Local News

Charles Murphy News 2/14

News Cast for February 14th:

The Florida Forest Service is expecting an above average wild fire season. They point to months without rain and some recent frosts that have killed vegetation as ominous signs of a busy fire season. Several small fires, less than 2 acres, broke out around the county this past weekend. Forest Ranger Gary Davenport at the Okeechobee Station says the Forest Service worked several large fires in the Viking property recently. The forest service encourages to have your yard lean, mean and green because green grass won’t burn. They also recommend a 30 feet clear zone around your house free of wood, pine needs, and leaves.

Among arrests today

  • 27 year old Chad Hutcheson faces several felonies including dealing in stolen property and grand theft for allegedly stealing 4 hundred and 50 dollars in hand tools.
  • 35 year old Ronald Drennan was charged with grand theft, grand theft auto and dealing in stolen property. Deputies say he sold two vehicles he didn’t own to a local junk yard and then stole a pump and sold that for cash.
  • 53 year old James Tarbert was charged with false imprisonment and battery for a violent domestic dispute on Friday night.  Deputies say he tore up the inside of a home and came at a female with a filet knife.
  • 37 year old Jesus Guadalupe  Aguinaga Blanco was charged with four counts of sexual battery on a 16 year old girl.  She claimed the incidents occurred in December and January but was afraid to report them for fear the suspect would harm her family.

Sports Cast for February 14th:

Richard Speiss won the Most Valuable Player trophy for the Brahman bowling team this year. The senior won the Brahman Award as a junior and says this was an ever better reward.

Spiess says he really enjoyed playing on the team because everyone got along and had fun. Spiess plans to attend a trade school in Jacksonville and become a welder.

He had a season high 198 pins against Westwood.

On the sports schedule today, Okeechobee tennis will open their home schedule against South Fork at 3:30 pm

OHS baseball plays in a preseason tournament in Avon Park tonight at 7:30 pm

Moore Haven baseball plays at a preseason tournament in Immokalee against Gateway Charter at 4 pm.


Gilbert Chevrolet Teaming Up with Ripken Baseball Clinics 3-23

Gilbert Chevrolet Teaming Up with Ripken Baseball Clinics

Gilbert Chevrolet to provide Okeechobee’s youth with a Free Baseball Clinic and financial assistance to OHS Softball Program

Okeechobee, February 14, 2017 – Gilbert Chevrolet is partnering with Cal Ripken Baseball to provide a free baseball clinic for Okeechobee’s youth as part of the national Chevy Youth Baseball program.  In addition, Gilbert Chevrolet is teaming with the OHS Softball Program to provide new equipment, a monetary contribution, and an opportunity for community members to earn additional funds for the softball program via a Test Drive fundraiser.

The FREE instructional baseball clinic will be held Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 from 6 PM to 9 PM at the Okeechobee County Sports Complex.  This clinic is op to all boys and girls ages 6-14.  Participants should wear athletic apparel and tennis shoes and bring their own glove.  Early registration is required and the clinic is limited to the first 200 children.

Family members are strongly encouraged to attend the entire clinic and support their child.  To register, visit baseball.youthsportsclinics.com, select market “West Palm Beach, and enter password “playball”.  Additional information, including detailed location information and itineraries, are also available at that website.

“We are proud to be able to bring our community closer to the game and support the development of the kids in our community through the joy of play,” said Christa Luna, owner of Gilbert Chevrolet.

For more information, please contact J.D. Mixon at 863-824-3612.


Charles Murphy News 2/13

News Cast for February 13th:

House representative Cary Pigman filed a bill that would spend nearly 62 million to tear down and replace the again Okeechobee High school. The bill is the most expensive item being debated by the house this year.

A house bill was filed Friday to mirror the senate bill that passed last week to construct a 60-thousand-acre reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Senator David Simmons has also filed a bill that would speed up rehabilitation on the Herbert Hoover dike. Simmons plan is to offer a 1-billion-dollar interest free loan to the federal government to speed up the work. He endorses storing up to 19 feet of water in Lake Okeechobee. He says this solution will help all the interested parties

In the courts, 19 year old Gabriel Desantiago of Glades County pled no contest to culpable negligence in the shooting death of 24 year old Jose Benitez.  Prosecutros dropped murder charges in the incident that occurred on October 24th of 2 thousand 15 during a party in Muse. The two men were drinking alcohol and telling jokes when a disagreement occurred.

