Local News

SFWMD Governing Board Approves Everglades Restoration Agreements

SFWMD Governing Board Approves Everglades Restoration Agreements 

Action signals progress on Biscayne Bay restoration and Broward water preserve areas 

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved two agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that protect Florida’s investment in and advance progress on projects to restore Biscayne Bay coastal wetlands and benefit Everglades Water Conservation Area 3.

“Completing projects remains our top priority, and these agreements signal progress toward that obligation,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Daniel O’Keefe. “They also protect the substantial financial investment in restoration by Florida families who are counting on our efforts to protect South Florida’s environment.”

The two Project Partnership Agreements ensure Florida will receive credit for its investment in the two Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects and allow the Corps to begin construction work. CERP is a 50/50 partnership between Florida and the federal government.

Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Phase 1 (More Information)

SFWMD acquired land and successfully completed construction of the Deering Estate Flow-way, the first component of the effort that is redistributing water to improve nearshore salinity, wildlife habitat and the overall ecology of Biscayne Bay. Today’s agreement credits SFWMD for its approximately $30 million investment and allows the Corps to move forward with issuing a contract to initiate construction of the L-31 East Flow-way component, which will further help redistribute water to the bay.

Broward County Water Preserve Areas (More Information)

SFWMD acquired land for this project to reduce seepage from Water Conservation Area 3 in Broward County. The project will also capture and store urban and agricultural surface water runoff that is currently discharged into the Everglades, thereby improving water quality. Today’s agreement credits SFWMD for its land acquisition investments of more than $250 million and allows the Corps to move forward with issuing a contract to initiate construction of the C-11 Impoundment portion of the project

Governing Board Stands Up for Loxahatchee Refuge

Governing Board Stands Up for Loxahatchee Refuge

SFWMD Notifies U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of Possible Consequences of Continued Failure to Control Invasive Plants in Loxahatchee Refuge

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today notified officials of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the consequences of their continuing failure to control invasive plants that are wreaking havoc on the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

The Governing Board voted to issue a notice of default. This starts a process that could result in the USFWS being removed from the Loxahatchee Refuge if it does not take steps to live up to its agreement and control invasive plants.

The USFWS has repeatedly refused to ask Congress for the additional funding necessary to meet its legally-binding obligation to control invasive Lygodium and other invasive plants in the Loxahatchee Refuge, which is owned by SFWMD.

“Their inability to secure federal funding is destroying a crucial piece of the Everglades and threatening the progress and future of all  the Everglades restoration work which Florida taxpayers have paid billions of dollars to complete,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member Jim Moran. “We have repeatedly asked the USFWS to obtain adequate funding, do the job it promised to do and preserve the refuge. If they are unable to secure the funding and control the invasive plants, we will take the measures necessary to protect the rights of Floridians, the owners of that property, who deserve the opportunity to enjoy it in its natural state for generations to come.”

  • Science has shown continued expansion of Lygodium will lead to the irreversible collapse of hundreds of tree islands that are critical to the Everglades and will terminally degrade wading bird habitat.
  • The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge has suffered a 600-percent increase in the infestation of Lygodium during the past 20 years of USFWS control.
  • The 1951 Agreement between the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), renewed in 2002 for another 50 years, requires the USFWS to control invasive plants in the refuge as a condition of being allowed to use the land, owned by SFWMD.
  • As part of the Agreement, a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) — developed by USFWS with public input and consultation with SFWMD — included the following requirements:
    • USFWS agreed to control 10 percent of Lygodium infestation by 2007.
    • USFWS agreed to control 50 percent of Lygodium infestation by 2012. (USFWS has not met this goal)
    • USFWS agreed to control 100 percent of Lygodium infestation by 2017. (USFWS has said it will not meet this goal)
  • Initially, a total of $25 million over five years is required to gain control of invasive plants, according to science-based estimates.
  • An estimated $4 million annually will be needed to prevent invasive plants from returning.
  • The USFWS has not even requested the needed funding. Congress cannot be blamed when the USFWS has not even asked.
  • The SFWMD is within its rights to send the USFWS a Notice of Default for its failure to live up to its obligations in the agreement. The USFWS will have three opportunities through this process to correct its default or negotiate a settlement with the SFWMD.


