Local News

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Two to South Florida Water Management District

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Two to South Florida Water Management District

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Clarke Harlow and the reappointment of Frederick “Rick” Barber to the South Florida Water Management District.

Harlow, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, is the president of Harlow Asset Management and Southeast Landscape Management Company LLC. Harlow received his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 17, 2015, and ending March 1, 2018.

Barber, 68, of Bonita Springs, is the chief executive officer of Agnoli, Barber, and Brundage Inc. He currently serves as the chair of the Big Cypress Basin Board. Barber received his associate’s degree from Edison College and his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida. He is reappointed for a term beginning March 17, 2015, and ending March 1, 2019.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Deputies Investigating Suspicious Incident

Deputies Investigating Suspicious Incident

Osceola County -Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating a suspicious incident. On March 17, deputies responded to the area of Monterey Road and Brentford Court in Poinciana. Upon arrival, deputies spoke with a 15-year old victim who advised at 3:00 p.m. she was exiting her school bus when an unknown male driving an older, beige truck slowed down and turned around. The driver asked her to “come here” approximately 4 times. Each time she said no, but he continued to follow her as she was walking down the sidewalk. Finally, the driver left the area.

The victim describes the suspect as a black or Hispanic male, approximately 19- years old to mid-twenties with short dreadlocks. He was wearing a black shirt and driving an older model truck with shiny beige paint.

Detectives want to caution the public regarding this incident and encourage residents to report suspicious incidents. 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.



~DEP Issues Permit for Construction of Important Everglades Project~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently issued a permit to the Department of Interior’s National Park Service, Everglades National Park, for the construction of 2.6 miles of bridges and raised roads along the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) in Miami-Dade County. The project will deconstruct a section of the Tamiami Trail and replace it with a bridge so that water north of the road may flow into the Everglades, providing needed water to the Everglades National Park. This project will result in enhanced movement of water south from Lake Okeechobee.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Restoring the Florida Everglades and protecting Florida’s natural treasures is incredibly important to protect the beauty of our state. The Tamiami Trail project will help move more water south from Lake Okeechobee which directly benefits the Everglades, as well as the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries. On top of completing critical projects, we have proposed a dedicated source of revenue that will provide more than $5 billion for Everglades restoration over the next 20 years. This funding will ensure future generations of Floridians can enjoy our state’s natural beauty.”

The Tamiami Trail currently inhibits water flowing south into Everglades National Park. By constructing bridges, water will be able to flow more naturally to the Park.

DEP Secretary Jon Steverson said, “This is a huge step forward in our efforts to restore the Everglades. Moving water south through the Everglades is critical for wildlife, and keeping it out of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries is vital to protecting these important waterbodies.”

Governor Scott has committed up to $30 million per year over three years or $90 million total for this project.

In addition to long term investments, the Department of Environmental Protection is working with the South Florida Water Management District and local partners to take aggressive action on both coasts to improve the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water in Florida.

Governor Rick Scott’s 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget provides a total of $150 million for Everglades restoration, including $20 million for Kissimmee River restoration. The “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget also creates a dedicated source of revenue for Everglades restoration that provides more than $670 million for ecosystem restoration over the next four years and more than $5 billion over the next 20 years.  This means that during the Governor’s second term alone, South Florida’s families will know the state has the ability to fund its share of the restoration of the Kissimmee River and the construction of the C-43 and C-44 reservoirs – projects that will provide almost 100 billion gallons of storage to protect Florida estuaries

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Narrative

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Narrative

                On March 3, 2015, at 1837 hours, I Deputy Jonathon Kemp #44, of the

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, was dispatched to the Shell gas station at

3609 Highway 441 Southeast in reference to a theft complaint.

                Upon my arrival I spoke with the owner Kamruddin Mithani. He stated that

when the store opened this morning there was a customer that claimed they had

their credit card information stolen from them at gas pump #5. Shortly after the

one customer made this complaint multiple others made the same one. Kamruddin

could not recall the customer’s names. At this time he said that he unlocked and

opened the pump up and found what he called a “Skimmer” hooked up inside of it.

