News Cast for March 5th:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers meet tonight and they will look to approve a proclamation for this month to be “Red Cross Month,” and they will also discuss the disposing of obsolete and surplus equipment that’s no longer needed by the city. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in City Hall.

The Okeechobee County School Board will also meet tonight and they will recognize students who were on the high school boys’ basketball team and they will also recognize Okeechobee STAR sponsors. The meeting will be held in the school board office beginning at six o’clock.

Speaking of the city council, it looks more and more like the responsibility of code enforcement for the city of Okeechobee will change hands. At the last city council meeting on February 19th, the first reading of an ordinance that would transfer code enforcement responsibility from the fire department to the police department was conducted and approved. There was no public comment on it, which means there will be a second reading of the ordinance. Police Chief Bob Peterson says the police department is better equipped to handle this responsibility because it’s a lot like police work; specifically as it pertains to following up on a code enforcement case. Peterson says under statute, sworn law officers can act as code enforcement officers. The second and final reading of the ordinance will be done tonight at the city council meeting. If it’s approved, the police would officially assume code enforcement responsibility.

A fire to an abandoned home got the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Saturday afternoon. Crews were called to the 66 hundred block of NW 30th Street just after two o’clock and found a single story home fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. Investigators say the home was recently abandoned but there was still electricity powering the home. Florida Power and Light (FPL) crews were notified and they arrived at the same time as firefighters and secured power to the home. Crews got the blaze controlled in about ten minutes while using about 95 hundred gallons of water to put it out. No one was hurt. Investigators say the property owners told them the home was condemned but they didn’t know that it was still being powered by FPL. The home was completely destroyed to the tune of about $55 hundred dollars in property and contents. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Officials from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) say there will be two prescribed burns in the NW area of Lake Okeechobee this morning. The first burn will be located between the Pearce Canal and Indian Prairie Canal and an estimated five thousand to eight thousand acres of dead brush and vegetation will be burned. The second burn will be located in the Twin Palms/Dyess Ditch area and about 850 acres of dead fuels will be burned. Water Management District spokesperson Randy Smith says these burns are done to benefit the lake’s ecology by clearing off the vegetation that blocks sunlight from reaching the water; thus improving the fish and wildlife habitat. Smith says weather permitting, the burn will happen but with rain in today’s weather forecast, it may have to be postponed, but not for long. The burn is expected to begin at ten o’clock this morning. It will be conducted by the Water Management District, Fish and Wildlife and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

A domestic incident led to the arrest of an Okeechobee man Sunday evening. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 12 thousand block of SE Highway 441 a little after 7:45 and were told by a witness that 48 year old Jeffrey Lynn Griffin Senior reportedly punched his son following a verbal altercation. Deputies say Griffin’s son was talking to a girl when his dad came over and pushed him then punched him in the face. This led Griffin’s son to put his dad in a headlock and he later grabbed a knife and threatened to kill him before deputies arrived. Griffin’s son’s lip was swollen and somewhat discolored and he was treated for his injuries. Griffin Senior meanwhile was arrested and charged with domestic battery and booked into county jail. His bond has not been set.

A Moore Haven woman is dead after a vehicle accident last Wednesday night. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 33 year old Christina Dempsey was driving a Ford F-250 pickup truck west near the eight thousand block of Route 78 in Glades County a little after 8:15 when for unknown reasons, she veered across to the eastbound lanes, went off the road, overcorrected back to the road and crossed over the lanes again before driving into a ditch, causing the truck to overturn. Dempsey got out of her truck and walked onto the road where she was then hit by an oncoming Dodge Ram pickup truck, killing her instantly. The driver of the Dodge pickup was not injured. FHP is investigating the accident.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Jennifer Leigh Jackson of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for dealing in stolen property. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

20 year old William Rodolfo Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and driving with a suspended license after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

36 year old Angela Lynn Widows of Okeechobee was arrested for obstructing deputies while they were investigating a report of a fight. She was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

24 year old Lucero Sanchez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

51 year old Alonza Robert Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

64 year old James Joe Long of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

46 year old Eligio Alfredo Moreno Cardona of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

24 year old Rasheika Minonodo of Okeechobee was arrested by police for shoplifting at Wal-Mart. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.