Local News

Charles Murphy News 7/17

News Cast for July 17th:

In politics Former Republican lawmaker J.D. Alexander will not run for senate in 2018 according to future Senate President Bill Galvano. The Bradenton Republican said it was his understanding Alexander wouldn’t enter the SD 26 race to replace Sen. Denise Grimsley, who is leaving the seat to run for Ag Commissioner. That leaves Republican Rep. Ben Albritton with a clear path to take over for Grimsley in the GOP-leaning seat, which is one of just two senate seats up for grabs in 2018 without an incumbent in the race.

A fire nearly destroyed a church in Okeechobee County early Saturday morning. The Missionary Church of God  at 64th Avenue and Center Street in Four Seasons sustained significant damage to the inside and rear of the building. The Church says they will continue on and do Gods work. The state Fire Marshall is investigating the cause. They are in need of chairs, or anything to sit on, tables, instruments, etc, if you’re interested in donating either items or monetary please call 863-801-1444.

More Floridians are falling victim to heat related illness.  Doctors say certain people face added risks and should take it easy in hot weather and that proper hydration is critical. Dr. Don Bucklin with US healthworks says folks who are very young or elderly, and obese people, should be careful this time of year as should those who are alcoholics or addicted to drugs.

On the roads, 26 year old Pedro Tomas-Sabastian of Indiantown was killed Saturday night on Kanner Highway in a crash near South West Groveview Terrace.

Troopers say he was westbound, crossed the center line and struck an east bound Chrysler.  The driver of that vehicle, 25 year old Jose Martinez, and his passenger, were not hurt.

Sports Cast for July 17th:

Carol Olney of Okeechobee was named to the Martin county bowling hall of fame this spring. She shot a perfect 3 hundred game at Stuart Bowl in February which is a requirement for the Hall of Fame. Olney says this was one of the things on her bucket list. Olney is also a member of the Flint, Michigan bowling hall of fame, her home town. She said the perfect game kind of took her by surprise as she wasn’t really aware until the 10th frame.

Olney says bowlers should practice, be committed, and have fun with the sport.


Charles Murphy News 7/14

News Cast for July 14th:

Day two of county budget workshops include a 6 hundred and 52 thousand dollar proposal for parks and recreation.  They also included 154 thousand for capital improvements. Parks and Recreation Director Albie Scoggins says the county facilities are aging and improvements are needed.

The plan includes safety netting at the sports complex ball fields, a rebuild or renovation of the Douglas Brown Community Center and an expansion of the Okeechobee Civic Center.  They also would like a multi use field at the Kiwanis Park. The cooperative extension proposed a 243 thousand dollar budget and requested a 15 seat van and a part time horticulture specialist position.

Senior services requested 993 thousand.  Last year they made over 10 thousand home service visits, and handed out over 26 thousand meals to seniors.

The road department requested a 4.4 million dollar budget.  They were able to clean 23 miles of large drainage ditches last year.

Planning and Zoning requested 493 thousand, building 558 thousand, and code enforcement 312 thousand.  Code enforcement opened 498 code violation cases last year.

The Tax collector requested 5 hundred thousand from the county and a three percent salary hike for employees.  They took care of 14 thousand transactions in their driver’s license bureau last year.

Arrests today include 25 year old Kasey Hill on assault on law enforcement and resisting arrest.  She was found lying in the middle of the road in Edwards subdivision.  She was given a ride by a good Samaritan to the hospital and then allegedly pulled a pocket knife on deputies investigating the call.

23 year old Daniel Kinzy allegedly gave deputies a fake name during a traffic stop.  He tried to run when deputies got his right name and tried to serve a violation of probation warrant.  They tased him as he ran away and found a 25 caliber revolver.

Sports Cast for July 14th:

Silas Madrigal is expected to be a key piece to the Brahman boys basketball program in the next three years. The freshman guard won the junior varsity MVP trophy this year. The member of the Seminole Tribe grew up playing basketball at various tournaments across the country. He says he took a big step forward this past year and enjoyed the trophy. Madrigal played Chobee Nation basketball this summer and worked to improve his game. The Junior varsity went 15-5 this past season.


