Seven Okeechobee business employees were issued summons for selling alcohol to an underage person as part of an Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force sting operation.
Alcohol compliance checks were conducted at multiple establishments, where an underage person was sent into stores with instructions to attempt to purchase alcohol.
People who sold were issued summons to appear in court and citations were issued by the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office.
Businesses where alcohol was sold to an underage person were: BP Store, 8605 Hwy 441 SE; Marathon Gas Station, 5600 Hwy 70 East; Bill's Mini Mart 3007 Hwy 70 East; Circle K, 400 SR 98 North; Shell Station, 3609 Hwy 441 SE; Max Food Store, 3621 SE 34 Avenue; and Texaco Station, 4993 Hwy 441 South.
Other businesses that were in compliance included 15A Drive Thru, 441 SE; Town Star Posey's Corner, SR 70 East; Town Star, Hwy 710; Mosquito Creek Grocery, Hwy 70 East and Shady Rest Grocery.
Sheriff Paul May said of the operation, "We wanted to do this operation before the prom and school letting out for the summer, to see how easy it would be for underage persons to purchase alcoholic beverages. We visited 12 locations where alcoholic beverages are sold and 7 sold to an underage person. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This time we issued criminal citations to appear in court to the clerk who sold to these minors, the next time they will be physically arrested and booked into the jail. We are listing the names of the stores who sold to minors and I think it is important to list the ones that did not. The ones who asked for ID's and refused the minors, from the whole community I say thank you, but to every place in Okeechobee County that sells alcoholic beverages we are going to do this again in the very near future. Please believe me, this is going to stop."
The Just-Us(Justice) Citation Awards Program is an Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office sponsored program where School Resource Deputies recognize school aged youth for noteworthy achievements and contributions to their schools and community. This program also recognizes an adult mentor or service club in providing support and services to youth.
Three adult mentors have been chosen for the Just-Us Citation Outstanding Supporter of Youth Award. Sgt. Mark Roberts stated, "I'd like to thank David Stokes, Billy Dean and Deborah Raulerson for the time they have taken going above and beyond in helping our local youth during the Okeechobee County D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program Graduation. Each year all of you give selflessly your time. David serves as the deejay, Billy as the Master of Ceremonies and Deborah is the Drama(Skit) Coordinator. The D.A.R.E. Graduation is for all public and private schools, fifth grade students in Okeechobee County. I have received multiple compliments through the years on each of you from deputies, students, parents, teachers and school administrators.
Thank you David, Billy and Deborah, we couldn't complete our mission without the assistance of people like you."
Sheriff May said of these mentors, "These are the kind of people that make it great to live in Okeechobee County. They give so much of their time and talents; we just want them to know how much we appreciate them."
Captain Gary Bell reading the names of those who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2013.
Eleven employees were recognized for the first quarter of 2014. There are four categories for which employees may be recognized: administration employee, citizen volunteer, Detention Deputy and Law Enforcement. The recipients are as follows:
Administrative Employee – Joan Johnson
Citizen Volunteer – Cary McKee
Detention Deputy – Deputy Debbie Terry
Law Enforcement-Sgt. Rob Coleman, D/S Matt Crawford, D/S Joe Gracie
Joan Johnson was nominated by Detective Rosemary Farless and Lt. Brad Stark. "During Joan's employment with the Sheriff's Office, she has encountered many cases of child abuse, child neglect and tragedies involving both children and their families such as domestic assaults, drowning deaths and vehicle accidents. It takes a special person to deal with any case involving children; however, every time she is asked to respond and assist with an investigation, she is always there to help", stated Lt. Stark.
"Recently deputies responded to a call of a three year old drowning victim. Joan responded where she met and stayed with the parents. After the child was pronounced deceased, Joan stayed with the child, at the parent's request, until being transported. Although deceased, the mother did not want her baby to be left alone. Joan went above and beyond her duties as a civilian, to comfort the parents of this dead child", stated Rosemary Farless.
Joan was recently chosen as the Victim's Advocate for the 19th Judicial Circuit on
Cary McKee was nominated by Lt. Brad Stark, for Volunteer of the Quarter. "I have seen Cary many times entering the Okeechobee County jail with his Bible in his hand to minister to the inmates. I'm sure there are many other places he could be, however Cary is a unique person who not only dedicates himself to his own congregation, but I have also seen him involved in many charitable and community oriented activities. He is always willing to speak with anyone at any time. His dedication to the Sheriff's Office is greatly appreciated by both the inmates and the officers."
Debbie Terry was nominated by Sgt. Mark Garland, who stated, "Despite the recent transitions within the transport division, Deputy Terry has done a great job of meeting the challenges by keeping everything running as smoothly as possible. In the absence of a direct supervisor, she has assumed the responsibilities and duties associated with that position, and has performed well."
Deputy Mark Margerum was nominated by Cpl. Donald Ellis, for Law Enforcement Officer of the quarter. "Deputy Margerum did an outstanding job taking the lead in an incident that involved a child that had been taken by an individual high on methamphetamines. The abductor stated the child was a demon and he knew what he had to do with the child. The child was taken into a wooded area and if Deputy Margerum and his coworkers had not located the suspect and the juvenile, who knows that the outcome for the juvenile would have been", stated Cpl. Ellis.
Sgt. Rob Coleman, D/S Max Waldron, Cpl. Chris Hans, Cpl. Randy Thomas, D/S Matt Crawford, D/S Brian Cross and D/S Matt Grumbling were all nominated for a Unit Citation by Captain Bell. "I write this letter on behalf of the listed deputies. A suspect was wanted and on the run. The suspect did in fact shoot a weapon near or at a victim. The deputies met with the Narcotics Unit and together carried out a plan with safety in mind. The end result was the suspect being put in jail, and a lengthy crime spree coming to an end. This was a very good Law Enforcement effort and should be recognized as such. Job Well Done', stated Captain Bell.
Sheriff May said of these employees, "I am very proud of these employees and am happy to recognize them for things they have done. These employees come to work every day with a thought of helping someone on their mind. It is truly my honor to have them work for me."
Congratulations to all of the nominees and the recipients of these awards.