Local News



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The number of school-based arrests dropped another 14 percent in 2013-2014 resulting in a five year decline of 36 percent according to a report released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).  The report marks the lowest levels of school based delinquency in Florida in ten years.

DJJ monitors the number of youth arrests received for delinquent offenses that were identified as occurring on school grounds, a school bus (or bus stop), or at an official school event.  This information is reported annually through the Department’s “Delinquency in Florida’s Schools” analysis. The report shows a drop in felony arrests in schools by 9 percent in 2013-2014 and a decrease in misdemeanor arrests by 16 percent. Availability and use of alternatives to arrest, such as civil citation, have a substantial impact on the number of youth that are referred to the Department.

“This tremendous decrease in school-based arrests in our state is a result of a lot of hard work by DJJ staff, local schools districts, and law enforcement agencies,” said DJJ Secretary Christina Daly.  “DJJ values the strong relationship we have with our stakeholders in the community and their commitment to better outcomes for Florida’s children.”

For the first time, the Department has made the “Delinquency in Florida’s Schools” report interactive allowing the viewer to customize the information and view it by offense type, race/ethnicity, or location (circuit, county, or school), of the offense. The interactive report can be viewed on DJJ’s website: Delinquency in Florida’s Schools.

Charles Murphy News 2/13

News Cast for February 13th:

Okeechobee County restructured their administration with the elimination of the position of Deputy County Administrator Thursday. Fifteen year employee Jim Threewits was laid off in the move. Albie Scroggins was promoted to Director of Community Services. The county also appointed Lee Evette as permanent public works director. Chartier compared the county system to those used by successful large corporations Commissioner Terry Burroughs endorsed the changes. He said this will provide services at a minimum cost to the community. Money will be saved and a budget director will also be hired.

Commissioners also were criticized for a mandatory pre bid meeting for the Okee-Tantee recreation area development process. Robert Keefe stated he felt it hurt out of town investors who might have put in a proposal. It appears the county will only receive two proposals when they open bids next week.

Florida Fish and wildlife had two prescribed fires on Lake Okeechobee yesterday. 3 hundred acres burned to reduce fuel loads, and promote ecosystem health near the Pearce Canal in Buckhead Ridge.

Okeechobee County Centennial Celebration Minutes

Press Release for Body Found in Water

St. Lucie Fatal 2-12-15 Kings Hwy

Sports Cast for February 13th:

WOKC Sports photo girls tennis vs Lake PlacidTrenton Hickman and Paul Jackson had two hits apiece and Baron Stuart had five strikeouts on the mound as Okeechobee defeated Fort Pierce Central 4-2 in boy’s baseball action Thursday afternoon.

A two run fifth was the difference for Okeechobee. Layton Thomas reached base three times on walks.

The Brahman home opener is tonight against Fort Pierce Westwood at 7 pm.

Coach Eric Kindell says this might be one of the more talented groups of kids he’s seen at Okeechobee. Kindell said the kids are very confident and are working hard. He just wants them to keep an edge and not rest on last season’s success

Eric Kindell on OHS baseball season preview

OHS girls’ tennis lost to Jensen Beach yesterday, 5-2. Chelsea Walker won a three set match over Alex Biggs, 2-6, 6-4 and 10-4 in the tie breaker. Hannah Raulerson lost in a tie breaker to Allison Vaughn in a three set match.   The doubles team of Artha Jonassaint and Chelsea Walker were also victorious.

On the sport schedule tonight, OHS softball hosts Moore Haven, JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7:30 pm. The team will also hold a fund raiser barbecue dinner for 9 dollars.

Moore Haven baseball hosts Glades Day at 7 pm.

Florida Forestry Teachers’ Tour

Florida Forestry Teachers’ Tour

Integrate the Wonder of Forestry and Nature Into Your Classroom

Teachers’ applications are currently being accepted for the Florida Forestry Teachers’ Tour, a four-day exploration of forestry in Florida. The Florida Forestry Teachers’ Tour will bring 45 teachers from across the state to Fernandina Beach to experience the wonders of Florida’s forests and forest industry; all while earning 30 Continuing Education Units. The tour will empower teachers with knowledge about private tree farms, harvesting and wood products that Floridians use every day. Teachers will have the hands-on experience and knowledge to integrate forestry into their classroom. All tour meals and hotels are provided, free-of-charge.

Dates for the 2015 Florida Forestry Teachers’ Tour are June 23-26. Applications will be accepted through March 9, 2015. To apply, please visit: FloridaForest.org/Programs/Teachers-Tour.

