Local News

Charles Murphy News 12/3

News Cast for December 3rd:

The city of Okeechobee welcomed the holiday season with the annual lighting ceremony last night in City Hall Park. The All County choir performed for about 30 minutes before local dignitaries took the stage. Mayor Jim Kirk said 2 thousand 14 was a good year for the city. The event was capped off by a visit by Santa Claus who traveled to Okeechobee aboard the city fire truck. He’ll be meeting nightly with kids in his work shop in the park for the next two weeks.

Florida Gas Transmission lost its appeal before the County Value Adjustment board for their pipeline in Okeechobee. A value of 89 million was upheld, over 35 million more than the company thinks the pipeline is worth. The two sides have been in litigation in court for the past few years.

Assistant County Property Appraiser Mickey Bandi reports things are looking up with the county tax base.

A 42 year old Glades county man charged with impersonating an Okeechobee rancher trying to wire 64 thousand dollars into his account at Labelle’s Florida Community Bank. George Byrd faces charges of scheme to defraud and uttering forged instruments.

Sports Cast for December 3rd:

OHS wrestlers opened the season with a 42-30 victory over Treasure Coast last night with nine victories in 14 matches.

Matthew Lanning went into a third overtime before he could prevail 1-0 in a referee’s decision. He said he was pushed to the limit.

Alex Hernandez, Chris Lutjen, Sebastian Fulleda, Joe Turbush, Brandon Shockley, and Erik Gaitan added pinfall victories for Okeechobee.

Coach Bruce Jahner was pleased his team got some mat experience. The team wrestles at the Sebastian tournament this weekend.

Brahman boys hoops got their first victory of the year in thrilling fashion, 34-33 over Jensen Beach last night. Bubba Fludd had the winning basket in the final seconds and had 10 points. Demetrius Clark also had 10 points for Okeechobee.

Coach Demetre Riles said his first career win as a coach felt special. Okeechobee returns home Thursday to play Sebastian River.

The sports schedule today includes girls’ basketball at home against South Fork, JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 pm, Moore Haven girls and boys’ hoops visit Seacrest Country Day in Naples at 5:30 and 7 pm. Osceola will host Yearling in basketball today at 4:30 and 5:45, OHS girls soccer host Jensen Beach at 4 pm and Moore Haven boys soccer visits Island Coast at 5 pm.


Goat rustlers suspected in Okeechobee Goats returned to Christmas family

Goat rustlers suspected in Okeechobee Goats returned to Christmas family

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. —A family’s prized and expensive show goats are back home after it was feared that rustlers had stolen them to eat.

When US Airways passenger Robert Phelps first saw the woman coming down the aisle of the plane, he thought she had a “really big dog” or a stuffed animal thrown over her shoulder.

It was about 6:10 a.m. the day before Thanksgiving, and Phelps was wait…

The Christmas family discovered that their two pedigree goats had been stolen out of their backyard barn on Northwest 12th Terrace on Sunday afternoon.

They posted their plight on Facebook, and soon heard from a number of other people in Okeechobee who also had their goats stolen.

“People told us it’s worst around Christmastime, and people take them for food,” Natalie Christmas told WPBF 25 News’ John Dzenitis. “These are our pets. That’s not why we have them.”

Christmas’ 11-year-old son recently bought the goats for more than $500 apiece after working hard and saving up the money. He was excited to show the goats in upcoming competitions.

After a lot of publicity on social media and the local radio station, an anonymous person came forward and returned the goats. The woman told the Christmas family that the goats had appeared in her pen overnight, but she didn’t know where they came from.

“We just wanted our goats back, no questions asked,” Christmas said.

The Christmas family does not plan on pursuing criminal charges, but they do plan on locking their barn from now on. They also want to warn other goat owners in the area to be vigilant.


Two U.S. Military Recruiters Charged with Unlawful Sex with Certain Minors

Two U.S. Military Recruiters Charged with Unlawful Sex with Certain Minors

Osceola County – Today, Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives obtained felony warrants for Christopher Glenn Doner, 30, and John Back, 33, two United States Army Recruiters. Doner and Back work in the Kissimmee field office and frequently visit high schools to recruit students to join the military.

