News Cast 7/27

News Cast for July 27th:

A Celebration of Life Ceremony will be held this morning for a bona fide legend of not only the dairy industry but a bona fide Okeechobee legend. Louis Ellwood “Red” Larson, the patriarch of Larson Dairy Inc., passed away on July 17th at the age of 96 with family around him. Larson was born on a farm in South Dakota and lived there before the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s forced the then six year old and his family down to Hollywood where he eventually grew up and started a dairy farm. After moving the farm to Okeechobee, it grew into such a success that his name was synonymous with the dairy industry. Mayor Dowling Watford got to know Larson when he first began with the Kiwanis Club of which Larson was a Life Member and it didn’t matter who you are or where you came from, he treated everyone the same and he was a great guy and a real gentleman. Watford says Larson was someone that was genuinely interested in you and what was happening with you.

Larson was also a World War II veteran, serving in the US Army Air Corp. Among many accolades he received in the dairy industry was a dairy science building at the University of Florida named after him in 2006. The Celebration of Life Ceremony will be held at the First Baptist Church, of which he was a devout member and supporter, at eleven o’clock. The service will be streamed live on

A request by Okeechobee City Police Chief Bob Peterson during last week’s Okeechobee City Council meeting was granted and it’s music to the ears of first responders not just on his police force but also for the members of the Okeechobee City Fire Department. Under the Federal Law, if someone is affected or been exposed to someone who has the COVID-19, they must quarantine themselves for 14 days and still be paid from their jobs. But this didn’t apply to first responders who are taking more risks than most. Peterson requested that first responders get paid if they’re exposed to the virus and have to quarantine themselves and it was approved unanimously by the council. Originally, it was to apply to those first responders who were exposed while off duty, but Peterson got that changed completely.

Peterson says it feels great that members of his department and the fire department will be taken care of if they’re affected by the virus and he had no doubt that the council would approve his request.

Okeechobee County is knocking on the door of the eight hundred mark in positive COVID-19 cases. As Friday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 797 with two fatalities. 794 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to 94 with the median age of the patients being 36. 66 county residents 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 include chills, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and a sudden loss of sense of smell or sense of taste.

Also as of Friday morning, Florida officially passed the four hundred thousand mark in positive COVID-19 cases. There are 402,312 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state since March and 397,470 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 5,653 with 23,225 people hospitalized. Okeechobee County Commissioners officially renewed the local state of emergency for another week beginning last Friday.

Okeechobee County residents can be tested for the Coronavirus at CVS Pharmacy in Okeechobee, 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 or the Center for Disease Control at

On the arrest report:

26 year old Brianna Katherine Fulwider of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of the controlled substance hydromorphone without a prescription and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.

32 year old Melinda Amy Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of using counterfeit money. Her bond has not been set.

51 year old Sandra Ann Maddigan of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during her hearing on past charges of fraudulent use of a credit card. She’s being held without bond.

54 year old Shaun Patrick Sibole of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of battery and violating a pre-trial release. He’s being held bond.

37 year old Judy Faye Louise Anderson of Okeechobee was arrested by police for trespassing after being warned. Her bond is set at five hundred dollars.