News Cast 9/21

News Cast for September 21st:

While today is Monday and the Okeechobee City Council normally meets on Tuesday nights, they are meeting tonight and they will be having their final public hearing on the budget and millage rate for the next fiscal year before it’s made official. The council will also be looking to proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and councilmembers will also have another discussion on the proposed inter-local agreement with the county on the future of fire protective services. The meeting will be held in City Hall beginning at six o’clock. Seating is limited due to social distancing guidelines. The meeting can be seen live through the Zoom application. Please call the City Administrator’s office or check out the city’s website at www.cityofokeechobee.com for directions on viewing the meeting through Zoom.

Speaking of the Okeechobee City Council and the proposed inter-local fire services agreement, the Okeechobee County Commissioners discussed the matter during their September 11th meeting and they are looking to put into the agreement a clause that says any firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) that comes to work for the county must become a certified paramedic within two years or they will not be retained. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says the problem is that some flat out do not want that responsibility because it was not required of them before and those that come to the county should be “grandfathered” into that responsibility. Culpepper says while the agreement is intended to save money, the concern is that once you close up the city’s fire department, it’ll be that much easier to continue that trend until Okeechobee is a city in name only.

Commissioner Kelly Owens says putting the clause into the agreement will be an issue come bargaining time.

The issue will be discussed further during tonight’s meeting with the city council.

Okeechobee County’s COVID-19 statistics as of Friday morning have surpassed the 14 hundred mark but fortunately the number of fatalities has not increased. Courtesy of the FL Department of Health, there are 1,409 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities are holding steady at 22. 1,404 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 Friday morning, there are 677,660 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 669,684 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll stands at 13,225 and there have been 42,234 people hospitalized. Okeechobee County residents can be tested, by appointment only, for the Coronavirus 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:

38 year old Amanda Mary Davis of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on charges of burglary and assault and battery. Her bond is set at $10,500.00 dollars.

37 year old Justin Alan Hoover of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

34 year old Jesse Dirke Zipperer of Okeechobee was arrested for driving on a suspended license and possession of synthetic cannabis after a traffic stop. His bond is set at three thousand dollars.

23 year old Nicholas Jamal Thompson of Fort Lauderdale was arrested for violating probation on past multiple charges of burglary. He’s being held without bond.