Local News

SFWMD Governing Board Supports U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Restoration

SFWMD Governing Board Supports U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Restoration

The commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, briefed the media today on his support of Everglades restoration and the timeline of projects known as the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS). Below is a portion of the Corps’ statement and a supporting response from the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chairman:

“We have a strong partnership with the South Florida Water Management District and the state of Florida. The IDS was developed through public dialogue and discussion between the partners in the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Program.  It is the optimal sequence of restoration activities.” – USACE Col. Jason Kirk

Click here to read the full Corps’ statement

“Heard. Understood. Acknowledged. And Appreciated. The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board is extremely grateful for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reiteration today of its commitment to the Everglades restoration partnership and schedule of projects known as the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS). The Corps’ approach is the logical way to restore the Everglades. Attempting to allocate billions of dollars to a single project, outside of the publicly vetted and approved IDS sequence, would set restoration efforts back and provide more uncertainty for currently requested funding. The Corps and SFWMD Governing Board are maintaining their commitment to begin the study of an Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir in 2021, the timeframe set by the IDS. Built on science, the Everglades restoration plan and its timeline to complete projects is the right strategy to get the job done.” – SFWMD Chairman Dan O’Keefe


RoadWatch Advisory – Lane Closure – Summer 2017

RoadWatch Advisory – Lane Closure

SR 78 over Kissimmee River Bridge

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY

SR 78 over Kissimmee River Bridge:  Construction project: Motorists should expect alternating eastbound and westbound lane closures on SR 78 over Kissimmee River Bridge for the duration of this project. Traffic will be reduced to one lane during construction, and motorists will take turns crossing the bridge. Traffic control lights will be used to notify motorists of their turn to cross the bridge. The travel lane will be reduced to 12 feet during construction, so wide loads will not be able to cross the bridge. This lane closure is necessary for crews to make necessary updates to the bridge. Improvements include updating the bridge infrastructure, replacing the deck grating and refreshing the paint. Motorists should expect delays and use caution as crews work in the roadway. Work is expected to be completed in summer 2017


Florida’s Indian River State College Named One of Top Three Community Colleges in America by Aspen Institute

Florida’s Indian River State College Named One of Top Three Community Colleges in America by Aspen Institute

Indian River State College recognized as one of two Finalists-with-Distinction and awarded $100,000 prize for achieving outstanding outcomes in: learning, degree completion, minority and low-income student success, and employment and earnings 

Washington, DC, March 14, 2017 – The Aspen Institute announced today that Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida is a Finalist-with-Distinction of the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges and a benchmark for community college reform.

Awarded every two years since 2011, the $1 million Aspen Prize recognizes institutions for their outstanding outcomes in four areas: student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

Selected from more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide, 2017 Aspen Prize winner Lake Area Technical Institute will receive $600,000 in prize funds. Two Florida colleges, Broward College (Fort Lauderdale) and Indian River State College (Fort Pierce) were named Finalists-with-Distinction. Aspen also recognized two top ten finalists with the “Rising Star” award for rapid improvement in student completion: Odessa College (Odessa, TX) and San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX). All four will receive $100,000 prizes. (See full list of Top Ten Prize Finalists below and read more information about them at http://as.pn/1kr.)

“Indian River State College excels at providing a top-notch education for its students that is deeply aligned to the needs of employers in its region,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and author of What Excellent Community Colleges Do. “The college has an exceptionally culture of student success which in recent years has enabled incredibly quick progress in building clear pathways for its students, both those who aim to transfer to a four-year university and those aiming to enter the workforce right after graduation.”

Indian River State College may be the only higher educational option for 60 miles on a remote stretch of Florida’s east coast, but it has become one of the best college options in the area, serving 24,000 students at multiple campuses. With the goal of continuing to increase student completion rates, Indian River is deeply focused on what students need to complete classes, graduate and transfer to a four-year school or head directly into the workforce. With world class training facilities, Indian River offers bachelor’s degrees on campus and programs — from laser and nuclear technology to public safety and emergency response training — that deliver the skills regional employers demand.

Indian River State College stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges for many reasons, including:

  • Strong three-year graduation/transfer rates for all students (49%, compared to 39% nationally) and underrepresented minorities (43%, compared to 34% nationally)
  • Ranked third most affordable college in the nation by US Department of Education
  • Exemplary work developing guided pathways to degrees and jobs

The Prize winner and finalists were announced at an event at the Newseum in Washington, DC, by Aspen Prize Jury co-chairs Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana, and former Representative George Miller (D-CA).

