News Cast for May 10th:

National Hurricane Preparedness Week continues this week and making sure your home is strengthened to withstand a hurricane is of great importance. Mitch Smeykal of the Okeechobee Emergency Management Center says your garage door is the most vulnerable part of your home and once that goes, the rest of your home will surely be next. Smeykal says to replace your garage door once every ten years or using a retro fit kit. Smeykal says while using plywood and aluminum is a good solution for boarding up your windows, poly plastic and some fabrics work just as well and they are not as difficult to put up on your windows. Remember, Hurricane season begins June 1st.

At their meeting yesterday, Okeechobee County Commissioners were visited by local realtor Nicki Solomon regarding the use of golf carts on county roads. Solomon believes people in the community should be legally permitted to drive golf carts on some county roads because for some, it’s their only means of transportation. Solomon says larger communities like Palm Beach and Broward have areas legally designated for golf cart use but not here in Okeechobee. Solomon says she hopes this discussion yesterday was a way to enlighten the board this issue. Sheriff Noel Stephen says legalizing the use of golf carts in the county is not a good idea because the motoring public mixed with these golf cart users would lead to disaster because the speeds of the motoring public is just too much. The issue will be discussed further at a future meeting.

A fire to a mobile home caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Monday evening. Crews were called to the 23 hundred block of NE 138th Street a little before 6:30 and arrived to find the fire had already been extinguished by the mobile homeowner using water from a garden hose. Firefighters on scene say there was light smoke coming from the doors and the roof and there were some hot spots to the stove. Crews used a water canon to cool the hot spots and did the same for the roof just over the stove. Investigators say the grandson of the homeowner was cooking on the stove and walked away for a minute. His grandmother then yelled there was a fire. He called 911 and grabbed the garden hose and extinguished the blaze. No one was hurt. Total damage to the mobile home is estimated at about six thousand dollars in property and contents.

Today is the last day for Highlands County area high school seniors to apply for the Deputy Gentry Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is named after the late Sheriff’s Deputy William J. Gentry Junior who was killed in the line of duty in May of last year. Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says this scholarship is a way to keep Gentry’s memory alive and it’s good that something positive can come from this tragedy. The scholarship will award a high school senior $2,247 dollars toward his or her college education. 2247 is also the badge number of the late Deputy Gentry. Dressel says the idea for the Gentry Scholarship came about a while ago. The deadline to apply for the Gentry Scholarship is today. Applications are available at Highlands County area high schools and must be returned to the School Resource Officer before the end of the day to be eligible. The winner will be announced a week from today.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers arrested a Largo man last Thursday afternoon on a host of charges in connection with the theft of an FHP patrol car in the Okeechobee County area. FHP officers say they stopped to help a pedestrian, later identified as 22 year old Shane Michael Jensen, near the Mile Marker 181 at around four o’clock for what looked like a case of bad sunburn with scratches on his body and he was not wearing shoes or a shirt. Officers gave Jensen some water as he looked dehydrated and when they asked him his name, he gave them a false one. Road Rangers arrived on scene told FHP officers that he had a similar encounter with Jensen and Jensen fled the area. Jensen then ran to the patrol car and fled the scene at a high rate of speed. After a chase into Osceola County, Jensen drove onto a grass median and stopped at a guardrail before running into the woods. He was finally apprehended and then arrested and charged with grand theft auto, fleeing and eluding law enforcement, aggravated battery and resisting arrest. His bond is set at $140 thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

24 year old Rudy Roman Chavez Ramos of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery, driving without a valid license, home invasion with a firearm and delaying the communication of law enforcement. His bond has not been set.

20 year old Kevin Lee Schick of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary of an unoccupied structure. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

35 year old Patricia Martinez of Arcadia was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, acetaminophen and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.