News Cast 10/6

News Cast for October 6th:

As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The Okeechobee City Council will meet tonight and they will try once again to get the inter-local agreement for fire protective services with the county approved for the second straight meeting. The agreement failed to pass by a narrow three to two vote during the last meeting. Councilmembers will also be looking to approve this month as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and they will be presenting a five year longevity service award to City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca. The meeting will be held at City Hall beginning at six o’clock and it will be streamed live via the Zoom application. You can check with the City Administrator’s office or log on to www.cityofokeechobee.com and check out the agendas section for instructions on viewing the meeting through Zoom. Seating at City Hall will be limited due to social distancing guidelines.

This morning, for the third time in as many months, there will be another opportunity for people to get their hands on some free food in Okeechobee County. The Treasure Coast Food Bank will be back in town and they will be holding another food distribution pantry at the Coquina Water District on the NW section of town. Okeechobee Mayor Dowling Watford says a survey recently indicated there is a food deficiency in that area of town and the need is there for another food pantry. The food pantry will be servicing the first 150 vehicles that show up and that will be all the vehicles they will serve at this food pantry. Unlike previously, this particular food pantry will not have any pre-registered vehicles, which is normally done through the county’s Emergency Operations Center. The food distribution pantry will be held at the Coquina Water District at 17429 NW 242nd Street beginning at nine o’clock. The next food distribution pantry will be held October 23rd at the Agri-Civic Center.

An Avon Park woman who had been in Highlands County Jail since the end of July on charges of aggravated child neglect and resisting an officer in connection with the death of her son, is facing more serious charges. Highlands County Sheriff’s Department Spokesperson Scott Dressel says 29 year old Philletta Breanna Moransit is now being charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child following an investigation into the drowning death of her five year old son, whose body was found in Lake Lelia following an exhaustive search. Dressel says the charges were upgraded because investigators say the boy could not have gotten out there unless someone physically carried him out there.

Dressel says the boy’s body was actually found by Sheriff Paul Blackman who had taken his own boat out there himself to search. If convicted, Moransit is facing life in prison. It remains under investigation. If you have any information about this case, please contact the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday morning rose again but thankfully the number of fatalities remained the same.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,597 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities remain steady at 28. 1,594 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 yesterday morning, the state has 717,874 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 709,157 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is now at 14,712 with 44,775 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:

46 year old Juan Jose Castillo of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He’s being held without bond.

20 year old Edgerrin James Billie of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop and introducing contraband into a detention facility. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

41 year old Nikki Lynn-Gatlin of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and introducing contraband into a detention facility. His bond is set at $10,500.00 dollars.

29 year old Ethan Lynn Gopher of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $750.00 dollar bond.

51 year old Keri Lynn Kelly of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of touching or striking someone. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

58 year old Tony Dale Mosteller of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of possession of the controlled substance hydromorphone without a prescription, with intent to sell it. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.