Local News

BUCKLE UP TO ARRIVE ALIVE THIS THANKSGIVING

BUCKLE UP TO ARRIVE ALIVE THIS THANKSGIVING

~ FHP enforcement will include extra troopers patrolling from November 23-27 ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is helping to ensure all motorists Arrive Alive this Thanksgiving holiday and is reminding motorists to buckle up before they hit the road. During the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday period, law enforcement agencies statewide worked 9,906 crashes. Tragically, 84 people lost their lives, and 17 of those individuals were not wearing seatbelts.

The public is encouraged to report impaired or aggressive drivers by dialing *FHP (*347).  Also, remember to check traffic conditions before leaving for a trip and allow sufficient time to arrive at your destination safely.  For real time traffic conditions and additional travel information, visit: www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/traffic. For more information and safety tips for holiday travel, visit: https://www.flhsmv.gov/HolidayTravel.


Give-To-Live Event 2016

Give-To-Live Event 2016

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office would like to say thank you to the Okeechobee Blood Roundup. Last night a program was dedicated to honoring Law Enforcement at the Silver Palms RV Resort.

Keynote Speaker Larry Frederick travels the country to raise awareness of the need for blood donations. Larry, a Vietnam Veteran, was working as a police officer in 1982, and while conducting a traffic stop, was hit by a DUI driver traveling 65 mph. Not expected to survive, over the next two years, and nine operations, Larry was the recipient of (110) units of blood. Larry knows the need firsthand how important blood donations are. He has been an ardent advocate of blood donation ever since.

Sheriff Paul C. May received an award for not only his service as Okeechobee County Sheriff for the past twelve years, but also his service and dedication in the United States Air Force and the Florida Highway Patrol.

This year’s Blood Roundup is scheduled for Saturday, November 19th from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 20th from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., at the Freshman Campus, 610 S.W. 2 Avenue, Okeechobee, Florida.


Charles Murphy News 11/18

News Cast for November 18th:

The Smithsonian Waterways Exhibit will visit Okeechobee next month. A reception will be held on Saturday night December 17th. Tourist Development Council Executive Director Sharie Turgeon says it’ll be well worth a look.

Turgeon 1

Turgeon 2

A glades county jury found 53 year old John Edwards of Buckhead Ridge guilty of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child.  He’ll be sentenced December 9th.

Among arrests 34 year old Charles Ross charged with felony battery after a female breaks her leg while falling during a domestic dispute Wednesday.

Buddy Mills won an award at the Farm City week luncheon yesterday.  He has taught agriculture in Okeechobee classrooms for 17 years.  He grew up on a ranch near Okeechobee.

Mills 1

Mills 2

Dowling Watford was the featured speaker as he spoke about the impacts agriculture has had on Okeechobee in the past, present and future.

Watford 1

Watford 2

City Hall offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 24 and 25, in observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Our website, cityofokeechobee.com, allows you access 24/7. We will reopen on Monday, November 28 at 8AM.

Sports Cast for November 18th:

Enrique Velasquez scored two goals in his first varsity game and Sebring accidentally knocked a ball into the Okeechobee net as the Brahmans won in boys’ soccer last night 3-1. Hernandez scored both his goals in the second half. He called it a big win for the Brahmans. Coach Lonnie Sears says his team was lackluster in the first half but started to play better in the second half. Okeechobee is now (1-1-2) on the season.

Sears 1

Martin County outscored Okeechobee 26-nothing in the third quarter enroute to a 68-28 victory over the Lady Brahmans in girls hoops last night. Vanessa Graham and Haleigh Powers both had 20 points.  Diamond Wiggins led Okeechobee with eight points.

Tigers coach Kindell Rivers says once his team played better defense they took control.

Rivers 1

Shaqouy Ferrol poured in 29 points as Okeechobee held off Westwood 57-56 in boys hoops last night at the Martin County preseason classic.

On the sports schedule tonight

  • Pahokee hosts Trenton FHSAA 1A regional final
  • OHS girls basketball at John Carroll varsity only 6 pm

Tenth Annual Okeechobee Family Health & Safety Expo

Tenth Annual Okeechobee Family Health & Safety Expo

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

9AM-2PM

@ the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center

4601 Hwy 710, Okeechobee, FL 34974

Free Health Screenings – Giveaways – Demonstrations – Entertainment – Freed Food & Fun For All Ages!

You are invited to the Tenth Annual Okeechobee Family Health and Safety Expo on Saturday, January 28, 2017.  The Expo will take place at the Agri-Civic Center, 4601 Highway 710, Okeechobee, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  The 2016 Expo was a fun-filled, educational day for the more than the 2,000 people who attended.  This year we want to offer additional health and safety displays, first responder vehicles, vendor booths, entertainment, food and giveaways.  There is no charge to set up, eat lunch (while supplies last) or to attend the Expo.  However, donations are appreciated!

