Local News

News Cast 10/13

News Cast for October 13th:

There was a little rain but it wasn’t enough to dampen the excitement of the start of Homecoming in Okeechobee. Last night OHS students, past, present and future, were on hand for the parade in the city. For Viviana Martinez, a 2014 graduate of OHS, the condition were more memorable.

Homecoming 1 Clip

For Okeechobee resident Ken O’Steen, a 1978 graduate, it’s nostalgia time.

Homecoming 2 Clip

About an hour or so later came the pep rally and lighting of the bonfire at OHS. Some more rain came but it was as exciting as it could be. OHS senior Kamaksha Dillon had some thoughts on the evening’s activities.

Homecoming 3 Clip

All the excitement leads up to the Homecoming game tonight which is also the first home game of the season as the Brahmans play the Bayside Bears, kick off is at 7pm with the Coach Chris Branham Show beginning at 6pm right here on WOKC.

Florida Highway Patrol officers are investigating the cause of an accident yesterday morning that left at least one person dead. Officers say the accident happened on 710 near Amaryliss Avenue in Indiantown sometime before 9am. Reports say it involved several vehicles and was severe enough to close both lanes of 710 near Fox Brown Trailer for about four hours, rerouting traffic to Route 714.

The Okeechobee County Blood Drive will be holding their 5th Annual Golf Tournament at Indiantown Golf and Country Club this Saturday, October 14th. The tournament is open to all golfers, regardless of their skill. There will be four person teams int he tournament to rain money for the Blood Drive. Blood Drive volunteer Joan Rhoden, an avid golfer herself who set up the tournament says it’s a day of fun.

Joan Rhoden Interview Clip

The tournament will be Saturday with a shotgun start at 8:30am.


SFWMD Moving Forward Ahead of Schedule on Central Everglades Planning Project to Send More Water South

SFWMD Moving Forward Ahead of Schedule on Central Everglades Planning Project to Send More Water South

District’s acceleration of construction of the new flood control structure and Tamiami Trail modifications are part of the plan to dramatically increase conveyance of water south through the Everglades

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) today announced that it is moving forward with two major components of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), the congressionally approved plan to move more water south.

“We have the funds, we have the plan, what we don’t have is time when it comes to protecting these valuable resources,” said SFWMD Executive Director Ernie Marks. “As the state leader in Everglades restoration, this District must step up to protect the Everglades and complete components of CEPP that will ultimately send more water south to Florida Bay.”

Marks briefed SFWMD Governing Board members at their regular monthly business meeting on Thursday about the progress being made concerning the implementation of CEPP. Marks announced that the District will begin design of the new water control structure, which will be located next to the existing S-333 structure in western Miami-Dade County.

This additional structure will double the amount of water that can be moved south out of Water Conservation Area 3A into the L-29 Canal. Construction of this additional structure is expected to begin next year.

Heavy rainfall in 2017 has resulted in high water emergencies and wildlife endangerment concerns in Water Conservation Area 3A due to limitations in moving water out of the existing flood control gates. This project component will help address that concern.

Marks also announced that the District will begin working with Florida Power and Light (FPL) to expedite power-line relocation from Old Tamiami Trail. This is a crucial step in modifying the trail to remove barriers to flow. SFWMD would work with FPL to remove the power lines along nearly 6 miles of the former roadway. Restoration efforts would then be able to modify the stretch of Old Tamiami Trail, which acts as a dam inhibiting the natural sheetflow of water from the conservation area south into Everglades National Park.

“Along with bridging the Tamiami Trail, these two projects are essential to moving clean water south into Everglades National Park,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein. “We’re proud to partner with the District to accelerate yet another critical Everglades restoration project under the leadership of Governor Scott.”

The Central Everglades Planning Project is a $1.9 billion slate of storage and conveyance projects on land already in public ownership south of Lake Okeechobee. The southern components of this plan will allow additional water to be directed south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay and provide additional opportunity to reduce releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. CEPP is congressionally authorized and awaiting funding. Other elements of CEPP include increasing southern storage, degrading sections of several levees, backfilling more than 13 miles of the Miami Canal and modifying the S-356 pump station to increase pumping capacity.


News Cast 10/12

News Cast for October 12th:

Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners met this morning in the first of two meetings this month. Among the items on the agenda include a public hearing and proposed amendments to the Okeechobee County Land Development regulations regarding medical marijuana treatment centers. Other items include discussion on the Okie-Tantie contract and a proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This meeting was held in room 270 at the Okeechobee County Courthouse at 9am this morning.

This weekend is Homecoming for Okeechobee and with that comes the parade. Okeechobee Police say the parade will begin at 6pm tonight at Aldi on 441a and conclude about a half hour later on SW 7th Ave. Detective Bill Saum says watch the detour signs and follow the officer’s instructions and be careful of the children around.

