Local News

News Cast 11/6

News Cast for November 6th:

Officials from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) came to Indian River State College in Okeechobee County yesterday in a workshop session to gather feedback from the public on a water quality monitoring project for bodies of water in the state. This monitoring project was put into effect by the state legislature in 2016 when they passed a water bill directing the water management district to establish one in accordance with the Works of District Rule or Chapter 40E-61, because of the potential of high levels of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from the ocean that can get into bodies of water such as Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchie and St. Lucie Rivers, leading to the growth of algae blooms. Steffany Olsen, a science supervisor for the SFWMD, says this system will be a big help. Former Okeechobee City Councilman Gary Ritter spoke at the workshop and he says while these workshops are important for the sake of the state’s bodies of water, he hopes that the governing board will hold to the legislative mandate in lieu of wanting more regulatory authority and change that direction. There will be more workshops on this issue throughout the month of November in areas such as Stuart, Ft. Myers, Kissimmee and West Palm Beach. Any further information can be found at the water management district’s website at www.sfwmd.gov.

A well-known business in Okeechobee County was the recipient of a special award last week. Gilbert Ford of Okeechobee was the winner of the 2018-2019 Farm Bureau Advantage Dealer of the Year Award. This award is given to the Ford dealer who has worked successfully and cooperatively throughout the year with their local county farm bureau and has shown excellent customer service toward its members. JD Mixon, Director of Operations of Gilbert Ford, says it was exciting and an “absolute honor” to receive this award and it’s great to help people in the agricultural field and promote farm bureau discounts and offers. Mixon says putting customers first is probably why they were chosen for this award. The award was presented to Mixon and Gilbert Ford at the Florida Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Orlando last Wednesday night.

A report of a mobile home fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters early Monday morning. Crews were called to the 25 hundred block of 63rd Street just after 1:45 and were told by dispatch while they were en route that sheriff’s deputies had already put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. Crews arrived and didn’t find any visible fire in the mobile home but they did find a power strip plugged into the wall and it had a burned end on it which likely caused the fire. Crews stayed behind for the better part of 45 minutes to clear the area of smoke and shut down power to the home and remove the insulation from the burned electrical outlet. No one was hurt. Total damage is estimated at around one thousand dollars. It remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

39 year old Wendy Ann Snow of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond is set at $250 dollars.

38 year old James Michael Kendall of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $35 hundred dollars.

42 year old Tavares Whitehead of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

49 year old Tammie Renee Crawford of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

45 year old Telly Salvolas Andrews of Okeechobee was arrested for animal cruelty. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Dylan Gage Jacobs of Okeechobee was arrested for assault and criminal mischief. He was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

23 year old Maria Isabel Jaimes of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Dakota James Hart of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

48 year old Rogelio Soto Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

31 year old Arturo Casas of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft and disorderly conduct. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

40 year old Shannon Kieley Spears of Okeechobee was arrested on a Clay County warrant for failing to pay child support. Her bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

56 year old Geneva Guyton of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic abuse and disorderly conduct following an argument with her neighbor. Her bond is set at $1750 dollars.

56 year old Raul Navarro Tejada of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

21 year old Chastity Lorraine Harmon of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of cannabis possession and driving without a valid license and violating probation. She’s being held without bond.

24 year old James Glenn Spiva of Okeechobee was arrested for obstruction. His bond is set at $250 dollars.


News Cast 11/5

News Cast for November 5th:

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will be holding the first of a series of workshops in south Florida beginning this morning and their first stop will be right here in Okeechobee County.  The SFWMD board members will be addressing the water quality conditions in Lake Okeechobee as well as the Caloosahatchie River and the St. Lucie River. The meeting will be held in the Williamson Center of Indian River State College (IRSC) beginning at ten o’clock. It is open to the public.

