Local News

Charles Murphy News 4/9

News Cast for April 9th:

Sheriff Paul May said thanks but no thanks to an additional 334 thousand dollars offered by the county to settle their budget impasse.  From here the two sides will go to Tallahassee for a hearing next Tuesday before the Governor, Cabinet and staff to try and iron out a solution.

Sheriff May says he did give the offer considerable thought. In a letter to the county, the Sheriff said he could not operate the sheriff’s office county jail and courthouse security in a safe and effective manner on the 13.5 million dollar budget funded by the county.

Sheriff May’s Response to letter of 4-7-14

US Congressman Tom Rooney says he would support the state taking over control over releases from Lake Okeechobee.  He says he in reality he has little say as he can only prod or lobby the Corps of Engineers on the Herbert hoover dike restoration and also the Kissimmee River restoration which has been delayed by funding questions.

In the courts, William Mounts of Okeechobee received 15 years in prison for robbing a Circle K convenience store in Lakeland in February of last year.

Among arrests, 26 year old Norman Velasquez Carrillos was charged with sexual battery and battery after an allegation of rape was made against him to the Sheriff’s office.  He was also wanted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The Okeechobee school board last night honored the Yearling middle school dairy judging team that finished fourth in the state, Artha Jonassaint, Makalyn Jones, Cayetana Ortega and Zara Vozzella.  They also honored the livestock judging team that finished 4th in the state.  Members include Sumer Baker, Kevin Dryden, Taylor Jordan and Jared Phares.  Also honored was the Okeechobee high school dairy judging team that finished second in the state.  Members include Jacob McGehee, John McGehee, highest scoring individual in the state, and Natalee Trimble.  The board also honored six book keepers for perfect audits, Jackie Skinner, Dorina Coker, Debbie Hill, Rell Clark, Dawn Radebaugh, and Jennifer Harden.

Sports Cast for April 9th:

Laporche Morris grabbed two long touchdown receptions and Kayla Smith and Sarah Hurst also caught touchdowns to lead Okeechobee to a 24-0 victory over South Fork in flag football action Monday.

QB Baylee Farless threw for close to 2 hundred yards in the victory and said it was a big improvement over the teams’ loss to Treasure Coast last week. Coach Jimmy Mills called it a good all-around effort by his team as his offense executed plays and his defense didn’t miss tackles.

In the junior varsity contest Payton Byrd caught two touchdown passes and Ashlee Hagan ran for a 65 yard touchdown to lead Okeechobee to a 26-7 win over the Bulldogs.

Byrd caught touchdown passes of 35 and 25 yards in the game from QB Destiny Fonseca.

She said she was able to get open by running past the corner-backs.

Okeechobee fell to Martin County last night 21-6 as Elizabeth Moberg threw for two touchdown passes.

Rain washed out the OHS baseball game with Jensen Beach Tuesday; they have rescheduled the game for tonight at 7 pm at Jensen.  The boys’ tennis regional at Melbourne was also rained out and they will play at 3 pm today in Melbourne.

FWC to meet April 15-17 near Tallahassee

FWC to meet April 15-17 near Tallahassee

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet April 15-17 at the Florida Public Safety Institute, 85 Academy Drive, Havana. The Institute is west of the city of Midway on U.S. 90. Full-day business sessions Wednesday and Thursday start at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday’s half-day discussions session starts at 1 p.m.

The public is invited to all three days and will be provided opportunities to speak.

Highlights of the agenda include:

  • Tuesday’s strategic discussions about the future of conservation: human-wildlife interaction; connecting youths to the outdoors; and increasing participation in conservation.
  • Commission action Wednesday on these marine fisheries agenda items:
    • Gulf of Mexico red snapper season modifications.
    • Sea cucumber management alternatives.
    • Proposal for a Gulf reef-fish data reporting system.
    • A proposal to prevent harmful, nonnative lionfish from being introduced and to facilitate removal of the predatory fish.
    • Gulf and South Atlantic fishery management council updates.
    • Thursday’s topics: proposed final rule amendments on the deer management units in Zone D in the western Florida Panhandle, draft amendments to alligator management, and staff reports.

For the full agenda, go to MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings.” Can’t attend meeting in person? Follow live coverage on Twitter @MyFWC and join in the conversation by using tag #FWC2014. https://twitter.com/MyFWC.

