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Angie Griffin

Relay for Life Chair Dedicated To Fighting Cancer One Lap at a Time

Plus Pastor Jim Benton Charlie Hukriede Shopping with Tabitha Trent Boots & Pearls Gala

2 | Winter 2011


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Winter 2011 | 5

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Winter 2011 | 7

Publisher’s Note volume

5, number 4 |Winter 2011

publisher/managing editor

Maureen Budjinski creative director

Bridgette Waldau

The winter season has begun, once again returning as our annual reminder that we truly live in paradise. Our northern friends seem to be arriving earlier this year. Maybe it’s because of the early snow, but I think it just may be that the fishing has never been so good in Lake Okeechobee. Read all about it in Capt. Mike Shellen’s column on page 74.

copy editor

Jason Budjinski office manager

Phyllis Dwyer bookkeeping

Carol Lieberman account executive

Gail Lockwood senior photographer

Rafael Pacheco contributing photographers

Sharon Cannon Felicia Maxwell Sandra Pearce writers

Ron Bukley Raye Deusinger Jan Fehrman contributors

Charles Murphy Joyce Murphy Kathy Scott Michael Shellen distribution

Miracle Hall Okeechobee The Magazine

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

The American Cancer Society’s signature event, Relay for Life, is chaired by dedicated volunteer and local businesswoman Angie Griffin. Read about her passionate fight against cancer as she and her committee and team members work throughout the year to make the event a success. Most of you know Charlie Hukriede as the friendly face at the Golden Corral. Within these pages, you’ll get to know Hukriede as a man who gives back to the community in so many ways. Also read about Pastor Jim Benton, who incorporates humor into his preaching. Benton, director of Okeechobee Faith Farm, has a unique approach to reaching out to those in need. Not only does he greatly resemble comedian Drew Carey, but Benton is just as funny. Don’t forget to check out the events covered in these pages, including Boots & Pearls, the Labor Day Festival and Rodeo, the Kiwanis Regatta, the Okeechobee Blood Roundup and more. Okeechobee volunteers sure know how to put on an event. As Okeechobee The Magazine concludes its fifth year, we’re offering our final Okeechobee Shopper feature. Follow Tabitha Trent on a shopping spree that takes her to Teez 2 Pleez, Custom Window Treatments & Blinds and Syble’s Flowers & Gifts, followed by a great lunch at Mama Flegos Italian Restaurant. We’ll surprise you in the spring as we move forward, continuing to feature stories about life in our community and all that makes Okeechobee tick. Of course, it’s the people who really make this community so special. That is why it’s such a pleasure publishing Okeechobee The Magazine — your magazine.

Maureen Budjinski president

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 | Winter 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. Winter 2011 | 9

Contents Winter 2011




features 50

departments 12 Okeechobee Shopper

Tabitha Trent takes us on a shopping spree to Teez 2 Pleez, Custom Window Treatments and Blinds, Syble’s Flowers & Gifts, and Mama Flegos where she enjoyed lunch.

26 Angie Griffin

Relay for Life Chair Dedicated To Fighting Cancer One Lap at a Time BY Jan Fehrman

50 Pastor Jim Benton

Delivering Love and Faith Through Humor By Raye DEUSinger

64 Charlie Hukriede Gives Back to the Community

36 Okeechobee at Home

BY Jan Fehrman

BY Ron Bukley



18 Labor Day Festival and Parade 19 Labor Day Rodeo 20 Hope Rising Gala 22 Wacky Bowl 24 FFA Alumni Association Clay Shoot 32 Halloween Fest 34 Waldau’s Junior Golf Tournament 44 Okeechobee Blood Roundup 48 Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta 58 Chamber of Commerce Luncheon 70 Boots & Pearls Gala 76 Sheriff Shootout Benefit




Fishing on Lake Okeechobee


Tyler Finney

BY Kathy Scott

BY Capt. MICHAEL Shellen



Angie Griffin

Relay for Life Chair Dedicated To Fighting Cancer One Lap at a Time

Plus Pastor Jim Benton Charlie Hukriede

80 82

AROUND OKEECHOBEE advertiser index

10 | Winter 2011




Shopping with Tabitha Trent Boots & Pearls Gala


Upcoming Shoots Jan. 7 Jan. 8 Jan. 21 Jan. 28 Feb. 3

FL Cattlewomen’s Shoot NSCA Registered Shoot Treasured Lands Shoot ME”S Team Shoot Lake Whales YMCA Fun Shoot Feb. 4 Hibiscus Center Fun Shoot Feb. 11 Ray Kempfer Memorial Shoot

Winter 2011 | 11

Okeechobee Shopper Featuring Tabitha Trent


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. 

Tabitha Trent is a native of Okeechobee and has been a part of the Greater Lake community her entire life. She graduated from Okeechobee High School in 1987 and completed her academic endeavor with an associate’s degree from Indian River Community College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and graduated with honors from the Florida Bankers Association program at the University of Florida. Trent continues to reside in Okeechobee with her husband Jay and 11-year-old son Chase. She is a community banker at heart and serves as the vice president and branch man-

ager for CenterState Bank. In addition to her full-time work and family life, Trent takes great pride in her community and the privilege of serving others. She volunteers for many nonprofit organizations and serves as an active board member and past president of the Rotary Club of Okeechobee, board member of the Okeechobee Education Foundation, is an active member and children’s church leader at More 2 Life Ministries, and most recently has dedicated herself as a North Elementary Role Model (NERM). Tabitha began her shopping trip by visiting Teez 2 Pleez (863-467-0580). Six months ago, Teez 2 Pleez moved to its location at 620 S. Parrott Ave. and continued its three years of offering screen printing and embroidery on custom apparel, as well as making banners, fliers, business cards and brochures. Owner/manager Autumn DeCarlo was happy to discuss

(Left) Teez 2 Pleez owner/manager Autumn DeCarlo discusses Tabitha’s need for T-shirts and caps.

(Above) Custom Window Treatments and Blinds owner Val Douglas shows Tabitha samples of window treatment fabrics. (Left) Tony DeCarlo prepares the silk screen press. (Above, L-R) Gerado Bustos, Amanda Villars, Autumn DeCarlo and Tony DeCarlo.

12 | Winter 2011


(Right) A custom window treatment designed by Val.

Tabitha’s need for T-shirts and caps. She explained to Tabitha that the CenterState Bank logo has three colors, and there would be an initial $15 setup charge for each color but after that, the bank would pay only for the apparel.

and design happens and the machines Douglas uses in her work. Tabitha looked at blinds for the new CenterState Bank building that is set to open in the spring, as well as some custom window treatments for her own home.

Tabitha was able to order 20 turquoise polo shirts with the CenterState logo on them ($359.80, plus set up) as “I love bright, bold colors, especially yellow. That is my well as 20 teal-and-black Otto ball caps ($190). She was favorite color,” Tabitha told Douglas. pleased to learn that her order would be ready within Douglas said two weeks or less. she could come Tabitha’s DeCarlo also helped Tabitha choose between 50/50 and to mea100 percent cotton T-shirts for bank employees to wear house, her during the spring rodeo. Tabitha chose 100 percent s u r e white T-shirts from DeCarlo’s vast color selection  and w i n dows and agreed that the CenterState logo would look good in a create h e r c u s t o m window treatments and hang Western black-and-rust design. t h e m w i t h i n a week. After thanking DeCarlo for showing her the printing A f t e r m uc h deliberation, process, Tabitha was off to her appointment with Val Tabitha chose 2-inch Douglas, owner of Custom Window Treatments and white faux wood plant a tion blinds with sideBlinds (863-357-6555). panel curtains and valance Santa’s elf greets you Douglas showed Tabitha some of the ($1,400 per window) for at Syble’s Flowers & custom window treatments that her two living-room winGift’s checkout counter. she makes and hangs. dows. Tabitha also got to see where all of the sewing Douglas pointed out that

(Left) Tabitha purchased 2-inch white faux wood plantation blinds. (Below) Tabitha looks on as Val shows her where she designs and sews her work. (Above) Tabitha purchased an American Quarter Horse for her secret Santa gift. (Above right) The Syble’s Flowers & Gifts showroom is ready for the holiday season. (Right) Syble’s new owner Felicia Maxwell helped Tabitha pick out gifts for her office party at CenterState

Winter 2011 | 13

the baskets of flowers in the cream-colored fabric would hang evenly throughout the window and be centered. “You usually don’t find that with store-bought curtains,” Douglas said. “I love your custom work, and I can’t wait to see the finished curtains,” Tabitha said. Tabitha’s next stop was Syble’s Flowers & Gifts (863763-2225), located at 119 S. Parrott Ave. New owner Felicia Maxwell was excited to help pick out gifts for CenterState’s “Secret Santa.” With her shop all decked out for Christmas, it was easy for Tabitha to get into the giving spirit. For her Secret Santa gifts, Tabitha chose a University of Florida–themed birdhouse ($26.95), an American Chestnut Cat guardian angel ($21.95), an American Quarter Horse ($22.95), and a wreath in Florida State University Seminole red and gold ($89.95). For the holiday office party at CenterState Bank, Tabitha chose a Keepsake planter holiday ornament vase with carnations and greenery ($42.95), and a silk amaryllis

(Above and right) Tabitha chose the spaghetti and meatballs with a salad for her lunch at Mama Flegos.

(Left) Owner/chef George Marshall prepares Tabitha’s meal. (Right) Tabitha’s friendly server Brenda serves up lunch with a big smile.

