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Governor Scott and First Lady Ann Scott Announce Jessica Solano as Florida’s 2017 Teacher of the Year

Governor Scott and First Lady Ann Scott Announce Jessica Solano as Florida’s 2017 Teacher of the Year

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott announced Jessica Solano, a math teacher at Highlands Grove Elementary School in Polk County, as the 2017 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year. Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart and Dennis Witte, Macy’s Executive Vice President Regional Director of Stores, joined Governor Scott to make the announcement at the annual awards ceremony honoring the state’s top educators.

Governor Scott said, “I want to congratulate Jessica Solano for being recognized as this year’s Teacher of the Year, and also thank Macy’s for this wonderful opportunity to honor our state’s outstanding teachers. The leaders of tomorrow are in our classrooms today, and Florida teachers do a great job preparing students for college and future careers. Our Florida First budget invested a historic total of more than $20 billion this year for K-12 public schools, and I look forward to continue making Florida’s education system the best in the nation for students to succeed.”

Under Governor Scott’s leadership, the awards for the Teacher of the Year program significantly increased this year. District participants were awarded up to $10,000, up from $980 last year. Finalists were awarded up to $15,000, an increase of nearly $10,000, and the Teacher of the Year will receive up to $20,000, which is nearly double last year’s award.

First Lady Ann Scott said, “As I travel across the state meeting Florida’s amazing students, I visit their classrooms and see firsthand the commitment of their teachers. Our students have more opportunities to achieve their dreams because of incredible educators in Florida’s schools. It’s exciting to announce this year’s Teacher of the Year tonight and I want to congratulate Jessica Solano for this accomplishment.”

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said, “I am pleased to recognize Jessica Solano as the 2017 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year. Our state’s educators are critical to our students’ success, and Jessica will represent the teaching profession well as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education. I look forward to working with her throughout the coming year.”

“We are fortunate to have educators like Jessica Solano in our schools,” said Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd. “She embodies the best qualities of a teacher: the willingness to challenge her students as well as herself, desire to innovate, initiative to embrace technology, and genuine concern for the children of our community. Ms. Solano is a credit to her profession. We are very proud to say she is one of the brightest lights in Polk County Public Schools.”

Dennis Witte, Macy’s Executive Vice President Regional Director of Stores, said, “Macy’s is honored to recognize the people with one of the most important jobs in our country today – teachers. Exceptional teachers guarantee our success as a nation, and dedicated teachers instill a love of lifelong learning to ensure our future generations achieve great things. Jessica Solano generously gives of herself every day to educate and inspire her students. We wish her success with her upcoming year inspiring her colleagues to promote the power of high quality educators in Florida.”

The winner will serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, touring the state to spread the word about Florida’s great success in education and the many opportunities afforded to students and educators in the Sunshine State. In addition to a $20,000 award funded by the Department of Education and Macy’s, the Teacher of the Year will receive a $1,000 wardrobe, a $1,000 check for her school and an all-expense paid trip for four to New York City to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Six additional awards were presented at the gala. Macy’s presented the Magic of Teaching Award to Andrea Vineyard from Tavares High School in Lake County; the Magic of Engagement Award to Julie Arasi from Kate Sullivan Elementary School in Leon County; the Magic of Believing Award to Tania Travieso from Vanguard High School in Marion County; the Magic of Leadership Award to Johanna Lopez from Colonial High School in Orange County; the Magic of Innovation Award to Chris Pombonyo from Crystal Lake Elementary School in Seminole County; and the Magic of Making a Difference to Jeff Johnston from Dale Cassens Education Complex in St.  Lucie County. Each recipient was honored with the award and a $500 Macy’s gift card.

 

About the Teacher of the Year Program

The Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year is chosen from Florida’s public school teachers by a selection committee comprised of teachers, principals, parents, and the business community. For more information about the winner and the Teacher of the Year program, visit Teacher of the Year. For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit www.fldoe.org.


Moving Water South Into Florida Bay

Moving Water South Into Florida Bay

SFWMD Governing Board Approves Operational Plan to Help Ecosystem in Need

West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved an innovative plan to deliver more fresh water to Florida Bay.