  • For more information on the USFWS’s contract violation, visit the SFWMD’s Refuge website at www.sfwmd.org/loxrefuge.

To see pictures and video of the devastating effects of Lygodium allowed to spread in the Loxahatchee Refuge because of the USFWS’s failure to live up to its obligations to control invasive plants, visit this Flickr gallery  https://www.flickr.com/gp/sfwmd/08R5a6

Charles Murphy News 8/11

News Cast for August 11th:

The Florida highway patrol identified 18 year old William Boyd as the victim in last Friday’s single vehicle crash north of the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation. Troopers say Boyd left the road in a Ford F 150 and the truck burst into flames.

Suspected killer David Schwendenmann was among those booked into the county jail Wednesday.  He had been recovering in the hospital after being shot by deputies July 31st after the murder of his wife Angela in Larkee Lakes.

The last suspect arrested and prosecuted from a large methamphetamine ring received six months in the county jail and a year probation in state court.  54 year old Jody Underhill pled no contest to conspiracy to commit racketeering.

A CVS pharmacist, 28 year old Theresa Hogan was charged with stealing prescription drugs four times from her employer.  City police say alprazolam and zolpidem were taken.

The two republican candidates for Glades County Sheriff Susan Harrelle and Robert Davis have different visions for the department. Harrelle has 34 years of law experience and Davis 18 years. She also administers grants like one that helps their school resource officer program. She also wants to expand volunteer programs, get more deputies on the road and create more programs for youth.

Harrelle 1

Harrelle 2

Davis said he wants to keep the county jail open, take an active interest in youth. He plans to put more officers on road patrol and one resource officer in each school.

Davis 1

Davis 2

Sports Cast for August 11th:

Adolfo Ponce De Leon was named the most valuable player for Yearling soccer last year. He was a leader on the field and contributed both on offense and defense. He said it was an award he’s tried to win for three years.

Deleon 1

Deleon 2

Bryan Leal was named the offensive player of the year. He said he was proud that Yearling continued their long string of success in soccer. Yearling finished 7-1-1 last year.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH daily Zika update

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH daily Zika update

Communications Office

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware about the status of the Zika virus, the department will continue to issue a Zika virus update each week day. Updates will include a CDC-confirmed Zika case count by county and information to better keep Floridians prepared.

The department has conducted testing for the Zika virus for more than 2,649 people statewide. Florida currently has the capacity to test 5,941 people for active Zika virus and 1,613 for Zika antibodies. Per the Governor’s direction on August 3, all county health departments are now offering free Zika risk assessment and testing to any pregnant woman who would like to be tested.

There are 14 new travel-related cases today with seven in Miami-Dade, two in Bay, two in Palm Beach, one in Lake, one in Seminole and one in St. Lucie counties. This is Bay County’s first travel-related case of Zika and they have been added to the Declaration of Public Health Emergency. Please visit our website to see the full list of travel-related cases.

There is one new non-travel related case today being investigated in Miami-Dade County. The person was exposed in the same area in Miami-Dade County. The department still believes active transmissions are only taking place within the identified area that is less than one-square mile in Miami-Dade County.

For a complete breakdown of non-travel and travel-related Zika infections to-date, please see below.

Infection Type Infection Count
Travel-Related Infections of Zika 382
Non-Travel Related Infections of Zika 22
Infections Involving Pregnant Women 57



The department is currently conducting three active investigations. Under each section below, the department outlines the original cases that spurred these investigations, the number of samples collected and results in connection with each investigation to-date.

  • Identified one-square mile in Miami-Dade – Two (2) original cases
Total # of Samples Collected Negative Samples Positive Samples Pending Results
498 424 18 46

Door to door outreach and sampling continue. Mosquito abatement and reduction activities are on-going.

On August 4, the department announced we have completed testing in a 10 block area of the northwest quadrant of the one-square mile area and no people within the 10 block radius tested positive. The department has cleared that area and is continuing to test people within the one-square mile radius. A map detailing the area is below. The CDC continues to monitor the area per their guidelines.

