News Cast for August 6th:

The Okeechobee County Commissioners discussed their budget last month and tonight, it’s the city council’s turn. City Councilmembers will be having their annual budget workshops right after they have their regular council meeting. Items on tonight’s agenda include the promotion of Okeechobee Police Officer Cesar Romero to the rank of sergeant, swearing in of two new officers and they will also look at approving an agreement with an outside company for asphalt paving and striping on city roads. The budget workshop and regular meeting will be held in City Hall starting at a special time tonight, which will be five o’clock.

The reality of classroom teachers being armed to protect students is getting closer. At last week’s Okeechobee County School Board meeting, board members approved a motion advertising the Guardian Program for a month, with an amendment that the program will be open for teachers to participate unlike before. The implementing of the Guardian Program was music to the ears of one resident, Adam Cohen, who spoke at the meeting. Cohen, who moved his family from Parkland a year and a half ago, experienced the Parkland shootings through his daughter who was a student at the middle school on that fateful day. Cohen says he’s proud Okeechobee officials have done more to better ensure student safety than Parkland and that’s because Parkland has put politics before kids. Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy says Cohen’s views on the matter are spot on. The issue will be discussed again for approval on the September 10th meeting.

The search for a new Okeechobee County attorney has begun and the county commissioners are opening their search rather wide. At their last meeting, county commissioners voted unanimously to put out a request for proposal for in house attorneys as well as outside firms to find the successor to John Cassels. It was announced on July 11th that Cassels would be stepping down as county attorney after nearly thirty years on the job, citing the pending retirement of his law partner, Laura Ann McCall at the end of the year and his own desire to cut back on his workload as reasons for not renewing his contract. Commissioner Kelly Owens says she and her fellow commissioners chose to look at both in house and outside attorneys for Cassels’ successor because they’ve never had to do this before. Owens says Cassels’ successor should be someone who understands contract language but mainly someone familiar with local government needs; which she believes is more important than familiarity with the county’s needs. The process of finding Cassels’ successor will take about two to three months and Cassels’ will have his current contract extended into December to help ease the transition.

A now former Martin County Sheriff’s deputy is facing a host of serious charges after being arrested early last week. 29 year old Steven O’Leary was arrested on July 29th after a six month long investigation found concerns in his drug arrests. In January, Martin County investigators say O’Leary claimed to find illegal drugs during traffic stops when he was employed as a sheriff’s deputy. While on duty, O’Leary made three drug-related arrests in which the substances found were not actual narcotics. O’Leary was relieved of his duties when the State Attorney’s office found problems with his arrests. He’s charged with official misconduct, false statements, evidence tampering, false imprisonment, petit theft and battery. O’Leary is being held in county jail on a one million dollar bond. Twenty people O’Leary arrested are suing the sheriff’s department for the questionable arrests. Martin County Sheriff Bill Snyder and State Attorney Nita Denton declined to comment.

On the arrest report:

34 year old Mauro Seca of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for not paying child support. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

54 year old Frank Ayala De Jesus of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft. His bond is set at $750 dollars.

36 year old Olger Alberto Cano-Castillo of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and driving without a valid license after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $750 dollar bond.

59 year old Penny Gallarday of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

40 year old Jose Alberto Alvarado Aguilar of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on an expired license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

25 year old Gabriel Escamilla of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

18 year old Kaylee Marie Tinajero of Okeechobee was arrested by police for battery and simple assault. She was released after posting bond.