Local News

Gilbert Chevrolet Celebrates 85th Anniversary (Audio Included)

Gilbert Chevrolet Celebrates 85th Anniversary

(Audio Included)

Caption: Gilbert Chevrolet owner-dealer Christa Luna speaks to the crowd. Photo credit to Kris Angsuwan, Gilbert Experience

Gilbert Chevrolet celebrated 85 years in business with a public birthday party held at Gilbert Chevrolet November 15th.

The event was attended by ownership, management and employees from the Gilbert Family of companies along members of the community. Entertainment was provided in the form of live music and attendees were treated to an evening of dancing and socializing. Food was also served. A drawing was held at the end of the evening and one attendee won $1,933, signifying the year Gilbert Chevrolet began.

Gilbert Chevrolet was started in 1933 by Hugh Gilbert Culbreth Sr and has been family run for it’s entire existence. Culbreth Sr’s granddaughter Krista Luna is currently the owner-deal for the company.

J.D Mixon, the operations manager for The Gilbert Family of Companies says that commitment to the customer and community is a large factor in Gilbert Chevrolet’s longevity,  “The first question is not the revenue or the bottom line, the question is does this best serve the customer…”

CLICK THIS LINK TO LISTEN TO MIXON SPEAK ON THE EVENT (Run Time 3:18)


News Cast 11/20

News Cast for November 20th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet this morning and they will hear from Airport Director Kathy Scott regarding an airport master plan for development and evaluation alternatives from Avcon and they will also look to approve an agreement with CivilSurv Design Group to provide construction inspection services for the weir replacement and stabilization of the banks of Otter Creek as a result of Hurricane Irma. The meeting begins at 9am in the Historic County Courthouse and it will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

The County School Board will also meet this evening for the first time in over a month and a half and they will welcome newly elected board member Melisa Jahner and they will look at amending the wellness policy. That meeting will be held in the school board office beginning at 6pm.

At their last meeting, Okeechobee County Commissioners discussed the future of the appearance and design of housing in the community. County Administrator Robbie Chartier says the code regarding acceptable housing design and appearance has not been updated in a while and as such, it has allowed older mobile homes for example to be here and while they may be up to code, the more they age the more they will not improve the housing stock in the community. While no decision was made, the discussion focused on what will be acceptable and affordable housing in Okeechobee County that is up to code and adds value to the community. Chartier says this is needed not just for the tax base, but also for future economic development. The issue will be back before the board at the December 6th meeting.

Chartier-Housing Standards 1

Chartier-Housing Standards 2

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a local man Saturday night on a host of charges following an incident involving his girlfriend and their son. Deputies were called to the 11 thousand block of SE Highway 441 just after 8:30 in response to reports that 34 year old Jesse Anthony Carran was getting obnoxious with his girlfriend as she was changing their son’s diaper, began touching their son’s penis jokingly and then started playing with his handgun while he was very intoxicated. Carran got upset with his girlfriend after she tried to take their son and leave and she ended up going to a neighbor’s house, leaving her son with Carran. Deputies arrived and apprehended Carran before giving their son back to Carran’s girlfriend. Carran was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest and child abuse. He was released after posting a $21 thousand dollar bond.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail at this time on charges of grand theft auto in connection with an incident Sunday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 38 hundred block of SE 128th Avenue just after two o’clock after they received reports that 58 year old Mark Anthony Haas had taken his mom’s Ford Explorer. Deputies say Haas’s mom told him he could not take it because his license is suspended and he was intoxicated. After an argument, he took the only key and drove off in the vehicle. After stopping at a friend’s house and passing out from intoxication, Haas’s friend drove him back to his mom’s place and Haas was eventually arrested and charged with grand theft auto. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County Firefighters had a vehicle fire to contend with Saturday afternoon. Crews were called to the 250 block of NW 102nd Street just after four o’clock and found a John Deere Gator four-wheeler fully covered in flames when they arrived. Firefighters needed about a half hour to extinguish the fire while using about two hundred gallons of water. No one was hurt. Investigators say the homeowner’s son was driving it earlier in the day and he noticed smoke coming from it. As he stopped it, it caught fire. Total damage is estimated at just over $15 hundred dollars. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

