News Cast 3/12

News Cast for March 12th:

Amputee battered at Wal-mart

An Okeechobee man was charged with verbally assaulting another customer, with nearly striking him with his van, and then knocking the victim to the pavement with a shopping cart in a parking lot road rage incident, City Police said. Anthony Accardi , 67, faces charges of battery on a person over 65 and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a person over 65.  Bond was set at $12,500. The victim said that since he has just one leg he tries to park near the store and waits for a disabled parking spot when the incident occurred.

He said the two drivers exchanged words and the suspect drove his van toward him as he walked toward the store. The victim said he was startled and pushed the shopping cart into the front quarter panel of the van. The suspect grabbed the shopping cart, shoved it hard into the victim, and knocked him into the ground, the police report added. After being knocked to the ground the victim pulled a firearm and Accardi got back into his vehicle and fled the area, the report said.

Veterans to get vaccine opportunity

The Veteran’s Administration will hold a COVID-19 Johnson and Johnson vaccine clinic for eligible service men and women on March 24 at the Indian River State College Dixon Hendry campus in Okeechobee.

Fire Chief Ralph Franklin said the shots are by appointment only.

“It is for eligible or enrolled veterans.  They will do the Johnson and Johnson one dose. “

To make an appointment veterans are asked to call (561) 422-5220. Okeechobee has had 3,606 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.  Glades County has reported 910.

Over 55 percent of Okeechobee seniors have received at least one COVID shot. 5,208 shots have been administered with 4,926 have been given to seniors. COVID-19 vaccine first doses will be available next Tuesday, March 16, by appointment only at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center.

Neighbor’s argument leads to shooting incident

An Okeechobee man is charged with firing one round from a pistol into the ground after a verbal altercation with his neighbor Wednesday, Okeechobee County Sheriff Deputies said.

Daniel Garland, 29, faces charges of grand theft firearm, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm in a residential area. The incident report from Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Deputies said the argument stemmed from the victim driving his vehicle near Garland’s residence near 11553 highway 441 Southeast.

There were no injuries reported.

Sales tax hike could help pay for expanded jail

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners is trying to figure out how to pay for a $55 million jail expansion.

One proposal is an additional 1 cent sales tax.

The county could finance the expansion over 30 years making the total cost over $90 million.

County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said a temporary solution could be portables, “The major issue right now is funding because of overcrowding in the female population.  I think that is the state’s main concern.  If we could build portables for that issue and use buildings around town for storage that might get us through to 2022.”

County voters have to approve a sales tax hike.  The earliest they could vote on it is November, 2022.

County Commissioner Kelly Owens said that delay likes puts the project on hold, “We do not have the funding.  We do not have the money to commit to going out to bid.  We probably need to push that off.”

The county will receive just over $8 million from the latest federal stimulus package.  Chairman Terry Burroughs suggested using half of those funds to help pay for the jail expansion.