Local News

Suspect Arrested for 48 Counts of Domestic Capital Sexual Battery

Suspect Arrested for 48 Counts of Domestic Capital Sexual Battery



Osceola County – Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Waldo Rodriguez-Ferrer and charged him with 48 counts of Domestic Capital Sexual Battery and 16 counts of Domestic Sexual Battery.

The investigation began when deputies received a report in mid-February of possibly sexual battery. The victims, both 17-years old, told deputies a family member forced them to have sex on multiple occasions since they were 7 and 8 years old. The girls were afraid to speak out before because they feared the family member.

Based on their statements, Rodriguez was brought in for questioning but did not cooperate with the investigation. Based on their statements and the evidence, Rodriguez was arrested and booked into the Osceola County Jail. Due to the age of the victims during some of the incidents, Rodriguez’s charges were enhanced to Capital Sexual Battery. He was booked into the Osceola County Jail with no bond.

Waldo Rodriguez-Ferrer (DOB 9/1/60), specific address is exempt to protect the identity of the victims

Suspect Arrested for 48 Counts of Domestic Capital Sexual Battery

Governor Rick Scott Breaks Ground on I-4 Ultimate Project

Governor Rick Scott Breaks Ground on I-4 Ultimate Project

ORLANDO, Fla. - Governor Rick Scott today participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the $2.3 billion I-4 Ultimate project, which will rebuild Interstate 4 through metro-Orlando. Governor Scott broke ground on the project at the Maitland Interchange, and the project will rebuild 21 miles of I-4 from Kirkman Road in Orange County to just east of State Road 434 in Seminole County, adding two new tolled Express Lanes in each direction, replacing more than 140 bridges, reconfiguring 15 major interchanges and reconstructing the entire existing roadway. The use of a public-private partnership for the I-4 Ultimate project will help deliver these improvements nearly 20 years sooner than using conventional methods. With roughly 1.5 million daily trips on I-4, the I-4 Ultimate project will greatly reduce congestion for travelers.

Governor Scott said, “Today, I’m proud to announce that we have broken ground on the I-4 Ultimate project, a $2.3 billion investment that will dramatically improve and expand the I-4 corridor in the Orlando area. The I-4 Ultimate project will reduce congestion while continuing to make our roadways better, safer and easier for Florida families and our visitors. Transportation projects like this will encourage people and businesses from around the world to move to our state and keep us on a path to become the global leader in job creation.”

The I-4 Mobility Partners team has been selected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the project through a public-private partnership concession agreement. FDOT is advancing this project on an expedited basis. The I-4 Ultimate could see nearly 2,000 people working on the project, including engineers and designers behind the scenes. The project is also expected to benefit businesses and workers supporting the project, such as construction material suppliers and manufacturers.

In the coming weeks and months, motorists will see work along the corridor beginning to take shape. Project completion is expected in 2021.

FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold said, “I appreciate the leadership of Governor Scott and the legislature for moving this signature project forward. The department will work around-the-clock to ensure that we do all we can to lessen the impact of this major reconstruction project on the traveling public.”

Senate President Andy Gardiner said, “The Orlando area is an international destination. This project improves mobility and safety for the millions of people who visit the region every year. It also brings jobs and enhances the local economy.”

Hou Speaker Steve Crisafulli said, “The I-4 Ultimate will provide critical infrastructure that will enable us to continue to expand our business development, cultivate growth, and create jobs. This is a big step forward for Central Florida.”

Senator Jack Latvala said, “I am encouraged to see Florida is growing again. Projects like these keep up the momentum and benefit Florida families and visitors.”

Senator Jeff Brandes said, “This is one of the most exciting projects in the state of Florida today,” stated Senator Brandes. “This project in Orlando has a positive reach that will be felt statewide.”

Senator Kelli Stargel said, “These improvements along I-4 will serve all of Florida and benefit the entire I-4 corridor and our economy as a whole. As a Senator who spends many hours driving on I-4, I’m looking forward to these needed improvements.”

