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News Cast for January 6th:

Schools staying open amid surge 

Okeechobee Schools did not report a large absentee rate among students or staff as schools resumed this week. 

One report had 34 Okeechobee teachers out of work this week. 

The Centers for Disease control listed 204 new cases in Okeechobee and a positive test rate of just over 27 percent. 

Assistant Superintendent Dylan Tedders said staff did see some disruptions due to air travel back to Florida. 

Tedders urges parents to keep kids home if they show symptoms.  He said the school will continue to send home any student that shows symptoms. 

Tedders said no school asked for support due to a lack of teachers. 

Masks remain recommended but not required. 

Man allegedly had witness raped 

Alphonso Morris Junior, 27 of Okeechobee accused of threatening a witness in a drug case. 

Morris is accused of bringing an armed masked man with him to confront the witness used by the sheriff’s office to purchase narcotics in early 2021. 

The pair allegedly used various means to force the witness to changing their story and recording the statement on video tape. 

The video was reportedly brought to Morris’ defense attorney. 

The witness claimed the armed man forced them into sexual relations. 

Morris was spotted at the court house and followed by deputies who took him into custody at a local motel after a brief standoff. 

Charges include tampering with a witness first degree and fleeing and attempting to elude police. 

Morris was held without bond. 

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs will resign at the end of the year. 

He served since 2015. 

Fuchs said he made this known to the Board in August.  

He plans to be a professor at the university to end his career. 

He listed growing the faculty by 600, improving facilities and increasing fund raising as some of the main accomplishments the university saw during his tenure. 

He said over three million square feet of new construction is underway at the campus. 

Florida also ranked in the top five among public universities in recent rankings. 

Fuchs said he also promised not to increase tuition and has kept his promise. 

Glades County is among the county jails that are paying more for inmate health care during the pandemic. 

They approved a budget amendment to pay for three inmate visits to the hospital. 

One was in the hospital for close to three weeks with COVID. 

Finance Director Shelly Rigdill told county commissioners that 2021 was an expensive year for health care and 2022 could be just as bad or worse. 

Okeechobee city council approved a demolition ordinance. 

10 percent of the buildings in the city limits need to be torn down according to officials. 

Some are unsafe and others unsanitary. 

City councilman Noel Chandler clarified the city won’t pay to relocate families. 

City attorney John Fumero said in some cases the city could displace families from their homes. 

The city magistrate would hear the cases and make decisions on demolition permits.  Appeals of this decision would go to the court system and not city council.