Local News

SLCFD Firefighter Participating in Brotherhood Ride

SLCFD Firefighter Participating in Brotherhood Ride

St. Lucie County, FL —  St. Lucie County Firefighter Paramedic Ed Hill heard about the Brotherhood Ride a bit late in the process, flyers had already been sent out and fundraising efforts started, but he thought he wanted to join.

The Brotherhood Ride is an organization of firefighters, law enforcement officers and first responders who ride bicycles to honor emergency responders who died in the line of duty.  The 2014 Florida Ride will start on August 1 in North Naples, FL and travel across the east coast and back, ending in Port Charlotte. FL on August 4.  The ride raises money for the families left behind.

The ride will honor four law enforcement officers, including SLCSO Sgt. Gary Morales.  It will also honor, thanks to Hill’s participation, St. Lucie County Fire District Lt. Mark Morrison.  Lt. Morrison passed away, while on duty, on March 4, 2012.  Morrison had not been honored in previous rides.

Hill made a call to organizers and quickly got the approval to join the team of bicyclists.

Similar rides have taken place in Florida in 2009 and in 2012.  Other rides have been in Charleston, SC, New York City, and Tennessee.

For more information about the Brotherhood Ride, go to their website www.brotherhoodride.com

Gov. Scott: Florida Businesses Creates 36,900 Jobs in June

Gov. Scott: Florida Businesses Creates 36,900 Jobs in June

Greatest month for private sector job growth since December 2010

TALLAHASSEE— Governor Rick Scott today announced that Florida created 36,900 private-sector jobs in June 2014. This is the single highest month of private-sector job creation since Governor Scott took office. The statewide unemployment rate for June 2014 is 6.2 percent, down 0.1 percentage points from the May 2014 rate and 1.2 percentage points from the June 2013 rate of 7.4 percent.

Governor Scott said, “Florida experienced a record setting month for private-sector job creation in June with 36,900 new jobs over the month and a total of 620,700 private-sector jobs added since December 2010. This news is great for Florida families, and Florida continues to have great success in our state’s economic recovery. Let’s keep working so that every person who wants a job can get one here in Florida.”

Since December 2010, Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped 4.9 percentage points, from the high rate of 11.1 percent down now to 6.2 percent in June 2014. Florida’s unemployment rate has declined or held steady over the month for 44 of the last 46 months.

“As the trends continue to tell Florida’s economic turnaround story, today’s announcement adds another important chapter with 36,900 private-sector jobs created and the statewide unemployment rate down to 6.2 percent,” said Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio. “This economic growth is not happening by chance.  Policy matters, and this Administration will keep working to promote the pro-growth policies that are making Florida the best state in the nation in which to live, work, and start or grow a business.”

The long-term positive trends in the unemployment rate and job counts are among the most important economic indicators to consider when analyzing the health of Florida’s economic recovery. The state’s private-sector job counts have been steadily on the rise for over three years, showing that Florida’s businesses are responding to the state’s improving economic climate. Since December 2010, the state has added 620,700 private-sector jobs.

More Floridians Getting Back to Work

  • Florida’s job growth rate over the year has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012.
  • Florida’s private sector job growth month-to-month has been positive for 34 of the last 36 months.
  • Florida has created 620,700 new private-sector jobs since December 2010.
  • Florida job postings compiled by the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board showed 263,855 openings in June 2014.

GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

  • Real GDP is defined as the value of all final goods and services produced in a time period in a given economy (using constant, inflation-adjusted dollars).
  • Real GDP is a standard measure of an economy’s output.  For states, this number is not reported as frequently or as timely as the unemployment rate, job count, and job demand.
  • Last month, the federal government released the 2013 GDP figures for the states, and Florida’s position is worth noting.
  • Florida’s overall real GDP was $750.5 billion, which was the fourth highest real GDP behind California, Texas, and New York.
  • In terms of real GDP growth rate, Florida grew at 2.2 percent, which among the ten largest states was the third highest rate.
  • It was also above the national growth rate for 2013, which was 1.8 percent.
  • In terms of trends, from 2008 through 2011, real GDP declined, including a drop of over 6 percent in 2009.
  • For a second year in a row, GDP growth in Florida exceeded 2 percent, more good news for the state economy.