The arrival of new information regarding the possible location of an Okeechobee woman, who has been missing for over twenty years, got the attention of Okeechobee County Sheriff’s investigators last spring and re-ignited a search. Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen says the restarted search into the whereabouts of Robin Flynn began in April when his department received information that her body might be found at the Four Seasons Subdivision in East Okeechobee County where she once lived. The restarted search, which lasted over six months and included excavation of the land, unfortunately did not reveal any sign of her. The then 23 year old Flynn disappeared in December of 1998 following a “physical altercation”, according to family. Stephen, a member of the sheriff’s department during the time this case began, remembers the exhaustive efforts put in to finding the missing Flynn (Stephen-Flynn Whereabouts 1). Stephen thanked members of the Peace River K-9 Rescue Association, FDLE Crime Lab and other agencies involved in this restarted search. The Sheriff’s Department continues to follow up on any leads in Flynn’s disappearance and if you have any information regarding this case, please contact the sheriff’s department.

While Halloween was the time of scary and crazy costumes and trick or treating, there was also a scary moment that took place during the morning hours following a domestic dispute and it unfortunately ended in tragedy. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 21 hundred block of SE 40th Avenue a little after nine o’clock after the caller said his 23 year old son Branden Tyler Masiero had taken one of his firearms and began walking down SE 40th Avenue. Deputies arrived and tried to convince Masiero to put the weapon down but could not and Masiero fatally shot himself. SE 40th Avenue, also known as Everglades Avenue, was closed to traffic during the incident and caused a lockdown of nearby Everglades Elementary School. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the school was under a “yellow lockdown” where students and faculty could remain in the school but could not go outside until the lockdown was lifted. Kenworthy says a great deal of thanks goes to the sheriff’s department for their efforts during this situation. No students or faculty were hurt in this incident. The road closure and lockdown were lifted sometime before noon.

A report of a dumpster fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters on the night of Halloween. Crews were called to the 35 hundred block of Highway 441 South a little after six o’clock, the site of a tractor supply company, and found two dumpsters, one of which was burning. Firefighters say store personnel tried putting out the fire themselves with fire extinguishers but to no avail. Crews got the fire controlled in about a half hour while using about two hundred gallons of water to put the blaze out. Investigators say the dumpster was heavily damaged to the tune of $15 hundred dollars. No one was hurt in the incident. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Michael Alton Murphy of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of cocaine and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

62 year old Robert Owen Hendershot of Okeechobee was arrested on a local capias warrant for failing to obey a law officer’s order to stop. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

43 year old Brian Steven Benefield of Okeechobee was arrested for second degree petit theft for the third time. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

43 year old Roy Lee Melvin of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and criminal mischief. His bond is set at four thousand dollars.


Search For Body Continues

Search For Body Continues

In April, 2019, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) received information regarding the possible location of the body of Robin Flynn.  Ms. Flynn was reported missing in December of 1998.

Once the location was identified, OCSO received permission from the current landowner to examine the property. An abandoned septic tank was found on the property and subsequently pumped out but no human remains were found.

In May, 2019, cadaver dogs from the Peace River K9 Rescue Association were utilized at the location and the dogs identified an area of interest.

Due to the area being heavily overgrown, a team of OCSO members cleared the area on the property by hand, followed by the use of a front end loader to help clear the area.

Once the area was cleared, a team from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit came to the location and utilized their Ground Penetrating Radar GPR) on the area. The Peace River Rescue cadaver dogs were then brought back and again showed an area of interest.

In September, 2019, teams from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Crime Lab in Fort Myers, Florida, the Anthropology Department at Florida Gulf Coast University, and OCSO conducted a two (2) day excavation of the area. Unfortunately no human remains were located.

In October, 2019, a team from OCSO conducted further examination at the location with an excavator, however no human remains were located.

Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stated, “We’d like to thank all of those involved including Peace River K9 Rescue Association, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, FDLE Crime Lab, the Anthropology Department at Florida Gulf Coast University, Austin Septic, Triple E Equipment, and Everglades Farm Equipment.

