News Cast 2/14

News Cast for February 14th:

The very real and worsening problem of exorbitantly high prices for prescription medications at local pharmacies was the topic of discussion at a special press conference yesterday at Okeechobee Discount Drugs. Steve Nelson, the owner and lead pharmacist for Okeechobee Discount Drugs says there needs to be a drug pricing reform in the state because it’s not only affecting taxpayers, but it’s also affecting small businesses, the lifeblood of communities like Okeechobee County. Regulations need to be placed on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM), who act as the middlemen between insurance companies and drug stores and control the drug market. These PBM’s are owned by large pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens who keep drug costs down in the CVS’s and Walgreens of the world but the prices are higher in smaller, local pharmacies like Nelson’s. Nelson says these PBM’s are “stealing” from him and taxpayers and “robbing him blind” based on a recent report from Axis advisors.

Sheriff Noel Stephen spoke at the press conference and while he applauds state lawmakers for recently bringing transparency to this issue, more needs to be done. One customer said she was told by her insurance company to no longer purchase her prescriptions at Nelson’s pharmacy but instead get them via mail order.

This week is a special week for foster care in Okeechobee County as it was proclaimed Foster Family Appreciation Week by county commissioners at their meeting yesterday. Caryn Toole, the Director for Communities Connected for Kids in Okeechobee and Indian River Counties, was on hand to accept the proclamation and she says it “feels great” that foster care is being recognized and appreciated this week. Toole says foster care is an important piece of the child welfare system and while most children are taken in by relatives, there are over a hundred kids that are not. That is where foster families come in. Toole says local foster children more often than not are placed in families here in Okeechobee as opposed to families outside the county. Toole says there are not many foster families in the area and Communities Connected for Kids are always looking for people interested in being foster parents. For more information, visit www.cckids.net.

A vehicle fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County Firefighters Monday evening. Crews were called to the 12 thousand block of State Route 70 East at around 5:20 and found a minivan with its hood open and smoke pouring out of it where a fire had apparently been burning earlier. Investigators say the fire was extinguished before firefighters arrived on scene and an extinguisher was used to put out the blaze. Firefighters remained on scene for a half hour using a thermal imager to check for any other fires in the minivan. No other evidence of fire was present. Investigators were told by the minivan owner that he was putting air in one of the tires while the minivan was running ad he noticed smoke coming from the engine. He then bought an extinguisher at a store he stopped in to fight the fire. No one was hurt and no damage to the minivan’s engine. It’s under investigation.

A Labelle man is dead following a vehicle accident Tuesday night in Hendry County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 65 year old Silvio Picado was driving a GMC Sonoma pickup truck westbound on State Route 80A, also known as East Cowboy Way, near SW Eucalyptus Boulevard in Labelle just before eight o’clock when for unknown reasons, he drove off the road, onto the grass shoulder and struck a tree. Picado was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. The accident is under investigation. Alcohol was deemed to not be a factor in this accident.

On the arrest report:

37 year old Tara Marie Reynolds of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of morphine without a prescription and drug paraphernalia. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.

33 year old Jesse Dirke Zipperer of Okeechobee was arrested on three counts of contempt of court during his hearings on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

22 year old Ozmani Robles of Okeechobee was arrested for battery. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

62 year old Linda Sue Brown of Okeechobee was arrested by police for simple assault and battery on a person over the age of 65. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.