News Cast for May 8th:

Residents, County Commissioners and other elected officials from Okeechobee, Glades, Martin, Palm Beach and Hendry Counties came together at the Okeechobee High School Auditorium last night to discuss Lake Okeechobee, specifically the water levels, considering there were reports that the US Army Corps of Engineers was thinking of lowering the lake to just over ten and a half feet. Those in attendance listened to a lecture from the US Army Corps of Engineers regarding the issues surrounding the lake and reported the lake levels stand at just over eleven feet high. Okeechobee resident Brandon Tucker spoke at the meeting and he says sometimes the lake scientifically needs to be low so sunlight can get down there to help plant life sprout, but if lowering the lake is done out of politics, it would be disastrous for everyone personally and professionally, specifically if we experienced a drought. Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinley says the meeting was a step in the right direction in helping to get the issues of the lake resolved but one thing that is needed is local leaders need to stop the finger pointing. Others in attendance include Drew Bartlett, the Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). A similar meeting is expected to happen sometime over the next few months.

Lake Okeechobee Joint Meeting 1

Lake Okeechobee Joint Meeting 2

Lake Okeechobee Joint Meeting 3

Lake Okeechobee Joint Meeting 4

The official start of Hurricane Season is June 1st. However, this week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week. With that, people in Okeechobee County are being reminded about certain things they need to do to prepare for it once a hurricane comes. Mitch Smeykal of the Emergency Management Center says preparing a disaster awareness kit is key to better surviving a hurricane. The kit should include at least three days of water and food, flashlight, batteries, insurance paperwork, cellphone, battery charger for your car and some cash, among other items. Smeykal says to customize your disaster awareness kit according to your situation. Any other questions about hurricane preparedness should be directed to the Emergency Management Center.

Click here for WOKC’s Hurricane Season page for updates on how to prepare for the storm!

Smeykal-Disaster Kit 1

Smeykal-Disaster Kit 2

Some rolls of hay that caught fire also caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Sunday afternoon. Crews were called to the eleven thousand block of NW 160th Street a little after 2:30 and found approximately two hundred large rolls of hay stacked up and half of the pile was on fire. Firefighters say the burning hay was in a field behind a locked gate and they had to cut a link from the chain to gain access to the fire. Crews needed about fifteen minutes to get the fire controlled, while using about 750 gallons of water to get it extinguished. No one was hurt. Total damage is estimated at about six thousand dollars in destroyed hay. Cause of the fire is under investigation.

A Fort Pierce man is dead following a vehicle accident early Monday morning in Indian River County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 50 year old Christopher James Frey was walking southbound across the westbound lanes of State Route 60, near 102nd Avenue a little before five o’clock when he walked directly into the path of an oncoming Mercedes sedan and was hit by the car. The impact sent Frey to the other side of the lane onto the paved shoulder. The Mercedes driver, 55 year old Jodi Michelle Lloyd of Vero Beach, drove nearly four more miles to the intersection of 146th Avenue before calling 911. Frey was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. Lloyd is facing possible charges in this accident. It remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

56 year old Edward Joseph Lauth of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from Highlands County for domestic battery. His bond has not been set.

21 year old Brett McCabe Herbst of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to remain at the scene of an accident. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

45 year old Diana Cruz-Cruz Casiano of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license. Her bond is set at one thousand dollars.

20 year old Adrian Estrada Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past domestic violence charges. He’s being held without bond.