Local News

SFWMD to Hold Media Briefing on Historic Test to Reduce Discharges to Coastal Estuaries

SFWMD to Hold Media Briefing on Historic Test to Reduce Discharges to Coastal Estuaries

West Palm Beach, FL – South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Chief Engineer John Mitnik will brief the media on an operation to retain additional water in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes to reduce the flow of water into Lake Okeechobee. This operation will also guide future implementation of the Kissimmee Headwaters Project which will improve the ecological health of the Kissimmee River.

DATE: Wednesday, October 12, 2016

TIME: 4 p.m.


  • Local: (561) 682-6800
    Toll Free: (855) 682-6800

CONFERENCE CODE: 996 493 544

Charles Murphy News 10/11

News Cast for October 11th:

Among arrests, 50-year-old Paul Bailey was held on 15 thousand dollars’ bond for allegedly cutting his girlfriend with a knife. Deputies say the Thursday morning incident involved alcohol.  Bailey himself was cut.  The victim was treated at Raulerson.

31-year-old Jesse Zamora was charged with robbing the Shell Station in Treasure Island on September 18th. He allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened three people in the store. Other charges include aggravated assault and aggravated battery. No bond was set.

28 year old Brandon Gabbard was charged with aggravated battery after an alleged confrontation at a local business over his dogs.   He allegedly was abusive to several employees and struck the owner twice, sending him to the hospital with a possible brain bleed.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more people died across the U-S from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. South Florida was once front and center for the opiod epidemic. Fort Lauderdale City manager Lee Feldman says turning things around will require every city –large and small to take aggressive preventive steps.


Sports Cast for October 11th:

Okeechobee used four field goals and four interceptions to wallop Fort Pierce Westwood 40-0 last night. Okeechobee also got touchdown runs from Bubba Fludd and Lamar Williams and a touchdown pass from Logan Etherton to Jermaine Moore. Coach Chris Branham says this team has a chance to be special.


Jajuan Cherry also returned an interception for a touchdown.  He recently moved to linebacker and says that meant a change in his role and mind set.


Mills hit on field goals of 35, 27, 36 and 33 yards.  He also had four touchbacks on kickoffs. He said he felt field position is important.


Marques Burgess rushed for 111 yards for Westwood.

  • Moore Haven lost to South West Florida Christian 41-27 on Monday
  • OHS volleyball at Fort Pierce Central JV 5 pm, varsity to follow
  • OHS bowling at Port St. Lucie 3:30 St. Lucie Lanes
  • Moore Haven volleyball at Marco Island Academy 6 pm
  • PECS volleyball at Clewiston 5 pm
  • Osceola volleyball and soccer host Oslo 4:30 pm
  • Yearling volleyball hosts Storm Grove 4:30 pm
  • West Glades volleyball at LaBelle 4:30 pm

GEC Preparations Result in Minimal Storm Impact to Members

GEC Preparations Result in Minimal Storm Impact to Members

October 10, 2016: Glades Electric Cooperative prepares continuously throughout the year for all sorts of emergencies and disasters. At the beginning of hurricane season the cooperative increases efforts to ensure it is ready for any event.  At the first sign of an approaching storm, GEC begins monitoring the situation.  A pre-established timeline is activated beginning four days prior to expected landfall of a major storm. In preparation for Hurricane Matthew the GEC Storm Team became very serious very fast to ensure the Cooperative would be as ready as possible.

Crews from cooperatives around the state and even Louisiana were ready to report as soon as the storm passed.  Our system was reviewed to ensure any weak points were reinforced, employees were scheduled to respond to emergency roles, supplies were brought in, and vehicles stocked to ensure restoration could begin as soon as it was deemed safe to do so following the storm.

The extensive preparations paid off and every employee breathed a sigh of relief when the worst of the storm stayed away from our area.  Although our area still experienced high winds and storm conditions only 26 members reported losing power.  By 8:00am on Friday, October 7, 2016 Jeff Brewington, CEO announced GEC was removed from Storm Mode and returned to normal operations.  All of those crews and resources scheduled to assist GEC members were then released and made available to assist other cooperatives with their restoration efforts.

