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News Cast 4/12

News Cast for April 12th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet this morning and among other issues, they will look to approve an amendment of this year’s budget of up to just over $413 thousand dollars for five additional school resource officers in the wake of the tragedy in Parkland in February. They will also be looking to accept a proclamation for April to be National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The meeting will begin at 9am in the commissioners’ chambers at the historic county courthouse.

Okeechobee County Commissioners, city council members, school board, sheriff’s department and police department all came together at the commissioners’ chambers last night to discuss how to adequately fund the school resource officers as mandated by the state in the wake of the Parkland tragedy. The county will fund just over $350 thousand dollars for five new SRO’s and the city funding just over $160 thousand dollars for two more SRO’s to staff in county schools. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says he believes funding this might be able to be done without having to raise taxes in the community. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says he isn’t surprised the city and county leaders came together and worked so well together on this task. With the city and county’s funding plus the funding from the state, the total for these officers will be just over a million dollars.

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An Okeechobee County court judge yesterday handed down sentences to two Okeechobee men in connection with animal cruelty at McArthur Dairy Farm last fall. 44 year old Fernando Cruz and 36 year old Naul Dorantes-Garcia each received a year of probation, twenty days in jail which they can complete under the weekend work program and 72 hours of community service at an animal-related facility. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says the evidence against the defendants was quite strong. Richard Couto of the Animal Rights Movement says he was surprised at how strict the sentence was. Two more suspects in the case are still awaiting trial and two others are still at large. The attorney for Cruz and Garcia, Tom Colter of Stuart, declined to comment for this story.

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Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies are on the lookout for a man who is wanted for armed robbery of a convenience store earlier this month. Deputies say the man, identified by investigators as 42 year old Dwan Sharrod Marshall, went into the Circle K store on Route 441 just after 4am on April 1st and robbed the store while holding the store clerk at gunpoint. Marshall then grabbed the clerk and shoved her into the bathroom, threatening to kill her if she came out and then he left. Deputies say Marshall is African-American, heavy-set, approximately five feet eleven inches tall and weighing 350 pounds. He was wearing a red shirt, black ball cap with a design on the front and long black shorts. He was driving a white four door Chevy Lumina. He’s wanted on charges of armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated battery with a firearm, and grand theft. Any information on this matter should be forwarded to the sheriff’s office.

On the arrest report:

36 year old Joshua David Thomas of Okeechobee was arrested for writing and sending a threat to kill someone. His bond is set at $50 thousand dollars

61 year old Gregory Alan Davis and 64 year old Jacqueline Davis, both of Okeechobee, were arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery on each other after a domestic dispute. Their bonds have not been set.

38 year old Kellie Estelle Chapman of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of the controlled substance clonazepam after the car she was a passenger in was stopped by deputies. She was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

38 year old Amanda Lee Olivas of Okeechobee was arrested for retail theft. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

22 year old Alfonso Lares Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing and possession of a firearm by a felon. His bond has not been set.

35 year old Richard Tijerina Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to appear in court on previous charges of driving without a license. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

25 year old Eli Manuel Burgos of Ft. Myers was arrested for possession of cocaine with intent to sell. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

33 year old Adam Lee Carney of Quitman, MS, already in county jail on a prior charge of aggravated battery, was arrested for battery on an inmate. His bond has not been set.


News Cast 4/11

News Cast for April 11th:

Tonight, for the second time in as many weeks, the Okeechobee County Commissioners’ Chambers will be the site for a workshop. County commissioners, Okeechobee City Councilmembers, the county school board and Sheriff Noel Stephen will be conducting a workshop to determine a cost share for the school resource officers in county schools as mandated by the recent senate bill passage in light of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. The workshop will begin at 6pm.

