News Cast for October 9th:

The second political forum in Okeechobee County took place last night at the Osceola Middle School gymnasium and the race between William Wallace and Deborah Hooker for Okeechobee County Court Judge took on a rather contentious tone which got the crowd excited. Hooker has accused Wallace of obtaining and using a memo in his campaign that contained misinformation and falsehoods regarding Hooker’s decision to resign as a magistrate in 2011. Hooker said the reason for her departure was for a serious family emergency and the memo, written by a court administrator, which contained the falsehoods, misinformation and omissions, was withdrawn by a chief justice and Hooker was vindicated. Hooker says it’s disappointing that the political process has made its way into Okeechobee and she’s sad that her opponent has used this “whisper campaign” to undermine her reputation.

Forum 1 – Deborah Hooker

Meanwhile, Wallace says he’s disappointed that he’s been accused of these tactics and he says it’s “clearly not the case.” Wallace continued by saying that he’ll focus on his experience in all sorts of courtrooms, his ethics and his ability to show he’s the better candidate to win this seat.

Forum 2 – Bill Wallace

The four candidates for Okeechobee City Council spoke to the crowd of residents and code enforcement and economic development were the primary issues discussed. First time candidate and retired business owner Bob Jarriel says while the city badly needs economic development, the city is not fully prepared for it right now because of what he says is the lack of housing in the community.

Forum 3 – Bob Jarriel

Another first time candidate, Robert Keefe, a lifelong Okeechobee resident and former US Marine, says economic development is also badly needed because without growth, you get stagnant and die. But besides economic growth, Keefe says if he’s elected he’d like to see an influx of support on quality of life in Okeechobee, specifically in the area of parks and recreation.

Forum 3 Bobby Keefe

Meanwhile, candidates who are currently serving on the council, incumbent Mayor Dowling Watford were asked about their greatest accomplishments and Watford says it shouldn’t be about individual achievements; it’s a team effort. The other incumbent, Councilmember Gary Ritter was not available for comment.

Forum 5 – Dowling Watford

Other candidates who spoke at the forum last night include Robert Keefe, Bob Jarriel, Mayor Dowling Watford and City Councilmember Gary Ritter, all running for Okeechobee City Council; Nirlaine Smartt who is running for Circuit Court Judge of the 19th Judicial Court; Cary Pigman and Audrey Asciutto for FL State Representative of District 55 and Ben Albritton for District 26 FL State Senator. Also, Martin County Clerk of the Circuit Court Carolyn Timmann, spoke on the twelve amendments that will be up for vote on the ballot November 6th.

Florida Highway Patrol officers are investigating a vehicle accident that killed an Okeechobee man Sunday night. FHP officers say 62 year old Howard Francis Cohen was walking east on the north shoulder of Highway 441 a little before 7:30 and was attempting to cross the road to enter a residential area when he walked right into the path of an oncoming Lincoln Continental sedan, driven by 56 year old Alonzo Desmond Aiken and struck Cohen while he was in the eastbound travel lane. Cohen was pronounced dead at the scene. Aiken, also of Okeechobee, and his passenger, a three year old girl, were not injured.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a vehicle fire to contend with Friday afternoon. Crews were called to the thirty-one hundred block of Highway 441 South just after 3:15 and found a four door passenger car that was almost completely covered in flames. Crews got the fire controlled in about forty minutes, while using about five hundred gallons of water and with no one getting hurt. Investigators say the driver of the car heard a loud, continuous noise coming from the transmission area and as the engine failed, that’s when the smoke and fire appeared. The fire destroyed nearly seventy-five percent of the vehicle and its contents to the tune of nearly three thousand dollars. The incident is still under investigation.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a host of charges following a traffic stop early Saturday morning. Deputies stopped a Chevy Tahoe, driven by 34 year old Thomas Allan Malone, on the one thousand block of Highway 441 North just before 6:30 for reckless driving. Dispatch revealed that Malone was driving without a valid license after multiple suspensions and a warrant from St. Lucie County for driving without a license. A search of the vehicle turned up a small black bag with methamphetamine, a glass pipe and a digital scale in it. Malone was arrested and charged with driving without a license and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $91 thousand dollars.

For the first time since early last month, the Okeechobee County School Board will meet tonight. Board members will be voting on the policy regarding administering medical marijuana to students who require it and they will also hear from principals of county schools regarding school improvement plans. The meeting begins at six o’clock in the school board office.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Richarda Morris of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from Hillsborough County for violating probation. She’s being held without bond.

59 year old David Larue Drawdy of Okeechobee was arrested for battery during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

28 year old Melissa Ann Carter of Okeechobee was arrested for battery during a domestic dispute with her mother. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

32 year old Jason S. Dillon of Okeechobee was arrested for threatening or intimidating a woman. His bond is set at $515 thousand dollars.

59 year old Gail Comtois of Okeechobee was arrested for battery during a domestic dispute with her brother. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

28 year old Brittany Lynn Cady of Okeechobee was arrested for battery after a domestic dispute with her mother. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

31 year old Joe Anthony Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on past charges of driving without a valid license. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old Jessica Mae Eaton of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a warrant for drug possession. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

27 year old Harold Suarez Colon of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession charges. He was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.