Although Ms. Flynn has been missing for more than (21) years, the Sheriff’s Office continues to follow up on any leads that may lead to her whereabouts and to give this victim and her family the answers they need and justice they deserve.”

No further information to release at this time, as this is an ongoing investigation.

Detective Dale LaFlam

Michele Bell, PIO


SFWMD Intermittently Closing Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail Bridge over S-191 Water Control Structure For Public Safety Maintenance

SFWMD Intermittently Closing Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail Bridge over S-191 Water Control Structure For Public Safety Maintenance

Periodic closures necessary to ensure public safety during construction, access to trail still available  

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Access to a short section of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail will be intermittently closed for brief periods of time between Nov. 4, 2019 and May 7, 2020 to ensure public safety during maintenance of the S-191 water control structure near Okeechobee.

The bridge over the S-191 structure and about 300 feet of the trail in both directions from the bridge will be intermittently closed for brief periods of less than a week at a time. SFWMD is improving two gates at S-191 and the closure is necessary to ensure public safety.

The closures include:

  • Nov. 4, 2019 through Dec. 5, 2019: the structure will be closed to pedestrians on Mondays through Thursdays and open on Fridays through Sundays.
  • Jan. 13, 2020 through Feb. 6, 2020: the structure will be closed to pedestrians Mondays through Thursdays and open on Fridays through Sundays. The structure will also be open on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Jan. 20, 2020.
  • Feb. 10, 2020 through March 12, 2020: the structure will be closed to pedestrians on Mondays through Thursdays and open on Fridays through Saturdays.
  • April 13, 2020 through May 7, 2020: the structure will be closed to pedestrians on Mondays through Thursdays and open on Fridays through Saturdays.

The structure will reopen permanently to pedestrian traffic on Friday, May 8, 2020.

The public may still access the trail for walking, biking or other recreation.

SFWMD will continue to provide recreation updates to the public whenever new public recreational opportunities become available. To learn more about recreational opportunities on SFWMD-managed land, click HERE.


News Cast 11/1

News Cast for November 1st:

Halloween was yesterday and Everglades Elementary School had a bit of a scary situation yesterday that caused a lockdown. Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department say SE 40th Avenue, known as Everglades Avenue, was shut down to traffic in that area sometime after nine o’clock because of an ongoing investigation and it was in the vicinity of Everglades Elementary School. The ongoing investigation caused a precautionary lockdown of the school. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the school was under a “yellow lockdown” where students and faculty could remain in the school but could not go outside until the lockdown was lifted. No students or faculty were hurt in this incident and Kenworthy says a great deal of thanks goes to the sheriff’s department for their efforts during this situation. The road closure and lockdown were lifted sometime before noon. At this time the sheriff’s department has not made any formal comments on the continuing investigation.

Kenworthy-Everglades Elementary Lockdown 1

Kenworthy-Everglades Elementary Lockdown 2

The Freshman Campus Auditorium was the site of the Okeechobee County School Board’s first ever town hall meeting Wednesday night. While it wasn’t a packed house like some other recent town hall meetings in the county, there were several people who made their concerns known to the board. One of them was Heather Hancock, who has a daughter in the ninth grade. Hancock voiced her concern on altercations between students and the fact that the policy on that is not clear to her; specifically if her daughter is physically attacked by another student, what can she do? Hancock says both parties are normally suspended but she believes that isn’t working and something else needs to be done. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper talked about how some students don’t want to be in some academic classes and they cause trouble for those students who do want to learn. Culpepper believes a vocational school is in order for those students and it would eliminate more than just unruly students. Those who didn’t make the town hall meeting can voice their concerns at the next regular school board meeting on November 12th.