The Guardian Program is not a part of Okeechobee County schools just yet. But the ball has begun rolling. Last night the school board decided to allow Superintendent Ken Kenworthy to develop a complete safety plan for this program, which if approved, would allow certain school personnel to be armed. Kenworthy says the plan would go back before the board at next month’s meeting then by law it would be advertised for another month before it goes back to the board in June for approval. Kenworthy says between May and June, it would be the time to see who would volunteer for it. Some residents did voice their opinion on it, including Bobby Keefe, who has major concerns. Several residents voiced their support for the program at a workshop last week.

This past Saturday, Okeechobee residents gathered at the pond at the Agri-Civic Center for the Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta. People got to show off their homemade boats and race them. J.D. Mixon, president of For Okeechobee, Inc., the company who put the event together, says the event was moved to the Agri-Civic Center from the C. Scott Driver Park at Okee-Tantie because of the navigable waterway problems. The event is named after Adam Bryant, a childhood friend of Mixon’s who was paralyzed in a camping accident in 2001 and died two years later from complications of the accident. Funds from the boat sponsorships are used for college scholarships for high school graduates and to fund those students interested in going to school to become EMT’s or firefighters, like Bryant wanted to be before his accident.

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Six Okeechobee men, already inmates at the county jail, are facing more charges after a fight over the weekend. Deputies charged 48 year old Mark Glenn Deschamps, 22 year old Christopher William Shows, 25 year old John Russell Harlow, 20 year old Daivondre Allen Queener, 33 year old Jesse Rocky Zamora and 22 year old Michael James Raulerson with battery after they ganged up on and severely beat 19 year old Brian Patrick Groody, also of Okeechobee, on Sunday afternoon.  Groody, who was admitted into jail earlier that day for sexual battery on his girlfriend after a domestic dispute, sustained injuries to his face, upper torso and a dislocated shoulder. He was taken to Raulerson Hospital for treatment. Bonds for all six men have not yet been set.

A Labelle woman is dead after a vehicle accident early yesterday morning. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 30 year old Nicole Michele Leeming was driving a Nissan Altima north on NE Eucalyptus Boulevard in Hendry County when she didn’t approach a curve properly, traveling onto the shoulder and colliding with a light pole and two sign supports. Leeming was pronounced dead at the scene.

A Naples man is facing some serious prison time after he was found guilty late last week of cocaine trafficking. A Collier County Court jury returned a guilty verdict against 37 year old Fredrick Green for his part in a drug trafficking organization in Immokalee that was investigated and eventually dismantled by Collier County Sheriff’s deputies. Green was also found guilty of conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to sell it.  Green, who will be sentenced on April 19th, is facing up to 35 years in prison.

Taylor Creek Bridge Improvements PR

On the arrest report:

18 year old Alexander Scott Haaka of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of marijuana resin and drug paraphernalia after a fellow student of Haaka’s got sick from eating a cookie laced with marijuana that Haaka gave him. His bond is set at over $15 thousand dollars.

34 year old Melissa Dawn Swymn of Okeechobee was arrested for retail theft at Dollar General. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

37 year old Martin Estrada Pomposa of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to pay child support. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

20 year old Jesus Alvarado of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation and eluding law officers and resisting arrest. He’s being held without bond.

22 year old Robert Edward Thompson Junior of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant from Volusia for driving on a suspended license and eluding law officers after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

44 year old Chris Selph of Okeechobee was arrested by police for trespassing. His bond has not been set.

30 year old Ashley Lynn Sanchez of Fort Pierce was arrested for violating probation. Her bond has not been set.

33 year old Adam Lee Carney of Quitman, MS was arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on his co-worker.  His bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.


News Cast 4/10

News Cast for April 10th:

The Okeechobee County School Board will meet tonight for their normally scheduled monthly meeting and the big topic of discussion and decision making will be on the Guardian Program, which will allow some school personnel to be armed if it’s approved. Board members held a workshop last week on it and the majority of those who spoke on it want it implemented. Board members will also be looking at cancelling a request for proposal on privatizing food service. The meeting will be held at the district office at 6pm.

