Local News

SFWMD Reopening Nearly All Public Lands to Recreational Use on Sept. 21

SFWMD Reopening Nearly All Public Lands to Recreational Use on Sept. 21

STAs 2, 3/4 and 5/6 and new A-1 Flow Equalization Basin remain closed

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will reopen public access to nearly all SFWMD-managed lands and lands managed in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21.

SFWMD lands have been closed since Sept. 8 under an emergency order issued in advance of Hurricane Irma. After the hurricane passed through the District’s 16-county region, land managers have been working to remove debris and repair storm-related damage to ensure public safety.

These lands currently remain closed to public access:

  • Palm Beach County: A-1 Flow Equalization Basin
  • Palm Beach County: Stormwater Treatment Area 2
  • Palm Beach County: Stormwater Treatment Area 3/4
  • Hendry County: Stormwater Treatment Area 5/6

Visit www.sfwmd.gov/recreation for the latest updates on post-Irma reopenings and to explore SFWMD-managed public lands.

For updates on the District’s recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma, follow @SFWMD_EM on Twitter or visit www.sfwmd.gov/stormupdate


SFWMD Navigation Lock on Lake Tohopekaliga to Resume Operations Following Hurricane Irma

SFWMD Navigation Lock on Lake Tohopekaliga to Resume Operations Following Hurricane Irma

Locks on the Kissimmee River remain closed for boaters’ safety

Kissimmee, FL – With commercial power restored following Hurricane Irma, the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) S-61 navigation lock on Lake Tohopekaliga will resume normal operations on Thursday, Sept. 21. The S-61 enables navigation between Lake Toho and Cypress Lake via the C-35 Canal in Osceola County.

For boaters’ safety, all SFWMD navigation locks on the Kissimmee River remain closed. The District is using the S-65A lock downstream of Lake Kissimmee to increase flows in the river and provide relief for residents and businesses from high water levels in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

Earlier this week, SFWMD navigation locks on the north and south shores of Lake Okeechobee resumed normal operations. Boaters navigating into the lake through the S-127 lock at Buckhead Ridge should be aware that floating vegetation may hinder their boats as they try to exit the lock chamber. The SFWMD Okeechobee Field Station is working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to address the issue as quickly as possible.

Navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For the status of those locks, check navigation notices from the Corps.

Visit www.sfwmd.gov/navigation for more information on navigation closures and a full list of SFWMD-operated locks and their operating hours.

For updates on the District’s recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma, follow @SFWMD_EM on Twitter or visit www.sfwmd.gov/stormupdate.


Gov. Scott: Disaster Relief Employment Available to Floridians Affected by Hurricane Irma

Gov. Scott: Disaster Relief Employment Available to Floridians Affected by Hurricane Irma

MARATHON, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the state has been awarded federal Dislocated Worker Grants to provide temporary employment to Floridians affected by Hurricane Irma. The Dislocated Worker Grants, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, provide disaster relief employment in the form of temporary jobs that support storm response and recovery efforts.

Governor Scott said, “As we all recover from Hurricane Irma, we are doing everything we can to help Floridians get back on their feet. This federal funding will provide important employment opportunities to Floridians who may have lost their jobs due to the impacts of this massive storm and will also support ongoing recovery efforts. Now, Floridians can get back to work helping those in their communities. We will continue to work together to make sure everyone has the support they need to rebuild.”

Disaster relief employment pertains to projects that provide food, clothing, shelter and other humanitarian assistance for disaster victims and projects that involve demolition, cleaning, repair, renovation and reconstruction of damaged structures and facilities. Individuals who qualify for disaster relief employment are people who are temporarily or permanently laid off as a consequence of the disaster, dislocated workers, and individuals who are long-term unemployed.

DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said, “DEO is working with local CareerSource Florida workforce boards across the state to connect dislocated job seekers with cleanup opportunities. We will continue to use these grants and all other resources we have available to help communities fully recover from Hurricane Irma.”

For information regarding National Dislocated Worker Grants, visit your local CareerSource Center at http://www.careersourceflorida.com/your-local-team.

