Thanks for listening to WOKC Okeechobee's True Country!

Local News

Health and Agriculture Officials Urge Mosquito-Borne Illness Awareness

Health and Agriculture Officials Urge Mosquito-Borne Illness Awareness

Tallahassee, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health is advising residents there has been an increase in mosquito-borne disease activity in several counties across the state. Although no human cases have been reported, several horses and emus have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus. West Nile virus (WNV) and St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus are also present in mosquitoes in Florida. The risk of disease transmission through bites of infected mosquitoes to humans has increased.

The department recommends the following tips for residents and visitors:

  • Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and take basic precautions to help limit exposure.
  • Be aware that emus infected with EEE virus can also potentially expose owners and other animals who are in direct contact with their feces, meat, organs, blood and bodily tissues. Please contact your veterinarian or county health department for information on how to safely handle potentially infected emus.
  • Some wildlife can also be infected with EEE or other mosquito-borne viruses. Do not harvest wild game that appears sick, wear gloves when dressing or preparing meat from carcasses of healthy appearing game, and cook meat well.
  • For information on how to prevent EEE virus infection in horses, emus and camelids (alpacas and llamas, etc.) though vaccination, please consult with your veterinarian, or the University of Florida College of Large Animal Medicine.
  • If you suspect your animal has EEE, consult your veterinarian.
  • EEE is a reportable animal disease. Animals suspected or confirmed with the virus must be reported to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Animal Industry. For more information about the EEE virus or how to report, visit the Division of Animal Industry website at, https://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Animal-Industry.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes, you should remember to “Drain and Cover”:

DRAIN standing water weekly to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use

COVER skin with clothing or repellent.

  • Clothing – Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
    • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, and IR3535 are effective.
    • Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
    • Permethrin insecticide can also be applied to clothing and gear (but not skin)

Tips on Repellent Use

  • Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.
  • In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.
  • Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.
  • If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.

  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios

For more information on what repellent is right for you, see: www.epa.gov/insect-repellents

The department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya and dengue. Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s site www.myfwc.com.

For more information about mosquito-borne diseases including current surveillance data, visit DOH’s website at www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases or contact your county health department.

Information from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) about equine infection with EEE and WNV can be found at: www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Animal-Industry/Agriculture-Industry/Horse-Equine/Florida-s-Reportable-Equine-Disease-Map/Eastern-Equine-Encephalitis.

 

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.


News Cast 5/23

News Cast for May 23rd:

Earlier this week, Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen congratulated an area couple, Jim and Beverly McVeigh for their efforts in leading sheriff’s deputies to the arrest of a burglary suspect. The McVeigh’s are part of a community group called the Citizens on Patrol, which is made up of mostly retired, seasonal residents who watch certain homes in the area and are an extension of the eyes and ears of the sheriff’s department. Stephen says these Citizens on Patrol are also contributing to the community in other ways. The Citizens on Patrol was started during former Okeechobee County Sheriff O.L. Raulerson’s tenure.

Stephen-Citizens on Patrol 1

Stephen-Citizens on Patrol 2

The Okeechobee City Council recently approved a proclamation deeming this week as National Public Works Week. This is a time to recognize and appreciate the importance of your public works department as put together by the American Public Works Association. Okeechobee City Public Works Director David Allen was on hand to accept the proclamation and he says whether it’s turning on your lights or using your bathroom, it’s all because of public works. Allen also says the best part of his job is that no two days are alike. Allen says he’s discovered that public works tends to be unappreciated or taken for granted until something goes wrong such as a power outage or backed up plumbing. Allen has been Okeechobee Public Works Director for five years.