Representative Patrick Rooney said, “I know that as transportation goes, so does the regional and state economy. This major project along I-4 benefits economic development regionally and statewide.”

Representative Robert Cortes said, “This critical infrastructure project will spur economic development and create thousands of jobs in central Florida and beyond. This project will also improve the region’s entire transportation system, helping move people, freight, and services in a more efficient manner.”

Representative Tom Goodson said, “Major projects like this one are job creators; improving business prospects and the quality of life for residents and visitors.”

Representative Mike Miller said, “Transportation is the economic engine that fuels Florida’s economy. As a public private partnership, the I-4 Ultimate project will save hardworking taxpayers’ dollars while delivering the project nearly two decades sooner than could otherwise be expected.”

For more information on the I-4 Ultimate project, please go to http://i4ultimate.com/




High school students and their parents concerned about the cost of college are invited to Dual Enrollment Information Sessions held by Indian River State College in each of the four counties served by IRSC. Dual Enrollment provides an opportunity for high school students to begin working on their college degree for free while finishing high school, saving time and thousands of dollars in tuition for students and their parents. Dates and locations for the upcoming free information session in Okeechobee is :

Okeechobee County

Tuesday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Dixon Hendry Campus, 2229 N.W. 9th Street, Okeechobee

Dual Enrollment students complete requirements toward high school graduation and earn college credits at the same time without paying college tuition.  For example, classes such as College Algebra and English Composition that cost $600 in tuition and books at a state university can be completed at no tuition charge to students and their parents.

Dual Enrollment provides high school students with many benefits. The courses are offered at times that are convenient for the student’s schedule. Dual Enrollment courses are weighted the same as Honors, Advanced Placement, Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) and International Baccalaureate courses when high school grade point averages are calculated. Credits earned through Dual Enrollment readily transfer to all Florida public universities and most universities nationally.

Contact the IRSC Information Call Center toll-free at 1-866-792-4772 questions or email info@irsc.edu for more information.

Charles Murphy News 2/17

News Cast for February 17th:

Sean Downing, Alyson Shirley, Glenetta Ellis and Jody Hays of Osceola Middle School.

Sean Downing, Alyson Shirley, Glenetta Ellis and Jody Hays of Osceola Middle School.

Okeechobee high school hit by a burglar sometime overnight Thursday. The perpetrator made his way into the art room through a window, stole a computer and egged the room causing damage to other computers. A 17 year old teen charged with grand theft auto and running from police Saturday.

Okeechobee City police say the youth stole the Infinity 4 door sedan from a residence on South West 9th Street. They located the vehicle in the Brahman Theatre parking lot 10 minutes later. The suspect fled the scene on foot but was later found in a shed at 1307 South Parrott Avenue.

2014 was a safer year for Manatees in the state. Katie Tripp says this reverses a trend of high mortality rates for manatees. She says they hope the death rate continues to decline. On Lake Okeechobee a manatee died at the Moore Haven locks in an apparent operator error, another died at the Port Mayaca locks. One manatee died on the Kissimmee River in Okeechobee in a crash with a boater. Another died in a boat accident in the lake. Several died in the Caloosahatchee River.

Katie Tripp Save the Manatee club

Navy Petty Officer Franklin J. Powell, from LaBelle Fla., serves aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)

Navy Petty Officer Franklin J. Powell, from LaBelle Fla., serves aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)

A grand theft charge was levied against a cashier at Tractors Supply in Okeechobee, accused of skimming the till on five occasions in the past month. 25 year old Richard Bartoe allegedly stole over 13 hundred dollars since January 25th.

Vehicle vs. Pedestrian Crash in Highlands County

2 16 2015 Hit and Run PR Final



Sports Cast for February 17th:

Former Brahman catcher Adam Tewksbury continues playing baseball as he enters his season year at Troy University in Alabama, a Division I school in the Sunbelt conference.

