Page 1

Betty Chandler Williamson Okeechobee's First Lady


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Publisher’s Note

I

t’s hard to believe another year is coming to an end, and with it, the close of our 10th anniversary year. I hope you have enjoyed reading our 10-year Look Back stories as much as we’ve enjoyed doing them. It’s been so much fun to see how our businesses and community have grown and changed.

Volume 10, Number 6│November/December 2016

Publisher Susan Giddings Creative Director Lorraine Vogel

Our final Look Back story is one I have been looking forward to doing all year and it is so fitting that we close out the year with a lady that is near and dear to my heart — Miss Betty Chandler Williamson.

Graphic Designer Valerie Wegener

Miss Betty took me under her wing when I first came to Okeechobee and has been a mentor, friend and teacher of all things Okeechobee and more to me. I so enjoy our “picnic” lunches in the Williamson conference room with Miss Betty, and of course Sonny, discussing upcoming articles, Okeechobee history and so much more. I am so honored to know her and pleased to share with those of you who don’t, our final 10th anniversary Look Back story — Betty Chandler Williamson — The First Lady of Okeechobee.

Writers Rachel Buxton Raye Deusinger Jann Seal

Editor Chris Felker

Cover/Feature Photographer Sandra Pearce Photographers Gary Burks Sharon Cannon Jane Kaufman

It’s been an amazing 10 years, the first seven of which were led by the magazine’s founder Maureen Budjinski and the last three by me. Fate intervened four years ago when Maureen looked to me for help in her time of need. Were it not for her need and our longtime friendship, I would not be here today doing what I love in this wonderful community I now call home. And if not for you, our loyal advertisers and readers, Okeechobee The Magazine would not exist at all.

Contributors Teresa Chandler Bishop Maureen Burroughs Charles Murphy

I have been blessed with a wonderful team of writers, photographers, graphic designers, editors, advertising representatives, office administrators and community contributors, without whom my visions for the magazine could not be brought to life.

Office Manager Patti Berglund

It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to produce Okeechobee’s one and only community lifestyle magazine. My goal is always to include diversity and entertainment while promoting Okeechobee as a whole. I thank each and every one of you for your support. My door is always open and I welcome your comments and suggestions. I want you to be proud of Okeechobee The Magazine, because after all, it is Okeechobee The Magazine — Your Magazine! Wishing you all peace, happiness and prosperity during this holiday season and throughout the New Year!

Susan Giddings 4 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Account Executives Trish Grygo Jonathan Holt

OTM Publications, Inc. DBA Okeechobee The Magazine 316 N.W. Fifth Street Okeechobee, FL 34972 Phone: (863) 467-0054 www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com President Susan Giddings Founder Maureen Budjinski Okeechobee The Magazine, is published bi-monthly in Okeechobee, Florida. Copyright 2016, all rights reserved by OTM Publications, Inc. Contents may not be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to refuse advertising. The publisher accepts no responsibility for advertisement errors beyond the cost of the space occupied by the error within the advertisement itself. The publisher accepts no responsibility for submitted materials. All submitted materials subject to editing.


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I

nside this issue

70

November/December 2016

20

86

38

12 Features:

Betty Chandler Williamson...............20 By Rachel Buxton

B.R.A.T. Club...................................38 By Raye Deusinger

Dylan Tedders..................................70 By Jann Seal

10th Year Anniversary......................86 By Rachel Buxton

County Centennial.........................100 By Rachel Buxton

Cover photo by Sandra Pearce. Like Us on Facebook. Look for the video and camera icons, then visit www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com to view videos and additional photos!

8 | November/December 2016

Departments:

Columns:

Behind the Business:

OHS Sports...................................120 The Crafty Corner...........................126

Community Events:

Around Okeechobee.....................128 Advertiser Index............................130

The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary...112 The Hope Chest..............................116 Labor Day Parade & Festival..........12 Cattlemen's Bull Bash.....................16 Cow-Town Hoe-Down....................36 Toys for Tots Gala............................52 Leadership Okeechobee.................56 Veterans Appreciation Day..............60 Achieving Excellence Luncheon......64 Adam Bryant Regatta.......................68 Business of the Year Awards...........82 Boots and Pearls..............................94 OHS Homecoming...........................98 Reality Fair.....................................104 CrossFitters Against Cancer..........108

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


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Thank YOU

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We wish you and a New

Year

filled with

Peace, Joy and Love!

from the staff of Front, left to right: Sandra Pearce, Rachel Buxton, Patti Berglund, Susan Giddings, Lorraine Vogel, Raye Deusinger and Jane Kaufman. Center: Sharon Cannon, Maureen Burroughs, Brandi Watford, Trish Grygo and Jann Seal. Back: Chris Felker, Gary Burks and Jonathan Holt. Not Pictured: Blake Marsocci, Charles Murphy and Valerie Wegener.


Community Event

Twin Events Perk Up a Muggy in Okeechobee

Labor Day

Many residents of Okeechobee braved the heat and humidity of an early September morning to enjoy the city’s annual B.R.A.T. (“Building Relationships Among Teens”) Club Labor Day parade and accompanying Okeechobee Main Street Festival. Youth musicians, law-enforcement officers and many other participants waved to the crowds along the route, while delicious treats, specialty goods and games amused the festivalgoers. For additional photos visit www.okeechobeethemagazine.com.

12 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Photos by Jane Kaufman and Susan Giddings

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 13


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OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


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th

Anniversary

Always a Giver, Always a Lady

Miss Betty

LOOK BACK

First Lady of Okeechobee Betty Chandler Williamson, whose generosity

T

is legendary around these parts, sets a stellar example for the entire community. By Rachel Buxton Photos by Sandra Pearce and Courtesy of Betty Chandler Williamson

here are very few people in the world who leave lasting impressions with any and all they encounter. There are worldly icons, such as Mother Teresa for her devout faith and charity work, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his fight for civil rights and equality for African-Americans, and Marilyn Monroe for her infectious personality. But along with worldly figures, there are everyday citizens who make huge impressions. One need not be famous to stand out from the crowd. Okeechobee has been blessed with several of this type of individual over the years. And one in particular keeps spreading her knowledge, love and generosity throughout the community. Anyone who has had the privilege of meeting Betty Chandler Williamson would most certainly agree that she falls into this remarkable category. Not because her family is well-known or because they operate a large cattle company, but for her grace and tenderness in all that she does. Known to all as Miss Betty, she has spent her life tirelessly giving back to her family and community. 20 | November/December 2016

We originally featured Miss Betty in our premiere issue of Okeechobee The Magazine, where we talked about the Okeechobee Historical Society and her hand in making it what it is today. But Miss Betty is so much more than just a link to the Historical Society; she is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, a historian, an author, a philanthropist … she is the First Lady of Okeechobee.

Miss Betty's parents, William Frank Chandler and Sadie King Chandler, shown a month before William died on July 3, 1948. Sadie lived for years and passed away in her eighties. They were both Florida natives.

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Miss Betty is a fifth-generation Floridian, born and raised in Okeechobee County. She was born in 1933 during the Depression era, where her father, Frank Chandler, took any job he could find to feed eight children and her mother, Sadie, was a homemaker. That was, at least, until the world changed for everyone. The Great Depression brought many sacrifices but also great perseverance. Families were left without cars, children were forced to walk to and from school and many mothers, including Miss Betty’s, entered the workforce as the men were sent off to fight WWII. 


â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Okeechobee is my home. I feel like if you can do something you should. I don't think you should put yourself first.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; ~ Miss Betty


“The Depression was a completely different era,” Miss Betty said. “But I look back and I never felt unwanted, never hungry for love or food. I was rather spoiled.” Because of tragedy and hard times, Miss Betty helped out when needed to help contribute to the family finances. While in school, Miss Betty worked several jobs, including being a soda fountain jerk at the two drugstores and a waitress at the popular hangout, Salter’s Barbecue.

“Sixty years later I had one of my girlfriends say, ‘I was so envious of you because you were at the barbecue stand working where the boys came,’” Miss Betty said with a laugh. Miss Betty wasn’t envied just for her after-school job, however. “She had the legs and the hair,” Carolyn Douglas said. “She would always wear skirts or shorts, and her beautiful black hair would be hanging with curls. We all wanted to be Betty.” Douglas, who was several years behind Miss Betty in school, recalls her being popular — not because she was a cheer-

leader and won beauty pageants, but because of her kind personality. “Betty was such a compassionate and sweet lady,” Douglas said, “and still is today.” Since she was the youngest, “Mama” was very strict with Miss Betty. She wasn’t allowed to date until she was 15. And even then, “Mama” was very much in control, having to approve all dates. Miss Betty met her husband of 64 years, Sonny, while on a double date; however, they were with the opposite people. Sonny was from Clearwater but would spend his summers in Okeechobee working on his father’s ranch until he eventually moved to town full-time following college. The two often crossed paths at the local dances. “He said he wanted to talk to me,” she said, “but that I walked around with my nose stuck in the air and wouldn’t speak.” Miss Betty denies that she was being stuck up, but says rather that she was simply trying to see. “I was supposed to wear glasses, but back then you didn’t wear glasses,” she said. “So whoever I came with, I memorized their shirt so I could stay close.”

Miss Betty at Okeechobee High School, now known as the Freshman Campus, circa 1948.

‘We all wanted to be Betty.’ ~ Carolyn Douglas

At the 1948 Florida State Fair with Edith Rhymes.

22 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Miss Betty sitting at the courthouse steps circa 1950-52 – she was employed by the Clerk of the Circuit Court.


Sonny eventually got to talk to Miss Betty, thanks to his friend, Ann, who worked at the telephone company. Ann worked the night shift as the telephone operator, and Sonny would call to keep her company. One night in July 1951, Ann put Sonny and Miss Betty on the telephone line together. That very next night, the two were out on a date. It didn’t take long for the two to become exclusive, although their dating was often interrupted because of Miss Betty’s work schedule and Sonny’s early wake-up calls on the ranch. During the day Miss Betty worked at the courthouse, followed by a night shift at the drive-in theater. Her curfew was 11 p.m., but Sonny just couldn’t handle the late nights. “He would tell me: ‘I have to get up at 5 o’clock to go cow hunting. This is wearing me out,’” she said. As a result, Sonny took a day trip to Palm Beach to go ring shopping and the very next day popped the question.

“I thought I was old enough to just say yes, but he asked my mother, too,” Miss Betty said. The two were married in April 1952 and soon after moved to Miami and then Fort Lauderdale “to seek our fortune and fame,” she said. While in Miami, Miss Betty received her hotel training certification to work the switchboard at a hotel condominium. At the time, they lived in a motel efficiency which held two couches that, pushed together, made their bed. “It’s amazing how thrifty you can be,” said Miss Betty, “but we were happy.” 

The first ‘selfie’ picture of the ‘honeymooners.’ Frank (Sonny) Williamson Jr. and Betty Chandler married April 20, 1952, at Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Clearwater, Florida.

‘How lucky can you be to have a lady like that be the love of your life.’ ~ Sonny Williamson

Miss Betty and Sonny ‘honeymooned’ on Anna Maria Island on the west coast of Florida.

Miss Betty and Sonny leaving for their honeymoon in 1952. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 23


In Fort Lauderdale, Miss Betty worked for the Farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bank of Pompano. After having their first child, Kim, the two decided to return to Okeechobee in the fall of 1954, where they grew their family with son Wes in 1956 and daughter Karen in 1959. Miss Betty and Sonny in 1969 with children Kim, Wes and Karen.

