News Cast 9/3

News Cast for September 3rd:

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department officials have a local man in custody at this time on charges of premeditated attempted murder in connection with a shooting that took place late last month. Sheriff’s detectives arrested 19 year old Tyonne Tyrese Frost a week ago yesterday after he allegedly shot 32 year old Techalin Joseph five nights earlier in Douglas Park. Deputies were stopped by pedestrians and told that Joseph had been shot. Joseph was found behind the Douglas Park Store with at least five gunshot wounds to his back. Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen says he can give thanks to the anonymous tips that were the determining factor in detectives apprehending Frost in this case.

While the actual motive in the shooting is not known, Stephen believes it’s likely due to the illegal drug trafficking in the area. Joseph is being treated for his wounds at Raulerson Hospital. Frost, who occasionally goes by the nickname “Short Man,” is being held in county jail in lieu of a $250 thousand dollar bond. Law officers were not injured while apprehending Frost.

It’s not often that the Okeechobee County Commissioners and the City Council have meetings in the same night but tonight that’s exactly what will happen. The County Commissioners will meet to have a discussion on the status of the Coronavirus in the county. That meeting will be held in the Historic County Courthouse beginning at a special time, five o’clock. Seating will be limited due to social distancing guidelines. The meeting will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

Okeechobee City Councilmembers will meet a bit later and they will also be covering the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to the city and they will also be discussing the proposed millage rate and budget for the next fiscal year. Councilmembers will also look to proclaim this month as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Hunger Action Month. The meeting will begin at six o’clock in City Hall. Seating will be limited due to social distancing guidelines, much like the commissioners meeting. The meeting will be shown via the Zoom application. You can log on to the city’s website or please contact the City Administrator’s office for instructions on viewing the meeting through Zoom.

Speaking of the Okeechobee City Council, during their last meeting, the city was the recipient of not one but two awards from the Florida Public Risk Management Department. Okeechobee received the award for best overall safety performance and most improved safety performance. Bonnie Mims, Executive Director of the FL Public Risk Management Department, says Okeechobee received these awards because they are focused on reducing claims costs from injured workers and they’re very involved in each and every claim. However, Mims says there’s more to it and that’s where certain needed polices come in and the city of Okeechobee has done that.

City Finance Director India Riedel says getting these types of awards is great but she praised others who were vital to the city receiving these awards.

Mims says the city had a fifty percent decrease in the number of workman’s compensation claim counts and an 85 percent decrease in the number of workman’s comp claim costs. These numbers were documented from 2018 thru 2019.

Okeechobee County once again experienced a slight rise in their numbers of positive COVID-19 cases but unfortunately our luck ran out as there are more fatalities to add to the list. As of yesterday morning, courtesy of the Florida Department of Health, the number of positive cases in Okeechobee County is at 1,250 since March, and the number of fatalities increased by four, bringing the total to 19. 1,246 people diagnosed with the virus are local residents and their ages range from zero to 94 with the median age of the patients being 38. 133 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.

Also as of yesterday morning, there are 633,442 reported positive cases of the Coronavirus in the state since March and 626,426 of them are FL residents. Florida’s death toll now stands at 11,501 and there have been 39,158 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 every Tuesday and Thursday from eight o’clock 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 Fort Pierce man is dead following a vehicle accident a week ago Sunday afternoon in St. Lucie County. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say the man, who was 59 years old, was driving a sedan west on State Route 70 near the 142 Mile Marker at Port St. Lucie Boulevard in Port St. Lucie shortly after two o’clock when for unknown reasons, he veered off the roadway, onto the grass shoulder and paved sidewalk. The vehicle then rotated clockwise before its left front side collided with a wooden utility pole and came to rest in a ditch, ejecting the man from the vehicle. On-scene medics declared the man dead from his injuries. The accident is under investigation. The victim’s name is not releasable to the public due to Marsy’s Law.

On the arrest report:

30 year old Telitha May Edinger of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of the controlled substance hydromorphone without a prescription with intent to sell the drugs. Her bond is set at $80 thousand dollars.

33 year old Thomas John Giacopelli of Okeechobee was arrested on battery charges. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

33 year old Servano Medrano of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell it. His bond is set at $20 thousand dollars.

35 year old Isidro Gutierrez Perez of Okeechobee was arrested on several counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and for contempt of court during his arraignment hearing on past charges of driving on a suspended license. His bond is set at $242 thousand dollars.

44 year old Nereyda Rivas-Sanchez of Okeechobee was arrested on several counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell it. Her bond is set at three hundred thousand dollars.