School Town Hall Meeting 1

School Town Hall Meeting 2

A Port St. Lucie woman is dead and two other Port St. Lucie women are in serious condition after a vehicle accident Tuesday night in Martin County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 55 year old Theresa Lindenfelser was riding a Honda motorcycle westbound on SW Citrus Boulevard near SW Boatramp Avenue in Palm City a little before seven o’clock while side by side with another motorcycle, ridden by 52 year old Catherine Craft. Craft and Lindenfelser, who were trying  to pass another vehicle traveling westbound, entered the eastbound lane and directly into the path of an oncoming Nissan Maxima, driven by 32 year old Equila Augustin. Augustin’s and Lindenfelser’s vehicles collided head on and Craft’s motorcycle also crashed head on into Augustin’s vehicle. That accident caused the driver of a fourth vehicle to take evasive action and go off the road and overturn. He ended up with minor injuries. Lindenfelser was pronounced dead at the scene and it turned out she had been under the influence of alcohol. Craft and Augustin were taken to area hospitals for treatment and Augustin is facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

52 year old Shirley Lee Ardley of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of cocaine and the controlled substance alprazolam without a prescription. She was released after posting a $30 thousand dollar bond.

36 year old Michael Bruce McDaniel of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license, possession of Adderall without a prescription, drug paraphernalia and a concealed weapon by a convicted felon. His bond is set at $16 thousand dollars.

56 year old Harold Gene Serrett Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication and possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon. His bond has not been set.

54 year old Bennie Lee Crowell Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

24 year old Daniel Jordan Estey of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic battery and obstruction. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

52 year old David James Grossman of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

51 year old Margaret Ann Koss of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to re-deliver borrowed property. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

28 year old Lucas Dealon LaGrange of Okeechobee was arrested on a capias warrant for failing to appear in court and contempt of court on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct. He’s being held without bond.

39 year old Kenneth Earl Peacock of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

 


News Cast 10/31

News Cast for October 31st:

Halloween is here and it’s a time of scary fun and scary and crazy costumes. It’s also a time where kids will be trick or treating everywhere in Okeechobee County. With that, officials from the sheriff’s department are reminding parents to keep their focus on keeping their kids safe, specifically when so many are outdoors. Sheriff Noel Stephen is reminding parents to have their kids’ costumes reflective or made in a way so that drivers can see them, specifically as it gets darker, and have them wear masks that allow kids to see without any problem. Stephen says also parents need to stay with their kids during trick or treating and always be aware of traffic. Stephen says parents need to also be aware of sex offenders living in Okeechobee this time of year; officials say there are approximately 207 registered sex offenders living in the area. Parents can find out where they live by calling the sheriff’s office or by logging on to the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators website at http:// fdle.state.fl.us. The Sheriff’s Department is asking that all trick or treaters be done by 9pm; this is not a curfew but rather a guideline.

With Halloween here, officials from Florida’s Poison Control Center are also asking people to stay safe on this night. Dr. Alfred Aleguas of the Poison Control Center is especially warning people to check their kids’ candy from trick or treating and make sure they are in commercially wrapped packages. Dr. Aleguas also warns about glow sticks and glow jewelry; never chew or break them open and don’t use or share cosmetics with a funny smell to them because they can cause skin irritation. If you run into an issue with any of these, please call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. They are open 24/7.

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for an Okeechobee woman last Thursday morning. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Toyota four door SUV, driven by 31 year old Danielle Marie Meyers, on the 18 hundred block of SE Highway 441 a little before 11:30 for speeding. As deputies were asking Meyers for her driver’s license and registration, they noticed her hands were visibly shaking and she was not making eye contact with the deputies. That prompted a K-9 unit to be brought in to search the vehicle and the search turned up a few syringes and a plastic bag full of a substance which was proven to be methamphetamine. Meyers was arrested and charged with possession of meth and drug paraphernalia. She was booked into county jail and her bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

Officials from Moore Haven are advising water service customers to boil all water used for drinking or cooking due to a water main break at 7th Street and Railroad Avenue that happened yesterday. A rolling boil of a minute is sufficient. Bottled water can be used as an alternative. This precautionary boil water notice will remain in effect until further notice. Any questions can be forwarded to the clerk’s office in Moore Haven at (863) 946-0711.

