Local News

Nat King Cole Generation Hope Makes Instrument Donation To Okeechobee High School

“Keeping Music Alive”

Nat King Cole Generation Hope Makes Instrument Donation To Okeechobee High School

NKCGH @ OHS 1OKEECHOBEE, FL (November 10, 2015)—Keeping Music Alive is more than a mission for Nat King Cole Generation Hope, it’s a PASSION!

Twin daughters of music legend Nat King Cole, Timolin and Casey Cole of Boca Raton, launched Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc. to honor the legacy, music and life of their father Nat King Cole in 2008 after learning of budget cuts in public schools directly affecting the arts. Since that time, donations in excess of $750,000 have benefited thousands of children with “the greatest need and fewest resources”in South Florida and New York.

Recently they visited Okeechobee High School bringing with them three trumpets, one clarinet, one french horn and a snare drum to start what they hope will be a long term relationship with the school’s music program. One of Nat King Cole Generation Hope’s most successful programs is securing instruments, new and old, and finding homes for them in schools in need. With generous support from Stephen and JoAnna Myers, developers and founders of Pine Creek Sporting Club, they were able to bring the instruments valued at over $4,000 to the school’s music program.

Met by Principal Dylan Tedders and Band Director Clint LaFlam, the Cole twins and representatives from Pine Creek Sporting Club were impressed with the comprehensive music education program and the students who performed for the visit. Passion for music was evident in the room, by the pride in his students shown by Director LaFlam to the students who lit up when performing.

NKCGH @ OHS 4While trophies line the walls showcasing achievements made by this school’s program, the real reward that these students receive will be varied and long lasting. Nat King Cole Generation Hope knows music is a critical learning tool that keeps students engaged in school, helps develop well-rounded individuals and encourages skills that are vital for success in the 21st century. Research has proven that access to a quality music education engages students in the classroom and increases graduation rates; improves early cognitive development, math and reading skills; enhances learning in other core subjects; develops critical thinking and leadership skills; and fosters self-esteem and the ability to work cooperatively in teams.

“Our family history is one of musical excellence and charitable giving,” said Casey Cole. “Our father was a trailblazer in the music industry and will live forever through his style, grace and unforgettable music. Our mother Maria sang with Duke Ellington and was known for supporting multiple causes throughout her life. By sharing our family’s history and giving students the opportunity to enhance their musical talents and abilities; our family’s legacy lives on.”

For information please contact Executive Director Shanna St John at sstjohn@natkingcolegenhope.org or 561-213-8209.

The mission of Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is to provide music education to children with the greatest need and fewest resources by funding programs that provide for instruction, mentoring and resources.

Keeping Music Alive – Nat King Cole Generation Hope

Prep Work begins for the Centennial Commemorative Walkway

Prep Work begins for the Centennial Commemorative Walkway

brick paver prep 3Okeechobee, Florida: With much anticipation, the prep work has begun to make way for the Centennial commemorative front walkway to welcome visitors to City Hall. The campaign began in January by the City Centennial Celebration Ad Hoc Committee. You may continue purchasing pavers from the website www.cityofokeechobee.com or in person within the Office of the City Clerk. The 8×8-inch bricks are $100.00 and the smaller 4×8-inch bricks are $50.00. The new walkway will feature quotes, birthday salutations to the City, family names and dates established, as well as one for each elected official holding office from 1915 to current. The dedication ceremony for this beautiful new walkway will be held on Friday, December 4 at 5:15 p.m. Everyone is welcome to join us in this exciting event. The City Public Works Department started the preparations last week

Brick Paver Press Release

Kiwanis Club Learns About Mental Health Disorders Among Children (AUDIO INTERVIEW INCLUDED)

Kiwanis Club Learns About Mental Health Disorders Among Children (AUDIO INTERVIEW INCLUDED)

From left to right: Art Ciasca - CEO of Suncoast Mental Health Center, Dowling Watford - Kiwanis Club member and guest presenter, Deb Pizzimenti - Director of Outreach for Suncoast and Kiwanis Club President Courtney Moyett

From left to right: Art Ciasca – CEO of Suncoast Mental Health Center, Dowling Watford – Kiwanis Club member and guest presenter, Deb Pizzimenti – Director of Outreach for Suncoast and Kiwanis Club President Courtney Moyett

Two representatives from Suncoast Mental Health Center spoke at a recent Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee meeting.

