Local News

Charles Murphy News 3/2

News Cast for March 2nd:

Numbers of the Florida panther have increased in the past year despite an increase in fatalities in collision with vehicles. Darrell Land says they continue to build wildlife crossings to try and make things safer for the panther. 62 wildlife crossings have been incorporated into new Florida road projects. 31 panthers were killed on the road, a record number last year.

In the courts, a murder at Martin Correctional led to a life sentence in February.  32-year-old Jacob Spears pled no contest to charges he strangled his cell mate, Brian Rector, because he was a child molester.

Spears was serving 28 years in prison for another murder case before this homicide on August 2nd of 2013.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney of Okeechobee has scheduled a town hall Monday at 11:30 a.m. at the Englewood Event Center.

After expressing reservations about holding a town hall in the current political climate, the congressman was confronted by 300 protesters outside a private event in Venice last week and agreed to schedule a public forum.

Sports Cast for March 2nd:

Artha Jonassaint was the Brahman award winner for the girl’s volleyball team this year. She played sparingly this year but still won the award for her vocal support of her teammates. Jonassaint says she got close to her senior teammates and enjoyed the season. She says she learned how tough it is to sit the bench this year

OHS tennis dropped matches to Lincoln Park and Martin County this week.

On the sports schedule tonight

OHS girls softball visits Clewiston with JV at 5 and varsity to follow.


Reps. Rooney and Ryan Introduce Bill to Stop Illicit Drug Trafficking

Reps. Rooney and Ryan Introduce Bill to Stop Illicit Drug Trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced the Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act of 2017, a bill that amends the Controlled Substances Act to ensure the law appropriately reflects the potency of the opioid fentanyl.

Addiction costs the United States $700 billion annually. In 2015, 52,000 deaths in the United States were caused by overdose, 33,000 of which can be directly attributed to opioids. Fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin, is thought to be responsible for the massive spike in opioid overdose deaths. The DEA has issued a public warning to law enforcement warning them about accidental exposure to fentanyl, a substance which can be lethal at volumes the size of a grain of salt.

Just last week, Rooney sat down with local law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida, all of whom expressed serious concerns about fentanyl related deaths. According to recent statistics, every two hours someone in southern Florida suffers an overdose from fentanyl, heroin, or a similar powerful painkiller. Like Florida, Ohio is also among the national hot spots for heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

“My concern is that without action, these overdose figures are only going to get worse,” Rooney said. “The opioid epidemic has been tearing communities apart across the country. Congressman Ryan and I continually hear about fentanyl from our local law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and this bill will help give them the tools they need to get those who traffic this dangerous synthetic opioid off the street.”

“Ohio has seen yet another record-breaking year for overdose-related deaths, many due to fentanyl. We are losing too many of our friends, neighbors, and relatives to this destructive drug epidemic. I am proud to join Congressman Rooney in introducing this important legislation that will help get these drugs off the streets.  We must respond to this crisis from all sides by improving coordination to reduce the number of drugs available, while also increasing and expanding access to treatment for those who are suffering,” said Congressman Ryan.

The Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act would reduce the amount of fentanyl needed to invoke the most serious trafficking penalties for an individual trafficking and manufacturing the drug. The bill would lower the threshold that triggers federal penalties from 400 grams to 20 grams to ensure that the law appropriately reflects the extreme strength of the drug, which can be fatal in doses as small as 0.25 mg. The DEA has also issued warnings to law enforcement as fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and accidental inhalation of airborne powder can also occur.


Charles Murphy News 3/1

News Cast for March 1st:

Glades County commissioners passed a resolution that opposes a 60-thousand-acre reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Commissioner Weston Pryor says taking that much land out of agriculture production would be devastating to the job market and economy. He says he wants all of the big lake communities to stick together on the issue

The First United Methodist Church of Okeechobee was honored as a state historic site.

A marker was dedicated last week at the church at 2 hundred North West 2nd Street. Mayor Dowling Watford says historical preservation is important.

The church was first established in 1915 and the church building was built in 1924.

