News Cast for October 8th:
The Okeechobee County Commissioners will meet this morning and they will be looking to approve two major proclamations for October, the first one being Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the other being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Commissioners will also look to approve a request by the Community Services Director Denise Whitehead to submit applications to fund the replacement of playgrounds and the pavilion at the Douglas Brown Community Center. The meeting will begin at nine o’clock at the Historic County Courthouse. It will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website. Seating at the courthouse will be limited due to social distancing guidelines.
All this week here in Okeechobee County has been Fire Prevention Week. This is the week to remember the dangers of fire and what it can do to property and life when it gets out of control. Okeechobee County Fire Captain Ryan Hathaway was on hand during the September 24th County Commissioners’ meeting to accept a proclamation for Fire Prevention Week in the county and he said this year’s theme is serving up fire safety in the kitchen. Hathaway says kitchen fires are one of the leading causes of devastating residential fires, which claim three thousand lives a year. Hathaway says surprisingly and sadly, that statistic hasn’t changed much at all in the last one hundred years because of the difference in fuels over time; going from your relatives’ wood furniture to petroleum and plastics.
This week is in remembrance of the great Chicago Fire that killed 250 people and left a hundred thousand homeless and destroyed over 17 thousand structures on October 8th, 1871. Hathaway stresses having working smoke alarms and always having two ways out of your home in the event of a fire. Practice exit drills in your home, the way it’s done in schools. According to studies, during a fire in your home you often have just two minutes to evacuate.
Barely a month and a half into the school year and once again, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head in Okeechobee County. County School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says 22 students and four staff members from Okeechobee High School (OHS) were sent home for the next two weeks because they were in close contact with a staff member who tested positive for the virus and Osceola Middle School also was affected for the first time as thirty students and one staff member were sent home because of their close proximity to a student who tested positive. Despite this recent development, Kenworthy says officials from both schools are handling it well and the good news is that those who tested positive are doing well physically and the possibility of a spread to others outside the school grounds has been averted.
With these new numbers, there have been over 160 students and staff sent home to quarantine since school began in August. Kenworthy stresses that despite the numbers, Okeechobee is better off than most FL counties going through this.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday morning rose again, but thankfully once again the number of fatalities remained the same. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,614 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities remain steady at 28. 1,610 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 being forty. 178 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 722,707 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 713,902 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 14,904 with 45,259 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:
29 year old Kyle Thomas Moon of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of at least four grams of marijuana and methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $76 thousand dollars.
37 year old Judy Faye Louise Anderson of Okeechobee was arrested for violating parole on past charges of willful child abuse. She’s being held without bond.
34 year old Blake Preston Sheltra of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of the controlled substance naloxone without a prescription. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.
32 year old Anna Victoria Smyth of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.
63 year old Corveda Smith of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of grand theft. She’s being held without bond.
41 year old David Lee Brown of Okeechobee was arrested by police for drunk driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and dealing in stolen property after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $22 thousand dollars.
36 year old Llewellyn Randall Dixon Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.