We are inviting you to participate by setting up a vendor booth or by bringing a display for the community to see.  We would love to see participation from everyone in the health and/or safety field.  Profit and not-for-profit agencies and organizations will offer free health screenings or display items related to health and/or safety and offer demonstrations.  Our target audience will range from young children to senior citizens.  This is a great opportunity to share with Okeechobee what you have to offer!  We are expecting more vendors and more participants this year so do not miss this Expo!

Please come out and educate our community on health and safety resources and the service you provide!  If you would like to participate, simply complete and return the attached registration form and/or sponsorship form.  To make a donation, make your check payable to our fiscal agent: Okeechobee County Fire Rescue Volunteers and mail to Erin Moore, Shared Services Network, 700 S.W. Second Avenue, Okeechobee, FL 34974.  If you have questions, please feel free to call the co-chairs listed in the top of this letter.  Thank you in advance for supporting Okeechobee and the Expo!


Gov. Scott: West Palm Beach Area Added More Than 8,000 New Jobs Over the Year

Gov. Scott: West Palm Beach Area Added More Than 8,000 New Jobs Over the Year

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that the West Palm Beach area added 8,400 new private-sector jobs over the year in October. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in October. Florida businesses created 8,900 private-sector jobs across the state during October 2016, bringing the total number of jobs created since December 2010 to 1,232,400 jobs.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that West Palm Beach businesses created more than 8,000 jobs in the past year. Our efforts to cut taxes 55 times since 2010 has saved $5.5 billion for Floridians and businesses, and we will keep working to make Florida the first choice for families and job creators from across the country.”

The industries with the most job growth over the year in the West Palm Beach area were professional and business services with 5,100 new jobs and leisure and hospitality with 1,900 new jobs. In October, the West Palm Beach area had 17,883 job openings, including 5,064 high-skill, high-wage STEM occupations.

The state’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in October, as a result of the rapidly growing labor force which nearly doubled over the month. For the 55th consecutive month, Florida’s annual job growth rate of 3.3 percent is exceeding the nation’s rate of 1.8 percent. Nearly 38,000 Floridians were placed in jobs by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the state’s other 23 regional workforce boards.

To view the October 2016 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases


Charles Murphy News 11/17

News Cast for November 17th:

A local doctor reached a settlement with the US Government for alleged health care fraud. The US Attorney took Dr. Gary Marder, a dermatologist to court, and allege over 49 million in fraudulent medicare and Tricare billing. Tricare is a program that helps cover active and retired military members. The suit alleged Marder gave bonuses to physician assistants who performed more biopsies.

Another local dermatologist filed a whistle blower lawsuit against Marder and those allegations led to the US Attorneys litigation.

Glades deputies with more details on a grow house of marijuana on Elmwood Avenue in Moore Haven.  29 year old Arian Arias faces numerous charges including using a structure to manufacture drugs and marijuana production.   They were tipped off by the city of Moore Haven because the home was using way too much electricity.  19 point 5 pounds of marijuana was seized along with equipment used to grow marijuana.

They tied Arias to various lights and equipment found in the home purchased in Cape Coral.

The annual farm city week luncheon is today at the KOA Convention Center .  City councilman and historian Dowling Watford will speak on the history of agriculture in Okeechobee.

Sports Cast for November 17th:

OHS boy’s hoops lost at the Martin County preseason classic 59-47 to Palm Beach Gardens.

Shaquoy Ferrol had 22 points, Demetrius Clark 13, and Jaquan Ferrol 12 points.

Coach Demetre Riles says the Brahmans have the talent this year to be a district champion. The key district opponents are South Fork and Sebastian River. Riles says the younger players and the support players are what will determine how good the team is this year and in the future.

Riles 1

Riles 2

Lady Brahman basketball hosts Martin County JV 5:30/varsity 7 pm

OHS boys soccer hosts Sebring, JV 6, varsity to follow

OHS girls soccer at William T. Dwyer 6 pm

Moore Haven girls soccer at St.John Neuman at 5 pm

Moore Haven boys soccer at St. John Neuman 7 pm


Commissioner Adam H. Putnam’s Statement on the Passing of George Wedgworth

Commissioner Adam H. Putnam’s Statement on the Passing of George Wedgworth

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today issued the following statement regarding the passing of George Wedgworth.

“George Wedgworth was a pioneer in Florida agriculture, and his leadership and vision is unparalleled. As we mourn Mr. Wedgworth’s passing, may we also reflect on his contributions not only to Florida agriculture as a whole, but also to the Glades communities and the countless lives he touched. Through the Wedgworth Leadership Institute at the University of Florida, Mr. Wedgworth’s legacy will continue through the development of new leaders in the agriculture industry. My prayers are with Mr. Wedgworth’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.”


Charles Murphy News 11/16

News Cast for November 16th:

An Okeechobee man accused of rape by a 31 year old female who stayed at his residence in March. 26 year old Matthew Myers fled Okeechobee to Ohio, Deputies say, and didn’t answer their questions.

