News Cast 4/29

News Cast for April 29th:

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT-SCAM ALERT

The latest scam is similar to one from a few weeks ago. The caller identifies himself as a deputy, sergeant or detective with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, using the actual name of one of our employees.

THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE WILL NEVER CALL YOU AND SOLICIT MONEY FOR ANY REASON.

If you receive one of these calls, DO NOT RESPOND but instead contact the sheriff’s office at (863)763-3117.

THIS IS A SCAM and not the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.

Michele Bell, PIO

Two injured in plane crash near Okeechobee-Highlands line

Glades County EMS responded to a small plane crash on a ranch near Rucks Dairy Road this afternoon.

Glades County Sheriff David Hardin said a pilot and a student, both females, were injured in the crash.

Both were taken to the hospital by medical helicopter.

Hardin said he did not think that the injuries were life threatening.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash first reported around 12:30 pm Thursday.

Okeechobee deputies foil burglars

Okeechobee deputies said they made two arrests as they interrupted a burglary in progress.

Philip Bullington, 43, was held on $31,000  bond facing burglary, grand theft and drug charges.

Also charged was Terrella Kelley, 40,  of Grant, Florida.

The pair had apparently done tile work for the victim.

The victim said he came home to find his personal items in the suspect’s vehicle and called authorities.

$1,300  in items were recovered at the residence near Basinger.

Okeechobee poised for growth

The Okeechobee County Planning Board recommended approval of the rezoning needed for the Okeechobee Trace project.

The project on 70 west on the southwest corner of SE 48th Avenue could include 400 single family homes, a 65 acre executive golf course, plenty of hiking and nature trails and up to 80 villas.

There would also be eight acres of commercial uses.

Architect Michael Houston said the number of homes could vary as they try to be flexible with design.

They would like to start construction in the next two years.

Houston said he thinks Okeechobee is poised for growth.

The project would need a rezoning approval to planned unit development from the Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners.

That public hearing is scheduled for May 13 at 9 am.

“I think all the hard work that all the people have put in has Okeechobee poised for growth.  There are a lot of great things about Okeechobee,” he added.

Traffic complaints increasing

Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen said the most common complaint his department receives each day is related to traffic.

Speeding, reckless driving, and other infractions are rising across the state.

Meanwhile there are fewer lawmen around to stop them.

The Florida Highway Patrol District that covers Indian River, Okeechobee, Martin and St. Lucie County has a 30 percent vacancy rate for troopers.

Sheriff Noel Stephen said it hurts that the Florida Highway Patrol can’t find people to do the job.

He said they are badly understaffed, “We are supposed to have six full time troopers in Okeechobee County.  It is difficult for them to fulfill promises and coverage when they don’t have enough officers.”

Stephen said the four lane project on 70 east also has increased speeds into Okeechobee.

Florida lawmen have not been writing a lot of texting while driving tickets.

Seems it is difficult to detect distracted drivers.

Six Florida counties didn’t write a single ticket for texting and driving last year.

The state said 56,000 crashes were caused by distracted drivers last year.