Local News

Gov. Scott: Florida Added More Than 12,000 Private-Sector Jobs in June

Gov. Scott: Florida Added More Than 12,000 Private-Sector Jobs in June

ORLANDO, Fla. — Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida businesses have created 896,900 private-sector jobs since December 2010, and the state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent- the lowest rate since March 2008. In June 2015, 12,200 private-sector jobs were created across Florida. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate, up to 3.9 percent, has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012

Governor Rick Scott said, “Today’s announcement of nearly 900,000 new private sector jobs in just four and a half years is great news. We have cut taxes 50 times – including $400 million in tax cuts this year – and we will keep working to create an environment where more businesses can expand and grow in Florida so families have more opportunities to succeed in the Sunshine State.”

Governor Scott made the announcement at ODC Construction, a residential construction services company in Orlando. Since 2011, ODC Construction has created 200 new jobs, and currently employs 300 Floridians. The Orlando area gained more than 47,000 new jobs over the year in June 2015, the highest number of new jobs among all Florida metro areas for the 29th consecutive month.

Florida’s unemployment rate for June 2015 was 5.5 percent, almost half of the December 2010 rate. Florida’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.6 percentage point over the year from the June 2014 rate of 6.1 percent, down to 5.5 percent in June 2015. The June 2015 unemployment rate is the lowest since March 2008 when it was 5.4 percent.  Florida’s unemployment rate has declined by 5.2 percentage points since December 2010.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “The June economic numbers show that Florida’s job market has continued its strong growth through the first half of 2015, with 110,400 private-sector jobs added since January 1. We are also growing jobs at a faster rate than the nation and all other large states. This economic resurgence is happening because employers and job seekers have renewed confidence in Florida’s pro-growth policies and low taxes. The Scott Administration will continue to support these policies so that Florida will have the top performing economy in the nation.”

More Floridians Getting Back to Work

  • Florida’s private-sector job growth month-to-month has been positive for 44 consecutive months.
  • Industries gaining the most jobs in June were trade, transportation, and utilities with 11,000 new jobs, education and health services with 5,200 new jobs, and leisure and hospitality with 2,800 new jobs.
  • Florida has created 896,900 new private sector jobs since December 2010.
  • Florida job postings compiled by Help Wanted OnLine from The Conference Board showed 273,134 openings in June 2015.

Home Sales Robust

  • Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices, and increased pending sales in May, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.
  • Florida median home prices were up 11.1 percent over the year in May 2015.
  • Florida building permits were up 10.5 percent over the year in May 2015.

Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment

  • In June, Florida’s 24 regional workforce boards reported more than 33,200 Floridians were placed in jobs. An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a CareerSource Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals, 5,788 previously received Reemployment Assistance.
  • In 2014, 470,534 individuals were placed into jobs through the regional workforce board, including more than 23,986 veterans.

To view the June 2015 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.

Corps urges boaters to use caution on Okeechobee Waterway

Corps urges boaters to use caution on Okeechobee Waterway

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is urging boaters on Lake Okeechobee to use caution as a result of falling water levels impacting navigation routes.The Corps issued a Notice to Navigation yesterday (July 15), advising commercial and recreational vessels to use extreme caution while traveling Okeechobee Waterway Route 2 between Port Mayaca and Clewiston. Route 2 runs along the southern edge of the lake through Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay, and Clewiston. Officials are also asking boaters to use caution in the waterway between Clewiston and Moore Haven as temporary dams associated with rehabilitation work on the Herbert Hoover Dike have created a narrow channel at multiple locations.“We are asking boaters to be mindful of the shallow water and the potential for submerged objects when traveling through the area,” said Carl Williams with the Corps’ South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston. Today’s lake elevation is 11.99 feet, which means the navigational depth along Route 2 is estimated at 4.1 feet. The navigational depth along Route 1, which is a direct route across the lake, is estimated at 5.9 feet. For more information on navigation notices concerning the Okeechobee Waterway, please visit the following website:http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Navigation/NoticestoNavigation.aspx

Source: Corps urges boaters to use caution on Okeechobee Waterway > Jacksonville District > Jacksonville District News Releases

Charles Murphy News 7/17

News Cast for July 17th:

Three people died in a crash in Glades County Thursday afternoon. Troopers say standing water on the road on route 78 near County Road 78A caused a Chrysler Van to lose control, spin in the road and collide with a west bound tractor trailer.