The victim went to Tradition hospital in Port St. Lucie where she told police.  DNA evidence tied Myers to the female.  His bond was set at 75 thousand dollars.

Conservation groups in Florida say now is the time for both major political parties to work together to preserve our natural resources. Ron Warnken with the National Wildlife Federation says Florida’s land, water and wildlife always have been a big draw for tourists and residents and he believes all Floridians get behind the idea of protecting them. Okeechobee could be impacted by efforts to preserve large swaths of land to store water north of Lake Okeechobee, Glades County is impacted by this effort as well as an effort to have a Florida Panther corridor to the north.

Okeechobee city council last night

  • Approved the purchase of a new phone system for 44 thousand dollars.
  • Mayor Jim Kirk proclaimed November 16-23 as Farm City Week in Okeechobee.
  • City finance director India Riedel says city general fund revenues are up 5 percent with ad valorem taxes 10 thousand more than anticipated.  Building permits in the city have increased by 17 percent.
  • Council approved a street closing to allow a Food truck event in Park #3 on the evening of December 8th.
  • Agreed to close an alley in the vicinity of North West 3rd Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets to accommodate a new medical office complex.

Sports Cast for November 16th:

Ashton English had three goals as Okeechobee girls’ soccer defeated Palm Beach Lakes 6-1.

Ashley Snyder, Janel Aponte, and Alani Garcia added goals for the Lady Brahmans.

English says the team played well together in the district win.

Coach Eric Swant says he sees improvement in several areas of the team this year.

Boys soccer ties Fort Pierce Central 2-2 last night on a late goal by Gustavo Mireles.  Alfredo Renteria also scored while Jesus Garcia and Enrique Velasquez added assists.

Coach Lonnie Sears says his team still isn’t where they need to be in terms of aggressiveness.

On the sports schedule today, Boys basketball visits the Martin County preseason tournament to take on Palm Beach Gardens at 6 pm.


Sebring Mother and Son Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Import Ecstasy into the United States

Sebring Mother and Son Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Import Ecstasy into the United States

Yesterday, a mother and her son from Sebring were sentenced to federal prison, by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in Fort Pierce, for conspiring to import Ecstasy from the Netherlands into the United States.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Antonio J. Gomez, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, and Diane J. Sabatino, Director, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Annalisa Anfuso Patterson, 56, and her son Jake Elwyn Patterson, 19, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled substance 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as “Ecstasy,” in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 963; and attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance- 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as “Ecstasy” in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.  Annalisa Patterson was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Jake Patterson was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

According to the court record, including the stipulated factual proffer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Miami identified, searched and detained two U.S. Postal Service parcels, destined for Highlands County.  The parcels were found to contain approximately 525 tablets of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as “Ecstasy,” a schedule I controlled substance.  On May 17, 2016, HSI agents, with the assistance of United States Postal Inspectors, conducted a controlled delivery of one of the parcels to Sebring, Florida.  Annalisa Patterson accepted and opened the parcel.  Law enforcement then executed a search warrant at the residence and observed, next to the opened parcel, a laptop computer with images of MDMA on the screen.

The court record indicates that Annalisa and Jake Patterson used Bitcoins to place orders for MDMA from the Netherlands, using internet websites (the “dark web”).  Jake Patterson used a test kit to ensure that the substances they had purchased were in fact Ecstasy.  Annalisa and Jake Patterson supplied other individuals with Ecstasy, from their Sebring residence.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI, CBP, and USPIS.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.


Historic Babcock Ranch Preserve in Operation and Open to Public

Historic Babcock Ranch Preserve in Operation and Open to Public

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– Babcock Ranch Preserve in Charlotte County begins a new chapter in its rich history as it becomes the largest state-owned working cattle ranch to be managed by a private cattle company while expanding public recreational opportunities, including: hiking, biking, horseback riding and ranch tours.  When Babcock Ranch was purchased by the State of Florida in 2005, it was hailed as the crowning jewel of the Florida Forever program.  This week, the management of the nearly 70,000-acre ranch transferred from the state to Tarpon Blue Land Management and Resources.

“Babcock Ranch is steeped in Florida history, and state leaders had the foresight to preserve this land for future generations,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “This new agreement honors the agricultural heritage of the land by keeping the ranch in private cattle production while allowing the state to focus our attention on expanding recreational opportunities for the public. It is a model for others to follow. With the rapid growth of our state, protecting our environmental resources, keeping the ranch in agricultural production and providing recreational opportunities to the public is more important than ever.”

In 2005, Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet voted to purchase Babcock Ranch as part of the Florida Forever program in what was the single largest state conservation land acquisition in Florida’s history.  In 2015, the Legislature established the Babcock Ranch Preserve Act to protect and preserve the agricultural, scientific, scenic, geologic, watershed, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural and recreational values of the preserve.  This agreement honors the purchase and the intent of that Act by protecting the natural resources while managing for multiple uses.

For more information on the department and the Babcock Ranch Preserve, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.


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