News Cast 10/1

News Cast for October 1st:

Last June, the Okeechobee City Council decided that it was time to create a new city charter, which is basically a set of rules for the city officials to follow, something that has not been altered or updated since 1965. Last month they decided an advisory committee consisting of longtime city residents and business people would need to be formed and now that committee has been formed. During their September 21st meeting, the council voted unanimously that all ten of the people who applied for a position on this advisory committee will be on it and they will soon elect their chairperson and vice-chairperson. Mayor Dowling Watford says once this committee gets to work, it will take quite a while before a new city charter will be instituted.

Watford says this committee of ten people will do very well because they’re great people with tremendous knowledge of the city and in most cases, they have owned or currently own business here. Former City Councilmembers Noel Chandler and Gary Ritter, local engineer Steve Dobbs, local contractor GM “Hoot” Worley and District 55 State Representative Cary Pigman are some of the people who make up this city charter advisory committee.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday morning has risen yet again but thankfully the number of fatalities stayed the same for the second consecutive day. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County now has 1,575 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities are holding steady at 27. 1,572 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to an even one hundred with the median age of the patients now at forty. 174 county residents have been hospitalized.  Those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste. Overall, as of yesterday morning, the state has 706,516 positive COVID-19 cases since March. 698,051 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 14,317 with 44,108 people hospitalized.

Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus at the County Health Department between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon. This is an oral swab test. The Florida Community Health Centers have a drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing site available every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock in the morning until noon at the former Okeechobee Surgery Center located at 1655 Highway 441 North. No appointment is necessary and you don’t need insurance, but if you have it, please bring your insurance card, otherwise please bring photo identification. Testing is free in both locations. The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line remains open from 8am to 5pm now every Tuesday thru Saturday. This number, which also doubles as the phone number of the County Library is manned by live personnel and callers can ask about county updates on the Coronavirus and what is being done. The hotline will not address questions about the virus itself or medical questions. The County Library phone number/hotline related to county updates on the Coronavirus is (863) 763-3536. Any questions related to the virus itself, please call the Okeechobee Health Department at (863) 462-5800 or the 24/7 Department of Health hotline at (866) 779-6121. Remember, the key to avoiding the Coronavirus is good personal hygiene. Washing your hands for at least 20-30 seconds with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in it is recommended. Avoid touching your eyes or face with unwashed hands. Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from someone when greeting them and not shaking any hands. Avoid shopping at peak hours and use delivery services instead.  Avoid places where there are 10 people or more. If you need further information about the virus and recommendations for preventing it, please log on to the Department of Health at floridahealth.gov or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.

On the arrest report:

58 year old Randy Edward Ammons of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on felony battery charges for the second time. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

29 year old Keri Leigh Ann Hennon of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

49 year old Shelly Ann Goist of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft for the third time. Her bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

63 year old Corveda Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

32 year old Clifford Parler Ryder of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

33 year old Jared Allen Hawes of Okeechobee was arrested by police on local warrants in connection with multiple counts of domestic battery. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.