News Cast 10/30

News Cast for October 30th:

The future dog park of Okeechobee County is in the hands of you, the residents of Okeechobee County. Officials from Gilbert Ford are conducting a a donation raiser, not a fund raiser, but a donation raiser for a new dog park and K-9 training facility in the county. JD Mixon, Gilbert Ford’s Director of Operations says this donation raiser as he calls it, will have anyone interested test drive a new Ford vehicle and Gilbert will donate twenty dollars towards the funding of the new dog park that’s being organized by the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) of which he’s the president. Mixon says if you cannot come down in person, you can do the test drive by logging on to Mixon says the site of the dog park will combine security and closeness for the county.

Mixon and fellow FOP member Lt. Michael Hazellief of the Sheriff’s Department are organizing the creation of the dog park. The in-person test drive begins at 8:30 this morning and continues until seven o’clock tonight while the online test driving will continue until early tomorrow morning. Three hundred people are needed to test drive to achieve the target amount of money needed to break ground on the dog park.

Halloween is here and it’s a time of scary fun and scary and crazy costumes. It’s also a time where kids will be trick or treating everywhere in Okeechobee County tomorrow. With that, officials from the sheriff’s department are reminding parents to keep their focus on keeping their kids safe, specifically when so many are outdoors. Sheriff Noel Stephen is reminding parents to have their kids’ costumes reflective or made in a way so that drivers can see them, specifically as it gets darker, and have them wear masks that allow kids to see without any problem. Stephen says also parents need to stay with their kids during trick or treating and always be aware of traffic.

Stephen says parents need to also be aware of sex offenders living in Okeechobee this time of year; officials say there are approximately 107 registered sex offenders and 13 predators living in the area. Parents can find out where they live by calling the sheriff’s office or by logging on to the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators website at The Sheriff’s Department is asking that all trick or treaters be done by 9pm; this is not a curfew but rather a guideline.

With Halloween here, officials from Florida’s Poison Control Center are also asking people to stay safe. Dr. Alfred Aleguas of the Poison Control Center is especially warning people to check their kids’ candy from trick or treating and make sure they are in commercially wrapped packages.

Dr. Aleguas also warns about glow sticks and glow jewelry; never chew or break them open and don’t use or share cosmetics with a funny smell to them because they can cause skin irritation. If you run into an issue with any of these, please call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. They are open 24/7.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday rose by just one and thankfully the number of fatalities stayed the same for the fourth consecutive day.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,736 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities are holding steady at 38. 1,731 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 794,624 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 784,331 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 16,648 with 49,011 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 or the Center for Disease Control at

On the arrest report:

38 year old Shawn Thomas Eckenwiler of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of felony driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Robert Lamote Futch of Okeechobee was arrested on a Glades County warrant for fleeing and eluding law enforcement. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

44 year old Elton James Shore of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past grand theft charges. He’s being held without bond.

58 year old Robert Eugene Cook of Okeechobee was arrested by police on warrants from Glades County on charges of fraudulent use of a credit card, grand theft and criminal use of another person’s identification. He’s being held without bond.

52 year old Tommy Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for violating a condition of pre-trial release stemming from previous domestic violence charges. He’s being held without bond.

40 year old Becky Lee Cook of Okeechobee was arrested on a local warrant for violating probation on past charges of methamphetamine possession. She’s being held without bond.