Local News

Firefighters Need Your Help

Firefighters Need Your Help

Okeechobee, FL - “Thankfully no homes were threatened yesterday”, states Forest Ranger Seth Waugh, Florida Forest Service, “but this wildfire was a very good reminder of how quickly the vegetation dries out and ignites.” Cold dry air influences the potential for a fire to start and on any given day.  When the humidity is low, meaning that there is a low amount of water vapor in the air, wildfires are more likely to start.

“State and County Firefighters need your help this year in making sure our community is safer from wildfires”, Waugh emphasis. If you live near nature then you can be at risk for wildfire danger. Take the time to remove anything that will burn from your roof and gutters. That includes pine needles, leaves, small twigs, and palm fronds.  Be sure there is nothing flammable against the sides of your home.  Be sure to use plants that are not highly flammable around your home.  Keep the area within 30 feet of your home picked up, mowed, and watered within the guidelines of local water management.

Yesterday’s Wildfire Facts:

  • Date/Time – 01/26/2015 15:32
  • Location- behind Superior Muffler (see map)
  • Acres – 3 acres in wooded lot surrounded by roads. Homes/businesses nearby but not threatened.
  • Cause- down power line (limited firefighter access)

Charles Murphy News 1/27

News Cast for January 27th:

A motorcycle accident on Nine Mile Grade at Sky Road in Highlands County is now being looked at as a possible suicide, after investigators found the victim, 54 year old Jeffrey Pinkston of Port St. Lucie was suffering from a gunshot wound last Thursday.

Highlands Co Crash

Press News Release Motorcyclist Found Dead

Okeechobee county commissioners approved a five year lease to use a former engineering office at 412 North West 3rd Street as the new home of the Driver’s License Bureau. It’ll cost the county 2 thousand dollars per month plus all sales and property taxes on the property. Tax Collector Celeste Watford says the facility will meet the needs of the office. The county must have the driver’s license bureau up and running by June 1st.

Watford 1

Watford 2

A young boy from Four Seasons riding bikes was bitten by a dog on North East 8th Street Saturday and was treated for head injuries at Raulerson Hospital.

A 15 year old at the freshman campus was charged with sexual battery on a child under 12, allegedly coercing an 11 year old girl into a sexual act over the Christmas holiday.

A wrongful death and negligence lawsuit is the second filed in the past 60 days against Okeechobee resident Nathaniel Doctor. The estate of Briana Banuelos, the 17 year old girl, killed in a car wreck on South West 5th Avenue, filed suit in late November. Attorney Steve Hoskins explains the suit.

Hoskins 2

Hendry County Fatality crash

Traffic crash critical injuries 1-25-15

Sports Cast for January 27th:

Fred Bradley had 12 points and Elijah Finney added 11 points off the bench to lead Okeechobee to a 49-41 victory over Immokalee Saturday night at Okeechobee High School. Antawyn Fludd had six points, seven steals and six assists for the Brahmans. Shelderson Milfort had 14 points for the Indians.

Elijah Finney on victory over Immokalee

Demetre Riles on victory over Immokalee

Brahmans Coach Demetre Riles said defense was the key to this win. Okeechobee played with only eight players due to injuries and other factors. Finney hit three, three point baskets for Okeechobee, which helped the cause. Okeechobee also won the junior varsity contest, 53-33.

Boys’ basketball will host Clewiston tonight, JV at 6 and varsity at 7:30.

Moore Haven girls’ basketball hosts their district tournament tonight when they battle Canterbury for a regional berth at 7 pm.

Commissioner Putnam Seeking Nominations for Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award

Commissioner Putnam Seeking Nominations for Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award

Award Recognizes Those Developing and Adopting Environmentally Innovative Farming Practices

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Each year, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam recognizes innovative Florida farmers with the Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award. The award commends enterprises that demonstrate leadership in developing and implementing innovative and progressive techniques to safeguard the environment and conserve natural resources.

The deadline for submitting nominations this year is Feb. 15. Commissioner Putnam will present the awards at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting later this year.