Home Sales Robust

  • Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 31.3 percent from December 2011 (Florida Realtors).
  • Florida median home prices were up 4.3 percent over the year in May 2014.

Economic Growth Trends Up Across State

  • A recent U.S. Census Survey reported that Florida experienced an influx of people moving into the state. Florida also led the nation in migrations from Puerto Rico.
  • Florida is running a trade surplus of over $18 billion – with $90.4 billion in exports and $71.8 billion in imports in 2012, up from $86.8 billion in exports in 2011 and $62.4 billion in imports in 2011.

Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment

  • In June, Florida’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards reported more than 35,000 Floridians were placed in jobs. An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a CareerSource Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals, 7,239 previously received Reemployment Assistance.
  • In 2013, more than 479,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with 135,384 former claimants finding employment.

To view the June 2014 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.



~ Big trucks need more room. Practice patience on the highways.~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –There’s little doubt what can happen when a passenger car collides with a tractor- trailer that is 80 feet long and weighs up to 20 tons. Such a crash can easily turn deadly. Tomorrow, the Florida Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers will start another phase of Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT), a safety campaign aimed at educating motorist on the danger of aggressive driving when interacting with large trucks on the road.

“FHP is committed to making our highways safer and one way to do that is by reducing the number of commercial vehicle related crashes” said Lt. Col. Kelly Hildreth, deputy director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Most crashes involving trucks involve driver error by both the car and truck driver. We can reduce crashes if we all share the roadways and avoid aggressive driving behaviors and practice patience around big trucks.”

The TACT campaign runs from July 18-31. Troopers will be looking for car and truck drivers who display aggressive behavior, such as following too closely, unsafe lane changes and speeding

Do you drive defensively around big trucks? Protect yourself and your passengers by learning how to share the road. FHP offers these tips for driving around large trucks:

  • Stay out of the No Zone: Watch for the huge blind spots (No Zones) around large trucks.
  • Pass trucks with caution: Pass on the left side for maximum visibility and maintain a constant speed.
  • Don’t cut trucks off. Large trucks simply can’t stop as quickly as cars.
  • Practice patience. Try to be predictable. Avoid making erratic moves if a truck isn’t going as fast as you’d like.

For more information about TACT and FHP’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement, visit: http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. The Department is leading the way to asafer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol. To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit www.flhsmv.gov, follow us on Twitter @FDHSMV or find us on Facebook.

Charles Murphy News 7/21

News Cast for July 21st:

Okeechobee school board member India Riedel said the extra hour of instruction really helped Everglades elementary this year. She submits South Elementary, which will have a longer school day this year will also greatly benefit. She was supportive of having Everglades and Seminole have additional instruction time but their grades came in higher than expected.

Bear activity is on the increase in Glades County. Biologist Chad Allison with the Florida Wildlife Commission says nuisance calls are also on the rise. Allison said people are careless when they live around bears because they leave food out and some even feed the animals. US 27 are the most likely spot to see a bear in northern Glades County.

In the courts, 46 year old Timothy Frake changed his plea for allegedly robbing an 85 year old city resident on January 3rd. Frake also was accused of running over an off duty deputy on a bicycle who was trying to capture him. Sentencing is August 15th.

Jobless rates rose from 7 to 7.6 percent in Okeechobee in June. Glades County rose from 7.7 to 8 percent. 1355 collected benefits in Okeechobee and 380 in Glades County. Florida’s rate rose 1 tenth of a point to 6.2 percent. The national went up 2 tenths of a point to 6.3 percent.   Last June Okeechobee had a jobless rate of 9.2 percent.

Angela Marsaglia won the Country showdown hosted by WOKC Saturday. She beat out five other talented contestants, a few from Okeechobee. Marsaglia plans to compete in the state finals this fall. She performed a cover of Stay and then her own original song, the one minute man, which entertained the crowd.