Art Ciasca, the C.E.O and Deb Pizzimenti. The Director of Outreach visited the club to discuss the services Suncoast provides along with information regarding several mental health disorders.

Suncoast is a four county, non-profit organization that serves families in the Treasure Coast area. In Okeechobee, they have an office on NW 3rd Street.

Ciasca and Pizzimenti discussed several myths associated with mental health disorders such as depression, ADHD (attention deficit hyper activity disorder) and anxiety. Ciasca says one myth with depression is that it is something that you can “pull yourself out of” or “get over” by yourself if you suffer from the disorder. The over-lying fact is that mental illness is a real medical disorder that requires treatment.

Suncoast receives their patients mostly through referrals, for children that mean that teachers and counselors recognize symptoms from their students.

For more information about Suncoast Mental Health Center including upcoming events visit  suncoastmentalhealth.org

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee is a service group that works to improve the lives of youth in Okeechobee. The club meets every Thursday at noon at Cowboys Restaurant. The public is invited to attend.


Charles Murphy News 11/11

News Cast for November 11th:

Beautiful dog available for adoption with all shots and vaccines from the Okeechobee Animal Control! -TM

Beautiful dog available for adoption with all shots and vaccines from the Okeechobee Animal Control! -TM

Okeechobee County is considering mosquito control. Last week they approved the mechanism to impose a local assessment if they decide to move ahead in the next year. Emergency Management director Mitch Smeykal says the area has a mosquito problem. They spray canals and use other means but aerial spraying would be cost prohibitive. For 75 thousand acres the cost is estimated at 110 thousand dollars.

Smeykal 1

Smeykal 2

Volunteers continue to do surveillance so the county knows where to spray. The county routinely has mosquitoes capable of carrying human and animal disease.

Among arrests, 29 year old Charles Hart of Okeechobee was charged with sexual battery of a child under 12. He allegedly touched the child inappropriately on multiple occasions.

The South Florida water management district project and lands committee Monday:

  • Have two land purchases pending for 164 acres north of US 98 from the Lanier Family.
  • Are negotiating a lease with the University of Florida to move the research center in Immokalee to the 260 acre Boma property in Glades County.
  • Are considering two land leases in western St. Lucie County for conservation and best management practices owned by the Brewer Cattle company that total 493 acres.

The district has budgeted 12.5 million in 2016 to complete phase two of the Lakeside Ranch storm water treatment area. They plan to spend $12.7 million for Lake Hicpochee enhancements over the next three years.

The district is also looking for firms to do a feasibility study to eliminate some of their field stations and create larger supercenter field stations that are centrally located.

The district would also like to revisit and construct underground storage of water in Okeechobee with well located near Taylor Creek, another along the Kissimmee River, a third could be built in Port Mayaca, and the total cost is 20.4 million.

The district has surplused a 416 acre tract appraised at 1.8 million in Okeechobee County.

Six parcels in Glades County that total 4991 acres are considered possible surplus lands with leases.


Fatal crash Desoto Co.

Press News Release Traffic Accident Leaves Two Injured

Sports Cast for November 11th:

Yearling middle school got a sportsmanship award this year from the Florida High School Athletic Association.

Athletic Director Lori Bandi says it was a great honor for the school. Yearling said the coaches demand respect from the players. She noted the athletes are also very good academically.