“The future of our state’s $120 billion agriculture industry depends on innovation, technology and leadership,” said Commissioner Putnam. “This award highlights growers who implement these qualities to continue growing this industry while also protecting our natural resources for the future.”

The following environmental practices will be considered in judging nominations for the 2015 Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award.

  • Wildlife protection and Habitat Conservation: Provide a safe, vibrant habitat for wildlife within an agricultural operation
  • Pesticide/Nutrient Management: Use pesticides/nutrients responsibly, maximizing benefits and minimizing potential adverse environmental effects
  • Water Quality: Preserve or improve water quality within or adjacent to an agricultural operation
  • Soil and Water Conservation: Reduce soil erosion, nutrient depletion and water consumption, and enhance water recharge
  • Waste Management/Recycling: Reduce waste by recycling agricultural by-products and waste products on site

For more information about the 2015 Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award and past award winners, visit our website. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.


Illegal Hunting in Okeechobee

Illegal Hunting in Okeechobee

Information in the form of complaints from different hunters on the Starvation Slough Public Hunting Area had been coming in throughout the general gun season.   The hunters complained about hunters that were chasing deer in airboats and shooting them while underway.

They also complained the airboaters were herding dear away from other hunters and were using modern weapons in the primitive hunt area. Officer J.Davis set up a four day operation to cover the last two weekends of general gun season. With the help from Investigator Douglas, Officers Bergwerff, M. Davis, Alford, Hofheinz and Lieutenant Strenth the operation called for the use of several Robotic Deer Decoys to be placed beyond the signs saying “airboats could not pass and the area was a primitive weapons hunting area only”.

A boat approached and the passenger pointed to the deer and the driver positioned the boat facing directly at the decoys and gunned the engine running past the sign saying “No Airboat Beyond this Point” and the passenger raised up and fired at the doe decoy while traveling at a high speed.   When they realized nothing fell or ran off they tried to turn away and became stuck and the passenger had to get out and push the boat. The driver then left the area with the passenger walking out.

Officers M. Davis, J. Davis and Lieutenant Strenth stopped the airboat while Officers Hofheinz and Officer Bergwerff stopped the person walking. Investigator Douglas had been the observer and Safety Officer. Both subjects received notice to appear for taking wildlife from a moving motorized vessel, in a restricted area, using modern weapon in a primitive hunt area (archery only) attempting to take a doe out of season. The doe had four double OO buck shot hits in the shoulder and lung area.


FPL announces plans to install more than 1 million solar panels at three additional solar power plants as part of continued strategy of advancing affordable clean energy in Florida

FPL announces plans to install more than 1 million solar panels at three additional solar power plants as part of continued strategy of advancing affordable clean energy in Florida

— By the end of 2016, FPL to triple its current solar capacity – adding nearly 225 megawatts of new solar power to the 110 megawatts it operates today

— Advantages of select sites and decreasing solar costs to allow for cost-effective expansion of large-scale solar, enabling FPL to generate even more affordable clean energy in Florida

— FPL’s typical customer bill continues to be well below the national average while the company’s system is cleaner than ever thanks to ongoing investments in solar, U.S.-produced natural gas and zero-emissions nuclear generation

— Long-term planning and strategic clean energy investments position FPL extremely well to meet pending carbon emissions regulations

JUNO BEACH, Fla., Jan. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fpl-announces-plans-to-install-more-than-1-million-solar-panels-at-three-additional-solar-power-plants-as-part-of-continued-strategy-of-advancing-affordable-clean-energy-in-florida-300025619.html — Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced details about its plans to build substantially more solar energy capacity as part of its ongoing strategy of advancing clean energy while keeping electricity affordable for customers.

Before the end of 2016, FPL intends to build three new solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants that are being designed to cost-effectively complement other major system improvements, which include the retirement of some of the company’s oldest fossil fuel-burning units and the continued investment in clean, fuel-efficient, 24-hour power generated from U.S.-produced natural gas and zero-emissions nuclear fuel.

