Local News

Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Donates To Real Life Children’s Ranch (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Donates To Real Life Children’s Ranch (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Kiwanis members JD Mixon (left) and Dowling Watford (right) with Real Life Children's Ranch director Mark Meyers

Kiwanis members JD Mixon (left) and Dowling Watford (right) with Real Life Children’s Ranch director Mark Meyers

With school beginning this week, some children don’t have the luxury of having the needed supplies. The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee held their annual school supply drive and donated the proceeds to the Real Life Children’s Ranch.

The club raised over $2000 and two anonymous members matched that total to bring the final tally to over $4000. The club also donated several notebooks, folders, binders, pens and pencils and other supplies.

Kiwanis member and school supply drive organizer Dowling Watford says the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee has held this drive for over fifteen years and this was by far the most money raised.

Real Life Children’s Ranch director Mark Meyers accepted the donation and was visibly touched and admittedly overwhelmed saying that the Kiwanis has always done so much for the Ranch, but this went above and beyond anything he ever expected.

Real Life Children’s Ranch is a faith based ministry that offers residential, family style group foster homes.



Trooper Arrests Possible Police Impersonator

For Immediate Release: Trooper Arrests Possible Police Impersonator

Palm Beach County:  Trooper Joshua Buday observed a gold Ford Crown Victoria exit a parking lot onto Blue Heron Boulevard through a stop sign. Trooper Buday stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver. Further investigation revealed that the driver had a suspended driver license and the vehicle was equipped with functional red and blue flashing lights and a siren. The vehicle appeared to be an unmarked police vehicle. The vehicle was unregistered and was displaying a stolen tag. 31 year old David Dannis Lafon from Lake Worth was arrested and charged with Unlawful Blue Lights, Driving with a Suspended Driver License, and Fail to Register Vehicle.

This vehicle also matches the description of a vehicle that has been seen traveling through traffic and running red lights with the emergency lights activated. The Florida Highway Patrol is trying to determine if the subject has been conducting traffic stops as a police impersonator. If anyone has been stopped by this subject they are urged to contact the Florida Highway Patrol at 954-837-4012. Photographs of the vehicle are attached.

Potential Artifacts found at Okeechobee Battlefield

Potential Artifacts found at Okeechobee Battlefield

The National Park Service with the assistance of many local volunteers conducted an archaeological survey of selected portions of the Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park on Aug 16-17. Although the metal detecting was hampered by very wet conditions and high grass, two potential artifacts were located and several others marked for further study. The survey was led by John Cornelison, National Park Service Archaeologist, and his staff from Tallahassee. Pictured are the staff and volunteers before beginning work on Sat morning.

Charles Murphy News 8/20

News Cast for August 20th:

Okeechobee City council defended their police department from criticism last night from the investigation into the beating of an autistic child. Two arrests have been made but the city has still been inundated with emails and phone calls, many of them abusive to police dispatchers and city staff. Chief Denny Davis said his department acted quickly and had made an arrest within 24 hours.

Among arrests today, US Marshalls arrested 24 year old Henry Banks of Hobe sound in Okeechobee for aggravated child abuse, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and other charges. He allegedly injured a 17 year old girl with a razor blade.

A 34 year old Okeechobee man, Tyrone Edison was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Ft. Pierce.   St. Lucie Deputies say Edison provided alcohol and drugs to underage children and acted inappropriately with a 15 year old girl. Edison served five years in prison for Okeechobee charges that included child abuse and aggravated battery from an incident in 2 thousand 8.

63 year old Jerry Suarez was charged with dealing in stolen property after city police say they recovered numerous stolen items in a North West 6th Avenue home including war medals and patches, and an AR 15 rifle.

Dixie Ball was elected to School Board in District 4 without opposition this summer. She will replace Gay Carlton who is retiring after 20 years of service. Ball is a school teacher for the Seminole Tribe. She said her experience in the classroom should give her a different perspective on school board matters.

Funeral arrangements were announced for Okeechobee County Commissioner Ray Domer who died this weekend. Viewing will be Thursday from 4 until 7 pm at the Buxton and Bass Okeechobee Funeral home. Funeral services will take place at the First Baptist Church on Friday at 10 a.m. with a graveside service to follow.

Sports Cast for August 20th:

Daniel Shelley won the MVP award for boys track for Okeechobee high school last spring. He was just a freshmen last year and he admitted he was surprised to get the award but appreciative. Shelley hopes to have a repeat performance this year as he also runs cross country in the fall.

