News Cast 8/11

News Cast for August 11th:

Just a reminder that today is the day to receive COVID-19 testing in Okeechobee County and it won’t cost you anything. The Okeechobee County Health Department will be having a free, asymptomatic, walk-up COVID-19 testing site at their location this afternoon beginning at 5:30. Okeechobee County Commissioner Kelly Owens has been on record saying that she is glad to see that the local health department is having this free testing site; something that the county has needed for quite a while. Owens says having on a weekday night is a better way to attract more people to get tested and hopefully not have a repeat of the last free testing site at the local health department where only about two hundred people or so showed up to be tested when they were expecting five hundred. Owens says today will be an important day for the local health department, whether they get a good turnout of testing candidates or not.

Owens says while the community’s interest has always been there, this testing site is being marketed better to the public in order to attract more people. The testing site will be held at 1728 NW 9th Avenue beginning at 5:30 this evening and continue until seven o’clock.

With this year being a major election year, there might soon be some new faces occupying certain offices. One that is sure to have a new face is the State Attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit of Florida, serving Okeechobee and three other counties. Last spring, it was announced that State Attorney Bruce Colton would not seek re-election next fall and will be retiring next January after nearly 35 years at the helm. Colton pondered this decision for months and after talks with his chief assistant and now successor Tom Bakkedahl, decided this was the time. Colton has worked for the State Attorney’s office for nearly 50 years and says he owes his longevity to the fact that he was in the right place at the right time, he’s grateful and blessed with excellent people working around him and under him that are skilled and dedicated. 

Colton, a Delaware native, moved to Florida in 1969 and attended law school at the University of Florida. He became the Assistant State Attorney in 1974 after two years as a public defender and became State Attorney in 1985. Colton says he’s most proud of the specialized divisions that were created during his tenure that seek to investigate and prosecute different types of crimes, establishing a victim’s services division, deferred prosecution and sexual assault and victim assistance programs. Once retired, he’ll likely look at doing some volunteer work in Indian River County where he lives.

Okeechobee County has not only surpassed the four-figure mark in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, there are unfortunately a few more deaths to report. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 1,055 since March, now with 12 fatalities, up from seven through the weekend. 1,051 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. 97 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 a reported 536,961 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and 531,217 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 8,277 with 30,785 people hospitalized.

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.

On the arrest report:

40 year old Stephanie Lynn Sontai Perez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of intentional child abuse and battery. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.

30 year old Joann Jeanette Crudup of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop. Her bond is set at $5250 dollars.

22 year old Jaylen Makel Boswell of Okeechobee was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, knowingly driving on a suspended license and not having the proper license plate on his vehicle. His bond is set at $55 hundred dollars.

29 year old Johnny Ray Williams Junior of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

31 year old Derrick Levi Clay of Okeechobee, an inmate at the county jail, was arrested for battery on a fellow inmate. His bond is set at one hundred thousand dollars.

26 year old Morgan Scott Tibbett of Okeechobee was arrested for violating a pre-trial condition from a previous domestic incident. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

25 year old Zavius Corderra Long of Okeechobee was arrested by police on local warrants for violating probation on previous charges of resisting law enforcement. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.