Sheriff’s Office Participates in Click it or Ticket Campaign

Sheriff’s Office Participates in Click it or Ticket Campaign

Osceola County – The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is participating in the statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign from May 18-June 1, 2015. The campaign helps save lives by cracking down on those who do not wear seat belts.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show that the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 12,174 lives in 2012. Seat belts have saved nearly 63,000 lives during the 5-year-period from 2008 to 2012.

“The simple act of fastening your seat belt can save you more than the price of a citation; it can save your life. Please buckle up,” stated Sheriff Bob Hansell.

SFWMD Engineer Recognized for Work to Protect the St. Lucie Estuary

SFWMD Engineer Recognized for Work to Protect the St. Lucie Estuary

American Society of Civil Engineers honors the C-44 Reservoir/STA project manager

West Palm Beach, FL — Sue Ray, the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) principal engineer for the C-44 Reservoir/Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) project, has been named Government Engineer of the Year by the Palm Beach Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The C-44 project in Martin County is a major restoration initiative to protect the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

“From engineering and science to computer modeling and mechanics, the District’s technical staff helps us every day to solve real challenges in water management,” said SFWMD Executive Director Blake Guillory, P.E. “Sue is an outstanding engineer whose dedication to this restoration project is evidenced by this prestigious recognition.”

The award, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, “honors an individual who, through their activities and endeavors, has attained significant professional achievement to society and the engineering profession.” As the recipient for Palm Beach, Ray is also nominated for the state-level award, which will be decided later this year. This week, she was also recognized by the SFWMD Governing Board as the District’s employee of the month.

The overall C-44 Reservoir/Stormwater Treatment Area project will help capture, store and clean local stormwater runoff before it reaches the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

Four components of the project are currently under construction with an investment of $150 million. A fifth construction contract is expected to start later this year, another in a series of recent milestones, including:

  • In July 2014, the SFWMD Governing Board approved a major agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — which was originally constructing all components of the project — allowing the SFWMD to expedite construction of the STA, a pump station and a portion of the project discharge canal.
  • In August 2104, the Board awarded an approximately $5.4 million contract for construction of the spillway that will serve as the single point of water movement out of the entire project.
  • In September 2014, the Board invested approximately $101 million in a contract to construct the water cleaning, 6,300-acre wetland STA portion of the project.
  • In March, the Board approved a $40 million contract to build the pump station needed to move water from the C-44 Canal to its connected 3,400-acre reservoir, capable of storing about 16 billion gallons of water.


Ray is a rural Pennsylvania native and a 1984 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering.  She worked for 15 years as a project engineer in the jet and rocket engine industry for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and General Electric Aircraft Engines, working on primarily development of military jet engine programs.

Ray also worked on the Space Shuttle Main Engine Turbopump Program as a manufacturing, assembly and test engineer and is a Florida Licensed Professional Engineer.

Ray joined the SFWMD in 2000, performing watershed assessment modeling for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed, managing the Western C-11 Water Quality Improvement Critical Restoration Project and supervising the Biscayne Bay and Lower East Coast section, among other work.

Two Suspects Arrested for Carjacking and 2 Armed Robberies

Two Suspects Arrested for Carjacking and 2 Armed Robberies

Osceola County – Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Joshua Luiz Alvarado and Jennifer Diaz for their involvement in a carjacking incident that occurred on May 14, 2015.

On May 14 at approximately 1:33 p.m. deputies responded to the Quality Inn located at 4960 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee. When they arrived, they spoke with the 34-year old victim who indicated he responded to an online prostitution advertisement to meet a female. When he arrived, a female, later identified as Jennifer Diaz, and possibly two males took his car at gunpoint. It was later determined there was only one male suspect, identified as Joshua Luiz Alvarado. The victim told deputies Alvarado told him he was a law enforcement officer and showed him what appeared to be a badge.

As deputies were responding to the carjacking, they observed the vehicle the suspects arrived in, traveling on Highway 192. They followed the vehicle into Orange County. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office assisted with following the vehicle and eventually it was stopped at the intersection of Hall Road and Aloma Avenue in Seminole County. Diaz and Alvarado were placed in custody and taken back to Osceola County to be interviewed by detectives. The vehicle they were stopped in had been reported stolen to the Groveland Police Department.