He admits it felt weird to stand in front of his peers to be honored. Shelley enjoyed the competition and he had a good time. He hopes to improve this season.

The Okeechobee Youth Football league opened play Saturday with two wins and three losses at the Haines City Rattlers. The junior team prevailed 19-13 and the Pee Wees won 13-7. The seniors lost a heart breaker 14-13, the Mitey Mites lost 24-6 and the Flag team fell 33-6.

OYFL will host Lake Placid this Saturday at Brahman Stadium.

Obituary for Mr. Ray Russell Domer

Obituary for Mr. Ray Russell Domer

Domer, Ray Russell passed away in his home in Pine Island on August 17, 2014. As a sixth generation Floridian, Ray was born in Okeechobee on February 29, 1956 to Russell and Martha (Walker) Domer. At just twenty-two years old, Ray became the third generation owner and operator of Domer’s Machine Shop. Started by Ray’s grandfather, Victor, in 1926, Domer’s is one of the oldest family owned storefront in Okeechobee and is celebrating its 88th year in business.
In 1982, Ray married the late Ginger Greenberger Domer (1956-1987). In 1987, the couple welcomed son Justin to their family. In 1989, Ray married Cynthia (Cindi) Woodham Domer in Roseburg, Oregon. Some of Ray’s fondest memories were made while traveling through the Pacific Northwest with Cindi shortly after their wedding. Cindi quickly stepped into the role of mother to Justin and the family welcomed son Jacob in 1995. Ray and Cindi gave birth to, but sadly lost daughter Nettie Graceson in 1996.

While he was happiest spending his days on the water with his loved ones, Ray was passionate about continuing his family’s dedication to service in Okeechobee County. In November 2004, Ray upheld this tradition when he beat a second-term incumbent and was elected to the Okeechobee County Commission. Ray proudly continued to serve his community with subsequent reelections in both 2008 and 2012. In addition to his service as a County Commissioner, Ray also was a dedicated member of the Okeechobee Masonic Lodge for over thirty-five years.

Ray is predeceased by his late wife Ginger Greenberger Domer, his daughter Nettie Graceson Domer, his father Russell Victor Domer, and his mother Martha Walker Domer.

He is survived by his wife of twenty-five years, Cynthia Woodham Domer, his sons Justin Ray Domer and Jacob Holdon Domer, his sisters Alvina Domer Robertson and Jean Domer Rogers (Steve), as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, family members, and friends.

Ray’s legacy will forever live on, not only in the hearts of his friends and family, but in the community as a whole. He served as a beacon of strength, morality, and love and we were all made better by his presence.

A viewing will be held Thursday, August 21, 2014 at the Buxton and Bass Okeechobee Funeral Home (400 N. Parrott Ave.) from 4 –7 PM. The family requests that you bring your favorite photo of Ray to add to a family memory book. The funeral service will take place at the First Baptist Church (401 S.W. 4th Street) on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 10 AM; graveside service and reception to follow.




~Stop on Red, Kids Ahead~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has designated August as Child Safety Awareness Month. This week we focus on promoting school bus safety for motorists and for schoolchildren.

  • Motorists and School Bus Safety
  • All drivers moving in either direction on a two-way street must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn.
  • On a highway divided by a paved median, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn.
  • On highway divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least 5 feet wide, drivers moving in the opposite direction do not have to stop for the bus. (Painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers.) However, these motorists should slow down and watch for students loading or unloading from the bus.
  • Be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses, and in school parking lots.
  • Pay extra attention to the lower speed limits in school zones.
  • Do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks.
  • Do not change lanes or make U-turns in school zones.
  • Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.
  • Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.
  • Safety at the Bus Stop
  • Arrive at the bus stop about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Never sit on the roadway or the curb while waiting for your bus; wait in a safe place away from the road.
  • Never speak to strangers at the bus stop or get into the car with a stranger. Always tell your parents, the bus driver, and a teacher at school if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.
  • When the bus stops, wait for the driver’s signal that it is safe to cross the road or board the bus.
  • If crossing the street, look left, right, and left again. Make eye contact and make sure your bus driver can see you as you cross the street.
  • Never walk behind the school bus and stay away from the bus wheels at all times.
  • Safety on the Bus
  • Know your bus driver’s name and bus number.
  • Remain seated at all times and keep the aisle clear.
  • Don’t put your head, head, or arms out the window.
  • Stop talking and remain silent when the bus comes to a railroad crossing so the driver can hear if a train is approaching.
  • Avoid any loud or disruptive behavior that could distract the bus driver from safely operating the bus.