14 | Winter 2011


flower in a metal container of red and gold ($84.95). “Your flower arrangements are very pretty,” Tabitha told Maxwell as she picked up a yellow arrangement with roses, peonies and other assorted yellow flowers and grasses ($155.95). “This is going home with me.” With her shopping done, Tabitha headed to Mama Flegos Italian Restaurant (863-763-6235). Located at 202 NE Second St., Suite 10, Mama Flegos offers a variety of Italian dishes in an open, welcoming atmosphere. Brenda was Tabitha’s server, and she was very knowledgeable about the selection of appetizers, pizza, calzones and stromboli that Mama Flegos offers. Brenda pointed out that Mama Flegos has a “10 minutes or it’s free” lunch special. A variety of food, including the spaghetti and meatballs with homemade sauce, is delivered to the table in 10 minutes or less or it is free. Tabitha chose the spaghetti and meatballs with a salad. “I love their sauce,” Tabitha said. Brenda brought Tabitha’s salad with the dressing on the side and shortly thereafter brought out the steaming plate of spaghetti and meatballs. O With lunch over, it was back to work for Tabitha.

Winter 2011 | 15

United Country MidFlorida Realty Okeechobee’s Hometown Realtor

3126 Hwy 441 South Okeechobee, FL 34974


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, 1999-2002 OCBR Treasurer Lynne Price, 2010 OCBR New Comer Award Wendy Bostwick, 2010 OCBR Treasuer Betsy Sheffield and 2011 OCBR director /2010 Top Producer Cristie Schmidt.

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Winter 2011 | 17

Community Events Okeechobee Main Street’s

Labor Day Festival and Parade 1

2 1. The Okeechobee High School marching band. 2. Horses lined the parade route. 3. There was a good crowd that browsed the park after the parade. 4. Six-month-old twins Tristyn Bailey (held by Amanda Gates) and Lextyn Bailey (held by his mom Kara) enjoy the parade. 5. Even the four-legged attendees had fun at the festival. 4. Hula hoop contest winner Amber Hudson. 5. Emory Jayne Moore-Carter gets her face painted by Tara Partlow while her grandma Tracy Moore holds her.



5 6

18 | Winter 2011


Sponsored by Okeechobee Main Street, the 2011 Labor Day Festival was held Sept. 3-5 in Flagler Park. People lined the streets to watch the parade that was coordinated this year by the Building Relationships Among Teens (B.R.A.T.) Club. There was something for everyone, from great food, vendors, arts and crafts to face painting, live entertainment and fun for the entire family.


Photos By Sharon Cannon

Okeechobee County Cattlemen’s Association

Labor Day Rodeo The Okeechobee County Cattlemen’s Association Championship Bull Riding and Labor Day Rodeo was held Sept. 3-5 at the AgriCivic Center in Okeechobee. The rodeo was a three-day event full of excitement as spectators watched saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, team roping, barrel racing and mutton bustin’. Vendors were on hand with great food and drink, as well as apparel and accessories. For more information, visit

Saddle bronc riding at its best.

Barrel racing was another favorite among the crowd. .

Jerry Todd with horse Twister.

Cowboys prepare to open the gate.

Hoot Worley with his granddaughter Trinity.

Vendor Rebecca Smith and her son Dillon.

Winter 2011 | 19

Community Event Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Hope Rising Gala Benefits Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee The second annual Hope Rising Gala benefiting the Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee was held Sept. 17 at the First Baptist Church of Okeechobee Recreation Outreach Center. The featured speaker was Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller The Prayer of Jabez. For more information on the Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee, call (863) 467-8748.

(Above, L-R) Trista Mattson, Justina Stokes, Marie O. Watson, Deloris Sherman, Maudie Earnest, Paige Sherman, Becky Barber and Lea Anita Huffman.



1. Andrea Jahna and State Rep. Denise Grimsley (R-77) select hors’ d’oeuvres while Diane King and Karen Matthews smile for the camera. 2. Kinzlee Renae Yates holds her 1-month-old daughter Dezree Nast. 3. Guest speaker Dr. Bruce Wilkinson. 4. Pregnancy Center Executive Director Lisa Lumpkin shares stories of hope from the young women standing along with her.

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THE CIRCLE OF F.R.I.E.N.D.S. OF SOUTH FLORIDA, INC. Friends are people who desire what is best for one another. The friendship that is formed is anchored on mutual understanding and compassion, sympathy and empathy, honesty and trust.

Edwin Dominado - Founder/President Aurora Ante - Vice President Modesta Tenay - Secretary Zenaida Tesalona - Asst. Secretary Fe Orbigoso - Treasurer Dina Hussein - Asst. Treasurer

Roster of Members:

Aurora Ante Dennis & Pinky Chance Edwin Dominado Kharis Kerby and Malen Sibayan Sid & Terry Estrada Dina Hussein Norma Nycum Fe & Allen Orbigoso Nic & Esther Pilan Shailini Ramos Larry and Kirsten Regalado Carol & Eric Sabinano Jess Santamaria Ann Sroivattana Butch and Mody Tenay Amante and Zeny Tesalona

Coordinators Cultural Projects and Events Aurora Ante Budget & Finance Fe Orbigoso Donors & Contributors Dina Hussein Stage and Production Design Kirsten Regalado Video and Photography Butch Tenay and Larry Regalado Concepts and Architectural Designs Carol Sabinano Civil Works Nic and Estrella Pilan Mechanical Engineering Works Amante Tesalona Site Management and Coordination Sid Estrada

Membership is open to those who can fit-in or follow the Vision/Mission of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in heart.

With the principle of positive reciprocity where there is equal give or take, The Circle of F.R.I.E.N.D.S was formed. Its acronym (Few Reliable Individuals Expecting Nothing for Doing Something) truly speaks of the commitment of membership where everyone “expects nothing for doing something” because reciprocity comes naturally and easily and best of all, wholeheartedly. The Circle of Friends is on a mission to give back to community in every way possible. It also aims to promote appreciation for the cultural heritage of its members, encourage social awareness and involvement, when and where possible, and most of all, are there for each other in any manner or form.

Office Address: 675 Royal Palm Beach Blvd, Suite 103 Royal Palm Beach, Fl. 33411 Tel: 561-371-0825

First World-Class Anniversary Gala: March 17th 2012 (RSVP) in Ft.Lauderdale area.

The Circle of Friends


Winter 2011 | 21

Community Community Event


By Felicia Maxwell

Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club Present

Wacky Bowl

The second annual Wacky Bowl was held Oct. 1 at the Lucky Lanes bowling alley in Okeechobee. Participants of all ages joined in a fun-filled day of bowling, entertainment, food and activities.




1. The turnout was large for the Wacky Bowl event. 2. Rotarians Kristy Crawford and Jeanette Miller with Kiwanian Greg Thogersen. 3. Sophie Carty 4. Jim Wood of Real Life Children’s Ranch. 5. JaJuan Cherry and Dennis Commings. 6. (L-R) Alan, Alexandria and Adam Younglove.


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Winter 2011 | 23

Community Event

By Felicia Maxwell

FFA Alumni Association

Clay Shoot

The sixth annual Future Farmers of America (FFA) Alumni Association Clay Shoot was held Oct. 22 at Quail Creek Plantation. Money raised will be used by the local FFA chapter to fund scholarships, conferences, and state and national conventions. The event featured a turkey shoot, silent auction, raffle and a sporting clay course tournament.

1 1. Shooting for the 3-D Ice team are Davy Altman, Bo Sharp, David Altman, Michael Clifford and David Altman. 2. Everglades Farm Equipment team member Kimberly Frazier takes a shot. 3. Shooting for the Seacoast National Bank team: Jon Geitner, John Purvis and John Macchia. 4. FFA members Josey Pearce, Jacob McGehee, Cavin Platt, Kristen Dryden and Brittany Baker. 5. Country Meats team member Brian King takes his shot.




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Winter 2011 | 25

- Angie Griffin

Relay for Life Chair Dedicated To Fighting Cancer One Lap at a Time BY Jan Fehrman O PHOTOS BY Rafael Pacheco

n the average, almost 4,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Okeechobee, Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie counties every year. Local businesswoman Angie Griffin volunteers her leadership, time and effort, raising funds to battle this devastating disease. She currently chairs the American Cancer Society’s Okeechobee Relay for Life, which raises money for patient services and research, and honors the courage of cancer patients and survivors. “This is something everyone in the community can be a part of,” Griffin said. Griffin grew up in Clewiston but moved to Okeechobee in 1985 when her parents relocated. She graduated from Okeechobee High School and attended Indian River Community College (now Indian River State College), where she majored in cosmetology. She has done salon work for 23 years and has owned Stafford’s Salon for 18 years. When she’s not at the salon, Griffin enjoys being with her son Dalton, who is studying at IRSC. “I don’t have much free time,” Griffin said. “But when I do I like to be with family and friends or go with my son to Lake Placid or the ocean.” Griffin’s salon specializes in color, and she has trained with and worked as a national color educator for Paul Mitchell Hair Products for 10 years, traveling between Orlando and West Palm Beach.

“The company is very community-oriented and believes in giving back,” Griffin said. This reflects her own philosophy. Griffin lost an uncle to cancer and she has been touched by the stories customers tell her. “So many have lost someone to cancer,” Griffin said. “The Relay for Life is a way I have found to help. It’s something I really want to do.” Several years ago, a friend asked her to help with team recruitment for the Relay for Life. Then Okeechobee went without a relay for a long time. Five years ago, the American Cancer Society started fundraising with the Cattle Barons Ball in Okeechobee, and Griffin did logistics for it. She also volunteered with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for several years and helped with the Susan G. Komen softball tournament. “I felt like I needed to be doing more for the community,” said Griffin, who put that thought into action as chair of Relay for Life this year and last. Relay for Life is an overnight event held each year in April. During the relay, each team must have one runner on the track at all times. Cancer survivors take the track for the opening lap, which sets the tone of the event, and is followed by a reception dinner. The purpose of Relay for Life is to raise money for the American Cancer Society for patient services and research and de-

velopment. Teams are organized to participate in the relay and to do fundraising throughout the year. “Last year we raised $40,000,” Griffin said. “Our goal for this year is $45,000. Sixty percent of the money stays in Okeechobee.” Those who know Griffin and her work with the Relay for Life appreciate her. “If I had a daughter I’d want her to be just like Angie,” cancer survivor Judy Bennett said. Bennett participated in the relay last year. “I got cold chills thinking about how lucky I was to be there when others were not,” she said. The relay is a long event, and it’s not an easy one. “Relay for Life is a very emotional time,” Griffin said. “It symbolizes the life of a cancer patient. It gets to be really late, and you’re tired and you think you can’t go on anymore, and then the sun comes up and you have a breakthrough. But at the end you can be proud. You’ve made it.” After dark, there is a luminaria event, known as the Ceremony of Hope, held to support those who currently have cancer and to honor those who fought cancer in the past. The ceremony offers a way for people to work through their grief and to find hope. Although the luminaria money is not counted toward team fundraising, there are other events during the night where teams sell food, drinks, T-shirts and other items to earn money.

