News Cast 6/24

News Cast for June 24th:

Juneteenth celebrations unfolded nationwide over the weekend, forcing many to examine the racial disparities that still exist in our country. The holiday commemorates a specific date-June 19th, 1865-the day many of the last of the enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed. However, 155 years later, cries against racism continue to clench communities following the death of George Floyd last month. From Okeechobee to Palm Beach County to Clewiston, the public outcry continues for an equalized criminal justice system. Nicole Reid, News Director for WAFC, our sister station in Clewiston, spoke with former Hendry County Commissioner Janet B Taylor, who spoke out this past Friday after the Freedom Walk in Clewiston, which took place from Harlem to Civic Park.

Taylor gave thanks to local law enforcement, city officials, and all friends and supporters of the message of last week’s event. 

Members of the Douglas Park area of Okeechobee County are asking the county’s help with a myriad of issues plaguing the area and they made their concerns known to the county commissioners during their last meeting on June 11th. Demetre Riles, a lifelong resident of Douglas Park, spoke on the issue and he believes the area is being ignored in terms of much needed improvements in the roads, sidewalks and drainage and it needs to change. Riles equated the problem to a child not receiving the proper attention from his family.

Commissioner Terry Burroughs understood Riles’ frustration and noted that Riles should speak with the County Administrator Robbie Chartier and Deputy County Administrator Louis Johnson about these issues and not wait until a County Commissioners’ meeting. Burroughs also discussed the recent significant improvements that have been made in the Douglas Park area such as culverts and the sports complex.

Once again, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County has risen. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases for the Coronavirus in Okeechobee County rose to 256. 254 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from 0 to 87 with the median age of the patients being 34. 22 patients have been hospitalized. Thankfully there have been no fatalities. Those who have tested positive are being cooperative with the county and their health providers and going through the routine contact tracing. Along with fever, coughing and shortness of breath, other COVID-19 symptoms to watch out for include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste.

Most neighboring counties also once again experienced a rise in their COVID-19 statistics. As of yesterday morning, Martin County has 1,611 positive cases of the Coronavirus with 22 fatalities, Hendry County has 780 reported cases now with 24 fatalities, Glades County remains at 142 reported cases with one fatality, Highlands County is at 258 cases with ten fatalities, Osceola County has hit the four figure mark with 1,147 positive cases and 23 fatalities and Palm Beach has 11,180 cases with 476 fatalities. There are now 103,503 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state; 101,303 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,238 with 13,325 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 now every Tuesday thru Saturday. This number, which also doubles as the phone number of the County Library 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 County Library phone number/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 floridahealth.gov or the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.

A fire to a mobile home caught the attention of Okeechobee County firefighters early Sunday morning. Firefighters were called to the site of the mobile home on the 11 thousand block of SE Highway 441 shortly before one o’clock and arrived to find two mobile structures fully covered in flames. Crews got the occupants out of the homes before tending to the fires, which were contained to the mobile homes. Investigators say firefighters had a difficult time getting to the fires to fight them because of lack of sufficient entry. Crews eventually got both fires controlled in a little more than two hours. No one was hurt. Total damage is estimated at seven thousand dollars in property and contents. The cause of the fire is under investigation and officials say the state fire marshal was called in to investigate a possible arson.

On the arrest report:

48 year old Charles Joseph Acquaotta Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for battery and public disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

31 year old Colleen Rhodeann Goldson was arrested for contempt of court during her appearance on past charges of driving on a suspended license. Her bond has not been set.

28 year old Shane Adam Pahl of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

27 year old Travis Eugene Butts of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a local warrant for animal cruelty. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.