Sonny and Miss Betty raised their family on the ranch, instilling the same strong work ethic that Miss Bettyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mom instilled in her. While being a stay-at-home mom on the ranch, Miss Betty was responsible for cooking breakfast for the cow crew and doing all the grocery shopping. It made for busy and long days. But with time, the ranch grew along with the children, allowing Miss Betty and

Miss Betty and Sonny at the Williamson camp house.

24 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Sonny to enjoy some time away from the ranch. Miss Betty became extremely involved in her church. Her most rewarding duty in the First Baptist Church was teaching second-grade students for 39 years, and also working with pre- and teenage girls on a missionary level called G.A.s and Acteens. The two also became world travelers, visiting over 48 countries. For a girl who never once crossed the Florida state line until she was 25, traveling abroad was a big deal. “My husband took me places,” Miss Betty said with a smile. When she was a child, she enjoyed playing with paper dolls and often fantasized that her dolls could do anything. 

‘What Betty has done civically and around the community has been exemplary. I'm very proud of the things she's done.’

Miss Betty and Sonny are world travelers, pictured here in Venice Italy in 2002.

~ Sonny Williamson

Miss Betty an

d Sonny in 19

1.

ate in 195

nny on a d

and So Miss Betty

53.

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 25


“My dolls traveled,” she said. “They were like movie stars.” Along with traveling, which Miss Betty said became a yearning, history and writing also became a newfound love of hers. As a young adult, Miss Betty never gave much thought to relatives and genealogy, even though she is the great-niece of Peter and Louisiana (Chandler) Raulerson, Okeechobee’s pioneer family. But as she became older, history and spreading her knowledge of it became a passion of hers.

Joe Crankshaw and Miss Betty.

Honoring fire chiefs at City Hall.

‘Under her leadership, the Historical Society made great strides. It feels like I'm following a legend.’ ~ Current Historical Society President Magi Cable

Eleanor Shephard, Wilma Williams, Zelda Mixon with Miss Betty and Sonny.

Miss Betty as president of the Historical Society speaks at a local school about the mural located on the gymnasium at the Freshman Campus.

26 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Sonny and Miss Betty, Kay McCool, Wilma Williams, Gloria Wymer and Zelda Mixon.


“It happened on a lark,” she said about her interest in genealogy. It was after someone told her that her family could be traced back to the Mayflower that a fire was lit. After much time and effort, as well as a trip to Louisiana to track down distant cousins, she was able to establish her Mayflower ancestry. From there, Miss Betty has only continued to uncover history and become one of Okeechobee’s most respected historians. “It’s like a fever that runs through you,” she said. Helping to keep Okeechobee’s history alive, Miss Betty not only joined the Okeechobee Historical Society, she was its driving force for over 20 years. “Under her leadership, the Historical Society made great strides,” said current Historical Society President Magi Cable. One of Miss Betty’s proudest accomplishments as president was the renovation of the old “Tantie” school house into a museum, showcasing Okeechobee’s rich heritage. Another proud moment was the unveiling of the 130-foot-long by

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November/December 2016 | 27


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16-foot-high historical mural painted on the side of the old gymnasium, now the Freshman Campus, depicting the arrival of Okeechobee’s pioneer family. “The murals that were underwritten by the society under her leadership,” said Cable, “provided a sense of history in the community and encouraged other groups, like Okeechobee Main Street, to add other murals which give the community a historic focus.” Also under her reign, Miss Betty coauthored with Twila Valentine a pictorial history of Okeechobee titled Strolling Down Country Roads. When Miss Betty was approached about working on the book, she was hesitant, saying, “I didn’t know how to write.” However, since then, Miss Betty has taken writing classes at Indian River State College, joined the Okeechobee Writers League and become a published

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OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

At the 2005 Labor Day Rodeo, Sonny and Miss Betty receive an award from Bobby Fulford from the Okeechobee County Cattlemen’s Association and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Charles H. Bronson recognizing the Williamson Cattle Company as the recipients of the 2004 National Environmental Stewardship Award.


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November/December 2016 | 29


author. She has been published in The Palm Beach Post, Tampa Tribune and St. Lucie Historical Magazine. She is also a contributing writer for Okeechobee The Magazine, where she shares much of her historical knowledge. “I always have something to write about,” she said. “I’m so excited in the mornings when I can go to my computer and write.” Along with volunteering for the Historical Society, Miss Betty and her husband have devoted much of their time to community service and giving back. Their extreme generosity has helped support education and a variety of charities and nonprofits. There is rarely a fundraiser charity event in town where you don’t run into the Williamsons. “My husband and I have taught by example the gift of volunteering to our children,” she said. “I don’t think you should put yourself first. I’ve been on both sides.”

‘I am very thankful for the Williamson family, their continued support of education, demonstrated generosity and commitment to the people of Okeechobee.’ ~ Russell Brown, provost of Indian River State College

30 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Both Miss Betty and Sonny have joined various committees over the years, including the American Cancer Society and the Red Cross. They are room sponsors for Okeechobee Hospice and are currently charter members of IRSC’s Take Stock In Children program. With education always being a main priority to them,


T

s ep e K hat Gift T e h RS YE A

on

ng vi i G

A Girl Scout herself in the 1940s and a Brownie leader in the 1960s, Miss Betty was invited to ride in the local parade for the celebration of the Girl Scouts’ Centennial.

they were extremely instrumental, along with other local residents who made donations, in getting the IRSC Williamson Conference and Education Center built. Named after them, the center serves as a multipurpose resource to support academic, economic, community, cultural and business development. “The Williamson Conference and Education Center has provided tremendous opportunities and value to the community and our students,” said IRSC Provost Russell Brown. “It’s a truly wonderful asset for our community. I am very thankful for the Williamson family, 

February 23: Benise: Spanish Nights

December 3 & 4: The Living Christmas Tree

February 25: Motown Magic

December 9: Acrobats of Cirquetacular’s Snowkus Pocus

March 3: Rhythm of the Dance

January 12: Olé!

March 14: William Close and the Earth Harp Collective

January 21: Gulliver’s Travels

March 17: The Magic of Bill Blagg Live

January 23: Beehive the 60’s Musical

March 23: Barefoot in the Park

January 28: Free Concert: Across the Universe

March 31: Drumline Live!

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Miss Betty rides in the 2012 parade with Dale Barrett driving his 1931 vintage automobile. Grandchildren Heather, Marshall and Delainey are in the rumble seat.

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Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 31


their continued support of education, demonstrated generosity and commitment to the people of Okeechobee.” Miss Betty and Sonny received the Florida Senate Medallion of Excellence

in recognition for all of their generous contributions and volunteer work, and in 2014 Miss Betty was presented with the Okeechobee Pregnancy Center Esther Award for her support of its ministry and the local community.

Miss Betty was recently bestowed the title President Emeritus of the Historical Society after her retirement as president. “It feels like I am following a legend,” said Cable. “I am very cognizant of her legacy and not letting her down since she entrusted me with this responsibility. She’s a tough act to follow.” Today, Miss Betty can almost always be seen with her husband, many times with him driving her, earning them the cute, joking comparison to Driving Miss Daisy. They are still very much involved in the community and continue to do all that they can to better others and the community. With four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, the two continue to teach by example.

‘My husband and I have taught by example the gift of volunteering to our children.’ ~ Miss Betty

Four generations of the Williamson family at Miss Betty’s 80th birthday.

And, of course, any free time Miss Betty can find is spent teaching history, whether through her writing or speaking engagements. “There is so much to share,” she said. “But even I have so much to learn.”


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Granddaughter Kristin and baby Hope, Miss Betty and daughter Karen.

Miss Betty is undoubtedly an Okeechobee icon. She has done more in her young 83 years than most could hope to accomplish in two lifetimes. She never stops thinking of how she can help others, and that, along with all her other amazing attributes, is why she will forever be the First Lady of Okeechobee.

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Miss Betty and Sonny dancing at their 50th wedding anniversary.

Premier Sponsor: Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County

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November/December 2016 | 33


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Community Event

Crystal Delburn, Jacqueline Claxton and Tabitha Banville.

Logan, Jesse and Sandy Perry, Robert and Jacqueline Claxton, Clois and Erica Harvey.

Cow-Town Hoe-Down Makes a Janet Smith and Katie McFarland.

Front, from left: Erica Harvey, Crystal Delburn, Katie McFarland, Tabitha Banville, Jacqueline Claxton. Back: Denise Colgan, Lauren Butler, Cindy Brummet, Zoe Butler, Janet Bishop.

36 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Comeback

The Okeechobee County Cattlewomenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Association revived their Cow-Town Hoe-Down dance Saturday, Sept. 3 at the Okeechobee Shrine Club. Music was provided by the Lee Allcorn Band. This event used to be a regular part of the Labor Day weekend festivities and had not been staged in many years. The event was a huge success, and the Cattlewomen plan to have the dance again next year.

Denise and Jim Colgan.


Photos by Susan Giddings

The late Billy Marcum with wife Patience.

Mindy Newell and Jerry Todd.

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November/December 2016 | 37


What the B.R.A.T. Club is doing is wonderful for the youth of Okeechobee; it gives them something to look forward to. ~ Nancy Driggers

38 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


B.R.A.T. Club, founded by Teresa Chandler Bishop and daughter

T

Allison, creates safe zones for ‘tweens’ to gather, dance, create fun memories and learn how to serve their community while doing so.

wo newcomers to Okeechobee decided to establish something to benefit our youth, but it ended up benefiting everyone in town. It was 2006, and Teresa Chandler Bishop and her daughter Allison had just moved to Okeechobee. Relocating is never an easy task, and 12-year-old Allison quickly realized there were few activities for her age group in her new hometown. She came home from school one day and said: “Mom, there's nothing here for kids. Why don't we start a dance club like the YMCA had at home?”

By Raye Deusinger Photos Courtesy of B.R.A.T. Club

So they started a club that still meets today, and it has served the entire community of Okeechobee through their work not just with a dance but in producing a parade, a rodeo, a scholarship program and more. The club they formed is B.R.A.T., which stands for “Building Relationships Among Teens.” Their successful program has been in place for 10 years and has not only entertained youth ages 12 through 16 “but,” said Matt Buxton, a director of B.R.A.T., “it has given them a safe place.

Over the years it has evolved into activities and projects as well as fun. We still have dances, but today we are also doing things to benefit kids in the community, including a scholarship program.” The first dance was put on at Pier II. Mother and daughter covered the community asking businesses to help supply pizza, drinks and music; it cost each child just $5 to enter. Teresa said: “The first dance was a huge success, with more than 100 in attendance. Who knew this was only the beginning?” Those attending 

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 39


My daughter wanted to hang out with kids her own age. I saw this was a controlled environment and fun for them; the kids could have some independence away from their parents. Sometimes they volunteered to help, like with the rodeo where the kids learned how a concession stand works while the parents offered guidance.

~ Police officer Jack Boon

received their first lesson in community-building. They were proud to see the money raised donated to the Red Cross. Okeechobee's own Billy Dean volunteered as the first DJ and worked with them for a long time. Teresa said: “Friend Craig McDougald suggested a name for the club. When I told Allison I wanted to call it B.R.A.T. Club, she said, ‘We don't want to be called Brats,’ but I thought it was cute because it was an acronym for ‘Building Relationships Among Teens.’ It had a certain catchiness, and she soon began to warm up to it. It has been B.R.A.T. Club ever since.” They incorporated as a nonprofit, with Teresa as president, Allison as vice president. It became a huge project for them, developing a logo, doing press releases, getting business sponsors for the snacks. There was planning, taxes, expenses, insurance. Some Saturday nights they had 120 kids, sometimes as few as 30. But no matter how many came, they knew they were providing a safe haven that kept the kids off the street. As they progressed, the average money raised each month was $700.