Killed were 26 year old Diana Gallardo and 15 year old Sonia Ruiz of Clewiston and 56 year old Rae Ann Reitz of Moore Haven. The truck driver was uninjured.

The Okeechobee Economic Council celebrates their 25th anniversary this year. The mission is to promote prudent economic growth and improve the quality of life here in Okeechobee. Executive Director Tara Minton said she spends a lot of time at meetings trying to keep the board informed on issues that impact Okeechobee.

Minton 1

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In the courts, 83 year old Roy Baker was acquitted at trial of lewd and lascivious conduct, allegedly kissing a 16 year old girl that cleans his home. Prosecutors also dropped a charge of battery in the case.

The unluckiest spot in Florida for scratch off lottery tickets last year was Glades County. Experts say it cost over 635 hundred dollars in ticket sales before the county had a big winner, which is defined as a cash prize of over 6 hundred dollars. Floridians spent 3.4 billion on lottery scratch off games.

Two men were charged with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief after they broke into several hunting camps on Lykes Brothers Property in Glades County. Glades deputies say over 2 thousand dollars in damages were done. Two vehicles were also broken into. A rifle, pistol, swamp buggy that was recovered, and other items were taken. Charged are 21 year old Brent Null of Cape Coral and 19 year old Christopher Bustin of North Fort Myers.

Glades Co Press Release071615 update

Sports Cast for July 17th:

Kevin Coleman signed to play college baseball at South Florida State College.

Coleman said he liked the fact the college was close to home and his family and friends could watch him play some games.

Coleman 1

Coleman said his senior year turned out pretty well. Coleman said he feels he’s capable of being a good college pitcher. His goal is to break the 90 mile per hour mark on his fastball and improve his breaking ball.

Minton 2

He said he liked the campus and the atmosphere around South Florida State College. Coleman plans to study to become an anesthesiologist.

Coleman was a four year letter winner for baseball.

Charles Murphy News 7/16

News Cast for July 16th:

In the courts, 19 year old Adam Davis received four years in prison and two years community control for his alleged involvement in a home invasion robbery in Treasure Island, where a man was shot last year. Davis pled no contest to robbery and burglary and a charge of attempted murder was dropped. His co-defendant, Tim Williams, awaits his court date.

A detective began to choke on a piece of shrimp during lunch Tuesday and was given the Heimlich maneuver; Mark Shireman began to breathe normally after the food was dislodged by Lt. Brad Stark. Shiremen said first aid is emphasized in officer training and that helped in this case. He thanked Lt. Stark profusely as he returned to work.

Shireman 1

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Among arrests, 23 year old Pascual Francisco of Indiantown, was charged with criminal mischief and throwing deadly missiles after he allegedly smashed three large windows to a home in Booker Park. Alcohol was a factor.

Two people were shot, one fatally, in Lorida after an argument Tuesday night. Dead is 44 year old Shawn Zeigler of Lorida, who died at the scene. 36 year old Carrie Leaphart was in serious condition. Highlands County deputies arrested 29 year old Virgil Lee West of Lorida and charged him with 2nd degree murder, and tampering with evidence.

88 year old Charles White of Indiantown was charged aggravated assault with a firearm after he allegedly stalked a local waitress.   City police say White was accused of laying a 38 revolver on the window ledge of his vehicle in the parking lot of the restaurant on South Parrott Avenue as the waitress was leaving work.

Two hundred acres burned in a brush fire on Robinson Drive in Lakeport near Lake Okeechobee. No homes were damaged Wednesday, but smoke affected motorists.

SFWMD Water Managers Closely Monitoring Dry Conditions

Sports Cast for July 16th:

Aaliyah Johnson was Co MVP on the girls’ junior varsity basketball team this year.

Johnson was the teams point guard and showed a lot of improvement as the season went on.

Johnson said girls’ basketball was a good experience. Johnson has her senior year ahead.

Johnson 1

She said a lot of the players contributed this year and it was tough to pick one that was most valuable.

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Johnson won an Award for Flag football during her sophomore season.

She is playing on the Lakeside Travel Basketball summer team.

Charles Murphy News 7/15

News Cast for July 15th:

Additional felony charges were added against 61 year old Joe Beaman related to allegations he molested a young girl. He already faced sexual battery charges in both Okeechobee and Glades County.

26 year old Jeffrey Courtney faces aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges for a shooting incident last month, the victim, James Haywood was not hit.

