Local News

Huntin’ season is here!

Huntin’ season is here!

Even though you can hardly tell, summer is almost over. Kids have returned to school, football is back on TV, and hunting season has already been going on for a month now in south Florida. Finally, the time of year we’ve been waiting for is here. And although some of us still have to wait just a bit longer for our season to come in, most of us have already finished our preseason scouting, and we’ve hung our tree stands along well-traveled deer trails, next to a mature oak that’ll soon begin dropping acorns. I don’t know about y’all, but I got a bad case a BUCK FEVER!

Hunting season always comes in first in Zone A in south Florida. Archery and crossbow seasons there started Aug. 2. But the boundary line between zones A and C has changed this year.

The new line now begins at the Gulf of Mexico and runs northeast through Charlotte Harbor and up the Peace River until it intersects with State Road 70. The line then follows S.R. 70, running east until it meets U.S. 441 north of Lake Okeechobee. It then follows U.S. 441 south, where it proceeds around the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. The line then turns off U.S. 441 and onto S.R. 80 and runs just a few miles before turning east and following County Road 880, running just a few miles before joining back up with U.S. 98/441/S.R. 80/Southern Boulevard until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

Zone B, which makes up part of the Green Swamp Basin, lies south of S.R. 50, west of U.S. 441 and the Kissimmee Waterway, north of S.R. 60 and east of the Gulf of Mexico. This year, archery and crossbow seasons there start Oct. 18.

The line that divides zones C and D begins at U.S. 27 at the Florida-Georgia state line (in Gadsden County) and runs south on U.S. 27 until it meets S.R. 61 in Tallahassee. From there, it follows S.R. 61, running south until it hits U.S. 319. There, the line follows U.S. 319, continuing south to U.S. 98. It then runs east along U.S. 98 until it gets to the Wakulla River, where the river becomes the line, heading south until it meets the St. Marks River and continues going downriver until it meets the Gulf.

If you hunt west of that line, you’re in Zone D, where archery and crossbow seasons begin on Oct. 25 this year. In Zone C (east of that line), archery and crossbow seasons open Sept. 13.

To hunt during archery season, you’ll need a Florida hunting license and an archery permit. During crossbow season, you’ll need a hunting license and crossbow permit. If you’re a Florida resident, an annual hunting license will cost $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months. Archery and crossbow permits cost just $5 each, and all deer hunters must have the $5 deer permit. Anyone planning on hunting one of Florida’s many WMAs must purchase a management area permit for $26.50.

And don’t forget to pick up the WMA brochure for the area you wish to hunt, because hunting season dates on many of the areas often differ from zonal dates. You can pick up a copy of WMA brochures at your local tax collector’s office or read them at MyFWC.com/Hunting.

During archery season and that part of crossbow season that runs concurrent with archery, you can take both legal bucks and antlerless deer (except for spotted fawns). But after archery ends, during the remaining portion of the crossbow season, only legal bucks may be taken. The daily bag limit on deer is two. Bag limits for deer on WMAs can differ, so check the specifics of the area before you hunt.

You can hunt wild hogs on private lands year-round with no bag or size limits. On most WMAs, there’s also no bag or size limits, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. On a few WMAs though, bag and size limits do apply, so be sure to check the brochure for the specific area to be certain.

It’s also legal to shoot gobblers and bearded turkeys during archery and crossbow seasons, assuming you have a turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents). You can now take two turkeys in a single day on private lands, but the two-bird fall-season limit still applies, and the daily bag limit for turkeys is still one on WMAs. It’s against the law to hunt turkeys in Holmes County in the fall, and it’s illegal to shoot them while they’re on the roost, over bait, when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when bait is present or with the aid of recorded turkey calls.

The archery permit allows you to bow hunt during the archery season. On private property, a crossbow permit enables you to hunt during the crossbow season with either a crossbow or a bow. On WMAs, only hunters with a disabled crossbow permit are allowed to use crossbows during archery season. All bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds, and hand-held releases are permitted. For hunting deer, hogs and turkeys, broadheads must have at least two sharpened edges with a minimum width of 7/8 inch.

Tony Young is the media relations coordinator for the FWC’s Division of Hunting and Game Management. He can be reached with questions about hunting at Tony.Young@MyFWC.com.

Corps to host public meetings on dike rehabilitation

Corps to host public meetings on dike rehabilitation

John Campbell

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will host four public meetings to provide an update on rehabilitation efforts at the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee.

