News Cast for September 19th:

At their meeting last night, Okeechobee City Councilmembers approved their near seven million dollar city budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year following a second straight public hearing on the issue and workshops last month. Mayor Dowling Watford says he is pleased with the budget and he gave special thanks to his staff, particularly City Finance Director India Riedel for helping put together this “bare bones” budget as Watford described it, following the September 4th meeting. For the second straight time, no one chose to voice their opinion on the budget, something that didn’t really surprise Watford. Watford says if he has any disappointments, it’s the fact the millage rate couldn’t be any lower, and prevent taxes from getting higher. The general fund stands at six million dollars.

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Just as the Okeechobee County Commissioners proclaimed it at their meeting last week, Okeechobee City Councilmembers followed suit at their meeting last night, proclaiming the month of September Suicide Awareness Month in Okeechobee. Representatives of New Horizons of the Treasure Coast were on hand to accept the proclamation. Rita Jones of New Horizons says this is the time to help those who are suicidal or thinking about suicide and to spread the word about preventing it. Jones says even with Okeechobee being a very small community, the suicide rate is surprisingly high among teenagers here. For more information about how to help someone who might have thoughts of suicide or to contact New Horizons, log on to

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Okeechobee County Commissioners last week approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement regarding animal control operations between the county and the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Noel Stephen says this agreement is a renewal of one his department has had with the county since the final days of former Sheriff Paul May’s tenure and it was done to correct the shortfalls and inadequacies the animal control department was experiencing such as complaints from residents about loose dogs, feral cats and more. Stephen says since the sheriff’s department has taken over, it’s made a world of difference. Stephen says the animal control department has also instituted a spay and neuter program and they use jail inmates and female officers to handle certain chores at the animal control department.

Stephen-Animal Control Agreement

An Okeechobee man, recently released from county jail after a domestic dispute with his wife, is back in jail after violating a pretrial condition of his release early yesterday morning. Sheriff’s deputies say 57 year old Daniel Leroy Bakke visited his wife’s home on the 29 hundred block of SE Highway 441 just after midnight and began verbally abusing her following his release from jail for domestic battery a day earlier. Sheriff’s deputies were called and they searched for Bakke after he left and he came back a second time, just before 1:30 yesterday morning. Deputies arrived and arrested Bakke, charging him with violating his pretrial condition release which forbids him to have contact with his wife. Bakke was booked into county jail and his bond has not been set.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody after a domestic dispute with his wife last Wednesday afternoon. Deputies say 34 year old Miguel Zeferino, who was drunk at the time, punched his wife and kicked her in the leg after she took the car keys and bank card from him, to prevent him from going to the store to buy more alcohol. Deputies say the following day, Zeferino’s wife, who had gone to stay with family following the last day’s incident, was slapped in the head and her hair pulled by Zeferino after she refused to come home with him. Zeferino was arrested later that day at the Bank of America on North Parrott Avenue and charged with domestic battery. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

52 year old Lesley Marguerite Callahan of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contributing to the delinquency of a child. She was released after posting bond.

18 year old Zachary Taylor De Witte of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of drug possession and interfering with the custody of a child. He was released after posting a two thousand dollar bond.

27 year old Robbie Glenn Moseley Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for providing a false name to authorities after he was arrested for an undisclosed charge. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

19 year old Travis Julian Williams the Second of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest. He’s being held without bond.