News Cast 8/28

News Cast for August 28th:

The search for an Immokalee man, missing the past few days, thankfully had a happy ending yesterday morning. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department officials say 65 year old Jean Odney Alexandre showed up at the ranger station at the Kissimmee River State Park a little after 7:15. Alexandre was reportedly in good health and sustained no injuries. Alexandre had been missing since Monday night following a day of palmetto berry picking on the prairie in the northern part of the county. Collier County Sheriff’s Department officials reported Alexandre missing Monday night and they relayed the information to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department. Several organizations from as far away as St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties joined in the search for Alexandre. Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen gave a ton of credit to the search team for their great efforts in trying to locate Alexandre and while he realizes a lot of resources were engaged to find Alexandre, that’s what happens when you develop these kinds of connections over a 34 year career.

Alexandre was returned to his family at the Sheriff’s Office. The reasons for Alexandre’s disappearance are being investigated by Collier County Sheriff’s Department detectives.

During their meeting yesterday, the Okeechobee County Commissioners got a visit from Sharie Turgeon, the Okeechobee County Tourist Development Coordinator regarding the county’s inaugural Okeechobee County Official Visitors Guide. It not only a valuable resource to the community, it’s officially an award winning publication. Turgeon, along with Robert Kirschner, the owner and president of Passport Publications, who helped create the visitors’ guide told commissioners and others at the meeting that the visitors’ guide won not one but three awards from the Florida Magazine Association. The county’s visitors’ guide won a silver award for best photography on its cover, a gold award for best new magazine in FL and a gold award for best visitor guide for an association. The awards are normally given for a publication’s content, cover and photography. Turgeon says the award for best visitors’ guide is usually one that is very coveted amongst tourist development departments.

Kirschner says this new, award-winning publication is a very important tool for the county.

The visitors guide is available through the Okeechobee County Tourist Development Department. The awards will be put on display in the lobby of the Historic County Courthouse.

Okeechobee County received one more addition to their number of positive COVID-19 cases but we were unfortunately also hit with another fatality. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 1,211 since March, with one fatality to add to the list, making the total now 15 fatalities. 1,207 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. 127 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 611,911 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 605,342 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll is at 10,868 along with 37,718 people hospitalized.

Okeechobee County Commissioners renewed the local state of emergency for another seven days during their meeting yesterday. The state of emergency went into effect this morning.

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:

26 year old Jaime Gonzalez of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on three counts of violating probation on past charges of possession of photos depicting minors engaging in sexual acts, transmitting child pornography, felony battery and possession of a controlled substance. He’s being held without bond.

23 year old Brian Matthew Gorby of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of possession of marijuana. He’s being held without bond.

26 year old Thomas Andrew Seals the Second of Okeechobee was arrested for robbery by sudden snatching without a firearm. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.