“In Florida, there are more than 300,000 individual forest landowners that total over 14.5 million acres,” Florida Forest Service Senior Forester Calin Ionita. These forests are valuable for different types of wood products as well as for wildlife, clean air and water, peace and quiet, beauty, and recreation.

“Many of our society’s needs depend on forests, so we must manage them carefully to keep them productive,” Calin explains. “Because forests provide continuous benefits, they are considered ‘renewable resources’.” More than 82 million trees are planted each year in Florida; for every tree harvested, five trees are planted. “By working together with private forest landowners we can ensure that our forest resources are available for future generations.”

If you have questions about tree identification, tree diseases, pests and insects, ask Florida Senior Forester, Calin Ionita. Calin can also answer your local questions about ordinances regarding burning debris, water quality, and tree cutting and removal. Click here to find your nearest FL State Forest.

The Florida Forest Service manages more than one million acres of public forestland while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.  To learn more about Florida Forest Service programs, visit www.FloridaForestService.com

Commissioner Speaks On Behalf Of Okeechobee Rehab (Audio Included)

Commissioner Speaks On Behalf Of Okeechobee Rehab (Audio Included)

From left to right Sid Estrada and Commissioner Bryant Culpepper representing Okeechobee Rehab and Kiwananian Courtney Moyett

From left to right Sid Estrada and Commissioner Bryant Culpepper representing Okeechobee Rehab and Kiwananian Courtney Moyett

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee about the ongoing investigation regarding the Okeechobee Rehab Facility formally known as The Arc.

The center is being investigated for misuse of funds back in 2007. Mr. Culpepper stresses that nobody involved at that time is still with the center. Culpepper and associates is trying to overturn an eviction notice so that the center may remain open and continue to work with clients. Mr. Culpepper would like to see the people currently in place be able to remain after the investigation is complete which he feels should be soon.

Okeechobee Rehab is a facility that works with clients that have developmental disabilities such as down’s syndrome in order to assist their families.


Charles Murphy News 2/12

News Cast for February 12th:

In the courts, charges of child neglect and child abuse were dropped against 27 year old Christy McDowell, arrested three days before Christmas in Yeehaw Junction.   An 8 year old child was found by an employee wandering the parking lot of the Desert Inn at night, with two younger children left alone in a motel room. One child had leg bruises.

21 year old William Gorby of Sebring received 10 years’ probation for an inappropriate sexual liaison with a 13 year old Lorida girl. Gorby pled no contest to lewd or lascivious battery. The child snuck out of her home at night to meet Gorby at Lake Istokpoga Park last January 20th.

City police pulled a male body from Taylor Creek at South East 8th avenue Wednesday around 11 a.m. and an investigation is underway. More details could be released today.

ATF officials expect an indictment any day in the case of 72 year old Barry Brunell of Okeechobee. He is accused of selling firearms illegally at gun shows. ATF spokesperson Melissa Davis said Some of the firearms showed up at crime scenes across the country.

Melissa Davis ATF on Barry Brunell

A local man who lives on South West 3rd Street is speaking out after he was startled in his own home as a stranger trying to elude police sat down in his living room carrying a pit bull dog. Donald Smith said the suspect 32 year old Joshua Arnold was acting spacey and looking to elude police. He was able to lead the man out and Arnold was caught nearby after a chase with police. He said the elderly should really keep their doors locked at all times. He is a full time care giver with a lady with Alzheimer’s.

Donald Smith on armed burglary in his home

BurnMapThe Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will conduct a prescribed fire today on the north end of  Lake Okeechobee in the area east and west of  Pearce Canal.  The approximate size of this fire will be two 150 acre zones.   Prescribed fire is used to simulate natural lightning-caused fire.  Fire Management on Lake Okeechobee helps promote ecosystem health, reduce hazardous fuel loads, and protect structures from the threat of unwanted marsh fires. For further questions contact the Florida Forest Service:  863-462-5160.

Sports Cast for February 12th:

Lexi ward drove home two runs in the Lady Brahmans 16-5 victory at Fort Pierce Central on Tuesday. The senior will be counted on to provide steady leadership this year at second base and at the plate.

Ward says she’s looking forward to the year. Ward lost seven close friends who graduated and admits the team has changed a lot in the last year. She said she is getting used to the new team. The girls’ home opener is tomorrow night versus Moore Haven.