A Belle Glade man is dead after a vehicle accident yesterday morning. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 24 year old Deminke Shantell Hall was driving a Ford F-250 pickup truck south on US Highway 27 in Glades County just after ten o’clock when he drove off the road, onto the center grassy median. He overcorrected onto US 27 and crossed over the southbound lanes, onto another grassy shoulder before re-entering US 27 and overturning. Hall was ejected from the truck as a result and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Hall’s one passenger is being treated for minor injuries. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

30 year old Desirea Anne Mazzilli of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for drunk driving following a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond has not been set.

32 year old Amanda Leigh Williams of Okeechobee was arrested for retail theft from Wal-Mart. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

20 year old Mauricio Alejandro Serrano of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

44 year old Robert Russell Bolling of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from St. Lucie County for driving without a valid license. He’s being held without bond.

57 year old Philip Jaye Josselyn of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Maria Guadalupe Aguilar of Okeechobee was arrested for fraudulent use of a credit card. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Robert Lamonte Futch of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation when he failed to complete his community service duties. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

35 year old Jamie Bryan Lambeth of Okeechobee was arrested by police for violating a domestic injunction when he tried to get in the back door of his estranged wife’s house. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.


News Cast 11/19

News Cast for November 19th:

What could’ve been a major disaster early Friday morning turned out to be considerably less. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s officials say two empty automobile carrier cars from a CSX freight train derailed from the railroad tracks near NW 144th Trail and Lofton Road shortly before five o’clock. There were no injuries but the derailment blocked the road to traffic for nearly four hours as crews were busy clearing the area. Officials say the two auto carrier cars that derailed were upright and not in danger of tipping over. CSX investigators are looking into the cause of the derailment.

A former Okeechobee City Councilmember will be back in court next year to answer for charges of domestic battery. On Thursday, the attorney for 75 year old Mike O’Connor was granted a fourth continuance in order to discuss plea negotiations in the case and speak with the victim. O’Connor is charged with domestic battery and tampering with evidence in connection with an incident involving his stepdaughter in his gun shop last spring. O’Connor’s attorney, Jordan Showe, says they are discussing defenses in the case, one of them is what he calls the Merchant Immunity Act which he believes applies to O’Connor in this case, but Prosecutor Ashley Albright says it doesn’t apply in this case. O’Connor’s case will come up before the court on January 16th. The incident caused O’Connor to resign his seat on the city council a week after his arrest.

‘Connor Case Continuance 1

‘Connor Case Continuance 2

At their last meeting, Okeechobee County Commissioners took the time to review the performance of their county administrator Robbie Chartier. Commissioners not only gave Chartier a glowing review of her performance, they also approved a three percent raise in her pay. Chartier says she is “grateful and happy” to receive the vote of confidence and a raise from the commissioners and she says there’s always room for improvement and will continue to work hard to help make this community better. Chartier says the best part of her job is seeing the community evolve into a better place for people to live. Chartier has been serving Okeechobee County for twenty years, first as the Assistant County Administrator before ascending to the lead County Administrator post in 2011.

Chartier Performance and Raise 1

Chartier Performance and Raise 2

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for two local men this past Wednesday. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Ford pickup truck, driven by 20 year old Rodrigo Garcia, for speeding on the 33 hundred block of NW 36th Street just after eight o’clock. As deputies were getting Garcia’s driver’s license to check, they smelled a strong odor of marijuana in the truck. Deputies conducted a K-9 search of the truck as Garcia and his passenger, 24 year old Luis Garcia waited outside. The search turned up a rolled up one dollar bill, suspected cocaine powder and a vape pen in the center console. The liquid in the vape pen tested positive for marijuana and the powder tested positive for cocaine. Luis Garcia and Rodrigo Garcia were both arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Their bonds are set at $11 thousand dollars apiece.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local woman in county jail on a host of drug charges following an incident Wednesday night. Deputies were called to the 28 hundred block of SE 38th Avenue sometime before nine o’clock for a theft complaint. Deputies consented with the resident, 47 year old Kimberly Ann Johnson, to search the house. The search turned up a glass pipe in the living room with marijuana residue on it. A cap to a pill bottle was sticking out of Johnson’s shirt and Johnson was ordered to remove the bottle from her shirt and it contained Alprazolam, Suboxone and some methamphetamine. Johnson was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and controlled substances. Her bond has not been set.