The school board and the Okeechobee County Education Association (OCEA) held a meeting last night in an attempt to break the impasse of contract negotiations, which have been the case since October. Members of the OCEA came away mostly disappointed; their proposal for a raise of just under three percent was voted down, with the board claiming there just wasn’t enough money to accommodate the raises and the board also denied the proposal of issuing a reason for firing a teacher. OCEA president and first grade teacher Lisa Harwas is understandably gravely disappointed. It wasn’t all bad news; the board voted to shorten the probationary period for classified employees from three years to one. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said teachers will instead be receiving bonus based on their performances and there may be room for pay increases sometime later down the road.

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Teachers’ Hearing 2

Okeechobee County firefighters had a fire to a train car to contend with on Friday. Crews were called to the 19 hundred block of NW 9th Street just after noon for a railroad car that was detached from the rest of the train and found light smoke coming from the rear of the car. Crews had to climb to the top of the rail car and pry it open and extinguished the fire inside in about 40 minutes with no injuries or damages. Investigators say the rail car was filled with corn gluten. Cause of the blaze is under investigation.

An Okeechobee County woman is being charged with drunk driving and more after a vehicle accident early Saturday morning. Sheriff’s deputies say 24 year old Stevie Patrice Brantley was driving a car near the 15 hundred block of NW 36th Street when she rolled the car over and ended up in a ditch. She fled the scene but a witness to the incident described Brantley to officers and she was eventually caught. She was charged with drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and she was booked into county jail after being treated for injuries she sustained in the accident. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

A blown tire is to blame for a vehicle accident that killed a Belle Glade man and seriously injured seven others Friday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 50 year old Wilbert Janvier was driving a Chevy Venture minivan south on I-95 near the 106 mile marker in Martin County just before 5pm when a tire blew out, causing him to lose control of the minivan and overturn. Janvier was pronounced dead at the scene. The seven passengers, all from Belle Glade, were taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center or Martin Memorial South Hospital for treatment.

A Labelle man is dead after a vehicle accident Sunday. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 46 year old Sonny Joe Cisnero was driving a Chevy C1500 pickup truck east on Route 80A in Lehigh Acres just after one o’clock when he reportedly suffered a medical problem, causing him to drift off the road onto the shoulder and strike a concrete drainage culvert, coming to rest in a ditch. Cisnero was taken to Lehigh Regional Medical Center for treatment before he died from his injuries.

On the arrest report:

32 year old Randy Lee Schoonmaker Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on previous fraud charges. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

37 year old Elpidio Garcia-Diaz of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation and giving a false name to sheriff’s deputies after he was involved in a fight. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

22 year old Matteo Lopez-Romero of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

35 year old Jose Luis Villegas of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on previous charges of driving without a license and causing an accident resulting in a serious injury or death. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

27 year old Damian Rivera-Oyola of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing on private property. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

21 year old Nathaniel Aaron T. Doctor of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to appear in court on previous charges of driving without a license. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old Jose Jesus Calderon Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and subsequent failed sobriety test. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

21 year old Deveon Scott Jones of Orlando was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of battery on a law officer, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. He’s being held without bond.

22 year old Benjamin Robert Wilson of Jacksonville was arrested for possession of acetaminophen and oxycodone and trespassing on a business property after being warned. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.


Okeechobee High School Basketball Banquet

Okeechobee High School Basketball Banquet

By: Ken Keller, Co-Host of The Sports Grill with Billy & Ken

All photo credit goes to Daniel Kidd of Black Bull Media

 

Coach Joe Smith with the Girls MVP award winners – The Junior Varsity Team – photo credit to Daniel Kidd with Black Bull Media

Coach Joe Smith with Julia Smith and Caroline Sweat – photo credit to Daniel Kidd with Black Bull Media

Coach Joe Smith with Diamond Wiggins – photo credit to Daniel Kidd with Black Bull Media

Senior Asia Jones – photo credit to Daniel Kidd of Black Bull Media

Photo credit to Daniel Kidd with Black Bull Media.

