Page 1



Young Inspiration

LeAnna Cotton


Gordie Peer Jan Day Fehrman

Shopping with Luke Enfinger Okeechobee at Home with Terri & Basil Coule

Dear Friends &Neighbors, Raulerson Hospital celebrated its 32nd year of proudly serving Okeechobee County and the surrounding areas. We are a 100-bed acute care facility dedicated to providing local access to a full range of high-quality, comprehensive medical care and surgical services, to meet the health care needs of our growing community. Our dedicated staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to serve you. To ensure our community’s access to the latest medical technology, we are constantly upgrading our facility. During the past year we have initiated many processes and best practices to ensure patients are cared for more efficiently in a comfortable and safe environment. In addition, we are committed to your good health and the health of our patients and employees. Over the next several months Raulerson Hospital will be joining the growing trend of hospitals across the county to become smoke free. You will be hearing much more about this in the near future and we’re hoping this move will inspire many of our community members to stop smoking. Our Goal is to exceed your expectations as we strive to be your first choice for all your medical needs. At Raulerson Hospital, patients and their families are recognized as valued members of our health care team who have important perspectives, feedback and solutions to share. We encourage and welcome your feedback. Please feel free to contact us or stop by anytime with your comments and suggestions – my door is always open. Robert Lee Chief Executive Officer

2 | Spring 2011


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Located in Okeechobee Florida, this unique owners resort is worth a visit. Every detail of this master-planned community has been considered to make this Florida RV resort a destination you will want to call home. With everything you could want right at your doorstep, you may want to spend much of your time right here at Silver Palms RV Village. Silver Palms RV Village offers resort-style five-star amenities that you can enjoy every day- complete with professional landscaping, a large heated resort-style swimming pool and Jacuzzi, four pristine lakes within the community and private RV Lots that you can call your own. We invite you to indulge in the beauty of your surroundings and to enjoy state-of-the-art facilities including our clubhouse designed with everything from a fully equipped fitness center to arts and crafts and billiards, an educational and business center and a private members lounge and more! Enjoy our many outdoor recreational opportunities. Whether you choose swimming or relaxing in the Jacuzzi, playing tennis, pickle ball or bocce, Silver Palms RV Village has it all! Enjoy the indoor and outdoor activities, planned by our full-time activities director, along with congenial neighbors who share your interests. The endless recreational opportunities include scores of active clubs and social activities, all in a private, gated Florida RV resort that is literally within walking distance to grocery shopping.

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Publisher’s Note volume

5, number 1 |Spring 2011

publisher/managing editor

Maureen Budjinski creative director

Bridgette Waldau copy editor

Jason Budjinski

Welcome to year five of Okeechobee The Magazine. I am very happy to have seen more people in Okeechobee this season than any other in recent years. Do you think the nasty northern winter weather had anything to do with it? We surely live in paradise.

office manager

Phyllis Dwyer bookkeeping

Carol Lieberman account executives

Tamra Cunningham Gail Lockwood senior photographer

Rafael Pacheco contributing photographers

Sharon Cannon Felicia Maxwell Sandra Pearce writers

Jason Budjinski Raye Deusinger Deborah Welky contributors

Charles Murphy Joyce Murphy Michael Shellen distribution

Miracle Hall Okeechobee The Magazine

111 NE 2nd Street Okeechobee, FL 34972 Phone: (863) 467-0054

Maureen Budjinski president

Within this issue’s pages you will meet children’s book author Jan Day. While many authors seek inspiration in remote locations far from home, Day need not go any farther than her backyard in Okeechobee, where she has dreamt up adventures to share with children and mystery novels for adults. Also in this issue meet Okeechobee’s own cowboy Gordie Peer, who acted as a stuntman in many a TV and movie Western. Full of character and history, Peer’s story will bring back memories for us old-timers and open the eyes of the younger readers as well. Speaking of young people, this month we feature the inspirational story of LeAnna Cotton, who doesn’t let illness get in the way of fulfilling her goals in academics, athletics, work and volunteerism. Learn how this Okeechobee High School senior has excelled in all areas and plans to enter the medical field and truly make a difference. Okeechobee was rich with exciting special events this season, including the FLW EverStart Series Tournament, the PhilFiesta, Battle of Okeechobee, Speckled Perch Festival, the American Red Cross “Red is for Love” gala, Top of the Lake Art Fest and more. One very exciting event was the kickoff for the Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County, which was standing room only. We enjoy “showing off” our community and try to cover as many events as we can each issue. By the time you read this, some of our northern friends will be getting ready to leave. To them, I want to say thank-you for coming and hope you come back next year. Seasonal residents who want to continue to read about Okeechobee the rest of the year can fill out and mail in a subscription form located in the back of this issue. And for our year-round residents, I hope you also enjoy another year of Okeechobee The Magazine — your magazine. Sincerely,

Joshua I. Manning vice president

Barry S. Manning chairman & ceo Okeechobee The Magazine, is published quarterly in Okeechobee, Florida. Copyright 2011, all rights reserved by Okeechobee The Magazine, LLC. 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.

8 | Spring 2011



Michael Costopoulos, Donna Helton - Financial Advisers. Investment and insurance products distributed by Genworth Financial Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and a licensed insurance agency (dba Genworth Financial Securities and Insurance Services in CA); investment advisory services are offered through Genworth Financial Advisers Corporation, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Home office at 200 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173; phone 888.528.2987. Financial Planning and Portfolio Management Services offered solely through Costopoulos and Helton, P.A. a state of Florida Registered Investment Adviser which is not affiliated with Genworth Financial Securities Corporation or Genworth Financial Advisers Corporation. Spring 2011 | 9

Contents Spring 2011




features 46

departments 12

Okeechobee Shopper

Luke Enfinger takes us on a shopping spree to Fly-N- Hi, Blue Heron Golf Club, Dave’s Mattress Outlet and Cowboy’s BBQ and Steak Co. where he enjoyed lunch. BY JOYCE MURPHY

26 LeAnna Cotton Young Inspiration

BY Jason Budjinski

46 Gordie Peer Keepin’ It Cowboy

By Raye Deusinger

60 Jan Day Fehrman Write at Home

36 Okeechobee at Home

BY Jason Budjinski




16 Christmas Festival and Parade 18 Philippine Fiesta 20 Battle of Okeechobee 22 FLW EverStart Bass Tournament 24 MLK, Jr. Day Celebration 32 Top of the Lake BBQ Affair 34 Top of the Lake Art & Music Fest 44 Big Lake Bass Tournament 54 Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County 56 Rylee’s Hope Cookoff 58 American Red Cross “Red is for Love” Gala 69 Waldau’s Junior Golf Junior/Adult Tournament 71 Family Health & Safety Expo

76 78


Fishing on Lake Okeechobee


OHS Softball

BY Capt. MICHAEL Shellen




Young Inspiration

AROUND OKEECHOBEE advertisers index

10 | Spring 2011


LeAnna Cotton


Gordie Peer Jan Day Fehrman

Shopping with Luke Enfinger Okeechobee at Home with Terri & Basil Coule


Upcoming Shoots Mar. 18 Mar. 19 Mar. 20 Mar. 26 April. 2 April. 9 April. 16 April. 23 April. 24

Treasure Coast Builders Assoc. Treasured Lands Fund Shoot NSCA Shoot St. Lucie Co Farm Bureau Young Guns Kids Club-Fun shoot Ray Kempfer Memorial Highlands County Farm Bureau NSCA Shoot CLOSED Spring 2011 |



Each issue, Okeechobee The Magazine sends a local resident out into the community to visit local retailers on a $10,000 shopping spree. To help narrow the choices, each retailer selects three items for our shopper to consider. The shopping spree is imaginary; we don’t really fork over the cash. However, we do get a great look at what’s available at area stores. 

Luke Enfinger was born and raised in Okeechobee and has been a part of the Big Lake community his entire life. A product of the Okeechobee school system, Enfinger graduated from Okeechobee High School in 2004. He earned a bachelor of science degree in marketing with a minor in religious studies from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. He served as student body president for the 2007-08 school year. Two weeks after graduating from college, Enfinger married his high school sweetheart and best friend Katie Garner. Their daughter Adelaide Joy was born September 2009. Also upon graduating, Enfinger became the Inventory and drive-through manager for his father’s company, Superior Water Works. When he is not ordering and organizing, Enfinger is busy designing ads for the company.

where he serves as one of the worship leaders and was the interim youth pastor. Enfinger is also in his third year of M2L’s Joshua’s Men program. Currently, Enfinger is in the process of launching Big Picture Coffee Company, a coffee-roasting company that is devoted to buying green coffee from farmers and missionaries in thirdworld countries at fair trade and bringing the beans back to the United States to roast and distribute. Okeechobee native Luke Enfinger began his shopping spree at Fly-N-Hi Enterprises (863-763-8866), located at 4375 U.S. Highway 441 South.

Enfinger is active with More 2 Life Ministries,

Although Luke was not quite ready to turn his 2002 Nissan XTerra into a monster truck, he

(Above) A new single-wheel dual rim for one-ton trucks. (Left) A Chevrolet monster truck displayed in the Fly-N-Hi showroom.

