News Cast for April 15th:

April apparently doesn’t just mean a month for spring, it’s also a month of awards and proclamations on a nationwide scale and that includes Okeechobee County. At their meeting last week, county commissioners recognized four county employees for their longtime service to the county. One of them is Ricky Hansford, a ten year veteran of the Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue Squad. Hansford, a Palm Beach native who moved to Okeechobee in 2002 and went to high school here, says he loves every aspect of his job as a paramedic and firefighter, especially the opportunity to help and save people. Hansford says it’s great that his efforts are recognized by the county. Other county employees recognized by the commissioners were Tim Chapman, a mechanic for the county’s vehicle maintenance department for the last five years and Jeremy Morgan and Lt. Robert Walters were recognized for their work with the Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue Squad for five and ten years, respectively.

2019 Employee Service Awards 1

2019 Employee Service Awards 2

Speaking of awards, there were some given out at last week’s Okeechobee County School Board meeting as well. Several county school students received awards for their creative writing skills as part of this year’s Indian River State College (IRSC) Creative Writing Contest. The one student who made the trip to the meeting was sophomore Kasey Maguire who won the award in the sophomore division in poetry. Maguire received a certificate from Superintendent Ken Kenworthy. Maguire’s poem depicts the difficulties of life we all face at one point or another. Maguire was very honored to receive this award and gave special thanks to her teacher, James Leidy for his help and guidance. Other winners include Haley Conrad and Ethan Adamo in the sophomore class, Cheska Nagadaro, Jorge Romero and Maria Sanchez-Virto in the junior class and Kennedy Brewer and Vanessa Trejo in the senior class.

Maguire-Creative Writing Award

A structure fire early Friday morning caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters. Crews were called to the 18 thousand block of NW 176th Avenue a little before 4:30 and arrived to find a mobile home fully covered in flames. Firefighters needed about a hundred thousand gallons of water to get the fire extinguished, which they accomplished in about twenty minutes with no one getting hurt. Total damage to the mobile home is estimated at about forty thousand dollars in structure and contents. State fire marshal is investigating the incident.

An Arcadia man is in critical condition following a vehicle accident Thursday night. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 22 year old Justin Emil Mason was riding a Yamaha motorcycle north on US 41 in the middle lane north of Hancock Avenue in Charlotte County a little before nine o’clock when the driver of an oncoming Dodge Ram pickup truck was making a U-turn and Mason collided with the rear of the truck. Mason was ejected from the bike and came to rest in the northbound lane. Mason was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment. The pickup truck driver was not injured. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

47 year old Josue Gonzalez Rodriguez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for retail theft from the Circle K on Highway 98 North over a three month period. He was released after posting an eight thousand dollar bond.