Engagement at City Council meeting

OKEECHOBEE – The Okeechobee City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 7, became somewhat irregular in a fashion that will not soon be replicated or forgotten. Members of the council, the five who had applied to be appointed to a council vacancy, personnel from the Okeechobee Police and Fire departments, City Hall staff, close friends and family members witnessed an engagement proposal by Okeechobee City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca to Patty Orozco.

Mayor Dowling R. Watford Jr. addressed the audience, saying, “This will certainly be a historic meeting,” before the invocation was read by Pastor Cary McKee and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Administrator Montes De Oca stated to the crowd: “I’m going to go ahead and ’fess up and let everyone know, I did not get an award. I’m not that cool.” A ripple of laughter spread through the council chamber. “To everyone that did participate in my little ruse, I’m sorry, but what I want to do…” he said, before stepping from behind his seat to approach Ms. Orozco, then got down on one knee and presented to her a diamond ring in hopes of her accepting his engagement proposal.

(Mr. Montes De Oca had formulated a plan to receive a fake award and was able to keep the engagement proposal a secret with the cooperation of his co-workers and friends.)

Onlookers then watched as the two embraced one another in a loving, cherishing manner, before Administrator Montes De Oca got to his feet and said, “I got a yes, for the record!”

Mayor Watford addressed everyone shortly after Ms. Orozco’s accepting. “I would like to say, Mayor (James) Kirk has always said this was a city family. Marcos, I hope you know how much we appreciate what you have done for the city. In that spirit, the chair will entertain a motion to say congratulations to Administrator Montes De Oca and Patty Orozco on their engagement and best wishes for a happily-ever-after life! Do I have a motion?!”

The motion was quickly made, seconded and, with no discussion whatsoever, approved by all members of the council when they said “Aye!” in unison. Mayor Watford then said, “That is absolutely the best motion I’ve ever heard in a City Council meeting in my years up here!”

Mayor Watford then extended his congratulations to Miss Orozco, asked whether she wished to speak and then took notice of the ring Administrator Montes De Oca had presented to her. He couldn’t resist a little humor, saying: “Oh, I can see that ring from here — wow! Boy, do we pay him that much?!”

Administrator Montes De Oca said in response, “The joke has been that it’s called ‘My boat’! I really do appreciate all of you showing up tonight.”

After taking care of several business items following the happy occasion, the council’s final action was the appointment of John Wesley Abney Jr. as a new council member.

Mayor Watford stated to all the hopefuls: “This was an extremely difficult decision for us to make. I hope it isn’t taken too personally if you were not selected.” The individuals who applied but were not chosen are Ted Denisuk, Robert John Jarriel Sr., Robert Michael Keefe Jr. and Georganna Kirk.

Mr. Abney replaces former Councilman Michael O’Connor, who resigned his seat on June 1 for personal reasons.

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