(Above) Luke checks out the Memory foam mattress. (Far Left) Luke checks out a Dodge mudding truck. (Left) Fly-N-Hi Enterprises owner Richard Sampson explains to Luke all the services provided.

12 | Spring 2011


was ready to modify it and make it look better on the road. With the help of owners Richard Sampson and Michelle Crawford, Luke chose a set of 74MB Advanti Racing Roccia 20 X 9.5 rims (four at $190.99 each), a set of 60,000mile Falken HT 295/50/R20 tires (four at $166.98 each), and had them balanced and mounted ($83). “Buying better tires may cost you more initially but in the long run they save you money because they last longer,” Richard told Luke. Richard also showed Luke the alignment machine that Fly-NHi uses and told him about some of the other services they do besides work on monster trucks. Luke completed his truck makeover with Chrome vent visors ($89.99), a Chrome Triple Trumpet Train Horn Kit ($950 installed), a Chrome bug shield ($139.99 with shipping and $87.50 to install) and a Chrome Billett front grill insert ($599, plus $11 shipping and handling, and $70 to install). With an estimation of three to four days to complete the installations, Luke was off to his second stop. Dave’s Mattress Outlet (863-357-3700) located at 104 SE Park Street is a new business that opened in February.

Luke choose a new bed, not only for Luke and his wife Katie but a “big girl” bed for their 18-month-old daughter Adelaide. With savings of 50 to 80 percent on brand names like Sealy, Simmons and Stearns and Foster, Luke felt he made a good choice in choosing the factory direct outlet. Luke wasted no time checking out the line of Vivon memory foam mattresses. While Luke shopped, Dave told him that local delivery in Okeechobee County is only $25 and for an additional $25 they will set up the new bed and take away the old bed. Luke chose a Vivon Plush 13-inch memory foam mattress ($899) in queen size. Then he added a queen-size brown leather frame that has 10 inches of storage under the mattress ($399) and two standard therapeutic pillows ($55 ea. $110 both). The bed Luke chose for Adelaide was a pink Jubilee twin youth mattress ($199), which comes with its own standard therapeutic pillow and a twin-space saver frame ($60). Luke was feeling good about his choice of 20-year warranty mattresses as he headed over to Blue Heron Public Golf Course (863-467-1651) to meet owners Keller and Ken Orender. 

Owners Dave and Wendy San Martin were happy to help

(Above) Dave San Martin shows Luke the storage space under a bed frame. (Below) Luke tries out the new memory foam mattress offered at the Mattress Outlet.

(Above) Luke tees off. (Upper Left) Luke rides on the 2009 E-Z Go golf cart. (Left) Ken Orender explains the style and relaxed nature of Blue Heron Golf & Country Club. Spring 2011 |


The two brothers are working at the 1925 SE Ninth Ave. location to make golf enjoyable and appealing to everyone. “We want to make people comfortable,” Ken told Luke. “We are geared toward laidback, blue-collar types.” The brothers have a background working and managing in some of the top 10 clubs and are working to reach a new generation of golfers while embracing people who already know and enjoy the game. Kenny and Keller are building their business around giving back to the community. Each week Blue Heron is involved in something for the community. After hitting a few balls on the golf course, Luke was ready to dust off his old clubs and give golf another chance. Keller quoted Luke a price of $107 to refurbish and put new grips on Luke’s set of Wilson irons. With the incentive of free lessons for his wife and in-laws, Luke chose two family packages ($799 each and single $999) for him and his wife as well as his mother and father-in-law. Luke decided that a 2009 E-Z Go golf cart ($2,000) would make it easier for the foursome to get around the challenging course that was built in the 1980s. Promising to stop by for a round of night golf that Friday, Luke was off to Cowboys for lunch. A local favorite, Cowboys BBQ & Steak Co. (863-467-1104) is located at 102 SW 14th Street. Owner Jim McCoin, who has competed in

barbecue competitions for years, opened Cowboys after R.J. Gator’s closed in that location. McCoin wanted to open a local spot where people could come to Okeechobee and find out the history and happenings in the community. There are many pictures brought in by locals that decorate the walls and show how people in Okeechobee live. The community-minded owner has chef Heath Waldron, who oversees the four locations of Cowboys as well as McCoin’s other restaurant, Skipjacks, and ensures the quality of the food. From the Cowboy Egg Rolls, conceived by McCoin’s team while competing in the barbecue circuit, to the 20 flavors of chicken wings and mouthwatering steak, Cowboys offers a variety of delicious meals that are reasonably priced. Starting his meal with the Cowboy Egg Rolls, Luke was pleasantly surprised at how good the wonton wrapped pork and slaw was. Jim personally chose a buffalo chicken wrap with bacon ($8.49) for Luke that came with steamed broccoli and a dipping sauce. “It has a little bit of a kick to it,” Luke said. “I like it.” From a full-service bar to drinks served in mason jars, Cowboys has atmosphere. O

(Left) Cowboys owner Jim McCoin explains why he opened his restaurant. (Left Inset) Fabulous egg roll appetizers. (Below) The Cowboys smart car.

14 |


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Community Event Community Event

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Okeechobee Celebrates the


Okeechobee Main Street hosted its annual Christmas Festival and Parade on Dec. 11 at Flagler Park. The park was full throughout the day, and at sundown the parade route was lined with residents and visitors as the lighted floats passed by. New Testament Baptist Youth Group members Laura Mataushek, Sarah Vetter, Colton Etchison and Tiffany Etchison sell Christmas trees and other items to raise money for future trips.

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Community Event Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

PhilippineFiesta The Philippine-American Cultural Foundation of Florida held its inaugural PhilFiesta Dec. 4 at the future site of the Philippine Heritage Enrichment Complex and Gardens in Okeechobee. The event was a celebration of culture and traditions full of colorful performances, Miss PhilFiesta, choral groups, live bands, children’s balloon entertainment, games and chess tournament, and delicious Philippine food. For info., visit The Philippine-American Cultural Foundation of Florida members mabuhay (welcome) you. 1. (L-R) Leah Fe Alejano, Vilma Ortiz, Gel Awad, Dr. Dory Estanislao, Sehnie Talisayon and Freda A. Arzadon at the Philippine Nurses Association of South Florida first aid booth. 2. The dancers get ready to perform. 3. Tess Goodall, Mae Brown, Bonnie Peer and Dr. Trinidad Garcia enjoy the festivities of the day.



4. The Philippine Performing Arts Company performed many beautifully and artistically choreographed cultural dances as the crowd watched with enthusiasm.

3 4

18 | Spring 2011


Two-year-old Angelina Uy is impressed by all the activities.

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Community Event Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Battle of Okeechobee Okeechobee Battlefield Friends Inc. held the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Okeechobee Feb. 5 and 6 at the Okeechobee Battlefield State Park. The event, which was fought on Christmas Day 1837, commemorates the largest and fiercest battle in the Seminole wars. Representatives from the Seminole Tribe and other exhibitors were on hand to offer alligator demonstrations, children’s activities and music for a fun-filled family day. Visit for more info.

1 1. (Front row, L-R) Viktor Greathouse, Robert Hynd and Calvin Greathouse; (back row) Christy Barnum, Rene Marders and Marlyn Marders, and dogs Sammy and Scooter pose in character. 2. Federal soldiers and Missouri Volunteers in pursuit of the Seminole Indians. 3. Col. Zachary Taylor (Jack Williamson), along with federal soldiers, check one of the fallen Missouri Volunteers.


4. Seminole Indians on horseback. 5. The alligator demonstration, featuring Seminole Ian Tyson, is always popular with the crowd. 6. Christa Luna looks on as her son Alex enjoys painting at the craft booth.

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Community Community Event


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FLW EverStart Tournament Opens On Lake Okeechobee The opening tournament of the FLW Outdoors EverStart Series took place Jan. 6-8 at C. Scott Driver Park in Okeechobee County. Presented by the Okeechobee County Tourist Development Council, the event brought 328 anglers (164 professional and 164 co-anglers) from across the United States to compete in the first of four EverStart events in the Southern Division.

At daylight 164 boats prepare for the start of the 2011 tournament season at C. Scott Driver Park on the Kissimmee River.

Boats line the shore as anglers take their catch to the stage.

Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid took fist place with a total of 63 lbs., 8 oz. for his three-day catch, which awarded him $35,000. Rodney Treadaway of Decatur, Ala., took first place as a co-angler with 37 lbs., 10 oz., which awarded him a new Ranger boat, motor and trailer. For additional results, articles and information about getting involved in the sport of tournament fishing, visit For more information about local events, call the Okeechobee County Tourist Development Council at (863) 763-3959.

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(Above) Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid shows off his kicker bass to win the tournament. (Below) Rodney Treadaway of Alabama wins first place in the Co-Angler division. Photo by Rob Newel

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Community Event Big Lake Bass Tournament Benefits March of Dimes

(L-R) Weigh-in volunteers Kathleen Shatto, Tori Hamilton, Jim Fowler, Melody Hodges, Koby Kreiger and Andrea Gregory Pooley.

