Local News

Gov. Scott Honors 232 Veterans with Governor’s Veterans Service Award

Gov. Scott Honors 232 Veterans with Governor’s Veterans Service Award

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott awarded 232 Florida veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award for their service to Florida and the nation.

Governor Scott said, “As a Navy veteran myself, I was honored to present 232 Florida veterans today with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award in recognition of their service to our state and our nation. With Memorial Day earlier this week, we are reminded that the brave men and women of our armed forces chose to selflessly serve our country in order to protect our families and our freedoms, and we will continue to take every opportunity to thank them for their sacrifice.”

The ceremony was held at The Ferncreek Armory. During the ceremony, Governor Scott highlighted the service of Florida veteran Sergeant Odell Barbe and Staff Sergeant Mark Forsythe.

Sergeant Odell Barbe

Sergeant Odell Barbe is a 100 year old US Army veteran who served during World War II. Sergeant Barbe’s duties included squad leader and acting First Sergeant. He took part in the Battle of the Bulge in Normandy, Rhineland, and Central Europe. Sergeant Barbe was awarded many medals for his service, including the World War II Victory Ribbon, Bronze Star Medal, and Good Conduct Medal. Sergeant Barbe and his wife Nina of 67 years currently live in Orange County and they have one son, Jack Barbe.

Staff Sergeant Mark Forsythe

Staff Sergeant Mark Forsythe enlisted in the US Army in 2005 as an infantryman. During a 15 month deployment in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Forsythe served as a gunner and a transition specialist for a team training Iraqi Army Troops. In 2008, he was deployed to Nasiriya, where he was placed in charge of a joint service station that housed 100 soldiers.

Following his two Iraqi deployments, Staff Sergeant Forsythe joined the Florida Army National Guard in 2011, where he continues to serve as a squad leader. Staff Sergeant Forsythe has been given many awards and decorations for his outstanding service, including the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Unit Citation, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Staff Sergeant Forsythe is married to Julianne Marie, and they have two sons, Anthony who is 4 years old and Dominic who is 1 year old.

Florida Veterans Medal

The “Governor’s Veterans Service Award” honors Floridians who have served in the U.S. Military. The front of the medal depicts the Great Seal of the State of Florida. The back of the medal displays the five seals representing the five branches of U.S. Military with an inscription that reads “Honoring Those Who Served.”

Rooney: “Not One Dime” for EPA Overreach into Florida Farms

Rooney: “Not One Dime” for EPA Overreach into Florida Farms

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said he would fight to block any funding for an EPA rule issued today that would give the agency unprecedented new authority to regulate bodies of water on private property, including ditches and farm ponds.

“I’m going to fight as hard as I can to make sure the EPA does not get one dime to enforce this historic overreach onto farms in Florida and across the country,” Rooney said. “The rule issued today by the Obama Administration is a blatant power grab that clearly violates the intent of the law and the will of Congress, and we will not fund it.”

Rooney noted that the appropriations bill approved by a Republican House and Democratic Senate, and signed by President Obama, in December 2014 included language prohibiting enforcement of the EPA’s proposal. On May 12, with bipartisan support, the House passed H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, which would require the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the current rule and develop a new proposal that takes into account comments received, economic analysis, and recommendations from state and local officials, stakeholders, and other interested parties.

“Floridians understand and respect our waterways unlike any other state,” Rooney said. “Environmentalists, farmers and businesses have come together to protect our environment and eliminate water pollutants, and their efforts are working. It’s time for the federal government to learn from this functioning dynamic.

“We all want clean water, but for the EPA to start regulating farm ponds and puddles would be laughable if the costs weren’t so high. Complying with the EPA’s new rules would cost Florida farmers, families and local governments billions of dollars. It will slow our economic recovery, kill jobs in our state, and hurt our farmers’ ability to feed the nation.”

Spectacular Summer Hikes at Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest

Spectacular Summer Hikes at Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest

5 Tips to Making Florida’s Forest Adventure Fun for the Whole Family

Florida Forest Service challenges you to get the kids in your life out on the trail this summer, because part of preserving our local forest for future generations is teaching youth to appreciate and enjoy nature. Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is located in Felda, Florida and has over thirty-eight miles of forest roads for hiking. Spend quality time with the family over summer break without breaking the bank; as it is only a $2 entrance fee per person.

Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is a 32,370-acre pristine slough marsh that is just a short drive away from Palmdale, FL (40 minutes), Sebring, FL (80 minutes) and City of Okeechobee, FL (90 minutes). Plan your adventure for early morning when wildlife viewing is abundant. Here are five tips to making the hiking adventure fun for the whole family:

  1. Keep it easy and feature friendly. For at least the first few times, select a hike that isn’t too long or too strenuous. For kids, the hike is about the experience. The Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest has marshes, flatwoods, dome swamps and a boardwalk that will keep kids occupied and give them a goal to reach.
  1. Time is your friend, so plan for lots of it. Kids are natural explorers and want to pick up and touch everything. This is one of the greatest things about hiking, there is so much of the natural world for kids to discover and examine, make sure they have time to get their state forest fill.
  1. Plan frequent energy stops. Hiking requires a lot of energy. Energy-drained kids often equate to cranky kids. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluid and food. You can also promote energy breaks as a way to keep your child moving by saying, “at that large pine tree, we’ll take a break and have a snack.” Chances are by the time they have a snack, they will be eager to continue.
  1. Make it fun! The key to hiking success is to keep the kids motivated and having fun – so why not combine the two? Create games that you and your children can play out on the trail. Have them look for signs of wildlife (scat, animal tracks, bird holes in trees) or count wildflower species. Organize a scavenger hunt and have them find things that are bumpy, smelly, small, big, living, wet…the list goes on!
  1. Get kids involved with the preparation process. Have them look at maps, choose the correct clothing, help with the food and select a favorite non-electronic toy to bring along. Give them their own daypack and outfit it with an emergency whistle, rain jacket, compass and mini first-aid kit with colorful kid bandages. Show them how to use their gear in case of emergency.

Start a family tradition of going hiking one or more times a month. Kids love the sense of adventure and doing something new. There’s a wide range of trails, terrain and sights for children to behold. With kids spending a good chunk of their time indoors during the week, hiking on the weekend is a perfect way to get them outside.

Share your adventure with us on the Florida Forest Service Facebook page #OkSloughStateForest .

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages 37 state forests on more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.

For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, please contact your local Florida Forest Service:

Martin County (772) 221-4045;    Saint Lucie County (772) 468-3915;  Indian River County (772) 778-5085;

Glades County (863) 674-4000;    Highlands County  (863) 655-6407;   Okeechobee County (863) 462-5160

Charles Murphy News 5/27

News Cast for May 27th:

Three wildfires kept firemen busy over the weekend in Okeechobee County. Lightning strikes caused fires on North West 2 hundred and 90th Street in Viking, burning 7 acres, another on North West 276th Street that burned 22 acres, and one on Taylor Creek at Cemetery Road. No homes were threatened.5.26.15.Memorial.Day2

Four algal blooms studied on Lake Okeechobee’s west side in Okeechobee and Glades counties, did not contain toxins according to state scientists. Two samples taken near the Franklin locks on the Caloosahatchee River, turned up small levels of toxins. Full article in Local News.

Two candidates will be considered to become the next Okeechobee high school principal. Current assistant Principal Dylan Tedders and Dr. Gina Stafford of the Palm Beach County school system were the only two of nine candidates who met all the qualifications and certifications.

Jobless rates continued to decline in April with 5.6 percent unemployment in Okeechobee and 5.8 percent in Glades County. Okeechobee’s stood at 6 percent in March while Glades stood at 6.2 percent. Okeechobee ranked 27th among Florida counties, tied with Pasco and Jefferson County. Glades were tied with Levy County in 20th place.

Jon Folbrecht recently announced a second try at becoming sheriff. This time he will run as an independent candidate.

Folbrecht has worked 10 years at the Martin county sheriff’s office and is now with their traffic unit in Stuart. He is a US Army veteran and founder of the nonprofit group, the Heroes Memorial Foundation that helps the families of fallen firemen and policemen. Folbrecht said being nonpartisan is a message in itself. Folbrecht said the policies of the current administration caused the death of two Okeechobee women in an automobile crash.

Folbrecht 1

He said he would not be confrontational with the county commission, work within the confines of the budgets available and make tough decisions. He also wants higher salaries for deputies.

Folbrecht 2

Press News Release Attempt to Locate Stolen Truck and Trailer

Press News Release Infant Drowns in Pool

PB Fatal 5-24-15 US-27 and mm 52

Sports Cast for May 27th:

The MVP trophy for boys soccer was handed to senior and four year letterman Daniel Rodriguez this year. Rodriguez also took home the Golden Boot trophy that signifies he led the team in scoring goals with seven.

