Local News

Gov. Scott Celebrates 10-Day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday

Gov. Scott Celebrates 10-Day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday

West palm beach, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott joined the Office Depot Foundation to hand out backpacks and school supplies to students and parents for the 15th annual “National Backpack Program” event in West Palm Beach. Governor Scott also highlighted this year’s Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday starting Friday, August 7 until Sunday, August 16.

Governor Rick Scott said, “A great education is the best way to prepare for a great job and that is why we will continue to do all we can to support our teachers and students. In addition to our record funding for K-12 public schools, we also included a 10-day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday which will allow Florida families to prepare for school to start and save money on supplies.”

Florida’s Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday will allow Florida families to purchase school supplies and clothing without paying local and state taxes, and applies to clothing, footwear, and certain accessories for $100 or less and school supplies of less than $15. To learn more about tax-exempt items, call 1-800-352-3671 or visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s website HERE.

Charles Murphy News 8/3

News Cast for August 3rd:

A 66 year old Okeechobee man, Raymond Dean, was hospitalized Friday after a motorcycle accident on 441 south at South East 37th Court. He was cut off by an SUV.

An alligator attack in Kenansville at Florida Forever last week. The 9 foot long gator bit the inner thigh of the right leg of 46 year old Serio Hernandez, who was transported to Holmes Regional Medical Center. Trappers took two alligators from the pond.

A group of volunteers from Oakview Baptist Church helped the Baptist College of Florida with renovation projects for 8 days in July. Professor Susan Wegmann said the help was invaluable to the college. Wegmann said the college students become teachers and preachers.

The US Department of Labor says it gets to as many labor camps as they can to make sure they are in good condition for farm workers. Last month the Farm Worker Justice Project complained Okeechobee’s housing stock was in poor shape and is under inspected. They want the US Department of Labor to take an interest.

Will Garnett is office head in Miami. They cover 13 South Florida counties.

He said inspectors work year round. They look at 91 different criteria when they inspect these migrant labor camps. There are 28 permitted camps in Okeechobee.

In the courts, charges of sexual battery on a child under 12 were dropped last month against 31 year old Charles Hill the 4th. He’d only been arrested on June 22nd.

7 31 15 MADD Hurd-Smith


Martin Fatal 7-31-15 I-95 and SR-714

07 31 2015 Press News Release Attempt to Locate

Kenansville Man is Bit by Aliigator

Sports Cast for August 3rd:

Breanna Brockman won the Most Improved player for the Yearling middle school volleyball team last year.

The soon to be 8th grader said getting an award for her first year in volleyball was memorable. Brockman added that she enjoyed the sport and the players on the team. Practice for volleyball begins soon for the fall campaign.

The 1 hundred and 19th year of Florida high school football kicks off today with summer camps around the state.

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Okeechobee hopes to improve from a two win campaign a year ago.

The coaches hope to have a strong turnout for practice this morning to build off the good numbers they had this spring.

Moore Haven has a new football coach Richard Roudybush holding his first camp with the kids.

USF Researchers to Provide Update on Unmarked Child Burials at the “Dozier School for Boys” in Florida

USF Researchers to Provide Update on Unmarked Child Burials at the “Dozier School for Boys” in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 3, 2015) – University of South Florida anthropologists Dr. Erin Kimmerle, Dr. Christian Wells and Dr. Antoinette Jackson continue to conduct research at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. which began in 2012 to establish the number, location and identity of children who died in state custody and were then buried in unmarked graves on the school grounds.

Dr. Kimmerle will discuss the status of their research at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4 on the USF campus, located at 4202 East Fowler Avenue, in the Galleria of the USF Research Park.

Research updates will include:  

–          New Dozier student identification – a new DNA match has been made, which will bring the total number of identifications to six.  Members of this family will be in attendance to discuss the impact of the team’s research and the DNA match.

–          Information on the report of findings – a final report on the USF Dozier research is due to the state in Jan. 2016.  Dr. Kimmerle will discuss what information will be included in the final report and its significance.

–          Status on the reburial plan – the USF research team is working with the Florida NAACP, the Interfaith Commission for Florida’s Children and Youth,  the Department of Environmental Protection and Florida CFO Jeff Atwater to create a plan for the reburial of children who aren’t able to be identified and to memorialize the children who died at the school.  Dr. Kimmerle will share the latest update on the reburial plan.

–          Documentary – Dr. Kimmerle is working with a company to produce a two hour TV documentary on the team’s research, which is scheduled to air in 2016.  She will provide information on the importance of this production and its meaning to the Dozier families.