The ninth annual Big Lake Bass Tournament to benefit the March of Dimes took place Jan. 29 at Okee-Tantie marina. Sponsored by Seacoast National Bank, the event saw 52 anglers and a field of 26 boats, making it the second-best year since 2002. Nineteen out of the 26 teams returned with the five-fish limit, but it was Brock Stanaland of Okeechobee who snagged the biggest fish, weighing in at 9.97 lbs. The March for the Babies was scheduled for March 12 at Flagler Park in downtown Okeechobee. For more info., visit

(Above, L-R) Fourth-place team winners Fred George and Bob Owen’s total catch was 17.03 lbs. (Left) Big fish winner Brock Stanaland with his catch.

(L-R) First-place team member Craig Smith with master of ceremonies Koby Kreiger, event coordinator Kathleen Shatto and angler Bill Rose.

(Above, L-R) Registration volunteers from Seacoast National Bank: John Macchia, Brenda Hans, Cheryl Zrioka, Jerry O’Bannon and Christina Reynolds. (Below, L-R) Master of ceremonies Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee Fishing Headquarters interviews big fish winner Brock Stanaland.

24 | Spring 2011


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Young Inspiration

OHS Athlete LeAnna Cotton is all about overcoming odds BY Jason Budjinski O PHOTOS BY RAFAEL PACHECO


he’s a Wendy’s High School Heisman state finalist, four-year varsity letterman and scholar-athlete in three different sports, two-time athlete of the month, member of the National Honor Society, nominee for Miss Brahman, and Rotary Student of the Month. But if there’s one accolade that defines Okeechobee High School senior LeAnna Cotton, it’s her nomination for the National High School Spirit of Sport Award. Created by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the award honors individuals who have “gone beyond the normal everyday expectations of assisting others within the school or community” or have “overcome some sort of adversity or challenging circumstances.” While both descriptions apply equally to Cotton, it is the latter that makes her accomplishments truly remarkable. The 17-year-old excels in sports and academics, has put in more than 350 hours of community service and has held a job at Winn-Dixie since she was 14. She does all this despite the condition she has had since the age of five — Crohn’s disease. At OHS, LeAnna has played on the varsity soc-

26 |


cer, softball and volleyball teams. She won the Purple Bat Award in softball (for batting average), was captain and “Best Offensive Player” on the soccer team, and captain and MVP of the volleyball team (as well as multiple recordsholder). She helped the volleyball team win its first district championship in 10 years, and was on the softball team when it took the district title during her freshman and junior years. “I live as normal a life as possible without allowing others to know there is anything different about me,” Cotton said. “Because I do this, people are shocked to hear I have a disease, and the first thing they say is, ‘What is that?’” What it is, is a “chronic (ongoing) disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract,” according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Its symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, skin rashes and arthritis, to name a few. Crohn’s is generally thought to be an autoimmune disease, and it is not uncommon for Crohn’s sufferers to have other conditions as well. For Cotton, that includes cluster migraines, rapid airway disease, skin allergies, kidney problems and scoliosis. But it was Crohn’s that put her in the hospital for a week during

LeAnna is an outstanding young lady who represents OHS and Okeechobee with an amazing will to achieve. She has overcome great obstacles to accomplish the goals she has set forth in her life and I am very proud of her and her determination.� - Wendy Padgett, OHS guidance counselor Spring 2011 |


her eighth-grade year. No surgery was needed, but it was a trying experience for a young athlete to have a year before starting high school. Because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are mostly invisible to other people, those who have it often must make others aware of their situation. For Cotton and her mother Karen, that means informing school administrators and teachers, and hoping they will understand. Fortunately, that most often has been the case.

And to make matters worse, many people with Crohn’s disease experience rapid weight loss, meaning they have to eat more than normal — and go through that much more pain. LeAnna learned at an early age the challenges of having a disease most people know little or nothing about.

Instead, LeAnna reserves that special treatment for others, having been involved in a number of service projects through the NHS and helping out with Toys for Tots, and at local elementary and middle schools.

“Most of her teachers have been spectacular,” Karen said, noting that LeAnna is enrolled in the school’s homebound program, which allows her to work from home on days when her Crohn’s is acting up. “At the beginning of each year, I would talk to her teachers and tell them what she has, not to ask for special treatment, but to let them know if she needs to use the restroom. Everyone in the school system was really accommodating.” Part of what makes Crohn’s especially difficult are the social ramifications. The symptoms are difficult enough to deal with at home, where there’s a bathroom readily available and time to relax. But Crohn’s flares can happen at any time and any place, and that makes otherwise routine activities unnecessarily challenging. For most people, dining out is a pleasurable experience; the only tough decision they face is whether to choose the restaurant’s “healthy options” or the higher-calorie items. But for those with Crohn’s disease, food can be their worst enemy, causing not only discomfort upon ingestion but severe pain later on. Bathroom visits can be just as painful. 28 | Spring 2011


Her speech was very personal and heartfelt, offering a detailed account of what it’s like to be in her shoes. Her speech won the contest. If it can be encapsulated in a single passage, it’s the following: “Probably the worst part of having this disease as a child is that you don’t want to be looked at or treated differently.”

She also is involved with Florida Community Health Centers, organizing, distributing and collecting items for needy families, from backto-school supplies to Thanksgiving baskets, as well as helping with car washes, Christmas with Santa and other fundraisers.

“Making others feel better as others have made me feel better in time of need is my life’s ambition.” So when it came time for her to choose a topic for the countywide Tropicana Speech Contest, LeAnna, then a sixth-grader, spoke about growing up with Crohn’s disease.

LeAnna’s sense of civic duty was instilled at an early age. Karen was a member of the service sorority Beta Sigma Phi and had LeAnna assist in delivering Christmas presents to needy children. “Especially in her condition, it makes it more of a priority, knowing there is so much you can give and seeing other people who need things,” Karen said. With her mom coaching a Big Lake Juniors volleyball team, LeAnna became involved as well. “Last year, she was helping out with a 10-U team, teaching them how to spike,” Karen recalled. “A little girl in the first grade who was really athletic told LeAnna, ‘I want to be like you when I grow up.’ Moments like that that make it worth your while.” LeAnna said she has many adults to thank over the years, though two

stand out in particular. “One coach that stands out more than the rest is Heather Stillians, ‘Coach Red,’” LeAnna said. “She was the assistant softball coach for my freshman, sophomore and junior years. Coach Red was the motherly type, and I was very comfortable approaching her with any problems, knowing that she was very caring and nurturing. Not only was she there for me on the field, but she also took an interest in my education and became my homebound teacher at the high school.” In that role, Stillians kept in contact with LeAnna’s teachers and professors and made sure that when LeAnna was out for an illness or doctor’s appointments, that she received all her notes and assignments to avoid falling behind. “To this day, Heather is a very important person in my life and someone that I will never be able to thank enough for all her help, understanding and love,” LeAnna said. She also credits OHS guidance counselor Wendy Padgett for going above and beyond, both professionally and as a friend. “Even though she has over 400 students in my grade to accommodate, she always has time for me no matter how thin she is spread,” LeAnna said. “I feel very comfortable talking to her about any issues, including my health issues that I do not discuss with hardly anyone.” If LeAnna’s teachers and coaches have gone out of their way for her, there’s a good reason; her results in the classroom and on the ball field speak for themselves. In addition to her involvement in the NHS, LeAnna is also a member of Health Occupations Students of America. Her  Spring 2011 |


desire is to go to Capital University in Columbus, Ohio where she plans on majoring in nursing and playing on the school’s softball and volleyball teams. In the meantime, LeAnna has been doing clinicals at Okeechobee Health Care Facility and taking dual enrollment classes at Indian River State College.

weeks and had to go into a neonatal [intensive care unit],” LeAnna said, recalling the birth of her niece Hannah. “After she was born, I saw all those tiny babies. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do.”

“LeAnna is an outstanding young lady who represents OHS and Okeechobee with an amazing will to achieve,” Padgett said. “She has overcome great obstacles to accomplish the goals she has set forth in her life and I am very proud of her and her determination.”

As to what type of nurse she wants to be, LeAnna hasn’t yet decided. “Whether becoming a neonatal nurse, a surgical nurse or a nurse anesthetist, my desire is to join the special group of healthcare professionals — nurses,” LeAnna said. “Making others feel better as others have made me feel better in time of need is my life’s ambition.”

Despite LeAnna’s many years as a patient, her interest in nursing stems from something else entirely. “My older sister Nikki had a baby at 30

And ambition is the first step toward a successful future. In that regard, her prognosis is very good. O

-OBF President Shawn Henderson


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Community Community Event


By Toni Doyle

Ninth Annual Top of the Lake BBQ Affair The ninth annual Top of the Lake BBQ Affair was held Jan. 21 and 22 at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center. The event featured local and national barbecue teams competing to earn trophies for best mouthwatering barbecue. This contest was a qualifier for the national Jack Daniel’s championship and a part of the Florida BBQ Association Triple Crown. (Right) Terry Burroughs (center) presents the trophy to the Homeboy Grand Champion, Heatin & Beatin BBQ Team.

Homeboy Reserve Grand Champion Hilljack BBQ Team.

Grand Champion Bubba Q Team.