- Judy Bennett

Fundraising throughout the year ranges from yard sales to the more creative “pass the purple toilet,” which is being done by the Angels Among Us team to bring a little humor into an effort for a serious cause. Team members leave a purple toilet with a Relay for Life sign at a business or home, and the owner must pay to have it removed as well as send it to someone else. “This has been a successful local fundraiser,” Griffin said. Although she is busy with her business and training she makes time for Relay for Life. In her role as chair, Griffin organizes committee members, sponsorships, logistics and teams. “I feel strongly that we need to find a cure and we need to give back to the community,” she said. “There is nothing I can do personally to help cancer patients, but I can help raise money for research and development.”

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Dr. Berger and Staff have proudly served the Okeechobee area since 1985. 28 | Winter 2011


Griffin is dedicated to setting high goals for Relay for Life. “The American Cancer Society is a grassroots, volunteer-driven organization,” said Tracy Henkes, executive director of the ACS Martin-Okeechobee Unit. “As a Relay for Life chair, Angie Griffin plays a key role in the delivery and impact of our mission. Thanks to her leadership, passion and her super powers of persuasion, the Okeechobee Relay for Life is ready for success.” Since 1946, the ACS has invested more than $3.2 billion in research. It is the largest private source for cancer research funding in the United States. This research has led to new detection methods, cutting-edge therapies and improved cancer drugs. A part of the relay’s money goes to these endeavors. In addition to research, Relay for Life helps fund patient services such as Hope Lodges, Cancer Resource Rooms, Road to Recovery, ROCK Camp (Reaching Out to Cancer Kids) and Look Good... Feel Better, which are available to local

ď ľ

Winter 2011 | 29


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Waters Edge is just minutes from downtown shopping, restaurants, golf, polo, the casino, movies and the rodeo at the fairgrounds. It is only a short distance to I-95 and the East Coast of Florida with major malls, some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, sport fishing, restaurants and theme parks.

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ican Cancer Society. Another good example of this is Relay for Life founder Dr. Gordy Klatt, who wanted to raise money for his local ACS. In the mid 1980s, he began by running for 24 hours on a track in Tacoma, Wash., accompanied by friends, family and patients. As time wore on this evolved into the Relay for Life as it exists today. residents. Griffin has volunteered for the Look Good program for a number of years. In this class, patients come to her salon for help with hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, skin and nails, which can become damaged during treatment. As part of this program, the ACS gives patients wigs, which Griffin will cut with no charge. It also makes breast prosthetics available to cancer patients. One person can make a difference, as Griffin and others prove through their hard work to raise money for the Amer-

Griffin’s passion for the fight against cancer is her motivation for chairing Relay for Life. She works year-round with other volunteers to raise money for research and patient services. Advances in these areas will bring comfort and hope to cancer patients in the community and around the country.

The Okeechobee Relay for Life event will be held overnight April 13-14 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Okeechobee Cattlemen’s Association Rodeo Arena on Hwy. 441 North. For more information on the American Cancer Society, visit or go directly to the Okeechobee Relay for Life page at To volunteer or form at team, contact Teams consist of 10 to 15 people, al- Griffin at Stafford’s Salon at (863) 763though they can have more. Partici- 3933. O pants can also send an e-mail from the Relay for Life web site and raise funds that way. Money can be donated using a credit card on a secure site. Griffin encourages everyone to help with fundraising for the relay. “People can contact the committee, the web site or me,” she said. “Anyone can form a team. It doesn’t have to be work- or organization-related. All it takes to be a team is a commitment fee of $100 to register.”

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Winter 2011 | 31

Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

2011 Halloween Fest The seventh annual Halloween Fest was held Oct. 31 at the Agri-Civic Center. This year’s event was sponsored by Okeechobee Main Street, the Children’s Services Council of Okeechobee, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Okeechobee Police Department. This fun-filled event provided a safe and fun alternative to traditional trickor-treating throughout the county. Festivities included a haunted hay ride, costume contest, kids corral and more than 40 booths of games, prizes, food and candy treats. Local businesses donated the candy, treats and prizes.

4 1




1. Elly Man, with her beautiful headdress, as a Las Vegas dancer. 2. Two-month-old Andrew Seals, held by mother Marissa Damica. 3. TD Bank representatives Marnie Amiet, Kyle Durham and Estela Ochoa. 4. Okeechobee Main Street Executive Director Cindy Birdashaw. 5. The Okeechobee High School marching band, fundraising for the trip to Washington, D.C. 6. “Devil” Roy Betancourt with his sons Giovani (as Chuckie) and Pablo (as a pirate). 7 Danielle Hunter, Lean Hunter and Anya Callick 8. The Stead family: Jonathan, Katherine, Lillian, Deborah and Jonny.

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7 8

A Community Partner Okeechobee Landfill, Inc. Waste Management & Publix Celebrate America Recycles Day In honor of America Recycles Day on November 15th, Waste Management and Publix celebrated the opening of the Okeechobee Organics Recycling Facility – the most advanced aerated composting technology to process food residuals in South Florida.  The eight acre-facility at Okeechobee Landfill utilizes a forced aeration system with computer controls to regulate airflow and air treatment to process pre-consumer food waste, including produce, bakery and floral items – with yard waste into organic compost. Waste Management trucks are currently collecting and transporting the organic material from 40 Publix stores in MiamiDade County and two Publix GreenWise Markets in Palm Beach County.  There are plans to add additional stores in Miami-Dade and Broward counties over the coming months.

Pictured above (l-r): Bryant Culpepper, Okeechobee County Commissioner; Clayton Williams, Okeechobee City Council; Dowling Watford, Okeechobee City Council; Tim Hawkins, WM Area Vice President; Kim Brunson, Publix Recycle and Solid Waste Manage;, Bill Fauerbach, Publix Vice President Retail Sales; Joe Arnold, Okeechobee County School Board; Joey Hoover, Okeechobee County Commissioner; Frank Irby, Okeechobee County Commissioner; Teresa Chandler, WM Community Relations; Tony Bishop, WM District Manager; and Jeff Sabin, WM Government Affairs Director.

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Winter 2011 | 33

Community Event Community Event

By Bridgette Waldau

Waldau’s Junior Golf Celebrates 20 Years Waldau’s Junior Golf held its 20th annual golf tournament Nov. 5 at the Okeechobee Golf & Country Club. The tournament is the main fundraiser for junior golf programs and scholarships for the Okeechobee High School golf team members or OHS students going into the field of firefighting. More photos and information can be found at and on Facebook. (Above) Jim Waldau’s first golf tournament was a gathering for his firefighter comrades from the City of Hialeah Fire Department, many of whom came out to celebrate 20 years of fellowship: (front row, L-R) Neal Andersen, Rick Bova, Joe Manganaro, Kim Proctor and Bruce Kopp; (back) Henry Menocal, Jim Waldau, J.P. Johnson, Dave Iannoccari, Bull Fernandez, Charlie McBeth, John Riley, Larry Donnelly, Bert Vinas, Paul Abolafia, Pete Casas and Greg Bouchard.



1. Josh Padgett and Jeb Chandler win a round of golf at PGA National. 2. Kodi Stephen presents Andy Solis (left) with a new set of golf clubs for making a hole-in-one on No. 11. 3. Junior golfer Cameron White presents the award to winning team members Joseph Managaro, David Lannoccari and Ray Ciampa. 4. Travis Chambers and Doyle King. 5. Waldau Junior Golf celebrates the success of the OHS golf season.

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Winter 2011 | 35



At Home

Bill and Deanna Brewer BY Ron Bukley O PHOTOS BY Sharon cannon

The home of Bill and Deanna Brewer sits among the ancient trees of Oak Lake Estates just outside Okeechobee. The hardwoods’ moss-draped limbs provide a natural canopy for the community, and the combined roadway and pedestrian bike path meanders and splits underneath in deference to them. The Brewers had a home in Buckhead Ridge, and they also own a piece of vacant property they were going to develop until they saw this house and the friendly, inviting neighborhood. “It’s like a different world here,” said Deanna, 64, who teaches a combined thirdand fourth-grade class at South Elementary School.

Deanna’s school and church are a mile away, and the town is a mile and a half

children, who have a closet full of clothes on hand for weekend stays in one of the two bedrooms in the guest wing. “Our granddaughters stay sometimes the entire weekend,” Bill said. “They love coming here.” Ample accommodations for visiting friends were a strong factor in their decision to buy the house. “We have family and friends from up north who spend most of January and February here,” Bill said. “When they’re here at night, they close this door and they have their own apartment, bath and laundry.”

(Above) Bill and Deanna Brewer. (Right top) The central living area has a warm fireplace. (Bottom left) The Brewer’s home sits among mossdrapped oaks trees. (Bottom right) A kitchen decorative accent piece.

