News Cast 10/5

News Cast for October 5th:

Monday, October 5th News (AM) 1st Version

The Okeechobee City Council has given City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca instructions on looking into a proposal by the Okeechobee Utility Authority (OUA) to have mandatory water and sewer hookup for all city residents. Councilmembers discussed the issue at length during their last meeting and De Oca says while most of the city residents, specifically those with older homes, want the water and sewer hookup, it’s a question of affordability and the best way to go about it fiscally. That said, De Oca says it’s the right thing to do to help prevent runoff.

Former City Councilman Gary Ritter says it would “behoove us” to do this water and sewer hookup, specifically for the older homes who still run on septic systems, because of failing drain fields that cannot be cleaned any better after a rainstorm and he specifically cited his daughter’s home which is across the street from his.

The issue, specifically cost, will be discussed again at an upcoming city council meeting.

A vehicle fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters a week ago Friday morning. Crews were called to the 41 thousand block of Highway 441 North sometime before noon after getting a report of a semi-truck on fire and arrived to find the fire was contained to the back two axles of the truck with the tires burning. Crews were able to get the fire controlled in just under an hour while using about 750 gallons of water and foam to extinguish the blaze. Firefighters were told by the driver of the truck that he noticed smoke emanating from somewhere on the truck and he pulled over and noticed the passenger side tires were on fire. Total damage to the truck is estimated at around five thousand dollars. No one was hurt. It’s being investigated by the State Fire Marshal.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of Friday morning rose again but thankfully the number of fatalities remained the same.  As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,581 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities remain steady at 28. 1,578 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 now at forty. 177 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 711,804 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 703,212 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is now at 14,554 with 44,489 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:

52 year old Tommy Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon during a domestic incident. His bond is set at twenty thousand dollars.

43 year old Donna Soborowicz of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.

41 year old William Allen McClure of Okeechobee was arrested for petit theft and providing false ownership to a pawnbroker. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

30 year old Melissa Ann Carter of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

34 year old Jack Owen Albritton of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of violating probation on past charges of trafficking stolen property. He’s being held without bond.

34 year old Michael Exantus of Okeechobee was arrested on two warrants from Glades County for failing to appear in court to answer for past charges of driving on a suspended license for the third time and giving a false name to law enforcement. He’s being held without bond.

42 year old April Michelle Litteral of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license for the second time after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $750.00 dollars.