News Cast 10/13

News Cast for October 13th:

The Okeechobee County School Board will meet tonight and they will renew their agreement with the city on the School Resource Officer (SRO) program and they will also consider a proposal for the replacement of Okeechobee High School (OHS). The meeting will be held in the Freshman Campus Auditorium beginning at six o’clock. Seating in the auditorium will be limited due to social distancing guidelines. The meeting will be streamed live on the Zoom application. Please check with the school board office or log on to www.okee.k12.fl.us for instructions on viewing the meeting through Zoom.

Speaking of the Okeechobee County School Board, during their last meeting last month, they recognized several faculty and staff members who are retiring this year or who have retired from the school district. One of those retirees was Karen Cotton, who retired after teaching for 38 years at North Elementary School, mainly in the Varying Exceptionalities (VE) Department. Cotton, who is retiring mainly because of neck problems, says she was considering retiring at the end of last year but she looked at it as a hard way to go out with distance learning and not being able to interact with the students in person. She tried to go another year but realized it physically just wasn’t meant to be. Cotton, who loved being around the kids, says it was a lifelong ambition to be a teacher because of all the changes you see in kids as they progress in school.

One of Cotton’s daughters, Leanne, was there to watch her mom be honored for her teaching career and says she couldn’t be any prouder of her mom.

Cotton, a Pickerington, Ohio native and mom of three daughters, says she plans on focusing on house repairs and preparing a scrapbook for her daughter’s achievements in softball now that she’s retired.

For the second time in the last few months, there will be another committee created for a special project in the city of Okeechobee. During their last meeting, the Okeechobee City Council decided to create a citizens’ board to decide on future improvements for Flagler Park. Officials from the Economic Development Council of Okeechobee recently created a conceptual plan for Flagler Park improvements and the council voted that a committee made up of residents from the city and county of Okeechobee would be tasked with looking over the plan and decide what would be best for the park. The measure passed by a four to one vote with Mayor Dowling Watford dissenting. Watford says there’s already a planning board for this task; one that already has responsibilities for landscaping and design for the city.

This committee will consist of seven primary members and two alternates. Any resident of the city or county is eligible to apply for it. The application period will begin soon and once it begins, interested people have two months to apply. Last month, a committee was created to re-make the city’s charter.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday morning rose again, albeit slightly, over the weekend but unfortunately, the number of fatalities also rose again by one.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,639 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March along with 33 fatalities. 1,635 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 being forty. The number of county residents that have been hospitalized is holding steady at 181.  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 736,024 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 726,934 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 15,412 with 46,015 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:

34 year old Nicole Amber Monahan of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on two counts for possession of the controlled substance hydromorphone hydrochloride without a prescription with intent to sell. Her bond is set at twenty thousand dollars.

31 year old Justin Louis Berry of Okeechobee was arrested on a St. Lucie County warrant for violating probation on past burglary charges. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

18 year old Jentry Lane Griffin of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

44 year old Brian Steven Benefield of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts apiece of trespassing and petit theft. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

20 year old Edgerrin James Billie of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of phenethylamines, methamphetamine and several other controlled substances without a prescription. His bond is set at $130 thousand dollars.

32 year old Mark Edward Joiner of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving following a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Christy Marie Williams of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of heroin and the controlled substances hydromorphone and alprazolam without a prescription, drug paraphernalia, and for introducing contraband into a detention facility. Her bond is set at $21 thousand dollars.

38 year old Carlos Salazar Manzano Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. He was released after posting a $55 hundred dollar bond.

39 year old Lawrence Wendell Wolf of Okeechobee was arrested for desertion of his wife and children without support. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

56 year old Martha Christine Sherman of Okeechobee was arrested by police for using counterfeit money and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was released after posting a $3250.00 dollar bond.