Local News

FWC to Consider Staff Recommendation for Florida Bear Hunt, Four Options on How to Move Forward

FWC to Consider Staff Recommendation for Florida Bear Hunt, Four Options on How to Move Forward

Invites public to provide input on options using FWC’s website


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After receiving extensive input from the general public and stakeholders, FWC staff today released four options that Commissioners will consider on how to best move forward with controlling Florida’s growing bear population, which is estimated to have swelled across Florida over the past 10 years. The four options range from holding a bear hunt with the identical framework as last year to no bear hunting in Florida at all. The staff recommendation is for a more conservative and accountable hunt beginning in 2016. To help increase public participation in the decision making process, the FWC also announced that Floridians can visit MyFWC.com/bear to learn more about each option and provide input and feedback on each specific proposal.

“The biologists and staff at FWC value all of the input we’ve received throughout the development of our comprehensive bear management program and we hope more Floridians will continue to provide input on the best way to manage Florida’s growing bear population. We look forward to continuing to have a transparent, accountable process where everyone has their voices heard on this critical topic,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “We look forward to presenting this information to the Commission at our June meeting, and we invite all those interested to provide feedback on options that we’ve prepared for the Commission’s consideration. Our focus will continue to be how to balance what’s best for Florida’s growing bear population with the safety of Florida families and our visitors.”

Option 1 – 2016 Bear Hunt with Identical Framework as 2015

This option would prescribe a bear hunt in 2016 with identical framework to the hunt held in 2015, but with updated hunt objectives.

Option 2 – More Conservative Bear Hunt Utilizing Input Received from the Public and Stakeholders (FWC biologists recommend)

Over the course of the past year and a half, FWC has used various tools and methods to answer questions and receive input from the public on the FWC comprehensive bear management program. This includes three webinars, the involvement of regional bear stakeholder groups, input received at Commission meetings, and thousands of comments received via emails, phone calls and letters.

This limited hunt option would allow FWC to hold an even more conservative bear hunt in 2016 utilizing the data and information collected including the latest bear population science. This option also puts more restrictions on hunters who choose to participate. New restrictions would include: reducing the area open to hunting to correspond with areas of the state where human-bear conflicts are most prevalent; the prohibition of hunting a bear with any other bear present, including cubs; further restrictions on hunting near game feeding stations; limiting the number of permits; increased enforcement measures requiring hunters to tag bears immediately; and limiting the number of hunters in each area of the state or Bear Management Unit.

Option 3 – Postpone Bear Hunting in Florida until 2017

Option 3 would be to postpone any bear hunt in 2016 by creating a zero-hunt objective, but the Commission could consider a 2017 bear hunt at a later date. Not holding a 2016 bear hunt would give the FWC more time to work with stakeholders, local communities and the public to better develop the important role hunting plays in Florida’s comprehensive bear management program. FWC would also continue to work with local communities and the public to advance innovative ways to reduce human-bear conflicts with the understanding that a bear hunt in 2017 could be considered as an important conservation activity to control Florida’s growing bear population. This would allow time for staff and Commissioners to address conflict bear population data to ensure any future hunts are focused where needed.

This year the FWC will completely implement, monitor and measure the $825,000 investment for local communities to reduce human-bear conflict. Florida is a national leader for investing on the reduction of human-bear conflicts in communities, and FWC will continue to work with local governments to keep families safe. The Commission would direct FWC officials to continue to use professional discretion to take an aggressive approach to remove additional bears in response to conflicts and critical public safety concerns.

Option 4 – No Bear Hunting in Florida

Option 4 would be for the Commission to repeal bear hunt rules and not allow bear hunting in Florida in future years.

The Commission will consider all of these options, as well as the staff recommendation in its entirety for a more conservative bear hunt on June 22 at their meeting in Eastpoint. The public can provide input on all of the options at MyFWC.com/bear. The FWC welcomes public input at all of our Commission meetings. To accommodate as much input as possible from those attending the upcoming Commission meeting in Eastpoint, the Chairman reserves the right to designate the amount of time given to each speaker, including time donation to other speakers. The meeting will be streamed live on the Florida Channel.

