Local News

Rooney Announces Critical Funding to Combat Citrus Disease

Rooney Announces Critical Funding to Combat Citrus Disease

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) announced today that The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be providing $22 million in grants to help citrus producers fight Huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening disease.

“This is good news for my citrus producers down in Florida,” Rooney said. “The industry has been endangered for a long time and every little bit helps. I’m thankful to the USDA and I’m confident that growers will make good use of this money, to continue to help keep the American citrus industry alive.”

The funding, available through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program, is part of the $125 million for citrus research Rooney secured in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Rooney’s home state of Florida is the largest producer of oranges in the United States – accounting for about 70 percent of the nation’s total production. The state of Florida produces more oranges than any other region of the world, with the exception of Brazil. There are more than 8,000 citrus growers cultivating over half a million acres of Florida’s land solely devoted to citrus. The industry also supports over 75,000 jobs that are either directly or indirectly related to citrus.

Full information as to how to submit applications to the grant program is available on the UDSA website.


Charles Murphy News 4/19

News Cast for April 19th:

Dowling Watford, Vernon Beaty, and Commander Jim Odell of the George W. Thomas Camp 1595

Dowling Watford, Vernon Beaty, and Commander Jim Odell of the George W. Thomas Camp 1595

Dowling Watford, Vernon Beaty, and Commander Jim Odell of the George W. Thomas Camp 1595, Sons of Confederate Veterans take part in a solemn ceremony Saturday at the Basinger Cemetery to mark Confederate Memorial Day in Florida. The Order of Confederate Rose were represented by Laura Ratcliffe, Mary Beaty, Martha Kenyon, and Cynthia Bryan.

City and county firemen put out a structure fire at 1006 South West 6th Street late Sunday. Firemen encountered heavy smoke showing and flames shooting through the roof as they arrived just after 11:30 pm. There were no injuries and the State Fire Marshall is investigating.

A faith healer may have hit a second victim in Okeechobee.  A Flea market customer was having some marital problems and wanted help.  He visited with the faith healer in Okeechobee for a prayer session and agreed to pay her 3 hundred dollars.  After the visit he noticed 2 thousand dollars had been taken from the wallet.

April is child abuse prevention awareness month. The Okeechobee county commission issued a proclamation at their meeting last Thursday. Carol Lynn Moses of Helping People Succeed works in voluntary parental classes to strengthen families. They offer parents skills they need to raise children. Moses said they served a lot of families last year. She said the rate of child abuse is declining in Okeechobee since 2010.

Free Chlorine Public Notice May 16

IR Fatal 4-15-16 SR-60 TT

Sports Cast for April 19th:

IMG_9889Brahman seniors hope to shine tonight as the district baseball tournament gets underway at Okeechobee High School. Armando Rodriguez has done a solid job in left field this season.  He said the team must be at its best to hit Martin County pitching.

Rodriguez 1

Zeke Matthews hopes he can repeat his earlier post season success.  His big hit helped Okeechobee win a district title two years ago.

Matthews 1

Chase Quisenberry has been a late season spark for the bullpen as he’s moved into the closers role after being a utility player for part of the season.

Quisenberry 1

Jensen Beach will meet South Fork at 4 pm and Okeechobee will tangle with Martin County at 7 pm.

Moore Haven baseball season is over as they fell to Community School of Naples 10-6 at their district tournament on Monday.


Former Circus Tiger Rescued in Peru

Former Circus Tiger Rescued in Peru by Animal Defenders International Arriving at MIA and Being Transported to His Forever Home at Big Cat Rescue

TWO media events:

#1 April 22 at 6:15 p.m. MIAMI – Hoover tiger offloaded from airplane
Miami International Airport; Avianca Cargo Flight QT602 (for media airside access contact ADI and BCR media team, below.)

#2 April 23 at 7:30 a.m. TAMPA – Hoover tiger enters his huge enclosure
Big Cat Rescue; 12802 Easy Street, Tampa, FL 33625

Interviews Available: Jan Creamer (ADI), Tim Phillips (ADI), Susan Bass (BCR)

Details: After a lifetime of suffering in a Peruvian circus, Hoover the tiger will finally be flown to Miami International Airport (MIA) on Friday the 22nd and transported to his forever home at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa.

Wildlife officials in Peru and Animal Defenders International (ADI) seized Hoover in April 2015 to enforce Peru’s ban on wild animals in circuses. Rescuing Hoover proved to be very difficult as the circus had gone underground in order to keep the tiger; but after eight months of searching, ADI received a tip-off and moved in for a surprise rescue operation against the circus. Sick and emaciated, Hoover was then taken to ADI’s temporary rescue center near Lima where he has lived for the past year. Months of tender loving care, veterinary attention, toys and exercise has seen Hoover recover and thrive.

