News Cast for November 13th:
Don’t expect the recent trend in the dairy industry of robots to affect large commercial dairies in Okeechobee. Richard of the Maine Cooperative Extension says in a recent tour of the Netherlands he saw many advantages for robots at small dairy farms. The robots can handle up to 60 cows, and milk them two to three times per day. He said it is tough to find labor in many parts of the country for the dairy industry.
In the courts, 23 year old Emily Dreher was sentenced to one year probation for animal cruelty. Three counts were dropped in the plea deal. Deputies and animal control claim they found a malnourished dog, a dead puppy and two dead raccoons at property on North West 17th Avenue. Filth, dirty diapers and bad drinking water for the dogs were allegedly present.
A grand jury indicted 37 year old Tommy Comfort on five charges of sexual battery on a child under 12 this week. Comfort had been arrested on similar charges last summer. The alleged abuse occurred between 1990 and 1997.
27 year old Antoine Handy of Ft. Pierce was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on an 12 year old Okeechobee girl. He allegedly met the girl at a Douglas Park event in March and had sex with her in his vehicle.
Pahokee football coach Alfonso Smith was removed from his position Thursday due to allegations of inappropriate conduct. An investigation is underway by the Palm Beach sheriffs office. Smith returned to his alma mater this year and the Blue Devils won their district championship and host a playoff game tonight against Cross City of Dixie County.
- 27 year old Antoine Handy of Fort Pierce was charged in Okeechobee with lewd and lascivious battery on a local teen. The girl apparently told school officials about the sexual encounter who called the law. She reported it occurred in March. Bond was 60 thousand dollars. An Okeechobee grand jury this week indicted 37 year old Tommy Comfort on five charges of sexual battery and was held without bond. The victim, who was under 12 at the time, claims she was abused between August of 1990 and February of 1999.
- Osceola county deputies arrested one of their former officers for cattle rustling charges. 53 year old Keith Collins is accused of stealing one calf from an Osceola ranch and a bull from a Volusia County ranch. Collins claims he was given calves for working at a local ranch. Deputies say they located methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia on the suspect at a recent court hearing.
- An Okeechobee man was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury on five counts of sexual battery on a child under 12. 37 year old Tommy Comfort had originally been charged with the crimes in the summer of 2 thousand 14. Its allegedly he inappropriately touched the child between August of 1990 and February of 1999.
- A former Osceola county deputy was arrested on charges of cattle rustling this week. 53 year old Keith Collins allegedly stole two calves in Osceola county and sold them at the Sumter county livestock market. He was also accused of stealing a young bull from a ranch in Volusia County. Collins was charged with perjury at a recent court hearing on the charge and bailiffs allegedly found methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia on the suspect.
A Fort Pierce man was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on an Okeechobee girl. The victim told school officials this week after an incident at school. She claimed she had met 27 year old Antoine Handy at an event in Douglas Park and had consensual sexual intercourse. Handy was held on 60 thousand dollars bond.
Sports Cast for November 13th:
Brahman boy’s basketball got off to a great start with a 69-24 embarrassment of Moore Haven last night.
Demetrius Clark had 15 points and Shaquouy Farroll added 14 points, five blocks and seven rebounds. Farrol said he enjoyed his Brahman debut.
Okeechobee jumped out to a 13-0 lead and never were threatened in the game.
Coach Demetri Riles said his kids were ready to play their first game.
Tevon Thompson led the Terriers with 11 points. Clewiston defeated Lake Placid 62-55 in the other game.
Tonight Clewiston meets Moore Haven at 6 pm followed by Okeechobee versus Lake Placid at 7:30 pm.
Brahman boys’ soccer won their season opener 8-0 at Fort Pierce Westwood.
On the sports schedule tonight, Moore Haven girls hoops visits Clewiston at 6 pm. Moore Haven girls and boys soccer travels to Berean Christian with girls 1:30 pm and boys at 3:30 pm. OHS girls’ basketball visits Port St. Lucie with JV at 4:30 and varsity at 6 pm.