Big, Bigger, Biggest Battle Royal in August

Big, Bigger, Biggest Battle Royal in August

From the people who brought you Dusty Rhodes vs. Terry Funk vs. Abudllah the Butcher vs. Kevin Sullivan — the biggest independent main event ever in Florida — comes something even bigger and crazier.

This time the goal is to break a world record. This event will likely be covered and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Pro Wrestling Grand Prix is 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Okeechobee Agri Civic Center, 4601 FL-710, Okeechobee, 34974.

The main event will be a five-ring, 200-plus man Battle Royal, wrestling’s biggest battle royal ever.

The first true invitational battle royal, open to rookies, ring veterans, those in training, referees, managers, and any personality in pro wrestling wanting to build his or her name.

For more info on becoming part of this event or to enter the Battle Royal and be credited in the Guinness Book of World Records, contact


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/article82671617.html#storylink=cpy

Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee Introduces New Playground To Community (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee Introduces New Playground To Community (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Park Ribbon Cutting 6-9-16

Kiwanis Park officially opened Thursday morning, June 9th with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by County and City officials, Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee members, Florida Kiwanis officials and members of the community.

The location is just south of the County Sheriff’s department next to the county skate park. The park consists of many features for children ages 5-12 including some features that help children with disabilities enjoy the park such as synthetic turf. The park consists of two, double sided slides, a suspension bridge, several climbing apparatuses and a sensory wall.

The project cost approximately $84,000 dollars to complete and was funded from Kiwanis Club events such as the Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta, The Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast and the Kiwanis Club Radio Auction. The Children Services Council also made a significant contribution and there was a private donation from the Harms/Thogerson family.

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee worked in conjunction with County and City officials on location and building. The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee took on the project of building a playground for the community over five years ago. Several locations and designs were considered before the current plan was completed. Video of ribbon cutting ceremony is on WOKC’s Facebook page.





Charles Murphy News 6/10

News Cast for June 10th:

IMG_3335Two Okeechobee residents were killed Thursday evening in a head on collision on US 98 near Milking R Dairy. 79-year-old Walter Stripling was west bound in a Toyota SUV and failed to maintain his lane and crossed over the center line striking an east bound Ford Fusion driven by 17 year old Ashley Carter. Both victims were wearing seat belts.  The road was shut down for several hours.

Okee Fatal 6-9-16 US-98

In the courts, 36 year old Libby Peacock was sentenced to one year and four days in jail for various drug charges from a search warrant last August 28th in Glades County.   Officials said they found 88 grams of methamphetamine, various prescription pills, two guns, and 3 hundred dollars in suspected drug cash.

Indian River County removed their objections to the proposed Florida Power and Light Natural Gas power plant after the company agreed to pay them 90 thousand dollars up front to provide emergency services and fire protection to Okeechobee in the event of an incident at the plant.  Indian River will also receive up to another 2 hundred thousand plus reimbursement for actual calls they respond to. Commissioner Joseph Flescher still had questions about Okeechobee having enough resources to serve the plan.

Flescher 1

Flescher 2

An administrative law judge cancelled a hearing over the power plant scheduled for later this month.

Drug related deaths rose another 3 point 6 percent in Florida last year.  Six deaths were reported in Okeechobee County.  State wide heroin deaths increased by 1 hundred and 24 percent and methamphetamine deaths by over 28 percent since 2013.

Sports Cast for June 10th:

Cheyenne Nunez was the Most valuable player for the girls’ basketball team in 2016. She said she was very satisfied with the improvement of the basketball team this year.

Nunez 1

Nunez earned several MVP trophies as she played three sports softball, volleyball and basketball. Her basketball season was cut short by a knee injury this year.

She said the returning team has potential to take the program further.

Nunez 2

Nunez recently signed a college scholarship to play at Division I Florida Gulf Coast University.

Charles Murphy News 6/9

News Cast for June 9th:

The rewards for information in the Diane Alvarez case are now 15 thousand dollars. No new developments Wednesday as Polk County deputies reportedly joined the search in land on route 60 in their county.  Other searches have been known to have occurred in Osceola and Glades County.

State Senator Denise Grimsley called the 2016 session productive for Okeechobee.  She said they received 5 hundred thousand for the ag civic center and 50 thousand for Lock 7, and plenty of water projects. She said rural health care will be impacted by moves to give nurses more flexibility where they work. Grimsley will be back representing Glades County in her final two-year term.

