News Cast 11/17

News Cast for November 17th:

School Board has new leader 

Melisa Jahner was elected by her colleagues as school board chairman at the boards reorganization meeting. 

Joe Arnold is the new Vice Chairman. 

Jahner lists navigating the building of a new high school and getting salary hikes for experienced teachers as two of her main goals this year. 

The governor has increased the starting pay of teachers but that left some who had experience making less in salary than first year teachers. 

She said the district is getting over COVID-19. 

“I feel everybody feels like were almost back to normal.  It was just nice.  We got to meet in our regular room.  Finally almost back to normal.” 

Blood in short supply 

The annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup comes at a good time this year. 

There is a shortage of blood with more people hesitant to donate due to COVID-19. 

Organizer Raye Duesinger points out that all of us will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives. 

“When that transfusion is necessary the blood has to be on the shelf for them to have access to it.  Some blood is rare, and some blood is very common, but all of the blood is very needed.” 

Deusinger said it is perfectly safe to donate blood. 

The blood round up is held at the Freshman Campus on Saturday and Sunday. 

The blood drive is the longest continuous drive in Florida and has led to the donations of thousands of units of blood. 

Drug problems continue in most counties in Florida. 

Osceola reported 350 deaths in the past year due to drug overdoses. 

Sheriff Marcos Lopez said this has to stop. 

“Imagine if these were classified as homicides, there would be an outrage.  I view criminals killing people with drugs in the same way.  Traffickers are bringing in drugs to Osceola County and killing residents with those drugs.” 

Two drug task forces have been created amid the playing of politics. 

One involves various police agencies and the State Attorney’s Office. 

State Attorney Monique Worrell said she will be focused on drug traffickers and not users. 

She said we have lost the war on drugs. 

“We are committed to targeting and dismantling major drug trafficking operations and offering alternatives to incarceration to those that are exploited by those organizations.  For decades we have tried to incarcerate our way out of the drug crisis.  It did not work in the 1990s and it will not work now.” 

An Okeechobee couple was jailed on drug charges. 

A traffic stop for speeding on route 710 allegedly turned up methamphetamine and fentanyl. 

Charged were 20 year old Heidi Mowery for the fentanyl and 33 year old Adam Mowery for the methamphetamine. 

A Glades County man once convicted of vehicular homicide was jailed on recent burglary and grand theft charges. 

Justin Wiggins was allegedly spotted on surveillance cameras at the Moore Haven Yacht Club acting suspicious. 

Deputies said about $1,100 in items were stolen and most have been recovered. 

The thefts include a golf cart that was located about a block from the Yacht Club entrance. 

Court records show Wiggins was sentenced to three years in prison, two years of house arrest and a year of probation for a traffic death in 2011. 

Darlene Falkenham, 19, of Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania was killed in the accident on route 78. 

Wiggins attempted to pass in a no passing zone and caused the head on collision according to the Florida Highway Patrol.