In addition to the Dislocated Worker Grants, DEO is also providing the following programs to assist in recovery from Hurricane Irma:

  • The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program provides cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration loans. Go to www.floridadisasterloan.org for more information.
  • DEO is currently surveying businesses in affected counties to determine damage. To access the business survey, please go to http://flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda and select “Hurricane Irma” from the drop-down menu.
  • The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Program provides assistance to businesses and residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of Hurricane Irma. To apply for DUA, go to www.floridajobs.org or call the Florida Disaster Unemployment Assistance Line at 1-800-385-3920.

News Cast 9/21

News Cast for September 21st:

The Okeechobee City Council met Tuesday night. Among the agenda items was the final public hearing for the 2017-2018 City Budget. The budget passed. The use of 96% taxable values and the millage rate of 7.9932 will generate $160, 984 more revenue than last year’s  budget of $1,914,819. With other amended revenue categories, the total increase excluding reserves is 5.37% as compared to the increase in expenditures in the amount of 3.13%

All items on the agenda passed Tuesday night with the exception of item C, which was recommendation from city attorney John Cook to proceed with foreclosure proceedings for Super Stop Petroleum, Inc., located at 510 NE Park Street, due to property owner’s failure to honor terms of the Lien Release Agreement with a lien in the amount of $29,500.00, which was to be released if the new owner brought the property into compliance; nothing has been done as of this date to bring the property into compliance with City ordinances. The Council decided to postpone the decision based on the owners said intentions to come into compliance. The Council decided to look at it again in sixty to ninety days.

One item was added to the agenda and that was a motion to recommend Okeechobee Utility Authority to prioritize the Taylor Creek area for sewer as one of their legislative items.

Four new deputies were sworn into the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

In a statement, Sheriffs Deputy Jack Nash stated, “Please welcome Deputies Hernandez, Feldman, Gonzalez and Lacerte who were sworn in earlier today on to the Uniformed Patrol Division by Sheriff Stephen. We wish them well as they continue on from their orientation process to starting their field training,”

Sheriff Noel E. Stephen administered the Oath of Office at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. The new deputies are Deputy Kenneth Hernandez, Deputy Robert Feldman, Deputy Robert Gonzalez and Deputy Joel Lacerte. The four new deputies all recited the Oath of Office and their families got the chance to pin their badges to their uniforms.

Hill

In County Business, when the Board of County Commissioners met last week, one of the items discussed was money that will go to the Airport Industrial Park. Commissioner Chair Terry Burroughs explains.

Terry Burroughs on Airport money 9-21-17

The next County Commission meeting will be on Tuesday at 9am, the second public hearing on the budget will be that same day at 5:01pm both meetings will be at the second floor of the courthouse building at 304 NW 2nd Street.

On the arrest report for today:

Jennifer Hill of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond will be set at first hearing.


News Cast 9/20

News Cast for September 20th:

Sereday

After just 9 days recovery time, Okeechobee is nearly 100 percent recovered as far as power outages  due to Hurricane Irma. FP&L reports that out of nearly 20,000 outages in Okeechobee County, only 70 remain without power. Glades Electric reports out of 2200 meters in Okeechobee County, only 19 remain without power. Paul McGehee who is the director of business development with Glades Electric was on the WOKC Morning Show on earlier this week and says recovery was a massive undertaking.

Paul McGehee Interview

Over 160 additional line personnel from the panhandle, Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas all assisted Glades Electric in recovery. Statewide, over 30,000 personnel were dispatched to help with recovery making it the largest single state recovery effort in U.S History.

Mendosa

On the arrest report for today:

Josue Mendosa of Haines City was arrested on 3 counts of sexual battery and lewd or lascivious conduct on a minor under the age of 16. Mendosa is being held on $25,000 bond.

Gilbert Sereday Jr of Okeechobee was arrested on charges of forgery. Sereday allegedly unlawfully falsified an order for payment of money with the intent of defrauding the victim.