Rodriguez said the awards banquet was a great night for him.

Rodriguez 1

Rodriguez said he has a lot of great memories about playing soccer at Okeechobee high school that he will carry with him the rest of his life. Rodriguez said he knew he’d have to be more aggressive this year and score more goals for the team.

Rodriguez 2

The boy’s team went 6 and 9 this past season. Rodriguez said there is talent in the younger grades and they should improve next season. Video interview on WOKC Facebook page.

Memorial Day Weekend Wildfire Alerts

Memorial Day Weekend Wildfire Alerts

Potential for New Wildfire Ignitions 

5.26.15.Memorial.Day2PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Over the Memorial Day Weekend, the Florida Forest Service responded to six wildfires on the Treasure Coast and three wildfires in Okeechobee County. “The Fire Danger Index is moderate today,” states Melissa Yunas, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist, Florida Forest Service. “High temperature, lower humidity and a lack of adequate rainfall quickly dries out the leaf litter and grasses making them susceptible to ignition.”

“Our firefighting fixed-wing pilot will scout for new ignitions today,” says Yunas. “Lightning ignitions can smolder for days before they start to show visible signs.”

The weekend wildfires were located in rural areas and fortunately nothing was threatened. As wildfire activity increases, so does the possibility for homes and businesses to be affected.  State Wildland Firefighters encourage homeowners who live near nature to build a wildfire emergency kit, and make a wildfire plan with your family.

5.26.15.Memorial.DayDesign your home and landscaping with safety in mind, and use materials and plants that might contain a fire, instead of fueling it. Regularly cleaning gutters and chimneys is a must, and move flammable objects like patio furniture away from the house. Protect vinyl and wood construction materials; they are more vulnerable to fire. And if there is a wildfire nearby, evacuate early! Take your emergency kit and follow your family wildfire plan. Learn how to be a good neighbor with nature at www.FloridaForestService.com/Wildfires


County Date Reported Wildfire Name Acres Cause Location
Martin 05/22/15 16:59 Big Lake 25 Lightning 2190 S. Warfield Blvd
Indian Rvr 05/23/15 11:58 Station 12 3 Lightning 31st Ave & 49th St
Martin 05/23/15 12:18 Solar Power 10 Lightning L-65 canal & SW Kanner HWY
Martin 05/23/15 14:46 E. Indiantown 20 Lightning North of Minute Maid Rd off Citrus
Martin 05/23/15 16:54 Eighty Seventh 2 Lightning Hopwood and 87th
St. Lucie 05/24/15 15:04 Schopp 3 Equipment S. of Midway & FL Turnpike
Okeechobee 05/22/15 17:17 Cow Shed 7 Lightning NW 290th St in the Viking area
Okeechobee 05/23/15 16:00 First 22 Under Investigation NW 276th Street
Okeechobee 05/23/15 18:17 Taylor Creek 0.5 Lightning Off Cemetery, across from Circle K.

For a map of these wildfires, please visit the Florida Forest Service’s Fire Management Information System, click here for a three minute YouTube tutorial.

5.26.15.Memorial.Day4The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages 37 state forests on more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.

For questions about burn authorizations and wildfire prevention, please contact your local Florida Forest Service:

Martin County (772) 221-4045;    Saint Lucie County (772) 468-3915;  Indian River County (772) 778-5085;

Glades County (863) 674-4000;    Highlands County  (863) 655-6407;   Okeechobee County (863) 462-5160

Charles Murphy News 5/26

News Cast for May 26th:

WOKC News photo Memorial day 2015 photo 3A memorial for US Naval submarines was dedicated on Memorial Day in Veterans Memorial Park. 20 year US Naval veteran Paul Hiott was the featured speaker this year. He spoke on the importance of honoring the nation’s military and those that gave their lives for our freedoms. He noted sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance.

Hiott 1

Hiott 2

The names of all the submarines that were lost in US Military operations were read to the crowd as was the names of Okeechobee’s war dead. There was a tolling of the boats to dedicate the memorial.

Tolling of boats 1

In the courts, local charges were dropped against accused rapist Kevin McGruder of Tampa. He was accused of tying his girlfriend to a tree in Fort Drum earlier this year. McGruder will still face sexual battery and other charges in Hillsborough County. He was captured near Yeehaw Junction.

