News Cast 9/25

The new building that houses the Okeechobee County Property Appraiser, Tax Collector and Driver’s License Departments had previously gone under the name PATCDL, which is of course an abbreviation of all the departments in that building. But now, it has a new name and it’s called the Sherman Building, named after longtime Okeechobee County Property Appraiser Bill Sherman. County Commissioners discussed the renaming of the building during yesterday’s meeting and members of Sherman’s family and current County Appraiser Mickey Bandi spoke about Sherman’s influence and what he did for the county and why the building should bear his name. The measure to name it the Sherman Building was approved by a unanimous vote. The measure was brought up at the request of Commissioner David Hazellief. Hazellief says naming it after Bill Sherman is a great idea because he helped bring the county into the 21st century when it comes to logging of properties.

Sherman, who passed away in January of 2018, was also a pastor and very involved in the community and he was Okeechobee County’s longest serving elected official. The building will also have the name of longtime County Tax Collector Juanette Shirey on plaques on the left and right sides of the building. The building opened up for business a few weeks ago.

Once again, the people who represent the Treasure Coast Food Bank will be making another trip to Okeechobee County this weekend for a free food distribution pantry for some lucky people who need it. Okeechobee County Fire Chief Ralph Franklin says the food pantry will have enough food to pack three hundred vehicles and it will be held at the Agri-Civic Center which Franklin and several others say is the best place for this type event and that usually leads to its success.

The food pantry will begin at nine o’clock tomorrow morning and it will conclude at eleven o’clock. Officials from the Treasure Coast Food Bank, Okeechobee Sheriff’s Department and others will be on hand to assist in making sure it runs smoothly. It’s a first-come, first-serve basis to the first three hundred vehicles. Pre-registration is required and to do that, please text the word HUNGER to 21000 on your smartphone.

Okeechobee County’s COVID-19 case numbers as of yesterday morning have increased once again, albeit slightly, but thankfully the number of fatalities has not increased. Courtesy of the FL Department of Health, there are 1,504 positive cases of the Coronavirus since March and fatalities remain at 24. 1,501 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to one hundred with the median age of the patients now at an even forty. 167 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 693,040 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 684,847 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll stands at 13,795 and there have been 43,128 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:

29 year old Nikki Lynne Taylor of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for cocaine trafficking, drunk driving and driving on a suspended license following a traffic stop and field sobriety test. Her bond is set at $42,500.00 dollars.

52 year old Dayne M. Smith of Okeechobee was arrested on two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer or firefighter. His bond is set at five thousand dollars.

24 year old Breanna Dee Billie of Okeechobee was arrested by police on a local warrant on charges of battery and aggravated stalking. Her bond is set at six thousand dollars.

54 year old Richard William O’Callaghan of Pompano Beach was arrested for battery during a domestic dispute. He was released after posting a one thousand dollar bond.