Grimsley 1

Grimsley 2

The OUA also got 350 thousand in state funds.  The state also sent 2.6 million to resurface North East 36th Avenue.

In the courts, 21 year old Patrick Courtney pled no contest to burglary and battery charges in a local shooting case and received 30 months in prison.  He was charged after a shooting at the Dockside RV Park on 441 south east last June 10th.  A round from a 38 caliber pistol narrowly missed James Haywood in an argument over a 60 dollar loan.

An animal cruelty case dropped by prosecutors.  20 year old Robert Thompson Junior was charged with three counts of animal cruelty after animal control found 3 dogs in sad shape on North West 68th Street in February.  One of the dogs died.  Officers say the dogs didn’t have food and their water hadn’t been changed in at least two weeks before their inspection.  Thompson said he didn’t have the money to care for the dogs.

HCA announced Robert Lee had been promoted to Chief Executive Officer over Plantation General hospital.

St. Lucie Fatal 6-8-16 SR-91 and MM 171

06 08 2016 Press News Release Avon Park Robbery Subject Sought

Sports Cast for June 9th:

Marissa Fennell was the Brahman Award winner for flag football this year. She was a key defender on the team for her senior year.  She said she appreciated getting the honor

Fennell 1

Fennell said she was sad to end her flag football career because she made a lot of friends and great memories. Fennell said she wanted to be a leader and a good role model this season.

Fennell 2

The team won three games to start the season but slumped and didn’t qualify for districts.

A punt return for a touchdown was her highlight of the year.

She plans to study pharmacy at Indian River State College.

City of Okeechobee to Begin Adult Mosquito Control Efforts

 City of Okeechobee to Begin Adult Mosquito Control Efforts

Due to the nuisance level of mosquitoes, The City of Okeechobee is announcing that they will spray for adult mosquitos during the week of June 13th. The exact date will be determined by weather conditions.

The City’s contractor, Clarke Environmental will commence spraying on June 13th, including the hours of dusk and approximately 1:00 AM. Adulticiding attacks adult mosquitoes with a truck-mounted application of ultra-low volume spray. Adulticiding treatments are needed when mosquito populations are at bothersome levels or indicate the presence of mosquito-borne illness, such as West Nile Virus. All insecticides used have been approved specifically for this purpose and are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, if people wish to avoid potential exposure to insecticide they should stay indoors and close the windows during spraying hours.

Residents can take a number of steps to reduce mosquito populations around their homes this summer, including:

= Remove or empty water in old tires, tin cans, buckets, drums, bottles or other places where

mosquitoes might breed.

= Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use. If

unused, drain swimming pools and keep dry.

= Change water weekly in bird baths, plant saucers and trays.

= Store boats covered or upside down.

= Water bowls used by pets should be emptied and refilled daily.

= Fill holes around home that may retain water.

= Keep gutters around home in good repair to avoid water build-up.

= Keep weeds and grass cut short, as adult mosquitoes look for shady places to rest during hot

daylight hours.

= Be sure screens in homes are intact and tight-fitting to prevent entry of insects

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Two to Indian River State College District Board of Trustees

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Two to Indian River State College District Board of Trustees

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced two reappointments to the Indian River State College District Board of Trustees.

Susan Caron, 56, of Fort Pierce, is an administrative assistant for the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners. Previously, she was an owner and vice president of Robert M. Caron Construction Inc and also served on both the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and the St. Lucie County Planning and Zoning Commission. She is reappointed for a term beginning June 8, 2016, and ending May 31, 2019.

Joe Conrado, 66, of Vero Beach, is the president of Conrado Enterprises. He currently serves as a member of the Indian River State College Foundation Board and the Palm Beach McDonald’s Marketing Association. Conrado received his associate’s degree from Indian River Community College. He is reappointed for a term beginning June 8, 2016, and ending May 31, 2019.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Ashley Coone as the DeSoto County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Ashley Coone as the DeSoto County Clerk of the Circuit Court

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Ashley Coone as the DeSoto County Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Coone, 33, of Arcadia, served as president of ASC Consulting and Marketing. She previously served as the Executive Director for DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce. Coone received her bachelor’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and master’s degree from Webster University. She is appointed to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Mitzie McGavic, for a term beginning June 8, 2016, and ending November 15, 2016

Rooney-Backed Federal Promise Zone Designated in SW Florida

Rooney-Backed Federal Promise Zone Designated in SW Florida

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) was proud to announce that the Southwest Florida Promise Zone covering Glades County, Hendry County, and Immokalee (Collier County) has been designated by the Obama Administration. In February, Rooney wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development strongly supporting Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council’s application designating this region as a Promise Zone.