Sports Cast for July 21st:

Bruce Jahner decided to come back full time as the Okeechobee wrestling coach next year. The school had gone through three coaches in the past two seasons and Jahner says he wanted to bring back some stability. Jahner said the squad had its share of highlights this past year with several regional qualifiers and two state qualifiers.

He said the team battled injuries but were still competitive. The team has continued with conditioning in the off season and many of the wrestlers compete at weekend tournaments with the Okeechobee wrestling club.

Charles Murphy News 7/18

News Cast for July 18th:

In the courts, 39 year old Christine Seigfried received three years in prison for child abuse. Five drug charges related to alleged meth amphetamine operations were dropped in the plea deal. During a drug raid last October 3 by the Narcotics Task Force at 1742 South West 24th Avenue, a 30 month old child was found in the home.

Helicopter pilot Larry Davis and mechanic John Henneman are crucial parts of the Florida Forest Service team in Okeechobee. They have a helicopter and plane at the Okeechobee airport that greatly detects and fights wild fires. Henneman says he works overtime to make sure the aircrafts are safe and that is important to the Forest Service.

Crime rates rose 6.1 percent in Okeechobee last year. Drugs and property crimes continue to be the main problem. Crime rates were down by 3 percent in the county but up nearly 36 percent in the city. The FDLE reported three murders last year in Okeechobee. Under Sheriff Noel Stephen says he doubts that a trend that will continue. Okeechobee’s crime rate was in the middle of the state’s 67 counties. Arrests rose by 15 percent.

Glades County saw a near 14 percent decline. Arrests dropped over 20 percent.

City officials approved plans for a new Dunkin Donuts at 205 NE Park Street, the building was previous a US Post Office, offices for South Florida Water management and a bank.

Among arrests, City police say 21 year old Melisa Lightey was charged with grand theft of 639 dollars from her employer, ABC Liquors.

Sports Cast for July 18th:

Samiya Washington won the defensive player of the year award for the Yearling girls’ basketball this year.

She said she felt she played strong defense and had a lot of steals this year.

Mariah Spelts took home the most improved player award. The 7th grader said she was never afraid when she took the basketball court and was happy to earn an award. Spelts says she’s looking forward to being a team leader next year.

Lakeside basketball hosting a basketball tournament in Okeechobee on Saturday and Sunday with games at Yearling and Osceola Middle school and Okeechobee High School.

Janavise Futch on Yearling basketball award

Lamar Williams on Yearling basketball award

Bailey Kirton on Baseball Brahman Award

Commissioner Putnam Announces Winners of Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Awards

Commissioner Putnam Announces Winners of Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Awards

Recipients Use Innovative Farming Practices to Protect Environment   

Tallahassee, FL – Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today announced the three winners of the state’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award, which recognizes agricultural enterprises that are at the forefront of developing and adopting environmentally innovative farming practices.

“The recipients of these awards have each demonstrated a sustained commitment to conserving our natural resources and improving our environment,” Commissioner Putnam said. “Whether producing milk, growing potatoes or cultivating nursery plants, they have all implemented best management practices that enabled them to reduce runoff and reuse water while producing high-quality agricultural products.”

The recipients are:

