News Cast 9/16

News Cast for September 16th:

Last night, several community leaders and residents attended a meeting at the Okeechobee Civic Center that focused on the future needs and projects of the Okeechobee County Parks and Recreation Department. Community Services Director Denise Whitehead says she and her department are looking at applying for grants to fund certain programs and this meeting was designed to solicit ideas as to what the community would like to have in Okeechobee. The county is already in the process of receiving a grant to fund a splash pad; something the community has wanted for some time and a fitness trail at the sports complex. Some people who attended though voiced their concerns about the needs of Douglas Park. Whitehead says that area has been a focus of her department since she took this job over a year ago.

Bruce Snell, a Douglas Park resident, says there has been a need for new bathrooms at the community center to keep people from going to the bathroom in the woods and he also would like to see no loitering signs put in to curb any illegal activity.

The meeting was broadcast live on the Okeechobee County Parks and Recreation Facebook page. You can view the meeting in its entirety there and if you have ideas for the community such as new playing fields, picnic areas, etc., you can fill out the survey on their Facebook page or you can fill it out in person at the Okeechobee Parks and Recreation office. Their number is (863) 763-6950.

As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County went up slightly as we now stand at 1,341 cases since March but the number of fatalities is holding steady at twenty-one deaths. 1,337 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. 155 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 668,846 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 660,946 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 12,787 and there have been 41,654 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 or the Center for Disease Control at

On the arrest report:

29 year old Laron Savonte McNeill of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for aggravated assault and battery with a firearm. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

31 year old Amanda Courtney Perry of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of intentional child abuse. Her bond has not been set.

22 year old Melanie Ann Watson of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on undisclosed charges. She’s being held without bond.

49 year old Shelly Anne Goist of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary, robbery by sudden snatching, false imprisonment by threat and petit theft. Her bond is set at eleven thousand dollars.

36 year old Charles Edgar Hill the Fourth of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.

50 year old Santos Lopez Felix of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

31 year old Derrick Levi Clay of Okeechobee was arrested for introducing contraband into a detention facility. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

33 year old Stephen Reginald Barton of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for grand theft and introducing contraband into a detention facility. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

43 year old Eva Hofer Blackwood of Okeechobee was arrested by police on local warrants for contempt of court for past charges of driving on a suspended license. Her bond has not been set.

32 year old Rendon Niceforo of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license for the third time following a traffic stop. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.