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Community Event Community Event

By Felicia Maxwell

Top of the Lake Art & Music Fest Okeechobee Main Street’s fifth annual Top of the Lake Art & Music Fest, held Feb. 26 and 27, showcased two days of fine art by national artists, as well as local and student artists. Music was in the air on both days, featuring a variety of contemporary and jazz music. The art fest ended on a bright sunny day with a concert in the park by returning performer Billy Bones and his son, Jaytee Trapani. The Okeechobee Main Street arts and cultural committee’s mission is to bring the finer arts to the community. For more photos and information about this event visit 1 2


1. Local artist Brad Phares won Best of Show. 2. Top of the Lake Art Fest Committee: (L-R) Rafael Pacheco, Toni Doyle, Kathleen Shatto, Bridgette Waldau and Maureen Burroughs. 3. Florida Highwaymen artist Ray McLendon works on an original oil painting. 4. Alyssa Baird, Ashlyn Lafferty and Emma Baird listen as Chantel Lacerte of Plaster Playtime encourages their creativity. 5. Emma Rose won Best of Show in the student division. 6. Billy Bones entertains the crowd that gathered in the park on Sunday. 7. Jaytee Trapani, 13, son of Billy Bones wows the crowd with his incredible talent. 8. Saturday’s entertainment began with the music of Scott Benge.

(Left) 2012 poster award image. The award-winning art is by local photographer Shirley Palmer.


5 6

34 |




Church of God Youth Present:

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Jackie Palmer won Best of Show in the adult division.

Okeechobee Church of God Pastor Mark Smith Sunday Services: 8:30 am Traditional 10:45 am Contemporary Wednesday Service: 7:00 pm

Leslie G. Stokes, Director

... where dreams do come true Productions Dance Competition Annual Recitals & More! (Above) Lenny and Nancy Steiert look through artist David Coston prints.

Annual Dance Recital Country Nights & City Lights June 11th 7:00 pm - OHS Auditorum

863-357-3571 401 SW Park St. Okeechobee, FL

Summer Dance Camps 2011 July 11-14 Ages 5 and up (Beginner -Intermediate Level)

(Below) Maggie Snaet and Ashley Wilson of Newton Kansas look through some of William Dailies art.

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August 15-18 Ages 5 and up (Intermediate to Advanced Level)

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Taking Dance to the Next Level! Spring 2011 |


O 36 |




At Home

With Terri and Basil Coule BY Deborah Welky O PHOTOS BY Felicia Maxwell ertine marble provides flooring throughout most of the home. In the foyer, living and dining rooms, the effect is softened through the use of hand-loomed silk area rugs done in a needlepoint tapestry style.

With swaying palms, tiki huts and the clear blue water, one would think this home is in Key West or the Bahamas. Yet this islandthemed getaway pops up where you might least expect it — inside Okeechobee’s Blue Heron Golf & Country Club.

“I got them at Hilda Flack Interiors in West Palm Beach,” Terri said. “The largest one was originally over my budget, but I didn’t care. I fell in love with it.”

Owners Terri and Basil Coule built the 5,200-square-foot home five and a half years ago when they realized that the coastal cities with which they were familiar had grown far too cluttered for them. “Terri grew up in West Palm Beach, and I grew up in Boston when those places were rather simple,” Basil said. “We decided to move to Okeechobee early in 2000 because it was close to what we remembered as kids. And if we want the faster pace of city life, it’s only an hour away.”

(Above) Home owners Terri and Basil Coule. (Left) The living room features the honed golden chisel-edge travertine marble provides flooring.

“I love the water and tropical settings,” Terri said. “I’d rather be outside than in. My hobby is landscaping. I love to play in the dirt.”

fall pool and hot tub where Terri’s tropical vignettes play out. An island rises from the center of the pool and a small bridge leads visitors from the screenedin section out to Taylor Creek where their 17-foot boat is moored to a twostory composite decking with hidden fasteners and plenty of parking for jet skis. Yet another island – not owned by the Coules but landscaped with tallgrowing bamboo by Terri nonetheless – provides privacy.

It shows, particularly around the water-

Inside, honed golden chisel-edge trav-

Upon entering the foyer, visitors can walk straight through the sliding hideaway walls of the living room to the 3,000-square-foot pool area. Both inside and out, palm trees sway, greenery abounds and comfy rattan furniture implores one to sit and relax.

A Marge Carson hand-carved Balinese chest of drawers and a woodburning cut coral stone fireplace dominate opposite walls of the living room while, in the dining room, a stunning brass chandelier attracts all the attention. The fixture features an unusual pagodalike shape while four flag-waving figures wearing tri-cornered hats add to its whimsy.

The dining table seats up to 10, necessary as the Coules are parents to six: Reagan, Brian, Ellen, Chelsea, Catherine and Willie. A “movie room” with flat-screen TV and lots of bright toys is often devoted to grandchild Kira, 3. “When she’s here, all we do is play,” Terri said. For day-to-day meals, the extended family can gather in the kitchen at what Terri calls her “Lord’s Supper” table; an expansive piece of furniture made of wood reclaimed from the floors of Spring 2011 |


(Above) The front of the house with Chicago brick defines the porch area and borders the driveway on both sides.

(Above) The 17-foot boat is moored to a two-story composite decking with hidden fasteners and plenty of parking for jet skis. (Below right) Upon entering the foyer, visitors can walk straight through the sliding hideaway walls of the living room to this 3,000-square-foot pool area. (Left and inset) The kitchen is beautifully utilitarian, with stainless steel appliances, dark green butterfly granite and honey-glazed maple cabinets. An island with prep sink is where Basil usually stations himself during family gatherings.

(Below) This tiki bar fits right in among the water and tropical settings of the pool.

European rail cars. “I love this table,” she said. The rest of the kitchen is beautifully utilitarian, with stainless steel appliances, dark green butterfly granite and honey-glazed maple cabinets. An island with prep sink is where Basil usually stations himself during family gatherings. “That’s my little space when everyone’s in the kitchen,” he said. “No one’s in my way.” Down the hall, the master suite promises still more space, as well as serenity. The crown moulding surrounding the tray ceiling conceals soft lighting and every light in the room is on a dimmer. Wide plank all-heart pine floors in the bedroom were installed by Basil himself, with a penny-edge gap added to enhance the natural look of the wood. “I wanted it to have a discernible join so I eased the edges to create a shadow,” he explained. “My version of refinishing is to have it back to what God intended.”

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A palm-topped four-poster bed is wrapped in wispy gauze curtains, its soft look offset by a sisal rug and a sturdy iron bench upholstered in zebra-striped fabric. A bamboo stick lamp, occasional chair and unmatched bedside tables add to the casual air of the room. Terri never hired a decorator, preferring to do most of the home’s interior design work herself. Her latest project, a massage alcove located off the hallway to the master bath, was her first experiment in applying Venetian plaster with a trowel. “It turned out so well that now I want to do the whole house,” she said. In the bathroom, a black clawfoot tub takes center stage while a shower/steam room occupies one corner. A black granite-topped vanity with double sink was repurposed from its former role as a buffet in the dining room of a previous residence. Two chairs and a four-panel screen could tell a similar tale.  Spring 2011 |


The bathroom’s polished beige travertine marble floor, which sports eye-catching black granite diamond embellishments, was completed with the help of Terri’s brother who is in the marble business. “I do like this section of the house,” Terri said. “Between the steam shower, the massage table and the bed, I don’t need much.” “Everything here that’s of any artistic or creative bent, it’s all Terri,” Basil said. “I’ll take no credit.” More of Terri’s landscape work is in evidence at the front of the house. Chicago brick defines the porch area and borders the driveway on both sides. Working hurricane shutters are easy to use and add another layer of protection. (Above) In the bathroom, a black clawfoot tub takes center stage.

(Above) A black granite-topped vanity with double sink was repurposed from its former role as a buffet in the dining room of a previous residence. (Below) The master bedroom with a palm-topped four-poster bed is wrapped in wispy gauze curtains.

“We get over to West Palm Beach about once every two weeks,” Basil said. “And as soon as we get on the Beeline Highway to come back home, we get a sense of simplicity, of how life was really meant to be lived.” Basil said he thinks everyone should experience building their own house from their own image without any interference. “It’s like painting on a clean canvas,” he said. “And there’s a lot of canvas yet to be painted in Okeechobee for anyone who wants to create their own masterpiece.” O


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40 | Spring 2011



We are R The real strength of a hospital is its

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to the medical staff of Raulerson Hospital. Dr. Flood received his medical degree at Columbia University in New York, NY. and he completed his residency at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. Dr. Flood offers a full range of orthopaedic services and sees patients of all ages.

Dr. Flood’s office is located at 1924 HWY 441 North, Okeechobee, FL 34972 Call 863.357.8684

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Dr. Tinoco is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She completed her Family Medicine training at Rush-Copely Medical Center in Aurora Illinois in 2009.

Dr. Tinoco’s office is located at 202 NE 2nd Street - Suites 3 & 4 - Okeechobee Call 863-467-2159

Jose Villarreal, D.o.

Dr. Villarreal is board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians. He completed his training at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his intern at the Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas. Dr. J Villarreal’s primary focus is on quality care in Family Medicine.

