Local News

Gov. Scott: More Than 31,000 New Jobs Created in November

Gov. Scott: More Than 31,000 New Jobs Created in November

ORLANDO, Fla. — Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida businesses created 31,600 new private-sector jobs in November, bringing the total number of jobs created since December 2010 to 1,266,900. For the 56th consecutive month, Florida’s annual job growth rate of 3.5 percent is exceeding the nation’s rate of 1.7 percent. Governor Scott will highlight this announcement at HostDime, a global data center provider of cloud-based products, later this morning. HostDime recently broke ground on a new data center facility which will help create more than 50 new jobs in Orlando. The company currently employs more than 120 Floridians.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that more than 31,000 new jobs were created by Florida businesses last month. As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time to reflect on how much our families and businesses have accomplished because we have turned Florida’s economy around. Next month we will have a new president, Donald Trump, who is laser focused on growing American jobs and turning around our national economy like we have done in Florida.”

Florida’s labor force has grown by 174,000 over the year, increasing by 64,000 over-the-month in November alone and exceeding the national labor force growth rate. This shows that more Floridians are confident in their ability to find a new opportunity in the job market. The state’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in November, as a result of the rapidly growing labor force.

Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said, “November was another very strong month for job creation in Florida, which is great news for job seekers. Florida’s consistent job growth and plentiful job opportunities prove that now is a great time for Floridians to find their dream job.”

Other positive economic indicators include:

  • Private-sector industries with the highest job growth rate over-the-year in November were:
    • Construction at 5.3 percent (23,200 new jobs);
    • Leisure and Hospitality at 5 percent (57,300 new jobs);
    • Professional and Business Services at 4.1 percent (51,500 new jobs);
    • Education and Health Services at 4.1 percent (50,000 new jobs).
  • Florida job postings showed 244,381 openings in November 2016.
  • In November, Florida’s 24 regional workforce boards reported more than 38,961 Floridians, including 1,883 veterans, were placed in jobs.
  • October’s job creation numbers were also revised up to nearly 12,000 new jobs.
  • In the last year, businesses across the state have added 251,400 new jobs.

To view the November 2016 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases


Charles Murphy News 12/15

News Cast for December 15th:

A battle has started on whether the state should purchase over 60 thousand acres south of Lake Okeechobee by borrowing 1.2 billion. Senate President Joe Negron supports the idea while the house wants to cut state spending.

The Weather Channel also aired a documentary this week, the Toxic Lake, hurting Lake Okeechobee’s image.

8 thousand dollars in rewards have been offered for a St. Leo college student who was struck and killed hours after visiting Okeechobee last month. Troopers say 41 year old Clarence Johnson ran out of gas on rural state 64 and was struck by a vehicle and killed.  The driver fled the scene.

Among arrests, 25 year old Naquon Gardner of Clementsville faces possession of cocaine and marijuana near a park in Indiantown.

27 year old Dustin Youngblood of Safford, Arizona was charged in Okeechobee will allowing a child to engage in a sexual performance with bond at 75 thousand dollars.

44 year old Clint Courson was charged with practice as a tattoo artist without a license.

25 year old Olivia Gainer allegedly tried to flee city police on a flat tire for about 2 miles before pulling over at a local bar.

36 year old Clementa Blocker was charged with counts of battery on prison guards at OCI and possession of a controlled substance at a state prison.

Burglaries have continued to plaque Okeechobee in recent months.

The Family Dollar at 1951 highway 441 had its front door busted out but the suspects fled on December 11th.    A thief broke into the Atland Recycling office on US 98 early Monday.

Several vehicles were broken into at Camp Grace on US 98 in Basinger this past weekend.  Camp Grace is a religious retreat and another vehicle was broken into December 12th at the parking lot of the Taylor Creek Park across from the Boys School.

Sports Cast for December 15th:

Donovan Harris had 12 points and 7 rebounds to lead Pemayetv Emahakv to a 39-25 victory over Osceola in middle school boys basketball Wednesday. Harris says his team is undefeated and want to remain that way. Coach Kevin Jackson says his teams size and speed made the difference but Osceola is well drilled.

Jaylen Baker had eight points and nine rebounds for Brighton.

Daniel Phillips led Osceola with 12 points and Kase Myers added five points and seven steals.

