Local News

Charles Murphy News 10/17

News Cast for October 17th:

OHS September Students of the Month

OHS September Students of the Month

Manuel Navarro was convicted of manslaughter as jurors deadlocked on a charge of 2nd degree murder after about four hours of deliberations on Thursday. Prosecutor Ashley Albright doubted that Navarro had any self-defense claims and even that he was sitting when he stabbed the victim, 29 year old Francisco Soto. He said the stand the ground law had no role in the incident. Both men were extremely intoxicated at the time with Soto’s blood alcohol nearly 4 times the legal limit. Albright said he will seek the maximum sentence when Navarro is sentenced on November 14th.

Ashley Albright on Navarro verdict

Brown Cow Sweetery, Waste Management and American Drilling Services took home awards in different categories as businesses of the year at a luncheon put on by the Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce Thursday at Indian River State College.

Frank Decarlo of American Drilling thanked the crowd for their support and friendship over the years. The Chamber reported that membership increased from 134 to 250 in the past year, with over 19 new businesses holding ribbon cuttings and or grand opening celebrations.

For raw audio of the Chamber Luncheon, click on the link  Chamber awards luncheon ! Video footage will be posted to Facebook.

In the courts, 24 year old Hilliard Gopher avoided jail time as prosecutors dropped a charge of trafficking in met amphetamines in his case. Gopher received 18 months’ probation after a traffic stop on state road 78 west last year where 78 grams of the drug were allegedly seized.

An Okeechobee man Lemmie Prescott was hospitalized from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the left thigh on Wednesday night at a home on Lock Access Road. Alcohol was said to be a factor in the incident.

Sports Cast for October 17th:

Percint Wiggins won the most improved player award for Yearling girls basketball this year. She moves on to the high school and is a player to watch over the next four years.

Percint also played travel ball this summer and insists she has improved her game. Percint said she really wasn’t that interested in basketball until her sister started to play. She said that encouraged her to try the sport.

Percint Wiggins on Yearling basketball award

The Brahman boys golf team finished third at districts to Jensen Beach and Lincoln Park and will play in the regional tournament Monday in Plantation.

OHS volleyball swept Sebastian River last night to improve to 12-7 on the year, 25-19, 25-12 and 25-17.

The Junior Varsity squad also swept the Sharks 2-0. The junior girls lost Tuesday to Lake Placid 2-1.

The dean of Treasure Coast football coaches Dennis Lavelle will coach his last game in Okeechobee tonight as the Bulldogs meet the Brahmans in a key district game. Lavelle is retiring at the end of the season.   Okeechobee is 2-4 and South Fork 3-3 this year. It is senior night for the Brahmans and nine players and three girls will be honored.

Moore Haven hosts Doral Academy HS football 7:30 pm


OHS swimming at Heartland Invitational in Lake Placid (Fri-Sat)

OYFL teams in playoffs with games in Lake Placid.

Rooney Receives Award for Manufacturing Excellence

Rooney Receives Award for Manufacturing Excellence

Nation’s Largest Industrial Trade Association Names Rooney Champion of Manufacturing

Washington, DC – The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has awarded U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) the NAM Award for Manufacturing Excellence based on his record in the 113th Congress in support of American manufacturing.

“Manufacturers in Florida and throughout the United States are making a comeback, creating jobs, making more products and making them better than ever before,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse. “However, manufacturers are often disproportionately impacted by decisions made by policymakers in Washington. The NAM is proud to stand with lawmakers like Rep. Rooney who understand what is at stake and seek to implement policies that will foster innovation, growth and competitiveness.”

“The key to rebooting our economy and helping Americans find good jobs is to create an environment where our businesses and manufacturers can succeed, grow, and hire new workers,” Rooney said. “I appreciate this award from the National Association of Manufacturers, and will continue working to fix our broken tax code, get rid of unnecessary and costly regulations, and expand American energy production, so that our manufacturing industry can thrive and create high-skills, high-paying jobs.”

Key Votes included in the Voting Record are selected by small, medium and large manufacturing executives who serve on the NAM’s Key Vote Advisory Committee. Additional information on the NAM Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence can be found here.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.08 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for two-thirds of private-sector research and development.

Seminole Museum Hosts 17th Annual American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) in Big Cypress November 7-8

Seminole Museum Hosts 17th Annual American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) in Big Cypress November 7-8

Indigenous Cultural Explosion in the Everglades to Feature Native American Arts, Crafts, and Live Entertainment

Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, Fla. (October 16, 2014) – The Seminole Tribe of Florida Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is pleased to announce the return of the highly anticipated annual American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) November 7th and 8th.  Now in its 17th year, the AIAC is one of the top festivals in the Southeast.

