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Golden Gate Main Canal Tree Clearing Project to Improve Flood Protection for Families and Businesses in Collier County

Golden Gate Main Canal Tree Clearing Project to Improve Flood Protection for Families and Businesses in Collier County

SFWMD’s Big Cypress Basin staff is keeping residents informed in advance of right-of-way clearing

Naples, FL – To help ensure flood protection for Collier County residents, the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Big Cypress Basin will begin work next month to clear trees and overgrown vegetation from the banks of a 6-mile stretch of the Golden Gate Main Canal. In recent weeks, Basin staff has been reaching out to property owners along the first phase of the project to keep them informed about this public safety measure.

“As Hurricane Irma and last year’s record wet season plainly showed, a well-maintained flood control system is critical to protecting families and businesses,” said Rick Barber, Basin Board Chairman and SFWMD Governing Board member. “The Basin is working to clear the banks of the Golden Gate Canal to help ensure this vital artery in Collier County is free of blockages when it’s most needed.”

The first phase of the Golden Gate Main Canal tree clearing project is slated to begin April 4 and is expected to be complete by the end of June. This phase will affect a stretch of the canal from the Interstate 75 bridge east to the Santa Barbara Boulevard bridge. Another segment from I-75 west to the Golden Gate No. 2 structure at 63rd Street Southwest will begin after the initial work is completed.

The tree clearing effort is part of SFWMD’s normal cycle of maintenance to ensure its regional canals function optimally to move water before, during and after storms. For public safety purposes, canals must have an unobstructed right of way on their banks. Fallen vegetation or debris can slow the flow of water in canals or block downstream water control structures, preventing water from draining properly and increasing the risk of flooding. Field crews also must have clear access to canals for routine maintenance, repair and debris removal, especially in emergencies.

In March, Basin staff provided critical information about the Golden Gate Main Canal project to all property owners in the first phase of the project, while also providing a timeline for the clearing operation. A web page (www.sfwmd.gov/goldengatecanal) has been created to provide updates, including legal surveys showing exactly where the work will be conducted.

By reaching out to surrounding property owners and advising them what trees or structures pose a problem in the right of way, residents can make arrangements for relocation. Areas of the banks that are cleared of obstructions will also be beautified. This work is similar to the recently completed right-of-way clearing along the C-100A Canal in Miami-Dade County, where trees that posed a flood risk were removed, but canal banks were beautified.

Any questions that residents have about the project can be directed to BCB Field Station Superintendent Karen Estock at kestock@sfwmd.gov or (239) 348-7530, ext. 7811, or BCB Administrator Lisa Koehler at lkoehler@sfwmd.gov or (239) 263-7615, ext. 7603.

Learn more about the Golden Gate Main Canal Tree Removal Project.

Watch a video on SFWMD’s canal maintenance program.

Read more about the importance of keeping canal right of way clear for flood control.


News Cast 4/2

News Cast for April 2nd:

A wildfire shut down a large stretch of the Florida Turnpike in both directions for several hours Thursday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say a seventy acre wildfire in the Southbend area of Port St. Lucie forced a shutdown of a fourteen mile stretch of the Florida Turnpike between the Becker Road exit and the Ft. Pierce and Okeechobee Road exit just after 7pm, forcing some temporary evacuations in the area. FHP Spokesperson Lt. Alvaro Feola says shutting down the road during these circumstances is not uncommon. The Turnpike was reopened just after one o’clock Friday morning after the blaze was contained. No injuries or major damages have been reported. Cause is being investigated.

Feola-Road Closing

Thanks to a recent approval by the Okeechobee County Commissioners, an area of Route 68, otherwise known as Micco Bluff Road will be getting some much needed work done. A work order was approved with South Florida based, Johnson Engineering, Inc., to develop plans and begin improvements on Micco Bluff Road from Kissimmee Cattle Company to the dead end, a distance of just over two miles. County Engineer John Howle says there shouldn’t be much in terms of any traffic inconvenience. The cost of this project will be just under $240 thousand dollars. The funding will come from grants in accordance with the Florida Department of Transportation.

