Friday, January 10th News

People who frequent restaurants in Okeechobee County on Sunday mornings will soon notice a change; they’ll be permitted to order alcohol with their meal a bit earlier thanks to county commissioners. At their meeting on Wednesday, they voted to revise the county ordinance to allow licensed restaurants in the county to serve alcoholic beverages to their customers at ten o’clock in the morning. Previously, the ordinance didn’t allow restaurants or other county eateries to serve alcohol until after one o’clock, causing county restaurants to lose customers who would then drive out to the coast and be able to be served alcohol as early as nine o’clock on Sundays. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says this is the right thing to do and it’s about time (New Alcohol Policy 1). The issue was brought up towards the end of 2019 and the ordinance change was advertised for several weeks before commissioners held a public hearing on the matter. It passed by a vote of three to two with Commissioners David Hazellief and Brad Goodbread dissenting. Goodbread says this ordinance change should apply to not just restaurants but other lounges or organizations that serve alcohol like the VFW.

A report of a building fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Tuesday night. Crews were called to a home on the 91 hundred block of SE 57th Drive just after nine o’clock and arrived to find smoke inside the house and a fire burning under the floor near the front door. Firefighters removed some siding and concrete skirting to get to the fire and the entire front door area and the floor were completely removed to fight the blaze. Crews needed just over an hour to get the fire controlled. Total damage is estimated at about $25 hundred dollars. No one was hurt. Investigators say power was shut off after the fire was extinguished and they found a charred wire near the front door. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The St. Lucie County Public Schools was the place to be on Wednesday as their newly renovated media center at Ft. Pierce Westwood Academy, otherwise known as the West Prep Magnet, was unveiled as part of a special “ribbon cutting” ceremony. Magnet School Coordinator Jane Whitaker says this media center, now called the Learning Commons, will reflect today’s digital learning opportunities such as gaming and technology and there’s an E-sports lab with 14 gaming stations that will support not just after school gaming experience with students across the state, but also get them interested in new career technological education opportunities that encompasses such careers as game design and event planning. Whitaker says she’s “ecstatic” and “truly honored” to be a part of this unveiling and the students were just as excited (Whitaker 1). According to Whitaker, these opportunities will also open the door for students to receive Fulbright scholarships. This media center at West Prep Magnet, along with their sister schools, Creative Arts Academy and Samuel Gains Academy, were all renovated thanks to a $12.5 million dollar grant from the federal government.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers are investigating the death of a Dover man who was last seen alive in Okeechobee County Wednesday morning. FHP officers responded to the Fort Drum Service Plaza near the Florida Turnpike in Okeechobee County at around eight o’clock for a call of a man, identified as 51 year old Troy Allen Sanford, who was short of breath at the gas pumps. Officers arrived and found Sanford sitting in a chair and that prompted a call to the Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue. They arrived and transported Sanford to Raulerson Hospital for treatment of his condition. He was pronounced dead by medics sometime later that day. The incident remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

57 year old Allen Fennell Dubey of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

23 year old Raul Jesus Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for corruption by threat to a public servant or family. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

35 year old Thomas David Arnold of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He’s being held without bond.

35 year old Cory Lane Ward of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant woman and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. His bond is set at $75 thousand dollars.

49 year old Brian Michael Dixon of Fort Pierce was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.