During the course of the investigation, detectives discovered Diaz and Alvarado were involved in a similar incident prior to the carjacking. Alvarado told detectives on May 13 at 9:54 p.m., Diaz met with a male who responded to an online prostitution advertisement. They agreed to meet at the Quality Inn located at 4960 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. When the victim arrived and went into the room, Alvarado struck him several times with a handgun. Alvarado and Diaz stole his cell phone and money before letting the victim leave. The victim did not report the incident. Detectives made contact with the victim and he cooperated with the investigation, confirming the information Alvarado told investigators. The victim told deputies he went to the hospital to receive treatment for minor injuries. Detectives are obtaining a felony warrant for these charges.

Based on the suspects’ statements and the evidence, Diaz and Alvarado were arrested and booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Joshua Luiz Alvarado (DOB 2/23/93), 1232 Marsh Creek Lane, Orlando

Charges: Carjacking with a Deadly Weapon, Robbery with a Firearm, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Wearing a Mask During the Commission of a Felony, Impersonating a Law Enforcement Officer, Grand Theft Auto, Carrying a Concealed Firearm and Grand Theft

Jennifer Diaz (DOB 4/23/89), 1531 Barkwood Lane, Orlando

Charges: Carjacking with a Deadly Weapon, Robbery with a Firearm, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Grand Theft Auto, and Grand Theft

Detectives Need Public’s Help Identifying 7-Eleven Attempted Armed Robbery Suspect

Detectives Need Public’s Help Identifying 7-Eleven Attempted Armed Robbery Suspect

7-Eleven SuspectOsceola County (May 14, 2015) – Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives need the public’s help identifying an armed robbery suspect. On May 13 at approximately 10:40 p.m., Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies responded to 7-Eleven located at 2875 N. Orange Blossom Trail in Kissimmee. Upon arrival, they spoke with employees who indicated an unknown male entered the store. A few minutes later, he took a pair of sunglasses off the rack, put them on his face, walked behind the counter, pulled out a pipe and demanded money. A physical altercation occurred between him and two of the store employees. He struck the employees several times before they were able to remove his blue covering and hat. The employees received minor injuries. The suspect fled the area in an unknown direction.

The suspect is described as a black or dark-skinned Hispanic male, approximately 5’8”, 200 lbs., possibly with no teeth and spoke with a Cajun type accent. When he entered the store, he was wearing a blue hat, blue covering over his head, light colored polo with a dark collar, blue jean shorts and black and brown sandals He left the store without the hat and blue covering.

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 $1,000 dollars.

Video is on Facebook page.

7-Eleven Robbery Behind the Counter_3

7-Eleven Robbery Behind the Counter_2

Detectives Need Public’s Help Identifying 7-Eleven Attempted Armed Robbery Suspect

Rooney Votes for Troop Pay, Defense Authorization

Rooney Votes for Troop Pay, Defense Authorization

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17) today issued the following statement after voting in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2016, HR 1735:

“Without this bill, we can’t pay our troops’ salaries and benefits, provide the equipment they need to stay alive in the field, give them the tools to complete their missions, or put food on their families’ tables. We need this bill to fund the weapons and programs that keep Americans safe, combat global terrorism, and support our allies.

“There’s very little that shocks me in D.C. anymore, but I was surprised and disappointed that House Democrats, who supported this bill just two weeks ago in Committee, pulled their support as part of an unrelated political stunt. They’ll have to explain to the troops and military families in their districts why they were for this bill and now they’re against it.”

Key provisions of the defense authorization bill, which passed 60-2 in the Armed Services Committee before Democrats withdrew their support, include:

  • Funding the national defense at the level set by both Congress’s balanced budget plan and the President’s budget request.
  • Improving pay and benefits for America’s troops and families, including allowing service members to contribute to a portable retirement plan, cutting the backlog for military childcare, and improving coordination for medications between DoD and VA.
  • Reforming DoD’s broken acquisition system to streamline the process, improve accountability, and eliminate outdated regulations, ensuring America’s military has the agility and technology to respond to changing security threats.
  • Providing greater protection for victims of sexual assault, including expansion of sexual assault prevention training programs.
  • Keeps Gitmo terrorists out of the United States and rolls back President’s authority to transfer them to other countries unilaterally.
  • Strengthens America’s cyber defenses and fully authorizes all U.S. Cyber Command Military Service programs.
  • Improves mental health services and expands treatment options.
  • Provides critical, lethal aid to Ukraine, so it can better defend itself from Russian aggression.
  • Improves missile defense capabilities and authorizes resources for planning an East Coast missile defense site.

full summary, courtesy of the House Armed Services Committee, is available HERE.