Governor Scott Honors Two with the Medal of Heroism

Governor Scott Honors Two with the Medal of Heroism

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Today, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott recognized Detective Robert Smith, of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, and Trooper Marcos Diaz, of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, with the Medal of Heroism for their courageous actions and service to Florida families.

Governor Scott said, “I am honored to present Detective Robert Smith and Trooper Marcos Diaz with the Medal of Heroism. Both Detective Robert Smith and Trooper Diaz did not think twice about placing their own lives in danger during the line-of-duty in order to protect their fellow Floridians and fellow law enforcement officers. Thanks to the quick response and heroic actions of these two heroes, lives were saved and Floridians were kept safe.”

Detective Robert Smith
On November 19, 2013, Detective and Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Smith, of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, assisted the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, the Fort Pierce Florida Marshals Office and the DEA in the apprehension of two violent felony offenders. During the apprehension, the suspects began firing at the team, wounding two law enforcement officers. After noticing another officer pinned down by gunfire in a dangerous location, Detective Smith instructed another detective to move a patrol car to provide additional protection while approaching the trapped officer with a ballistic shield to get him out of harm’s way. During his approach, he made contact with the suspects inside the residence and instructed them to them to exit; maintaining his position until both suspects were securely apprehended and the residence was cleared.

Sergeant Rodney Vizzo, Fugitive Warrants Supervisor for the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, said, “I’m honored that Det. Smith was selected to receive this prestigious award. Det. Smith is an intelligent, courageous, and dedicated individual. He believes in the team concept and safe completion of the task at hand. He is my definition of a ‘blue collar worker.’ He comes to work every day with the belief that he does make a positive impact in the community he serves. Det. Smith is a humble and unspoken leader who does not seek recognition or accolades for his outstanding job performance. I commend Det. Smith for his actions on the day of the event, and he would say ‘I was only doing my job and anybody else would have done the same if they were in my position.’ I don’t fully agree with his response, but I will say that I have full confidence in his abilities, and any member of our unit or agency would not hesitate to enter a house with him to apprehend a violent offender. Det. Smith is a role model for others and an ideal representative of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.”

Trooper Marcos Diaz
On July 19, 2013, Trooper Marcos Diaz, of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, responded to a capsized boat in the ocean with three occupants. Upon arriving on the scene, two of the occupants, who swam to shore, told Trooper Diaz and Monroe County Emergency Medical personnel that the third boater was still in the water and could not swim. Trooper Diaz immediately jumped in the water with a backboard from the Monroe County EMS and swam towards the individual still in the water, who had become tangled in fishing line and was dangerously near drowning. Trooper Diaz reached the man just as he began to sink from exhaustion, freed him from the fishing line, and held him above water. Trooper Diaz then signaled to the Coast Guard and they were both safely removed from the ocean.

Florida Highway Patrol Colonel David Brierton said, “Our troopers put their lives on the line every day to protect Floridians, and Trooper Marcus Diaz did just that when he saw a man who could not swim, struggling in the water off US 1 in the Florida Keys.  Trooper Diaz risked his life and jumped in, helping the man to safety.”

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Executive Director Terry Rhodes said, “The Florida Highway Patrol appreciates Governor Scott for recognizing the heroic efforts of Trooper Diaz and Attorney General Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Atwater and Commissioner Putnam for presenting him with the Medal of Heroism on this great day.”

The “Medal of Heroism” is given to any law enforcement or correctional officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic who has distinguished himself or herself by risking his or her life deliberately above and beyond the call of duty and must have engaged in hazardous or perilous activities to preserve lives with the knowledge that such activities might result in great personal harm.

FWC recovers 299 sea turtle eggs from poacher

FWC recovers 299 sea turtle eggs from poacher

Nearly 300 sea turtle eggs were returned to the beach and reburied Friday after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) caught a man poaching them from a beach in St. Lucie County.

James Odel McGriff, 55, of Riviera Beach, was arrested and booked into the St. Lucie County jail.

“We take these matters very seriously,” said Capt. Jeff Ardelean, a supervisor in the FWC’s West Palm Beach office. “Stopping those who attempt to poach and commercialize our endangered species is one of our highest priorities.”

Friday night, a concerned citizen called the FWC after she saw what looked like a man stealing sea turtle eggs at the Diamond Sands beach off A1A. She was able to provide a description of the man and his vehicle.

FWC officers and investigators responded and talked with the man. After using a K-9 to track where he had been, they located a disturbed sea turtle nest and a backpack full of sea turtle eggs.