Governing Board Announces Seventh Consecutive Year with No Property Tax Increase

Governing Board Announces Seventh Consecutive Year with No Property Tax Increase

Property owners will pay no more in District taxes next year after Governing Board locks in rates

West Palm Beach- For the seventh consecutive year, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board acted to unburden Florida taxpayers. The nine-person Board championed an annual budget in which residents pay the same amount of property taxes as last year or, in some cases, slightly less than last year.

“The Governing Board is committed to fiscal discipline while ensuring the District’s budget meets all the necessary public service requirements to protect and improve South Florida’s water resources,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “By limiting operating costs, administrative overhead and non-mission related projects, the Governing Board proudly continues its tradition of not raising taxes.”

The Governing Board locked in a rate reduction that compensates for the increases in property values measured by  property appraisers in the 16 counties represented by the Governing Board. This keeps the actual amount of taxes paid by existing property owners the same as last year.

The property tax revenue collected, along with state and federal funding, will pay for programs in the 2017-2018 budget including:

  • Providing flood control and hurricane response (including sufficient emergency and capital reserves);
  • Improving water quality and implementing projects to restore the Everglades;
  • Meeting ongoing water supply and water resource development needs;
  • Administering streamlined regulatory programs;
  • Meeting ongoing debt service payments, with no new additional debt proposed.
  • Completing ongoing Everglades Restoration projects.

The Governing Board will finalize its tax assessments and budget during two public hearings on Sept. 14 and 26.


Healthy Start Speaks To Kiwanis (Audio Included)

Healthy Start Speaks To Kiwanis (Audio Included)

Jayce Turgeon is the community liaison for Healthy Start Coalition and spoke recently to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee.

Healthy Start is an organization that reaches out to expected mothers and mothers of children up to three years old to offer them prenatal care and support. Healthy Start offers services from the first ob visit to during and after the delivery process. The mission of Healthy Start is: It is the intent of the Healthy Start legislation to establish a system which guarantees that all women have access to prenatal care and that all infants have access to services that promote normal growth and development. In Okeechobee County, this coalition believes that all women and children (up to age 3) should have access to services which promote the health and well-being of those county residents.

Ms. Turgeon spoke about the specific services offered by Healthy Start, different fundraisers and events the coalition has been involved in and some misconceptions the public has about Healthy Start.

For more information on the Healthy Start Coalition, go to their Facebook page or call 863-462-5877.

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee is a service organization that promotes the youth of Okeechobee and works to better their lives. The club meets every Thursday at noon in the back room of the Lakeside Grill. If you are interested in learning more about the Kiwanis Club, message their Facebook page or attend a meeting.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW (RUN TIME 2:05)


Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee welcomes new members (audio included)

Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee welcomes new members (audio included)

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee welcomed in two new members this past week, Victoria Wiltsie and Donna Ahern were inducted at a recent meeting. Nathan Pippen was not present but will also be inducted at the next available time. The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee currently has over 50 members.

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee is a service organization that promotes the youth of Okeechobee and works to better their lives. The club meets every Thursday at noon in the back room of the Lakeside Grill. If you are interested in learning more about the Kiwanis Club, message their Facebook page or attend a meeting.

Click here to here why Victoria Wiltsie wanted to join Kiwanis

Click here to here why Donna Ahern wanted to join Kiwani


Charles Murphy News 7/13

News Cast for July 13th:

Okeechobee county commissioners began budget discussions Wednesday. The Sheriff requested a 17.2 million dollar budget this year, a seven percent increase over last year. The biggest increase comes in court house security’s budget. The Property appraiser asked for 1.24 million, a reduction of 1 percent. The Supervisor of Elections requested 446 thousand.

Fire Rescue requested a budget of just over 6 million dollars.  They report that calls have increased by 14 percent.  They also asked to budget a community risk reduction officer position.

Emergency management requested just under 2 hundred thousand, Mosquito control over 85 thousand, the county attorney 1 hundred and 62 thousand, a 2.6 percent increase, and veterans’ services wants just under 78 thousand, with new brochures to help educate veterans to their benefits.

New Horizons requested 51 thousand for mental health and the counties contribution to Medicaid increased by 3.1 percent to 751 thousand dollars.