Everglades Restoration Strategies Projects Make Major Move Forward
Ongoing efforts are on track to help meet water quality standards
West Palm Beach, FL —The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) today approved two construction contracts to maintain significant momentum for the State of Florida’s Restoration Strategies plan to improve Everglades water quality. Both projects will expand the size and function of treatment wetlands, known as Stormwater Treatment Areas, or STAs.
Already a proven green technology, Stormwater Treatment Area 1 West (STA-1W) in western Palm Beach County will grow from 6,700 acres to 11,300 acres. The $79.2 million investment nearly doubles the STA’s ability to clean excess phosphorus from stormwater before it reaches the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and the greater Everglades.
“In a short time, key projects in Gov. Rick Scott’s Restoration Strategies plan are underway or nearly complete,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Daniel O’Keefe. “This is the next critical piece of the plan to achieve cleaner water for America’s Everglades.”
Formalized in 2012, the Restoration Strategies plan is a suite of projects scientifically designed to achieve the ultra-low phosphorus levels needed in the Everglades. Under the plan, the District is creating more than 6,500 acres of new STAs and 116,000 acre-feet of additional water storage.
Expansion of STA-1W involves an array work, including construction of:
- 49,000 feet of perimeter embankment
- 34,000 feet of collector canals to convey flow
- 10 inflow gated concrete box culverts
- 6 overflow weirs
Once infrastructure is complete, plants are expected to grow in naturally, removing excess nutrients from stormwater.
As part of the plan, a second expansion of 1,800 acres in STA-1W will be accomplished in the future to further increase treatment capacity.
Construction work will also include building a structure that increases the flow capacity in the nearby Stormwater Treatment Area 1 East. Increasing water flow from 1,580 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 3,600 cfs will improve the ability to distribute water during storms and other high flow events into the STA, where it can be cleaned.
In related activities, the SFWMD approved acquisition of an important seepage canal at the southern end of the project. The canal will capture clean water that naturally seeps under embankments and return it back to the regional system.
Restoration Strategies Progress
The first two major initiatives in the governor’s $880 million suite of projects are nearly complete and operating.
- A-1 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB): With 60,000 acre-feet of water storage, the project captures and stores peak stormwater flows. Water managers can move water from the basin into STAs at a steady rate to optimize the wetlands’ performance and achieve water quality improvement targets.
- Construction utilized 16,500 cubic yards of concrete, 2,100 tons of steel and 21 miles of levees.
- The site is west of U.S. 27 in Palm Beach County.
- L-8 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB): Designed to operate like the A-1 FEB, the project is being built on a strategically located 950-acre former rock mine.
- The deep-ground reservoir is capable of storing 45,000 acre-feet of water.
- Initially, this project will function as a multipurpose FEB to capture, store and deliver water to STA-1 East, STA-1 West, the Loxahatchee River and for other restoration purposes.
- When the STA-1 West expansion is completed and in-basin storage for the Loxahatchee River comes online, the L-8 FEB will transition to primarily delivering consistent flows needed to optimize performance of STA-1 East and STA-1 West.
The SFWMD also has begun construction on the Bolles East Canal upgrade. The project will enhance flexibility for moving stormwater from the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) into wetlands that improve the quality of water before it reaches the Everglades. Blasting work at the site was recently documented on video: Watch the blast.
For More Information:
Suspect Arrested for Grand Theft of Livestock
Osceola County – Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Keith Collins and charged him with Grand Theft. Collins also faces similar charges in Volusia County. The investigation began in July when deputies received a report from a rancher who indicated he was missing two calves from a herd of 100. The rancher told deputies he discovered multiple gates left open on his property and after an inventory of his cattle, two were missing.
After further investigation, deputies identified Keith Collins as a suspect when they discovered Collins had sold two calves at the Sumter County Livestock Market. Deputies located Collins and took him into custody. He did not cooperate with the investigation, but based on the evidence, Collins was arrested for Grand Theft of Livestock and booked into the Osceola County Jail.