On the arrest report:

51 year old Laura Harvey Palmer of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for elder abuse. Her bond has not been set.

35 year old Lemmie Chad Prescott of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

35 year old Cory Lee Shaw of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of battery and criminal mischief. He’s being held without bond.

33 year old Raudel Carlos Slone of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of oxycodone without a prescription. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

29 year old Joann Jeanette Crudup of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

28 year old Michael Ronald Holmes of Okeechobee was arrested on a capias warrant for aggravated stalking. He’s being held without bond.

38 year old Whitman Daniel Miner of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $35 hundred dollars.

21 year old Oneisha Lashae Brown of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and causing property damage after a vehicle accident. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

25 year old Matthew Lee Cox of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of methamphetamine possession. He’s being held without bond.

31 year old Jessica Pinon of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

38 year old Jack Edwin Jernigan of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop and violating probation on prior drug charges. He’s being held without bond.

42 year old Ernie Paul Higginbotham was arrested on a warrant from Hernando County. His bond has not been set.


News Cast 10/30

News Cast for October 30th:

This is just a reminder that if you have a concern regarding the schools in Okeechobee County, tonight is your time to express that concern. The Okeechobee County School Board will be holding a town hall meeting this evening and it’s a time for the general public to come in and express significant concerns regarding the schools in the district. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the idea for this came up when he and the board members took part in a master board training provided by the Florida School Boards Association to find ways to work better as a team, be more effective and more transparent. Kenworthy believes that much like recent town hall meetings held by the city council and Sheriff Noel Stephen, this could be quite successful. Some issues Kenworthy says might be expressed by the public tonight include student achievement and transportation. However, Kenworthy stressed that this is not going to be a problem solving meeting like a workshop but rather a time for the board to listen to the public’s concerns. The town hall meeting will begin at six o’clock tonight in the Freshman Campus Auditorium. This will be the school board’s first ever town hall meeting.

A week from this coming Thursday morning will be a very special day in Okeechobee County with the opening of a brand new building. County commissioners will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house to celebrate the grand opening of the new county Public Works Facility. It will be the new home of the County Public Works Department and Road Division. Donnie Oden, Director of Facilities Maintenance and Development Services says it’s a “long time coming” for this building considering that they’ve been working in a trailer for quite a while and they were “due for a new building.” Oden says this building will be different than previous ones because it’ll be backed up with its own generator. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says the building only took about five or six months to build and the credit for that goes to Oden and his involvement on a very personal level with this project. The grand opening of the new Public Works facility will begin at 8:15 on November 7th and it’ll be located on the eight hundred block of NW 2nd Street.

A report of a structure fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Sunday afternoon but it turned out to be a bit different kind of fire. Crews were called to the two hundred block of NW 9th Street a little after 4:10 and actually were told by Okeechobee City firefighters that it was actually burning feed. Crews got it controlled in about ten minutes with no one getting hurt and no reported damages. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

An Okeechobee woman was arrested Saturday evening on several charges in connection with an incident involving her neighbor. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the five thousand block of SE 44th Street just after 6:30 after it was reported by the neighbor that 52 year old Maryann Puglia walked out of her home with a tray full of cat litter and poured it on her neighbor’s car and began yelling racial slurs at her in reference to her Hispanic ethnicity. Deputies arrived at Puglia’s home and found her walking away and she was not responsive to deputies’ commands to stop. They followed her into her home and told her she was under arrest for criminal mischief but she was screaming profanities at them and at one point grabbed a pair of scissors and was resisting arrest. She had to be held down for deputies to handcuff her. Puglia also kicked one of the deputies in the shin. Puglia was arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest along with criminal mischief. She was booked into county jail and released after posting a six thousand dollar bond. She’s also liable for the $350 dollars in damages she caused to her neighbor’s car.