Howle-Micco Bluff 1

Howle-Micco Bluff 2

An Avon Park man wanted for armed robbery in Polk County will have other charges filed against him in Highlands County. Sheriff’s deputies were on patrol in Avon Park late last week when they noticed 21 year old Troyvante Dashonn Bolton in the area and he had an outstanding warrant against him for armed robbery in Auburndale. Bolton was ordered to stop but he ignored the deputy while reaching for a gun and a struggle ensued, resulting in Bolton kicking the deputy before he was subdued. Bolton, a five time felon, was charged with battery on an officer, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and grand theft of a firearm.

On the arrest report:

55 year old Trina Annette Marion of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for committing her third petty theft offense, violating probation on previous drug charges and failing to appear in court on previous petty theft charges. She’s being held without bond on the failure to appear and a $20 thousand dollar bond on the most recent theft charges.

38 year old Christina Marie McCourts of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to pay child support. She’s being held on a thousand dollar bond.

26 year old Brian James Ranftle of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief at his ex-girlfriend’s house. He was released after posting a $500 dollar bond.

31 year old Travis Murray Lee McCrummen and 38 year old Nicole Marie Fortier, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for armed burglary of a home, grand theft of firearms and dealing in stolen property. Their bonds have not been set.

48 year old Sherri O’Neal Walden of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of hydromorphone tablets after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $100 thousand dollars.


I.R.S.C Fielden Institute Offers Life Long Learning (Audio Included)

I.R.S.C Fielden Institute Offers Life Long Learning

(Audio Included)

Caption: Ann Decker pictured with Kiwanis member Mayor Dowling Watford

Ann Decker is the executive director of the Indian River State College Foundation Office and recently spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee about the Fielden Institute for Life Long Learning.

The program offers classes for students ages fifty and older and focuses on learning rather than gain college course credits. The average age of participants in seventy-two.

Classes range from books, films, history, computers and other subjects. The program is peer led and peer driven.

There are currently over five hundred participants in the program.

CLICK THIS LINK TO LISTEN TO ANN DECKER SPEAK ON THE PROGRAM (RUN TIME 1:30)

 


Senator Grimsley Holds Mobile Office Hours

Senator Grimsley Holds Mobile Office Hours

Senator Denise Grimsley’s (R-Lake Placid) staff will hold “mobile office hours” on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 to assist constituents with state agency concerns.

Staff will be at the Glades County Courthouse, 500 Avenue J SW, Moore Haven from 9:30 – 10:30 am, and at the Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce, 55 South Parrott Avenue, Okeechobee from 1:00 – 2:00 pm.

“Our office is on the road to provide services in person to those who need help,” said Senator Grimsley.


News Cast 3/30

News Cast for March 30th:

The Okeechobee County Education Association (OCEA), which represents all non-managerial school board employees, has scheduled a legislative meeting with the county school board to decide contract negotiations impasse which has been the case since October. Both parties accepted a special magistrate’s recent recommendation on paying all teachers Best and Brightest Bonuses. The OCEA is proposing raises of just below three percent and a one year probationary period for all classified employees such as bus drivers, secretaries and food service people. The legislative hearing is set for April 9th at 4pm. Members of the OCEA and the school board could not be reached for comment at this time.

A Sebring man, already in Highlands County Sheriff’s custody for possessing and sending at least twenty images of child pornography, is now facing at least 300 more charges of possessing and sending child pornography. A search conducted this week by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force revealed that 50 year old Christopher Ray Queen had more than 10,000 images of child porn on his computer. Highlands County Sheriff spokesperson Scott Dressel says this is the largest case of child pornography in central Florida history, something that was not only shocking to his department, but unnerving too. Queen was also charged with one count of lewd and lascivious behavior with an underage girl, molesting her over a two month period. Queen was originally charged and arrested for possession of child porn at the start of this month.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a small blaze to contend with Wednesday. Crews were called to the twelve hundred block of NE 36th Street just after 10:30 for a fire that started near some storage containers. Crews arrived and found the blaze under some truck bodies being used as storage containers. They got the fire controlled in about fifteen minutes with no one getting hurt and no structure damages. Investigators say the blaze was started by the homeowner who was using hand tools to drain fuel from on car gas tanks and it somehow sparked, igniting the blaze.

