News Cast for November 5th:

Get ready Okeechobee County because we are on the eve of Election Day, 2018. Several local offices will be up for grabs as incumbents Gary Ritter and Mayor Dowling Watford and newcomers Bob Jarriel and Bobby Keefe will by vying for three of the city council seats and attorneys Bill Wallace and Deborah Hooker will be going after the Okeechobee County Court Judge seat which will be vacated by the soon to be retiring Justice Jerald Bryant. State offices up for grabs include District 55 State Representative, where Cary Pigman and Audrey Asciutto will be vying for that; State Senator for District 28 between Ben Albritton and Catherine Price and Judge for the 19th Circuit Court Group 19 is between Nirlaine Smartt and Bob Meadows. Also on the ballot will be several state constitutional amendments including voter control of gambling and offshore oil and gas drilling.


Bill Saum, a longtime detective with the Okeechobee City Police Department is set to retire in just over a year and a half and he spoke with the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee this past Thursday. Saum says what he’ll remember most about his over thirty years in the police department is the people he got to know and work with and how much they mean to him. Saum was first hired on to the City Street Department in 1981 doing various jobs before moving onto dispatch then becoming a police officer in the late 1980’s before becoming a detective in 1998.

Saum Retirement 1

Saum Retirement 2

On Wednesday, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department will be holding a special memorial ceremony for one of their own officers who was killed in the line of duty last spring. 40 year old Sheriff’s Deputy William Gentry was shot and killed while answering a call regarding a pet shooting on May 6th. Gentry died the following day. Spokesperson Scott Dressel, who got to know Gentry when he joined the force, remembers him as very professional and proficient at his job, but he had a lighter side to him as well. The ceremony for Gentry will be held in front of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office beginning at 10am. It will be streamed live on Facebook. Gentry’s killer, 69 year old Joseph Edward Ables of Lake Placid, remains in county jail awaiting trial.

Dressel-Gentry Memorial 1

Dressel-Gentry Memorial 2

An Okeechobee man, already facing multiple charges of petit theft at Wal-Mart on Parrott Avenue last month, is in more trouble for coincidentally the same thing and at the same store. Police arrested 39 year old Damon Lee Cook Wednesday morning just after eleven o’clock after he stole several hundred dollars’ worth of items from Wal-Mart including stereo speakers in late September and trying to pawn them at 1st Choice Jewelry and Pawn and at Capital Pawn in Okeechobee on the same day. Video from the closed-circuit television cameras in the store identified Cook on Wednesday. Cook was arrested and charged with petit theft and providing false ownership to a pawnbroker. He had been charged with stealing and trying to pawn nearly two thousand dollars in stolen items from Wal-Mart and he’s been arrested twice before for petit theft and was trespassed from Wal-Mart in West Palm Beach. His bond is set at $20 thousand dollars.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man and woman in county jail for drug possession following an incident Thursday morning. Just after eleven o’clock, Sheriff’s deputies on patrol near the Taylor Creek Bridge on the three thousand block of SE Highway 441 came across a black Volkswagen parked on the road and 47 year old Shannon Mahoney Jenkins sitting in the passenger seat leaning forward. Jenkins began frantically moving items around in the car as deputies approached her. The driver of the car, 41 year old Philip Ray Greenwell, was fishing nearby and he was searched by deputies as was the car. A search of Greenwell turned up two Clonazepam tablets while a search of the car turned up marijuana, methamphetamine and Oxycodone and Acetaminophen and Hydrocodone tablets under Jenkins’ seat. Jenkins and Greenwell were arrested and charged with possession of controlled substances while Jenkins was also charged with methamphetamine and marijuana possession.  Jenkins’ bond is set at $16 thousand five hundred dollars and Greenwell’s is set at ten thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

43 year old Chad Edward O’Connor of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license and having knowledge of it after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

28 year old Hillard John Gopher of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers. He’s being held without bond.

34 year old Thomas Allan Malone of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license of which he’s a habitual offender. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

22 year old Amber Lee Howard of Indiantown was arrested for violating probation for past charges of interfering with custody of a child. She’s being held without bond.