News Cast for February 8th:

The discussion on the aquatic plant management by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) drew a standing room only crowd last night at the Okeechobee County Civic Center. Residents from Okeechobee and other areas attended the discussion and voiced their opinions on the stoppage of spraying herbicides in bodies of water throughout the state. The spraying is meant to stop the rapid growth of harmful plant lettuce and hyacinth. The downside of the spraying is it’s harmful to the rest of the natural wildlife and plant life. Many actually thanked the FWC for stopping the spraying of the herbicides for the time being and stressed mechanical harvesting as a better way to accomplish their goal. Newton Cook, President of the United Waterfowlers of Florida, says spraying can be effective if it’s reduced in large areas and done in a more focused way. Officials from FWC will next be in Sebring on February 13th at the Agri-Civic Center for this discussion. FWC officials declined to comment for this story.

At their meeting this past Tuesday night, Okeechobee City Councilmembers voted in favor of the first reading of an ordinance that re-zones several areas of Block 156 in Okeechobee located on the two hundred block of NW Park Street, which houses several businesses, including WOKC. The area is the future site of a Wawa Gas Station and Convenience Store. The ordinance passed by a vote of four to one with Mayor Dowling Watford being the dissenting vote. Watford’s issues are not with the actual project, but of the re-zoning of the area, which he called “spot zoning”, meaning the surrounding areas are a central business district and it will create a dangerous precedent for heavier commercial activity and that would change the character of the area. Watford’s other issue is the potential for more motorists coming from the west to illegally make a U-turn at the intersection of Parrott Avenue and Highway 70 to go to Wawa. The second and final reading of this ordinance will take place at the next city council meeting on February 19th.

Two inmates at the Okeechobee County Jail are in more trouble after an altercation Wednesday evening. Sheriff’s deputies say 32 year old Jason Dillon and 18 year old Maynard Fuse, both from Okeechobee, were playing cards with two other inmates when Maynard and Dillon began throwing punches at each other for unknown reasons. Both men then grabbed each other and fell to the floor. They were separated told to go into different cells. Maynard followed Dillon into a cell and they began fighting again. Both were arrested and charged with affray-fighting in a public place and disturbing the peace. Maynard and Dillon are being held with bonds of five hundred dollars apiece.

Okeechobee County firefighters had a small fire to contend with Wednesday night which turned out to be not as serious as originally thought. Crews were called to an area on SW 87th Avenue at around 9:20 and saw the small fire contained inside a burn area. Investigators say the fire was surrounded by dirt and piled up inside the burn. Officials from the Florida Forest Service were called and a ranger was sent to keep an eye on the burn. No one was hurt and no damages reported.

A 14 year old by from Stuart is being treated for serious injuries he sustained after he was hit by a utility vehicle Wednesday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol officer say the boy was riding his bike west on the sidewalk of Salerno Road, near SE Community Drive in Martin County a little after 12:30 when the 17 year old driver of a Toyota X8 utility vehicle was going north on SE Community Drive. The driver failed to yield the right of way to the 14 year old boy, causing him to crash his bicycle on the right front side of the utility vehicle. The 14 year old boy was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach for treatment of his injuries. The 17 year old driver of the utility vehicle was not injured. FHP is investigating the accident.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Kendra La Shawn Baker of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for aggravated battery and child abuse. She was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

29 year old Patrick Michael Abel of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of grand theft auto. He’s being held without bond.

43 year old Michael Lee Graf of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Martin County for violating probation on past charges of driving without a valid license. He’s being held without bond.

59 year old Robert Lee Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for writing bad checks, driving on a revoked driver’s license after a traffic stop and violating probation. His bond is set at just over three thousand dollars.