Dr. Villarreal’s office is located at 202 NE 2nd Street - Suites 3 & 4 - Okeechobee Call 863-467-2159

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44 | Spring 2011


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Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration took place Monday, Jan. 17 in downtown Okeechobee. The day began with a parade and continued in Flagler Park with speeches, songs, prayer and the music of steel drums. The celebration concluded with a march to the Douglas Brown Center where refreshments were served.

(Above Left) Byron Williams, Symode’ Williams, Kanani Sims and Alonzo Williams at the parade. “Their Footprints, Our Legacy” was the theme of this float.

(Above) Barbara Jones carries a sign honoring King.

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The Okeechobee High School JROTC Color Guard leads the parade. Spring 2011 |


“Cowboy, you fit the word incredible.” -Tim MCoy

Keepin’ It Cowboy The Old West lives on in Okeechobee’s Gordie Peer BY Raye Deusinger O PHOTOS BY Sandra Pearce It has been many years since the golden age of the Western. TV shows such as Gunsmoke and Rawhide are now as much a part of history as the eras they depicted. But for Gordie Peer, who acted as a stunt performer in Western TV shows and movies, the spirit of the genre is very much alive… and in Okeechobee. A colorful, often impertinent but thoroughly charming man, Peer is a wonderful storyteller, chronicler of western lore and collector of western paraphernalia. With 20 acres in Okeechobee, Peer works his ranch, raises longhorn cattle, entertains at many county events, performs educational shows at local schools, occasionally travels the country to make a personal appearance, and once a year puts on the Ropers Get Together and Cowboy Schoolhouse. During his childhood, Peer spent time on the Onondaga reservation outside of Syracuse, N.Y. He doesn’t reveal much about his family except to say that on the reservation every child is the child of all. Peer’s life is an amalgamation of all he has learned since he and a friend ventured out looking for something to do when he was about 11. A freight train passing through the reservation slowed to a stop and the two inquisitive boys just had to investigate. Coming upon an open boxcar filled with hay, they climbed aboard. Soon the train pulled out and when next it stopped, Peer and his friend got out and were caught by a man who told them if

they were going to ride, they had to pay. The boys were told to unload the hay and help set up for the traveling Wild West show the train was carrying. After a few days the man put them back on a train going the other way, told them to get off at the next stop and go home. But the experience made Peer realize he had a new home, and for the next 60 years, he crossed the country working Wild West shows and honing his talents as a cowboy, ranch hand, entertainer, movie stuntman and expert with

The Lone Ranger ropes, knives, guns and trick riding. He even served two years with the Marine Corps during WWII. His natural ability with guns led to a lifelong friendship with Clayton Moore, best known as title character in the TV series The Lone Ranger. Peer explained how this came to be.

Lacrosse was a popular game originated by North American Indians. It was also popular in Canada where a young man named Harold J. Smith, a Mohawk, became an expert. During a break from traveling, Peer returned to the Onondaga reservation and met Smith, who would visit the reservation and play lacrosse with the young men. Smith wanted to be famous and bought white tennis shoes so people would be able to see how fast he could run. The announcer would call out, “There goes silverheels.” Soon Smith adopted the name Jay Silverheels, better known on TV and in movies as Tonto, sidekick to the Lone Ranger. Once, when Clayton Moore was in town for a show, Smith urged him to meet this kid (Peer) who could teach him how to better handle his guns. Moore obliged, and soon became friends with Peer. That friendship lasted until Moore’s final days, with the two last speaking to one another a week before Moore died. Peer’s first contact with Okeechobee came when he had been traveling throughout Florida with a Wild West show. He didn’t want to go back to the cold New York weather, so he got in his pickup, with a trailer in tow, to see a little bit more of Florida. Arriving in Okeechobee, he saw a bus station that was on the north side of Highway 70. There was a restaurant in the other half of the building, the Village Square, and he was hungry but had only 16 cents in his pocket. Peer went into the restaurant, put the 16 cents on the counter and asked for as much breakfast as

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it would buy. The owner, “Grandma Lamb,” asked what kind of eggs he wanted and whether he wanted toast or a biscuit and did he want bacon, ham or sausage. When the food came she took the dime and nickel, leaving the penny and said, “I can’t stand to see a cowboy broke.” Peer stayed there about three months before hitting the road again. In the early 1950s, Florida presented a show at the New York Coliseum touting the state’s cattle industry. Peer was hired for the promotion, along with a cattleman named Bud Clemons, brother of Okeechobee’s Pete Clemons, owner of the Okeechobee Livestock Market. At the time, both were living in Colorado. Together they went to New Jersey, rented a horse and a cow, put them on stage and began promoting Florida cattle. While in New York Peer was on the TV shows The Big Payoff and I’ve Got a Secret, and even appeared on the Tonight Show with Jack Paar, where Peer demonstrated rope tricks. Throughout his career, Peer was acquainted with many well-known actors. He helped with the TV series Rawhide, which ran from 1959 to 1965 and featured Eric Fleming as trail boss Gil Favor and Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates. He appeared with Fleming in Miami where they put on a fake fight and Peer recalled, “I got knocked on my butt.” Peer honed his knife-throwing skills when he worked with Chi Chi White Cloud, the world’s fastest knife thrower. In those days, the thrill of the show was watching the skill of the thrower as he performed with a live target. Peer performed such an act as well. After one particular show, a woman wrote to Peer that her son emulated Peer’s act, using his sister as a target. The boy threw a paring knife at her and struck her in the throat. While the girl recovered, the incident led Peer to end his practice of using live targets. “The modern challenge

48 | Spring 2011



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Meeting Dates Tobacco-Free Partnership of Okeechobee meets the last Wednesday of the month 3:30 - 5:00 pm Okeechobee County Health Department 1728 NW 9th Avenue Okeechobee, FL 34972

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“The Ropers Get Together is not a show; it is a school. “I want them to learn how to do things the right way. is to develop the skill without using a person,” he said.

- Rob Levine, CEO of the Palm Beaches-Treasure Coast Region of the American Red Cross.

Peer worked on the set of Gunsmoke, and the sets of movie actors Lash LaRue and Tom Mix, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Peer had Rogers’ phone number and stayed in touch with him until Rogers died; Peer still stays in touch with

Rogers’ son and grandson. Tim McCoy, with whom Peer did a whip act, told him, “Cowboy, you fit the word incredible.” Peer even has the original three-reel 35mm movie film of Larue, King of the Bullwhip, made in 1950. Although Peer’s job as a stuntman saw him working alongside countless TV and film stars, it didn’t offer much in the way of money. Because of this, Peer decided to learn about ranching. From 1969 to 1972, Peer held shows at Storytown in Lake George, N.Y., and created the Cowboy Schoolhouse where he performed and taught trick roping and horseback-riding trick skills. Nowadays, Peer demonstrates his skills at area schools, at events like National Day of the Cowboy, and tells his tales at the annual Ropers Get Together at his ranch north of town. The event is billed as a “rip-roaring good family time in a ranch setting with long horn cattle,

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“The Ropers [Get Together] is not a show; it is a school,” Peer said. “I want them to learn how to do things the right way. I don’t make a profit from it, but the monies collected pay for all the meals, which include real cowboy breakfasts and dinners for three days. I even serve pancakes branded with my registered VP brand — the only branded pancakes in the world.” After touring Peer’s cowboy museum and seeing the old tools, harnesses and memorabilia, from the Army saddle saved from the man who raised him to the rawhide rope owned by Will Rogers, one has to wonder what will happen to all of it once he is gone — the Smithsonian, perhaps? Not likely; Peer would rather handle it his own way: “Gonna have a big campfire.” O

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wild orange trees, campfire and entertainment.” It features trick roping; whip cracking; gun, knife and hatchetthrowing; archery; yodeling; horse roping; a Western museum; silent auction; instruction; contests; movies and more. People come from all over the country not only to participate, but to teach.

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United Country MidFlorida Realty is conveniently at located at 3126 Hwy 441 South Okeechobee, FL 34974. Julie Turner is an Okeechobee native who has raised her family here because she loves Okeechobee. She is familiar with the community, its history, and uniqueness – qualities which enables her to help current or prospective residents find the perfect home and neighborhood for their needs. Julie has a B.S. from Florida State University and has been a Realtor since 2003. Julie is currently the President of the Okeechobee County Board of Realtors (OCBR). United Country MidFlorida Realty’s goal is to get you the best possible price in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of inconvenience to you. By remaining focused on this goal, it is our desire to obtain exceptional, individual results utilizing skills, honesty and integrity to create a lasting relationship one client at a time. UNITED COUNTRY is America’s rural real estate company. Your best source for locating real estate for sale throughout the small towns and cities of rural America – residential, farms, ranches, recreational and business! Through a network of over 600 offices – nationwide, United Country has been uniting buyers and sellers of country real estate for over eighty years. MidFlorida Realty’s years of local experience and reputation, provides sellers and buyers with a unique insight into the local marketplace. You can count on United Country - MidFlorida Realty to provide you with quality, professional service.

Cristie Schmidt receives the 2010 Top Producer award from Julie Turner.

View all of our properties at Virtual Tours, Multiple Photos & Detailed Descriptions on All Our Properties and the Entire Okeechobee MLS available on our Website.