WOKC News photo Memorial Day 2015 photo 2Two Okeechobee residents are recovering from bullet wounds after a disagreement early Saturday in Douglas Park.
Okeechobee deputies say 18 year old Javion Stevens was arrested in Fort Pierce later Saturday afternoon on charges of two counts of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police suspect it was drug related. The victims Sherod and Brad Ware were hospitalized at Lawnwood. Sherod was shot in the back of the head and Brad in the shoulder and lower back.

Shooting in Douglas Park Press Release

Martin Fatal 5-21-15 SR-91 and mm 132

Press Release – Glades County

FCHC Back to School Registration

Sports Cast for May 26th:

WOKC sports photo Moore Haven football jamboree Dade Christian 3Dade Christian outscored Moore Haven 28-0 in the second half and defeated the Terriers 38-13 in the coaching debut of Richard Roudybush at their spring jamboree on Saturday night.

John Cox scored on an 89 yard touchdown run on a busted play and Demarcus Ware added a nine yard touchdown run in the first half.

Dwayne Terry caught a 77 yard touchdown pass for Dade Christian. Jordan Wilson added a 40 yard field goal just before halftime for the Crusaders.

Jonathon Wright had two touchdown runs in the second half for Dade Christian.

Coach Roudybush was glad his team played hard until the final buzzer. Roudybush said his team struggled after Cox left the game with an ankle injury. He said the team struggled without him but they have all summer to heal and prepare for next year.

Roudybush 1

Roudybush 2

Okeechobee’s spring game will be held this Friday night.

Governor Rick Scott Announces Florida Added More Than 25,000 Private-Sector Jobs in April

Governor Rick Scott Announces Florida Added More Than 25,000 Private-Sector Jobs in April

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced that Florida businesses created 25,800 private-sector jobs in April 2015. Since December 2010, 865,600 private-sector jobs have been created across the state. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate, now at 4.1 percent, has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012. Governor Scott made the announcement at IRadimed, a manufacturer of MRI compatible, non–magnetic IV infusion pump systems, that has created 46 jobs for families in Winter Springs, including 39 new jobs since December 2013. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Metropolitan Statistical Area’s (MSA) gained 47,200 new jobs over the year in April 2015, the highest number among all Florida metro areas for the 27th consecutive month.

To view the video, click HERE.

Charles Murphy News 5/22

News Cast for May 22nd:

The city council turned down a horse sculpture proposed by Okeechobee Main Street for Flagler Park this week. They also approved a voluntary annexation of over 5 acres for the Okeechobee Health Care Facility to expand and add a parking lot.

Council also approved a sales offer of 43 thousand dollars to the owners of a commercial lot of 2.7 acres at South West 4th Avenue and South West Park Street for use as a parking lot.

The Mayor also presented a proclamation to the First United Methodist Church for its 100th birthday.

Last night the Okeechobee city planning board approved a special exception to allow a Zaxby’s restaurant at 100 South East 10th Avenue, a former mobile home park.

In the courts, 32 year old Kristy Chen of Buckhead Ridge pled guilty to a grand theft charge and received four years’ probation. Glades County deputies claim Chen received a 15 thousand dollar federal student loan by using someone else’s identify. She also will serve 1 hundred hours of community service.

Seminole Elementary won the third and fourth grade competition, Central Elementary the fifth grade contest and Osceola middle school the middle school competition at the Math Bowl 5 hosted by Okeechobee schools this year.

Kaitlyn Renfranz coached the Seminole 4th grade. She applauded their efforts as they stayed after school for six weeks to prepare for the contest. Judy Reed taught the Seminole 3rd grade group. She said it shows the students grasped third grade math. Seminole won in a tie breaker over North Elementary.

Sports Cast for May 22nd:

Jacob Dupree wrapped up his senior year as the Brahman Award winner for the Okeechobee high school wrestling team.   He also qualified for the state tournament this year.

Dupree said he felt his senior year was very successful. Dupree said the Brahman Award really was a team award this year because the kids were self-motivated and didn’t need any great leaders. Dupree and Erik Gaitan represented OHS at the state tournament.

He’ll be leaving for the Marine Corps on September 21st and train at Paris Island.

