News Cast for May 6th:

Officials from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department are looking for a sex offender who has not registered with the county authorities. Sheriff’s officials say 45 year old Ernie Paul Higginbotham has an active warrant against him for failing to register as a sex offender and his last known address was somewhere in the Okeechobee County area. If you have any information at all on Higginbotham’s whereabouts, please contact the sheriff’s department or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800 273-8477 (1-800 273-TIPS) if you’d like to remain anonymous.

Okeechobee County Commissioners will be joined by commissioners from four other counties tomorrow evening to discuss matters of mutual interest, specifically Lake Okeechobee, in a special meeting. The meeting will be held at the Okeechobee High School Lecture Hall on the 28 hundred block of Highway 441 North beginning at six o’clock. Commissioners from Hendry, Palm Beach, Martin and Glades Counties will be attending. The meeting is open to the public.

A Sebring based company that refills and refurbishes propane tanks was the scene of a major disaster this past Monday that left one man injured and scores of destruction. Twenty pound propane tanks at the Kosan Crisplant building on Twitty Road near Highway 27 began exploding sometime after 2:30 causing parts of the tanks to be propelled into the air and destroy several homes in the area. Highlands County Public Safety Officer Mark Bashoor says it started with one tank exploding and that explosion led to many other tanks exploding and the resulting fire destroyed the company’s building and 17 homes nearby. Residents within a mile radius of the scene were evacuated and could not return until eight o’clock the next night. Bashoor says as bad as it was, it could’ve been worse had the company’s fifty thousand pound tank exploded. The one person injured was identified as 43 year old Wayne McCall of Sebring, an employee of Kosan Crisplant, who is recovering from his injuries at a local hospital. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation, but Bashoor says it’s likely not foul play. Fire and emergency crews were on scene for 28 hours.

Okeechobee County fire and emergency crews lent their support to Indian River County emergency crews Friday morning after they received reports of a vehicle accident and subsequent vehicle fire. Okeechobee County fire and emergency personnel were dispatched to the area of the #179 mile marker on the Florida Turnpike a little before 11:30 for a vehicle accident and arrived to find the vehicle was fully on fire. Crews needed about a half hour to get the fire extinguished while using about 750 gallons of water to get it under control. The amount of damage done to the vehicle as a result of the fire is not yet known. No reports of any injuries at this time. It remains under investigation.

A little later in the day, Okeechobee County firefighters were needed for a different emergency. Crews were called to the six hundred block of NE 14th Avenue a little before 12:15 for a downed power line. Firefighters arrived and established a safe area for citizens while waiting for Florida Power and Light (FPL) crews to arrive and repair the downed power line. No one was hurt and no damages reported.

On the arrest report:

42 year old Paula Rene Spigelmoyer of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court during her hearing on past drug possession charges. She’s being held without bond.

30 year old Cory B. Pethybridge of Okeechobee was arrested for trafficking stolen property, giving false information to a pawnbroker, battery on a person over 65 years old, possession of a controlled substance and criminal mischief. He’s being held without bond.

43 year old Casey Hayes Williams Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. His bond has not been set.