News Cast for January 2nd:

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) investigators have now released the name of one of the two people killed in a two vehicle accident on Christmas Day in Highlands County. FHP investigators say 46 year old Maggie Lara of Okeechobee was a passenger in a Buick Lacrosse sedan which was headed west on State Route 70 near 721, close to Seminole Brighton Reservation just before 12:30, when the driver approached a curve at the same time as an oncoming Toyota XA sedan and collided with the Toyota head on. The impact caused the Buick to overturn into a ditch and catch fire, instantly killing Lara and the driver, whose name still has not been released as of yet. The driver of the Toyota, 56 year old Judy Mounts of Port St. Lucie and her 16 year old female passenger from Ft. Myers, were also pronounced dead at the scene. The road was closed in both directions for about five hours as fire and emergency crews cleaned up the area. The accident remains under investigation.

Thanks to a recent vote by commissioners, Okeechobee County’s software program that manages and processes building permits and inspections and code enforcement issues will be getting an upgrade. At their last meeting of 2018 last month, county commissioners voted unanimously to purchase an upgrade for the TRAKiT system which has been in place in Okeechobee County since 2004. Commissioner Kelly Owens says the upgrade will allow for the software to go from an in-house type system to a web-based system that will be open and accessible to the public once it goes online. Owens says the upgrade will allow for county code issues and building permit issues to progress faster. Owens says the upgraded program, which will cost the county just over $76 thousand dollars, will be user-friendly to the community. The upgrade will be done by Superion, a software company based out of Lake Mary.

Owens-TRAKiT Upgrade 1

Owens-TRAKiT Upgrade 2

Okeechobee County Firefighters had a report of a building fire to contend with Sunday morning. Crews were called to the 26 hundred block of NE 103rd Avenue just after 11:30 and arrived to find a double wide mobile home with smoke coming from the roof and open doors. Investigators say the kitchen vent had been burnt through and melted away, indicating the fire was confined to the kitchen and in the cabinets above the stove. Crews needed to remove the cabinets and drywall to get to the fire and extinguish it. They put out the blaze in just a few minutes while using about fifty gallons of water. No one was hurt. Total damage to the mobile home is estimated at just over $12 thousand dollars in property and contents. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

53 year old Linda Marie Stokes of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of diazepam with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a place of worship. Her bond is set at $60 thousand dollars.

48 year old Stephen Troy Vandermolen of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of oxycodone with intent to sell. His bond is set at $50 thousand dollars.