A Clewiston man is facing life in prison after being found guilty of manslaughter Wednesday. A Hendry County superior court jury returned a guilty verdict on 48 year old Joe McCray in connection with the shooting death of a cab driver in September of 2015. Two women hired the victim to drive them from Miami to Okeechobee to meet with a friend. They couldn’t pay the $600 dollar cab fare, so they called McCray, who arrived at a parking lot with the women and proceeded to rob the cab driver. When he resisted, McCray shot him in the leg, stole the money the cabbie had on him and left him to bleed to death. McCray was also found guilty of robbery with a firearm causing death.

A Lake Placid man is in serious condition after a vehicle accident Wednesday. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 73 year old Daniel Phypers was driving a Case model tractor on a private gravel driveway near Bear Point Lane in Highlands County and was crossing over some railroad tracks just after 1:30. An oncoming train collided with the right front of the tractor, causing it to rotate counterclockwise before stopping just off the tracks. Phypers was med-flighted to Tampa General Hospital for treatment. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

55 year old Trina Annette Marion of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for committing her third petty theft offense, violating probation on previous drug charges and failing to appear in court on previous petty theft charges. She’s being held without bond on the failure to appear and a $20 thousand dollar bond on the most recent theft charges.

38 year old Christina Marie McCourts of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to pay child support. She’s being held on a thousand dollar bond.

26 year old Brian James Ranftle of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief at his ex-girlfriend’s house. He was released after posting a $500 dollar bond.

31 year old Travis Murray Lee McCrummen and 38 year old Nicole Marie Fortier, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for armed burglary of a home, grand theft of firearms and dealing in stolen property. Their bonds have not been set.

48 year old Sherri O’Neal Walden of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of hydromorphone tablets after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $100 thousand dollars.


News Cast 3/29

News Cast for March 29th:

This week, Crime Stoppers provided the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department with banners to place at county schools to help ensure that students have a safe environment for studying and learning by making campuses safer. Sheriff Noel Stephen says this is a new idea from representatives from Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers to help people be more pro-active in helping to stop crimes in light of the recent school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Crime Stoppers Safe School Hotline is an anonymous line people can use to provide information on crimes. The number to call if you see a crime on school campuses is 1-800-273-TIPS or 1-800-273-8477.

The 911 offices in Okeechobee County will soon be the beneficiaries of a grant to help keep them running smoothly. County commissioners last week gave the green light to Fire Chief Ralph Franklin to apply for the E-911 Spring Rural County Grant to finance the maintenance of the technology and services of the 911 offices.  Franklin says this grant will be a major help to the county (Franklin-E 911 Grant). The grant will be just under $72 thousand dollars and it comes from the state, funded by the user fees on your phone bills.

A Labelle man is facing life in prison after being convicted last week of second degree murder of his girlfriend nearly three and a half years ago. A Collier County superior court jury returned a guilty verdict on 27 year old Aaron Reyna for the October, 2014 murder of 29 year old Dana Fegueroa. Collier County prosecutors say Reyna shot Fegueroa four times, twice in the head, in their home after Reyna felt she “disrespected” him after he declined to give her a ride to work. Fegueroa yelled at Reyna before he got a gun and fatally shot her. The jury deliberated for an hour before delivering their guilty verdict following a four day trial.

A Clewiston woman is in critical condition after a single vehicle accident Tuesday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 62 year old Elizabeth Cruz was driving a Toyota Corolla south on Route 833 in Hendry County just after 10:30 when she went off the road, onto the shoulder and into a canal, becoming totally submerged. Cruz had to be extricated from the car by county sheriff’s deputies and the fire department. She was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

49 year old Randy Jay Wright of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. His bond has not been set.

20 year old Jose Marcos Jimenez-Sloane of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on a person over 65 years old after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend’s grandmother. His bond has not been set.

18 year old Zachary Seth Gopher of Okeechobee was arrested for battery, criminal mischief and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

44 year old Tricia Marie Maxey of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct after screaming at a neighbor while drunk. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

20 year old Devin Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license, violating probation and resisting arrest after a traffic stop. His bond has not been set.

