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News Cast for February 13th:

Okeechobee County Firefighters are investigating the cause of a fire to a bus Sunday night. Investigators say the driver was driving the bus on the Florida Turnpike in Okeechobee County when he heard a pop and the bus swerved and he pulled over to the shoulder. The driver got out and noticed smoke and flames on the right rear of the bus near the wheel. The driver evacuated the 43 passengers before crews arrived just before 8:20 and needed about 20 minutes to get the fire controlled while using about three thousand gallons of water. No injuries reported. Total estimated damage to the bus is $50,000.00 dollars.

Foster Family Appreciation Week is this week in Okeechobee County. Commissioners approved the proclamation at their meeting last week. There are about 21 children in foster care in Okeechobee County who are in secure, stable homes. Denise Waninger of Devereux Community Based Care in Okeechobee says an important aspect in successful placing of a child in foster care is keeping them in their community of origin. Waninger says there are currently three foster homes in the community and she hopes there will be more in the near future.

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This is also the week to appreciate the helpline. Okeechobee County Commissioners last week approved the proclamation of this week as 211 Helpline Awareness Week. 211 Helpline is a national suicide and rape crisis hotline as well as resource and information referral. Community Relations Specialist for Okeechobee Michelle Miller says it’s been quite successful last year alone. The 211 Helpline has been around for 65 years.

Miller-Helpline Awareness Week

Today will be the ribbon cutting ceremony for The Purple Orchid for therapeutic bodywork in Okeechobee County. The Purple Orchid opened in November of last year and they offer different types of massage and scrubs. Purple Orchid owner Marci Lookabill says she’s excited but at the same time nervous for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Lookabill has been a licensed masseuse for nearly 10 years and recently worked in Port St. Lucie at Club Med and other places mentoring and training other therapists. The ribbon cutting ceremony begins at noon at The Purple Orchid at the 600 block of SW Park Street next to Jersey Mike’s.

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Florida Highway Patrol officers in Highlands County had their hands full with a couple of accidents over the weekend that left two women with serious injuries. On Saturday morning, 18 year old Alyssa Todd of Lake Placid was driving a Nissan Versa south on Old Highway 8 and Hicoria Road when she drifted onto the northbound lane and onto the shoulder and rotated clockwise before hitting a fence and a utility pole guy wire then overturned. Todd was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Sunday, 75 year old Rosa Lopez of Sebring was driving an ATV north on Avalon Road and was turning left onto another road when she lost control of the ATV, causing it to overturn and throwing Lopez off of it. She was airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for treatment. Both accidents are being investigated.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Chad Allen Leitner and 27 year old Amber Dawn Leitner of Okeechobee were arrested by police for simple assault and battery after a domestic dispute. Both were released after posting bond.

30 year old Pedro Jimenez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on an out of county arrest warrant from Palm Beach. He’s being held without bond.

43 year old Joseph Paul Shirey of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and false imprisonment on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at $30,000.00 dollars.

25 year old Diana Marie Faison of Okeechobee was arrested for ten counts of petty theft and nine counts of grand theft. She’s being held without bond.

18 year old Jaquan Thompson of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on another inmate at the county jail. His bond is set at $2,500.00 dollars.

32 year old Perry Isham Sallette the Third of Okeechobee was arrested for failure to appear in court for previous drug charges and driving with a suspended license. His bond is set at $30,000.00 dollars.

27 year old Bobby Redden of Okeechobee was arrested for lewd and lascivious conduct on a jail employee. His bond is set at $1,000.00 dollars.

23 year old Matthew Lee Cox of Okeechobee was arrested for an out of county arrest warrant. He’s being held without bond.

22 year old Benjamin Robert Wilson of Okeechobee was arrested for resisting arrest after deputies tried to serve an arrest warrant on him. He’s being held on a $500.00 dollar bond.