News Cast for July 19th:

The workshops for the Okeechobee County Budget for the next fiscal year will continue for the second straight day this morning. Commissioners will listen to budget proposals for the senior services department, parks and recreation, tourism, community development, economic development and mental health services. The workshop will be held at the Historic County Courthouse beginning at nine o’clock.

Speaking of the county budget, several departments presented their budgets to the commissioners in day one of the workshops yesterday. First up was Property Appraiser Mickey Bandi. Bandi says while some of his costs are up, such as legal expenses and personal services, he feels confident his $1.5 million dollar plus budget will be approved. The biggest concern he has is a software system that will cost just over $260 thousand dollars to install. Kresta King from the county library also discussed her budget with the commissioners and reports her budget this year will be just under $520 thousand dollars, which was a bit less than last year’s budget. King says since the library’s new flooring was installed, library visits have been up five percent. King is confident that the commissioners will approve her proposed budget for this fiscal year. Other county budgets discussed yesterday include the health department, medical examiner, guardian ad litem and 19th Judicial Circuit Court.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies have a local man and woman in county jail at this time on charges of animal cruelty in connection with a series of incidents that goes back to last month. Animal Control officials responded to a home on the 19 hundred block of NW 3rd Avenue on June 14th after the previous tenants, 40 year old Heather Rose Perry and 33 year old Craig Michael Martin, were evicted and in county jail on unrelated charges. Animal Control officers found the house was not only full of garbage but also cat urine and feces and there were about 14 cats found there with no food and no water, to the point where they were drinking out of the toilet. Some dead cats were also found in the home. Animal Control officers went back to the house several more times and had to set traps in order to get all the cats out of the house so it can be cleaned. Martin and Perry were charged with causing animal cruelty, suffering and death. Their bonds are each set at $15 hundred dollars apiece.

It was a special day for a longtime Okeechobee City employee. At their meeting Tuesday night, the city council honored their city clerk, Lane Gamiotea, with a 30 year longevity service award. Gamiotea says she’s “honored and humbled” to receive this award and she says what makes her come back to do this job day in and day out is simply the fact that she enjoys the work she does. Two of Gamiotea’s peers attended the meeting to honor her and present her with a gift. One of those women was Lakisha Burch, the town clerk for Loxahatchee Groves. Gamiotea began working for the city on July 14th, 1989. She worked as the deputy city clerk for 14 years under Bonnie Thomas before assuming the lead position.

An Avon Park woman is dead following a vehicle accident early yesterday morning in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 41 year old Mayra Teresa Torres Muniz was riding a Suzuki GSX motorcycle east on Bell Street approaching an intersection at Hart Avenue in Avon Park a little after 1:30. Muniz didn’t stop at the stop sign of the intersection and collided with a Chrysler 300 sedan on its left side. The impact sent the sedan rotating clockwise and sent Muniz’s bike into a fence on the shoulder of the road, ejecting her from the bike. Muniz was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. The driver of the sedan, 20 year old Lewis Gunter also of Avon Park, was not injured. FHP officers are investigating.

On the arrest report:

43 year old Traci Michelle Evans of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

61 year old Kevin Bertrand Halter of Babson Park was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and controlled substances without a prescription after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $21 thousand dollars.