Bandi 1

Bandi 2

Girls’ basketball lost at Martin County last night 57-43. Vanessa Graham had 15 points for the Lady Tigers and Lahna Baker led Okeechobee with 16 points.

Lady Brahman soccer lost to William T. Dwyer 8-0. Kayley Olson had two goals for Dwyer.

Moore Haven basketball lost to Pahokee Monday 53-34. Caroline Sweat had 13 points and Ani Drayton 11 rebounds. Moore Haven defeated Everglades City last night 49-30. Sunni Bearden and Alicia Fudge both had 12 points and Sydnee Cypress 11 points for the Lady Terriers.

On the sports schedule today, Moore Haven boys soccer hosts Lake Worth Christian at 7 pm

Charles Murphy News 11/10

News Cast for November 10th:

This timid, neutered red leopard curr dog, likes to follow horses moving cows, found south of the landfill on NE 128th St; Contact Animal Control (863)357-3225.

This timid, neutered red leopard curr dog, likes to follow horses moving cows, found south of the landfill on NE 128th St; Contact Animal Control (863)357-3225.

Okeechobee County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin was the featured speaker to the Okeechobee Kiwanis Club in October about the duties his department performs. He explains the position of public safety director holds a lot of responsibility. Franklin says the public should only dial 911 in an emergency and to always use care when in the kitchen and grilling. Franklin also oversees, emergency 911, County fleet service, and emergency management.

Ralph Franklin on public safety dept

About 65 thousand dollars in property damage was reported Saturday after a double wide trailer fire at 13,801 US 441 south east near the Martin county line.

Firemen reached the fire in 20 minutes and by that time the trailer was fully involved. The home owner, Martha Hahn was able to get out unharmed. Neighbors heard a popping noise and then spotted a golf cart on fire that spread to a second golf cart and the structure. The state fire Marshall will determine the cause.

Among arrests, 19 year old Austin King was charged with grand theft auto. Okeechobee deputies say he was involved in a chase on the Brighton Indian Reservation Sunday and allegedly fled to Okeechobee. He was spotted on US 98 in a vehicle reported stolen early Monday and was pulled over without incident.

23 year old Maxwell Tatum of Okeechobee was charged with fraudulent use of credit cards, identity theft, in two separate cases. Martin county deputies say he stole a credit card and made over 11 hundred dollars in purchases in Palm City in August, and another 4 hundred in purchases in July. The victim apparently had hired Tatum to do some work at her residence, stole multiple items and pawned them and used her bank card and credit card.

Sports Cast for November 10th:

These little boys and girls need forever homes. There are 3 girls and two boys, eight weeks old. Wouldn't one make a perfect early present for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Contact Okeechobee County Animal Control (863)357-3225

These little boys and girls need forever homes. There are 3 girls and two boys, eight weeks old.
Wouldn’t one make a perfect early present for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Contact Okeechobee County Animal Control (863)357-3225

The Lady Brahman basketball team continued their hot start with an 11 point win at home over Forest Hill Monday, 48-37.

Bri Baker and Lana Baker both had 12 points for Okeechobee.

Lannah Baker after OHS girls basketball win over Forest Hill

Shyterria Ash said it was a physical battle for much of the night.

Shytria Ash and Diamnod Wiggins post game after OHS girls basletball win over Forest Hill

Guard Dymond Wiggins said she feels she is working hard to improve her game.

Coach Joe Smith praised his girls for their tenacity and hustle against a game opponent.

Joe Smith after OHS girls basketball win over Forest Hill

Lady Brahman soccer lost to Martin County 9-1. Ashton English had the goal for Okeechobee.

On the sports schedule today, Moore Haven girls’ basketball visits Everglades City at 5 pm, Moore Haven girls soccer hosts Lake Worth Christian at 3:30 pm. OHS girls soccer hosts William T. Dwyer at 6 pm. OHS girls’ basketball visits Martin County with JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 pm.

