News Cast 9/24

News Cast for September 24th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners will be meeting this morning and they have a long agenda. Commissioners will decide on a name for the new County Property Appraiser, Tax Collector and Driver’s License Building. They will also hear a presentation from representatives of Big Cedar, LLC and the option to purchase from BassPro and they will look to proclaim the first full week of October as Fire Prevention Week in the county. The meeting will begin at nine o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse and it’ll be streamed live on the commissioners’ website. Seating will be limited due to social distancing guidelines.

Speaking of the County Commissioners, during their last meeting on the 19th anniversary of 9/11, they took the time to recognize this year’s Florida Teacher of the Year, who just happens to be Krista Stanley, a sixth grade math teacher at Yearling Middle School. Stanley was honored by the commissioners in a special proclamation for her award, which she won last month, beating out just under 177 thousand other teachers in the state. Stanley, an Okeechobee native, says she was excited when the County Commissioners asked her to come in to be recognized for her achievement and she looked at it as a celebration of Okeechobee County and all its accomplishments and it’s an honor to “celebrate and elevate” Okeechobee, a place near and dear to her heart. It’s also a place that helped shape and prepare her for her teaching career.

Since winning the award, Stanley has been touring the state in a series of speaking engagements and learning more about what the FL Board of Education has been doing and will continue to do so for the remainder of the school year.

We’re almost at the beginning of October, seven days to be exact and in those seven days you can complete your US Census information; a very important thing for the residents of any community, much less Okeechobee County. County Library Director Kresta King says since 2018, the US Federal Government has assigned the completing of the Census at libraries because they have internet access and people can come to the library to do their Census if they do not have internet access at home. King says it’s so important to complete your Census information because it will mean very important dollars for the community in federal funding (King-Census Importance 1). King says most people don’t do their Census responsibilities because they don’t want the Federal Government “in their business” and that couldn’t be further from the truth; they don’t ask your Social Security Number or any private information. You can complete your Census by calling the library at (863) 763-3536 or by calling the Census Bureau hotline at (844) 330-2020 or by logging on to www.my2020census.gov.

Okeechobee County’s COVID-19 case numbers as of yesterday morning have increased once again and even surpassed the 15 hundred mark. Unfortunately that was coupled with a rise in the number of fatalities. Courtesy of the FL Department of Health, there are 1,501 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities have gone up by one, now totaling 24. 1,498 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. 166 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 690,499 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 682,370 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll stands at 13,618 and there have been 42,941 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:

23 year old Stephen Reginald Barton of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of possession of methamphetamine, grand theft, criminal mischief and burglary. He’s being held without bond.

64 year old Bobby Joe Fulford of Okeechobee was arrested on a St. Lucie County warrant for stalking charges. His bond is set at $250.00 dollars.

28 year old Steven Garcia of Okeechobee was arrested for firing a projectile into a building, criminal mischief, child neglect and resisting arrest. His bond is set at nine thousand dollars.

36 year old John Ashford Hair of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of domestic battery. He’s being held without bond.

44 year old Franklin Heath Everhart of Okeechobee was arrested by police on charges of battery and simple assault during a domestic dispute. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

19 year old Emily Ann Garrard of Okeechobee was arrested for cocaine possession. Her bond is set at five thousand dollars.