The event will feature an exciting array of artisans, food vendors, children’s craft activities, musical performances, dance demonstrations, a wildlife booth, and Native American camp life recreations. The Indian market will showcase some of the finest native craftsmen from around the country including prize-winning Seminole artisans. Daily performances will include an opening ceremony by Seminole Tribal elder Bobby Henry and his team of Stomp Dancers, Gordon Wareham with storytelling and flute playing, and Seminole musical acts including Paul “Cowbone” Buster, Ted Nelson, Sr., and Hybiskus.  In addition, our daily roster includes Polynesian Proud Productions providing authentic Polynesian entertainment and Nakotah LaRance– a 6 time World Hoop Dance Champion and Native American Actor.   The Museum’s very own Van Samuels will emcee the festivities.  Saturday’s line-up will additionally include special performances by the James Billie Band and the Osceola Brothers Band, and a skateboarding contest and skate parade to correspond with our current Smithsonian exhibit: Ramp it Up—Skateboard Culture in Native America.

The event will take place on the festival grounds across from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation.

Admission is $10 for adults; $7.50 for seniors and students. Children four years and under and Museum members are free. Admission includes entrance to the event and the Museum. Parking is ample and free.

For more information on the 17th Annual AIAC please visit www.ahtahthiki.com or contact Carrie Dilley at 863-902-1113 extension 12211 or carriedilley@semtribe.com.


Charles Murphy News 10/16

News Cast for October 16th:

IMG_2187The jury trial of Manuel Navarro will enter a fourth day today and jurors will hear closing arguments this morning. Navarro took the stand in his own defense Wednesday and continued to claim it was self-defense when he stabbed his much younger roommate, 29 year old Francisco Soto to death last August 31st.

Both men had been drinking and had an argument when Navarro told women at a dance not to associate with Soto. Navarro told jurors that Soto once chased him with a machete and had been verbally abusive to him. Lead Detective Javier Gonzales said he did not feel Navarro was justified in stabbing the man.

Manuel Navarro testimony

Among arrests, 52 year old Cindy Ann Conrad was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm after an alleged disagreement at a home on North West 7th Street. A 25 caliber firearm was seized.

33 year old James Winters of Okeechobee picked up in Glades County on an old warrant for stealing a boat trailer from Harney pond boat canal in Lakeport. It was later recovered by Avon Park police as they seized a stolen vehicle in a separate investigation.

A double wide trailer being dismantled collapsed on a local man in the Spot in the Sun neighborhood on Monday afternoon. Special equipment was brought in by Okeechobee County Fire Rescue to remove the man. He was flown to Lawnwood with non-life threatening injuries.

The city planning board tonight will hear an application for a drive thru restaurant for Sonic in a heavy commercial zoning district at 501 North East Park Street.

Sports Cast for October 16th:

The Lady Brahman volleyball team sweeped past Lake Placid, 25-21, 25-13 and 25-17 to improve to 11-7 on the season. Lexi Ward and Sarah Hurst celebrated their senior night.

The Lady Brahman bowling team fell to Martin County 6-1 and to Treasure Coast 7-0 this week.

Ashley Byrd led the Ladies with a 356 series against Martin County. Jessica Olney rolled a high game of 214 versus Treasure Coast.

The Boys bowling team fell to Martin County 5-2 and the boys team was shut out by the Titans 7-0.

Brian Chapman rolled a high game of 269 versus Treasure Coast. He predicts the bowling team can do well at districts later this month. Chapman has rolled two perfect games in the off season playing in senior leagues with older players. He said that has really sharpened his skills

Brian Chapman on OHS bowling


Yearling volleyball and soccer at Oslo 4:30 pm

OHS bowling home against St. Lucie West 3:30 pm

JV football away at South Fork 6 pm

OHS volleyball hosts Sebastian River 5/6:30 pm

Water Among Top Priorities for Commissioner Putnam in 2015-16 Budget Request

Water Among Top Priorities for Commissioner Putnam in 2015-16 Budget Request

Nearly $30 Million Requested to Support Water Restoration and Conservation Projects

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services submitted its Legislative Budget Request today for consideration by the Florida Legislature to fund programs and projects during Fiscal Year 2015-16. In a letter to the directors of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam highlighted the need for funding to support water restoration and conservation projects.

“Water is our state’s most important natural resource,” Commissioner Putnam said. “Not only is it one of Florida’s defining characteristics, but we need a healthy and abundant supply of water to grow and thrive as a state. Therefore, we must work to restore the health and conserve our supply of water – and we must do so with a policy and budget that is flexible, comprehensive and long-term.”

Water has been one of Commissioner Putnam’s top priorities during his first term as Commissioner of Agriculture. As a result of his efforts, more than 10 million acres of agricultural lands in Florida have already adopted water-saving techniques and implemented new technologies to protect and conserve Florida’s water supply. Collectively, agricultural producers saved more than 1 billion gallons of water last year.

