News Cast for January 16th:

The Okeechobee City Council reconvened last night for their first regular meeting of 2019 and one of their first orders of business was to appoint a new mayor and councilmembers chose to re-appoint Dowling Watford as the mayor for the second time. Watford says he’s “very honored” to be re-appointed mayor and “very humbled” to have another opportunity to serve a second term as mayor of Okeechobee. Watford says in his second term he will be better and more courteous at handling complaints from residents and he will also try to better understand the responsibilities of being the mayor. Watford’s second term as Okeechobee Mayor will last until January 5th, 2021.

Watford Re-Appointed Mayor 1

Watford Re-Appointed Mayor 2

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man in jail on some serious charges following a domestic incident Sunday afternoon. Deputies responded to the 34 hundred block of 34th Avenue just before 2:15 after getting a call from a woman who lived there that she and her boyfriend, 27 year old Terrence Simler, were involved in a physical altercation and she was eight weeks pregnant. Deputies say Simler got mad when his girlfriend’s brother called her and grabbed her and shook her. He then threw her down and she hit her head on a bed post, threatened to kill her and then hit her on the lower back several times with a cup. Deputies took Simler’s girlfriend to Raulerson Hospital for treatment and Simler was also taken there for treatment of a bruise on his head and he got verbally combative with deputies and staff there before being restrained. Simler was arrested and charged with committing aggravated battery, resisting an officer with violence as he was being arrested and battery on law enforcement. His bond has not been set.

Firefighters from the Florida Forest Service and Glades County Firefighters are currently fighting a smoldering fire on the western part of Lake Okeechobee, Curry Island at Vance Whidden County Park. Forest Service Spokesperson Melissa Yunas says the fire started this past Saturday and it began as a three hundred acre blaze but it eventually became 15 hundred acres. Yunas says fire investigators believe this fire is arson because of the remote area where the fire began. Yunas says firefighters utilized a “burn out” technique where they set fire to the dead fuels in the main fire’s path, destroying the dead fuels so when the main fire gets close, it loses its strength, making it easier for firefighters to get it controlled. If you have information on who might have started this fire, please contact the Forest Service at (863) 467-3221. It could lead to a reward. So far, no one has been hurt and no structure damages.

Yunas-Curry Island Fire 1

Yunas-Curry Island Fire 2

An Okeechobee woman is facing some serious charges in connection with an incident last Thursday. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home on the 35 hundred block of NW 18th Street for a domestic issue. Deputies arrived and found a young man with his hands bleeding and he told deputies he was run over by 25 year old Kasandra Lashawn Baker. According to witnesses, the boy was trying to get his clothes out from Baker’s truck after she dropped him off and she tried to run him over. Deputies say Baker at one point started screaming at the young man and then put the truck in reverse and tried to hit him as he was on the phone. Baker was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. She was released after posting a fifteen thousand dollar bond.

This is just a reminder that 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.

Okeechobee County firefighters had their hands full with a short circuiting transformer early Monday morning. Crews were called to the 19 thousand block of Highway 441 North a little after 3:15 and found the transformer, which was apparently sparking when they arrived and could’ve potentially caught fire. Crews remained at the location until officials from Glades Electric could arrive and fix the faulty transformer. There was no one was hurt and no damages reported.

On the arrest report:

58 year old Mark Anthony Haas of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Justin Troy Moore of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft, dealing in stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

59 year old Robert Lee Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and having knowledge of it. His bond is set at $250 dollars.

32 year old Sterle Leon McNeil Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession and driving without a license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $55 hundred dollar bond.

44 year old Jason Patrick Yerkes of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a bond of $5,750 dollars.