  • Bryan Jones, owner of Riverdale Potato Farms in Elkton. Riverdale is a successful family enterprise that has produced hearty potato varieties for almost 30 years. Jones has developed innovative irrigation methods and equipment resulting in significant improvement in irrigation efficiency and reduced fertilizer runoff into the St. Johns River, while reducing operating costs and improving crop yields. Riverdale Farms uses a subsurface drip irrigation system that allows 90 percent water use efficiency, which greatly reduces the amount of surface water discharged from the edge of the field during irrigation events and storm events when compared to surface seepage irrigation. Nutrients are retained in the field, improving plant quality and reducing runoff. Through his participation in the Vegetable and Agronomic Crops Best Management Practices (BMPs) under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bryan and Riverdale Farms combine subsurface drip irrigation with fertilizer banding, reducing fertilizer use by 60-75 tons.
  • Randy Strode, owner and operator of Agri-Starts, Inc. in Apopka. This nursery has become one of the world’s leading suppliers of tissue culture starter plants. Agri-Starts currently has 452 plant varieties in production and another 104 in research and development. As the nursery business grows, so does its demand for more water. Agri-Starts developed and installed a system of cisterns, which enable the nursery to capture and re-use rainwater for 100 percent of its production needs. To further conserve water, the nursery also uses mist propagation, hand irrigation and wet pads to cool the nursery and provide continuous moisture. Agri-Starts is also enrolled in the Container Nursery Best Management Practices program, which has helped reduce pollutants, conserve precious water and produce high-quality starter plants to wholesale nurseries around the globe.
  • Sutton and Kris Rucks, 3rd generation dairy family and owners of Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee. The nearly 1,200-acre dairy is home to 1,200 milking cows. Milking R also leases 2,000 acres for beef cattle and another 350 acres for row crops. When the Rucks built their existing facility, they consulted with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to design a model farm featuring a high-intensity area stormwater and wastewater system. Milking R uses only fresh water for watering cattle and flushing the milking parlor floor. Waste from the milking and free stall barns is contained in a three-stage lagoon system for recycling. Using the state’s Best Management Practices, the Milking R allows for the capture, storage, reuse and treatment of 100 percent of the wastewater produced on the farm.  Besides reducing the cost of operations, the BMPs have also helped the Rucks reduce the amount of phosphorus imported to the basin.

Nominees from different areas of Florida’s agricultural industry were reviewed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and industry and environmental groups. Environmental practices considered in the nominations include: Wildlife Protection and Habitat Conservation, Pesticide/Nutrient Management, Water Quality, Soil and Water Conservation and Waste Management/Recycling.

The Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award has been presented annually since 1994. The program spotlights the environmentally innovative farming practices of the state’s growers and ranchers. The winners will be recognized at the Florida Farm Bureau’s Convention at the Commissioner’s Ag Environmental Leadership Breakfast in October. Information about previous winners is available here.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

Lettera presented with Citizen Hero Award by the

Lettera presented with Citizen Hero Award by the

St. Lucie County Fire District

St. Lucie County, FL – The St. Lucie County Fire Board presented a Citizen Hero Award to Michael Lettera of Port St. Lucie for saving the life of a neighbor.

On the morning of May 9  Lettera was sitting on his front porch when he heard a strange popping sound and noticed smoke coming from the back of 1207 SE Pinewood Terrace, just across from his address.  He ran over to his neighbor, Mrs. Ann Treich who lives on the second floor of that address, knocked on her door and entered to check on her. Mrs. Treich was trying to gather some belongings when Mr. Lettera noticed fire and heavy smoke coming from the back porch.  He began urging her to get out, but to no avail, until after several attempts he was able to assist her to safety, down stairs and out away from the building.  He then ran back into the unit with two portable fire extinguisher and attempted to put the fire out, but it was getting to big.

Arriving crews saw smoke coming from the second floor porch and other residents of the complex were evacuated.  The damage was limited to the back porch and it was determined the fire was caused by a lit candle.

“It is encouraging to know that there are residents in St. Lucie County that have the courage and bravery to risk their lives for the sake of another,” said Fire Chief Ron Parrish.  “It is certainly an honor to present Mr. Lettera with the award.”

Lettera is no stranger to firefighting.  He was a volunteer firefighter at the age of 14 in Miller Place, New York.

Currently, Lettera is employed as an Occupational Safety & Health Specialist at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in West Palm Beach.  He is a Fire Safety Specialist.

FWC offers hunter safety course in Glades County

FWC offers hunter safety course in Glades County

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will host a free hunter safety course on July 26, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in Glades County.

Participants must successfully complete the online portion of the course prior to attending and bring the final Web report to the FWC course on July 26. The form does not have to be notarized.