Gov. Scott: Florida Smashes All-Time Record Quarter for Tourism

Gov. Scott: Florida Smashes All-Time Record Quarter for Tourism

~ Over 28 million people visited the Sunshine State in Quarter One of 2015 ~

NAPLES, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism numbers by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any quarter in the state’s history according to VISIT FLORIDA. In the first quarter of 2015 (January-March), 28.4 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 6.2 percent over the same period in 2014. The previous high for a quarter for tourism was 26.7 million visitors in quarter one last year. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in quarter one of 2015 was also a record high, with 1,186,900 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 4.8 percent from the same period in 2014.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that the Sunshine State continued our record breaking success and welcomed the most visitors of any quarter in Florida’s history. Our growing tourism industry employs over 1 million Floridians and is helping us meet our goal of becoming the global destination for jobs. We are excited to start 2015 off with our biggest quarter ever, which puts us on pace to exceed our goal of 100 million visitors to Florida this year.”

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 2.9 million overseas visitors and 1.7 million Canadians came to Florida in quarter one of 2015, both of which are record highs and represent 7.1 percent and 1.2 percent increases over quarter one of 2014 respectively.  Estimates also show that 23.8 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in quarter one of 2015, reflecting a 6.5 percent increase over the same period last year.

“Experiencing the largest quarter for tourism in our state’s history, including and especially a record number of tourism-related jobs, proves that tourism continues to be a vital force in Florida,” said Andrew Hertz, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. “These records also emphasize the power of tourism as a way to sustain Florida’s economic growth.”

Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased year-over-year for January and February 2015 (last reported month), representing a 10.0 percent increase over the same period in 2014.  For quarter one of 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 7.6 percent, the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.7 percent and the demand in rooms sold grew 5.1 percent compared to quarter one of 2014.

“With all indicators continuing to climb, Florida tourism has strong momentum,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “In addition to the record visitation, our market share is outpacing the rest of the nation, putting us well on our way to making Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”

John Tomlin, Vice Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Chief Operating Officer for The Auto Club Group said, “Achieving record visitation for the first quarter of 2015 provides strong momentum towards our goal of bringing 100 million visitors to Florida this year.  Florida is fortunate to have the strong support of Governor Scott and the Legislature, as well as increased funding matched by dollars from great industry partners. This support allows VISIT FLORIDA to reach even more markets and potential visitors with compelling reasons to visit Florida and create memories for a lifetime.  With continued support, the Sunshine State is poised to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”

Carol Dover, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association said, “The hospitality industry here in Florida is world-class, so it’s no wonder why visitors are continuing to flock to our great state in astounding record numbers. We are thrilled to host millions of guests at our exceptional restaurants, hotels and attractions and are proud to create opportunities for families that allow them to enjoy all the Sunshine State has to offer. With continued VISIT FLORIDA support from Governor Scott and the Legislature, we can once again increase the number of visitors, jobs created and revenue generated to ensure Florida remains a wonderful place to live, work and play.”

Bill Lupfer, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Public Affairs Committee and President & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association said, “Florida’s outstanding attractions and iconic destinations have a lot to be proud of, and the first quarter is just that – the first in what is sure to be another stellar year.  As we continue to shatter industry records and make the Sunshine State the gold standard for tourism across the country and around the world, we are grateful for the hard work of our industry partners and the support of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature.”

Lino Maldonado, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Industry Relations Committee and Vice President of Operations for ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals said, “Another record shattering quarter for Florida tourism is not really a surprise.  It’s actually the byproduct of tremendous efforts each and every day by those who serve their guests with a passion and deliver GREAT experiences.  We are fortunate to have a Governor and Legislature that support our industry and VISIT FLORIDA so that we can continue to share the beautiful stories of our State with the world.”

To view additional Florida visitor data, please go to the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website.

Charles Murphy News 5/15

News Cast for May 15th:

wokc sports photo hersheys track 3A traffic stop for speeding near the Fort Drum service plaza resulted in the recovery of two garbage full of marijuana in Okeechobee. The Florida highway patrol says 23 year old Gladys Perez of Orlando and 27 year old Thomas Maldonado of Casselberry face possession, possession with intent to sell and trafficking marijuana charges.

