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News Cast for May 16th:

This morning in front of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s office there was a memorial for all law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2017. The memorial began at 9am.

An Okeechobee man is dead after a vehicle accident on Friday night. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 41 year old Trent E. Clay was riding a Yamaha XVS950 motorcycle south on SW 67th Drive near Highway 70 just after 11:30 when he didn’t approach a slight left curve properly, causing him to go off the road and overturn. Clay and the bike then went airborne and both landed on the grassy shoulder of the road. Clay was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital for treatment where he later died from his injuries. The accident is being investigated.

Extension members of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science at the University of Florida held a workshop over the last two days at the Okeechobee County Emergency Management Center to determine a way to get the public to understand how to help the ecosystem restoration in places like the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. Okeechobee City Councilman Gary Ritter was present at the workshop and he says the pressing issue is trying to get the right message out with facts and science. Ritter says it’s of paramount importance because Okeechobee is an agricultural community and that will be a key to the ecosystem restoration. Ritter says it’s also important for community leaders to get the right information on ecosystem restoration to their constituents.

Ritter-IFAF Workshop

The wheels are now in motion for the city of Okeechobee to have a magistrate for code enforcement issues. City Councilmembers last night gave direction to Administrator Marcos Montes de Oca to begin the process of hiring a magistrate in lieu of the code enforcement board. Montes de Oca says the new magistrate will need certain qualities, both tangible and intangible, to be effective. Montes de Oca says being a member of the code enforcement board is often a difficult job with several of its members taking a lot of heat for the city council. The magistrate should be in place by October.

Magistrate 1

Magistrate 2

Last week, the Okeechobee County Commissioners approved a proclamation making the month of May Mental Health Awareness Month in the county. Mickey Hoffmeier of the Sun Coast Mental Health Center was on hand to accept the proclamation. Hoffmeier says it’s a time for the community and schools to be better educated about mental health and reducing the stigma about mental illness that prevents them from getting the proper care. Hoffmeier says mental illness often starts with anxiety. Hoffmeier says the stigma regarding mental health is still there mainly because of old stories and movies like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Hoffmeier 1

Hoffmeier 2

Okeechobee County Firefighters had a couple of fires to contend with this past Saturday and both are being investigated. Crews were first called to the 32 hundred block of SE 34th Avenue just after 2:15 pm for a grass and brush fire. Crews got the blaze controlled in less than ten minutes with no one getting hurt and no damages.

A little less than six hours later, firefighters were called to the 18 hundred block of NE 48th Avenue for a building fire. Crews arrived and found the building, which was abandoned, completely covered in flames. Crews got the blaze controlled in just over an hour with about 15 thousand gallons of water and no injuries. Total damage is estimated at about $20 thousand dollars. Investigators say this same building caught fire eight months ago and there was no electricity there.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a major theft that happened over the weekend. Investigators say someone stole a yellow Caterpillar 305 Mini Excavator E-2 from Concept Construction at Lock 7 near the 100 block of Highway 78 West sometime between Friday morning and early Monday morning. Investigators say the superintendent of Concept Construction says he noticed it was gone as he was on his way to Jacksonville and it had been last seen near the dumpster there. The yellow Caterpillar 305 Mini Excavator E-2’s value is just over $58 thousand, five hundred dollars. Any information about it should be forwarded to the sheriff’s office.

A vehicle accident on Friday afternoon claimed the lives of two Lehigh Acres men and seriously injured a Lehigh Acres woman. Florida Highway Patrol officer say 25 year old Cameron Matthew Goltry was driving a Mitsubishi GS sedan behind another vehicle east on Route 82 in Lehigh Acres just after 1:30 when the vehicle in front of Goltry’s car, a pickup truck, lost some of its load and it fell right in the path of Goltry’s car. While Goltry was trying to avoid the falling load, he drove right into the path of an oncoming Kia Forte sedan, colliding with it. Goltry was pronounced dead at the scene. The two passengers in the Kia Forte, 53 year old Mireya Ramos and 24 year old Joel Lopez were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Lopez died from his injuries and Ramos is in serious condition. The accident is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Adam J. Souza of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for disorderly intoxication. His bond has not been set.

20 year old Isaac Adam-Kade Dickinson of Okeechobee was arrested for engaging in lewd and lascivious acts on someone. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.