Okeechobee boys hoops win at Clewiston last night 71-57.  Demetrius Clark had 30 points and J-quan Ferrol added 14 points. Okeechobee girls hoops improve to 10-2 with a one point win at Port St. Lucie 40-39

On the sports schedule today:

  • OMS at Clewiston basketball 4:30 and 5:45 pm
  • Yearling hosts West Glades basketball 4:30/5:45 pm
  • Moore Haven basketball hosts Seacrest Country Day, JV 4, girls 5:30, boys 7 pm
  • Moore Haven soccer hosts Community school of naples, girls 5, boys 7 pm

DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER

DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER

~Florida Highway Patrol participating in national enforcement campaign ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign that begins today and runs through New Year’s Day, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will concentrate its enforcement efforts on impaired driving throughout Florida. FHP joins law enforcement and highway safety agencies across the nation to remove impaired drivers from roadways in an effort to save lives.

All uniformed FHP personnel, including those normally assigned to administrative duties, will be patrolling interstates and other major state roads. FHP Auxiliary troopers will also volunteer to augment the FHP during the holiday period. The FHP’s increased presence throughout Florida will deter traffic violations and enhance services to motorists who break down or who need other assistance while traveling. Motorists should call *FHP (*347) if they see an impaired or aggressive driver, or to request roadside assistance.


FWC awards $825,000 to local governments to reduce human-bear conflicts

FWC awards $825,000 to local governments to reduce human-bear conflicts

Twelve counties to receive funding aimed to curb human-bear conflicts

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) today announced which local governments will be awarded a share of the $825,000 in bear-conflict reduction funding. This funding aims to reduce the number of bears spending time in neighborhoods by participating in cost sharing with local governments to provide more residents with bear-resistant equipment. Unsecured trash is the No. 1 reason that bears enter neighborhoods and come into conflict with people. The funding proposals were scored by FWC staff, including bear biologists, and were awarded based on several criteria including the likelihood the project would reduce human-bear interactions.

FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski said, “The recent scientific work to accurately estimate Florida’s adult bear population has confirmed that the recovery of the Florida black bear is a true conservation success story. A large bear population in Florida means that the FWC must continue our mission to balance the needs of our bears and Florida residents. Today’s funding announcement is innovative conservation work in action and serves as an important step forward for Florida communities that are working to address this serious problem. By continuing to strengthen our partnerships with local governments and neighborhoods, we are helping give Floridians the tools needed to reduce interactions with bears.”

During the 2016 Legislative Session, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott provided $500,000 to cost-share with local governments in areas with high levels of human-bear conflicts. The majority of this funding, roughly $375,000, came from permit sales for the 2015 bear hunt, and an additional $125,000 came from the State Game Trust Fund. At least 60 percent of the State-appropriated funding is required to go to local governments who implemented ordinances requiring trash be kept secure from bears. Seminole, Lake, Santa Rosa, and Orange counties passed trash ordinances and therefore were eligible to receive additional funding. The FWC also requested funding from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida using proceeds of the Conserve Wildlife Tag license plate. An additional $325,000 in CWT funds were awarded, resulting in a total of $825,000 available in funding. The FWC has also requested additional funding as part of the agency’s legislative budget request for next fiscal year.

Earlier this year, FWC researchers partnered with Dr. Joseph Clark, a nationally recognized black bear scientist, to perform scientific modeling to estimate Florida’s bear population. This groundbreaking study determined that Florida’s black bear population is widespread and robust with over 4,000 adult bears in the state. Even though Florida black bears are not normally aggressive, more bears in Florida means there is a higher likelihood for human-bear interactions which can be dangerous. The FWC works to balance the needs of this large population with the safety of Floridians.

FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley said, “We are grateful to see such a significant level of funding now flowing to support and incentivize community-based solutions that will surely reduce conflicts between people and bears. This has truly been a team effort with strong support from our Governor, Legislature, the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and the leaders and residents in our local communities who are stepping up to help. As we take this important step forward, we need to be mindful that efforts to implement our comprehensive bear management plan will need to continue in earnest as our bear populations continue to grow and thrive across Florida.”

The “BearWise” funding opportunity was announced on July 11 and applications were due Oct. 14. A panel of FWC staff evaluated each application based on several factors, including:

  • Does the municipality have an ordinance in place that requires residents and businesses to keep trash and other attractants secure from bears?
  • How many households within the municipality are in an area with significant human-bear conflicts?
  • How much funding will the municipality match for the project (funds or in-kind or a combination of both)?
  • What is the likelihood the project will result in a community-wide reduction of human-bear conflicts?
  • How many residences and businesses are expected to benefit from the project?

