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2014 Youth Basketball Champions

2014 Youth Basketball Champions

14 & Under

New Hope Lodge #450  PHA

14 and U Champs

Back Row: Sponsor James Snell Sr., Coach Bruce Snell, Kysell Richarson, Robert Futch, Garrett Causey, Dakota Pries, Coach Marsel Richardson, Sponsor James Snell Jr.

Front Row:    Luzana Venzor, Larry Boswell, Mark Youmans, Elton Pelt, Devon Johnson, Sponsor Melvin Jones Sr.


12 & Under

Masonic Lodge #237

12 and Under Champs

First Row: Ty’Juan Lewis, Roderick Williams, De’Nutrik Whitaker, Jerimya White

2nd Row: Coach Elijahwon Williams, Veyon Washington, Kamani Smith, Judele Root,  Coach Eric Williams

Not Shown: Simone Washington


10 & Under

Murphy USA

10 and Under Champs

Front Row: Kyle Shaw, Braeli Pelt, Kalyn Hammil, Vincent Fennell, Gavin Murphy

2nd Row: Anton Thomas, Ryker Waddell, Khamari Jones, Braelon Pelt

3rd Row: Sponsor  Shamera Brown, Team Mom  Bertheia Smith, Coach Derrick Fennell, Coach Reginald Mayes, Sponsor Anthony Vargas

Rooney Qualifies by Petition for 17th District Congressional Race

Rooney Qualifies by Petition for 17th District Congressional Race

Punta Gorda, FL – U.S Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) announced today that he has qualified by petition to appear on the ballot in Florida’s 17th District Congressional race. Rooney gathered more than 4,300 signatures from constituents petitioning him to run for reelection.

“I’m honored and humbled to have qualified by petition to appear on the ballot and have the opportunity to represent the people of Florida’s 17th district. I am deeply grateful to all of you who took the time to fill out and return these petitions for placing your confidence in me. This sends a message that our campaign has the strong, grassroots support we need to win in November and get our country back on the right track.”

Charles Murphy News 4/8

News Cast for April 8th:

Among arrests 46 year old Jorge Sanchez faces fleeing and eluding police, marijuana charges, baiting and fighting animals, and aggravated animal cruelty after city cops say they found a dead rooster and a live rooster in a vehicle they stopped for speeding on Parrott Avenue.  Sanchez denied any involvement in alleged rooster fighting and said he was just running to the store to get milk.

24 year old Tiffany Andrews of Homestead was charged with introduction of contraband into Okeechobee correctional institution and possession of marijuana, corrections guards say she tried to smuggle tobacco and marijuana into the prison.

43 year old Justiniano Lopez was charged with workers compensation fraud for allegedly using a fraudulent social security number to gain employment at a local dairy farm.  The department of insurance says Lopez is also a person of interest in a identity theft case in Scottsdale, Arizona.

28 year old Jeremy Cain was charged with battery, false imprisonment of an adult and children, and other charges after an alleged fight on Friday.  He allegedly assaulted a sleeping man and then tried to elude police by forcing his way into a nearby apartment with children inside.

The county commission voted 4-1 to increase the sheriff’s budget by 334 thousand dollars, returning unused funds and some Byrne drug grant funds.  County Administrator Robbie Chartier says there has been no major improvement in the counties financial situation in the past year.

The Sheriff intends to address the county commission on Thursday; if a deal is not reached a hearing is set for next Tuesday in Tallahassee to hear the dispute.

A 34 year old Okeechobee woman survived injuries from a rollover crash last week, trapped in her vehicle for nearly an hour off 441 southeast.  Misty Mattox was treated at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center.

A 48 year old Douglas Park woman, Brenda Jones avoided serious injury after being struck by a vehicle, a Chevrolet sedan on North East 16th Avenue at 5th Street.

Hendry Co US 27 Fatal 4-3-13 UPDATE 4-4-14

FDOT For Immediate Release Work Zone Safety April 7 2014

Press News Release Missing Juvenile Returns Unharmed

Press News Release Identity of Homicide Victim Released

Sports Cast for April 8th:

Lady Brahman softball defeated Moore Haven 15-7 to celebrate their senior night in style. Kaylen Fulford had two homeruns, and Cheyenne Nunez hit a long blast to lead the Brahmans over the pesky Terriers.

