News Cast for May 13th:

In a few weeks from now, Hurricane Season officially begins and with last week being National Hurricane Preparedness Week, it’s time to prepare for it if you haven’t already by creating a disaster plan to better ensure you and your family’s safety once a hurricane arrives. This is especially important for the disabled. FEMA spokesperson Curtis Allen says you should approach your disaster plan for a disabled person with additional considerations by creating a support network; check with those who can assist you and those who can keep in contact with those who can contact those people for you and keep them in a container so they don’t get wet. Allen also says plan ahead for accessible transportation when needed. Allen also recommends for those with powered wheelchairs, to show people how to use them and have a backup wheelchair. If you have medical alert bracelets, please always be wearing them. Hurricane Season begins on June 1st.

At their meeting last Tuesday afternoon, the Okeechobee City Council paid special recognition to Okeechobee City Clerk Lane Gamiotea and Deputy City Clerk Bobbie Jenkins as part of Municipal Clerk’s Week last week as part of a proclamation. Gamiotea says she feels proud that the council recognizes the work she does and that a career path she chose nearly 30 years ago is worthy enough to be recognized, specifically since she says people in her profession are often the “unsung heroes” of the council. Gamiotea offered this interesting little tidbit about her job; it’s the oldest legal profession in the world. Gamiotea has been the city clerk for 15 years and before that, she was the deputy clerk for 14 years. She has served through three mayors and many councilmembers during her tenure as clerk and deputy clerk.

Okeechobee County firefighters got a report of a vehicle fire Wednesday night but it turned out to be a lot less serious. Crews were called to the five hundred block of NE 14th Avenue a little after 8:15 after receiving reports that a passenger van was on fire. Firefighters arrived and were told by sheriff’s deputies that the blaze had been extinguished already by the owner of the van. Firefighters then used water from a water canon to extinguish the smoldering engine area where the fire started. No one was hurt. Damage to the van is not known. It is under investigation.

A Stuart area medical doctor will be spending some time in prison after being convicted on 23 counts of health care fraud earlier this year. A US District judge in Fort Pierce sentenced 48 year old Sheetal Kumar M.D. to two years in prison on April 26th. According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial in February, Dr. Kumar, an obstetrician and gynecologist, owned and operated a practice called Advanced Healthcare for Women in Stuart and she treated incontinence. Between 2014 and 2017, Dr. Kumar submitted or caused the fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance companies. The claims sought money for specific health care benefits, items and services that were not provided as billed. As a result, Dr. Kumar illegally received payments of over $637 thousand dollars. After Dr. Kumar serves her prison sentence, she’ll be on supervised released for another two years.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Ryan Jeffrey Euard of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for retail theft, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and possession of the drug legend and drug paraphernalia. He was released after posting bond.

24 year old Adam Joseph Prince of Vero Beach was arrested for drunk driving, possession of marijuana and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

44 year old Jackie Leona Smith of Tampa was arrested for violating probation on past marijuana possession charges. She’s being held without bond.