GEC is committed to serving our community and providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service.  For more information regarding GEC or any of its programs please go to www.gladesec.com or call 863-946-6200.

Burning Yard Debris After Hurricane Matthew

Burning Yard Debris After Hurricane Matthew

If Your Fire Escapes, You May Be Held Liable

Hurricane Matthew’s wind caused wide spread destruction of vegetation in our area. While lighting a burn pile will reduce all those leaves, uprooted trees and other yard waste to a little heap of ashes in just a few hours, taking the proper safety precautions is imperative for protecting yourself and your property. With the right preparation, careful location and proper dousing, you can burn effectively without letting the fire get away.

In some urbanized cities, open burning is prohibited; check with your local Florida Forest Service before you burn. The Florida Forest Service can also provide you with specific spacing requirements and burning hours for your area before you strike that match. In general, locate the fire 150 feet away from your neighbor’s house and at least 25 feet away from your house, any fences on the property, garden sheds, and the garage. If your property backs up to a grassland or woodland area, light the fire at least 25 feet inside your property line.

“Keep your yard waste fire no more than 8 feet in diameter and create a fire break — a bare dirt area the same height and circumference as the fire — around the burn area,” explains Melissa Yunas, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist with the Florida Forest Service. Yunas stresses, “Add to the fire as it burns down rather than creating one massive pile. Before you light, get a hose ready and keep a shovel and metal rake on hand. A shovel allows you to smother sparks and fire with dirt in an emergency while the rake allows you to quickly return logs or branches that roll off the fire.”

Burn only yard waste from your own property, such as leaves, small branches, grass, and other yard clippings. It is illegal to burn household garbage such as plastic, bleached paper, pharmaceuticals, tires, used oil, and any treated wood. It is also illegal to burn construction garbage such as asbestos containing materials, roofing materials and asphalt.

Fires need your constant attention so plan to burn on a day when you can be there the whole time. Limit burning yard waste to windless days, or as near windless as possible. If the wind is blowing more than 10 miles per hour, hold off.  Don’t leave, even for a minute without getting someone to watch it for you. When you’re done burning, douse the fire with water and spread out the coals. Keep dousing and spreading the coals until the entire area feels cold to the touch.

If your yard waste fire escapes, you may be held liable for costs of suppression

and damages that occur. Call your local Florida Forest Service for more information.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, please contact your local Florida Forest Service:

Martin County (772) 221-4045;    Saint Lucie County (772) 468-3915;  Indian River County (772) 778-5085;

Glades County (863) 674-4000;    Highlands County  (863) 655-6407;   Okeechobee County (863) 467-3220

Gov. Scott Activates Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses Damaged by Hurricane Matthew

Gov. Scott Activates Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses Damaged by Hurricane Matthew

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by Hurricane Matthew. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm and recovery efforts. The application period is from today through November 11, 2016.

Governor Scott said, “While Floridians across the state did all they could to prepare for Hurricane Matthew, this was massive and devastating storm that caused heavy damage throughout our state. I have toured areas throughout Brevard, Volusia, Duval, and Flagler Counties and have seen the shattering effects this disaster had on families and small businesses. Restoring Florida’s small businesses is crucial to helping our communities recover from Hurricane Matthew and the Bridge Loan Program will help provide much needed assistance. We will continue to use every available resource to help restore our resilient communities.”

DEO is currently surveying businesses in the affected counties. To access the business survey, please go to http://flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda and select “Hurricane Matthew” from the drop-down menu.

DEO administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide an expedient cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term loans. Up to $10 million has been allocated for the program.

DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said, “Across the state, our priority is to help every Floridian and community that has been affected by Hurricane Matthew. As the backbone of Florida’s economy, we know that assisting small businesses with their recovery is an important step in restoring our communities. DEO is committed to using all of our available resources to assist small businesses in the wake of this major storm.”