A boating accident claimed the lives of a Port Salerno woman and a one year old girl this past Sunday night in Martin County. Martin County Sheriff’s investigators say 29 year old Paige Barrett and the one year old girl were part of a six person group that were out on a boat in the waters at Sandsprit Park in Stuart when it apparently crashed and Barrett and the one year old girl were ejected from the boat a little after eight o’clock. A search was engaged after emergency and marine unit crews arrived and Barrett and the one year old girl had been unaccounted for. Barrett and the one year old girl were eventually found unconscious and taken by EMS crews to an area hospital for treatment. Attempts to revive both were not successful and Barrett and the one year old girl were pronounced dead by medics an hour later. Marine Unit deputies found the other people that were on the boat and they were not injured. The incident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Ryan Joseph Bosold of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving without a valid license and possession of the controlled substance methylone without a prescription after a traffic stop. His bond is set at four thousand dollars.

35 year old Cory Lee Shaw of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of criminal mischief. He’s being held without bond.

50 year old Lasene E. Pack of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest after she was stopped by deputies regarding a possible warrant out on her. Her bond is set at $95 hundred dollars.

32 year old Elias Ponce Junior of Okeechobee was arrested on a capias warrant for drunk driving after a traffic stop for the fourth time. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

26 year old Joshua David Grossman of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic assault. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.


News Cast 10/29

News Cast for October 29th:

An Okeechobee man is dead after a vehicle accident early Sunday morning in Okeechobee County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 32 year old Lance Chateauneuf was driving a Chevy Tahoe west on NW 240th Street in Okeechobee just after 12:30 when for unknown reasons, the vehicle drifted off the roadway onto the right grass shoulder. The vehicle then drifted back onto the roadway and went down an embankment on the left side of the road while spinning clockwise. This caused the passenger side of the vehicle to strike a utility pole and finally stop on the south grass shoulder. Chateauneuf was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. The accident is under investigation.

If you have a concern regarding the schools in Okeechobee County, tomorrow is your time to express it that concern. The Okeechobee County School Board will be holding a town hall meeting tomorrow evening and it’s a time for the general public to come in and express significant concerns regarding the schools in the district. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the idea for this came up when he and the board members took part in a master board training provided by the Florida School Boards Association to find ways to work better as a team, be more effective and more transparent. Kenworthy believes that much like recent town hall meetings held by the city council and Sheriff Noel Stephen, this could be quite successful. Some issues Kenworthy says might be expressed by the public include student achievement and transportation. However, Kenworthy stressed that this is not going to be a problem solving meeting like a workshop but rather a time for the board to listen to the public. The town hall meeting will begin at six o’clock in the Freshman Campus Auditorium.

A few weeks ago, it was one possible plea change, now it may be two. Two of three Okeechobee County juveniles were in court again last week and while one of them is still pleading not guilty to charges in connection with an incident where they allegedly spat into the food of sheriff’s deputies at a restaurant they were working in last April, the other one may be entertaining a plea change. 17 year old Molly Spearow and 17 year old Logan Pope were in court again Wednesday and had previously been pleading not guilty on charges of violating the Florida Anti-Tampering Act for Food and Battery on a law enforcement officer when surveillance camera footage at the Highway 55 restaurant caught Pope, Spearow and 18 year old Alex Armstrong spitting into the deputies’ food. However, Prosecutor Ashley Albright says Pope is possibly looking at changing his plea to guilty when he appears in court again next month. Albright says this didn’t really come as a surprise to him. Armstrong will be back in court next month and he may also change his plea. Spearow is maintaining her not guilty plea and she’s due back in court on November 22nd. Attorneys for the juveniles have declined to comment.

A now former Hendry County bail bondsman pleaded guilty to third degree perjury charges in an Official Proceeding this past Thursday. Officials from the state attorney’s office say 28 year old Antonio Martinez of Labelle pled guilty to perjury charges in a case involving a former Martin County Sheriff’s deputy in connection with an arrest he made over two years ago. Hendry County Court officials say then Deputy Germain Garcia arrested Justin Perez of Labelle, who was 18 at the time of his arrest in 2017, for firing a handgun in public and carrying a concealed weapon. But charges against Perez were dropped because of discovery of evidence of perjury in the case on the part of Garcia and Martinez. Garcia was relieved of his duties and given three years’ state probation while Martinez was sentenced to 30 months of state probation and he’s required to permanently relinquish his license as a bail bondsman. He must also pay a five hundred dollar fine.