The investigation began in early November when the victim’s mother contacted law enforcement to report an unrelated incident. Deputies determined that incident did not occur in Osceola County and the information was forwarded to the appropriate jurisdiction.

Several days later, the mother contacted the Sheriff’s Office again after learning her daughter was sexually active with two adult males. The 17-year old victim was brought in for questioning and told detectives earlier this year, she met two United States Army recruiters while attending school at Harmony High School. She began communicating with both recruiters, identified as Doner and Back. The victim was sexually active with both suspects at different times during the course of several months. Doner and Back both asked her to stop the relationship with the other person, but she did not.

In late November, Doner was brought in for questioning and cooperated with the investigation. He told detectives he knew it was inappropriate and indicated he would end the relationship. Detectives attempted to meet with Back but learned earlier this week he had relocated to Michigan.

Based on the information and evidence, felony warrants were issued for Doner and Back. Doner was arrested for 10 counts of Unlawful Sex with Certain Minors and booked into the Osceola County Jail. Investigators are working with law enforcement in Michigan to locate and arrest Back for two counts of Unlawful Sex with Certain Minors.

Anyone with information about similar incidences 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.

Christopher Glenn Doner (DOB 1/31/84), 3304 Steeplechase Lane, Kissimmee

John Back (DOB 7/10/81), 57474 North Airport Road, Three Rivers, Michigan


Charles Murphy News 12/2

News Cast for December 2nd:

Sheriff Paul May is laid up in a Troy, Alabama hospital this morning recovering from hip replacement surgery. May fell about 8 feet from a hunting stand on Tuesday of last week breaking his hip in the woods of Banks, Alabama. Officials say the hip replacement surgery went well and May will likely return to Okeechobee in the next several days. In the interim, Under Sheriff Noel Stephen is in command at the Sheriff’s Office.

A half a million dollars bond set against a local dairy worker, accused of molesting an 11 year old girl on as many as 15 occasions in the past year. Okeechobee deputies charge 43 year old Javier Garcia-Soto with the crime of sexual battery, a potential life felony.

A three year prison term was handed down by Yekeris Thomas Monday for trafficking cocaine on the Florida turnpike in Okeechobee County. Former K-9 Widgen seized a half kilo of cocaine in the operation. Thomas absconded after failure to appear in court back in 2 thousand and was only located a month ago in Georgia.

Two teens were charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing a golf cart and going on a joy ride Saturday. City police say the golf cart was found in Douglas Park and was worth 95 hundred dollars.

A 50 year old Pembroke Pines man was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest after illegally riding an ATV on a private Okeechobee ranch near the Viking Property Saturday. The Fish and Wildlife commission charges Lawrence Staiano for allegedly threatening officers.

A Neo Nazi white supremacist received 17 years in federal prison for making email threats to kidnap rape and kill the families of officials who investigated the prosecuted members of the American Front group in Osceola County. 38 year old William White of Virginia was already serving 92 months for another case.

Sports Cast for December 2nd:

A Yearling rally fell short Monday as they fell to Storm Grove 48-44 in boys’ basketball action. Robert Futch led the Bulls with 21 points. Yearling fell behind 15-0 in the first quarter but responded to control the action for the final three quarters.

Coach Mike Wharin says he’s pleased his team didn’t give up after the slow start. Wharin says the team decided to play more aggressively on defense and the strategy paid off.

Storm Grove had balanced scoring led by Devare Parks, Larry Stephens and Chris Peterson all with six points. Storm Grove won the girls contest 52-7.   Madeline Rhodes had nine points for the Sting Rays while Mariah Spelts led Yearling with five points.

Moore Haven boys’ basketball improved to 4-1 with a 65-62 win at Oasis in Cape Coral. The Lady Terriers lost to Oasis 43-5.

On the sports schedule today, OHS wrestling opens their season with a dual meet against Treasure Coast, OHS girls’ basketball visits Lake Placid, JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7. OHS boys’ basketball visits Jensen Beach with JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 pm.


November Rains Soak Kissimmee, Southwest Coast

November Rains Soak Kissimmee, Southwest Coast

East coast sees drier weather for the month

West Palm Beach, FL — November rainfall in the Kissimmee basins and Southwest Coast was above average, while the east coast experienced markedly drier conditions for the month, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) meteorologists reported today.