Coach Mary Huff says she likes that the power has come along for her team late in the year. Cheyenne Nunez drove in six runs in the game, Fulford three runs and the Brahmans took advantage of nine Terrier walks. Fulford says she just felt comfortable at the plate. Stormy Stokes added three hits.  Brianna Nunez reached base four times despite an ankle and back injury in the game. She said it was a great senior night.

Seven seniors were honored before the game, Carissa LiCata, Danyelle Sheffield, Fulford, Bethany Stuart, Stormy Stokes, Briana Nunez and Khrysta Herndon.

On the sports schedule today, boys’ baseball visits Jensen Beach at 7 pm.  Flag football travels to Martin County with games at 5 and 6 pm.  Boys’ tennis competes in their regional match this afternoon at Melbourne High School.

Florida Receives $5 Million to Combat Agricultural Pests, Diseases

Florida Receives $5 Million to Combat Agricultural Pests, Diseases

Funding Will Help Protect State’s $108 Billion Agriculture Industry from Invasive Species

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services today announced the state will receive $5.4 million in federal funding through the federal Farm Bill to help eradicate pests and control diseases that affect the state’s $108 billion agriculture industry.

“Pests and diseases are significant threats to Florida agriculture,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “By working to prevent the entry and spread of these threats, we can help ensure Florida’s famed agriculture industry can continue for generations.”

The spending plan for the pest and disease control section of the Farm Bill was released this week by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The purpose of the APHIS funding is to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten the U.S. agriculture and environment. This funding will strengthen pest surveillance, detection and identification and help mitigate these threats.

The state programs that will be funded include:

  • Giant African Land Snail mitigation
  • Detector dog inspections
  • Research and development for citrus health, including citrus canker and citrus greening
  • Protection of avocado production (reduction of laurel wilt)
  • Honeybee pest and disease surveys

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit

Governor Scott Announces $29 Million to Improve South Florida Water


~Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans for wastewater and stormwater projects~

MIAMI, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott was joined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. to announce the 10 wastewater and stormwater projects receiving more than $29 million in loan funding for South Florida through the Department’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program.

Governor Scott said, “Investing in water quality in South Florida is important to all the families who live in the area. These critical projects will help keep Floridians and our environment healthy. We must continue our focus to improve water quality throughout the state to ensure that Florida remains the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family.”

Senator Rene Garcia said, “In order for our state to continue to attract visitors, we must continue to prioritize spending on our environment. Today’s announcement of wastewater and stormwater treatment upgrades is good for our economy and for all Floridians.

Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said, “The quality of life we enjoy in South Florida is due in large part by the quality of the environment we live in. I am glad that Governor Scott and Florida DEP understand that we must remain committed to Florida’s environment.”

Representative Eddy Gonzalez said, “Governor Scott’s commitment to water quality is admirable.  These waste water and storm water treatment projects are important to everyone in South Florida.”

Representative Jose R. Oliva said, “For years the State Revolving Fund has given communities the boost they need to implement technologies that will change the impact they have on our state’s delicate water resources. Governor Scott has once again provided that bump to put local governments in a position to make a difference.”

Representative Carlos Trujillo said, “Florida’s water resources deserve our full attention and as much support as we can possibly offer. Governor Scott’s distribution of the State Revolving Fund shows his commitment to our environment, our water and South Florida’s long term future.”

Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. said, “Governor Scott and DEP again have shown that they are committed to Florida’s water quality. Today’s announcement is great news for all of the families in the area.”

Representative George Moraitis said, “Florida’s water quality is important to so many aspects of life in our great state. Thank you to Governor Scott for realizing the importance of protecting Florida’s water resources.”

Representative Holly Merrill Raschein said, “The folks living in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties may never personally witness the effects of these water quality investments, but their children and grandchildren will be forever grateful for the State Revolving Fund and the help it provides to our local communities.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said, “Thank you to Governor Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for their continued commitment to water quality in Miami-Dade County. With our county’s economic growth, it is important that we invest in wastewater and stormwater treatment to ensure that we continue to protect our environment. Today’s announcement is good for all families in South Florida.”

Secretary Vinyard said, “Governor Scott continues to demonstrate his commitment to the protection of Florida’s water resources. This funding will bring water treatment upgrades to South Florida communities who are looking to preserve our state’s waterbodies.”