It’s been an odyssey for Tewksbury who played at Tallahassee Community College, Indian River State College and Florida Christian College in Kissimmee. He’s battled injuries during his career. He said his love for the game kept him going despite some bumps in the road. Adam has gotten more and more playing time at Troy and has been praised as a key defender and leader on the team

He’s also been praised for his handling of the pitching staff at troy. Tewksbury says he’d like to see his offense return this year.

Adam Tewksbury on college baseball at Troy University

On the sports schedule today

Moore Haven softball visits Evangelical Christian at 5 pm. Moore Haven baseball travels to Clewiston at 7 pm. OHS tennis travels to Sebring at 3:30 pm. OHS baseball visits Jensen Beach at 6 pm. OHS softball at Treasure Coast, varsity only at 4 pm. JV baseball hosts John Carroll at 5 pm. Moore Haven girls track visits St. John Neumann at 3 pm.


Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott Announce 2015 Black History Month Student and Teacher Contest Winners

Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott Announce 2015 Black History Month Student and Teacher Contest Winners

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott today announced the 2015 Black History Month student and teacher contests winners.  The winners will be honored tonight during the Black History Month reception at the Governor’s mansion. The reception celebrates the contributions African-American community leaders, educators and students make to Florida’s communities, culture and history.

Governor Scott said, “Each year, Black History Month signifies a time to celebrate our nation’s rich and diverse culture, and recognize the great African American leaders who have helped define freedom and equality. Their influence has made an incredible impact on Florida’s heritage, and contributed to making our state the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I applaud the Florida teachers and students who participated in this year’s contests and learned more about African American history.”

First Lady Ann Scott said, “We are very excited to recognize the Florida K-12 students who participated in the 2015 Black History Month art and essay contests. I have traveled across our beautiful state, and have had many opportunities to visit elementary, middle, and high schools. Education is very close to my heart, and the creativity of Florida’s students and teachers is a constant inspiration. Thank you to all who have participated in this month’s celebration of African American heritage, and helped to preserve its significance.”

Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera said, “Florida’s cultural heritage has been shaped in large part by the contributions of African American leaders. I hope that all Floridians take the time to recognize the significance of Black History Month, and the many contributions of the African American community in Florida.”

The 2015 Black History Month featured artist is George Miller, II. Miller’s artwork advocates for the education and well-being of children. He is a self-taught artist and his work has been commissioned by numerous child advocacy organizations across the country.  Miller’s studio is based in Jacksonville, Florida.

Governor Scott and First Lady Ann Scott honored three outstanding educators with the Excellence in Education Award. These individuals were nominated by students and peers, and each will receive $1,500.

Excellence in Education award winners are:

  • Jacqueline Baptiste-Harris – Village Green Environmental Studies School, Port St. Lucie, FL (St. Lucie County)
  • Frances Knight – Riversprings Middle School, Crawfordville, FL (Wakulla County)
  • Michael C. Warren – Alachua MYcroSchool for Integrated Academics and Technology, Gainesville, FL (Alachua County)

The following student essay contest winners – one elementary, one middle, and one high school student – will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

Student essay contest winners are:

  • Robert Joseph “RJ” Simmons, Fishhawk Creek Elementary, Lithia, FL (4th-5th grade)
  • Valeria Morfin, Oasis Middle School, Bradenton, FL (6th-8th grade)
  • Chyna Lindsay, Tampa Bay Technical High School, Seffner, FL (9th-12th grade

The following student art contest recipients will each receive $250.

Student art contest winners are:

  • Makela Ruiz-Rossi – Hawkes Bluff Elementary in Southwest Ranches, FL (Kindergarten-1st grade)
  • Madalyn Stewart – Riversink Elementary in Crawfordville, FL (2nd-3rd grade)

The Black History Month reception and awards are supported by the Florida Lottery, Florida Prepaid College Foundation, Volunteer Florida Foundation, Comcast, AT&T, Florida Power and Light, Prudential, Publix, and Brighthouse Networks.