The Okeechobee High School Boy’s and Girl’s Basketball programs held their end of the season awards banquets. Coach Joe Smith gave the Girl’s MVP award to the entire junior varsity squad who filled in admirably after suspensions decimated the varsity roster mid-season. Caroline Sweat and Julia Smith won the Co-Offensive player of the year award. Seniors Asia Jones and Diamond Wiggins were both honored with Wiggins winning the Brahman award.

On the Boy’s side,  Seniors Kysell Richardson, Dakota Pries, Robert Padgett, Preston Arnold and Elton Pelt were all honored. Richardson also took home the Brahman Award. Juniors J-quan Ferrol, Mark Youmans, Devon Freeman and Jemal Davis also won awards. Ferrol  the MVP, Youmans the Hustle Award, Freeman the Iron Man award, and Davis was Most Improved.

Links to audio interviews are below.

OHS Girls Basketball Offensive MVP Award – Julia Smith

OHS Girls Basketball Brahman Award winner – Diamond Wiggins

OHS Girls Basketball award sound – Asia Jones

OHS boys Basketball MVP – J-quan Ferrol

OHS Boys Basketball Most Improved – Jemal Davis


News Cast 4/9

News Cast for April 9th:

With the tragedy of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February still fresh in everyone’s minds, the Okeechobee County School Board held a workshop Thursday night to determine the future of the Guardian Program in county schools, which if implemented would allow some school personnel to be armed. Of the half dozen or so parents and others who spoke on the matter, the majority of them are definitely in favor of it. Okeechobee resident and parent, Kenny Cyrus says the program is a good step forward. Former Okeechobee County schoolteacher Sharon Suits echoed a similar statement. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says he was quite satisfied with how the workshop went and he was proud of the decorum of the people who attended. The issue will be decided by the school board members at their meeting tomorrow night at 6pm at the district office. People who didn’t speak on the issue at the workshop will be able to speak on it at the meeting.

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The Okeechobee County Education Association (OCEA), which represents all non-managerial school board employees will be having a legislative meeting with the county school board today to decide contract negotiations, which have been at an impasse since October. Both parties accepted a special magistrate’s recent recommendation on paying all teachers Best and Brightest Bonuses. The OCEA is proposing raises of just below three percent. Frank Peterman of the OCEA says besides the raises, they’re also looking for better job security. The legislative hearing is set for 4pm.

Peterman-OCEA Negotiations

Two Okeechobee men are being charged with burglary and assault and battery after breaking into someone’s motel room Thursday night. Sheriff’s deputies say 21 year old Austin Lane McGlamory and 19 year old William Donovan Rexroad broke into a man’s motel room at the 600 block of North Parrott Avenue just after 10:30 and attacked him. McGlamory claimed he was there to buy marijuana from someone else and believed the man he and Rexroad attacked was involved. The man, identified as Blaine Fulwider of Okeechobee, says he was receiving messages and calls from McGlamory who arrived there earlier in the morning to get Fulwider to come outside but he refused. McGlamory and Rexroad left the scene after the incident and deputies caught up with them later on NW 6th Street. McGlamory and Rexroad were booked into county jail and are being held on bonds of seven thousand dollars apiece.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a dumpster fire to contend with early Thursday morning. Crews were called to the 66 hundred block of SE 86th Boulevard just before 5am and found a four yard burning dumpster, with a third of it full of trash. Crews got the fire controlled in about 15 minutes with no injuries or damages. Cause is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Steven Allen Albritton of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery by strangulation on his girlfriend after a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

29 year old Hector Alvarez Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license with knowledge of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

33 year old Antonio Aguilar Ramirez Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of forgery and grand theft. He’s being held without bond.