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OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


The club soon moved to the Shrine Club, which donated space. During the time there, the money raised helped local nonprofits, such as the American Cancer Society, YMCA, Castle, Communities in Schools, Real Life Children's Ranch and more. They finally moved to the Freshman Campus auditorium, courtesy of the Okeechobee County School Board, and occasionally used the South Elementary School cafeteria. Allison said: “The kids love it so much. They come up to us at the dances or even on the street and thank us for doing it for them. I wish I could put a number on how many kids we've impacted. But because they've seen volunteerism and community involvement in action, many of them come back to act as volunteers in support of the program.” As two involved in volunteerism, Matt and Teresa became friends. He said, “We did a lot of things together, so I went along for the ride because it's another Okeechobee thing to be a part of that involves kids in the community.” That is what also drew in board members 

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 41


â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;

I've seen that everything this mother and daughter have done for the community has turned out wonderfully. ~ Betty Williamson

â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

42 | November/December 2016

Board members from left: Judge Jerry Bryant, Matt Buxton, Tammi Kelly, Teresa Chandler Bishop, Andrea Duenas Medellin, Undersheriff Noel Stephen and Sheriff Paul May. Not pictured: Allison Chandler and Frank DeCarlo.

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Noel Stephen, Sheriff Paul May, Frank DeCarlo and Judge Jerry Bryant. Matt's own children, 17-year-old Morgan and 14-year-old Dayton, attended the dances for several years and today are helpers while also earning community service hours. Another regular helper is Tammi Kelly, who has been a worker for four years and is now a board member. Even though she was already an Okeechobee News reporter and had her own photography business, she tried it out and liked being a part of working with youth. Though working with advertising, organizing and serving at the dances, she even took on mentoring at the high school. As she served with the B.R.A.T. Club, some of those she mentored attended the dances and themselves became volunteers.

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At the club's 10-year mark, Tammi created a website for the group so that not just the kids but others in the community, especially parents, could know what was available to local youth. Today she also posts on Facebook and Twitter, making the B.R.A.T. Club a 21st-century player. Tammi took over many duties when Allison moved to Port St. Lucie to assume the position of director of the St. Lucie and Martin Counties March of Dimes program. Allison, however, still serves ď ľ

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When, in 2015, Okeechobee learned there would be no Labor Day Rodeo, the B.R.A.T. Club stepped in and staged one, with complete planning accomplished in only 12 days. The parade, however, is a project begun in 2011. Again, many of those who participate are former club members who enjoy helping the next generation. Matt said the B.R.A.T. Club also manned a vending booth at the inaugural Okeechobee Music Festival this year, earning money for their scholarship fund. The festival organizers have asked them back for 2017, this time to handle two booths. The month before Father's Day 2015, Tammi and Teresa were having lunch, and they began talking about “the next dance.” Two minds working as one, they decided to have a Father-Daughter Dance, which has grown into a tender time with dads dressed in suits dancing with their daughters who look like princesses.  44 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


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I have attended several events which give our kids something to do. It was amazing to see what Teresa did with the Father-Daughter dance. Everything she touches becomes gold.

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That dance inspired a middle-of-thenight idea in Matt. He sent a quick text to Teresa, proposing what became the very successful Super-Heroes Mother-Son Dance, which found about 100 Supermen, Batmen, Ninja Turtles, Spidermen and even Wonder Women moms turning

46 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


out for an evening of bonding and fun. For 10 years, the B.R.A.T. Club has been a safe haven for the kids who used to complain to their parents that â&#x20AC;&#x153;there is nothing to do in Okeechobee.â&#x20AC;? Parenting is sometimes very hard. But when you have a group of people devoted to kids like the people at the B.R.A.T. Club, they quickly convert the resistant, only to find that â&#x20AC;&#x153;I don't wanna!â&#x20AC;? kid turning into a recruiter and a volunteer the whole town can be proud of.

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Praise God for Teresa Bishop and the B.R.A.T. Club. Our family has been blessed through the events they sponsor. They give our youth safe yet fun opportunities for positive peer experiences. I love how they have broadened their reach to include and strengthen families with their Father-Daughter and now Mother-Son dances.

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Such was the conversion in Michelle Harper's household. Michelle's daughter Sierra wasn't thrilled when her mom read in the newspaper a story about a special activity for those 12 to 16 years old and decided it might be a good thing for her. Despite vocal objections, she drove Sierra to the event, walked her to the door, checked the place out, registered her, reassured her ... and left! Sierra today is 18 and the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association state representative. After volunteering for several years, she still comes back to mentor and help. Sierra's sister Donnielle went with her stepfather to the Father-Daughter dance in 2015. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is a great program,â&#x20AC;? ď ľ Michelle said.

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48 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

What was it that gave Michelle such confidence and Sierra such joy? It was agreement with the rules, observing and meeting the people who founded and perfected the B.R.A.T. Club, Teresa and her daughter Allison. The effect of the B.R.A.T. Club on its youthful members can be seen in the story of 12-year-old Tony Pierre and his little brother Eddy Ponte. Their mother heard about the club and walked with them to a dance. She told Teresa she didn't have the money for a ticket, but she heard it was good for the children. It touched Teresa's heart, and she promised they would always be welcome at the dances. Teresa said: “For five years, they faithfully came. At his last dance, Tony, then 17, told me he had a choice to make. The family was having to move to Miami and


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his friends were throwing him a goodbye party, but it was on the same day as the dance. He said he didn't want to miss the dance because it would be the last one. I told him I would accept any decision he made, but would really miss him.” The day of the dance came and so did Tony, who was greeted by Teresa, her eyes flooded with tears. For two years she has kept in touch with him on Facebook, where he recently wrote: “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about the dances and how Teresa Chandler and the B.R.A.T. Club made a difference in my life.” To Teresa, he said, “I love you.” She quickly replied, “I love you, too.” To learn more about the B.R.A.T. Club, contact Teresa Chandler Bishop OkeeBratClub@gmail.com.

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November/December 2016 | 49


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Community Event

Jadie Underhill, Katie Kennedy Nelson, Megan Schooley, Anita Nunez and Airianna Nunez.

Julie and George Turner.

Flapper-Style Bash Boosts

Toys for Tots Campaign The “Roaring ’20s” were back in full flapper fashion on Saturday, Sept. 10, when the Marine Corps Toys for Tots gala took place at Silver Palms RV Resort. Boasting a dinner, dancing, auctions and live entertainment, the lavish soirée brought together numerous patrons from around the community, all intent on making this Christmas extra special for local children. For additional photos visit www.okeechobeethemagazine.com.

Mark and Stephanie Dupree. Kay and Dale Smith.

Jessie Pulitzer, Alex Christensen and Justin Domer.

Gala committee and volunteers.

52 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Photos by Jane Kaufman

Paula Younger, Joanna Hoover, Ann Alexander and Julie Turner.

Macy Collier, Rachel Bryan, Megan Hargraves and Karlyn Daniel.

Ethan Kersey, Billy Dean and Taylor Marie.

Earl and Phoebe Raulerson.

Kristi and Wayne Morgan.

Antoinette Rodriguez, Stephanie Quesinberry and Renea Finney.

Front, from left: Betty and David Hazellief. Back: Michael, Jeanne, Angela and Justin Hazellief. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 53


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Community Event

S E P T E M B E R

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy speaks to the class.

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Airport Manager Kathy Scott presents to the class.

G R A D U A T I O N

2016 Graduating Class. Front, from left: Chamber President Terry Burroughs, Rick Gold, Mickey Bandi, Weston Harvey, Shannon Peterson, Amy Daniel, Dawn Hoover, Dallon Boyd, Jennifer Busbin, DeAnne Martin, Gerald Malone. Back: Jennifer Williamson, Corey Wheeler, and Mark Bragel.

56 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Motivational speaker Gerry Hoffner speaks to the class.


Photos by Sharon Cannon

Above and below: The class takes a tour of Entegra Roof Tile.

Raulerson Primary Care is now Treasure Coast Medical Specialists. Introducing Primary Care physician, Denise Ricketts, M.D. The same great care is now available in a brand new Primary Care facility, conveniently located directly across the highway from the hospital in the Okeechobee Medical Park.

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Quail Creek General Manager Fred Fanizzi. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 57


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Community Event

Photos by Susan Giddings

Deborah Raulerson. Edrick Neal.

Mary Hurley.

Achieving Excellence Luncheon Showcases Scholarships & Mini-Grants

Megan Williamson.

The Okeechobee Educational Foundation hosted its annual Achieving Excellence luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the First United Methodist Church fellowship hall. The foundation manages the majority of the scholarships given by the community to the graduating seniors of Okeechobee High School, along with all of the mini-grants.

Board members, front, from left: IRSC Provost Russ Brown, Dr. Christine Bishop, Dawn Hoover, Erin Moore, Linda Syfrett, Mary Hurley (Okeechobee Educational Foundation president), Dr. Patricia Cooper and Okeechobee Schools Superintendent Ken Kenworthy. Back: Denise Whitehead, Tabitha Trent (OEF vice president) and Kelly Owens. Not pictured: Joseph Stanley, Erin O’Neal, Phoebe Raulerson, Ben Sims, Deborah Hooker, Debbie Clemons, Jeff Sabin and Celeste Watford.

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Teresa O’Connor, Raulerson Hospital Patient, and members of her care team from Radiology, Lab and Outpatient.

“That’s my team. Without them, I would have died.” During a one year period Teresa O’Connor came to Raulerson Hospital 27 times for a paracentesis, while she awaited a liver transplant. Raulerson Hospital’s radiologist, Dr. Alex Vennos, performed the procedure, removing approximately ten 1-liter bottles of fluid from her abdomen during each procedure. “I trust him. I knew it was going to be ok. The staff members in radiology and outpatient were very diligent and calming. They were like my cheerleaders, even when I wanted to give up. They gave me hope. They work so well together. They really like what they do.” Teresa received her liver transplant and is doing well now. She still visits the Raulerson Hospital team she credits with saving her life. - Teresa O’Connor, Raulerson Hospital Patient.

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“I’m extremely grateful for the work they’ve done here. They’re all wonderful,” explained Stacie Palmero Romero, as she recounted the Outpatient Rehabilitation her son Jordan receives at Raulerson Hospital. Stacie said Jordan, or Mr. JJ, as his therapists sometimes refer to him, is so happy when we’re here. “When we get to the front door, he starts to laugh and giggle. He knows where he is. Techie is so good to my son. She’s been doing physical therapy with him since he was a month old. I can see the heart she has, when she cares for my son,” Stacie commented. Jordan also receives speech and occupational therapy services at Raulerson Hospital and his mom says he’s made great improvements in his development. “He said the first word he ever said here. It was because of his speech therapist.” She has taught him how to say ‘go’ and ‘more’. A toy train that can blow bubbles was ultimately the tool that led Jordan to say ‘go’. Originally, Jordan was unable to open his hands, but hard work in occupational therapy has allowed him to do so and now he loves to hold and use all the toys available to him in his therapy sessions. “That’s how he learned to throw a ball and handle puzzle pieces,” Stacie noted. Stacie Palmero Romero, her son Jordan and Raulerson Hospital Physical Therapist Techie Benhalid

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Community Event

‘Heroes’ Theme Defines

6th Adam Bryant Regatta The sixth annual Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta took place Saturday, Oct. 1, at C. Scott Driver Park. This year’s theme was “We could be heroes,” so the homemade boats boasted heroes of all types. Friday night after boat check-in was the Captain's Dinner sponsored by Anderson Realty and awesome Zambelli Fireworks sponsored by the Gilbert Family of Companies. Saturday morning before the race, the inaugural “Run for Booty” 5K and 10K races were held. Proceeds from the regatta provide scholarships to firefighter and EMT school in memory of Adam Bryant. For additional photos visit www.okeechobeethemagazine.com.

