Local News

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to Host Consumer Protection Fair in Palm Beach County

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to Host Consumer Protection Fair in Palm Beach County

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–To bring consumer protection information directly to the Floridians the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services serves, the department will be hosting a Consumer Protection Fair in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fair will be held at the Clayton E. Hutcheson Agricultural Service Center, located at 559 North Military Trail, West Palm Beach, Fla., 33415.

“Consumer education is a cornerstone of consumer protection, and we’re looking forward to bringing key information directly to the people we serve,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “We’d like to help people prevent fraud from occurring and encourage them to report suspicious business practices.”

As the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, the department works diligently to educate the public, investigate complaints and provide mediation on behalf of consumers. In addition to key department information from various divisions, other consumer protection entities will be present, including: Palm Beach County Division of Consumer Affairs, local Veterans Affairs, the Volunteers Against Scams with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County’s Victim Services, and more.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency. Consumers can also use the live chat feature by going to FreshFromFlorida.com.

Consumers who believe fraud has taken place or who need assistance with any other consumer issuecan contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Hosts Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Hosts Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission (AUDIO INCLUDED)

From left to right, Ken Keller – Kiwanis Club President, Elvie Posey – Club member, Don Fox – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

From left to right, Ken Keller – Kiwanis Club President, Elvie Posey – Club member, Don Fox – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee hosted Don Fox, a biological administrator with Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at a recent meeting. Fox spoke on the beauties of Lake Okeechobee and what more there is to do other than fish. Mr. Fox gave bird watching and kayaking as examples of other activities the lake has to offer. Fox believes that developing and promoting activities locally should be a priority of the community. He feels there is a general lack of information available to the community and that means the lake is not being used to its full capacity.


Charles Murphy News 9/16

News Cast for September 16th:

The Okeechobee school board:

  • Learned the cost of a new Okeechobee high school is an estimated $62.8 million.
  • Learned the removal of ospreys from the high school during construction would cost $50 thousand dollars. Will consider hosting town hall meetings as they develop plans for the new high school. Set the final tax millage at 7.2 mills, a slight decrease from last year.
  • Approved the final budget for 67.6 million dollars, an increase in spending of 1.7 million.
  • Agreed to spend nearly 42 thousand dollars on two way portable radios with TBS electronics.
  • Appointed Lauren Myers as Assistant Principal at Okeechobee High School.
  • Have eight teaching positions available

Okeechobee city council hired their new administrator Monday when they approved a contract with Marcos Montes De Oca. He will receive 80 thousand dollars per year in salary with other benefits city employees enjoy. De Oca is an Okeechobee resident and also an engineer. He was asked what to expect when he begins October 1st. He had been public works director for the city of Belle Glade.

Montes De Oca 1

Montes De Oca 2

In the courts, 37 year old Israel Almeida Lezcano of Lorida received three years’ probation for charges related to animal fighting.

Charges of a scheme to defraud and grand theft in an alleged swindle during a trade of seven calves for 16 pigs were dropped by the state attorney’s office. He was earlier placed on probation for the theft of three horses near Lake Placid.

An Okeechobee man who turned himself in for operating a meth lab in Buckhead Ridge, received six months’ probation on lesser charges. 52 year old Bryan Castle told Glades deputies he was worried he would get caught and some recent health problems convinced him to disclose the lab. Prosecutors dropped a charge of possession of chemicals used to make controlled substances in the plea deal.

25 year old Jack Turtle was picked up as yet another member of an alleged methamphetamine ring Monday. He was charged with racketeering and held on 75 thousand dollars bond.

Sports Cast for September 16th:

Taylor Amadon received the Rising Star Award for the Lady Brahman softball team in 2015. Amadon says she really appreciated the opportunity to play and was surprised she took home an award. Amadon was thrust into the role of starting catcher after an injury early in the year to Jillian Crosby.

She said she had to bite the bullet for the good of the team. Amadon played summer ball for the Cruisers Elite in Palm City.

