News Cast 1/8


January 8, 2024

News Cast for January 8th:

Quick medical attention

Two people were seriously injured on Saturday after a traffic crash north of the intersection of 15A and 441.

Two pickups collided at that location closing the road.

An off-duty Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Captain Bryan Dittmer was clearing some land across the street from the crash and ran to the scene.

Reports said he gained entry to one of the trucks and provide immediate life saving care to one of the badly injured.

Dittmer was also able to communicate vital information to dispatch so the Okeechobee County Fire Rescue crews knew exactly what they were dealing with before arrival.

The sheriff’s office said a trauma helicopter responded and transported the two injured to a trauma center for further treatment.

The Florida Legislature’s annual session begins on Tuesday.  The Senate Agriculture Committee got a jumpstart on the session by hearing a report on the health of the cattle industry in Florida.

Whitney Etter with the Florida Cattlemen’s Association said agriculture lands cover 15 percent of the state but continue to dwindle.

She noted agriculture provides 118,000 jobs in the state and pays $640 million in state taxes along with over $100 million in federal taxes.

Florida ranks 13th in cattle production in the country.

Jenna Larson of Okeechobee got to address the committee about the Future Farmers of America and work they do to encourage more students to pursue careers in agriculture.

Larson said agriculture faces a daunting task with increases in the world wide population and poverty rates.

“The solutions will require farmers to be more productive without depleting or diminishing the land and water that make farming possible.  This is also about developing the next generation of agriculturists and a new age of discovery.”

A judge denied a change of venue requested by accused cattle rustler Scott Smith of Vero Beach.

He wanted to move the trial from Okeechobee to Indian River County.

Smith allegedly sold cattle he didn’t own from the Bhakta Ranch.  It was alleged he sold over $47,000 worth of cattle he didn’t own or legally control in five different transactions during 2020.

The cattle deals also included two payments of $297,000 for the same 288 cows.  He allegedly received a cashiers check from an Okeechobee bank in October and then deposited a second check in the ranch account later that month.

Smith is also wanted in Wyoming on charges that include cattle theft, fraud and grand theft in Albany County.

Smith is due in court for a docket hearing on Jan. 18.

Okeechobee Senior Services said there is a growing food insecurity problem amongst our senior population.

Program Director Debra Austin said recent surveys of clients show they are satisfied with the in home residential and nursing services they receive.

The survey found 66 percent of seniors struggle with the need for more food.  38 percent had to make a choice of buying food or paying a bill.  26 percent have had to skip meals due to a lack of food or money.

98 percent felt meals were beneficial to their health.  55 percent said it allows them to stay in their homes.  53 percent reported that the one meal they receive from the county is 75 percent or more of their daily nutrition.