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Photos by Gary Burks, Jane Kaufman and Susan Giddings

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 69


â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I want the kids to know that they made a difference in my life, and I hope I made a difference in theirs.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

~~

~ Principal Dylan Tedders


THE BIG Okeechobee High Schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dylan Tedders Leads the Pack

BRAHMAN By Jann Seal

Photos by Sandra Pearce and Courtesy of Dylan Tedders www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 71


T

he happiest day of his professional life was when he heard he’d been officially named principal of Okeechobee High School — “and I wasn’t even at the school!” exclaimed Dylan Tedders, remembering the day in 2014 when he became the leader of the Brahman pack. “I grew up in Okeechobee. I graduated from Okeechobee High School. I was assistant principal for five years. Being named principal was the icing on the cake of my professional career.”

Forks in the Road His ambition to become a pro baseball player often found Tedders “at the fork in the road.” Yet Tedders took baseball legend Yogi Berra’s advice and “followed that fork,” leading him to a small technology college and a chance to play baseball while pursuing a career that didn’t link to his academic major. Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne offered Tedders financial assistance to play on its baseball team, and, by the way, work toward a degree. Any degree. Tedders chose psychology. It took five years for Tedders to complete his coursework and graduate. “It took me that long to graduate because of baseball. I could only take classes in the morning. Practice took up every afternoon.” Not knowing it, the intuition that guided him to major in psychology led him to where he is today. “I use psychology every day now!” Knowing that a B.A. wasn’t enough to make a career out of his major, Tedders returned to Okeechobee for a short period before going back to Melbourne in pursuit of a master’s degree. But dangling in front of him was an offer to substitute teach — an offer that turned into a permanent position — along with a regular paycheck. Tedders chose the

Dylan at Florida Tech, 1994.

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Dylan and Artha Jonassaint at the 2016 FFA Convention.

Dylan with Tyler Nourse, Abdiel Zamora and Alyssa Howard at lunch break.

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The kids have to see me. I go to everything!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; ~ Principal Dylan Tedders

Dylan and Marshall Hale at Graduation 2014.

Homecoming 2016. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 73


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Dylan with his son Deven at age 5.

fork and made an about-face on the psychology advanced degree and became Mr. Tedders, the teacher, at Yearling Middle School. “His major of psychology came into play throughout his career,” said Mary Hurley, former principal at Yearling Middle School where Tedders taught and coached baseball. “He knew why he, and the kids, were doing what they were doing. His insight, love of the kids, and his dedication to helping them succeed contributed to his potential for leadership,” Hurley continued, while explaining her encouragement that he pursue a career path into school administration.

Role Reversals With Hurley and other administrators behind him, Tedders moved into the assistant principal’s chair at Okeechobee High School. “Facilities and athletics 74 | November/December 2016

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were under me, and I loved the athletics part and learned about the facilities.” He moved easily into the athletics arena. As a student at Okeechobee, Tedders had played on the baseball team under Coach Tim Gillis. “I had a left-handed hitter and a left-handed pitcher ... and you didn’t want to throw him a low-inside pitch,” Gillis said with a laugh, remembering Tedders the player. But, suddenly, Tedders was no longer the player. He was moving into the coach’s position. “I coached him when he was a student here, and it came full circle when he coached for me at Okeechobee and then took over my position when I retired,” remembered Gillis. “His strength is his calmness under fire! He analyzes every situation, which makes baseball the perfect game for him. It’s a

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November/December 2016 | 75


Dylan with the IND class.

‘Dylan thinks outside the box. He has a level head and looks at issues from all sides.’ ~ Toni Wiersma, former OHS Principal

slow game to begin with, but with Dylan coaching, it became even slower as he analyzed every play, every move, every situation.” Tedders’s five-year tenure as an assistant

principal “gave me my base for moving into the big office. Now, everything is my responsibility, not just athletics or facilities, like before.” And the expansion of his responsibilities has opened him up to the total school population.

Maintaining His High Profile “The kids have to see me. I go to EVERYTHING! I experience them all firsthand,” Tedders explained. “I go on Facebook, Twitter — wherever they are, I’m there too. I get into their social world to know them better. Everyone has access to #gobrahmans, and everyone uses it. My goal is to learn everyone’s name — and considering that there are 1,280 students on campus, the goalpost is high!” Tedders walks the halls of Okeechobee High School frequently. “I make it a mission to be out, among them. I shake hands or fist-bump everyone,” Tedders laughed. “That way, when they walk across the stage at graduation, I know who they are. I want them to know that they made a difference in my life, and I hope I made a difference in theirs.”

Goal Setting — and Resetting

Dylan and wife Dana with children JuJuan, Deven and Dalton.

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“Goal setting is instrumental in achieving anything. I try to show the kids that aiming for something defines their path. And it’s not failure if they have to reset


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their goal. That’s reality — just as long as they stay on the track.” The current schoolwide goal is to be above the Bright Futures level, with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an 1170 SAT score. “We teach them to track themselves.” As of this writing, 40-50 percent of Okeechobee High School graduates enroll in college or technical schools after graduation. Academic support at OHS includes free access to SAT Prep, and every student has a Chromebook to use at school and the free time to use it. “We do all we can to give them the help and resources they need.”

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November/December 2016 | 77


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Dylan and his secretary, Traci Wilderman.

School District, worked with Tedders as a colleague at Yearling before she moved to OHS. Knowing his strong advocacy for the kids, she knew he’d be the perfect assistant principal when the position opened up. “Dylan thinks outside the box. He has a level head and looks at the issues from all sides and evaluates each situation individually,” she explained. “We complemented each other with our strengths, which made my recommendation that he take my place as principal a natural choice. After all, how often does a student, teaching colleague, coach and all-round perfect person walk into your door and sit at your side for five years waiting patiently, come along?” Left to right: Debbie Illes, Renee Box, Jim Jones, Ana Jones, Becky Barber, and Jody Carter

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Seeing Beyond In responding to the needs of society — and students’ realistic goals of finding a job after graduation, whether it’s from high school or college — OHS offers courses directed to professions needed in the local area and beyond, under the guidance of Tedders and building on the groundwork laid by his predecessor Wiersma. Aquaculture, animal science, agricultural mechanics, auto mechanics, construction, nursing and digital design are just a few of the career paths students can select. “The choices have to be relevant to the community,” Tedders said.


Indian River State College plays a part in that relevance, with dual enrollments currently in place, and multiple students getting their IRSC associate’s degree the day they receive their high school diploma.

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“We have dynamic kids here, and they’re focused. But our work doesn’t end there. We must keep them motivated and engaged,” said Tedders. The groundwork for Tedders was laid when he taught and coached at Yearling. Hurley, seeing his potential for leadership, put him in charge of a program that worked with middle school students, giving them after-school support. Homework was completed. Crafts were introduced. And sports were a strong element — all aimed at children who would otherwise go home, turn on the television and wait for a parent to come home.

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grant directed at children in urban areas, but we convinced them that our kids had the same needs. Dylan bent down and went eye-to-eye with the kids, listening to them, helping them succeed. He put the children first.”

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“Getting the kids to class on time is my greatest challenge today,” Tedders said, laughing. And his next big challenge is to get a 90 percent graduation rate. The school board is behind him, and together they’re working on options. Online education contributes to absences and takes the interaction between the students, teachers and administrators out of the equation, a Catch-22 that Tedders deals with reluctantly. “I like the face-to-face interaction and think it’s necessary to have personal communication skills. Email loses the tone of voice, the sarcasm, the hesitation a student might express. We can’t measure them through email,” Tedders remarked about why he’d rather see his students in the classroom rather than have them work via online instruction. “This is one of the frustrating elements of education today, and our results will be reflected in the grades for the first quarter.”

Big Brahman Reflections Tedders’s life revolves around education. His wife is a third-grade teacher and reading coach at North Elementary, and his brother Ryan teaches at the Charter School on the Indian reservation. “I’m in a job that’s frustrating and rewarding at the same time! But the bottom line for me is that I never look for a reason to call in sick! I want to be at school.”


Community Event

Gross Sales of $1 Million or Less Winner – Stafford’s Salon. From left: Chamber President Terry Burroughs, owner Angie Griffin and Chamber Director Paulette Wise.

Photos by Gary Burks

Gross Sales of $1 Million or More Winner – Pritchards & Associates. From left: Chamber President Terry Burroughs, CFO Jeanette Miller, President Lowell Pritchard and Chamber Director Paulette Wise.

j Accolades Given for

BUSINESS SUCCESSES, GREAT YEARS

National Corporate Business Winner – Raulerson Hospital. From left: Chamber President Terry Burroughs, CEO Brian Melear, CFO Terry Brown, Director of Surgical Services Stephanie Quesinberry, Engineering Director Benny Matthews, Chamber Director Paulette Wise and Director of the ER Kathy Selby.

Event Sponsors Center – Niki Salmon, Remington Real Estate, and Greg Thogersen, Atlantic Wealth Management-UBS, with Chamber President Terry Burroughs (left) and Chamber Director Paulette Wise.

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The Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County hosted its second Business of the Year Awards and Year in Review Luncheon at the Williamson Center at Indian River State College on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The chamber recapped its accomplishments for the past year and presented Business of the Year awards to Stafford’s Salon, Pritchards & Associates, Raulerson Hospital and Hospice of Okeechobee. For more information about the Chamber of Commerce, email info@ okeechobeebusiness.com or call (863) 467-6246.

Non-Profit Business Winner – Hospice of Okeechobee. From left: Chamber President Terry Burroughs, Executive Director Gail Gerntrup, founding board members Fran Syfrett and Dorothy Bulger, and Chamber Director Paulette Wise.


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WINTER 2007

THE MAGAZINE

Plus Shopping with “The Kahuna” Steve Cates Phoebe Raulerson Steve Milrot Boots & Pearls Gala

Bringing Bringing The The Arts Arts To To Okeechobee Okeechobee Round Table Discussion with Six Local Artists

OkeeWINTERMag2007.indd 1

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Thank You,

Okeechobee — One and All — For a Spectacular Decade Staff Celebrating Alongside Our Readers By Rachel Buxton

It’s been an amazing 10 years. Okeechobee The Magazine definitely

would not be where it is today if it weren’t for our ever-so-loyal advertisers and, of course, you — our readers. The evolution of Okeechobee The Magazine has been amazing. And it’s because of each and every one of you that we’ve been able to evolve. We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village.” Well, that also holds true for putting together a magazine. It takes not only Okeechobee The Magazine’s team, including photographers, graphic designers, writers, office administrators, advertising representatives, editors and several contributors, but it takes our community as well. What began as a crazy idea has evolved into something much bigger than anyone had anticipated. Maureen Budjinski, our founding publisher, was the one who had that crazy idea, and it was something no one had attempted to bring to Okeechobee before. Maureen wanted to start a community lifestyle magazine to help showcase just how wonderful and diverse Okeechobee truly is. 86 | November/December 2016

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WINTER 2008

THE MAGAZINE

Samantha Rivera Teen Tennis Phenom

Plus Quail Creek Plantation: A Return to the Golden Era Sheriff Paul May Shopping with Candace Burke

No one thought it was going to make it. But with three charter advertisers — Big Lake Eye Care, Quail Creek Plantation and Raulerson Hospital — who were willing to take a chance on this new publication and form an advertising base, Maureen was able to launch Okeechobee The Magazine in the spring of 2007 and continue to grow it, year after year. The magazine was a hit immediately. Everyone wanted a copy to see who and what made it into the issue. The goal of Okeechobee The Magazine has always been to include diversity and entertainment while promoting Okeechobee as a whole. We try to feature individuals from all walks of life and different backgrounds. And over the last 10 years we have featured everyone from community leaders and cowboys to athletes, artists and maybe even your next-door neighbor. Fast-forward seven years and Maureen made the difficult decision to step down as publisher and 

Maureen Budjinski and Susan Giddings.