Hoover, who will turn 12 on April 23, will get the best birthday present of all: a new start in life and a new home in America!

ADI President, Jan Creamer said, “Hoover is the tiger that almost got away from us. The Peruvian circus went underground, so it was very difficult to track him down and rescue him from his sad life of pain and suffering. It is a privilege to bring Hoover, who turns 12 on Saturday, to Big Cat Rescue to begin a new chapter of his life happy and safe at this wonderful sanctuary. He has special needs and deserves special attention – and that is exactly the kind of care that Big Cat Rescue does so well.”

At his new home at Big Cat Rescue, Hoover will enjoy a very spacious enclosure with lots of shady trees and soft grass. He will even have access to a spring-fed lake, where he can swim and splash about whenever he likes. Hoover’s habitat also features a large platform, several dens and plenty of toys. He will receive the best possible medical and dental care and nutrition, as well as mentally stimulating and fun enrichment treats at least twice per week.

Big Cat Rescue Founder Carole Baskin said, “Big Cat Rescue is forever grateful that Animal Defenders International rescued Hoover, cared for him during the long process of obtaining permits, and has now transported him to America. We are so happy to welcome Hoover and provide him with a safe, peaceful home at our sanctuary in Tampa. He will now spend the rest of his life enjoying the warm breezes of Florida, relaxing in the shady grass, lounging on his platforms and cooling off in our lake. He will literally be a world away from the abuse he suffered most of his life. After all his suffering, we hope people will take Hoover to their hearts like we have and donate towards his lifetime care.”

Emilio T. Gonzalez, Miami International Airport Director, said:  “We are proud to welcome Hoover to the United States and help him transition to his new home in Florida.   As America’s busiest port of entry for wild animals, we gladly receive thousands of animals like Hoover every year who are being relocated to safe locations around the world.”

ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom has successfully removed all wild animals from circuses in Peru and over 100 animals have been saved, making it the largest rescue of its kind. Native wild animals including bears, monkeys, birds and reptiles have been built homes in their Amazon habitats, 33 lions will be going home to Africa and Hoover will find peace and safety in Florida.

ADI and BCR would like to thank the Peruvian Government departments, SERFOR and ATFFS, for their commitment to enforce the law and eliminate the use of wild animals in circuses.  In particular, the ATFFS Piura and police, who staged the raid with ADI and stood firm to save Hoover.  Our thanks also to Avianca Cargo Transport, for helping to make Hoover’s relocation possible.

Please donate to fly Hoover the tiger to Miami:
http://www.ad-international.org/hoover 

Please donate for Hoover’s lifetime care at Big Cat Rescue:
http://bigcatrescue.org/Hoover/

#hooverhome


Suspect Arrested for Animal Cruelty

Suspect Arrested for Animal Cruelty

Osceola County – On April 16 at approximately 9:59 a.m., Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies responded to 5154 Thompkins Drive in St. Cloud. Upon arrival, deputies spoke with Osceola County animal control officers who indicated they were investigating a possible animal cruelty case at two locations. Six deceased horses were located on the property on Thompkins Drive.

The investigation began when animal control officers were conducting a well-being check at 5790 Leon Tyson Road in St. Cloud and located four horses that appeared to be malnourished with severe skin infections. In addition, there was no housing for the horses and they had no access to food. The only source of water was a pond near an overgrown field in the back of the property. A veterinarian examined the horses and determined the condition of the horses and lack of care occurred over a period of time. The horses were placed in the care of the Osceola County Animal Control Department.

During the investigation, deputies discovered the horses on both properties were owned by Melissa Marie Payne. The owner of the Thompkins Drive property had recently moved out-of-state and did not give Payne permission to utilize her property. Payne was taken into custody, but did not cooperate with the investigation. Based on the evidence, Payne was charged with one count of Animal Cruelty and 3 counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals. Payne was booked into the Osceola County Jail with $3,500 bond. The investigation is on-going with additional charges pending.

Melissa Marie Payne (DOB 3/28/61), 4844 Sunset Road, St. Cloud


Martin County Convicted Felons Sentenced to Prison for Possessing Firearms at Jensen Beach Indoor Firing Range

Martin County Convicted Felons Sentenced to Prison for Possessing Firearms at Jensen Beach Indoor Firing Range

Two Martin County convicted felons were sentenced to prison for unlawfully possessing firearms and ammunition at an indoor firing range in Jensen Beach, Florida.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Carlos A. Canino, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, David Dyess, Chief, Stuart Police (SPD), and William D. Snyder, Sheriff, Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), made the announcement.