Charles Murphy News 2/16

News Cast for February 16th:

The US Army Corps of Engineers increased releases from lake Okeechobee Friday. 17 hundred cubic feet per second is being sent out the Caloosahatchee River and 5 hundred cubic feet per second out the St. Lucie. Lake levels have hovered around 14.8 feet in recent days. The releases will last at least until Friday.

In the courts, 33 year old Hector Garza pled no contest to burglary and theft charges and received 7 year’s probation in Highlands County. Garza was arrested last June 29th allegedly forcing his way into a home on Brynwood Lane IN Okeechobee armed with a crowbar, demanding 3 hundred dollars from a person in the home. He allegedly stole 850 dollars from the home including a laptop, and mobile phone. A charge of robbery with a weapon was dropped in the plea deal.

The Kiwanis Club recently helped out the Presbyterian Church Food bank, providing 250 pounds of food and over one hundred dollars. Pastor Loy Mershimer says 1 in 6 Americans are experiencing hunger today. Mershimer says they provide enough food for three days for each visit. He said unemployment and job loss is the biggest reason for the hunger problem. Go to events for full story.

Sports Cast for February 16th:

Cheyenne Nunez drove in three runs and Lexi Ward and Taylor Amadon each scored three runs as Okeechobee blasted Moore Haven 16-6 in girls’ softball action Friday.

Coach Mary Huff said her girls didn’t strike out at the plate and were dialed in after a good week of hitting practice. Huff said she continues to learn something new about her girls and is impressed with how they have started the season. Okeechobee is now 3-0 on the season.

Boys’ baseball whipped Fort Pierce Westwood 11-1.

Baron Stuart drove home two runs and Mason Adams and Chase Quisenberry pitched well on the mound for Okeechobee, which improved to (3-0) on the season.

There are No sports scheduled today


Governor Rick Scott Appoints Pat Langford as Hendry County Tax Collector

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Pat Langford as Hendry County Tax Collector

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Pat Langford as Hendry County Tax Collector.

Langford, 59, of Labelle, served as a school board member from 1992 to 2015. Langford was co-owner of Langford Ford from 1975 to 2014. He is appointed to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Peggy Hampton for a term beginning February 13, 2015, and ending November 15, 2016.

West Glades School Celebrates Arbor Day

West Glades School Celebrates Arbor Day

Muse, FL- On Monday morning in Muse, two groups of school children learned about the importance of trees and energetically pitched in, digging small holes to plant the seedling trees at West Glades School (Mrs. Drake’s Service Learning Class and Mrs. Wright’s Agriculture Class). The event was an Arbor Day celebration, where officials from Florida Forest Service discussed the importance of Arbor Day.

Giving the history of Arbor Day, Florida Forest Service Senior Forester, Calin Ionita said, “It was started by a man named Jay Sterling Morton, who lived in the Midwest at a place where there were no trees. He thought we should have a day to plant trees and help the environment”. Asking the kids, “Why are trees important?” Calin elicited eagerly raised hands. Many of the children mentioned trees are important for air, shade, and to help people breathe, and others said trees are important for lumber and as a habitat for birds and animals.

After Calin finished his presentation, it was time to get down to the dirty work. In several smaller groups, the children clustered around 35 Long Leaf Pine trees. The Florida Forest Service produces over 13 million bareroot pine seedlings, containerized pine seedlings and containerized wiregrass yearly at its Andrews Nursery located in Chiefland, Florida. Laughing and taking turns, the children shoveled out holes for ten seedlings on school property. Twenty-five seedlings were planted in pots by the children. “After you plant all the trees”, Calin explains, “you can watch your seedling trees grow throughout the year and measure their growth”.