Lexi Ward on OHS softball season preview

OHS tennis swept Lake Placid Tuesday, the boys 7-0 and the girls 5-2.

Moore Haven softball defeated South West Florida Christian 9-7. Moore Haven baseball lost to Immokalee 13-1.

On the sports schedule today, OHS tennis will host Jensen Beach at 3:30 pm.   OHS baseball will visit Fort Pierce Central first pitch at 3:30. Moore Haven softball visits LaBelle at 7 pm.

Governor Rick Scott Announces the Nationals and the Astros Will Keep Spring Training in Florida

Governor Rick Scott Announces the Nationals and the Astros Will Keep Spring Training in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced that the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, whose leases come up for renewal next year, have chosen to stay in Florida. As part of this agreement, the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros will remain in Florida for the next 30 years and Florida will continue to retain its 15 spring training teams in the Grapefruit League.

Governor Scott said, “Florida is proud to be the home of fifteen spring training teams, and we are excited to announce that the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros have chosen to stay in Florida for the next 30 years. Spring Training has helped to bring Florida families together, create jobs in our communities, and drive tourists to our state. Florida is undoubtedly the best state for baseball, and we look forward to many more years of Spring Training attracting visitors and creating opportunities for Florida families.”

In 2013 Governor Scott worked with the Legislature to create a program that provides more than $3 million annually to be used only for Spring Training facilities. These funds partner with local governments to provide a predictable funding stream to protect baseball in Florida, and help communities obtain long term leases with baseball franchises.

Mark D. Lerner, Vice Chairman & Principal Owner of the Washington Nationals, said, “We, at the Washington Nationals, appreciate Governor Scott’s commitment to keeping all fifteen major league baseball spring training venues in the Sunshine State ensuring that Florida remains the premier spring training destination.”

Jim Crane, Houston Astros Owner, said, “This would not be possible without the City of West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, State leaders and the Governor working together. We’re very excited to remain in Florida for spring training and we’re looking forward to partnering with the Nationals, as well as the Cardinals, Marlins and Mets, to provide fans with the best spring training venue in the Country.”

Danny Martell, Economic Council of Palm Beach County, said “If not for the vision and the hard work of Governor Rick Scott, Major League teams may be leaving the Sunshine State for Arizona. We are very proud that we have a Governor that has shown the leadership and boldness to keep all 15 teams in Florida, which will increase tourism and inject more jobs into our economy.”

Major League Baseball, and Florida Spring Training, has played an important role in attracting visitors to Florida for more than 125 years. The sports industry brings over $43 billion to Florida annually and accounts for 13.3 million visitors to the state each year.

Rooney Statement on Authorization for Use of Military Force vs. ISIS

Rooney Statement on Authorization for Use of Military Force vs. ISIS

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, today issued the following statement on President Obama’s request for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State:

“For months, the President has insisted he does not need a new authorization to combat ISIS. Now, he is requesting that Congress approve the strategy he was already pursuing, only with even tighter restrictions. What has changed? While the President is finally taking the right step by consulting with Congress and seeking authorization, we should not simply rubber stamp a strategy that he is already executing, and which is already failing.

“I continue to question why we would handcuff our military’s ability to degrade and destroy ISIS, as President Obama demanded last fall. How can our military operate effectively under these undue and dangerous restrictions? Why would we give ISIS a short timeline for our withdrawal? We tried these limitations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this approach clearly does not advance any coherent mission that justifies the engagement to begin with.

“As Congress considers the President’s request, I believe he must come to Congress and the American people, answer these questions, and explain his strategy for victory.”

Foundation and Florida’s Boating Industry to say “I DO” in Miami.

Foundation and Florida’s Boating Industry

to say “I DO” in Miami.

The Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida is teaming up with Florida’s boating industry at the Miami International Boat Show to support the “I DO” campaign. The campaign asks everyone to say “I DO” and invest in the state’s fishing industry by purchasing a Florida fishing license. The small $17 investment pays huge dividends to the entire state, beginning with more than 80,000 jobs and an annual $8 billion impact on Florida’s economy from recreational fishing alone.

Expanding on the particulars of the campaign, Foundation Chairman Rodney Barreto explained, “We are in just the first year of our five-year campaign to sell 500,000 more licenses in Florida annually. Our goals are simple:

  • Sell 500,000 new fishing licenses in Florida,
  • Educate the public about the impact of purchasing a fishing license,
  • Create more opportunities to engage our youth in fishing.”