A Boat fire did about 45 thousand dollars in property damage Monday evening at 19910 North West 80th Drive off Lofton Road. The boat had undergone recent repairs and the cause was ruled mechanical. No one was injured.

The health department says there have no active rabies cases in Okeechobee County. A raccoon that bit a 74 year old woman last weekend escaped the scene. The victim is getting treatment as a precaution.

The Farmworker Justice Project says more inspections should be made migrant labor housing in Okeechobee. Attorney Gregory Schell said in all likelihood most of the housing is in deplorable condition. There are 28 permitted migrant labor camps in the county this year. He says the Okeechobee health department must change policy. Immokalee has 20 thousand farm workers and the health department has been more aggressive in enforcement of housing laws.

Schell 1

Schell 2

Sports Cast for July 15th:

Taylor Gibson was honored as the defensive player of the year for the Yearling girls’ basketball team this past year.

She was in seventh grade this past year and has another year to improve.

Gibson said her season was productive. Gibson often gave up size and weight inside but wasn’t intimidated. She thanked her coach Erin Morrow for giving her confidence

Gibson 1

She said if Yearling works as a team more next year they might be more successful.

Gibson 2

Workshop set for gopher tortoise conservation in central Florida

Workshop set for gopher tortoise conservation in central Florida

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding regional workshops to present information on opportunities for local governments to help conserve gopher tortoises in Florida.

The goal of these workshops is to identify ways cities and counties can participate in protecting one of Florida’s threatened species.

“Partnerships involving cities, counties and the FWC have led to wonderful projects to conserve gopher tortoises and their habitats,” said Alex Kalfin, Local Government Coordinator for the FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Management Program. “We look forward every year to our regional workshops, where representatives of local governments can find out how to get involved in gopher tortoise conservation.”

A workshop is scheduled in central Florida. Representatives from local governments in nearby counties are encouraged to attend.

Highlands County

Wednesday, July 22

9 a.m. – noon

Bert J. Harris Jr. Agricultural Center

4509 George Blvd.

Sebring, FL 33875

The workshop is free, but registration is required, as space is limited. To register, please send your name and the name of your organization to Alex.Kalfin@MyFWC.com.

For more information, and to download the Gopher Tortoise Management Plan, visit MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise and click on “Management Plan.”

Man cited for keeping Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings in fish tank

Man cited for keeping Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings in fish tank

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers cited a man for keeping two Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings in his household aquarium.

In response to a tip by a concerned citizen, FWC officers visited an address in Jupiter. After investigation, William Henry Jowett (DOB 08/09/1961) was issued a first-degree misdemeanor citation for possessing two loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings.

Jowett had obtained the turtles from his backyard canal two months prior and put them in the aquarium for his daughter to see. Jowett said he planned on releasing the turtles but grew attached to having them in the tank.

“Our mission is to conserve Florida’s natural resources and protect its people through proactive and responsive law enforcement services,” said FWC Lt. Chris Harris. “This investigation is only one example of our commitment to achieve this goal and demonstrates our efforts working with federal partners, the general public and the State Attorney.”

The two loggerhead turtles were removed from the saltwater aquarium and transferred to the Loggerhead Marine Life Sanctuary Center. The turtles have since been released offshore.

The loggerhead sea turtle is listed as a Threatened Species by the Federal Endangered Species Act, a Federally-designated Threatened Species by the Florida Endangered and Threatened Species Rule and by Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act. Florida Statutes restrict take, possession, disturbance, mutilation, destruction, selling, transference, molestation and harrassment of marine turtles, nests or eggs. For more information on the Loggerhead sea turtle visit MyFWC.com and type “Loggerhead” in the search box.

Jorrett was issued a first-degree misdemeanor citation. Penalties could include up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

This case is a great example of how tips from the publlic can help. If you suspect a fish, wildlife, boating or environmental law violation including someone disturbing a sea turtle or sea turtle nest you should report it to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Reward Program by texting or emailing Tip@MyFWC.com, calling 888-404-FWCC (3922) or dialing *FWC from your cell phone.

Governor Rick Scott Highlights $2.4 Million in Environmental Funding for Lee County

Governor Rick Scott Highlights $2.4 Million in Environmental Funding for Lee County

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott was at Pineland Marina in Lee County to highlight funding to protect Florida’s environment included in this year’s “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget. The “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget invests $2.4 million to support local environmental and agricultural projects in Lee County, with more than $1.7 million going to projects that will help protect and improve water resources within the county.

