Local News

SFWMD Employees Raise Over $19,000 for Charity Supporting Clean Drinking Water in Developing Countries

SFWMD Employees Raise Over $19,000 for Charity Supporting Clean Drinking Water in Developing Countries

West Palm Beach, FL – Over the past several months, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) employees and Governing Board members took part in several fundraising efforts that raised money for a non-profit organization helping people in developing countries get access to clean drinking water.

Water for Small Villages, a non-profit organization made up of several District employees, works to help areas around the globe obtain access to clean drinking water. Using vacation time and support solely from volunteers, to date, the organization has improved the drinking water supplies in Haiti and Nepal for more than 1,400 people.

Several fundraising events organized by District employees raised more than $19,000 for the charity. Steve Krupa, President of Water for Small Villages and SFWMD Hydrogeology Section Leader, said the non-profit is committed to finishing work on projects in Haiti and Nepal. The additional money raised by the District fundraisers will allow them to expand and improve access to drinking water in other countries as well.

“This will allow us to venture into new regions,” Krupa said. “Water is the most important resource to all living things so, we are very grateful for the support of our colleagues and Governing Board members that enables us to help more people in need of this precious resource.”

The fundraising events included a Lunch and Learn event about conditions and projects in Nepal, bake sale, lunch from the Hydro Data Management Section, silent auction, raffle and gently used purse sale during the October Governing Board Meeting and a Halloween event hosted by the Hydro Data Management Section.

“SFWMD is committed to making a difference to residents worldwide who need clean drinking water,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member Mitch Hutchcraft, the Governing Board sponsor for Water for Small Villages. “It has been an honor for everyone involved to play a part in this crucial mission.”

For more information about the work performed by Water for Small Villages or to support the non-profit’s mission of improving clean drinking water supplies worldwide, visit: www.waterforsmallvillages.org

Charles Murphy News 11/8

News Cast for November 8th:

Sheriff deputies were able to collar two alleged thieves who stole from the Martha’s House Domestic Violence shelter last week.  Tips from the public from surveillance video helped lead to the arrests of Lisa Marie Lorenz and Dale Proudfoot.  Lorenz was arrested after a short car chase and a standoff at Eagle Island Farms.

A man wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of Christopher Allen last May, was charged as part of a plot to steal a pickup truck and use it for ransom to collect a drug debt.  21 year old Cornelius Merriweather was held on extortion, burglary and grand theft charges.

54 year old William Gordon was charged with DUI causing serious bodily injury after a wreck on 441 south east near the Taylor Creek Bridge Friday evening that hospitalized one person.  Few details were released.  A pickup accidentally backed up into a building at 1852 highway 70 west and one person inside was struck and hospitalized Friday.

Election day is upon us.  Okeechobee has several local races.  Ray Worley, Jerry Johnson, Monica Clark and Mike O’Connor seek two seats on the city council, Sharon Wallace, Steve Cates and Micky Bandi are running for property appraiser, Noel Stephen and Michael Hazellief for Sheriff.  Michael Slayton and David Hazellief seek county commission district 1, Bobby Keefe and Brad Goodbread district 3 and Weston Harvey and Kelly Owens District 5.

Polls are open until 7 pm tonight.  WOKC will have election results from Okeechobee and Glades County tonight.

Sports Cast for November 8th:

Okeechobee girls basketball tips off tonight coming off a 16 win season last year.