Sports Cast for March 1st: 

Okeechobee baseball lost in a walk off in Vero Beach last night 2-1. Baron Stuart pitched a strong five innings with 10 strikeouts to lead the Brahmans. Sean Osceola had an RBI single. Ryan Goodson’s single scored the winning run.

Vero Beach Coach Brian Rahal says it was a just a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel

The Brahmans were held to two hits.

Coach Eric Kindell said the kids battled and got excellent pitching.

Okeechobee plays at Jensen Beach on Friday.

Okeechobee softball lost at Bartow last night 3-2 in 12 innings.

Haley Underhill pitched a complete game and Lauren Bostwick and Halle McDuffie both had two hits.

On the sports schedule today, OHS tennis hosts Martin County at 3:30 pm.  OHS JV baseball hosts fort pierce central at 6 pm.


Mast Statement on President’s Address to Joint Session of Congress

Mast Statement on President’s Address to Joint Session of Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressmen Brian Mast (FL-18) released the following statement after the President’s address to a joint session of Congress:

“We live in an incredible country where we can all voice our concerns and play a role in the direction of the United States.  Last week, I hosted a four-hour town hall meeting where I stayed to answer every question, and it’s clear that people are passionately engaged.  Tonight, I was glad to hear a vision of bipartisanship to try to bridge differences that exist.  While we may not agree on every issue, I do believe there is more that unites us than divides us, by far.

“I share a desire with all Americans to make our communities and our country safer.  As a 12-year Army veteran injured fighting for a country I love, I know as well as any that our enemies in the Middle East literally want to destroy our way of life.  Ensuring our military has the resources needed to protect our country and that our veterans have the resources they need when they return home are absolutely critical priorities in the President’s budget request.

“I also share a desire with all Americans to leave the next generation in a better place than we are now.  For far too long, Washington has avoided the responsibility to set and live by a budget—a responsibility that families and small businesses are forced to take on every year.  Tax-more, spend-more policies have seriously jeopardized our children’s future by driving our country deep into debt.  We must work together, with Members on both sides of the aisle, to restore fiscal sanity in Washington—asking government to do more with less instead of asking the American people to do with less.

“Reducing our debt alone is not enough.  Improving our country for our children’s generation also means working to improve our schools, protect our environment, strengthen Social Security and Medicare and more.  I am deeply alarmed by reports of severe, across-the-board cuts to the EPA and other agencies that are critical to our quality of life in Florida.  On behalf of our community, I will continue working to hold the Administration accountable for any actions that threaten our environment and our way of life.

“I’m committed to working with anyone who shares this positive vision for our country and who wants to make Washington work for the American people again.  Together, we must put people before politics.”


Rooney Statement on President’s Joint Address

Rooney Statement on President’s Joint Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) issued the following statement after President Trump addressed his first Joint Session of Congress:

“In his speech tonight, the President outlined a bold Republican agenda that the American people voted for in November. I look forward to working with my party and the President to rebuild and reinvest in our crumbling infrastructure, fix our broken health care system, and make it easier for American companies to do business here. After eight long years of serving in Congress under President Obama, I am optimistic about this important opportunity for Republicans to prove to the American people that they come first and we can get the job done.”


Rooney Statement on WOTUS Executive Order

Rooney Statement on WOTUS Executive Order

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) issued the following statement after President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers to reevaluate the Obama Administration’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which was an unprecedented expansion of the EPA’s authority to regulate our local streams, ponds and waterways.

“President Trump’s actions today are a welcome relief for Florida farmers, business owners and local governments, who ultimately would be on the hook for the billions it would cost to comply with WOTUS’ unnecessarily broad regulations,” Rooney said. “Floridians have a unique understanding and respect for our waterways and I am proud to represent a district that’s made real progress because of the successful cooperation of ranchers, farmers, conservation groups and state and local governments to protect our state’s vibrant ecosystem. The federal government should respect these functioning dynamics taking place at the state level, rather than impede our state’s economic growth and our farmers’ ability to feed the nation.”