Governor Scott said, “Florida’s natural resources are some of the most unique and beautiful in the entire world and also help provide a foundation for our growing economy and record-breaking tourism industry. From our hundreds of miles of coastline, pristine waterways and our award-winning state parks, we will continue to invest in our natural resources so our future generations can enjoy our beautiful state.”

The “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget invests $3.5 billion in funding for natural and agricultural resources. This includes more than $500 million for projects to improve the quality and quantity of our water – including $106 million for Everglades restoration and a record $45 million for springs protection.

DEP Secretary Jon Steverson said, “I want to thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for recognizing the importance of protecting and restoring our natural resources. The ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget includes funding for a number of projects, including the C-43 reservoir, that is crucial to protecting our water quality, ensuring our communities have a clean and safe supply of water, and making sure our state stays the most beautiful in the nation.”

Mitch Hutchcraft, Governing Board member of the South Florida Water Management District said, “Support for water projects in Lee County enhances our work to improve the entire Caloosahatchee watershed. With his ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget, Governor Scott continues to demonstrate his commitment to Florida’s natural resources.”

Representative Matt Hudson said, “I am thrilled Governor Scott’s ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget focuses on finishing projects to protect Florida’s estuaries and the Everglades. The Everglades provide a home to an abundant array of untapped natural treasures. I am excited to work with DEP and the SFWMD to identify additional needed storage using these funds.”

Representative Kathleen Passidomo said, “Governor Scott’s ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget reflects his continued commitment to protecting Florida’s natural resources that impact Florida’s economy and quality of life. More than $500 million has been allotted to improve the quality and quantity of our water. These funds exemplify the commitment of the Governor to restore and protect the south Florida ecosystem.”

Representative Heather Fitzenhagen said, “We are happy that Governor Scott prioritized $106 million in funding to preserve the natural treasures found in the Everglades so Florida can continue to be a top destination to live, work, and raise a family. The ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget capitalizes on the momentum of the last four years, and south Florida families will see that Everglades restoration will be a priority for many years to come.”

Representative Matt Caldwell said, “Florida’s geography and economy are defined by our natural resources. By investing $3.5 billion, Governor Scott’s ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget continues his progress to make Florida the best place to live, work, and raise a family. We applaud Governor Scott for his dedication to not only investing in the health of Florida’s resources, but supporting the health of Florida’s economy.”

Representative Ray Rodrigues said, “We are happy to partner with Governor Scott to keep Florida beautiful and attract visitors who appreciate Florida’s striking geography. It is important to realize Florida’s geography has attracted families for decades and the ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget invests in not only the environment, but also Florida’s economy.”

Charles Murphy News 7/14

News Cast for July 14th:

A 74 year old woman was bitten on her hand by a raccoon in the area of the Zachery Taylor campground off US 441 south east. The raccoon was not located.

In the courts, long haul trucker, 41 year old Eddie Sellers, of Okeechobee, was sentenced to county jail and three years’ probation in Polk County for an alleged battery and abduction of a woman. Sellers were adjudicated guilty of felony battery by strangulation but a charge of kidnapping was dropped in the plea deal. The victim claimed he picked her up in Tennessee, and then got mad when she changed the radio dial, and he attempted to sexually batter him, struck her in the face and choked her into unconsciousness. She claimed she escaped after he stopped for gas in Marion County.

Among arrests 26 year old Leon Cotton was charged with lewd or lascivious exhibition. The jail trustee was washing cars outside when he was accused of making inappropriate gestures while female inmates looked on.

25 year old Dadricka Riles was charged with battery, petit theft and strong armed robbery after allegedly attacking a woman sitting in her car at the Travelers Motel on Monday morning. 1 hundred dollars in cash was reportedly taken.

19 year old Ahias Guar Chaj of Indiantown was charged with attempted sexual battery after he allegedly made advances to a female coworker and tried to remove her clothing at a citrus grove on South West Minute Maid Road last week. He was held on 40 thousand dollars bond.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission continues to discuss protections and a recovery plan for the Florida Panther. The territory of the panther grows daily, which concerns ranchers who often lose livestock to the panther.

Laurie Macdonald with Defenders of Wildlife says the agency shouldn’t focus solely on the population south of the Caloosahatchee River, but at three separate panther populations in the state. Defenders of Wildlife is encouraging rancher to build predator proof enclosures but that wouldn’t work with dairy or beef cattle operations.