Coach Joe Smith says he’s excited about another strong Lady Brahmans team and the preseason tournament should be a good starting point to see how strong the team can be this year

  • OHS girls basketball preseason tournament vs Moore Haven 7 pm
  • Clewiston girls basketball vs John Carroll 5:30 pm
  • Martin County blew out Okeechobee in girls soccer by mercy rule.  The JV girls fell 4-0.
  • ON the sports schedule today,
  • Moore Haven boys soccer hosts Canterbury 5 pm
  • Moore Haven girls soccer hosts Canterbury 7 pm

Sebring Resident Sentenced to Prison for Unlawfully Dealing Firearms on Facebook

Sebring Resident Sentenced to Prison for Unlawfully Dealing Firearms on Facebook

A Sebring resident was sentenced to federal prison, for dealing firearms without a license and making a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Brandt Schenken, Special Agent in Charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Bryan Grover Marley, 60, of Sebring, Florida, previously pled guilty to one count of dealing firearms without a license, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(a)(1)(A); and one count of making a false statement to a firearms dealer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(a)(6).   United States District Court Judge Robin L. Rosenberg sentenced Marley to one year and one day of imprisonment, to be followed by one year of supervised release.  In addition, Marley agreed to forfeit 17 firearms that had been seized by ATF during the investigation.

According to filed documents and statements made in court, between July 2015 and April 2016, Marley advertised the sale of firearms through multiple Facebook postings.  Marley did not have a federal firearms license and unlawfully sold over 170 firearms, including small handguns and AR-15 assault rifles.  Marley acquired firearms from licensed firearms dealers and sold them for a profit to people who responded to his listings on Facebook.  When Marley bought the firearms from a licensed dealer he falsely indicated on firearms transaction forms that he was the actual buyer, when in fact he was making the purchases on the behalf of his customers.  On multiple occasions, Marley sold firearms to individuals who were prohibited from possessing firearms because they were either a convicted felon or had a prior conviction for domestic violence.  Four prohibited persons have been indicted for unlawfully possessing the purchased firearms.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ATF.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel E. Funk.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Charles Murphy News 11/7

News Cast for November 7th:

Three people were under arrest Friday after a shooting in the 1 thousand block of North East 5th Street.

City police say a 19-year-old man was shot twice in what might have been a robbery attempt gone bad. He was flown to Lawnwood Regional in Fort Pierce for treatment.

Charged were 18 year old Daivondre Queener and 17 year old Roman Bennett on charges of armed robbery and discharging a firearm causing serious injury.

18 year old Noah Collins was charged with accessory after the fact to armed robbery.

Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed attorney Jeffrey Kuntz to the 4th District Court of Appeal Friday. Kuntz is an attorney in Boca Raton.  The 4th district court hears appeals from Okeechobee cases. He fills the judgeship created when Judge Matthew Stevenson resigned.

Okeechobee has had a strong voter turnout so far for the presidential election.

Early vote wrapped up on Saturday.  The state division of elections reported Saturday that 38 percent of registered voters cast ballots, with 23 hundred and 48 by mail and 53 hundred and 47 through early vote.  In 2 thousand 12, 35 hundred and 28 early voted and nearly 3 thousand case absentee ballots.

Glades County had 21 percent of registered voters cast ballots.  6 hundred and 69 mailed in ballots and 7 hundred and 19 people early voted.

The OHS marching band qualified for state with a strong performance Saturday at the competition in Jensen Beach.  The finals are Saturday.

Sports Cast for November 7th:

Okeechobee rallied from 13 points down to defeat Clewiston 22-19 to tie the school record with 8 wins in a season Friday.

Bubba Fludd threw an 18 yard touchdown pass and ran for a 23 yard score and Logan Etherton added a short touchdown run for the Brahman points. Menta Jones threw two touchdown passes for Clewiston.

Markevious Terry ran for 146 yards. Linebacker Jesse Mond says the team picked it up after the early deficit.


Coach Chris Branham called it the finest hour in Brahman football history


Linebacker Juan’yae Ford stepped in with five starters out and gave the team a boost.


Okeechobee plays at Daytona Beach Mainland on Friday in the 6A playoffs.  Clewiston hosts Miami Edison in the 4A playoffs.

Pahokee won the muck bowl 27-14, breaking a 6 game win streak.  Moore Haven pounded LaBelle 43-15 and Glades Day pounded Marathon 56-20.