News Cast 4/6

News Cast for April 6th:

The Okeechobee County Commissioners’ Chambers at the Historic Courthouse last night was packed with parents, school officials, community leaders and more for a workshop concerning the future of the Guardian Program, which allows some school personnel to carry firearms to protect students in the wake of the school shootings in Parkland in February. Of the half dozen or so people who spoke, most were in favor of arming school personnel. One parent, Angela Williams, says it gives more school staff the chance to protect the student body.Superintendent Ken Kenworthy, who was quite pleased with how the workshop went, revealed the results of a survey of students, parents and faculty regarding the issue and a whopping 72 percent were in favor of the program, a result that was rather shocking to him. The issue will be decided on by members of the school board at their next meeting, Tuesday night at 6pm. People who didn’t speak on the issue last night will be able to speak on it then.

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An Okeechobee man is dead after a vehicle accident Wednesday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 92 year old Donald C. Biesemeyer was driving a GMC S15 pickup truck west on Route 78 near 441 just after 3:30 when he drifted onto the grass shoulder. Biesemeyer then tried to make a U-turn back onto 78 where the driver of an oncoming semi-truck could not avoid Biesemeyer’s pickup. The semi-truck collided with Biesemeyer’s pickup on the driver’s side and he was pronounced dead at the scene by Okeechobee County fire and rescue crews. The semi-truck driver, 57 year old Rolando Reyes of Clewiston, was treated at the scene for minor injuries. The road was closed in both directions for at least six hours. The accident is under investigation.

Okeechobee County firefighters also had a building fire to contend with Wednesday night. Crews were called to the five hundred block of South Parrott Avenue just after 11pm for reports of smoke emanating from a laundromat and small flames coming from one of the dryers in the back. Crews got the fire controlled in about fifteen minutes with no one getting hurt and no damages. Cause of the fire is being investigated.

An Okeechobee man will no longer have the luxury of waiting for a court date to get his property cleaned up. City councilmembers announced at their meeting Tuesday that 74 year old Marvin Brantley, who has been cited many times over the years for not keeping his business property on Parrott Avenue clean under city ordinances, will now have no more than ten days from the time he was cited to get his property cleaned up before he has to answer to a judge, according to a recent court ruling. Mayor Dowling Watford says he believes Brantley will adhere to the court’s ruling. Brantley appeared before the council in November and the council enforced a court order for Brantley to clean up his property. It took in excess of three months for a court hearing on this matter.

If you have any dried or canned foods you don’t want or need, Martha’s House in Okeechobee County will take them off your hands. Martha’s House is in need of foods to re-stock their food pantry. While dried and canned foods are ideal, they can accept other foods within reason. Executive Director Jonathan Bean says it’s at a point now where the need for food is urgent. You can drop off foods at the outreach office of Martha’s House on the 41 hundred block of Route 441 North, next to Superior Water, Monday thru Friday between 9am and 5pm.

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On the arrest report:

54 year old Ray Alton Howard of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

45 year old Ann Hope Di Francesco of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. She’s being held without bond.

48 year old Tonya Dawn Mann of Sarasota was arrested for violating probation. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 4/5

News Cast for April 5th:

With the start of April upon us, this is the month to remember those children who died because of child abuse. With that, the Okeechobee City Council Tuesday night proclaimed this month as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Representatives of Child Abuse Training Life and Enrichment, better known as CASTLE, a non-profit group dedicated to preventing child abuse, were on hand to accept the proclamation. CASTLE annual fund manager Chris Robertson says he’s happy for the proclamation because he knows it raises awareness for child abuse and provides help to parents who need it. Robertson says last year alone in Florida, a total of 126 children, ages ranging from zero to 17, died as a result of abuse or neglect. 85 percent of those children were below age three.

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April is also the dry season in Okeechobee County. With that, the city council also accepted a proclamation for April to be Water Conservation Month. Representatives of the South Florida Water Management District were on hand to accept the proclamation. Representative Elizabeth Pigman says every drop of water counts and people can help conserve water by not only lessening the use of your water, but also obtaining and installing a low-flow faucet. Pigman says it has been extremely dry thus far; the district as a whole has received less than half in terms of rainfall than normal.

