News Cast 11/23

News Cast for November 23rd:

An Okeechobee man is facing murder charges in connection with the shooting death of a 16 year old Okeechobee boy late Monday night. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s detectives arrested 28 year old Pardell K. Rembert Wednesday night and charged him with murder while engaged in the commission of a felony after detectives questioned him. Sheriff Noel Stephen says Rembert was engaged in a narcotics deal with someone in the Douglas Park area at around ten o’clock Monday night and reportedly an argument broke out between the two. Rembert reportedly pulled a gun and the boy was unfortunately in the area at the time and he was accidentally shot. The boy was taken to Raulerson Hospital for initial treatment then transported to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Ft. Pierce for further treatment where he would later succumb to his wounds. Stephen says a situation like this is an absolute tragedy for all involved.

Stephen praised his detectives and road patrol and Okeechobee County residents for their efforts in leading to Rembert’s arrest. He’s being held without bond in Okeechobee County Jail.

Last Wednesday, Farm City Week officially began in Okeechobee County. This is the time that we all recognize the vital role that agriculture plays here in Okeechobee and the rest of the country and be happy that we have in our communities and appreciate the hard work farmers put in to allow us to have the best and safest food supply in the world. But this year is a noticeably different Farm City Week than in year’s past because there will not be a luncheon to recognize the 4H students and their hard work and recognize this year’s Person of the Year in Agriculture. Okeechobee County Property Appraiser Mickey Bandi says the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for the cancelling of the luncheon because of the issue of social distancing and the logistics in getting the 4H kids together was just not possible.

Farm City Week was officially proclaimed by both the County Commissioners and City Council during their respective meetings earlier this month. Bandi was on hand to accept the proclamation during both meetings and he says it was with a heavy heart that Farm City Week officials had to cancel the luncheon.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of Friday unfortunately rose by 16 more but fortunately the number of fatalities once again stayed the same for the tenth straight day.  As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,942 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities are still numbering at 43. 1,933 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 39. Hospitalized county residents are numbering at 201. 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 Friday morning, officials from the state health department are reporting 923,418 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 910,065 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 17,889 with 53,091 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:

20 year old Bryanna Cutler of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for criminal mischief. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

32 year old Mason Hiram Jennings of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and failing to obey a law enforcement officer’s orders to stop. He was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

60 year old Scott Komitor of Deerfield Beach was arrested on Monroe County warrants for grand theft auto and criminal mischief. His bond is set at $35 thousand dollars.