Students will learn about several topics, including hunting laws, safe gun handling and hunter ethics/responsibility before taking the final test. The course also includes live-firing instruction on a shooting range.

The class will be held at the Glades County Sheriff’s Office Shooting Range, located at 1019 Gun Club Road, Moore Haven.

Participants can sign up at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s South Region Office at 561-625-5122. Links to the online portion of the course and a statewide schedule of hunter safety classes are available at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Parents or legal guardians must accompany children under 16 years of age to all classes. To participate in live-fire exercises, children under 18 years old must present a parental release form signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised).

Faith Academy Preschool hosted Community Helper Week.

July 16, 2014

During the week of July 7, thru July 11, 2014, the Faith Academy Preschool hosted Community Helper Week.

Community Helpers visit the children and give tips about being safe, Smokey the Bear fire safety, nursing, dental and health.

Several members of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office were helpers and spoke with the children to include Stranger Danger and Bicycle Safety. One of the cool things they were able to do was sit on Deputy Rogers’ motorcycle. They were also able to meet Deputy K-9 Barco and learn what he does as a drug/apprehension canine.

Ms. Sylvia of Faith Academy stated, “The children at Faith Academy Preschool have enjoyed Community Helpers Week. They especially enjoyed a visit from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. The officers discussed the importance of safety in a vehicle and bicycle safety.”

Undersheriff Noel Stephen stated, “I am proud that our officers take the time to share with others to look out for the wellbeing of our number one asset…our children. Thank you to Ms. Sylvia for requesting our presence to provide this service. If we can avoid just one of these children falling victim to one of these situations then it was well worth the time and effort.”


Michele Bell

Public Information Officer

Image D/S Rogers, D/S Ashby

D/S Rogers, D/S Ashby

Image1 Back(L-R) D/S McKinley, D/S Ashby, D/S Rogers Front D/S Cross, K-9 Barco

D/S McKinley, D/S Ashby, D/S Rogers
D/S Cross, K-9 Barco

Charles Murphy News 7/17

News Cast for July 17th:

In the courts, 18 year old Cornelia Ash pled no contest to aggravated battery and received a time served sentence, just less than seven months in jail for her role in a wild melee caught on You Tube between adults and students at the Okeechobee sports complex.

22 year old Daniel Wacker received two years in prison and three years’ probation for interference with child custody. Sheriff Deputies alleged he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old runaway.

52 year old Fred Lawrence Junior is serving a 46 month federal prison term for a traffic stop in Okeechobee on 441 where he possessed over five grams of met amphetamine purchased in Frostproof.

South Elementary will have a longer school day due to low reading scores. South is ranked in the bottom 3 hundred of elementary schools. Everglades and Seminole missed the cut and won’t have longer school days. Okeechobee schools overall improved from a D to a C district and Glades County was a B district this year. North Elementary earned a B.

Superintendent Kenworthy praised North and Everglades for their significant improvements. Okeechobee continued to rank low in the annual County Health Rankings completed by the University of Wisconsin this year. Okeechobee ranked 53rd among Florida’s 67 counties in health outcomes and 65th in health behaviors. Problems include high adult smoking rates, adult obesity, a lack of physical activity, and a high rate of motor vehicle deaths and teen births.

Brian Sell with the Health Department said the county fared better in food supplies thanks to the Treasure Coast Food bank and other groups bringing food trucks into the community.

Sports Cast for July 17th:

Bailey Kirton was named the Brahman Award winner for Okeechobee high school baseball this year. Bailey was praised for his unselfishness and leadership skills by the coaching staff.

Kirton said he tried to stay positive and really enjoyed winning this award. Kirton’s squeeze bunt helped Okeechobee defeat Sebring and go on a late season run that propelled them to win the district championship this year.

He said it was difficult playing a reserve role but he wanted to be a positive role model and contribute in any way he could. Kirton said he saw a lot of players improve during the regular season especially on the offensive side.

The team only lost two seniors and Kirton expects the team to return to the regional playoffs again next year.

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