News Cast 2/12

News Cast for February 12th:

Dog dies in electrical incident

Power lines fell on top of a trailer and a vehicle parked at 3307 SE 36th Avenue causing a fire on February 9 and the death of a dog tied to the trailer with a chain, Okeechobee County Fire Rescue said.

The people in the trailer were evacuated without injury.

Firemen said fire damage was confined to the cab and the engine of the truck.

Some damage was done to the bedroom area of the mobile home.

Firemen were on the scene for about 90 minutes.

BOCC worried about claims bill

A claims bill to award the family of Hilda Medrano $5 million dollars goes before the legislature this year.

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners expressed concern about the possible financial impacts for the sheriff’s office.

Medrano and Elizabeth Renteria were killed on December 2, 2013 after a crash involving a sheriff’s deputy in downtown Okeechobee.

A local jury awarded the $5 million after a civil trial and found the deputy was 88 5% at fault.

Advocate Albert Balido said he thinks the bill could get heard in Tallahassee this year, “We think we have a very powerful case and a very powerful story.  We have an extraordinary verdict from a rural county for a case that I think merits it.  We think local claims bills will get a hearing this year.”

County Attorney Wade Vose was asked what impacts this bill would have on the county by commissioners, “If they were to approve the bill the sheriffs office would be responsible for it.  The sheriff’s office is not a taxing authority.  It would bankrupt the sheriff’s office.”

The claims bill will be before a special master on February 25.

Sponsor Senator Tina Polsky said a claims bill is required for any amount over sovereign immunity.  She said she felt the family deserved a fair resolution.

“I felt very strongly that these people needed to be heard and compensated for this tragedy.  Money can’t bring their daughter back but it is all that we have.  I felt compelled to do what I could for the family.”

Four candidates qualify for city council race

A veteran politician highlighted a group of four candidates who qualified to run for the soon to be vacant city council seat held by Wes Abney.

Noel Chandler, a former city councilmember and County Commissioner was joined by Lisa Feltenberger, David McAuley and Beth Lehman.

The election is held on May 4.