Local News

Suspicious Incidents at School Bus Stops

Suspicious Incidents at School Bus Stops

SEBRING – On April 15, 2015, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office received information that a young girl was approached by a Hispanic male driving a white, four door sedan while she was walking from her home on Kerry Drive in Sebring, to the bus stop. The driver of the vehicle was further described as having black hair and wearing glasses. He asked the girl if she wanted a free ride, which she turned down. This incident occurred at approximately 7:30AM however it was not reported until later that afternoon.

The following day, April 16, 2015, at approximately 3:00PM, Central Dispatch received a call about a suspicious vehicle in the area of Grand Prix Drive and Citroen Drive in Sebring. The complainant told deputies that an older model white van with beige doors was driving slowly through the neighborhood. The driver of this vehicle was described as a white male, looking “very neat”, in contrast to the looks of the vehicle. This occurred during the time frame that juveniles get off the bus from school in this area.

At this time it is unknown if these two incidents have any connection with the incidents reported yesterday which occurred previously in the Avon Park area. Parents are once again advised to alert their children regarding suspicious vehicles and persons who may approach them on the way to or from school. Please tell your children not to interact with these persons and to find an adult and call 911.

Anyone with information on any suspicious vehicles or incidents involving children on their way to or from school is requested to call the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Special Victim’s Unit at 863-402-7357 and speak to Sergeant Anthony McGann. Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS(8477), contact us on the internet at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com or simply scan the QR code at right. Anonymity is guaranteed!

Free hunter safety course offered in Broward, Palm Beach, Okeechobee counties

Free hunter safety course offered in Broward, Palm Beach, Okeechobee counties

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering a free hunter safety Internet-completion course in Broward, Palm Beach and Okeechobee counties.

  • Broward County: April 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gun World of South Florida

1700 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach

  • Palm Beach County: April 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Gator Guns & Archery Center

2154 Zip Code Place, #7, West Palm Beach

  • Okeechobee County: April 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Shooting Range

5025 S.W. 26th Ave., Okeechobee

Students must complete the Internet course before coming to class and bring a copy of the final report from the online portion of the course. The final report form does not have to be notarized.

An adult must accompany children under the age of 16 at all times. Students should bring a pencil and paper with them to take notes.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.

People interested in attending this course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s South Region Office at 561-625-5122.

Charles Murphy News 4/17

News Cast for April 17th:

WOKC Photo boys school search day 3 photo 2After an exhaustive three day search, no bodies were found at the former Florida school for boys Okeechobee campus this week. Only one boy is unaccounted for from the time investigated 1959 to 1969, however, one ledger book that could contain a large amount of names is missing. Captain John Rhoden, the lead investigator explains. His name is not being released.

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Former White House boy James Harley Denike says there are clients in their organization who personally took part in burials at Okeechobee. They plan to visit with University of South Florida professor and researcher Erin Kimmerlee who is studying the former Dozier school in Marianna for a possible research project in Okeechobe. US Senator Bill Nelson has asked the justice department to intervene in the investigation.

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K-9 officer Chris Wood of Brevard County was involved in the search, he said the dogs did a good search and would have found something had remains been out here. The Sheriff thanked the former clients in attendance and said they have no reason not to believe their claims of corporal punishment, wicked beatings, and sexual abuse, but just couldn’t find the corroborating evidence to prove it.

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04 16 2015 Press News Release Operation Medicine Cabinet

Sports Cast for April 17th:

WOKC sports photo flag football vs Vero Beach 1Morgan Blourne tossed a two hit shutout and Barbara Cook and Ali little hit homeruns to lead South Fork to the district title 3-0 over Okeechobee last night. Blourne struck out 13 in the game.

Megan Hargraves started on the mound and pitched four strong innings for Okeechobee.

Coach Mary Huff said she wanted to give South Fork a different look on the mound.

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Okeechobee will on the road in the first round of the playoffs next week.

Moore Haven defeated St. John Neumann in their district final and will host a game next week.

JV flag football last night defeats Vero Beach 6-0. Jessica Cason caught a touchdown pass from Rebecca Corby.

On the sports schedule today, boys baseball has their senior night as they host Lincoln Park at 7 pm. Moore Haven baseball visits Oasis at 7 pm. OHS track meet today at South Fork beginning at 1 pm.

Rooney: Death Tax Repeal Protects Florida Farms, Small Businesses, Jobs

Rooney: Death Tax Repeal Protects Florida Farms, Small Businesses, Jobs

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) today voted to protect Florida’s family-owned farms and small businesses by permanently repealing the Death Tax.

“The Death Tax destroys family-owned farms, ranches, groves and small businesses in Florida, forcing them to sell off land, cut jobs, or even close entirely,” Rooney said. “This double-taxation penalizes those who have worked tirelessly to put food on our tables and create jobs in our communities, while paying taxes on their income and property their entire lives.

“By repealing the Death Tax, we can protect Florida’s family farms and small businesses, allow them to continuing growing and creating good jobs, and begin making our broken tax code fairer and simpler.”

