News Cast for April 12th:

Last night was a special night for the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department as they welcomed some new members into their department, or family, as they put it. These new “family members” do not wear uniforms or carry badges but they will be carrying guns and are employees of county schools, in other words, they are Guardians. Administrators, counselors and other school officials have been trained in skills such as basic firearms, active shooter training and defensive tactics, all to help prevent the kind of tragedy that befell Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last year. One of the new Guardians, whose name or job title cannot be revealed to protect his and his family’s privacy, says the training he received from the program was “wonderful” and he wanted to be a Guardian because he wanted to protect not just his co-workers but students too and it’s very personal to him. Sgt. Michael Hazellief of the Sheriff’s Department was one of the trainers and he spoke on how proud he is of these Guardians and what they’ve accomplished says a lot about their character (Guardian Graduates 2). The Guardian Program training began in January and finished this week. Other instructors include Sgt. Matt Hurst, Detective Jose Garduno, Cpl. Ryan Lowe and Detective Heath Hughes.

The contract between Okeechobee County and Bass Pro will be extended a bit longer. At their meeting yesterday, county commissioners decided to extend the contract with Big Cedar, LLC, a division of Bass Pro, with the county for another year so the appropriate permits, research and infrastructure with the DEP and US Army Corps of Engineers can be done before they can begin construction on building a Bass Pro shop near Lake Okeechobee. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says the concerns are the lake levels; if the US Army Corps of Engineers and/or the South Florida Water Management Board drop the lake levels to ten feet, it would make it virtually impossible for boats to launch, tourism would suffer and Bass Pro could not have their business here. If Bass Pro decides it’s not worth it to have their business here, Culpepper says there are other options; specifically making it into a park and campground. According to Culpepper, some good news is coming; members of the sixteen county coalition, counties that are close the lake, recently signed a proclamation saying they will do everything they can to prevent lake levels from dropping to ten feet.

Gilbert Chevrolet has joined forces with the national Chevrolet Youth Baseball program to provide new equipment and a thousand dollar donation to the Okeechobee High School (OHS) Baseball Team and a free instructional clinic, taught by professional players to the youth of Okeechobee and the surrounding areas. JD Mixon, Director of Operations of Gilbert Family of Companies, says this is something they’ve done for 14 years and it’s important to him and Gilbert because sports teaches teamwork and it brings something to the community that impacts kids in a positive way and supports the community. Mixon, an Okeechobee native who played baseball through high school, says seeing the kids at the instructional clinic last week was the best part of it. Gilbert will also be teaming with OHS baseball program on Saturday April 27th for a Barbecue fundraiser to be held at Gilbert Outdoors to benefit the baseball team.

A Sebring man is in critical condition following a vehicle accident early Wednesday morning in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 26 year old Earl Scriven the Second was driving a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck east on Thunderbird Road near the intersection of White Pine Drive in Sebring at around 2:30 when for unknown reasons, he drove off the road and collided with a traffic control sign and continued traveling east before colliding with a ditch. This caused the rear end of his truck to lift up and rotate and come to rest on its roof. Scriven was taken by helicopter to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. The accident temporarily closed Thunderbird Road to traffic. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

47 year old Philip Morris Herrin of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for methamphetamine possession after being searched by US Federal Marshals. He’s being held without bond.

19 year old Tyler Devon Lytle of Okeechobee was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident when he hit someone’s vehicle as he was backing up in a parking lot at Okeechobee High School. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

57 year old Ileana Ayala Napoleoni of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and battery during a domestic dispute. Her bond has not been set.

54 year old Steven Thomas Todd of Okeechobee was arrested for simple assault and battery during a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.