News Cast 5/29

News Cast for May 29th:

The contract for Okeechobee County to provide fire protective services to the city of Okeechobee was a topic of concern during their meeting yesterday and commissioners voiced their dissatisfaction over comments that county employees have been getting regarding this proposed contract. Commissioners have said that they have been unfairly judged and Commissioner Kelly Owens says she doesn’t see the county getting to an agreeable place on this issue. Despite that, the county decided to send a letter to the city council outlining their proposal as a last ditch effort. Owens dissented on sending of this letter because the original purpose of this contract was to help the city save money and she doesn’t see that happening, specifically because of the addition of seven new employees that would join the county fire department.

Owens says with added employees, costs will double for the county. Owens added that the issue has taken on an emotional and personal tone with people but the negative commentary is not necessary.

City councilmembers will discuss the issue during their next meeting Tuesday night.

A report of a structure fire caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called to the Gracious RV Park on the 65 hundred block of SE Highway 441 shortly before two o’clock and arrived to find a 5th wheel RV with smoke emanating from the roof. Firefighters say all occupants of the RV were out of the RV and away from the fire and there was nobody was hurt. Firefighters got the fire controlled in about an hour and a half while using about seven hundred gallons of water to get the fire extinguished. Total damage to the RV was estimated at around $95 hundred dollars in property and contents. It’s under investigation by the state fire marshal.

This month is Building Safety Month in Okeechobee and it’s a time for making sure that construction that’s going on is safe and correct. Okeechobee City Building Inspector Jeff Newell was on hand to accept the proclamation from the city council at a recent meeting. Newell says what occasionally is overlooked is the tendency of contractors to “cut corners” in their work. This proclamation is especially important as we head into Hurricane Season which begins Monday. Newell has been a building inspector for thirty years.

The number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County rose to 68 as of yesterday morning. 67 of those 68 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 6 to 87 with the median age of the patients being 34. Six of the patients have been hospitalized. Those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for now include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of the sense of smell or sense of taste. During their meeting yesterday, the Okeechobee County Commissioners voted to renew the local state of emergency for another week.

Also as of this morning, Martin County has 557 positive cases of the Coronavirus with nine fatalities, Hendry County has 354 reported positive cases now with 13 fatalities, Glades County remains at 24 positive cases to go along with one fatality, Highlands County is at 119 cases with eight fatalities, Osceola County has 674 cases with 19 fatalities and Palm Beach has 5,541 cases with 327 fatalities. There are now 53,285 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state, with 51,918 of them being FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 2,364 with 9,795 people hospitalized.

Along with the Wal-Mart parking lot on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7am to 9am each day, Okeechobee County residents can be tested for the Coronavirus at the Okeechobee County Health Department, the emergency room at Raulerson Hospital or by contacting Florida Community Health Centers at (863) 763-7481. You must meet certain criteria before you can be tested and you need to make an appointment. If you’re not sure if you fit the criteria to be tested, please call the county health department and they’ll let you know for sure. These testing sites are available on weekends.

The Okeechobee County COVID-19 information line remains open from 8am to 5pm every Monday thru Friday.  This hotline is manned by live personnel and callers can ask about county updates on the Coronavirus and what is being done. The hotline will not address questions about the virus itself or medical questions. The hotline related to county updates on the Coronavirus is (863) 763-3536. Any questions related to the virus itself, please call the Okeechobee Health Department at (863) 462-5800 or the 24/7 Department of Health hotline at (866) 779-6121.

Remember, the key to avoiding the Coronavirus is good personal hygiene. Washing your hands for at least 20-30 seconds with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in it is recommended. Avoid touching your eyes or face with unwashed hands. Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from someone when greeting them and not shaking any hands. Avoid shopping at peak hours and use delivery services instead.  Avoid places where there are 10 people or more.

If you need further information about the virus and recommendations for preventing it, please log on to the Department of Health at or the Center for Disease Control at

Authorities in Hendry County are investigating the death of an infant that occurred on Tuesday night in Clewiston and criminal charges may be pending. Clewiston Police Department officials say officers and Hendry County Emergency personnel were called to a home in the WC Owens area in the city limits at around ten o’clock and found the unresponsive child inside a vehicle. Investigators say the seven month old child was believed to have been left in the vehicle for an undetermined length of time and died. It isn’t clear if the baby was left in the car by the baby’s parents or a caregiver. Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) officials were called in for jurisdictional matters.

On the arrest report:

32 year old Scott Anthony Carnley of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of violating probation on undisclosed charges. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

32 year old Patrick James Gustafson of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

59 year old Carl Paul Mataushek of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.

33 year old Shena Danielle Burney of Okeechobee was arrested for dealing in stolen property via the internet. Her bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

25 year old Alphonso Tyrone Morris Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

26 year old Codie Everett Shockley of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

32 year old Terry Lee Huff of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving a motorcycle without a valid license and carrying a concealed weapon after a traffic stop. His bond is set at $35 hundred dollars.