News Cast for August 9th:

It was recently reported that the Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County confirmed five reported cases of the Hepatitis A virus since the start of 2019, making Okeechobee an impacted county. Now, with over 25 hundred reported cases of the disease in Florida, the state’s Department of Health has declared a public health emergency. Hepatitis A is a very contagious viral liver disease that is usually transmitted person to person, often through sexual activity, sharing drug needles or eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Symptoms include upset stomach, vomiting, fatigue, jaundice (yellow skin) and diarrhea. Vickie Elkins, a nurse at the county health department, says the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is getting vaccinated, although it’s a mystery to her as to why some don’t choose to do that. Although no cure exists, Hepatitis A is a short-term illness. However, if it’s left untreated, it could be life threatening. Vaccinations are free of charge at the county health department. For more information, please call the health department at (863) 462-5800.

The Okeechobee County Commissioners are providing some backup to the county school board. At their meeting yesterday, commissioners decided to write a letter to the state showing support of a resolution recently signed by school board members urging state lawmakers to assist with funding for the school resource officer (SRO) program. State lawmakers passed a mandate shortly after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, requiring every school to have an SRO on campus, but they didn’t fully fund this mandate. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says the purpose of this resolution and the supportive letter is to, hopefully, make the state lawmakers understand that with this “unfunded mandate”, some concessions will be needed. Culpepper says the resolution is exploring the option of a public referendum to help fund the SRO program, something he would definitely support. School board members signed the resolution at their August 1st meeting.

Culpepper-SRO Letter to State 1

Culpepper-SRO Letter to State 2

This past Tuesday night, the Okeechobee City Council was in session for the better part of six hours with their regular agenda and then their budget workshop. In that time, they recognized a longtime veteran city police officer, Detective Sgt. Bettye Taylor, as she was the recipient of the Community Hero of Okeechobee award. Officials from the Chamber of Commerce and Centerstate Bank asked first responders who would be worthy of the award and Taylor was nominated. Following a letter of recommendation from one of her fellow officers, Taylor was the winner of the award. Taylor’s prize was an all-expense paid three day trip to Vero Beach, but she donated the money to fund that prize to something near and dear to her; the Real Life Children’s Ranch. Taylor, a full time member of the Okeechobee Police Department since 1996, says she was “humbled” to receive the award and she felt no more deserving of the award than the other people in her profession she works with because she believes they’re all heroes.

Taylor-Community Hero Award 1

Taylor-Community Hero Award 2

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for an Okeechobee man Wednesday night. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a black Dodge four door sedan on the 37 hundred block of SE 18th Street after it had gone off the road. Deputies approached the driver and as they were getting his license and registration, they noticed a plastic baggie containing suspected synthetic cannabis. They also noticed the passenger, 28 year old Juan Manuel Nieves, trying to hide the baggie. Nieves also had some of the cannabis on his clothes. Both Nieves and the driver were searched and Nieves had over six grams of cannabis on him and over 31 grams of cannabis was found in the passenger floorboard. He was arrested for possession of cannabis and taken to county jail where he’s being held in lieu of a five thousand dollar bond. The driver was not charged in this incident.

On the arrest report:

29 year old Dadricka Riles of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

21 year old Brett McKlain Corrales of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia. He’s being held without bond.

45 year old Diana Cruz Cruz Casiano of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on undisclosed charges. She’s being held without bond.

19 year old Abigayle Rhea Ericson of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court on past charges of driving without a valid license and resisting arrest. She’s being held without bond.

37 year old Jason Michael Birchfield of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of trespassing and driving without a valid license. He’s being held without bond.

41 year old James Lester Gore of Sebring was arrested for violating probation on past charges of perjury, cocaine possession and driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.