Community colleges today enroll more than 40% of all US undergraduates – 6 million students – working toward degrees and certificates. These include growing numbers of lower-income and minority students. While nationwide, under 40% of all community college students graduate, Aspen Prize finalist institutions demonstrate that community colleges can help students achieve higher levels of success while in college and in completing a degree that leads to well-paying jobs and careers after college.

For more information about the 2017 Aspen Prize Winner, Finalists-with-Distinction, Rising Stars as well as information and lessons learned from the all of the Prize Finalists listed below, please visit: http://as.pn/1kr

2017 Aspen Prize Winner – Lake Area Technical Institute (Watertown, SD)

Finalists-with-Distinction
Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Indian River State College (Fort Pierce, FL)

Rising Star Award
Odessa College (Odessa, TX)
San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX)

Finalists
Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Coon Rapids, MN)
Chaffey College (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
Northeast Community College (Norfolk, NE)
Pasadena City College (Pasadena, CA)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College (Paducah, KY)


Charles Murphy News 3/14

News Cast for March 14th:

Jobless rates rose sharply in January in Okeechobee from 5.2 to 5.7 percent with 105 more people applying for jobless benefits.

The rate was identical to January, 2016. Glades County reported an increase from 6.2 to 6.9 percent.  Last January the jobless rate was six percent. Glades was tied with Gadsden County for fifth highest in the state.  Okeechobee was down in 26th place tied with Pasco, Gilchrist, Volusia and Levy counties. Around the lake Hendry County had 8.1 percent, Palm Beach 5.2 percent and Martin County 5.2 percent.

10 acres burned in a brush fire on Micco Bluff Road Saturday night at the Oak Creek campsite.  Firemen allowed the fire to burn out at the Kissimmee River and no structures were threatened.

An estimated 49 thousand dollars in property damage was done after a structure fire at 195 North East 70th Avenue on Saturday night.  Two people fled the burning home just after 10 pm. The State Fire Marshall is determining the cause.  The American Red Cross came to assist the family.

A Hispanic male was robbed as he walked on route 70 west around 3 am on Saturday.  He was knocked unconscious and robbed of a debit card, and cash.   He was treated at Raulerson hospital.

For 18 years an Okeechobee family has wondered what happened to their sister.  Robin Flynn is most likely dead now, her family agrees, but they don’t know how or why. WPBF 25 recently did a piece on the unsolved homicide.  Some new tips were generated. Brother Tim Arnold was the last to see Robin alive, he says he hasn’t given up. The Sheriff’s office continues to consider the Flynn case an open investigation.

Sports Cast for March 14th:

Nolan Carpenter won the Brahman Award for Okeechobee football this year. The senior linemen are one of the top students in his class.  The coaches also praised his work ethic.

Carpenter was a big part of the offensive line that came together and propelled the offense to a record-breaking season. He says the reason was hard work.

The Brahmans finished 8-2 last season.

Carpenter says his work in the weight room made the difference for him this past season.

There are no sports events scheduled due to spring break.


SFWMD to Close Lake Okeechobee North Shore Lock for Underwater Inspections

SFWMD to Close Lake Okeechobee North Shore Lock for Underwater Inspections

The Taylor Creek boat lock will be closed for two days

WHAT: The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will close the S-193 lock at Taylor Creek on the north shore of Lake Okeechobee for underwater inspections by divers.
WHEN: The lock will be closed March 20 and March 21, 2017.
WHERE:  The S-193 lock is located at the Taylor Creek Mariner’s Access on the north shore of Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee County.

Charles Murphy News 3/13

News Cast for March 13th:

Ben Albritton will run for Florida Senate as a republican in the district being vacated by Denise Grimsley. It currently covers Glades and Okeechobee counties. The citrus grower from Wauchula says he ran for state house because he understands agriculture and the risks involved. He has been involved in the budgeting for the Department of Agriculture.

He plans to pursue a cure for citrus greening, defend private property rights, and is a member of the national rifle association.

Glades County agreed to spend 40 thousand dollars to spruce up and make repairs to the Indian Mound Park in Ortona.  The boardwalk kiosks and other facilities have fallen into disrepair in recent years.  They would also put in new benches and make other improvements for the park which remains popular with hikers and nature lovers.

The county will also receive proposals soon for those wanting to purchase the land where the Glades Inn was located.

