News Cast for October 2nd:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers meet tonight and they will have their second and final public hearing regarding the need for a magistrate system to handle property code issues in the city, thus possibly eliminating the need for a code enforcement board. They will also be presenting Okeechobee Police Records Clerk Jeanna Kovak with a 15 year Longevity Service Award. The meeting will begin at 6pm tonight at City Hall.

Thanks to Okeechobee City Councilmembers, the city fire department has some brand new needed equipment. At their last meeting, City Councilmembers unanimously approved the purchase of some new protective gear for structure fires. Fire Captain Lalo Rodriguez says his crewmembers got two sets of bunker gear for those “hot zone” situations, two new sets of coats, pants, boots, helmets and masks. Rodriguez says one set will be the main gear while the other one will serve as a backup while the main gear is getting repaired or washed. The new gear, which cost just over $13 thousand three hundred dollars, was purchased from Pinellas Park-based Municipal Emergency Services. Rodriguez says the new gear should last about ten years.

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Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have three locals, two men and one woman, in county jail on drug possession charges following an incident Sunday night. Deputies were called to the eight hundred block of NE 31st Terrace to check out a suspicious vehicle report. Witnesses say the vehicle had been circling the neighborhood for four hours. Deputies saw one person in the back seat with a syringe in his hand. Deputies say the driver, 29 year old Courtney Ellen Rediker, had an active warrant on her for failing to appear in court for driving on a suspended license. Rediker was ordered to empty her pockets and syringes full of methamphetamine were discovered. Rediker’s front seat passenger, 35 year old Joseph Paul Shane Moore, had two bags of marijuana in his lap and the back seat passenger, 36 year old Chad Ryan McWhorter, had syringes on him that were filled with methamphetamine. All three were arrested and booked into county jail. McWhorter’s bond is set at a thousand dollars, Moore’s bond is set at six thousand dollars and Rediker is being held without bond.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a pair of armed robberies in the Avon Park area that may have been committed by the same suspect. Spokesperson Scott Dressel says the first robbery happened at the Citgo gas station on Route 27 South on May 13th of this year and the second one happened Sunday night at a Chevron Station on 27 North. Dressel says the suspect’s disguise and choice of weapon appear to be very similar based on video surveillance at both incidents. Dressel says in Sunday night’s robbery, the suspect accosted someone. Dressel says gas stations in that area are now under more intense surveillance by deputies. If you have any information on these robberies or the one responsible, please contact the Highlands County Sheriff’s office or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.

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An Okeechobee man is in county jail on battery charges following an incident Sunday night. Sheriff’s deputies say 38 year old Charmel Le Von Smith was walking down the twenty eight hundred block of NE 11th Court and accosted someone and claimed he was sleeping with his girlfriend. This prompted Smith’s girlfriend to come over and she and Smith got into an argument before Smith threw a beer at one of his girlfriend’s children and was threatening the kids with a stick. Smith punched a witness in the face and struck others with the stick he had in his hand before deputies arrived. Smith was arrested and charged with several counts of aggravated battery. His bond has not been set.

A vehicle accident this past Saturday morning could have been a complete disaster but thankfully it turned out to be considerably less than that. Okeechobee County emergency crews were called to the sixty-three hundred block of Highway 98 North just after ten o’clock for a report of a culvert that came off a truck and hit three other vehicles. Investigators say there were no injuries, damages or leakage of any flammable liquids. Crews were on scene for about ten minutes before declaring the area was clear. No traffic delays reported.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Evans Lewis Anthony of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for drunk driving after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

53 year old Debra Lee Casanova of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

52 year old Brad Guyton Mims of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of sexual misconduct. He’s being held without bond.

21 year old Clayton Barnes Arnold of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

35 year old Jose Maria Leon Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to re-deliver leased property to Rent-A-Center. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.