Local News




TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Earlier today, Governor Rick Scott met with reporters to discuss the importance of funding jobs and tourism following news that the Florida House of Representatives has decided to push legislation to undo economic development funding in Florida and defund the state’s tourism agency.

Below is a transcript of a portion of the Governor’s remarks – To watch the full video of the Governor’s remarks, click HERE to watch on the Florida Channel.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Now I go into my next Legislative Session and I watch the Florida House- they don’t care about people’s jobs. These are individuals who haven’t experienced what I went through as a child; have never been in business; don’t know the difficulty of building a business; must not think about the importance of business or jobs; are not thinking about their constituents…They are individuals who have never been in business and they want to lecture me. I’ve taken the risk of starting businesses. I’ve gone through the struggles of building a  business. I watched my parents struggle. And now I have people that want to lecture me that have never done anything like this.

“When the House wants to stop Enterprise Florida, they’re hurting our poorest communities, they’re hurting our rural communities. When they want to say that we don’t need to do anymore marketing for VISIT FLORIDA, what they are saying is we don’t need any more jobs in tourism. Now let’s think of what’s happened. In business, what you learn is you have to get a return on investment. Otherwise there will be no shareholders who give you money, there will be no bondholders who give you money, you won’t be able to stay in business. So when I came in…I said, we’re going to get a return. I’m not going to put the money out unless we get a return…And we’ve gotten a much better return than anybody’s going to get in their bank account.

“On top of that, look at what we’ve done with VISIT FLORIDA. We have increased the number of our expenditure and what have we seen? We have seen unbelievable number of new jobs and new tourists. The state had stagnated around 80 million tourists- 82 million tourists a year before I got elected. This year, we’ll have over 110 million tourists. Even after going through all the issues we had last year- whether it’s Zika or the hurricanes or other issues. We’re seeing tourism grow. So these are two groups that have gotten very good return for all of our taxpayers.

“But the most important thing- they’ve given people the opportunity for a job. A job creates hope, a job creates opportunity for your family. I know the importance of that. That’s what my parents struggled with. Now…we are seeing people that just want to run for higher office that are not concerned about what happens to other people. They just think it’s a nice soundbite. That doesn’t help anybody in their community, it doesn’t help anybody in our state.”

FEMA Extends Deadline for Flood Insurance Claims following Hurricane Matthew

FEMA Extends Deadline for Flood Insurance Claims following Hurricane Matthew 

ATLANTA – People affected by Hurricane Matthew now have more time to finalize their Proof of Loss flood insurance claims. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued an additional extension for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

The waiver, issued on Feb. 2, 2017, is the second extension by FEMA since the storm hit in October 2016. Policyholders in these states now have a total of 180 days to finalize a completed, signed, and sworn-to Proof of Loss to their insurer.

An NFIP Proof of Loss form includes detailed estimates with necessary documents supporting the cost to replace or repair the damaged property. An insurance adjuster may assist the policyholders in preparing their Proof of Loss form as specified in the policyholders’ Standard Flood Insurance Policy.

For additional questions, policyholders may contact their insurance company or the NFIP Customer Care center at (800) 621-3362, option 2. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time. If you use TTY, call 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 800-621-3362.

Charles Murphy News 2/7

News Cast for February 7th:

Among arrests,

23 year old Kane Bettlyoung of Brighton was arrested on fleeing and attempting to elude and carrying a concealed firearm charges.

City police say a be on the lookout was put out for a vehicle in a hit and run at Stampede Night Club.  They spotted a vehicle that matched the description. A short chase ensued including a driveway and alley before it stopped on North East 6th Avenue. A loaded semi  automatic handgun was reportedly seized from the vehicle.

The US Food and Drug Administration filed a civil complaint in U.S District Court last week that claims Syfrett Feed Company adulterated and mis-branded its medicated animal feed in violation of the law. The complaint says 17 horses had to be euthanized after they consumed the company horse pellet food in 2014. The complaint claims the firm did not name the active drug ingredients and did not include adequate instructions for their use.

A worker at the Martin Correctional Institution, 24 year old Twanazza Benjamin was charged with introduction of contraband to the prison and released on 5 thousand dollars bond.

An Okeechobee man, 31 year old Orlando Perez nearly collided with a Lauderhill Police man who stopped him for eratic driving on I-95 in Hobe Sound last week.    He had a warrant out of Okeechobee as an habitual traffic offender.

