News Cast 9/10

News Cast for September 10th:

Okeechobee County residents will soon notice a rate increase in the solid waste collection and disposal service and some residents are not embracing this increase. During their last meeting, the Okeechobee County Commissioners unanimously approved a rate increase of eighteen dollars for the county’s trash collection and disposal following a public hearing on the matter. With this increase, residents will be charged $238 dollars per year, up from the previous rate of $220 dollars. This new rate will apply to all residents, regardless of how much trash that people put out to be collected whether it be on a weekly basis or once a month. Okeechobee County resident Danny Nelson says this is especially bad for his mom who rents out her home but because of executive decrees of giving free rent to people out of work who need help, it’s a problem when she has bills to pay.

Another resident, Peter Biskop says it’s a problem due to his fixed income and the rate increase will make it harder for him to pay his bills as well. The new rate increase will take effect on October 1st.

Okeechobee County Commissioners also recently took the time to recognize some very important ballplayers for their recent achievements. During their last meeting, commissioners recognized the Chobee Dirtbags, a 10 and under baseball team for their successful season and bringing home the USA Travel Ball Championship. Okeechobee County Community Services Director Denise Whitehead says this team is a great representative of the county and she’s grateful for teams like this to be back on the field during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and grateful for these kids to have a sense of normalcy.

Coaches and players were in attendance to be recognized as part of this proclamation.

Once again there was a slight rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases for Okeechobee County to report but the good news is, it’s only one new case and the number of fatalities remains unchanged for the time being. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 1,289 since March, and the number of fatalities is holding steady at an even twenty. 1,285 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to 94 with the median age of the patients being 39. 142 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.

Overall, as of yesterday morning, there are 652,148 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 644,781 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 12,115 and there have been 40,517 people hospitalized.

Okeechobee County residents can be tested for the Coronavirus by appointment only at the County Health Department between the hours of eight o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon. This is an oral swab test. The Florida Community Health Centers have a drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing site every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock until noon at the former Okeechobee Surgery Center located at 1655 Highway 441 North. No appointment is necessary and you don’t need insurance, but if you have it, please bring your insurance card, otherwise please bring photo identification. Testing is free in both locations.

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:

39 year old Corey Nathan Hardy of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for attempting to sell the controlled substance hydromorphone without a prescription while within a thousand feet of a church. His bond is set at a hundred thousand dollars.

44 year old Desiree Nicole Paulus of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Martin County regarding an arraignment for past charges of driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

43 year old Rachel Ann Ingram-Hill of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. Her bond has not been set.

72 year old Michael M. Irwin of Okeechobee was arrested for improper exhibition of a gun. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

20 year old Michael George Harvey Junior was arrested for trying to sell an undisclosed controlled substance. His bond is set at $40 thousand dollars.

36 year old Lemmie Chad Prescott of Okeechobee was arrested for kidnapping, desertion of his wife and child and several counts of contempt of court. His bond is set at $100 thousand dollars.

21 year old Taylor Lynn Carter of Okeechobee was arrested for attempting to sell an undisclosed controlled substance. Her bond is set at $40 thousand dollars.

35 year old Joshua Duke of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a local warrant regarding an arraignment for driving on a suspended license, burglary and resisting a law officer. He’s being held without bond.

52 year old Eric Bernard Brooks of West Palm Beach was arrested for failing to properly register his vehicle and resisting arrest after a traffic stop. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.