle at 4:30 and 5:45. Girl’s weight lifting competes in the Padgett Invitational at 3:30 pm.

Centennial Celebration Discussed At Kiwanis Meeting (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Centennial Celebration Discussed At Kiwanis Meeting

From left to right, Heather Hancock-Kiwanis member, Magi Cable- Okeechobee Historical Society President and Ken Keller - Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee President

From left to right, Heather Hancock-Kiwanis member, Magi Cable- Okeechobee Historical Society President and Ken Keller – Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee President

With the year- long Centennial Celebration for Okeechobee approaching, there has been a lot of research done about our town’s history. Magi Cable, president of the Okeechobee Historical Society spoke recently to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee and has been assigned the task of creating a timeline of Okeechobee. Cable has researched newspapers, documents and interviewed long time citizens of Okeechobee during the process.


Charles Murphy News 12/10

News Cast for December 10th:

Charges are pending against a 43 year old Lake Placid man accused of running a red light in Okeechobee causing a fatal crash on Monday. Jose Cardenas-Molina allegedly was headed east bound in a 1995 Mack Truck, which broadsided a small Chevrolet compact driven by 76 year old Mary Kenyon at the intersection of route 70 east and 8th Avenue. Kenyon had the right of way according to the Florida highway patrol.

Two others in a third vehicle that was struck were unhurt, 39 year old Magdelena Taylor and 37 year old Kristie Adkins of Okeechobee.

Glades County Commissioners objected to lower density on 70 acres apart of a land use change proposed on Wayman Road. The would rather limit density on the total 512 acres, that includes a former turtle farm, to one unit per five acres in agriculture residential zoning. A final hearing is set for January 13th.

State prosecutors added two felony charges against teenager Nathaniel Doctor of DUI causing serious bodily injury for an August 15th crash that claimed the life of Briana Banuelos of Okeechobee. Doctor is accused of being intoxicated behind the wheel in a crash in the city limits that injured his passengers, Lacey Altman and Zachary Wingfield. He posted a 150 thousand dollar bond.

A female pedestrian was knocked unconscious but refused medical treatment after a crash Wednesday evening in the 2 thousand block of State Route 78 west. The woman had apparently had a verbal quarrel in a vehicle, got out of the vehicle and walked into traffic. Okeechobee deputies say no charges will be filed against the driver.

Sports Cast for December 10th:

Port St. Lucie dominated the second half as they outscored the Brahmans 43-11 after halftime in an impressive 69-32 victory on Tuesday night. Jaguars Coach Kareem Rodriguez said his team simply played harder in the second half. He said they played tight man to man defense and boxed out under the boards well.

Brahman Coach Demetre Riles said his team was flat on defense, didn’t cut off the baseline and didn’t adjust to the Jaguars aggressiveness.

The Brahmans won the junior varsity contest 48-43 as Janavise Futch poured in 19 points. Mateo Vazques added 10 points.

Yearling girls’ basketball fell at home to Oslo 40-12. Shamyra Williams had six points. Yearling also lost the boys game.

Osceola was swept by powerful Storm Grove, the girls fell 43-3 while the boys fell 55-16. Mark Youmans led Osceola with 7 points.

On the sports schedule, OHS boys’ soccer hosts Westwood today at 4 pm. Brahman boys’ basketball host Glades Day with JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 pm. Girls’ soccer travels to Fort Pierce Westwood at 4 pm. Girls’ weight lifting competes with Treasure Coast at 7 pm. Moore Haven boys’ soccer hosts Glades Day at 6 pm. Brighton charter school host Moore Haven for basketball at 5 and 6:30 pm.

Charles Murphy News 12/8

News Cast for December 8th:

Glades County Sheriff Stuart Whiddon says the effort continues to keep the INS Detention Facility operating in Moore Haven. He says he is hopeful after the midterm elections that the federal government might enforce immigration laws more vigorously and provide more inmates for the facility. Whiddon notes the facility is one of two in Florida that can be utilized. He is working with Congressman Tom Rooney and Senator Nelson and Rubio. In the end it will be up to the investors to close the facility.

In the interim the county has spent some money to repair the old jail and have money to remodel the old health department build should the sheriff’s office move out of their current location.

Okeechobee County supports the OUA effort to secure grants that could one day take septic tanks and put them on central sewer in Treasure Island. OUA Executive Director John Hayford said the Water Resources Development Act might have money that could help the OUA in this endeavor.