An Okeechobee phone call helped tip Port St. Lucie to two grow houses in Port St. Lucie last week. 38 year old Victor Hernandez claimed he was robbed in one of the grow houses.  He was charged with marijuana trafficking, grand theft and other charges.  50 pounds of marijuana were seized.

5 acres burned after a fire old tires and old propane tanks got away during a burn at 32596 US 441 north in Fort Drum Saturday.  The Florida Forest Service and Okeechobee County Fire Rescue put out the blaze and protected nearby structures.

51 year old Alfreda Jackson of Fort Myers arrested in Okeechobe for allegedly trying to smuggle oxycodone pills into Okeechobee Correctional Saturday.

Authorities are wondering while two piles of ground corn were laying on the CSX railroad tracks and why a nearby fence was cut allowing a cow to get on the tracks and get killed by a train Saturday afternoon. The land owner says poachers have been cutting his fence to hunt.  Authorities are unsure if the corn spilled off other trains or was deliberately placed there.

Sports Cast for February 7th:

Jarrett Mills was named all-state as one of only three place kickers in Class 6A to earn that honor last month. Mills is believed to be the first kicker from Okeechobee to be named all state. He had over 50 points this year. Mills said he appreciated the honor.

Mills 1

Mills attends camps throughout the off season to improve his craft and has worked with both college and professional kickers. He said you must be committed to improvement.

Mills 2

He also thanked his long snapper Eli McMullen and holder Logan Etherton for their help during his career.

Moore Haven boys hoops defeated Seacrest country Day at the District 3A-6 tournament and move on to play #1 seed South West Florida Christian tonight in the semifinals at 7 pm in Naples.

There are no local sports events today.

Charles Murphy News 2/6

News Cast for February 6th:

2016 was not a great year for the Florida manatee. Records were broken with over 1 hundred killed. Katie Tripp with the Save the Manatee Club wrote a letter to the editor asking boaters for their help. She was asked why the spike in deaths


97 were killed by manatees in 2009 with over 1 hundred last years. It is the third most dangerous year for manatees.

Teachers and school related employees of the year received checks for 5 hundred dollars apiece from the Gilbert Family of Companies Friday. Krista Luna says her family does what it can to keep education strong in Okeechobee.

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy says he is very impressed with the commitment of the Gilbert Family of Companies

In the courts, 46-year-old Jose Ramos was sentenced to 24 months’ probation for a charge of extortion. He was arrested last year for allegedly sending nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to her nine year old daughter and her new boyfriend.  The state dropped a charge of sending harmful material to a minor in the plea deal.

Sports Cast for February 6th:

Okeechobee boys’ basketball secured a 20-win season Friday a victory over arch rival Clewiston 74-60. Shaquoy Ferrol led the way with 28 points. He said 20 wins meant a lot

Ferrol 1

Senior Joseph Benjamin said it was enjoyable to play well in his final home game. He had six points in the game.  Zachary Kielbasa had 10 points

Benjamin 1

Coach Demetre Riles said his team accomplished a lot this season.

Riles 1

Okeechobee rolled past the Tigers, outscoring them 42-29 in the second half.

Alonzo Wargolet led Clewiston with 21 points.

The district tournament begins in Okeechobee on Wednesday with three games. Okeechobee will take on South Fork in the first round.

Charles Murphy News 2/3

News Cast for February 3rd:

Among arrests, Glades County Deputies charge 27 year old Albert Infante Mora with the theft of over 6 thousand dollars worth of tractor trailer tires and tools from Caloosa Transport in Moore Haven. Other arrests are pending.

An Ohio man extradited back to Florida for rape charges in Okeechobee, won’t be prosecuted.  State Attorneys dropped the sexual battery charge in December against 26 year old Matthew Myers. He had been accused of forcible rape of a 31 year old who claimed she was intoxicated and unconscious and awoke to the attack on March 12th.

A judge sentenced 24 year old Timothy Courson to 30 months probation and restitution of over 43 hundred dollars in January.  Courson was rearrested this week on charges of grand theft and cheating at common law.   Authorities claim he wrote bogus checks out for over 10 thousand dollars from an Okeechobee fish business last year.

A report calls Florida roads the most dangerous in the nation for pedestrians. Emiko  Atherton with the National Complete Streets Coalition says the US Surgeon General has urged americans to get more physical activity, including walks to schools, work and around neighborhoods, so the number of death and injuries to vehicle collisions could increase. 46 hundred people were struck and killed by cars while walking between 2005 and 2014, about 13 per day.