A 51 year old local man was allegedly found asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle parked alongside US 441 south east near Nubbin Slough with a loaded handgun within hands reach. Deputies say the report began as a reckless driver. Gregory Melear allegedly possessed 10 different types of prescription pills and a variety of over the counter medicines. Three guns were seized from the car.

Okeechobee county commissioners passed a resolution of support for a grant application with the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Thursday. 5 hundred thousand dollars could be received to help with the costs of a recreation center and community building at the sports complex.

WOKC Sports photo hersheys track 1Okeechobee deputies charged 34 year old Daniel Tindall Wednesday in connect with a bizarre report of an abduction from Buckhead Ridge. Glades county deputies say no charges will be filed in connection with the abduction of the two adults.   Tindall will face weapons and drug charges along with resisting arrest after he allegedly deputies on a foot chase. Glades deputies say the group was using the new drug, Flakka.

Central North and Seminole Elementary tied for first place in the third grade competition in the battle of the books this week. A four way tie occurred in the fourth grade between Central, Everglades, North and Seminole. Everglades won the fifth grade competition.

Osceola won the middle school competition over Yearling 25 correct answers to 23.

Students were asked to read as many as 15 books to get ready for the contest.

Detectives Need Public’s Help Identifying 7-Eleven Attempted Armed Robbery Suspect

Sports Cast for May 15th:

IMG_080164 upperclassmen and 47 eighth graders have been participating in Okeechobee spring football this year.

Coach Chris Branham said he likes the talent level of the group

He said there is a lot of competition going on. He says he’s very optimistic about the future.

Branham 1

He said the team has a bit of a chip on their shoulder and are working hard. The search for offensive linemen continues. Over 20 players are in the mix.

Branham 2

Cameron Morris and Jarred Morgan from the baseball team and Logan Etherton from the JV are among the players that have impressed the coaching staff. Buster Mond has competed well at linebacker and Arthur Woodruff and Andrew Wine have returned from leg injuries. Lamar Williams returned to practice for the first time from a broken finger on Thursday.

The Purple White game will be held on Friday, May 29th. A barbecue fund raiser will also be held.

Corps to reduce flows to St. Lucie; no change to Caloosahatchee

Corps to reduce flows to St. Lucie; no change to Caloosahatchee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary over the coming week.

The adjustment in discharges will take place tomorrow (May 15).  The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be a seven-day average of 700 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart.  The target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary is unchanged at a seven-day average of 2,000 cfs as measured W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers.  Flows at one or both locations could occasionally be exceeded by runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins—the runoff will be allowed to pass through structures as necessary.

“The lake has dropped two tenths of a foot over the past week,” said Jim Jeffords, Operations Division Chief for the Jacksonville District.  “Additional capacity to send water south has become available as drier conditions have returned.  This makes it possible to reduce flows to the east to help keep salinities in a good range in the esturary.”

Today, the lake stage is 13.49 feet.  It is currently in the Operational Low Sub-Band as defined by the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS).  Under current conditions, LORS authorizes the Corps to discharge up to 3,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee and up to 1,170 cfs to the St. Lucie.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at

Designing Spaces® Renovates House for Purple Heart Hero on Military Makeover Series; Premiere Episode Airs May 15

Designing Spaces® Renovates House for Purple Heart Hero on Military Makeover Series; Premiere Episode Airs May 15

  1. Lee Ermey, actor and former U.S. Marine Drill Instructor Returns to Host Designing Spaces of Hope — Military Makeover; series chronicles renovations that transform Florida house into a comfortable home for injured Marine and his family

Family with Gunny after reveal(POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – May 14, 2015) Home improvement show Designing Spaces® is gearing up to air the premiere episode of the Designing Spaces of Hope – Military Makeover series where a military family’s house becomes a safer and more comfortable home. The four-part miniseries begins airing on Friday, May 15, 2015 at 7:00 a.m. (ET/PT) on Lifetime TV.

“Designing Spaces of Hope – Military Makeover” presented by Nissan, will air four consecutive Fridays, May 15, 22, 29 and June 5, 2015 at 7:00 a.m. (ET/PT). The heart-warming series will chronicle the room-by-room renovations of the Okeechobee, Florida house of injured veteran and Purple Heart recipient 1st Lt. Robert Keefe, his wife Bianca and their three children.