The Florida supreme court upheld the convictions and death sentences against two killers last week, Dale Middleton and Cary Michael Lambrix.  Middleton had argued that he was not properly read his right before he confessed to the murder of Roberta Christensen.  Lambrix is also on death row for a double murder in Glades County in 1982.  Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant were killed.  The ruling lifted a stay on Lambrix execution which had been scheduled in early 2 thousand 16.

Sports Cast for March 13th:

Mason Adams threw a shutout as Okeechobee defeated South Fork 7-0 on Friday night. Adams allowed only one hit and struck out nine. Cody Louthan had two hits and two RBI, Gabe Greseth two hits and Sean Osceola drove in two runs for the Brahmans.

Daniel Shelley is off to a great start for the Okeechobee boys track team this year.

He recently won the 16 hundred meters at the Seminole Ridge Invitational and last week helped the boys team to a victory at the Moore Haven track meet. Shelley says he has high hopes for the season. The 4 by 800-meter relay team has the best hopes of making states this year. Shelley says he is impressed with that group. There are no sporting events in Okeechobee due to spring break.


Rooney to Trump: Let’s Make Infrastructure A+ Again

Rooney to Trump: Let’s Make Infrastructure A+ Again

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) sent a letter to President Donald Trump proposing a common-sense solution to accelerate federal investments in our country’s aging infrastructure.

Yesterday, the American Society of Civil Engineers released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, which evaluates the condition and performance of America’s infrastructure, assigned our nation’s dams, inland waterways, ports and levees a collective D+. Nothing concerning America should ever receive a D+ grade, especially our roads and dams.

Rooney’s proposal will allow Congress to make needed investments in our country’s aging water infrastructure with respect to vetted Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation projects – all without increasing our current level of spending by one cent. Our nation’s economy depends on the work of the Corps, which maintains over a thousand of our ports and 25 thousand miles of commercial inland waterways serving 40 states. The inability of Congress to direct funding to these routinely underfunded projects is not just a public safety issue, but it ends up costing taxpayers more money in the long-run.

In his address to a Joint Session of Congress, President Trump pushed his plan to invest in America’s crumbling infrastructure. Rooney looks forward to the President’s response on his proposal


Charles Murphy News 3/10

News Cast for March 10th:

A Hendry County deputy shot in Clewiston last night. Jayson Moorhead was shot in the upper arm and flown to a trauma center where he is in stable condition. The shooting took place on Kentucky Avenue.  A person of interest in the shooting is being interviewed.

A total of 21 people arrested at the Okeechobee Music festival this year.  The sheriff released a list of the drugs seized, which included marijuana, 150 hits of LSD, 50 capsules of Molly, two pounds of marijuana cookies and brownies, methamphetamine, 1 hundred hits of ecstasy, mushrooms, and various prescription medications.

Lakeport gets it fire truck, the glades county commission voted 4-1 to get the truck which should be here by July 15. The bid was 2 hundred and 44 thousand dollars.  Fire Chief Bob Jones says the departments are busy during the year.

The 4th district court of appeals denied the appeal of convicted killer Brad Boswell of Okeechobee last week.   Boswell killed Angel Pulido and his dog in a home invasion robbery in 2 thousand 9 in Dewberry Gardens and is serving life in prison.

Okeechobee county commissioners approved a conceptual plan for Lock 7.  Included is 30 thousand dollars in new trees on the east side of the park, and 50 thousand for a new pavilion and observation tower.   Parking facilities would be expanded and a boardwalk for birdwatchers, an airboat launch, a launch area for canoes and kayaks and an amphitheatre were also included.

Commissioners also discussed having private development and business at Lock 7.

A long chase ended with two arrests near Lorida early Thursday. City police chased after the vehicle from the city limits up US 98 for miles with deputies also involved. Highlands county deputies say 36 year old Sony Grasfield was charged with resisting arrest.  28 year old Joseph Francione was cited for fleeing and eluding and turned over to Okeechobee city police.

Sports Cast for March 10th:

Sebring held off Okeechobee 4-3 in high school softball action Thursday. Okeechobee scored three runners in the bottom of the fifth thanks to three Sebring errors. Sebring pounded out 10 hits in the game. Jill Crosby had three hits for Okeechobee.

Coach Mary Huff says her team could have played better in all aspects of the game. Sebring improved to 10-1 while Okeechobee fell to 5-3 on the season.

Moore Haven baseball falls to Evangelical Christian 10-0 on the road last night.

Okeechobee boys won the track meet at Moore Haven high Thursday, the girls finished third.

