Okeechobee meets and greets first K-9 unit

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee Police Department (OPD) introduced the city’s first K-9 and handler at the Tuesday, April 17, City Council meeting.

Okeechobee Mayor Dowling R. Watford Jr. proclaimed the month of April as “Guardian ad Litem Month” in the city at the Tuesday, April 17, meeting of the Okeechobee City Council. Mayor Watford presented the proclamation certificate to Supervising Child Advocate Manager Wendy Rodriguez and Guardian Barry Scanlon.

The Okeechobee Police Department introduced their recently formed K-9 Program with black Labrador K-9 Luna and her handler Officer Michael Jordan, along with his family to the city council.

Meet black Labrador K-9 Luna and her handler Officer Michael Jordan. From left to right are Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD) Major Donald Hagen, OCPD Chief Bob Peterson, Okeechobee Utility Authority employee Jess Manson, Okeechobee County Sheriff Office (OCSO) Captain Shannon Peterson and his wife, OCPD officer Micheal Jordan with K-9 Luna and OCSO Detective Sgt. Jimmy Mills. Photo by R. Marion.

OPD Chief Bob Peterson informed the council, “Captain Shannon Peterson, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), and his wife along with Jess Manson, from Okeechobee Utility Authority, donated a puppy to the department to help start a K-9 program.” They were both in attendance at the meeting. He continued, “Detective Sergeant Jimmy Mills from OCSO helped train the dog with Officer Jordan,” who was also present at the meeting. “This could not have happened without the assistance from those involved and we appreciate Officer Jordan along with his family’s willingness to accept the K-9 program’s responsibilities,” Chief Peterson concluded as Officer Jordan and K-9 Luna entered the council chambers.

Mayor Watford thanked Capt. Peterson and his wife along with Jess Manson stating, “We certainly appreciate the investment you have made in our city and we appreciate the efforts from all the parties that made this happen.” Officer Jordan expressed his gratitude and thanked those involved for their support.

Chief Peterson then introduced to the council the new School Resource Officer (SRO) Detective Jack Boon. SRO Kelley Margerum was unable to attend the meeting due to recent surgery and is expected back in about a week. Chief Peterson explained, “He’s (Boon) not just a law enforcement officer but he’s actually a certified teacher as well. He volunteered for the position and was able to clear a caseload for a month in a week’s time while working as a detective for the department in preparation for his new duty assignment.”

Detective Boon explained his familiarity in dealings with the juvenile population, being the parent of a high school student, a swim coach for the community and as the outreach member of the department for career fairs held at the various campuses and events in the county.

“The kids need us there, that’s the bottom line,” said Detective Boon.

“I can’t thank you enough for volunteering,” said Mayor Watford.

City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca added, “We are very mindful of our citizens’ tax dollars and I appreciate the police department working within their means while providing additional services to our community.”

In business actions at the Tuesday meeting, the council:

• Approved a motion for the reading of proposed Ordinance No. 1165 by title only and set May 1 as a final public hearing date regarding Rezoning Petition No. 18-002-R for Lot 1 and East 10 feet of Lot 2 of Block 207, from residential multiple family to heavy commercial, submitted by Hugh G. Culbreth of 207 Realty, LLC and presented by Wm. F. “Bill” Brisson, AICP senior planner for LaRue Planning. The land described consists of approximately .19 acres and is located at 112 Southeast Third Street.

• Approved the reappointments of Jamie Gamiotea and Mr. Ted Denisuk as regular members to the Code Enforcement Board, with terms being from May 1, 2018, to April 30, 2021.

• Approved the reappointments of Dawn Hoover and Mac Jonassaint as regular members to the Planning Board, Board of Adjustment, and Design Review Board, with terms being from May 1, 2018, to April 30, 2021.

• Approved a budget amendment for a capital purchase for the School Resource Officers Program. The original amount in the 2017/18 budget was for a Law Enforcement Capital of $420,205 and was approved to increase by $72,000 for a new total of $492,205.

• Approved the purchase of two 2018 Dodge Charger Police Package Squad Cars, for the School Resource Officers Program, from AutoNation Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Pembroke Pines at a unit cost of $20,796 for a total of $41,592.

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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