News Cast 9/28

News Cast for September 28th:

New faces at the SO 

The Okeechobee County Sheriff celebrated new hires and promotions. 

David Rogers and Philicia Allen were promoted from detention corporal to detention sergeant. 

Mark Wright and Andrew Eulenfield were promoted to detention corporal. 

The new Chief Deputy Michael Hazellief was also honored. 

He admitted he was surprised by the ceremony. 

“For them to put this together without me knowing about it, to honor me, it means a tremendous amount.  I’m thankful for it.  It speaks to why I love this organization and why I’m happy to serve.” 

Hazellief assured families that deputies and corrections officers are more trained than ever and more prepared to handle the job. 

The sheriff also gave the oath of office to new deputies and corrections officers. 

New corrections guards included Joseph Benjamin, Brian Perry and Antonio Vega. 

New deputies included Brady Rhodes, Ivan Sanchez, Joseph Bunting, Victor Gonzales, and Anthony Hall. 

The sheriff also honored Rick Giles who was a chaplain at the sheriff’s office for 22 years.  He recently retired and has been replaced by Jim Garner. 

Dairy farmers continue to struggle during the pandemic, specifically smaller dairies. 

The US Senate looked at changes to the farm bill and the milk pricing formula. 

Costs of milk have been stagnant for years while costs of operation have risen. 

Dairyman Mike Ferguson said 45 percent of the liquids drank in the southeast United States are dairy products. 

He said dairies can not survive another year like 2020. 

Other issues farms face include long working hours, labor shortages, harsh weather, sick animals and equipment breakdowns. 

Okeechobee Mayor Dowling Watford voted in favor of hiring Donald Hagan as police chief. 

Watford said he was very confident in the job Gary Ritter will do as permanent city administrator. 

The mayor spoke at a ground breaking ceremony this morning of the Cattlemen’s Square Park downtown at 9 am. 

Bridget Waldau with Okeechobee Main Street said they have worked hard on this project. 

“I’m so proud of my team giving countless volunteer hours to raise private funds for this massive bronze sculpture project.  My team, especially Kathy Scott, kept getting the money to flow in.  Today is very exciting for us to see the shovels going into the ground.” 

County Commission Chair Terry Burroughs said this will help the downtown area. 

“You have a lot of traffic on highway 70.  People don’t want a lot of traffic here but this is what the future brings.  This will be a perfect place for this project and people will stop here.” 

Mayor Dowling Watford called it the best day for the parks since Henry Flagler designed them in 1915. 

“The city was founded in 1915.  The Okeechobee Company laid out Okeechobee and this beautiful park.  I get more comments from people and how they loved coming through Okeechobee and noticed the park.  They say how beautiful they are and how lucky we are to have the space.” 

Watford said this will insure that agriculture and the cattle industry are remembered for generations