Governor Rick Scott Appoints Jeffrey T. Kuntz to the Fourth District Court of Appeal

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Jeffrey T. Kuntz to the Fourth District Court of Appeal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointment of Jeffrey T. Kuntz to the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Kuntz, 35, of Boca Raton, has been a member of GrayRobinson, P.A., since 2006, and is currently a shareholder. Kuntz received his bachelor’s degree from Boston College and his law degree from Suffolk University Law School. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Judge W. Matthew Stevenson.

Charles Murphy News 11/4

News Cast for November 4th:

The South Florida water management district claims Florida is achieving everglades water quality goals. The report showed best management practices and improved farming techniques have removed 53 metric tons of phosphorus to the Everglades. 1.8 billion has been spent and the governor wants to spend another 880 million dollars. The Everglades Foundation is doing a state wide bus tour promoting the need for a large reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

Opponents of that plan will hold a rally in Clewiston to save the farmers on Saturday.

In Highlands County, a grand jury indicts two Pahokee men on first degree murder and other charges.  23 year old Freddie Washington and 28 year old Daryl Cason are charged in the execution style slaying of Aaron Hankerson outside Shooters Bar in Sebring about a month ago.

A local couple sues Okeechobee county when the wife, Terri Sweet, slips and injures herself at the animal control shelter.

Sweet said the county was negligent when they left a floor wet for her to slip and fall.

A local woman injured in a boating accident back on December 9th of last year filed a negligence lawsuit against the other boater.  The plaintiff Kelley Edmondson says the boating accident occurred on the Rim Canal because Donald Williamson, the defendant, operated the bass boat in a negligent manner.

An Okeechobee woman was seriously injured in a crash that claimed two lives in Alachua County last week.

29 year old Johana Klinger was driving a Volkswagen that troopers say crossed the center line of US 441 and struck a scion driven by 27 year old Yvonne Diaz of Wesley Chapel.  Diaz died along with a four year old child.

Troopers say alcohol was suspected.

Sports Cast for November 4th:

The Brahmans wrap up their regular season tonight with traditional rival Clewiston. The Tigers 6-3 are the District 4A-7 champions this year defeating Glades Central last week to take the crown.  They match up with Miami Edison in the playoffs.

Okeechobee 7-1 will be without Jajuan Cherry due to a concussion.  The Brahmans are the district runners up and play at Daytona Beach Mainland next week.

Coach Chris Branham says the team still wants the win badly to match the most number of wins of any team in school history. Branham expects the Tigers to run tight formations and try to run the ball against the Brahman defense.

The kickoff tonight is at 7:30 pm in Clewiston.

Also tonight…Glades Day plays a conference consolation game at home against Marathon

Pahokee and Glades Central get together for the Muck Bowl in Pahokee.  Glades Central has won the last eight meetings.

Moore Haven ends their season with a home game with rival LaBelle.  These games kick off at 7 pm.

Okeechobee and Moore Haven runners compete in the cross country state finals tomorrow in Tallahassee.


SFWMD Efforts to Improve the Quality of Water Discharged to Grassy Waters is Challenged by City of West Palm Beach

SFWMD Efforts to Improve the Quality of Water Discharged to Grassy Waters is Challenged by City of West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach, FL – The City of West Palm Beach (City) filed petitions challenging South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) orders requiring the protection and improvement of Grassy Waters Preserve, which is part of the City’s water supply.

In October, SFWMD ordered the City and Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District (Northern) to take specific measures to improve Grassy Waters.  Despite the fact that the City is the steward of Grassy Waters, the City filed petitions challenging SFWMD requirements. By contrast, Northern notified SFWMD that it will promptly comply with the order to improve the quality of water that discharges into Grassy Waters.

Provisions challenged by the City include a requirement to educate the public on ways to protect Grassy Waters, removal of undesirable vegetation and monitoring.