Additional funding will “help us build on our recent success to continue restoring the health of our water and save even more water for future generations to enjoy,” Commissioner Putnam said.

The water-related requests include:

  • $15 million to support restoration projects around Lake Okeechobee, including water retention and nutrient reduction efforts surrounding Lake Okeechobee, St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River watersheds.
  • $5 million for the Springs Initiative.
  • $5 million for the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program Area, both projects aimed at increasing acreage of agricultural lands that are implementing best management practices to reduce impact on the environment.
  • $1.5 million for agricultural water supply planning.
  • $1.4 million for partnership agreements with water management districts and soil and water conservation districts.

Other priorities reflected in the budget request are the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, citrus greening and wildland firefighters.

The Rural and Family Lands Protection Program provides funding to invest in conservation easements that will protect Florida’s landscape, wildlife habitat and other natural resources, while maintaining private ownership and supporting the local economy. The budget request includes $25 million to support the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and continue investing in conservation easements located in environmentally critical regions of the state.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that has spread to every citrus producing county in the state, and there is no cure. As a result, the citrus industry harvested the lowest crop last year in more than three decades. The budget request includes $8 million to continue research efforts, as well as $8 million to help prevent the spread of disease in the citrus industry.

Florida’s wildland firefighters put their lives at risk to protect Florida’s homes, businesses and residents. The budget request includes funding to provide pay increases for Florida’s firefighters and fire support positions. In addition, it includes $7 million to upgrade equipment and protective gear that will help keep our firefighters safe from harm.

To see the full request, click here. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

Perseverance is the Ticket

Perseverance is the Ticket

By Christine Call

BOCA RATON— Christopher Comis is a pleasant, smiling, outgoing, hard worker. He is a ticket taker and usher with Paragon Theaters in Deerfield Beach. He works two or three days a week and is excited to be working in the community. Comis said, “My hard work paid off. I wanted a job working with other people and I got it this past June. I’m very happy about my job.”

Comis has cerebral palsy and is a customer of Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and APD is highlighting the workplace achievements of people with developmental disabilities.

Comis went through a regular interview like the other job candidates for the usher and ticket taker position. Kelly Griffin supervises Comis and said he was shy at first, but no more. She raved about his friendliness, positive attitude, and patience. Griffin said, “He makes it so easy to be around him because he’s always smiling. His coworkers love him and look out for him.” Griffin added that the only accommodation Comis needed was a table instead of ticket stand.

Julie Sherman is Comis’ support coordinator. She shared that he is a very strong, articulate self-advocate who wanted to be in an inclusive work environment. “Christopher has made a lot of progress since he started working at Paragon Theaters. The job has been a good self-esteem booster,” Sherman said. She added, “He is now looking for a group home as he wants to be more independent.”

When not working, he enjoys playing video games, attending sporting events, and listening to all kinds of music.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1‑866‑APD‑CARES (1‑866‑273‑2273).

Charles Murphy News 10/15

News Cast for October 15th:

IMG_2935Manuel Navarro’s statement to police was read into evidence as his 2nd degree murder trial continued Tuesday afternoon. Navarro admitted he had done wrong by cutting his roommate 29 year old Francisco Soto, but added he only did it because Soto was assaulting him and would have beaten him up. A 4 inch knife was used in the assault in a residence on North West 16th Avenue last August 31st. Two nearby witnesses, asleep, said they didn’t hear anything until they were awoken by a knock on their bedroom door by Navarro. Detective Javier Gonzales read Navarro’s statement to the jury. The jury is expected to begin deliberations around midday today.

Michael Hazellief testimony at Navarro trial

Javier Gonzales reads Navarro statement

Jose Garduno testimony at Navarro trial

90 marijuana plants, 150 pounds of the drug, a total value of 270 thousand dollars, were seized Monday at 2124 North West 252nd Street. Charged was 50 year old Alexis Horta on charges of trafficking in marijuana, possession of a structure known to traffic in drugs, and theft of electrical services.

Dug Case Arrest Report

A drug case in Four Seasons thrown out of court for violation of the civil rights against illegal search and seizure. Charges against 57 year old Edward and 43 year old Mary Hamilton were also dropped. There was also a civil case where the sheriff was trying to take their home.   Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer found the search warrant issued did not include enough probable cause. He noted it didn’t mention information where the drugs were located, where they were purchased, where on the property the transaction took place, or further details.Chris Comis working at Theater

Press News Release Child Saved in Near Drowning Incident

Press News Release Arrest Made in Infant Death

Boca Raton-Christopher Comis

Sports Cast for October 15th:

Bryan Pinon had two goals to lead Yearling to a hard fought 2-0 victory at Osceola, sweeping the season series with their rival school, and keeping Yearling undefeated.