The Hershey’s track and field games held at Okeechobee high school earlier this month. The girls 11 and 12 age division winners included Alexix Hernandez of Seminole in the 100 meters, Jasmine Shanks of Central in the 200 meters, Lauren Sills of Osceola in the 400 meters, Tammy Martinez of Pemayetv Emahakv in the 800 meters, Madison Hargraves of North Elementary in the softball throw and Bellara Schlosser of Everglades in the Standing long jump. The Osceola squad won the 4 by 100 meter relay behind Lauren Sills, Allana Nesby, Katelyen Shaw and Jakeria Stewart.


Governor Scott Signs 44 Bills into Law

Governor Scott Signs 44 Bills into Law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott signed the following bills into law today:

SB 144           Public Records/Impaired Practitioner Consultants – This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for certain personal identifying information related to impaired practitioner consultants, their families and employees.

SB 158           Civil Liability of Farmers – This bill expands an exemption from certain civil liabilities for farmers.

SB 172           Local Government Pension Reform – This bill makes several reforms regarding local firefighter and police pension requirements.

SB 184           Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot – This bill expands the permitted uses of federal write-in absentee ballots.

SB 248           Public Records/Body Camera Recording Made by a Law Enforcement Officer – This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for a body camera recording made by a law enforcement officer in certain situations.

SB 252:         Insurance – This bill provides that the absence of a countersignature does not affect the validity of a policy or contract of insurance.

SB 278           Downtown Development Districts – This bill relates to the Miami Downtown Development District.

SB 290           Carrying a Concealed Weapon or a Concealed Firearm – This bill allows a concealed weapon or firearm to be carried for 48 hours during a mandatory evacuation order declared during a state of emergency.

SB 296           Diabetes Advisory Council – This bill relates to the Diabetes Advisory Council membership and a report on the impact of diabetes-related activities.

HB 361          Relating to Military Housing Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions – This bill provides for an ad valorem tax exemption for property used to house military personnel.

SB 378           Juvenile Justice – This bill increases the number of times a law enforcement officer may issue a civil citation.

SB 396           Florida Historic Capitol – This bill creates the Florida Historic Capitol Museum Council.

SB 408           Designated Areas for Skateboarding, Inline Skating, Paintball, or Freestyle or Mountain and Off-Roading Bicycling – This bill removes the requirement for government entities to obtain written consent from parents or legal guardians before a child under the age of 17 can engage in skateboarding, inline skating or freestyle bicycling in designated areas operated by that government entity

SB 450           Pain Management Clinics – This bill requires the Department of Health to continue to regulate the registration and inspection of pain management clinics.

SB 466           Low-voltage Alarm Systems – This bill provides that no permit is needed to install, maintain, inspect, replace, or service a wireless alarm system.

SB 570           Service of Process of Witness Subpoenas – This bill allows service of a subpoena on a witness in a civil traffic case to be made by US mail.

SB 596           Craft Distilleries – This bill allows craft distilleries to sell an increased number of branded bottles directly to consumers.

SB 604           Consumer Protection – This bill creates the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,” which requires website owners posting certain content to provide identifying information on their website. Read letter from Attorney General Pam Bondi HERE.

SB 608           Real Estate Brokers and Appraisers – This bill provides greater flexibility to real estate brokers and agents and removes current requirement that there must be a written agreement between Florida and other states for the reciprocal licensing of out-of-state appraisers.

SB 620           Emergency Management – This bill allows Florida government employees providing assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to be reimbursed for expenses by the state requesting assistance at that state’s authorized rates.

SB 642           Individuals with Disabilities – This bill creates the Florida ABLE program for individuals with disabilities to save money in a tax-free savings account for future services without losing their eligibility for state and federal benefits.

SB 644           Florida ABLE Trust Fund/State Board of Administration – This bill creates the Florida ABLE Trust Fund, which will hold appropriations and moneys for the Florida ABLE program.

SB 646           Public Records/Information Held by the Florida Prepaid College Board, Florida ABLE, Inc., and the Florida ABLE Program – This bill provides exemptions from public records requirements for certain personal financial and health information held by the Florida Prepaid College Board, Florida ABLE, Inc., the Florida ABLE program, or an agent or service provider.

SB 672           Service of Process – This bill allows service of a criminal witness subpoena requiring the witness to appear for a deposition to be posted to his or her residence if one attempt to personally serve the subpoena has failed.

SB 676           Voluntary Contributions to End Breast Cancer – This bill requires the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to include language on vehicle registration, driver license, and identification card applications for a voluntary contribution of one dollar or more to be distributed to the Florida Breast Cancer Coalition Research Foundation, Inc.