The City’s lodged challenges despite the fact that it was the City’s own expert witness at a September hearing that formed the basis of SFWMD’s order requiring it to improve and protect Grassy Waters. (Fla. DOAH Case No: 16-001861)

SFWMD dismissed the petition the City filed to prevent Northern from improving water quality.  Northern will therefore be able to move forward with its efforts to improve water quality. SFWMD also dismissed two petitions filed by the City challenging the requirements for the City to protect and improve Grassy Waters, because the City failed to follow the minimum requirements for filing a challenge.  On Nov. 2, the City was given a third opportunity to file an adequate petition.

SFWMD orders for corrective action address the surface water management system located adjacent to Grassy Waters, which consists of two parts. The first section contains a series of lakes operated by Northern in the Ibis community. The second portion of the system is a 364-acre area known as the Ibis Preserve that is permitted to retain water onsite.  This second area is owned by the City. Water flows from the Ibis lakes into the Ibis Preserve before entering the Grassy Waters.

According to the City, sediment containing nutrients flow from the Ibis community, into the Ibis Preserve and then into Grassy Waters.  Under SFWMD’s permit, the Ibis Preserve is part of the system designed to include nutrient removal. Nutrients, which have not been effectively removed in either part of the system, are discharged at the outfall from the Ibis Preserve into Grassy Waters. Nutrients contribute to the growth of nuisance vegetation at this outfall.

Charles Murphy News 11/3

News Cast for November 3rd:

On the roads, 42 year old Shannon Wakelee of Okeechobee died Wednesday when a Ford Focus left route 70 east bound, crossed the median, and landed in a canal near VPI Grove Road. Troopers say they are unsure what caused the crash.  The vehicle became completely submerged in the water.

The sheriffs office completed their investigation into the Okeechobee school for boys without recommending any charges or arrests. The White House boys criticized the investigation and say cadaver dogs that searched the property last year wouldn’t have been able to find human remains.  They wanted ground penetrating radar. The group claimed there were murders, rapes and beatings of clients in the 50s and 60s at the school. They ‘ve asked the US Department of Justice to intervene.

Among arrests, 30 year old Caretrice Gordon was charged with extortion, grand theft auto and burglary.  She allegedly borrowed a person’s truck and allegedly refused to return it unless they paid her 9 hundred dollars for an old drug debt.

In the courts, Gray English pled no contest to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and received one year of house arrest.  He was convicted back in 1971 of attempted second degree murder in Moore Haven but wasn’t arrested again for 44 years.  The state asked for 26 months in prison.

Nick Blount was named the new Okeechobee manager of the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties this week. Blount recently retired as area manager for Florida Power and Light. Full story in our Local News section.

Okeechobee city fire chief Herb Smith urges residents to remove boards from windows.  He said tours of the city show at least 20 percent of homes still have obstructions in windows.  He said that could cause deaths during fires.

28 year old Rosalia Garcia of Okeechobee charged in Fort Pierce with cutting a man in the neck with a broken crack pipe during a domestic incident.  She was charged with aggravated battery.

An Okeechobee man claims a coworker tampered with his vehicle which caused engine damage. Martin county deputies say the oil filter was loosened and criminal charges could be filed.

47 year old Georgia Gregory was charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing 8 hundred dollars in gutters and shutters from the J & S Fish Camp.

Sports Cast for November 3rd:

The boys cross country team finished third at regional Saturday and are off to states today in Tallahassee. The regional champion was Belen Jesuit. Daniel Shelley led the Brahmans with a 14th place finish.

Coach AJ Mayernik was very pleased with the performance. Full video interview on our Facebook page.

Bryan Pinon, a sophomore, will be one of the runners in the race Saturday.  He finished in 18 minutes 36 seconds at regional. He says he’s excited about this opportunity. Video of interview is on our Facebook page.


Lillian Henry finished in 35th place for the Lady Brahmans and failed to reach the state finals.