21 year old Arthur William Wade Woodruff of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery and falsifying a document while in a detention center. His bond is set at $150 thousand dollars.

49 year old Ryon Bradley Lewis of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing after being warned. His bond has not been set.


News Cast 3/28

News Cast for March 28th:

The Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue units have a new agreement with an outside company for maintenance on their cardiac monitors. County commissioners last week approved a three year technical services agreement with Washington state-based Physio-Control, Inc. for service and maintenance, upgrades and inspections of their Life-Pak 12 and Life-Pak 15 cardiac monitors. Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says he’s quite happy with the agreement. The agreement will be just under $41 thousand dollars, which will be drawn from the county’s fire and assessment fees. Franklin says it will be paid over a three year period at just over $13 thousand dollars per year.

Thanks to an approval by county commissioners at last week’s meeting, Okeechobee County officials will be working with DMS Planning and Recovery Consultants, Inc. for collecting data and site visits regarding damages incurred from Hurricane Irma last September. County Administrator Robbie Chartier says while this will mark the first time the county has worked with DMS Planning and Recovery, she feels it will be an advantage to the county. This agreement will cost $90 thousand dollars which will be paid from the Landfill Trust Fund reserve, which is reimbursable by FEMA.

Have you noticed a rise in gas prices lately not only in Okeechobee County, but anywhere you’ve traveled in Florida? You’re not alone in that assessment. After a two week decline, gas prices are on the rise once again. AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins says the reason is mainly because with the arrival of springtime, there are a lot more people driving, plus an influx of people for spring break and baseball’s spring training, putting more demand for gas. Jenkins says another reason is the switch by companies to summer blend gasoline at the pumps. Jenkins says this is a common occurrence during the spring and gas will rise some more before June.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a small grass fire to contend with this past Saturday. Crews were called to the 26 hundred block of NW 3rd Street just before two o’clock for a ten foot pile of burning trash that was burning on part of the roadway, causing some damage to the road and partially blocking traffic. Crews got the blaze extinguished in just over a half hour with no one getting hurt and no structure damages. Investigators say the owner of the property was trying to get rid of some materials left behind by former tenants.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Ashley Ann Bobo Melvin of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a warrant for uttering and publishing a forged deed, petty theft and grand theft of firearms.  She’s being held without bond.

38 year old Adi Al Babic of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating an injunction stemming from a previous domestic violence charge. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Arturo Longoria of Okeechobee was arrested for lewd and lascivious acts on an underage girl. His bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.

45 year old Markel Deshoun Lilly of Bradenton was arrested for driving on a suspended license with knowledge of it after a traffic stop. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.


News Cast 3/27

News Cast for March 27th:

The Okeechobee County Chamber of Commerce will be holding their monthly “Rise Up With the Chamber” event this morning. This event, which began last May, is open to the public and gives chamber members and non-members a chance to network and get some information on the chamber. Chamber office manager Mariah Parriott says people will also get to know some of the different entities here in Okeechobee. The event will be held at the chamber office on 55 South Parrott Avenue beginning at 7:45 and some guest speakers include WOKC’s own Ken Keller and WAFC’s own Paco Sangabriel. The event will also be broadcast live on Facebook.

Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies have an Avon Park middle school teacher in custody on charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a 13 year old female student. Deputies arrested 44 year old Kevin Dewayne Dewberry earlier this month after the student went to school authorities and reported she and Dewberry were in a sexual relationship. Deputies arrived with an arrest warrant for Dewberry who later turned himself in. Spokesperson Scott Dressel says all the credit in the world goes to the administration and officials at Avon Park Middle School for their help. Dressel says the relationship had been going on for months and they started having sex in October. Dewberry, meanwhile is currently on unpaid leave from the school and his bond is set at $400 thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County Commissioners last week approved a proclamation to declare the month of April as Water Conservation Month. The declaration came at the request of the South Florida Water Management District. Water Management District Governing Board member Brandon Tucker was on hand to accept the proclamation, saying April is always the time for water conservation because it’s the start of dry season. Tucker says the repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and the overall health of Lake Okeechobee are the district’s main concerns in Okeechobee.