Several weeks later, Osceola deputies received information the Volusia County Sheriff s Office was investigating a similar crime. Osceola deputies contacted Volusia deputies and provided them with information regarding Collins. Based on their information and additional evidence that was discovered, Collins was charged with Grand Theft of Livestock by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
On November 3, Collins appeared in court on the Osceola County Grand Theft of Livestock charges. During his hearing, Collins lied to the judge who issued a warrant for Perjury in an Official Proceeding. As deputies were arresting Collins on these charges, they located methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in his possession. Collins attempted to discard the drugs and was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Without a Prescription, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Tampering with Evidence. He was booked into the Osceola County Jail.
Keith Robert Collins (DOB 7/7/62), Kenansville, Florida
Osceola middle school students learn Florida history WP
By Jorje Botello
Special to the Okeechobee News
On a typical Saturday morning you would expect teenagers to be sleeping in their beds, recharging their batteries after a long week of academics, but not for Osceola Middle School! This year OMS, under the direction of Jorje C. Botello, 8th grade Social Studies teacher, has finally been able to see a goal of his for OMS come to fruition; the Inaugural 8th grade field to trip to St. Augustine, Florida.
For years the idea of such a trip had been tossed back and forth and the biggest problem was the question of. “How much is this going to cost the average student, and how can we make it happen?”
OMS was able to host a “Back to School” social in the gymnasium with music, food, and classic games for students from grades 6-8 to participate in. The social raised over $1200.00 to go towards the trip, however the bulk of the money would be used to pay for the buses for the trip and would leave the club with almost no money to help offset costs for students.
As expected in a great small community like Okeechobee, the St. Augustine Club was able to get not one, but two very generous donations that would end up paying for a total of three buses. The Rotary Club of Okeechobee and the Okeechobee County School Division of Special Grants & Programs were the heroes of the trip. OMS could now use their fundraiser money to offset a $100.00 per person (average) trip to $60.00. OMS was also able to purchase extra provisions for the trip and award a few scholarships for student unable to meet the reduced price.
Upon their arrival at the Visitors center, OMS was greeted by their tour guides from the Tour St.Augustine Company. Throughout the day students visited such sites as the mission Nombre de Dios, the Fountain of Youth Exhibit, the Colonial Quarter on downtown St. George street, the Oldest House, and the Castillo de San Marcos. At every turn students were able to connect the history in front of them with what they had learned previously in the classroom during the first nine weeks of the school year. Even though the students had been up since 4am, they were still full of energy and enthusiasm. The touring ended close to 5 o’clock, students and chaperones were allowed to explore downtown St. Augustine on St. George Street freely. Many bought souvenirs to take back home, others chose to sample some of the local fare, and everyone from start to finish expressed how “awesome” the trip was and “how great it was to be a part of something special like this“. Jorje Botello commented, “To finally see this idea come to life was like a dream come true. We have so much history here in our state and it’s about time we start using what we have here to help teach our students differently than with simple textbooks. It was not an easy trip to plan, and unfortunately we were not able to purchase t-shirts for the inaugural group to commemorate the trip but maybe we can come up with something later on down the road. The students were great, they represented our school and our district well, and we look forward to going back next November”
News Cast for November 12th:
Vietnam Veteran Charlie Norris received special recognition at Wednesday’s Veterans Day observance downtown.
Norris received the flag placed on the flag of his uncle after he was killed fighting in World War 2 at the battle of the bulge from his cousin Dowling Watford.
Featured Speaker Matt Buxton said we enjoy freedom because of the sacrifice of veterans.
Safety continues to be emphasized at the Okeechobee schools transportation department. Coordinator Nicole Havee said drivers had over 1 million miles last year without an accident. She said law enforcement continues to crack down on problem drivers and she urged the public to always use patience around school buses.
