News Cast 2/20

News Cast for February 20th:

Honoring the best in law enforcement

Okeechobee Sheriff Noel Stephen honored his law enforcement and department employees of the year at a special luncheon.

Detective Ryan Ammons was law enforcement officer of the year

Joseph Benjamin was corrections deputy of the year.

Wendy Parker for corrections and Shirley Nazarelli for law enforcement were support employees of the year.

Nazarelli was excited about the award.

“It was amazing.  I was very surprised.  I had no idea I was getting this award.”

She is the departments finance director.  She has been with the sheriff’s office for 17 years.  Before that, she worked for 16 years for the clerk of the circuit court.

“All of the supervisors have been very supportive of me.  I appreciate the opportunity to run the finance department.”

Sheriff Stephen honored a group of deputies who used their private boats to help Arcadia with supplies and rescues during Hurricane Ian.

“Sheriff Potter called me with a dire emergency and didn’t know how he would get supplies to people in need.  Within two hours, my men scrambled around with two boats and were getting supplies out and helping people get to the medical attention they needed.  It was just awesome.”

A man arrested in Okeechobee for a Brevard County murder was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison.

Robert Williams had been selling narcotics in Okeechobee and was jailed on related charges.

Tyler Rivet – Winner of Bassmaster Elite Series Lake Okeechobee

Okeechobee Sheriff Detectives then helped Palm Bay police solve the murder of 28 year old Salvatore Callari, shot in an alleged murder for hire plot in 2019.

Okeechobee investigators located the murder weapon.

Williams was reportedly paid by a friend to rob the victim of cash and marijuana.  The friend was mad that Callari was pursuing his girlfriend for a romantic relationship.  Williams was convicted of 2nd degree murder.

The 84th annual Brighton Field Days rodeo drew near record crowds this weekend. Justin Thigpen won the all-around cowboy at the PRCA rodeo on Friday and Saturday capturing over $4,300 in prize money. Thigpen won the tie down roping with a time of eight seconds, and tied for first in the team roping at 4.3 seconds.

18 year old Kase Hitt won the Extreme Bulls Sunday and over $11,200 in prize money.  He recorded an 87.5 score. The rodeo honored Florida State on Saturday with Coach Mike Norvell, Chief Osceola and Renegade, and the FSU band in attendance. Brighton representative on the Tribal Council Larry Howard said he enjoyed honoring the tribe’s relationship with FSU.

“The communication we have with the university is very good.  A lot of our kids go to FSU.  There logo is Osceola himself.  We support them and they support us.  To me education is everything.  Anytime we can get a member of our tribe to get an education there, that speaks volumes to me.”

County Music star Gary Allan performed in concert on Saturday night.

A wrong way driver claims a life on US 27 near route 70 south of Lake Placid on Sunday morning. A 69 year old Sebring woman was a passenger in a sedan headed north bound in the south bound lane. The head on collision left a 30 year old Immokalee man in serious condition in the second vehicle.

Tyler Rivet of Graceland, Louisiana was the winner of the Bassmaster’s Elite series on Lake Okeechobee. He caught 86 pounds and 15 ounces of bass over the four days all in the Kissimmee River. He caught the heaviest bag on Sunday 18 pounds and 13 ounces. Rivet said he dreamed of being a pro fishermen as a kid in New Orleans as he watched a pro fishing tournament.

“It was awesome.  I just never imagined this.  That was so long ago.  It’s a big jump to go through from a kid to a professional.  It is something any kid or grown man can do.  No matter how old you are, you can get in the boat and go fishing.  Its addicting.  This is what I live for, to get the win.”

Rivet said he fished the entire tournament in the Kissimmee River.  With the exception of a few local boats, he had the river all to himself. “Nobody else was doing what I was doing and that’s the key to winning an Elite tournament — finding that one little thing off the wall,” Rivet said. “That’s how it’s won (most) of the time.

“I thought this one would be won out in the lake on one of the community holes. But when I found my spot in the river, I thought, ‘This could be something.’ But I didn’t know until that first day and I was like ‘We could win.’” The story of how Rivet landed in this area enhanced his victory experience. “I just went sac-a-lait (French for crappie) fishing before the tournament,” Rivet said. “I’m the cook in my travel family, so I went up the river and caught some sac-a-lait. Then I looked to the left on Garmin LiveScope and said ‘That looks like a bass.’

“I threw over there with a jerkbait and caught a 6-pounder. I went down about 20 yards, saw another one, caught it on the first cast — 4-pounder. I just kept going down the river and they were staging everywhere.”

In the river, Rivet targeted hard-bottom spots off the bank. These classic prespawn staging areas attracted groups of bass that seemed to periodically come and go throughout each day. “The main spot was a dead-end canal with a little dam at the back of it, and I guess the fish were going in there to spawn, or they were sitting on a little hard point that was coming off of it,” Rivet said. “They would come in waves. You’d see them on Garmin LiveScope.

“You’d have to hit them perfectly. You’d have to throw in front of them and not behind them. If you come from behind, it would spook them away, so you had to have that perfect angle.”

Rivet said he caught 80% of his bass on a Berkley Stunna jerkbait. He also caught a few of his weight fish by punching hyacinth mats and Kissimmee grass with a black/blue and junebug Xcite Baits Sucka Punch. A Carolina-rigged Xcite Baits Hawgalicious produced a couple more keepers. Rivet dedicated his victory to his grandmother who passed in January.

“She was watching me from up there every day,” Rivet said with a trembling voice. “Every fish that I caught this week that was over 4, I said, ‘Thank you Mammaw.’”