News Cast for November 8th:

It’s official. There will be a workshop next week to determine the futures of fire services in Okeechobee County. County Commissioners and city councilmembers agreed to a set date for this workshop during their respective meetings yesterday and Tuesday night. There is the very real possibility that the Okeechobee City Fire Department may merge with the county fire department in an effort to save the city more money and prevent city officials from having to dip into city reserves to help balance the city’s budget. Former Okeechobee City Councilmember Gary Ritter spoke on the issue and he believes it’s not a good idea to consolidate both fire departments because the city’s fire department is a cornerstone of the city of Okeechobee, much like the police and road departments and we shouldn’t do away with that. Ritter continues by saying Okeechobee should follow the example of a councilmember from the city of Stuart who dealt with this same issue with his fellow constituents at one point. City Fire Chief Herb Smith says it’s not a good idea because, quite simply, there are too many lives involved with this issue. The joint workshop between the city council and county commissioners will take place on Tuesday, November 12th in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at six o’clock. County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin declined to comment.

The Okeechobee County Public Works Department officially has a new facility. Just before their meeting yesterday, the county commissioners and many other local leaders and residents gathered at the site of the new Public Works building for a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house. This building will house the Public Works Department and the Road Division. County Engineer John Howle says it’s exciting to be in this new facility that’s equipped to handle the needs of his and the Public Works Department. Howle says it’s great that this new facility has a generator which will come in handy. Donnie Oden, Director of Facilities Maintenance and Development Services says it’s a “long time coming” for this building considering that they’ve been working in a trailer for quite a while and they were “due for a new building.” The new Public Works Building is located on the eight hundred block of NW 2nd Street.

If you want to get a look at a great art exhibit of cows, today is your last day. The lobby of the Okeechobee County Historic Courthouse has been the scene of many paintings of cows and other livestock over the past month, done by local artist Kathie Papasso. Bridgette Waldau, the Arts and Culture Director of Okeechobee Main Street says Papasso’s cow paintings are sort of the kickoff to the cattle drive sculpture project that will be done in Park 5 in the next few years. Waldau says this and other exhibits by local artists are visited by more people because rural art is more unique than urban art. Papasso, a native of New Jersey and Okeechobee resident since 2005, says she loves painting cows and other livestock because of their uniqueness. Waldau says this part of the Artist Series Exhibit that began in 2013 in the Historic Courthouse. Papasso has a private studio called the Park Street Gallery.

A report of an arcing power line got the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters early Tuesday morning. Crews were called to the 40 thousand block of NW 24th Drive a little after 6:45 and were told by the owner that there was an electrical problem and there were sparks coming from the power pole. Crews arrived and found no hazards were present. Florida Power and Light (FPL) were called to come and fix the problem firefighters stayed on scene and kept it clear until they arrived. No one was hurt. It is under investigation.

Starting today, there will be a new traffic pattern for parents when they pick up their children at Okeechobee High School (OHS). To help address the problem of complaints to the sheriff’s department regarding vehicles parked on NW 23rd Lane, the south gate of OHS will open at 1:30. Vehicles are to enter the south gate, go to the left lane and proceed to the parking lot entrance where they will stop and wait for the bell to ring and all buses have cleared, before proceeding to the pickup line. Sheriff’s Department officials say it’s imperative that no one block the outside lane used by the buses at any time. Any questions can be forwarded to the sheriff’s office.

On the arrest report:

26 year old Hilary Cody Josh of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of grand theft of a firearm. Her bond has not been set.

28 year old James Earl Reed of Okeechobee was arrested for providing a false name to law officers after he was arrested on an undisclosed charge. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

57 year old William Sodano of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic battery. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

64 year old Henry Lewis Norman of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

42 year old Randy Gerald Whaley of Okeechobee was arrested for withholding child support. His bond has not been set.

39 year old Manal Yamin of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and domestic battery. Her bond has not been set.

47 year old Leslie Michelle Cay of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

48 year old Terrie Jo Ann Scherer of Zolfo Springs was arrested for driving on a suspended license and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.