News Cast for April 16th:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers meet tonight and they will proclaim this month as Guardian Ad Litem Month and Water Conservation Month and they will also discuss preparation of a city strategic plan and mission statement. The meeting will be held in City Hall beginning at six o’clock.

Sticking with the city council for a moment, thanks to councilmembers at their last meeting, Okeechobee will be getting a new Christmas tree. Okeechobee City Public Works Director David Allen says the city’s present tree is old and wearing out, prone to breaking down, is not as durable and a change was in order. The new tree will be more durable and it will have LED lights on it, which means it will not use as much power. Allen says the tree will come from a company called Temple Display Limited, based in Illinois, a company that Okeechobee has worked with in the past. While the new Christmas tree will not be needed for a while, Allen says they will order it now due to the sale Temple Display is having on new city Christmas trees. The new tree will cost the city just over $85 hundred dollars.

Allen-New Christmas Tree 1

Allen-New Christmas Tree 2

A North Port couple is dead after a vehicle accident in Okeechobee County Saturday afternoon. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 43 year old Christopher Biedenkapp and his wife, 41 year old Belinda Biedenkapp were riding a Honda motorcycle west on Route 70 on the inside lane just east of SE 18th Terrace a little after one o’clock when for unknown reasons, Mr. Biedenkapp lost control of the bike. This caused him to go off the road onto the grassy median and then across the eastbound lanes of Route 70, causing both Christopher and Belinda Biedenkapp to be ejected from the bike as it overturned. They were taken to Raulerson Hospital for treatment but were later pronounced dead by medics. The accident forced FHP to close the road and redirect traffic elsewhere while the cleanup was going on. FHP is investigating.

A very special group of people were honored and appreciated by the Okeechobee County Commissioners recently for their work in fund raising for veterans in the county. At their last meeting, the commissioners presented a certificate of appreciation to members of the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) for their efforts in helping all veterans less fortunate. The KOA is an RV resort for ages 55 and older and they hold fund raisers for these veterans. Sarah Carter of the Okeechobee County Veterans’ Services says she couldn’t be prouder for this appreciation of these veterans even if the veterans themselves are rather modest about it. The KOA, which has been in existence for five years, raised ten thousand dollars in funds this year for the benefit of local veterans. Some of them who appeared at the commissioners’ meeting include Gil Solley, Larry Sanders, Jim Espinosa, Roger Havens, Michael Beauregard, John Grant and Tim Fritchen.

Carter-KOA Wounded Veterans

A report of a camper fire got the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Sunday afternoon. Crews were called to the 150 block of NW 36th Street a little after 4:30 and arrived to find a 26 foot camper trailer about fifty percent covered in flames and another camper exposed on the south side. Crews got the fire controlled in about ten minutes while using about five hundred gallons of water. No one was hurt. Investigators say they were told by the owner of the camper that he emptied an ash tray into a garbage can inside the camper and as he went out to work on his truck, he heard a loud pop and noticed the camper on fire. The camper itself was a total loss and the owner lost some personal items including five hundred dollars in cash. Total damage is estimated at about $75 hundred dollars in property and contents. It remains under investigation.

Okeechobee County firefighters also had a grass fire to contend with early Friday morning. Crews were called to a home on the 34 hundred block of SE 6th Terrace a little after 12:30 and found the fire behind the house. Investigators say the homeowner was burning some garbage and it got out of control, burning about a tenth of an acre of grass but it was moving fast by the time firefighters arrived. They got the blaze controlled in about ten minutes with no one getting hurt and no structure damages.

On the arrest report:

28 year old Hilliard John Gopher of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of fleeing and eluding law officers. He’s being held without bond.

54 year old Michelle Lynn Holguin of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and subsequent field sobriety test. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

37 year old Janet Nichole Raynor was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession charges. She’s being held without bond.

32 year old Techalin Joseph of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest while deputies were answering a burglary call. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

29 year old Mario Guerrero Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug charges. He’s being held without bond.

18 year old James Bossard of Okeechobee was arrested by a school resource officer for marijuana possession at Okeechobee High School after a teacher believed he was under the influence of the drug and a subsequent search of his pockets by a K-9 unit. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

19 year old Andrew Nathaniel Perez of Okeechobee was arrested by a school resource officer for possession of marijuana resin at Okeechobee Achievement Academy after the school dean found a vape pen with a substance later identified as liquid marijuana. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

24 year old Beckie Ann Dailey of Port St. Lucie was arrested for violating probation on past charges of grand theft auto. She’s being held without bond.

24 year old Taron Eric Rolle of Bartow was arrested for petit theft and criminal mischief. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.