SFWMD Navigation Locks on North Shore of Lake Okeechobee Resume Operations Following Hurricane Irma

SFWMD Navigation Locks on North Shore of Lake Okeechobee Resume Operations Following Hurricane Irma

Navigation locks on the Kissimmee River remain closed

Okeechobee, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) resumed normal operations today at five navigation locks on the north shore of Lake Okeechobee after commercial power to those structures was restored following Hurricane Irma:

  • Okeechobee County: S-193 structure, Taylor Creek.
  • Okeechobee County: G-36 structure, Henry Creek.
  • Martin County: S-135 structure, J&S Fish Camp.
  • Glades County: S-127 structure, Buckhead Ridge.
  • Glades County: S-131 structure, Lakeport.

Boaters navigating into the lake through the S-127 lock at Buckhead Ridge should be aware that floating vegetation may hinder their boats as they try to exit the lock chamber. The SFWMD Okeechobee Field Station is working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to address the issue as quickly as possible.

On the south shore of the lake, the S-310 lock at Clewiston in Hendry County also returned to normal operations on Monday, Sept. 18.

All SFWMD navigation locks on the Kissimmee River and in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes remain closed as the District continues to evaluate their status to determine when they can safely be reopened. The District anticipates resuming normal operations at the S-61 lock on Lake Tohopekaliga in Osceola County as soon as commercial power is restored.

Navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For the status of those locks, check navigation notices from the Corps.

Visit www.sfwmd.gov/navigation for more information on navigation closures and a full list of SFWMD-operated locks and their operating hours.

For updates on the District’s recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma, follow @SFWMD_EM on Twitter or visit www.sfwmd.gov/stormupdate.


Local News 9/19

News Cast for September 19th:

As of Monday, FP&L reports that 70 county residents which includes 30 within the city are without power. Over 19,000 have been restored since the Hurricane hit.

Okeechobee City Council held their regular meeting on September 5th and along with Hurricane planning, was the first public hearing for the 2017-2018 city budget.

Some notes on the proposed budget:

  • General Fund revenues increased by 5.37%
  • General Fund expenditures increased by 3.13%

Items included in the budget:

  • Millage Rate of 7.9932 implemented with General Fund (same rate continued from 2016-2017)
  • Continued Step Plan for full and part time employees
  • COLA provided to employees at 2%
  • Amended Health Insurance benefit
  • Added medical clinic for employees
  • Added $2500 of Raulerson/Chandler Log Cabin Project
  • Continued specific report for Shared Services Council and Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce (Economic Development)

Specific Projects:

  • Continued replacement of trees in Flagler Parks
  • Centennial Park – Irrigation, landscaping, equipment, etc
  • Replacement plants for medians
  • SE 3rd Avenue/SE 6th Street SCOP Project
  • FDEP-TMDL Grants/ Project for Taylor Creek
  • Storm water drainage project – SFWM Grant
  • SE 8th Avenue Project – Appropriation Grant
  • Asphalt Overlay/Replacement project
  • Continued Sidewalk extension projects

Other significant budgeted capital items:

  • Replacement Police Vehicles
  • Add ½ Ton Fire Chief Truck and replacement of Code Enforcement Vehicle
  • Add zero turn mowers
  • Replacement roof for Police Station
  • HID Security Lock System at Police Station
  • Video Recording System
  • Additional handheld emergency radios
  • Bunker Gear rotation and replacement with bottles

Final Public hearing is tonight at 6pm in Council Chamber at City Hall

On the arrest reports today:

Rhonda Naugle of Lutz, Florida  was arrested on a Pasco County warrant for 4 counts of failure to appear for felony offense. Bond was set at $21,052 per warrant

Darrell Brown was arrested on a Tennessee felony warrant out of Blount County. Brown was transported to Okeechobee County Jail and will be held until extradited as a fugitive from justice.

Rusty Trammel of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana over 20 grams, driving with a suspended license and possession or use of drug paraphernalia after he was stopped on a traffic violation of speeding.

Charles Spiva was arrested for unarmed burglary and battery touch or strike, bond was set at $12,000

Joshua Thomas was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon/firearm and domestic battery by strangulation


FLOOD INFORMATION SHEET – FLOOD WATERS POSE HEALTH RISKS

FLOOD INFORMATION SHEET FLOOD WATERS POSE HEALTH RISKS

The Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties (DOH-Hendry/Glades) recommends the following precautions to prevent possible illness from flood waters:

Basic hygiene is critical. Wash your hands with soap and either disinfected or boiled and cooled water, especially before preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after participating in flood cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated with flood water or sewage.

