News Cast for July 9th:

While there is no formal meeting scheduled tonight, the Okeechobee City Council will be gathering for a special workshop. The city council will be conducting a strategic plan workshop this afternoon to determine the vision for Okeechobee’s future. They will discuss strategic planning and city goals for the next year and goals for the next five and twenty years. The workshop will be held at City Hall beginning at 3:30 this afternoon and the public is invited to attend.

That’s not the only gathering being held today in Okeechobee; the county school board will also be holding their monthly meeting and they will recognize this year’s Sunshine State Scholar and discuss their agreement with the sheriff’s department for the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in the school board office.

Speaking of the school board, they will soon be looking for a new assistant superintendent of county schools. Renee Geeting will be retiring in September after 33 years in education, the last 15 of those years spent here in the Okeechobee County School system. Geeting has been the Okeechobee County Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the past three years and before that she served time as an assistant principal and a principal and then the Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services in the county. Geeting, who says she’ll miss the students and people she worked with over the years, says her greatest memories are setting up the curriculum for the instructional services and addressing the safety concerns for the county schools, well before the incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Prior to working in Okeechobee County, Geeting worked for 18 years in the Martin County School system as a teacher in the elementary, middle and high school levels. She intends to spend more time on her land tending to her animals and visiting with family.

Geeting Retirement 1

Geeting Retirement 2

An accident in Okeechobee County claimed the life of a Sebring man early Sunday morning. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 23 year old Joel Orozco was driving a Dodge Durango SUV north on US 441 near NE 96th Street, right behind a Ford Fusion coupe a little after 7:30. Orozco was driving too closely to the car, causing him to rear-end it. FHP investigators say the impact of the crash killed Orozco instantly. The driver of the Ford Fusion, 38 year old Tamika Tichelle O’Neil of Tallahassee, and her passenger, 66 year old Shirley Ann English of Midway, were treated at Raulerson Hospital for minor injuries. The accident shut down the road in that area for nearly six hours while emergency crews cleaned up the area. It remains under investigation.

A traffic stop led to the arrests of two Okeechobee men during the early morning hours of July 4th. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Chrysler PT Cruiser, driven by 31 year old Joaquin Pinon-Monzon, on the 25 hundred block of Route 441 North a little before three o’clock for speeding. As deputies were speaking with Pinon-Monzon, they noticed he was hesitant to open the glove compartment for the vehicle registration, prompting deputies to search the vehicle. The search revealed a smoking device in the center console with an orange-brown liquid in it, which tested positive for marijuana. Pinon-Monzon and his passenger, 23 year old George Danny Martinez, were arrested and charged with possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia. They were booked into county jail and later released after they posted bonds of just under six thousand dollars’ apiece.

The fourth of July was a time of celebrating and it also was a time for grass fires unfortunately. Okeechobee County firefighters were called to the 38 hundred block of NW 50th Drive a little after 6:15 and arrived to find a brush fire that measured about five acres in size moving slowly. Okeechobee County fire crews were met by firefighters from the Department of Forestry, who put a plow line around the fire, allowing Okeechobee County crews to use about four hundred gallons of water to put out the fire which took about an hour. No one was hurt and no structures damaged. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

18 year old Joseph Daniel Toneges Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for burglary of an occupied building with assault and battery. He was released after posting a $50 thousand dollar bond.

31 year old Zachary William Cowart of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Martin County for undisclosed charges. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

51 year old James Donald Beaty Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

34 year old Nicholas Andrew Cheville of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on his girlfriend during a domestic dispute and violating conditions of his pre-trial released. He’s being held without bond.

40 year old Michael Clay Wilson of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Indian River County for petit theft. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

33 year old Cody Dale Cooper was arrested for battery on his brother in law during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

18 year old Dillon Jason Hill of Okeechobee was arrested for firing a weapon in public. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

37 year old Jason Michael Birchfield of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Hendry County for failing to appear in court on past charges of driving on a suspended license. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

38 year old Larry Robert Wilson of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

76 year old Donald Wayne Coates of Okeechobee was arrested for violating a domestic injunction in connection with a prior incident involving his estranged wife. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

41 year old James Howard Drawdy of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Charlotte County for failing to pay child support. His bond is set at just over three hundred dollars.

22 year old Simeon Lorenzo Washington of Okeechobee was arrested by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers for violating probation on past drug possession charges. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

23 year old Ricky James Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on charges of failing to appear in court. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

47 year old Rebecca Scott Maynor of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

31 year old Kyle Gaitano Giunta of Stuart was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.