News Cast 12/7

News Cast for December 7th:

Officials from the Okeechobee County Administrator’s office say that Runway 5/23 at the Okeechobee County Airport will be closed over the next few days in preparation for the airport’s upcoming runway rehabilitation project. This closing will allow geotechnical crews to gather data to properly rehabilitate the runway for much needed improvements. This will allow for a safe, new runway for years to come. Runway 5/23 will be closed during daylight hours from today until Friday of this week. Any questions can be directed to the Okeechobee County Administration office at (863) 763-6441 Extension 1 or the County Airport at (863) 467-5505.

As they have so often over these past several months during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasure Coast Food Bank once again made an appearance in Okeechobee County shortly before Thanksgiving for another food pantry to those who need it. Mayor Dowling Watford says Treasure Coast Food Bank officials and other volunteers provided food for just over 660 families for an event that was originally planned for five hundred families. Watford says Treasure Coast Food Bank had gotten a big turnout for communities on the coast and they decided to prepare for the arrival of at least 750 families. Watford says it’s based on need and here in Okeechobee, there’s a definite need.

The event was held at the Agri-Civic Center on November 20th. It was originally to be held at the site for the Music and Arts Festival but Watford says it was too far away for some people. Treasure Coast Food Bank also held a food pantry this past Tuesday in the Coquina Water District area and that serviced over 125 families. The next food pantry will be held at the Agri-Civic Center this Saturday. More information will be forthcoming.

This is just a reminder that the 2020 Hurricane Season officially came to a close last Tuesday and Okeechobee County Fire and Rescue officials are encouraging residents to please remove their hurricane shutters if you have them installed on your windows and doors. Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says while fire and rescue crews have tools necessary to get through the shutters when needed, it’s often an unnecessary task.

The 2020 Hurricane Season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record with a total of 28 recorded storms.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County once again increased on Friday while the number of fatalities remained steady. As of Friday morning, courtesy of the FL Department of Health, Okeechobee County has 2,084 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March, with that figure rising by sixteen and the number of fatalities remained at 44. 2,070 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 213 as that figure rose by one. 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 1,039,207 positive COVID-19 cases since March and 1,022,354 of those are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 18,994 with 56,095 people hospitalized. Florida recently joined Texas and California as the only states with at least a million confirmed COVID-19 cases since March.

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. If you have any questions related to the virus itself, you can direct them to the Okeechobee County 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.

A Vero Beach man is dead following a vehicle accident a week ago Friday morning in Indian River County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the man, who was 26 years old, was driving a pickup truck east on State Road 60 near 154th Avenue in Citrus Ridge at around 11:30 when for unknown reasons, he lost control of the truck, causing him to drive onto the median, then back onto the road, across the eastbound lanes and onto the right grass shoulder of the road. This caused the truck to rotate clockwise before colliding with a tree. On-scene medics declared the man dead from his injuries. It remains under investigation. Due to Marsy’s Law, FHP is not releasing the name of the victim.

On the arrest report:

22 year old Logan Matthew Selph Dunn of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a Glades County warrant for failing to appear in court to answer for charges of leaving the scene of an accident with damages. He’s being held without bond.

78 year old Kurt Edward Behlen of Okeechobee was arrested on assault charges. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

21 year old Gage Michael Wade Platt of Okeechobee was arrested for grand theft auto and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident with damages. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

41 year old Neal Lee Minton of Okeechobee was arrested on Highlands County warrants for failing to appear in court to answer for past charges of driving on an expired license with knowledge of it, possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, giving a false name to law enforcement and resisting a law enforcement officer. His bond is set at $12 thousand dollars.

26 year old Alphonso Tyrone Morris of Okeechobee was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

38 year old April Lee Murray of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for violating probation on past charges of felony driving on a suspended license. She’s being held without bond.

56 year old Cheryl Elisa Wohl of Okeechobee was arrested on multiple charges of contempt of court for failing to appear to answer for past charges of possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and drug paraphernalia. She’s being held without bond.