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 87


pass the torch to longtime friend Susan Giddings. Prior to her departure, Maureen had called Susan, asking her to come out and help her with the magazine so she could spend time with her son Jason, who was very ill. Susan began to meet the people of Okeechobee and learn about its unique dynamic. She quickly found her footing in the community, letting Maureen know she was the perfect person to hand the magazine over to. Over the past couple of years, Susan has tried to keep the essence of Okeechobee The Magazine but also try to revamp it here and there with fresh new content and designs. Our cover photographer, Sandra Pearce, always gives us a remarkable cover with her beautiful and award-winning photography. A magazine’s cover is, after all, what draws people to open it. And then, what is a magazine without pictures? We are extremely blessed to have someone of Sandra’s caliber as part of our team. Her photography helps us tell the stories. There are so many people and organizations in Okeechobee with fascinating stories! We have a list with endless names that we reference when planning each issue. It is because of this long list and our advertisers’ support that we could expand to six issues in June

88 | November/December 2016

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2015, so as to cover more events and tell more people’s stories. Even six issues, however, seems not to be enough. It is a struggle each time we begin to plan content for future issues. Our list of wonderful stories is always growing! Along with trying to keep our feature stories diverse, we’ve tried to keep our departments and columns fresh and entertaining. In the beginning we had Okeechobee Shopper, where someone from the community went on a shopping spree throughout local shops. After that, we began Okeechobee at Home, where we took readers inside some of the most beautiful homes in Okeechobee County. And then, we eventually started our two most popular departments: Looking Back and Behind the Business.

Looking Back

Okeechobee The Magazine is so very lucky to have two of the best Okeechobee historians willing to share their knowledge with our readers. Former Circuit Judge William Hendry and Betty Chandler Williamson help to keep our town’s history alive through Looking Back. They give us such rich details about Okeechobee’s history on topics such as pioneer churches, the early days of commercial fishing and Okeechobee’s first schools. They share old pictures from their collections, giving us a sneak peak into the early years of Okeechobee. It is through Looking Back that we are able to include a lot about our past while capturing our community’s present.

BEHIND THE BUSINESS

Our Behind the Business department has given us the opportunity to highlight and promote local businesses throughout the community. Within the past couple years, we’ve been able to expand Behind the Business to include online videos of each featured business. These behind-the-scenes videos give our readers a chance to not only read about the businesses in the magazine but to also see the faces and meet the people behind these businesses.  www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 89


In The Kitchen With… Also within the last decade, we’ve done a couple of different food-related departments, In the Kitchen With… and Table & Vine, and we’ve added a rotating feature Okeechobee Youth. We’ve added several new and fun columns over the last few years that are even written by some of our local advertisers. It’s just another way we are able to help our advertisers get exposure while providing great content to our readers. The event coverage has only continued to grow over the years. To say Okeechobee stays busy is an understatement! We love showing what a caring and compassionate community we are. Okeechobee knows how to come together when someone is in need, and we know how to have fun with one another. Our event coverage is a way to capture and document all these fun times. Okeechobee The Magazine was started for the enjoyment of the Okeechobee community, but the magazine’s reach has far surpassed just our local community. Our “little” magazine is read all over the country by numerous subscribers, as well as by hundreds of readers in other countries, including Canada, China and Brazil. The implementation of our website and social media pages have allowed people from all over the world to read the pages of Okeechobee The Magazine. Our website also gives readers a chance to see extra pictures that didn’t make it into the magazine and watch exclusive online videos. 

okeechobeeYouth 90 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Merry Christmas Everyone!

ing rat rs! b le a Ce Ye 5

Sandwiches • Salads • Quiche • Coffee Lattes • Frozen Blends • Chocolate • Ice Cream

863.357.3357

103 SW Park Street • Okeechobee

It is an honor to bring you all things Okeechobee, and we are proud to be Okeechobee’s one and only community lifestyle magazine.

Mon. - Thurs. 7am-7pm • Fri. 7am-8pm • Sat. 8am-8pm

Porcelain Esthetics “Begin your journey to healthier beautiful skin.”

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Freshen up for the Holiday and New Year!

863.634.3615

221 NE Park St. • Okeechobee, FL Cheryl Daniels, Licensed Esthetician, Certified Skin Specialist License # FB9750329

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 91


Another way we’ve grown over the years is that Okeechobee The Magazine is more than just the magazine. That’s right. While working on the magazine we’re also working on other projects. The magazine falls under OTM Publications, a publishing company that produces not only the magazine but other publications as well, such as the OHS Brahman Guide, the annual Chamber Community Guide and the Scholarship Night Booklet to name a few.

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OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Betty Chandler Williamson

Christian Bookstore & Vintage Home Accessories

Okeechobee's First Lady

BIBLES • BOOKS Journals Children’s Books

Gifts

OTM Publications also works hard on various newsletters, brochures and marketing and advertising content for a variety of clients. We are your one-stopshop for all things media and publishing. At the beginning of the year we threw a fabulous anniversary party to celebrate. We thank all who were able to come out and celebrate with us. And we hope everyone enjoyed reading our 10-year Look Back stories over the past year. As you can see, we are certainly not the only ones that have grown over the years. It is an honor to bring you all things Okeechobee, and we are proud to be Okeechobee’s one and only community lifestyle magazine. We thank each and every one of you for your continuous support. Our door is always open. If you have suggestions or know someone with a great story, contact us. We’d love to hear from you. We want you to be proud of Okeechobee The Magazine, because after all, it is Okeechobee The Magazine — your magazine.

Jewelry • Antiques

AND FURNITURE!

Thank You Okeechobee. Merry Christmas to All! 217 S.W. Park Street • Okeechobee, FL 34974

863.357.3010

The Berger Clinic Adult Health Care Diagnosis and Management of Medical Conditions Preventive Health

863-467-1117 Call For Appointment

Jay S. Berger, MD Okeechobee Medical Park 1713 Hwy 441 N. Suite D Okeechobee, FL 34972 (Located across the street from the hospital.)

Dr. Berger and Staff have proudly served the Okeechobee area since 1985. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 93


Community Event

600+ Supporters Raise $100K for

Hospice Hospice of Okeechobee hosted its 11th annual Boots and Pearls gala at the KOA Convention Center on Friday, Oct. 14. Over 600 people attended this signature event, which raised over $100,000 for Hospice. For more information, visit www.hospiceofokeechobee.org.

Having a fun time at the gala.

Hospice Board members, from left: Sandra Pearce McAuley, Fran Syfrett, Dot Bulger, Frank Irby, Sherri Enfinger, Steve Lafferty, Tina Clemons, Marie Culbreth, Pamela Rucks and Nicki Smith.

From left: Sarah Miller, Hamilton Bishop, Hannah Sims and Rebekah Prescott.

Staff and Volunteers of Hospice.

94 | November/December 2016

Tommy and Katrina Ziglar with Karen and Dave Cook. OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Photos by Sandra Pearce

From Our Family to Yours, Merry Christmas and All the Blessings of the Lord! Thanks for Giving Us the Opportunity to Serve You and the Community.

Brian and Jenni Melear.

Dot Bulger and Fran Syfrett.

I’m now a loan officer with PNC Mortgage! Marnie Amiet Mortgage Loan Officer NMLS #821260

OFFICE: 863.357.5282 CELL: 863.697.1970 EMAIL: marnie.amiet@pncmortgage.com pncmortgage.com/marnieamiet Hannah and Jared Sims.

I’m proud to announce that I’m now a member of the PNC Mortgage team. I look forward to providing the quality service and expertise you have come to know and trust but with the strength and capabilities of PNC.

Call me today!

I can’t wait to hear from you. Contact me today to schedule a complimentary personal mortgage review. We can review your options to refinance your current home or start the process to purchase your next home. PNC Mortgage 2801 HWY 441 South Okeechobee, FL. 34974

Nicki and Allen Smith. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 95


S

Royal Consulting Services, Inc.

R

Water Resources Engineering

W

Agricultural Engineering Environmental Engineering Civil Engineering Construction Management Certified NRCS TSP

We also carry marine hose and fittings, hydraulic hose and parker fittings, hydraulic oils, environmental spill kits, and related repair items. Hose sizes 1/4” up to 1 1/2” and 2,000 psi to 6,000 psi.

At both our shop and mobile unit, we can service and maintain: Loaders, Graders, Excavators, Bulldozers, Articulated Trucks, Power Units, etc.

All work performed by experienced and knowledgeable mechanics. 2310 South Parrott Avenue • Okeechobee, Florida 34974 (863) 763-8700 www.fear-us.com

Specializing in: Water Use Permitting Farm Design Irrigation Design Stormwater Reuse FDACS BMPs ERP/ERP Exemptions Environmental Monitoring Office Locations in Longwood Okeechobee West Palm Beach

(800) 466-1378 www.royalconsulting.com 96 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

En

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GENERAL CONTRACTING SITE DEVELOPMENT TRANSPORT SERVICES STORMWATER & WASTEWATER TREATMENT LAND PREPARATION BMP IMPLEMENTATION

·

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221 NE Park Street • Okeechobee, FL 34972


Community Event

Tradition Carries On for

OHS Class of 2017 Homecoming festivities kicked off on Thursday, Oct. 20, with the Homecoming Parade. On Friday night, the 21st, the Homecoming King and Queen were crowned and the football game was played. The three-day event finished up Saturday night with the Homecoming Dance. For additional photos visit www.okeechobeethemagazine.com.

Homecoming King and Queen Bubba Fludd and Clinesha Williams.

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Photos by Sandra Pearce and Gary Burks

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 99


County Centennial By Rachel Buxton

It’s time for another celebration! The residents of Okeechobee are in store for yet another hundredth celebration, this time, marking the 100th anniversary of Okeechobee County. In 2015 Okeechobee celebrated the City’s centennial with lots of fun and excitement, and now in 2017, the party will continue for the County. “There is no denying that the City put on quite a celebration,” said County committee member Magi Cable, “and the County is working on coming up with new events that build a sense of community.” Cable said the County’s committee is very much experienced with many members having served on the City’s centennial committee. Their goal is to use the most popular pieces of the City’s 2015 events to plan another celebration worthy of a hundred years. The official Kick Off Celebration will be held on Jan. 21, 2017 in front of the historical Courthouse. The night will be filled with music and laughter as individuals compete in a lip synch battle. There will also be an opportunity for the attendees to

view the Smithsonian Institute’s “Museum on Main Street” that focuses on waterways. “This exhibit is only being staged in six places in Florida and Okeechobee is proud to be one of them,” said Cable. The 100th-year celebration will once again include historical bus tours throughout the year, giving residents an up-close look into the history of Okeechobee County. The tours will include a short walking tour of the historic Courthouse, led by retired Judge William Hendry whose grandfather built the courthouse and who presided over the main courtroom during his long judicial career. New to this centennial bash is an ongoing “Speaker Series” where members of the community will speak on topics pertaining to the history of the County, such as agriculture and the Livestock Market. The final speaker will be the most highly-anticipated one in which Rick Smith, son of author Patrick Smith, will be speaking on A Land Remembered, the very popular novel that gives readers a great insight into how it was to live in this area in the very early days. Another new and ongoing event will be “Amazing Okeechobee,”

Centennial Committee members, from left: Sharon Cannon, Corey Wheeler, William Hendry, Kathy Scott, Sharie Turgeon, Robbie Chartier, Magi Cable, Katrina Elsken, Jennifer Busbin. Back: Ed Thornton, Dowling Watford, Brittany Carner, Tracy Rowland, Mariah Anuez. Not pictured: Mary Beth Cooper, Kay McCool, Erin Moore, Shirley Palmer.