“The partnership with the boating industry is a natural. We have over 900,000 registered boats in Florida and over 60 percent of our boaters fish,” Barreto continued.

Additional funds raised by the sale of more fishing licenses go directly to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). They are used for a variety of recreational fishing projects, such as handicapped-accessible fishing piers and boat ramps, law enforcement, habitat improvement, fish stocking, fish research and fisheries’ management.

While more than 3 million people fish in Florida each year, only about half buy fishing licenses. There are several reasons for this. One is that anglers over 65 or under 16 are not required to have a license. Unfortunately, when for any reason an angler doesn’t buy a license, the state loses money by not receiving its full share of annually- allocated Federal conservation funds. Simply stated, the more licenses sold, the more money raised for Florida’s fishing resources. Buying a license when you don’t have to makes a very important contribution to Florida and Florida’s future.

The Foundation is proud to be working closely with Florida’s boating industry and its influential leaders like Joe Neber from Contender, Peter Truslow from EdgeWater and Chris Peterson from Hell’s Bay Boatworks. They are asking the industry to include fishing license gift cards with every new boat sold in Florida. The card will soon be available from the FWC and its innovative vendor, Brandt Information Services Inc. of Tallahassee.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure fishing thrives in Florida,” said Barreto. “It is vitally important to the economic future of the state, but even more important to the future well-being of our children. It’s the perfect way to teach them to love nature and the great outdoors.”

The “I DO” campaign will ensure that future stays viable. Buying a fishing license is easy. You can purchase a license online at License.MyFWC.com, at county tax collectors’ offices or at any license agent around the state. The Foundation asks you to say “I DO” and help keep Florida the Fishing Capital of the World.”

Charles Murphy News 2/11

News Cast for February 11th:

Brad Mims was sentenced to three years in prison and seven years of sex offender probation for sending lewd photos of himself to two 15 year old girls. Mims apologized to the court and his victims yesterday and asked for mercy from the court.

Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer decided not to depart from the guidelines which called for between 35 and 46 months in prison. He listened to many character witnesses for Mims and said he believes Mims is sorry for what he’s done. Mims said it was a humbling experience, he was in a dark place in his life at this time, and made terrible decisions. He also surrendered his teaching credentials in Florida.

Under Sheriff Noel Stephen announced his candidacy for Sheriff this morning opening up a campaign account. Stephen says he has enjoyed his 28 years with the sheriff’s office and wants to take the next step in his career. Sheriff Paul May announced he would not seek a fourth term last month. He threw his support behind Stephen immediately.

Among arrests, 32 year old Joshua Arnold was charged with aggravated assault with a knife, resisting arrest and burglary charges after a bizarre Monday afternoon chase. He was seen in a yard of a deputy, and when the deputy confronted him, he allegedly pulled a knife, the deputy pulled his service revolver and Arnold fled. He went inside a person’s home and sat down in the living room during the chase. He ultimately as located on North west 3rd street, tased and arrested.

Sports Cast for February 11th:

Okeechobee Brahman baseball won their season opener, 4-2 at John Carroll last night.

Layton Thomas, Trenton Hickman, Baron Stuart and Paul Jackson all had RBIs for Okeechobee. Coach Eric Kindell said his hitters did well against quality pitching. Starting pitcher Kevin Coleman threw three strong innings for the win. Coach Kindell said Coleman did it against quality hitters.

Okeechobee plays at Fort Pierce Central on Thursday.

Tonight OHS wrestling visits South Fork at 6 pm.

Lady Brahman softball defeated Fort Pierce Central, with an 8 run seventh inning, 16-5 last night to improve to (2-0). Jordan Lawlis got the win on the mound.   Okeechobee pounded out 10 hits in the ball game. Their home opener is Friday.

Openings for February 19 Self-Defense Awareness Program for Women

Openings for February 19 Self-Defense Awareness Program for Women

Osceola County - The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has openings for a self-defense awareness program for women scheduled for February 19, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. Self Defense Awareness Familiarization Exchange or SAFE is designed to educate women on how to protect themselves if they should become a victim. The 2-hour class teaches that 90% of self-defense is awareness, risk reduction and avoiding confrontation, while only 10% is physical.

“Taking responsibility and educating yourself is the first step in staying safe. Although you may not be able to prevent an attack from occurring, there are ways to protect yourself and lessen your chances of becoming a victim,” states Sheriff Hansell.

To sign up for the free class, call (407) 348-1105 or email aveg@osceola.org.

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