Party at Douglas Brown Center draws noise complaints

Posted 5/13/24

An April 27 event at The Douglas Brown Community Center resulted in 19 complaints of loud and vulgar music ..

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Party at Douglas Brown Center draws noise complaints


OKEECHOBEE – An April 27 event at The Douglas Brown Community Center resulted in 19 complaints of loud and vulgar music, according to information shared at the May 9 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commissioners.

At their March 28 meeting, commissioners have given Charles Smith approval to host what was described as a family-friendly community event. Daytime activities were to start at 3 p.m. and include food vendors and children’s games. At 9 p.m., the event was to move indoors for an adults-only party.  

 Smith was given approval to serve alcohol at the adults-only portion of the event.

At the May 9 commission meeting, Community Services Director Denise Whitehead said the promoter was supposed to coordinate with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office to arrange for off duty officers at the event. She said despite calls from county staff, he was late in turning in the required paperwork. While the event was supposed to raise money to help the community, the county never received verification of 501-3c status as a nonprofit organization.

Whitehead said the event was not supposed to start until 3 p.m., yet the first call complaining of loud and vulgar music was logged before 3 p.m.

In a span of about 5 hours, there were 19 complaint calls of loud and extremely vulgar music from citizens across the community, she said.

Deputies did make attempts to communicate with the promoter, Whitehead continued. The promoter was not responsive and at times was argumentative, she said.

At 8:30 p.m., the event was moved indoors. There were no complaints after that time.

“I would like to prevent the amplification of vulgar music,” said Commissioner David Hazellief. “I see no reason why anybody needs to amplify that type of language.”

“I would be in favor of prohibiting this promoter from hosting any events on county property,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens. “The provisions we were told would be held to were not. The promoter was not cooperative. I cannot support moving forward, allowing that promoter to be on the premises anymore.”

Owens said the numerous complaints about loud music and the vulgarity of the loud music tied up dispatchers and first responders who have important public safety duties.

She said if 501-3c paperwork is not turned in by a deadline, the event should be cancelled.

“I got there around 8:30 p.m. and it was a mess,” said Commissioner Brad Goodbread. “By then, Charles Smith was being cooperative and they moved it indoors.”

He said while he does not want to hear vulgar language, “the First Amendment of the Constitution says government cannot ban speech.

“I will defend people’s rights even if I don’t like them,” he added.

County Attorney Wad Vose said he will review the county noise ordinance and see what more can be done.  “At your own facility generally you can have more latitude,” Vose said.

“There is not a First Amendment right to amplify any sound to force people who don’t want to participate to hear it,” he said.

Commissioner Frank Decarlo said while the commission was told it would be a community event, he heard it was advertised south of the lake and half of those in attendance were not from Okeechobee County.

Whitehead said in the past, Smith has said proceeds from these parties would go back to the community but county staff has not been provided with any  documentation.

She said Smith waited until the last minute to try to coordinate assignment of off-duty deputies. “Our staff made numerous attempts to try to get all of that paperwork in hand,” she added.

She said the county recently changed the regulation so that in the future all paperwork for the use of a county facility must be complete 10 days prior to the event or the event is cancelled.

The commission voted unanimously to ban the promoter, Charles Smith, from holding any future events on county property.

loud music, Douglas Brown, vulgar music