News Cast 9/26


September 26, 2023

News Cast for September 26th:

Man faces prison for fatal wreck

An Okeechobee man admitted to drinking alcohol, using cocaine and smoking marijuana before a single vehicle crash that claimed a life, court records show.

Adrian Estrada Hernandez pled no contest to DUI manslaughter, driving with a suspended license in a crash involving death and other charges at a recent court appearance.

He faces a term in prison of between four and 15 years when he is sentenced on November 13th.

The single vehicle crash on September 11, 2021 took the life of 55 year old Catherine Recio on South West 67th Drive.

Troopers said a 1997 Mercedes sedan failed to negotiate a curve and struck a culvert before overturning.

Okeechobee High School students excelled at the Southeast Builders Conference in Orlando this summer.

The group took second place in the state.

Instructor Stephen Szentmartoni said the work gives his students confidence.  He noted the program prepares the students in a number of fields, not just carpentry.

“We do the full gamut.    Carpentry, welding, HVAC, septic, we do it all.  The new CTE building will be a great addition.”

The group took home a $1,000 cash prize for the program.

Many of the students were offered jobs after graduation by certified builders.

The group built a playhouse that included a trim and baseboard, an entrance door, flower pots, solar powered fans and LED lights.

House Bill 1 approved by the legislature is considered the largest expansion of school choice ever in the US.

It provides $8,500 for each student to attend a private school or to even be home schooled.

Rep Tuck said private schools will face penalties if they don’t return funding they don’t earn, and can be taken off the list of approved facilities,  until the money is paid.

The bill eliminated all financial eligibility restrictions and the current cap on enrollment.

The program will expand by 20,000 students this year and by 40,000 new scholarships next year around the state.

The Pahokee City Commission gave city manager Rodney Lucas another four months to keep his job and improve his performance.

Mayor Keith Babb said it’s a critical time as the city has to get work done at the marina to keep their state lease.

“What we would do is put the campground and the marina at stake.  If we don’t repair those docks by January the state will not renew our lease.  Do you want to have that risk?”

Commissioner Sarah Perez wanted Lucas gone.  She claims he is incompetent.  She added no work is getting done and the city looks foolish.

“I’m not up here to get special treatment or special favors for me or for anyone else.  If you are standing here advocating for the wrong thing, you are not for this city.”

Resident Jason Crawford was also critical of how the city is run and what it is getting done.

“We need to be realistic about things.  If you keep switching people it is not going to change anything.  We have to hold our commissioners accountable and they have to hold him (Mr. Lucas) accountable.”

Lucas said the criticism against him is unfair as he has had less than 18 months on the job.