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News Cast for July 11th:

Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday in seven counties including Okeechobee, to combat the toxic green algae bloom caused by water discharges from Lake Okeechobee. It allows the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and South Florida Water management District (SFWMD) to waive restrictions to store water in additional areas south of the lake. Most green algae is harmful and toxic to humans, animals and plant life so please steer clear of it. However, according to a map on the DEP website, it may not be a problem here; Okeechobee City Councilmember Gary Ritter. Other counties affected by this state of emergency include Martin, St. Lucie, Glades, Hendry, Palm Beach and Lee.

Ritter-State of Emergency 1

Ritter-State of Emergency 2

Okeechobee City Councilmembers adopted a resolution at their meeting last night honoring fifty years of Municipal Home Rule in the city. Mayor Dowling Watford says this was put into effect in the state constitution giving local governments the power and duties that they can carry out. In recent years that local control has been under attack by state leaders in Tallahassee, usually because residents tend to “go over the heads” of local leaders and talk to state leaders regarding a local law or rule that they dislike or disagree with. Watford says he hopes this attack by state leaders will subside but it may take some time. Watford says local government knows their constituents best and they’re in the best position to make decisions that affect them. This will be a big theme in the upcoming Florida League of Cities meeting.

Watford-Municipal Home Rule 1

Watford-Municipal Home Rule 2

A former Okeechobee City Councilman entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment Monday in an Okeechobee County courtroom. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says a written plea of not guilty was entered for 75 year old Mike O’Connor, who was arrested and charged with domestic battery and tampering with evidence in connection with an incident involving his stepdaughter May 25th. Albright says O’Connor is facing possible prison time if he’s convicted. Under Florida law, neither O’Connor nor his attorney was required to be present for the arraignment. His next court appearance is scheduled for some time next month. O’Connor resigned from his post on the city council a week after his arrest.

‘Connor Arraignment 1

‘Connor Arraignment 2

Recently Okeechobee County Commissioners nominated four area women to the county’s Children’s Services Council at their last meeting.  The Children’s Services Council creates activities for children and helps fund summer camps and they also provide special needs and medical needs for children. Malisa Jahner is one of the nominees and she’s very happy to be nominated to the council she’s been serving on since 2009. The other three nominees are Heather Hancock, Wendy Coker and Pat McCoy. They are appointed to the posts by Governor Rick Scott.

Nominees Children’s Services Council 1

Nominees Children’s Services Council 2

On the arrest report:

37 year old Jennifer Stacy Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation. She’s being held without bond.

62 year old Henry Lewis Norman of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.