Amadon 1

Amadon 2

Osceola volleyball defeated stubborn Sebastian Middle 25-22 and 25-20 in their home opener Tuesday. Ashley Snyder scored 13 points on serves for the Warriors. Delaney Jones added four kills.

Osceola soccer fell 4-1 to Sebastian.

Boys golf was rained out against Lincoln Park Academy.

Lake Placid defeated Okeechobee in four of five games in youth football action Saturday. The only squad to win was the Pee Wee by a final of 20-8.

On the sports schedule today, Yearling volleyball hosts Pemayetv Emahakv at 4:30 pm.



~Make sure children are secured correctly~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— With the start of Child Passenger Safety Week, a national awareness campaign focused on keeping children safe while traveling in motor vehicles, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is reminding parents and caregivers to choose the appropriate car seat for young children, install and use it correctly, and to be familiar with Florida laws regarding child safety restraints.

“While a seat belt is your vehicle’s most important safety feature, we must remember that it is not designed for young children. That’s why using the proper child seat is so important to prevent injuries…or worse,” said Terry Rhodes, Executive Director of the DHSMV.

In Florida, during 2014, there were 32 deaths and over 700 injuries caused by crashes in which children under 18 were not secured in car seats or wearing seat belts.

The DHSMV reminds parents and caregivers that:

  • All passengers under 18 years of age must use a seat belt or be in the appropriate safety seat required by age.
  • Children 3-years-old or younger must be in a child safety seat or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
  • Children age 4 and 5 must be in a child safety seat, a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat, or a booster seat.
  • The parent/caregiver is responsible for providing a child safety seat/booster seat when using a vehicle for hire such as a taxi or limousine.
  • Drivers will be charged with a seat belt violation if any passenger under the age of 18 is not using a seat belt or secured in a child restraint device.

National Seat Check Saturday will be held on September 19. To locate a car seat check-up event in your area, go to www.flhsmv.gov (link is located at top of home page).

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: providing A Safer Florida by securely maintaining the records of more than 19 million registered vehicles and over 15 million licensed drivers, as well as providing safe travel along Florida’s highways.  To learn more about DHSMV and the services offered, visit www.flhsmv.gov, follow us on Twitter @FLHSMV or find us on Facebook.

Gov. Rick Scott Announces Blue Origin to Build New Launch Facility; Create 330 New Jobs in Brevard County

Gov. Rick Scott Announces Blue Origin to Build New Launch Facility; Create 330 New Jobs in Brevard County

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Blue Origin has selected Florida as the site for the launch, manufacturing and support facilities for its Orbital Launch Vehicle (OLV) program. The project will create 330 new jobs and a capital investment of $200 million in the region over the next five years.

Governor Rick Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Blue Origin has selected Florida for this exciting new venture which will create 330 new jobs in Brevard County. Enterprise Florida was instrumental in bringing Blue Origin here, and we must keep working to fully fund Enterprise Florida so we can create more great jobs for Florida families.”

Blue Origin was established by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, with the mission of developing vehicles and technologies to enable commercial human space transportation. The company has a long-term vision of greatly increasing the number of people that fly into space.  Along with human spaceflight, Blue Origin’s vehicles will provide streamlined launch opportunities for satellites and research payloads.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said, “I’m excited to join Governor Scott as we make another great announcement for Space Coast families. Blue Origin continues to solidify Florida’s position as the top destination for aerospace and aviation and will create hundreds of new jobs in our community. I look forward to working with Enterprise Florida and local partners so more companies like Blue Origin will choose Florida as the best place to do business.”

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, said, “Cape Canaveral has long been a gateway to humankind’s greatest adventures. Our new home – Complex 36 – has seen 43 years of service and 145 launches, including the Mariner missions, Pioneer 10 and Surveyor 1 – the first U.S. spacecraft to land softly on the moon. This historic pad hasn’t seen a rocket launch in more than 10 years – too long – we can’t wait to fix that.”

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “Historically, Florida has been the site of many of the most important moments in space innovation and exploration. The nature of the space industry is changing, with more private-sector engagement, but Florida can continue to be a leader in this field if we make the right investments. Blue Origin’s selection of Florida will help us secure Florida’s future as a national leader in the space industry. This is great news for the state and for Cape Canaveral.”