The Projects in South Florida Include

Miami-Dade – $6,000,000

The proposed project will expand the peak flow treatment capacity of the South District Wastewater Treatment Plant to 285 million gallons per day. The plant will also be upgraded to provide high level disinfection for the entire peak flow. This is an increase of an original loan for $120,000,000.

Monroe County – $6,000,000

The project consists of constructing a wastewater treatment plant, transmission main and wastewater collection system to serve the communities from Lower Sugarloaf Key through No Name key. The transmission and collection system will serve approximately 9,000 homes. This is an increase of an original loan for $65,000,000.

Islamorada – $6,000,000

This project is for the construction of a regional wastewater collection and transmission system for the Village of Islamorada. Approximately 6,765 homes will be served by this system. This is an increase of an original loan for $71,000,000.

Marathon – $27,300

This project is complete and included collection, transmission, treatment, and disposal with stormwater collection and treatment in Marathon’s service area 3. Approximately 1,459 homes that are currently on septic tanks and cesspits will be served by an advanced water treatment plant. This is an increase of an original loan for $12,500,000.

Marathon – $519,000

This project is complete and involved creating wastewater and stormwater infrastructure in Marathon’s service area 5 that replaced approximately 1,278 septic tanks and cesspits. This is an increase of an original loan for $21,000,000.

Key Largo – $2,560,000

This project is complete and involved the construction of an advanced water treatment plant with a capacity of 2.3 million gallons per day that will eventually serve all of Key Largo. This is an increase of an original loan for $55,500,000.

Key Largo – $4,200,000

This project consists of the construction of a new digester as well as the conversion of an existing digester into a third Sequencing Batch Reactor to provide additional capacity. This expansion is necessary because Islamorada will be sending all of their effluent to Key Largo for treatment and disposal.

Dania Beach – $286,000

This project will address phase III of the infiltration and inflow corrections in Dania Beach and will also include repairs to lines in first two phases.

North Miami – $3,500,000

This project will correct excessive inflow and infiltration problems for 13 basins.

Miramar – $560,000

This project will allow for the construction of sewers, a lift station and force mains to serve 775 residents and businesses and eliminate septic tanks.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides financial savings for projects that benefit the environment, including protection of public health and conservation of local watersheds. The State Revolving Fund program was established in 1989 to provide low-interest financing for the planning, design and construction of wastewater and stormwater facilities, in compliance with the Clean Water Act. This program has awarded $3.8 billion in loans since its inception, and more than $1.4 billion in funding for 96 projects in just the last five years. Funded by federal grants, state matching funds, loan repayments and interest earnings, state revolving fund loans are offered at interest rates. Repayments from earlier loans are used to make new loans, allowing the program to continue operating.

For more information on the State Revolving Fund program, please visit .

Charles Murphy News 4/7

News Cast for April 7th:

Okeechobee county commissioners voted to spend another 3 hundred and 34 thousand dollars on the Sheriffs spending plan to try and avoid an appeal in Tallahassee next week.

The Sheriff had countered with a 14.8 million dollar plan.

Okeechobee city council last week approved a comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning application for the current trailer park property at the intersection of State Road 70 east and South East 10th Avenue.  The near 2.6 acres could one day be developed into retail and even a restaurant.

City planner Bill Brisson says he doesn’t see a lot of traffic impacts and refers to data obtained from a study done for the Hampton Inn and Applebee’s projects nearby.

According to the Department of Transportation 70 east in that area is a failing road.

Avon Park is considering a three year deal to send their household trash to Okeechobee.  They would pay Okeechobee’s landfill 25 dollars per ton.  Host fees of about 35 thousand dollars annually would be received by the county should the deal be approved later this month.

The Florida power and light solar plant in Martin County hasn’t been productive as once hoped.  The plants goal was to power 11 thousand homes but so far has only been able to power just over 6 thousand homes.  FPL officials blame a cloudier than normal summer last year.  The plant cost nearly 4 hundred million to develop.

In the courts, 19 year old Brack Platt pled no contest to a charge of unlawful possession of an alligator and received one year probation.   Florida wildlife officers claim Platt was among four young adults who shot and killed 8 alligators that were found in a canal near Port Mayaca last February.

