News Cast 9/15

News Cast for September 15th:

Tonight, the Okeechobee County Parks and Recreation Department will be soliciting ideas from the public on what is necessary for the department to focus on for the betterment of the community. Okeechobee County Community Services Director Denise Whitehead says she and a group of concerned residents are looking to start up an organization called “Friends of the Parks”, to better promote the Parks and Recreation Department and to look for guidance on areas the community want to see the department focus on. Whitehead says this is to also gauge the interest of a group like this in the community and what would be needed for future Parks and Recreation Department growth. Whitehead says this is something she’s wanted to do since she took the job last year to make sure any programs or facilities being developed are not only meeting present needs but also future needs.

This event will take place at the Okeechobee County Civic Center on Highway 98 across from the County Airport beginning at six o’clock. It will be streamed live on Facebook via the Okeechobee County Parks and Recreation page. If you have a question you’d like to submit before the meeting, please call their office at (863) 763-6950.

As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County went up by almost two dozen as we now stand at 1,335 cases since March but unfortunately the number of fatalities went up by one, now totaling twenty-one deaths. 1,331 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. 153 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 665,730 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 658,203 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 12,642 and there have been 41,374 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 available every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock in the morning 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.

As many as nine Clewiston area people are in jail at this time in connection with a major drug arrest that took place over the last four days. Hendry County Sheriff’s officials say the nine arrestees, Russell Crespo, Rogelio Villalobos, Amanda Santiago, Yajaira Crespo, Rolando Garcia, Tavares Thicklin, Thomas Horace, Samuel Howard and Vivianna Ramirez were all arrested as part of Operation Raising Cane, an effort to rid the SW Florida community of alleged drug dealers, traffickers and illegal drugs. Narcotics officers from Hendry County and other agencies served warrants at more than a dozen locations, resulting in the seizure of over 73 grams of heroin, 38 grams of cocaine, over 70 grams of oxycodone, over five grams of prescription pills, 13 grams of Xanax, not to mention some firearms, body armor and $15 thousand dollars in cash. The charges levied include conspiracy to distribute narcotics, sale of narcotics within a thousand feet of a church, school or park and unlawful use of two-way communication devices to commit felonies. Hendry County authorities were assisted by officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), State Attorney’s Office Narcotics Enforcement Task Force (NETFORCE) and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department. No injuries were reported.

On the arrest report:

45 year old Charlene Sue Armstrong of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court during her hearing on previous charges of driving on a suspended license. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

38 year old Inez Gonzalez Coreas of Okeechobee was arrested on multiple warrants from Palm Beach County for multiple counts of burglary, grand theft and giving false ownership to a pawnbroker. He’s being held without bond.

22 year old Tessa Marie Van Houten of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of the controlled substance fentanyl without a prescription, drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence. Her bond is set at $60 thousand dollars.

27 year old Dallas Wayne Parker of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Indian River County for driving on a suspended license. He’s being held without bond.

32 year old Sherri Lee Stephenson of Okeechobee was arrested for loitering, trespassing and petit theft. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

46 year old Corey Michael Cain of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. He was released after posting a ten thousand dollar bond.

51 year old Michael Howard Ramsburg of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

26 year old Colton Christopher Webb of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.

25 year old Rodney William Phelps of Okeechobee was arrested by police for disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

52 year old Eric Bernard Brooks of West Palm Beach was arrested on a Palm Beach County warrant for simple battery. His bond is set at two thousand dollars.