News Cast 8/3

News Cast for August 3rd:

For the third time in nearly four weeks, the Okeechobee County School Board will be meeting tonight. At tonight’s meeting, school board members will be having a public hearing on the tentative millage rates and budget for the upcoming school year before deciding to approve both. The regular meeting will follow and they will be discussing suspending the random drug and alcohol testing program for students and they will also be discussing the door replacement projects at certain area schools and maintenance buildings. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in the school board office and it will be streamed live on the Zoom application. Please consult with the school board office for instructions on logging on to the meeting through Zoom.

Speaking of the Okeechobee County School Board, during their last meeting on July 23rd, the board discussed the start of school and it looked like county schools were going to start on August 10th, one week from now. However, Okeechobee County School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy pitched an idea for schools to start a week later on August 17th and it was approved unanimously. Kenworthy says he wanted a plan that would benefit everyone; teachers needing time to prepare for the school year, virtual schools needing to be staffed and teachers getting their pay on time and also health insurance for new hires. While it may look like this plan only benefits the teachers, Kenworthy says it’ll benefit the students too.

Jorge Botello, the President of the Okeechobee County Education Association (OCEA) and a history teacher at Osceola Middle School says this is good because everything about how he and others teach will be different come the start of the new school year.

A recent poll revealed a little over three thousand registered school students chose to physically return to schools and fifty percent of students wanted to return to school on August 10th. Twenty percent of students say they’d like to start at the end of August.

Okeechobee County is within a handful of cases of reaching the nine hundred mark in positive COVID-19 cases. As of Friday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is now at 893 and unfortunately the number of deaths rose to six. 889 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. 83 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 according to Okeechobee County Health Department spokesperson Tiffany Collins (Collins-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 Friday morning, there are 470,386 reported cases of people who have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the state since March and 465,030 of them are FL residents. The state’s death toll stands at 6,843 with 26,533 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.

All COVID-19 testing sites in the county are shut down until tomorrow at the earliest.

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 25 year old Clewiston man is in serious condition following a vehicle accident early Friday morning in Hendry County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the man was driving a sedan southbound on Flaghole Road near Girl Scout Trail in Clewiston a little after four o’clock when for unknown reasons he drove his sedan across the center line and continued in a southeasterly direction across the northbound lane before the vehicle went off the road. The man lost control of the vehicle before it overturned on the grassy shoulder and coming to rest in a ditch. The man was airlifted to a Saint Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach where he is in serious but stable condition. His name is not releasable to the public due to Marsy’s Law. It remains under investigation.

On the arrest report:

35 year old Sheena Marie Holycross of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for cocaine possession. Her bond is set at $75 hundred dollars.

35 year old Orlando Perez of Okeechobee was arrested on a Hendry County warrant for not paying child support. He was released after posting a bond of just over four hundred dollars.

40 year old Stephanie Lynn Sontai Perez of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

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

30 year old Chad Allen Nesselhauf of Okeechobee was arrested by police for petit theft, dealing in stolen property, and providing false ownership to a pawnbroker. His bond is set at $31 thousand dollars.