News Cast 10/19

News Cast for October 19th:

This past Thursday night at the Freshman Campus auditorium, candidates vying for publicly elected offices in Okeechobee County were on hand to get their message across to the community as part of the county’s Political Forum. The one race with more than two candidates is the Supervisor of Elections race and that is being contested between three women. One of those candidates is Lisa Rodriguez, considered the experienced one with her being the Deputy Supervisor of Elections since 2014 and her over twenty years working in election offices. Rodriguez says a big issue right now is not just poor voter turnout but also voter discouragement. They hear about inconveniences about residents not getting their ballots or getting ballots when they didn’t order them, etc. Rodriguez says clearing up miscommunication between the public and elections office is a priority.

Melissa Arnold, a small businesswoman who has worked on several campaigns in the past, is also vying for the post and believes her innovation and drive to make Okeechobee the state’s leading “small-county” will propel her to the post. She, like her opponents, discussed improving voter turnout and she mentioned the idea of being more civically engaged by way of not just social media but also being more entrenched with the local media.

The third candidate, Donna Howard, a commercial claims manager for a national insurance company, says to increase voter turnout and voter registration, she’d like to create a newsletter illustrating the voting process and takes the guessing away from people who are confused by it. She also says we need to address voter fraud and cybersecurity. It’s gotten so bad that we’re throwing away valid mail voter forms.

Howard says people need to do their homework and visit www.chobeevoicescount.com to see if she’s the right candidate. Other candidates featured at the forum include Demetre Riles facing incumbent Brad Goodbread, for District 3 County Commissioner and County Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Robertson facing retired County Court judge Jerald Bryant. Election Day is November 3rd.

The last day to complete your US Census information was the end of last month but for those who didn’t get it done, you got a reprieve until the end of this month; a very important thing for the residents of any community, much less Okeechobee County. County Library Director Kresta King says since 2018, the US Federal Government has assigned the completing of the Census at libraries because they have internet access and people can come to the library to do their Census if they do not have internet access at home. King says it’s so important to complete your Census information because it will mean very important dollars for the community in federal funding.

King says most people don’t do their Census responsibilities because they don’t want the Federal Government “in their business” and that couldn’t be further from the truth; they don’t ask your Social Security Number or any private information. You can complete your Census by calling the library at (863) 763-3536 or by calling the Census Bureau hotline at (844) 330-2020 or by logging on to www.my2020census.gov.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of Friday rose again, albeit slightly, but fortunately, the number of fatalities stayed the same.  As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,660 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and the number of fatalities remains at 37. 1,655 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 Friday morning, the state has 748,437 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 739,050 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 15,830 with 46,862 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:

39 year old James Gene Janata of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine and alprazolam without a prescription with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $15,500.00 dollars.

34 year old Patricia Jane Coberly of Okeechobee was arrested for introducing contraband into a detention facility and contempt of court for failing to appear to answer charges of driving on a suspended license. Her bond is set at $75 hundred dollars.

27 year old Jeffrey Lynn Griffin Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of an unnamed controlled substance without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $65 hundred dollars.

36 year old Monica Alexis McKenzie of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license for the third time following a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

35 year old Elizabeth Anne Turner of Palm City was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at $5,750.00 dollars.