“Over the past decade, we have continuously focused on advancing reliable, affordable, clean energy for our customers,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “In particular, we have been working especially hard to find ways to advance solar energy in Florida without increasing electricity costs, and we have developed what we believe will be a cost-effective plan to triple the amount of solar energy we use to serve our customers before the end of 2016.”

Currently, solar power – even the most economical large-scale installation – is generally not yet cost effective in FPL’s service area, due in part to its higher costs compared to the company’s highly efficient system and low electric rates. However, FPL has identified three uniquely advantaged sites that will each facilitate the cost-effective development of a new, large-scale solar plant. In addition, as the cost of solar PV is projected to decline further later in the decade, FPL is optimistic that it could potentially add even more solar energy generation to complement its natural gas and nuclear resources while continuing to meet the electricity needs of Florida’s growing economy and population on a cost-effective basis.

“As the economics of solar power improve in the years ahead, we believe we will be able to harness more and more sunshine cost-effectively, alongside essential, high-efficiency, clean natural gas generation and zero-emissions nuclear power, to continue powering our customers and the state’s growing economy with affordable clean energy,” Silagy said. “These exciting large-scale solar projects, equivalent to roughly 45,000 typical residential rooftop systems, will bring new tax revenue and several hundred new jobs to rural communities we serve and deliver emissions-free power when the sun is shining to our customers across the state.”

Currently serving more than 4.7 million customer accounts across nearly half of Florida, FPL operates a diverse portfolio of energy sources to power the state’s growing population and economy. As outlined previously in the company’s 10-Year Site Plan filed with the Florida Public Service Commission, FPL anticipates a significant need for additional firm power generation beginning in 2019, when its total number of customer accounts is projected to top 5 million. To meet this need, FPL intends to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) during the first quarter of 2015 to invite prospective bids. At this time, the company believes that clean, high-efficiency natural gas generation will likely be the most cost-effective energy source to meet this specific need.

Investments in high-efficiency natural gas generation since 2001 have enabled FPL to cut its use of foreign oil by more than 99 percent – from more than 40 million barrels of oil in 2001 to less than 1 million barrels annually today. The company has been strategically phasing out older, less efficient fossil fuel plants and replacing them with new, high-efficiency natural gas energy centers that use approximately one-third less fuel per megawatt-hour.

Since 2001, the effectiveness of these investments has saved our customers more than $7.5 billion on fuel and prevented more than 85 million tons of carbon emissions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that this amount of carbon reduction is equivalent to removing more than 16 million cars from the road annually or switching more than 2 billion incandescent lights to compact fluorescents.

In addition to improvements in fossil fuel and renewable power, FPL successfully completed in 2013 the largest nuclear expansion in recent U.S. history – an investment that is now saving customers approximately $100 million a year in fossil fuel costs without emitting any carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

Unlike many electric utilities across the country, FPL is well-positioned to meet the EPA’s targets for reductions in CO2 emissions – with no expected additional costs – thanks in part to the company’s investments in nuclear, solar and natural gas.

“There’s no simple, silver-bullet solution to the complex challenge of planning to cost-effectively and reliably meet future energy needs. Energy issues involve long-term, fact-based planning and decision-making. FPL’s strategy of making smart investments in affordable, clean energy infrastructure is working. We take great pride in the fact that our electric rates have actually decreased in recent years, helping keep our typical residential customer bills the lowest in Florida and well below the national average, while we continue to deliver industry-leading reliability and invest in advancing a system that’s already one of the cleanest and most efficient in the country,” Silagy said.


