Local News

Charles Murphy News 11/21

News Cast for November 21st:

The Florida highway patrol was wondering why a 1997 Mazda wound up in a Moore Haven canal near the Caloosahatchee River Thursday.

Troopers say the vehicle was south west on Gulf Street stopped at the intersection of West Avenue, then proceeded to depart the roadway and enter the canal at about 6:15 yesterday. The driver fled the scene and is still being sought.

Okeechobee city council this week honored Brian Padgett for 15 years of service to the public works department. They proclaimed this week as Farm City week and November 16th as retired educators day. They also approved a bid with Auto Nation Chrysler Dodge to purchase 12 new Dodge chargers for the police department at just fewer than 22 thousand dollars apiece.

Terry Burroughs took the oath of office as the latest Okeechobee county commissioner Thursday. Retired Judge Bill Hendry also gave the oath of office to re-elected commissioner Bryant Culpepper.   Frank Irby was re-elected by his colleagues as chairman of the board and Culpepper Vice Chairman.

The commission also will send out request for proposals for developers interested in running or operating the Okee Tantie Campground and Marina.

Commissioners proclaimed November 29th as Small Business Saturday and set a December 2nd workshop meeting at 7 pm to discuss regulations at county cemeteries.

The Board opted not to take over OCRA football and baseball as a county program and urged the group to reorganize and become more efficient. They will work on a facility use agreement with OCRA for the use of the sports complex.

Glades Co SR 78

Sports Cast for November 21st:

Brock Miller had 20 points and Elliott Zirwas added 16 points as John Carroll hit 33 free throws last night and defeated Okeechobee, 59-52 in boys’ basketball action. Demetrius Clark had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the Brahmans, who fell to (0-2). Rams Coach Jimmy Hebb said his team pounded the ball inside and got easy shots and free throws. John Carroll jumped out to an early 13-4 lead. Okeechobee cut a 19 point fourth quarter lead to seven in the final minutes.

Jimmy Hebb on John Carroll win

Brahman Coach Demetre Riles says the Rams wanted the ball inside and didn’t do anything special. Bubba Fludd had nine points and six steals for Okeechobee.

Demetre Riles on loss to John Carroll

The Brahman junior varsity team defeated John Carroll 49-25. Janavious Futch had 18 points. The JV also defeated Immokalee this week 63-36. Futch had 17 points, Addiel Zamaro 15 and Joseph Benjamin 14 points in that victory.

Yearling boys’ basketball lost at Gifford last night, 59-22.

Brahman boys soccer lose 2-1 at Lincoln Park Academy, the Junior Varsity prevails 8-2.

The sports schedule tonight includes OHS boys’ basketball hosting Westwood at 6 pm for JV and varsity at 7:30 pm. Moore Haven boys and girls hoops visit Marco Island at 4:30 and 6 pm. Moore Haven boys’ soccer hosts West Glades today at 4 pm.

Charles Murphy News 11/20

News Cast for November 20th:

Tracy Downing was named the new principal at south elementary effective December 1st. Mike Radebaugh was reassigned as a teacher at the freshman campus for the remainder of the year. Superintendent of School Ken Kenworthy praised the job Radebaugh did but said he wanted an expert in curriculum and classroom teaching that could improve the schools FCAT scores. The school has been forced to add an hour of additional instruction this year. Downing says she has always enjoyed teaching at the elementary level but will also miss her job at the district office. Downing says she wants to get into the classroom and see the teachers in action and said the school isn’t defined by bad test scores but how they respond and their professionalism.

Tracy Downing on south principal job

The Florida highway patrol looking for a hit and run driver that damaged the gate arm at the railroad crossing on state road 78 at Tobias Road in Glades County early Wednesday. The vehicle was hauling a trailer and headed north bound toward Lakeport after the incident.

The Fish and Wildlife commission found the body of 62 year old Matthew Jensen of Boynton Beach on Lake Okeechobee late Tuesday. He had been missing since Sunday when his boat was found near Rardin Park in Pahokee.