Also check the Florida Channel (www.thefloridachannel.org/) for possible live webcast times.

Statement from AHCA concerning VA Hospital Inspections

Statement from AHCA concerning VA Hospital Inspections

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –Today, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration continued its efforts to shine a light on the processes of federal Veterans Affairs hospitals in Florida. The Agency attempted to complete an onsite review this morning at the Bay Pines Medical Center in St. Petersburg, and again were declined the opportunity to review any records at that time.

Secretary Liz Dudek said, “The Agency has yet to receive the follow-up information from our visit to West Palm Beach VA Medical Center last Thursday.  Our goal remains to assess implementation of Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement activities required as part of the internal investigations conducted by representatives of the Department of Veteran Affairs.  Without an ability to review the processes in place regarding risk management and quality assurance, we cannot ensure that our veterans who have so bravely fought to defend and protect our nation are receiving that quality care.”

The Agency for Health Care Administration is committed to better health care for all Floridians. The Agency administers Florida’s Medicaid program, licenses and regulates more than 45,000 health care facilities and 37 health maintenance organizations, and publishes health care data and statistics at www.FloridaHealthFinder.gov. Additional information about Agency initiatives is available via Facebook (AHCAFlorida), Twitter (@AHCA_FL) and YouTube (/AHCAFlorida).

2014 Winter Softball and Flag Football Champions


J and E Fencing

CO-ED League

J & E Fencing

Left –Right

Back Row: Brooke Bowers, Brett Boswell, Lane Rhuda, Robert Barnes, Josh Campbell, Amanda Blewitt, Jack Radebaugh,

Front Row: Cindy Barcia, Becky Driscoll, Janet Estremera, Jeneane Rhuda, & Rick Rhuda

Farm Bureau

Men’s League

Farm Bureau

Back row: Soctt Bloomfield, Lance Root

Front Row: Kinny Flowler, Justin Rodriguez, Mark Weir, Jason Lamb, Adam Burks & Josh Campbell

Not Shown: Tony Lamb, Tim Craig, Brad Coleman, Jeremiah Payne   and Travis Conrad



Cross Fit 426

Women’s League

Crossfit # 426

Back Row: Rebekah Pearce, Kim Jackson, Pam Matthews, Megan Nelson, McKayla Hummel & Megan Clements

Front Row: Audrey Snow & Lisa Clements

Not Shown: Kelly Barcia, Traci Brown, Jewel Buck

Okeechobee Family

Men’s League

Okeechobee Family Practice

Left to Right:

Al Fludd, Kenny Spencer, Jackie Smith, Issacc McNeil, Rashad Kelly, La’Ike McNeil, Virgial Barrett, Cedric Koger, & Marcus Geddie

Not Shown: Aukeemain Mills, Cornelius Garner, Virgil Barrett, LaVonte Spivey, Timmy Williams, & Cameal Leach

2014 Youth Basketball Champions

2014 Youth Basketball Champions

14 & Under

New Hope Lodge #450  PHA

14 and U Champs

Back Row: Sponsor James Snell Sr., Coach Bruce Snell, Kysell Richarson, Robert Futch, Garrett Causey, Dakota Pries, Coach Marsel Richardson, Sponsor James Snell Jr.

Front Row:    Luzana Venzor, Larry Boswell, Mark Youmans, Elton Pelt, Devon Johnson, Sponsor Melvin Jones Sr.


12 & Under

Masonic Lodge #237

12 and Under Champs

First Row: Ty’Juan Lewis, Roderick Williams, De’Nutrik Whitaker, Jerimya White

2nd Row: Coach Elijahwon Williams, Veyon Washington, Kamani Smith, Judele Root,  Coach Eric Williams

Not Shown: Simone Washington


10 & Under

Murphy USA

10 and Under Champs

Front Row: Kyle Shaw, Braeli Pelt, Kalyn Hammil, Vincent Fennell, Gavin Murphy

2nd Row: Anton Thomas, Ryker Waddell, Khamari Jones, Braelon Pelt

3rd Row: Sponsor  Shamera Brown, Team Mom  Bertheia Smith, Coach Derrick Fennell, Coach Reginald Mayes, Sponsor Anthony Vargas

Rooney Qualifies by Petition for 17th District Congressional Race

Rooney Qualifies by Petition for 17th District Congressional Race

Punta Gorda, FL – U.S Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) announced today that he has qualified by petition to appear on the ballot in Florida’s 17th District Congressional race. Rooney gathered more than 4,300 signatures from constituents petitioning him to run for reelection.