A Kenansville man and former deputy, 53 year old Keith Collins, was charged with cattle rustling. He allegedly sold a stolen calf at an auction over the summer and was arrested last month on a charge of stealing young bull from a Volusia County ranch. He was arrested November 3rd during a traffic stop and also faces drug charges.
Martin county deputies added 8 drug felony charges against Indiantown resident Terrance Willis. The 39 year old is accused of selling crack cocaine and molly near Stuart parks.
An Okeechobee man was left in critical condition last week after a head on collision in Escambia County. The Pensacola News says 71 year old Cecil Carnley was not at fault in the accident; his passenger was also in critical condition. Troopers say another vehicle crossed the center line.
There is an animal that is in need of assistance from a dog fight. The family just moved here from Miami and their dog was brutally attacked a few days after they moved here. Since a lot of their money was tied up in the move, they don’t have enough cash on hand to pay for the assistance. If anyone would like to donate please go to : https://www.gofundme.com/v39sdu6c to help!
Sports Cast for November 12th:
Eric Kindell is optimistic his baseball team can forget about failures last year and have a strong 2 thousand and 16 campaigns. Many of his key players have played summer and fall ball and the team returns five starters from last year.
Kindell said he feels good about the returners. The return to health of right handed ace Eli Finney could mean a big change in the teams won loss record this year
On the sports schedule today;
Lady Brahman soccer visits Forest Hill at 6 pm. OHS boys soccer opens their regular season at Fort Pierce Westwood at 3:30 this afternoon. Girls’ weight lifting opens their schedule with a meet against Treasure Coast High and Fort Pierce Central in Fort Pierce at 3:30 pm
The Brahman boys’ basketball team preseason tournament also begins tonight. Okeechobee, Moore Haven, Clewiston and Lake Placid will compete with games beginning at 6 pm tonight.
Gov. Scott Honors More Than 100 Veterans at Vietnam War Memorial in Punta Gorda on Veterans Day
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott celebrated Veterans Day by awarding more than 100 Florida Veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Vietnam War Memorial in Punta Gorda.
Governor Rick Scott, “Veterans Day is a time to thank the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedom. Throughout America’s history, veterans have answered the call to protect others and serve our county. As a Navy veteran myself, I am especially honored to celebrate Veterans Day with so many brave American heroes who served in the Vietnam War. Every American should take time today to show appreciation for those who have served.”
Governor Scott recognized Wednesday, November 11 as Veterans Day in Florida in the attached resolution.
Veteran’s Day Message from Congressman Rooney
As your children enjoy a day off from school and you take in the festivities of Veteran’s Day, please take a moment to share with them the inspirational stories of veterans who have devoted their lives to ensure the safety and security of our nation. During this last year, our nation’s all volunteer force has aided in humanitarian efforts in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak, inspired us by expanding elite opportunities, like Ranger School, to female candidates and continue to protect us by operating in over 30 countries and territories world-wide.
I will continue to advocate for our veterans and addressing the needs of FL-17 through legislation. I’ve introduced two bills (HR 2862 and HR 2863) to ward off fraudsters who prey on our veteran population. Additionally, I’ve cosponsored legislation that will address the devastating effects of war by through a pilot program to introduce therapy dogs in the VA and legislation that will hold the VA accountable for poor performance with the VA Accountability Act. This act will authorize the VA to remove or demote based on poor performance or misconduct. For FL-17’s Reserve Force, I’ve cosponsored legislation that allows guard and reserve personnel who have served 20 years, but never called up for active duty, to legally be recognized as a “veteran.” And finally, I just introduced bipartisan legislation called the Housing Our Heroes Act, which works to get homeless veterans off the street and into homes, with a pathway to one day owning these homes themselves.
For all the veterans of Florida’s 17th District, I personally thank you for your service. I feel truly honored and blessed to be your voice in Congress.
-Congressman Tom Rooney
Governor Rick Scott Awards Miami Police Officer with the Medal of Heroism
JUPITER, Fla. – During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott recognized Miami-Dade Police Department Officer Mario Gutierrez with the Medal of Heroism for his bravery and quick reaction during a dangerous situation where he saved lives from a gasoline storage tank explosion.