Since 2007, the Corps has been engaged in projects to address concerns with the dike’s integrity.  To date, work has focused on installation of a 22-mile “cutoff wall” between Port Mayaca and Belle Glade on the east side of the lake that has helped reduced erosion caused by seepage in the dike.  Additionally, the Corps is replacing or removing 32 water control structures that are presently seen as the greatest threat of dike failure.

In recent months, the Corps has also undertaken a Dam Safety Modification Study (DSMS) that will provide a roadmap of projects necessary to reduce the risk of failure of the 143-mile earthen structure.

“The intent of these meetings is to inform people about the remaining risks that need to be addressed and to discuss our ideas for addressing those issues,” said Tim Willadsen, Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation Project Manager.  “The feedback we receive at these meetings will be taken into consideration as we develop the plan that guides the projects we execute in the future.”

The meetings will be held in the following locations in south Florida:
• Sept. 22—Okeechobee County Health Dept 1728 NW 9th Ave., Okeechobee, Fla.
• Sept. 23—John Boy Auditorium, 1200 South W.C. Owen Ave., Clewiston, Fla.
• Sept. 24—Jupiter Community Center, 200 Military Trail, Jupiter, Fla.
• Sept. 25—South Fla. Water Mgt. Dist. Service Center, 2301 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, Fla.

All meetings will begin with an open house at 6:30 p.m. followed by a presentation at 7 p.m.  For more information on the Herbert Hoover Dike project, visit the Jacksonville District website at


The Buffalo Bills sign Lonnie Pryor

The Buffalo Bills sign Lonnie Pryor

Orchard Park, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills are now one spot away from filling their practice squad.

On Monday morning, the Bills announced the signing of fullback Lonnie Pryor and guard D.J. Morrell to their practice squad, which leaves one open spot on the 10-player practice squad.

Pryor, a Florida State product, started his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars after going undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Jaguars’ practice squad before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed him. Pryor was with the Bucs through the preseason before being released.

Morrell went undrafted out of Old Dominion in the 2014 NFL Draft and spent time with both the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams this summer. He’s 6-feet-6-inches tall and 325 pounds.

Quarterback Jeff Tuel, defensive ends Ike Igbinosun and Bryan Johnson, wide receiver Caleb Holley, safety Deon Broomfield, linebacker Jimmy Gaines and safety Kenny Ladler were signed to the practice squad on Sunday.

Charles Murphy News 9/2

News Cast for September 2nd:

Golgotha Ministries was the subject of a recent presentation before the Kiwanis Club in Okeechobee. Morgan Lumpkin says participants in the program is for recovering addicts to drug an alcohol and is centered on Jesus Christ. He said the participants are expected to work hard in the program. The program is young but has high hopes of treating those with drug and alcohol addictions.

The Okeechobee school board found that former Union President Tom Bonasera violated 8 different policies after a employment termination hearing last week, he was accused of giving a fellow teacher prescription pain pills Tramadol in exchange for her nude photographs last February.

Bonasera says it was mostly a joke and that he wasn’t giving the teacher enough pills to cause her to have an addiction. The Board found Bonasera committed an immoral act, committed misconduct in office and brought disgrace upon the teaching profession. They could move to fire him at their September board meeting next week.

A 29 year old motorcyclist was killed Monday evening when he ran the stop sign at the intersection of 68 east and 441 north, struck a wooden fence, and was ejected. Troopers say Reece Lopez was westbound when the crash occurred.

Florida s Cowtown Rodeo

Okeechobee, Fla., Aug. 31-Sept. 1

All-around cowboy: (tie) Juan Alcazar Jr, steer wrestling and team roping, and Corey Fussell, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and team roping, $808 each.

Bareback riding: First round: 1. Colt Kitaif, 70 points on Silver Spurs Club’s Cher, $226; 2. Shelton Murphy, 68, $169; 3. Chris Smith, 66, $113; no other qualified rides. Second round: 1. Colt Kitaif, 79 points on Silver Spurs Club’s Ned Ross, $226; 2. Jon Luse, 73, $169; 3. Blade Elliott, 69, $113; no other qualified rides. Average: 1. Colt Kitaif, 149 points on two head, $226; 2. Jon Luse, 73, $169; 3. Blade Elliott, 69, $113; 4. Shelton Murphy, 68, $56.

Steer wrestling: 1. Juan Alcazar Jr, 3.4 seconds, $808; 2. Erin Bullin, 4.5, $606; 3. Leo Mobley, 5.0, $404; 4. Payton Caudill, 5.1, $202.