The changes are estimated to double flow of water into the headwaters of Taylor Slough by as much as 6.5 billion gallons more freshwater per year on average that would reach the thirsty bay. This will help save the bay by reducing salinity levels and promoting the recovery of seagrasses killed during a severe drought in the summer of 2015. The plan involves using canals, weirs, pump stations and other structures to promote direct flow into Taylor Slough and sheet flow through the S-332D Detention Area into the slough, which connects to Florida Bay.

“We will put water where it is desperately needed to help this delicate and rare ecosystem recover from the impact of last year’s drought in Florida Bay,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Daniel O’Keefe. “These solutions, devised by our world class innovative staff, will become a major part of saving the bay. This is a win for Monroe County, a win for the environment and a win for all Floridians.”

The improvements, some of which require permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will cost the SFWMD between $1.8 million and $3.3 million and could be completed before the start of the next dry season in November.

Required features of the plan include::

  • Connecting a flow way from the S-200 Pump Station to the L-31 West Canal to send more water towards Taylor Slough.
  • Rebuilding a levee and weir and adding plugs along the L-31 West Canal to encourage the flow of more water towards Taylor Slough. This will also keep more water in Everglades National Park.
  • Removing flapgates at the S-332i Pump Station to promote more flow.
  • Pump additional water through the S-328 structure into the L-31 West Canal reaching Taylor Slough.

Supplemental features of the plan that will also help deliver more water include:

  • Installing several plugs in the L-31 West Canal to reduce seepage from Everglades National Park and the S-332D Pump Station into the C-111 Canal and to promote overland flow of water into Taylor Slough.
  • Modifying a weir at the S-332D structure to promote overland flow of water to the headwaters of Taylor Slough.
  •  Increasing the pumping capacity at S-199 and S-200 pump stations, which will send more water flowing towards Taylor Slough, the Aerojet Canal and Everglades National Park, ultimately, reaching Florida Bay.
  • Removing vegetation to increase the amount of water flowing through the detentions areas into Taylor Slough.

Rooney to Scott: Florida’s fate is in Obama’s hands

Rooney to Scott: Florida’s fate is in Obama’s hands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) today responded to Governor Rick Scott’s July 12 letter to the Florida Congressional delegation requesting additional immediate funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain and repair the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

The Governor stated that President Obama has ignored his repeated requests for additional funds to repair the federally-operated Herbert Hoover Dike, and rightfully pointed out that Florida has stepped up to invest in important restoration projects while the federal government has continued to fall short.

“The Governor is exactly right – the Herbert Hoover Dike is drastically underfunded and the federal government is to blame. Period. Congress used to be able to directly influence Corps’ funding for specific projects like the Dike and Everglades Restoration and give the Corps more money for projects that were underfunded by the President – but now that is considered an earmark. Since 2010, the earmark ban has left the fate of Corps projects squarely in the hands of the executive branch.”

In order restore Congress’ Constitutional authority to direct federal funds to critical local Corps projects, Rooney introduced H. Res. 813, which would exclude water resources development projects of the Army Corps of Engineers from the definition of congressional earmark.

“Trying to compel the Corps to prioritize projects in my district without earmarks is maddening, and admittedly self-inflicted. At the time, we had good intentions of reforming the system and reining in spending, but we can achieve that without ceding our power to the executive branch. H. Res. 813 will take it back.”

The full text of Rooney’s letter to Scott is below:

July 14, 2016

The Honorable Rick Scott

Governor of Florida

The Capitol

Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Dear Governor Scott,

Thank you for your letter to the Congressional Florida Delegation expressing your concern over the dire circumstances facing our waterways, wildlife and communities in South Florida. I want to thank you for all of your efforts over the past several weeks to protect our beautiful state. Your leadership and willingness to ensure state funds can respond to urgent environmental needs in our state has not gone unnoticed. Please know that your cries for help are not being ignored and I am working to find creative solutions to these problems.

