News Cast 9/23

News Cast for September 23rd:

The Okeechobee City Council had yet another discussion Monday night on the proposed inter-local agreement with the county on the future of fire protective services in the community. Interestingly, the council approved twenty weeks’ worth of compensation for those city firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) who join the county fire department and they approved the implementing of a transition officer but there was one very important issue that was not approved; the actual inter-local agreement. Several City firefighters/EMT’s were present at the meeting, including Josh Borgstrum, president of the Firefighter’s Union Number 2918, who got heated with the council, specifically with Bob Jarriel. Borgstrum says the agreement should be “squashed”, a sentiment echoed by City Fire Captain Lalo Rodriguez, who believes the inter-local agreement should not be approved until a fire assessment is done in the city and until the union meets again next September to discuss the collective bargaining agreement.

The inter-local agreement was voted down by a three-to-two vote. Mayor Dowling Watford was one of the dissenting votes, believing the fire services is something the city and its residents want, despite the perceived savings to the city.

The issue will be discussed again at the next city council meeting next month. Borgstrum declined to comment for this story.

Okeechobee County’s COVID-19 cases as of yesterday morning have increased once again but fortunately the number of fatalities has remained the same. Courtesy of the FL Department of Health, there are 1,489 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities are still numbering at 23. 1,486 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and now their ages range from zero to one hundred with the median age of the patients now at an even forty. 162 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 687,909 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 679,776 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll stands at 13,416 and there have been 42,771 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.

A Port St. Lucie man is dead following one of the more unusual multi-vehicle accidents in recent memory this past Saturday afternoon in Palm Beach County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the man, who was 85 years old, was driving a pickup truck south on Highway 95 near the entrance to Donald Ross Road in West Palm Beach at around four o’clock when he failed to maintain control of the truck on a wet roadway, causing the truck to rotate counter-clockwise and go off the road and strike the guardrail on the left inside shoulder. The truck continued to rotate counter-clockwise, back onto the road where the rear of his truck collided with the front of a tractor trailer. Then, after that collision, the man’s pickup truck hit the guardrail on the other side and came back to road, still rotating counter-clockwise, and hit another pickup truck. The Port St. Lucie man was pronounced dead at the scene by medics. The drivers of the other two vehicles were not injured. It remains under investigation. Names of the people involved in the accident are not releasable to the public due to Marsy’s Law.

On the arrest report:

47 year old Jenny Dean Murphy of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for contempt of court on past charges of drunk driving. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

51 year old Keeley Anne Porter of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. Her bond is set at $250 dollars.

41 year old Jeremiah Faughn Rhoden of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of commercial fraud and trafficking stolen property. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

20 year old Dustin Lee Bressler of Okeechobee was arrested for burglary, trespassing, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. His bond is set at $65 hundred dollars.

31 year old Cory Ray Jenkins of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of introducing contraband into a detention facility. His bond is set at $25 hundred dollars.

39 year old Scarlett Rose Yates of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from De Soto County for failing to appear in court for a past drunk driving charge. Her bond is set at two thousand dollars.

45 year old James Alan Shockley of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a local warrant for an undisclosed charge. His bond is set at ten thousand dollars.