News Cast for October 10th:

Hurricane Michael is expected to hit the Florida panhandle sometime today, possibly this morning. While Okeechobee and surrounding counties are not in danger of being hit directly from this storm, Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says Okeechobee will be impacted somewhat by this storm as we can expect two to three inches of rain and some gusty winds. Smeykal says people should make a few preparations at this time. Hurricane Michael is expected to be no less than a Category 3 storm and Governor Rick Scott has declared pre-landfall emergencies for at least 25 Florida counties in preparation for the storm, which is expected to travel east across the southeastern US after it hits the panhandle. For updated information please visit the Okeechobee Emergency Management website or Facebook page.

Smeykal-Hurricane Michael 1

Smeykal-Hurricane Michael 2

Today is October 10th and it’s a good day to wear green. Why you ask? It’s a good day to wear green because today is World Mental Health Day. People are being asked to wear green to show support for mental health as part of a local and national awareness campaign. Jane Kaufman, family coordinator for the Okeechobee Children’s Mental Health System of Care says there are three hundred million people suffering or dealing with depression and even more than that are suffering from mental illness. Kaufman says despite these statistics, mental illness is still, to this day, a taboo subject to discuss. Kaufman says you can tag a photo of you or a group wearing green on social media using #OKEESOC, #NOTALONE or #WORLDMENTALHEALTHDAY and you can share your story.

Kaufman 1

Kaufman 2

Okeechobee County Schools now have a medical marijuana policy in place. School board members approved the policy, which was introduced during their meeting last month and it was advertised for the public for the last thirty days as dictated by school board policy. Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the state legislature required school districts to develop a policy to allow for medical marijuana to be distributed for students who have a doctor’s prescription for it. Kenworthy says there was the possibility that adopting this policy would open the door for the federal government to put school funding in jeopardy because of allowing for medical marijuana to be distributed but he says he doesn’t believe that will happen. The policy for administering medical marijuana says only a licensed caregiver can administer it to a student and that caregiver must remove the marijuana from campus after administering it.

Kenworthy-Medical Marijuana Policy Passed

An Okeechobee man is in county jail at this time on several charges following an incident at Wal-Mart early Monday morning. Police responded to Wal-Mart on Parrott Avenue just before 3:30 and found a man, identified as 28 year old Jessie James Wright, was running through the store yelling at customers and knocking items off the shelves. Wright left the store and sat down on the curb of the parking lot as ordered by police and as he was being searched, he became combative, forcing officers to use a taser on him twice before he was taken into custody. He was arrested and charged with resisting arrest with violence and disorderly conduct. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

A traffic stop of a local man on a bike turned into a drug arrest and incarceration Monday night. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s narcotics officers stopped a black bicycle, ridden by 18 year old Peyton Lee Hewitt, on the six hundred block of Highway 441 North as he was traveling southbound a little after seven o’clock. Deputies say Hewitt looked very nervous as he was being asked questions and was not making eye contact. A search of Hewitt’s backpack turned up a grinder used for measuring drugs and some vials containing some marijuana. Hewitt was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

An Okeechobee man, already in trouble with the law for failing to appear in court, is in even more trouble following an incident Sunday morning. Sheriff’s deputies came to a home on the twenty-nine hundred block of NW 35th Avenue just before ten o’clock to serve an arrest warrant for 35 year old Jeremy Eugene Beecham for failing to appear in court for prior charges of resisting arrest. As deputies were taking Beecham to the patrol car, they discovered Adderall and Xanax pills in his pockets. Beecham received an added charge of possession of controlled substances. He was booked into county jail and his bond has not been set.

A Labelle man is recovering from serious injuries and is facing charges following a vehicle accident Saturday night in Hendry County. Florida Highway Patrol officers say 32 year old Ascencion Rodriguez was driving a Kia Optimus sedan north on Highway 29 when he rear-ended another vehicle in front him. The impact caused the second vehicle to drift onto the grass shoulder and hit a utility pole. Rodriguez’s car drifted into the opposite lane and hit an oncoming Ford Explorer head on. Deputies say Rodriguez had one infant passenger in the car who sustained a minor injury and an eleven month old baby who was a passenger in the second vehicle was ejected from the vehicle upon impact. That victim was taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment. A passenger in the Ford Explorer, a minor was also injured in the accident. FHP officers say Rodriguez, who was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries, was under the influence of alcohol at the time. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

51 year old Kendra Marie Cutcher of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for felony retail theft and resisting arrest with violence. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

29 year old Cody Marshall Maupin of Okeechobee was arrested on two warrants from Monroe County for domestic battery. His bond is set at $50 thousand dollars.

27 year old River Robert Maupin of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Martin County for marijuana possession. He’s being held without bond.

57 year old Michael Allen Anderson of Okeechobee was arrested by police for trespassing. His bond is set at $750 dollars.

40 year old Derrick Scott Hughes of Clewiston was arrested for violating probation on past cocaine possession charges. He’s being held without bond.