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Firefighters in Okeechobee County had a grass fire to contend with Tuesday night. Crews were called to the 27 thousand block of NE 48th Avenue just before midnight for a blaze that burned about two acres of brush before crews got it contained in about 25 minutes. There were no injuries or structure damages. Investigators believe the fire was caused by a raccoon that caught fire after coming into contact with power lines and falling to the ground.

Florida Highway Patrol officers are investigating a vehicle accident that left two women in serious condition Tuesday. Officers say 36 year old Sarah Penrose of Punta Gorda was driving a Mazda CX7 minivan northbound on Route 771, approaching an intersection in Charlotte County when she didn’t see an oncoming pickup truck. Penrose’s minivan hit the left front of the pickup, causing it to rotate counterclockwise onto a median and then hitting a road sign pole. Penrose and her passenger, 59 year old Pamela Andre of Port Charlotte, were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

On the arrest report:

63 year old Earl Floyd Terry of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

18 year old Josue Gonzalez-Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after K-9 units did a search of parked vehicles. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

45 year old Ann Hope Di Francesco of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and possession of heroin and percocet tablets without a prescription after a traffic stop. Her bond has not been set.

27 year old Justin Lee Suarez and 29 year old Courtney Ellen Rediker, both of Okeechobee, were arrested after a traffic stop. Suarez was charged for driving without a license and Rediker was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Rediker’s bond is set at two thousand dollars and Suarez’s bond is set at a thousand dollars.

38 year old Amy Elizabeth Fink of Okeechobee was arrested for passing a bad check. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

39 year old Casey Casen of Okeechobee was arrested for battery after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. His bond has not been set.


News Cast 4/4

News Cast for April 4th:

Okeechobee County schools will have two more resource officers thanks to a decision by the city council at last night’s meeting. Councilmembers approved a plan by Okeechobee Police Chief Bob Peterson, and Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen to send two experienced police officers to the school resource officer team to cover those officers that have to be relieved at some point for other duties. With that, the city will now fund two more officers to fill the vacancies of those two who have become SRO’s. Sheriff Noel Stephen says this was a definite team effort between he and Chief Peterson. Mayor Dowling Watford says it was a tough but necessary decision by the council. The cost of the new officers will be just over $140 thousand dollars.

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Okeechobee County Municipal Airport was the scene of a bit of a scare Monday. Fire and rescue troops were dispatched there just after two o’clock after a single engine plane had to make a crash landing. Investigators say the pilot reported that the landing gear had collapsed, forcing him to make a crash or “belly” landing. Airport manager Kathy Scott says there was no panic; only calm professionalism. The runway was closed for about two hours during the incident. The pilot and his one passenger were not injured. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the matter.

Tomorrow will be a very important day in Okeechobee County as it relates to safety in our schools. The school board will be holding a workshop to discuss the possibility of arming school personnel in the wake of the tragic shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the Guardian Program, a part of Senate Bill 7026, will be discussed by not only school board members and teachers, but also by parents as part of this workshop. Kenworthy says the workshop will be held in the county commissioners’ chambers as he expects and hopes for a big turnout. Kenworthy says no vote will be taken at this workshop; only discussion. He would be in favor of the Guardian Program if discussions seem to be pointing in that direction but he knows a lot of questions and planning will be needed before it’s officially adopted. The workshop will begin at 6pm at the commissioners’ chambers at the historic courthouse.

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Deputies have an Okeechobee father and son in custody following a domestic dispute early Easter morning. Sheriff’s deputies say 48 year old Charles Daniel Harper Junior got into an argument with his son, Charles the Third, about the name of Charles the Third’s soon to be born daughter while they were in the kitchen. Charles Junior then threw a knife he was using at his son, prompting his son to throw it back at his dad. Charles Junior was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and Charles the Third was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Both men were released after they each posted a $15 hundred dollar bonds.

