News Cast 10/18

News Cast for October 18th:

We know the damage

Okeechobee County assessment teams determined Hurricane Ian caused about $1.3 million in local property damage.

Most of the damage was done to residences, and most of those were mobile homes.

Three buildings were destroyed, 35 had major damage and 113 had minor damage.

Another 45 were impacted.

The EOC recorded wind gusts of 75 miles per hour.

Emergency Management Director Todd Hardacre told the Kiwanis Club that the county will receive FEMA reimbursement.

“We were approved for debris removal, emergency protective measures pre-storm, any damage to public buildings, public utilities, parks and recreation, road and bridges.”

The county listed reimbursement for these things to be 1.56 million.

They did report roof damage to the Douglas Brown School.

The state will ask for life in prison plus 20 years for James Hodges in the murder of 43 year old Paul Murphy.

Murphy, a father of six, was a construction worker who sold marijuana on the side.

Hodges owed him $5,000 from a marijuana deal, he came to Okeechobee, and was shot four times.

A jury had convicted Hodges on October 14 after a five day trial of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Prosecutor Ashley Albright said the victims family sat through the trial and were happy with the verdict.

Albright recounted the evidence in the case and explained how the crime went down.

“It is hard to know for sure what the cause was.  There was evidence that Mr. Hodges owed the victim $5,000 and the victim was going to his home.  There was also evidence of premeditation.  Hodges test fired the murder weapon, concealed it in his yard, shut off his home video surveillance so nothing could be caught on video.  He also concealed the victim and the body and took them 1.3 miles away from his home and dumped them in a canal.”

Albright said the sheriffs investigation was incredibly thorough with four crime scenes to process and 186 items of evidence.

Hodges will be sentenced on November 9th.

Glades County will begin storm debris pickup on Thursday.

They plan to be in Buckhead Ridge, Moore Haven and Muse to start and then branch out to other communities.

You can call the court house for information if you have questions at (863) 946-6000.

The Belle Glade City Commission

Broke the tie and approved the proposed city budget and renewed the contract of city manager Dr. Robert Reese.

They had deadlocked 2-2 at a meeting September 19th.

Councilmember Andrew Berry continued to oppose keeping Reese as manager.  He said the Mayor Steve Wilson should not have voted because Dr. Reese is his pastor and Wilson is a deacon in the church.

City Attorney Glenn Torcivia said this was not a voting conflict.

Berry also argued that the earlier vote should have stood and the contract should not have been approved.

Michael Martin cast the deciding vote.