Local News

Charles Murphy News 6/28

News Cast for June 28th:

The highway patrol investigating a driveway crash that claimed the life of 56-year-old Jeffrey Bedwell of Okeechobee on Saturday. The report said 63 year old Lawrence Bedwell had turned into the driveway at 3032 South East 28th Street, and hit the accelerator instead of the brakes, striking Jeffrey as he sat on the front porch.

A large fish kill reported in the Kissimmee River near Fort Basinger. A rapid rise in the water levels and the overcast skies combined to cause the kill in the phase 4 area.  Catfish, speckled perch, bluegill and small bass were among those killed.

Among arrests, 41-year-old Tomanda Ash was charged with grand theft and resisting arrest. City police say Ash stole 721 dollars from her employer, the Family Dollar Store.

A pedestrian was flown to Lawn wood after walking in front of a tractor trailer in Buckhead Ridge Tuesday.  The highway patrol says 45 year old Jorge Gabor walked in front of the truck driven by 52 year old Mitchell Cope of Okeechobee on State Route 78 near Lake Drive.  No charges were filed.

Highway man painter Al Black showed off some of his works at a new antique store in Okeechobee’s downtown. He showed off paintings of the St. Lucie River, the beaches, historic sites, and foliage to the visitors. He says he gets motivation from visiting these sites.

Sports Cast for June 28th:

McKenna Hickson of Okeechobee will compete in the National High school rodeo finals in Cheyenne Wyoming next month. She qualified in the breakaway roping and the goat tying. She won one of the rounds at the state finals in Okeechobee in breakway roping. Hickson says she was pleased with how her season went. She finished third in breakaway roping and fourth in goat tying in the season series.

Hickson will enter the 11th grade this year.  She qualified last year for the nationals.

She says that experience should help her this time around. Z-mann Zamora also won two state titles in rodeo and will also compete in the nationals.

DUI Checkpoint Results

DUI Checkpoint

Date: 6-23-17

After action Report

On Friday, June 23rd 2017, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, along with Okeechobee City Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol, conducted a DUI checkpoint at 1000 SR 70 East in Okeechobee. The purpose of this checkpoint was to identify and arrest impaired drivers and subjects in violation of Florida State Statues.

The operation began at 2000 hours with a briefing at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, where all participants (27 officers) were given instructions on the purpose of the operation and were provided their assignments. Safety instructions were provided and all personnel were directed to wear their traffic vest. Prior to the briefing, road signs were put in placed at the (2 DUI checkpoint ahead and electric billboard stating DUI checkpoint ahead) 700 block of SR 70 East and the 800 block of SR 70 East (2 DUI checkpoint 500 ft. ahead signs), warning motorist of the DUI checkpoint ahead. Video of the posted signs was also taken.

At 2100 hours the operation began with every 10th car being directed into the checkpoint. After approximately one hour of operation the number of vehicles passing through the checkpoint had dwindled considerably, so I (Lt. Snyder) directed the officer’s posted on SR 70 to start sending every 5th car instead of every 10th car. This occurred at 2200 hours.

The DUI checkpoint operated until 0000 (6-24-17) hours and the results of the operation are as follows:

Citations issued: (8) warning citations, (7) UTC issued

Arrest: (2) arrest for Dealing in stolen property, Providing False Information to a Pawn Broker, Leasing with Intent to Defraud, W/F Carlina Bain and W/M James Tramell. D/S Potter had PC for their arrest when they came through the checkpoint.

Arrest:  (1) No Driver’s License, Raymond Geronimo

Arrest: (1) Driving While License Suspended with Knowledge, Dominique Gibson

Arrest: (1) No Driver’s License, Edgar Gonzalez

The DUI checkpoint effected a total of 606 vehicles, which is the total number of vehicles that through the police controlled intersection. A total of 125 cars were directed into the DUI checkpoint. The average time for each car at the checkpoint was approximately 4.5 minutes. Note: At times when the checkpoint was full, deputies on SR 70 were directed by me to stop sending vehicles until the checkpoint area could be cleared.

After completing the checkpoint portion, the operation was wrapped up (0000 hours) and we then began a saturation patrol throughout Okeechobee County, which ended at 0200 hours. The results of the saturation patrol are as follows:

Arrest: Michael DiFrencesco, DWLS w/ Knowledge.