This was not the first time McGriff had been caught for poaching turtle eggs. In 2002, he was arrested after selling 12 eggs to an undercover officer and possessing 27 dozen pre-bagged eggs for sale.

“We are committed to stopping those who intentionally take advantage of our state’s fish and wildlife resources,” Ardelean said.

The FWC is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on this case and federal charges are pending.

Sea turtles are among the oldest creatures on earth. All five species in Florida are either endangered or threatened. The Marine Turtle Protection Act stipulates that it is illegal to injure, harm, harass, capture or attempt to capture any marine turtles, eggs or nests. If you know of or suspect any violations, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922 or text Tip@MyFWC.com. For more information on how you can help protect sea turtles by visiting MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.

Autism Society of America in Washington DC responds to Okeechobee Beating

Autism Society statement on the beating of Aaron Hill

We at the Autism Society are shocked and saddened by the Aug. 8 beating of Aaron Hill, a 16-year-old with autism in Okeechobee, Florida. The actions of Andrew Wheeler, 18, who admitted to attacking Hill, were the unthinkable result of a series moral failures. That Wheeler would hit Hill, drag him by his hair, choke him and hold a knife to his throat is nothing short of horrifying. That several partygoers would have such a lack of concern for a fellow human as to stand feet from Wheeler and watch him seriously injure Hill is deeply disturbing. And that Evadean Lydecker Dailey, who is accused of buying alcohol for the teenagers’ party at her home, helped create an illegal and dangerous situation is yet another unbelievable transgression in this case.

It is sad to have to reiterate that the Autism Society believes people should not maim and threaten one another. We expect that police investigate this incident and identify everyone who contributed to the attack. The investigation must also determine whether the beating was a hate crime – a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” Allegations that Hill was lured to the party, then ambushed, raise even more disturbing questions about Wheeler’s motivations in the attack. Investigators must take these allegations seriously and stand up for people with autism.

Wheeler and Dailey should be prosecuted aggressively and sentenced in accordance with the extreme nature of their actions. Beyond that, everyone in this country needs more education about autism and disability in general, and needs to understand that having a disorder or disability does not make anyone any less human or less valuable than anyone else. People need to accept people with autism for who they are. Events like the beating of Aaron Hill (presuming prejudice played a role) are extreme examples of pervasive ignorance about disability and neurodiversity. Only by understanding and accepting people’s differences, and by standing up to those who would hate or hurt others, can we prevent atrocities like this from happening in the future.

About the Autism Society: The nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, the Autism Society exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people with ASD, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit www.autism-society.org.

Charles Murphy News 8/19

News Cast for August 19th:

Among arrests, 51 year old Frank Zimmerman of Yeehaw Junction was charged with child abuse allegedly punching, and pulling the hair of a minor child during a disagreement. Osceola County deputies made the arrest.

Zimmerman Arrest Report

29 year old Dustin Werk was charged with burglary to a vehicle and grand theft allegedly stealing a tool kit worth about 6 hundred and 50 dollars from his employer on North West 7th Street.

24 year old Dazma Washington was charged with child abuse allegedly leaving a 7 year old child at home with three younger children so she could attend a party. City police say the child called 911.

24 year old Reba Bailey was charged with battery on a county jail inmate allegedly punching a female at the jail on Sunday night.

The Department of Children and Families created a new website designed to better protect Florida’s children. Spokesperson Alexis Lambert says it should encourage communities to work together to meet the needs of struggling families. She noted there are three main causes of death among Florida children. Okeechobee had one drowning and one suspicious of a death of a child so far this year.

In the courts, 42 year old Juan Mata was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of burglary to a vehicle, resisting arrest and possession of cocaine. He allegedly accosted a female driver in the parking lot of a local business last Christmas Day because she wouldn’t drive him to Douglas Park, causing 15 hundred in damage. 44 grams of spice was seized after a foot chase with police.

Sports Cast for August 19th:

OHS volleyball should field another strong team this year with a strong group of veterans and two freshmen that should contribute right away.

Coach Taylor Pritchard said they have also gotten deeper into volleyball instruction and strategies this year after a full season under their belt. Pritchard also plans to have a more wide open attack than last year on offense. She noted in the first year they focused on the defensive side of the game. Jensen Beach will once again be the main competition in the district this year.

Key players for Okeechobee include Lexi Ward, Baylee Farless, Makayla Root, Cheyenne Nunez and freshmen Rachel Bryan.

Tonight the team will hold a purple white scrimmage at 7 pm.

OHS alumnus will be in action in fundraiser volleyball game tonight at 6 pm. Donations will be accepted.

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