News Cast for September 12th:

This evening will be that time of year when the general public can voice their opinion on the proposed budget for Okeechobee County for the next fiscal year. County commissioners will meet to hold a public hearing and hear the thoughts of the community on this year’s budget, which is projected to be just under $100 million dollars. $19 million dollars of that will be for the sheriff’s department. The public hearing will be held this evening at five o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse.

Speaking of budget public hearings, the Okeechobee City Council held their first of two public hearings on their budget this past Tuesday night. The city’s budget for the next fiscal year stands at just under $7.6 million dollars, more than a million from last year and the millage rate at just over 7.6 mills. No one from the public voiced their opinions on the budget and that didn’t surprise City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca, who says after fairly lengthy workshops last month, the millage rate is at its lowest in about 30 years and the budget illustrates the idea that the city is turning a corner with regard to economic development. De Oca says if the city keeps progressing economically, the budget could be even better in the coming years. De Oca cited Finance Director India Riedel and other city department heads for helping to shape the budget. The next public hearing on the city budget will take place on September 24th in City Hall at five o’clock.

It’s official. Classroom teachers in Okeechobee County schools will be permitted to carry firearms to protect students in the event of an emergency. At their meeting Tuesday night, board members approved the motion to arm classroom teachers as part of the Guardian Program, which will serve as a backup to School Resource Officers (SRO) to protect students and faculty during an emergency situation similar to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland nearly two years ago. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy is excited that the Guardian Program will now be open to teachers and there are already teachers that have volunteered to be trained for it. Okeechobee resident Adam Cohen, who spoke at the meeting on Tuesday and at last month’s meeting on this matter, says it’s great that teachers can now get involved in maintaining the security of school students. 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 and he says since that time, school officials there have not taken much action at all. This issue was advertised for the public’s knowledge at last month’s meeting.

A Lake Placid woman is dead and another Lake Placid woman is in serious condition following a vehicle accident last Wednesday afternoon in Highlands County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 47 year old Frances M. Honaker was driving a Chevy HHR station wagon south on the inside lane of Route 27 approaching Lake Henry Drive in Lake Placid a little after one o’clock. For unknown reasons, Honaker failed to maintain control of the vehicle, causing her to go off the road and rotate counterclockwise before re-entering the road on the northbound side, causing a head on collision with an oncoming vehicle, driven by 71 year old Kathy Jean Hofmeyer. Honaker was pronounced dead at the scene by medics and Hofmeyer was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for treatment. The accident is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

28 year old Riley Michelle Tanner of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery on her mother during a domestic dispute. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

31 year old Josue Martinez Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

28 year old Weston Lee Eisenbrey of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from St. Lucie County for violating probation on past drunk driving and causing damage charges. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

27 year old Kenneth Andrew Crawford of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug possession charges. He’s being held without bond.

29 year old Charity Hope Price of Okeechobee was arrested for robbery with a weapon. Her bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

35 year old Malinda Elizabeth Yates of Okeechobee was arrested for methamphetamine possession, tampering with evidence and resisting arrest after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at nine thousand dollars.

64 year old Van Robert Miller of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving following a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

36 year old John William Mendel of Okeechobee was arrested by police for trespassing. His bond has not been set.

37 year old Christopher Joseph Gordon of Lake Butler was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of driving without a valid license. He’s being held without bond.