News Cast 12/30

News Cast for December 30th:

If you’re an Okeechobee County resident and you’re facing eviction or foreclosure from lack of income brought about by the Coronavirus, better listen to this. You now have until one o’clock today to get some help. Joy Jarriel, the coordinator of Okeechobee County’s State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP), says the county received a little over $240 thousand dollars in CARES Act funding last August to address the needs of county residents who need help with foreclosure and eviction prevention brought about by a lack of income from under-employment or flat out unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The county recently applied for and received thirty thousand dollars in more funding from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to provide for qualified applicants who might have otherwise been turned away. Jarriel says income-eligible people can apply for these funds and the amount received is based on individual cases. Jarriel says people need to have proper identification to apply but there will be other needed documents.

Remember, this funding will be available only until one o’clock this afternoon. After that, you cannot apply. To apply for it, please call the SHIP Coordinator’s office at (863) 763-9312, extension 6 or email Jarriel at jjarriel@co.okeechobee.fl.us. Jarriel says as many as twenty people have applied for the extra funding since the county received it earlier this month.

Last August, an era came to an end at Indian River State College (IRSC) as longtime president Dr. Edwin Massey retired after 32 years at the helm and gave way to the new president Dr. Timothy Moore. Dr. Moore recently spoke with members of Okeechobee’s Kiwanis Club and he spoke about taking the reins of IRSC during the COVID-19 pandemic and enduring the challenges that come with it, saying we have to physically bring students back to campus as over eighty percent of the student body is online. Dr. Moore also talked about building on the great legacy of IRSC and taking it further than his predecessor.

Dr. Moore, a military veteran with a 35 year career in higher education, federal, commercial, military and start-up sectors, came to IRSC following a nationwide search.

On the COVID-19 front here in Okeechobee County, the number of positive cases as of yesterday unfortunately rose again, this time by 19, that’s the bad news. The good news is the number of deaths held steady. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 2,366 recorded positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities still number at 51. 2,345 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. 233 county residents have been hospitalized as that figure rose by one. Those who have 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 have reported 1,292,252 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 1,270,063 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 21,409 with 62,142 people hospitalized since March.

Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus at the County Health Department between the hours of eight and four every Monday thru Thursday and eight to two on Fridays. 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, or just bring photo identification. Testing is free in both locations. If you have 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. The local health department offers COVID-19 testing every Monday thru Friday for first responders and for those who have symptoms. 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.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) investigators are asking the public’s help in finding those responsible for a vehicle accident Christmas Eve night in Hendry County that left a 56 year old LaBelle man in serious condition. FHP officers say the LaBelle man was eastbound at the wheel of a sports utility vehicle (SUV) on State Route 80 approaching Collingswood Parkway in LaBelle a little after eight o’clock when the driver of another SUV, described as a silver-colored 2001 Acura, was heading north on the Collingswood Parkway approaching Route 80 when the Acura driver failed to stop or yield before crossing into the path of the LaBelle man’s SUV. This caused the front of the Acura to collide with the LaBelle man’s SUV on the driver’s side, sending both vehicles to opposite sides of the road. The LaBelle man had to be transported by med-flight helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment. The driver of the Acura SUV apparently fled the scene on foot. If you have any information on this accident, please contact FHP or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-423-8477. Due to Marsy’s Law, FHP is not releasing the LaBelle man’s name.

On the arrest report:

43 year old Kelli Lynn Adkins of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on battery charges during a domestic dispute. She was released after posting a $25 hundred dollar bond.

30 year old Alanda Hunsinger of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of burglary and failing to appear in court to answer for the burglary charges. She’s being held without bond.

19 year old Alexander Campbell of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and driving at high speeds on a roadway following a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $55 hundred dollar bond.

41 year old Neal Lee Minton of Okeechobee was arrested on warrants from Osceola County for two counts of unlawful use of someone else’s driver’s license, driving on a suspended license and driving without a valid registration. His bond is set at just under $28 thousand dollars.

32 year old Anthony David Bormuth of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past felony charges of driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He’s being held without bond.

60 year old Tammi Lei Hollander of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

51 year old Tammi Jo Thomas of Okeechobee was arrested for stalking. Her bond is set at $15 hundred dollars.