The Waters of the U.S. rule is a classic example of federal government overreach. In 2015, the Obama administration rule broadened the definition of the type of water body that would fall under the EPA’s jurisdiction to include ditches, farm ponds and puddles. Rooney represents one of the largest agriculture districts east of the Mississippi River and has adamantly opposed the rule since its enactment. In October 2016, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report detailing findings from a two-year investigation into the WOTUS rulemaking process. The report found that the White House and the EPA accelerated the rule based on politically-motivated timelines, the EPA made no effort to ensure the rule was based on sound science, and the agency did not fully review public comments before drafting the final rule.


Charles Murphy News 2/28

News Cast for February 28th:

A report of a brush fire early Sunday turned into a single vehicle fatal crash on Everglades Boulevard near the railroad tracks. A 38 year old Okeechobee woman, is believed to be who was in the late model Dodge station wagon. Troopers were waiting on the medical examiner findings before releasing details in the crash.

A man upset that a dozen eggs were missing in his refrigerator was charged with pointing a gun at a female in Buckhead Ridge last week. Glades County deputies charged 28 year old John Krok of Plantation with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

A planned green environmentally friendly city called Destiny in Yeehaw Junction probably will never happen.  A Palm Beach jury this month ruled in favor of the estate of Fred Deluca, the founder of Subway, and could award him as much as 14 million dollars in the lawsuit.  He claimed Anthony Pugliese and Joseph Reamer committed fraud and bilked money for their personal use.  The two men were convicted in criminal court of grand theft.  An appeal is likely in the case.

The estate still owns 27 thousand acres near Yeehaw Junction but have no immediate plans for the property.

An irate 16 year old girl allegedly kicked, slugged and swung a pipe at two deputies who came to calm her down at the Vision Quest program for girls this weekend. She’s been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery on law enforcement.  She was also charged with attempting to strike a staff member.

Two prison inmates were charged with attempted murder and tampering with evidence in a stabbing at Okeechobee Correctional 14 months ago.  Kenneth Gardner was cut by a long screw and a piece of metal but survived 17 or more wounds.  37 year old Vincent Marriner and 47 year old Cordell Allen allegedly attacked the inmate in the sally port and then used gang signs.

Sports Cast for February 28th:

Kysell Richardson took home the Iron Man Award from the Okeechobee football banquet this year. He led the team with 19 receptions this past year, including two for touchdowns.

Richardson thanked the coaching staff for spending extra time with him in the off season to get him to improve physically.

The Brahmans finished the season with 8 victories and a trip to the regional playoffs.

Richardson says he felt he contributed to the passing game this year.

On the sports schedule today

  • OHS tennis hosts Lincoln Park at 3:30 pm.
  • OHS JV baseball hosts Jensen Beach at 6 pm
  • OHS varsity baseball visits Vero Beach at 7 pm

Charles Murphy News 2/27

News Cast for February 27th:

Coquina residents objected to citations and fines for those riding ATVS. The county says all they are doing are enforcing state law and the Coquina water management district asked them to. John Merriman says he bought in Viking so his children could enjoy outdoor recreation. Fred Shants was in the minority as he opposed the problems the ATVS and trespassers have brought to his property. He says buildings have been shot at accidentally by hunters.

Among arrests, 20 year old Lucius Jeanfort of Okeechobee was charged with attempted carjacking with a deadly weapon, attempted aggravated battery and other charges in Winter Gardens.  Police say Jean fort and another suspect tried to steal a car from two females after a festival and one through a brick threw the window of the car causing injuries.

An Indiantown mother chased after and fought with a 30 year old she says molested her daughter last week.  Juan Vincente Chan had been run off from the property earlier for playing with the child in the backyard.  Later he got into the home and allegedly molested the 6 year old child in the kitchen while the parents were out of the room.

Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., struggled throughout the day, but held on tight to win his first championship in a decade at the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee on Sunday. Horton was only able to bring 11 pounds, 7 ounces of Okeechobee largemouth to the scales today, which pushed his total four-day weight to 83-5. His success topped second-place finisher Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., by 1 pound, 4 ounces.