Owners of small businesses with two to 100 employees located in 67 counties affected by Hurricane Matthew can apply for short-term loans for up to $25,000. Loans are granted in terms of 90 or 180 days and are interest-free for that time period. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to October 3, 2016, and demonstrate economic or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

To complete an application by the Nov. 11 deadline, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network state office at 850-898-3489.

Charles Murphy News 10/10

News Cast for October 10th:

Okeechobee Sheriff deputies are educating people about clown masks. The phenomenon of the creepy clown has caused uproar in several states. Two reports of creepy clowns were made last week in Okeechobee. Under sheriff Noel Stephen personally handled one of the calls. It is against the law to cover your face in public.

Stephen 1

Stephen 2

FDLE is investigating a police shooting in Sebring Friday. Tyheem Mathis was shot and killed by deputies after a chase following a drive by shooting with another death. The shooting took place as the suspects tried to drag a sheriffs K-9 into an apartment at Bay View Apartments.

Only 30 customers remained out of power from Hurricane Matthew of the near 20 thousand Florida power and light customers.  475 people spent time in shelters in Okeechobee during the storm.

Smeykal 1

Smeykal 2

Troopers say an 88 year old Lee County woman, Estelle Walker, died from injuries sustained in a crash that seriously injured 18 year old Justin Schipanski of Moore Haven on highway 80 in Lee county. Walker died last Wednesday from injuries in the October 2nd crash.  Troopers continue to investigate.


Boil Water Press Release

Sports Cast for October 10th:

Yearling girls’ basketball coach Erin Morrow expects a much more competitive girls’ team this year. Many of the team has played travel ball over the summer and Morrow says the extra time on the court should help them improve. Basketball season is only weeks away.

Morrow 1

High school football tonight as Okeechobee takes on Fort Pierce Westwood.  Okeechobee is (3-1) while Westwood comes in at (1-4).  Kickoff is at 6 pm.

Moore Haven also makes up their game tonight at home against South West Florida Christian at 7 pm.

Lady Brahman volleyball will also have their senior night tonight with Lake Placid.  The JV match begins at 5 and the varsity to follow.

President Obama Signs Florida Disaster Declaration

President Obama Signs Florida Disaster Declaration

The President yesterday declared a major disaster exists in the State of Florida and ordered Federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Hurricane Matthew beginning October 3, 2016, and continuing.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, St. Johns, St. Lucie, and Volusia.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Terry L. Quarles as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.


Charles Murphy News 10/7

News Cast for October 7th:

Nearly 5 hundred Okeechobee residents stayed at shelters last night as Okeechobee missed the worst of Hurricane matthew. Shelters were open at South Elementary School and Osceola Middle School. Non-essential traffic is asked to stay off the roads this morning as wind gusts can still be high. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says he would stay home if he could. The storm did knock out power to about 750 homes in Okeechobee.   Squalls from the rain bands will bring more rain throughout Friday.

Most of the roads were clear of any debris.  Fast Break was one store open this morning. Police are expecting a rush of traffic from the west as people return to their homes on the coast later today.

The National weather service said the highest sustained winds in Okeechobee reached 48 miles per hour overnight. Lawmen are warning about price gouging and con men coming into your neighborhoods already.

The worst of the winds from Matthew stayed off shore.

State offices and local governments and schools remain closed. FEMA approved a declaration offering equipment and resources to Okeechobee, Glades and other Florida counties.

The governor also had conference calls with Okeechobee emergency management and the Sheriffs office.

Charles Murphy News 10/6

News Cast for October 6th:

Parts of Florida face a direct hit from Matthew tonight and Friday. Okeechobee is opening up shelters this morning, the general public can go to South Elementary School  And at the Health Department on North West 9th Avenue for special needs. The county will provide ambulance rides for those with medical ailments to go to the special needs shelter.

Okeechobee schools and governments and Glades Schools and governments are all closed today.

The Governor suspended tolls on the Florida turnpike and also activated 25 hundred national guard troops on Wednesday.

