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News Cast for September 12th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet tomorrow morning after a three week hiatus and they will be considering street lighting for bus stops on NW 192nd Avenue and hear updates on the plans for the repairs of Bridge #910045 on NE 304th Street. The meeting will be held at the Historic County Courthouse beginning at nine o’clock. The meeting will be streamed online live at the board of county commissioner’s website.

It was a rather uneventful public hearing last night at the Okeechobee County Historic Courthouse. County Commissioners held the first of two public hearings regarding their proposed final budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year but no Okeechobee resident came up to comment on the budget, which is expected to be just over $108 million dollars. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says he believes the public understands that if you provide a level of service, you must look at where you will spend the money, how you’ll spend it and what level of service is acceptable to the public. Culpepper says, like most things, when costs go up, the county has to compensate. The final public hearing on the budget will be September 25th at the Historic Courthouse beginning at 5pm at which point the commissioners will take a vote on approving it.

County Budget Public Hearing 1

County Budget Public Hearing 2

It’s the middle of September, summer is winding down and kids are back in school, but in Florida, it’s still the hurricane season and this month is the peak time of hurricanes and it’s the time to be prepared with essential supplies. Okeechobee County Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says while Hurricane Florence is not expected to hit anywhere near Okeechobee, the force of the hurricane is expected to be felt for hundreds of miles in the area of the coastal counties like Martin and St. Lucie, in the way of rip currents and beach erosion. Smeykal says even though Florence is expected to hit the Carolinas and eastern Georgia, officials from the Sunshine State are getting ready to send help. Smeykal says two developing systems; Hurricane Isaac in the southern Caribbean and another system in the Yucatan, are being closely watched over the next week to ten days.

Smeykal-Hurricane Watch

An Okeechobee man is in county jail on some serious charges after a domestic dispute Sunday night. Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a home on the 48 hundred block of SE Highway 441 just before nine o’clock after it was reported that 45 year old Calvin Wayne Pelham strangled his girlfriend. Deputies say Pelham’s wife was bathing her son when he came in and she wanted to take him out of the bathtub. Pelham said she couldn’t and when she did, he slapped her, causing her nose to bleed. He then choked her with both hands as she was holding her son, and kept saying he was going to kill her and the baby. She ran to her neighbor’s house where she called the sheriff’s office. Pelham, who left the house after the incident, was eventually found by deputies after Pelham’s girlfriend gave them a description of the vehicle he was driving. Pelham was arrested for domestic battery by strangulation and abuse of a child without bodily harm. His bond is set at seven thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on several charges in connection with an incident early Monday morning. Deputies responded to a home on the 17 hundred block of Highway 441 North just before 3:30 for an assault and battery and were told by witnesses that 24 year old Jaime Gonzalez reportedly head butted and eye gouged his friend after he told Gonzalez to leave and Gonzalez refused to leave. Deputies say Gonzalez did leave after the fight, but came back to argue with his friend some more and they began fighting again. Gonzalez left and went to his grandmother’s house where he was eventually found by deputies and arrested. He’s being charged with aggravated battery and possession of oxycodone and alprazolam after deputies found it in Gonzalez’s pockets. His bond has not been set.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Juan Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for performing lewd and lascivious acts on an underage girl. He was released after posting a $40 thousand dollar bond.

34 year old Dallas Justin Rexroad of Okeechobee was arrested for battery and criminal mischief after a domestic dispute. His bond is set at $12 hundred fifty dollars.

47 year old Earl Victor Williams of Okeechobee was arrested for first degree petit theft after he was caught stealing items from Wal-Mart. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

34 year old Joshua David Roach of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of a controlled substance. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

40 year old Jaclyn Dawn Morales of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft after she was caught stealing items from Wal-Mart. She was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

24 year old Lance Wayne Hamblen of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on past charges of driving without a valid license. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

33 year old Chris Anthony Nieland of Okeechobee was arrested for battery after a domestic dispute. He was released after posting bond.

31 year old Eric Exantus of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

43 year old Timothy James Burke was arrested by police on an outstanding warrant for burglary and second degree petit theft. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.