News Cast for August 2nd:

The Okeechobee County School Board will meet again tonight for the fourth time in as many weeks to listen to the public before approving their proposed millage rates and budget for the upcoming school year. The meeting begins at 6pm in the school board office.

Once again, this is just a reminder that motorists need to be aware of a road closure, per the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office. This closure is necessary in order to replace a culvert underneath SE 40th Avenue at the intersection of SE 8th Street. Detours are set up at SE 6th Street and SE 10th Street for the duration of the work. This closure will be in effect until sometime today.

Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department have announced they will be holding a public forum tonight regarding the new Palmetto Berry laws that are now in place by the Florida Department of Agriculture. These berries which are used to improve prostate health, are usually harvested in the middle of August and can be quite profitable when sold on the open market. Sheriff Noel Stephen will be hosting this forum and he says the new laws are that you must have a permit to harvest and transport these berries for selling and you must have written permission from the landowner to take Palmetto berries from someone’s property, otherwise it’s a misdemeanor offense. Stephen says before this new law came into effect, his office would be flooded with calls about people stealing them from their lands and it’s just as much of a headache for the landowners. The Palmetto Berry public forum will be held at the Civic Center on Highway 98 beginning at 7pm tonight. It will be recorded and footage will be available on the sheriff’s website.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a litany of charges following an incident Tuesday afternoon. Deputies responded to the three thousand block of North Highway 98 just after 12:30 for a complaint of a suspicious person. Reportedly, 43 year old Janvar Singleton jumped into the back of someone’s pickup truck as the driver was heading down the road and found him holding a metal rake while sitting on the truck bed. Singleton refused to comply with the deputy’s order to step off the truck and drop the rake. Deputies grabbed the rake, causing Singleton to grab a two by four and raise it as if he was about to strike a deputy with it. Deputies grabbed Singleton’s wrist, making him drop the board then turned him around and cuffed him. Singleton was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, assaulting a law officer, resisting arrest and giving false information to a law officer. He also had an outstanding warrant on him for previous burglary and assault charges. His total bond is just over $62 thousand dollars.

A traffic stop turned into a drug arrest for an Okeechobee woman Tuesday evening. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Plymouth sedan, driven by 36 year old Kelly Charmaine Chapman, on the two hundred block of 17th Avenue just before 6pm for driving in the middle of the road. Chapman gave deputies permission to search the car and they found a bag containing crack cocaine and a glass pipe next to the passenger door which had been dropped out of the car as Chapman was ordered to step out of the car. They also found a black rod normally used for the drug. Chapman was arrested and booked into county jail on charges of possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.

What was reported as a vehicle fire Tuesday afternoon turned out to be something a little less than that. Okeechobee County firefighters were called to the 32 hundred block of 441 South just after four o’clock and found a pickup truck with some smoke coming from the passenger side window but no signs of a fire. Crews opened both doors of the truck to ventilate it and used about ten gallons of water on the passenger seat to cool it off for about five minutes. No one was hurt and no damages. The incident is under investigation.

A Sebring man will be in prison for the rest of his life for murder after a judge’s recent decision in a Highlands County courtroom. 51 year old Richard Conway Strickland the Third was sentenced last month to life in prison after pleading guilty to second degree murder of his roommate, 51 year old Shirley Anne Temple, also of Sebring, in May of last year by stabbing her 99 times with a half dozen knives. Strickland had been indicted on first degree murder charges. Highlands County Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says it wasn’t a surprise to him that Strickland did not receive the death penalty. Strickland, a former sanitation worker, says he didn’t remember much of the incident.

On the arrest report:

20 year old Megan Jean Choate of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for assault. She was released after posting bond.

38 year old Kenneth Earl Peacock of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct. He was released after posting bond.