100 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Events Scheduled Centennial Kick Off Event January 21, 2017 Historic County Courthouse 304 NW 2nd St.

Birthday Party, May 6, 2017

Agri-Civic Center, 4601 FL-710

Thank you Okeechobee

for your continued support!

Amazing Okeechobee

Yearlong team participation throughout 2017

Okeechobee County Historic Bus Tours

Happy Holidays, from Our Family to Yours!

118 South Parrott Avenue | Okeechobee, FL | 863-467-7989

February 4, March 4, April 8, October 7 and November 4, 2017

Centennial Speaker Series

February 2, April 6, June 7, September 7 and November 2, 2017 Historic County Courthouse 304 NW 2nd St., 2nd Floor

End of Year Event, December 2, 2017 KOA Convention Center, 4276 US-441

a team competition in which they compete in “challenges” throughout the year in order to earn points towards victory. One of the challenges will be a “Jeopardy-like” game geared towards the history of Okeechobee. A birthday bash open to the public is once again scheduled, as well as an end-of-the-year ticketed event at the Okeechobee KOA. Sponsorships for the County Centennial are available, with three levels from which to choose: Silver, Gold and Legacy. Go to the County’s Centennial Facebook page, Okeechobee County Centennial, or contact Sharie Turgeon at Okeechobee County TDC, (863) 763-3959, for more information on events or on how to become a sponsor. 2017 COUNTY CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS Sharie Turgeon, Marybeth Cooper Facilitator Kathy Scott Brittany Carner Robbie Chartier Magi Cable, Chair Shirley Palmer Matt Dorriety Tracey Rowland Dowling Watford, William Hendry Co-Chair Sharon Cannon Corey Wheeler Erin Moore Ed Thornton Jennifer Busbin Kay McCool Mariah Anuez Katrina Elsken

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 101


B

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Additional shows and attractions will be added throughout the season. *BB = Black Box | Visit sunrisetheatre.com to see the videos for these shows!


Community Event

Okeechobee Fire Rescue spoke to students about a career as an EMT.

Haley Garcia, Emma Wilkerson and Hunter Wilder talk with Nicole Simpson with Harbor Community Bank.

From left: Destiny Elliott, Caitlin Berry, Chloe Berry and Audra Corson.

Deputy Sheriff Kristin Gray and K-9 Deputy Remi posed with students interested in a career in law enforcement.

Students move from booth to booth where they learn the cost of housing, food, transportation, etc. Their salary was based on their current GPA and what type of occupation they could expect to pursue.

104 | November/December 2016

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Photos by Sharon Cannon

Middle School Kids

Pe ac

e Lu

h theran Sc

oo

es

Harley Davis and Kateriana Cowart at the IRSC booth.

n for the R u R 2017

os

Th e

FEBRUARY 25, 2017

l

The Run for the Roses Gala

Ladies wear your hats and gents wear your bow ties.

Gala location: KOA Convention Center • 6:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Dinner, Dancing, Live and Silent Auction for the growth and improvement of Peace Lutheran School.

For More Information 863.763.7566

Get to See Life Through Adult Eyes Indian River State College partnered with Osceola Middle School and Yearling Middle School to host their annual Reality Fair on Friday, Oct. 21, in the Osceola Middle School gymnasium. The event featured two sides — a career side and a financial side. Volunteers on the career side spoke to the students about their current professions; and on the financial side, booths provided information about groceries, housing, transportation and how to manage a budget, among other topics. This event illustrated the financial obstacles students will face throughout their adult lives.

SAND • FILL • SHELL • ROCK House Pads Land Clearing Debris Removal

Demolition Culverts Driveways

OFFICE (863) 623-5274

DUMP TRUCKS...SITE WORK...HEAVY EQUIPMENT

Happy Holidays & Thank You to Our Customers!

LIC# CRC 1327160

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 105


FREE Selfie Stick

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106 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

To acheive your goals, be diligent. I was, Thanks to you, I am the new Broker on board. NOW, Let me help you! NIKISALMON.REAL.ESTATE@GMAIL.COM

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Large and Small Animal Practice 863.763.9200 www.MimsVeterinaryHospital.com 275 SW 32nd Street Okeechobee, Okeechobee, FL

Dr. Randall Mims

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 107


Community Event

Competitors

Get Fit

To Help Fight Cancer The first CrossFitters Against Cancer event, presented by Ride for the Fight, took place on Saturday, Oct. 22, in Flagler Park. Participants signed up through local CrossFit gyms. Forty-eight competitors participated in 12 heats, geared to all ages and skill levels. Proceeds from this event will help finance cancer treatments for patients in the Okeechobee region. For more information, email Nano Corona at mc@rideforthefight.com. For additional photos visit www.okeechobeethemagazine.com.

Committee members, from left: Nano, Kelly and William Corona and Rebekah and Jarod Prescott. Not pictured: Dr. Claudia Puerto, Richard Puerto, Maria Landa Posada and Antonio Corona.

108 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Photos by Gary Burks


1926

2016

Proudly serving our community for 90 years!

863-763-3417 INFO@DOMERSINC.COM

204 SOUTHEAST 10TH AVENUE OKEECHOBEE, FLORIDA 34974 We are located one block behind the post office on 70 E.

Please visit our newly redesigned website!

WWW.DOMERSINC.COM

NEW CONVENIENT LOCATION Raulerson Surgical Specialists & Dr. Alejo have moved to a brand new office.

Keep Calm and Have a Merry, Merry Christmas!

You will find the same great

customer service and expert surgical skills, but in a new location.

VISIT US TODAY AT

1713 Hwy 441 North • Suite H • Okeechobee, FL 34972 (in the Okeechobee Medical Park building, located directly across from the hospital)

We have a new phone number too: Phone: 863-357-1510 • Fax: 863-357-1518

205 SW Park Street 863.634.1694

This practice participates in the Veterans’ Choice Program.

Monday thru Friday 10am - 6pm Saturday 10am - 3pm

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 109


Lunch Buffet:

7 days a week 11 am to 1:30 pm

5050 NE 128th Ave. Okeechobee, FL 34974 OPEN: Monday-Saturday 5:30 am to 2:30 pm Sunday: 7:00 am to 2:30 pm

863-763-8333

WM Partners with Lifetime Television/Military Makeover Designing Spaces to help those who have served. WM Public Affairs Manager Teresa Bishop volunteers painting for the projects. WM is a proud sponsor of the 6th Annual Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta. WM Landfill Supervisor Billy Dees’ son Darion Bronson races the WM boat “Recycle Heroes” at the event. Pictured: WM Landfill Supervisor Billy Dees and son Darion Bronson. WM vehicles powered by compressed natural gas cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 20 percent.

110 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Pictured: WM Public Affairs Manager Teresa Bishop and co-host Art Edmonds.

Pictured: WM Community Relations Specialist Shiraz Kashar, WM Public Affairs Manager Teresa Bishop and Ronald Lee Ermey “The Gunny.”


Doctors Clinic Family Health Center, LLC 863.763.1107

• Most insurances accepted • DOT/CDL Physicals Proud Supporters of “Heroes 4 Hope”

Armando A. Santelices, MD

Se habla español

Stanley H. Sweda, MD

Victoriano C. Gutierrez, MD

Wir sprechen deutsch

• Accepting New Patients • Walk-ins & appointments

Nous parlons français

204 SE Park Street • Okeechobee

From Our Fa Merry Christmas milies to Yours, & a Happy New Year!

Lake Okeechobee Digestive Disease Center 863.357.8222

Se habla español

Albert F. Bravo, MD Gastroenterology/ Hepatology

204 SE Park Street • Okeechobee • www.DrAlbertFBravo.com


E G N Y R U A U O T L C N E A S H TSACRED

AT

Loving Couple Behind Therapy Clinic Take Team Approach To Pain

then lost her high school sweetheart and love of her life, awoke from her dream of Bobby Keefe, feeling his pain at the moment his body broke.

If this story seems to be one from a daytime soap opera, it is. Soap opera is based on reality, and the long-running episode of Bobby and Bianca’s love story is typical of a really good story: love, love lost, love regained. In the 12 years of their separation, both endured life lessons made up of mar-

riages, children and educational achievements that set them on their course for a good marriage and a successful business. You could say that The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary was a business concept that simmered for 12 years before blossoming into a loving joint venture. “During my recovery and after being discharged from the Marines, I went back to school and got my B.S. degree in psychology,” explained Bobby. “And I got my B.A. in psychology,” Bianca jumped in to say. Armed with those degrees, solid education and a desire to reach out to those in their community, the couple started to formulate a vision for a business.

By Jann Seal

Camp Leatherneck. Helmond Prov-

ince. Afghanistan. For 1st Lt. Robert M. Keefe Jr., this remote outpost of military might could have been the scene of the end of life as he knew it. But instead, a resilient Marine, severely wounded by an IED, returned home from the desert of war. His back was broken, but his spirit survived to experience the continuation of a life well-lived. Meanwhile, back in Okeechobee, the lovely Bianca, the woman who loved, and 112 | November/December 2016

The Lounge team: Leslie Pineiro, Marci Lookabill, Cheryl Allen, Bianca and Bobby Keefe. Not pictured: Dr. Mario Marini.

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


BEHIND THE BUSINESS

“I wanted a sanctuary — a place where people could find respite from their daily grind — a peaceful, tranquil surrounding that’s carefree and relaxing,” Bobby went on to say. “After all I had been through, I knew how important a place of refuge was. Bianca was creating a lounge in her mind — a relaxing atmosphere where sitting around and relaxing was the order of the day.” The two thought processes were combined and The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary was born. Bianca, a licensed massage therapist, Reiki master and certified life coach, in addition to her psychology degree, has devoted most of her adult life to relieving stress in others. Working several years at prestigious Palm Beach County spas and country clubs gave her the experience needed to turn her talents into a business where people felt they could return over and over again and leave relaxed and relieved of muscular stress. Bobby, also a Reiki master and certified life coach, has been charged with anchoring the business with his acumen and talent with employees. “Spending time as a reconnaissance Marine and then a logistics officer taught me that working with a team was vital to our survival. We’re all out there together. And we come home together.” The team at The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary is tight, well-compensated, well-rounded and devoted, to not only their business but their customers as well. Repeat customers account for a large part of their business, and most of the local

medical community can be found going in and out of The Lounge’s doors on a frequent basis. Word of mouth drives the business. “When we first opened in 2014,” Bianca related, “there were just the two of us doing all the therapy. We started adding technicians as our workload increased, and now we’re considering adding floor space,” she said laughingly. The specialized staff at The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary consists of Cheryl Allen, an advanced neuromuscular/deep tissue therapist. When neck and back pain persist, or TMJ, sciatica, or fibromyalgia strikes, Cheryl provides the relief. Marci Lookabill and Bianca are the resident massage therapists, and Dr. Mario Marini, a licensed acupuncturist, Reiki master and hypnotherapist calls on his traditional Chinese medicine treatments to alleviate pain. It’s also noted that Dr. Marini is a specialist in fertility and gynecological problems and graduated as the valedictorian of his University of Miami Health Services class. Given the depth of experience of the staff, The Lounge prides itself on being a

team. “We have confidence in our team,” explained Bobby. “We took pains to establish a good team, and we take care of them. They, and we, all have a personal investment in this business.” No one starts at the bottom at The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary, like Bianca did when she first started out. Therapists are compensated based on what they are worth. “And they’re the best therapists in town!” Bobby interjected. The customer base of The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary has expanded to include veterans who find the business on their website. Bobby’s work with the Wounded Warriors and veterans groups in and around Okeechobee creates the link he needs to expand his philosophy of being a giving person. “I may not have retired voluntarily from the Marines because of my injuries, but my heart is still with them,” he explained. “And if we can bring them relief from their mental and physical pain at The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary, then my job is complete.” The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary 207 S.W. Second Ave. 863-623-4136 www.TheLoungeOkeechobee.com

