News Cast 7/29

News Cast for July 29th:

This past Monday morning, much of the citizenry of Okeechobee County paid their respects to a legend in both the dairy industry and to the community as a whole. People gathered in the First Baptist Church to honor Louis Ellwood “Red” Larson, the patriarch of Larson Dairy, Inc., who passed away on July 17th at the age of 96. Members of Larson’s family spoke about his childhood in South Dakota to moving with his family to Hollywood, to his military service in the Army Air Corp as a bomber pilot during World War II training bomber pilots, to starting a dairy farm in the Hollywood area before eventually moving the farm to Okeechobee in the early 1960’s while raising his family. They also talked about Larson’s impact on the community and what he meant to his family and friends. Woody Larson, one of Red’s sons, looked up to his dad, calling him a hero as did many in the community and he had that special gift of befriending anyone he came in contact with, no matter who or what that person may be.

Sheriff Noel Stephen, one of the attendees at the funeral who knew Larson for over thirty years, saw him as a man who came from nothing and made a great success of himself but someone who would “give you the shirt off his back”.

Larson, whose dairy farm grew into the largest of its kind in the country by 1990, received many dairy and farming accolades during his lifetime, including induction into the Dairy and Agricultural Halls of Fame and having a dairy science building at the University of Florida named after him. Larson was also a founding member of the local Kiwanis Club. He is survived by his four children, 13 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and four siblings.

Okeechobee County has officially surpassed the eight and a half century mark in positive COVID-19 cases. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 853 with two fatalities. 849 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. 74 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 yesterday morning, there are 441,977 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state since March and 436,837 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll now stands at 6,117 with 24,917 people hospitalized.

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:

37 year old Leroy Sheppard of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence, petit theft, fleeing and eluding law enforcement, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and driving on a suspended license after robbing a convenience store at gunpoint. His bond is set at $72 thousand dollars.

40 year old Javier Thomas Reyna of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief. His bond is set at one thousand dollars.

21 year old Mariah Deona Mosely of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

30 year old Jon Clifton Mesa of Okeechobee was arrested for aggravated stalking and criminal mischief. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

20 year old Audrey Maryon Fink of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges and criminal mischief. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.