News Cast 11/5

News Cast for November 5th:

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will be meeting tonight and they will be discussing annual and sick leave payouts for City Fire Department personnel following the decision by councilmembers to approve the inter-local agreement with the county to provide fire protective services, thus effectively closing the 105 year old City Fire Department as of this June. Councilmembers will also be discussing the future direction of the city’s code enforcement division and improvements on Highway 70 East. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in City Hall. It will be streamed live via the Zoom application. Please contact the City Administrator’s office or check out the city’s website at www.cityofokeechobee.com for instructions on viewing the meeting through Zoom. Seating is limited in the city council chambers for the meeting.

Right before tonight’s Okeechobee City Council meeting, City Hall will be the scene for another meeting where people can voice their concerns for whatever is on their minds as part of a town hall meeting. City councilmembers voted in favor of having this town hall during their October 6th meeting. While it was approved, Mayor Dowling Watford says he has mixed feelings about having one because the last one didn’t have too many people attend to voice their concerns, despite money spent on advertising it and Watford says that’s because those that have concerns already have voiced them during previous town halls or they can attend a regular meeting and voice them during public comment period or more importantly, they can do it by speaking to councilmembers in person.

Councilmember Monica Clark says this town hall is important to have because simply put, the city needs it.

The town hall meeting will begin at five o’clock, in the city council chambers at City Hall. It will be streamed live on Zoom.

In order to enhance public safety, awareness and protection, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department has announced that a man who is registered as a sex offender has moved into the community. 58 year old Roderick Matthew Kriminger has moved into a home on the 16 thousand block of NW 290th Street. He is Caucasian and he stands six feet, two inches tall, weighs 195 pounds and has brown and blonde hair and green eyes. Kriminger was convicted of three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on three minors in Broward County in 2016. Kriminger has served the full sentence that was imposed on him by the court system. Sheriff’s officials say this bulletin is used for information purposes only. Citizen abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass Kriminger or any other registered sexual offenders in the community will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If you need more information, call the Sheriff’s Department or you can log on to the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators website at www.fdle.state.fl.us for more information on Kriminger or other sex offenders in your area.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County as of yesterday rose by a half dozen and unfortunately our fatality numbers also rose by two.  As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 1,775 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, and fatalities are now at 43. 1,770 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 forty. Hospitalized county residents remain 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 821,123 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 810,256 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 16,922 with 49,889 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:

35 year old Jack Owen Albritton of Okeechobee, an inmate at the county jail, was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of attempting to escape and criminal mischief after he was found responsible for digging a hole in his cell wall leading to the outside. His bond is set at six thousand dollars.

38 year old Tara Marie Reynolds of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for past drug possession charges, driving on a suspended license and resisting law enforcement. She’s being held without bond.

32 year old Justin Brown Chism of Okeechobee was arrested for theft of a credit card, fraudulent use of the card and petit theft. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

28 year old Mitchell Lawrence Cordell of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and two counts of obstruction. His bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.

29 year old Yesenia Yanira Vasquez of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. She was released after posting a $750.00 dollar bond.

18 year old Jordan Elizabeth York of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court for failing to show up on past charges of driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a $750.00 dollar bond.

36 year old Flavio Medrano of Okeechobee was arrested for battery via strangling and child abuse without great bodily harm during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at $75 hundred dollars.

27 year old Jorge Vergel of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, battery and grand theft auto and contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for petit theft charges. His bond is set at just over ten thousand dollars.

57 year old Robert G. Bryant of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

30 year old Luis Alvarez of Okeechobee was arrested by police for habitual driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.