News Cast 4/15

News Cast for April 15th:

Neighboring County celebrates birthday

The Highlands County Heritage Association organized a festival to celebrate that counties 100th birthday this weekend.

Highlands officially became a county on April 23, 1921.

The festival will be held along the Kissimmee River at the historic Edna Pearce Lockett Estate in Fort Basinger.

Jim Pollard told Highlands County Commissioners that the ranch played a huge role in the county, “Edna Pearce inherited the ranch in 1944 from her father and she was an important person in Highlands County.  She was the third women elected to the Florida House and the first from Highlands County.   She stands as a person deserving of recognition.”

The ranch once measured 3,000 acres.  At its peak it produced an average of 100,000 cattle per year, driving as many as 75,000 to market.

“I read an article that stated the people of Okeechobee had complained about the 75,000 cows going through the streets on the way to market,” he added.

The festival is Saturday and Sunday at 10 am to 3 pm and includes an opening ceremony, food vendors…antique cars….entertainment, education exhibits, a cow camp and other events.

The cost is $5 per vehicle.

The Sons of the American Revolution will hold a Liberty Tree ceremony on Sunday at 2 pm.

Glades County happy with vaccine rollout

Glades County has now vaccinated 2,368 people for COVID 19.

They are over 50% in the senior population.

They have held two clinics each week on Sunday and Monday at the Training Center.

Emergency Management Director Marisa Shivers said there has been a lot of demand from young adults for the vaccine, “Sunday was our first time with the 18 and older population.  Over half of the people we had were under 30.  We had a very positive response to it.”

Glades County has had the smallest number of COVID cases in Florida, 934, since the pandemic began.

“We have been really lucky.  We are the lowest in the state with under 1,000 cases.  We have had 19 deaths but compared to surrounding counties we have been very fortunate.  Our residents took masks and health and safety very seriously and we appreciate that.”

Sheriff, other agencies put dealers behind bars

Operation Bitter Sweet put 26 people behind bars in Okeechobee after a four month investigation into illegal drug sales in the county.

The suspects jailed have now been behind bars a combined 368 times.

Authorities said they seized the deadly drug fentanyl, methamphetamines, prescription pain pills, synthetic cannabinoids and both crack and powder cocaine.

Sheriff Noel Stephen said two people died in drug overdoses in Okeechobee on Tuesday.

“The events of the past few days reflects my struggle in chasing and arresting the same individuals over and over again,” he added.

Stephen said while people make mistakes and hopefully learn from them and not repeat them, there is not enough deterrent in the judicial system.

He asked support for enhancements to allow prosecutors and judges to address those convicted of crimes multiple times.

The arrests come as the county jail is over capacity for jail inmates and the county considers a $55 million jail expansion.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations assisted in the investigation and round up.