Glades County will open shelters at 12 noon today.  They include The special needs shelter at West Glades School near LaBelle, Moore Haven Junior Senior High School, Buckhead Ridge VFW, and Maple Grove Baptist Church in Lakeport.

We remain in a hurricane warning and a flash flood warning.

Officials recommended voluntary evacuations in low lying areas around Florida and flooding is expected.

Police will have all officers available, they urge traffic to use caution, and not drive through standing water.

Officials also worried about gas shortages.

Among arrests, 23 year old Timothy Courson was charged with the grand theft of over 10 thousand dollars from a local business.  He allegedly stole checks from the business and cashed 21 fraudulent checks.

28 year old Steel Gopher was charged with aggravated battery on law enforcement, resisting arrest with violence and depriving an officer of his means of communication or protection and held on 30 thousand dollars bond on a Glades County warrant.

Sports Cast for October 6th:

Hunter Sills has been pushing himself to help Okeechobee cross country get back to the state finals this year. The senior was the top finisher for the Brahmans last week as they competed in Titusville. He said last year’s finals in Tallahassee was a great memory. He said the race was a motivator for most of the team in the off season and encouraged him to do his best at all times

His personal goal is to reach near 17 minutes this year.

All sports events have been postponed at area schools including all football games scheduled around the Big Lake.

Boil Water Advisories

Boil Water Advisories

What is the proper way to disinfect my water so that it is safe to drink?

The best method of treatment is boiling. Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites

(freezing will not disinfect water). Bring water to a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute to kill most infectious germs. Let the water cool before use.

For areas without power, disinfect the tap water by adding 8 drops, about 1/8 teaspoon, of plain, unscented household bleach (4 to 6 percent active ingredient) per gallon of water and allow the water to stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, repeat the procedure. Use a container that has a cap or cover for disinfecting and storing water to be used for drinking. This will prevent contamination. If your well was flooded, boiling the water is the safest action, since bleach disinfection does not kill certain parasites.

How should I wash my hands during a boil water advisory?

When using a public water supply, vigorous hand washing with soap and tap water is safe for basic personal hygiene. If you are washing your hands to prepare food, if possible, you should use boiled (then cooled) water, disinfected water or bottled water with hand soap.

Is potentially contaminated water safe for washing dishes or clothes?

Yes, if you rinse hand-washed dishes for a minute in a bleach solution (1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water). Allow dishes to completely air dry. Most household dishwashers do not reach the proper temperature to sanitize dishes. It is safe to wash clothes in tap water.

Is potentially contaminated water safe for bathing and shaving?

The water may be used for showering, baths, shaving and washing, as long as it is not swallowed or gets in the eyes, nose or mouth. Children and individuals with disabilities should have their bath supervised to ensure water is not swallowed. The time spent bathing should be minimized. Though the risk of illness is low, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are immunosuppressed, or have a chronic illness may want to consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing until the advisory is lifted.

How should I wash fruit and vegetables and make ice?

Fruits and vegetables should be washed with boiled (then cooled) water, bottled water or water disinfected with 8 drops (approximately 1/8 teaspoon) of unscented household bleach per gallon of water. Ice should be made with boiled water, bottled water or disinfected water.

What if I have already consumed potentially contaminated water?

Even if someone has consumed potentially contaminated water from either a public water system or a private well before they were aware of the boil water advisory, the likelihood of becoming ill is low. However, anyone experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, with or without fever, should seek medical attention.

What infectious organisms might be present in contaminated water?

Disease transmission from contaminated water occurs principally by drinking water. The major organisms of concern are as follows:

  • Protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium
  • Bacteria such as Shigella, E. coli
  • Viruses such as Norovirus and Hepatitis A

These organisms primarily affect the gastrointestinal system, causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting with or without fever. These illnesses can be serious or life threatening, especially in the elderly, the very young or those who are immunocompromised.

For more information, please contact your local county health department or visit

http://www.floridahealth.gov/ or http://www.floridadisaster.org/.

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