The Brahman boys basketball team is headed back to regional play for the second consecutive year.  The Brahmans defeated Palm Bay Heritage on Friday 66-62 but lost in the district title game on Saturday to Sebastian River.  Okeechobee will play defending state champion Dillard in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday night.

Sports Cast for February 13th:

Okeechobee earned a rematch with Dillard high school as they finished second at the district boys basketball tournament this weekend. Okeechobee overcame Heritage 66-62 on Friday and then lost to defensive minded Sebastian River in the championship game 44-29 Saturday. The Brahmans rallied from a 45-30 second half deficit to defeat Heritage Friday behind Demetrius Clark’s 21 points and  Shaquoy Ferrol’s 20 points

No Brahman was in double figures in the title game.

Coach Demetre Riles says the team lacked patience on offense.

Okeechobee and Glades Central are the only boys basketball teams to qualify for regional play from the Big Lake area this year.  The regional games are Thursday night.  Dillard is the defending state champion.

Brahman softball split at the Palm Beach Gardens preseason classic.

Okeechobee defeated Suncoast 3-0 on Thursday and fell to Palm Beach Gardens 11-0 on Saturday.

On the sports schedule today, OHS tennis travels to Sebring at 3:30 pm


Kiwanis Club Learns About Truancy Issues Within Our Local Schools (Audio Included)

Kiwanis Club Learns About Truancy Issues Within Our Local Schools

(Audio Included)

Caption from left to right: Lonnie Steiert – Okeechobee County Schools Coordinator of Grants and Special Programs, Kiwanis Club member Jenny Pung and Okeechobee County Schools Director of Student Services Toni Wiersma

Truancy and absenteeism has been a nation-wide problem for many years and Okeechobee County Schools are no exception. In the 2015-2016 school year, 21% of students missed nine days or more of school due to un-excused absence  and 12% missed 21 days which is a month of school. Speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee at a recent meeting, Okeechobee County Schools Director of Student Services Toni Wiersma says this can lead to disengagement with students and parents because they get so far behind on work which leads to not graduating.

The school district has tried many avenues to remedy the issue but feel that public awareness could go a long way to help.

Also speaking to the club was Lonnie Steiert, the Coordinator of Grants and special Projects. Ms. Steiert spoke on some of the programs that federal and state funded Grants help fund such as career and tech programs and the new pilot program Lego Labs in the elementary schools.

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee is a service organization that works to improve the lives of the youth in Okeechobee. The Club meets every Thursday at noon at the Lakeside Grill on South Parrot avenue. If you are interested in learning more about the club, the public is welcome to attend a meeting or you can contact the Club via the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee Facebook page.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO Toni Wiersma speak on truancy and absenteeism (RUN TIME 2:08)

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO LONNIE STEIERT SPEAK ON GRANTS AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS IN THE DISTRICT (RUN TIME 2:40)


County Extension Agent Speaks To The Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee (Audio Included)

County Extension Agent Speaks To The Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee

(Audio Included)

Caption: County Extension Director Lauren Butler with Kiwanis member Ralph Franklin

Lauren Butler is the County Extension Director and Livestock Agent in Okeechobee and recently spoke to the Kiwanis Club on how her department works with the community. she cited research, working to find solutions to specific issues and education of the public as ways the Extension office works with the agriculture community.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN BUTLER (RUN TIME 1:16)


Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Donates For Souper Bowl of Caring (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Donates For Souper Bowl of Caring (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Caption: Pastor Loy Mershimer of the Okeechobee Presbyterian Church with Kiwanis member Dowling Watford and the donation from the Club.

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee held their annual Souper Bowl of Caring food drive in early February. The club donated over $300 in cash and around $100 worth of canned goods to the Okeechobee Presbyterian Church Food Bank.

Pastor Loy Mershimer accepted the donation and was grateful to the Kiwanis Club for once again helping their food pantry. Mershimer says that the Presbyterian Food Pantry serve over 13,000 people in Okeechobee each year. The money given will all go to buying food to fill the pantry.

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee is a service organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in Okeechobee. For more information on the club or how you can join, go to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee Facebook page.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW ABOUT SOUPER BOWL OF CARING (RUN TIME 2:01)


Charles Murphy News 2/10

News Cast for February 10th:

Okeechobee county commissioners Tuesday

Took steps to implement a new mental health court. The goal is to reduce the number of inmates in the jail with mental illness, and save the taxpayers money. Rogers with Narcotics Anonymous works with women in the jail on their drug and other problems. She sees great potential in the new program. Chief Judge Elizabeth Metzger says she will volunteer her time to preside over such a court. It includes a number of people, therapists, counselors, physicians who examine each case and try to resolve the issues the inmate has. She says the program has been very successful in St. Lucie County in reducing repeat offenses.