Okeechobee County firefighters had another vehicle fire to contend with on Friday, the second one that happened last week. Firefighters were called to the three hundred block of NW 9th Street just before six o’clock and found a small pickup truck with the hood open and there were multiple fire extinguishers around. Investigators say the truck owner he was having trouble with the vehicle and was working on it when the fire started. The fire was reportedly extinguished in a few minutes with no one getting hurt. The fire however did damage some hoses and plastic covers on top of the engine. The cause of the fire is being investigated. Firefighters had a vehicle fire to contend with on Tuesday to a commercial vehicle on the 12 thousand block of Highway 70 East.

Hurricane Season is dwindling away and we are in the thick of dry season as of last month and that means the higher potential for grass and brush fires. With that, Highlands County had a major grass and brush fire to contend with this past Friday. Firefighters from Highlands County Fire Rescue and Florida Forest Service were called to a report of a wildfire just off State Road 70 east of the Brighton cut-off on the south side along the canal just after 1:30 and found a thirty acre sized grass fire burning. Firefighters got the blaze contained in nearly an hour and a half with no one getting hurt and no structure damages. Investigators say a vehicle going along the canal bank that was experiencing mechanical issues likely ignited the grass and the winds caused the fire to spread quickly.

On the arrest report:

28 year old Chester Eugene Woodall Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and drunk driving when he tried to injure someone with his car last month. His bond is set at $11 thousand dollars.

43 year old Henry J. Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

23 year old Rosa Jane Urbina of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession charges. She’s being held without bond.

29 year old Christopher Barton Hanson of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of petit theft and giving false information to a pawnbroker. He’s being held without bond.

18 year old Cameron Denice Carter of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and alprazolam, a controlled substance. He was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

38 year old Matthew Michael Howard of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of fraudulent use of a credit card. He’s being held without bond.

25 year old Ian Stewart Kopko of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past alcohol-related charges. He’s being held without bond.

36 year old Tara Marie Hand of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and having knowledge of it after a traffic stop. She’s being held on a five hundred dollar bond.


Dry Season Increases the Wildfire Potential

Dry Season Increases the Wildfire Potential

PALMDALE, FL – Along with the cool crisp air, Autumn marks the start of dry season and an increase in human caused wildfires. The Florida Forest Service, Okeechobee District, reminds residents and outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when utilizing fire for warming, cooking, or yard trash burning. Weather associated with a dry season, including low precipitation, dry air, and lower relative humidity, converts green vegetation into bone-dry, flammable fuel. As the moisture evaporates from the vegetation, the grasses turn brown and can easily ignite.

“Wildfires are usually preventable, because many originate from human error,” explains Forest Area Supervisor Mike Lisiecki. “The best tip I can give a novice burner is that a fire needs your constant attention, so plan to burn on a day when you can be there the whole time. Also, limit burning on dry windy days. If the wind is blowing over 10 miles per hour, hold off on your burn. Keep your fire small and have a water source and a shovel nearby to quickly extinguish it. Finally, when you’re finished burning, douse the fire with water and spread out the ash until the entire area feels cold to the touch.”

Forest Service Firefighters also recommend that you have a cell phone readily available and call 911 immediately if your fire escapes your control. In some more urbanized cities, open burning is prohibited; before you strike that match, call your local Florida Forest Service to verify restrictions, specific spacing requirements and burning hours for your area.