Rooney noted a recent study by the Tax Foundation, which found that repeal of the death tax would increase the U.S. capital stock by 2.2%, boost the economy, create 139,000 jobs and ultimately increase federal revenue.

Earlier this week, Rooney voted for a series of bipartisan bills to hold the IRS accountable to the taxpayer and prevent IRS abuse. Rooney is a cosponsor of the FairTax Act of 2015.

Kiwanis Club Learns About Loving Our Heroes Care Packages (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Kiwanis Club Learns About Loving Our Heroes Care Packages (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Caption is: Gina Buhlmaier on the left with Kiwanian Courtney Moyett

Caption is: Gina Buhlmaier on the left with Kiwanian Courtney Moyett

When Gina Buhlmaier sent a care package to her son serving in the military last year, she had no idea it would turn into a not for profit organization. Loving our Heroes Care Packages Inc is a local group that sends care packages every week to men and women serving overseas in the military. Buhlmaier recently spoke with the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee and spoke on how the club was formed and what the process of sending several packages every week across the world entails.

The group takes both monetary and material donations such as beef jerky, trail mix, drink mix packages and toiletries. If you are interested in becoming involved in Loving Our Heroes Care Packages Inc, email lovingourheroes@aol.com or call Gina at 261-1774


Charles Murphy News 4/16

News Cast for April 16th:

Cadaver dogs failed to hit on any grave sites or buried bodies for a second straight day at the Okeechobee School for boys.

WOKC photo Noel Stephen at boys school briefingUnder Sheriff Noel Stephen said searchers have looked at three of the four areas they planned to search this week. A local businessman, Lee Lightsey, brought in heavy equipment called a Skid Street with grinder similar to a bobcat to knock down under brush that has grown up in these areas of the campus over the years. The search is expected to wrap up today.

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A local man was sentenced to 40 years behind bars for a violent domestic quarrel with his brother in October of 2013. Augustus Rose pled no contest to four charges that included burglary with an assault or battery, kidnapping, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and abuse of the disabled. He allegedly pointed a gun at the victim and pulled the trigger and tied him up with duct tape.

Three Okeechobee residents were arrested on drug charges after two of them allegedly tried to have sex in a convenience store bath room Tuesday. Charged were 41 year old James Choquette, 24 year old Alisha Rudd and 34 year old Corey Hardy. The clerk at the town star on 710 reported the group was acting suspicious. Rudd and Hardy had recently been released from jail.

Press News Release Law Enforcement Torch Run

Sports Cast for April 16th:

WOKC photo Confederate Memorial day 3Okeechobee softball will return to the regionals this year after an impressive 10-5 victory over Jensen Beach last night.

Kristen Dryden drove in three runs and Jordan Lawlis pitched five solid innings for Okeechobee. Jillian Perone had three hits and four runs batted in for the Falcons. Hannah Collier had two runs batted in for the Lady Brahmans.

The game start was delayed over an hour due to rain.

Coach Mary Huff said it wasn’t easy to sit in the dugout that long. Lawlis admitted the delay didn’t help keep her sharp as she had just 25 minutes to get ready for play. She said it helped when her teammates scored nine runs in the first two innings. Dryden pitched the final inning plus after Jensen rallied to make it 9-5 in the fifth. She said the team remained confident in the late innings.

Tonight Okeechobee faces South Fork in the district final, they defeated Port St. Lucie 5-0. Taylor Schmidt with a one hit shutout with 10 strikeouts.

Moore Haven softball battles St. John Neumann in Naples in their district championship game.

OHS flag football hosts Fort Pierce Central for their senior parent night, JV at 4:30 and varsity to follow.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Indicted for Using Excessive Force and Filing False Report

Justice News

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Indicted for Using Excessive Force and Filing False Report

A federal grand jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, returned a two-count indictment charging Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy William D. Wheeler, 46, with unlawfully assaulting a man at the Palm Beach County Detention Center on Oct. 9, 2013, and filing a false report on the incident, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI.

According to the allegations contained in court documents, on or about Oct. 9, 2013, Wheeler was employed as a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Deputy and was assigned to the Corrections Division (PBSO) West Detention Center located in Belle Glade, Florida.  As part of his duties, the complaint alleges that Wheeler escorted an inmate, J.S., to the medical area of the facility where he was seated in a chair with his hands restrained behind his back with handcuffs.  The complaint alleges that J.S. did not comply with the treating nurse’s attempt to review his medical bracelet.  The complaint further alleges that as the defendant lifted the inmate’s arm to read the medical bracelet, the inmate pulled his arm away.  The complaint alleges that Wheeler then placed his hands around the inmate’s neck, struck the inmate’s head against the wall and pulled the inmate to the floor.  The complaint further alleges that the defendant then struck the inmate in the face with his knee.  The inmate sustained facial injuries as a result of the incident, which was allegedly captured on a video recording.

According to the complaint, the defendant prepared an incident report regarding the use of force.  The complaint further alleges that the defendant was later questioned regarding the incident and claimed to have been physically assaulted by the inmate.  The complaint alleges that the defendant’s version of the events is not corroborated by the video footage.

