News Cast 10/28

News Cast for October 28th:

During their October 6th meeting, the Okeechobee City Council decided to create a committee made up of Okeechobee County and City residents to decide on the future of improvements for Flagler Park. Two weeks later, during their last meeting, the council unanimously decided to adopt a resolution to officially create this board to decide on those improvements for the park. Officials from the Economic Development Council of Okeechobee recently created a conceptual plan for Flagler Park improvements and now residents from the city and county of Okeechobee will be tasked with looking over the plan and decide what would be best for the park. Interestingly, Mayor Dowling Watford dissented when voting on creating this board during the October 6th meeting but he voted in favor of adopting the resolution this time. Watford says it will be a good committee and it’s a great project for a wonderful part of the community.

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.

In order to enhance public safety, awareness and protection, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department has announced that a man who is registered as a sex offender has moved into the community. 63 year old Edward Hines has moved into a home on the 26 hundred block of SE 47th Terrace. He is Caucasian and he stands five feet, eight inches tall, weighs 175 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. Hines was convicted of familial sexual battery on a minor in Okeechobee County in 1992. Hines has served the full sentence that was imposed on him by the court system. Sheriff’s officials say this bulletin is used for information purposes only. Citizen abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass Hines or other registered sexual offenders in the community will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If you need further information, you can call the Sheriff’s Department or you can log on to the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators website at www.fdle.state.fl.us for more information on Hines or other sex offenders in your area.

Officials from the Okeechobee County Emergency Management Center say this evening will be the last of two sessions of a special virtual class called SKYWARN being taught this month by members of the National Weather Service in Melbourne. Okeechobee County Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says it has been a part of the National Weather Service since the 1960’s, to train people to be weather spotters in their areas. They would report severe and hazardous weather to help meteorologists make life saving decisions in the event of a severe weather situation. Smeykal says however that these weather spotters are not “storm chasers” in any way.

These weather spotters are invaluable because as advanced as Doppler radar has become over the years, it has its limitations. This virtual SKYWARN class will be taught this evening beginning at six o’clock. If you’re interested, please call the Emergency Management Center, the National Weather Service in Melbourne or download the Okeechobee Emergency Management app to your smartphone. Preregistration is required to attend. The first session was taught on October 15th.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday rose once again by seven but fortunately the number of fatalities stayed the same.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,731 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities are holding steady at 38. 1,726 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. 193 county residents have been hospitalized. 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 786,311 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 776,215 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 16,505 with 48,512 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:

28 year old Ana Karen Baza Urbina of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery on a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief and battery on a facility employee with fluids. She was released after posting bonds totaling $11 thousand dollars.

32 year old Clifford Parlor Ryder of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and not having the proper license tag on his vehicle following a traffic stop. He was released after posting a four thousand dollar bond.

28 year old Colby Dillon Land of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court for failing to appear for an arraignment on past charges of driving on a suspended license. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Amy Nicole O’Connor of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

35 year old Neptali Hernandez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

39 year old Carlos Velasquez of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession. He was released after posting a $35 hundred dollar bond.

34 year old Jessica Mae Eaton of Okeechobee was arrested for withholding child support. Her bond has not been set.

28 year old Brandon Valentin Cardenas of Okeechobee was arrested by police for aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony with a dangerous weapon. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.