Local News

Hiking Trails Abound in South Florida’s Unique Ecosystems

Hiking Trails Abound in South Florida’s Unique Ecosystems

Miles of paths meander through SFWMD conservation and restoration lands

West Palm Beach, FL — Opportunities abound to hike in one-of-a-kind Everglades ecosystems, alongside a kaleidoscope of wading birds, alligators, wildlife, trees and flowers, on thousands of acres of public land managed by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

This month, the District joins the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Governor Rick Scott in recognizing South Florida’s environment during Florida Greenways and Trails Month.

In all, the SFWMD manages approximately 621,000 acres of land that are open to the public, including:

  • 330 miles of trails
  • 50 designated camping areas
  • 66 trailhead/parking areas available for public use

Some of the most popular SFWMD trails — many of which also host bike riders and equestrians — are located in Shingle Creek (Orange County); Kissimmee River (Highlands County); Florida National Scenic Trail (Hendry, Palm Beach, Okeechobee and Osceola counties); Ocean to Lake Trail (Palm Beach and Martin counties); DuPuis Management Area (Martin County); Bird Rookery Trail (Collier County) and Levee trails (Broward and Miami-Dade counties).

In all of the state, Florida is home to more than 4,000 miles of paddling trails, 8,000 miles of land trails, 32 national Recreation Trails and 8 multi-use state trails.

The South Florida Water Management District continues increasing recreational access to its public lands while managing them to support environmental restoration, flood control, water supply and water quality missions. Many of these properties are in their natural state or have enhancements such as picnic tables, informational kiosks, campsites and hiking trails.

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Citizens Encouraged to Shine a Light on Crime

Citizens Encouraged to Shine a Light on Crime

Osceola County On Tuesday, October 6, neighborhoods across Osceola County will celebrate the 33rd Annual National Night Out (NNO), a crime and drug prevention event. Typically held in August, many southern states have begun coordinating this event in October to take advantage of the cooler weather.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking residents to turn on an outside light from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. to support the campaign. This year, Osceola County neighborhood watch programs in Remington, The Oaks, Bella Trae, Indian Point and Sherwood Forest will participate by providing activities for their residents. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit will make an appearance at various communities by flying over and “shining a light” at these neighborhood events.

The purpose of this event is to increase awareness of crime and drug prevention, generate support for local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and law enforcement-community partnerships and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

“This is a night for citizens to stand together to promote awareness, safety and neighborhood unity,” stated Sheriff Bob Hansell. “National Night Out showcases the vital importance of law enforcement-community partnerships and citizen involvement to build safer neighborhoods.”

National Night Out began in 1984 to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, law enforcement-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. Thirty years ago, 2.5 million Americans took part across 400 communities in 23 states. Today, it has grown to more than 37 million people and 15,000 communities from all fifty states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

Suspect Arrested for Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sex

Suspect Arrested for Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sex

Late this evening, Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Kevin Cuevas-Segarra and charged him with Traveling to Meet Minor for Sex and Unlawful Use of a Two Way Device.  The investigation began on September 30 when deputies spoke with a 12-year old victim who indicated she was contacted by an unknown male, later identified as Segarra.  The victim told deputies on September 30, she was walking to the bus stop when she passed Segarra, a landscaper. He made polite conversation with her and asked for her phone number. She was afraid and provided him with her sister’s phone number.  When Segarra called her sister’s number, the incident was reported to law enforcement.

Today, detectives began texting Segarra and during those text messages, he made explicit and inappropriate comments.  He eventually made arrangements to  meet with who he thought was the 12-year girl and when he arrived at the designated location, detectives placed him into custody.  During his interview, Segarra cooperated with the investigation, but told deputies he thought she was 14-year old girl and only wanted to meet to talk to her.  Based on his statements and the evidence, Segarra was arrested and booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Kevin Cuevas-Segarra (8/8/95),, 3240 Pineridge Court, Kissimmee

DCF Recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DCF Recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is joining with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and community partners statewide to recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and educate families about warning signs and resources available for victims.

“Domestic violence is the second leading allegation reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Family violence impacts everyone from the victim to the household members who witness the event,” said Secretary Mike Carroll. “It’s crucial for us to wrap these families with services so we can end the cycle of abuse.”

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners or former partners to establish power and control. It may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and economic abuse.

“Advocates in Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers work tirelessly 24-hours-a-day to provide critical life saving services to survivors and their children.  The cornerstone of our work are the collaborative partnerships on both the statewide and local levels, especially the unique public/private partnership with DCF.  During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we encourage community members to contact their local certified domestic violence center and ask how you can be part of the solution to end this horrific crime that plagues our communities,” said Tiffany Carr President and CEO Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers provide crisis intervention and support services to adult victims of domestic violence and their children free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the 2014-15 fiscal year, more than 15,397 individuals received emergency shelter at one of Florida’s certified centers.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence regardless of age, gender or race. These questions can help determine if you or someone you know may be a victim.  Does he or she:

  • Isolate you from family and friends?
  • Say things to insult you?
  • Criticize your parenting skills?
  • Take your money?
  • Act as the primary decision-maker?
  • Prevent you from developing your career?
  • Physically harm you or threaten you with weapons?
  • Threaten to commit suicide?
  • Act like the way he/she treats you is your fault or you are over-exaggerating?
  • Threaten to hurt your pets?