Arrest: Shaun Almodover, Possession of Marijuana under 20 grams, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

GEC Sends High School Student to Washington D.C. with 2017 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour

GEC Sends High School Student to Washington D.C. with 2017 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour

June 21, 2017: Glades Electric Cooperative welcomes home Moore Haven High School Student Maricela Rubio after her journey to Washington D.C. as part of the 2017 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. Maricela represented GEC, her family, school, and community on an all-expense paid trip to the nation’s capital from June 10-15, 2017.

Maricela earned the opportunity after applying to GEC’s Electric Cooperative Youth Tour Contest held at the beginning of the year.  High School Juniors can apply by filling out an application and writing an essay.  GEC then selects one or two applicants to represent our area as part of the Florida delegation.

Maricela proved herself to be an exceptional applicant and joined high school students from across the nation as they learned the history of rural electrification, its importance in the development of our great nation, toured museums, monuments and government buildings, and met with legislators.  Maricela developed lasting friendships with students from around the country who share the bond of living in rural America and being members of an electric cooperative.

GEC is committed to serving our community and providing opportunities such as the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour to emerging leaders like Maricela.  For more information regarding the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour or other GEC programs please go to www.gladesec.com or call 863-946-6200.

Southport Navigation Lock Returns to Service

Southport Navigation Lock Returns to Service

The S-61 navigation lock, also known as the Southport Lock, is returning to service. Service will begin at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24. The navigation lock’s normal operating hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week, and 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the weekend. The lock is located on the south end of Lake Tohopekaliga. It allows boats to access the C-35 Canal, which flows south into Cypress Lake. For more information, contact Bill Graf at the SFWMD Orlando Service Center.

Charles Murphy News 6/27

News Cast for June 27th:

A DUI checkpoint didn’t find any drunk or impaired drivers, but found several with outstanding warrants, and driving while license suspended. City cops, the sheriff’s office and troopers inspected 125 vehicles and checked over 6 hundred in the four-hour operation Friday. A total of seven arrests were made and seven citations issued.

Avant Brown will retire as Glades County Road Superintendent Friday. He also worked for the City of Moore Haven and the Glades County School Board before serving as an elected County commissioner. He says being a commissioner helped him to do this job.

Two wild fires put down by Okeechobee County Fire Rescue Monday, eight acres burned on the Prairie on North West 2 hundred and 70th Street and another small fire broke out in Whispering Pines on North West 32nd Avenue.

Arrests today include

  • 31 year old Unabelle Sanchez on disorderly intoxication.  She was removed after causing a disturbance inside a local doctors office.
  • No one was hurt after a round from a 9 mili meter entered into a home at 3283 North West 1st Street.  It took out a window and a sliding glass door inside causing about 3 thousand dollars in property damage.
  • No charges were filed against 68 year old James Snell.
  • A 6 year old choking child Johnathan Pineda was hospitalized and given emergency CPR by Okeechobee deputy Henderson Friday.  Henderson got there before the ambulance as the family started to drive from Dewberry Gardens to Raulerson hospital and flagged him down on route 70.  The child was not breathing and had choked on something.

Sports Cast for June 27th:

The OHS swim team had a season of improvement in 2 thousand 16 and hope to keep things moving forward this year. Coach Angela Jones says her first year met most of her goals. Jones says they intend to change some practice sessions to make it more convenient for the team. Several kids made it to regional this past year. They would like to have more boys join the team as only four were on the team last year.

Two Okeechobee County Wildfires

Two Okeechobee County Wildfires

Okeechobee, FL – State and County Firefighters suppressed two wildfires today; an 8-acre wildfire in the Prairie and a 0.10-acre wildfire in Basswood Estates. Okeechobee County Fire Rescue established structure protection for three homes in Basswood Estates.

“Wet season won’t prevent wildfires from occurring,” explains Senior Ranger Gary Davenport with the Florida Forest Service. “A few days without rainfall with the summer’s heat and the dead vegetation quickly dries. We need everyone to do their part by preventing wildfires from igniting all year long.”

Location Reported Contained Acres Cause
Prairie 06/26/2017 11:42 06/26/2017 13:07 8 Unknown
Basswood Estates 06/26/2017 14:41 06/26/2017 15:08 0.10 Power lines


The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests, provides management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests, while protecting homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.