Sports Cast for November 20th:

Girls’ soccer defeated Westwood for their first win of the season, 3-1 last night. Hannah Raulerson and Marisol Solis had goals for Okeechobee. Coach Lori Harper Kyle said the girls played much better on both ends of the field and gave her a good effort on the field. Raulerson dribbled alone from the mid field line to score and give Okeechobee a 2-0 lead in the first half.

She said the cold weather gave her adrenaline and her teammates really responded with a strong effort. Trudy Walker had 19 points and Antonette Booth added 17 points as Fort Pierce Westwood blew out Okeechobee, 59-10 in girls high school basketball last night.

Lori Harper-Kyle and Hannah Raulerson on soccer win over FPW

Trudy Walker on win over Chobee

Okeechobee had 42 turnovers in the contest due to aggressive, hard defense by the Panthers. Walker says that is what they are coached to do. Shytria Ash led Okeechobee with four points and six rebounds. Okeechobee won the Junior varsity contest 20-15.

Yearling girls’ hoops open the season with a 34-7 loss to Sebastian Middle. Sha’Myra Williams had four points. Osceola boys hoops lost to Oslo 52-20, Evan Neal led the Warriors with 12 points.

On the sports schedule today, Lady Brahman basketball hosts John Carroll at 6 pm. Boys’ basketball plays John Carroll at home too, the JV at 4:30 and the varsity around 7:30 pm. Yearling basketball visits Gifford at 4:30. Osceola basketball visits Sebastian Middle at 4:30. Brahman boys’ soccer visits Lincoln Park with JV at 5 and varsity at 7. Moore Haven boys’ hoops visit Imagine school in North Port and boys’ soccer visits First Baptist at 7 pm while girls’ soccer hosts First Baptist tonight at 5 pm.

Gov. Scott: Florida businesses created 32,000 private-sector jobs in October

Gov. Scott: Florida businesses created 32,000 private-sector jobs in October

Unemployment rate Drops from 6.1 to 6.0 Percent

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Governor Rick Scott today announced that Florida’s private-sector businesses added 32,000 jobs in October 2014. Florida’s annual job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s rate since April 2012. Florida’s statewide unemployment rate in October was 6.0 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from last month and down 0.7 percentage point from the October 2013 rate of 6.7 percent.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Today’s announcement that Florida has added 32,000 private-sector jobs is great news as we continue our work to ensure that every Floridian who wants a job can get one. Since December 2010, Florida has added 679,000 private-sector jobs, and it is clear that we are succeeding in creating an opportunity economy that supports families.”

Since December 2010, Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped 5.1 percentage points, from 11.1 percent down now to 6.0 percent in October 2014. Florida’s unemployment rate has declined or held steady over the month for 47 of the last 50 months.

Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “As the state’s primary economic indicators continue to improve month after month, Florida is showing the nation that low tax, pro-growth policies make a difference for families. The 32,000 new private-sector jobs, the 268,000 job openings, and an unemployment rate down to 6.0 percent mean that Florida is getting back to work.”

Florida’s labor force increased over the month and over the year in October. On an annual basis, Florida’s labor force has increased for 56 consecutive months. This economic indicator can be a sign of optimism as more people are entering the labor force with confidence in their prospects for finding employment. The labor force is defined as the sum of employment plus unemployment (those with a job and those without a job but actively seeking work).

The long-term positive trends in the unemployment rate and job counts are among the most important economic indicators to consider when analyzing the health of Florida’s economic recovery. The state’s private-sector job counts have been steadily on the rise for over four years, showing that Florida’s businesses are responding to the state’s improving economic climate. Since December 2010, the state has added 679,000 private-sector jobs.


More Floridians Getting Back to Work

  • Florida’s annual job growth rate has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012.
  • Florida’s private sector job growth month-to-month has been positive for 44 of the last 47 months.
  • Florida has created 679,000 new private sector jobs since December 2010.
  • Florida job postings compiled by the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board showed 268,453 openings in October 2014.