Allen-Public Works Week 1

Allen-Public Works Week 2

A routine search of an Okeechobee man on probation resulted in the arrests of him and his girlfriend Monday evening. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies went to the home of 27 year old Steven Albritton on the 32 hundred block of SE 33rd Terrace just after 6:30 for a warrantless search and found drug paraphernalia, two bowls containing marijuana resin and a purple grinder. All of it was found inside the home next to 22 year old Breanna Leigh Hart’s belongings. Albritton was arrested for violating probation and Hart was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug possession. Albritton is being held without bond and Hart’s bond is set at a thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

36 year old Ronald Kevin Drennan of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for burglary of an unoccupied home. His bond has not been set.

30 year old Eric Exantus of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief after causing several dollars’ worth of damage to his girlfriend’s car after a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

20 year old Tyler Allen Holland of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and failure to appear in court on previous charges. He’s being held without bond.

27 year old John W. Hayhurst of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cannabis after a drug deal in a parking lot. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

33 year old Antonio Aguilar Ramirez Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous theft and forgery charges. He’s being held without bond.

27 year old Joseph Immanuel Chamberlin of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous burglary and theft charges. He’s being held without bond.


Making Hissssssssssssssssstory in the Everglades Ecosystem! SFWMD to Broadcast Weigh-in of 1000th Eliminated Python on Facebook Live May 22 at 11 a.m.

Making Hissssssssssssssssstory in the Everglades Ecosystem! SFWMD to Broadcast Weigh-in of 1000th Eliminated Python on Facebook Live May 22 at 11 a.m.

SFWMD Governing Board’s innovative Python Elimination Program reaches milestone in 15 months

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board’s Python Elimination Program has eliminated 1,000 Burmese pythons, protecting countless native species from being ravaged by the invasive, apex predator.

The milestone snake was eliminated this past weekend by python hunter Brian Hargrove.

The weigh-in of the milestone 1000th snake will be broadcast by SFWMD live on its Facebook page on Tuesday, May 22, starting at 11 a.m. The weigh-in will take place at SFWMD’s Homestead Field Station at 2195 NE 8th St, Homestead, FL 33033. District officials and Brian Hargrove will be available at the weigh-in for media interviews.

“The success of this program was made possible through a dedicated team approach,” said SFWMD scientist Mike Kirkland, project manager for the Python Elimination Program. “Staff implemented, hunters executed and our state leadership, particularly Gov. Rick Scott, supported a program that fights for the Everglades every day.”

“Congratulations to the South Florida Water Management District, and the many hunters that have taken part in this program, on the elimination of their 1000th invasive Burmese python,” said U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples. “The 12-foot-long python that is hanging in my office is a daily reminder of the need to eradicate this species and protect the unique ecosystem of our Everglades.”

About the Program

A team of professional python hunters were selected from more than 1,000 applicants and given access to District-owned lands in Miami-Dade County for the pilot phase and later in Broward, Collier and Palm Beach counties as the program expanded. These independent contractors are paid $8.25 per hour, up to eight hours daily, to hunt in the Everglades and humanely euthanize each python they catch in the field according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines. Depending on the size of the snake presented, hunters can also receive additional payments of $50 for pythons measuring up to 4 feet and an extra $25 for each foot measured beyond 4 feet. An additional $200 is awarded for elimination of python nests with eggs.

SFWMD’s Python Elimination Program facilitates the elimination of the invasive snakes on District-owned land. A similar successful program managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Python Removal Contractor Program, pays qualified individuals to survey other specific areas of state-owned land for pythons, either capture or humanely euthanize the snakes and then deposit them at designated drop-off locations.

The invasive Burmese python, which breeds and multiplies quickly and has no natural predator in the Everglades ecosystem, has decimated native populations of wildlife. The more that can be eliminated, especially females and their eggs, the better chance future generations of native wildlife will have to thrive in the Everglades ecosystem that Floridians have invested billions of dollars to restore.

View a gallery of videos of SFWMD Python Elimination Program hunts.

Learn more about SFWMD’s Python Elimination Program.

Learn more about SFWMD efforts to combat invasive and exotic plants.


