News Cast 9/30

News Cast for September 30th:

Speeding killing more motorists 

It has been a deadly summer with an increase in traffic fatalities across the region. 

Lt. Yanko Reyes with the Florida highway patrol said troopers have made way too many death notifications to families this year. 

“It just breaks your heart every time you go to a fatal accident.  You do the investigation, realize speed was a factor, a young person was killed, and was taken too early.” 

He said these crashes can be avoided if people drove lawfully and alertly. 

Reyes said the pandemic has also been tough on law enforcement officers with several troopers buried in September after coming down with COVID-19. 

“We lost an 11 year veteran.  We held a funeral for a 17 year veteran taken tragically too early due to the pandemic.  Please, take care of yourself. Do what you can to stay safe.” 

Kayaks available at Lock 7 

Okeechobee County to offer kayak rentals at Lock 7. 

The firm Rent.Fun agreed to a contract with the county. 

Community Services Director Denise Whitehead said this will be totally done on your phone. 

“You take your smart phone, enter their app, rent a kayak, a locker opens with the kayak, paddles, life jackets and whatever you need.  You sign waivers and then ou take the kayak and have a nice time on the lake.” 

The county will get 10 percent of the revenues from the rentals. 

Commissioner Kelly Owens did raise a concern about ongoing vandalism problems at the facility, now named the Clif Betts Jr. Lakeside Recreation Area. 

Thompson finds ways to improve Pahokee 

Pahokee City Commissioners continue to debate and argue about the future of the city. 

The majority said they are stomping out corruption. 

The minority said they have gotten a lot done in the past few years. 

City manager Greg Thompson said the corruption included selling off equipment for much less than market value. 

Thompson said the city also paid employees for not working. 

“The previous city manager sold off a large portion of our equipment for a reportedly extremely underrated amount with the pretense of using the money to buy equipment but never has.” 

He said the city must improve its performance. 

“I’ve heard comments about the great job people have done.  The proof is in the pudding.  Somebody or somebodies plural have not been during their job.” 

City Commissioner Clara Murvin said the new regime has cleaned house and has fired several department heads, ”The harassment from these commissioners is why they left.  The word on the street was they are getting rid of everybody in a director’s position.” 

Court notes 

In the courts, Timothy Howton-McLaughlin pled no contest to escape and grand theft auto charges and was sentenced to three years in prison. 

McLaughlin escaped the Okeechobee correctional work camp on January 23, 2020, and made it as far as Vero Beach in a state vehicle. 

Indian River County Sheriff Deputies said they located the vehicle parked at the clubhouse at Countryside of Vero Beach. 

Kyle Moon of Okeechobee received three years for trafficking fentanyl. 

Moon was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. 

He pled no contest to a felony drug charge. 

A traffic stop in the 200 block US 441 near Lock 7 on October 4, 2020 resulted in the discovery of a dead dog in the trunk of the vehicle.  

Okeechobee Deputies reportedly found 12.53 grams of fentanyl, and small amount of other drugs and drug paraphernalia.