Kamruddin said that he checks inside the pumps every night before closing and

has never seen a skimmer before until now. A skimmer is what someone hooks up to

the pump in order to steal the credit card information from whomever uses that

gas pump.

                I advised to Kamruddin to notify the customers who advised him of the

problem in case they want to report the theft of their credit card information

since the Sheriff’s Office has not had any complaints of it yet. Kamruddin did

advise that I could get the video camera recordings if I needed it since there

are two video cameras on the gas pumps. I told him I would have to come back

with a memory device from the Sheriff’s Department that is big enough to store

that much data. He said that Monday would be fine to come back with the memory

device for the video recordings.

                The skimmer device will be entered into evidence and a copy of this

report will be forwarded to Florida Department of Agriculture. I attempted to

make contact with Florida Department of Agriculture but was unable to reach them

during business hours so this will be forwarded to them on Monday (03/16/2015)

when I return to work. This case will be active until I follow up with Kamruddin

and Florida Department of Agriculture on 03/16/2015. END OF REPORT.

Heroes 4 Hope Offers Brings Inspiration To Those In Need (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Heroes 4 Hope Offers Brings Inspiration To Those In Need (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Heroes 4 Hope co-founder Thomas Barber (left) with Kiwanis Club Memeber Gary Scherrer

Heroes 4 Hope co-founder Thomas Barber (left) with Kiwanis Club Memeber Gary Scherrer

Thomas Barber spoke at a recent Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee meeting talking about Heroes 4 Hope, an organization he co-founded two years ago. Heroes 4 Hope is a local non-profit group for Okeechobee dedicated to helping local individuals and families struggling with their daily needs due to health issues. Barber is in a two year battle with cancer himself. The group meets at the Big Lake Cancer Center in Okeechobee and those interested in attending should call 532-0137


Charles Murphy News 3/17

News Cast for March 17th:

OHS Boys' Basketball Banquet, videos on our Facebook page.

OHS Boys’ Basketball Banquet, videos on our Facebook page.

In US District Court, 34 year old Martin Alvarez Moreno of Okeechobee pled guilty to possession of a firearm by an illegal alien and now faces up to 10 years behind bars. Okeechobee deputies say they seized a Marlin rifle from Moreno after a domestic squabble last November 7th. No charges were filed. Moreno tried to retrieve the rifle from the Sheriff on four occasions but could not provide documentation of citizenship. He illegally entered the US crossing the border in Arizona in 2 thousand 3.

A 33 year old Glades county man took some bad news in child support out on his girlfriend, allegedly driving recklessly from Miami to Moore Haven at speeds of 1 hundred miles per hour, not letting the woman out of the vehicle, and later out of his residence.   Jason Weaver faces charges of false imprisonment and assault.

The highway patrol identified 64 year old Patrick De Thomas of Port St. Lucie as the victim in Sunday night’s fatal crash on state road 60 near Yeehaw Junction. Charges are pending against another driver, 30 year old Keith Laine of Davenport, Florida.

St. Lucie Fatal 3-16-15 Angle Road

A fight inside the Okeechobee jail results in the arrest of inmate, 27 year old Charles Suarez for felony battery, allegedly for striking repeatedly, another inmate, Tenelius Garner Friday night.

Storm drains and other drainage improvements will be made in Oak Park after action by the county commission to hire Go Underground Utilities under a near 9 hundred and 15 thousand dollar project. It is part of a stormwater master plan that hopes to improve drainage and prevent flooding there.

County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper was pleased thre large oak trees can be saved.

Sports Cast for March 17th:

OHS Baseball vs PSL

OHS Baseball vs PSL

Baylee Farless returned an interception 51 yards for a score to lead Okeechobee to a 7-6 victory in flag football over St. Lucie West Centennial Monday. The Lady Brahman defense turned aside three Eagle drives in the red zone in the fourth quarter to pull out the win.