Events at the Agri Civic Center had dropped by 15 percent this year with 55 events, the economic impact has also fallen from 3 point 2 million last year to 1.9 million so far this year.

Facility maintenance requested a 1.9 million dollar budget.

The health department requested a five percent increase in local funds to 210 thousand.

Budget workshops continue this morning at 9 am.

Sports Cast for July 13th:

The Okeechobee high school  girls golf program took a huge step forward last year and hope to do the same in 2 thousand 17. Coach Morgan Ungerott says the girls also made the sport enjoyable last fall. She said the girls also did a lot of work to improve their swings and their games.  She said they came a long way from the start of the season. Four of the girls, all underclassmen, never played competitive golf before they joined the team.

Most of the girls will return to the squad this year.  She said they will have higher expectations this year.

Emily Rhodes was the MVP and only a few strokes from qualifying for regional.


Governor Scott Signs Legislation to Combat Opioid Abuse

Governor Scott Signs Legislation to Combat Opioid Abuse

SARASOTA, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott hosted a ceremonial bill signing at the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center for HB 477, which creates new penalties and enhances existing penalties relating to synthetic opioid drugs, including fentanyl. This bill, along with the Public Health Emergency Governor Scott directed in May, will help communities fight the national opioid epidemic and keep Florida families and visitors safe. Governor Scott was joined by Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, Congressman Vern Buchanan, and local law enforcement officers.

Governor Scott said, “I was proud to stand beside some of our hardworking Florida law enforcement officers to ceremonially sign this important legislation today. Our law enforcement officers are at the frontline of our fight against the national opioid epidemic and are often the first to respond to vulnerable families impacted by substance abuse. We will continue to do all we can to ensure our law enforcement officers have the tools they need to keep our state safe for Floridians and visitors.”

Congressman Vern Buchanan said, “I was pleased to join Governor Scott today for the ceremonial signing of this important legislation. Our communities are coming together to combat the opioid crisis and it is important that our federal and state partners continue to work side by side on this issue. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to keep families in Manatee County, Sarasota County and all across Florida safe.”

Governor Scott also highlighted the more than $27 million in federal grant funding that was made immediately available through the Public Health Emergency declaration. As part of this federal funding, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) allocated $375,000 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for Naloxone so first responders have immediate access to this lifesaving drug to respond to opioid overdoses. DCF and FDLE are working together to ensure local law enforcement agencies have access to this opportunity to obtain Naloxone for Florida’s law enforcement officers. DCF is also working to ensure recently purchased Naloxone is distributed to drug treatment providers, health centers, and other community agencies.

Sheriff Tom Knight said, “This bill gives our agency more resources to combat opioid abuse and keep vulnerable Floridians safe from harm. We appreciate the support of Governor Scott and our state leaders as we continue to work together fight the national opioid epidemic.”

FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “We are happy to work with DCF to ensure our local law enforcement partners receive additional resources to help combat the opioid epidemic.”

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “We appreciate the support of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to help fight the national opioid epidemic in Florida. DCF remains steadfastly committed to making sure quality treatment is available to all those struggling with addiction.”


Big Cypress Basin Governing Board Awards $2.1 Million in Cooperative Funding Grants

Big Cypress Basin Governing Board Awards $2.1 Million in Cooperative Funding Grants

Funded projects will help improve flood protection and water quality and ensure water supply in Collier County

Naples, FL- The Big Cypress Basin Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) on Monday voted to award $2.1 million in cooperative funding grants to four flood protection, water quality restoration and water supply projects in Collier County.

“These projects will help protect residents, improve the environment of Collier County and ensure the future viability of this region,” said BCB Governing Board Chairman Rick Barber. “We are very proud to aid these municipalities and utilities in getting the water right for Big Cypress Basin.”