  • Miami-Dade investigation outside the one-square mile: One (1) case
Total # of Samples Collected Negative Samples Positive Samples Pending Results
19 18 0 1


Sample collection and door-to-door outreach continues. Mosquito abatement and reduction activities are on-going.

  • One (1) case in Palm Beach County:
Total # of Samples Collected Negative Samples Positive Samples Pending Results
3 0 0 3


Door to door outreach and sample collection in areas of interest around the case are underway. Mosquito abatement and reduction activities will take place around the area of interest.


  • The department has closed out the investigations into the first cases in Miami-Dade and Broward County (two cases). The department tested 124 close contacts and individuals from the community and found no additional positives.

The department still believes active transmissions are only taking place within the identified one-square mile area in Miami-Dade County. There are no active investigations in Broward County and no areas of active transmission in Broward County.

One case does not mean active transmission is taking place and that’s why the department conducts a thorough investigation by sampling close contacts and community members around each case to determine if additional people are infected. The department has not yet determined where the individual in Palm Beach County or the individual outside the one-square mile in Miami-Dade County likely contracted Zika and will share more details as the investigations progress. If the department finds evidence that active transmission is occurring in an area, we will notify the media and the public.

The department still believes active transmissions of the Zika virus are occurring in one small area in Miami-Dade County, just north of downtown. The exact location is within the boundaries of the following area: NW 5th Avenue to the west, US 1 to the east, NW/NE 38th Street to the north and NW/NE 20thStreet to the south. This area is about one square mile and a map is below to detail the area. This remains the only area of the state where the department has confirmed there are local transmissions of Zika. If investigations reveal additional areas of likely active transmission, the department will announce a defined area of concern.

CDC recommends that women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant postpone travel to areas with widespread Zika infection. Florida’s small case cluster is not considered widespread transmission, however, pregnant women are advised to avoid non-essential travel to the impacted area in Miami-Dade County (see map below). If you are pregnant and must travel or if you live or work in the impacted area, protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent, long clothing and limiting your time outdoors.

According to CDC guidance, providers should consider testing all pregnant women with a history of travel to a Zika affected area for the virus. It is also recommended that all pregnant women who reside in or travel frequently to the area where active transmission is likely occurring be tested for Zika in the first and second trimester. Pregnant women in the identified area can contact their medical provider or their local county health department to be tested and receive a Zika prevention kit. CDC recommends that a pregnant woman with a history of Zika virus and her provider should consider additional ultrasounds. Additionally, the department is working closely with the Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade County to identify pregnant women in the one square mile area to ensure they have access to resources and information to protect themselves. CDC recommends that a pregnant woman with a history of Zika virus and her provider should consider additional ultrasounds.

Pregnant women can contact their local county health department for Zika risk assessment and testing hours and information. A Zika risk assessment will be conducted by county health department staff and blood and/or urine samples may be collected and sent to labs for testing. It may take one to two weeks to receive results.

Florida has been monitoring pregnant women with evidence of Zika regardless of symptoms since January. The total number of pregnant women who have been or are being monitored is 57.

On Feb. 12, Governor Scott directed the State Surgeon General to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for current Florida residents and visitors, as well as anyone planning on traveling to Florida in the near future. The hotline, managed by the Department of Health, has assisted 3,770 callers since it launched. The number for the Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

The department urges Floridians to drain standing water weekly, no matter how seemingly small. A couple drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding location for mosquitoes. Residents and visitors also need to use repellents when enjoying the Florida outdoors.

For more information on DOH action and federal guidance, please click here.

For resources and information on Zika virus, click here.

Charles Murphy News 8/10

News Cast for August 10th:

IMG_2557School resumes this morning for Okeechobee schools. Transportation Director Nicole Havee told the school board last night that more people need to pay attention around school buses. During a one day test last year, 17 school buses reported being illegally passed by motorists, many of them truckers, 37 infractions occurred in that one day. Havee urges motorists to use patience.

Havee 1

Havee 2

Bus drivers are trained to find safe places to pull over when traffic backs up behind their bus.  Citations are 2 hundred and 50 dollars apiece for passing a school bus illegally.

Boating accidents rose on Lake Okeechobee last year according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission. Spokesperson Brian Rehwinkel keeping a 360 degree lookout, being courteous, not boating and driving and always wearing a life jacket will keep you safer on the water.

