News Cast for November 7th:

Election Day 2018 is now history and with it, there are some new faces that will be occupying certain offices in Okeechobee. However, one face will remain on the city council and that will be Mayor Dowling Watford. Watford, who has served on the city council for 36 years, was the top vote getter, garnering just over 27 percent of the vote. Watford says he is “honored and humbled” to be re-elected and the biggest challenge going forward will be the relative inexperience on the council, with Bobby Keefe and Bob Jarriel both getting elected to the council last night and the work that lays ahead. Jarriel, who used a grassroots campaign strategy of knocking on doors and standing on street corners, to get elected, says he is very happy he was elected but he also echoes Watford’s words regarding inexperience on the council and he paid respect to Councilman Gary Ritter. The other new face on the council, Bobby Keefe says he is “humbled and ecstatic” to be elected to the council and he says his leadership abilities, honed over time in the US Marine Corps, will serve him well on the council.

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In the other Okeechobee race, attorney Bill Wallace defeated attorney and magistrate Deborah Hooker to win the Okeechobee County Court Judge seat. Wallace will succeed the retiring Judge Jerald Bryant next January. Other regional races saw incumbent Cary Pigman defeat Audrey Asciutto for the District 55 State Representative post, Ben Albritton defeat Catherine Price for State Senate District 26 and Bob Meadows defeat Nirlaine Smartt for the 19th Circuit Court Judge seat.

Today, 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 10 am. It will be streamed live on Facebook. Meanwhile Gentry’s killer, 69 year old Joseph Edward Ables of Lake Placid, remains in county jail awaiting trial.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a lawnmower fire to contend with early Sunday morning. Crews were called to a home on the three thousand block of SE 26th Street just after 6:30 and found two lawnmowers inside a canopy, with one of the mowers completely covered in flames. A sheriff’s deputy was on scene and advised firefighters of the situation as they were on route to the fire. Crews got the fire extinguished in about twenty minutes with no one getting hurt. The fire completely destroyed the lawnmower to the tune of five hundred dollars and part of the canopy sustained about two hundred dollars in damages. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in custody on a host of charges after an incident last Wednesday night. Deputies responded to the two thousand block of SE Highway 441 the morning after the incident after the girlfriend of 33 year old Enevin Edward Lutjen reported that he yelled and dragged her to the floor when she wouldn’t have sex with him. Deputies say Lutjen also grabbed her throat and threw her into a tub after walking away for a moment. Deputies arrested Lutjen and placed handcuffs on him and placed him into their squad car where he was yelling obscenities and banging his head on the window. Deputies were then forced to use pepper spray on him. Lutjen was charged with domestic battery, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. His bond has not been set.

On the arrest report:

38 year old Leamsi Leon Alvarado of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for marijuana possession after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

33 year old Margarito Casas of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his estranged wife following a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.