Home Sales Robust

  • Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 34.9 percent from December 2011 (Florida Realtors).
  • Florida median home prices were up 5.9 percent over the year in September 2014.

Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment

  • In October, Florida’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards reported more than 39,300 Floridians were placed in jobs. An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a CareerSource Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals, 8,346 previously received Reemployment Assistance.

In 2013, more than 479,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with 135,384 former claimants finding employment.

Children’s Services Council Earns Water Conservation Certification

Children’s Services Council Earns Water Conservation Certification

SFWMD administers Water Star Program in South Florida

West Palm Beach, FL — Using practices and hardware that conserve water at its Boynton Beach headquarters, the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County has earned a Florida Water StarSM Commercial certification from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

“I commend the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach for their work with children and commitment to saving water,” said Terrie Bates, SFWMD Director of Water Resources. “Every home and business that conserves makes a difference in protecting South Florida’s water resources.”

Florida Water Star is a statewide certification program to encourage water savings in homes and commercial buildings. Certification is achieved by implementing water-efficient appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes.

The program was initiated within the SFWMD in 2010 for the South Florida region by training and working with certifiers to confirm that the water-saving criteria are met. Approximately 18 commercial facilities and more than 1,100 Water Star-certified homes are now found across the state.

To earn the certification, the Children’s Services Council implemented a host of water-saving features, including:

  • Installing water efficient fixtures, including toilets and faucets
  • Installing Florida-Friendly landscaping
  • Building a water-efficient irrigation system

A trained certifier verified the work was completed at the 106,000-square-foot facility on High Ridge Road, where the council and a mix of social service, law enforcement and government agencies reside. The office building houses about 230 people.

Through its Water Star program, the District has achieved several conservation-related milestones, including:

  • The first commercial Water Star building in South Florida:  a new fire station in Martin County.
  • The first certified home in a planned 3,000-home development built by Lennar Home Builders in Orange County. When complete, Champions Gate West would be the largest group of homes to be certified as Water Star in Florida.
  • A Water Star-certified laboratory: the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida in Port St. Lucie.

For More Information:

  • Tips on how to save water are available at www.savewaterfl.com.
  • For a calendar of workshops for industry professionals on designing, building and certifying Florida Water Star projects, click here.

Governor Rick Scott: Our Prayers are with FSU

Governor Rick Scott: Our Prayers are with FSU

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Scott made the following statement in regards to the Florida State University shooting.

Governor Scott said, “Our prayers are with the families and loved ones of everyone touched by this tragedy. We still have a lot of questions that are unanswered.

“The police investigation will answer many of the questions we are asking today. But, just like any tragedy, the ultimate question of ‘why?’ will never have an answer that satisfies those whose loved ones have been injured or killed. For that reason, I am asking everyone on FSU’s campus and everyone across our state, and even the nation, to pray for FSU today. Pray for our state – and every student and family affected by this tragedy.

“Second, I want to thank the FSU Police Department and the Tallahassee Police Department for their quick response in keeping this campus safe. Because of your hard work and training – your response time was almost immediate and the campus is once again safe for students.

“While our hearts are broken for the injuries and the loss of life that occurred here last night, I have every confidence that FSU will become an even stronger campus as they come together and heal from this tragedy.

“The people of Florida, and especially those on our distinguished university campuses, are remarkable people. Everyone on this campus came here for a dream. They are dreaming of bigger and better things for their lives. They have careers they want to pursue; businesses they want to start; dreams of building a family… and that all starts right here with getting a great education at FSU.

“I know every Seminole has the heart of a dreamer. And, every dreamer is resilient. I look forward to seeing the FSU community all across our state and nation come together and lean on each other in the days ahead.  And, I know the unparalleled leadership of President John Thrasher will be vital to this school’s healing and continued sense of pride and unity.