Blue has selected Complex 36 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to serve as its launch site. In addition, Blue Origin will be assembling its new launch vehicle nearby, helping to make Florida a major manufacturing center for high-tech space-bound hardware as well as being the nation’s premier gateway to space.

Space has long been part of Florida’s history and identity. As a result, the state boasts a highly-skilled talent pool and knowledge base benefiting businesses across the industry. The state ranks #1 for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness and is home to more than 470 industry leading companies.

Bill Johnson, Enterprise Florida president and CEO said, “For decades, Florida has led the world in space flight and we are now at the forefront of commercial space travel. The state provides the ideal business climate for innovative companies like Blue Origin to come to Florida and succeed, and we look forward to watching them push this industry to places it has yet to go.”

This project was made possible by close partnerships between Enterprise Florida, Space Florida, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, CareerSource Florida, North Brevard Economic Development Zone, Brevard County, Space Coast EDC, and Florida Power & Light.

“This announcement is the result of a marriage of visions,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “It is Florida’s vision to be the world’s greatest spaceport and Blue Origin’s vision to push the boundaries of space travel. Nothing is more exciting than the arrival of an historic business venture that brings with it prosperity and the promise of exploring the stars.”

“This represents a significant turning point for Brevard, and for Florida.” said Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher.

About Blue Origin

Blue Origin, LLC (Blue Origin) is a private company developing vehicles and technologies to enable commercial human space transportation. Blue Origin has a long-term vision of greatly increasing the number of people that fly into space so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system. For more information and a list of job openings, please visit us at www.blueorigin.com.

Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is a partnership between Florida’s businesses and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the Florida.  EFI facilitates job growth for Florida businesses through recruitment and retention, international trade and exporting, promotion of sporting events, and capital funding programs to assist small and minority businesses.

Charles Murphy News 9/15

News Cast for September 15th:

Photos of California fires.

Photos of California fires.

The Sierra Club has launched the Stop Sugar Field Burning campaign claiming the practice creates public health hazards. Florida’s sugarcane growers burn their fields before they harvest to dispose of the foliage. This generates a lot of smoke and puts citizens at Glades County at risk according to Sierra Club spokesperson Julia Hathaway. They link the smoke to heart disease and other serious diseases. They want green harvesting, which is a cost effective way to use the foliage as mulch. Last year close to 440 thousand acres of sugar cane were burned in Florida.

Hathaway 1

Hathaway 2

Osceola County deputies say a truck driver reported being robbed near the Pilot Gas Station in Yeehaw Junction on Saturday morning. A 40 year old man was airlifted to Lawnwood regional after an airboat accident on Lake Okeechobee just north of Okeechobee Sunday afternoon

The cost of healthy kids insurance will go up for 36 thousand Florida families in a few weeks because of additional benefits required by the Affordable Care Act. Laura Brennaman with the Florida nonprofit group Chain there are alternatives like federal health insurance. This only affects families in the Florida healthy kids full pay program.

Internet Child Sex Operation Results in 10 Arrests

Craft Fair in the Woods Vendor Application

State Farm will be presenting Okeechobee High School’s End the Hunger campaign with the grant check during halftime of our first home football game on September 18, 2015. The receipt of this check will impact the lives of 150 local elementary school students for the 2015-2016 school year. It will forever change the lives of the National Honor Society students who will get the opportunity to serve our backpack kids. For more information about how to get involved Okeechobee High School’s End the Hunger Campaign, please contact Samantha Szentmartoni at samantha.szentmartoni@okee.k12.fl.us.

Sports Cast for September 15th:

The boys golf team opens their home schedule today with a roster full of seniors. Key golfers include Kyle Mullins Zach Hudson and Daniel Fulleda. Coach Eric Kindell says he thinks the team can reach post season again.

He said some of the older golfers could maybe make state as an individuals but the team would have a tough time getting further.

