News Cast 5/14

News Cast for May 14th:

Deputies seek missing woman

Okeechobee County Sheriff Deputies continue to look for Vicky Goins, 28, who has not been seen since April 27.

Goins was seen near the intersection of US 98 north and NW Park Street by a relative. Goins is described as a white woman, 5’2” tall and 185 pounds. She has reddish hair and brown eyes. Deputies said she was last seen wearing a brown tank top with multi-colored tights.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts can contact Detective Ammons at 863-763-3117, ext. 5111.

Sheriff and police remember the fallen

The annual law enforcement memorial ceremony outside the Okeechobee Sheriffs Office Wednesday. This is national police week. Major Michael Hazellief spoke on the significance of this week

“In 1962 President Kennedy designated May 15 as peace officer memorial day.  He also proclaimed the week as National Police Week.   The event is set aside to remember those that paid the ultimate price for their community.”

Sheriff Noel Stephen said there are those that continue to oppose police and their mission “Officers have given us freedom from civil disorder and violence.”

“There is a relentless attack on our profession.  If I don’t speak out against it then I am silently condoning it, therefore allowing the sacrifices of our fallen to be in vain.  I cannot accept that.”

The service included the reading of names of 20 Florida officers who died in the line of duty last year. Two officers died in the line of duty in the lake region last year a Trooper on I-95 in Martin County and a Florida Wildlife Officer near LaBelle.

Running dry at the pump

Some Okeechobee gas stations ran out of fuel on Wednesday. The problem is not with supply, its with the demand in Okeechobee.

Emergency Management Director Mitch Smeykal explained we receive our gas from ships at Port Everglades and other areas and are not impacted by the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried urged motorists not to hoard gas.

More COVID, more vaccine

Okeechobee has vaccinated 20,978 people.  6,363 people over 65 have gotten shots. The case count now at 4051.

Health Department Director Bret Smith said they are trying to get more interest from young adults for the vaccine.

“We are working hard to get the vaccine to that age group.  They are not beating down the doors for the vaccine.  We are taking the show on the road and reaching out to them. He plans to hold some public education campaigns soon to try and educate people on the safety and benefits of the vaccine. The department has to have cold temperature freezers to store Pfizer vaccine to serve children.

Disagreement over Pahokee algae bloom

The water management district heard from lake interests Thursday on the algae bloom and lake level issue. Hendry County Commissioner Ramon Iglesias said the Pahokee marina problem may have been caused by boats and not the lake.

“There is a difference between leaky boats and boats that discharge effluent matter into the marine.  I honestly think that is what happened.”

He said the waste was trapped between the wall and the docks and that the media used photos that distorted how bad the algae bloom was.

“There wasn’t the algae that was portrayed by the media,” he added.

Drew Bartlett…Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District disagreed. “What you have is a lake that is extremely high in nutrients and creating algae blooms.  They are blown into the marina and trapped there.  Discharges from boats or some sewage control issues do add nutrients to the marina and does not help the situation.”

The full diagnosis is still underway by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Glades County Commission Chairman Tim Stanley advised the board to consider communities at the north end of the lake.  He said certain lake schedules would dry up canals in Buckhead Ridge and Lakeport.

City seeks new administrator

Marcos Montes De Oca is resigning as Okeechobee City Administrator. He worked for the city for close to six years. He said he plans to pursue over career opportunities but will remain a part of the community.

His final day is expected to be June 18. De Oca said he thinks he and the council have made Okeechobee a greater city during his tenure. He said he hopes to help the city find a replacement.

Schools lose experienced teachers

The Okeechobee school board honored retiring educators this week. The list this year includes popular English teacher Jim Leidy at Okeechobee High school. He ends a 32 year career.  He said he hopes he made a difference. He plans to return to his native Pennsylvania and build a barn. “Just kind of settle in, enjoy the Pennsylvania landscape and get to see fall and spring again.” He said seeing his old students really puts a smile on his face, ‘It makes it all worthwhile.  These kids have been amazing for 32 years.”

Others honored included Becky Moore who taught for 35 years, Donna Kersey who worked 39 years and Alicia Greseth who taught for 30 years.