United Country MidFlorida Team Pictured (L-R): Garry Smith, 2010 President of Okeechobee County Board of Realtors (OCBR) Julie Turner, Lynne Price, 2010 OCBR New Comer Award Wendy Bostwick, 2010 OCBR Treasuer Betsy Sheffield and 2011 OCBR director /2010 Top Producer Cristie Schmidt.

863-763-3566 - 3126 Hwy 441 South - Okeechobee, FL 34974 Spring 2011 |


Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Chamber of Commerce

of Okeechobee County

The Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County hosted a kickoff event Wednesday, Jan. 26 at the Williamson Conference & Education Center at Indian River State College. There were 150 local business people in attendance. Executive Director Brian Cartland and board members laid out the business plan for this newly formed chamber. For membership information, call (863) 467-6246 or visit (Left) Chamber President Terry Burroughs speaks to the large audience about the mission of the newly formed chamber.


2 1. The standing-room-only crowd listens with anticipation as they learn about what the chamber can do for the community.

Lake Okeechobee

2. Treasurer Mike Costopoulos of Costopoulos & Helton P.A. speaks about his duties on the board. 3. Chamber President-elect J.D. Mixon addresses the audience about his responsibilities and goals.

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4. Executive Director Brian Cartland opens the meeting.




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Community Event

By Felicia Maxwell

Fifth Annual Rylee’s Hope Cookoff Rylee’s Hope Chili Cookoff was held Saturday, Feb. 19 at Flagler Park in downtown Okeechobee. Judges this year were Myron Jackson, Dondi Byrd, Rachael Striefel and Albert Schmidt. Proceeds from this event benefit Rylee’s Hope Inc., a nonprofit ministry formed to help with the basic, financial, emotional and spiritual needs of families that currently have or have had babies in the neo-natal intensive care unit, and families that have experienced the unexpected birth and/or death of a baby. For more info., visit (Left) First-place winners Buzzards Roost Café. 1. Highland Pest Control (L-R): Mary, Ron and Danny Trice, Pat, Bobby and Keith Hickman. 2. The Cowboys Team (L-R): Sheryl Williams, Jim McCoin and Renee McCoin. 3. Rylee’s Hope founders Lee and Shana Jolicoeur. 4. Jessica and Matt Imse, with their children Mason and Piper, speak about how Rylee’s Hope helped them through the loss of their son Elliot.



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3 4


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Community Event

By Rafael Pacheco

American Red Cross

“Red is for Love” Gala The second annual Red Cross Gala was held on Feb. 12 at the KOA Convention Center. Called the “Red is for Love” gala, the black-tie optional event fit perfectly into the Valentine’s Day theme. Proceeds from this event benefits the American Red Cross in Okeechobee. For information on the American Red Cross, call (863) 763-2844.

Red is for Love Committee: (L-R) Marie Culbreth, Toni Doyle, Robert Lee and Marnie Lauter; (back) Gail Lockwood, Billy Dean, Bridgette Waldau, Julie Shook, J.D. Mixon, Debbie Riddle, Kieth Stripling, Maureen Burroughs, Jon Brazil and Stephanie Brazil. Not pictured: Margaret Garrard Helton, Lisa Watts and Paulette Wise.

1 2 1. (L-R) Ron and Lori Mixon, Holly and JD Mixon and Kendra and Wayne Corbin. 2. Winner of the $2,700 necklace was Sherri Enfinger (center) pictured with donors Wolfgang and Yolanda Cortez of Wolgang Jewelers. 3. Terry and Maureen Burroughs, Joe and Toni Doyle and Sharon and Bobby Bennett. 4. Robert Lee welcomes the attendees. 5. Raulerson Hospital table (L-R) Brian and Jenni Melear, Robin and Robert Lee and Ginger and Terry Brown. 6. Noel and Laurie Stephen. 7. Honorary chairs Gil and Marie Culbreth. 8. Event Chair Toni Doyle with husband Joe. 9. Dr. Albert and Nancy Braul.


4 5

58 |


10. Dr. Michael and Kerri Adelberg.




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“No writers retreat for me. I’m most creative in my own backyard on Taylor Creek in Okeechobee.”

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Write at Home

Author Jan Day Fehrman found the perfect setting in Okeechobee BY Jason Budjinski O PHOTOS BY RAFAEL PACHECO

Novelists in need of inspiration sometimes look for it in a change of scenery, typically somewhere far removed from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. They go on retreats to get away from the many distractions found at home. But for Okeechobee author and library advocate Jan Day Fehrman, there’s no need to travel out of town to find peace; all the makings of a perfect retreat can be found right at home. “No writers retreat for me,” she said. “I’m most creative in my own backyard on Taylor Creek in Okeechobee, where her husband Alan created a paradise. It provides peace and inspiration with its natural beauty. I like to sit on the back porch and watch Taylor Creek flow by, listen to the birds, and the ruffle of the wind through the trees. It’s my favorite place to create.” Day Fehrman should know, having lived in New York City, worked in Los Angeles and spent years traveling back and forth to Europe working for an airline, as well as living in a few other towns from Hawaii to Homestead before settling down in Okeechobee. But now, 11 years and five published children’s picture books later, Day Fehrman can’t imagine living — or writing — anywhere else. Day Fehrman was born in Cuba, Illinois, a small mining and farming town to Bernice and Lewis Day. The eldest of four children, Jan claims her brothers and sisters got all the science and math genes while a few literary genes were thrown her way. Her brother John is a doctor; sister Susan, a nursing instructor; and brother Chuck, a retired electrical engineer. Jan said her daughter Alicia, a registered nurse at Orlando Regional Hospital, inherited her family’s science and literary genes, having published her poetry while in high school. Poetry is where Jan got her start as well, during her college years. Her poems have been published in the Louisville Review, Huerfano, Bamboo Ridge Anthology, as well as other publications. She was a co-winner for Best Original Teleplay for All’s Fair at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Her children’s play A Piece of Cherry Sky won first place in a citywide competition in New Orleans, and her short story “Blue Tamales” was published in Tropic, the now defunct Sunday supplement of the Miami Herald. Over the years, Jan’s career has been as varied in location as vocation. After graduating from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa with a major in sociology, she immediately moved to New York City and became a caseworker for the New York City Department of Welfare. Two years later she took a job as a flight attendant with Trans World Airlines. On a flight to London, she met her husband Alan Fehrman, who also worked for the airlines. The couple soon moved to Tucson, Ariz., where Alan obtained a master’s degree in soils science from the University of Arizona while Jan commuted to work at LAX in Los Angeles. Their next destination was Hawaii, where Alan took a job as an agronomist and their daughter Alicia was born. The family moved to Louisiana six years later, followed by a move back west to New Mexico and again to Arizona.  Spring 2011 |


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It was while living in Louisiana that Jan made her entrance into the book publishing industry, albeit on the sales side, working as a sales representative for Pelican Publishing Company. She worked there for 20 years, three years at company headquarters and 17 years from her home offices in New Mexico, Arizona and Florida. Her last position was national accounts manager in which she was responsible for selling to Barnes & Noble and Borders buyers at headquarters. In 2000, Jan and Alan moved to Okeechobee when Alan took a position with the South Florida Water Management District. Jan retired from her regular job at Pelican Publishing Company in 2006 to spend more time writing. Between 2001 and 2009, she published five children’s picture books with Pelican (as Jan Day): The Pirate, Pink (2001); Pirate Pink and Treasures of the Reef (2003); Kissimmee Pete, Cracker Cow Hunter (2005); Kissimmee Pete and the Hurricane (2008); and The World’s Greatest Explorer (2009). Janeen Mason of Stuart was the illustrator for all five. The Pirate, Pink was selected for the Children’s Book Council’s Children’s Choices 2002 program. Before closing the chapter on her time as a children’s author, Jan saw the start of a new chapter in her career in 2007. This was the year she started writing for Okeechobee The Magazine and began work on her first mystery novel, She Cracked the Whip. The book is finished, though Jan is shopping around for a company to publish it. Meanwhile, she’s already at work on her second mystery, tentatively titled Postcards From The Dead. Both books are set in a fictional town in rural Central Florida. In addition to her writing, Jan serves on the Friends of Okeechobee Library Board of Directors, is a facilitator of the Friends of the Okeechobee Library Book Club, is on the external advisory board of the Indian River State College Lifelong Learning Institute and has been a peer leader for classes in writing.