Avoid eating or drinking anything that has been contaminated with flood waters.

Do not wade through standing water. If you do, wash and put on clean clothes.

Avoid contact with flood waters, especially if you have open cuts or sores. If you have any open cuts or sores and contact flood waters, wash the area well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention. Persons who sustain lacerations and/or puncture wounds and have not had a tetanus vaccination within the past 5 years require a tetanus booster

If sewage backs up into your house, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup. Absorbent household materials, such as wall coverings, cloth, rugs, and drywall, should be removed and discarded since they cannot be properly disinfected. Hard-surfaced walls and floors, food contact surfaces, such as counter tops, refrigerators, and tables, and areas where children play should be cleaned with soap and water, followed by a disinfecting solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water. All linens and clothing should be cleaned in hot water or dry cleaned, while carpeting should be steam cleaned if not replaced. For larger items, air dry them in the sun, followed by spraying them with a disinfectant.

If your home is served by a septic tank and your plumbing is functioning slowly or sluggishly, you should:

Conserve water as much as possible; if you use less water, you will increase the chance that there will not be any septic problems. This would include minimizing the use of your washing machine by going to a Laundromat or using a portable restroom.

Do not have the septic tank pumped. Exceptionally high water tables might crush a septic tank that was pumped dry or it could pop out of the ground. If the main problem is high ground water, pumping the tank will not solve that problem.

If you cannot use your plumbing without creating a sanitary nuisance, such as sewage on top of the ground, consider renting a portable restroom for a temporary period or moving to a new location until conditions improve.

Do not have the septic tank and drainfield repaired until the ground has dried. Often systems will function properly again when dry conditions return. Any repair must be permitted and inspected by the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties.

For further information, go to www.FloridaHealth.gov or contact the Florida Department of Health at: LaBelle 863-674-4041, Moore Haven 863-946-0707 or Clewiston 863-983-1408.


SFWMD Moving a Maximum Amount of Water to Protect Communities in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

SFWMD Moving a Maximum Amount of Water to Protect Communities in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

The region received more than two inches of rain in 24 hours 

West Palm Beach, FL – To protect homes and businesses in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes area, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is moving as much water as possible out of the region.

Water managers are taking additional actions as lakes continue to rise from a combination of direct rainfall over the area during the last 24 hours and immense stormwater runoff from Hurricane Irma.

Operations include:

  • All structures upstream of Lake Kissimmee discharging at maximum rates
  • Increased flows through the S-65 structure that moves water from Lake Kissimmee into the Kissimmee River
  • Opening the S-65A boat lock on the Kissimmee River to increase flow; all SFWMD boat locks on the river remain closed to public recreation to facilitate these operations.
  • Monitoring 24-hours a day

For more updates on SFWMD’s Hurricane Irma response:


S-310 Boat Lock to Resume Normal Operations When Lake Okeechobee Reaches 15.5 Feet

S-310 Boat Lock to Resume Normal Operations When Lake Okeechobee Reaches 15.5 Feet

All SFWMD locks on the north shore of the lake and the Kissimmee River remain closed due to Hurricane Irma

Clewiston, FL – The S-310 navigation lock at Clewiston on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee will resume normal operations when the lake level reaches 15.5 feet. SFWMD began staffing the lock on Friday morning, Sept. 15, in preparation. Normal daily operations for the S-310 are from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

To ensure boaters’ safety, all SFWMD locks on the north shore of Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River remain closed due to commercial power outages caused by Hurricane Irma. Operations at individual locks on the lake’s north shore will resume as power is restored to each one. The District will continue to evaluate the status of all locks on the Kissimmee River to determine when they can be safely reopened. A full list of SFWMD-operated locks is available at www.sfwmd.gov/navigation.

For the status of navigation locks operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Okeechobee Waterway, check navigation notices from the Corps.

 For more updates on SFWMD’s Hurricane Irma response:

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