Bill, 67, is a retired lineman who worked for a power company in West Virginia. The Brewers have lived in their home for almost four years. The 2,500-square-foot house belonged to a teacher Deanna taught with who moved to Georgia. “We were looking for a house and I said, ‘Do you mind if Bill and I come by and look at it?’” Deanna said. Bill said one advantage of being there is that they have a beautiful walking or bicycling area right at their front door. “When we were at Buckhead Ridge, we would drive about a mile to the lake where they have a walking area,” he said. “Here we can ride bikes or walk a 36 | Winter 2011

mile or two miles and never get in our car. There’s no traffic out there, and it’s nice.”


away. “We did quite a bit of driving when we lived in Buckhead Ridge,” Bill said. “We’re actually not in the City of Okeechobee here, but we’re so close to everything it’s like being there.” There is no homeowners association, and there seems to be no need because everyone takes pride in the neighborhood. Community members chipped in to pay for low-energy lights on the streets. “The people pay about $25 a year to supply the lights,” Bill said. “They’re beautiful when they come on at night.” The house is perfect for having guests from up north or the Brewers’ grand-

The guest wing has two bedrooms, both of which are often occupied in the winter, he said, explaining, “We sometimes have four people here.” The Brewers’ next-door neighbor, Allen Nelson, owner of Platinum Performance Builders of Okeechobee, built their house in 2004. Everything inside it, including ornate woodwork, a gas fireplace and kitchen, is the same as when the couple bought it. Bill said he appreciates the tile work in the bathroom that extends to the ceiling, as well as the extensive woodwork throughout the house. “This house was just perfect for us,” he said. “We have not changed anything except outside.” 

Winter 2011 | 37

(Above) Cozy patio area is perfect for entertaining guests. (Below) Formal dining room with spacious bay window.

(Above) The home sits among ancient trees of Oak Lake Estates. (Below) The master bedroom area in the west wing.

(Above left) Roses Bill nursed back to vitality. (Above middle) The master bathroom accent. (Above right) One of the many kitchen accents. (Below) One of the two guest bedrooms in the east wing is decorated in a golf theme.

38 | Winter 2011


(Above) The kitchen has many features Deanna enjoys. (Below) The spacious master bathroom has a Jacuzzi-style bathtub and shower.

“We’ve done a lot of work outside,” Deanna said. “We put pavers in and a lot of plants. We put the fire pit in.” The back yard also has a play set and volleyball net for the grandchildren. The front and back yards are landscaped with plantings, including caladiums, impatiens, spider plants and periwinkles that Deanna has put in. “This is the kind of thing I like to do,” she said. “I put all of this stuff in. Bill takes care of the rose bush, though.” The large rose bush was somewhat neglected when the Brewers moved into the house, but Bill has nursed it back to vitality. Deanna has also resurrected a large hibiscus tree in the back yard that had stopped blooming. There is also a jasmine tree that blooms about five times a year, Bill noted.

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Their bedroom area on the west wing includes a computer room, large closet and spacious bathroom with Jacuzzistyle bathtub and shower. They can close in their wing if the guests wish to remain up and watch the 52-inch flatscreen television in the central living room. Deanna said the kitchen has many features she enjoys, including large drawers for cooking utensils, slide-out doors for 

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condiments and a cover for the refrigerator that looks like the rest of the cabinet work. “The kitchen has all kinds of slideouts and lots of storage space,” Deanna said. “The stove has a warmer on it, and that’s kind of nice.” The kitchen is separated from the living area with a counter for an open feeling, but a full wall and kitchen door separate the kitchen from the dining room for a more formal feeling.

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Although the house is well suited for the Brewers, the community was the real selling point for them. “It’s hard to explain to people,” Deanna said. “The trees, you could just sit out here and look at them. We actually love the neighborhood.”

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The back yard features a stone fire pit.

A lake a couple of acres in size has a dock where residents can enjoy fishing or canoeing and kayaking. “I had the granddaughters over there, and they caught some bass and bluegills,” Bill said. “It’s safe here, too. The people that drive here watch for bicycle riders and kids.” Deanna’s family is coming down for the first time next February, and she said she has had difficulty describing to them where she lives. “I try to explain to them what our neighborhood looks like, and everybody says you have a really nice place, and I say, ‘It’s just a house, but you have to see all the trees, the neighborhood.’ It reminds you of a park.” O 40 | Winter 2011



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Winter 2011 | 41

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Winter 2011 | 43

Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Sixth Annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup

The 2011 Blood Roundup was held Nov. 19 and 20, and was a huge success, with 532 units of blood being drawn. Registration and health checks were done inside the Okeechobee Freshman Campus auditorium, then people boarded one of the five buses to donate blood. This is still the largest volunteer drive in Florida. More than 40 volunteers and 45 Florida’s Blood Centers personnel were present as Okeechobee residents turned out over the two-day, 18-hour drive. More than 275 donated prizes were awarded to donors, and each received a goody bag of about 30 items donated by local businesses. For more information, visit and click on “Blood Roundup.” For more information on next year’s event, set for Nov. 17 and 18, 2012, or to volunteer to help, contact Raye Deusinger at (863) 610-2176.




4 1. The Big Red Bus. 2. Florida’s Blood Centers Donor Development Coordinator Russ Colwell with Event Chair Raye Deusinger. 3. Donor Shyanne Prescott (second from left) with Florida’s Blood Centers’ Laura Ransom, Pearl Smith and Patricia Grazzette. 4. Chair Raye Deusinger (center) with volunteers Marilyn Buxton, Maureen Bradley, Joan Roden and Nancy Bartholomew. 5. Sherna Anderson with Aaron Travers. 6. Donor Daniel Mancil passes the time texting.

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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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863-467-5800 Winter 2011 | 47

Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta A Huge Success The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee hosted the Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta Oct. 8 on Taylor Creek. It was a huge success, with 58 boats participating and over 1,000 people in attendance. The event was held in memory of Adam Bryant, an Okeechobee resident and volunteer firefighter who lost his life after a spinal-cord injury. Proceeds go to a scholarship to be awarded to a graduating Okeechobee High School senior who plans on a career as a firefighter/EMT. More than $10,000 was raised.


The homemade boats raced along Taylor Creek while being cheered on by the large crowd of people who turned out in spite of the rain. For information on the Kiwanis Club, visit





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1. Adult Division winner Jesse Bodden (right), sponsored by Fast Break Marathon with event chair J.D. Mixon. 2. Contestants line up for the race. 3. Best Theme winners Todd Hackett, Eric Kendall and Heath Whipple with J.D. Mixon. 4. Sharon Wallace is determined to finish first. 5. Shannon Shirts takes a moment to talk with the children in the crowd. 6. Two of the contestants attempt the race. 7. Youth Division winner Johnny Cromwell, sponsored by County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper.

6 7

Dr. Charles W. Bartels Board Certified Optometric Physician

Big Lake Eye Care would like to welcome Dr. Carlo D. Fodor, a Board Certified Optometric Physician to our practice here in Okeechobee. Dr. Fodor graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a Doctor of Optometry and is living in Sebastian with his family. He also obtained a Bachelor of Science in Vision Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with a Minor in Biological Sciences.

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These accomplishments have enabled Dr. Fodor to teach the natural sciences in the past as an associate professor at the Palm Beach Community College. He brings his teaching skills into the exam room because educating patients on their conditions is a crucial part of every exam. Dr. Fodor has excellent communication skills in English, Spanish, and Italian. He has completed

Dr. Carlo D. Fodor Board Certified Optometric Physician

rotations in Primary Care, Ocular Disease, Glaucoma, Contact Lenses, Pediatrics Binocular Vision, and Low Vision. He has also served two years working at the Visual Health & Surgical Center managing all types of post-operative patients. Dr. Fodor is well qualified and trained to identify subtle abnormalities in our eyes that may be able to be corrected. Dr. Fodor has been working in the field since 1994 in numerous commercial and private offices. His knowledge and well- rounded background will allow him to manage his patients where ever he decides to practice. He enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his family.

606 North Parrott Ave Okeechobee   863-763-3937   Visit : Winter 2011 | 49

“The messages of Jesus do not change, but our methods do"

Delivering Love and Faith BY Raye Deusinger O PHOTOS BY RAFAEL PACHECO


ost of us have seen, either on the Internet or at a party, what happens when Mentos are dropped into diet soda. But have you ever seen the startling blast as part of a church service? Well, that is what you might see if you attend a service at Faith Farm. But then, the pastor there is a bit out of the ordinary. Jim Benton became Faith Farm’s pastor in January 2010, and this year he is helping it celebrate 60 years of molding and changing the lives of those mired in drug and alcohol addiction. The Okeechobee Faith Farm is one of three such organizations in Florida, with the other two located in Fort Lauderdale and Boynton Beach. Garland Eastham, known as “Pappy,” founded the Fort Lauderdale Rescue Tabernacle on Oct. 21, 1951, as a way to help the addicted find a path to recovery. He was active in the program until his death in 1993. Begun as a 30-day program, it now has more than 35,000 graduates, with 85 currently studying at the Okeechobee site. It was named Faith Farm because a farm is where things grow, and faith must grow. The first property in Fort Lauderdale was a 10-acre hobby farm. Because there was a need, a second site was opened in Boynton Beach on 110 acres. In 1986, ground was broken in Okeechobee on 1,500 acres, which today is where students are trained in farming, citrus and retail sales. Faith Farm currently has 250 head of cattle for beef, annually raises and sells about 225 head, farms 62 acres of citrus such as Valencia, blood oranges and pomelo grapefruit, and

operates the very popular thrift store. All three Faith Farm locations have similar programs adjusted to the locality. It is therapeutic to spend most of the day working, and everyone must work. Some crews maintain the farm, 50 acres of which have to be mowed and maintained. Others operate a recycling center, where they receive appliances from Lowe’s and Sears, fix and sell them. What cannot be repaired is taken apart for the recycling of components such as metal and foam. They recycle clothing into 1,500-pound bales, which is sold to buyers who ship them overseas. “That’s why on TV you’ll see some kid in Africa wearing a U of M T-shirt,” Benton said. Annually, the Okeechobee Faith Farm earns $125,000 from beef, $120,000 in the groves and $800,000 in the store for a total of about $1.2 million from operations, but the cost is much more. “It is a task to make the farm profitable, but faith is important and a farm is a place where faith can grow,” Benton said. Benton said that people come to Faith Farm from every background but to be accepted, certain criteria must be met. While some meds are allowed, people 