FPL’s Affordable Clean Energy Strategy: Summary of Key Generation Milestones*

  • On Dec. 31, 2014, FPL retired two 1970s-era gas- and oil-fueled generating units in Putnam County (Putnam Plant Units 1 and 2), as planned. The units served FPL customers well for decades, and the timing of their retirement enables cost savings for customers as FPL’s modernized system generates cleaner, more fuel-efficient electricity than ever before.
  • By the summer of 2015, the new Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) waste-to-energy plant is expected to enter service, doubling the site’s renewable energy capacity. FPL buys this renewable energy from SWA and uses it to power all FPL customers via its grid.
  • Although large-scale solar PV remains the most economical way to utilize solar energy for FPL customers, the company also recognizes the role of distributed generation. In the coming months, FPL will build the first of several community-based solar installations as part of a pilot program that will be supported by the company and voluntary participation by customers. In addition, FPL continues to work on plans to install commercial-scale arrays at locations to be announced in the near future.
  • In mid-2016, the new high-efficiency, natural gas-fueled FPL Port Everglades Next Generation Clean Energy Center is expected to enter service at the site of a former oil-fueled power plant, which was dismantled in 2013. Construction is progressing well, and the project remains on schedule and on budget. This project is the third in a series of three major modernization investments. The first two projects, the FPL Cape Canaveral and Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Centers, entered service in 2013 and 2014, respectively – ahead of schedule and under budget.
  • By the end of 2016, the company expects to add three new large-scale solar power plants. FPL estimates that it will be able to build these facilities cost-effectively for customers due to several factors – in addition to the decreasing cost of solar PV – that include the sites’ key characteristics such as their close proximity to existing power transmission lines and electric substations with adequate capacity for the additional generation.
  • Clean, high-efficiency natural gas power continues to be the most likely option to meet the need for significant additional firm generation capacity beginning in 2019. To identify the best, most economical generation addition for customers, FPL will solicit proposals from interested outside parties and consider all qualifying bids in comparison with a potential new natural gas energy center that would be located on company-owned property in Okeechobee County.
  • FPL continues to take a step-by-step approach to building two additional zero-emissions nuclear units at its existing Turkey Point site. Despite schedule changes announced by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in August and new timeline restrictions resulting from recent changes to Florida law, FPL continues to work toward bringing the units into service in advance of the 2030 deadline for the state to meet the EPA’s pending Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
  • As the cost of solar PV continues to decrease, there is strong potential for several additional large-scale solar plants to be built cost-effectively in the next decade. FPL is analyzing potential sites in many parts of its service area.

*Note: The above list does not encompass all projected resource changes in FPL’s service territory, including potential generating unit retirements and conversions and changes in purchased power contracts. The company’s complete, detailed capacity projections are filed annually with the Florida Public Service Commission and publicly available at both the PSC’s website and at FPL.com.


Addition of Three Cost-Effective Large-Scale Solar Power Plants in 2016
FPL has identified three sites with built-in advantages, such as the existence of sufficient transmission and substation infrastructure, which reduce the overall cost of building new solar plants.

In the coming months, FPL intends to present detailed plans to the local communities identified as the most likely locations for new solar plants. The anticipated plants and sites are:

  • FPL Citrus Solar Energy Center – DeSoto County, near Florida’s first large-scale solar plant, which FPL commissioned in 2009
  • FPL Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center – Charlotte County, in coordination with and with the support of the county and the Babcock Ranch community
  • FPL Manatee Solar Energy Center – Manatee County, on the site of an existing fuel-efficient natural gas power plant that FPL operates

Each of the new plants is being designed for roughly 74 megawatts of capacity. With support from the local communities, FPL would begin construction on the plants later this year and complete them by the end of 2016.

These new plants, combined with community-based solar installations and other small-scale arrays that FPL is installing, would total more than 225 megawatts of new solar capacity. This would effectively triple FPL’s solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.

FPL’s current solar portfolio includes 75 megawatts at the hybrid FPL Martin Next Generation Clean Energy Center; the 25-megawatt FPL DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center; and the 10-megawatt FPL Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.


Clean, U.S.-produced Natural Gas Generation for Florida’s Growing Economy
As outlined in the company’s 10-Year Site Plan filed with the Florida Public Service Commission in 2014, FPL projects a need for additional generation beginning in 2019. This projected need for new generation remains after accounting for all of the identified achievable potential conservation that is cost-effective. The current projection is that approximately 1,000 megawatts of firm capacity will still be needed beginning in mid-2019 due to several factors, including the retirement of older, inefficient plants and Florida’s growing economy and population.