Kindell 1

Kindell 2

Local sports include the boy’s golf match at home with Lincoln Park Academy at 3:30. JV girls’ volleyball hosts South Fork at 5 pm. Moore Haven volleyball hosts south West Florida Christian at 5. Yearling volleyball and soccer host Gifford at 4:30. OHS bowling meets South Fork at St. Lucie lanes at 3:30, girls’ golf visits Clewiston at 3:30 pm. Osceola middle volleyball and soccer hosts Sebastian River at 4:30pm.

Moore Haven middle school volleyball visits West Glades at 4 pm.

Internet Child Sex Operation Results in 10 Arrests

Internet Child Sex Operation Results in 10 Arrests

Osceola County (September 14, 2015) – Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives concluded a 4-day undercover operation which resulted in 10 suspects arrested and charged with soliciting sex from a child via the Internet and other sex related crimes. Led by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, “Operation Blind Date” was conducted September 10-13, 2015, as a part of the Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Participating agencies included: Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Kissimmee Police Department, Orlando Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

During the operation, undercover detectives, posed as juveniles to talk with individuals in chat rooms and instant messaging programs on the Internet. Suspects would travel to a meeting location located in Osceola County with the purpose of having sex with a child. One suspect traveled from as far as Ocala and another suspect brought his two-year old child with him. All the suspects were arrested in Osceola County and booked into the Osceola County Jail.

The following were arrested:

Jonathan Diperna, (DOB 8/28/90), 533 Alpine Ridge Loop, Davenport

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device

Eliot Libby, (DOB 11/8/82), 553 Hummingbird Court, Poinciana

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device, Use of a Computer to Seduce/Lure a Child

Anthony Maisonave, (DOB 2/23/93), 613 Sherwood Oaks Circle, Ocoee

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device

Steven Morales (DOB 2/27/91), 331 W. Columbia Avenue, Kissimmee

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Use of a Computer to Seduce/Lure a Child,

Child Neglect

Steve Nichols (DOB 6/3/92), 4033 Pemberly Pines Circle, St. Cloud

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Possession of Photo of Sexual Performance of a Child

Alfonso Pena-Nopal, (DOB 7/18/77), Transient, Lake City

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device

Eric Redmond, (DOB 12/18/77), 3501 Pixie Lane, St. Cloud

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device, Use of a Computer to Seduce/Lure a Child

Chad Edward Valenti (DOB 9/1/83), 18315 12th Avenue, Orlando

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device

Carlshay Dequawn Williams (DOB 9/19/94), 1603 Summerwind Drive, Winter Park

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device

Christopher Scott Wilson (DOB 8/2/87), 1959 33rd Street, Sarasota

Travel to Meet Child for Sex, Unlawful Use of 2 Way Communication Device, Use of a Computer to Seduce/Lure a Child, Lewd & Lascivious Conduct, 2 counts of Personal Electronic Transmission of Information to a Minor, 2 counts of Transmitting Video of a Lewd Act

Charles Murphy News 9/14

News Cast for September 14th:

Hooks PCSO Booking Photo

Hooks PCSO Booking Photo

65 new sexually transmitted infections were reported among Okeechobee teens last year. 41 have been reported this year for those between 15 and 19. Dr. Chris Robshaw reported to the school board last week that our teenage pregnancy rate remains twice the state average. He says it’s time for a broader sex education course in Okeechobee schools starting in the middle schools. He said the statistics are sobering. Dr. Robshaw says parents should be concerned and many often wait until it’s too late to have conversations with their teens about sexual activity.

Robshaw 1

Robshaw 2

A Florida Forest ranger in Glades County recently spent 5 weeks of long days fighting wildfires near Sacramento California. Elmer Sauceda says lessons are learned in every wild fire. Homes were lost and many wild fires continue to burn in northern California.

Sauceda 1

Sauceda 2

In the courts, a weapons charge was dropped against 36 year old David Bozeman in Highlands County courts. He entered a pretrial diversion program this summer. He had been arrested last February 12th after an argument in Kissimmee River estates.