Hardee Co SR 64 Fatal 7-12-15

Sports Cast for July 14th:

Okeechobee Dixie Boys were eliminated at the state tournament as they dropped a pair of games on Monday, 7-4 to Chipley and 9-7 to Spring Hill.

Ethan Durfee pitched four strong innings and Dustin Mansfield drove home two runs in the victory over Chipley.   Chipley scored five times in the bottom of the sixth to erase a 4-1 deficit.

In the night cap, Corey Coleman had three hits including a double and Dustin Mansfield and Mark Holmes had two hits for Okeechobee. Spring Hill scored seven runs in the final three innings.

Moore Haven boys hoops was happy with a second place finish at the Battle of the Lake basketball tournament this weekend.

Transfer student Michael Lopez from LaBelle has given the team a shot in the arm as he had a strong tournament at the point guard position pushing the Terriers to two wins over Sebring.

Coach Chad Pio said the tournament was local and convenient, and a really good experience for his kids. Pio’s team was much more competitive last year. He said he feels the Terrier basketball program has come a long way and can be a factor in the future.

Pio 1

He notes the team puts in a lot of time to improve.

Pio 2

Jonathon Crawford has been activated by the Reds and assigned to their Florida State League Affiliate the Daytona Beach Tortugas. He had a rough first inning last night against the Bradenton Pirates allowing three runs but followed up with two scoreless innings. Daytona lost 5-2.

Charles Murphy News 7/13

News Cast for July 13th:

The 4th district court of appeals allowed Mark Alvarez another crack at post conviction relief with a ruling consistent with Falcon Vs State earlier this year that claimed sentencing teens under 18 to life in prison was cruel and unusual punishment. Alvarez is entitled to another sentencing hearing in his double murder case in Okeechobee. Alvarez shot to death Curtis Tenney and Elizabeth Johnson in Four Seasons and then burned their car.

Glades County prosecutors dropped a false imprisonment charge against 45 year Joseph Kuzminski of Port St. Lucie. He was jailed May 26th for allegedly keeping a estranged girlfriend in his vehicle for hours from Port Charlotte to Lakeport and with making threats to her. The case was dismissed in June.

Our state lawmakers got good grades from the Florida Chamber of Commerce this year for pursuit of their pro-business agenda. State Senator Denise Grimsley earned a 96, State Representative Cary Pigman received a 95 and State Senator Bill Galvano, who represents Glades County, earned a 95. Chamber priorities this year included tax reform, regulatory reform, education reform, job creation and long term water solutions.

The Florida Department of Transportation is in the final stage of environmental studies on the proposed bypass road from 710 to 441. Their plans will be submitted to the Federal highway administration later this year where approval is expected. US Fish and Wildlife are working on a study of potential impacts to protected species along the route. Funding for the right of way is not planned until 2018. There are no funds currently in the five year work plan for any widening of State Route 710 from the L-63 canal to Martin County.

The Gilbert Family of Companies hosted a large crowd Friday for the flag rising of a new American Flag at Gilbert Chevrolet. Gil Culbreath said the flag measures 15 by 25 feet. The naval veteran said it was an important night for him


Hendry Co CR 833 Fatal 7-12-15 UPDATE 7-12-15

Martin Fatal 7-11-15 Dickinson Park mc

Sports Cast for July 13th:

Okeechobee’s Dixie Boys all –stars won their first two games at the State Dixie Youth Championships in Marianna.

Okeechobee defeated Wesley Chapel 11-2 and Brooksville on Sunday 5-1 in eight innings. Dustin Mansfield won the homerun derby competition on Friday night.

Lane Thomas had two hits to lead the offense. Eric Calderon picked up the save in the victory over Brooksville

Mansfield hit a grand slam and drove in five runs and Ethyn Johnson added a two run homerun in Okeechobee’s victory over Wesley Chapel.

Okeechobee plays against Chipley this morning at 9 am

Okeechobee won the Battle of the Lake basketball tournament with four consecutive wins Saturday and Sunday. They defeated Cornerstone, Interlachen, Sebring and Moore Haven in the finals.

Coach Demetri Riles said he was impressed with the team ball his team displayed. Center Fred Bradley says the off season tournaments the team has played in June and July have been a lot of help to the team.



Five teams were able to compete in the two day tournament.

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