The homecoming parade begins at 6pm followed by the bonfire and pep rally at OHS. The homecoming game will be tomorrow night at 7pm and is the first home game of the 2017 OHS Brahman Football season. Listen to the game live on WOKC on your radio dial, smartphone or computer.

Okeechobee County firefighters were busy Tuesday night in the 30 thousand block of NE 17th Terrace. A single wide mobile home caught fire just after 9pm and the structure was completely engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived. Fire inspectors say the cause was the homeowner accidentally left some candles in the bathroom lit and they caught wood, magazines and newspapers on fire. Crews needed nearly a half hour to get the blaze under control. No injuries were reported.

OCSO deputies are investigating the cause of a vehicle accident on Tuesday afternoon off HWY 98 near the Okeechobee Airport. Deputies say 50 year old Cirilo Olvera Sanchez was driving his green Ford Ranger recklessly near a school bus and swerved into the middle, and hit the Okeechobee Civic Center building causing damage to it. Sanchez sustained a gash on his head and was treated for his injuries. No one else had injuries during the accident.

On the arrest report today:

33 year old Robert Lee Simpson Jr. of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief and  an outstanding warrant for third degree theft. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

34 year old Kurtis Elton Enfinger of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia following a traffic stop. His bond is set at seven thousand dollars.

43 year old Danny Ray Austin was arrested on charges of battery following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. His bond has not been set at this time.

29 year old Kyle Leslie Salvo was arrested for domestic abuse following an incident with his girlfriend. Salvo sustained a broken collarbone as a result. His bond has not been set at this time.

23 year old Codie Everett Shockley of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

23 year old Salomon DeJesus Serrano of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia following a traffic stop. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

34 year old Jonathan Franklin Holt of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of under 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia following a traffic stop. His bond has not been set.

42 year old Jennifer Leann Hill of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Her bond is set at thirty thousand dollars.


News Cast 10/11

News Cast for October 11th:

Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners will be meeting tomorrow in the first of two meetings for October. Among the items on agenda include a public hearing and proposed amendments to the Okeechobee County Land Development regulations regarding medical marijuana treatment centers. Other items include discussion on the Okee-Tantie contract and proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The meeting will be held in room 270 at the Okeechobee County Courthouse beginning at 9am.

Signups for FEMA assistance, The Disaster Food Stamp Program, and the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Blue Roof Program concluded yesterday after five days at the Agri-Civic Center. FEMA officials were offering food benefits for people affected by the hurricane if you qualified for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or D-SNAP. For Okeechobee residence Kathy Carr, who received help from the D-SNAP program said the event couldn’t have been better.

FEMA Final 1

Meanwhile, FEMA official Jeff Afman says other than the heat and bugs, there really hasn’t been much negativity over the course of the event.

FEMA Final 2

Over the course of five days, a total of seven thousand people attended and registered for FEMA, D-SNAP and the Blue Roof Assistance program.

The drinking water testing lab for the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades counties is now operating out of Glades County. Water samples can be dropped off for testing today between 8am and 3:30pm. If your well has been damaged or compromised by the hurricane, fees will be waived until the end of the day.

Sexton

If you have questions or concern for Senator Denise Grimsley of Lake Placid, October 17th is the time to ask her directly. Grimsley will be holding mobile office hours on Tuesday, October 17th in the 1st floor conference room of Glades County Courthouse in Moore Haven between 3pm and 4pm. She will be in Okeechobee at the Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce, 55 South Parrott Avenue, Okeechobee, from 1:00 – 2:00 pm also on Tuesday, October 17th.

On the arrest report today:

53 year old Dusty Wayne Sexton of Okeechobee was arrested for attempting to buy a gun at Wal-Mart. Sheriff Deputies say he was denied several times by sales associates because he has a felony arrest on his record. He was released after posting 7500 dollar bond.

45 year old Vinson Edward Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested by deputies for trespassing on a resident’s property on the 3800 block of SE 28th Street. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

36 year old Victoria Ann Aguirre of Okeechobee was arrested for retail theft after she was caught stealing shirts and washcloths from Dollar General. She was released after posted 250 dollar bond.


News Cast 10/10

News Cast for October 10th:

Gov. Rick Scott was in Clewiston this morning in his effort to speed up repairs of the aging Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. The lake’s water levels are the highest it’s been in over 12 years and those who live around the lake say they’re concerned about what could happen to their homes if there’s a catastrophic failure, such as a major storm.

State lawmakers have approved another $50 million this year to get repair work moving along for the over 70-year-old dike. Scott says it will take millions of dollars and years to repair the dike. You can see the video of Gov. Scott’s speech about the dike here:

Signups for the Disaster Food Stamps Program is at it’s final day in Okeechobee County. Officials from FEMA are at Agri-Civic Center again today offering food benefits for people affected by Hurricane Irma. If you qualify for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), you will get an EBT card which works like a debit card at most grocery stores. Of course, you can apply for FEMA, but according to FEMA official Debbie Brody, you need to do it within 60 days of the date of damage before other arrangements have to be made.