A Florida panther was killed over the weekend after being hit by a vehicle in Hendry County.  Nine panthers have died so far in 2014, the fifth hit by a vehicle.

Sports Cast for April 7th:

Emmanuel Gaona was named the Most Valuable athlete for the boys cross country team at Okeechobee High school this year.

Gaona deflected praise at the awards banquet and said another teammate should have gotten the award, Hernan Baltazar. Gaona says Baltazar was the runner that pushed him the most and made him better this past season.  He said that the returning cast of runners has the potential if they really care about what they are doing. Gaona had a bizarre training regimen of fast food; he said fast food made him faster because he got the food faster. He said he is proud of the team this year for their efforts.  He did qualify for the regional for the first time.

Okeechobee softball had a strong performance at the Doc 4 Life Tournament in Ocala this weekend.

Cheyenne Nunez homered in a 14-2 victory over Key West in the first round.  Okeechobee defeated Ocala Vanguard 14-6 in the second round. The Brahmans were eliminated by eventual champion Belleview, 2-1.

On the sports schedule, girls’ softball will hold their senior night celebration tonight against Moore Haven.  Game time is 7 pm with pregame ceremony around 6:30 pm.

Commissioner Putnam Urges Caution During Wildfire Awareness Week

Commissioner Putnam Urges Caution During Wildfire Awareness Week

More than 500 Wildfires Have Burned 9,000 Acres Since January

Tallahassee, FL – Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service shared tips today urging Floridians to be extremely careful with fires outdoors. This week is Wildfire Awareness Week, which recognizes wildfires that raged across Florida in 1998, burning more than 500,000 acres and damaging or destroying 337 homes and structures.

“This year, we have been very fortunate with increased rainfall in some parts of the state, but other areas are still very dry,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Our firefighters are working to minimize risk of wildfire and help keep homes, businesses and residents of Florida safe, but there are also simple steps Floridians can take to help prevent wildfire.”

Wildfires generally occur in the spring and early summer months due to a lack of rainfall, low humidity and strong winds combined with increased springtime yard burns. Since Jan. 1, the Florida Forest Service’s firefighters have responded to more than 500 wildfires on 9,183 acres, most from human carelessness.


“We all have the responsibility to help prevent wildfires,” said James Karels, Florida Forest Service state forester. “By preventing just one wildfire, we can reduce the risk to life, homes and property, while also reducing the cost to Florida taxpayers. “


The following tips can help prevent wildfires:

  • Check with your local city or county officials to see if there are any burn restrictions in the area.
  • Keep fires contained to an 8-foot diameter pile or non-combustible barrel. Fires must be at least 25 feet from forests, 25 feet from homes, 50 feet from paved public roads and 150 feet from other occupied buildings.
  • Obtain a burning authorization from the Florida Forest Service for piles larger than 8 feet in diameter. Call your local Florida Forest Service field office (
  • Check the weather daily and don’t burn on windy days or when the humidity is below 30 percent.
  • Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is completely out before leaving.
  • Keep a shovel and water hose handy in case a small fire starts to escape containment.
  • Report suspicious activity to the Arson Alert Hotline at 1-800-342-5869. Callers may remain anonymous, and information about an arson-caused fire could be worth up to a $5,000 reward.

The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. For statewide wildfire updates and additional wildfire information, visit For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit


Florida’s Growing Alzheimer’s Population

Florida’s Growing Alzheimer’s Population Requires More Research 


CONTACT: Morgan L. McCord

April 4, 2014



TALLAHASSEE, FL - The number of Floridians affected with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent in the next decade, putting a strain on Florida’s health care system and increasing costs for taxpayers, according to a new report from Florida TaxWatch. The report, Florida’s Looming Alzheimer’s Crisis, calls for additional research into Alzheimer’s to prepare for the state’s aging population and to seek a viable preventative treatment.


“Florida must take steps to ensure the state has a sustainable long-term health care system to provide care for all Floridians,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog. “Additional research will help Florida identify how to reduce costs associated with treating the elderly population, and allow Florida health care providers to deliver the highest-quality care to its patients.”

By 2025, Florida is expected to have more than 700,000 Alzheimer’s patients, who each had an average annual cost of care up to $56,000 in 2010. Better research into Alzheimer’s disease could help reduce these treatment costs and allow for cost-effective quality care, according to the report.

