News Cast 10/29

News Cast for October 29th:

Tonight, communities across the nation, Okeechobee County included, will join the Narcotics Overdose Prevention Education Task Force, otherwise known as the NOPE Task Force, in hosting the eleventh annual NOPE Candlelight Vigil in memory of people who lost their lives to substance abuse and for those that are now suffering from it. The NOPE Candlelight Vigil is held to raise awareness and hopefully lead the way to recovery from this disease that does not discriminate. Sheriff Noel Stephen says Okeechobee got involved in participating in this vigil under the leadership of his predecessor, Sheriff Paul May. Stephen says it’s usually a very well attended event in Okeechobee.

The NOPE Candlelight Vigil will be held tonight at the Okeechobee Civic Center located on the 17 hundred block of Highway 98 North beginning at 6:30. If you’d like to participate in it, please contact the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s office at (863) 763-3117.

It’s been just over nine weeks since school began and it looks like Okeechobee County School students will have to keep on wearing their masks in school. During their meeting earlier this month, the county school board voted unanimously to continue the mandatory wearing of masks by students and faculty at all county schools. Okeechobee County School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says despite some cases of COVID at some schools thus far, the wearing of masks has been working well and Okeechobee area schools have not had the exclusions that other counties have had with this pandemic. It’s also helped that the mask wearing combined with thorough cleanup of desks each night has made a difference. Kenworthy says with the continued mandatory mask wearing, there’s been some additional freedoms enacted.

The board will continue the mandatory mask wearing at schools likely until the end of the semester. The issue will be revisited at the December meeting.

A report of a building fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters nearly two weeks ago Friday night. Crews were called to the 46 hundred block of NW 30th Street in Okeechobee shortly before 9:15 on October 16th and arrived to a mobile home trailer that was considerably more than halfway covered in flames. Firefighters discovered heavy smoke and flames in one area of the house as they headed in to fight the blaze in that area of the home before moving on to other areas of the home that were burning. Crews needed just over three hours to get the fire extinguished and there were no injuries reported. Total damage to the mobile home is estimated at seven thousand dollars in property and contents. Investigators say the owner had no insurance. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday rose once again slightly but fortunately the number of fatalities stayed the same.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,735 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities are holding steady at 38. 1,730 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. 194 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 790,426 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 780,220 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 16,571 with 48,722 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:

23 year old Brian Matthew Gorby of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of marijuana possession. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

46 year old Telly Salvolas Andrews of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of animal cruelty. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

39 year old Jack Edwin Jernigan of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on two past charges of drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

34 year old Houston Michael Suarez of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of petit theft and resisting arrest. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

70 year old Myrna Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

38 year old Brian Matthew McCullers of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.

46 year old Pittman Jason Sampson of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license for the second time after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Justin Timothy Wood of Okeechobee was arrested by police for possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $10,500.00 dollars.

24 year old Marcellous Deon Sullivan Junior of Pahokee was arrested on eight counts of using false identification to purchase firearms. His bond is set at $160 thousand dollars.