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, call the Domestic Violence Hotline immediately at 1-800-500-1119.

For more information on where individuals and families can seek help or crisis services, visit www.myflfamilies.com/domestic-violence.

Contact: Michelle Glady, Press Secretary, 850-717-4450

Charles Murphy News 10/2

News Cast for October 2nd:

The Okeechobee utility authority finalized their budget which does not include any rate increases for water and sewer customers this year. They also decided to continue 25 percent reductions in hook up costs as a way to encourage new customers. Operating revenue will approach 9.8 million and expenses will be 6 point 5 million, a 1.8 percent increase.

OUA Executive Director John Hayford said Employees received a cost of living, merit compensation and bonus. The biggest expense will be the addition of the Pine Ridge Park utility systems that were ordered by a court.

Hayford 1

Hayford 2

The utility also will spend 91 thousand dollars to put in a new water mane as a park of a Department of transportation sidewalk project on route 70 west between South west 24th Avenue and South West 38th Terrace in Dewberry Gardens.

Among arrests, two inmates at Moore Haven correctional were charged with smuggling after cell phones were found in their cells, 34 year old Greggie Zamort and 40 year old Hector Pena. Zamort was also charged with striking a prison guard during a scuffle

Press Release for Highlands County

Hendry Co Cowboy Way Fatal 10-1-15

Mother Arrested for Child Neglect and Drug Paraphernalia

Sports Cast for October 2nd:

WOKC photo JV football Jensen BeachOkeechobee rallied from a 13 point deficit to defeat Jensen Beach 21-20 in junior varsity football action last night.
Jermaine Moore scored on a five yard run in the final five minutes to put the Brahmans ahead. Earlier he scored on a six yard touchdown run. Mateo Vazquez added a 24 yard touchdown run for Okeechobee.

Moore said his offensive line did a good job of blocking and his team never gave up.

Jermaine Moore on victory over Jensen

Brahman Coach Jeff Whitlock said he feels the team has exceeded his expectations as they’ve won three consecutive games.

Jeff Whitlock on win over Jensen Beach

Buster Mond had over 10 tackles, including five for loss. And Wyatt Todd and Jarrett Emmick added interceptions for Okeechobee.

On the sports schedule today, Brahman football visits Heritage Palm Bay as a big underdog tonight. Kickoff on WOKC at 7 pm. Boys golf meets Jensen Beach at Sailfish country club at 3:30, Moore Haven football hosts Evangelical Christian at 7 pm. OHs cross country competes at the Fleet Feet Invitational at South Fork Saturday morning and OYFL hosts five games with Lake Wales starting at 9 am tomorrow at Okeechobee high.

Lake Okeechobee East Shore Navigation Lock to Close for Repairs

Lake Okeechobee East Shore Navigation Lock to Close for Repairs

The S-135 is located in Martin County at J&S Fish Camp

WHAT:          The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will close the S-135 navigation lock on Monday to make repairs.

WHEN:          The lock is scheduled to reopen on October 22.

New Health Officer Speaks To Kiwanis Club

New Health Officer Speaks To Kiwanis Club

Tiffany Collins, Okeechobee Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health pictured with Kiwanis presenter Dowling Watford

Tiffany Collins, Okeechobee Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health pictured with Kiwanis presenter Dowling Watford

Tiffany Collins has recently been named the new Okeechobee Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health and spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee.

Collins’ duties are to promote and protect the health of all Floridians and visitors to Okeechobee. The Health Department provides clinical services using a sliding fee scale based on eligibility incomes. The Department also provides vital statistics such as issuing birth and death certificates and works to protect the air, food and water quality of Okeechobee County. The Department also works with the schools within the district to promote health and nutrition.

Collins identified the top risk factors as a top priority for awareness. They are hypertension, obesity, diabetes and teen risky behavior. Monthly task meetings under a group called C.H.A.T (Community Health Advisory Team) are held in an effort to improve these issues.


Charles Murphy News 10/1

News Cast for October 1st:

Shirts are on sale now! Go to our Facebook page for more details. A portion of the proceeds go towards Heroes for Hope!

Shirts are on sale now! Go to our Facebook page for more details. A portion of the proceeds go towards Heroes for Hope!

Local attorney and former city council man Devin Maxwell was found guilty of all counts at his trial Wednesday, DUI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of accident with property damage. Maxwell was sentenced to 60 days in jail, court costs and fines, 10 months’ probation and the loss of his driver’s license for one year. Eye witnesses placed Maxwell at a local bar and at the scene of the accident last July 4th on South West 21st Street near 7th Avenue. City police detective Jack Boon said they looked for Maxwell that night but were unable to find him. The Mercedes Sedan nearly struck a house, took out some shrubbery and tore down a power line that morning but no one was injured.