Team roping: 1. Bradley Massey/Shane Hester, 6.2 seconds, $1,034 each; 2. Dillon Bird/Mark Strickland, 7.3, $776; 3. Zeb Chapman/Tom Bourne, 8.1, $517; 4. Allen Ulrici/Jordon Ulrici, 9.1, $259.

Saddle bronc riding: First round: 1. Andrew Harris, 77 points on Silver Spurs Club’s Frog, $248; 2. Cole Bilbro, 73, $186; 3. Joe Farren, 69, $124; 4. Whit Ashe, 62, $62. Second round: 1. Justin Caylor, 79 points on Silver Spurs Club’s Frog, $248; 2. Cole Bilbro, 69, $186; 3. Joe Farren, 63, $124; 4. Whit Ashe, 56, $62. Average: 1. Cole Bilbro, 142 points on two head, $248; 2. Justin Caylor, 140, $186; 3. Joe Farren, 132, $124; 4. Whit Ashe, 118, $62.

Tie-down roping: 1. Corey Fussell, 9.4 seconds, $808; 2. Ben Mayworth, 9.6, $606; 3. Lane Bateman, 9.7, $404; 4. (tie) Brad Hartt and Seth Rodriguez, 11.6, $101 each.

Barrel racing: 1. Jodi Jansen, 16.09 seconds, $848; 2. Brittney Willis, 16.12, $737; 3. Megan Swint, 16.16, $626; 4. (tie) Tracy Bishop and Shawna Bourne, 16.20, $461 each; 6. Amanda Amos, 16.22, $295; 7. (tie) Deb Brannon and Teal Hampton, 16.29, $129 each.

Bull riding: 1. Alencar Anderson, 69 points on Silver Spurs Club’s Wham-o, $775; 2. Wagner Luciano, 64, $581; 3. Michael Riggs Jr., 52, $387; no other qualified rides.

Total payoff: $19,596. Stock contractor: Silver Spurs Club. Sub-contractor: Five Star Rodeo.

Click here for a directory of PRCA Photographers

Sports Cast for September 2nd:

A defensive battle filled with penalties Friday as Okeechobee fell to Glades Day 6-0 to open the regular season.

Cory Surls 8 yard touchdown pass in the final minute to Tight End Christopher Guerry was the only score of the game. A 37 yard drive was set up by a blocked punt by the Gators. Okeechobee was held to 150 yards in offense and had over 1 hundred yards in penalties.

Brahman Coach Chris Branham placed the blame at the lack of serious preparation this week as his kids got too high after a big win over Lake Placid. Antawyn Fludd had 60 yards rushing on six carries to lead Okeechobee. Daniel Duncanson ran for 72 yards to lead Glades Day.

Brahman QB Brandon Shockley said he felt the team should have practiced harder last week. This week Okeechobee will travel to Sebring to take on the Blue Streak.

Interview with Shockley

Moore Haven lost at Dade Christian 37-0.

On the schedule today, Moore Haven volleyball visits Sebring, bowling hosts Fort Pierce this afternoon at 3:30 pm, girls volleyball visits Vero Beach.

Buccaneers cut Lonnie Pryor, Keith Lewis, Ka’lial Glaud in final roster cuts – Bucs Nation

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have cut two players to start the process of getting down to a 53-man roster. According to Greg Auman, cornerback Keith Lewis, linebacker Ka’lial Glaud and fullback Lonnie Pryor were all released today. Lewis was an undrafted rookie out of Virginia-Lynchburg, while Lonnie Pryor was a local favorite signed late last year. Glaud was an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers last year who spent 7 games on the roster primarily as a special teams player.

Lewis actually recorded an interception yesterday, but that wasn’t enough to keep him on the roster. Lonnie Pryor lost the battle at the fullback position to Jorvorskie Lane, a competition he never really threatened to win. All three players are still eligible for the practice squad.

The Bucs have to cut 19 more players before Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET to finish their initial round of roster cuts. And then they’ll continue to tweak the bottom of the roster as they get the opportunity to claim waiver wire players they like, and add some of their own cuts and other players to the practice squad.

You can follow all of today’s roster moves in our Roster Cuts Story Stream.

Buccaneers cut Lonnie Pryor, Keith Lewis, Ka’lial Glaud in final roster cuts – Bucs Nation.