News Cast 5/22

News Cast for May 22nd:

It came to a rather bizarre end, but an end nonetheless. The trial of 42 year old Michael Lawrence Woodbury, charged with first degree premeditated murder, concluded yesterday in an Okeechobee County courtroom. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says Woodbury, being tried for the murder of his cellmate, Antoneeze Haynes of Broward County, at Okeechobee Correctional Institute last September, represented himself and after he called two witnesses to the stand and questioned them, he took the stand and after answering questions, faced the jury and entered a guilty plea. Albright says while Woodbury never used them, he did have standby counsel available. Woodbury, already serving three life sentences for murders he committed in New Hampshire over ten years ago, will be sentenced in the coming weeks.

Albright-Woodbury Trial Conclusion 1

Albright-Woodbury Trial Conclusion 2

Last night, the Okeechobee Chapter of the Republican Party of Florida held their meeting and had as their special guests the five candidates for Okeechobee County Judge. All five candidates spoke to those in attendance as to their qualifications and why they would make the best candidate to replace the retiring Judge Jerry Bryant. One of them was William Wallace, an attorney in Okeechobee since 2002 and an attorney overall for over 25 years. Wallace believes following the law and common sense are essential to making a good and effective judge. He also says making the case about the client and not about you is just as essential. Another candidate who spoke is Deborah Hooker, a lifelong Okeechobee resident and an attorney and magistrate for over 25 years. Hooker believes her familiarity with the community, her magistrate experience and ability to listen will make her the best candidate but probably more important is her ability to be personable. The other candidates, Roger Azcona, Rebecca Boldt and Donald Chinquina were unavailable for comment.

Judge Candidates 1

Judge Candidates 2

Okeechobee City and County firefighters were called to the Historic County Courthouse yesterday for a report of a fire alarm going off. Firefighters arrived shortly before noon as people that were in the building at the time evacuated quickly to allow crews to search for any fire, which there was none. Okeechobee City Fire Chief Herb Smith says the alarm going off was likely caused by mosquitos getting into the smoke detectors outside and somehow setting it off. Smith says while the location of the alarm is in the city limits, Smith says the fact that it’s a commercial building required city and county crews to be there; also because the city fire department has a ladder truck. No one was hurt in the incident. Coincidentally, the alarm went off at the same time the county firefighters union negotiations were going on in the courthouse.

Courthouse Fire Alarm 1

Courthouse Fire Alarm 2

An Okeechobee man is being held in county jail on a host of charges stemming from an incident Friday evening. Sheriff’s deputies say 47 year old John Zachary Cline came to the home of a woman on the 23 hundred block of NW 6th Street just before eight o’clock and demanded the woman come outside to talk with him. She refused and an argument ensued before the woman’s boyfriend pulled her back into the house. Cline barged into the house with a knife and a fight ensued with both the woman and her boyfriend getting assaulted. Cline left the house and drove away in his pickup truck after smashing the woman’s mailbox. Cline was found sometime later after deputies received a description of his truck. Cline was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault, battery, vandalism and burglary. His bond is set at $65 thousand five hundred dollars.

A 17 year old Avon Park boy is dead and several more are injured after an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle early Sunday morning. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 20 year old Owen Lewis Mack of Sebring was riding the Polaris made ATV on Grand Concourse near Mathes Road when he failed to maintain control while navigating a right hand curve, causing him to go into the opposite lane, overcorrect and overturn several times. All four of Mack’s passengers were ejected from the vehicle. Mack, 19 year old Andrew John Massung of Lake Placid and two 17 year old boys, one from Sebring and the other from Avon Park, were taken to Highlands Regional Medical Center for treatment. Charges are pending against Mack.

On the arrest report:

34 year old Pamela Lynn Thomas of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of child abuse. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

32 year old Claudio Moralez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid license after a vehicle accident. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.

36 year old Daniel Salazar of Okeechobee was arrested by police on an out of county warrant from Port St. Lucie after he was involved in a traffic accident. His bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.

