News Cast 8/18

News Cast for August 18th:

It will be quite busy in Okeechobee County this evening. First off, the Okeechobee City Council will meet in a regular meeting and they will be presenting an award to the city from the Public Risk Management department for “Most Improved Safety Performance” and “Best Overall Safety Performance.” The council will then look at approving contract services with certain technology companies for the city. After that, the council will then hold their second workshop on the proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Tonight’s meeting will begin at a special time, five o’clock, in City Hall. Seating will be limited due to social distancing guidelines. The meeting will be streamed via the Zoom application. Please contact the City Administrator’s office for instructions on viewing the meeting through Zoom.

Speaking of the Okeechobee City Council, during their last meeting, the council decided to move forward with writing a letter to the Florida Small Business Administration (SBA) for needed funding. Mayor Dowling Watford says the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act, allotted funding to FL cities that have a population of half a million people or more and it’s time for the city of Okeechobee and smaller cities like it to receive some of that funding. Watford says it’s a mystery to him as to why the city has not received any funds from the CARES Act.

Watford says if and when the city receives CARES Act funding, it will go toward overtime to city employees, costs of equipment for Zoom viewing of meetings and free COVID-19 testing. It should be known before the end of this month as to whether or not Okeechobee will receive CARES Act funding.

Naturally, the other bit of activity, or excitement if you will, going on this evening in Okeechobee County is the 2020 Primary Elections. Elections that will be decided this evening include the race for District 5 County Commissioner between incumbent Kelly Owens and her opponent, former schoolteacher and Okeechobee City Police Officer Jack Boon, both Republicans. Just hours before the election results are known, Owens says she is “feeling great” and has every confidence and faith in the world that God’s plan is in place.

Another race involves two more Republicans as incumbent David Hazellief and political newcomer Mark Brandel are facing off for the District 1 County Commissioner seat. Brandel, a local contractor, says he’s “cautiously optimistic” in what the results have in store for him, but win or lose, he sees this whole campaign something he’ll always remember for what he’s had the privilege of doing.

One election of interest will be who will be representing the Republican Party in the race for Okeechobee County Elections Supervisor to be decided in November. One of the three Republican candidates is Melissa Arnold, a small business owner and state committeewoman for the Republican Party. Arnold says she is optimistic and that’s been because of the supporters she’s had throughout this campaign.

Another race will be for the District 55 Florida House of Representatives seat between Republicans Kaylee Tuck, a land use attorney and Ned Hancock, a citrus industry businessman. Hancock says he feels good about the work he and his supporters have put into this election and he’s anxious to see how that work has paid off.

Okeechobee residents have until seven o’clock tonight to cast their votes. At last check, there have been just over four thousand votes cast in this primary election.

Okeechobee County has finally surpassed the eleven hundred 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 1,142 since March, with 12 fatalities. 1,138 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. 111 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 573,416 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 567,375 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 9,452 with 33,928 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:

42 year old Cynthia Dasher Reyna of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating parole. She’s being held without bond.

20 year old Robert Futch of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on charges of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and grand theft. His bond is set at four thousand dollars.

29 year old Krystal Gail Amber Lyons of Okeechobee was arrested on several counts of violating probation on past charges of forgery and grand theft. She’s being held without bond.

27 year old Angelina Ruth Cardenas of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

71 year old Jim Leon Yates of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

54 year old Donald Lee Fry of Okeechobee was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior in public. His bond has not been set.

35 year old James Henry Schock of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of grand theft auto. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

34 year old Houston Michael Suarez of Okeechobee was arrested for criminal mischief. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.