News Cast 10/23

News Cast for October 23rd:

The process of finding a new Okeechobee County Administrator was one of the many items discussed during yesterday’s Okeechobee County Commissioners meeting. It was announced last week that current County Administrator Robbie Chartier tendered her resignation to take a job as the executive director of Public Risk Management of Florida. Commissioners will be working with the Florida Association of Counties to determine the best candidates for the job and these candidates will be interviewed over the next few months. Along with state managerial skills, budget experience and more, Chartier says the right person to succeed her must have, above all else, inter-personal skills in order to thrive.

Commissioner Kelly Owens says Chartier’s successor must also have experience working in management in the public sector and have five years’ experience working in Florida government. Chartier became Okeechobee County Administrator in November of 2011 after 13 years as the deputy administrator. During that time she served two stints as interim head County Administrator. Chartier’s last day working with the county will be January 19th.

As there have so often been over these past several months, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there will be another food distribution pantry happening today at the Agri-Civic Center in Okeechobee County. Officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank will be in the area again this morning to help distribute some free food to the drivers of as many as three hundred vehicles. Okeechobee County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin made the announcement during yesterday’s county commissioners’ meeting. Franklin says unlike before, those who participate in this food bank will get a free mask.

Franklin says the free food bank will commence at nine o’clock this morning and conclude at eleven o’clock. Those wishing to participate must be pre-registered.

While October is the time of Halloween, it’s also the time for several proclamations and one of them is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Okeechobee City Council and Okeechobee County Commissioners approved the proclamation during their respective meetings this month and it’s the time for people to pay special attention to those who are being abused by their lovers, whether it be physical abuse or mental or verbal. Jonathan Bean, Executive Director of Martha’s House was on hand for the proclamation at both meetings and he says domestic violence is an issue in all communities and hundreds of Okeechobee homes are considered unsafe because some form of domestic violence is happening. Bean says fewer than twenty percent of victims ask for help and he says that’s because of increased danger.

Tomorrow there will be a special event to further keep in mind the victims of domestic violence called “Come Take a Walk in Her Shoes,” being held in the Okeechobee Park #4 beginning at ten o’clock. Any further information can be found at their website at www.marthashouse.org or call Martha’s House at (863) 763-2893.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday rose yet again, but fortunately, the number of fatalities stayed the same for the third straight day.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,695 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and the number of fatalities remains at 37. 1,690 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from infant to one hundred with the median age of the patients being forty. County residents that are hospitalized remain unchanged at 189.  Those who’ve 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 768,091 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 758,306 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 16,267 with 47,765 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:

37 year old Bruce Edward Bass of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of claiming false ownership of stolen property. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

23 year old Sarah Suzanne Wyatt of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of grand theft. Her bond has not been set.

26 year old Thomas Andrew Seals the Second of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court for failing to appear on past charges of driving on a suspended license. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

41 year old Jeremiah Faughn Rhoden of Okeechobee was arrested for shoplifting. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

58 year old Joseph Edgar Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court for failing to appear on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

46 year old Shawn Matthew Pyper of Okeechobee was arrested for resisting arrest. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

45 year old Don Carlos Johnson the Second of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

26 year old Morgan Scott Tibbett of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of fraud on a rental property. His bond has not been set.