News Cast for August 25th:

Okeechobee High school searched

Okeechobee Sheriff School Resource Deputies and K-9 teams searched over 250 book bags at the high school this week.

They had 14 positive alerts and two students allegedly possessed dab pens that contained marijuana.

One student was suspected of distributing THC products to other students.

The sheriff said both were given civil citations and the school board will hand out punishment.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue honored four employees who helped deliver a baby boy on the side of the road in Basinger.

Paramedic Robert Smith said the mother was in active labor as they arrived, he got in the vehicle with her and delivered the child.

He said both mother and baby were fine

“It was a little different being on the side of the road with limited resources.  Once the baby was safely delivered, we packaged the patient and baby up, ran lights and siren to the hospital, turned the baby over to the doctor, and everything turned out good.”

He was involved in the two deliveries of his own girls.

“It was really intense being the first one in the field.  Lot of adrenaline and emotions going on.  My training kicked in, delivered the baby, and all is well.”

Lt. Jamie Gwilt said it is great to be honored for positive things on the job.

“We have had training for it in medics school and EMT school.  You don’t see it all the time.  We learn a million things in school, like algebra, and you never use it.  These are one of the things we go over constantly because when it does happen we have to be prepared.”

Fire rescue said there have been several babies born outside the hospital during medical calls over the years.

Deputy Fire Chief Justin Hazellief said they constantly train for various situations and scenarios and this is an example where the training paid off.

Each of the employees were given Stork Awards. 

The others involved were driver engineer Hendon and firefighter/EMT Piloto.

The Okeechobee city council is making some decisions on their annual budget.

They opted to keep the millage rate at the roll back rate meaning the same amount of local taxes will be collected, at 6.1 mills.

They also support $2.00 per hour raises for employees with a two percent merit raise.

Mayor Dowling Watford said they also had a long discussion on whether to hire a human resources director

“Right now the consensus is to hire a HR person, that will be an additional employee for the city.  Many felt like with the complexity of employee today, you need that person for benefits and legal requirements.”

The city will also spend more money to repair and add sidewalks, and resurface city streets this year.

An Okeechobee man was charged with third-degree grand theft and identity theft for work he was supposed to do in Indian River Shores.

Police there said Yasmany Sosa, 41 agreed to install hurricane resistant windows for a resident there in March.

The victim said the work was never completed.

Sosa allegedly charged purchases at four Home Depot stores, approximately $1,600 in tools unrelated to this job.

Bond in the case was set at $35,000.

A hotly contested Sheriff’s race next year in Osceola County.

Russ Gibson the former Sheriff wants his job back.

Incumbent Marcos Lopez has yet to file.  He recently fired an employee who filed to run, Amaryllis Rivera.  She had worked for the department for 17 years.

Ramirez said it is ironic that Lopez fired her after complaining he was fired by Gibson when he decided to run.

She said she would like to reactivate the agriculture unit and also add deputies.  Another priority is traffic control.

She noted there is low morale and high turnover in the department right now due to the administration.

Rivera said crime is actually increasing in Osceola County contrary to what the incumbent Sheriff claims.

“Sheriff Lopez puts out a lot of videos that claim crime is going down when actually it is going up.  He is manipulating statistics.  The population is going up so quickly that it seems crime is less.  Misleading people is not going to keep them safe.  My main concern is focusing on the sheriff’s office, crime and traffic and doing what I can as a sheriff to help and not out there making videos.”