SFWMD Joins LagoonFest

SFWMD Joins LagoonFest

Event supports the Lake Worth Lagoon

WHAT:          In support of an important local waterway, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will participate in LagoonFest to benefit the Lake Worth Lagoon.

The free family event hosted by the Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative will feature live music, wildlife presentations, children’s activities and lagoon tours to raise awareness of the lagoon’s environmental, recreational and economic value. District staff will provide informational materials on protecting local water resources.

Lake Worth Lagoon Quick Facts:

  • 20 miles long, stretching from North Palm Beach to Ocean Ridge
  • Largest estuary in Palm Beach County
  • Abundant wildlife, including tarpon, snook, shrimp, American oystercatcher, osprey and a variety of seagrasses and mangroves
  • SFWMD partners with Palm Beach County to gather the science necessary to improve water quality and habitat in the lagoo

WHEN:          Saturday, November 14, 2015

TIME:            9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

WHERE:        101 South Flagler Drive

Downtown West Palm Beach waterfront



Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative

Press Release – Socks for Seniors


Socks for Seniors is a non-profit community service project that organizes, collects and distributes NEW socks for seniors in communities all over the country.

The holidays are a fun time of year with all the holiday work parties, family gatherings, meetings with old friends topped off with all the bells, whistles, hustle and bustle of the season.  It’s the friendliest and most giving time of year but, for some it can also be a depressing time of year and our seniors can get lost in the shuffle.

Each year, thousands of lonely and financially challenged seniors struggle with the holiday blues. They dread facing the holiday season alone – some being without family or friends, some with the isolation of being a widow or widower. Some seniors just being away from children and grandchildren produces extreme loneliness that’s exaggerated by festivities of the season.

Socks For Seniors and it’s volunteers have one priority this Holiday Season and that is to bring holiday cheer along with a pair of new socks to warm the hearts and cover the cold feet of our elderly seniors. The Socks for Seniors program benefits those living alone and in nursing homes and yes even those seniors that are homeless.

From Jamie at Socks for Seniors

“Socks for Seniors began accidentally 15 years ago in Columbus, Ohio when I was visiting senior communities all over Ohio doing a music therapy program.  Often my wife, Kitty would go along and she got to know many of the residents.  One day she noticed that one lady who was normally in good spirits wasn’t quite herself.  When asked what the problem was she replied, “My feet are FREEZING.  If I just had a warm new pair of socks to keep my feet warm!”  Her socks were in bad shape.  They were worn out and had holes in them.  The solution seemed simple and my wife then left only to return a few minutes later with a new brand new pair of socks.  Not only did it serve it’s purpose but it made the lady’s day.  We learned quickly that you can’t do for just one- others in the dining room that day took notice and wanted a pair of socks too.  Easy enough.  During our next visit we took socks for everyone.  And Socks for Seniors was born.  It grew slowly over several years as people would hear about it.  In 2011 I decided with some effort it could grow into a national program one area at a time and it is currently in over 500 cities nation-wide.  It’s easy to get started.  It only takes one person, one box and one location to get a program running and it doesn’t take time or money.  We neither take or make money from the program.  We don’t collect money, we collect socks.  We like for all socks to stay in the local communities in which they are collected.  If a volunteer doesn’t have an outlet in mind we network to connect them with one.  We kick things off annually on Make A Difference Day (the last Saturday in October)  and go through Christmas.  Some programs start in October while others don’t begin until right before Christmas.”–

We are looking for local area coordinators near Okeechobee to help with collecting socks this year.

There are two major ways that you could help us-

1. Help us promote Socks For Seniors. Please run our press release.  We are also available for interviews. Media support has helped us grow the program into over 500 cities coast to coast. Complete information is available on our website about the program which my wife and I started 13 years ago. It is 100% volunteer based. We neither take or make money from it. We do not collect money, we collect SOCKS!

