News Cast 7/29

News Cast for July 29th:

Hospitals concerned about COVID spike 

Agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried said the state has to put out more data on the increase in COVID-19 cases. 

Fried said almost all of the new hospitalizations are of unvaccinated patients. 

“We are all taking the hit because the rest of our peers, colleagues and fellow Floridians didn’t step up and get the vaccine.  Unfortunately, that is the reality of today.  We all need to take measures to protect ourselves.” 

She encouraged individual governments to impose mask mandates. 

Some larger counties have mandated masks at public facilities. 

Fried said the governor’s message on vaccines have been confusing as they haven’t done enough to support them publicly. 

Orange County is under a state of emergency after a 400% increase in cases over the past month. 

Governor Ron DeSantis said he has no plans to enact a state of emergency. 

He also hasn’t changed his stance on school masks. 

Districts said the masks are recommended but not mandated. 

Garbage rates to increase 

The Okeechobee city council approved a rate hike for garbage pickup. 

The new rate is $247 dollars per year. 

The agreement calls for annual raises.  Next year the scheduled rate is $259. 

Mayor Dowling Watford said they are still reasonable rates for garbage service. 

“We don’t get a lot of complaints.  The biggest amount of complaints is yard waste.  That is because the clam truck to pick up the yard waste is not on the same schedule.” 

Watford said they can work out any issues with Waste Management pretty easily. 

“$20 per month is hard to beat for garbage service, recycling, with them providing the cans, and the yard waste pickup.” 

Student sought to join school board 

Okeechobee school board member Melisa Jahner suggests a high school student should be a member of the school board. 

She said the student could be a good asset to the school board providing information on things going on at the high school from a student’s perspective. 

She got the idea from a recent state education conference. 

“It was very impressive.  You get the high school student input.  It kept the board up to date on what is going on at the school because we are not there.  A lot of their insight is impressive because the board hears what the students want and need.” 

It would be an ex-officio or non-voting member. 

Court actions 

An Okeechobee man involved in multiple shooting incidents was sentenced to three years in prison. 

Dakota Carter, 24 entered a plea of no contest to weapons and aggravated assault charges. 

Sheriff deputies said Carter was involved in shooting guns into pastures, a shooting in Playland Park, and a shooting at a residence in Dixie Ranch Acres during February, 2020. 

The shooting on NW 96th Court resulted in two windows to the home and the windows of a parked vehicle being shot out. 

No one was injured in the incident. 

An alleged possessor of child pornography was sentenced to four years in prison and two years on probation. 

Court records show Jaime Gonzalez,  27 pled no contest to 10 different felony charges. 

Some 30 counts were dismissed or dropped by prosecutors. 

Gonzales was also labeled a sex offender.