Winter 2011 | 51

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on anti-psychotic medications are not accepted. All health issues must be addressed before coming in. They must be healthy enough to work and must be mobile. All men sleep in one dorm under rules to help maintain community. Benton said there has to be a willingness to be obedient. He believes an upbeat attitude is important so his Wednesday and Sunday church services present the message in an often humorous way. Enter the Mentos. For the benefit of newcomers, Benton often interrupts a church service, takes everyone outside and prepares a visual lesson in “change.” He explains that for something new to come in, one must empty the self and allow a catalyst to act. To demonstrate, he drills a quarter-inch hole in the cap of a bottle of Diet Coke. With needle and thread, he strings three Mentos together, draws the string through the hole in the cap, suspending them over the Coke, and ties it to a toothpick laid across the cap. When the string is cut, the Mentos fall and all the liquid inside is immediately blown out of the bottle 15 feet straight up. Yes, things — and lives — can change quickly. Some of Benton’s other teaching involves using plants to show that things grow best in good earth. He has used a parked dragster behind the church, and when he preaches about the “sound of mighty rushing wind,” found in the book of Acts, someone revs up the car, producing that very sound. “A service must be relevant to them,” Benton said. “The messages of Jesus do not change, but our methods do. Everyone is required to attend church services at which time, a strong invitation is given.” At the age of 5, his parents, John and Elsie Benton, moved him and his two sisters from Spokane, Wash., to Brooklyn, N.Y., where they began a minis-

try with foster girls, creating The Teen Challenge program. Each night, his parents would leave about midnight or 1 a.m. to seek out teen prostitutes and bring them back to become part of the family. Not understanding, Benton ran away at the age of 10. Benton said God later revealed to him that “I have chosen your parents as a conduit to these girls.” Benton went on to attend college, get a business degree and eventually become an ordained minister. Today, his two sisters, Marji Smith and Connie Adams, and his wife Judy are in the ministry, and thousands of girls across the country are enjoying a new life in the ongoing Teen Challenge program.

Someone once mentioned to Benton that he looks like Drew Carey, which is appropriate because Benton enjoys watching The Price is Right and Carey’s humor. In 2009 while working at a homeless shelter in New Jersey, Benton had to travel to Pasadena, Calif., for a conference, he wrote for and received tickets to The Price is Right. While waiting in line, three people asked Benton for his autograph, mistaking him for Carey. A producer told Carey about

the look-alike, and soon Benton was called out of the audience and brought onstage. To see the episode, visit www., search for “double drew.” (During commercial, Benton learned Carey himself was, at one time, almost homeless.) Since then, Benton has done standup routines, performing as Carey for banquets, youth events and other forms of live entertainment. To make his point, 

Greatly resembling comedian Drew Carey, Benton (right) delivers love and faith through humor. That new life also awaits those who go through the Faith Farm program. Benton himself began with the organization by asking to go through one full day in the program as a new student. He was assigned bed 44 in a dorm that housed 80 men. On his first morning Benton was awakened at 5:30 a.m. and had to be at breakfast by 6:15 a.m., after which he was assigned work with a yard group, in the groves. He feels it gave him credibility when dealing with new students just as Jesus walked among us to know what we encounter. Benton feels humor and laughter are part of God, and quotes Hebrews 1:9 where God said, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

Winter 2011 | 53

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Benton uses movie scenes such as that from The Matrix in which the hero is offered two pills, one red to discover the ultimate truth, and one blue, which will allow him to go back to the life he lived before. Benton then said, “I can tell you the truth about heaven and hell, but you have to choose. Let’s all take the red pill together.” O




Stop by today & taste our Authentic Mexican Food that will keep you coming back for more!

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www.SneiderLaw.Com 54 | Winter 2011


ď ľ

Winter 2011 | 55

No Need To Go Out Of Town For Expert Health Care Services! We Are Right Here In Okeechobee, Your Hometown! Over 15 years experience specializing the treatment of:

Colonoscopy & Endoscopy  Capsule endoscopy  Liver disease (Hepatitis & Cirrhosis) Colon Cancer Screening  Irritable Bowel Syndrome  Gall Bladder Disease Ulcerative Colitis Crohn’s Disease  Removal of Polyps Treatment of Ulcers  Diverticulitis Gastrointestinal Bleeding  GERD Here are just a few testimonials from Dr. Bravo’s patients:

Gary Ritter

James F. Jewart

“Great experience. Dr. Bravo kept me well informed and the procedure was quick and painless. After all the horror stories, I’ve heard it turned out to be a breeze for me. Dr. Bravo is a good communicator and very personable. I feel at ease every time I visit with him.”

“Dr. Bravo is a very nice and respectable MD. He’s someone who could be dependable, therefore I respect him and depend on him for my health.”

Naseem Assamad

Donna Link “Dr. Bravo is an excellent doctor. If I could, he would be my everything doctor. His care for a patient is one on one, he shows concerns for each individual patient and for all the people in the world to get a colon test will have no fear with Dr. Bravo. I thank him for taking very good care of me. There aren’t too many doctors that show their true compassion for their patients.”

225 N.E. 19th Drive Okeechobee, Fl 34972 56 | Winter 2011

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Winter 2011 | 57

Community Event

By Felicia Maxwell

Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County Luncheon The Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County held its quarterly investors luncheon on Oct. 27 at the Williamson Conference Center at Indian River State College. The featured speaker was Larry Pelton, president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County. Formed in 2010, the Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County is a nonprofit community-based group of individuals and businesses committed to improving the economic well-being of Okeechobee. They strive to improve the image of the community and foster a climate of economic prosperity. It is led by an all-volunteer board of directors. For more information, visit To become a member, call (863) 467-6246.

Chamber ambassador Jim Vensel with Okeechobee Main Street Executive Director Cindy Birdashaw.

Guest speaker Larry Pelton (left) and Interim Chamber Executive Director Terry Burroughs.

Guest speaker Larry Pelton.

Newly appointed chamber ambassadors: (L-R) Holly Mixon, Frank DeCarlo, Chair Maureen Budjinski, Jim Vensel and John Creaseman.

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We Buy Scrap Gold




Jewelry & Accessories Ladies and Men’s Clothing All New Personalized Mugs Gifts Shoes and More!

Now Carrying

Famous Award Winning Barbecue and Steaks that a Cowboy would be proud of.

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Winter 2011 | 59

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Servicing Okeechobee County & Surrounding Areas

Fertilizer - Lime - Seed SPREADING G.P.S. Mapping

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Lawn & Landscape

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Tom McCoin

Professional Lawn & Landscape Maintenance


Complete Turn-Key Landscape Company Irrigation Installation & Repair Large Pasture Mowing

self storage budget/quick n’ easy Serving Okeechobee Since 1982 Family Owned & Operated

Fenced, Well Lit Be st Pri Safe, Secure ce I n Boat & RV Storage Town s ! Exterminated Resident Management Climate Controlled Units Large Units Available $$$ Referral Program Police, Fire & Military Discounts Taped Video Surveillance

We Sell Boxes Packing & Moving Supplies

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4619 Hwy. 441 SE 71 Okeechobee, FL 0 15


Hwy 441

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Tires & Batteries For BATTERY TIRE “Everything” OF OKEECHOBEE Home of Honest, Reliable Service Tires for Loaders - Tractors - Trucks - Cars -Trailers Lawnmowers - ATV - Hand Trucks Batteries for Autos - Trucks - Motorcycles - Boats Crane Loaders and More!

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198 Hwy 98 North Okeechobee, FL 7 Other Locations to Serve You.

Winter 2011 | 61

We Love To Care... Family owned and operated, Okeechobee Health Care Facility began providing Long-term and Rehab care to the citizens of Okeechobee and the surrounding communities in December of 1984. ring ra Riser rtduactivity n & Barba o Lacie Lotiftnoe interview & repparticipating the Valenrth ES 5th-graderastional program. with No onth intergener in the 9-m

Betty Mills modeling her Mardi Gras costume.

Sh & Sonirley Stephe , Noel, n, join for th ed by e Art S daug how C hter, D alend ebbie, ar Par ade.

Rehab Therapy, consisting of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Out-Patient Therapy, is available seven days a week in a loving, caring environment. Long-term care is available for loved ones who can no longer be cared for safely at home, in addition to a secured Dementia/Alzheimer's Memory-Care Unit.

Show er roo in m on A towelto a relaxin-Wing has warm g spa, been t e soft, srs, backgrocomplete wransformed oothin und m ith g colo usic a nd rs.

me spend ti verly Fixe under the e B & n Joh ther outsid the many toge ee in one of ts”. oak tr sit & visit spo “

Dietitian-Developed Nutritious Meals & Snacks Stimulating & Fun Daily Activities - Pastoral Services Home-Like Atmosphere - Dedicated Nurses and CNAs Individualized, Personal Care    24 Hours Every Day.

Herschel Haverlo therapy fro ck receiving out-patie while Pat LammmMaurice Cogle, RPT. - nt exercises with a smile"

Fre weigh d Hawkins beg Mauricet-bearing exercisinning & Regne r Dioqueins with sident ,RPT. t and Rne joying the n e id s e e R erbert,s time outsideNA Billie Jo H l e z a H , spend e with C ta, RN. te Advocawers and foliangd Kareen Mora flo an, left, a Freem

Eula Morgan, 96, with her painting that was selected as the cover for the annual Resident Art Calendar.