Aldrick James Lott, 30, and John Robert Rucker, Jr., 46, both of Stuart, were sentenced to imprisonment by U.S. District Court Judge Robin L. Rosenberg on April 15, 2016.  On January 20, 2016, Rucker pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1).  Rucker was sentenced to 57 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.  On January 26, 2016, Lott pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1) and 924(e).  Lott was sentenced to 185 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

According to the court record, on November 7, 2015, Lott and Rucker, entered a gun shop and indoor shooting range in Jensen Beach, Florida.  During their visit, Lott and Rucker were recorded on video surveillance shooting targets with multiple firearms, including a Glock 30 .45ACP caliber pistol, Smith and Wesson M&P40 .40 caliber pistol, and High-Point 9mm pistol.  The Glock and Smith and Wesson pistols were left at the store for cleaning, examined by law enforcement and determined to have been stolen.

On December 1, 2015, federal and local law enforcement agencies executed three search warrants, on residences connected to Lott and Rucker.   Law enforcement recovered the High-Point 9mm pistol, a second firearm, and various rounds of ammunition from one home connected to Lott.  From a second residence connected to Lott, officers recovered a magazine and ammunition matching the Smith and Wesson M&P40 .40 caliber pistol.  From a residence connected to Rucker, officers recovered narcotics.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF, SPD, MCSO, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.  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.


SFWMD Recognizes April as Water Conservation Month

SFWMD Recognizes April as Water Conservation Month

Saving water is essential to protect South Florida’s water resources

West Palm Beach, FL — Highlighting a commitment to protect South Florida’s water resources, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board has joined the Governor and Cabinet in designating April as Water Conservation Month.

“Even during the wet times, we should all keep in mind that South Florida’s weather can quickly change from deluge to drought,” said SFWMD Governing Board Vice Chairman Kevin Powers. “That’s why it is so important for Florida families to maintain a water conservation ethic year round, and why saving water is an integral part of managing South Florida’s water resources.”

For 18 years, Florida has recognized Water Conservation Month in April. The District’s Comprehensive Water Conservation Plan includes voluntary and incentive-based initiatives, regulatory work, education and outreach. The amount of water used by the region’s 8.1 million residents has fallen from near 180 gallons of water per person per day in 2000 to about 140 gallons in 2014.

SFWMD continues to lead by example by:

  • Working with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Services to certify nine District facilities as having Florida-Friendly Landscaping
  • Implementing indoor and outdoor water audits at all District facilities
  • Creating and helping organizations complete the Self-Assessment Guide for Commercial and Institutional Water Efficiency Improvement
  • Hosting a yearly Water Conservation EXPO and Vendor Fair

Along with these successful efforts, the District supports many water-saving initiatives. Through the Water Savings Incentive Program, the District invested $250,000 in nine local projects last year that saved an estimated 86 million gallons of water per year. This program has helped local communities save water for more than a decade, investing $5.1 million in 181 projects that save nearly 3 billion gallons of water per year.

Education programs, including the Great Water Odyssey, have reached more than 2,700 students and 49,000 visitors to the District’s www.savewaterfl.com website.

The District also administers the Florida Water Star program, increasing water efficiency for homes, commercial properties and communities. More than 900 single-family homes and four commercial properties have met the program’s water-saving goals.

With the voluntary WaterCHAMP program, 98 hotels in 13 municipalities have installed water conservation devices or made changes in linen service covering nearly 8,000 rooms. The water savings can average 20 gallons per night per occupied room.

SFWMD also follows Year-Round Water Conservation Measures that target outdoor irrigation, which can account for up to half of the residential water use in South Florida.

Basic water conservation practices include:

  • Replacing aerators in kitchen and bathroom sinks with models rated for 1.5 gallons per minute or less
  • Watering the lawn based on its actual needs and following the District’s year-round landscape irrigation water conservation measures and/or local ordinances
  • Installing low-flow appliances, such as a dishwasher
  • Installing low-flow water fixtures, such as showerheads

For more information:

Year-Round Landscape Irrigation Conservation Measures


Charles Murphy News 4/18

News Cast for April 18th:

Okeechobee police chief Denny Davis announced he would retire.  The city council will discuss the replacement plans at their meeting tomorrow night.