A Promise Zone is a high poverty area in select urban, rural and tribal communities in which the Federal government will aggressively work, with local leaders, to boost economic activity and job growth, improve educational opportunities, reduce crime and leverage private investment to improve the quality of life in these vulnerable areas. Monday, the Obama Administration named the final nine Promise Zones across the country in addition to the 13 others that were designated in 2014 and 2015. The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council’s zone includes Glades, Hendry and Collier counties.

“The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council is proud to be a part of this collaboration called a Promise Zone,” said Don McCormick, Chairman of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. “We appreciate Congressman Rooney’s letter of support on this issue and our community knows he is always there for us whenever we need help.”

“I am very pleased to see the Promise Zone initiative recognize the potential that we have here in Southwest Florida,” Rooney said. “I’m hopeful that this partnership will be a positive step towards federal programs and resources developing this area and improving the community as a whole.”

Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council’s application was selected from 82 applicants from 38 states and Puerto Rico.

See the full text of Rooney’s letter of support here.

Naples Man Pleads Guilty In Connection With “Operation Fraudulent Pain”

Naples Man Pleads Guilty In Connection With “Operation Fraudulent Pain”

Fort Myers, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Wisler Cyrius (35, Naples) today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each count. In addition, he has agreed to pay restitution to the victim automobile insurance companies and forfeit the proceeds of the offenses.

Cyrius is the fourth individual to plead guilty following the culmination of a two-year joint federal and state law enforcement investigation, dubbed “Operation Fraudulent Pain.” The investigation disrupted five unlicensed chiropractic clinics that had received more than $2 million in ill-gotten Personal Injury Protection (PIP) payments from automobile insurance companies. Anouce Toussaint (33, Naples) previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money.  Garry Joseph (37, Naples) and Maria Victoria Lopez (44, Moore Haven) previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

According to the plea agreements, Tamiami Pain and Rehab LLC, First Choice Pain and Rehab Inc., Parkway Medical and Rehab LLC, T&C Consultants d/b/a Collier Chiropractic Center, and Immokalee Pain & Rehab LLC were unlicensed chiropractic clinics operating in Naples and Immokalee. At each clinic, conspirators paid licensed health care practitioners who, in exchange for payments, allowed their names to be listed on official documents as though they were the true owners of the clinics. The conspirators controlled the finances and oversaw and managed the clinics’ day-to-day business, including the insurance billing practices.

According to his plea agreement, Joseph conspired to defraud automobile insurance companies of approximately $2 million from October 2012 to February 2015. He and a co-conspirator were the true owners of Parkway Medical and Rehab and Collier Chiropractic Center. They caused automobile insurance companies to be billed for claims that violated Florida law because the clinics were not properly licensed. They also submitted claims for unnecessary treatments and/or services that had not actually been rendered.

From June 2013 to February 2015, Cyrius and Toussaint conspired with others to solicit individuals to participate in staged motor vehicle accidents in exchange for compensation. The conspirators also sent automobile insurance companies claims for unnecessary services rendered to purported accident victims who had been paid to participate in the staged accidents. The conspirators also submitted claims to automobile insurance companies that were unlawful under Florida law because the clinics submitting the claims were not properly licensed. Cyrius and Toussaint used a shell corporation to conduct financial transactions designed to conceal the proceeds and to avoid reporting requirements.

According to her plea agreement, between October and December 2014, Lopez conspired with others to defraud automobile insurance companies. She had worked in billing and customer service at more than one clinic operated by her co-conspirators. Lopez was coached to mislead others about the true ownership of clinics and knew that non-health practitioners were directing medical treatments in order to maximize claims for payment. In addition, knowing that a patient had participated in a staged accident, Lopez coached that patient to receive medically unnecessary treatment. She directed another patient not to tell his insurance company that he was being compensated for receiving unnecessary treatment

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