Lieutenant Keefe served as a Platoon Commander for a truck platoon during the battalion’s deployment to Afghanistan. During the deployment, his Humvee hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), causing severe spine injuries, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and memory loss which rendered him unable to continue military service.

  1. Lee Ermey, “The Gunny”, returns to host the series for the second time. Ermey is best known for his TV and Movie career which has spanned over three decades, including his break-out role as the tough Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.  He is a retired United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and Drill Instructor.

The series was made possible with the initial support of Nissan North America, presenting sponsor for the third time, who will provide vehicles to distribute products and support all transportation needs throughout the series, and the Wounded Warriors of South Florida who connected the Keefe family with Designing Spaces.

The renovations will not stop with several rooms of the 1642 square-foot house, they will extended beyond the walls into the garage and yard. Thanks to the generous donations of valued partners who teamed up with Designing Spaces including, FLOR, Sears Hometown Stores, Military Benefit Association, Amarr Garage Doors, Bosch Tool Corp., Macy’s, Protection 1 Security Solutions, Inc., Croscill Home, North American Savings Bank, LH Licensed Products, Ergotron and Gladiator® Garage Works by Whirlpool Corp., the Keefe house will receive the finishing touches needed to transform it into a warm and inviting home.

Designing Spaces is getting ready to cast the next family for the Military Makeover series which will shoot this summer. Please go to and watch for updates!

About Designing Spaces®

Entering its 11th season, Designing Spaces continues to be one of America’s favorite home improvement shows.  The show inspires viewers on decorating ideas, do-it-yourself projects and step-by-step home improvements to help make every space count and provide solutions to help you enjoy the space you live, work and play in.  Designing Spaces Family of Spaces includes Think Green Spaces, Kids Spaces and its widely popular Spaces of Hope which prides itself on assisting people and places in dire need of a makeover including children’s shelters, animal shelters, military families and more.  Designing Spaces airs Thursdays and Fridays at 7:00 a.m. (ET/PT) on Lifetime Television.


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Charles Murphy News 5/14

News Cast for May 14th:

Elizabeth Box with Governor Rick Scott

Elizabeth Box with Governor Rick Scott

34 year old Mark Saunders faces multiple felonies after an armed home invasion robbery, burglary, and chase with police.

Mike Sauncers Arrest Report

Okeechobee deputies say Saunders stole some sheriffs clothing and a bullet proof vest from a home on North West 8th Terrace from a Martin County deputy, then crossed the street and walked into the home threatening the home owner with a gun. Saunders took off in the Ford F 250 after taking the victim outside at gun point.

Stephen says the residents were startled because Saunders walked right into the home wearing sheriff’s department apparel and cap. Under Sheriff Noel Stephen said deputies caught up with the fleeing vehicle north of town and a near 15 mile chase ensued that ended on the Triple S ranch.

Stephen 1

Stephen 2

Two deputies say they were forced to shoot at the truck after it collided head on with one of their vehicles. They were placed on administrative leave until an investigation can be completed. Stephen said it appears the shootings were justified. Saunders was unhurt by the gunfire.IMG_4684

Stephen 3

Stephen 4

Among arrests, 29 year old Melissa Fish was charged with leaving a one month infant in a running car at the Family Dollar store on route 70 west Tuesday. Deputies charged her with child neglect.

A 17 year old New York City girl was charged with felony battery, allegedly lifting up and injuring the arm of a staff member at the Sanctuary Ranch for girls, the former Vision Quest.

IMG_4743A 21 year old Sebring man, Mikell Hendry was charged with selling stolen guns at an Okeechobee pawnshop, he allegedly stole 11 thousand dollars’ worth of guns in Highlands County and two vehicles.

Deputies Looking for Missing Twin Sisters

Operation Discount Drug Emporium

Multi-Agency Investigation Leads to Dismantling of Heroin Organization

Sports Cast for May 14th:

Erazo-Carvalho, Renata Rebecca, missing twin sisters

Erazo-Carvalho, Renata Rebecca, missing twin sisters

Antawyn Fludd was named Co Most Valuable Player for the Brahman boys basketball team this year. He was the team’s point guard and was among the squads leaders in points while leading in steals and assists.

Fludd battled back from an ankle injury sustained during football season but didn’t miss any regular season games.

He said he feels Coach Demetre Riles is doing a good job and leading the team in the right direction. The team holds shoot arounds and open gym two nights per week. There is also a travel ball league for the players to compete this summer.

Fludd 1