TACT Release

Sports Cast for February 27th:

The Lady Brahmans jumped out to a six run lead and then held off Jensen Beach 8-6 in high school girls’ softball action Friday. Lauren Bostwick scored three runs for Okeechobee and reached base four times. She says the team may have relaxed a bit after the early lead but still have a strong team this year.

Lauren Bostwick after OHS beat Jensen Beach in softball

Janel Aponte and Megan Hargraves both had two hits for the Brahmans. Coach Mary Huff says Jensen struggled a bit pitching and she thought her girls could have scored more runs.

Mary Huff after beating Jensen Beach

Sebring defeated Okeechobee in boys’ baseball Friday 9-6 holding a 7 run lead into the seventh.

Trevor Thomas had two hits for the Brahmans.

Moore Haven baseball mercy ruled Everglades City 15-0.  Alex Pardo threw three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.  Lowell Roberts drove in five runs.

No sports scheduled today.


Horton Tops Best Of The Best At Bassmaster Elite On Lake Okeechobee

Horton Tops Best Of The Best At Bassmaster Elite On Lake Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — After starting Championship Sunday more than 8 pounds ahead of his nearest competitor, Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., struggled throughout the day, but held on tight to win his first championship in a decade at the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee.

Horton was only able to bring 11 pounds, 7 ounces of Okeechobee largemouth to the scales today, which pushed his total four-day weight to 83-5. His success topped second-place finisher Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., by 1 pound, 4 ounces.

Horton’s last victory was at the 2007 Elite Series Champion’s Choice on New York’s Lake Champlain. It’s been 10 years since the 11-time qualifier of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods took home the trophy and $100,000 first place prize.

“Today was a very difficult day, no question about it,” Horton said. “I’m so thankful and so very blessed that Thursday and Friday went as well as they did. If it weren’t for those two heavy limits, I wouldn’t have won.”

Looking back at Saturday’s semi-final round when Horton lost a 9-pounder early on, he said that fish would have put his total near 26 pounds for the day.

“If I would have caught and weighed that fish, I would have been ahead by 13 or 14 pounds,” he said. “Had that been the case, I would have stayed closer to the boat ramp and fished conservatively for the win — you can’t always do that, but that big bass would have made today a lot easier.”

Horton caught his first keeper bass on Sunday at 11 a.m., but not at the spot where he had been fishing the past three days.

“When I arrived at my spot this morning, the wind and fishing pressure made the water a big mess,” Horton said. “I knew catching the fish I needed to win from that location was a long shot, so I spent some time looking at a couple other locations and ended up deciding on Harney Pond.”

Harney Pond is a 30-mile run from Okeechobee, Fla., on the southwest side of the lake. When Horton scrapped the game plan that had put him in the driver’s seat the first three days, he was taking a big risk.

“My family drove 13 hours to watch the final weigh-in, and I really felt like I had let them down,” he said. “I literally walked on stage thinking DeFoe had me beat, and it ended up that my 11-pound limit was the most beautiful 11 pounds I’ve ever caught.”

An emotional Horton said having his family present, and sharing the final-day stage with good friend Ott DeFoe made this victory the best of his career.

“I have a tremendous support system, and I wouldn’t be here without my family,” he said. “So much happened this week; so many ups and downs that I’m not sure the gravity of what’s happened has sunk in yet.”

Horton won a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Okeechobee in 2004. He relied this experience, but kept an open mind as Florida’s renowned big-bass factory has dramatically changed over the years.

The big lake has endured numerous hurricanes, water-level fluctuations and struggling habitat. But the potential for big fish has remained the same thanks to miles of various vegetation types including hydrilla, milfoil, hyacinth, pencil reeds, alligator grass, pennywort and lily pads.

“Everything I weighed in this week was on a 4-inch Klone Crawsome in two colors: black/blue swirl and a black/red copper,” Horton said. “I rigged the creature-style baits on a heavy-duty flipping hook beneath a 3/4- to 1-ounce weight — depending on how thick the reeds were I was flipping to — on 50-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS braid.”