Okeechobee County firefighters were busy this past weekend battling a couple of vehicle fires. Crews were called to the 75 hundred block of Route 70 just after four o’clock on Saturday afternoon for a passenger vehicle that was fully covered in flames when they arrived and sitting in a pasture about a half mile off the road. The vehicle fire also caused a brush fire nearby. Crews needed just over two hours to get both fires controlled with no injuries or structure damages. The completely destroyed vehicle was valued at just over two thousand dollars.

Sunday morning, crews were called to the twelve thousand block of Route 710 South for a semi-trailer truck that caught fire. Crews arrived a little before 9am and found the rear tires and the side of the truck fully covered in flames. They needed to cut open the trailer door and expose its contents, all of which were completely destroyed in the blaze as was a considerable portion of the truck. Crews needed about two and a half hours to get the blaze controlled. No one was hurt. Total damage is estimated at $45 thousand dollars.

A Bradenton man is dead after a vehicle accident Saturday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 26 year old Mark Allen West Junior was driving a Ducati Testastretta motorcycle south on Lorraine Road in Sarasota shortly before two o’clock. As he was trying to negotiate a right curve, he lost control and struck the median, throwing West off the bike, killing him instantly. The crash is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

56 year old James Daniel Strickland was arrested for battery after a domestic dispute with his wife. His bond has not been set.

25 year old Kayla Tarbell and 34 year old Joseph Inman, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for loitering and trespassing on a private property. Tarbell was also charged with possession of a controlled substance called gabapentin and drug paraphernalia. Tarbell’s bond is set at eleven thousand dollars and Inman’s bond has not been set.

52 year old Scott Wesley Reiss of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of oxycodone and battery on his girlfriend after a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

45 year old Livan Ramos and 49 year old George Katevas, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Ramos was also charged with grand theft of a firearm. Ramos’ bond is set at $16 thousand dollars and Katevas was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

23 year old Jazma Washington of Okeechobee was arrested for battery after a domestic dispute. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

46 year old Roman Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and a field sobriety test. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

28 year old Alvaro Perez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a license with knowledge of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

50 year old Laura Harvey Palmer of Okeechobee was arrested for petty theft. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

30 year old Jarrod Barkley Butterfield of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

30 year old Stephen Reginald Barton of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a license with knowledge of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

 


News Cast 3/26

News Cast for March 26th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners got a visit from a Douglas Brown area resident Thursday asking for new leisure and health facilities in her neighborhood. Soletta “Lashay” Wiggins addressed the board with a request for the county to build a children’s water park and a calisthenics workout park for adults. Commissioners voted it down and Wiggins understandably was disappointed because she thinks the area for the most part is neglected. Wiggins says that the board will consider the plan as part of their budget in a few years down the road.

Wiggins-Parks 1

Wiggins-Parks 2

Okeechobee County has their architect to design their new multi-use building. Facility Maintenance and Development Director Donnie Oden says a selection committee has ranked and chosen Lakeland based, Straughn Trout Architects to design the proposed Tax Collector-Property Appraiser-Driver’s License building. The selection was made at the county commissioners’ meeting last week. Oden says Straughn-Trout Architects was the one chosen mainly because of experience. Straughn-Trout was the highest ranked of the four companies the county was considering for the project.

Oden-Architect

Members of the Okeechobee County Historical Society paid a visit to the county commissioners’ meeting on Thursday to donate a very special piece of property. Commissioners approved a donation of the Peter Raulerson Log Cabin property, the first home by the first settlers of Okeechobee, which was built over a period of three years in the late 1890’s. Historical Society president Magi Cable says the society bought the property for $50 thousand dollars and she’s donating it mainly because of the insurance responsibilities. Cable says the property, located on 9th Street at SW 2nd Avenue and encased in the façade of a home, will undergo some renovation to make it look like the original cabin.

Cable 1

Cable 2

Okeechobee County firefighters made some quick work of a grass and brush fire Thursday afternoon. Crews were called to an area between 353rd and 358th Boulevards just before 2:30 for a blaze that burned about four acres of heavy vegetation before they got it controlled in about an hour. No one was injured and no structure damages. Cause is under investigation.