District-wide, 2.89 inches of rain fell, representing 122 percent of average, or 0.53 inches above average. Water levels remain at appropriate levels for this time of year across the region because of adequate rainfall during the recent wet season.

The Upper Kissimmee Basin, which flows south to Lake Okeechobee, received the most rainfall in all of South Florida for November, with 5.91 inches, representing 264 percent of average, or 3.67 inches above average. This is the wettest November in the basin since 1987 and the second wettest November there in 50 years.

The Southwest Coast saw 3.31 inches of rain, representing 163 percent of average, or 1.28 inches above average.

From St. Lucie and Martin counties south to Miami-Dade County, the story was decidedly drier.  Palm Beach County, the driest area in South Florida, received only 1.66 inches of rain, representing 40 percent of average, or 2.49 inches below average. Rainfall was 72 percent or less of normal along the rest of the east coast.

Lake Okeechobee received 2.41 inches of direct rainfall, representing 125 percent of average, or 0.48 inches above average. The lake stood at 15.57 feet NGVD today, which is 0.74 feet above its historic average for this time of year. Water managers continue to move water south from the lake as part of water supply and flood control operations.

Dry Season Forecast

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center forecast calls for normal to above-normal rainfall conditions.

the forecast highlights for the 2014-2015 South Florida dry season:

  • A 60-65 percent chance of El Niño conditions developing in the fall and winter. An El Niño, a warming of waters in the equatorial Pacific, can increase the amount of rainfall in South Florida.
  • Normal storminess/severe weather with 5-6 events
  • Normal freeze of at least one per season

More information is available at:


Charles Murphy News 12/1

News Cast for December 1st:

The state division of historic resources approved a gravesite marker to honor the founders of Okeechobee. The marker will commemorate Peter and Louisiana Chandler Raulerson as the first settlers of European descent to settle this region. The marker was created in October and shipped in early November. The city is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2015.

Mid Florida Credit Union created a 5 thousand dollar cash reward to be given out each year to the Okeechobee Schools teacher of the year. The Classified employee of the year for the district will take home a 25 hundred dollar cash award. The Credit Union has provided cash awards to teachers in the Polk County school system for many years and the credit union was originally created by those teachers. The teacher of the year and classified employee of the year awards are announced at a banquet each February.

In the courts, Marcus Faella, the alleged leader of a hate group in rural Osceola County, the American Front, received a light sentence in court for two weapons charges after his trial this fall. He was allegedly training para military type troops to create civil unrest and even attack the federal court house in Orlando. Faella was sentenced to six months in the county jail.

Among arrests, 36 year old Melissa Masters of Indiantown was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card and grand theft from a person over 65. She allegedly had been hired as a care taker for an Indianwood resident and opened two credit cards in her name, running up over 8 thousand dollars in purchases. Bond was 40 thousand dollars.

34 year old Robert Lanier was charged with the theft of 18 calves from Hilliard Brothers of Florida ranch in Hendry County selling them in Desoto County back in June. He was charged with dealing in stolen property and grand theft.

Sports Cast for December 1st:

Glades Day was the last Big Lake school eliminated from the High School football playoffs Friday as they fell in the 2A regional final, 34-19 at home to Indian Rocks Christian.

Local sports resumes after the Thanksgiving holiday, Moore Haven girls basketball visits Oasis in Cape Coral this afternoon at 5 pm.   Terrier Boys basketball will also face Oasis at 6:30 this evening. Osceola middle school basketball hosts Gifford tonight, girls at 4:30 and boys at 5:45. Yearling will host Storm Grove for basketball this afternoon with girls tip at 4:30 and boys to follow at 5:45 pm. Lady Brahman soccer travels to Martin County at 5 this afternoon.


Little Big Town Go Gold for “Day Drinking”

Little Big Town Go Gold for “Day Drinking”

 

I know what you’re thinking. Even on Black Friday, it’s definitely too early for day drinking, right? No matter how convincing Little Big Town‘s latest hit might be or because it’s a long, holiday weekend with lots of shopping to do.