Governor Scott said, “Officer Gutierrez showed courage to save lives and we applaud his commitment to the families of Miami-Dade. His heroic actions demonstrate the brave work that Florida’s law enforcement officers do every day. Florida is proud to be home to so many law enforcement heroes and I am honored to present Officer Gutierrez with the Medal of Heroism.”
Miami–Dade Police Department Director, J.D. Patterson said, “Officer Gutierrez showed exceptional courage and decisiveness in his efforts to save and protect innocent people around him. His actions reflect the highest commitment to public service and I am proud to join Governor Scott in recognizing his bravery with the Medal of Heroism.”
About Officer Mario Gutierrez
On October 29, 2013, Officer Gutierrez was on patrol and noticed an individual tampering with a gasoline storage tank at a gas station. The individual had started a fire on top of the valve system attempting to cause a large explosion. Officer Gutierrez knew if an explosion occurred, the entire gas station would be destroyed, potentially killing anyone in the immediate vicinity. Putting himself in danger, Officer Gutierrez shut off the valve to the pumps rendering them inoperable. Officer Gutierrez then responded to the individual, who became increasingly violent, and Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple wounds from the interaction. Officer Gutierrez’s life threatening injuries were sustained due to the quick response of Airport District Motor Officer Juan Leon (pictured above) and he was transported to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The medical staff met the Officer Gutierrez outside and stabilized him, saving his life. Thanks to the quick action of Officer Gutierrez, many lives were saved.
Governor Scott Recognizes Seven Florida Educators for Military and Teaching Service
JUPITER, Fla. – Today, during a meeting of Florida’s Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott recognized seven outstanding educators with Governor’s Shine Awards. In honor of Veterans Day, all of the award recipients are active military or veterans. The Shine Award is presented to teachers and administrators in Florida who make significant contributions to the field of education.
Governor Rick Scott said, “These teachers bring valuable lessons from their military experiences to the classroom each day. As they prepare students for future success, these teachers offer students the opportunities to learn about leadership and service. I am proud to honor seven brave men and women today for their dedication to our country and to our students.”
The following teachers were awarded the Governor’s Shine Awards:
Jacqueline Belisle, Miami-Dade County, Southwood Middle School, U.S. Air Force Reserves – Jacqueline Belisle has served as a teacher in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 12 years. During the 2012-2013 school year, Belisle joined the United States Air Force Reserve. She aims to share the values of the United States Air Force with all her students and developed a school-wide initiative to align the civics curriculum across all grade levels. Belisle has completed Airmen Leadership School, has been recognized as the Project Citizen Region Winner and Airmen of the Month, and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal.
Jordan Budisantoso, Miami-Dade County, Miami Northwestern Senior High School, U.S. Army Reserve – Jordan Budisantoso has served as a teacher in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for four years, and teaches algebra, advanced placement computer science, and introduction to software engineering. He has been recognized as having some of the highest learning gains in the State of Florida, and the percentage of his students demonstrating proficiency in algebra has more than doubled within two years. Budisantoso proudly serves as a Captain in the United States Army Reserve as the Signal & Communications Officer in Charge for the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne).
Lt. Col. José A. Martínez, Ret., Palm Beach County, Lake Worth Community High School, U.S. Air Force – Lieutenant Colonel José A. Martínez is the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor for FL- 824 Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and department chair for the Aerospace Science department. Martinez served as Commander of the U.S. Air Force Detachment 755 and Professor of Aerospace Science at the University of Puerto Rico, which resulted in commissioning the largest group of second lieutenants in 20 years. Prior to this assignment, he served at the Air Force Officers Accessions and Training School at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery Alabama as Chief, Support Division, Quality Advisor and Inspector General.
