News Cast 10/16

News Cast for October 16th:

The auditorium at the Freshman Campus was the scene last night for this year’s 2020 Political Forum as all the candidates vying for elected positions in Okeechobee County gathered to answer questions sent online from county residents. One of those races is for the District 3 County Commissioner between incumbent Brad Goodbread and his opponent, US Army veteran, Okeechobee High School men’s basketball coach and longtime resident Demetre Riles. Goodbread, who is seeking his second term in office, says he believes his record as commissioner will be what will propel him to another term and the fact that he and fellow commissioners work well together and have gotten a lot done, but obviously there is still work to be done, specifically better drainage and developing Lock 7 into a place for people to enjoy. Goodbread mentioned that if there’s a weakness in the county, it’s not that the commission doesn’t take the time to get to know their constituents like Riles pointed out, but that more people in the community need to get more involved in citizen appointed boards and other groups, specifically younger people, to help the community grow and not always rely on the same people who volunteer for these groups.

Riles, like Goodbread, says drainage is also an area of need, not to mention keeping the public better informed of what developments are happening in the county. Riles says another issue is lack of good jobs in the county and the best way to address that is by expanding the city limits.

Riles says his relentlessness, passion and knack for getting things done will allow him to unseat Goodbread. Other candidates featured at the forum were Melissa Arnold, Donna Howard and Lisa Rodriguez, all vying for Supervisor of Elections and the race for Okeechobee County Clerk and Comptroller between incumbent Sharon Robertson and former County Court judge Jerald Bryant.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday rose again, albeit slightly, but unfortunately, the number of fatalities also rose again by two.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,658 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and now with 37 fatalities. 1,653 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. 186 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 744,988 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 735,685 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 15,736 with 46,693 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:

35 year old Enevin Edward Lutjen of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for disorderly conduct while fighting another man at a bar. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

44 year old Elmer Henry Smith of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated stalking and causing bodily harm during a domestic dispute with his wife. His bond is set at $60 thousand dollars.

38 year old Matthew Steven Raynor of Okeechobee was arrested for knowingly driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

25 year old Dakota John Rogers of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct while fighting with another man on the premises of a business. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

39 year old Joshua Sentell Henry of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and resisting a law officer without violence. He’s being held without bond.

57 year old Rene William Sharpe of Okeechobee was arrested for committing aggravated battery. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

35 year old Glen Lee Baker of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.