An Okeechobee man is being charged with drunk driving and more after an accident early Saturday morning. Sheriff’s deputies say 18 year old Kenny Lynn Whaley Junior was driving a blue Kia four-door sedan near the 8000 block of Route 70 East on the wrong side of the road when he drove right in front of a utility vehicle, also a Kia, causing a collision. Whaley then drove away from the scene before eventually stopping. Deputies arrived and Whaley was identified by the injured Kia utility vehicle driver, Isabelle Potter, also of Okeechobee. Potter was taken to Raulerson Hospital for treatment. Whaley was charged with drunk driving, causing an accident while under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. He was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

Officials from the Florida Forest Service say they will be conducting some prescribed burning today in an effort to prevent future wildfires from happening. Firefighters have contained several arson caused fires on Curry Island and the western part of Lake Okeechobee over the last two weeks. The burn will consist of five thousand acres of dried out marsh along the rim of Lake Okeechobee between Moore Haven Canal and McTush Cut. Access to the navigational trails through the marsh may be limited temporarily during the burn for safety reasons.

Officials from the Indian River County Sheriff’s department are asking the public’s help in finding a missing person. Officials say Assunta (aka Susy) Tomassi was last seen Friday, March 16th at the Quilted Giraffe restaurant near the South Vero Plaza. She stands five feet, seven inches tall, has blond hair and weighs 97 pounds. She was wearing black pants, a white and blue striped top, a black leather jacket, gold wedge heels sunglasses and she was carrying a black purse. If you have any information on Tomassi’s whereabouts, please contact the sheriff’s office.

An Arcadia woman is dead after a vehicle accident Monday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 45 year old Trace Lea Harmon was driving a Lexus RX350 utility vehicle east on Route 72 in Sarasota County just before midnight when for unknown reasons, she drifted into the south shoulder, collided with a culvert, then overturned several times. Harmon was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Megan Salina Hair of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for tampering with her electronic monitoring device. Her bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

25 year old Millard Wayne Bearden of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and criminal mischief after a domestic dispute with his dad and sister. His bond has not been set.

38 year old Philip Reynolds of Okeechobee was arrested for retail theft and disorderly intoxication at a gas station mini mart. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

24 year old Stephon Danta Williams of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $500 dollar bond.


South Florida Dry Season Rainfall Less than Half of Average

South Florida Dry Season Rainfall Less than Half of Average

Governing Board to recognize Water Conservation Month and promote residents to practice conservation

West Palm Beach, FL – From November through March, an average of 5.29 inches of rain fell District-wide. This total represents less than half of the average amount of rainfall that normally falls on the region during this same time period of the annual dry season.

District-wide, about 0.72 inches of rain fell in March, about 2.05 inches or 74 percent below average for the month. Most watersheds in the District received 30 percent of their average March rainfall or less. For the dry season so far, the Upper Kissimmee basin has been the driest at 8.34 inches or 67 percent below the average 12.5 inches.

Despite the below average rainfall so far this dry season, the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) water managers are working with other state, local and federal partners to ensure adequate water supply for the region’s 8.1 million residents through careful water management.

“While last year’s heavy rainfall and the smart management of our water resource has helped avert a shortage situation so far this dry season, this Board always encourages its residents and businesses to practice daily conservation year-round,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “Water Conservation Month is a great time to remind everyone of the simple ways they can do their part to make every drop of water count.”

Lake Okeechobee, the backup water supply for millions of South Floridians, currently sits at an elevation of about 13.81 feet National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD), still more than 2 feet above the level typically deemed a “water shortage” condition.

April is typically the driest month of the year in South Florida, and the SFWMD Governing Board will once again recognize April as Water Conservation Month at its meeting on April 12.

A La Niña weather cycle suppressed rainfall from November through March. Typical dry season conditions where evaporation rates are higher than rainfall rates are expected to continue until the start of the traditional wet season in late May or June.

As the 2017 wet season ended, the District used excess water to maintain canal levels near the upper end of their higher dry season ranges. With the below average rainfall the past several months, the District has been moving water from regional storage into canals along the Lower East Coast from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade County to maintain water levels necessary to recharge underground aquifers used for drinking water supply and to hold back saltwater intrusion.