Technically, however, this would be a celebration — one in honor of the single “Day Drinking” being certified gold and becoming a big smash, which is absolutely why we should all move our happy hours up today.

“Day Drinking” is the fifth gold-certified single from the CMA-winning group.

So what’s next for the quartet? How do you follow such an infectious and effervescent smash of a tune?

With a single like “Girl Crush,” that’s how — and that’s exactly what LBT plan to do.

Arguably the most powerful single on their newest project Pain Killer, “Girl Crush” is a gut-punch of a lyric, melody and vocal performance that will leave you all but curled up on the floor completely heartbroken — or at the very least picking your jaw up off the ground.

Liz Rose, Lori McKenna and Hillary Lindsey wrote the song. It’s raw, it’s all too real, and it’s singer Karen Fairchild emoting in a way you’ve never heard before.

And it’s glorious. “Girl Crush” officially lands at country radio on Dec. 15. I’ll drink to that … bartender, round two, please!


Sheriff’s Office Participates in Statewide Holiday Safety Campaign

Sheriff’s Office Participates in Statewide Holiday Safety Campaign

Osceola County – The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is joining in a national effort to reach out to all Thanksgiving travelers with one important message: Buckle Up. Historically, Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year, putting more people on the road, and unfortunately increasing the likelihood of crashes. Each year in the United States, tens of thousands of passenger vehicle occupants die in motor vehicle crashes. In 2012, more than 300 people were killed in crashes on Thanksgiving weekend alone. It’s a sad statistic, but even sadder is that many of those deaths could have been prevented with one simple click of a seat belt.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent.  In 2012, approximately 12,174 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, an additional 3,031 lives could have been saved. And that’s just the point of this national seat belt campaign: Buckle Up America – Every Trip, Every Time.

“More than half the drivers and passengers being killed in crashes aren’t wearing seat belts. We encourage all motorists to buckle up,” said Sheriff Bob Hansell. In 2012, a total of 21,667 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes, so that means that more than 10,000 of those occupants were not buckled up. Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, a disturbing 60 percent—that is, 6 out of 10—of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts. At night, the statistic was even worse: 69 percent of the occupants killed at night were unbuckled.

So this Thanksgiving, and every day of the year, make sure your seat belt is buckled before you start any road trip—whether it’s one mile or a thousand. For more information about traveling safely during Thanksgiving, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.


Suspect Arrested for 10 Counts of Child Pornography

Suspect Arrested for 10 Counts of Child Pornography

Osceola County – Today, Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Chauncey Guy Sharrow (DOB 10/2/68) and charged him with 10 counts of Promoting Photo/Movie Sexual Performance of a Child.

The investigation began in late August when detectives identified a computer with an IP address that was linked to child pornography. After further investigation, detectives identified the computer was located at Sharrow’s residence, 1158 Stroupe Road in Kissimmee.

This morning, detectives obtained a search warrant for Sharrow’s residence and took into evidence his computer. Sharrow cooperated with the investigation. Based on his statements and the evidence, he was arrested and booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Chauncey Guy Sharrow (DOB 10/2/68), 1158 Stroupe Road, Kissimmee


Okeechobee Woman Arrested for More Than $34,000 in Medicaid Fraud

Okeechobee Woman Arrested for More Than $34,000 in Medicaid Fraud

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Nancy Zeigler, 53, for more than $34,000 in Medicaid fraud. According to the investigation, Ziegler fraudulently billed Medicaid for services never provided while employed as the Executive Director at Okeechobee Rehabilitation Facility, Inc. Ziegler allegedly billed Medicaid for adult day care, transportation and respite care that amounted to more than $34,000. Zeigler is charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a second-degree felony. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison, a fine of more than $170,000, and restitution. The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution is prosecuting this case.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates and prosecutes fraud involving providers that intentionally defraud the state’s Medicaid program through fraudulent billing practices. Medicaid fraud essentially steals from Florida’s taxpayers. From Jan. 2011 to Nov. 2014, Attorney General Bondi’s MFCU has obtained more than $466 million in settlements and judgments. Additionally, the MFCU investigates allegations of patient abuse, neglect, and exploitation in facilities receiving payments under the Medicaid program.


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