News Cast for June 29th:

Group sold drugs for illegal drugs

A Florida truck theft ring busted up three years ago finally had its day in court in Okeechobee.

Ethan King pled no contest to 15 criminal charges including conspiracy, burglary and grand theft.

The FDLE, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s department and other agencies combined efforts after 16 large trucks were stolen from around Okeechobee, Highlands Glades and Polk Counties between 2016 and 2018

The value of the trucks was over $312,000.  Many of them were recovered in Okeechobee.

FDLE agents said the group’s goal was to sell the trucks for methamphetamine in Highlands County.

King was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role.

He was caught after a chase in a stolen truck ended north of Okeechobee.  He was found hiding in a palmetto patch in possession of 10 grams of methamphetamines.

Lake Okeechobee levels continue to worry the Treasure Coast.

The Rivers Coalition constantly talks about algae blooms and releases to the St. Lucie River.  They worry about possible impacts to tourism and even health.

Ben Hogarth with the city of Stuart said the lake may be the highest its been in years this summer.

“We have a lake that is about two feet higher than we want it right now.”

He noted chances are slim the lake will be low enough to grow any vegetation this year.

“Even in the smallest cone of probability we will be over 18 feet.  There is a substantially higher risk of the lake going over 18 than there is the lake going anywhere near the low management line for the rest of this year.”

Forecasters said the rising sea temperatures have led to a more active hurricane season than first predicted.

The Moore Haven City Council os still working to get reimbursed for damage done to their docks by a March boat fire.

They agreed to contract with Tow Boat USA to get the boat out of the river as soon as possible.

The city attorney said the boat owner has already been paid by his insurance company for boat damage and even for the removal of the boat.  The city is yet to see a penny.

The city wants to be reimbursed for all costs and damages.

They also agreed to consider a donation to the US Marines Toys for Tots program this year.

Volunteer organizer Shondra Croskey said she felt Glades County was being underserved by the program.

The US Department of Labor cited an Okeechobee labor contractor after heat illness claimed the life of a 28 year old farmworker in Parkland.

Rafael Barajas allegedly failed to have a heat illness plan for workers in place when a worker died during his first day on the job January 1st.

The worker was putting wooden stakes in the ground at Hendrix Farms in 90 degree heat when he reported fatigue and leg pain.

He was found by co-workers unresponsive soon afterward.

Barajas was ordered to pay fines of over $15,000.

By Taylor