FEMA Interview Clip

Driggers

Meanwhile, D-SNAP has been a great success, Okeechobee resident Lupe Juarez says.

FEMA Interview 2

The US Army Corps of Engineers are there too for help with the Blue Roof Program. Officials will be around the rest of today until 6pm at the Agri-Civic Center please enter from the Route 710 side. Cut your wait time in half for D-SNAPS by pre-registering on www.dcf.state.fl.us/program/access.

The drinking water testing lab for the Florida Department of Health in Hendry/Gldes counties is now operating out of the Glades County site. Water samples can be dropped off for testing Tuesday and Wednesday between 8am and 3:30pm. If your well has been damaged or compromised by the hurricane, fees will be waived until Wednesday.

On the arrest report:

Aponte

37 year old Edwin Aponte of Okeechobee was arrested by Sheriff’s deputies Sunday for domestic abuse and aggravated battery on his girlfriend. He was released on fifteen thousand dollars bond.

29 year old Justin Alan Driggers of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery and illegal possession of firearms following a report of domestic abuse on his girlfriend Saturday. Driggers was released on twenty thousand dollars bond.

19 year old Wade Roper Whidden of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies Saturday for possession of marijuana and driving on a suspended license following a traffic stop. He was released on two thousand dollars bond.


Video: Congressman Kayaks Kissimmee River Restoration With SFWMD 

Video: Congressman Kayaks Kissimmee River Restoration With SFWMD 

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto sees success from the water

West Palm Beach, FL – With the decades-long project to restore the historic Kissimmee River nearing completion, the South Florida Water Management District highlighted this success story for a visiting U.S. Congressman.

“Taxpayers across this nation have invested about a billion dollars to restore the Kissimmee River because its health is so critical to the Everglades – a national treasure – and Florida’s economy,” said U.S. Rep. Darren Soto. “Every gator and wading bird I saw while kayaking down the river served as proof positive that this environmental restoration effort is a huge success.”

Soto represents the northern portion of the SFWMD, including the headwaters of the Everglades and the Kissimmee River.

Background:

The Kissimmee River once meandered for 103 miles through central Florida. Its 3-mile wide floodplain was inundated for long periods by heavy seasonal rains. Native wetland plants, wading birds and fish thrived there, but prolonged flooding in 1947 prompted a public outcry for federal assistance to reduce flood damage to property.

In 1948, the U.S. Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct the Central and South Florida Project, which led to engineering changes to deepen, straighten and widen the waterway.

By 2020, the Kissimmee River Restoration Project will return flow to 44 miles of the river’s historic channel and restore about 40 square miles of river/floodplain ecosystem.

SFWMD Kissimmee River Website


News Cast 10/9

News Cast for October 9th:

Gov. Rick Scott was in Clewiston this morning in his effort to speed up repairs of the aging Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. The lake’s water levels are the highest it’s been in over 12 years and those who live around the lake say they’re concerned about what could happen to their homes if there’s a catastrophic failure, such as a major storm.

State lawmakers have approved another $50 million this year to get repair work moving along for the over 70-year-old dike. Scott says it will take millions of dollars and years to repair the dike. You can see the video of Gov. Scott’s speech about the dike here:

Officials from FEMA are in full swing at the Agri-Civic Center as part of the Disaster Food Stamps program. D-SNAP is offering food benefits for people affected during Hurricane Irma. If you qualify, you will be an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card which works like a debit card at most grocery stores. The US Army Corps of Engineers are also on hand for the Blue Roof Program for those who sustained roof damage to their homes. Leshaye Wiggins of Okeechobee says, D-SNAP is a great program.

FEMA Interview

Debra Schelleberger of Okeechobee says this event couldn’t have come sooner.

Debra Schelleberger of Okeechobee

FEMA will be at the Agri-Civic Center Monday and Tuesday from 7am until 6pm. Remember if you plan on attending, you must enter the Civic Center at the Route 710 entrance.

A bit of a busy day for Okeechobee Sheriff’s deputies on Friday for out of county arrest warrants. Deputies arrested 18 year old Ricky Coleman Friday on a St. Lucie County warrant on charges of armed robbery. His bond is set at 250,000 dollars. And 26 year old Walter Turner of Okeechobee was arrested Friday for an out of state warrant for violation of probation. Bond is set at three thousand dollars.

47 year old Scott David Ludtke of Stuart was arrested for a warrant out of Martin County on charges of cocaine possession and unlawful use of a two way device. His bond is set at 27,500 dollars.