County commissioners also supported another six month moratorium on medical marijuana related business and also renamed the Okeechobee sports complex after long time parks and recreation director Darrell Enfinger.

In the courts, 28 year old Gabriel Padgett pled no contest to battery by strangulation as prosecutors dropped charges of false imprisonment, and aggravated child abuse.   He was accused last May 16th of choking a child and knocking down a female causing her a head injury.  He was sentenced to eight months in the county jail and two years’ probation.

Sheriff deputies say a daylight burglary Wednesday on South East 35th Terrace netted the burglars over 6 thousand dollars in jewelry and other items.

Sports Cast for February 10th:

OHS girls softball has another strong team ready to compete for a district title. Megan Hargraves returns after a year off due to a knee injury and Lauren Bostwick is expected to be the next great Brahman hitter. Jill Crosby will be the primary pitcher along with freshman Haley Underhill.

Coach Mary Huff says the team appears to have what it takes to win the crown. Huff says the team must continue to work in all areas of the game. She likes the freshman class which will have an immediate impact. The girls play Saturday night at Palm Beach Gardens in a preseason tournament.

The boys basketball district tournament continues tonight with Jensen Beach tangling Sebastian River at 5:30 and Okeechobee meeting Heritage Palm Bay at 7 pm.

The winners tonight will play in the championship game on Saturday at 7 pm.


Charles Murphy News 2/9

News Cast for February 9th:

Among arrests

48 year old Robert Smith was charged with trying to flee deputies in a stolen Ford pickup truck Tuesday morning.  The chase went from US 98 north to North West 18th Street and ultimately ended on north West 50th avenue. Smith reportedly drove through two fences in an attempt to flee. He tried to hide in some palmetto woods but was caught by a K-9 unit. He faces fleeing and attempting to elude, driving with a suspended license, felony criminal mischief, grand theft auto and resisting arrest charges.

38 year old Ronald Hurley of Okeechobee was charged with video voyeurism of a 15 year old girl in Indiantown. Martin county deputies say he took illicit photos of the child while she slept and put it on his computer.  The detectives say he ran from them to avoid interviews.

Sheriff deputies put out a missing and endangered alert on a Lake Placid man, Clarence Johnson, last seen in Okeechobee on January 29th.  He was driving his white, 2014 Kia Soul at the time.  He is 6 feet tall and 3 hundred pounds.

29 year old Justin Levitt was charged with grand theft and burglary in Buckhead Ridge.  Glades county deputies say he took a valuable guitar and pawned it last fall in Okeechobee.

Okeechobee city council approved an ordinance that would relax hard liquor sales on Sunday in the city limits.  The council appears to support allowing full liquor sales beginning at 1 pm on Sundays at restaurants to match the current county ordinance.

The council set a final public hearing for February 21.

Sports Cast for February 9th:

Okeechobee raced to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter and trounced South Fork at the district boys’ basketball tournament 82-53 last night. Shaquoy Ferrol had 35 points and Demetrius Clark added 26 points for the Brahmans. Clark admits the team was nervous before the start and played with urgency. Clark had six three pointers in the game.

Jean Mervil had 14 points for South Fork.

Devin Williams had 12 points as Sebastian River defeated Eau Gallie 45-25 in another first round game. Sharks Coach William Wilson says his team took nothing for granted.

Jensen Beach won the first game, 65-59 over Bayside.

Coach Jeffrey Anderson said his team played a complete game

The tournament continues Friday with Jensen Beach against Sebastian River at 5:30 pm and Okeechobee against Heritage at 7 pm

Moore Haven boys basketball season ended with a blowout loss to #1 seed South West Florida Christian Academy.

Lady Terrier softball defeated LaBelle 4-3 in the Clewiston preseason tournament.

On the local sports schedule OHS softball opens the season with a preseason classic at Palm Beach Gardens tonight at 7 pm.

Osceola and Yearling play in the Brighton Big Lake Conference Tournament with Yearling to meet Brighton and Osceola to meet Clewiston this afternoon.


Commissioner Adam H. Putnam Joins First Responders to Kick-off 2017 Florida State Fair

Commissioner Adam H. Putnam Joins First Responders to Kick-off 2017 Florida State Fair

TAMPA, Fla.–Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, along with Attorney General Pam Bondi and first responders, today kicked-off the Florida State Fair with the annual “flip the switch” ceremony, turning on the fair’s lights for the first time this year.