“With more than 480,000 Floridians affected by Alzheimer’s today, the financial, health, and emotional costs to caregivers is tremendous and will only continue to rise,” said Tamara Y. Demko, JD, MPH, Director of the Florida TaxWatch Center for Health & Aging. “To realize the greatest cost-savings for Florida and ameliorate the impact to our aging population and their families, we must invest in finding treatments and possible preventive therapies now, before any damage, fiscal or physiological, becomes irreversible.”

As the Alzheimer’s population grows, the costs for treatment are expected to also rise. Funding more Alzheimer’s research in Florida should result in lower cost of care, improved health outcomes for patients, and a high-return on investment for Florida taxpayers.


Charles Murphy News 4/4

News Cast for April 4th:

Water managers may appeal a ruling to ban back pumping of agriculture runoff into Lake Okeechobee. Attorney David Guest with Earth Justice said this was an historic moment in the effort to clean up Lake Okeechobee. He admits he is disappointed it took more than 11 years to get a victory in court but he blames the delays on the Water Management district. Guest says 9 billion gallons of water is back pumped into Lake Okeechobee each year.

An April 24th workshop set by the Okeechobee Board of County Commissioners to discuss management and maintenance of various cemeteries.

Several residents have complained because decorations on grave sites have been removed without their knowledge.

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says he met with county officials to make sure residents are better informed on what decorations are allowed. Culpepper says he understands the difficulty for lawn maintenance crews.

Among arrests, 28 year old Joseph Salette was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation on a child under 12.

In the courts, 70 year old Jesse Williams received 21 months in prison for aggravated battery.  Williams cut 50 year old Gilbert Pickens in the back with a pocket knife last June 7th in Douglas Park, alcohol and jealousy was apparently involved.

Detectives Looking For Theft Victims

Sports Cast for April 4th:

Marissa Casimir and Yasmine Queen had two touchdowns apiece to lead Treasure Coast to a 32-0 win over Okeechobee in varsity flag football last night. Okeechobee was held to only three first downs on offense.

Titans Coach Devin Malloy said his team likes to run the ball, which is uncommon in flag football. The JV lady Brahmans overcame Treasure Coast 20-6 last night. Aaliyah Johnson scored two touchdowns and added an interception for Okeechobee.

She caught a 1 yard touchdown on the first drive and a 19 yard touchdown in the second quarter. She said the team’s third win of the year felt good. Andee Garcia added a touchdown and Clinesha Williams had a big game on defense for Okeechobee.

Westminster Christian swept Okeechobee in a softball double header in Miami yesterday, 11-1, and 16-3

On the sports schedule today, softball competes in the DOC 4 Life tournament in Ocala today and Saturday.

The JV softball team also competes in the Ocala tournament.

Seasonal manatee speed zones in effect statewide

Seasonal manatee speed zones in effect statewide

Now that weather and waters are warming, manatees are disbursing into their popular feeding and loafing areas. To ensure manatee safety, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement officers, along with federal and local law enforcement partners, will be increasing patrols in these areas.

This effort coincides with seasonal manatee zones that went into effect April 1 and run through Nov. 15. The speed zones are intended to protect the state’s official marine mammal from collisions with boats.

Warming weather increases boat traffic too, which is why the FWC also reminds operators of boats and personal watercraft to slow down and watch out for manatees in springs, rivers and Atlantic and Gulf waters. The state’s lumbering “sea cows” are leaving the warmer enclaves such as freshwater springs, power plant outflows and canals, where they spent the winter, and migrating into more open waters.

Boaters should pay strict attention to signs that delineate each seasonal manatee protection zone and their boat’s speed. For information on manatee protection zones and maps, go to and select “Protection Zones.” That page contains a link for county maps; select “Click here for maps of these areas.”

In addition to obeying speed regulations, boaters and operators of personal watercraft can avoid collisions with these large marine mammals by:

  • Wearing polarized sunglasses to help spot the creatures in the water.
  • Watching for large, telltale circles on the water’s surface (manatee footprints) indicating the presence of manatees.
  • Looking for a snout just above the surface.
  • Slowing down when the presence of manatees is indicated.

Boaters and others who find sick or injured manatees should report the animal and its location to the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.

For more information about Florida manatees, visit, where you can access the Boaters Guide To Living With Manatees brochure.

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