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

 


News Cast 11/16

News Cast for November 16th:

The 25th annual National Farm-City Week is in full swing and it all got started with a luncheon and agri-education expo yesterday at the Okeechobee KOA Campgrounds. Okeechobee residents packed the campgrounds to eat some good food, see some kids presenting their 4H projects and more. There were also awards given, specifically one to Gladys Freeman, who received an award for her contributions to agriculture. Freeman, a founding member of the Florida FFA and someone who’s been involved in agriculture all her life, says she’s amazed she got this award knowing there are plenty others who are worthy. Freeman says National Farm-City Week is important because farmers don’t get the recognition they deserve. Sponsors for the event include the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club and Farm Credit of Florida.

Farm City Week 1

Farm City Week 2

If your blood is Type A, B, AB or O, come on down to the Freshman Campus Auditorium behind Golden Corral this weekend. One Blood will be hosting the 13th annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup. Blood donations will be accepted all day tomorrow and Sunday, and there will be prizes awarded to some lucky people who donate blood this weekend. Coordinator Raye Deusinger says the Blood Roundup is usually done this time of year because as the holidays come, donations tend to slow down. Deusinger says if you’re on blood thinners, have a fresh tattoo or have donated blood in the last 56 days, you cannot donate blood at this time but you might be eligible to donate platelets. The Okeechobee Blood Roundup runs from 9am until 6pm tomorrow and on Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Every donation saves 3 lives. For more information, log on to oneblood.org.

Deusinger-Blood Roundup 1

Deusinger-Blood Roundup 2

It was a very special day for one Okeechobee High School (OHS) student this past Wednesday. OHS Senior Jemal Davis, who plays basketball for the Brahmans, signed with Warner University in Lake Wales to play basketball for them on a full scholarship. Davis, who stands just over six feet six inches tall and is a native of the US Virgin Islands, says he is “excited” to be playing for Warner in 2019 and it wasn’t just about the basketball program that got him interested in signing with Warner. While Davis is looking forward to playing in college next year, it hasn’t stopped him from setting some pretty high goals for the Brahmans this year. The Brahmans begin their season on Monday with a preseason tournament at Vero Beach and begin the regular season Tuesday, November 27th against Lincoln Park Academy. WOKC’s first broadcast of Brahmans basketball will be Friday, November 30th against Sebastian River.

It may technically still be hurricane season in Okeechobee County and we’ve had some rain recently but it didn’t stop a grass fire from happening early yesterday morning. Firefighters were called to the three hundred block of NE 80th Avenue shortly before five o’clock for a fire that involved ground fuels like roots and fine deadwood. Crews needed a few minutes to extinguish the ten by ten foot blaze while using about five hundred gallons of water. No one was injured and no damages. Cause is under investigation.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s detectives are on the lookout for a dune buggy that was stolen this past weekend. The dune buggy is a 2003 Recreational Industries, six-wheel amphibious dune buggy, Del Max Two, with a gray top, black bottom and the serial number on it is 19006. It was last seen at the 16 thousand block of NW 272nd Street on November 10th. If you have any information on the dune buggy or where it may be, please contact the sheriff’s office as soon as possible.

On the arrest report:

41 year old Jason Edward Strange of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for dealing in stolen property and providing false ownership to a pawnbroker. His bond is set at $12 thousand dollars.

18 year old Gordon Clay Trimble the Fourth of Okeechobee was arrested for tampering with evidence. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.


Jemal Davis Signs With Warner University (Audio included)

Jemal Davis Signs With Warner University

(Audio included)

Caption – From left to right: Jaeyon Davis, Sean Hanrahan, Sean Davis, Adisha Fredericks-Davis, Jemal Davis and Demetre Riles

Okeechobee senior Jemal Davis has only been in Okeechobee, or even  the country for that matter for two years, but he has made the most of his time. On Wednesday, Davis signed with Warner University in Lake Wales to play basketball next year.

Davis is set to  begin his senior year at Okeechobee plating for Demetre Riles and the Brahman basketball team that his high aspirations bringing back a core of players such as Davis, J-Quan Ferrol and Devon Freeman.