Since 2006, the Big Cypress Basin’s Governing Board has provided financial assistance to local partners for flood protection, water quality improvement, natural system restoration and alternative water supply projects that meet the objectives of the Basin’s Strategic Plan and the Lower West Coast Water Supply Plan. The projects receiving cooperative funding grants include:

  • The Naples Bay Restoration and Water Quality Improvements at the Cove, which consist of stormwater and ecosystem restoration through dredging, construction of a pollution-control device and installation of a living shoreline that includes native cordgrass and oyster habitat. It will also remove about 3,000 tons of contaminated marine sediments; reduce sediment transport to the bay; reduce total nitrogen by an estimated 96 pounds per year and total phosphorus by an estimated 220 pounds per year respectively and remove about 2,500 pounds per year of sediment from the stormwater system. This project received a $75,000 grant.
  • The City of Naples and Collier County West Goodlette-Frank Road Area Joint Stormwater and Septic Tank Replacement project consists of the conversion of 373 residential septic tank systems to central sanitary sewer collection system and stormwater improvements. Stormwater improvements include the addition of roadside swales and inlet structures. While removing wastewater effluent from the watershed, the project will increase the volume of reclaimed water available for water supply use. The project will reduce the amount of nutrients reaching the Gordon River and Naples Bay. This project received a $1.6 million grant.
  • The Collier County Lely Branch Water Control Structure project, which consists of constructing a new weir on the Lely Branch Canal just north of the Rattlesnake Hammock Road culvert crossing. The project will benefit upstream areas by limiting the need for regulated releases of floodwater during the wet season; elevating groundwater levels in the shallow aquifers; reducing over-drainage from wetlands and native habitats; and enhancing surface water levels in area lakes. This project received a $200,000 grant.
  • The Collier County Golden Gate City Stormwater System Replacement project consists of construction of stormwater improvements in the 140-acre area within the northwest quadrant of Golden Gate City. This is the first phase of a multi-phased project. Benefits will include enhancing flood protection in the region; enhancing sediment removal; improving water quality; eliminating of the infiltration of silt, trash and debris into the stormwater system and increasing the storage capacity in drainage swales. This project received a $239,000 grant.

All grants are for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year beginning Oct. 1. SFWMD’s Big Cypress Basin provides flood control, ensures water supply and restores natural areas in Collier County and parts of Monroe County. It includes 153 miles of canals and 45 water control structures.


Charles Murphy News 7/12

News Cast for July 12th:

An Avon Park man was killed in a collision between his pickup truck and an Amtrak Train on US 98 at Cowhouse Road in Lorida. 54 year old Efrem Gibson went into the railroad crossing with the crossing arms down and was struck by the Train coming from Miami. He died at the scene.  Four minor injuries were reported on the train.  59 year old Patricia Riehle of Hollywood was treated at Highlands Regional.

Glades County commissioners Tuesday

  • Accepted two army surplus vehicles from the Florida Forest Service.  They will be converted into brush trucks for the fire department.
  • The Glades tourist development corporation has printed new brochures trying to attract tourists for hunting, boating and fishing.  The brochures will be placed at four North Florida visitor centers.

Buckhead Ridge has been under attack from burglars and thieves. Glades County deputies report several homes have been broken into and ransacked, one air boat was stolen, and also a vehicle.

Commissioner Tim Stanley says the sheriffs office has increased patrols in an effort to catch the bandits. Sheriff David Hardin says they are pursuing leads in the case and are hopeful of an arrest.  IN the meantime he urges neighbors to keep a close eye on vacant properties.

Sports Cast for July 12th:

Alexi Morgan was one of three underclassmen who qualified for the weight lifting regionals this year. She will be a junior this year. She says she enjoyed getting to regional. Morgan says she got to meet new people, made new friends, and enjoyed watching her teammates get better. Her best life was 130 pounds on clean and jerk.

They spent time lifting weight, traditional exercises, and running. Her ultimate goal is to make the state finals. She also plays volleyball and flag football.


Angels softball team captures state title | Okeechobee News

Angels softball team captures state title | Okeechobee News

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee Citizens Recreation Association (OCRA) Angels softball team went undefeated as they won the Florida Dixie Youth State Tournament Sunday in Bristol, Fla. The Angels defeated Hernando 9-5 in the first round on FJlu 7, Lake Placid 6-3 in the second round July 9 and West Pasco 10-6 on July 8 to […]

Source: Angels softball team captures state title – Okeechobee News | Okeechobee News


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