29 year old Avelino Monroy-Tolentino of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and burglary of an unoccupied building. His bond is set at $26 thousand dollars.

25 year old Anthony Gerald Vickers of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

60 year old Robert Eugene Thompson of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on a person over the age of 65 during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

25 year old Eddie Escobedo of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant woman during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

20 year old Isaac Adam-Kade Dickinson of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

33 year old Fay Marie Centers of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant from Highlands for driving on a suspended license. Her bond is set at eight thousand dollars.


News Cast 5/21

News Cast for May 21st:

The trial of a Portland, Maine man, being tried for first degree premeditated murder, concluded its second day on Friday. 42 year old Michael Lawrence Woodbury is being tried for the murder of his cellmate, Antoneeze Haynes of Broward County, at Okeechobee Correctional Institute last September. Prosecutor Ashley Albright has presented all of his witnesses for testimony and he is currently in the middle of presenting a video for the court to see, depicting the incident. Albright says the video was set up by members of the prison staff. Woodbury is already serving three life sentences for murders he committed in New Hampshire over ten years ago. Woodbury was brought to Okeechobee under the Interstate Compact. The trial resumes this morning at 9 am.

Woodbury Trial Second Day 1

Woodbury Trial Second Day 2

Last week, Okeechobee County, and much of Florida for that matter, was hit by some heavy rain and there’s the potential for even more rain this week. Mitch Smeykel of the Emergency Management Center says the heavy rains have brought some flooding in certain areas of Okeechobee, such as the parking lots at Winn-Dixie and Publix on Parrott Avenue. Smeykel says some areas might be prone to aerial flooding. Smeykel says during these times of heavy rain, you should make sure your roofs are in good shape as there are several roofs out there that are still in need of repair after last year’s hurricane season.

Smeykel-Rains 1

Smeykel-Rains 2

Just as the Okeechobee County Commissioners accepted a proclamation at their last meeting declaring this month as Mental Health Awareness Month, Okeechobee City Councilmembers followed suit at their last meeting, accepting the same proclamation. Leah Suarez, project coordinator of the school district’s mental health system of care project, was on hand to accept the proclamation. Suarez says this gives shared values and collaboration between the community and school district in developing a plan for care of children’s mental health. Suarez says the stigma about mental illness, one which needs to be eliminated, is the sheer embarrassment of it. Suarez also says mental illness does not discriminate and the illness is different in every home and family. Kelly Chapman, clinical director of Hibiscus Children’s Center was also on hand for the proclamation.

Suarez 1

Suarez 2

On the arrest report:

39 year old Jonathan Maurice Corde of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a municipal park. His bond is set at $56 thousand dollars.

25 year old Anthony Gerald Vickers of Okeechobee was arrested for purchasing and possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

59 year old Ivan Garrison Griffin of Okeechobee was arrested for purchasing and possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $11 thousand dollars.

27 year old Krista Maria Duarte of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief. She was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

50 year old Robert Edwin Hargrave of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana. His bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.

54 year old Robert Allen Pohl of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of oxycodone with intent to sell and tampering with evidence. His bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.

55 year old James Patrick Anderson of Bradenton was arrested for drunk driving and driving on a revoked license. His bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.


News Cast 5/18

News Cast for May 18th:

A Portland, Maine man was on trial yesterday to answer for charges of first degree premeditated murder. 42 year old Michael Lawrence Woodbury is being tried for the murder of his cellmate, Antoneeze Haynes of Broward County, at Okeechobee Correctional Institute last September. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says he and his colleague Don Richardson have introduced six of the state’s witnesses and most of their physical evidence and will be introducing their final witness today. Albright says they will also be introducing a two hour video for the jury to examine. Woodbury is already serving three life sentences for murders he committed in New Hampshire over ten years ago. Woodbury was brought to Okeechobee under the Interstate Compact. Albright and Richardson are seeking the death penalty. The trial will resume at 9 am this morning.