–          Land Use Agreement – USF has a permit to access the Dozier property which is scheduled to expire on Aug. 6, 2015.  She will share the latest information on the status of the permit.

Members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will be in attendance.  They will discuss the ongoing search for surviving family members to obtain DNA samples and compare to the remains recovered from the Dozier site in an effort to make further positive DNA matches.

To date, the team has found a total of 51 individuals buried in 55 graves.  The remains of three fire victims were commingled and spread throughout seven of the graves, leading to the discrepancy in numbers.  A 2009 Florida Department of Law Enforcement report stated that there were a total of 31 children buried at the school.


Governor Rick Scott Appoints Three to Florida Citrus Commission

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Three to Florida Citrus Commission

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced one appointment and two reappointments to the Florida Citrus Commission.

Aedan Dowling, 53, of Bradenton, is the senior director of global fruit procurement for Tropicana Products. He previously served as a member of the board of directors of the Juice Products Association and currently serves as a member of the board of directors of the Florida Citrus Processors Association. Dowling received his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College. He succeeds Michael Haycock and is appointed for a term beginning July 31, 2015, and ending May 31, 2018.

Vernon “VC” Hollingsworth, 55, of Arcadia, is the manager of citrus and cattle operation for VCH Citrus LLC. He previously served as the chair of the USDA Farm Service Agency and a member of the Peach River Valley Citrus Growers Association. He currently serves as a member of Florida Natural and the Florida Citrus Commission. Hollingsworth received his bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College. He is reappointed for a term beginning July 31, 2015, and ending May 31, 2018.

James “Jim” Horrisberger, 63, of Lakeland, is the North American fruits and juices procurement manager for The Coca Cola Company. He currently serves as a member of the Florida Citrus Processors Association. Horrisberger received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. He is reappointed for a term beginning July 31, 2015, and ending May 31, 2018.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

3 Suspects Arrested for Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer

3 Suspects Arrested for Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer

Osceola County (August 1, 2015) On August 1 at approximately 1:02 a.m., Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies responded to 947 Emerald Green Court in reference to an armed disturbance. Deputies were advised more than 100 people were attending a house party at the location.

Upon arrival, deputies observed at least 50 cars on the street and numerous individuals leaving the residence. As deputies were investigating this incident, they received a call a deputy was attempting to conduct a traffic stop on a car that left the party, when occupants in the car began firing shots at his vehicle. The deputy was not injured during the incident, but indicated three suspects, identified a Christopher Rodriguez-Jimenez, Stephen Dantzler and Lee Castaneda, saw the deputy in his marked patrol car and began firing multiple shots at him.

Deputies were able to pull the car over and take the suspects into custody. Dantzler, a passenger in the backseat, and Castaneda, the driver, cooperated with the investigation and admitted to deputies they were at the party.

Based on their statements and the evidence, all three suspects were arrested and charged with Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer, Discharge of a Gun from a Vehicle, and Committing a Second Degree Felony with a Weapon. Dantzler and Jimenez were also charged with Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Felon. They were booked into the Osceola County Jail.

Registered Felon: Stephen Dantzler- (DOB 9/29/94), 5607 Boutin Lane, St. Cloud

Registered Felon: Christopher Rodriguez-Jimenez (DOB 8/12/95), 29 E. Wallace Street, Orlando

Lee Castaneda (DOB 2/1/94), 6322 Calypso Drive, Orlando

Charles Murphy News 7/31

News Cast for July 31st:

The 710 extension and bypass road around Okeechobee remains the county commissions top highway priority for the next five years.

They ranked the extension three times in their top five. The other priorities are a corridor study on extending South East 18th Terrace northward to route 70, and four lanes of route 70 west further west a few blocks to Eagle Bay Drive or South West 24th Avenue. Commissioner Terry Burroughs asked why not rank the bypass road differently.

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Other priorities are putting in sidewalks on Charles Harvey Boulevard and state funds to rehab and improve drainage on Cemetery Road in Fort Drum.

Martin County and water management officials are so impressed with the results of a water farm operation at Caulkins citrus grove in Indiantown; they’d like to expand the 32 hundred acre site. They think it is cleaning up the water and keeping polluted water out of the St. Lucie River.

The county planning board this week approved a special exception to allow carpentry and novelty shop at the former Y drives thru. They also recommended a 10 acre tract be rezoned from agriculture to single family home on the east side of North East 48th Avenue for a housing project.

