News Cast 8/19

News Cast for August 19th:

The 2020 Primary Elections are in the books and those who were looking for a change in the Okeechobee County Commissioner seats unfortunately were disappointed. Kelly Owens and David Hazellief, County Commissioners for Districts 5 and 1 respectively, were re-elected to their respective posts. Owens, who will be serving a second term come January, says she was “a little overwhelmed” and felt confident in the race and how it turned out and is looking forward to another four years at the helm. Owens defeated fellow Republican Jack Boon, a former Okeechobee City Police officer, in a landslide, garnering nearly 75 percent of the vote. Owens says what was great about this race is it was free of any kind of mudslinging between her and Boon.

Owens says the county infrastructure, roads and sewage system, is something that she and her fellow commissioners must continue to address in the coming months. In the race for District 1 County Commissioner, incumbent David Hazellief defeated local contractor and political newcomer Mark Brandel for another term at the helm and he says he is “honored and humbled” that the people of Okeechobee County chose Hazellief to represent them again. This race, much like the District 5 County Commissioner race between Owens and Boon, was very clean and Hazellief praised Brandel for being a great opponent. Now that the easy part of being re-elected is complete, Hazellief says the hard part that he and his fellow commissioners can concentrate on the business of the county and they’re not going to waste any time.

Hazellief thanked his supporters for all their hard work, knowing full well that he could not have accomplished this victory if not for them.There weren’t too many races in Okeechobee County during this year’s Primary Elections but there were important ones to say the least. Other winners in last night’s Okeechobee County Primary Elections include small business owner Melissa Arnold, who defeated Faith Nielson and Rodney Rucks to be the Republican nominee for the County Supervisor of Elections post. Arnold will face non-party affiliated candidates Lisa Rodriguez and Donna Howard for the Elections Supervisor post in November’s general election. Arnold says she was “thrilled” to be the Republican nominee and she thanked her supporters who made it possible for her because she could not do it alone. She also thanked Rucks’ and Nielson’s supporters because they’re all on the same team and it’s about having the values of the Republican party represented. Arnold will face non-party affiliated opponents Lisa Rodriguez and Donna Howard for the Elections Supervisor post in November and Arnold says she will continue her strategy that’s worked thus far; meeting as many people as possible to get a pulse of the community.

The race between attorney Kaylee Tuck and citrus industry executive Ned Hancock to be the Republican nominee for the District 55 FL House of Representatives resulted in Tuck getting the nod, as she garnered 56 percent of the vote. This race had unfortunately deteriorated into some unpleasantness, where according to Tuck, Hancock attacked members of her support system, calling one a “liberal fat cat” and “never Trumper.” Whether that made a difference in the race is anyone’s guess, but one glaring fact is Hancock spent twice as much on his campaign than Tuck did. Tuck says though you can’t buy what she calls “voter contact” and that made the difference.

Tuck will now face Democratic nominee Linda Tripp for the District 55 FL House position in November.

Other winners in last night’s Okeechobee County Primary Elections include small business owner Melissa Arnold, who defeated Faith Nielson and Rodney Rucks to be the Republican nominee for the County Supervisor of Elections post. Arnold will face non-party affiliated candidates Lisa Rodriguez and Donna Howard for the Elections Supervisor post in November’s general election. In the race for District 55 FL House of Representatives, attorney Kaylee Tuck became the Republican nominee, defeating citrus industry executive Ned Hancock. She’ll face Democratic nominee Linda Tripp for the post in November.

Okeechobee County has surpassed the eleven and a half 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 1,155 since March, with 12 fatalities. 1,151 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to 94 with the median age of the patients being 38. 113 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 579,932 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 573,811 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 9,758 with 34,695 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.

A vehicle accident claimed the life of a 77 year old Hobe Sound man and injured several others last Friday evening in Martin County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say a passenger van, driven by a 21 year old Fort Pierce man, was heading south on SE Velasquez Avenue at the intersection of SE Seville Street in Stuart a little before 5:15 at the same time a Martin County Transit bus was westbound on SE Seville Street. FHP officers say the passenger van driver entered the intersection, right into the path of the transit bus and caused a T-bone collision. The force of that collision propelled the van into a parked pickup truck in the area. The 77 year old Hobe Sound man who was a passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. The van driver and his front seat passenger, a 22 year old man from Port St. Lucie received minor injuries. The bus driver, a 72 year old Port St. Lucie woman and her 62 year old passenger also received minor injuries. The accident is under investigation.

On the arrest report:

20 year old Marshall Shane Abney of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from Jacksonville on charges of violating probation. He’s being held without bond.

35 year old Christopher Steven Zabski of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. His bond is set at $250 dollars.

46 year old Terry Salvolas Andrews of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

20 year old Raelyn Lanett Bell of Okeechobee was arrested for giving false information to a law enforcement officer and perjury. She was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.

44 year old Tony Ray Hammons of Okeechobee was arrested for child abuse without great bodily harm, false imprisonment and two counts of forcing a child to commit delinquent acts. His bond is set at $12 thousand dollars.

25 year old Jerome Myron Johnson of Okeechobee was arrested for reckless driving after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

26 year old Morgan Scott Tibbett of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed charges. He’s being held without bond.

55 year old Patrick Duncan Gammage of Arcadia was arrested on warrants from De Soto County on charges of burglary, robbery by sudden snatching and criminal mischief. He’s being held without bond.