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News Cast for September 10th:

Tomorrow night, the Okeechobee County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing regarding their proposed final budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year. After several days of workshops in July, Commissioners reported their tentative budget to be just over $108 million dollars. After hearing from the public, Commissioners will vote to adopt the budget, along with the proposed millage rate of eight mills. The public hearing will be held at the Historic Courthouse tomorrow night beginning at five o’clock.

At Thursday night’s Okeechobee County School Board meeting, board members approved the Guardian Program agreement for all county schools. This program essentially gives certain school officials, those who are not instructional staff, the license to carry firearms to protect school children in volatile situations. Sheriff Noel Stephen, who spoke at the meeting, says the Guardian Program will be instrumental in maintaining the security of children in Okeechobee County schools. Stephen says besides background in military or law enforcement, his biggest concern will be the school staff member’s ability to adopt the kind of mindset that a sheriff’s deputy would have, specifically in a volatile situation where student safety is paramount. Stephen says at this time, he has ten applicants for the Guardian Program but he’ll be looking for more applicants as the school year continues.

Guardian Program Approved 1

Guardian Program Approved 2

A policy is in play for medical marijuana distribution to qualified students at Okeechobee County Schools. At their meeting on Thursday night, school board members approved the advertising of a medical marijuana distribution policy for schools as required by state law. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the policy will allow for a parent or licensed caregiver to administer medical marijuana to a student on campus who requires it. Kenworthy says the administering of medical marijuana will be done in a controlled environment. The policy will be discussed again at the board’s next meeting in October at which point they will decide whether or not to adopt the policy.

Kenworthy-Medical Marijuana Policy 1

Kenworthy-Medical Marijuana Policy 2

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a host of charges following a domestic incident late last week. Deputies were called to the seventeen hundred block of NW 4th Street just after three o’clock and found that 38 year old Mikel Chaden Wood had taken a one year old child into his room and would not come out following a verbal altercation with his wife, the child’s caregiver. Wood told deputies he would only give the child up to a city officer. Deputies say Wood had been released from a hospital and was abusing his medications and hallucinating. Deputies forced their way into the room and Wood tried pushing the door shut. Deputies grabbed the child and tackled Wood to the ground. Wood fought with deputies and his eyes were red with marks on his arm indicating that he uses methamphetamine. Wood was arrested and charged with interfering with the custody of a child, false imprisonment of a child and resisting arrest. He was booked into county jail and his bond has not been set.

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for a local man Thursday. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Narcotics Officers stopped a white van, driven by 43 year old Christopher Paul Ponzo, on the eleven hundred block of NE 12th Street just after four o’clock for speeding. A check through dispatch revealed Ponzo didn’t have a valid driver’s license. A search of the van turned up a clear plastic bag that looked like someone bit it off. Officers searched Ponzo’s mouth and found a piece of cocaine. Ponzo was arrested and charged with cocaine possession, tampering with evidence and driving without a license. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at $10 thousand five hundred dollars.

A Clewiston man is facing some prison time for drug offenses after a trial concluded Friday. A Hendry County court jury found 42 year old Jerry Lee Logan guilty of selling cannabis within a thousand feet of a place of worship and possession of marijuana following a two day trial. State attorney’s officials say Logan sold four individually packed baggies of marijuana to a confidential informant from his home in February of last year. Logan’s home is about five hundred feet from a church and eight hundred feet from another. Logan is facing up to fifteen years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.

On the arrest report:

54 year old Todd Everett Bond of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of petit theft. He’s being held without bond.

60 year old Robert Eugene Thompson of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic battery. His bond has not been set.

61 year old Lee Eugene Cockfield of Okeechobee was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

41 year old Arianne Abdelrazeq of Okeechobee was arrested on an out of county warrant for property damage. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

33 year old Thomas Wayne Gibson of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of trafficking stolen property and providing false information. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Chastity Lorraine Harmon of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license with knowledge of it and marijuana possession. Her bond has not been set.