You’re correct in that Floridians in Congress have not held up our end of the bargain by providing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) with the proper funding that our state so badly needs. Historically, the annual appropriations process allowed us to directly influence the level of Corps’ funding for specific projects in Florida whereby we could give the Corps more money for projects that were underfunded in the President’s annual budget submission. Since the 112th Congress, site-specific project increases added to appropriations bills by Members of Congress (i.e., earmarks) have been prohibited by House and Senate earmark moratorium policies. Therefore, the unfortunate reality is that the fate of Florida’s critical water projects and Corps funding is in the hands of the executive branch.

For example, despite the backlog of authorized Corps studies and projects, the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2017 request for construction projects totaled $1.09 billion ($772.2 million below the FY16 enacted level), most of which would be for projects authorized in 2007 or earlier. Only a fraction of the funds requested in FY2017 would be for new construction projects authorized by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, despite that as of May 2016, the Corps’ Chief of Engineers had completed reports (i.e., “Chief’s Reports”) with favorable construction recommendations for 28 projects, at a total federal cost of $5.09 billion.

Working within the confines of the rules, Congress has provided additional funding over the president’s request to “overflow” to supplement deficiencies in the Corps budget. The 2017 House Energy and Water Appropriations bill includes $921.7 million for the “Additional Funding for Ongoing Work” account in the Corps’ Construction budget for certain categories of projects – like flood control – that  either were not included in the Administration’s request or were inadequately budgeted. While we can equip the Corps with these funds and hope our directives steer them to projects in our districts, ultimately the executive branch retains complete discretion over the distribution of project-specific funding allocations.

In this rare case of Corps funding, you have a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress who urgently want to give the executive branch more money, the projects we’re willing to fund are supported by both local business interests and environmental organizations, they’re properly authorized, and we have state and local entities willing to contribute their share of the cost. We had good intentions of reforming the system and reining in spending when we enacted the earmark ban, but in the context of funding for the Corps, we ended up ceding our most effectual Constitutional authority to represent the immediate interests of our constituents.

For these reasons, we urge you to join us in calling on our leaders in Congress to consider H.Res. 813, which would amend the House Rules to exclude provisions relating to existing or proposed water resources development projects of the Army Corps of Engineers from the definition of congressional earmark. Further, the Resolution urges the adoption of an amendment to the House and Conference Rules to lift the “earmark moratorium” on requests for federal appropriations for the Army Corps of Engineers in order to restore Congress’ authority to direct funds to state and local projects and to limit executive power.

We fully recognize that waiting for Congress to get its act together and pass a bill certainly isn’t going to solve all of the urgent environmental problems in our state, but it would be a small yet productive step toward putting Congress back in the driver’s seat of our federal government’s spending. We, in Congress, have handed over the ability to advocate on behalf of our constituents. We’ve given away our ability to do the one thing that we are elected to do – look out for our friends and neighbors on the federal level. We need to take back that power and I hope that we will have your support in doing it.

Keep the faith,

Tom Rooney

Member of Congress


Charles Murphy News 7/14

News Cast for July 14th:

Osceola Principal Sean Downing was honored by the Florida Department of Education for graduation and leadership of the Commissioners

Osceola Principal Sean Downing was honored by the Florida Department of Education for graduation and leadership of the Commissioners

Glades county prosecutors dropped 2nd degree murder charges against 27 year old Aaron Morgan of Lakeport.

Calls to the State Attorney’s office were not returned on Wednesday.  Morgan had been accused of shooting his girlfriend to death 42 year old Rachel Thonnes last November 26th   at a residence on Duck Lane.  At the time Morgan told deputies that he had shot his girlfriend in the head with a 357 pistol and that they two had a suicide pact.  He also told deputies he would give a complete confession as long as he was guaranteed the death penalty.

A motion for new trial was denied and 25 year old Ramiro Reyna received 10 years behind bars for manslaughter this week.  Reyna allegedly punched the victim, Gerardo Alvarez Manzo in the head causing him to fall to the parking lot, where he hit his head outside El Cielo Azul at 706 South West 2nd Street last January 27th.   Manzo died the next day from a brain injury.  A juror wrote a letter to the judge stating she wanted to change her verdict because she hadn’t eaten enough that day and thought Reyna was innocent.

