News Cast for June 11th:

Officials from the South Florida Water Management District say they have come up with a plan for Lake Okeechobee’s Watershed Restoration but also for preserving nearby estuaries. Spokesperson Randy Smith says it involves creating wetlands north of the lake and using special recovery wells to inject water underground and store it until it’s needed, all to keep from dispersing water to the lake and causing the lake levels to rise too high, requiring the US Army Corps of Engineers to release the water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. Smith says those discharges are a problem. Smith says this is a tentative plan as of now and it will be submitted to the federal government and then hopefully to Congress for funding.

Smith-Watershed Restoration Project Plan

Okeechobee County Commissioners at their last meeting gave the green light to allow the county to work with Ft. Pierce based Culpepper and Terpening to provide construction inspection services at just over $188 thousand dollars for the NW 36th Street (Basswood) sidewalk improvement project. County Engineer John Howle says Culpepper and Terpening will have a representative there to ensure the contractor the county hired will perform the project according to plans and specifications. Howle says this project is a much needed county task. County Commissioners also approved an agreement with CivilSurv Design Group, also a Ft. Pierce based company to provide post engineering services for the project at just over $30 thousand dollars. The project should begin in a few weeks.

Basswood Project 1

Basswood Project 2

A Sebring man entered a not guilty plea last week on a host of charges, specifically child pornography. Highlands County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Scott Dressel says 50 year old Christopher Ray Queen, pleaded innocent at his arraignment on Monday on charges of possessing tens of thousands of images depicting child pornography on his computer and cellphone. Dressel says Queen had more charges filed against him recently; a count of sexual battery, four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior and 25 counts of cruelty involving sexual activity with an underage victim and 25 more counts of possessing child pornography. Dressel says it wasn’t a surprise to him that more charges would be filed against Queen. Queen is facing life in prison if he’s found guilty in this case. His pre-trial conference is set for June 20th. This is the largest child porn case in Central Florida History.

Queen Plea and Charges 1

Queen Plea and Charges 2

On the arrest report:

23 year old Codie James Posila of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on previous burglary and mischief charges. He’s being held without bond.

38 year old Jenelle Lorraine Pasley of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous battery charges. She’s being held without bond.

18 year old Zachary Taylor De Witte of Okeechobee was arrested for interfering with the custody of a minor. He was released on a five thousand dollar bond.

18 year old Jessica Jade Green of Okeechobee was arrested on warrants from Orange County for human trafficking for sexual reasons and sexual battery on a minor. She’s being held without bond.

36 year old Ronald Kevin Drennan of Okeechobee was arrested for petty theft and burglary. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

36 year old Elizabeth Starcher of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation. She was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

21 year old Andrew Johnnie Haygood of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on previous drug possession charges. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

21 year old Frank William Huff of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and cannabis resin. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.