3rd andLorene Hancock 4th-gen ,8 eration tr5, with her ick-or-tr eate


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62 | Winter 2011


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Nov 14 American Spirit Dec 3 & 4 The Living Christmas Tree Dec 15 Miracle on 34th Street Jan 12 Jay Johnson in “The Two and Only” Jan 26 Guy Penrod Feb 7 Brigadoon Feb 14 The Improvised Shakespeare Company Feb 23 The Bronx Wanderers March 2 Jim Witter in “The Piano Men” March 15 The Allan Harris Quartet March 23 Celtic Fire April 17 Larry Gatlin & Buffalo Rome May 5 Missoula Children’s Theatre May 11 Street Beat, Inc. *All programs, dates and artists are subject to change

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Winter 2011 | 63

“He gives so much to the community. I can’t say enough good about him.” -Tina Clemons



he tall man with the bright smile and a twinkle in his eye introduces himself. But no introductions are needed. Everyone knows Charlie Hukriede at the Golden Corral. This energetic entrepreneur, the owner of the Okeechobee Golden Corral, gives his all to his restaurant and the community, especially to its young people. Hukriede came to Okeechobee in 2001 to help improve the Golden Corral, which had been in town for 30 years. He served as general manager for six years and became the owner three years ago. “Golden Corral offers a program where if a manager signs a contract for five years he will be given the opportunity to buy the restaurant,” Hukriede said. “It did this to stop the turnover of its general managers.” Hukriede was living in Stuart when he got the call telling him he was needed in Okeechobee. He and his wife Kelly Jo had already been making plans to move to Jacksonville with Golden Corral when the company asked him to come here. Hukriede asked how long they would need him, and he was told the restaurant was his, that he would be at the Okeechobee restaurant permanently. “When I told this to Kelly Jo she cried,” Hukriede said. “She’d really been looking forward to Jacksonville.” The couple decided they would stay for two years to turn the restaurant around and then move to Jacksonville. But after a year, Okeechobee was home. “Okeechobee is the best thing that ever happened to us,” Hukriede said. Both he and Kelly Jo love it here now. “My wife is tickled pink to reside here and likes her home in the country,” Hukriede said, noting that they’re much happier than they were in Jacksonville. “You couldn’t meet more down-toearth people who mean what they say. People here would give you the shirt off their backs.” The Hukriedes met when they were both managers for a Denny’s restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, and now Kelly Jo works with Charlie at the Golden Corral. On their days off, the couple enjoys their home on 5 acres, where they can ride

their “two and a half horses”; the “half ” is a Shetland pony, Charlie said with a smile. “I don’t have much time for hobbies since I work all the time,” Charlie said. “But to relax I love to play in the ocean and look forward to going scuba diving with my sons, 16-year-old Nico Wolfgang and 11-year-old Alexander Charles.” He also enjoys attending his sons’ football practices. “I am working to leave a legacy to my boys so they won’t have to work as hard as I do,” Charlie said. Charlie’s job history has not always been in the food industry in Florida. In 1992, he owned two furniture rental stores in Los Angeles but lost them during the race riots following the Rodney King trial. “They burned one store the first day and the second one the next day,” Charlie said. “My partners and I didn’t have fire insurance because of the cost. We lost everything.” Charlie had visited Florida as a child and knew some day he wanted to live there. With the loss of his stores he decided to pack up and make the move. “I always wanted to go into food, so I enrolled in the culinary program at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, where I graduated with top honors,” he said. Originally, Charlie had planned to go into catering but began his work in the food industry in restaurants, although now he also has a catering business in addition to the Golden Corral. “I have two full-time businesses,” Charlie said. “Catering helps business during the downturn.” Charlie’s first job after culinary school was at the Clock Restaurant in Boca Raton, followed by work at Denny’s as a general manager. He has spent the past 12 years at Golden Corral. Charlie said he was attracted to the food industry because he enjoys cooking. “There’s no greater pleasure than cooking something for someone and hearing them say, ‘Wow, that’s awesome,’” Charlie said. 

Winter 2011 | 65

Growing up in Kansas City, Mo., the son of Carl and Glenda Hukriede, Charlie always liked to cook. He remembers being inspired by his grandmother, who made everything from scratch. “You would never see a box of cake mix in her cupboard,” Charlie said. “She did things the old-fashioned way, which is one of the things I like about Golden Corral. Ingredients are prepared fresh, the ‘oldfashioned way.’” In spite of working full time with two businesses, Charlie finds the time, energy and concern to support the community in a big way. He is involved with the schools, Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H. “I can’t say no to kids,” he said. Charlie was awarded the Okeechobee County Friend of 4-H Award in 2010. “The highest honor that Okeechobee County 4-H bestows is the Okeechobee County Friend of 4-H Award,” extension agent Debbie Clements said. “Charlie always went above and beyond in his support of 4-H. He gave of his time, labor and service. He was nominated and selected by a committee of leaders, members, and advisors.” Charlie also volunteers with the Big Lake Mission Outreach, Arnold’s Wildlife, the Masonic Lodge and other organizations. “Charlie is a super man,” Hospice of Okeechobee Board member Tina Clemons said. “He gives so much to the community. I can’t say enough good about him.” Terry Burroughs, interim executive director of the Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County, has high praise for Charlie’s work as a board member. “Charlie is one of the chamber’s most valuable assets as it relates to his focus on attention to serve the community,” Burroughs said. “His generosity is unsurpassed, and the board is grateful for his dedication to helping our organization to be the best it can be. Charlie never  66 | Winter 2011


A State Certified General Contractor St. Lic. CGC1507657

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Hours Tuesday - Thursday 11:00 am - 9:00 pm Friday & Saturday 11:00 am - 10:00 pm Sundays 11:00 am to 4:00 pm Closed Mondays

Serving Lunch and Dinner Dine In - Carry Out - Delivery Great Italian and American Food Desserts and Beverages Free WI-FI Available George Marshall, Jr. Owner Major Credit Cards Accepted

202 NE 2nd Street - Suite 10 Okeechobee, Florida Next to Flower Petals Additional Parking in Rear of Restaurant

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Winter 2011 | 67

Send flowers for any occasion. We offer a large variety of fresh flowers, plants and gifts.


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Committed To Quality & Service Experienced Designers Competitive Prices

“Charlie is one of the chamber’s most valuable assets as it relates to his focus on attention to serve the community.” - Terry Burroughs Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County Interim Executive Director

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turns down a request and extends himself to help others over his own personal goals. For those people who do not know Charlie, you are missing the opportunity to meet an a unique individual with passion and love for his community.” Professionally, Charlie has also been recognized for high achievement. His business has been in the prestigious top ten Golden Corral restaurants nationally, including the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. He attributes much of the success to his managers, Deborah Hall and Tony Gubler. According to Charlie, they make his job easier. “Our biggest success comes from our wonderful staff, which is all local,” Charlie said. “We have no turnover. I can’t say thank you enough to them.”

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Trophies, Plaques & MORE!!!

Even with the high regard in which Charlie’s restaurant is held nationally, the economy makes each day a struggle. “Times are tough,” he said. “We have 48 employees at the present when in the past we’ve had up to 58. Commodities are going up, and labor isn’t going down. You have to love the food industry because it requires so many hours. You don’t own a restaurant. The restaurant owns you. It’s demanding, but I love it.” Although Charlie’s restaurant and catering business require long hours, he feels it is vital to give time and effort to the community. “It’s important for everyone to be involved, especially when it comes to Okeechobee’s youth,” he said. “We need to keep our kids busy with activities and do whatever it takes to save our kids from gangs and drugs. My biggest fear bringing up two sons is drugs.” Parents in Okeechobee and everywhere share Charlie’s worry. His example of civic involvement brings the community a step closer to a healthy future for the children. As Charlie suggests, it’s a step everyone should take. O

Winter 2011 | 69

Community Event

By Sandra Pearce

Hospice of Okeechobee

Boots & Pearls Gala Board members and volunteers of Hospice of Okeechobee hosted the sixth annual Boots & Pearls Gala at the KOA Convention Center on Friday, Oct. 14. This fun-filled signature event will benefit the organization and the Hamrick Home. For more info., visit



3 1. Todd and Tina Clemons. 2. The Okeechobee The Magazine table. (seated) Cindy and Dan Birdashaw, (standing) Donna Huth, Bill Fowler, Gary and Maureen Budjinski and Tara and Mike Rowley. 3. (L-R) Joe Rowlett, Cindy Conrad, Joe and Jana Menghi and Diane and Glen Thomas. 4. Ehricka and Billy Wallace with Raybon Durrance. 5. Heather Hancock, Sherri Enfinger and Kristi Crawford. 6. Carol Daughtrey and Belva Boyd. 7. David and Sandra McAuley. 8. Paula Younger, Christa Luna and Libby Maxwell.



