News Cast for October 16th:

We have recently started a foster program specifically for kittens that are needing to be bottle-fed. This is a big need as we get in a TON of bottle-baby kittens and we cannot help them if we do not have anybody to help us by caring for them. Being said, we are looking for fosters! If you are interested in fostering, please call our office 863-357-3225 for more information or come by to complete our foster application 1480 NW 25th Dr Okeechobee Fl 34972

Teacher’s contract approved

The Okeechobee County School Board approved the new teacher contract.  It increases the beginning salary to $49,600.  It also increased the salary of bus drivers by $2.60 per hour.

The teacher’s union adopted the package 179-91 and support staff approved their contract 164 to 19.

Some teachers objected to dress code changes no longer allowing shorts, leggings or flip flops.  Blue jeans will be allowed.  They will limit t-shirts to school t-shirts.

Union president Jorje Botello noted the economy has been tough on teachers too.  He mentioned the increases in rent and housing, increases in food, insurance and student loan costs.

“Like any negotiations.   We run into differences of opinion.  For the most part we still have a good working relationship. We want to maintain that.  We also understand that when we request salary hikes, we try to make them realistic and sustainable.”

School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said the package includes a $2,250 stipend from American Rescue plan funds for teachers and a near 5.5% raise.

“Thi sis the last year we can offer the stipends from federal grant funds from COVID.  I think the base salary and benefits was 5.32 percent.  You add the bonus on top of that it got them right up there.  I think everybody is pleased with the package.”

Okeechobee schools also honored several students who earned college board national recognition.

They also honored crisis counselor Christine Finch who retired from Osceola middle school after 13 years of service.

Jasmine Desai was honored for being one of 357 high school students in the world that earned every possible point on the P research exam.  She is studying premed at the University of Florida.

An Okeechobee man was sentenced to 55 months in prison for methamphetamine trafficking.

Christian Werner tried to purchase $250 worth of the drug in an Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force undercover operation last July 1st.

He scored nearly twice as long in prison or 117 months due to prior convictions for burglary, fleeing and eluding police and other charges.

Circuit judge Laurie Buchanon did impose a $50,000 fine and $3,100 in court fees and costs.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission urged to do something about derelict boats left on canal banks and waterways in the state.

A proposed law would allow officers to immediately tag a boat rather than have to go to the owner first, then return to the boat and tag it.  The owner has 21 days to respond and request a hearing before the officer has to return to the boat and tag it.

Chairman Rodney Barretto encouraged staff to streamline the process and help get the boats off the waters quicker.

“Maybe we can do this differently and change state law.  There are so many derelict boats in Florida and it is cumbersome on the agency.  They have to go out there, send a certified letter, jump through hoops and you have four hurricanes in the meantime.”

Among arrests, 69-year-old Gerald Goss of Lorida faces aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and improper exhibition of a firearm.

Highlands County deputies said Goss pointed a loaded 12-gauge shotgun at a man weed eating a neighbor’s yard.

The report said the two men exchanged words.  The victim saw Goss pump a shell into the gun and point it at him.  He fled the scene and called law enforcement.

Okeechobee City Police said a building took a bang this morning.

A 76-year-old woman jumped a curve in the parking lot of the Optical Gallery at 520 South Parrott Avenue at about 9 am this morning, City Police said.

There was significant damage done to the concrete building and a water line was also broken.

The woman was transported by Okeechobee County Fire Rescue to Raulerson Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, officers said.