Among arrests, a 17 year old girl was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on a pregnant person, allegedly using a shovel in an incident August 21st. She was arrested Tuesday and taken to the Ft. Pierce juvenile detention center.

Tuesday she was charged in another disturbance call with criminal mischief and burglary an assault.

Okeechobee city council proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness month. Martha’s House Jonathan Bean was presented the proclamation. Council approved a text amendment to their land development regulations to allow free standing ATM machines in commercial districts. One was recently proposed at 5 hundred North Parrott Avenue. Council also approved a near 25 thousand dollar annual contract with Integrity Lawns to provide city wide lawn mowing and landscaping.

They also approved an application from Main Street to bring a 15 foot high snow globe for the Christmas festival on December 5th in Flagler Park. The globe has been a hit at such places as 6 Flags amusement parks, Busch Gardens and SeaWorld.

An Okeechobee man, Jorge Maldonado admitted this week he drove more than nine pounds of methamphetamine disguised as candy to Broward County. He said he was paid 2 thousand dollars to deliver the drugs in brightly colored candy wrappers. He pled guilty in federal court. Two other men, 53 year old Jesus Castellano and 38 year old Rogelio Betancourt, are scheduled for future court appearances this month.

Sports Cast for October 1st:

The boys cross country team took fifth place in their division at the Florida Runners Invite in Titusville Saturday. Daniel Shelley returned from injury to finish 21st overall with a time of 18:04. Hunter Sills finished 25th at 18:13.80, Adrian Guerrero finished in 30th place at 18:20.80, Brendan Patterson finished 52nd at 19:03.80, and Gerardo Saucedo in 63rd place at 19:18.70.

Patterson says he feels the cross country team will do well this year. Patterson says every member of the team seems to enjoy themselves and is getting a lot out of the sport this year. The girls team finished in 21st place.

Patterson 1

Patterson 2

OHS volleyball improved to 8-1 as they swept Bayside and Heritage Palm Bay last night on the road.

On the sports schedule today Yearling travels to Gifford for middle school soccer and volleyball at 4:30, Moore Haven volleyball visits Out of Door Academy at 5 pm. OHS boys golf takes on South Fork and Port St. Lucie at Hammock Creek country club at 3:30, Osceola volleyball and soccer visit Sebastian, OHS volleyball will host Port St. Lucie with JV at 5 and varsity to follow

JV football hosts Jensen Beach tonight at 6 pm. OHS swimmers host Sebring at 5:30 pm Moore Haven JV football hosts Glades Day at 6 pm.

Governor Scott: Florida’s Job Growth Rate First Compared to Largest States in August

Governor Scott: Florida’s Job Growth Rate First Compared to Largest States in August

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida’s private-sector job growth rate of 3.7 percent in August was the highest among the ten most populous states, including Texas, New York and California. This is the sixth month in a row Florida’s job growth rate has been first among large states. Compared to all states, Florida ranks second in the nation and is also 2.4 percent higher than the national rate.

Governor Rick Scott said, “For the fifth month in a row, we are beating our number one competitor, Texas, in job creation, which is great news. The only way we are going to stay in this top spot is if we work with the Legislature to fully fund Enterprise Florida in the upcoming Legislative session to help bring more jobs and headquarter relocations to Florida.”

In August, Florida ranked second among the largest states in total private-sector jobs added, with more than 254,000 jobs created over the year. This is the fifth consecutive month that Florida has created more private-sector jobs over the year than Texas, even though Texas’s population is nearly 27 million.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “The trend is now clear: Florida is the top job creator among large states. This is happening because of our low tax, pro-growth policies. Our goal is to have the best economy in the nation and we are moving toward that every day.”

Since December 2010, Florida businesses have created 940,600 private-sector jobs. In August, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.3 percent, approximately half the December 2010 rate and the lowest since February 2008. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.floridajobs.org.

Water Resource Education Program Hits 10-Year Mark

Water Resource Education Program Hits 10-Year Mark

The Great Water Odyssey has reached tens of thousands of students

West Palm Beach, FL — “Hydro” and “Agua” have traveled a long way.

The two animated water drop characters have led more than 60,500 elementary school students on The Great Water Odyssey through Florida’s wetlands, river and aquifers. They have even helped plan a sustainable future through water conservation and waterwise landscaping.

This year, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is celebrating its 10th year of offering The Great Water Odyssey training program at no cost to more than 2,700 elementary teachers in the District’s 16 counties.

In the classroom, the educational program becomes a creative, hands-on way to teach students about reading, science, language arts, geography, history and math by learning about water conservation.

Each animated learning module is followed by an interactive exploration screen, where students earn points by exploring a scene that reinforces the lesson.

From Orlando to the Florida Keys, the SFWMD has sponsored this animated computer program through Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies. Originally offered as an in-school teacher training, the program is now presented as an online training tool, broadening access and availability to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers throughout the region.

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