On the arrest report:

18 year old Edwin William Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on battery charges. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

44 year old James Alan Shockley of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

28 year old Oscar Nunez Calzada of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft auto. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

33 year old Anna Jane Mendoza of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. She’s being held without bond.

39 year old Alejandrino Aguirre Salinas of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past battery charges, driving without a valid license and giving false information to a law officer when he was arrested. He’s being held without bond.

60 year old John L. Pankowski of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at $250 dollars.

40 year old Nicole Lee Fortier of Okeechobee was arrested on a Desoto County warrant for petit theft. She was released after posting a $120 dollar bond.

31 year old Steven Wayne Lawrence of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and having knowledge of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

61 year old Roosevelt Fulks of Okeechobee was arrested for deserting his wife and children. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

20 year old Camryn Rae Cashwell of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct. She was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

32 year old Coleman Lee Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of trafficking stolen property, grand theft and giving false information to a pawnbroker. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old Camille Rousseau Waldron of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $750 dollars.

29 year old Erminia Meras of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft auto and violating probation on past charges of petit theft. She’s being held without bond.

37 year old April Lee Murray of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of driving on a suspended license. Her bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

19 year old Cutler David Meigs of Okeechobee was arrested by police for failing to appear for a drug court review. His bond has not been set.


News Cast 10/28

News Cast for October 28th:

Saturday, October 19th was a special day in Okeechobee County, specifically if you’re a registered Republican. The local chapter of the Republican Party gathered at the OK Corral for a Trump Day Fun Shoot and Dinner. Unfortunately, Trump was not there and the shoot part was cancelled due to weather but there was a dinner and several distinguished guest speakers including state senator and State Chairman of the Republican Party, Joe Gruters. Gruters says it was an “honor” to be there and he talked about the incredible education system, the great conservative leadership that has been going on in Florida over the past twenty years and he says we need to continue to focus on making Florida the ideal place to retire and he touched also upon Governor Ron DeSantis’s efforts to protect the waterways, specifically Lake Okeechobee. Gruter also discussed the importance of economic development in the state, specifically rural economic development. Other guest speakers at the event include Okeechobee Commissioner Brad Goodbread, and Kaylee Tuck and Ned Hancock, who are running for Florida House District 55 in 2020.

The issue surrounding the Mott property was a topic of discussion during the last Okeechobee City Council meeting. Mayor Dowling Watford says the notice of foreclosure will be filed while at the same time it is in probate. The property, which is located on SW 5th Avenue, has fallen into disarray with grass that has not been mowed and it’s racking up fines from the code enforcement department and it has been the focus of multiple visits from law enforcement. Watford says former city councilmember Noel Chandler, whose grandmother once owned the property, is looking to purchase it. However, there has been another potential buyer of the property that has been discovered recently and Watford says whoever purchases it, the property will be taken care of. The notice of foreclosure will be advertised for the next four weeks before any action is taken.

A vehicle fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called to the nine hundred block of NW 240th Street just before 1:30 and were told by dispatch that it was a fire to a Ford F-150 truck’s engine compartment. Firefighters arrived and were told that the truck fire was extinguished by people who worked for a porta john company, however there was a fire to the grass around the truck. Crews got that fire extinguished within about twenty minutes with no one getting hurt. Investigators say the fire did damage the truck’s passenger side in the area of the tire and there were some melted wires above the passenger tire area under the hood. The fire caused about two thousand dollars in total damages. It is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

61 year old Gordon Harmon of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

47 year old Tammy Marie Eckenwiler of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft. She was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

55 year old Margie Kathleen Hursey of Okeechobee was arrested for methamphetamine possession after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

34 year old Jennifer Lynn Shaw of Okeechobee was arrested on a local warrant for providing false information in asking for public aid. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

32 year old Athena Marie Valladares of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing, possession of alprazolam without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. She was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

45 year old Helen Marisa Dykes of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at three thousand dollars.