A Lorida man died Friday in a head on collision with a tractor trailer on US 98 in Highlands County. 65 year old Willima Sonnenschein was east bound on 98 when the Toyota strayed into the part of the west bound truck driven by 656 year old Marcus Jackson of Kissimmee. Jackson was unhurt.

Sports Cast for December 8th:

An outstanding comeback fell short as Okeechobee lost in Overtime to South Fork Friday, 57-51. Okeechobee had outscored the Bulldogs 23-5 in the fourth quarter to force the overtime. Thursday the Brahmans also played tough but lost to Sebastian River 61-53. Bubba Fludd’s ankle injury in the fourth quarter hurt the Brahmans ball handling according to Coach Demetre Riles, leading to turnovers that hurt the team. Shelton Thomas scored 26 points for Sebastian, 11 of them in the first quarter. He said he wanted his team to get pumped up

Lashawn Mosely had 13 points, Fludd had 12 and Chris Epps 10 points for Okeechobee.

The junior varsity Brahmans lost to Sebastian 48-45 and to South Fork 55-45.

Girls’ soccer lost at home to Lake Placid 3-0 on Friday.

Boys’ soccer won their first match of the year, 1-0 over Desoto Arcadia Friday.

On the sports schedule today, boys basketball visits Fort Pierce Central this afternoon, freshmen at 4 pm, and Junior Varsity at 5:30 pm.   Varsity tips at 7 pm.

Girls’ basketball visits Fort Pierce Westwood with JV at 4:30 and varsity at 6 pm.

Suspect Arrested for Road Rage Incident

Suspect Arrested for Road Rage Incident

Osceola County – On December 7 at approximately 11:00 a.m., Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the area of State Road 60 and Peavine Road in Yeehaw Junction. They spoke with the victims who indicated they were driving their Ford F150 west on State Road 60 when they attempted to pass a Kia Rondo. The driver of the Kia Ronda, later identified as Gregory Schwabe, intentionally swerved out of his lane in an attempt to run the Ford on the road. The driver of the Ford drove onto the grass, but was able to maintain control of his vehicle and passed the Kia. The victims indicated that is when Schwabe began tailgating them. When the driver of the Ford began speeding up, so would Schwabe. At one point, Schawbe passed the victims and then would proceed to slow down. Schwabe also stopped the car completely in the middle of the road, which caused the victims to swerve onto the grass. The victims attempted to go around the Kia when Schwabe hit their vehicle causing the truck to get stuck in the mud and water. In addition, there was damage to the driver’s side of the truck.

Deputies spoke with Schwabe who initially told them it was an accident. Schwabe said he only swerved in front of the truck to get the driver’s attention because he thought the other driver may have hit his car and not realized it. He could not explain why he never contacted law enforcement to report the accident. After deputies explained the victims had the incident recorded on their cell phone, Schwabe admitted to hitting them with his car. Based on the statements and evidence, Schawabe was arrested and charged with 2 counts of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. He was booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Gregory Schwabe (DOB 9/1/69), 4103 Village Court, Lake Wales


Gov. Rick Scott and Fla. Cabinet Issue Resolution Recognizing Sergeant Andrew Litzell as Trooper of the Year

Gov. Rick Scott and Fla. Cabinet Issue Resolution Recognizing Sergeant Andrew Litzell as Trooper of the Year

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –Today, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet issued the following resolution recognizing Sergeant Andrew Litzell as the 2014 Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Year. The Trooper of the Year is awarded to a deserving member of the Florida Highway Patrol for their outstanding efforts, courage and commitment to protecting the lives of Floridians.

Governor Scott said, “I am honored to recognize Sergeant Andrew Litzell as the 2014 Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Year today. Sergeant Litzell has served the Florida Highway Patrol with incredible courage and strength, and I am proud to join our state in thanking him for his service and dedication to protecting our families and communities.”

In December 2013, Trooper Litzell attempted to stop a speeding driver who instead initiated evasive measures. Trooper Litzell followed the vehicle until the pursuit led into neighborhoods and became unsafe to follow. Trooper Litzell later spotted the vehicle and reengaged in pursuit after the driver attempted to escape from his vehicle. Upon narrowing the distance between him and the driver, Trooper Litzell was shot directly in the face by the suspect, but was still able to apprehend the suspect despite the severity of his facial wound and a harrowing struggle. Trooper Litzell was transported via medical helicopter and made a full recovery following surgery. He has since been promoted to Sergeant and has received Florida Highway Patrol’s Medal of Valor and the Purple Heart. Trooper Litzell truly exemplifies the mission of the Florida Highway Patrol for service, integrity, courtesy, professionalism, innovation and excellence.

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