Albright-Woodbury Case First Day 1

Albright-Woodbury Case First Day 2

Okeechobee City Councilmembers reviewed the budget during their meeting this week, as we are at the midpoint of the year. Finance Director India Riedel says the budget for the most part is in good shape with revenues being slightly higher and while maintenance costs are up, they are within the budget. Riedel says at the midpoint, the general feeling is that half of the city’s general fund would have been used already but the city has only used 43 percent. Riedel says the only adjustment to the budget was funding for the new school resource officers. Councilmembers approved the amended budget unanimously.

Riedel 1

Riedel 2

Tomorrow, during the War Veterans’ Appreciation Day, four members of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department will be receiving quilts from the Quilts of Honor, along with Freedom Ranch, as a special thank you for their service. Deputies Jack Nash, Steve Pollock and Quinton Speed, along with Lt. Shane Snyder, all are veterans of the US Armed Forces and Combat Veterans. Sheriff Noel Stephen says this kind of recognition is a sort of “double kudos” for them. This is an honor that has to be approved and verified by the US Department of Defense. War Veterans Appreciation Day began today at 10 am on the 11 thousand block of Route 441.

Stephen-Quilts of Honor

A special fishing tournament will be held tomorrow in honor of an Apopka man who lost his life during a fishing trip last January on Lake Okeechobee. Mike Krause, owner of the Okeechobee Fishing Headquarters, has organized the Nicholas Kayler Memorial Tournament at Okee-Tantie Park. Krause says he came up with the idea for the tournament during the candlelight vigil for Kayler shortly after his body was recovered. Krause says they’re expecting upwards of 150 boats for this tournament with over sixty boats already registered. You can still register online at www.nikkaylertournament.com or by calling (863) 763-2248.

Krause 1

Krause 2

A car chase with Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies resulted in the arrest of an Okeechobee couple early Wednesday morning. Deputies say 34 year old Shaun Anthony Tedford was driving near the three thousand block of SE 18th Terrace just before 6:30 and wouldn’t stop as ordered by deputies. The chase took them to the 26 hundred block of SE 29th Street where it finally ended. Tedford was pulled from the vehicle as was his passenger, 45 year old Shawnee Lynn Hills. After a search, Hills had methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia on her and she was arrested and charged with those offenses. Tedford was arrested and charged with driving without a license and eluding law officers. Their bonds have not been set at this time.

An Okeechobee man is being charged with aggravated child abuse after a recent incident. Sheriff’s deputies say 25 year old Ryan Jenkins-Smith reportedly kicked his girlfriend’s two year old son, severely breaking his leg, and then lying about it to his girlfriend and authorities. Jenkins-Smith’s girlfriend had left her two children, a four year old girl and two year old boy, in Jenkins-Smith’s care as she went shopping and returned home and found her son’s leg swollen. Jenkins-Smith says her son’s leg was caught between the wall and a mattress, causing it to break. Officials at Raulerson Hospital instead claimed the broken leg was caused by abuse. Investigators say Jenkins-Smith kicked the boy because he couldn’t stay still. Jenkins-Smith was arrested and booked into Okeechobee County jail and his bond has not been set.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Joseph Immanuel Chamberlin of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past theft and burglary charges. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

35 year old Brent James Havens of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

28 year old Dominga Saucedo of Okeechobee was arrested for animal cruelty. She was released after posting a four thousand dollar bond.

35 year old Carl Lee Kimbril, Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana. He was released after posting bond.

20 year old Lillian Louise Geary of Port St. Lucie was arrested for trespassing. She’s being held on a five hundred dollars bond.

36 year old Anton Clark of Riviera Beach was arrested on an out of county warrant from Palm Beach for felony battery. He’s being held without bond.


Branham Using Spring Practice To Evaluate Young Team (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

Branham Using Spring Practice To Evaluate Young Team (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

Okeechobee High School football is wrapping up spring practice in getting ready for the Purple and White game for Friday. 11th Year Head Coach Chris Branham spoke with WOKC about what he wanted to accomplish with spring practice, the quarterback race and other spring practice tidbits.