Warner University, under head coach Sean Hanrahan has had a lot of recent success winning two Sun Conference titles and winning 72 games over the past 3 seasons. Coach Hanrahan loves Davis’ spirit and extra effort he shows on the court. The six foot six and a half inch Davis fits the profile that Warner has been building. Currently, Warner University starts three players that are over six foot six inches and can play inside and outside.

Davis is very excited to begin his college career in 2019, but he hasn’t lost focus on his senior season at Okeechobee. Davis’ goals are to go undefeated in the regular season and make a deep run into the State Tournament.

Okeechobee begins their season on Monday with a preseason tournament at Vero Beach and begin the regular season Tuesday, November 27th at home versus Lincoln Park Academy. WOKC will again broadcast select games this season. Our first broadcast will be Friday, Nobvember 30th vs district foe Sebastian River.

Listen to the full interviews by clicking the links below:

Warner University Men’s Basketball Coach Sean Hanrahan (2:18)

Okeechobee High School Principal Dylan Tedders (1:58)

Okeechobee High School Boys Basketball Coach Demetre Riles (1:56)

Adisha Fredericks-Davis Jemal’s Mother (2:00)

Jemal Davis Interview after signing with Warner University (1:33)


News Cast 11/15

News Cast for November 15th:

An Okeechobee man is dead after a vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 28 year old Mark Richard Barlow Junior was driving a Ford F-350 pickup truck south on Parnell Road approaching the intersection of Route 66 in Hardee County a little before 2:30 when he didn’t yield the right of way to the driver of a semi-truck approaching the intersection from the east. Barlow drove the truck into the westbound lane of Route 66 and the semi-truck hit Barlow’s truck on the right side. FHP officers say Barlow’s truck rotated counterclockwise and entered a ditch on the southern shoulder of Route 66 before finally stopping. Barlow was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the semi-truck, 37 year old Cesar Yepes of Eagle Lake, was taken to Florida Hospital in Wauchula for treatment of serious injuries after a second semi-truck hit his truck from behind after he couldn’t stop in time to avoid the first collision. The crash remains under investigation.

If you have any concerns to address with US Senator Marco Rubio, today is the day to voice those concerns with him. Senator Rubio will be in Okeechobee today at the Okeechobee County Library on the two hundred block of SW 16th Street between ten o’clock and noon to listen to constituents regarding any concerns or issues they have as part of mobile office hours he’s been conducting across the state this week. Rubio and his staff have helped constituents with issues such as federal government services and benefits, including Social Security, Veterans Affairs, IRS issues, Medicare and visa issues and many more. These mobile office hours have been very successful in the past. If you have any documents you feel are important for the Senator to see, please bring them. Once again, mobile office hours for Senator Marco Rubio will be in Okeechobee on the two hundred block of SW 16th Street between ten o’clock and noon.

A former Okeechobee City Councilman will be back in court today to answer for charges of domestic battery. 75 year old Mike O’Connor is scheduled to appear in court today on charges in connection with an incident involving his stepdaughter in his gun shop last spring. O’Connor is also charged with tampering when he tried to prevent his stepdaughter from calling 911. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says O’Connor’s attorney has asked for three continuances for his client thus far and he‘s not surprised by that at all. The incident caused O’Connor to resign his seat on the city council a week after his arrest. His court appearance is scheduled for two o’clock.

‘Connor November Court Appearance 1

‘Connor November Court Appearance 2

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for two Okeechobee men and an Okeechobee woman yesterday. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Ford SUV, driven by 30 year old Jose Angel De La Cruz, on the 16 hundred block of SW 23rd Terrace just before two o’clock for a window tint violation. Deputies say De La Cruz didn’t have a driver’s license on him and dispatch revealed his license was suspended, prompting deputies to do a search of the vehicle with a K-9 unit, while De La Cruz and his passengers 30 year old Melinda Amy Gonzalez and 26 year old Brandon Clinton Pitt, were out of the vehicle. The search revealed a glass pipe, a digital scale, three syringes and nearly two grams of methamphetamine. Deputies say Gonzalez pulled a syringe from her shorts and put it behind her back before it was taken from her. A field test revealed it had methamphetamine on it. De La Cruz and Gonzales were arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, while Pitt was charged with resisting arrest without violence. De La Cruz is being held without bond, Gonzalez’s bond is set at six thousand dollars and Pitt is being held without bond because of warrants on him for other charges.

