News cast for April 9th:

Fatal fire ruled not suspicious

Okeechobee Police identified the victim in last Thursday’s fire at 400 SE 7th Street.

He is 48-year-old Bryan Gener.

The police said the investigation found the fire was accidental.

The victim was asleep when the fire started.

No one else was in the home at the time.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue Chief Earl Wooten said it has been awhile since our last fatal fire.

“We had a fatality several years ago in Ruckerville, inside the city limits, another one in Oak Park a few years back. We haven’t had one in at least five years or at least several years.”

Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen is a no to marijuana.

The Florida Supreme Court put on the November ballot a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

Stephen said he has friends from high school that have smoked pot for over 40 years.

“By far they are not bad people. They are different than us. They have a different mindset. There is a lot to the issue.

Repeat offenders in the jail, prevention, addiction. It has been my professional experience, it is just not healthy to legalize marijuana.”

He said he worries about the long-term impacts of the drug.

Stephen said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to the use of harder and stronger drugs.

He said marijuana use at school is also a growing trend that troubles him.

“We have a problem in our elementary and middle schools today. I’m struggling to have the system, when a middle schooler brings a vape pen with marijuana in it at school, I’m having a problem with the schools slapping the hands of the youth, saying you can’t do it. They are wanting to excuse that.”

The Okeechobee School Board honored the Rotary Club for generous donations for the back pack program.

It feeds 250 local kids each weekend.

The school board was also urged to support music teachers in each school.

Two schools currently have no music class.

Okeechobee High school band director Clint LaFlam accepted a proclamation for Music in our Schools month.

He noted the high school and middle school bands fared well in the District 13 Florida Band Masters Competition

He said for the first time in school history that they had two bands get superior ratings.

A local teacher is one of five finalists for the 2024 Timothy H. Cribbs FFA Advisor of the Year Award. This prestigious award has been named in honor of former FFA Advisor. Megan Williamson of Yearling is one of the finalists.

St. Lucie County wants to make it easier to get a permit to have a farmer’s market in rural and agriculture land.

A resident was denied a permit for land on route 68 west, or Orange Avenue.

Planning Board member Valerie Slack urged the staff to use common sense when coming up with regulations.

“IF its somebody pulling up in their pickup truck to sell watermelons three days a week, truly, landscaping buffers are not necessary.”

Other members want the facility to be temporary and not seven days per week.

Sales would be allowed out of trucks, open booths, temporary tents or permanent structures.

One hold up is a suggestion of requiring the land used to be paved.

The lot must be zoned agriculture and be at least two acres.