“I’m honored and humbled to have qualified by petition to appear on the ballot and have the opportunity to represent the people of Florida’s 17th district. I am deeply grateful to all of you who took the time to fill out and return these petitions for placing your confidence in me. This sends a message that our campaign has the strong, grassroots support we need to win in November and get our country back on the right track.”

Charles Murphy News 4/8

News Cast for April 8th:

Among arrests 46 year old Jorge Sanchez faces fleeing and eluding police, marijuana charges, baiting and fighting animals, and aggravated animal cruelty after city cops say they found a dead rooster and a live rooster in a vehicle they stopped for speeding on Parrott Avenue.  Sanchez denied any involvement in alleged rooster fighting and said he was just running to the store to get milk.

24 year old Tiffany Andrews of Homestead was charged with introduction of contraband into Okeechobee correctional institution and possession of marijuana, corrections guards say she tried to smuggle tobacco and marijuana into the prison.

43 year old Justiniano Lopez was charged with workers compensation fraud for allegedly using a fraudulent social security number to gain employment at a local dairy farm.  The department of insurance says Lopez is also a person of interest in a identity theft case in Scottsdale, Arizona.

28 year old Jeremy Cain was charged with battery, false imprisonment of an adult and children, and other charges after an alleged fight on Friday.  He allegedly assaulted a sleeping man and then tried to elude police by forcing his way into a nearby apartment with children inside.

The county commission voted 4-1 to increase the sheriff’s budget by 334 thousand dollars, returning unused funds and some Byrne drug grant funds.  County Administrator Robbie Chartier says there has been no major improvement in the counties financial situation in the past year.

The Sheriff intends to address the county commission on Thursday; if a deal is not reached a hearing is set for next Tuesday in Tallahassee to hear the dispute.

A 34 year old Okeechobee woman survived injuries from a rollover crash last week, trapped in her vehicle for nearly an hour off 441 southeast.  Misty Mattox was treated at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center.

A 48 year old Douglas Park woman, Brenda Jones avoided serious injury after being struck by a vehicle, a Chevrolet sedan on North East 16th Avenue at 5th Street.

Hendry Co US 27 Fatal 4-3-13 UPDATE 4-4-14

FDOT For Immediate Release Work Zone Safety April 7 2014

Press News Release Missing Juvenile Returns Unharmed

Press News Release Identity of Homicide Victim Released

Sports Cast for April 8th:

Lady Brahman softball defeated Moore Haven 15-7 to celebrate their senior night in style. Kaylen Fulford had two homeruns, and Cheyenne Nunez hit a long blast to lead the Brahmans over the pesky Terriers.

Coach Mary Huff says she likes that the power has come along for her team late in the year. Cheyenne Nunez drove in six runs in the game, Fulford three runs and the Brahmans took advantage of nine Terrier walks. Fulford says she just felt comfortable at the plate. Stormy Stokes added three hits.  Brianna Nunez reached base four times despite an ankle and back injury in the game. She said it was a great senior night.

Seven seniors were honored before the game, Carissa LiCata, Danyelle Sheffield, Fulford, Bethany Stuart, Stormy Stokes, Briana Nunez and Khrysta Herndon.

On the sports schedule today, boys’ baseball visits Jensen Beach at 7 pm.  Flag football travels to Martin County with games at 5 and 6 pm.  Boys’ tennis competes in their regional match this afternoon at Melbourne High School.

Florida Receives $5 Million to Combat Agricultural Pests, Diseases

Florida Receives $5 Million to Combat Agricultural Pests, Diseases

Funding Will Help Protect State’s $108 Billion Agriculture Industry from Invasive Species

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services today announced the state will receive $5.4 million in federal funding through the federal Farm Bill to help eradicate pests and control diseases that affect the state’s $108 billion agriculture industry.