LISTEN TO CHRIS BRANHAM DISCUSS SPRING PRACTICE AND THE PURPLE AND WHITE GAME (RUN TIME 9:18)


News Cast 5/17

News Cast for May 17th:

Okeechobee County law officers past and present, community leaders and residents gathered in front of the Sheriff’s Department yesterday morning for a memorial to pay respects to Florida law officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2017. A total of nine Florida law officers died in the line of duty last year. Sheriff Noel Stephen spoke of grief giving way to humility and pride when talking of the fallen officers and they deserve more than our sadness. Stephen says once every 58 hours, a law officer is killed; a sobering statistic that officers keep in mind when doing a tough and sometimes thankless job. The memorial began with the introduction of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office’s Color Guard followed by Alicia Esque of Okeechobee singing “America.”

Fallen Officers Memorial 1

Fallen Officers Memorial 2

The trial for a Portland, Maine man, charged with first degree premeditated murder, begins this morning in Okeechobee County Superior Court. 42 year old Michael Lawrence Woodbury is being tried for the murder of his cellmate, Antoneeze Haynes of Broward County, at Okeechobee Correctional Institute last September. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says he and his colleague, Don Richardson, have pretty much put their lives on hold for a while to work on this case. Albright says he and Richardson questioned in excess of two hundred potential jurors over a two and half day period before settling on their jury. Woodbury is already serving three life sentences for murders he committed in New Hampshire over ten years ago. Woodbury was brought to Okeechobee under the Interstate Compact.

Albright-Woodbury Case Opening 1

Albright-Woodbury Case Opening 2

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a rash of vehicle thefts and burglaries in the last three days. Investigators say there have been twelve reported cases of vehicle burglaries and/or thefts in the Kings Bay and Treasure Island areas of Okeechobee. Investigators say a lot of the items that have been taken include wallets, stereo speakers and power tools. In a couple of cases, two vehicles were actually stolen; a 2017 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and a 2005 Silver GMC Sierra pickup truck. If you have any information on these thefts and burglaries, please contact the sheriff’s office immediately. Meanwhile, please keep your vehicles locked and in a closed garage if possible.

Officials at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department say that a peacock was found at SE 8th Avenue recently and is now being impounded at the Okeechobee County Animal Control Department. If the peacock is not claimed in three days, it will be offered up for adoption or disposed of humanely.

On the arrest report:

47 year old Dennis Wayne Maynor of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

54 year old Robert Allen Pohl of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license with knowledge of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

26 year old Leonel Ruiz of Okeechobee was arrested for resisting arrest without violence after deputies questioned him about a domestic violence complaint. His bond has not been set.

33 year old Fay Marie Centers was arrested for not paying child support. She’s being held on a thousand dollar bond.

19 year old Quanisha Ferrol of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft of items worth over $300 dollars at Wal-Mart. Her bond has not been set.

56 year old Georgann Denise Hewitt of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation of past theft charges. She’s being held without bond.


News Cast 5/16

News Cast for May 16th:

This morning in front of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s office there was a memorial for all law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2017. The memorial began at 9am.

An Okeechobee man is dead after a vehicle accident on Friday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 41 year old Trent E. Clay was riding a Yamaha XVS950 motorcycle south on SW 67th Drive near Highway 70 just after 11:30 when he didn’t approach a slight left curve properly, causing him to go off the road and overturn. Clay and the bike then went airborne and both landed on the grassy shoulder of the road. Clay was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital for treatment where he later died from his injuries. The accident is being investigated.