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Spring 2011 OKEECHOBEE THE MAGAZINE Spring 2011 |


Okeechobee is such a great place for a writer. It offers such a beautiful setting with its lake and creek, its history and interesting people. I think my moving days are over.” Needless to say, Jan is a big supporter of the library, referring to it as the “cultural center of Okeechobee.” “The library meets the needs of many different types of people: those who need to use the computers to apply for jobs, those looking for a wide selection of books, those who enjoy cultural events as well as programs for young people,” Jan said. “Library Director Kresta King and her staff are always thinking of ways to make the library better. This is a good thing because Okeechobee County Library sees between 550 to 750 people come through their doors each day de-

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pending on the season.” In her capacity as a Friends of the Okeechobee Library board member, Jan helps publicize events. “With a library like ours, there’s never a need to be bored or wonder what to do next,” she said. “And the Friends always appreciate new members.” In 2003, Jan and Vicky Kilroy formed the Friends of the Okeechobee Library Book Club. “I am so impressed with the quality and depth of discussion,” Jan said, stressing the high level of enthusiasm among club members. “I always look forward to our meetings. It’s a great way to share insights and exchange ideas. We welcome new members.” Jan also enjoys exchanging ideas with other writers. Because there wasn’t an existing writers group, she founded the Okeechobee Writers League with fellow author Lesley Diehl. “[It’s] the best writers group I’ve ever been in,” Jan said, noting that the group recently published an anthology of short stories, historical pieces and poems titled Headwaters. In addition to her involvement with the library, Jan is a big supporter of education. For the past five years, Jan has served on the external advisory board of the Lifelong Learning Institute at Indian River State College, where she has been a peer leader for classes in writing. The institute offers classes tailored to people over 50 who want to continue learning and sharing their interests with others. Classes are held at the Williamson Conference and Educational Center at IRSC’s Dixon-Hendry campus (2229 NW Ninth Ave., Okeechobee). 

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This spring, Jan is leading a class on book and film adaptations with Hazel Parnis. “It’s a great way to learn something new, meet interesting people and continue to grow your ‘brain power,’” she said. Ultimately, Jan seems to have found the right balance of keeping busy yet evenly paced. And she found it right here in Okeechobee. “Okeechobee is such a great place for a writer,” Day Fehrman said. “It offers such a beautiful setting with its lake and creek, its history and interesting people. I think my moving days are over.” For information on purchasing Jan’s books, call Pelican Publishing Company at (800) 843-1724 or visit For more information about events at the Okeechobee library, call (863) 763-3536. To learn more about classes at the IRSC Lifelong Learning Institute, call (772) 462-7880. O

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Community Event

By Bridgette Waldau

Waldau’s Junior Golf Annual Junior/Adult Tournament Waldau’s Junior Golf held its annual Junior/Adult Golf Tournament on Jan. 9 at Okeechobee Golf and Country Club. It was a beautiful day of golf that brought junior and adults together in a two-person, best ball scramble. Photos of all the winners can be found on Facebook and all of Waldau’s Junior Golf events are posted on its website at (Above, L-R) Two teams tied for Championship Flight First place. Kyle and Bubba Mullins and Richard Donegan and Jim Waldau.

First place, second Flight winners: Jorge Fulleda and son Daniel.

First place, third Flight winners: Kenny Buckner and Neal Crawford Hank Raulerson and daughter (kneeling) watch the line of Kutter Hannah. Crawford’s putt.

Golfing team Kodi Stephen and Juanita White wait for the tournament to start.

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606 North Parrott Avenue - Okeechobee, Florida 34972 Spring 2011 |


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70 |


By Capt. Michael Shellen Whether you are a resident of Okeechobee or just visiting, it’s a great time to fish Lake Okeechobee. For a year now, we’ve been crowing about the tremendous fishing on the lake in local publications and online, too. Finally, Lake Okeechobee is receiving national exposure, thanks to the FLW Tour event held on the lake recently. The pro anglers found Lake Okeechobee to be everything they had ever heard and/or dreamed of. Record catches of bass had the professional fishermen singing the praises of the massive lake, with heavy five-fish limits being caught starting with the first day of the event and continuing throughout the week. A five-fish limit that weighed 35 pounds staggered the crowd at weigh-in, proving to be a precursor of what was to come. Ultimately, young Brandon McMillan of Belle Glade claimed the title with a four-day total weighing 106 pounds, making Lake Okeechobee the first lake to yield over 100 pounds in FLW history. There were many giant bass caught during the tournament, the largest weighing in at just over 12 pounds. Is Lake Okeechobee deserving of the title “Best Bass Fishery in the United States”? I think so, but I am prejudiced. I fell in love with this beautiful giant of a lake the first time I ever fished her. Springtime is prime time to fish for every species in the lake. Bass, bluegill, shell cracker and cat fish are all looking for an easy meal. As the water warms, blue gill and shell cracker will move into the very skinny water and create spawning beds. Once located, it is possible to catch as many of the tasty pan fish as you want to eat. Anglers from all over

Lake Okeechobee

Capt. Michael Shellen

the U.S. come to fish for the giant-size shell cracker when they are spawning. Known for very tasty meat and a great fight, shell cracker are many anglers’ favorite table fare. Cat fish can be found in the Kissimmee River in deep water as well as in the lake. Red worms or cut bait will both work when trying to catch these prized fish. Spend some time on the Big “O,” fishing, sight-seeing or even bird watching; it’s all available and waiting for you. We have the best fishing guides on the lake here in the City of Okeechobee, not to mention the nicest most modern airboats to take you on a thrilling ride through Okeechobee’s massive expanse of marshland. If you’re looking for a place to spend a few nights, we have modern inns or old-school fish camps; you decide. When it comes to food, you can get breakfast at 5 a.m. before your day of adventure or dine on steak, barbecue or fish once the sun sets and you finally slow down. We are more than just a cow town, although the gentlemanly manners of the local ranchers influence a lifestyle you can’t help but enjoy. Down-home work ethic and friendly folks make it more than a destination — a place to settle for a great life. O Capt. Michael Shellen Shellen Guide Service

(863) 357- 0892 Spring 2011 |


Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Okeechobee County Family Health & Safety Expo The fourth annual Okeechobee County Family Health & Safety Expo was held Jan. 29 at the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center. Vendors offered health screenings and safety tips, giveaways, demonstrations, displays, fun activities and entertainment throughout the day. Local fire-rescue and safety units were on hand for demonstrations and information. There were approximately 3,000 people in attendance this year.

(Above) Kids, as well as the parents, enjoy exploring the Martin County Life Star chopper.

1. Joshua May and Mike Walls stop at the Okeechobee Juvenile Offender and Corrections Center booth to register for their drawing as Veronica Bellamy and Bobby Birts look on. 2. Ronald McDonald with event co-chair Donny Arnold. 3. HCA Raulerson Surgical Services was represented by Jaki Parshall, Tammy Colburn, Stephanie Quesinberry and Crystal Waldrop. 4. Diane Davies and Cecilia Elliott of TD Bank. 5. Yoselyn Correa with bagfuls of goodies handed out to everyone in attendance.


6. Daryl Lewis, Debi Lewis, James Lewis and Brian Lewis stop at the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office displays.



72 | Spring 2011





(Above) Okeechobee Fire Department displays the ladder truck.

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Three Okeechobee girls earn college softball scholarships By Charles M. Murphy, WOKC’s Voice of the Brahmans


hree Okeechobee High School seniors accepted college softball scholarships in February. Naomi Stevens and Ashtyn Brown will be heading to Indian River State College, and Courtney Wilson is on her way to Hillsborough Community College.

Wilson and her family celebrated her big day with a party at Beef O’Brady’s restaurant in Okeechobee. Wilson said she can now just play ball and not worry about her future. “It honestly takes a lot of the pressure off,” she said. “I’m so very excited.”

These three girls are the heart of a state title contender for OHS this year. They have played softball for years and having already made their college decisions will make it easier for them to enjoy their senior season.

Brown called her decision a dream come true. She said IRSC has a very good softball program and has made a lot of appearances at state championships.

Wilson said she knew Hillsborough was an awesome school and is very excited to be going to college there. “I know I got my job done,” she said. “I worked hard for 10 years in softball. It is a great feeling to know that hard work paid off.”

She said she also dreamed about going to college with Stevens, her best friend. They are often called the “package deal.”

(Above) Ashtyn Brown with her dad Russ Brown at her signing party at Hammerheads. (Left) Courtney Wilson (Below) Naomi Stevens and her father Darrell Erts.

“I’ve always wanted to go to college with Naomi,” Brown said. “This is very exciting.”

Welcome to Lake Okeechobee Resort KOA

Summer Pool and New Golf “Plus” Memberships Available April 1 - Nov.1, 2011

863-763-0231 4276 S. Hwy 441 - Okeechobee

74 |


Stevens said she was so excited at her signing party at Hammerheads that her cheeks couldn’t quit twitching because she was smiling so much. She said she chose IRSC because she knows a lot of people there and had worked with their coach for a while. “I have big plans for the future,” Stevens said. “I will dedicate my time and work my hardest. I’m happy and I can’t wait.” The Brahman softball girls are the defending 14-4A champions. The team lost just one starter from last year’s squad; it is still a veteran team with seven seniors. Former Brahman Mary Huff recently accepted a college scholarship to play for the University of Central Florida. O


Making a difference, one smile at a time. Creating beautiful smiles in Okeechobee and Vero Beach for over 24 years! 113 N.E. 19th Drive - Okeechobee, Florida 34972


Vero Beach 772-562-5876

New! Making Waves for Spring 2011 Vera Bradley - Crabtree & Evelyn - Brighton Handbags Bridal & Baby Registry Available

Monthly Pool Services - Pool Clean Up Pool Resurfacing - Liner Replacement

Absolutely Art Custom Framing and Matting Layaway Available!