If you could schedule a time for an interview to help promote Socks For Seniors near Okeechobee please visit this link:


The form at this link will help us keep everything organized so (hopefully) nothing falls thru the cracks!

2. Host a Sock Drive. It all starts with 1 person, 1 box, 1 location. It’s easy…and all the socks stay in the local Okeechobee area! If you have a nursing home, assisted living center or other senior community in mind for distribution – GREAT! If not,we will help connect you with a local senior community for distributing the socks at the end of the sock drive.

If you can decorate a box and find a location or locations for boxes – that’s all there is to it. Then together we can promote the sock drive.

To collect Socks For Seniors – please sign up atthis link:


Charles Murphy News 11/9

News Cast for November 9th:

A Naples woman died in a Glades County car crash Sunday afternoon near LaBelle. 25 year old Breeanna Koetting was a passenger in a Nissan sedan that crossed the center line of route 29 south bound and collided with a north bound Dodge pickup driven by 58 year old Jesus Silvas of Okeechobee.

The driver of the sedan, 26 year old Blanch Bauer of Naples was cited by troopers for driving too fast for conditions.

The family of Tyrell Taylor filed a 5 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit last week against the organizers of Zombi Con, Pushing Daisies and the firm that was hired to provide security. The city of Ft. Myers could also be sued.

Also in the courts, 49 year old Paul Clay received time served and up to one year probation, 25 hours of community service and court costs for shooting to death a pit bull dog owned by his estranged girlfriend.   He pled no contest to one count of animal cruelty.

A martin county jury convicted 38 year old Randy Lewis Simmons of 2nd degree murder for shooting to death Adam Wilson in Port Salerno. He was also convicted of two counts of child abuse and fleeing and eluding police. The Okeechobee man will be sentenced to at least 25 years on December 15th.

Martin 11-6-15 CR A1A Bic

IMG_1767A 62 year old River Acres man died Friday in a crash of an experimental plane in Ousley Estates. The Sheriff’s office identified the pilot as John Bubel. He apparently was flying from Homestead in a Zenith model plane to his home near the Kissimmee River when he encountered mechanical problems. Eye witnesses tried CPR to no avail.

Among arrests, 39 year old Christopher Nolen of Lorida was charged with burglary and grand theft for allegedly stealing a pit bull dog from a yard in Sebring on June 12th. A witness say a flyer about the stolen dog and led authorities to Nolen.

Press Release Glades

IR Fatal 11-7-15 4 Street MC

Sports Cast for November 9th:

Clewiston jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first half and went on to defeat Okeechobee 38-21 in the season finale of high school football Friday.

QB Davis Witt completed 80 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and said he got outstanding protection. He also was able to find Reginald Henderson whenever he needed a big play.

Henderson had 192 yards in receptions and a touchdown for the Tigers.

Tyrin Summers ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns for Clewiston. He praised his offensive line for opening holes.
Andre Taylor also returned an interception for a score.

Tyrin Summers and Davis Witt on clewiston win over chobee

For Okeechobee, Bubba Fludd threw two touchdown passes and ran for 112 yards. He added a 92 yard kick return for a touchdown.

Senior Fred Bradley was among 14 Brahmans who played their final high school game.   He said the team just didn’t play well in the early going.

Edrick Neal and Fred Bradley on loss to Clewiston

Chris Branham on loss to Clewiston

The Brahmans finish the season at (4-6).

Moore Haven lost to LaBelle 41-28.

Only two Big Lake schools make the playoffs this year Glades Central and Pahokee.

Corps to reduce flows from Lake O to Caloosahatchee

Corps to reduce flows from Lake O to Caloosahatchee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will make a slight reduction in flows for its next pulse release to the Caloosahatchee Estuary scheduled to begin tomorrow.

The Corps announced today the new target for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will average 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) over the next 14 days as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers.  Water will be discharged in two seven-day pulse releases over the next two weeks.  No water from the lake is expected to be released through St. Lucie Lock (S-80) near Stuart.  However, flows at either the Franklin or St. Lucie structures could occasionally be exceeded by runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins—those flows will be allowed to pass through the spillway as necessary.