5 6

70 | Winter 2011



Okeechobee Main Street thanks our community for your support! Corporate Members Aaron's Sales and Lease Bank of America Big Lake Cancer Center Florida Blood Centers

Okeechobee Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep Okeechobee - The Magazine Raulerson Hospital

14 Karat Gold Store Accident Law Office of Philip DeBerard Advance America, Cash Advance Center Aecom Technology Air-A-Medics American Cancer Society American Red Cross American Well Drilling, Inc. Ameriprise Bass Okeechobee Funeral Home Berger Real Estate, Inc. Best Western Big Lake Eye Care Bowline Construction, Inc. Brennen Eyecare Bridgette Waldau Graphic Design Brown Cow Sweetery LLC Bruce Homer Insurance Company Burgess Paint and Supply Butch's Fish Camp Buxton Funeral Home C&B Background Fingerprinting Cassels and McCall C.A.S.T.L.E. CEECO CenterState Bank CES Marketing Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee Cty. Charlie's Lawn and Landscape Chiropractic Group, LLC City Cuts, LLC Close Construction Colin M. Cameron, Esq., P.A. Costopoulos & Helton, P.A. Cowboy's BBQ and Steak Culpepper & Terpening Curren Electric Custom Graphics and Signs Daniels' Plumbing

Acevedo, Daisy Altman, Sandy Altobello, Frank Arnold, Joe &Melissa Arnold, Mimi Barber, Rebecca Bennett, Norbert & Sharon Birdashaw, Cynthia & Dan Boni, Jonathan J. Branstetter, Bob Brazil, Jon & Stephanie Burroughs, Terry & Maureen

Seacoast National Bank Syfrett Feed Company TD Bank Tires Plus Total Car Care

111 NE 2nd Street - Okeechobee


Business Members

Dave's Mattress Outlet Dee-Stephano's Restaurant Dorothy C. Westby East Coast Signs and Shirts Edward Jones Investments EGP, Inc. Elbert Batton Real Estate Inspection Elliott's Pawn Shop Ferrell's Market Fitness Factory Flower Petals Freedom Ranch Garcia and Garcia, M.D., P.A. Garrard's Tackle Shop Golden Corral Guardians for New Futures Habitat for Humanity of Okeechobee Hampton Inn Harbor Community Bank Heartland Discount Pharmacy Henderson's Sani-Services, Inc. Holiday Inn Express

Hoskins and Turco, P.I

Hospice of Okeechobee Humana Humane Society- Pet Rescue ICS Computers Independent Newspapers John's Guide Service Jones Supply A-1 Sales and Service L. Berger Insurance Associates, LLC Lake Okeechobee Digestive Disease Center Lake Okeechobee Insurance, Inc. Law Office of Jeffrey A. Fadley Lehman Auto Body, Inc. Lucky Lanes Luviano Roofing Co., Inc.

Serenity Coffee Shop Mary Kay Cosmetics Shellen Guide Service Maxwell and Maxwell, P.A. McAlpin, Cavalcanti and Lewis, CPA's Sherwin-Williams Company Sims and Younger, CPA, PLLC MetLife Skull Hill Steel, Inc. Mid-Florida FCU Southern Style Fashions Mike Jones Guide Service SP Recycling Mims Veterinary Hospital St. Lucie Battery and Tire Mixon Real Estate Group, LLC State Farm Insurance Neese Enterprises Stitchin' Post Newman Air Conditioning Subway North Park Tire Center Summerford Property Management Northwestern Mutual Surfin' the Net Nurse on Call Syble’s Flowers Okeechobee City Board of Realtors Taylor Rental Okeechobee Democratic Party Tech Knowledge, LLC Okeechobee Emergency Physicians Teez 2 Pleez Okeechobee Golf and Country Club The Alarm Company of Okeechobee Okeechobee KOA The Canvas Shop, LLC Okeechobee Landfill, Inc. The Frosty Mug Optical Gallery The Sign Guy Page Art The Tucker Group, LLC Park Street Parcel Service, Inc. Tobacco Place, LLC Penny Saver Toni's Chic Boutique Physician's Weight Loss Center Total Roadside Service, Inc. Pier II Motel Tree Locators Pine Creek Sporting Club Ultimate Gamer Platinum Performance Builders Villa Margaret RV Park Platinum Performance Realtors Visiting Nurses Association of Florida PNC Bank Preferred Pest Solutions, Inc. Wicks, Brown, Williams and Co, CPA Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee Willson Appraisal Associates Preya Persaud Porter, PT WOKC/Glades Media Primerica Financial Services Quail Creek Plantation Rafael Pacheco Photography Okeechobee County Real Life Children's Ranch Board of County Commissioners Regions Bank The City of Okeechobee Rustic Style and Cabins

Special Thanks To

Friends of Main Street

Casian, Bill and Eileen Chandler, Teresa Chesley, Mary Clemons, Pete & Susan Cooper, Mary Beth & George Cracraft, Dennis Deusinger, Raye Doyle, Toni & Joe Dwyer, Phyllis Elliott, Josie Evans, Kent

Fehrman, Jan Ferrara, Gerald Folbrecht, Jon & Kasey Fritts, George & Lisa George, Susan Gillette, Debbie Gurney, John Gutierrez, Marilu Hadley, Marilyn Irby, Frank Irwin, Jane

Kaye, Damien D. Kirsch, Lonnie Kowal, Bruce & Edna Nunez, Antonia Parker, Anita Pierce, Stephanie Renfranz, Lisa Reynolds, Mark &Billie Jean Sevigny, Sister Elenor Shatto, Alan Stripling, Keith

Taylor, Bettye Thogersen, Greg Vaughan, Nancy Wallace, Sharon Walther, Mari Watford, Dowling & Cheri Watts, Lisa Williams, Susan and Haynes Williams, Timothy & Elizabeth Williamson, Jack Wolff, Jack Woloski, John & Linda

Winter 2011 | 71

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LONGEST HOURS • LEGENDARY SERVICE • HASSLE-FREE BANKING * Guarantee does not apply to applications for refinance, pre-approvals, home equity products and loans exceeding $3,000,000. One $500 payment per individual guarantee. Guarantee is not valid if loan amount or product changes. Same-day decision and on-time closing guarantees subject to receipt of required information and documents. For purposes of the guarantee, “same-day” is within 24 hours of receipt of required information, excluding Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays. Closing date will be mutually agreed upon. Offer subject to change at any time. Equal Housing Lender | Member FDIC | TD Bank, N.A.

72 | Winter 2011


’Tis The Season For

Fun, Festivals & Fishing

In Okeechobee County By Kathy Scott, Tourism Coordinator, Okeechobee County Tourist Development Council


s we enter the winter season of holiday time, it also brings the start of wonderful activities throughout Okeechobee County, and due to the recent blessing of rain, Florida’s freshwater activities promise to give endless days of outdoor adventure on our local waterways. Okeechobee County’s wide variety of activities provides entertainment for local families, and brings visitors from throughout Florida and around the entire United States to this community. These events bring out the best of Okeechobee County. We wish everyone a great winter season of fun, festivals and fishing in Okeechobee County. The following is a brief schedule of upcoming events. For further updates of events, or if you are planning an event that you would like posted on the Okeechobee community calendar, visit wwww.okeechobeebusiness. com, or call Okeechobee TDC at (863) 763-3959. January • Jan. 19-20 FLW Everstart Fishing Tournament at C. Scott Driver Park. Call (863) 763-3959. • Jan. 20 Concert at KOA Resort. Call (863) 7630231. • Jan. 28 Okeechobee Health & Safety Fair at Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center. Call (863) 763-1666. • Jan. 28 March of Dimes 10th annual Big Lake Fishing Tournament at Okee-Tantie. Call (863) 467-4633.

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February • Feb. 4-5 Battle of Okeechobee Re-Enactment. Visit • Feb. 4-5 Florida Bass Federation Qualifier at C. Scott Driver Park. Call (863) 763-3959. • Feb. 18 FLW BFL Gator Division Fishing Tournament at C. Scott Driver Park. Call (863) 763-3959. • Feb. 22-26 Seminole Cup Sporting Clays Competition at Quail Creek Plantation. Call (863) 7632529. • Feb. 20 Concert at KOA Resort. Call (863) 4674663. • Feb. 25 Bassmaster Weekend Series Fishing Tournament at C. Scott Driver Park. Call (863) 7633959. March • March 9-18 Okeechobee County Fair at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center. Call (863) 7631666. • March 10-13 Okeechobee Cattlemen’s Spring PRCA Rodeo at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center. Call (863) 763-1666. • March 12-17 Livestock Show & Sale at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center. Call (863) 7631666. • March 10-11 The 44th annual Speckled Perch Festival at Flagler Park. Call (863) 357-6246. • March 15-17 Okeekissimmee Blue Grass Festival at Okee-Tantie Campground and Marina (KD Productions). Call (863) 634-5815. • March 21-25 Bassmasters Elite Series Fishing Tournament and Festival at C. Scott Driver Park. Call (863) 763-3959. • March 25 Ninth annual Okeechobee Rotary Club “LOST” bike ride atop the Herbert Hoover Dike. Call (863) 763-3101.

410 S.E. 2nd Avenue Okeechobee, FL 34974

Your Local Commercial Real Estate Expert

Office: 863-763-0999 Fax: 863-763-1945

Fifth Annual Okeechobee Family Health & Safety Expo Promoting Health & Safety

Saturday, January 28, 2012 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

Agri-Civic Center

4601 Highway 710 East - Okeechobee

It’s a Family Fun-filled Educational Day!

All Free!

For More Information, Please Contact Sharon Vinson (863) 462-5000 ext. 257 Rosalind Brown (863) 462-5781 or Donny Arnold (863) 634-6464

Sponsored in Part By: Note: Schedules are subject to change. Contact event coordinators for confirmation. O

Winter 2011 | 73

Fishing on By Capt. Michael Shellen


his winter is sizing up to be one of the best ever seen in Okeechobee. Through the hard work of many people striving to build the reputation of our town, word is reaching far and wide, drawing folks in from all over the United States and even worldwide. The City and County of Okeechobee have worked hard to attract major hotels and restaurants to mix in with our down-home South Florida flavor. When you add the best bass fishing lake in the world to this mixture, it’s easy to see why more and more people are coming to Okeechobee earlier, and more often each year. This winter, we are hosting several major bass-fishing events. The year kicks off with the Everstart Series visiting in January. The FLW Tour is back again in February after last year’s record catching weights. Then in late March, the B.A.S.S. Elite series visits Okeechobee, featuring the world’s best bass angler, Kevin Van Dam. The weigh-ins for these events are free and the public is invited. I find myself wondering just how good the fishing is going to get on Lake Okeechobee before it levels off somewhat. For several years now, we have had nearly ideal conditions. Clear water and prolific growth of the native vegetation have triggered something very special that is happening in the lake. The spawns have been terrific, leading to an explosion in the fish growth in Lake Okeechobee, the likes of which has not been seen in many years, if ever. The lake level is nearly ideal, and every species of fish is biting. There are many beautiful lakes in this world, and I am prejudiced,

74 | Winter 2011


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pen! Mid-Florida Hardware Postal Center O w o N U.S. Postal Service Contract Postal Unit Capt. Michael Shellen

but the sheer size and beauty of our giant lake and its diverse ecosystems is a thing to behold. After thousands of fishing trips on the lake, I still find myself marveling at the sheer majesty of Lake Okeechobee. Whether you want to fish or just sightsee, our community has something for everyone. The best fishing guides on the lake make Okeechobee their home and will gladly share their boat with you for the fishing experience of a lifetime. The City of Okeechobee is located on the very north end of the massive lake and is easily reached from anywhere in the state. Located just 35 miles from the East Coast and 60 miles from Florida’s west coast it is easily approachable from all directions. Come visit us, and then when you return home tell your family and friends that you found the perfect spot to visit in Florida. Warm, friendly people, great fishing, down-home cooking and sunshine — it’s a combination that can’t be beat! O Capt. Michael Shellen Shellen Guide Service

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Winter 2011 | 75

Community Event

By Sharon Cannon

Seacoast National Bank

Hosts Sheriff Shootout Benefit

(Above, L-R) Glades County Sheriff Stuart Whiddon, Denny Hudson, Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch Director of Major Gifts Colleen Lockwood, Okeechobee County Undersheriff Noel Stephen Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden and Chief Deputy Kevin Nelson; (back) GCSO Chief Deputy Duane Pottorf, Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul May and DeSoto County Sheriff Will Wise. (Below)Seacoast National Bank Senior Vice President Jon Geitner addresses shootout participants during the luncheon.