Okeechobee county commissioners negotiated with Waste Management last week on reducing fees for disposal of trash at the Berman Road landfill.   The commission offered to drop the landfill trust fee and rely on company insurance.  Waste Management said they have seen a decline in waste streams due to other landfills like Holopaw.  Host fees reached a peak of 7 point 4 million in 2 thousand 5 and were just under 3 point 1 million last year.

Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee are at least willing to consider a regional jail facility to save costs.  They would use the financially troubled Glades County jail that relies on federal prisoners. The old Lottie Raulerson center would cost 3 hundred thousand dollars to repair and renovate according to the United Way.   Several non profit groups would like to use the old complex.

A truck crash on route 60 in western Indian River county claimed the life of 42 year old Corey Johnson of Orlando on Friday morning.  He was attempting a right turn when he was rear-ended by another east bound truck, driven by 44 year old Oliver Tejada of Lakeland.

The Florida everglades will receive a guaranteed 2 hundred million in annual funding thanks to the Florida legacy bill.  Conservation groups say it’s a critical step toward restoring the state’s water supply. Beth Lewis of the Nature Conservancy says the aquifers health is critical. She said wildlife would also benefit in South Florida as wetlands are re-hydrated.

Celebrating Seniors PSA

IR Fatal 4-15-16 SR-60 TT

Sports Cast for April 18th:

IMG_9888A two run triple by Joey Lacosio ruined the Brahman senior night Friday as Centennial defeated the Brahmans 5-3 in high school baseball. Josh Throreau had a sacrifice fly and Brock Hamilton had a pair of RBI single for the Eagles.

Cody Louthan had an RBI double, a sacrifice fly and an RBI single for Okeechobee.  Okeechobee left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.

Coach Eric Kindell used six pitchers in the game including all his senior pitchers. He said he wanted the kids to enjoy their final home game. The Brahmans host districts starting tomorrow at 4 pm.

Eric Kindell on loss to SLW

OHS flag football lost to Fort Pierce Westwood 21-0. Coach Jeff Whitlock said the season didn’t turn out as well as the girls hoped.

Moore Haven baseball lost at Clewiston 9-2.

Okeechobee softball will play at William T. Dwyer on Wednesday night in the regional playoffs.

Moore Haven softball will host Indian Rocks Christian on Thursday night at 7 pm.


Governor Rick Scott: West Palm Beach Area Added More Than 12,000 Jobs Over the Year

Governor Rick Scott: West Palm Beach Area Added More Than 12,000 Jobs Over the Year

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that the West Palm Beach area added 12,200 private-sector jobs over the year in March. The area’s unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, down 0.3 percentage point over the year in March.

Governor Scott said, “The West Palm Beach area added more than 12,000 new jobs this year, which is great news. Our focus on diversifying the economy and cutting more than $1 billion in taxes in the past two years is clearly working, and we will continue to do all we can to support job growth across the state.”
The industries with the largest job gains over the year in the West Palm Beach area were education and health services with 3,600 new jobs and professional and business services with 3,400 new jobs. The West Palm Beach area had 19,398 job openings in March, including 5,396 high-wage, high-skill science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations.

Since 2010, Florida businesses have created 1,061,700 new jobs. Florida businesses created 225,300 private-sector jobs over the year in March, exceeding the nation’s private-sector job growth rate for the fourth consecutive year. Florida’s statewide unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in March, while 39,029 Floridians were placed in jobs by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the state’s other 24 regional workforce boards.

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


Charles Murphy News 4/15

News Cast for April 15th:

Heaven Felterberger was one of five seniors honored at Thursdays OHS flag football game.  OHS lost to Westwood 21-0.

Heaven Felterberger was one of five seniors honored at Thursdays OHS flag football game. OHS lost to Westwood 21-0.

Official murder charges were filed Thursday against 23 year old John Harlow. Detective Marty Faulkner says Harlow was befriended by the victim.  He was down on his luck sleeping on the floor and Earl Eugley offered to give him shelter if he did things around the yard. Faulkner said the alleged killer had no serious prior brushes with the law.  He said the motive was robbery so he could feed his addiction to opiates. Harlow shot Eugley, stole his pickup and sold it for 15 hundred dollars and traded his trailer while also taking hundreds of dollars out of his bank accounts. Officials suspect Eugley was dead at a least a few days before the body was discovered.

Under Sheriff Noel Stephen said the victim’s family was satisfied with the results of the investigation. He said he’s confident Harlow will be convicted.

Stephen 1

Stephen 2

The grand jury indicted Harlow on first degree murder and other charges on Tuesday.

The county commission Thursday.