Returning Home After Suppressing Wildfires in Oregon

Returning Home After Suppressing Wildfires in Oregon

Palmdale, FL – Florida Forest Service Forest Ranger Tom Hopkins returns home to Glades County after suppressing wildfires in the state of Oregon.  Tom served eighteen days fighting multiple wildfires across the state, including the Pumice Complex (Crater Lake National Park), running initial attack in the Chiloquin National Forest, and ending on the Murderers Creek Fire (John Day). As Assistant Crew Boss of a twenty-person wildland firefighting hand-crew, his days were full of eating smoke and battling flames, while at night he served as his crew liaison. The Florida Forest Service established a hand-crew consisting of 20 nationally qualified wildland firefighters who served on the front lines of wildland fire. Working side by side, the crew’s main responsibility was to construct a “fireline” – a strip of land cleared of flammable materials and dug down to mineral soil – around the wildfires to control it and to mop up after the fire.

“The sense of adventure and brotherhood is what drives me to this occupation,” Forest Ranger Tom expounds. “The cohesiveness and dependability that is developed between 20 strangers is amazing. Two weeks in a high stress atmosphere will let you know just how much you need those guys.” The wildland firefighters come together from the tip of the Panhandle, all the way to south Everglades, and everything in between.  A hand-crew’s day starts before sunrise when they obtain the operational briefing. “Extended work hours, and sleeping on the ground is the only down side. The sense of pride, knowing we are battling nature one on one is fulfilling.” Tom states. “Our gear weighs roughly 35-40 lbs and climbing straight up a ridgeline is physically challenging but adrenaline, team work and humor get you through the day.”

“Being the assistant crew boss on the crew is a rewarding job,” says Tom.Depending on their qualifications and skill levels, a twenty person handcrew may be divided into squads (5 firefighters each). “The responsibility of the assistant crew boss is to make sure the crew maintains a steady work pace and to provide direction. Once the outline is there, the crew’s strength as a team really dictates the pace. This crew could take on any task.”

Wildfire handcrews exemplify the American spirit; they are self sufficient and are expected to work hard. They often eat and sleep where they work, without luxury. They face danger daily and are the backbone in the fight against wildfire. Tom says, “I am ready should there be another assignment, today or next year. There are beautiful landscapes that are at risk of unmanaged fire and I am honored to be a part of team that prevents them from burning.”


Please contact your local Florida Forest Service office (Vero Beach 772-778-5085; Port St. Lucie 772-468-3915;

Stuart 772-221-4045; Okeechobee 863-462-5160; Sebring 863-655-6407; Palmdale 863-674-4000).

Please visit our website atwww.floridaforestservice.com/wildfire

FWC recommends Collier County residents take steps to protect small livestock from panthers

FWC recommends Collier County residents take steps to protect small livestock from panthers

Because of recent incidents of Florida panthers taking small livestock in Golden Gates Estates, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is cautioning Collier County residents to take the necessary precautions to properly shelter animals such as goats, sheep, calves, pigs, donkeys and chickens.

“The best way for people to protect small livestock is to keep them in a secure, fenced enclosure with a roof, especially at night,” said FWC panther team leader Darrell Land. “Panther depredations on animals in backyards can be prevented, and we encourage Golden Gate Estates residents to take the necessary steps to protect their animals from being taken by a panther or other predator.”

Similar safety measures should be taken to protect pets like dogs and cats, by keeping them indoors at night or in an outdoor panther-proof pen.

The FWC is investigating and monitoring depredations on so-called hobby livestock that recently have been concentrated in the area of 6th Street SE in Golden Gate Estates. However, panther depredations can occur throughout the area, and biologists encourage the community’s residents who live east of Collier Boulevard to take appropriate steps to protect their backyard animals from all predators roaming this semi-rural area. Predators include bobcats and coyotes as well as panthers.

“The FWC is alerting Golden Gate Estates residents that taking precautions today to protect their small livestock from panthers will have beneficial long-term effects by discouraging panthers and other predators from repeatedly coming back into their community looking for easy prey,” Land said.

People can learn more about living in panther country from the brochure, “A guide to living with Florida Panthers”. It reminds people, for instance, not to feed deer or other wildlife around their home, since that can attract panthers looking for prey.

Land, who has lived in Golden Gate Estates for more than 25 years, said wildlife is common in the area because its relatively large residential lots often include natural habitat areas. The community also is bordered on three sides by conservation lands, which include the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to the east, Picayune Strand State Forest and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park to the south, and Bird Rookery Swamp, part of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, to the north – all of which are regularly used by panthers.

If people have problems or concerns about panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone. To report a panther sighting to the FWC, go to MyFWC.com/PantherSightings.

Additional information about Florida panthers is available at FloridaPantherNet.org.

