News Cast 9/10

News Cast for September 10th:

Community faring better with Delta variant 

COVID numbers have started to drop in Okeechobee. 

The health department listed 343 new cases this week. 

Vaccinations are up to 47% in Okeechobee. 

The positive test rate dipped below 26%. 

County Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs continues to urge vaccinations. 

“If you want to help first responders get the vaccine.  All of us here on the commission are vaccinated and we are still around.” 

Raulerson hospital has provided 127 monoclonal antibody treatments. 

Administrator Brian Melear said they are actively treating 40 patients who are COVID positive. 

New Regeneron treatment centers have been placed in St. Cloud, Sebring and Fort Pierce in recent days. 

School exclusions are also going down. 

New Police Chief ready to serve and protect 

Donald Hagan took the oath of office this week at the Okeechobee city council meeting. 

He said he thought about being a police officer early in his life. 

He had also considered becoming a lawyer. 

He adds that he loved having his family, friends, and colleagues at the ceremony. 

Hagan is the final chief to have learned under long time police chief Larry Mobley. 

Mobley also hired Denny Davis, Bob Peterson and Buck Farrenkopf. 

Court actions 

A Glades County jury convicted 44 year old Robert Mathias of charges including drug possession and resisting arrest. 

Deputies found him sleeping at the Alvin Ward boat ramp in 2019 and he allegedly tried to throw the drugs into the Caloosahatchee River. 

Mathias is expected to be sentenced on October 5. 

Antique cars to kick off Legion revitalization 

A group is trying to revive the Moore Haven American Legion. 

They got approval from Moore Haven City Council to hold a class car show on November 13th at Moore Haven City Park. 

Jeff Patterson said the post building is still in good shape and he expects a good response for the revival. 

He noted they lost some membership in recent years as many veterans passed away. 

A fatal accident reported in Buckhead Ridge Thursday night.

The Florida Highway Patrol said a sedan driven by a 61 year old Jupiter woman was headed east bound on state road 78 approaching Linda Road when it crossed the center line and struck a west bound tractor trailer driven by a 43 year old Apopka man.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by Glades EMS.

Troopers said she was not wearing a seat belt.

The crash remains under investigation.

Generosity to help Flagler Park 

The Frank Altobello Family Fund has pledged up to $350,000 to help improve Flagler Park. 

They pledged $100,000 to city council last night as they adopted a newer less expensive plan for Cattlemen’s Square. 

The estimated price is $264,000. 

This was a recommendation from the Flagler Park Design Review committee. 

Member Jennifer Tewksbury said the new plan was the best route to take. 

“If you look at the budget for option B,  the landscaping seems to be pretty minimal.  I believe the plan is reasonable.” 

The cattle drive sculpture could be installed in early 2022. 

The Family Fund will work with the county as they seek a matching grant of $500,00 for park improvements. 

Frank Irby told the council that the fund has provided close to $300,000 for various agencies in recent years. 

Arrests of note 

A 22 year old Okeechobee man was charged with possession and transmission of child pornography. 

Okeechobee deputies searched a home on South West 22nd Terrace and arrested Cristian Alexi Espinoza Guzman after a tip was made to the National Center for missing and exploited children. 

A Lorida man was charged with beating a pregnant woman with a cane. 

Highlands County Sheriff Deputies said Dennis McClelland, 37, allegedly struck the pregnant woman multiple times in the head and face with his fists, a can of beer and the cane. 

Alcohol was said to be a factor in the domestic incident. 

He was charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman and held at the Highlands County Jail on September 3. 

COVID update 

Case counts of COVID continued to mount last week. 

Okeechobee County had 484 new cases 

Glades County had 52 new cases. 

Highlands County had over 1,000 new cases. 

They will get a monoclonal antibody therapy center at the Bert Harris Ag Center soon. 

County Commissioner Kevin Roberts defended the resident’s right to choose whether or not to get vaccinated. 

“I’ve gotten the shot but I have loved ones and friends that may choose not to.  Save, but not shame.  It is their choice in America as far as I’m concerned.  That separates us from some countries that demand that you do it.” 

Commissioners decried long lines to get tested for COVID in their county. 

Fuel thieves sought by Sheriff 

About 607 gallons of diesel fuel was stolen from the convenience store at Posey’s Corners. 

Okeechobee deputies said the vehicles involved were at the pumps for about three hours on the night of August 31. 

They’d appreciate some help from the public if they saw a black Chevrolet Equinox or a large white truck at the pumps. 

Deputies said a group of men were involved in the thefts. 

One of the men forced open a diesel fuel pump and disabled the flow meter.