News Cast 9/18

News Cast for September 18th:

On August 18th, the primary elections took place in Okeechobee County and while there were several offices that were up for grabs, there was one position that will have a new face come next year and while it didn’t get much notice, it’s definitely an important change. The Okeechobee City Council will have a new member come next year and his name is Russ Cale. Cale, a Lake Worth native, moved to Okeechobee in 1996 following a stint in the US Navy and became a full-time police officer in 1998 before going to part-time status in 2013 and he now is an assistant manager with Total Roadside Services. Cale decided to run for city council because of his love for the city and a desire to be a part of it and the need for positive change and fair treatment of its residents. Cale says there’s a need for growth, but it must be done properly so we can withstand it.

Cale will succeed local contractor Wes Abney, who joined the council in August of 2018 to finish Mike O’Connor’s term after he resigned. Abney referenced his prospering business and pending marriage as reasons for his not seeking another term. He says the council’s best accomplishment during his tenure is its desire to move forward.

Abney says it was a great experience and a great honor to have served as a city councilmember. Cale is the first non-incumbent to be elected unopposed to the city council.

A vacant mobile home trailer needs to be moved from its current location as requested by the owners of the property in Okeechobee County where the trailer currently sits and its future home was a topic of discussion amongst the Okeechobee County Commissioners during their COVID-19 status meeting yesterday. After a lengthy discussion, County Commissioners ultimately decided to have it placed at the Agri-Civic Center where it will serve as a training station for future county firefighters and it will also be a place to store bunker gear and other apparatus. County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says the Agri-Civic Center is the ideal place for it and not just because it’s the likely future home for the upcoming fire training tower.

The measure passed by a vote of four to one with Commissioner Bryant Culpepper dissenting. Culpepper says the 23 hundred square foot trailer is better off at Fire Station Number Three in Fort Drum because it’s a more ideal location for it with all the needed amenities and Fort Drum residents want it. The issue will be discussed again during the county commissioners’ next meeting on Thursday.

As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Okeechobee County went up again as we now stand at 1,376 cases since March but the number of fatalities thankfully remains the same as Wednesday with a reported number of 22. 1,372 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. 157 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 674,456 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 666,507 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 13,086 and there have been 42,047 people hospitalized.

Yesterday, the Okeechobee County Commissioners renewed the local state of emergency during their COVID-19 status meeting for another week. The state of emergency went into effect this morning.

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.

On the arrest report:

23 year old Dwan Sharrod Marshall of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and burglary. He’s being held without bond.

65 year old Randy Lee Simington of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

48 year old Tiffany Lorraine Prevost of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Palm Beach County for violating probation on past charges of domestic battery. She’s being held without bond.

38 year old Amanda Mary Davis of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary and assault and battery. Her bond is set at $10,500.00 dollars.

31 year old Steven Alan Mills of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a warrant from Indian River County for not paying child support. His bond has not been set.