News Cast 11/15


November 15, 2023

News Cast for November 15th:

Cops who stopped plot honored in Okeechobee

Okeechobee honored two Jupiter police officers who uncovered a plot to attack Okeechobee High School.

Officers Christian Wyatt and Kevin Sales Lopez were on routine patrol September 18 when they conducted a traffic stop for a blown headlight.  They later got permission to search the vehicle and found handwriting from the suspect Henry Horton the 4th.

Sheriff Noel Stephen said the officers acted heroically immediately.

“These gentlemen through their due diligence and great cop work, along with the assistance of Jupiter Police, went above and beyond the call of duty and deterred a tragedy from happening in our jurisdiction.”

He said the community can never thank them enough for saving our number one asset, children.

Officer Lopez thanked the community for coming out and showing support.

“I want to thank the community for their outstanding support but I’d like to thank Jupiter Police for my career.   I’m very grateful to be able to prevent such a  mass thing and save countless lives.”

Horton also is accused of threatening a Miami church.

He has a court date later this month and remains in the Palm Beach County Jail on $1 million bond.

A stand-off in Venus with children as hostages ended in the safe release of the children ages 3 and 4.

Highlands County Sheriff Deputies said it began as a domestic violence call.

The suspect 43-year-old Sonny Ray Holland refused to come out of the home for 18 hours.  He finally released the children safely.  When liquid based gas canisters were sent into the mobile home, deputies heard a gunshot and saw smoke coming from the home.  Holland finally exchanged gunfire with deputies and the house burned down.  He retreated into the burning home and first responders were unable to rescue him.

An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

Holland was sought on various warrants including felony battery, and child endangerment.

The Polk County Sheriffs Office SWAT team participated in the operation.

St. Lucie County is eyeing an industrial project on route 68 near Okeechobee.

The 36-acre parcel would be subdivided into three lots for industry.

It is former citrus grove and agriculture land at the intersection of Shinn Road.

Okeechobee joined with the other three Treasure Coast Counties for a joint meeting to discuss issues like affordable housing.  The four counties created a task force last year to make recommendations.

They mentioned a concern of using commercial and industrial property for housing.  They support requiring new developments to provide a certain amount of affordable housing.

Commissioner Terry Burroughs says the joint meeting is a good thing, “I think these meetings have been pretty productive.  It lets us see what is happening in the other three counties and common place things we can work together on.  We heard affordable housing and septic to sewer issues are common across all four counties.”

The Florida Department of Transportation has invested $60 million this year in rumble strips, trying to keep people in their right lane.  Florida has 23 million residents and over 138 million annual visitors so the roads are clogged.

The state has invested record amounts of funding for road improvements.  The five year FDOT work plan is scheduled to spend over $68.2 billion on roads.

Assistant DOT secretary Kim Holland said the roads have to be able to accommodate all this traffic.

“As Florida continues to experience unprecedented population growth our transportation infrastructure must be able to evolve and must be able to accommodate our growing needs.”

They also expect more automated vehicles and electric vehicles in the near future.

The Florida Department of Agriculture held a public hearing this morning at the Okeechobee Civic Center to take public comment on the Rural and Family lands protection program.

In other news

11/09/23: Today our Board had the honor of issuing a Proclamation in support of “Small Business Saturday”.

Saturday, November 25, is Small Business Saturday, and is hosted by the Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce and is a day to support your local small businesses.

Small businesses are the backbone of our communities, and they need our support now more than ever.

The Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce will be in downtown Flagler Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25 to hand out “passports” with a map showing 40 participating businesses and goody bags with coupons.

Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 by American Express and officially co-sponsored by the Small Business Administration since 2015 and has become an important part of how many small businesses launch their busiest shopping season.

Mark your calendars and come out to shop and support your local businesses on November 25, 2023!

(Pictured L to R): Angela Giovanniello, paulette Wise, Commissioner Burroughs, Rebecca Marsocci, Mariah, Parriott, and Russ Brown.