News Cast 9/18


September 18, 2023

News Cast for September 18th:

A push for public safety careers

A $500,000 grant will help fund new career programs for Okeechobee teenagers for careers for public safety dispatchers and firefighters.

The Okeechobee Education Foundation secured the grant.

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy supports any new career opportunities for kids.

“We take our students here with the fire department and sheriffs department and the foundation and school board to meet the needs of our local community.  We use the funds to support our students that will end up with our jobs, here in Okeechobee.”

Education foundation director Alaina Barron was praised for her efforts in securing the grants.  She noted they try to do a lot to help our kids.

They have done teacher mini-grants and scholarships for many years.

“We added a college and career readiness program last  year to help students find success after high school.  We emphasize enlist, enroll and employ.  We want students to pursue their passions.”

She said she is very excited about partnering with the fire department and sheriff to bring programs to students that will be extremely impactful.

The programs are expected to begin in January.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Hunger Action Month.

Okeechobee County Commissioners approved resolutions to mark the local efforts being made on both issues.

Chairman David Hazellief saluted the volunteer food distribution efforts run by Treasure Coast Food Bank.

Suncoast Mental Health, Our Village and 211 accepted the proclamation on suicide awareness.

132 preventable suicides occur each day in the US.

Dangerous dog complaints have been on the rise nationally.

Highlands County voted to abolish their dangerous dog hearing board and instead will send nuisance dogs complaint to a magistrate.

County Attorney Sherry Sutphen advocated for ending the board.

“We hardly ever have dangerous dog hearings.  We don’t want to add to the responsibilities of the sheriff.”

She noted the legal process is similar to a criminal case as you have a certain amount of time to prosecute the case.

“It has to happen in a number of days similar to a criminal situation because you could have capital punishment for the animal.”

Among arrests, Emilio Aranda was charged with sexual battery on a child under 12.

He was held without bond.

A child told sheriff investigators that Aranda improperly touched her over a four year period starting when she was six years old back in 2018.