Pinon scored on a penalty kick in the first half and then received an assist from Christian Isidro when the Warriors made a mistake on a goal kick in the first half. Pinon says the team and his school were very excited. Goal keeper Bobby Gomez had his second straight shutout against Osceola. He faced very few shots on net in the match. Glades Day defeated Moore Haven 3-1 in high school girls’ volleyball.

Bobby Gomes and Bryan Pinon on win over Osceola

OYFL teams took three of five games against the Central Florida Saints on Saturday to finish the regular season.   The flag team fell 21-20. John White had two touchdowns, the mighty mites prevailed 26-18 as Aundre Baker had three touchdowns. The senior team fell 26-7, the Pee Wee won a blowout 36-0 and the juniors won 32-7 as Veyon Washington had three touchdowns.

On the sports schedule today.

Yearling volleyball and soccer at Sebastian Middle 4:30 pm

PECAS at Clewiston Middle 5 pm. Boys’ golf district tournament at PGA 9 am.

Rooney Demands Answers on Ebola; Calls for Swift Action

Rooney Demands Answers on Ebola; Calls for Swift Action

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) today sent a letter to President Obama and Cabinet officials demanding answers on the United States’ response to the Ebola Virus, and called on the President to work with Congress to take further action to stop the spread of the disease.

“The United States now faces two very different but grave national security threats – the spread of Ebola from West Africa and the growth of ISIS in the Middle East,” Rooney said. “President Obama should present comprehensive response plans and authorization requests to combat these crises to Congress and the American people, and we should return to DC promptly to debate and vote on them.

“My constituents are afraid, and few have confidence that the Administration’s response has been sufficient. What’s the next step to prevent exposing Americans to the disease? Why isn’t the Administration at least restricting tourist travel to and from Ebola-stricken countries? How do we account for individuals that aren’t stopped for screening or pass airport screening procedures because they’re not yet exhibiting symptoms? No one wants to stop humanitarian and medical assistance from reaching West Africa, but I fail to see any national security or humanitarian reason for allowing high-risk individuals – like Mr. Duncan – to enter our country for purely tourist reasons while the disease is uncontained.”

In a letter to President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, Rooney asked for a justification on the approval of B-2 tourist visas for individuals from countries hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak. Rooney also asked how each agency is responding to the approximately 21-day gap between when individuals contract the virus and when they begin to show symptoms, particularly as it pertains to individuals entering the United States from West Africa.

“Rather than issuing an outright refusal on further travel restrictions to and from West Africa, the U.S. should explore every feasible and available option to restrict all non-essential travel,” Rooney wrote.

U.S. Sugar Contributed $10,000 for Clewiston High School’s Athletic Programs

U.S. Sugar Contributed $10,000 for Clewiston High School’s Athletic Programs

Clewiston, FL ––October 13, 2014–U.S. Sugar contributed $10,000 to Clewiston High School’s Athletic Programs to help provide equipment, supplies and facilities needed for Clewiston High School to maintain its competiveness in varsity athletics.

“Student athletes are an important part of our schools and our communities, and U.S. Sugar is proud to help support their efforts both in school and on the playing field,” said Judy Sanchez, senior director of corporate communications and public affairs.

“Our students and our school benefit in many positive ways from U.S. Sugar’s contributions,” said Clewiston High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Pete Walker.  “The support from U.S. Sugar is dispersed throughout our athletic department, funding the needs of many programs.”

Walker said that meeting financial needs is always a challenge in running a school’s athletic programs, but it is particularly true in a small county like Hendry, where monies received through traditional means are often not sufficient.

“We trust that we will continue to warrant the support that has been afforded us by U.S. Sugar Corporation for so many years,” Walker said.

Sanchez said that U.S. Sugar’s community involvement has long centered on the area’s students, with the company playing an active role in support of youth, school and recreational activities in the Lake Okeechobee region.

Celebrate My Drive The Focus At Recent Kiwanis Meeting

Celebrate My Drive The Focus At Recent Kiwanis Meeting

Maurisa Tremain (left) showing Celebrate My Drive merchandise with Kiwanis presenter Angie Griffin.

Maurisa Tremain (left) showing Celebrate My Drive merchandise with Kiwanis presenter Angie Griffin.

Maurisa Tremain, from Gretchen Robertson’s State Farm office was a guest at a recent Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee meeting promoting State Farm’s national Celebrate My Drive campaign in which schools and communities compete for grant dollars while promoting safe driving awareness for teen drivers. This is the second year that Gretchen Robertson’s State Farm Office has participated in the program.

Along with promoting safe driving tips and recruiting the community to the Celebrate my Drive website, Tremain will visit the High School and Freshman Campus to promote safe driving.

The campaign ends October 24th. To make your commitment go to celebratemydrive.com. The grand prize is a community concert from The Band Perry and a $100,000 grant. Ninety $25,000 will also be awarded.


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