Local News

Governor Scott Appoints Robert Branning to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court and Scott Cupp to the Hendry County Court

Governor Scott Appoints Robert Branning to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court and Scott Cupp to the Hendry County Court

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Robert Branning to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court* and Scott Cupp to the Hendry County Court Branning, 44, has practiced with Rehak & Branning, LLC, since 2007 and has been in the private practice of law since 2002. Branning began his legal career as an Assistant State Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court in 1999. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and his law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law. Branning has served as an adjunct professor at Southwest Florida College since 2012. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Mark Steinbeck.

Governor Rick Scott said, “During Robert’s years of practicing law, he has proven his dedication to serving Florida families with humility and integrity. I am confident that he will continue that honorable service on the Twentieth Judicial Circuit bench.”

Cupp, 58, of the Law Office of Scott H. Cupp, LLC, served as Assistant State Attorney in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit from 2003-2006 as Chief of the Felony Division, and from 1993 to 1999 as Chief of the Crimes Against Children and Sex Crimes Units. Cupp received his bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University and his law degree from the Western New England University School of Law. He fills a vacancy created by the appointment of Judge James D. Sloan to the Circuit Court.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Throughout his career, Scott has demonstrated the qualities that make for a great judge. I know he will serve Floridians well and make a fine addition to the Hendry County bench.”


Charles Murphy News 11/10

News Cast for November 10th:

Among arrests, 43 year old Marilyn Parker was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon allegedly cutting another woman with a box cutter following an altercation on Gamble Street in Moore Haven last week.

33 year old Renee Trevino of Okeechobee was charged with child neglect and resisting arrest after allegedly being spotted using oxycodone in a parked vehicle in Riviera Beach. The child in the vehicle was turned over to a relative.

Okeechobee commissioners approved a lease with a new fertilizer business in the Industrial Park. The Bam FX fertilizer is sold in California and Florida with Central and South America also on the agenda.

Owner Harvey Kaye says technology gained from mars missions at NASA led to the product which he contends should improve food production around the world to feed a growing population. The company has four employees and expects to grow to 10 employees within one year.


Corps reopens a section of Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

Corps reopens a section of Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopened a 3-mile section of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail between Taylor Creek and Nubbin Slough on the north end of the lake, as rehabilitation continues on the Herbert Hoover Dike, the earthen structure surrounding the lake.

Other portions of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail remain closed, including Port Mayaca to Canal Point, Pahokee to Torry Island, South Bay to Clewiston, Liberty Point to Moore Haven, and Moore Haven to Lakeport. The closures are necessary for public safety while work on the replacement of water control structures takes place. The trail is scheduled to be closed in some of these locations through 2019.

“The rehabilitation of Herbert Hoover Dike is important to the safety of people living and working in south Florida,” said Steve Dunham, chief of the Corps’ South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston. “The safety of people walking the trail is important to us as well and we want to keep them out of harm’s way, given the amount of equipment that will be in the area.”

Contractors are using heavy construction vehicles and large equipment within all of these areas and any additional traffic on the narrow trail or dike crest poses a safety hazard for recreationists and equipment operators.

Additional information on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail and a map of current closures can be viewed at: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Recreation/LakeOkeechobeeScenicTrail.aspx


Charles Murphy News 11/7

News Cast for November 7th:

An inmate suicide reported at the Okeechobee jail Wednesday night. 38 year old Michael Platt was found in his cell in an apparent hanging. He had just been sentenced to 15 years in prison on prescription pill type charges after he didn’t show up for the sentencing hearing.

Inmate Death Report

Among arrests, 22 year old Vincent Foster of Indiantown was charged with burglary of a dwelling while armed and masked with an assault and battery, bond was 1 hundred thousand dollars.

30 year old Beau Emley changed his plea in his murder case and was sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. Emley pled no contest to 2nd degree murder and drug related charges. He was accused of providing heroin to 26 year old Willard Milear, who died on May 25th of last year at the Town Star store on 70 west. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says this sends a message to drug dealers about what could happen to them.

The Sheriff wants to have a public safety awareness council that includes judges and prosecutors so he can clean inmates out of his jail quicker.   The May administration sees the need to expand the jail in the next five to eight years with space needed for the kitchen, infirmary, and other areas. Jail population hovers between 230 and 250 daily. Under Sheriff Noel Stephen said the original jail was not designed to handle this amount of inmates. Commissioners also will consider donating the old Lottie Raulerson senior center building to a Vietnam Veterans group that is seeking a smoke free facility for meetings.

Commissioners also approved a cleaning contract for 80 thousand dollars with Scotts Quality cleaning to continue cleaning the judicial center for one year.

Noel Stephen on jail expansion issues

They extended their use agreement with the Okeechobee model airplane and radio controlled racing club to use the Ag Civic Center for another year.

