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News Cast for September 4th:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will meet this evening and among the items on their agenda will be a public hearing on their budget and the presentation of a merit award from Okeechobee Main Street. The meeting will begin at 6pm in City Hall.

Members of the Okeechobee County Education Association (OCEA), better known as the teachers’ union, met with the county school board for the first time in this new school year regarding salary increases for teachers last Wednesday and hopefully avoid another impasse like last fall. The school board is offering a one time “step increase” of at least $8 hundred dollars and at most $12 hundred dollars based on teachers’ performances in the classroom depending on if the teacher is “effective” or “highly effective.” For union president Jorje Botello, this is not enough because of the concerns regarding cost of living and more so, the meaning of “highly effective” teaching performance. Assistant Superintendent Renee Geeting says unlike last year, there should be enough money in the budget to fund salary increases and avoid another impasse. The next meeting between the OCEA and the school board is set for September 11th.

Teachers Union Meeting 1

Teachers Union Meeting 2

It was a very special birthday last week for a very special store in Okeechobee County. Residents came to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of Badcock Furniture Store in Okeechobee on NE Park Street last Thursday. Owner Linda Ballinger says her dad was a collector for Badcock Furniture Store in Lakeland and when he came to Okeechobee in August of 1956 he was offered the opportunity to own a Badcock Furniture Store here. Ballinger says one thing that has allowed the store to remain successful throughout the many years and generations, has been the ability to treat people right. Ballinger, who has owned the store for 30 years, says at the time her dad came to Okeechobee and became the owner of Badcock Furniture, it was the 35th Badcock Furniture Store in the country, there are now over 300 nationwide.

Ballinger 1

Ballinger 2

A serving of an out of county arrest warrant turned into an arrest on more charges for an Okeechobee woman Thursday night. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies came to a home on the 89 hundred block of Route 78 West just after six o’clock after deputies received a tip from Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers that 48 year old Karla Mae Bennett was there. Deputies say Bennett wasn’t at the home but the person who was there led deputies to a gas station on the 49 hundred block of 441 South. Deputies arrived and found Bennett and arrested her but as she was hugging an underage girl who was with her at the time, she tried to give her a napkin which was seized by deputies and inside the napkin was a glass pipe with burn marks on it. Bennett also had cannabis and methamphetamine on her. She was charged with resisting arrest, contributing to the delinquency of a child, possession of marijuana, controlled substances and drug paraphernalia. Bennett was booked into county jail and her bond has not been set.

On the arrest report:

39 year old Curtis Randolph Sutton of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to appear in court on past undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

19 year old Andrew Mark Mitchell of Lauderdale was arrested on seven warrants from Monroe County for undisclosed charges. His bond is set at $230 thousand dollars.