Press News Release Joint Operation with Polk County SO

Press News Release Firefighters Solicitations

IMG_1488Sports Cast for September 14th:

George Johnson ran and threw for a touchdown to lead the Martin County Tigers to a come from behind 33-14 victory over Okeechobee Saturday morning.

The Tigers erased a 14-3 Brahman lead with a huge comeback in the final two minutes of the first half.

Martin County Coach Chuck Kenyon says an interception by his defense, fueled the rally. Okeechobee appeared to be listless playing at the weird hour of 9 am.

Kenyon 1

They did get a 23 yard touchdown from Lamar Williams who finished with 94 yards rushing.

Bubba Fludd broke loose for a 76 yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Brahman Coach Chris Branham said he wasn’t happy with the effort he saw out there. Johnson ran for an 11 yard touchdown and had 91 yards rushing on the game. He said he felt everyone contributed to the win.

Branham 1

Johnson 1

Okeechobee falls to (2-1) on the season. This week they open their district schedule at home against Sebastian River.

Moore Haven behind 106 yards and two touchdown by D’angelo Ware upset Glades Day 27-21. John Cox ran for 1 hundred yards and a score.

Four Men Indicted Federally in the Wake of an Increase in Gun Violence in West Palm Beach

Four Men Indicted Federally in the Wake of an Increase in Gun Violence in West Palm Beach

Four men were indicted yesterday in the wake of an increase in gun violence in West Palm Beach.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Dave Aronberg, State Attorney, Palm Beach County, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, Bryan Kummerlen, Chief, West Palm Beach Police Department and Ric Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, made the announcement.

Patrick D. Turner, 21, Antonio Gaynus, 24, Devontae L. Colbert, 20, and Adrian Coleman, 25, all of West Palm Beach, were charged by indictment with being felons in possession of a firearm.  If convicted and determined to be Armed Career Criminals, Turner and Coleman, face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.  Gaynus and Colbert face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The criminal complaints allege that on various dates the four defendants unlawfully possessed firearms.

On July 25, 2015, Turner, a convicted felon, was found in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol.  On July 24, 2015, Gaynus, a convicted felon, was found in possession of a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol.  On June 29, 2015, law enforcement officers with the West Palm Beach Police Department responded to a shooting at the Roosevelt Full Service Center School in West Palm Beach and found Colbert, a convicted felon, on the scene.  Colbert allegedly attempted to conceal a firearm he possessed, by throwing it on top of a container.  A forensic examination was conducted and Colbert’s blood and DNA was allegedly discovered on the recovered firearm.  On July 15, 2015, Coleman, was the rear passenger of a vehicle and attempted to flee from the police during a traffic stop.  Following his arrest, law enforcement discovered that Coleman had placed and attempted to conceal a loaded.45 caliber pistol in the vehicle.

These cases are the result of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is a Department of Justice nationwide initiative that combines traditional law enforcement activities with community-based support and intervention programs. The two primary goals of the PSN initiative are to reduce and prevent violent crimes and to help past offenders adjust and re-enter the community.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ATF, West Palm Beach Police Department and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam McMichael.

A criminal indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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

Rooney: Deal Makes America, and the World, Less Safe

Rooney: Deal Makes America, and the World, Less Safe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Intelligence and Appropriations Committees, issued the following statement after voting against the nuclear deal with Iran:

“Today I voted against the Iran nuclear agreement and against lifting the sanctions currently imposed against Iran.

“I do not trust the Iranian regime. I do not have faith that the Obama Administration has the political will to hold the Iranians accountable if they don’t comply with this agreement. I do not buy the argument that Iran’s financial gain when the sanctions against them are lifted won’t be funneled to fuel its terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East.

“The Obama Administration has utterly failed to lead on the world stage. Time after time, issue after issue, crisis after crisis, this Administration has demonstrated a consistent inability to develop, articulate, and execute a strategy that advances American interests, increases pressure on our enemies, or reassures our allies.

“I do not support giving the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism a pathway to a nuclear bomb and the economic relief to create more chaos in the Middle East. This deal makes America and the rest of the world less safe and secure, and for those reasons I voted against it.”

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