Horton’s rod of choice was an 8-foot Duckett Flip Stick, Gary Klein Edition, paired with a Lew’s SuperDuty Speed Spool baitcaster in an 8.0:1 gear ratio. On the final day, however, he made a few subtle changes.

“Today I caught my fish on a 3/8-ounce tungsten weight rigged on 20-pound test Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon,” he said. “I focused on Harney Pond because the water was a little bit clearer, which I felt required a different line selection, but the main presentation stayed the same.”

Rounding out the Top 12 are: Ott DeFoe (82-1), Cliff Prince (78-3), Fletcher Shryock (77-10), Greg Hackney (73-12), Dave Lefebre (73-0), Bobby Lane (72-10), Jason Williamson (69-10), Dean Rojas (68-14), Andy Montgomery (67-12), Stephen Browning (67-5) and Adrian Avena (63-14).

Tyler Carriere of Youngsville, La., earned the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award of $1,500 with a 9-5 largemouth.

DeFoe was awarded $1,000 for the leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race at the end of the event.

Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $1,000 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat.

Horton earned $500 as the recipient of the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award.

The event was hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourism.

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Power-Pole, Yamaha, Berkley, Huk, Triton Boats, Shell Rotella, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats

2017 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: T-H Marine, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Lowrance, Phoenix Boats, Shimano, Livingston Lures, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.


Charles Murphy News 2/24

News Cast for February 24th:

Chelsey Knutowicz and her horse Oliver enjoyed this year’s Florida Cracker Trail Ride across the state.
The group made camp in Basinger Thursday and will spend Friday night at the Adams Ranch on route 68 east

Michael Saunders received life in prison for several crimes including home invasion robbery, armed burglary with a gun and aggravated battery on a deputy. Deputies got into a high speed chase with Saunders and were forced to shoot the stolen truck in a cattle pasture. Prosecutor Ashley Albright admits Saunders is lucky to still be alive. Saunders still faces another trial for allegedly trying to escape the county jail.

38 year old Michael Spielman is accused of a similar escape Wednesday, allegedly battering a female jail guard as she brought him a meal in his cell and trying to run to the back door.  Other jailers wrestled him down at the booking desk.

The State Attorney filed a notice to seek the death penalty against accused killer Christopher Shows on Tuesday.  He’s charged with first degree murder and other crimes in the shooting death of 25 year old Amanda Suarez on December 7th of last year.

Cracker Trail Riders made it Okeechobee last night at the Bass Ranch and cross the county today headed for Adams Ranch on route 68.

Chelsey Knutowicz of Englewood says she likes to imagine what it was like for the original cattle drives.  Marilyn Whitford of Jacksonville says she wouldn’t miss this for the world.

Prosecutors added an additional charge of aggravated child abuse against Debra Lunt, a local teacher accused of threatening one of her students with a chair last year.

Ott Defoe caught a five bass limit of over 31 pounds to take the lead at the Bassmaster Elite tournament on Lake Okeechobee.

Sports Cast for February 24th:

11 Okeechobee wrestlers compete in the regionals today and Saturday with a dream of making the state tournament. Justin Drawdy won the district title at 220 pounds this year. He says he felt he accomplished a lot. He has trained and practiced with two-time state champion Curtis Tyson of Okeechobee.

Austin Scee won a district title at 1 hundred and 32 pounds. He says it was the highlight of the year

Kallen Pinerio was among three Brahmans who finished second place at regional.  The 1 hundred and 45 pound competitor thinks his legs and power can take him to states.

Evangelical Christian scored six runs in the fifth and sixth innings to defeat Moore Haven in high school baseball, 6-0 Thursday.

Sports this weekend include the previously mentioned wrestling regionals at Jensen Beach.

Okeechobee, and several other Big Lake schools compete in the Pahokee Invitational track meet today at 4.  Moore Haven softball visits Palmetto Ridge at 6.  OHS baseball visits Sebring at 7.  OHS softball hosts Jensne Beach with JV at 5 and varsity at 7.  Moore Haven baseball visits Everglades City at 7 pm.


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