WOKC News For Friday, April 28th (AUDIO INCLUDED)

Sheriff seeks to improve interaction with public

A new program called Safe will alert first responders to people who are disabled or suffering from autism.

The Sheriff learned about the program out of Santa Rosa County.

They had an incident there where someone in a motor vehicle accident had autism and got way more upset than the average person when law enforcement arrives.

Vehicles can place a bumper sticker on the rear bumper to alert officers when they pull it over that an autistic person could be inside the vehicle.

Commissioner Brad Goodbread said he thinks this is a good program.

“It’s a very forward thinking and progressive move.  Three years ago there was an issue with an autistic child because there was no information for the officer.  I think this will really help.  There is so little that’s known about autism and the degree of it.  I think this is a step in the right direction.”

Sgt. Jack Nash said you can register those with cognitive and physical disabilities.

“Fire rescue shows up at a house and they are beating on the door with the back part of the house on fire.  There is a person inside that is hearing impaired, fire rescue needs to know that there is somebody in there.”

Okeechobee City Council wants to see quicker response from property owners that violate city codes.

While they don’t want to fine people, they want to keep them in place, to speed up improvements.

One proposal is to cap the amount of fines that can be reduced at 60 percent.  Right now they can reduce all the fines up to what it cost the city to manage the case.

Mayor Dowling Watford said the city priority in the past was bringing properties into compliance and not making money.

Vice Mayor Monica Clark said code violators will not want these fines to accrue higher and would be motivated to solve the issues.

A few Glades County parents complained they weren’t notified quickly enough after threats were made at local schools.

West Glades School and Moore Haven Junior Senior High School both had recent incidents.

School board member Crystal Drake wants the policy to notify parents clear so they know what to expect

“Put in the policy, how we should handle parent notification based on what you heard today.  Parents want to know.  Whatever the threat assessment team comes out with, they want to know.”

The schools note they can’t give out too many details of how they deal with threats because it could undermine security efforts.

Board member Jean Prowant doesn’t want several stories being put out there confusing parents further during a stressful time.

“I prefer not to say anything.  I understand your concern but you need to reach out to the principal or the superintendent.  I can’t give you any information.  If I give out information that is wrong, I’ve done more harm than good.”

$48,000 worth of scholarships given out to graduating high school seniors by the Glades Electric Educational Foundation.

Okeechobee recipients include John Williamson and Laci Prescott for $1,000 and Hannah Rathbun and Adam Moore for $4,000.

Lillian Everett and Riley Mullens of Moore Haven Middle High School also received $4,000.

Since its inception the foundation has awarded $676,000 worth of scholarships to students in Hendry, Highlands, Glades and Okeechobee counties.

A registered sex offender charged with not following conditions of his probation.

49 year old Rey Gomez of Okeechobee had allegedly changed his cell phone numbers, email address, and motor vehicle information and not notified authorities of these changes.

He faces four felony charges and was held on $20,000 bond.