Sports Cast for November 7th:

Okeechobee cross country set for tomorrows regional at South Fork high school. The boys’ team finished runners up at districts and the entire team will compete. Vernice Leon, who finished seventh at districts, will be the only Lady Brahman in the race.

Leon says she was happy with how she did at districts. Daniel Shelley led the boys’ team with a fifth place finish at districts. He too is a sophomore. He said he had to earn this finish at districts. Mariah Mosley came off the bench to grab eight rebounds and score four points as Okeechobee rallied from a seven point halftime deficit to defeat Moore Haven, 31-25 last night at the Lady Brahman preseason classic.

Vernice Leon on district cross country

Daniel Shelley on district cross country

Mosley said the team won with defense after a half time pep talk but struggled against the determined Lady Terriers.

Taylor Trent led Okeechobee with nine points.

Darlah Cypress and Sunni Bearden each had 10 points for Moore Haven.

John Carroll defeated Glades Day in the other game, 45-27.

On the sports schedule tonight, Brahman football ends their season against state ranked Clewiston. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 this evening.

Vincent Lewis on Moore Haven win over JC

Joe Smith on win over Moore Haven


Charles Murphy News 11/6

News Cast for November 6th:

A medical examiner conducts an autopsy on a man killed in a mobile home fire in Buckhead Ridge on Monday night. Despite best efforts of Buckhead Ridge firemen and neighbors, the victim could not be reached. The cause of the fire ruled accidental by the state fire marshal. They believe some food was left on the stove. A dog also perished in the blaze at 1047 Palm Court. Okeechobee County firemen provided mutual aid.

Among arrests, a felony battery charge was leveied against 29 year old Michael St. John for an alleged domestic incident on September 18th. The victim went to a local gas station for help and was treated by EMS crews The victim was injured in her head and face in a fall according to the arrest report.

32 year old Rodney Willis of Labelle was arrested by Fish and Wildlife officers on charges of possession of methaphetamines after a report of illegal hunting on Loblolly Bay Road.

42 year old Shirleina Jones of Moore Haven was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, a pair of scissors. A Moore Haven man said she cut him several times with the scissors after an argument in their bed in late October. Jones claimed she acted in self defense. The victim was not seriously injured.

35 year old Christopher Brown of Lorida was charged with fleeing and eluding police after an alleged hit and run crash with injury on US 98 near US 27. Highlands County deputies say they tried to stop Brown in Sebring but he continued and rolled the vehicle. He was treated for injuries and arrested after his release from the hospital.

Glades County commissioners getting to work on construction of the county business park and job training center. At their last meeting, they agreed to negotiate a contract with Wright construction for the training center. They also approved a 5 hundred and 81 thousand dollar contract with Tidgdilla nd Sons to start construction of phase one of the business park.

Sports Cast for November 6th:

Taylor Trent had 14 points, shooting 7 from 11 from the floor to lead Okeechobee to an easy victory over Glades Day 50-15 at their preseason classic. Bri Baker added six points and Sha’Dajia Williams added four points, five rebounds and two steals for Okeechobee.

Coach Joe Smith said the girls have a lot of improvement to do on offense but he liked the first game. Okeechobee played junior varsity and varsity players in the game to get them experience.

Moore Haven won the earlier game 37-25 over John Carroll. Darlah Cypress led the Terriers with 18 points and 10 steals.

Joe Smith After OHS beat Glades Day 11-5-14

Darlah Cypress on MH win over JC

Vincent Lewis on Moore Haven win over JC

She said it was a good first effort for the team.

Sunni Bearden added seven points and 10 steals for Moore Haven.

Tonight John Carroll tangles with Glades Day at 5:30 followed by Okeechobee versus Moore Haven at about 7 pm.


Florida Farm Bureau Names Environmental Scientist to South Florida Post

Florida Farm Bureau Names Environmental Scientist to South Florida Post

Gainesville, Fla. – The Florida Farm Bureau Federation has announced that Gary Ritter, an environmental scientist with 30 years of experience as water management district staff member, has joined the organization as the Assistant Director of Government and Community Affairs for south Florida.

Ritter has previously directed a primary service center for the South Florida Water Management District and held a key responsibility for the agency’s governmental relations initiatives. In his new position he will represent farmers and ranchers before the South Florida Water Management District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and local government. Ritter will assume duties with Florida Farm Bureau Federation on Nov. 17.

A University of Florida graduate and an expert in resource conservation, Ritter lives with his wife, Ann, in Okeechobee.

Editor: Gary Ritter can be contacted at 352.727.0547. Beginning Nov. 17 he can also be reached at gary.ritter@ffbf.org.


Charles Murphy News 11/5

News Cast for November 5th:

Dowling Watford with 742 votes, Noel Chandler with 686 and Gary Ritter with 556 votes was elected to city council. Voter turnout was over 46 percent in Okeechobee. Ray Worley finished fourth with 474 votes.

