News Cast 1/15

News Cast for January 15th:

There has been 2,876 cases of Covid-19 in Okeechobee County since March 2020 with 32 new cases in the last week. As of right now there are 55 deaths in the county with no increases in the past two days. For more information on Covid-19 in and around Okeechobee County please go to this website: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/96dd742462124fa0b38ddedb9b25e429/.

Report suspicious solicitations or COVID-19 vaccine-related advertisements to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.

Okeechobee to get more vaccine

County Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs

Vaccine has averaged 500 shots per week in Okeechobee.

That will change in the coming week with the delivery of 300 Moderna vaccines.

Tiffany Collins told the Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners that positive test rates have gone up sharply in the community during the first two weeks of the year. There have been 461 cases in the past two weeks. The positive test rate has gone up by over seven percent to 22.07%.

The positive cases have gone up from an average of 12 to 32 in recent weeks. The community has received 1,800 vaccines so far. The health department had nearly 700 appointments for the vaccine set up over a 90 minute period.

County Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs urged Okeechobee residents to take the situation seriously, “The community and the general public have got to start taking this virus seriously.  We have had two commissioners exposed to it.  Fortunately they are recovering.  But it has made them a believer on how sick they can be.” He urged residents to keep social bubbles small, to have good hygiene, and to observe social distancing.

Forget about 55 million…how about 30 million?

Several Okeechobee County Commissioners suggest the county can’t afford a new jail expansion.

The county architect reported construction could cost around $46 million.

The total cost could be around 55 million.

The county will know the estimated costs on January 28th.

Architect Joe Mrak said the new jail would meet the needs of the community for many years

Mrak said the total construction would be 180,000 square feet using some existing space.

Mrak said there is one big structural problem with the facility.  That is the pipes which in many cases are rotten.

Each cell would house four inmates

County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said he thinks the project is too extravagant.  He questioned building a jail that was nicer than the homes most Okeechobee residents have to live in.

Culpepper says many taxpayers can’t afford to live like this..why should criminals

County Commissionr Kelly Owens said they just don’t know the future financially and might have to take revenue from other areas of the budget.

She predicted the millage rate would go up by one mill to around nine mills, if this project is built.

She said the county can’t afford $55 million but might be able to afford $30 million.

She urged the committee working on the project to meet again and try to find areas where they can cut costs.

Deputies say man pointed gun at motorist

An Okeechobee man was charged after an incident or road rage in Indiantown.

Ryan Mellette, 29, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Martin County Sheriff deputies responded to an armed and dangerous call on route 710.

Mellette was accused of pointing the gun at another motorist who objected to him tail gating.

He was taken into custody without incident.

Okeechobee organizations

Parents of Suicidal kids.  Katrina Sheffield

Economic Council of Okeechobee.  Jennifer Tewksbury Executive Director

Tourist Development Council Tourist Coordinator Sharie Turgeon

Indian River State College President Dr. Timothy Moore

Our Village Okeechobee

Okeechobee County Economic Development Corporation

Real Life Children’s Ranch

Okeechobee Economic Council

Make a Wish foundation.  South Florida.  Richard Kelly, Chief Operating Officer.