On the sports schedule this weekend, JV baseball hosts South Fork at 6 pm tonight.  OHS varsity baseball visits South Fork at 7 pm.  Moore Haven baseball will host South West Florida Christian tonight at 7.

Moore Haven softball hosts St. John Neumann at 6:30 pm.

Saturday and Sunday the Pro Rodeo is in town,

OHS JV baseball hosts Sebring for a double header at 11 and OHS flag football compete in a preseason tournament in Lake Placid.


Dry Conditions Continue in February; SFWMD Governing Board Urging Conservation

Dry Conditions Continue in February; SFWMD Governing Board Urging Conservation

Rainfall well below average, and saving water now will help protect supplies for the remainder of the dry season  (Nov. – June)

West Palm Beach, FL – February saw some scattered rainfall throughout South Florida, but rainfall continues to be well below average during this dry season.  A total of 1.13 inches of rain fell District-wide in February, representing 56 percent of average, or 0.88 inches below average for the month.

On Thursday, SFWMD Governing Board members adopted a resolution urging all South Floridians, businesses and other water users to heighten water conservation efforts. All residents are urged to follow year-round landscape irrigation rules, which can be found at www.sfwmd.gov/mywateringdays. Those within the driest areas are encouraged to voluntarily cut back on irrigation, which can account for about half of residential water use. The main areas of concern for dry conditions include Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, along with Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties.

“Water conservation is important all year, but especially now during the dry season to help sustain our regional water supply,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “With several more months left in the dry season, all residents, businesses and other water users can implement some easy steps to help conserve water.”

Click here for 50 Ways to be Water Smart.

Most of the rainfall this past month fell on Feb. 22, the single heaviest rainfall since October’s Hurricane Matthew. The month of November was the driest since record keeping began in 1932.

SFWMD meteorologists reported this week that rainfall has been 46 percent of average from the start of the dry season in November to date. Only 3.77 inches fell District-wide, representing 46 percent of average, or 4.43 inches below average.

All basins in the 16-county area saw below average rainfall for the dry season to date:

  • Southwest Coast: 41 percent of average
  • Martin/St. Lucie: 43 percent of average
  • Eastern Palm Beach: 50 percent of average
  • Lake Okeechobee: 33 percent of average

Water managers are operating the system to save as much water as possible and will continue to make adjustments as needed. No additional water shortage rules are in place at this time.


Charles Murphy News 3/9

News Cast for March 9th:

Senate Bill 10 was expanded to include more water projects and cost more money. Plans continue for a 60 thousand acre reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee which has divided opinions from the Treasure Coast that supports it, and the Glades communities that worry about the economic impacts. Bill sponsor Rob Bradley says Lake Okeechobee is not the only source of pollution as he mentioned work on putting septic tanks on sewer and northern storage. The plan now called the coast to coast water resources act would spend 3.3 billion across the state.

The homicide of Tyrell Taylor of Okeechobee in Fort Myers has never been solved and a national law enforcement agency says they know why.  They say there is a backlog of over 1 hundred murders in Fort Myers and the homicide unit is undertrained, don’t have the resources they need, and don’t use the resources they have properly.  The report also hinted at internal corruption with cops tipping off drug dealers in the city to raids. The city hired some more police officers and plan other changes, but rejected an outside investigation.   Councilman Teresa Watkins Brown says the city must do bett. Taylor was shot at the Zombicon celebration in October of 2015.

A naked man was handcuffed but still tried to run away from deputies Tuesday on Dark Hammock Road.  58 grams of marijuana was found nearby.  28 year old Alfredo VAcci was reportedly found hiding in a ditch.

Sports Cast for March 9th:

Baron Stuart pitched a strong game as Okeechobee defeated South Fork 6-1 in high school baseball Wednesday night. Stuart added two hits at the plate. Stuart says he used all his pitches and threw strikes

Gabe Greseth had two hits and scored a run.  The Brahman catcher says he was glad to play a home game. Coach Eric Kindell says the team played good defense and got outstanding pitching.

Cody Louthan and Brady Markham drove in runs for Okeechobee

Okeechobee 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the district. They next play at South Fork on Friday

On the sports schedule, OHS tennis hosts Jensen Beach at 3:30.  OHs softball hosts Sebring JV at 5 and varsity at 7 pm

Moore Haven baseball and softball visit Evangelical Christian tonight.  Moore Haven also hosts a home track meet at 4:30 pm


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