A Fort Pierce man and woman are in serious condition after a vehicle accident early Friday morning. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 22 year old Danyelle Conny was driving a Ford Expedition east on Route 70 near Robert McGee Road in Highlands County just before 5am when she inexplicably went off the road, onto the shoulder, overcorrected back to the left and rotated counterclockwise before overturning. Conny and her passenger 44 year old Graig Conny, were airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment. The accident is under investigation.

One the arrest report:

54 year old Ray Alton Howard of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for burglary of a home and grand theft. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

21 year old James Lee Howling the Fourth of Okeechobee was arrested for battery, burglary with assault and trespassing after a domestic dispute with his sister. His bond is set at $18 thousand dollars.

46 year old Michael Gordon and 47 year old Dan Thomas Sloane, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Their bonds are set at two thousand dollars apiece.

55 year old Sandra Louise Howard of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary, grand theft and possession of alprazolam with intent to bring into a detention center. She was released after posting a $26 thousand dollar bond.

28 year old Mario Guerrero Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on previous drug charges. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Marcus Damian Rutherford of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. His bond is set at one thousand dollars.

38 year old Stacey Lafawn Tyson Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and making threats after a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.

53 year old Vonda Kay Lee of Belle Glade was arrested for violating probation on prior drug charges. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 3/23

News Cast for March 23rd:

The proposed budget amendment of just over $500 thousand dollars for seven additional school resource officers in Okeechobee County schools was not approved by the county commissioners at yesterday’s meeting. But all is not lost, instead, the commissioners scheduled a workshop next month with the sheriff, city council, county commissioners and the school board all there to decide how best to finance these new officers as mandated by the state. Sheriff Noel Stephen says the board did however give him the go-ahead to choose his new SRO’s. The workshop is scheduled for April 11th at 6pm in the commissioners’ chambers in the historic county courthouse. It’s open to the public.

Okeechobee County commissioners also chose to pay an amount of just over $194 thousand dollars to Okeechobee-based contractor Seminole-Design Build and its subcontractor B&B Site Development because of a change order for fees incurred during the installation of well points to de-water the trench for the installation of the storm sewer system at River Lake Estates. This is the result of rising waters from Hurricane Irma last September and other storms which heightened the potential of homes flooding. Phil Baughman of B&B Site Development says he’s quite happy with the commissioners’ decision not just for him, but for other contractors. The commissioners voted three to two in favor of paying the $194 thousand dollars with Bradley Goodbread and David Hazellief dissenting.

Firefighters in Okeechobee County and the Florida Forest Service teamed up to fight a couple of grass fires Wednesday afternoon in the Fort Drum/Indian Hammock area just off the 32 thousand block of Route 441. Crews were called to the first one shortly before four o’clock and found the blaze burning about twenty acres before crews got it controlled in about two hours. Crews were then called to another area of Fort Drum/Indian Hammock just after six for another blaze that burned about two to three acres before crews got it controlled in about a half hour. Investigators believe both fires were caused by lightning strikes. No one was hurt and no buildings damaged.

Okeechobee County firefighters were also busy on the road Wednesday night contending with a truck fire. Crews were called to the 91 hundred block of SE 59th Drive just after 9:30 for a Chevy pickup that was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived and they needed about forty-five minutes to get the fire controlled with no one getting hurt. Investigators say the driver of the truck had worked on the fuel regulator beforehand and took it for a test drive before it backfired, followed by flames burning under the hood. The truck, which was completely destroyed, was valued at just over $25 hundred dollars.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Kenneth Thomas Lyons of LaGrange, Illinois was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of cocaine, hash, ketamine and trafficking in phenethylamine after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $55 thousand dollars.

36 year old Donald Kirk McDonald Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

28 year old Cory Ray Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a license and having knowledge of it after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $750 dollars.

44 year old Rhonda Latrelle James of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving without a license after a traffic stop and failure to appear in court on previous charges. Her bond is set at two thousand dollars.

29 year old Jessica Nicole Brown and 47 year old Earl Victor Williams Junior, both of Okeechobee were arrested for possession of controlled substances like lorazepam and hydromorphone after a traffic stop. Williams was also cited for driving without a license. Brown’s bond is set at $11 thousand dollars and Williams is being held without bond.


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