Calin ended the day by explaining to the children how to properly care for the trees to prevent disease and infection. “When the tree is first planted, it goes into shock,” Calin states “The tree is not familiar with its new surroundings and where to find water and nutrients.” During the first two growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of your new trees’ life, it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. You can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil with wood-chip mulch.

“The students thoroughly enjoyed getting their hands dirty and contributing to the enhancement of our school’s environment”, stated West Glades School Teacher, Crystal Drake.  “We would like to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Calin, Mr. Callahan and Mr. Al Brown for all of their help.  The Service Learning Class is designed to teach students how to actively be involved in their communities and this event was perfect.”

If you have questions about tree identification, tree diseases, pests and insects, ask Florida Senior Forester, Calin Ionita. Calin can also answer your questions about local ordinances regarding burning debris, water quality, and tree cutting and removal.

The Florida Forest Service manages more than one million acres of public forestland while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.  To learn more about Florida Forest Service programs, visit www.FloridaForestService.com

For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, please contact your local Florida Forest Service:

Martin County (772) 221-4045;    Saint Lucie County (772) 468-3915;  Indian River County (772) 778-5085;

Glades County (863) 674-4000;    Highlands County  (863) 655-6407;   Okeechobee County (863) 462-5160

Rooney Reappointed to U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors

Rooney Reappointed to U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17), an Army veteran and member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, was reappointed today by House Speaker John Boehner to serve on the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors, which reports its views and recommendations annually to the President and the Superintendent of the academy.

“Teaching at West Point was one of the highlights not just of my time in the service, but of my entire career. I have enjoyed the opportunity over the last year to work with future Navy and Marine Corps officers, and to help fulfill the Academy’s objective of preparing them to be professionals of competence, character and compassion. I look forward to continuing to serve the U.S. Naval Academy and our nation’s midshipmen,” Rooney said.
The duty of the Academy’s Board of Visitors is to inquire into the state of morale and discipline, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the academy which the Board decides to consider. The board consists of six members appointed by the President, three appointed by the Vice President, four appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, one designated by the Senate Armed Services Committee and one designated by the House Armed Services Committee

Florida Forest Service and Firefighter Federal Excess Program Provide More than $11 Million in Equipment to Rural Fire Departments

Florida Forest Service and Firefighter Federal Excess Program Provide More than $11 Million in Equipment to Rural Fire Departments

Equipment Used for Structure and Wildfire Suppression, Emergency Services and Natural Resource Protection

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced today that Florida’s rural fire departments received more than $11.2 million in federal excess firefighting equipment in 2014. The Florida Forest Service has helped rural fire departments obtain no-cost lease equipment for decades through the administration of Florida’s Firefighter Federal Excess Program.

“The Firefighter Federal Excess program, which was under attack by the Obama Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency last year, has been the backbone for rural and volunteer fire departments across the state,” Commissioner Adam H. Putnam said. “Our volunteer, local and wildland firefighters risk their lives every day, and I am proud we are able to partner with them to provide the resources they need to do their job.”

Each piece of federal excess equipment is carefully screened by the Florida Forest Service for its ability to enhance fire departments’ emergency response capabilities. Through the Firefighter Federal Excess Program, the Florida Forest Service has made it easier and more affordable for rural fire departments to obtain adequate fire suppression equipment.

“The Florida Forest Service relies heavily on its partnerships with local fire departments,” said State Forester Jim Karels. “Without the important resources provided by these programs, Florida’s rural communities would be vulnerable against wildfire and other critical incidents.”

In 2014, federal excess equipment supplied to Florida’s rural fire departments included cargo trucks, all-terrain vehicles, boats and other emergency equipment and supplies. Once supplied, fire departments convert federal excess vehicles and equipment into apparatus for structure fire suppression, wildfire suppression, emergency services and natural resource protection.

The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. For more information about the Florida Forest Service, go to www.FloridaForestService.com.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

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