Governor Scott Signs Major Legislation for Florida Students

Governor Scott Signs Major Legislation for Florida Students

~ Secures Historic K-12 Per-Student Funding; Expands Gardiner Scholarship Program~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott signed HB 3A to secure the highest per-student K-12 funding in state history. This legislation increases funding by $100 per-student, for a total of $20.6 billion for K-12 public schools.

Governor Scott said, “I’m proud to continue our fight to increase funding for our K-12 schools and for legislation that truly benefits our students, teachers and families. Growing up, I was lucky to have the opportunity to achieve my goals thanks to a great public education. Our students are the future of our state and I’m incredibly proud to sign legislation today to ensure they have every opportunity for success. The additional $100 per-student, along with our expansion of the Gardiner Scholarship, allows even more Florida students to receive a world-class education and live their dreams in our state. I would like to thank Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran for their hard work during the Special Session.”

More details from the Fighting for Florida’s Future Budget:

Following Governor Scott’s call for a Special Legislative Session on Education, the Legislature allocated more than $215 million for K-12 education than was previously authorized. With HB 3A, the Fighting for Florida’s Future Budget invests $20.6 billion in total funding, including $11.7 billion in state funding, for Florida’s K-12 public schools. This equates to $7,296 per-student, an increase of $100 per-student over the 2016-2017 budget. This is the highest total funding, state funding, and per-student funding for K-12 public schools in Florida’s history and will allow our schools and teachers to deliver results for our children.

Governor Scott continues to focus on ensuring that Florida’s children receive a quality education in K-12 public schools. Since the Governor took office, state funding for Florida’s K-12 public schools has increased by nearly $3 billion or 34 percent, from a total amount of $8.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2011-2012 to $11.7 billion in the 2017-2018 Fighting for Florida’s Future Budget.

Governor Scott also signed the following education bills into law today:

CS/CS/CS/HB 15 – Educational Options

This bill expands the Gardiner Scholarship Program for students with unique abilities. It also increases the scholarship amounts for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program.

HB 781 – Designation of School Grades

This bill provides greater opportunities for K-3 schools to receive school recognition funding.

CS/CS/HB 989 – Instructional Materials

This bill allows greater public input and transparency in the K-12 instructional materials adoption process.

CS/HB 1109 – Private School Student Participation in Extracurricular Activities

This bill increases opportunities for private school students to participate in sports at public schools.

To view the transmittal letters, click HERE

Charles Murphy News 6/26

News Cast for June 26th:

A relative of Verna Richardson says one of the suspects in her abduction and murder has passed away. Alexander Smith of Ft. Myers was in an out of prison ever since the 1990 incident. Richardson was driven to Okeechobee and was beaten up.  The last contact with her was a phone call from a convenience store on route 70 east. Florida ranks 40th nationally in child wellbeing.   Florida Kid counts director Norin Dollard says the number of children with health insurance has risen to 95 percent.  The report though says Florida families face persistent financial challenges.

In the courts, 62-year-old Andres Ramirez Hernandez was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 20 years’ probation or the rape of an Indiantown child.

He pled no contest to charges of attempted sexual battery.  The victim reported the sexual abuse five months after the incident to her doctor.

A Lorida man’s passenger was killed Saturday morning after a crash on route 17 in Highlands County.

22 year old Alyssa Vice of Sebring was killed when the vehicle struck a power pole and overturned.

22 year old Samuel Tucker was flown to Lakeland Regional Hospital with minor injury.

Two Sebring men led authorities on a high speed chase from Sebring to Lorida on Wednesday night.

The deputies used stop sticks on US 98 at Arbuckle Creek Road and the two men then fled on foot and were caught near a fish shop on 98.  Marijuana and ecstasy were found in the car.

26 year old Marquell Williams and24 year old Tedrick Hill face a host of charges.

Sports Cast for June 26th:

OCRA t-ball, AAA and Ozone teams were unable to bring home championships at the Dixie Youth District 8 tournament in lake Placid this weekend. The tee-ball squad lost to Avon Park 25-24, and to Sebring.26-15 Saturday.

The AAA lost to Lake Placid 6-1, and Sebring, 12-1.

The Ozone team lost to Sebring Friday 7-6, defeated Lake Placid 11-8 on Saturday, and lost Sunday to Sebring 12-1.

