News Cast for January 15th:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will meet tonight for the first time in 2019 and they will appoint a new mayor and they will also look to designate Okeechobee as a Gateway Community to the Florida Trail Association. The meeting begins at six o’clock in Okeechobee City Hall.

Okeechobee School Board members will also meet tonight for the first time this year and they will hear presentations from area school officials on improvements they intend to make and they will also consider a memorandum of understanding with county commissioners to provide internet access at the Douglas Brown Community Center. The meeting begins at six o’clock in the school board office.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers are looking for a vehicle and the driver of that vehicle responsible for the death of an Okeechobee man Sunday evening. FHP officers say 38 year old Anthony Michael Pipitone was lying on the west shoulder of Highway 441 near SE 99th Trail in Okeechobee at around 7:30 when an unknown vehicle heading south on 441 ran over Pipitone’s head and kept going. The impact killed Pipitone instantly. At this time, FHP investigators have no leads as to who the driver of the vehicle was or the make and model of that vehicle. If you have any information on this incident, please contact the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department or the Florida Highway Patrol immediately.

Okeechobee County School Board members held a workshop last night to discuss the start times of county schools and the possibility of altering them, specifically at the freshman campus and high school, where they begin well before 7:30 each day. Changing these start times will affect start times of other schools and busing schedules. Dr. Serena Vindange, a pediatrician at Fred Brown Children’s Health Center, spoke on melatonin and how the secretion of it in adolescents causes them to go to bed later and have trouble getting up to go to school at such an early time, causing them to not get enough sleep. Dr. Vindange says this leads to poor performance in school and affects mental health and what‘s known as the “executive function” of an adolescent’s mind. Meanwhile, Dr. Joseph Stanley, Principal of Central Elementary says the school start times should remain the way they are because of day care and the reading schedules of students at that level. Melinda Gray, a science teacher at the high school, agrees that the school start times should remain as they are and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions regarding the melatonin study. Surprisingly, nearly half of high school students would prefer the start times remain the same and the other half wants a change. The issue will be discussed again at next month’s school board meeting.

School Start Times Workshop 1

School Start Times Workshop 2

School Start Times Workshop 3

School Start Times Workshop 4

School Start Times Workshop 5

School Start Times Workshop 6

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in county jail at this time on charges of aggravated domestic battery in connection with an incident Saturday afternoon. Deputies were called to the one hundred block of SE 16th Avenue just before 12:45 after reports of 20 year old Matthew Kevin Bass had struck his pregnant girlfriend in the face. Deputies say Bass got upset for some reason and Bass’s girlfriend went for a walk for a while to allow Bass to calm down. Bass ran up to her and began cursing at her before punching her in the face. Bass’s girlfriend had a bloody lip at the time deputies arrived. Deputies arrested and charged Bass with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

Berman Road at the entrance of Waste Management will now have deputies from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department performing traffic detail there. This is in response to the rising number of calls from residents complaining to the sheriff’s department about the huge influx of trucks entering and exiting the landfill constantly. Deputies’ traffic detail will be going on every day from six o’clock each morning until one o’clock each afternoon until further notice. Expect delays on a daily basis and choose an alternate route if possible.

On the arrest report:

31 year old Nathan Eugene Lamb of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on several counts of past grand theft and forgery charges. He’s being held without bond.

37 year old Edwin Martinez Rivera of Okeechobee was arrested for attempted sexual battery. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

50 year old Derrick James Hollis of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of driving on a suspended license, battery and trespassing and on a warrant from Jackson County for undisclosed charges. His bond is set at $18 hundred dollars.

53 year old Mitchell Francis Vitella of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

24 year old Luke Wilson Greeson of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Osceola County for drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

31 year old Adam Lee Murphy of Okeechobee was arrested for retail theft from the Dollar General Store on Highway 70 West. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

26 year old Josue Ayala of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft and contempt of court during his hearing on drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Elizabeth Shaw of Okeechobee was arrested for trafficking stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. She’s being held without bond.

55 year old Willie James Rosier of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

34 year old Shannon Michelle Toler and 26 year old Dana Lee Powers, both of Okeechobee, were arrested for contributing to the delinquency of minors. They were released after posting bonds of a thousand dollars apiece.