News Cast for October 2nd:

Community mourns fallen officer

An off-duty Okeechobee police officer died in a car accident west of Arcadia Tuesday night.

Jason Chapman worked for Okeechobee police for two years and served over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a decorated solider.

He served in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

The 45-year-old was visiting family in Tampa and died on the way home in a head on collision.  He was in his private vehicle.

Three women in a sport utility vehicle, all from Pinellas County, were seriously injured.

Fatal crash on dangerous road

Okeechobee Sheriff Deputies closed a portion of 441 north down near Country Hills Estates on Friday afternoon for a fatal crash.

Deputies said the vehicle accident occurred in the 13100 block of 441 north.

Gregory Carl Close of Okeechobee was killed in the accident.

No further details have been made available.

An issue for deer hunters

Florida is doing what it can to protect its deer herd from the spread of the fatal Chronic Wasting Disease.

Florida’s Panhandle had the first deer in the state to test positive earlier this year in Holmes County.

They will be setting up 21 different checkpoints during hunting season in December to test deer taken by hunters to try and stop the spread.

Mark Cunningham with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said there are a lot of deer being lost in states across the country.

“We are seeing annual declines of 20-21 percent out west annually.  Eastern states are seeing similar trends.  The long term trends are concerning because everywhere the disease is detected, the prevalence is increasing.”

The fatal disease is similar to Mad Cow Disease in cattle.  It is not spread to humans.  Deer can die as soon as four months after getting the disease.

The City of Okeechobee Planning Board decided to support the council’s recommendation to ban certain pharmaceutical businesses in the city.

They have permitted two at this point and city fathers have said two is enough.

They recently reviewed plans for one on 70 east at a closed gas station and convenience store.

The governor signed a bill that allows local regulation and outright bans of these operations.

Planning Board member Carl Berlin says they can be disruptive to nearby businesses.  He said it attracts vagrants, crime, and traffic congestion.

He also maintains they also are targets for robberies in other cities he’s lived in.

“You can’t have a bank account because its against federal regulations because its all cash.  So here in the last four to five months people decide to go rob somewhere, why not rob a dispensary because they deal in cash and cash only.”

Glades County schools are seeing a dramatic increase in student enrollment this year.

Superintendent Dr. Beth Barfield reported 33 percent more students as they counted 1,801 in August.

The official count is taken this month and determines the amount of state education dollars they receive.

Dr. Barfield said West Glades School has seen the most enrollment and is near capacity.

“We are at 97 percent capacity at West Glades.  Our high school is consistently getting larger and our elementary school is growing.  All our schools have healthy attendance rates.”