Learn simple ways you can help conserve water.

Learn more about SFWMD’s water supply planning efforts.

Learn more about SFWMD’s water conservation efforts.


News Cast 4/3

News Cast for April 3rd:

A domestic dispute resulted in arrests for both parties involved Friday night. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 45 hundred block of SE 23rd Court where 47 year old Dawn Cheree Dowd had walked into her mother’s bedroom and began arguing with her before striking her several times, resulting in a laceration on her mother’s wrist. Dowd’s mother, 68 year old Cheryl Thompson Starbuck, then kicked Dowd, causing her to fall and scratch her right arm on an object. Deputies say both women were under the influence of alcohol. Dowd was arrested and charged with battery on a person over 65 years old and Starbuck was charged with battery. Dowd’s bond is set at $25 hundred dollars and Starbuck’s is set at a thousand dollars.

An Okeechobee man is being charged with drunk driving after an accident Saturday night. Deputies say 32 year old Steven Wayne Hungerford was driving a Ford pickup truck near the 12 thousand block of Route 70 West just after 8pm where the driver of another pickup truck was about to make a left turn. Hungerford came up from behind and rear-ended the second pickup. Hungerford left the scene but he was eventually caught and identified by the driver of the second pickup truck. Hungerford, who sustained a cut on his forehead, was also charged with driving on a suspended license. No other injuries.

Okeechobee County firefighters and Forest Service crews had a couple of brush fires to contend with just before the Easter holiday. Crews were first called to the 85 hundred block of Route 710 for a grass blaze just after one o’clock Thursday that burned about two to three acres of dry fuels before crews got it controlled in about two hours. No injuries or structure damages.

Just over two hours later, crews were called to the 17 thousand block of NW 32nd Avenue for a blaze that burned a total of five acres of brush before crews got it controlled in just under three hours. No injuries or structure damages but there was some damage to three pumps in the area, totaling about $15 thousand dollars. Both fires are being investigated.

Sunday was a day of fatal accidents for Florida Highway Patrol officers. Just before 3am yesterday, 25 year old Jose Lopez-Barrera of Myakka was driving a Dodge Neon sedan on the driveway of a home on Route 64 in Manatee County when he ran off the road to the left, overcorrected, and re-entered the driveway, causing him to be ejected from the vehicle. Lopez-Barrera was killed instantly.

At around 10 pm, Florida Highway Patrol officers say 71 year old Walter Lewis of Moore Haven was riding a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle west on Route 27 in Hendry County when he went onto the grass median while navigating a right curve and overturned. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.

Finally just before midnight, 31 year old Sergio Aquino Noriega of Bradenton was driving a Dodge Ram pickup west on Route 64 in Manatee County when for unknown reasons, he failed to maintain control of the truck, going counterclockwise before going off the road, onto the shoulder and colliding with a tree. Noriega was taken to Blake Medical Center for treatment before he died. All accidents are under investigation.

On the arrest report:

36 year old Arvin Daniel Dougan of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving without a license with knowledge of it and eluding law officers during after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

32 year old Antonino Aguilar Ramirez Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by police for eluding authorities after he was spotted in a parked car while wanted on outstanding warrants for grand theft, battery, criminal mischief and uttering forged bills. He’s being held without bond.

24 year old Donald Richard Sellers the Third of Okeechobee was arrested for resisting arrest and failing to obey police. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

42 year old Nicole Estell Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

37 year old Stanislaus Bernard Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant for trespassing and violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

38 year old Luren Jason Hill of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

39 year old Terrell Darnell Lewis of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

38 year old Lucas Allen Colson of Sebring was arrested for failure to appear in court on previous driving without a license charges. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

20 year old Justin Aman of Boca Raton was arrested for trafficking cocaine. He was released after posting a $25 thousand dollar bond.


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