Pool Equipment Repair & Replacement & Pool Decks

401 SW Park Street Okeechobee, FL 34972

Raulerson's Sebring Location

Nowen! Op

Serving Okeechobee Since 1997

We are located in the Lake Shore Mall (Next to Barnie's)

Licensed & Insured


Dr. David Wemmer Dr. Jennifer W. Schoenfeld

Gator Pools

You’ll make fashion waves with this colorful collection


Sebastian 772-589-5959

For All Your Pool Needs Call


WOKC Radio has been on the air for every Okeechobee Sunrise since 1965.

A Local Legend

Sunrise at Nubbin Slough 2011


Fax 888-875-1570 Spring 2011 |



Okeechobee Okeechobee Main Street Mixers


Above, (L-R) Jenny Pung of the Economic Council of Okeechobee presents the first Community Award Recognizing Enhancement to Carl and Phyllis Shumate.

Carl and Phyllis Shumate of the Alarm Company recently were presented with the first-ever Community Award Recognizing Enhancement. They received the award for voluntarily enhancing the appearance of their business, located at 919 NW Park Street. The Economic Council of Okeechobee developed the quarterly award to acknowledge and promote the beautification that business owners have implemented to improve the look of the community, realizing that first impressions and aesthetics are important factors to visitors and potential investors. For more information on the ECO, call (863) 467-0200.

The following Okeechobee Main Street members held mixers at their businesses: (top) Raulerson Hospital; (middle) Law Office of Philip DeBerard and (bottom) PNC Bank.

Miss Speckled Perch Pageant Feb. 26

Photography By: Bobbi Poole

Pageant Winners: (L-R) Tiny Miss Speckled Perch Kaylee Hickman; Little Miss Speckled Perch Jillian Durdee; Princess Speckled Perch Morgan Roberts; Junior Miss Speckled Perch Bay Ray Boromei and Miss Speckled Perch Elizabeth Turner.

76 |


The Alarm Company building before renovations (left) and after (below).

GILBERT CHEVROLET HOSTS FIRST CHEVY PRO NIGHT IN 2011 Gilbert Chevrolet hosted the coveted Chevy Pro Night of 2011 on Jan. 29. Over 300 fishing fans and Chevy enthusiasts came out to celebrate the start of the 2011 Walmart FLW Tour. The Chevy Team anglers signed autographs, shared fishing stories and posed for photos with fans in attendance during the two-hour event at Gilbert Chevrolet.

Photography By: Sandra Pearce

Pictured left (L-R): Luke Clausen, Jimmy Houston, Larry Nixon, Anthony Gagliardi, GM Zone Manager Carlos LaTour, Gil Culbreth, Christa Luna, Jay Yelas, Dion Hibdon and Bryan Thrift.

Grand Oaks Grand Opening

The VNA of Florida celebrated the grand opening of the Grand Oaks assisted-living facility on Jan. 13. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, residents have started moving in to the facility built to house over 40 with a full-time staff including an activities coordinator, chef and clinicians. Located at 203 SE Second St., Grand Oaks is still accepting appointments to tour the facility and has a limited number of units still available. For more information on Grand Oaks visit:

The Berger Clinic

Fully Stocked Humidors Offering A Wide Variety of Hand-Rolled Cigars

Visit Us At Our New Location!

Jay S. Berger, MD 863-467-1117

Cigar Lounge Now Open

Call For Appointment

Okeechobee Medical Park 1713 Hwy 441 N. Suite D Okeechobee, FL 34972

(Located across the street from the hospital.)

Also Available For Private Rental Spring 2011 |


List of Advertisers

14K Gold Store ........................................... 51 5th Street Pharmacy ................................ 23 A & G Concrete Pools ............................... Alarm Company ....................................... Ameriprise Financial ................................ Appearance Implant Dentistry .................

New! Ganz

Measuring Spoons and Kitchen Accessories Priced from $20 -$29 .

71 32 71 22

Badcock Furniture .................................... 78 Bass Electric ............................................. 45 Berger Clinic ............................................. 77 Big Lake Eye Care .......................... 3, 21 & 69 Big Lake Hospice ...................................... 59 Big Mike’s Sports Grille ............................. 50 Blue Heron Golf Club ................................ 55 Bridgette Waldau Graphic Design ............ 48 Buyer Brokerage Co. of Okeechobee ........ 62 CenterState Bank ..................................... 51 Charlie’s Landscaping .............................. 15 Costopoulos & Helton, P.A ....................... 9 Cowboys/SkipJacks .................................. 68 Custom Window Treatments & Blinds ..... 19 Dave’s Mattress Outlet ............................... 52 Dee-Stefanos Restaurant & Catering .......... 73 Doctor’s Clinic Family Health Center ......... 21 Dolly Hand Theatre ................................... 17

We've gone CUPCAKE CRAZY at Flower Petals Stop in to see our new specialty cupcake designs! “We deliver smiles” 863-763-5051 202 NE 2nd Street - Suite 5 Okeechobee, FL 34972

Open MRI of Okeechobee ........................... 52

Fitness Factory ....................................... 15 Florida Eye Institute ................................. 17 Florida Foot Specialist ............................... 49 Florida Kid Care ........................................ 62 Fly-N-Hi .................................................... 55 Flower Petals ............................................. 78

Peace Lutheran School .............................. 51 Perfect Kuts ............................................. 44 Pueblo Viejo VI Restaurant ....................... 30

Gator Pools ............................................... 75 Gilbert Chevrolet ....................................... 25 Glades Gas ................................................ 68 Golden Corral ............................................. 33 Hammerhead’s .......................................... 65 Heartland Discount Pharmacy.................. 59 Hampton Inn ............................................. 54 Heller, Leland M. MD. ................................. 7 Highland Pest Control ............................... 50 ICS Computers ........................................... 56 Jeffrey Fadley, P.A. ...................................... 55 KOA ........................................................ 74 Lakeshore Marine ........................................ 67 Landing Strip Restaurant ....................... 29, 55 Law Office of Gerald Lefebvre .................. 70 Law Office of Glenn J. Sneider ................ 73 Law Office of Lauri J. Goldstein ................. 16 Law Office of Philip DeBerard .................. 79 Lehman Auto Body ................................. 62 Leslie Dance Studio .................................. 35 Makin’ A Splash ....................................... 41 Maxwell & Maxwell ................................... 19 MidFlorida Hardware ................................. 70 Mixon Real Estate Group ............................ 44 Morgan’s Furniture .................................... 39


Edward Jones Investments ....................... 51

New Vision Eye Center ................................ 73

Frank the cat relaxes after a very busy season.

Okeechobee Church of God ...................... 35 Okeechobee Medical Reserve Corps ........ 64 Okeechobee Motor Company ................... 32

Quail Creek Plantation .............................. 11 Quick & Easy Storage ............................... 45 Rafael Pacheco-Creations in Fotografia ...... 48 Raulerson’s Absolutely Art ......................... 75 Raulerson Hospital ..................................... 2 Raulerson Hospital ................................. 42, 43 Raulerson Hospital ....................... Back Cover Rustic Style & Cabins ............................... 66 Sandra Pearce Photography ....................... 62 Seacoast National Bank ............................. 63 Silver Palms RV Resort ............................... 6 Southern Style .......................................... 30 St. Lucie Tires ............................................. 66 Stafford’s Salon ......................................... 48 Sun Surgical ............................................... 44 Superior Water Works.............................. 39 Syble’s Flowers & Gifts .............................. 40 TD Bank .................................................... 49 Tobacco Free Partnership ........................ 48 Tobacco Place .......................................... 77 Treasure Coast Dermatology ...................... 5 Trinidad Garcia, M.D. ................................. 31 United Mid-Country FL Real Estate ............ 53 UPS Store .................................................. 24 VNA/Grand Oaks ..................................... 4 Waste Management ............................... 33 Wemmer Family Orthodontics.................. 75 Water’s Edge Motor Coach Resort............ 57 WOKC 1570 AM ........................................ 75

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Tractor Trailer, Car & Motorcycle Crashes Slip & Fall Accidents & Wrongful Death


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1120 S. Parrott Avenue Okeechobee, FL 34974

“In the White House Plaza” follow us on Spring 2011 |


We are Raulerson your hospital State of the Art Radiology Services at Raulerson Hospital

Digital Mammography/with ICAD, Stereotactic Breast Biopsy, Osteoporosis Screening, X-Rays Ultrasound, CT Scan, Full Body MRI Services including Neuro, Vascular, Abdominal, Extremities and Breast MRI with CadStream. To schedule a procedure or test please call (877) 331-7027.

Inpatient/Outpatient Services • General Surgery Gastroenterology • Laparoscopic Surgery • Gynecology Vascular Surgery • Urology • Wound Care • Pediatrics • Orthopedic Surgery Sleep Disorders Lab • Respiratory Therapy • General Medicine Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy • Podiatry

Emergency Services - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week • (863) 763-2151 • 1796 Hwy 441 North Okeechobee, FL 34972

w w CONSULT-A-NURSE ® • For Free Physician Referral & Health Care Questions • Staffed by a Registered Nurse

Call 1-877-331-7027

Okeechobee The Magazine Spring 2011