 

The cost-share bear conflict reduction funding awards:

Collier County – $17,499 – County Parks and Recreation will receive $4,899 to buy bear-resistant trash cans for three parks and preserves, and Farm Worker Village Neighborhood Association will receive $12,600 to modify 591 regular trash cans to make them bear-resistant.

Franklin County – $3,400 – The county will receive $2,400 and the City of Carrabelle will receive $1,000 to modify regular trash cans to make them bear-resistant for residents in the southern portion of the county.

Gulf County – $25,422 – The county will receive $25,422 to modify regular trash cans to make them bear-resistant for residents in the southern portion of the county.

Lake County – $150,000 – The county will receive $150,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost. The county has an ordinance that requires trash be kept secure.

Leon County – $30,000 – The county will receive $30,000 to modify regular trash cans to make them bear-resistant for residents and reinforced dumpster lids for businesses in the western portion of the county.

Marion County – $22,000 – The county will receive $22,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost in areas experiencing human-bear conflicts.

Orange County – $150,000 – The county will receive $150,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost in the northwestern portion of the county, which has an ordinance that requires trash be kept secure.

Putnam County – $18,000 – The county will receive $18,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost in areas experiencing human-bear conflicts.

Santa Rosa County – $150,000 – The county will receive $150,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost in the southern portion of the county, which has an ordinance that requires trash be kept secure.

Seminole County – $159,000 – The county will receive $150,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost in the western portion of the county, which has an ordinance that requires trash be kept secure. Springs Landing Homeowner’s Association, which is in the western portion of the county, will be awarded $9,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost.

Volusia County – $80,000 – The county will receive $40,000 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost, and the cities of Daytona and DeBary will receive $20,000 each to provide the same for their residents.

Wakulla County – $19,679 – The county will receive $19,679 to provide bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted cost.

For more information about BearWise funding, visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Bear,” then “Brochures & Other Materials.”


Charles Murphy News 12/13

News Cast for December 13th:

Bob Peterson was named the new Okeechobee city police chief Tuesday. 5 candidates were interviewed in a near 5 hour meeting at city hall. The council appeared deadlock because the Mayor wanted the vote to be 4-1 in favor of the new chief.

Marty Faulkner and Jeffrey Cavender also got support from the council. Peterson says being more visible, improving community policing, and working with the schools with a new cadet program and expanded auxiliary will be his goals. He has yet to decide on who will be his number two man or woman.

Council member Gary Ritter says all of the five candidates were exceptional and he was glad they wanted to work here.

A winning fantasy 5 ticket sold at Sun Food on Hunter Road in Buckhead Ridge Monday. There were two winners across the state.  The winning numbers were 4,6, 27, 34, and 35.

40 year old Tina Mercer was seriously injured Friday when she drove a Ford Expedition into a tree on Old Lakeport Road and Red Barn Road.  Troopers say she was flown to Lawnwood in Ft. Pierce.

St. Lucie deputies looking for an Hispanic male who used a machete to kill 74 year old Sheila Hamner of White City on Saturday afternoon. 19 year old Miguel Juan Miguel was charged with burglary for alleged breaking into parked tractor trailers in Indiantown and messing around with the buttons that operate the truck and trailers.

Sports Cast for December 13th:

Joe Suarez had two goals to lead Okeechobee to a 4-1 victory over Westwood at home last night. The senior has been slowed by injuries this year. He says it felt good to play well in this match. Suarez led the team with 25 goals last year.

Suarez

Coach Lonnie Sears says he felt his team didn’t play hard enough.

Sears

Julia Smith had 16 points, all in the second half as Okeechobee pulled away from Clewiston last night 56-36 in high school girls basketaball.  Nisha Ferrol added 12 points and eight rebounds.

Smith

Coach Joe Smith says the girls usually win when they score 50 points or more.

Caroline Sweat had nine points and Shytria Ash pulled down eight rebounds for Okeechobee.


Reducing Future Wildfire Intensity

Reducing Future Wildfire Intensity

Wildfire Mitigation in Okeechobee, Saint Lucie & Indian River Counties

For the next two weeks, the Florida Forest Service will be partnering with the Florida Park Service to establish firebreaks and reduce the vegetation’s height and continuity. “On large parcels of land, you can reduce the future wildfire intensity by mowing, chopping and/or burning the overgrown vegetation,” explains Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Melissa Yunas with the Florida Forest Service.