Chandler says he has always supported the city employees. He plans to keep the city fiscally conservative.

Noel Chandler on election win

Terry Burroughs on election win

Dowling Watford on election win

Gary Ritter on election win

In the county commission District 4 race Terry Burroughs defeated Tommy Clay 4998 votes to 3771 votes, with 57 percent of the vote. Burroughs said he was impressed with his election victory. Voters voted to continue the children services council with 7436 votes to 1278 votes. Okeechobee was against medical marijuana with 51 percent opposed.

Congressman Tom Rooney also earned an election victory tonight over Democrat William Bronson, capturing over 64 percent of the vote. Okeechobee voters also approved tax abatements for new industry and business for the next 10 years.

In Glades County Weston Pryor defeated Robert Murrhee 18 hundred and 9 to 16 hundred and 57 votes.

John Ahern bested Doug Korinke in District 4, 1771 to 1687.

Charlotte Co Duncan Rd 11-4-14

Sports Cast for November 5th:

Bianey Serrano scored the only goal as LaBelle defeated Okeechobee 1-0 in girls’ soccer last night. Goal keeper Josie Griffin had a strong game for Okeechobee. LaBelle didn’t score until the 75th minute of the match.

Lady Brahman Coach Lori Harper Kyle said the team showed vast improvement over two blowout defeats last week on the road at LaBelle and Lincoln Park. Coach Kyle said the girls didn’t quit but still have work to do on passing and offense

=Lori Harper Kyle on loss to LaBelle

Okeechobee lost to Kissimmee-Osceola on Monday, 4-1.

Lady Brahman volleyball falls in the regional semifinal, embarrassed in three games by Jensen Beach, 25-11, 25-4 and 25-18.

On the sports schedule, the Lady Brahman basketball team opens their season with a preseason classic tonight. Moore Haven meets John Carroll at 5:30 and Okeechobee takes on Glades Day at 7 pm.


Charles Murphy News 11/4

News Cast for November 4th:

Election Day is upon us and a low turnout of registered voters is expected in Florida, perhaps 40 percent. Okeechobee voters decide whether to reauthorize the Children Services council and economic development tax exemptions. Local races include County Commission District 4 with Republican Terry Burroughs competing with Democrat Tommy Clay. Six candidates are running for three spots on the city council, Jim Baughman, Noel Chandler, Devin Maxwell, Gary Ritter, Dowling Watford and Ray Worley. Glades County voters have two county commission races, District 1 between Robert Murrhee and Weston Pryor and District 4, Doug Korinke and John Ahern. Polls are open until 7 pm tonight. WOKC will have election reports this evening.

Nearly 5 hundred local students from K to third grade were able to attend Fire Safety presentations put on by the Okeechobee City Fire Department this year. City fire chief Herb Smith says strong fire prevention has helped prevent fires in Okeechobee.

His advice is to install smoke alarms, check their alarms and replace the batteries twice per year. He also uses people to watch their cooking, give space heaters space from flammable items, inspect your electrical cords and don’t buy cheap ones, be careful with candles and have a home fire escape plan with your family.

Herb Smith on fire safety

City cops bust an open house party of young people ages 17-21 at a residence on South West 10th Avenue late Halloween. The home owner 41 year old Antonia Toribio was charged with a misdemeanor and released.   One 18 year old who fled police on foot was caught nearby and charged with resisting arrest. Cops suspect alcohol and marijuana was being used.

Sports Cast for November 4th:

Diamond Wiggins took home the MVP award for Yearling girls’ basketball last year. The energetic player contributed on both ends of the court as the team’s leading rebounder, inside scorer, and defender. She plans to play girls basketball this winter at Okeechobee High school. Wiggins was thrilled to get the award. Wiggins played all out and said she always wanted to give 110 percent.

Diamond Wiggins MVP YMS basketball

The OYFL senior team fell to Sebring 25-0 in the second round of the playoffs Saturday. Sumaj Mitchell scored four touchdowns for Sebring. Jalen Pryor had an interception and D’uan Chastine recovered a fumble for Okeechobee.

On the sports schedule tonight OHS volleyball competes in the regional semifinals tonight at Jensen Beach at 7 pm. Lady Brahman soccer hosts LaBelle in their season opener at 6 pm.


Charles Murphy News 11/3

News Cast for November 3rd:

Buckhead Ridge voters got a quick look at the four men wanting to be county commissioners of Glades County at a political forum Thursday. Robert Murrhee and Weston Pryor are competing in district 1 and Doug Korinke and John Ahern in District 4. There is no incumbent this year. Buckhead Ridge Community Association President Evert Coleman says they hope to get voters more interested in the election. Code enforcement, boat ramps, improved cell phone service, lower property taxes and better basic services were the main concerns of residents. Glades County had the lowest voter turnout of any Florida county, percentage wise, in the August primary.

