News Cast for August 5th:

This is just a reminder that there will be some construction going on beginning today that will impact motorists for the foreseeable future. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department officials say road workers will be working in the ditches and trenches along Route 70 from NE 34th Avenue to NE 80th Avenue to perform drainage improvements. Motorists should expect occasional lane closures on Route 70 in the daytime during construction. The construction begins today and it should be completed at some point this fall.

Just over a year ago, then Okeechobee High School (OHS) senior Cristian Rios gave the county school board a presentation on the Academic Framework Forum, a peer learning program made up of students who help fellow classmates succeed in all facets, classwork, test taking and looking into colleges. Fast forward a year, Rios, now a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says he now has a grant to help expand this program to all schools not just in Okeechobee but in other schools in the Florida Heartland. Rios presented his plan to help develop this program further at last week’s school board meeting and MIT officials helped him get a five thousand dollar grant for that purpose. Rios says what makes this peer learning program special is that it’s run by students and not faculty. Rios will be helping to develop this program in other schools over the next few weeks before he goes back to MIT for his sophomore year. He’s proud of the fact that the program has the full support of the school board and administration.

People will soon notice a change in the 38 year old senior center in Okeechobee, but not to worry, it’s strictly a name change. At the Okeechobee County Commissioners’ last meeting on July 25th, they approved the change of the senior center’s name from the Lottie Raulerson Senior Center to the Young At Heart Center of Okeechobee. Senior Services Manager Tom Leach says he’s excited for the change and it’s designed to not diminish the contributions of Lottie Raulerson to the center but to provide a warmer and more welcoming atmosphere to people who’ll be coming there soon with a desire to stay active. Leach says if Lottie Raulerson were alive today, she’d definitely approve this name change (Leach-Senior Center Name Change 1). The name change will officially take place in January of next year. Leach believes people who use the senior center will welcome the name change.

A report of a grass and brush fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Wednesday afternoon but it turned out to be not quite what they were expecting. Crews were called to the 51 hundred block of NW 30th Street a little after 2:30 and found a tree burning in the middle of an open field. Investigators say the tree was struck by lightning which in turn ignited the fire. Crews got the fire extinguished in about ten minutes while using about fifty gallons of water to put it out. No one was hurt and no structures damaged.

An Alva man is in serious condition following a vehicle accident early Thursday morning in Lee County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 19 year old Dalton DeWitt Harrison was driving a Kia Soul west on Route 78 near Serenoa Court in Alva a little before one o’clock when for unknown reasons he lost control of his vehicle. Harrison crossed the eastbound lane, went onto a grassy shoulder of the road and struck a culvert before overturning several times and then striking a wooden fence. FHP officers say the car was found on its roof. Harrison, who was cited for careless driving, was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment. FHP is investigating the accident.

On the arrest report:

42 year old Wayne Anthony Hunt of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for simple assault and threatening to do violence. His bond is set at one thousand dollars.

38 year old Crystal Gayle Elliott of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on previous charges of driving on a suspended license and failing to appear in court. She’s being held without bond.

19 year old Dustin Wayne Hunt of Okeechobee was arrested by police for battery and simple assault when he accosted someone at Wal-Mart. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.