News Cast for August 23rd:

The groundbreaking has begun in Okeechobee County for a new, multi-use building. Several community leaders gathered yesterday morning at the site of the old art facility on the NE block of the Judicial Center as the first scoop of dirt was shoveled up on the site; symbolizing the start of construction of the new building that will house the tax collector, property appraiser and driver’s license services. County Commissioner Bradley Goodbread was on hand for this very special event and it’s about ten years in the making. The building will be constructed by local contractor Native American Construction, with Lakeland-based Straughn-Trout Architects creating the blueprint. The building should be completed hopefully sometime next summer. The event was attended by Mayor Dowling Watford, City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca and County Administrator Robbie Chartier, among others.

At their meeting yesterday, Okeechobee County Commissioners gave the green light to staff to prepare an ordinance to make the community aware of an issue that has been given worldwide attention: human trafficking. Commissioner Kelly Owens brought the issue to her fellow commissioners’ attention after receiving a letter from a commissioner in Palm Beach, who has adopted such an ordinance. This ordinance could involve placing signs at certain businesses where human trafficking could be happening and what people can do about it. Owens says Okeechobee County could be an ideal place for this kind of activity because of the area itself. Owens says it’s happening more than we know and it’s time Okeechobee pays closer attention to it like other counties have. The issue will be brought back before the board at a later meeting.

For the third time this month, there will be mosquito control spraying in Okeechobee County. Okeechobee County Emergency Management officials say there will be mosquito control efforts in the county tonight, weather permitting. Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says there will be spraying of adulticide, an insecticide designed to attack adult mosquitos and control their breeding. Smeykal says adulticide is approved and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but it’s probably best to stay indoors while the spraying is going on. If you do go outside, wear long sleeves, use a mosquito repellent with the DEET chemical in it and make sure your pets are prepared (Smeykal-Mosquito Spraying Continues 1). If the weather is not acceptable tonight, the spraying will take place during the early morning hours tomorrow. If you see your area with an excessive number of mosquitoes flying around, please call 1-800-203-6485. Any further questions can be forwarded to the Emergency Management Center at (863) 763-3212.

On the arrest report:

33 year old Anthony Michael Varnell of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for aggravated battery on his pregnant wife during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

41 year old Latrisha Lee Hunt of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and the controlled substance alprazolam following a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $10 thousand dollars.

38 year old Donald Kirk McDonald Junior was arrested for withholding child support. His bond is set at six hundred dollars.

41 year old Ariel Zaleta-Leines of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on his wife during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at $35 thousand dollars.

54 year old Sharon Ann Smith of Wanchese, NC was arrested for violating probation on past charges of drug possession and introducing contraband into a detention facility. She’s being held without bond.