Extension members of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science at the University of Florida held a workshop over the last two days at the Okeechobee County Emergency Management Center to determine a way to get the public to understand how to help the ecosystem restoration in places like the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. Okeechobee City Councilman Gary Ritter was present at the workshop and he says the pressing issue is trying to get the right message out with facts and science. Ritter says it’s of paramount importance because Okeechobee is an agricultural community and that will be a key to the ecosystem restoration. Ritter says it’s also important for community leaders to get the right information on ecosystem restoration to their constituents.

Ritter-IFAF Workshop

The wheels are now in motion for the city of Okeechobee to have a magistrate for code enforcement issues. City Councilmembers last night gave direction to Administrator Marcos Montes de Oca to begin the process of hiring a magistrate in lieu of the code enforcement board. Montes de Oca says the new magistrate will need certain qualities, both tangible and intangible, to be effective. Montes de Oca says being a member of the code enforcement board is often a difficult job with several of its members taking a lot of heat for the city council. The magistrate should be in place by October.

Magistrate 1

Magistrate 2

Last week, the Okeechobee County Commissioners approved a proclamation making the month of May Mental Health Awareness Month in the county. Mickey Hoffmeier of the Sun Coast Mental Health Center was on hand to accept the proclamation. Hoffmeier says it’s a time for the community and schools to be better educated about mental health and reducing the stigma about mental illness that prevents them from getting the proper care. Hoffmeier says mental illness often starts with anxiety. Hoffmeier says the stigma regarding mental health is still there mainly because of old stories and movies like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Hoffmeier 1

Hoffmeier 2

Okeechobee County Firefighters had a couple of fires to contend with this past Saturday and both are being investigated. Crews were first called to the 32 hundred block of SE 34th Avenue just after 2:15 pm for a grass and brush fire. Crews got the blaze controlled in less than ten minutes with no one getting hurt and no damages.

A little less than six hours later, firefighters were called to the 18 hundred block of NE 48th Avenue for a building fire. Crews arrived and found the building, which was abandoned, completely covered in flames. Crews got the blaze controlled in just over an hour with about 15 thousand gallons of water and no injuries. Total damage is estimated at about $20 thousand dollars. Investigators say this same building caught fire eight months ago and there was no electricity there.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a major theft that happened over the weekend. Investigators say someone stole a yellow Caterpillar 305 Mini Excavator E-2 from Concept Construction at Lock 7 near the 100 block of Highway 78 West sometime between Friday morning and early Monday morning. Investigators say the superintendent of Concept Construction says he noticed it was gone as he was on his way to Jacksonville and it had been last seen near the dumpster there. The yellow Caterpillar 305 Mini Excavator E-2’s value is just over $58 thousand, five hundred dollars. Any information about it should be forwarded to the sheriff’s office.

A vehicle accident on Friday afternoon claimed the lives of two Lehigh Acres men and seriously injured a Lehigh Acres woman. Florida Highway Patrol officer say 25 year old Cameron Matthew Goltry was driving a Mitsubishi GS sedan behind another vehicle east on Route 82 in Lehigh Acres just after 1:30 when the vehicle in front of Goltry’s car, a pickup truck, lost some of its load and it fell right in the path of Goltry’s car. While Goltry was trying to avoid the falling load, he drove right into the path of an oncoming Kia Forte sedan, colliding with it. Goltry was pronounced dead at the scene. The two passengers in the Kia Forte, 53 year old Mireya Ramos and 24 year old Joel Lopez were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Lopez died from his injuries and Ramos is in serious condition. The accident is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Adam J. Souza of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for disorderly intoxication. His bond has not been set.

20 year old Isaac Adam-Kade Dickinson of Okeechobee was arrested for engaging in lewd and lascivious acts on someone. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.


News Cast 5/15

News Cast for May 15th:

Two Okeechobee women and one Okeechobee boy are dead after a vehicle accident Friday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 66 year old Valerie J. Edlemon was driving a Kia Sportage utility vehicle north on Highway 441 near Route 60 just before two o’clock when the driver of an oncoming Dodge Challenger attempted to pass a semi-truck, causing the Dodge to collide head on with Edlemon’s vehicle. That collision caused Edlemon’s vehicle to be projected into the path of the semi-truck, hitting it head-on. Edlemon and one of her passengers, 49 year old Tonya L. Macon, were pronounced dead at the scene. Edlemon’s other passenger, a fourteen year old Okeechobee boy, died from his injuries at Raulerson Hospital. The accident shut down the road in both directions for close to five hours. It is under investigation.

