News Cast for May 11th:

There is no amnesty policy just yet, but there will be one coming. Okeechobee County Commissioners yesterday decided to take some time and work with the code enforcement staff and talk with constituents to develop a code enforcement lien amnesty program for property owners who are unable to pay the fines they accrue because of property violations such as overgrown grass, junk and debris on their property and more. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says the policy would reduce the rates dramatically but cannot be higher than 15 percent of the property value so people wouldn’t have to file for bankruptcy. Culpepper says it’s something that’s necessary for the sake of new businesses and residents. Culpepper says there are at least a hundred open cases of code enforcement violations that need to be addressed. A policy might be ready for board approval by their next meeting.

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Okeechobee County Commissioners yesterday accepted a proclamation for this month to be National Military Appreciation Month in Okeechobee County. US Navy veteran and incoming commander of the Big Lake VFW Kevin Stripling was on hand to accept the proclamation. Stripling says the honor is the highest one there is. Stripling served his time on the USS John F. Kennedy Aircraft Carrier assisting ground troops with air support over seven months in Beirut after the US embassy was bombed there during the early 1980’s. After his military career, Stripling began a 30 year career in law enforcement with the Martin County Sheriff’s office.

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This week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, a time for people to be better informed as well as prepared for the time when a hurricane is about to hit. Mitch Smeykel of the Okeechobee County Emergency Management Center says it’s a great idea to make sure your insurance, specifically hurricane insurance, is up to date because usually after a hurricane season, there are changes to deductibles, allowable coverages and more. Smeykel says surprisingly, some people don’t even have hurricane insurance. Smeykel says you should get hurricane insurance that is adequate to your home’s contents. Getting flood insurance, specifically for those who live in flood zones or areas prone to flooding is also a great idea.

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While this week has just about ended, Okeechobee County Commissioners proclaimed this week as National Travel and Tourism Week at their meeting yesterday. County Tourism Coordinator Sharie Turgeon was on hand to accept the proclamation. This proclamation is a national community gathering to showcase community travel and tourism and the promotion of it. Turgeon says this is the 35th year celebrating this special week. Turgeon says besides the fishing, tourists are very interested in hunting, hiking and airboat riding among other outdoorsy things.

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Okeechobee County Sheriff’s officials are reporting that crews from their animal control services have impounded some livestock that was loose. One brown and white boar hog with black spots was found at NE 60th Court and two potbelly pigs, one black and one white, eleven chickens, one rooster and a white duck were found at NW 310th Street. All are impounded and if they’re not redeemed in three days, they will be offered up for adoption or disposed of humanely.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Esteban Medrano Arellano of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to appear in court for previous drug and contraband charges. He’s being held without bond.

52 year old Linda Marie Stokes of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court for previous theft charges. She is being held without bond.

28 year old Tressa JoAnn Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence after a traffic stop. Her bond has not been set.

25 year old Ralph Henry Buchheit of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

54 year old Ray Alton Howard of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. He’s being held without bond.