Log on to OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com and click on the “Behind the Business” tab to learn more about The Lounge at Sacred Sanctuary. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 113


Linda’s

Style&Trends Let us help you find the right Christmas gift for your home and gift giving

Fashion Purses • Fashion Jewelry Bible Covers • Collegiate Items College Inflatable

Located inside Badcock Furniture

863-763-38232

512 W. North Park Street Okeechobee, Florida

jor All Mnads &

B r a cturers anufa

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114 | November/December 2016

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November/December 2016 | 115


E P O H E T H S E T CH Hope And Charity Not Only Live But Thrive At Hope Chest

opening the store,” explained Donna. “We’d run out of room at our house and needed somewhere to put all our stuff!” Her partner in life, Thomas, was the force behind the Christian bookstore element of the enterprise, and both knew that Okeechobee needed one. But Christian books weren’t enough to keep the business open. Donna, being pushed out of her home by her collections, found salvation in the storefront. The house

was cleared of china, antiques and furnishings, and space to display the vast collection of books was created! The storefront was originally a law office, with a multitude of individual offices and walls everywhere. A large, open space was created, a nook for children’s books and merchandise introduced, and the stuffy, serious law environment was replaced. The ceiling was replicated to look like an original tin ceiling, and the concrete flooring was painted, bringing a new design technique into the realm of the old.

By Jann Seal

L

ooking like a bejeweled doll’s house fronting Park Street, The Hope Chest’s windows stop traffic and invite customers in. And once the threshold is crossed, the shopper enters a world of treasures repurposed, dreams passed on and hope renewed. It’s not just a secondhand shop, nor is it antique row. What it IS is the dream of Donna Walpole and Thomas Barber to establish a Christian bookstore, and at the same time, to clear their home of all the antiques collected and inherited over the years. “The antiques were the gateway to 116 | November/December 2016

The Hope Chest family: Donna Walpole holding CoCo, Thomas Barber and Mary Kathleen Barber.

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


BEHIND THE BUSINESS

Both Thomas and Donna, deeply religious and devout, prayed while pulling the store and books together, knowing that their only competition in Okeechobee was the internet. “People shopping for a Bible need to feel it, to be invited into its pages. A Bible isn’t something you can order online. It’s tactile. Personal,” explained Donna. “And our prices run the gamut — from $15 to $80.” “Our Bibles and accessories sell better than the books,” said Donna, as she rang up a sale to a couple looking for a Spanish language Bible. “We have translations, different styles — from plain to decorative, and we even have large print versions!” “Thomas was diagnosed with Stage 4 bone cancer and the doctors gave him no hope — maybe six months to live. This store has the spirit of God within its walls. It was Thomas’s salvation and he’s now in his fifth year of treatment and we’re heading to Tampa this week for another round of treatments. That’s what life hands you when you have hope,” Donna explained when excusing Thomas’s absence from the store. The couple, now joined by Thomas’s daughter Mary Kathleen Barber, who serves as the manager covering the aisles during Donna and Thomas’s trips to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, describe The Hope Chest as a refuge from life’s trials. “People come in, sit down, have a coffee and find peace,” Donna said. “We pray, cry, hold each other, all

the while knowing God bade us to open this store — not just for us, but for the people of Okeechobee.” As we spoke, a woman who had been waiting to speak with Donna walked into the store with her two young daughters. She wanted to sell some of her possessions so she could pay a utility bill. Donna didn’t take her goods, but instead wrote a check for the bill, gave the little girls a few stuffed animals, and sent them on their way with gratitude — in everyone’s hearts. That’s what The Hope Chest is all about. Hope. The retail side of The Hope Chest is flourishing, with handmade jewelry added to the mix, along with the delicate china, furniture and home accessories. Estate sales account for a large part of the inventory, and treasures are found on every shelf. Mary Kathleen, having left her home in Tennessee to help her stepmother in the store, now has her own anchor in Okeechobee. She’ll be married to the handsome Brandon Farless, an Okeechobee County Fire Rescue employee, in December. “We’ve been friends since we were 12,” gushed Mary Kathleen, signaling the happiness found in Hope — and in Okeechobee. “The town’s been so good to us,” said Donna. “We love being on Main Street, seeing our friends and neighbors walk by, stop in for a hello or a hug, and then going on with their day. We even have

people from the east coast of Florida who come into the store on their way either to the west coast, or to their homes up north. We’re a part of their lives and we’ve only been open for a year!” In addition to enhancing the homes of Okeechobee residents, The Hope Chest, and Donna, Thomas and Mary Kathleen are deeply charity-minded. Heroes for Hope supplements the living costs of those undergoing cancer treatments by paying for their travel and lodging, utility bills and even rent. Heroes for Hope’s “Go Fund Me” page (https:// www.gofundme.com/2jb6nj) is slowly gaining ground, and the family sponsors fundraisers throughout the year — all to help others by giving hope and charity. Fliers, advertisements, radio announcements, a fledgling Facebook page and soon-to-be-introduced website all contribute to the visibility of The Hope Chest. But it’s the word-of-mouth and support of the people of Okeechobee that keep Hope alive. The Hope Chest 217 S.W. Park Street (863) 357-3010

Log on to OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com and click on the “Behind the Business” tab to learn more about The Hope Chest. www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 117


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118 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


Rods • Reels

Hard / Soft

Baits • Terminal Tackle

Sunglasses

Apparel

LIVE BAIT Minnows, Crickets, Worms, Wild Shiners

WILLIAMSON CATTLE COMPANY Presents Photos of the Past

1505 STATE ROAD 78 WEST, OKEECHOBEE FL

863.763.0973 Open 5 am – 9 pm 7 days

Professional Fishing & Hunting Guide Service www.OkeechobeeBassFishingGuide.com www.OkeechobeeHuntingGuide.com 866.824.3474 or 863.824.2474

THE DUCK HUNTERS

ALVIN SWEATT, HAROLD WATFORD AND G.L. SWEATT This trio had a successful duck hunt in 1940. All have local family members.

Submitted by Betty Chandler Williamson www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 119


By Charles M. Murphy, WOKC’s Voice of the Brahmans

Senior Jaimes’s Golden Boot an OHS Asset for ’16

S

enior Jose Jaimes will be counted on to lead the Okeechobee High School Brahmans boys soccer team back to the postseason this year. The team has had two great regular seasons in a row. They lost only one game last year until district playoffs, when they were eliminated by Palm Beach Lakes High School, preventing them from going to the regional playoff.

Jose Jaimes

Jaimes did his part with 25 goals last year as he won the team’s Golden Boot Award, given to its most prolific goal scorer. The son of Nancy Sanchez and Jose Jaimes, he said he thinks the Brahmans will have a good season this year. “I want to win a district title. We lost a few players but we gained some good players this year.” Jaimes mostly wants to beat Palm Beach Lakes and Suncoast high schools to get revenge and return to the postseason. “We lost to Lakes in the district semifinals, but it was intense. Both teams had the lead and could have won. Anything can happen in a soccer game.” Jaimes started to play soccer at the age of five. He said his mom always pushed him and his father helped when he was able to. “When he came, I would give my all. At first I didn’t want to play, but my mom kept pushing me and I started to love the game.” He played a lot of soccer in different leagues around Okeechobee over the summer, including both children and adults, in order to get better. He said he has gotten faster over the summer. Jaimes praised his teammate Wilson Barahona, who graduated 120 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

last year, for all the assists he contributed to help him score goals. Barahona is playing college soccer in West Virginia. Jaimes said soccer is a team game and isn’t about one player. “I have confidence in myself and my team. I think we have it under control and I’m not worried.” He said if the team is disciplined, listens to the coaches, and players work hard, they can achieve a lot. “I like being a senior. I like how everyone looks up to me. I want to show them that I’ve grown up. I wasn’t all that good as a freshman or sophomore. I grew up and now I understand the game.” Jaimes had this advice for young players: Keep working at your game. Give it your all. Keep trying and don’t give up. Even though you don’t start out well, if you keep working, you will get better and better each time. Jaimes wants to attend college and study business and then air conditioning and refrigeration.


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November/December 2016 | 121


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www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com 122 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE


MASTECTOMY & BRACING

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November/December 2016 | 123


What People Are Saying... “Our community truly benefits from Okeechobee The Magazine with its wonderful articles and photographs that showcase our Okeechobee people and lifestyle. I enjoy reading every issue and I know our IRSC students enjoy it as well.”

C A R PE N T E R I N S U R A N C E

— Russell Brown,

Provost, IRSC Dixon Hendry Campus

Home For All Your Insurance Needs “Okeechobee The Magazine is a stellar publication and I appreciate that every issue is a collector's item. I am proud to be a part of it and this wonderful community.”

Established 1935

• Home • Auto • Boat • Motorcycle • Motorhome • Workers Comp • Commercial • Health • Bonds • Life

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VP & Commercial Account Specialist

3960 SE 18th Terrace, Taylor Creek Plaza • Okeechobee, FL 34974 • 863-824-0885

— Vicki Anderson,

Anderson Realty Co.

“As a business owner Okeechobee The Magazine has been one of the key ingredients that has helped my business grow and prosper. More people have come in here and have said they’re here because of our ad in the magazine.”

— Toni Doyle,

Toni’s Chic Boutique Okeechobee The Magazine 316 N.W. Fifth Street Okeechobee, FL 34972 Phone: 863.467.0054 www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com 124 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

A U TO A C C I D E N T S / W O R K C O M P Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer

863-357-5800 or visit HoskLaw.com

Located across from the Courthouse

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This holiday season you can give the perfect gift... Food.

SPORTS CHARMS Available in 14K and 10K white or yellow gold

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Volunteer your time, organize a food drive, offer your monetary support, and advocate against poverty and hunger at stophunger.org

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Located on the Rim Canal of Lake Okeechobee, Water's Edge is just minutes from shopping and restaurants in the nearby community of Okeechobee. The Resort is only a short distance from the Seminole Casino, I-95 and the East Coast of Florida, with major malls and some of the most beautiful beaches of Florida.

