News Cast 5/25

News Cast for May 25th:

Veterans make a request 

Vietnam Veterans of Okeechobee are working on a project to place the helicopter in Veterans Memorial Park into the air in an active stance.  Jim Pippen spoke to Okeechobee city council about the plan.  He explained they are working on a drawing of the concept. 

“It would be about six feet high.  Front tillers would be down.  People can walk right under it.  People will stop to get their picture there.  There are a lot of museums that have helicopters on platforms.” 

Pippen said his life was saved by helicopter pilots as he served in the military during Vietnam. 

“I get excited when I see one.  If there was not a helicopter I would not be here today.  I can visualize that sucker coming in and taking me out.” 

He explained helicopter pilots and medics were some of the bravest people he has ever met.  Pippen moved to Okeechobee in 1970 and taught in our schools for close to 25 years. 

A social media connection turned violent in Douglas Park 

Okeechobee deputies said a female was surprised when a Miami man she was conversing with online showed up at her home with another gentleman unexpectedly last Thursday.  She tried to leave the area in a vehicle and claimed she was shot at most likely by one of the two men.   

Nobody was hurt. 

The incident was reported near the intersection of NE 13th Street and NE 15th Avenue.  Okeechobee Deputies continue to investigate the incident. 

Seniors do well with scholarships 

94 Okeechobee graduating seniors received nearly $1.3 million in scholarships this year.  Military scholarships totaled $720,000. 

Local donations from businesses and individuals in Okeechobee totaled $377,635. OHS Principal Lauren Meyers said Okeechobee was very generous again this year. She said a lot of students will be headed to college while some are more interested in immediate careers. 

“We have a lot of  kids going off to higher learning.  We have a lot of students who will use the industry certifications they have earned here at the school.  Some have signed up with unions for welding and to become electricians.  We are excited for those kids as well.” 

The annual graduation ceremony is scheduled for this Friday at the Agri-Civic Center. 

Division of Forestry releases advisory 

A lack of rain and dry conditions made fire danger high on Monday in Okeechobee and Glades County.  A couple of large regional fires in recent days in Indian River and Palm Beach.  A fire near Fellsmere was started by a campfire and shut down parts of I-95. 

Florida Forest Service Spokesperson Miguel Navarez had some tips on how you can remain safe. 

“Be aware of how dry conditions have been recently.  If possible, don’t do any recreation activities like driving through a wooded or grassy area.  If possible postpone campfires and if you do light one make sure you put out the campfire completely.” 

Navarez said he is not sure how long the fire danger will remain high. 

“The entire state of Florida has been abnormally dry.  We have had little to no rain.  The temperatures are getting hotter and hotter and the wind speeds have increased as well.” 

Arrest blotter 

Okeechobee Sheriff deputies said the report of suspicious people near a US 441 South RV park led to arrests.  Trevon Bradshaw, 22, of Miami allegedly had a handgun, and several prescription pills like Xanax and oxycodone.  An Okeechobee man on federal probation was busted for allegedly selling crack cocaine on May 7. 

Sheriff deputies said Jimmy Lee Carter, 68 sold crack cocaine on out of a Douglas Park business.  Deputies obtained a search warrant on May 21 and said they found another nine grams of crack cocaine, currency stashed in bags and boxes, and a loaded revolver. 

Deputies noted Carter was on felony probation at the time of this new arrest.  A 17 year old juvenile girl allegedly slashed her mother’s hand with a knife during a domestic dispute.  The mother was treated at Raulerson hospital.  The teen allegedly battered another person who came to her mothers aid inside the home in Four Seasons. 

Jobless rates remain steady in April 

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Heartland Region reported unemployment in Okeechobee stood at 4.4% in April.  Glades had 3.9%. The state rate was 5.1%. 

Around the area, Hendry had 5.6 %, Osceola 6.7%, St. Lucie 5.4%, Palm Beach 4.7% and Highlands 6.3%.  The regional unemployment rate during April, 2020, was 9.3%.  The state also announced that they will end the additional $300 per week unemployment benefit checks issued during the pandemic on June 26.