Okeechobee Police also had a drug related arrest recently. This past Thursday, police stopped a Jeep SUV, driven by 45 year old Elizabeth Christy King of Indiantown, on the 18 hundred block of South Parrott Avenue just after four o’clock after it was reported that King and her passenger, 56 year old Sonya Price of Okeechobee, were pulling on door handles and looking in car windows in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Deputies say King and Price were passing items between each other before they were pulled over. A K-9 was called in to search the vehicle and the search turned up a marijuana pipe, a baggie full of marijuana, a bottle of Wild Hemp and syringes and spoons which tested positive for morphine. Price was arrested and charged with possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia and King was arrested and charged with possession of controlled substances, cannabis and drug paraphernalia. Price was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond and King is in county jail on a bond of $85 hundred dollars.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a vehicle fire to contend with Tuesday afternoon. Crews were called to the 12 thousand block of Highway 70 East just before 5:30 for a trailer to a commercial vehicle loaded with pipes that was on fire. Crews had the vehicle driver move the trailer away from the fuel pumps and by the time firefighters arrived, the fire had been put out by the driver, who used a fire extinguisher. Firefighters say the fire began in the left rear hub of the trailer and while the fire was out, it was still very hot and had to cool off. Investigators say heat from either the bearings or trailer brakes caught grease on fire. No one was hurt. Total damage is estimated at $250 dollars.

On the arrest report:

43 year old Shanda Renee Walker of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of possession of a concealed weapon. She’s being held without bond.

18 year old Maria Guadalupe Aguilar of Okeechobee was arrested for obstruction without violence. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

44 year old Norman Andrew Leitner of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of fraud, trafficking stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old Patrick Michael Abel of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of grand theft auto. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

43 year old David Scott Cook of Okeechobee was arrested by police for loitering and prowling. His bond has not been set.

 


News Cast 11/14

News Cast for November 14th:

This past Monday was Veterans Day, a day to remember all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who fought for this country and its freedoms that we enjoy. With that, Flagler Park in Okeechobee was the setting for a special ceremony to honor all our veterans and understand the importance of these fine men and women who have served. Mayor Dowling Watford, a US Army veteran, says while this is a time to remember the sacrifices these veterans have made, it’s also to remember the sacrifices their families have made as well. The well-attended event was put together by members of the local chapter of the American Legion and members of the Junior ROTC were there to present the colors.

Watford-Veterans Day Celebration 1

Watford-Veterans Day Celebration 2

Okeechobee County Commissioners received a report from representatives of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at their meeting last week regarding the spraying on Lake Okeechobee. Mariah McInnis of the FWC gave the presentation illustrating the spraying that is being done on the lake to prevent the growth of harmful invasive plants like water lettuce and water hyacinth. McInnis says these plants in particular, once they start growing, are hard to manage and they damage native vegetation and wildlife and because they block out the sunlight, it causes even more problems. McInnis says the herbicides the FWC is using are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are safe for humans and wildlife and vegetation. You can check out myfwc.com for more information and spraying schedules.