Cristobal Morales of Moore Haven finished fourth at the region and will represent Moore Haven in the state finals Saturday.

OHS Girls soccer plays at Westwood this afternoon at 3:30 pm.

Charles Murphy News 11/2

News Cast for November 2nd:

Okeechobee City Council Tuesday:

  • Approved a six month moratorium on medical marijuana related businesses. The city now has time to develop zoning and other regulations which can restrict where these facilities that sell marijuana can be located. Voters decide November 8th on whether to pass a constitutional amendment that will allow the sale of medical marijuana.
  • Mayor Jim Kirk proclaimed November as Diabetes Awareness Month.
  • The council also extended for one year their lobbying agreement with CAS government services for 18 thousand dollars.  The lobby in Tallahassee on behalf of the city. The list of applicants for Okeechobee City police include 12 Okeechobee residents. Many are from the Okeechobee County Sheriffs Office.
  • They include Lester Yeates, Ted Van Deman, Keith Stripling, Mark Shireman, Bill Saum, Robert Peterson, Paul Miles, William Markham, Daryl Lewis, Tom Levins, Dale LaFlam, and Marty Faulkner.
  • The list also has four out of state candidates, Christopher Alexander of North Carolina, Jeffery Cavender of Illinois, Robert Owens of Virginia, and Dwayne Wheeler of Illinois.
  • Also on the list are Alfredo Ferrer of Cutler Bay, Brent Coates of Interlachen, Kenneth Leedham of Port St. Lucie, Alexander Freeman of Riviera Beach, Deborah McCray of Loxahatchee, Robert Pastula of Alva, Thomas Santarlas of Riverview and John Webb of Loxahatchee.

Glades County hopes to lobby the state this year to lower the training requirements for volunteer firemen so they can revitalize the Palmdale fire department.  Over 2 hundred hours are required now which is tough for working people to attain. Commission chairman Weston Pryor says they have other priorities for the state too.

Sports Cast for November 2nd:

Several Brahman relay teams competed Saturday in the swim regional at Florida Gulf Coast University. Alyssa Howard, Zachary Jackson and Skylar Casian also competed in individual races. None of the Brahmans qualified for the state finals.

Beatriz Perez says she enjoyed the season and that it really motivated her.


Jillian Kennedy decided to try swimming this year, she said the biggest adjustment was the early practices at 4 thirty in the morning.


Jacob McKee competed in the back stroke this year.  He said he learned that effort is the most important thing in swimming.


Girls soccer defeated Glades Day in their opener 4-1 on Tuesday afternoon.

Ashton English and Alani Garcia both scored 2 each.

The Brahman boys’ soccer team holding a preseason tournament scrimmage at Yearling with games at 3 and 4:30 this afternoon.



Okeechobee FL (November 2, 2016) United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee is happy to announce that Nick Blount has accepted the position of Okeechobee Manager.

Nick Blount has been a Florida resident for over 44 years, and recently retired as Area Manager for the Treasure Coast for Florida Power & Light Company.  At the time of his retirement, he was responsible for government affairs and community relations for Martin and Okeechobee Counties.

Blount has been very active with non-profit organizations in this area such as in the past serving as the Okeechobee United Way Campaign Co-Chair, and on the board of the Okeechobee County Economic Council, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Blount will be responsible for working with United Way Partner Agencies, the United Way Campaign, employers, and the entire community of Okeechobee County.

A local network of 15 United Way Partner Agencies will receive funds from the 2016-2017 United Way of Okeechobee fundraising campaign.  All money raised in the United Way campaign stays in the local community to help support the local human service network. These agencies include: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Castle, the Treasure Coast Food Bank, and Hospice of Okeechobee.

In addition to raising funds for human service organizations in our community, the United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies, helping them to work together focusing on issues and solutions that continue to improve lives.

For more information about the United Way, please visit www.UnitedWayLee.org, or call (863) 824-5546

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