In Okeechobee County, machines with toothed, rotating drums will grind approximately 40 acres of vegetation at the Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park. “When we conduct wildfire mitigation, we focus on the proximity of the flammable vegetation to homes,” states Yunas.

“Mitigation is essential in areas where the vegetation has grown to dangerous heights and the fire department apparatus cannot safely access the land to extinguish future wildfires.”

In Saint Lucie County, Indian River Estates residents will see a bulldozer with a metal drum knocking down and cutting up flammable vegetation in the Savannas Preserve State Park. “The flame length on a five foot tall saw palmetto can be seven to ten feet tall depending on weather.” explains Yunas, “When we chop the vegetation to the ground, the potential flame height and intensity is reduced. When prescribed fire is implemented, the wildfire risk is significantly reduced because the dead vegetation (fuel) has been eliminated by the fire.”

In Indian River County, Florida Forest Service will be providing wildfire mitigation to private residents off 13th Street SW. “This fuel reduction service is free to homeowners who qualify.” The landowners have requested to chop down the overgrown wildfire risk near their home.

The Florida Forest Service is continuously working with their city, county, state and federal partners to identify large parcels of land that can pose a significant wildfire risk to homes. Large private landowners also benefit from wildfire services that the Florida Forest Service offers.

“History has taught us that a home can survive a wildfire,” states Yunas. Residents that are adjacent to these mitigation sites are encouraged to become partners in wildfire prevention. Find out what the experts know on how to make your home, family, and yard safer from wildfires by visiting the Florida Forest Service’s website.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at 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) 467-3221


Charles Murphy News 12/12

News Cast for December 12th:

A new police chief could be selected today. The city council plans to interview the six finalists beginning at a public meeting this morning at 10 am. Three of the candidates are local including the interim chief Bob Peterson, Sheriff’s Detective Marty Faulkner and palm Beach Sheriff’s captain Paul Miles.

The Okeechobee school board meets in workshop session today to try and figure out ways to get money from the state legislature to replace the buildings at Okeechobee High school.

Last year the board struck out at the first step as a state committee recommended renovations and improvements to the existing campus. The school board has hired a lobbyist this year in an effort to persuade legislators for help. The workshop meeting is at 2 pm today. A round up of alleged drug dealers in Indiantown last week.

Martin county deputies say 22 year old Quinton Mike faces sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine, escape and resisting arrest charges.  He allegedly fled a Martin jail van in Stuart leading to a man hunt with a helicopter and K-9 unit on December 7th.

19 year old Omar Sawyer was charged with sale and possession of crack cocaine.  52 year old Johnny Jackson was charged with sale of cocaine near a park.

53 year old Robbin Jones was charged with multiple sales of crack cocaine and cocaine near a church.

Tampa police arrest an Okeechobee man Friday for a violent abduction, robbery and beating of a female in south Tampa. 32 year old Jonathan Rogers faces charges of robbery kidnapping and aggravated battery.  He allegedly walked up behind her as she was unlocking her car, knocked her unconscious and then drove off in her car, leaving her and the car after taking her valuables. Surveillance videos at businesses were able to help Tampa police catch Rogers. He was arrested last year on a voyeurism charge at a Tampa mall.

No update or arrests today in the homicide last week of 25 year old Amanda Suarez in Dewberry Gardens. You can call the sheriffs office and ask for Detective Javier Gonzales. The sheriffs homicide tip line is 863-763-3117, extension 5106.

Sports Cast for December 12th:

Okeechobee jumped out to an early 16 point lead and defeated Vero Beach 57-38 in high school basketball Friday night.

Shaquoy Ferrol had 24 points and pulled down 18 rebounds.  Demetrius Clark had 13 points and J-quan Ferrol added 10 points.

Shaquoy Ferrol says a poor practice Thursday motivated the kids in this game.

Point guard Kysell Richardson says the team took this game personally because of debacles in the past

On the sports schedule today, boys soccer will host Westwood tonight at 6 pm, girls basketball will host Clewiston with JV at 6 and varsity to follow and boys basketball is on the road at Centennial with JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 pm.


Commissioner Adam H. Putnam Expands Concealed Weapon License Partnership to 46th Location

Commissioner Adam H. Putnam Expands Concealed Weapon License Partnership to 46th Location

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today announced that, with the addition of Okaloosa County’s second location, Florida residents can now apply for or renew concealed weapon licenses at 46 tax collector offices in 41 counties. In 2014, Commissioner Putnam implemented this first-of-its-kind partnership, which allows tax collectors to receive applications, take fingerprints and photographs and send the information to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to process the request for a concealed weapon license.