Coach Jeff Whitlock was pleased with how hard his team played in the hot and humid conditions. Dracea Peacock knocked away a desperation pass on the final play for Okeechobee.

Farless pick six occurred in the second quarter and turned the game around.

Okeechobee also won the Junior varsity contest 20-0.   Ashlee Hagan caught a touchdown pass and ran for a second score and Jessica Cason caught a touchdown pass for Okeechobee. QB Julia Dupree threw for two scores.

Brahman baseball defeats Spanish River at the Lake Worth tournament 4-2. Kevin Coleman got the win in relief and Jarred Morgan picked up the save. Gabe Greseth and Paul Jackson both had two hits for Okeechobee. Baron Stuart and Coleman added RBIS.

The Brahmans will play again today at the tournament and again Thursday and Friday.

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Randall Maggard to Southwest Florida Water Management District

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Randall Maggard to Southwest Florida Water Management District

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the reappointment of Randall Maggard to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Maggard, 51, of Zephyrhills, is the vice president of Sonny’s Discount Appliances Inc. He currently serves as a member of the Zephyrhills Economic Development Board and previously served as a member of the Coastal River Basin Board. Maggard received his associate’s degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College. He is reappointed for a term beginning March 16, 2015, and ending March 1, 2019.

The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Biologists tally a record high manatee count

Biologists tally a record high manatee count

Warm temperatures and clear, sunny days between some of the coldest weather of the year assisted FWC biologists and partners in counting an all-time high number of manatees during this year’s statewide aerial survey.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported a preliminary count of 6,063 manatees statewide. During the February count, a team of 20 observers from 11 organizations counted 3,333 manatees on Florida’s east coast and 2,730 on the west coast of the state. This year’s synoptic survey count exceeded the previous high count for 2010 by almost 1,000 animals.

“Manatees used warm-water sites and other winter habitat areas to cope with a strong cold front that recently moved through the region,” said FWC biologist Holly Edwards. “In many of the regions surveyed, warm, sunny weather caused manatees to rest at the water’s surface, which facilitated our efforts to count them in these areas. Calm waters and high visibility also contributed to the high count.”

“We were very fortunate to have near-optimal conditions for our survey this year,” said FWRI Director Gil McRae. “The high count this year is especially encouraging, given the large-scale mortality events that resulted in over 800 deaths in 2013.”

Aerial surveys are conducted annually, weather permitting, to provide researchers with a count of manatees visible in Florida waters at the time of the survey. Because researchers have no way to estimate the number of manatees that were not visible during these surveys, scientists consider these results a minimum count of the statewide population. While this year’s results do not mean that the manatee population grew by nearly 1,000 animals in a single year, they do tell researchers there are at least 6,000 manatees in Florida waters.

“Counting this many manatees is wonderful news,” said FWC Chairman Richard Corbett. “The high count this year shows that our long-term conservation efforts are working.”

You can show your support for manatees by purchasing a manatee license plate at BuyaPlate.com and a manatee decal at MyFWC.com/ManateeSeaTurtleDecals. Funds from the license plate and decal support manatee research and conservation.

For more information about manatees and synoptic surveys, visit MyFWC.com/Research, click “Research,” then “Florida Manatee.”

To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Charles Murphy News 3/16

News Cast for March 16th:

Dillon Isom pitches for South Fork

Dillon Isom pitches for South Fork

Eduard Mayer and Elite resorts were well received by Okeechobee County commissioners as they discussed a 3 point 5 million dollar redevelopment of Okee Tantie last week.

The commission directed staff to further negotiate the group which runs several resorts including ones in Florida in Tarpon Springs. Mayer says they know how to renovate properties and bring people and tourists there. The plan includes repaired and improved RV sites, improved infrastructure and a larger restaurant with Tiki Hut.

Frank Irby was appointed by the commission to represent them on the new Heartland Metropolitan Planning Organization.

County officials showed no interest in the purchase of 1.4 million dollars’ worth of property in east Okeechobee they could use for mitigation now owned by South Florida Water Management.

