News Cast for January 8th:

The city of Okeechobee began its first full week of the new year with the 2019 Investiture Ceremony in City Hall yesterday. Newly re-elected councilmember Mayor Dowling Watford were sworn in to their posts by the Honorable Judge William Hendry. Watford is beginning his 37th year on the city council and he says this ceremony never gets old for him. Watford says one issue that he would like to discuss in this new year is continuing “home rule” in Okeechobee. Also re-elected to her post is Lane Gamiotea, who is beginning her fifth term as the city clerk. Gamiotea served the city as its deputy city clerk for fourteen years before being elected to city clerk. All told, she has served the city and the council for nearly thirty years. Gamiotea says being sworn in by Judge Hendry, a legendary figure in Okeechobee, is a pleasure and it’s indescribable. Fresh into her new term as City Clerk, Gamiotea would like to be able to put all the city records online for the public to access at some point in the near future. Other city officials recognized were John Cook, who is beginning his 30th year as city attorney and India Riedel, beginning her 14th year as the city finance director.

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Investiture Ceremony 2

Newly elected city councilmembers Bob Jarriel and Bobby Keefe were sworn in to their posts by the Honorable Judge William Hendry. Keefe, who will be the youngest member of the city council when they reconvene next week for their first meeting of the new year, says he is very excited and ready to get started but he was also cautioned to “take it slow”. The 75 year old Jarriel, the other newcomer to the city council, says he is very happy to be sworn in to the council by the legendary Judge Hendry and he believes the city council will work together well. As a councilmember, Jarriel says he’d like to see the city “dressed up some” . Other city officials recognized were John Cook, who is beginning his 30th year as city attorney and India Riedel, beginning her 14th year as the city finance director and Marcos Montes De Oca beginning his fourth year as city administrator.

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Investiture Ceremony 4

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for an Okeechobee man Friday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Volkswagen four door passenger car, driven by 18 year old Daniel Morgan Phillips, on the 36 hundred block of Highway 441 a little after 2:30 for not stopping at a stop sign. As deputies were speaking with Phillips and asking for his driver’s license, they noticed Phillips was not making eye contact and there was a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the car. A K-9 unit was brought in to search the car and the search revealed multiple bags of edible marijuana gummy bears in the passenger floorboard and a Ziploc bag with over 250 grams of marijuana in it. Further searches turned up a digital scale, a marijuana grinder and cigars commonly used for smoking the drug. Phillips was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into county jail and is being held on a seven thousand dollar bond.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a brush fire to contend with Saturday afternoon. Crews were called to the 21 thousand block of NW 270th Street a little after four o’clock and found a three acre sized brush fire that was burning heavy ground fuels including roots, fine deadwood and dead leaves. Firefighters got the fire controlled in about twenty minutes while using about four hundred gallons of water. No one was hurt and no damages. Forest Service crews assisted Okeechobee County firefighters in fighting the blaze. It’s under investigation.

A Labelle boy is dead after a vehicle accident Sunday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 48 year old Jaime Deras Oliveros of Labelle was driving a dump truck east on Evans Road near Fussell Grade Road in Hendry County just after four o’clock and a 12 year old Labelle boy was riding a kneeboard in the westbound lane of Evans Road. The boy crossed into the eastbound lane, right into the path of Oliveros’ dump truck and Oliveros couldn’t avoid the boy in time as his truck collided with him. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene. Oliveros, whose truck ended up in a ditch as a result of the accident, was not injured. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

21 year old Ozmani Robles of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating a protective order specifying no contact between Robles and his father. He’s being held without bond.

34 year old Dustin Lee Werk of Okeechobee was arrested on warrants from Martin County for dealing in stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. His bond is set at nine thousand dollars.

39 year old Joel Christopher Nettle of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop and petit theft. His bond has not been set.

25 year old Ronda Cae Cline of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. She was released after posting bond.

43 year old Henry Albert Chouinard the Third of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and being a habitual offender of it. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

36 year old Jackie Eugene Graziano of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

43 year old Nicole Estelle Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. She was released after posting bond.

28 year old Jesus Ismael Hunt of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license and being a habitual offender of it. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.