McInnis 1

McInnis 2

An Okeechobee man is in county jail on some serious charges of sexual misconduct following a recent incident. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s detectives arrested 36 year old Javier Garrido Cruz early Friday morning after it was reported he’d been having sex with an underage girl. Detectives say Cruz reportedly was to take her to school but he didn’t and then around noon he demanded sex from her, which she said no. After they ate lunch together, he followed her into her room and forced her to watch pornographic films on his cellphone and then proceeded to touch her in a sexual manner and then have intercourse with her. Detectives collected evidence from the scene before arresting Cruz and charging him with lewd and lascivious behavior on a 12-15 year old victim. His bond is set at $85 thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local woman in county jail on aggravated assault charges following an incident Friday night. Deputies were called to the nine hundred block of NE 14th Avenue just after eleven o’clock after it was reported that 55 year old Geneva Guyton was threatening her boyfriend with a knife. Deputies say Guyton was asking her boyfriend for money while he was sleeping and when he said he didn’t have any, she pulled out the knife and held it at his chest and came towards him. Guyton’s boyfriend stood up in bed and grabbed her arm and took the knife from her. No one was injured. Deputies arrested Guyton and she’s being held on a five thousand dollar bond.

An Okeechobee woman is facing charges of drunk driving following a vehicle accident Friday night. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the intersection of NW 176th Avenue and NW 240th Street just before 8:30 after witnesses reported that a crash happened there involving 36 year old Becky Ann Yerkes. Deputies say Yerkes crashed her Chrysler four-door into the guardrail at the intersection, causing a thousand dollars in damages. A field sobriety test and alcohol on her breath proved Yerkes was legally drunk. Deputies arrested Yerkes and charged her with drunk driving and damaging property. She was released after posting bond.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Jared Willie Williams of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on warrants from Lee County for violating probation on past drug possession charges. He’s being held without bond.

37 year old Lawrence Wendell Wolf of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft and providing false ownership to a pawnbroker. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.

37 year old Scarlett Rose Yates of Okeechobee was arrested for providing false ownership to a pawnbroker. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

47 year old Arthur William Smedley of Okeechobee, an inmate at the county jail, was arrested for battery on a fellow inmate. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

44 year old Robert Russell Bolling of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

26 year old Jeffrey Thomas Lee of Okeechobee was arrested on a fugitive warrant from Alabama for failing to appear in court. He’s being held without bond pending extradition.

42 year old Roy Lee Melvin of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his live-in girlfriend during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Erin Marie Millheiser of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Broward County for cocaine possession. She’s being held without bond.

48 year old Richard Jason Friedrich of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test and resisting arrest after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

33 year old Jennifer Ann Green of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop. She was released after posting bond.

45 year old Michael Allen Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.


News Cast 11/13

News Cast for November 13th:

As previously reported, an area in Industrial Park in Okeechobee County Airport is available again for bidders thanks to a vote by commissioners and now it looks like there will be more airport land open for interested parties. At their meeting last week, commissioners gave the green light to Airport Director Kathy Scott to advertise Lots 19 and 20 at Industrial Park on airport grounds as open for bidding. The property was previously occupied by Hewitt’s Trucking Company and Scott believes that’s the kind of business that would be ideal for that land. The area is 45 hundred square feet and Hewitt’s Trucking Company had been occupying it until they left two months ago. Commissioners also decided to not move forward with a lease with PowerLift Doors of Florida on a piece of land on the 25 hundred block of NW 16th Boulevard, also making that area open to interested parties.

Scott-Airport Property

This past Wednesday, family, friends, co-workers and several townspeople gathered in front of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department to honor a sheriff’s deputy who lost his life in the line of duty last spring. A memorial was held in memory of 40 year old fallen Deputy William Gentry, who was shot while answering a call regarding a pet shooting on May 6th and died the following day. Spokesperson Scott Dressel says the memorial was well attended and included speeches from the local chaplain and Sheriff Paul Blackman. Dressel says the memorial was kept rather short because, well, the late Deputy Gentry would’ve wanted it that way. Meanwhile, the one responsible for Deputy Gentry’s death, 69 year old Joseph Edward Ables of Lake Placid, remains in county jail awaiting trial.