Two Okeechobee teachers Brynne and Mike Talas had a story to tell last week as Brynne gave birth to the couple’s first child, in their vehicle. They were racing to Tradition Medical Center in Port St. Lucie and were on the Martin Grade when they had to pull to the side of the road and Mike delivered the child with the help of a 911 dispatcher.

Among arrests 30 year old Billy McIver of Glades County was charged with assault on law enforcement, drug possession and resisting arrest after deputies allegedly interrupted a theft of tires near LaBelle. A high speed chase ensued but the driver escaped on foot.

On the roads, 46 year old Roger Garrison of Okeechobee was injured seriously in a single vehicle crash at US 98 and nine mile grade in Highlands County early Saturday. Troopers say Garrison failed to stop at the stop sign and struck a concrete culvert.

In glades County, 78 year old Richard Rhynes of Sebirng was killed in a crash on US 27 at Lykes Road Saturday. Officers tried to rescue Rhynes front the burning SUV. Another chain reaction crash claimed a life in Osceola County on state route 60 near Yeehaw Junction Saturday night.

Highlands Co US 27 Delayed Fatal 3-13-15 UPDATE 3-15-15

Hardee Co US 17 3-14-15

Press News Release Missing Juvenile Bivens Located

SFWMD Approves Massive Pump Station to Help Protect St. Lucie River

Sports Cast for March 16th:

Port St. Lucie took advantage of 4 Okeechobee errors and Zack Taglieri pitched a complete game five hit shutout to lead the Jags to a 7-0 victory over the Brahmans in high school baseball Friday. Taglieri added two runs batted in.

Layton Thomas had two hits for Okeechobee.

Coach Eric Kindell said his team continued to struggle at the plate and can’t win games that way. He said the players are putting too much pressure on themselves.

Eric Kindell on loss to PSL

Morgan Blourne Had 16 strikeouts and limited Okeechobee to two hits as South Fork defeated Okeechobee 7-1 in softball Friday night. Okeechobee also made 5 errors.

Coach Mary Huff said her team went from 20 hits against Moore Haven to zero offense against the Bulldogs

Mary Huff on loss to South Fork

The boys baseball team plays four games at the Lake Worth tournament this week, Tuesday through Friday.

Flag football today at home with JV at 4 and varsity at 5 pm.



~Aggressive driving is very dangerous~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – March is “Spring Break” month in Florida, which means more traffic on state highways. And while vacationers are eager to get to their destinations, it is important for drivers to remember that aggressive driving is extremely dangerous, especially around large vehicles such as tractor-trailers or commercial carriers.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has launched its Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) safety campaign to reduce crashes between passenger and large commercial vehicles. Beginning today through March 26, Florida Highway Patrol troopers will be focusing on car and truck drivers who display aggressive driving behaviors.

“Addressing aggressive driving is essential to making Florida’s highways safer for everyone,” said Colonel David Brierton, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Aggressive driving occurs when a motorist commits two or more moving violations, such as speeding, unsafe lane changes, following too closely, not yielding the right of way, improper passing, or failure to obey traffic control devices. Any one of these behaviors is dangerous by itself, and a combination of these can be deadly.”

Don’t be an aggressive driver:

  • Obey posted speed limits
  • Do not tailgate
  • Do not change lanes without warning
  • Pass on the left, not on the right

The Department offers these safety tips for driving around large trucks:

  • Stay out of the “no zone.” Large trucks have large blind spots in front of, behind, and on both sides of the vehicle.
  • Pass trucks on the left side for maximum visibility.
  • Avoid cutting in too soon when passing a truck. Large trucks can’t stop as quickly as other vehicles.
  • Don’t follow too closely behind a truck; you’ll be in the rear blind spot and may rear-end the truck if it stops unexpectedly.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: providing A Safer Florida by securely maintaining the records of more than 19 million registered vehicles and over 15 million licensed drivers, as well as providing safe travel along Florida’s highways. To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit www.flhsmv.gov, follow us on Twitter @FLHSMV or find us on Facebook.

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