News Cast for May 24th:

With the time to discuss county budgets coming up soon, the Okeechobee County Commissioners discussed the issue of funding the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in county schools at their meeting yesterday. Sheriff Noel Stephen spoke at the meeting and he says historically there been a 50/50 split with the sheriff’s department and the school board to fund this program, which costs just over a million dollars to fund per year. Some commissioners brought up the idea that the school board should be putting up more funding for this program. Commissioners say a workshop is in order to discuss what can be done to secure more funding by the school board for the SRO program. Stephen believes this workshop will be a good idea because SRO’s are definitely needed in county schools (SRO Funding 1). Currently there’s thirteen SRO’s patrolling schools in Okeechobee County. The workshop will be done at some point in the coming weeks.

The city of Okeechobee will be getting a new emergency generator, just in time for Hurricane Season. At their meeting Tuesday night, city councilmembers approved the purchase of a new emergency backup generator for the city Fire Department and City Hall which will be needed when the city has a power outage due to a hurricane or other issue. City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca says the previous generator was damaged severely when someone crashed into it during a high speed pursuit with law enforcement last month. The new generator is worth just over $24 thousand dollars but the city’s insurance company will pick up just over $23 thousand dollars of that tab while the city’s capital fund will handle the rest. The generator will be installed by Ft. Pierce-based Newman’s Power Systems, a company that the city has worked with before on their previous generator.

Detectives from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the theft of a rather large piece of equipment. Detectives say a 2018 Orange Kubota Mini Excavator was reported stolen from the 13 hundred block of SE Highway 441, sometime between Wednesday, May 15th and Wednesday, May 22nd. This mini-excavator, which is on tracks, has three teeth on the bucket and has a value estimated at twenty thousand dollars. The serial number on it is #30483 and the model number is #KX41-3VR1. If you have any information as to where this excavator may be or who may be responsible for stealing it, please contact the Sheriff’s Department or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477 if you’d like to remain anonymous.

An unauthorized burning caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called to a home on the 31 hundred block of Highway 710 a little before two o’clock and found several burn piles. Okeechobee County firefighters were met by firefighters from the Department of Forestry (DOF) who asked that the burn piles be extinguished. Investigators say the homeowner was denied a burn permit and he was trying to break down old burn piles but they ended up igniting again. He tried to get them extinguished but he could not do it. Firefighters needed about ten minutes to put the fires out with about five hundred gallons of water. No one was hurt and no structures damaged.

A Fort Pierce man will be going to prison for a while after recently being convicted of drug and firearms possession. A US District Court judge in the southern district of Florida sentenced 33 year old Jose Antonio Morales earlier this month to seven years in prison for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a handgun. According to court records and evidence presented at his trial in February, Morales, a convicted felon, had two pounds of high grade marijuana and a loaded nine millimeter pistol in a safe in his bedroom when law officers came to execute a search warrant at his home last June. Prosecuting attorneys commended the work of officers in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department in bringing Morales to justice.

On the arrest report:

57 year old John Keith Agnew of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on out of county warrants for violating probation on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

35 year old Christopher Kyle Baker was arrested for violating probation on past burglary and grand theft charges. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

23 year old Diana Rendon of Okeechobee was arrested for resisting arrest following a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

25 year old Jesus De La Paz of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.