  • Honored cooperative extension agent Patrick Hogue for 15 years of service to the county.  He retired at the end of March.
  • They honored longtime firemen Randy Boyer for 25 years of service.
  • They also applied for a 7 hundred and 50 thousand community development Block grant to help fund water expansions in Whispering Pines.
  • Approved a budget transfer of 54 hundred dollars to fund tree trimming in Platts Bluff Park.

Sports Cast for April 15th:

Baylee Farless looks for an open receiver down field as Erika Knights pursues her during Thursday's flag football game.

Baylee Farless looks for an open receiver down field as Erika Knights pursues her during Thursday’s flag football game.

Morgan Blourne continued her dominance over Okeechobee with a  3-hitter as South Fork won the 7A-13 district softball championship, 6-1 last night. Blourne struck out 10 Brahmans.

Coach Mary Huff said her team had to play nearly perfect to beat South Fork. Okeechobee had five errors in the game.

April 15 brahman softball

Okeechobee moves onto face William T. Dwyer in the regional semifinals. Huff said the season is not over and she worked to inspire her kids afterward.

Moore Haven trounced Evangelical Christian 15-0 in the District 3A-6 softball championship game and will host regional next week.

On the sports schedule tonight, OHS baseball hosts St. Lucie West Centennial for senior night at 7 pm.

Moore Haven baseball visits Clewiston at 7 pm.


Military Bill To Help Homeless Veterans And Expand Care

Military Bill To Help Homeless Veterans And Expand Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, said the MilCon/VA bill approved yesterday will ensure our veterans’ medical care and benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) keep pace with demand and that the VA is held accountable.

“Our bipartisan VA Appropriations Bill keeps the promises we’ve made to our veterans and ensure they continue to receive all the benefits they have earned,” Rooney said. “I am particularly pleased that bill includes $1.5 billion in funding for VA assistance programs for homeless veterans and their families.”

In addition, Rooney has called for the VA to look into his pilot program which will help veterans organizations buy, renovate and repurpose abandoned and foreclosed upon homes into housing for homeless veterans while providing a pathway to homeownership for these veterans.  “We need to find out the feasibility of this program that will improve our communities and provide a home to our most deserving Americans,” Rooney said.

As a co-chair of the Military Mental Health Caucus, Congressman Rooney was able to help fight for funding for veterans mental health treatments, securing $7.8 billion in funding for this program. The bill urges the VA to collaborate with research universities and teaching hospitals for treatment for disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The bill also addresses the lack of network providers in the Choice Program for veterans who live in rural areas, like much of Rooney’s district. “I’ve heard a lot from my veterans that the implementation of this program has not been what it should be,” Rooney continued. “This bill addresses the deficiencies in access to care that my constituents have been experiencing. We need to make sure that every veteran, no matter where they live, gets the best care that we can provide for them.”

Additionally, the legislation contains funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, provide housing and services to military families, and help maintain base infrastructure. The bill also funds veterans’ benefits and programs.

Other highlights of the bill include:

  • VA Medical Services– The bill funds VA medical services at $52.5 billion – providing for approximately 7.0 million patients to be treated in fiscal year 2017. Within this total, funding includes: $7.8 billion in mental health care services; $164 million in suicide prevention activities; $284 million for traumatic brain injury treatment; $7.2 billion in homeless veterans treatment, services, housing, and job training; and $250 million in rural health initiatives.
  • Disability Claims Processing Backlog –The bill provides $180 million for the paperless claims processing system, $153 million for digital scanning of health records, and $27 million for centralized mail. In addition, the bill continues rigorous reporting requirements to track each regional office’s performance on claims processing. The bill also includes funding of $156 million, a $46 million increase over the fiscal year 2016 level, for the Board of Veterans Appeals to support 242 new staff to tackle claims appeals, which have been ballooning as the number of claims decisions has increased.
  • Oversight – Due to troubling mismanagement reports at the VA, a recent history of wasteful spending, and to increase the efficiency and quality of care to our veterans, the legislation includes significant oversight and accountability provisions. Some of these provisions include limiting transfers between construction projects, reporting on bid savings, limiting changes in the scope of construction projects, and restricting the agency from taking certain spending actions without notifying Congress. To stop taxpayer funded rewards to under-performing or poorly performing employees, the legislation also prohibits all VA Senior Executive Service managers from receiving bonuses.
  • Guantanamo Bay – The legislation continues language to prohibit the closure of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station and a provision to prohibit funding for any facility within the U.S. to house detainees.

The draft text of the bill is available here: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-114hr-sc-ap-fy2017-milcon-subcommitteedraft.pdf


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