As part of its effort to meet this need, FPL plans to issue an RFP during the first quarter of 2015 to solicit proposals from interested outside parties. In order to identify the best, most economical generation addition for customers, all qualifying bids will be carefully considered in comparison with a potential new, FPL-operated natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant that would be located on company-owned property in Okeechobee County, Fla.

“U.S.-produced natural gas is critical to keeping our customers free from the past’s reliance on foreign oil,” said Silagy. “Clean, high-efficiency natural gas energy centers, along with cost-effective energy efficiency programs and zero-emissions nuclear and solar power, ensure FPL can continue to deliver clean, affordable and reliable electricity for customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, now and in the future.”

Reliable, Low-Cost, Emissions-Free Nuclear Power
Today, FPL’s nuclear power plants generate enough electricity to power approximately 1.8 million homes and prevent more than 15 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year – the equivalent of taking more than 2 million cars off the road, according to the EPA. In addition, because nuclear fuel prices are low and have remained steady for decades, FPL’s nuclear plants are a key part of the company’s affordable, clean energy strategy.

Over the past few years, FPL invested more than $3 billion to successfully upgrade each of its nuclear units through one of the most complex nuclear projects in U.S. history. The new nuclear capacity added by the successful project is equivalent to a new medium-sized power plant. This investment, made possible because of Florida’s nuclear cost recovery system, is now saving FPL customers an estimated $100 million a year on fuel.

Emissions-free nuclear power remains a critical component of the company’s long-term plans, and FPL continues to make progress on the licensing of two new nuclear units at the company’s Turkey Point site. These units would generate enough clean energy 24 hours per day to power approximately 1.3 million homes for decades to come, saving FPL customers an estimated $170 billion in fossil fuel costs and preventing approximately 418 million tons of carbon emissions over the initial operating life of the units, the EPA-equivalent of taking 88 million cars off the road.

In August of 2014, the NRC announced a delay in its schedule for reviewing FPL’s previously submitted application for a combined operating license for the two new nuclear units, due largely to the agency’s resource constraints. This forces an extension of the project timeline by approximately two-and-a-half years. In addition, recent changes to Florida’s nuclear cost recovery law prevent certain work from being conducted until the NRC process is complete – causing an additional two-and-a-half year delay to the project timeline.

Despite this, FPL continues to expect that the new zero-emissions units will be built and producing power for its customers in advance of the state’s 2030 compliance deadline for the EPA’s pending carbon emissions reduction requirements, with the first unit projected to enter service in 2027 and the second to follow in 2028.

“Because we have lived and breathed our clean energy commitment for many years now, FPL is one of the cleanest electric generating companies in the U.S., positioning us well to meet the goals of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan,” Silagy said. “We are concerned that many other utilities and their customers may be facing potentially billions of dollars in compliance costs; however, we believe our customers will be protected from those potential rate impacts thanks to the affordable clean energy strategy we have been implementing with the support of the Florida PSC and other important stakeholders over the past 15 years.”

Florida Power & Light Company
Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving more than 4.7 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL’s typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 25 percent lower than the national average and, in 2014, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the fifth year in a row. FPL’s service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide. The company was recognized in 2014 as the most trusted U.S. electric utility by Market Strategies International, and has earned the national ServiceOne Award for outstanding customer service for an unprecedented 10 consecutive years. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,900 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). For more information, visit www.FPL.com.



Governor Scott Proposes $7.4 million for Three New State Veterans Nursing Homes

Governor Scott Proposes $7.4 million for Three New State Veterans Nursing Homes

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced proposed funding for three new state veterans nursing homes as part of the 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget. One of the new nursing homes has already been approved by the Florida Cabinet to be located in St. Lucie County. The location for the other two new homes will be considered by the Florida Cabinet upon approval.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Florida is the most military friendly state in the nation and as a Navy veteran, it is incredibly important that we do all we can to help our veterans and their families. My father was a member of the 82nd Airborne and we will never forget the selfless sacrifice all of our veterans have made to ensure we have the opportunity to live the American Dream. I am proud that we are going to continue to support our heroes by adding new nursing homes and we will keep working each day to ensure all of our veterans have a great quality of life in Florida.”

Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation with 1.6 million veterans. As Florida’s veteran’s population continues to grow, the existing six state veterans nursing homes have been operating at full capacity. The “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget proposes $7.4 million from existing state veteran nursing home revenue to create three new state veterans nursing homes. This plan will dramatically increase capacity and will serve hundreds of more veterans.

The Governor will release his full “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget recommendations this week.

Northern African pythons targeted for removal

Northern African pythons targeted for removal

This winter, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and partners are continuing increased efforts to locate and remove invasive, nonnative Northern African pythons in south Florida to take advantage of the weather and the snake’s limited distribution.

“Unlike the Burmese python in Florida, the Northern African python population is thought to be confined to a small area in a single county,” said FWC biologist Jenny Ketterlin Eckles. “Focused efforts by the FWC and partners to locate and remove these invasive snakes could prevent the spread of this species into natural areas and inform management actions to address the Burmese python population.”

The FWC and its state and federal partners are also coordinating surveys to take advantage of weather conditions that increase the likelihood of finding snakes.

“Snakes often bask in open areas on sunny days during cool winter weather,” said Eckles.

The Northern African python (also called an African rock or rock python) has been documented living in the Bird Drive Recharge Area, which covers approximately 6 square miles in western Miami-Dade County. In Florida, the average size of these found pythons is 10 feet in length posing a threat to native wildlife. They can grow up to 20 feet in length in their native range. The species is a nonvenomous constrictor snake native to Africa.

Even though Northern African pythons have not been documented within Everglades National Park, park biologists are participating in an effort to help prevent these snakes from expanding their range onto park property. Additionally, participants will survey land parcels that have not yet been searched and increase canvassing and outreach to residents and landowners in the area.

The FWC’s partners are the South Florida Water Management District, National Park Service, Miami-Dade County, University of Florida, United States Geological Survey, Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The public can help too. How?

  • Immediately report any sightings of live Northern African pythons to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Unit: 786-331-4454. For your safety, do not attempt to handle the snake yourself and, if possible to do so safely, photograph the snake.
  • Report past sightings, road kill, shed skins and other remains of Northern African pythons to Ivegot1.org.
  • If you own land in the identified area where this species lives, allow wildlife managers to search for pythons on your property.
  • Deter pythons from your property by cutting back vegetation, clearing debris and securing small pets.

The first sighting of this species was documented in 2001. Surveillance and removal has been underway since 2009. The FWC listed the Northern and Southern African pythons as conditional species in 2010, with the result that an individual can no longer acquire these species in the state for personal use. In 2012, The USFWS listed the Northern African python as an injurious reptile species and federal law now prohibits its transport across state borders and importation into the country without a permit.

While Northern African pythons are very similar in appearance to Burmese pythons, the skin pattern on their backs is less defined. Additionally, the belly scales of a Northern African python are a pattern of black and white markings, while those of the Burmese python are white.

To learn more about the Northern African python, go to MyFWC.com/Nonnatives then select “Reptiles” and look under “Snakes.”

Learn more about the FWC’s efforts to manage and minimize the impacts of nonnative species on Florida’s fish, wildlife and marine life at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.

Governor Scott Applauds Appointment of Hershel Lyons As K-12 Public School Chancellor

Governor Scott Applauds Appointment of Hershel Lyons As K-12 Public School Chancellor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today applauded the appointment of Hershel Lyons as K-12 Public Schools Chancellor by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Hershel has dedicated his life to educating our students and I am confident he will do an outstanding job as Chancellor. Providing Florida students with a world-class education is vital to our goal of making Florida the number one state for job creation, and I’m certain that Hershel will help us on that mission. I look forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Stewart and Hershel as we work to provide historic investments in our K-12 education system and make Florida the best state in the nation to raise a family and get a great education.”

