News Cast 3/17

News Cast for March 17th:

Okeechobee schools change policy prohibiting firearms on campus

In actuality, firearms have been allowed on the Okeechobee High School campus for some time.

The Guardian Program was installed after the mass shooting on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

17 students were killed and 17 others were injured in the incident in Parkland, Florida.

The Okeechobee School Board approved a policy change last week to allow firearms.

School staff is allowed to carry firearms provided they take the necessary training and certifications.

Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said the program has worked well, “The Guardian training is 144 hours of training specified in statute.  It includes accuracy of shooting.”

The sheriff’s office agreed to train school board employees.

“We have had individuals approved by the district and the sheriff to carry a firearm to ward off a potential assailant.”

He said staff had to go through training that is similar to law enforcement officers.

“The guns are concealed.  We don’t release the number of guardians out there.  I think it is safe to assume that anyone who has the potential to carry a gun is carrying,” he added.

Okeechobee woman receives prison time for role in fatal stabbing

Cheyenne Smith, 26, entered a no contest plea to charges of accessory after the fact and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

She was given credit for time served.

Smith played a role in the stabbing death of Tobermain Rosier, found stabbed to death in the middle of NE 14th Avenue on April 26, 2020.

She admitted to driving to Douglas Park with Derrick Clay to purchase marijuana.

Clay stabbed the victim and was sentenced to life in prison.

Video cameras caught an alleged drug transaction before the stabbing.

Clay was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, chased after the victim, and kicked him twice in the side, deputies said.

Video was able to capture the license plate number of the suspect’s vehicle.

Smith admitted that she drove the vehicle that morning.   She said she did not see the stabbing and thought Clay had just assaulted the victim.

In another felony case, Carlos Manzano, was sentenced to three years in prison and a $50,000 fine for allegedly trafficking over 15 grams of methamphetamine.

Manzano, 28, was arrested on October 13, 2020 after a traffic stop for a seat belt violation. 

Court records also show that charges of aggravated child abuse and strangulation were dropped against Juan Aguilar, 33.

He was charged last March with allegedly striking a child with brass knuckles and choking him during a fight.

Jobless rates decline

Okeechobee and Glades County both reported 4.4% unemployment in January according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Workforce Statistics and Economic Research.

Okeechobee and Glades were tied for 48th highest among Florida counties.

The highest rate was in Miami-Dade County at 8.1%.  The lowest rate was found in Monroe and St. Johns County at 3.5%.

The unemployment rate in the Heartland region stood at 5.3% in January and the state average was 5.3%.

The report showed 52,276 jobs in the region in September and total employment has decreased by 1,753 jobs over the past year.

The most jobs were lost in retail trade, education, health services, and leisure and hospitality.