News Cast 9/20

News Cast for September 20th:

Finding closure for families 

Cold case homicides that date back to the 1980s are still being worked by Okeechobee County investigators. 

Sheriff Noel Stephen announced a renewed effort focused around a cold case team provided by the state, more use of technology like genealogical DNA, retesting of evidence, and more rewards for tips through Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers. 

Stephen said they are retesting all available evidence and using the state cold case task force to help solve these crimes. 

“We have looked at the physical evidence collected at the time.  We have sent it for DNA tracing.  Latent finger prints have been retested.  We will see if there is anybody in the national database with those prints.” 

Stephen said he is certain there are people still alive that have information that can solve these homicides. 

He emphasized that all of the witnesses can remain anonymous. 

Stephen said if you are a murderer who hasn’t been caught, you should be very worried because your day is coming. 

Rewards in murder cases have been increased to $8,000 through an initiative with the Florida Attorney General and Crime Stoppers Organizations. 

County hires new Capital Projects Director 

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners honored several long time employees as they retire. 

Kathy Pearce retired after nearly 30 years at the Road Maintenance department. 

Capital projects director Donnie Oden retired after 21 years of service. 

He played a role in the building of the judicial center, the agri-civic center, renovations at the historic county court house, and the new Tax Collector and Property Appraiser’s Building. 

“I had a great time with the county.  I learned a lot things. I had a lot of good times and grew. There was always something to learn and something to do.” 

The county hired Justin Nelson to replace him.  He is a local product. 

Nelson said he’s excited about the opportunity. 

“I would like to thank each and every one of you for the faith you have shown in me to represent my community.” 

Moore Haven continues work on downtown improvements 

The City of Moore Haven has received more interest from builder Clyde Johnson as they plan downtown redevelopment. 

He purchased land for a doctor’s office complex and is interested in other projects. 

These could include an apartment complex. 

Vice Mayor Jake Eigner said there is a need for housing in Moore Haven. 

The council has put Johnson on the agenda for their meeting tomorrow night. 

Mayor Brett Whidden supports the downtown redevelopment plans. 

Councilwoman Jan Gunn said she would rather see how Johnson does on the doctors complex before approving other land purchases. 

The council also discussed projects where shops and businesses would be on the ground floor, with apartments on the second floor.