“In closing, I want to address the students on this campus: As a father of two daughters who both went away to college not too long ago, I can imagine the anxiety your parents are feeling today. Please take time to call them and let them know how you are doing. Talk to them about how this has affected you. If you don’t want to talk to your parents, please talk to someone at your church, synagogue or one of the consolers being organized by FSU.

“We live in a world today that is always moving on to the next thing. But, I want to encourage you to take time and process the tragedy that happened here last night and not simply ignore it. This will ultimately be the most important thing you can do to move forward, grow stronger, and appreciate each and every precious day given to us by God.

“Finally, I am planning to connect with the families of those students still in the hospital and hopefully visit them there later today. We will continue to release additional information as the results of the investigation develop.”

Gov. Scott: Florida Tourism on Pace for Fourth Consecutive Record Year

Gov. Scott: Florida Tourism on Pace for Fourth Consecutive Record Year

Florida Has Already Welcomed Nearly 74 Million Visitors in 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that according to VISIT FLORIDA’s preliminary estimates* 23.7 million visitors came to Florida in the third quarter of 2014 (July-September), an increase of 3.5 percent over the same period in 2013.  This represents the largest third quarter for visitation Florida has ever experienced, exceeding the previous high of 22.9 million in Q3 2013.

Governor Scott said, “Florida’s thriving tourism industry is vital to growing jobs, and today’s report that Florida has experienced three record quarters so far in 2014, putting the state on pace for a fourth consecutive record year, is great news for Florida families. Tourism is a huge generator of jobs for our state and we invested $74 million into VISIT FLORIDA to create more opportunities for families.”

Through the first three quarters of 2014, VISIT FLORIDA estimates that Florida has welcomed 73.9 million visitors – an increase of 2.5 percent over the same period last year.  Visitor spending in Florida for January-August 2014 (last reported month) was $55.6 billion, representing a year-over-year increase of 7.3 percent from the same period in 2013.  Direct travel-related employment in Florida for January-September (last reported month) rose 3.6 percent, adding 39,900 jobs since this same time one year ago and marking the 55th consecutive month of job growth for the tourism sector.  Each of these figures marks a record, making the first three quarters of 2014 the largest nine-month period in the history of Florida’s tourism industry.

For quarter three, VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 2.9 million overseas visitors and 526,000 Canadians came to Florida, both of which are record Q3 highs and represent 2.2 percent and 1.8 percent increases over Q3 2013 respectively.  Estimates reflect a 3.7 percent increase in domestic visitors to Florida in Q3 2014.  Research also shows that Floridians took just over 7.9 million in-state pleasure trips during the third quarter, an increase of 37.7 percent from the same period last year.

“Florida’s tourism industry continues to break records for visitation, employment and visitor spending,” said Andrew Hertz, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors.  “This momentum shows that the wise investment Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature have made in VISIT FLORIDA is paying off.”

In addition to the growth in visitor spending as determined by Tourism and Recreation Taxable Sales, Bed Tax also increased year-over-year for January-June 2014 (last reported month), representing a 10.4 percent jump over the same period last year.  Other indicators were up for Q3 2014 as well, with the Average Daily Room Rate (ADR) rising 5.5 percent, the Occupancy Rate for Florida hotels increasing 5.4 percent and the Demand in Rooms Sold growing 6.8 percent compared to quarter three 2013.

“Florida tourism’s continued strength across all metrics indicates that we are well on our way to making Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA.

To view additional Florida visitor data, please go to the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website.

*Preliminary estimates are issued 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. Final estimates are released when final data are received for all estimates in the report.

Charles Murphy News 11/19

News Cast for November 19th:

A local man continues to recuperate at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center after being struck by a car last week. City police say 71 year old David Hamilton was struck by a north bound Ford truck driven by Iyana Smith of Douglas Park. No citations were issued.

A reward was increased to 1 thousand dollars for the person who stabbed a Tennessee walking horse mare in a pasture in Okeechobee on August 22nd or early August 23rd. The horse owner Patti Lee says there have been no arrests in the case and she hopes the reward might spur some leads in the case.