SB 694           Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign – This bill makes revisions to the Florida State Employee Charitable Campaign.

SB 716           Public Records/Animal Medical Records – This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for certain animal medical records held by a state college of veterinary medicine.

SB 778           Local Government Construction Preferences – This bill prohibits local regulations from restricting competition for the award of a construction contract in which 50 percent or more of the cost will be paid from state funds.

SB 806           Regulation of Financial Institutions – This bill streamlines several Office of Financial Regulation regulatory processes.

SB 836           Florida Insurance Guaranty Association – This bill revises the levy of assessments on insurers by the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association.

SB 904           Home Health Services – This bill revises the requirements for main and satellite offices for home health agencies and nurse registries.

SB 954           Notification of Involuntary Examinations of Minors – This bill requires immediate notification to a student’s parent if the student is removed from school, school transportation, or a school-sponsored activity for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act.

SB 982           Florida Civil Rights Act – This bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy in public lodging and food service establishments and prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

SB 1094        Relating to Flood Insurance – This bill allows insurers flexible flood insurance coverage for the peril of flood that may include water intrusion coverage and differs from standard or preferred coverage.

SB 1312        Relating to Restricting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – This bill expands restrictions on lawsuits that are filed in retaliation against a party engaged in otherwise free speech to include suits filed by a person.

SB 7008        OGSR/Licensure Examination Questions/Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services – This bill provides an exemption from public meeting requirements for portions of meetings of the Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services during which licensure examination questions or answers are discussed.

SB 7010        OGSR/Examination Techniques or Procedures/Office of Financial Regulation – This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for information that would reveal examination techniques or procedures used by the Office of Financial Regulation under the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act.

SB 7012        OGSR/Credit History Information and Credit Scores/Office of Financial Regulation – This bill provides a public records exemption for credit history information and credit scores obtained for the purposes of licensing loan originators, mortgage brokers, and mortgage lenders.

SB 7016        Open Government Sunshine Review Act/Minor Identifying Information – This bill reenacts an existing public record exemption that protects identifying information held by the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel or the Justice Administrative Commission pertaining to records identifying minors waiving parental notice requirements.

SB 7024        State Board of Administration – This bill repeals restrictions on investments in institutions conducting business with Northern Ireland and establishes conditions for the transfer of any balance in the Fund B Surplus Funds Trust Fund.

SB 7028        Educational Opportunities for Veterans – This bill provides out-of-state tuition fee waivers to eligible spouses and dependents of veterans who live in Florida.

SB 7032        Public Records/Reports of a Deceased Child – This bill amends an existing public records exemption of certain identifying information collected during the investigation of a deceased child held by the State Child Abuse Death Review Committee or a local committee from the public record and meeting disclosure requirements.

SB 7034        Open Government Sunshine Review Act/Stalking Victims Identifying Information – This bill reenacts an existing public record exemption for personal identifying information of stalking victims held by the Attorney General or in election records.

SB 7078        Child Welfare – This bill amends and clarifies the investigation of and response to allegations of abuse and neglect of children related to last year’s child welfare bill, SB 1666.

A copy of the transmittal letters can be found HERE and HERE.

Corps to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee

Corps to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has announced plans to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries over the coming week.

The adjustment in discharges will take place tomorrow (May 22).  The new target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary will be a seven-day average of 1,400 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers.  The Corps plans to release an average of 1,200 cfs from Lake Okeechobee through Moore Haven Lock (S-77) supplemented with flows averaging 200 cfs from the newly-completed Nicodemus Slough project operated by the South Florida Water Management District.

The new target flow for the St. Lucie Estuary will be a seven-day average of 200 cfs as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart.  Flows at the Franklin and St. Lucie locations could occasionally be exceeded by runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins—those flows will be allowed to pass through structures as necessary.

“The lake continues to drop at a steady rate,” said Jim Jeffords, Operations Division Chief for the Jacksonville District.  “As water supply demands increase south of the lake, we are able to reduce flows east and west.”

Today, the lake stage is 13.17 feet.  It is currently in the Operational Low Sub-Band as defined by the 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS).  Under current conditions, LORS authorizes the Corps to discharge up to 3,000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee and up to 1,170 cfs to the St. Lucie.

For more information on water level and flows data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management website at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/WaterManagement.aspx.


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