News Cast 2/1

News Cast for February 1st:

Graduation rates drop 10 percent in Okeechobee

Okeechobee schools had a 75 percent graduation rate last year.  The state was at 87.3 percent.

Glades County was at 89 percent, they had the biggest improvement in the state of 11 percent over the previous year.

A new report found over 44 percent of Okeechobee students missed more than 21 days of instruction last year.

Assistant Superintendent Dylan Tedders pointed out the Okeechobee high school grad rate was over 85 percent.

He said the district does all they can to help students get diplomas.

“We work with all students.   The data was pretty consistent.  We are moving forward to make sure students realize how important it is for everything they need to do to graduate.”

Black students were more likely to graduate than white or Hispanic students in Okeechobee schools last year.

The black graduation rate was 84.4 percent, white students were just under 74 percent and Hispanic students at 76 percent.

Glades schools had 30.8 percent of the student body miss more than 21 days of instruction last year.

The national officers for Future Farmers of America visited Okeechobee last week meeting with our students with motivational messages.

President Andrew Seibel attends Virginia Tech.  He said it was awesome to meet our kids and talk with them about their futures.

“It is great to be back in school.  I was pulled out of school due to COVID during my senior year and it was kind of an abrupt ending.  I enjoy visiting the middle school levels because I see these kids with a lot of paths forward.  I hope the information we provided today will help them find their future.”

The group put on inspiring and motivational messages at Okeechobee High School and Yearling Middle School.  They also visited the classroom of Brian Trimble at Osceola Middle School.

The students included Jessica Herr of Pennsylvania, Ryan Williamson of Texas, MacKenna Clifton of North Carolina, Karstyn Cantrell of Oklahoma and Gracie Murphy of Illinois.

The group visited Okeechobee and Miami Dade last week.

Glades County fines on the Calusa Lodge will start this week.

The nuisance abatement board, after a  public hearing, found the property was a nuisance.

County Attorney Richard Pringle said the violations included inoperable vehicles and boats, large piles of garbage and solid waste, debris all over the property, derelict trailers, mobile homes being scrapped on site, multiple fire hazards, and unsafe electrical services.

Neighbors had complained about the unsightly conditions on the property.

The Lodge itself burned down in an arson related fire many years ago.

The county and the United Way tried to help some of the residents find new places to live.

As many as five trailers were still occupied at last report.

Another problem was the sewage treatment plant was not working.

An agent for the owner of the property apologized the property had gotten to this point.  He said the federal government made it impossible to evict anyone during the pandemic and that many people were staying there rent free hurting the cash flow.

Broward and Indian River Sheriff investigators are conducting a death investigation on State Road 60.

The body was found alongside the road just east of Yeehaw Junction on Monday.

Few details have been released at this point.

A rape suspect was bit by a K-9 officer sparking criticism in Belle Glade.

30 year old Gerson Delmas of Belle Glade was in custody in a police vehicle but allegedly head butted a deputy and kicked the K-9 before it bit him.

The incident was caught on cell phone video.

Charles Askew said Palm Beach deputies went too far and Belle Glade officials need to take responsibility.

“Somebody has to be accountable.  If Captain Emory Payne is over this it is your fault.  It is your people.  They wear the same green and same shied that you do.”

Two deputies were placed on leave pending an investigation.