She said the horse has been recovering physically but will have lifelong scars. More information on the attack can be found at Net Posse.com and on Facebook

Patti Lee update on horse attack

Okeechobee deputies looking for some vandals that hit two homes in the Viking Prairie. One home on North West 2 hundred and 84th street was shot up when the vandals stole a 12 gauge shotgun, and shot out windows, into the walls, ceiling, home furnishings and the air conditioning unit. The second home on North West 280th Street saw about 10 thousand dollars in damages to the carpet and walls.

Pickering burglaries

Retired Judge Bill Hendry gave the oath of office to newly elected Okeechobee school board members Jill Holcomb and Dixie Ball last night.  Joe Arnold was also sworn in for a fourth term on the board. Michael Muros was honored for having a perfect score on FCAT 10th grade reading. Osceola math teacher took home the quarterly Golden Mouse Award for use of technology in the classroom.

On the roads, an 18 year old Port St. Lucie girl was killed on 441N near Yeehaw Junction Monday. The highway patrol says Sierra Rasmussen lost control in a 2003 Dodge pickup while north bound on 441 and left the road striking a tree. She was not wearing a seat belt.


Operation Outdoor Freedom Press Release

Roger Azcona on Navarro sentence

Sports Cast for November 19th:

Taylor Trent #5 is defended by Kayman Robinson of Clewiston

Taylor Trent #5 is defended by Kayman Robinson of Clewiston

Immokalee jumped out to an 11 point lead after the first quarter and defeated Okeechobee 62-55 last night in boy’s hoops action. Demetrius Clark had 15 points and Bubba Fludd added 12 points for the Brahmans. Osceola girls’ hoops opened with a 36-16 home defeat to Oslo last night. Judele Root led the Lady Warriors with 8 points in the contest.

Brahman soccer goal keeper Fernando Perez says he doesn’t mind having to pull more of the load this year as the defense and goal keeping will have to keep the team in matches.

Fernando Perez on boys soccer season

Monday they battled Jensen Beach to a scoreless tie.

Perez says he feels it’s his job to stop shots. Perez predicts the team will return to regional play this year. He said as a senior it’s his role to pick up and encourage his teammates

Travis Lagon and Virginia Villarreal on Clewiston hoops win

On the sports schedule today, Lady Brahman basketball will host Fort Pierce Westwood with JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 pm.

Girls’ soccer will host Westwood at 5 pm.

Lonnie Sears on tie with Jensen Beach

Missing boater’s body found on Lake Okeechobee

Missing boater’s body found on Lake Okeechobee

PAHOKEE, FL (WFLX) – Officials on Tuesday afternoon found the body of a boater who has been missing since Sunday night near Pahokee.

Florida Fish and Wildlife and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies spent all day Monday looking for Matthew Morgan Jensen, 62, of Boynton Beach.

Jensen is a band director at Emerald Cove Middle School. He has been with the school district for more than 40 years. Counselors have been made available at the school.

Officials said Jensen’s family has been notified. The body has been taken to the medical examiner’s officer.

Investigators said Jensen’s boat was spotted going in circles with no one onboard around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday near Tree Island.

Investigators used GPS to track the boat’s final movements.

Jensen’s wife said he was fishing by himself and wearing a white fishing shirt and blue jeans. “We have an idea where the boat took its last directed turn and there is a small stretch of area and then the area we found the boat, so the area between those is where we are focusing at this point,” FWC Spokeswoman Liz Barraco said.

Barraco said the idling boat was not damaged.

A Coast Guard helicopter joined in the search Monday afternoon.

Area fishermen remind everyone to wear a life jacket and also use a kill switch, which connects the life jacket to a switch that cuts power to the engine if someone falls off a boat.