Rehwinkel 1

Rehwinkel 2

Stop for School Buses

Okeechobee had 7 boating accidents last year with two injuries and over 70 thousand in property damage.   Glades county had 7 boat accidents with two fatalities and six injuries with over 1 hundred and 41 thousand in property damage.

IMG_2302An Okeechobee mother was not convicted of a crime after she pled no contest to charges she allowed her 11 year old son to smoke marijuana with her.  35 year old Casey Sanders received three years of drug offender probation that included 2 years of house arrest.

The Okeechobee Utility Authority agreed to spend  5 hundred and 60 thousand dollars to improve the water lines and fire protection at Pine Ridge Park and also approved projects for a new manhole at the Aldi’s store being remodeled on South Parrott Avenue and water line extensions on North West 8th Street, costing over 2 hundred thousand dollars more.

Sports Cast for August 10th:

Bubba Fludd said he wants to play football for Southern Mississippi next year. He made a verbal commitment in July to the school. He said family reasons and an offer to play wide receiver and kick returner made the difference

Fludd 1

Fludd admits he was impressed with Georgia Tech during a visit there, they were interested in him as a Quarterback. Fludd was ranked in the top 11 on the Treasure Coast by TC Palm newspapers among seniors this year. He also was busy this summer at the dentist with several procedures after a mouth injury sustained during the spring game with John Carroll. Fludd predicts a strong season for the Brahmans this year

Fludd 2

Okeechobee opens with a kickoff classic on August 19th against the LaBelle Cowboys.



LIVE OAK, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has identified four additional people in Florida with the Zika virus who likely contracted it through a mosquito bite. This brings the total number of people with locally transmitted Zika to 21. DOH still believes active transmissions are only taking place within the identified area that is less than one-square mile in Miami-Dade County. More details will be announced when the investigation concludes.

Governor Scott said, “Today, we have learned that there are four new individuals that have local transmissions of Zika in our state, likely through a mosquito bite. All four of these cases are located in the same, small area of Wynwood that is less than one square mile. Earlier this summer, I allocated more than $26 million in state funds to fight Zika and I have continued to meet with local leaders to ensure they have all of the needed resources. But, every day that passes that Congress and the president fail to come to an agreement hinders our national response to Zika. This is not only an issue affecting us here in Florida – this is a national issue. Florida is just at the head of it with the first cases of local transmission of Zika. Just today, we learned that a baby born with microcephaly caused by Zika died in Texas – a heartbreaking tragedy in our country.

“While Florida has been preparing for Zika since February, we know many other states don’t have the same resources we have. The Obama Administration has still not fulfilled our requests for an additional 10,000 Zika prevention kits for pregnant women or a detailed plan on how they would like Florida to work with FEMA on requesting emergency response funds since this has become mosquito-borne in our state. The federal government must stop playing politics and Congress needs to immediately come back to session to resolve this.”

Missing Clewiston teen found safe – NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

CLEWISTON -UPDATE: Breanna Graham has been located and is safe, FDLE said late Tuesday.–A Florida missing child alert has been issued for 16-year-old Breanna Graham of Clewiston. Graham was last seen in near the 800 block of Redish Circle in Clewiston. Graham is a white female who is 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighs around 130 pounds. She has reddish brown hair, blue eyes and a small scar under her eye. Graham may be in the company of 30-year-old Brandon Sheldon. He is a white male who is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs around 240 pounds. He has brown hair, brown eyes and scruffy facial hair. They may be traveling towards the Tampa area in a 1992 Ford F-150 pick-up truck. The truck is white with burgundy pinstripes and has a Florida Tag of GZNP47. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Graham or Sheldon, please contact the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office at 863-674-5600 or 911.

Source: Missing Clewiston teen found safe – NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

Sebring Mother and Son Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Import Ecstasy

Sebring Mother and Son Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Import Ecstasy

Yesterday, a mother and her son pled guilty to conspiring to import Ecstasy from the Netherlands.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Antonio J. Gomez, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, made the announcement.

