News Cast for April 4th:

A vehicle accident on Highway 441 North in Okeechobee County shut down traffic in both directions for most of yesterday morning. Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department say the accident happened a little after 7:30 at the 37 thousand block of 441 North, forcing traffic to be re-routed to Highway 68 East for northbound traffic and Highway 60 for southbound traffic. 441 North was re-opened to traffic a little after noon. Accident details are not yet known at this time.

An accident in Okeechobee County Tuesday afternoon not only shut down traffic flow for a while but it also unfortunately left one man dead and two Okeechobee men with serious injuries. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 56 year old Chet Buchanan of Boynton Beach was driving a Dodge 1500 pickup truck east on Route 710 near SE 58th Boulevard at about three o’clock when a GMC 3500 pickup truck, driven by 19 year old Cameron Jarrett Maynard was approaching from the opposite way. FHP officers say due to the inclement weather, Buchanan lost control of his truck, causing it to go counterclockwise and enter the westbound lane and collided with Maynard’s truck on the driver’s side. The impact sent both vehicles to the northern grassy shoulder of the road. Buchanan was pronounced dead by FHP. Maynard and his passenger, 30 year old William Diaz-Helble, were taken to Raulerson Hospital for treatment. The accident is under investigation.

The Okeechobee County Historic Courthouse will be the place to be this morning as it will be the very fitting recipient of a very important piece of American History. The Historic Courthouse will be receiving a doctor’s horse drawn buggy which was used between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Commissioners approved the purchase of this buggy during one of their meetings last month. The idea to purchase the buggy was spearheaded by Commissioner Bryant Culpepper and he pushed for it to be placed in the Historic Courthouse. Culpepper says he hopes the arrival of this buggy will stir the minds of younger people to learn more about the history of the United States. The buggy is in mint condition and it should arrive at the Historic Courthouse by ten o’clock. Once it’s in the Historic Courthouse, it will remain on display there for a year and then it will be moved to the Okeechobee Historical Society Museum as decided by commissioners at their last meeting.

Buggy Arrival 1

Buggy Arrival 2

If you weren’t able to make the Town Hall Meeting put together by the Okeechobee City Council last month, you’ll get another chance before the end of 2019. At their meeting Tuesday night, councilmembers discussed the comments made by residents at the town hall meeting on March 19th at the Freshman Campus Auditorium and agreed that because it went so well, a second town hall meeting is in order for later in the year. The motion was made by Councilmember Wes Abney and seconded by Councilmember Bobby Keefe. Keefe says more time in front of citizens and more availability in an informal setting would encourage more community support. The measure passed by a four to one vote with Mayor Dowling Watford dissenting. Watford believes one town hall meeting a year is plenty. Some suggestions made were that the second town hall meeting take place in the afternoon rather than at night for those senior citizens who cannot drive at night.

Second Town Hall Meeting 1

Second Town Hall Meeting 2

A report of a building fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters late Monday afternoon but it turned out to be significantly less. Crews were called to a home on the 43 hundred block of SE Highway 441 a little after 4:30 and arrived to find some light smoke in the house. Firefighters secured the utilities and found a broken candle with some minor damage to a lamp and cabinet that the candle was sitting on. Firefighters removed the candle and ventilated the home before leaving the scene. No one was hurt and no structure damages. Total damage to the cabinet and lamp is estimated at about fifty dollars.

An Okeechobee man is in county jail at this time on drug and weapons possession charges in connection with an incident early Tuesday morning. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home on the two hundred block of SE 66th Avenue a little before 3:30 and were told by the homeowner that 19 year old Ricky Wayne Courson reportedly stole gasoline from his family and fled the area in his girlfriend’s car. Deputies pulled over the car that Courson was driving and noticed he was wearing a law enforcement duty belt with a gun holster and found that there was a handgun in the holster. A search of the car turned up a black box in the center console with bags of methamphetamine in it and a straw commonly used to snort drugs. Courson was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and a concealed weapon. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at $65 hundred dollars.

On the arrest report:

37 year old Jason Michael Birchfield of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for trespassing on another property. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

43 year old Jason Lee Stigall Cooper of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of defrauding a vehicle rental company. He’s being held without bond.

39 year old Jose Salvador German-Amaya of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at two hundred dollars.