News Cast 11/13

News Cast for November 13th:

Once again, if you need some free food, come on down to the Agri-Civic Center in Okeechobee County tomorrow morning. Officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank, like they have so often this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be having another food pantry at the Agri-Civic Center for those who need it. Okeechobee County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says information for the food pantry will be made on social media as well as a special brand of the Everbridge System that his department used previously.

Franklin says this food pantry will begin at nine o’clock and will serve the first three hundred vehicles and there will be no vouchers or pre-registration necessary. The Agri-Civic Center has been the site for most of the food pantries this year and there will be another one there next Friday and that will be serving five hundred vehicles as we head into Thanksgiving.

The issue of storm water and the best way to handle it was a topic of discussion during yesterday’s Okeechobee County Commissioners’ meeting. Bryan Moore, the Okeechobee County Bridge and Road Director says there’s been a major problem with the excessive standing water in the county due to the record amount of rainfall we’ve had this Hurricane Season and it’s flooding fields and other properties, private and public, in the county and there’s no place for the water to go. Commissioners accepted Moore’s proposal of adding four more crew members to his existing staff so they can concentrate on cleaning ditches and cleaning pipes to combat the standing storm water. While adding four new crew members might seem rather minimal, Moore says it’s a good start in dealing with this problem.

Commissioners will meet up again at a later time to discuss the funding for these needed crew members. It will likely cost about $225 thousand dollars in salaries and benefits and Moore says he’s confident it will be done. Moore says there’s an estimated 35 areas in the county that have a problem with excessive standing water from excessive rainfall.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday unfortunately rose by 14 more cases but fortunately the number of fatalities stayed the same.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,847 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities still number at 43. 1,842 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 rose by one, and they now number at 197. 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 863,619 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 851,825 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 17,372 with 51,272 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

A Clewiston man is dead following a vehicle accident early Monday morning in Broward County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the man, who was 57 years old, was driving a pickup truck southbound on Interstate 75 approaching the 37 mile post near Alligator Alley shortly before 8:30 when for unknown reasons, the man allowed the truck to veer off the highway and he lost control of it. The truck went off the road and into a water canal, causing the truck to overturn onto its roof in the canal. FHP officers say the inside of the truck began filling up with water before rescue crews arrived and transported the man to Broward General Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale for treatment of his injuries. He was later declared dead by on-scene medics. It remains under investigation. FHP is not releasing the name of the victim due to Marsy’s Law.

On the arrest report:

36 year old Bradley Justin Sheltra of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for providing a false name to law enforcement and two counts of contempt of court after failing to appear to answer for charges of possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. He’s being held without bond.

21 year old Ella Diane Meeks of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft auto, fleeing and eluding law enforcement and contributing to the delinquency of a child. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

23 year old Ozmani Robles of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing without violence. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

49 year old William R. Kyles of Okeechobee was arrested on two local capias warrants for possession of controlled substances with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a place of worship. His bond is set at $60 thousand dollars.

46 year old Betty Ann Scruton of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

37 year old Pamela Margaret Sowell of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct. Her bond is set at $250.00 dollars.

19 year old Lane Dalton Vargas of Okeechobee was arrested for knowingly driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

52 year old James Rufus Vanover of Okeechobee was arrested by police for trespassing on someone’s property after being warned. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.