Dressel-Gentry Honored 1

Dressel-Gentry Honored 2

Okeechobee County Fire Investigators are looking into the cause of a fire that did considerable damage to a Miami-area flight school airplane Thursday afternoon. Firefighters were called to the 28 hundred block of NW 20th Trail just after two o’clock for a report of a plane on fire at the county airport. Crews arrived as did Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies and they discovered heat coming from the engine compartment and the plane’s hood covers were open to ventilate it. Investigators say the pilot and co-pilot had just landed and the plane shut off by itself and when the pilot tried re-starting it, they noticed smoke and flames coming from the engine compartment. They put out the fire with a fire extinguisher in just a few minutes. Total damage to the plane is ten thousand dollars.  No one was hurt.

One Sebring boy is dead and another Sebring boy seriously injured following a vehicle accident early Saturday morning. Florida Highway Patrol officers say a 17 year old boy was driving a Ford Ranger pickup truck southbound on Old State Road 8, south of Henry Drive in Highlands County at around 2:15 when, as he was negotiating a left hand curve, he drove off the road and onto the shoulder, causing the truck to rotate counterclockwise, cross the center lanes, go into a ditch and overturn. FHP officers say a 14 year old boy, who was riding in the truck bed, was ejected from the truck, killing him instantly. The 17 year old pickup truck driver was transported to Florida Hospital in Lake Placid for treatment. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

37 year old Ernesto Santiago Conejo Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on warrants from Highlands County for domestic violence by strangulation and tampering with evidence. He’s being held without bond.

41 year old Paula Rene Spigelmoyer of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.


News Cast 11/12

News Cast for November 12th:

An Okeechobee man and woman are each in serious to critical condition following a vehicle accident Wednesday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 19 year old Nikolas Ramirez was driving a Ford Fusion south on Highway 441 near McArthur Dairy Road just after 7:30 when a Jeep, driven by 36 year old Glory Morales, was coming from the opposite direction. As Morales was making a left turn onto McArthur Dairy Road, Ramirez’s car hit the right front side of Morales’ Jeep, propelling both vehicles onto the shoulder, ejecting both of them from their respective vehicles. They were airlifted to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce for treatment. Ramirez was charged for driving without a valid license. The accident shut down the road to traffic in that area for nearly two hours during the cleanup.

Okeechobee County may soon be the site for an integrated emergency management course. At their meeting last week, commissioners gave the green light to Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal to submit an application to FEMA for this emergency management course to be held at the Okeechobee Emergency Management Center. This week-long course is designed by FEMA to give small jurisdictions like Okeechobee the foundation and training to be able to skillfully respond to a disaster like a major hurricane. Smeykal says the course is integrated which means it would involve heads of non-emergency divisions in the county to take part in it. Smeykal says he’d rather have participants go to the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland to take the course but it’s just not feasible. Smeykal says if Okeechobee is successful in getting the application approved to have the course here, it will take place sometime in 2020.

Smeykal-Emergency Management Course 1

Smeykal-Emergency Management Course 2

It appears a spot in Industrial Park on the Okeechobee County Airport is open for interested parties once again. Commissioners last week voted unanimously to not move forward with a lease with officials of Fort Pierce-based PowerLift Doors of Florida to occupy land at the 25 hundred block of NW 16th Boulevard. Reportedly, the owner of Powerlift, Lynn Shepard, chose to not spend the needed money to have a spray room built for his business which would be required in compliance with county fire codes. According to Okeechobee County Fire Captain Ryan Hathaway. Airport Director Kathy Scott says despite the fact she is disappointed PowerLift won’t have their business at Industrial Park after all the work put into getting a lease for them, she says the land will go out for bidding once again and she’s confident there will be lots of companies that will be interested in using that land for their needs.

No Powerlift 1

No Powerlift 2

No Powerlift 3

On the arrest report:

37 year old Ernesto Santiago Conejo Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on warrants from Highlands County for domestic violence by strangulation and tampering with evidence. He’s being held without bond.

41 year old Paula Rene Spigelmoyer of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

52 year old Doris May Clark of Fort Pierce was arrested for violating probation on past drug charges. She was released after posting bond.

39 year old Eddie Clifford Dames of Fort Pierce was arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana after a traffic stop. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.


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