If convicted, Wheeler faces a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison.  An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

This case commends the investigative efforts of the West Palm Beach Resident Agency of the FBI, Ric Bradshaw of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney Dave Aronberg of the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office.  It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney D.W. Tunnage of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Osborne of the Southern District of Florida.


Puerto Rico has lower rates of new cases of lung and breast cancer than the rest of US

Puerto Rico has lower rates of new cases of lung and breast cancer than the rest of US

Puerto Rico has the lowest incidence rate of new lung cancer compared with all other races and ethnic groups in the United States, according to a study published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  The report also shows that Puerto Rico has a lower incidence rate of female breast cancer compared with U.S. non-Hispanic white and black women.

The report presents for the first time invasive cancer incidence rates for 2007–2011 among Puerto Rican residents by sex, age, cancer site, and region using U.S. Cancer Statistics data. Puerto Rico has similar incidence rates to U.S. populations for cancer of the colon and rectum. Cancers of the prostate (152 cases per 100,000 men), female breast (84 cases per 100,000 women), and colon and rectum (43 cases per 100,000 persons) are the most common cancer sites among Puerto Rico residents.

“These data underscore the importance of Puerto Ricans getting proper screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer to identify them early when they are most treatable,” said Guillermo Tortolero-Luna, M.D., Ph.D., director of Cancer Control and Populations Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico and a co-author of the paper.

The differences in reported cancer incidence rates between U.S. and Puerto Rican residents may be partly explained by differences in health behaviors and risk factors associated with cancers. For example, Puerto Rico has lower smoking rates than all American states (with the exception of Utah), which could explain the lower rates of lung cancer.

“We are encouraged to see lower lung cancer incidence rates in Puerto Rico than the rest of the U.S.  However, we must remain diligent in our cancer control efforts to continue progress,” said Blythe Ryerson, Ph.D., M.P.H., a lead epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and an author of the paper. “We recommend all smokers quit for good.”

The full report, “Invasive Cancer Incidence – Puerto Rico, 2007-2011,” can be found at www.cdc.gov/mmwr. For more information about CDC’s efforts in cancer prevention and control, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer. For tips from former smokers about how to quit, visit:  http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/

Charles Murphy News 4/15

News Cast for April 15th:

IMG_0310Six cadaver dogs spent their day Tuesday looking for bodies at the former Okeechobee school for boys concentrating on four areas, an old cow barn, dairy barn, wooded areas, an old maintenance building and around an old sewage vat.

Sheriff Paul May decided to bring in tractors to help cut down on the underbrush to help the search. Under Sheriff Noel Stephen was asked by reporters why they haven’t decided to use ground penetrating radar to look for bodies. Jerry Cooper of the White House boys say medical records and other ledgers from the school are missing so there is no way to determine how many boys went missing.

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IMG_0311Gary Rice was a client at the school; he intends to sue the state in federal court. He claimed he was beaten nearly to death on many occasions for being a runaway sent to the school in the early 60s. He showed reporters a leather strap used in the beatings. Other accusations include boys turning up missing, sexual abuse by guards, and the use of experimental drugs on kids. Cooper would like the US Justice Department to take over the investigation. The search goes on today and possibly Thursday.

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Video interviews are posted on the WOKC Okeechobee’s True Country Facebook page.

Investigators did say only one client remains unaccounted for from the records they’ve been able to obtain, they released a list of clients who died in escape attempts, 4 in car crashes in Edgewater and Glades County, one by shooting in a home invasion, and another who fell into a septic tank.

St. Lucie Fatal 4-14-15 SR-713 and US-1

Sports Cast for April 15th:

Okeechobee softball ready for their district playoffs to begin today at south Fork when they meet Jensen Beach.

Coach Mary Huff said she thinks the girls will play hard and don’t want their season to end prematurely for the second consecutive year. This is freshman Megan Hargraves first taste of the drama of districts. She thinks the team is as ready as it could be. If Okeechobee wins they likely will meet South Fork on Thursday night.

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Moore Haven qualified for the 3A-12 district final with a convincing 12-2 victory over Evangelical Christian last night. The Lady Terriers will face St. John Neumann on Thursday, who defeated Community School 4-3.

Also on the sports schedule today, Flag football visits Fort Pierce Central with JV at four and varsity at 5 pm.

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Gov. Scott Signs Legislation to Reduce Tests

Gov. Scott Signs Legislation to Reduce Tests

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 7069, which reduces the amount of tests Florida students take.

Governor Scott said, “This legislation reduces the number of tests our students take, including the 11th grade English Language Arts test that we eliminated this year through an Executive Order in February. I agree with many teachers and parents who say we have too many tests, and while this legislation is a great step forward, we will keep working to make sure Florida students are not over tested.

“This legislation also improves our teacher evaluation system, which will ensure we have the best teachers in our classrooms. I want to thank Senator Legg and Representative O’Toole for championing this legislation and I applaud the Florida Legislature for quickly putting it into law to better serve our students.”

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