Agriculture Commission Adam Putnam honored Milking R Dairy of Okeechobee with an agricultureal environmental leadership award Friday. The award recognizes agriculture enterprises that are at the forefront of developing and adopting innovative and environmentally sensitive environmental practices.

Sutton and Kris Rucks are a third generation dairy family and own 12 hundred acres and raise 12 hundred cows, they also had 2 thousand acres for beef cattle and 3 hundred and 50 acres of row crops. They capture, store and reuse 100 percent of the waste water produced on the farm.

In the courts, 31 year old Joshua Bond of Glades County received two years prison followed by six years’ probation and one year community control for allegedly shooting at a Glades county deputy, Sgt. Richard Jones during a domestic call in January of 2 thousand 13. As deputies surrounded the home, Bond slipped away, only to be caught without further violence at a Lehigh Acres wal-mart. He was originally charged with aggravated assault on law enforcement and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Highlands Co 11-1-14

IR 11-1-14 CR-611 Hit and Run Bicycle

Sports Cast for November 3rd:

A listless Brahman team got run over by Jensen Beach 42-0 on Friday. The Falcons took advantage of three Okeechobee fumbles and received 171 yards of offense and three touchdowns from Josh Abel. QB Kade Glenn threw for 74 yards and a touchdown to Dylan Ruytna (Root na) and also ran for a 30 yard touchdown. Jensen Coach Tim Caffey said he wasn’t sure at first how this game would pan out..

Abel rushed for touchdowns of 10, two and 14 yards in the game. He said the offense has executed well in the past month. Okeechobee was led by Jajuan Cherry with 43 yards in offense.

Tyrese Jackson rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown for Jensen. Heritage defeated Bayside so Heritage is the district champion and Bayside the runner up.

Moore Haven Terriers defeated St. John Neumann 27-17, they finished in a three way tie for district 2A-6 runner up with Neumann and Evangelical Christian, those three play tonight in a tie breaker at Evangelical Christian.


Charles Murphy News 10/31

News Cast for October 31st:

A negligence and wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Attorney Edward Zebersky against the Okeechobee Sheriff and the estate of Elizabeth Arellano for the double fatality last December involving a deputy sheriff. His client is the Estate of Hilda Medrano and her parents. Zebersky said the family was devastated when the State Attorney decided not to file criminal charges against the Deputy Joseph Gracie who was travelling close to 90 miles per hour before the crash. He said they are also investigating a civil rights claim which could lead to a federal lawsuit. Zebersky said they hope to litigate the case within one year. If successful they intend to seek the maximum statutory limit against the sheriff and any insurance. They also would petition the legislature for claims bills for perhaps millions of dollars. Former prosecutor and WOKC legal analyst, Rick Seymour says he’s not surprised criminal charges were not filed in the case. He noted the deputy was responding to a call that possibly involved violence and was doing his job

Gracie appears in court December 17th to answer charges of careless driving and driving without lights and siren at high speeds.

Rick Seymour on Joe Gracie case

10 30 2014 Press News Release Fake Ransom CallsWOKC Photo district cross country 2014 photo 3

In the courts, a reportedly crazed man under the influence of narcotics that fought with deputies January 16th in the middle of the night, and talked with demons, 31 year old Bryan Adams, received four years in prison. A K-9 and tasers had little impacts on the subject as he fought in a whispering pines wooded area after a domestic incident where he took his 11 year old son with him.

A 30 year old Moore Haven man, Luis Fuster received 18 months in prison for beating his dog on Avenue D February 10th. Fuster fled from deputies to hide under a porch, and then spit blood on glades County deputies.

It was easier to get a job in Okeechobee last month with jobless rates down nearly 1 percent to 7.6 percent.   Glades County also saw a decline of 1.1 percent to 8.1 percent. Both counties are still near the top of Florida counties with Okeechobee 12th and Glades 4th highest. The highest rate in the state was Hendry County and the lowest was Monroe County.

Sports Cast for October 31st:

Nathanael Bean was able to set two school records this year for the Brahman swim team and is excited about competing at the regional tomorrow in relays, the 200 freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle. Bean said he looks forward to the competition

Nathanael Bean on swim regional

Bean and 15 other Brahmans compete at Ransom Everglades high school in Miami. He said it’ll be different than districts, but he hopes for similar results. Other boys to watch for Okeechobee include Michael Muros, the school record setter in the 200-freestyle, and William Castillo.

On the sports schedule today, Brahman football wraps up their district schedule at Jensen Beach tonight with kickoff at 7 pm. Moore Haven Terriers must win to force a three way tie for district runner up when they host St. John Neumann at 7:30 tonight.

On Saturday OYFL will host five youth football games, just one Okeechobee team, the senior team, will play. Games begin at 9 am.


« Previous PageNext Page »