Annalisa Anfuso Patterson, 56, and her son, Jake Elwyn Patterson, 19, both from Sebring, pled guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled substance 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as “Ecstasy,” in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 963; and attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance- 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as “Ecstasy” in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.  Each offense carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison.  The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2016 at 2:00 p.m., before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in Fort Pierce.

According to the court record, including the stipulated factual proffer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Miami identified, searched and detained two U.S. Postal Service (USPS) parcels, destined for Highlands County.  The parcels were found to contain approximately 525 tablets of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as “Ecstasy,” a schedule I controlled substance.  On May 17, 2016, HSI agents, with the assistance of United States Postal Inspectors, conducted a controlled delivery of one of the parcels to Sebring, Florida.  Annalisa Patterson accepted and opened the parcel.  Law enforcement then executed a search warrant at the residence and observed, next to the opened parcel, a laptop computer with images of MDMA on the screen.

The record indicates that the defendants used Bitcoins to place orders for MDMA through internet websites, the “dark web,” from the Netherlands.  Jake Patterson used a test kit to ensure that the substances they had purchased were in fact Ecstasy.  The defendants supplied other individuals with Ecstasy, from their Sebring residence.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI, CBP, and USPIS.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Commissioner Adam Putnam Promotes Back-to-School Meal Apps

Commissioner Adam Putnam Promotes Back-to-School Meal Apps

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Meeting children’s dietary needs is a key component in helping them achieve academic success, and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam encourages students and parents to visit FreshFromFlorida.com to find the app that is available for their meal choices. The apps provide detailed information by specific school on the food choices available, so families can plan their students’ meals and protect them from any food allergies they may have by helping guide their decisions in the cafeteria.

“A healthy diet is crucial to academic success. By providing children and parents with technology to plan kids’ meals at school, we can help boost performance in the classroom,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

Most Florida schools will be using Nutrislice, which allows students to vote for their favorite foods and compete in educational activities about healthier eating. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partnered with Nutrislice and other digital menu technology companies to provide these interactive menus to Florida school districts free of charge. These applications allow kids and parents to plan the entire meal and see the nutritional summary of each item on the menu.

Studies show that these interactive menus influence students’ food choices while also making nutritional information more accessible to parents and students, which helps reduce obesity.

To find more information on the digital menu apps for school districts, click here.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees Florida’s school nutrition program, including school breakfast, school lunch and the summer feeding program. More than 2.8 million children in Florida are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program

Pilot Arrested for Reckless Operation of an Aircraft

Pilot Arrested for Reckless Operation of an Aircraft

HelicopterOsceola County – On August 6, Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies were patrolling in the area of West 192 in Kissimmee when they observed a red helicopter flying a few feet from the tops of cars traveling both eastbound and westbound. The helicopter’s proximity was so close to the cars, that if a passenger van or semi-truck were traveling the same direction, there would have been a collision with the aircraft. At one point, a motorist, who witnessed the incident, alerted the deputy to make sure he saw the helicopter, too.



Deputies responded Orlando HeliTours located at 5071 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, where the aircraft is registered, and spoke with the manager. They explained the incident they witnessed and asked to speak with the pilot, identified as Thomas Vorstman, upon his return. Deputies waited for Vorstman near the helicopter pad, but when he returned, he refused to exit the aircraft. Deputies made numerous attempts to get Vorstman to meet with them, but he would not turn off the aircraft and, for safety concerns, they were not able to approach him. Instead, Vorstman advised he could not exit and left in the helicopter with a group of passengers. Approximately 5 minutes later, Vorstman returned and, after finishing his safety checks and exiting the aircraft he met with deputies. He told them he “had a heavy load” and explained why he was flying low over traffic. They also spoke with the company owner who told deputies their pilots have procedures for handling matters like this which contradicted Vorstman’s actions. Due to the safety concerns and Vorstman’s reckless behavior, the company owner terminated Vorstman’s employment immediately.

Based on the statements and evidence, Vorstman was arrested and charged with Operating an Aircraft in a Reckless Manner and Resisting Without Violence. He was booked into the Osceola County Jail. Deputies notified the Federal Aviation Adminstration of the incident.

Thomas Vorstman (DOB 3/1/85), 9103 Avenue Point Circle, Orlando

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