News Cast 11/17

News Cast for November 17th:

The work week got off to a wonderful and positive start in Okeechobee County yesterday as two men from FL’s east coast were recognized by the Sheriff’s Department for their heroic efforts in saving an Okeechobee girl’s life from what was to be certain death two months ago. Sheriff Noel Stephen presented awards to Dillon Resendiz of Ft. Pierce and Spencer Wintermote of Port St. Lucie for saving the life of 17 year old Peyton Leske by pulling her out of her burning truck, which was wedged underneath a tractor trailer, trapping her in the truck, following an accident on the morning of September 15th. Resendiz and Wintermote were passing by in separate vehicles and stopped to help save Leske by attaching one end of a chain one of them had to the door of her truck and the other end to one of the men’s trucks and yanked off the door, allowing them to pull her out, seconds before her truck exploded. Leske, who appeared at the awards ceremony still wheelchair-bound from her injuries, expressed her gratitude to the men who made it possible for her to still be here today.

Resendiz, an employee with Ft. Pierce Utilities, thanked the Sheriff’s Department for being recognized and believes he was chosen for this.

Leske says she was told by emergency personnel that she was very lucky to come away with just a broken finger, torn ligaments in her right knee and a gash on her arm from an accident so horrific.

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will meet tonight and they will be following the lead of the County Commissioners by proclaiming the week of the 18th thru the 25th of November as Farm City Week and they will also be presenting a 20 year longevity service award to Okeechobee City Executive Assistant Robin Brock. Councilmembers will also be considering entering into a contract with Verizon for the installation of WiFi hotspots in the city. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in City Hall and it will be streamed live via Zoom. Please check with the City Administrator’s office for instructions on viewing the meeting through Zoom. Seating is limited in City Hall due to social distancing.

Speaking of the Okeechobee City Council, during their last meeting they recognized their Finance Director, India Riedel for her 15 years of service to the city. Riedel says she appreciates the recognition she and other members of the city staff receive for their efforts and she enjoys her job immensely. Riedel says her job is not just about adding and subtracting numbers but what information those numbers provide and what we can gather as it pertains to the city.

Riedel, a native of Palatka, has been living in Okeechobee for nearly forty years and she met her husband here and raised her family here. Before becoming Okeechobee City Finance Director, Riedel worked for Okeechobee’s Department of Revenue and Insurance Risk Management. She says her greatest accomplishment is the city’s move to a new software system after twenty plus years.

That’s not the only meeting; the Okeechobee County School Board will also be meeting tonight and they will be conducting a re-organization of the board, swearing in re-elected board members and they will be recognizing some staff members that will be retiring this year and consider an agreement with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The meeting will be held in the Freshman Campus Auditorium beginning at six o’clock and it’ll be streamed live via Zoom. Please check with the school board office or log on to www.okee.k12.fl.us and check out school board agendas under the school board tab for information on viewing the meeting through Zoom.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) investigators are looking for two separate vehicles that were responsible for the death of a 49 year old Stuart woman following a vehicle accident Friday night in Martin County. FHP officers say the first vehicle is described as a pickup truck with two toned colored paint with a light bottom color and dark top color with damage on the right side. The second vehicle is described as a white four door sedan, closely resembling a Toyota Camry. The incident happened on the 32 hundred block of SE Dixie Highway near SW Delmar Street in Stuart at around 7:15 with the pickup truck driver barreling through and colliding into the woman while the driver of the white sedan drove through less than a minute later and ran over her while she was still lying in the street. The drivers of both vehicles fled the scene without stopping. The woman was later pronounced dead by on-scene medics. If you have information on either of these two vehicles or the drivers, please contact FHP at *347 on your smartphone or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477. FHP is not releasing the name of the victim due to Marsy’s Law.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday unfortunately rose by 16 more through the weekend but fortunately the number of fatalities once again stayed the same.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,870 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities still number at 43. 1,865 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 are numbering at 198. 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 885,201 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 872,810 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 17,518 with 51,900 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:

41 year old Casey Torria Casen of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for charges of resisting arrest without violence. He’s being held without bond.

27 year old Austing Douglas Harris of Okeechobee was arrested for damaging another person’s home by fire or explosion. His bond is set at $75 thousand dollars.

21 year old John Carlos Leon of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of animal cruelty. He was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

45 year old William Jason Bussey of Okeechobee was arrested by police for petit theft for the third time. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.