SFC Bret Mayo, Hendry County, LaBelle Middle School, Florida Army National Guard – Sergeant First Class Bret Mayo joined the 3rd Battalion 116th Field Artillery, of the Florida Army National Guard at the age of 17. During his first year of teaching, he won the “Brilliant Orange Award” for outstanding first year educators. Shortly after September 11, 2001, Mayo was first deployed, which had a significant impact on Sergeant Mayo and his students. In addition to volunteering to tutor students after school, he helps the School Resource Officer facilitate the Hendry County Sheriff Department’s Youth Explorer Cadet Program. Sergeant First Class Mayo will again be deployed again early next year.
Lt. Col. James L. Rodriguez, Ret., Palm Beach County, Atlantic Community High School, U.S. Army - Lt. Colonel Rodriguez is the Senior Army Instructor, Department Head, teacher, coach and mentor at Atlantic Community High School. He also assists in the coordination of all Army JROTC programs and activities in the district. His mission is to encourage cadets to become better citizens through hard work and a good education. Rodriguez’s military career has brought him to Australia, Hawaii, Arkansas and Texas.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Samuel Thomas, Ret., Hendry County, Clewiston Middle School, U.S. Navy – Samuel Thomas is a retired Information Systems Technician, Senior Chief Petty Officer with 21 years of honorable service in the United States Navy. He has been a Language Arts teacher for three years.
1st Sgt. Manuel Valdez, Ret., Broward County, Hollywood Hills High School, U.S. Army – First Sergeant Valdez served more than 20 years in the United States Army, and has worked in Broward County for 16 years as an Army JROTC Instructor. Currently, he teaches Leadership Education Training courses to grade 9-12 cadets. First Sergeant Valdez has received numerous awards and distinctions throughout his military career. He most recently received the Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for being recognized as the 2015 United States Army Cadet Command Army Instructor of the Year.
“Keeping Music Alive”
Nat King Cole Generation Hope Makes Instrument Donation To Okeechobee High School
Twin daughters of music legend Nat King Cole, Timolin and Casey Cole of Boca Raton, launched Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc. to honor the legacy, music and life of their father Nat King Cole in 2008 after learning of budget cuts in public schools directly affecting the arts. Since that time, donations in excess of $750,000 have benefited thousands of children with “the greatest need and fewest resources”in South Florida and New York.
Recently they visited Okeechobee High School bringing with them three trumpets, one clarinet, one french horn and a snare drum to start what they hope will be a long term relationship with the school’s music program. One of Nat King Cole Generation Hope’s most successful programs is securing instruments, new and old, and finding homes for them in schools in need. With generous support from Stephen and JoAnna Myers, developers and founders of Pine Creek Sporting Club, they were able to bring the instruments valued at over $4,000 to the school’s music program.
Met by Principal Dylan Tedders and Band Director Clint LaFlam, the Cole twins and representatives from Pine Creek Sporting Club were impressed with the comprehensive music education program and the students who performed for the visit. Passion for music was evident in the room, by the pride in his students shown by Director LaFlam to the students who lit up when performing.
While trophies line the walls showcasing achievements made by this school’s program, the real reward that these students receive will be varied and long lasting. Nat King Cole Generation Hope knows music is a critical learning tool that keeps students engaged in school, helps develop well-rounded individuals and encourages skills that are vital for success in the 21st century. Research has proven that access to a quality music education engages students in the classroom and increases graduation rates; improves early cognitive development, math and reading skills; enhances learning in other core subjects; develops critical thinking and leadership skills; and fosters self-esteem and the ability to work cooperatively in teams.
“Our family history is one of musical excellence and charitable giving,” said Casey Cole. “Our father was a trailblazer in the music industry and will live forever through his style, grace and unforgettable music. Our mother Maria sang with Duke Ellington and was known for supporting multiple causes throughout her life. By sharing our family’s history and giving students the opportunity to enhance their musical talents and abilities; our family’s legacy lives on.”
For information please contact Executive Director Shanna St John at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-213-8209.
The mission of Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is to provide music education to children with the greatest need and fewest resources by funding programs that provide for instruction, mentoring and resources.