Opening day is “Salute to Heroes” day, and it continues the longstanding tradition of welcoming active duty military, veterans and first responders free of charge in recognition of their service to Florida and the nation.

First responder and law enforcement agencies present during the “flip the switch” ceremony included:

  • Florida National Guard
  • Florida Highway Patrol
  • Hillsborough County Fire Rescue
  • Tampa Fire Rescue
  • Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
  • Florida Forest Service
  • Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement

Many new attractions are making their first national appearance at the Florida State Fair, as Florida is home to the first state fair of the year. The fair unveiled the largest traveling Ferris wheel, the Midway Sky Eye, in its North American debut. It boasts a height of 155 feet, and riders can see farther than 15 miles when situated at the top of the wheel. Other additions to the Florida State Fair include the Street Fighter 360 and the New Super Slide, which stands 60 feet tall and 180 feet long.

The Florida State Fair also showcases Florida’s livestock, poultry and fresh produce. More than 5,000 animals will be shown in competitions throughout the fair, with more than 1,500 FFA and 4-H participants. Fairgoers have the opportunity to learn about Florida’s agricultural process from numerous educational activities, such as orange juice tasting, hydroponic demonstrations and meal planning.

This year marks the 113th anniversary of the Florida State Fair. The first Florida State Fair was held in 1904 near Henry Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel, which is now the site of the University of Tampa, and it moved to its current location in 1977.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com. For more information on the Florida State Fair, visit FloridaStateFair.com.


Charles Murphy News 2/8

News Cast for February 8th:

The plan to purchase 60 thousand acres for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee passed a Senate committee Tuesday. The plan is designed to move water south from the lake to the reservoir instead of sending polluted water to the estuaries. Governor Scott has proposed 60 million to help residents change from septic tanks to sewer systems in his proposed budget.

A police chase ended with a vehicle going into a row of trees on North West 50th Avenue earely Monday.  One arrest was made, details are expected today.

Glades County sheriffs are suing a Moore Haven woman for a crash that totaled a 41 thousand dollar vehicle.  The suit names the owner of the other vehicle, Jessica Wooton and the driver Brittany Ann Lee who allegedly was negligence in a crash on March 25th of last year at Kilpatrick Drive and route 78 that damaged the sheriffs car.

45 year old Maureen Hawes of Lorida was charged with the theft of 21 thousand dollars from her employer, Florida Hospital of Heartland in Lake Placid.  Highlands Deputies say the thefts took place between February and June of last year.

A State wildlife officer suffered facial injuries after his gun reportedly malfunctioned at a local range near the Kissimmee River Sunday.   Joe Allen was hit with shrapnel and treated at Raulerson Hospital.

A front door was busted out at the Express Food Mart at 3621 South East 34th Avenue early Monday but nothing appeared to have been taken according to deputies.  Damage was around 1 thousand dollars.

A female walking on South East 40th Avenue was robbed by a man on a bicycle around 10 am Monday.  The man rode off toward South East 21st Court.  The female was unhurt but lost prescription pills and 6 hundred dollars in cash.

Florida Gas transmission company sued Okeechobee’s property appraiser for the tax bill on the 26 mile pipeline they run through Okeechobee.  They called the 79 point 8 million dollar assessment illegal and exceeds just value.  The company paid 1 point 2 million in property taxes this year.

Okeechobee City Council Tuesday

  • Presented a five year service award to police officer Jeremy Larue, a 10 year service award to firefighter Mitch Brydebell and a 25 year service award to Fire Chief Herb Smith.
  • They also watched the promotion of Aurelio Almazan to Police Sergeant at Okeechobee Police. Video on our Facebook page.

Sports Cast for February 8th:

Moore Haven QB John Cox was named All-State last month. He ran and threw for over 2 thousand yards this year leading the Terriers to a 7-3 season. He said he was greatly honored to make the all-state team.

Coach Richard Roudybush is glad he has Cox back for his senior year next year.  He says Cox has one attribute that sets him apart.

On the local sports schedule today

OHS boys’ basketball hosts the District 7A-13 tournament starting today.

Jensen Beach will take on Bayside at 5 pm, Sebastian River tangles with Eau Gallie at 5:30 and Okeechobee takes on South Fork at 7 pm.

The semifinals are Thursday and the finals are Friday night.


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