Today, the flags will be at half-staff all over the state of Florida and around the country, in honor of Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy William J. Gentry, Junior. Gentry was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 7th while he was questioning a man in connection with the shooting death of a neighbor’s cat. Highlands County Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says Governor Rick Scott will be making an appearance this morning to honor the fallen deputy in a special ceremony this morning. Dressel says Gov. Scott cut short an overseas trip to attend this ceremony, beginning at 11 am. It is expected that five thousand people will attend. Meanwhile, the man who shot Gentry, 69 year old Joseph Edward Ables of Lake Placid, is awaiting trial for first degree murder.

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will meet tonight and among the items on the agenda include implementing a magistrate in lieu of the code enforcement board and approving the proposed amended budget for this year. The meeting begins at 6pm in city hall.

The Okeechobee County School Board will also be meeting tonight and they will be having a presentation of the US Health Department’s Healthier US School Challenge awards. They’ll also be looking at an agreement with Indian River State College for the Research Coast Career Pathways Consortium. The meeting will begin at 6pm at the school board office.

This week is Water Reuse Week in not only Okeechobee County but also in Florida. Officials at the South Florida Water Management District made the announcement at the end of last week. Libby Pigman of the Water Management District says April and May are typically the driest months of the year and it’s the time of heightened awareness of how precious our water availability is and what we can do to better conserve it. Pigman says Florida leads the nation in water re-use. Pigman says fortunately last year’s wet season has allowed the height of Lake Okeechobee to be just over thirteen feet going into this year’s wet season, allowing for good water supply.

An Okeechobee man is being charged with a series of infractions after two separate incidents over the past two weeks. Sheriff’s deputies say 26 year old Seth Tyler Atkinson stole a car from a woman who drove him into town after he was supposed to meet a friend Saturday afternoon. The woman, who had a flat tire, allowed Atkinson to fix her tire, but he instead stole the car. Deputies were called and Atkinson was eventually found sitting in a refrigerator at a home on the nine hundred block of NE 30th Avenue and deputies arrested and restrained him after he resisted. The woman’s car was recovered and a search of the car revealed items that Atkinson had stolen from a home late last month. He was arrested and booked into county jail on charges of grand theft auto, burglary, dealing in stolen property and resisting arrest. He’s being held without bond.

Two Okeechobee men, already incarcerated, are in even more trouble after an incident Friday afternoon at Okeechobee County Jail. Sheriff’s deputies say 33 year old Antonio Aguilar Ramirez Junior and 29 year old Timmy Lee went into the cell of a fellow inmate and brutally beat him with kicks and punches. The battered inmate had bruises on both eyes, legs and there was swelling on his face. Lee and Ramirez were charged with battery. The incident is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Richard Aponte Morales of Okeechobee was arrested by police on an out of county warrant for domestic battery in Highlands County. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.

25 year old Patrick Neal Naugle of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of Xanax and drug paraphernalia after he was caught shoplifting. His bond is set at eight thousand dollars.

41 year old Edward Swanson Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past battery charges. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

29 year old Kyle Leslie Salvo of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing and shoplifting from Wal-Mart. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

34 year old Jock Lee Glueckert of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation. He was arrested after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

22 year old Bryson O’Neill Shockley of Okeechobee was arrested by Florida Fish and Wildlife authorities for driving an airboat while intoxicated. He was released after posting a $500 dollar bond.

45 year old Lisa Aguilar Garcia Cardena of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. She was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

35 year old Timothy Lee Canull of Lake Worth was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.


« Previous PageNext Page »