Officials from the South Florida Water Management District say that for navigating to and from Lake Okeechobee, the S-131 lock at Lakeport in Glades County will be temporarily closed for maintenance between Monday 10/16 and Tuesday 10/17. As of this week, all navigation locks on Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee Waterway have resumed normal operations following Hurricane Irma.

Speaking of water, the “Drinking Water Test Lab” for the Florida Dept. of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties is now being operated out of the Glades County site at 1021 Health Park Drive in Moore Haven, phone number is 863-946-0707. Water samples can be dropped off for testing between 8am-3pm, Monday thru Wednesday. If your private well has been damaged or compromised by the Hurricane, fees will be waived until Tuesday, 10/11.

60 year old Joseph Mills Booker of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of domestic battery, battery on an officer, tampering with a victim and resisting arrest with violence following an attack on his girlfriend. His bond is set at twenty-thousand dollars.


News Cast 10/6

News Cast for October 6th:

If you’re traveling on Route 70 East near Spot in the Sun and Four Seasons, be careful. Officials say there has been at least 5 accidents reported in that area over the last day and a half. So far, no report of road closures, drivers are just encouraged to exercise caution near side roads. The most serious accident was between two vehicles near NE 71st Ave, the van was carrying six people and it collided with a car driven by a 50 year old woman. Deputies say the woman sustained injuries to her shoulder, hips and legs. She was transported to Lawnwood Medical Center for treatment. Another accident this afternoon happened just after noon where a Chevy Silverado pick up truck collided with a Ford F-150 pick up. The driver of the Ford is being treated for minor injuries.

Today through Tuesday, beginning at 7am each day, representatives of FEMA will be at the Agri-Civic Center for the Disaster Food Stamps Program. Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as D-SNAPS, will be offering food benefits for survivors of Hurricane Irma. Okeechobee County Emergency Management Planner, Amy Howard says the US Army Corps of Engineers will be on hand for the Blue Roof Program. If you plan on attending, enter from the 710 side.

Highway Patrol officers are investigating the cause of a crash that claimed the life of a Canal Point an early yesterday morning. Officers say 24 year old Gustavo Velasquez was driving his Chevy S-10 Pick up on route 76 east of 708 in Martin County just before 6am when he drove off the road trying to navigate a left curve. His truck hit two stop signs and then stopped after hitting a tree. Velasquez was pronounced dead at the scene.

On the arrest report today:

19 year old Adrian Estrada Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested early Wednesday morning for battery causing bodily harm to a woman and resisting arrest. Bond has not yet been set.

23 year old Rachael Nicole Sullivan of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license when she was pulled over for a traffic stop by sheriff’s deputies. Bond was set at five hundred dollars.


SBA Disaster Assistance for Businesses and Residents Now Includes Two Additional Florida Counties

SBA Disaster Assistance for Businesses and Residents Now Includes Two Additional Florida Counties

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration now includes additional counties to the disaster declaration in Florida affected by Hurricane Irma that began on Sept. 4, 2017.

The disaster declaration covers the counties of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola,      Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, Saint Johns, Saint Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Union, and Volusia in Florida which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA.  Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Hamilton, Madison and Taylor in Florida; Camden, Charlton, Clinch, Echols and Ware in Georgia.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.  Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.  Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.  Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate.  Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates are as low as 3.305 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, 1.75 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.


SBA Opens Six Business Recovery Centers in Florida To Assist with Hurricane Irma Recovery

SBA Opens Six Business Recovery Centers in Florida To Assist with Hurricane Irma Recovery

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the opening of six Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) in Florida on Oct. 2, to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma that began on Sept. 4, 2017.

SBA representatives in the Centers can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application.  The Centers are located as indicated below and will operate until further notice.

SBA Business Recovery Centers (BRCs)
Opens at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Saturday
Highlands County Hillsborough County
Bert J. Morris Agricultural Center Hillsborough Community College at The Regent
4509 West George Blvd. 6437 Watson Road
Sebring, FL  33875 Riverview, FL  33578
   
Lee County Miami-Dade County
Bonita Springs Recreation Center Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus
26740 Pine Avenue 11011 SW 104th Street, Building K
Bonita Springs, FL  34135 Miami, FL  33176
   
Palm Beach County St. Johns County
Carol Sims Center Wind Mitigation Building
225 NW 12th Avenue 3111 Agricultural Center Drive
Boynton Beach, FL 33435 St. Augustine, FL  32092

 

“The SBA is committed to facilitating economic recovery in this disaster.  We want area businesses to have a resource where they can meet individually with SBA representatives and find out how a low-interest disaster loan can help them recover,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

The SBA offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans for physical damage and working capital. To be considered for this assistance, survivors need to apply by the deadline.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or on the FEMA mobile App.  If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362.  Those who use 711 or Video Relay Services may also call 800-621-3362.  People who use TTY may call 800-462-7585.


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