Charles Murphy News 11/18

News Cast for November 18th:

Taylor Trent #5

Taylor Trent #5

An Okeechobee woman was flown to Holmes regional in Melbourne after a traffic crash involving a tractor trailer on route 441 in Kenansville last week. The Florida highway patrol says 21 year old Andi Baker ran a stop sign on Canoe Creek Road and travelled into the path of the south bound semi driven by 40 year old Carlos Rivera Carrasquillo of Orlando. Baker’s Chevy Blazer caromed into the Kenansville country store parking lot and struck a parked vehicle.

Among arrests, 36 year old Toni Brown was charged with burglary, loitering and prowling and other charges after a neighbor spotted suspicious people in a residence on South West 2nd Way.

The search continued for a missing boater on Lake Okeechobee near Pahokee last night. The Florida Fish and Wildlife and Palm Beach deputies used sonar equipment to try and find the boat captain. The boat was found Sunday evening north of Rardin Park.

An appeal will be filed for 51 year old Manuel Navarro, who was sentenced to 15 years last week for manslaughter in the stabbing death of his roommate, 29 year old Francisco Soto-Herrera in Basswood. Defense counsel Roger Azcona filed the necessary paper work after a hearing Friday. Azcona argued his client was forced to defend himself and should have received a lesser sentence.


Operation Outdoor Freedom Press Release

Sports Cast for November 18th:

Gabriel Hernandez #23

Gabriel Hernandez #23

Virginia Villarreal came off the bench to score seven points in the fourth quarter and Kiana Hardy hit both ends of a 1 and 1 with 15 seconds left to lead Clewiston to a 45-43 victory over Okeechobee in girls’ hoops last night. Sha’Daija Williams and Taylor Trent both had 13 points for Okeechobee.

Villarreal scored some big buckets in the final two minutes near the hoop that kept the Tigers ahead. Okeechobee had the last possession but couldn’t get a shot off as the final three seconds ran off the clock.

Clewiston Coach Travis Lagon wasn’t pleased with his team’s execution but was glad to leave Okeechobee with a victory.

Boys’ soccer last night ties Jensen Beach 0-0 at windy Brahman Stadium. Both teams had their opportunities to score but couldn’t capitalize. Brahman Coach Lonnie Sears was pleased with the teams’ unselfishness and passing but still is looking for some goal scorers.

JV soccer lost to Jensen Beach 2-1. JV girls’ basketball fell to Clewiston, 42-34.

On the sports schedule today, Osceola hoops host Oslo at 4:30 for girls, 5:45 for boys. Okeechobee high boys’ hoops open the regular season at Immokalee tonight, JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 pm. Yearling hoops host Sebastian today at 4:30 and 5:45. Girls’ soccer visits Fort Pierce Central at 4 pm.

Combat Veterans Find Solace in Hunting

Combat Veterans Find Solace in Hunting

Glades County, FL – Florida Forest Service and Lykes Ranch recently hosted two hunts for wounded American veterans in Glades County. These hunts provided a stress-free, relaxing time to foster camaraderie and rehabilitation. Sponsors provided funding for food, lodging and transportation for the participants, as well as deer blinds, camouflage, binoculars and any other equipment needed to ensure the success of the hunt.

“These two hunts were established to be therapeutic,” says Danny Callahan, Senior Forest Ranger, Florida Forest Service. “You are trying to outsmart the opponent in the woods,” Callahan explains, “this time it was wild hogs.” The tension builds, then comes a sudden rush of adrenaline, all while sitting next to a man with a weapon, whom you trust to make the right decision. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for the combat veterans to enjoy the outdoors and tell war stories in the woods or around a campfire. Combat veterans can find solace in sharing their stories with others combat veterans.”

The two hunts (November 4 & 12) were a great success and the four hunters came back with a harvest of wild hogs, from the Lykes Ranch’s hunting grounds, where the harvest was processed and distributed amongst the warriors.

“We are grateful for the donations to host these hunts,” says Callahan “this is a healing experience that creates lasting memories and new friendships”. For information on how you can donate to this worthy cause, please go to www.operationoutdoorfreedom.com.

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