News Cast 1/29


January 29, 2024

News Cast for January 29th:

Commissioners slow mobile home park

Residents of Blue Cypress are concerned about a mobile home park proposed on 16 acres right next door.

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners tabled action on a rezoning request for one month for further review and to give the developer time to meet with the neighbors.

Lon Sloan was concerned about the quality of units that will go in there.

“We do not feel this will be an attractive addition to our county and to our community.  Blue Cypress has 248 units and all of our residents are tax payers.  The properties are well kept, are kept clean, and you never see our trash along 441.”

Others worry there is not enough space on this property to put in the number of units they want, and roads and water and sewer facilities.

The next public hearing was set for February 22nd.

The Okeechobee County School Board honored the OHS Brahman band that finished fifth at the state marching band championships in Clearwater this year.

The district also has seen benefits from expanding their mental health and behavioral support department.  For example during one week’s time on school campuses they had 14 mental health crisis that can include threats.  They expanded staffing to 22 employees this year.

The district also approved a contract with Apptegy to send out more information via text to parents even during crisis.  Even bus drivers can take part and alert parents if the bus is late.

Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said it’s a good service for parents that should improve communication.

“Not just when incidents occur but when a bus is late.  If you are an elementary parent and you are accustomed to going to the bus stop at a certain time and a bus is not there.  There is nothing more disappointing that you having to stop and wait, but there is also a level of worry.   Why is the bus late?  Has something happened? Was there an accident?  Did my kid get on the bus and I missed it?”

Jessie Mizell of Myacca City defended his championship in the Toyota Series bass tournament on Lake Okeechobee.  He led wire to wire and finished with 72 pounds 9 ounces.  His winnings were $44,000.

Casey Gonzales of Lake Wales won the co-angler side with his prize a new Phoenix bass boat.

He caught 53 pounds and 5 ounces over the three days.

Rafe Sexton of Okeechobee finished sixth on the pro side as he reeled in 57 pounds over three days.  Justin Morgan finished in 41st place with 21 pounds 7 ounces of two days.

The state says human trafficking and child pornography cases are at an all time high.

The state legislature is expected to take up a bill to crack down on the industry.

January is human trafficking prevention month.

Maritn county chief deputy John Budensiek says even with five full time investigators, they will never be able to handle the work load with these cases.

Sheriff Noel E. Stephen was proud to announce that the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office has achieved Levels 1 and 2 of the Professional Recognition Program from the Florida Sheriffs Association Accreditation program. Once all three levels are completed, the agency will be added to the prestigious list of accredited agencies in Florida from the Florida Sheriffs Association. We anticipate concluding our final inspection by April 2024, with an announcement to follow once acceptance and awarding are confirmed.

Pictured (l-r) Sheriff Bill Leeper Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Noel E. Stephen, Okeechobee County, and Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office