News Cast for August 19th:
The slate of candidates for Okeechobee City Council is set for 2022.
Mayor Dowling Watford and incumbent Bob Jarriel are joined by four challengers.
Three councilmembers will be elected on November 8.
The other candidates are Jon Folbrecht, Beth Lehman, David McAuley, and Christopher Martin.
Incumbent Bobby Keefe opted not to seek re-election to a second term.
2 die in head on collision
The Florida highway patrol said two drivers were killed in a crash on the Martin Grade at 11 am Thursday.
A west bound 2010 Toyota hatchback, for some unknown reason, crossed the center line colliding with an east bound 2012 Toyota pickup truck near the intersection of Fox Brown Road.
Killed were a 27 year old Okeechobee woman and a 68 year old Okeechobee woman.
Troopers continue to investigate and the names of the crash victims were not released.
Okeechobee Correctional Institution warden Charles Henson said he hopes an increase in starting pay and a raise for corrections officers will help with recruitment.
They held a hiring event at the prison Thursday.
They have 101 vacant positions at OCI, the work camp closed down last year, and the Sable Palm re-entry center in Pahokee.
Henson said they are making it easy to get a job.
“We hold job fairs. We work around people’s working schedule. They may be looking to better themselves so we do our best to get them in here for an interview. We pay $41,600 with a $1,000 signing bonus.”
He said they also provide waivers for college tuition.
Henson said the head of the Florida prison system recently visited Okeechobee with a surprise inspection.
Due to staffing cuts they have been unable to provide work crews for projects in the community.
He said they hope to reopen the work camp in the future.
It has been a slow start for the primary election.
Okeechobee Supervisor of Elections Malissa Arnold said just under eight percent of registered voters had cast ballots in the first few days.
They continue through tomorrow night with early vote until 7 pm at the court house.
Arnold said the voter precincts all remain the same this year.
She reminds voters to bring a photo ID with them to the polls.
The narcotics task force arrests two for fentanyl sales.
The pair allegedly accepted an offer on social media to sell fentanyl capsules for $40 apiece.
When they showed up for the alleged deal the police were waiting.
Charged are 35 year old Tyler Jones and 28 year old Jennifer Seifert on charges of sale of fentanyl and possession with intent to sell fentanyl.
Jones was held on $30,000 bond and Seifert $80,000 bond.
The city of Pahokee hired Rodney Lucas as the permanent city manager.
Commissioner Sarah Perez said she couldn’t understand why they delayed this decision.
“I don’t see what the problem is. You all were in bed with Mr. Lucas. It is not like he’s new and we don’t know him.”
The Mayor Keith Babb wanted to restart the manager search to be fair to other applicants.
“We need to look at what we are doing. We don’t need to be in a rush. If Mr. Lucas is the best qualified and the best applicant, once we go through the interview process, he should get the job and would deserve the job. The best applicant should get it.”
Commissioners also approved a bid for gators and lawn mowers form a West Palm Beach firm, rejecting a bid from a Pahokee business.
The bid amount was close to $95,000.
City officials debated the merits of keeping dollars local and getting better service.
The Pahokee firm’s bid was close to $4,000 higher than the West Palm Beach bid.