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November/December 2016 | 125


Finding “Peace” in Crafting By Teresa Chandler Bishop

D

uring the holiday season, stress levels increase. Relatives, shopping, the race against the clock… Did you know that crafting may be a helpful way to ease the stress? Do you remember the feeling you had in elementary school when it was “craft time”? The entire class got excited, the energy illuminated the classroom, and smiles were throughout. The act of crafting actually alters the brain, helping to control emotions. That’s right, crafting is actually healthy for all of us! You don’t have to be an artist to craft. Machines make perfect, flawless items and personal crafts make memories. Don’t fret if you aren’t a professional painter or cannot cut a straight line. Crafting is a way to express different talents from all walks of life. Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times to spend with family and friends crafting. Dedicate a craft area at your home to encourage bonding and conversation while making crafts. Set up a special area for the children with “kid-friendly” items, like pipe cleaners, fuzzy balls, glue and crayons. Decorate pumpkins, make turkeys out of felt and Christmas tree prints with little ones’ hands and use thumb prints for decorations on the tree. The holiday season is a great time to recycle and reuse items; everything can become something great. Holiday parties are in full swing during the end of the year. Why not organize a crafting party with your friends? A few fun ideas might be, “Wine 126 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

and Wreaths,” “Dinner and Décor” or “Hot Toddy and Hot Glue.” Make gifts for a less fortunate family from church or the elderly at the local nursing home. Invite each friend to bring an essential item for the craft, alleviating the overall cost to the hostess. A few examples of easy to do crafts: • Scraps of wood: So many things… A holiday sign “Merry Christmas,” a name plate, a sentimental message. • Wine bottles with lights: Snowmen, birthdays, wedding gifts, citronella candle. • Cans: Desk organization, paint brushes, storage. • Flower pots: Candy dish, toy soldier, snowman. I enjoy making crafts and donating them to non-profit silent auctions and raffles. I believe people enjoy homemade crafts that you cannot find in stores. The items are simply unique, and a homemade gift is a lifetime treasure! Crafting is a sense of “therapy.” It can release us from this busy world. During crafting, our minds can go back into the imagination mode and only focus on the subject at hand. It’s almost like taking a mini vacation to relax and unwind. The cooler weather, smell of pumpkin candles, hot chocolate, glue gun and ribbon can make memories for you and your family that will not be forgotten! Crafting soothes the mind, body and soul! Enjoy the holiday season stress-free. Get crafting!


A name you can trust.

Merry Christmas

Abney Building & Consulting, Inc. is Okeechobee’s hometown Design, Construction, & Consulting firm. We offer plan design to turn-key construction. With over 20+ years of experience, we can handle all your residential and commercial construction needs. Give us a call for a Free Consultation 863-623-4459 www.abneybuild.com 210 NE 3rd Ave., Okeechobee Commercial & Residential | Design | Construction | Consulting | CBC058152

We are so excited to be in business with you!

1111 S. PARROTT AVENUE OKEECHOBEE, FL 34974 863.357.4745 LAKESIDEOKEECHOBEE.COM

Serving Breakfast & Lunch Open 7 Days

Happy Holidays from Mira Realty At Mira Realty, LLC, the word is flexibility. Real Estate comes in all shapes and sizes.There is no cookie cutter you can fit every customer into. We embrace digital modernization, while at the same time, we offer a personal touch that comes with a deep knowledge of the Okeechobee area. Our goal is to provide our customers with a personalized and up to date integrated real estate experience!

104 SW 3rd Ave Okeechobee, FL. 34974 BUSINESS HOURS: Mon. – Sat. 9am -5pm

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movewithmira.com (for buyers) sellwithmira.com (for sellers) facebook.com/mirarealty/

(863) 763-8020 www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 127


Around Okeechobee

Brought to You By:

When only the best will do.

Chamber Ribbon-Cuttings

Martha’s House Executive Director Jonathan Bean and County Commissioner Frank Irby.

County Proclaims October’s Theme for Martha’s House

Threadworks

The Okeechobee County Commission issued a proclamation at its meeting Oct. 11 for Martha’s House, proclaiming October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the county. Martha’s House is Okeechobee’s domestic violence shelter for women, children or any other victims who may be in danger as a result of an act of domestic violence. This past year, Martha’s House helped over 400 women and children of Okeechobee.

Front, from left: Amanda Miguel and store manager Bobby Wright. Back: Gerlinee Baiardi, Howard Francis, Omar Ayala, Vanessa Freeman, Jazmine Jackson and Jan Mishler.

Aldi Grand Opening

IRSC Provost Russell Brown with Commissioner Frank Irby.

County Celebrates IRSC as Finalist for Aspen Prize

The Indian River County commissioners issued a proclamation at their meeting Oct. 11 to recognize Indian River State College for earning a Top Ten finalist designation for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The prize is the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in community colleges. This is the second time IRSC has earned a place among the Top Ten; the college was also a finalist in 2015. 128 | November/December 2016

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

A new Okeechobee Aldi grocery store had its grand opening/ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 22, with much fanfare. Shoppers were lined up waiting for it to conclude so they could check out the store. The first 100 shoppers received a golden ticket, each containing Aldi gift certificates of various amounts and the ability to enter an onsite sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s supply of Aldi produce. The store is at 330 S. Parrott Ave.


Around Okeechobee

When only the best will do.

Brought to You By:

Main Street Mixers

Brown Cow Sweetery

Holiday Inn

NOPE Candlelight Vigil

On Thursday, Oct. 27, the Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) task force conducted its annual candlelight vigil at the Okeechobee Civic Center. The event was sponsored by the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department and the Okeechobee County Substance Abuse Coalition.

Committee members, from left: Courtney Moyett, Undersheriff Noel Stephen, Candice Pope, Marty McCormick, Suzie Burk, Phyllis Walker and Daniel Rickards.

Kiwanis Celebrate New Officers, Playground They Built

The 2016-17 Kiwanis Board members, from left: Ken Keller, Jim Vensel, Terry Burroughs, Maureen Burroughs, Courtney Moyett, Teresa Chandler Bishop, Sherri Enfinger, Heather Hancock and Noel Stephen.

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee threw its annual Installation Banquet with a theme of “Mexican Fiesta” on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the KOA, where the new president and slate of officers for the 2016-17 term were announced. Outgoing President Courtney Moyett recognized club members for their efforts over the past year, including the completion of the Kiwanis playground, and thanked the club for allowing her to serve as the first female head of the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee.

www.OkeechobeeTheMagazine.com

November/December 2016 | 129


List of Advertisers 14K Gold Store ................................125

Okeechobee The Magazine gives our community exactly what it needs — a metropolitan quality-type publication that still resonates Okeechobee's rich heritage and intimate community bond. — Lori Mixon,

Mixon Real Estate Group

Receive 6 Issues of

mailed directly to your home or office.

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Enclose a check for $18.00 (made payable to Okeechobee The Magazine) and mail along with this completed form to:

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A & G Pools.........................................28 Abney Building & Consulting, Inc.....127 Advanced Alarm....................................80 American Drilling Services.................27 Anchor Dental.................................102 Anderson Realty...............................121 B & B Site Development.....................18 Badcock Furniture.............................77 Bass Electric.......................................74 Berger Clinic......................................93 Berger Real Estate..............................46 Big Lake Eye Care.................................3 Brown Cow Sweetery.........................91 Buxton & Bass Funeral Home............57 Carpenter Insurance.........................124 CenterState Bank..............................35 Clear Title & Legal Services.................45 Crossroads Restaurant......................110 Custom Sights and Sounds...............125 Custom Window Treatments...........114 D4 Powersports................................114 D&G Catering.....................................75 Doctors Clinic Family Health Center...111 Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center..........31 Domer’s...........................................109 Don's Appliances................................27 Echols Plumbing & A/C......................48 Edwards Jones.................................118 Eli's Western Wear..............................15 Enviro – Tech Systems, Inc.................96 Everglades Pediatric Dentistry...........81 Family Dentistry of Okeechobee.........29 Fast Break Bait and Tackle...............119 Florida Equipment And Restoration...96 Florida Outdoors RV...........................44 Florida Public Utilities........................34 Flower Petals.....................................47

Please Print Neatly

Name: Address: City/State/Zip:

Gilbert Chevrolet............................131 Gilbert Ford.......................................10 Glades AC........................................118 Glenn Sneider, Attorney.....................75 Goodwill............................................47

Phone: 130 | November/December 2016

Harbor Community Bank....................14 Heartland Discount Pharmacy..............5 Highland Pest Control.....................115 Highwaymen Heritage Trail...............14 Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd........... 124 ICS Computers..................................125 Inkwell Tattoos................................122 Lake O Real Estate.............................78 Lake Okeechobee Digestive Disease....111 Lakeside Grill....................................127 Law Office of Lefebvre and Dixon....123 Lawnwood Regional Medical Ctr........54 Lehman Auto Body Service Center......61 Lillies & Lace....................................109 Linda's Style and Trends.................. 114 Los Cocos Mexican Restaurant.........124 M&M Auto Brokers............................49 Marathon.........................................101 Martha's House..................................49 Mary Kay.........................................114 Mill Iron Metalworks, Inc....................45 Mims Veterinary..............................107 Mira Realty, LLC...............................127 Mixon Real Estate Group...................19 Mohawk Construction, Inc...............105 Morgan's Furniture.............................44 Murray Insurance Services.................55 Okee-Tantie Title Company, Inc..........28 Okeechobee Air Conditioning............46 Okeechobee Community Theatre.... 115 Okeechobee Health & Safety Expo.....33 Okeechobee Health Care Facility........65 PCS/Sprint..................................37, 106 Peace Lutheran School.......................33 Peace Lutheran School Event...........105 Penrod Construction..........................80 Pizza Heaven........................................74 Platinum Performance Builders...........97 Plaza 300...........................................107 PNC Mortgage...................................95 Porcelain Esthetics.............................91 Pregnancy Center...............................79 Pritchards and Associates..................48 Pueblo Viejo VI Restaurant.................43 Quail Creek Plantation.........................9 Quality Air Conditioning...........101, 122

OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE

Rabon's Country Feed........................79 Raulerson Hospital................... 2, 66-67 Raulerson Hospital................Back Cover Raulerson Surgical Specialists.........109 Remington Real Estate.....................106 Royal Consulting................................96 Royal's Furniture................................43 Rustic Style and Cabins....................106 S. Cruz Lawn Service...........................95 Sandra Pearce Photography.............123 Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck...............................50 Seminole Casino Brighton..................51 Shoe Box.........................................123 Skull Hill Steel....................................18 South Florida Lawn & Pavers..............85 Sprint Wireless Connection...................6 St. Lucie Battery & Tire.......................83 Staffords Salon...................................77 State Farm.......................................127 Sunrise Theatre................................103 Superior Water Works.......................119 Syfrett Feed........................................84 Teez 2 Pleez.....................................115 Tenniswood Dental Associates...........63 The Hope Chest.................................93 The Lounge........................................61 Time To Escape.................................118 Tin Fish..............................................95 Tire Zone.........................................118 Todd Everett Flooring.......................115 Total Roadside Services........................7 Treasure Coast Food Bank.................125 Treasure Coast Medical Specialists......57 Trinidad Garcia, M.D...........................78 Visiting Nurse Association..................62 Waste Management........................ 110 Water's Edge RV Resort..................125 Wemmer Family Orthodontics..........42 Williamson Cattle Company............119 WOKC 100.9 FM...............................121 Women's Health Specialists................58 Worley Construction..........................17 Zippy's................................................59


Christmas came early for Santa! Merry Christmas!

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3550 U.S. Highway 441 South Okeechobee, FL 34974


Trust our experts for your orthopedic needs. Bradford Slutsky, M.D. • Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeons • Benjamin Epstein, D.O.

Receive comprehensive orthopedic care locally with Raulerson Hospital’s wide range of services, including: • Arthroscopic surgery

(minimally invasive surgery to diagnose and treat problems of the knee and shoulder)

• Reduction of fractures (repair of a broken bone) • Total Joint Replacement - Hip - Knee - Custom Knee (converts a CT scan of your knee into a model for your implant)

- Shoulder • Pediatric Orthopedics Raulerson Hospital also offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. Our licensed physical therapists work one-on-one with patients to help them return to their prior activity levels.

Call 763-9228 to find a physician or speak to a Registered Nurse.

RaulersonHospital.com

Okeechobee The Magazine Nov/Dec 2016  
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