33 year old Jeremy James Miley of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Charlotte County for indirect criminal contempt. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.


News Cast 10/25

News Cast for October 25th:

The racquetball courts at Okeechobee County Sports Complex may be around a little while longer. At yesterday’s meeting, county commissioners have instructed Community Services Director Denise Whitehead to gather more information on the state of these racquetball courts before a final decision is made on their fate. Commissioners originally decided earlier this month that these racquetball courts, which have been the scene of vandalism, graffiti and safety issues, not to mention the fact that only a select few actually use them for their intended purposes, were to be taken off of surplus and designated for demolition. The commissioners decided to hold off on that by a vote of three to two with Commissioners Kelly Owens and Bryant Culpepper dissenting. Culpepper says based on what he and members of his family have seen at these racquetball courts, it’s time to get rid of them. Other uses that have been suggested for that area include a splash pad and a roller hockey rink.  Some of the things that have been found at these courts include used condoms, drug needles and dirty diapers.

Just as the Okeechobee City Councilmembers approved a proclamation earlier this month designating yesterday as World Polio Day, the county commissioners followed suit yesterday during their meeting. The proclamation was made possible by members of the local Rotary Club, who pride themselves on the eradication of this disease. Polio affects the brain and spinal cord, often leaving its victims unable to walk on their own. Amy Daniel, president of the local Rotary Club, was on hand for the proclamation and she says it was a blessing to be there for this proclamation and it’s great that the county and city leaders recognize this day. Daniel says there are still people, mainly children, around the world who unfortunately cannot get the polio vaccination because of terrorism in some of these places. According to the Rotary International, the third strain of polio has been eradicated around the world as of yesterday, leaving only one strain of the disease remaining. There are over 350 thousand children a year worldwide that are affected by polio.

This week has been a very important week for teen drivers and while the week is nearly over, it’s still important  to remember that this week is National Teen Driver Safety Week. This is a statewide effort made by members of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind young people just learning to drive that they need to have the message pushed on them of certain things such as buckling your seatbelt and keeping your eyes on the road when you’re driving. FHP Lieutenant Derrick Rahming says this is an impactful week for teen drivers and new drivers for that matter and he hopes this week will have that desired impact on them. FHP reports that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among Florida teens. Last year alone, vehicle accidents involving teens was nearly fifty thousand. That made up nearly 12 percent of all accidents. Ninety of those accidents resulted in teen driver fatalities.

A Fort Pierce man will be spending some time in prison after being convicted of real estate fraud. 46 year old Christopher Phillip Williams was sentenced to ten years in prison on Monday after being found guilty on a series of fraudulent real estate deals he made dating back to last year. According to St. Lucie County Sheriff’s officials, Williams would look for properties throughout St. Lucie County that appeared unkempt. Williams would then file quitclaim deeds on the properties, create phony witnesses, sign it and file it with the Clerk of the Court. Detectives said Williams would “cut and paste” notary information onto the documents which would allow him to obtain homes owned by other people. Investigators say fraud was reported to them last year involving a home in Fort Pierce, which was owned by two people from Haiti, who hired a property manager to maintain, renovate and rent it. The caretaker noticed the locks were changed and the owner had no idea, until they were told the home was sold to Williams. This had happened at three other homes and in one case an owner was living on the property when Williams took it and the sheriff’s department came and arrested him.

On the arrest report:

35 year old Cory Lee Shaw of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

48 year old William R. Kyles of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of at least four grams of heroin and ammunition by a convicted felon after his home was searched by narcotics officers. His bond is set at $750 thousand dollars.

50 year old Darvin Clayton of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Palm Beach County on charges of drunk driving and causing an accident with injuries. He’s being held without bond.


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