Tee-ball Coach Edmundo Cruz says the kids worked hard to prepare. Ozone Coach Johnny Tijerina was proud his team came back from a tough loss to play well on Saturday. Mason Diefenbach hit a pair of homeruns for Okeechobee.

The Dixie boys, ages 13-14 all star team automatically qualified for the state tournament in July.

Massive West Coast Restoration Project Makes Big Progress

Massive West Coast Restoration Project Makes Big Progress

C-43 Reservoir will store water to help Caloosahatchee River and Estuary during wet and dry periods 

LaBelle, FL – Bulldozers have been piling up massive mountains of earth and construction crews have been working since last year to build a restoration project crucial to the health of the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. The C-43 West Basin Reservoir remains on schedule with a steady stream of funding championed by Gov. Rick Scott and Florida House representatives Matt Caldwell, Heather Fitzenhagen, Dane Eagle, Ray Rodrigues, Byron Donalds, Bob Rommel and senators Lizbeth Benacquisto, Kathleen Passidomo and Denise Grimsley.

“I want to thank Gov. Scott and the Southwest Florida delegation members for showing their commitment to our residents by appropriating $106 million to accelerate the construction of the C-43 Reservoir,” said South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board member Rick Barber. “This money will expedite the completion of this crucial reservoir project that will capture basin runoff and reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges.”

About the C-43 Reservoir:

Work on the C-43 West Basin Reservoir began in 2016 on 10,700 acres SFWMD owns near LaBelle in Hendry County. Once completed, the reservoir will hold 170,000 acre-feet of water, allowing for the capture of basin runoff and aid in reducing damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee Estuary. It will also store fresh water that can be sent to the estuary during dry periods to help reduce elevated salinity levels that can damage oysters, seagrasses and other wildlife.

“We will look back at the 2017 legislative session as the most significant funding victory for the C-43 West Basin Reservoir project,” added SFWMD Governing Board member Jaime Weisinger. “With continued commitment from state leadership, this monumental construction undertaking will be a reality for Southwest Florida.”

The project’s initial work involved  creation of large piles of earth, followed by compressing the soil, ensuring solid foundation for pump stations. Construction is also well underway on a reservoir pump station.

Additional design and construction contracts will be awarded as construction progress moves forward. The next major contract is expected to be awarded by the Governing Board in January 2018. This contract will involve building a main pump station that will draw water from the Caloosahatchee River into the reservoir.

The approximately $500 million project is expected to be completed in 2022.

Dump and drain after the rain to prevent mosquitoes

Dump and drain after the rain to prevent mosquitoes

Mosquito season is underway – do your part to keep them at bay.

Recent rains, combined with warm, humid weather, act as a perfect environment for mosquito breeding. And while Okeechobee County has seen no local transmissions of Zika virus, mosquitoes can still transfer dangerous diseases, including St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. Concerns over mosquito-borne illnesses, or arboviruses, continue to serve as an important reminder to area residents to do their part to reduce the spread of mosquitoes.

How Zika Spreads Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites all day and night, whether you are inside or outside. A mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person already infected with Zika. That mosquito can then spread the virus by biting more people.

Zika virus can also spread:

  • During sex with a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. • From a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. • Through blood transfusion (likely but not confirmed).

Why Zika is Risky for Some People Zika infection during pregnancy can cause fetuses to have a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly.  Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.

Zika Symptoms Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections

Residents are encouraged to help abate the mosquito population by draining flower pots, watering cans, food bowls and any container that holds water. Moist leaves and organic matter also provide a perfect environment for mosquito larvae. By cleaning gutters and raking leaves, homeowners can stop the growth cycle.

To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, remember the four Ds:

DUSK to DAWN – the timeframe when mosquitoes are most active. Reduce or eliminate outdoor activity between dusk and dawn or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

DRAIN – standing water. Water found in old tires, flower pots, clogged rain gutters, leaky pipes and faucets, birdbaths and wading pools can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.

DRESS – in light-colored, long sleeves and pants when you are outside, especially in mosquito-infested areas.

DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) – if you are planning to be outside when mosquitoes are most active. Be sure to apply insect repellant that contains DEET. Read and follow label instructions. Spray both exposed skin and clothing with repellent.

For information on Zika virus, visit the Florida Department of Health, www.floridahealth.gov.

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