News Cast for May 31st:

The month of May is almost over and here in Okeechobee County, the month has been filled with proclamations approved by county commissioners, city councilmembers and the school board at their respective meetings. So what’s one more, right? At one of their meetings earlier this month, county commissioners proclaimed this month as Foster Care Awareness Month. Pat McCoy, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for Okeechobee County Schools, was on hand for the proclamation and she says feels great that commissioners are strong supporters of programs to help children in the county. McCoy, a foster mom to four kids, says there’s a shortage of foster homes and foster parents in the county and Okeechobee has the second highest rate of children going into foster homes in the four-county area. McCoy says the reason for that is quite simply, poverty. McCoy says besides the need for more foster parents and homes, the best way to fix the foster care program is not needing to have it; in other words, having better functioning families where children are never removed.

McCoy-Foster Care Awareness Month 1

McCoy-Foster Care Awareness Month 2

Okeechobee County firefighters had their hands full with grass fires yesterday morning. Crews were called to the three hundred block of NE 14th Avenue a little after 8:30 for what was originally reported as a tree fire but arrived to find a small brush fire on the west side of NE 14th Avenue. Firefighters say the blaze measured about ten by ten feet in size. Crews got the fire controlled in about five minutes while using about two hundred fifty gallons of water to get it extinguished. No one was hurt and no structures damaged. Cause is being investigated.

Nearly three hours later, Okeechobee County firefighters were alerted to another brush fire on the 16 thousand block of Highway 441 North. Crews arrived and were told by witnesses that this brush fire was caused by an earlier car fire. The owner of the car reportedly said his car made a loud noise as he was driving it, causing him to pull over and he noticed the fire underneath his car. He moved it and it ignited the brush. Crews got the blaze controlled in a few minutes with no one getting hurt and no damages.

Speaking of fires, while we’re on the brink of the start of Hurricane Season, officials from the Florida Forest Service are reminding people to burn responsibly on your property. Spokesperson Melissa Yunas says wildfire danger has been elevated as of late due to the lack of rainfall over the past week and a half. Vegetation has been drying out and wetlands have been drying out as well. Yunas says the best thing you can do is no burning at all, but if you must do any burning, keep the fires small and know the weather of the day. Yunas also recommends having a water source nearby, such as a garden hose, in case you need to put out the fire quickly. Keep burns at least 25 feet from your home and 150 feet away from an occupied building and 50 feet from public roads. Burns that get out of control requiring fire crews to put it out, will be your responsibility in terms of suppression costs.

Yunas-Burning Responsibly

On the arrest report:

34 year old Corey Lee Lankford of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for failing to appear in court and contempt of court on previous charges of battery, petit theft, methamphetamine possession and introducing contraband into a detention facility. He’s being held without bond.

37 year old Jason Michael Birchfield of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis after a traffic stop. He’s being held without bond.

54 year old Scott Denton Salmon of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft auto and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.

29 year old Rachel Marie Herndon of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cannabis and tampering with evidence after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.