News Cast 8/11

News Cast for August 11th:

Back to school goes smoothly 

Okeechobee School administration reported few problems on the first day of instruction. 

The sidewalk construction barely impacted Seminole Elementary. 

All the bus routes were covered. 

Assistant Superintendent Dylan Tedders said bus routes and stops could still be altered after parental input. 

“We’ve had a lot of calls today about adding or moving stops.  The transportation department takes down all the suggestions, and start working on plans to address them after they determine the actual students that will be riding the buses.” 

18 teachers still need to be hired by the district.  Some instructional coaches and administrators taught classes on the first day. 

Okeechobee County decided to give more time to Bautech to catch up on their lease payments at the industrial park. 

County Administrator Deborah Manzo said the company was behind by $118,000 as of earlier this month. 

The company promised to make a sizeable payment this month. 

They manufacture, distribute, install and maintain precast concrete products. 

They note business is picking up and they hope to have better finances moving forward. 

Wearing cow pajamas during a drug raid got him attention. 

Now he’s headed to prison for 15 years. 

43 year old Richard Bonnell allegedly had burglarized a storage building at 507 North East Park Street last year leaving a large amount of stolen items in the parking lot nearby. 

They included Halloween costumes, vehicle parts, a shop vac, building materials, and many other items. 

City police were able to break the case.  They said the amount of stolen items could have filled a dump truck. 

Prosecutor Ashley Albright said Bonnell deserved the sentence. 

“It’s a combination of a lengthy (criminal) history and the fact he was arrested on this new offense was he was out on bond awaiting sentencing for this.” 

In addition to the cow pajamas escapade, Bonnell allegedly was caught wearing just underwear near a drive thru convenience store in the city in 2021. 

He still faces prosecution on the new case. 

Myra Johnson, Hendry County Veterans Services officer, is a candidate for the Miss Veteran American title for 2022. 

Johnson said her goal is to help veterans who are homeless including women. 

She said thankfully there are not a lot of homeless women veterans in the region. 

“We are bringing awareness to the American people that the number of homeless women is on the rise.  They have immediate needs with housing and services.” 

She said women veterans still have goals that are achievable. 

Commissioners debated a tax hike to fund services for EMS and the Sheriff’s office. 

Commissioner Karson Turner says county employees also deserve a raise. 

“The fact we have employees that have been with the county for as long as I’ve been on the planet, and still are at or near the poverty level is not an exaggeration.” 

The current budget funds 4 new positions for the sheriff, Steve Whidden had requested 19 positions. 

Chief Deputy Kevin Nelson said residents would support a property tax increase if it meant better response times and service. 

“I bet you if you let the millage at 7.4, the chamber will not fill up next month.  People will not gripe about it.  These are services we need to provide.”