“Pests and diseases are significant threats to Florida agriculture,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “By working to prevent the entry and spread of these threats, we can help ensure Florida’s famed agriculture industry can continue for generations.”

The spending plan for the pest and disease control section of the Farm Bill was released this week by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The purpose of the APHIS funding is to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten the U.S. agriculture and environment. This funding will strengthen pest surveillance, detection and identification and help mitigate these threats.

The state programs that will be funded include:

  • Giant African Land Snail mitigation
  • Detector dog inspections
  • Research and development for citrus health, including citrus canker and citrus greening
  • Protection of avocado production (reduction of laurel wilt)
  • Honeybee pest and disease surveys

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

Governor Scott Announces $29 Million to Improve South Florida Water


~Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans for wastewater and stormwater projects~

MIAMI, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott was joined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. to announce the 10 wastewater and stormwater projects receiving more than $29 million in loan funding for South Florida through the Department’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program.

Governor Scott said, “Investing in water quality in South Florida is important to all the families who live in the area. These critical projects will help keep Floridians and our environment healthy. We must continue our focus to improve water quality throughout the state to ensure that Florida remains the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family.”

Senator Rene Garcia said, “In order for our state to continue to attract visitors, we must continue to prioritize spending on our environment. Today’s announcement of wastewater and stormwater treatment upgrades is good for our economy and for all Floridians.

Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said, “The quality of life we enjoy in South Florida is due in large part by the quality of the environment we live in. I am glad that Governor Scott and Florida DEP understand that we must remain committed to Florida’s environment.”

Representative Eddy Gonzalez said, “Governor Scott’s commitment to water quality is admirable.  These waste water and storm water treatment projects are important to everyone in South Florida.”

Representative Jose R. Oliva said, “For years the State Revolving Fund has given communities the boost they need to implement technologies that will change the impact they have on our state’s delicate water resources. Governor Scott has once again provided that bump to put local governments in a position to make a difference.”

Representative Carlos Trujillo said, “Florida’s water resources deserve our full attention and as much support as we can possibly offer. Governor Scott’s distribution of the State Revolving Fund shows his commitment to our environment, our water and South Florida’s long term future.”

Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. said, “Governor Scott and DEP again have shown that they are committed to Florida’s water quality. Today’s announcement is great news for all of the families in the area.”

Representative George Moraitis said, “Florida’s water quality is important to so many aspects of life in our great state. Thank you to Governor Scott for realizing the importance of protecting Florida’s water resources.”

Representative Holly Merrill Raschein said, “The folks living in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties may never personally witness the effects of these water quality investments, but their children and grandchildren will be forever grateful for the State Revolving Fund and the help it provides to our local communities.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said, “Thank you to Governor Scott and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for their continued commitment to water quality in Miami-Dade County. With our county’s economic growth, it is important that we invest in wastewater and stormwater treatment to ensure that we continue to protect our environment. Today’s announcement is good for all families in South Florida.”

Secretary Vinyard said, “Governor Scott continues to demonstrate his commitment to the protection of Florida’s water resources. This funding will bring water treatment upgrades to South Florida communities who are looking to preserve our state’s waterbodies.”

The Projects in South Florida Include

Miami-Dade – $6,000,000

The proposed project will expand the peak flow treatment capacity of the South District Wastewater Treatment Plant to 285 million gallons per day. The plant will also be upgraded to provide high level disinfection for the entire peak flow. This is an increase of an original loan for $120,000,000.

Monroe County – $6,000,000

The project consists of constructing a wastewater treatment plant, transmission main and wastewater collection system to serve the communities from Lower Sugarloaf Key through No Name key. The transmission and collection system will serve approximately 9,000 homes. This is an increase of an original loan for $65,000,000.

Islamorada – $6,000,000

This project is for the construction of a regional wastewater collection and transmission system for the Village of Islamorada. Approximately 6,765 homes will be served by this system. This is an increase of an original loan for $71,000,000.

Marathon – $27,300

This project is complete and included collection, transmission, treatment, and disposal with stormwater collection and treatment in Marathon’s service area 3. Approximately 1,459 homes that are currently on septic tanks and cesspits will be served by an advanced water treatment plant. This is an increase of an original loan for $12,500,000.