IR Fatal 7-30-15 5 ST SW

Press release 7-30-15

Sports Cast for July 31st:

Okeechobee flag football coach Jeff Whitlock says his team has a lot to be proud of in their 8 win season last year.

He said the team won three upsets, won a lot of close games and were deserving of a lot of praise and community support.

Whitlock says he’d like to create a tradition of having a strong flag football team from year to year. He said the potential is there to be strong again next year.

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Only the district champion makes it into the state tournament each year.

They also have an off season work out program with weekly weight lifting sessions, and speed training.

Charles Murphy News 7/30

News Cast for July 30th:

The Okeechobee health department defended the way they inspect and permit migrant labor camps in the community. The Farm Worker Justice Project said the department needs to be more aggressive and a lot of the housing is in poor shape and falls through the cracks without being inspected. David Koerner, Environmental Health Director, says his inspectors visit these camps between six and eight times a year and give them comprehensive inspections. They also check the refrigerators and the number of beds to make sure they aren’t overcrowded. There are 28 migrant camps currently in Okeechobee.

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Experts say the health department rarely issues fines. Critics say over 62 thousand Floridians live in these camps, many in unregulated housing.

Among arrests today, 46 year old Dawn Somers was charged with exploitation of the elderly under 20 thousand dollars. She earlier had been charged with 14 different felonies related to grand theft and identity theft allegations. Boating crashes dropped in Florida last year but more people were killed.

Brian Rehwinkle with the Florida Fish and Wildlife commission says keeping a 3 hundred and 60 degree lookout, always being aware, wearing a life jacket and not drinking alcohol are the best ways to prevent boating fatalities.

Rehwinkle said boaters in this area get a false sense of security because they see open water.

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Martin 7-29-15 Kubin Ave

Sports Cast for July 30th:

Mariah Spelts was the Most Valuable Player and offensive MVP for the yearling girls basketball squad this past year.

Spelts actually scored over half of the teams points as she displayed a solid outside shot, and ever improving penetration skills. Spelts thanked her daddy, Bobby Spelts, for helping to have solid shooting fundamentals.

She admits she was surprised about how many points she score.

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Unfortunately Yearling didn’t win any games last year mostly due to a lack of scoring.

Spelts say the returning players have athleticism and speed but need to improve in shooting the basketball. Spelt says she plans to play basketball in High School.

Builders for Christ from Oakview Baptist Church in Okeechobee, Fla., worked building walls and new passageways at The Baptist College of Florida.

Builders for Christ from Oakview Baptist Church in Okeechobee, Fla., worked building walls and new passageways at The Baptist College of Florida.

For the past several years, Builders for Christ from Oakview Baptist Church in Okeechobee, Fla., arrived on The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) campus for one concentrated week of hard work and service. Their mission is obvious – Kingdom Building. Their implementation of that mission consists of everything from demolition and construction, to installation and completion; all for God’s glory.

According to BCF Professor Susan Wegmann, the heart of the Oakview team is servanthood and faithfulness. “This past week, they removed walls and carpet from the old computer lab and built new walls to create a hallway. Team members mudded, sanded, framed, cooked, cleaned and created new office spaces on campus,” stated Wegmann. “At every meal, the group came together to eat, fellowship, sing praises and enjoy a time of devotion.” One thing was evident, the Builders for Christ captured the heart of BCF and became an integral part of what God is doing on the campus and through the students.

Throughout the summer months, teams such as the Builders for Christ from Okeechobee work and volunteer on the BCF campus getting it ready for the students to return in the fall. Many of these servant volunteers give up their vacation time and actually fund the trip to the campus where they work doing whatever is needed. The resources saved through the teams of volunteer laborers allows more of the operational budget to remain on the campus to be used for scholarships and preparing students for what God has called them to do. It is with grateful hearts that students return in the fall to the freshly painted and renovated campus because of the hard work of these servant volunteers.

To learn more about volunteering and mission opportunities on The Baptist College of Florida campus, call 850.263.3261 ext. 465 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.

Gov. Scott: State Funding for Building Homes for Heroes to Help Build Record Number of Homes for Disabled Veterans

Gov. Scott: State Funding for Building Homes for Heroes to Help Build Record Number of Homes for Disabled Veterans

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott highlighted $1 million included in the “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” Budget for Building Homes for Heroes, a non-profit organization that builds or modifies homes, and gifts them mortgage‐free to injured veterans and their families. The funding provided by the state will allow the organization to build a record number of homes for disabled veterans in Florida this year.  At today’s celebration, Governor Scott also awarded 58 veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation.