Commissioner Stewart said, “Florida’s K-12 students and teachers rank among the best in the nation for achievement. Under Governor Scott’s leadership, we have implemented student-centered policies and made significant investments in education, which has enabled Florida students to thrive. We must build on this success, and the K-12 Public School Chancellor is integral to continued student achievement. With nearly three decades of in-school experience and a track record of applying innovative approaches to improve outcomes, Hershel is ideal to lead Florida’s public schools.”

Hershel Lyons said, “I have been honored to work with Florida students throughout my career because I believe that, with the right guidance, every child has boundless potential. I am humbled by Commissioner Stewart’s appointment, and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Florida in this new role.”

Hershel currently serves as Alachua County’s Deputy Superintendent of Schools. He has dedicated his professional career to educating Alachua County students, having started as a teacher aide and coach at Gainesville High School before being promoted to a variety of leadership positions, including Assistant Principal of Santa Fe and Buchholz High Schools; Principal of Oak View Middle School and Principal of Newberry High School. Over the last decade, he served in administrative roles at the district level, and as an Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources from 2005 until he was appointed to his current position in October 2013.

Hershel is vice-chair for the District Advisory Council for the School Board of Alachua County and a member of a myriad of professional organizations, including Junior Achievement Board of Directors, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Parent Empowerment Group, Florida Association of School Administrators and Florida Association of School Personnel Administrators. He also serves as deacon at the Family Church of Gainesville, Florida.

Victim Identified in Death Investigation on East 192

Victim Identified in Death Investigation on East 192

Osceola County (January 26, 2015) – Charles Courtenay (DOB 1/30/38) has been identified as the victim in a death investigation that began on January 21, 2015. Detectives are working this case as a homicide. This is an active investigation. Additional information will be released when it becomes available.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office at (407) 348-2222 or Crimeline at (800) 423-TIPS (8477). Calls made to Crimeline remain anonymous, and tips that lead to the felony arrest of suspects and/or the recovery of stolen property and drugs are eligible for cash rewards of up to $5,000 dollars.


On January 21 at approximately 6:10 p.m., Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies responded to 5559 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in St. Cloud. Upon arrival, deputies located a deceased male inside the residence.

Charles Murphy News 1/26

News Cast for January 26th:

One of the most unique research centers in Florida is the Skunk Ape Research center in the Everglades. Owner David Shealy claims he had an encounter with the beast as a young child. He describes him as over 7 feet tall, weighs over 3 hundred pounds, and gives off a noxious odor. Sitings have been reported throughout South Florida over the years.

David Shealy on skunk ape research center

Jobless rates dropped one half of a percent from 6.8 to 6.3 percent in Okeechobee between November and December. 1,133 residents in Okeechobee collected benefits. Last year at this time unemployment was 7.2 percent. Glades County saw a decline from percent in November to 6.4 percent in December. 315 residents collected benefits there.

Last year, jobless rates stood at 6.8 percent in Glades County.

Around the region, St. Lucie had 6.2 percent, Indian River 6 percent, Desoto 5.8 percent, and Osceola 5.5 percent.

Val Osinski won the pro championship while Moses Wilson of Clewiston claimed the co angler prize at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee. Osinski caught 70 pounds 8 ounces of fish in the three day tournament.   Brandon McMillan and Scott Martin of Clewiston finished in the top 10 and Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid finished 2nd.

Trish Routte crime stoppers on Mario Hughes homicide

Ashley Hughes on beef industry in Florida

Robbie Chartier, county response to power plant

John Carpenter, USACOE on water releases from Lake

Sports Cast for January 26th:

Okeechobee girls’ hoops celebrated senior night with a 46-29 victory over Inlet Grove to end the regular season.

Taylor Trent had 12 points; Sha’Dasia Williams added 10 points and Hailey Greeson had eight points for Okeechobee.

Coach Joe Smith said his older players showed leadership in this game. One of the seniors, Greeson, had a season high in points, as the veterans got more playing time on the court.

She said it was a bitter sweet moment for the team. Okeechobee finished the regular season at 6-14. They will face South Fork on Wednesday in the district tournament at Fort Pierce Westwood at 4:30 pm.

There are no sporting events scheduled today.

« Previous PageNext Page »