Sports Cast for February 3rd:

Two OHS softball players received college scholarships this year. Raylee Coleman will bring her speed and outfield glove to South Florida State College in Avon Park.

Taylor Amadon will bring her versatility to Broward College. Amadon says it was a day she has always dreamed about. She said college coaches liked her versatility and attitude.

Coleman chose to stay local and will study in the medical field.  She noted she set a goal and achieved it

Softball practice began this week for Okeechobee High School.

On the sports schedule tonight, Okeechobee boys basketball will host Clewiston for senior night.  Junior varsity action begins at 6 and varsity at 7:30 pm

Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project Information Presented at Water Resources Advisory Commission

Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project Information Presented at Water Resources Advisory Commission

Project alternatives satisfy University of Florida Water Institute Study for water storage north of Lake Okeechobee

West Palm Beach, FL – Engineers and hydrologists at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) presented a significant report outlining a combination of water storage technologies north of Lake Okeechobee at the Water Resources Advisory Commission (WRAC) meeting today. The results were generated by the collaborative work of state and federal scientists and engineers during the ongoing Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project (LOWP). Additionally, these results can achieve the storage capacity goals north of Lake Okeechobee recommended by the 2015 University of Florida Water Institute Study and provide the flexibility needed to help protect South Florida’s coastal estuaries.

“I appreciate this presentation today, as well as the outstanding research of our engineers and hydrologists,” said WRAC Chairman Jim Moran. “Multi-faceted storage north of Lake Okeechobee provides a cost-effective, flexible strategy to meet environmental and water supply goals in the South Florida.”

Today’s WRAC meeting was the first presentation of LOWP findings that detailed storage and cost information north of Lake Okeechobee. The WRAC is an advisory body to the SFWMD Governing Board and the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. It is a forum for improving public participation and decision-making about water resource issues in the District.

Click here to view the cost/storage graphics presented at today’s WRAC meeting.
The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project costs and storage results are based on a combination of reservoir storage and Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) and Deep Injection Wells (DIW). Additionally, the presentation illustrates potential combination options for achieving cost effective storage north of Lake Okeechobee.

Click here to see a comparison of the benefits of regional water storage.


The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project, which began in July 2016, is a planning effort to improve the quality, quantity, timing and distribution of water entering Lake Okeechobee. Goals of the project include:

  • Identifying potential storage and water quality opportunities north of Lake Okeechobee;
  • Providing better management of Lake Okeechobee’s water level;
  • Reducing high-volume discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries;
  • Improving system-wide operational flexibility.

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project is a part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). SFWMD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff the planning team. The planning process is conducted in public with wide participation by interested parties. The LOWP is also a component of the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS) that helps guide project design and implementation of Everglades restoration.

Charles Murphy News 2/2

News Cast for February 2nd:

Florida department of law enforcement arrested convicted drug dealer 34-year-old Aravistus Ware this week for the shooting of US Army soldier Mario Hughes in Moore Haven back in 2 thousand 14. Ware was indicted on charges of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with a witness, and several other charges. He had been convicted of multiple drug charges last year and was serving a 17-year prison sentence. Glades county deputies suspect Ware shot Hughes to death because he was scheduled to testify at Ware’s drug trial one week later.

Dr. John Christensen was sentenced to four years in prison for charges of manslaughter and drug trafficking. His prescriptions allegedly killed two patients in Palm Beach County at the height of the pill mill problem. Local official say Christensen had multiple patients in Okeechobee and contributed to our drug epidemic.

Denise Grimsley is looking for higher office.   The local republican Senator announced plans to run for Agriculture commission in the 2 thousand 18 election. Senator Grimsley owns a ranch and grows citrus.  She has served Okeechobee and Glades in both the house and in the Senate.

A February 13th hearing date has been set for Troy Scott, who will get a resentence hearing for the murder of 87 year old Valentine Meserve.  Scott was under 18 at the time when he and Richard White committed the murder on South Parrott Avenue back in 1985.  The courts have ruled since then that anyone under 18 can’t be sentenced to life in prison.

Two okeechobee county jail inmates were charged with starting a small fire early Wednesday.   33 year old Billy Garmany and 26 year old Johnny Williams allegedly tampered with a light switch in theier cell, and caused a small explosion and flames.  No one was injured.