Marathon – $519,000

This project is complete and involved creating wastewater and stormwater infrastructure in Marathon’s service area 5 that replaced approximately 1,278 septic tanks and cesspits. This is an increase of an original loan for $21,000,000.

Key Largo – $2,560,000

This project is complete and involved the construction of an advanced water treatment plant with a capacity of 2.3 million gallons per day that will eventually serve all of Key Largo. This is an increase of an original loan for $55,500,000.

Key Largo – $4,200,000

This project consists of the construction of a new digester as well as the conversion of an existing digester into a third Sequencing Batch Reactor to provide additional capacity. This expansion is necessary because Islamorada will be sending all of their effluent to Key Largo for treatment and disposal.

Dania Beach – $286,000

This project will address phase III of the infiltration and inflow corrections in Dania Beach and will also include repairs to lines in first two phases.

North Miami – $3,500,000

This project will correct excessive inflow and infiltration problems for 13 basins.

Miramar – $560,000

This project will allow for the construction of sewers, a lift station and force mains to serve 775 residents and businesses and eliminate septic tanks.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides financial savings for projects that benefit the environment, including protection of public health and conservation of local watersheds. The State Revolving Fund program was established in 1989 to provide low-interest financing for the planning, design and construction of wastewater and stormwater facilities, in compliance with the Clean Water Act. This program has awarded $3.8 billion in loans since its inception, and more than $1.4 billion in funding for 96 projects in just the last five years. Funded by federal grants, state matching funds, loan repayments and interest earnings, state revolving fund loans are offered at interest rates. Repayments from earlier loans are used to make new loans, allowing the program to continue operating.

For more information on the State Revolving Fund program, please visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wff/ .

Charles Murphy News 4/7

News Cast for April 7th:

Okeechobee county commissioners voted to spend another 3 hundred and 34 thousand dollars on the Sheriffs spending plan to try and avoid an appeal in Tallahassee next week.

The Sheriff had countered with a 14.8 million dollar plan.

Okeechobee city council last week approved a comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning application for the current trailer park property at the intersection of State Road 70 east and South East 10th Avenue.  The near 2.6 acres could one day be developed into retail and even a restaurant.

City planner Bill Brisson says he doesn’t see a lot of traffic impacts and refers to data obtained from a study done for the Hampton Inn and Applebee’s projects nearby.

According to the Department of Transportation 70 east in that area is a failing road.

Avon Park is considering a three year deal to send their household trash to Okeechobee.  They would pay Okeechobee’s landfill 25 dollars per ton.  Host fees of about 35 thousand dollars annually would be received by the county should the deal be approved later this month.

The Florida power and light solar plant in Martin County hasn’t been productive as once hoped.  The plants goal was to power 11 thousand homes but so far has only been able to power just over 6 thousand homes.  FPL officials blame a cloudier than normal summer last year.  The plant cost nearly 4 hundred million to develop.

In the courts, 19 year old Brack Platt pled no contest to a charge of unlawful possession of an alligator and received one year probation.   Florida wildlife officers claim Platt was among four young adults who shot and killed 8 alligators that were found in a canal near Port Mayaca last February.

A Florida panther was killed over the weekend after being hit by a vehicle in Hendry County.  Nine panthers have died so far in 2014, the fifth hit by a vehicle.

Sports Cast for April 7th:

Emmanuel Gaona was named the Most Valuable athlete for the boys cross country team at Okeechobee High school this year.

Gaona deflected praise at the awards banquet and said another teammate should have gotten the award, Hernan Baltazar. Gaona says Baltazar was the runner that pushed him the most and made him better this past season.  He said that the returning cast of runners has the potential if they really care about what they are doing. Gaona had a bizarre training regimen of fast food; he said fast food made him faster because he got the food faster. He said he is proud of the team this year for their efforts.  He did qualify for the regional for the first time.

Okeechobee softball had a strong performance at the Doc 4 Life Tournament in Ocala this weekend.

Cheyenne Nunez homered in a 14-2 victory over Key West in the first round.  Okeechobee defeated Ocala Vanguard 14-6 in the second round. The Brahmans were eliminated by eventual champion Belleview, 2-1.

On the sports schedule, girls’ softball will hold their senior night celebration tonight against Moore Haven.  Game time is 7 pm with pregame ceremony around 6:30 pm.

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