Governor Scott said, “We are proud to make this important investment in Building Homes for Heroes because it is one more way we can support our veterans and their families. Because of this funding, this outstanding organization will be able to build a record number of homes for disabled veterans in Florida this year. I look forward to welcoming even more veterans and their families to their future homes in Florida.”

Building Homes for Heroes is on pace to construct or modify 40 homes for Florida veterans and their families this year. By the end of 2015, Building Homes for Heroes will work with nearly 300 Florida contractors and vendors to gift or modify a total of 55 homes for Florida veterans.

Andy Pujol, president and founder of Building Homes for Heroes, Inc. said, “Building Homes for Heroes is a blend of state government, corporations, contractors and communities all across Florida collectively helping our veterans. Our return on state investment is greater three times the state dollar amount granted to us, and this year, we plan to gift or modify 40 homes in Florida alone. We are grateful to Governor Scott for making veterans a priority and we look forward to putting this $1 million investment to great use. Together, we are playing a major role in not only building homes, but also rebuilding the lives of our nation’s heroes and their families.”

During the event, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veterans and home recipients Air Force Master Sergeant Joseph Deslauriers and Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez.

Air Force Master Sergeant Joseph Deslauriers – Home Recipient (Destin)

Air Force Master Sergeant Joseph Deslauriers served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. In September 2011, Sergeant Deslauriers stepped on a mine while conducting an assessment of a previous IED explosion. The blast caused him to lose both legs above the knee, and his left arm at the elbow. Sergeant Deslauriers was immediately evacuated to Maryland to receive emergency medical treatments. He was greeted by his wife Lisa, who was eight months pregnant with their first child.  Sergeant Deslauriers earned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service and US Air Force Commendation Medal, and many more accommodations. Sergeant Deslauriers and his wife Lisa received a home from Building Homes for Heroes in Destin last year, and they are happy to be raising their son Cameron and their younger daughter Kennedy in the Sunshine State.

Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez – Upcoming Home Recipient (Port. St. Lucie)

Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez was severely injured in combat in Iraq in 2004 when his unit was ambushed. Specialist Gonzalez suffered a traumatic brain injury when his unit’s vehicle took a direct hit from an IED, and he was evacuated to the base camp for emergency care. The blast left him legally blind and he has received long-term therapy for the injury to his brain. Specialist Gonzalez has been recognized with the Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and many more accommodations. Last year, Governor Scott announced that Specialist Gonzalez, his wife, and their three children would be receiving a home from Building Homes for Heroes. They will be able to move into their new home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, later this year.

Governor’s Veterans Service Award

The “Governor’s Veterans Service Award” honors Floridians who have served in the U.S. Military. The front of the medal depicts the Great Seal of the State of Florida. The back of the medal displays the five seals representing the five branches of U.S. Military with an inscription that reads “Honoring Those Who Served.”

Charles Murphy News 7/29

News Cast for July 29th:

Okeechobee schools are expected to have a few more students this coming year. The district unveiled a proposed 67.6 million dollar budget this month which raises local taxes by 337 thousand dollars and raises spending by 1.7 million.

The district will see an increase in state aid of about 900,020 thousand dollars. They have yet to negotiate salary adjustments with employees. School Board chairman Joe Arnold says he’s non-committal on the likelihood of raises. He said the district is in a better financial situation this year. About 30 million is budgeted for the various schools.

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The Okeechobee Kiwanis Club raised over 650 dollars and household items to help the Martha’s House battered women and children shelter. Executive Director Jonathon Bean says its basic needs for the residents.

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Detectives Arrest Suspect for Poinciana Homicide

Joshua Rosso Arrest Affidavit

Austin King Arrest Affidavit

US HWY 27 Traffic Crash

Sports Cast for July 29th:

Megan Hargraves was named rookie of the year and the top hitter in terms of batting average for the Lady Brahman softball team. Hargraves batted 370 this year as a freshman. She said the batting award was her goal.

Hargraves says another goal is to follow in the footsteps of four year Brahman shortstops like Kelley Smiley and Naomi Stephens who were able to earn college scholarships.

Hargraves said she always tries to make solid contact and put the ball in play.

She said the regional playoff game against Pembroke Pines was a memorable but stressful and intimidating experience. She said it should prepare her for the years to come.

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The team lost only two seniors this year and figure to be a contender once again for the next several seasons.

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