“The lake has been falling steadily over the past few weeks,” said Candida Bronson, Deputy Operations Division Chief for the Jacksonville District.  “However, all indications call for above average precipitation in the coming months fueled by El Nino conditions.  We want to continue to put the lake in a position where it will be able to handle heavy rain once is develops.”

Today, the lake stage is 14.51 feet.  It is approaching the Base Flow Sub-Band as defined by the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS).  In the Base Flow Sub-Band, LORS authorizes the Corps to discharge up to 650 cfs combined to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie systems.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.

Charles Murphy News 11/6

News Cast for November 6th:

Nolen Christopher

Nolen Christopher

A 49 year old Okeechobee man charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing items from a local business. John Amditis is accused of stealing 1,425 dollars’ worth of items that include a washer and dryer, air compressor, pressure washer, pool table, and other items. He allegedly tried to sell them online.

Closing arguments begin this morning in the Randy Lewis Simmons murder trial in Martin County. The Okeechobee man testified it was an accidental shooting in Port Salerno that claimed the life of 32 year old Adam Wilson.

TC Palm reports Simmons confronted the man who was watching his children and when he tried to take his own two daughters away, Wilson grabbed the barrel of the gun and the two men fought. The medical examiner testified Wilson died of a single gunshot wound to the back and side of his head.

Defense attorneys also claim Wilson was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Okeechobee county commissioners Thursday

  • Heard from Richard Silvestri of the Treasure Coast Progressive Alliance and opponents to land fracking for oil and will consider joining 44 other local governments in opposition.
  • Approved a resolution for the annual non ad valorem tax assessments. This year they could include assessments for mosquito control and code enforcement abatement efforts.
  • Proclaimed November 15th as retired educators day in Okeechobee.
  • Approved an engineering agreement for nearly 50 thousand dollars to develop a sidewalk master plan for the county, with a report expected within 90 days.
  • Commissioner Terry Burroughs called it unbelievable ridiculous and insane for the state to put in a round about in the year 20-20 for the intersection of 441 south east and South East 18th Terrace.
  • Will add six properties to a drainage project in Oak Park.
  • Agreed to rethink their position on the 710 extension road after concerns raised by the Okeechobee economic council
  • Agreed to negotiate a new contract and salary hike for administrator Robbie Chartier.
  • Agreed to a plan with Fish and Wildlife to clear vegetation from lock 7 with herbicides and place lights on the road to the Lock 7 boat ramp.

11 05 2015 Press News Release Sheriff’s Office Mourns K-9 Death

Arrest Report for Christopher Nolen

Okee News Presbyterian Church Loy Mershimer 11 15 15

Sports Cast for November 6th:

Cheyenne Nunez had 20 points with four three point baskets and Bri Baker and Shyterria Ash both had six points to lead Okeechobee to a 41-27 victory over Moore Haven in girls’ basketball at the preseason classic Thursday.

Coach Joe Smith said he got everyone playing time and got a chance to see what they could do.

Smith 2

Ash said the girls played hard in the tournament and hope to keep that going into the regular season

Ash 1

Sydnee Cypress led the Lady Terriers with 13 points.   Sunni Bearden added nine points.

John Carroll defeated Clewiston 52-34 in the other game. Lauren Kenney led John Carroll with 18 points and Madison Miller added 11 points. Shakayla Hankins had nine points for Clewiston.

Brahman football wraps up the season as they attempt to reach the .500 mark against arch rival Clewiston.   Both teams will miss out on the playoffs this year. Kickoff is at 7 pm tonight.

Moore Haven wraps up their season at La Belle.

The OHS cross country team competes in states tomorrow in Tallahassee, some video interviews of the coach and players are available on the WOKC facebook page.

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