News Cast for July 31st:

Death at Okeechobee County jail

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A female inmate at the county jail died while in custody Sunday.

Helen Dykes, 48 was awaiting trial on a charge of possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon.

Jail officials said they found Dykes in a severe state of distress from an attempt to take her own life.

The guards attempted CPR and other measures but were unable to save her life.

The death will be fully investigated and the medical examiner will perform an autopsy.

The death is not considered suspicious and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Unemployment levels rose for the first time in months in June from 3 percent to 3.4 percent in Okeechobee County.

The labor force dropped by 153 workers in Okeechobee. The report showed 17,510 residents had jobs last month.

Labor economist Lindsey Volpe said they expect the economy and job market to remain strong in Florida.

“Florida’s unemployment rate has stayed stable for over six months.  WE don’t anticipate that changing very much. This stability is due to a growing labor force.  Floridians are confident as they enter the job force thinking they can get meaningful employment.  The state has also led the nation in new business growth and that has increased the demand for jobs.” 

Glades County had 3.9 percent unemployment with 5,074 people employed last month.

Around the region Osceola had 3.4 percent, St. Lucie 3.6 percent, Martin 2.9 percent and Palm Beach County 3.1 percent.

The first draft of the farm bill is expected to be before congress this fall.

Ranchers in Florida want more dollars for research and vaccine banks.

Lauren Butler with the Okeechobee Cooperative Extension said ranchers want to keep land in agriculture production.

“I think Okeechobee ranchers are very concerned about keeping their land in production and they really have a lot of pride for the environmental services ranchers provide.  Thing like water filtration, wildlife habitats and green space.”

Another national priority is finding ways to make it cheaper to farm.

In addition to the needs of farmers, the farm bill also will address food stamp programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that impacts Okeechobee.

Thank you to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office for being guest speakers at the last Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee meeting. Sheriff Noel Stephen and Cpl. Jack Nash spoke to our club about the L.E.A.P. Program, which is a new program put in place to recruit, train and retain new employees. To learn more about this program visit

By Taylor