Golgotha Ministries Talk To Kiwanis About Fresh Produce Co-op (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Golgotha Ministries Talk To Kiwanis About Fresh Produce Co-op (AUDIO INCLUDED)

From left to right: Golgotha Ministries Project Director Morgan Lumpkin, profect participant Holden Knight and Kiwanis presenter Dowling Watford.

From left to right: Golgotha Ministries Project Director Morgan Lumpkin, profect participant Holden Knight and Kiwanis presenter Dowling Watford.

Morgan Lumpkin is the project director for a fresh produce store benefiting Golgotha Ministries and spoke recently to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee. Golgotha Ministries is a transition house for recovering drug and/or alcohol addicts that have completed a Christ centered rehabilitation program.

Participants in the program go to the market, purchase the produce and then help load, unload, sort and package produce for the public. The program is designed to give the residents of the home an income while they transition back to society.

Lumpkin says the program is still young and only two have completed the program with mixed results.


Charles Murphy News 8/29

News Cast for August 29th:


14.3 million might be the compromise to settle the sheriff’s budget impasse with the county and end their court fight. Commissioner Margaret Helton proposed the compromise after the Sheriff reduced his request to 14 point 5 million to run all three different aspects of the operation, law enforcement, and court security. The county would still have to take 1 million out of the landfill trust fund to balance the budget as they would like to keep the tax rate at the roll back rate this year, meaning no property tax increase. Another meeting is planned for Wednesday at 9 am to try and iron out the impasse. The first court hearing in the battle over who runs the jail is set for next Friday.

A 22 year old Okeechobee man held in the Glades County jail on charges of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 15 years old after an investigation by the Seminole Police Department. Bond for Daniel Wacker was set at 1 hundred and 50 thousand dollars.

US Marshalls are on the lookout for an Okeechobee man, 29 year old Jarrod Romani on murder charges from a chain saw theft in Clay County, Florida on June 21st. His friend, 41 year old Jason Kent was killed after a friend of there, 32 year old Nathan Ross apparently stole a chain saw out of another parked vehicle at a convenience store. The victims of that crime gave chase, a fight ensued and Kent ended up dead from a ruptured spleen.

Sports Cast for August 29th:

Okeechobee volleyball gets past Sebring in four games last night, 25-13, 18-25, 25-14 and 25-17 last night to improve to (2-0) on the season. Cheyenne Nunez played a strong game at net for the Lady Brahmans.

She said things appear to be coming together this season. Coach Taylor Pritchard said she was excited by the level of the play and that the girls are really practicing well and learning the game. She said the team has a much more explosive offense this year.

The Brahman Junior Varsity blew out by Vero Beach last night 48-0. The team turned the ball over three times and couldn’t stop the Indians offense.

Coach Joe Smith said the work has only begun for his team.

The varsity Brahmans host Glades Day tonight in a matchup of Big Lake Schools. The Gators were 8-4 last year and reached the regional final in Class 2A. They are led by deep and talented secondary and all state linemen William Mercer.

Moore Haven football travels to Dade Christian. OYFL team travel to Lee County on Saturday.



~Drowsy driving is dangerous driving ~ 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Do you fight to keep your eyes opened and your head up from being tired?  All too often this scenario is real on Florida’s roadways.  To help prevent crashes caused by driver fatigue and to bring awareness to the dangers of drowsy driving, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Department of Transportation are teaming up with lawmakers and safety advocates during Florida’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week on Sept. 1–7 in memory of Ronshay Dugan, who was killed in 2008.

“Driving drowsy can be as dangerous as drunk and drugged driving,” said Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Sleep loss or fatigue slows reaction time, makes drivers less attentive and impairs decision-making skills.”

FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said, “The department recognizes that making our roads safer includes driver responsibility and encourages all motorists not to drive drowsy. Be alert every trip, every time you get behind the wheel.”

“Six years ago, the life of a little girl was tragically taken in a crash that easily could have been prevented,” said state Representative Alan Williams, who sponsored the legislation in 2010. “Drowsy driving can be eliminated by simply planning and making a conscious decision to pull over and rest when you’re tired. I applaud Ronshay’s family for keeping her memory alive and fighting to prevent other senseless deaths.”

How to prevent fatigue driving:

  • Allow plenty of time to get to your final destination.
  • Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
  • Drink caffeine. Two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours.
  • Drive sober.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before you travel.
  • Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours.
  • Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15 to 20-minute nap, if you think you might fall asleep.
  • Use the buddy system, switch drivers when needed.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement.  The Department is leading the way to asafer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol.  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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