“I thank Florida’s tax collectors for their partnership to provide our residents the most efficient experience possible when applying for or renewing a concealed weapon license,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

The 41 tax collectors participating in both the application and renewal process for concealed weapon licenses include the following counties: Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Dixie, Escambia, Flagler, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Marion, Martin, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Walton and Washington.

Legislation sponsored in 2014 by Sen. Wilton Simpson in the Senate and Rep. James Grant in the House of Representatives allowed tax collectors to begin accepting applications. The convenience of applying at a tax collector’s office will not affect the integrity of the concealed weapon license program. Since the partnership with tax collectors began, nearly 140,000 concealed weapon license applications have been accepted by tax collector offices. There are currently more than 1.6 million concealed weapon licenses.

Consumers can still apply for or renew a concealed weapon license via mail or at one of the department’s eight regional offices in the following locations: Doral, Fort Walton, Jacksonville, North Port, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Additionally, in July 2015, Commissioner Putnam announced that the department is expediting concealed weapon license applications for all active military members and veterans. To date, more than 59,235 active military members and veterans have received expedited concealed weapon licenses.

Commissioner Putnam recently announced that Florida concealed weapon licenses can now be renewed online once licensees receive their renewal notice in the mail. Anyone who has moved since the issuance of their c


Florida Forest Service Offers Tips for Fire-Safe Outdoor Holiday Decorating

Florida Forest Service Offers Tips for Fire-Safe Outdoor Holiday Decorating

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.Many Floridians celebrate the holiday season with festive lights, decorations and greenery, and it is important to take care to prevent fires. Although recent rain provided temporary relief from drought conditions, the extended forecast for December reflects continued drought and warmer than normal temperatures.

To ensure the safety of Florida’s citizens, homes and natural resources, the Florida Forest Service provided the following tips to reduce fire hazards in and around the home:

  • Keep natural and artificial indoor trees away from fireplaces, portable heaters and other heat sources.
  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant decorations.
  • Check the labels on lights to make sure they were tested at a facility, such as UL or ETL, and follow manufacturer’s instructions for use.
  • Discard any lights with cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
  • Always turn off holiday lights and extinguish candles when going to sleep or leaving the house.

The Florida Forest Service also encourages residents to clear dry debris from roofs and yards to eliminate the link that could carry a wildfire from the woods to their homes and asks that they refrain from burning collected yard debris at this time. Residents should check with local county or city officials for information regarding yard waste pick-up and disposal.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

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


Charles Murphy News 12/9

News Cast for December 9th:

The US House of representatives approved 976 million for the Central Everglades Planning Project, which should improve the health of Lake Okeechobee and its estuaries on Thursday.

26 year old Garrod Gilmore, an inmate at Moore Haven correctional, is charged with smuggling synthetic marijuana into the prison.  Prison guards found the 15 and a half grams of spice during a search on Tuesday.

Jim Vensel of Okeechobee has served for the past four plus years as Lt. Governor over Kiwanis, a district that covers from Vero Beach down to Stuart and six clubs.

Vensel

Vensel 2

Among the projects are local scholarships, teacher mini grants, and the key clubs in middle and high school.

Pahokee’s Blue Devils won the Florida 1A championship game Thursday, 34-21 over Baker county, the first state title since 2 thousand 8 and the seventh in school history.

Sports Cast for December 9th:

Pahokee won the schools 7th state championship Thursday with a 34-21 victory over Baker High at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Rodney McKay scored on two first half runs and Tyron Arnett made a key touchdown grab to thwart a Baker comeback.

Arnett 1

Arnetts grab between two defenders, gave Pahokee a 14 point lead in the third quarter.

Defensive tackles Bryan Crawford and Tyquan Kinsler led the defense with a goal line stand in the first half.

Crawford 1

He was glad to be part of the moment. Adarius Dent made some big catches when his team needed them. He said Pahokee would share in the celebration

Dent 1

Dent 2

Brahman boys soccer defeats Centennial 2-1.

On the schedule today:

  • OHS boys basketball hosts Vero Beach 4:30/6/7:30 pm
  • OHS girls soccer at Suncoast 6 pm
  • OHS boys soccer at Suncoast 8 pm
  • Moore Haven boys basketball at ECS 4/7 pm
  • Moore Haven girls basketball at ECS 5:30 pm

Saturday

  • OHS JV wrestling at Fort Pierce Central tourney
  • OHS varsity wrestling tournament at Satellite Beach tourney

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