On Oct. 27, Seacoast National Bank hosted the first Sheriff Shootout, inviting the sheriffs, undersheriffs and sheriff ’s office representatives to Quail Creek Plantation in Okeechobee to participate in a friendly cross-county shooting competition to benefit the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. Sheriffs offices from seven counties were represented.

Glades County Sheriff Stuart Whiddon, who took first place in sharp shooting, with Chief Deputy Duane Pottorf (left), Okeechobee County Undersheriff Noel Stephen and Seacoast National Bank CEO Denny Hudson.

76 | Winter 2011


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Okeechobee The Magazine Office: 863-467-0054 111 NE 2nd Street Okeechobee, FL 34972

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Tyler Finney

Earns College Baseball Scholarship

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


yler Finney grew up playing baseball every chance he got, and at the same time remained one of the top students in his class academically. His hard work paid off this fall when Flagler College in St. Augustine offered him a scholarship to play baseball for the next four years. The college is a Division II school in the Peace Belt Conference, one of the premier conferences in the United States. Currently a senior at Okeechobee High School, Finney said he intends to pursue a degree in sports management at Flagler College. “They showed interest in me during the summer during a camp and a showcase, and I love the campus

because it was beautiful,” he said. “It seemed like a good fit for me.” Finney said a career in sports management seems the right choice for him because he enjoys everything about sports. He has been to a number of Major League Baseball stadiums and has fallen in love with the game. Finney said he enjoyed the atmosphere, the smell of hotdogs, and even loved watching batting practice and how players went about their business. Finney earned praise from OHS baseball coach Jeff Blackstone, who said Finney is the kind of ball player younger

Tyler Finney at his signing party held Nov. 16 at Beef O’Brady’s restaurant in Okeechobee.

players should pay attention to. “He is an exceptional young man with a great future,” Blackstone said. “He does things the right way and has his priorities straight. I’m extremely proud of him.” Tyler’s father Tom and mother Renea are longtime educators. Tom worked 20 years at Yearling Middle School before accepting a job two years ago for the Brighton Seminole Department of Education. Tom played golf at the University of Minnesota and coached Finney in baseball since he was old enough to pick up a bat and ball.


1365 US Hwy 441 SE - Okeechobee, FL 34974 (Next to the bowling alley)

863-763-4080 78 | Winter 2011


“It’s definitely an exciting time,” Tom said. “Tyler has worked hard on the field and in the classroom, and his hard work has paid off.” Tom said that Tyler loves the game and works hard all the time to improve his skills. Tyler said his long-term goal is to become a professional baseball player. “Flagler is a great opportunity that I’ve worked for all my life,” he said. “I’m glad to have the chance to play for a great program, and I’m glad it’s in Florida.” O


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Winter 2011 | 79


Okeechobee Okeechobee Main Street Wins State Awards

Okeechobee Main Street Executive Director Cindy Birdashaw and OKMS President Kathleen Shatto present to Okeechobee County Commissioner Margaret Helton the Florida State Main Street Merit Award Okeechobee Main Street members present the Florida State Main Street Merit Award for Outstanding Rehabilitation Project for for Outstanding New Construction Project to Grand Oaks, a VNA assisted living the Historical Okeechobee County Courthouse. center. Grand Oaks residents and staff accepted the award on Oct. 26.

The Historic Battle of Okeechobee Monument Moved

Great care was taken to move the monument to the Battle of Okeechobee State Park site on Nov. 17. A rededication will be held Feb. 4, 2012 at 11 a.m. during the annual Battle of Okeechobee Reenactment weekend.

OHS Band Heading To Washington, D.C.

Nominated by Congressman Tom Rooney, the Okeechobee High School band has been invited to participate in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. on May 28, 2012. For information, contact Band Director Clint Laflam at (863) 462-5025.

Raulerson Hospital Recognized Raulerson Hospital’s administrative team (L-R) CFO Terry Brown, CEO Robert Lee and CNO Brian Melear accept Raulerson Hospital’s certificate from the Joint Commission, the nation’s leading inspection and accreditation organization for hospitals. For the first time, the Joint Commission recognized the nation’s top performing hospitals for key quality measures. Only 14 percent or 405, of the facilities accredited by the Joint Commission received this distinction and Raulerson Hospital was among them.

80 | Winter 2011


Okeechobee Church of God Hosts Chris Sligh Concert on Oct. 29

American Idol Season 6 top 10 Finalist Chris Sligh, center, with Madonna and Pastor Mark Smith.



Economic Council of Okeechobee Executive Director Tara Minton Rowley and Quality of Life Committee Chair Sandy Perry present Gretchen Robertson (center) of State Farm Insurance of Okeechobee with the fourth quarter CARE Award, or Community Award Recognizing Enhancement, for the building located at 309 NE Second Street in Okeechobee.

Richard Donegan Wins State Golf Title

Senior golfer Richard Donegan set an OHS golf record on Nov. 2 by winning the high school Class 2A state golfing title at Howeyin-the-Hills’ El Camieon golf course. He shot a 3-under-par 69 to win the title.

The much awaited pictorial history book. “Strolling Down Country Roads, Okeechobee County ” has arrived, just in time for Christmas. Copies may be obtained at the PennySaver for $40.00 each. The Okeechobee Historical Society appreciates all contributors, they will be listed elsewhere. The main sponsors are: Okeechobee Historical Society and CenterState Bank of Okeechobee.

B.R.A.T. Club Is Ready for 2012 Board members: President/founder Teresa Chandler, County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper, Sheriff Paul May, Frank DeCarlo, Judge Jerry Bryant, Secretary Tiffany Hancock and Vice President/co-founder Allison Chandler. Not pictured: Treasurer Carrie Heineman, Matt Buxton and Amy Trammell.

liamson dler Wil992 n a h C y t 1 book. ors, Bet ntine in Co-Autahnd Twila Valenderful history o w on this working

Community Comes Out to Support Hannah Kate Johns

The front cover of the book shows the steamboat, Success, on Lake Okeechobee. Steamboats were the main mode of transportation. Both passengers and cargo traveled by these means until the Railroad arrived in 1915.

A ranch rodeo was held at the Okeechobee Cattlemen’s Arena on Oct. 29 in honor of 18-month-old Hannah Kate Johns, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A total of $75,000 was raised to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Hannah’s honor. (Right) Hannah Kate Johns. (Below) Winning team members Jim Burnett, Hannah’s father Flint Johns, Seth Louthan, Rafe Durrance and Reed Durrance. They graciously donated their winnings back to the event.

Photos by Lisa Schermerhorn

Photos provided by the Okeechobee Historical Society

Winter 2011 | 81

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Badcock Furniture .................................... 79 Bass Electric ............................................. 40 Berger Clinic ............................................. 28 Big Lake Eye Care ................................... 3, 49 Blue Heron Golf Club ................................ 82 Bridgette Waldau Graphic Design ............ 35 Buyer Brokerage Co. of Okeechobee ........ 72

Hampton Inn ............................................. 52 Health & Safety Expo ............................... 73 Heartland Discount Pharmacy.................. 57 Highland Pest Control ............................... 44 Holiday Inn ............................................. 45

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Raulerson Hospital offers Laparoscopic Hysterectomy, performed by Dr. James Bradfield. Dr. Bradfield is a Board Certified Gynecologist with 30 years experience in the field. Find out if Laparoscopic Hysterectomy is right for you.


Many women require a hysterectomy for various reasons. There are several types of laparoscopic hysterectomy. Depending on your needs, all or part of the uterus may be removed. In some cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed. A Laparoscopic hysterectomy reduces scarring and expedites recovery. Your surgeon will discuss the options with you before surgery. After your procedure, you may go home later the same day of your surgery, or you may stay in the hospital for 1–2 days. Your healthcare providers will help with your recovery during this time.

For more information, call Raulerson Hospital at 763-2151 Emergency Services - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (863) 763-2151 • 1796 Hwy 441 North Okeechobee, FL 34972 CONSULT-A-NURSE ® • For Free Physician Referral & Health Care Questions call 1-863-763-9228

Okeechobee The Magazine Winter 2011  

Angie Griffin: Relay for Life Chair Dedicated To | Fighting Cancer One Lap at a Time | Pastor Jim Benton | Charlie Hukriede | Shopping with...

Okeechobee The Magazine Winter 2011  

Angie Griffin: Relay for Life Chair Dedicated To | Fighting Cancer One Lap at a Time | Pastor Jim Benton | Charlie Hukriede | Shopping with...