News Cast for September 14th:

If you have an airboat and know how to operate one or you know someone who has an airboat or can operate one, there’s an opportunity waiting for you. With Hurricane Florence pounding the Carolinas, the Jacksonville-based Rhino International, a disaster relief and construction company, are seeking airboats and experienced airboat operators to assist in rescuing Carolina residents who are trapped in their homes. Rhino International CEO Mark Calibrone says his company was tasked through another company that contracts for FEMA and others for hurricane relief and they are facing a shortage of airboats and airboat operators for the relief effort. Calibrone says the airboats and their operators will be used for more than just rescuing trapped residents, they’ll also be refilling generators. Calibrone says his company is looking for at least fifteen airboats and airboat operators. If you are interested, please call Rhino International at (904) 217-6063.

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Tomorrow, Wal-Mart on Parrott Avenue in Okeechobee won’t just be a place to shop; it’ll be the place for a special cookout. Officials from Wal-Mart and the Sheriff’s Department are working with Children’s Miracle Network for the annual Community Cookout to benefit terribly ill children. The cookout is open to anyone and all proceeds will go to your local Shands Hospital. Wal-Mart Human Resources Manager Brenda Madrigal says she got heavily involved in this because it’s something that really hits home for her. Items on the menu include pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs, all being cooked by Sheriff Noel Stephen. The Community Cookout will begin at 11am and continue until 2pm.

It looks like the plans and contractor are in place for the repairs to Bridge #910045 on NE 304th Street to begin. At their meeting yesterday, Okeechobee County Commissioners heard from County Engineer John Howle regarding the previous concerns about the repair plans, that being crews working under power lines while they drive sheet piles of steel on both sides of the bridge to put in the flowable fill that will go under the bridge to stabilize it and the gas line in that area near the box culvert near the repair site. Howle says he has been in contact with utility companies there and those concerns have been alleviated, specifically with regard to the power lines. Howle says the county has tapped Ft. Pierce-based Johnson Davis to do the work, which will cost just over $943 thousand dollars. The work on the bridge, heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma last fall, should begin in November.

Update-304th Street Bridge Repair 1

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It will be an Olympic-type of day in Fort Pierce beginning today. Officials from the Treasure Coast Sports Commission will be hosting the Combat Challenge Course for firefighters and other first responders. Events include climbing five stories, dragging a 175 pound dummy and dragging a heavy hose, all while wearing full gear. Director of Business Development Ryan Strickland says first responders from counties including Okeechobee, Martin and Palm Beach will be participating and he says there are competitors from outside the state that will be participating. Check-in will begin at three o’clock today at the Manatee Observation Center, opening ceremonies begin at five o’clock and then the events begin. There will be competition involving kids too. Events will continue through tomorrow night.

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Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local woman in county jail on a host of very serious charges following a traffic incident late last week. Deputies say 60 year old Loretta Joy Marr was driving a Ford truck and rear ended another vehicle at a traffic light on Highway 441 near Winn-Dixie Supermarket because the other vehicle didn’t move right away when the light turned green. Both vehicles pulled into the Winn-Dixie parking lot where Marr repeatedly smashed into the same vehicle which had two adults and three young children as passengers. Marr fled the scene and she was found later at a home on the 25 hundred block of SE 27th Street. Deputies say Marr had been drinking alcohol at the time of the incident. Marr was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, three counts of aggravated child abuse, DUI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Her bond is set at just over $170 thousand dollars.

A traffic stop turned into a drug arrest for an Okeechobee man Wednesday night. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Lincoln Mercury sedan, driven by 27 year old Justin Lee Suarez, on NW 18th Street a little after 9:30 for not having headlights on. Deputies say Suarez stopped at a residence and was walking toward it when deputies told him to stop. As deputies asked Suarez for his license and registration, he was shaking uncontrollably looking for it in his glove compartment, causing deputies to search Suarez’s vehicle. A K-9 search turned up nearly twenty pounds of methamphetamine in a cigarette pack. Suarez was arrested and charged with possession and trafficking methamphetamine. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at $100 thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County Emergency crews and sheriff’s deputies had their hands full with a mess on Highway 710 Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called to the five thousand block of 710 just before 2:30 and found a fifty to sixty yard area of spilled manure about twenty feet wide and six inches thick in the road that reportedly fell out of the back of a dump truck when the truck’s tailgate accidentally opened. Officials say vehicles were slipping and sliding on the road as they went through the large pile of spilled manure but no accidents were reported and no injuries. Crews needed about two and a half hours to clean up the spilled manure while deputies were safely diverting traffic away from the cleanup.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Michael Paul Valdes of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from Palm Beach County for violating probation on past burglary charges. He’s being held without bond.

53 year old Anthony Curtis Williams of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Putnam County for violating probation on past charges of drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

31 year old Kevin Owen Daughtrey of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on an expired license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a three hundred dollar bond.

21 year old Carlos Rojas of Okeechobee was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor when he was caught smoking marijuana with a sixteen year old boy. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.