Okeechobee County to contract with law firm

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County commissioners moved forward with plans for the county’s legal services at their Oct. 8 meeting.

Earlier this year, the Law Firm of Cassels & McCall let the county know they would not be renewing their contract for services as county attorney.

The county advertised the options of hiring an attorney as a county employee and hiring a firm to represent the county.

On Oct. 2, the board interviewed three law firms that responded to their request for proposals to provide county legal services: Nason Yeager, Gerson Harris and Fumero P.A. of Palm Beach Gardens; Vose Law Firm LLP of Winter Park; and Saul Ewing Arnstein and Lehr LLP of Boca Raton, Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale (with Katie Edwards P.A. of Okeechobee).

On Oct. 4, the board interviewed three attorneys who applied for the position of county attorney: Travis W. Trueblood of Okeechobee, Philip N. Sherwin of Arcadia and Mark Moriarty of Cape Coral.

At their Oct. 8 meeting, the commissioners decided to contract with a law firm rather than hire an attorney as a county employee.

“I would prefer a firm because of the depth that is offered,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens. Commissioners David Hazellief and Terry Burroughs agreed. Commissioner Hazellief said with Cassels & McCall they always had an attorney available when needed. With a single attorney, there could be a problem if that person is out sick, he noted.

Commissioners Brad Goodbread and Bryant Culpepper said they leaned toward hiring an individual attorney. Commissioners Burroughs, Culpepper and Owens ranked the Vose Law Firm as their first choice.

The county administrator was directed to start contract negotiations with Vose Law Firm LLC. Saul Ewing Arnstein and Lehr LLP was ranked second. Nason Yeager, Gerson Harris and Fumero, P.A. was ranked third.

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