News Cast 11/10

News Cast for November 10th:

It looks as though Okeechobee and neighboring counties are going to be spared the brunt of Tropical Storm Eta. The storm, which began over the weekend and ran across the Florida Keys and into the southern portion of Florida, dumping lots of rain and producing winds as high as 50 miles per hour, appears to be heading into the Gulf of Mexico and heading north towards Tallahassee. That said, Okeechobee County is no longer under any tropical storm warnings or any flood watches and the county has sustained no damages as a result of this passing storm. However, it’s important to realize that with this passing weather, we are reminded that we are still officially in Hurricane Season for another three weeks. Okeechobee County Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal says residents are still being advised to monitor this difficult to read system because it could still take a turn towards us before the week is out and then we’re right back where we started yesterday. Smeykal is also reminding people once again that you need to have your storm supply kits ready. Smeykal says there should be enough food and water for each person in your group, not to mention medication, flashlights and batteries to last for at least five days.

Go to for more information on preparing your storm supply kit. Listen to WOKC for any further developments on Tropical Storm Eta. The local state of emergency in Okeechobee County remains in effect until Sunday afternoon.

With the lifting of the Tropical Storm Warning in Okeechobee County, area schools are back in session again today after schools were closed yesterday and students got an unexpected, extended weekend. School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says he and his staff made the decision yesterday to cancel school because of the high wind speeds and the dangers of school buses on the road in those conditions. Kenworthy says though he believes school will not be interrupted again this week based on the current track of the storm, but he’s keeping a close watch on it.

Any further questions can be directed to the school board office at (863) 462-5000.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday unfortunately rose by 18 more cases throughout the weekend. That’s the bad news. The good news is fortunately though, the numbers of fatalities remain unchanged.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,806 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities remain at 42. 1,801 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 an even forty. Hospitalized county residents still number at 194. 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.

As of yesterday morning, officials from the state health department are reporting 843,897 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 832,525 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 17,121 with 50,489 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 or the Center for Disease Control at

On the arrest report:

23 year old Harrison James Hemmis of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a Clay County warrant for marijuana possession. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

62 year old George Lee Roberson of Okeechobee was arrested for domestic battery by strangling, fleeing and eluding law enforcement and resisting arrest. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

46 year old Carlos Alberto Ramirez of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

35 year old Thomas Edward Lunsford of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and damaging property following a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

19 year old Ty’Juan Antonio Lewis of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court to answer for charges of drug possession, fleeing and eluding law enforcement and resisting arrest. His case is being handled by Juvenile Justice.

23 year old Ozmani Robles of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

33 year old Richarda Tiz Morris of Okeechobee was arrested by police for habitually driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

41 year old Christopher Van Hatcher of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.