Sports Cast for February 2nd:

Okeechobee athletes joined in the fun of college signing day yesterday. Brahmans Bubba Fludd, Andravious Stallworth, Joseph Benjamin, Deshon Wellington and Mateo Vasquez all plan to play college ball.

Fludd will go to Southern Miss, Stallworth to Webber International, Benjamin to Warner University, Wellington to Greenville College and Vasquez to Arizona Western. Fludd congratulated all the other signees and encouraged them

Stallworth said he liked the Webber campus and wanted to thank all the coaches who helped him improve.

Benjamin said he’s excited to keep learning and playing at Warner University.

Brahman boys’ basketball fell at Treasure Coast last night 72-48.

Shaquoy Ferrol led the Brahmans with 15 points.

Sports today include a middle school girls basketball tournament gets underway at Brighton at 4:30.  The host school takes on Moore Haven followed by Yearling versus Osceola.

Charles Murphy News 2/1

News Cast for February 1st:

City police chief Robert Peterson tapped Donald Hagan as his second in command in January. Hagan was given the rank of Major and was sworn in before Okeechobee City council. Hagan says he would like to be police chief one day.  He began his career 20 years ago. Peterson says Hagan will have full reign and powers over the operations of the department. Justin Bernst was promoted in January to take Hagans old Lieutenant position.

US News and World Report ranked the Okeechobee freshman campus as one of the best schools in the nation.  It honors the graduating class this year at OHS 2016-2017.

Principal Carol Revels said those students excelled on state exams. Revels thanked her hard working teachers and staff for helping the school to achieve this award.

Sports Cast for February 1st:

J-quan Ferrols free throw with four seconds left gave Okeechobee a 53-52 over Berean Christian last night for the Brahmans 19th win of the season. Demetrius Clark had 17 points to lead the Brahmans. Ferrol said The Brahmans didn’t play to their potential in this game. Shaquoy Ferrol had a season low 12 points. Coach Demetre Riles says he was pleased with the effort overall. Romeine Morgan had 20 points for Berean Christian.

On the sports schedule today, boys basketball travels to Treasure Coast in a battle of two of the areas best teams.  OHS wrestlers visit Port St. Lucie at 6 pm.

Mast Named Vice Chairman of Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee

Mast Named Vice Chairman of Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee

Mast Joins 3 Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittees

Top Priority Will Be Cleaning Florida Waterways

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today was named Vice Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.  He was also named a member of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, as well as the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

“Ensuring our water is safe and clean for future generations is critically important to our community,” Rep. Mast said. “Serving as vice chairman of this important subcommittee will help elevate the voices of the thousands of residents of the Treasure Coast whose lives and businesses are being hurt by Lake Okeechobee water discharges.  Improving the water quality in our community will be my top priority as Vice Chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.”

The jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment consists of matters relating to water resources development, conservation and management, water pollution control, water infrastructure and hazardous waste cleanup.  On these issues, the committee works closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for a number of projects important to water quality in Florida, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Rep. Mast recently hosted Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (PA-9) in the 18th Congressional District for an aerial tour of Florida waterway infrastructure projects.

“Brian is already establishing himself as a leader on water issues in Congress, and after seeing many of the local projects in his community firsthand, I’m confident he’ll be a strong voice for his constituents and our country as Vice Chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee,” Chairman Shuster said.

Celebrating Florida Agriculture at State Capitol

Celebrating Florida Agriculture at State Capitol

Tallahassee, Fla. – The largest gathering of farmers and ranchers from across the Sunshine state will convene at the state capitol March 7-8 to discuss public policy issues with state legislators.

The annual Farm Bureau lobbying event will begin March 7 with a reception at the Tallahassee Farm Bureau Legislative office and continue March 8 with a legislative briefing breakfast. The day will proceed with a full schedule of legislative meetings on Farm Bureau priority issues.

A Taste of Agriculture reception will wrap up the event on March 8, featuring special guest speakers Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick.

Legislators, government officials and the public are welcome to sample locally grown Florida foods, meet farm families and learn more about agriculture’s impact on the state’s economy.

To register to attend Legislative Days, visit http://www.floridafarmbureau.org/events/florida-farm-bureau-legislative-days/.

Florida Farm Bureau, the state’s largest general agricultural organization, represents more than 145,000 member-families. We serve to enhance farm enterprise and improve rural communities.

Photo Caption: Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam greets Florida Farm Bureau grassroots members at the capitol

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