48 year old Roger Carr was unhurt after a Walpole truck flipped at the main intersection Wednesday, causing about 2 hours of traffic delays.  A load of feed was dumped onto the road.

Registered republicans now out number registered democrats in Okeechobee for the first time. State committeewoman Melissa Arnold says she feels both parties have shifted ideology in recent years. The local party does not endorse republican candidates until after the August primary.

 

Arnold 1

Arnold 2

Sports Cast for July 14th:

Boys soccer coach Lonnie Sears said a 14-3 record was great this year but the team was still disappointed they were eliminated at districts.

Sears said high expectations will continue in his soccer program. He had nothing but praise for his team at their awards banquet. Sears said they should be in the running for a district title in 2 thousand 16-17.

Sears 1

Sears 2

The new freshman class also will have a lot of talent to groom.

The team lost 10 seniors including Wilson Barahona who earned a college scholarship.


Charles Murphy News 7/13

News Cast for July 13th:

Tuuli Robinson was among four principals hired by the school district and confirmed by the school board last night.   She takes over North Elementary where she served as assistant principal for the past two years. Robinson was born in Estonia which for part of her life was part of the Soviet Union.  She likes the way North elementary is headed as they earned another B grade this year.

Robinson 1

Robinson 2

The school board also confirmed Joseph Stanley at Central, Dr. Thelma Jackson at Seminole and Jody Hays at Yearling Middle School. They hope to fill four Assistant Principal Positions by Friday.

The governor and cabinet approved conservation easements on 37 hundred acres of pasture land in Osceola County at the Camp Lonesome Ranch, some 528 acres, and at the Adams Ranch, of over 32 hundred acres.  The Rural and Family Lands protection program to date has preserved more than 18 thousand acres of Florida agriculture.

A 23 year old Okeechobee man is charged with biting, punching and kicking deputies after being spotted as a shop lifting suspect.  Luis Delacruz reported took some items from the Circle K store on North West 36th Street on Saturday.  The clerk recognized him and alerted a deputy in the parking lot early Tuesday.  When the deputy approached Delacruz reported ran and attempted to flee.  He was charged with two counts of battery on law enforcement.

Sports Cast for July 13th:

Bri Baker was named defensive player of the year for the Lady Brahman basketball team this past year. Baker was an aggressive and energetic defender at the guard and small forward positions.

Coach Joe Smith praised her for her effort this year. Baker said defense is something that comes naturally to her.

Baker 1

Baker said she feels the team can take the next step and continue to improve next season.

Baker 2

Okeechobee girls hoops had 16 wins last year the most of any team on campus.


Charles Murphy News 7/12

News Cast for July 12th:

Farm Credit Donation

Farm Credit Donation

The constant drug problem in Okeechobee was the subject of a drug symposium last month. County Judge Jerry Bryant lobbied for funds for his drug court program which he says has been a huge success.  He said Okeechobee still has a persistent drug problem. The DEA railed against the possibility of legalized marijuana which could introduce new drug users to the state.

Bryant 1

Sheriff May said prescription pills remain a problem and heroin use has grown.

May 1

May 2

Keynote speaker Jackie Morales said she was raised right but still became a drug addict. She said even her family didn’t realize she was a user. She said she can’t even remember her high school graduation due to drug use.

Morales 1

Morales 2

Economic growth, and improving the business climate are the goals of the new chairman of the Glades County Commission. Weston Pryor said he’s excited about the job training center and the job of chairman. They created a transportation program through Good will to get students to the job training center. The travel center on US 27 is also moving forward. The financial picture is about the same as last year.  He said he won’t support a tax increase this year.

Pryor 1

Pryor 2

2016 Farm Credit Donation Press Release

Sports Cast for July 12th:

The Okeechobee Darlings softball team won the Florida state championship on Monday, 11-3 over Lake Placid as they went undefeated at the state tournament. Coach Preston Baker said his girls fielded well, pitched well and ran the bases well throughout the tournament. Baker said it was hot out there but that his team really wasn’t affected by it.

Preston Baker on Darlings state title

Okeechobee was the runner up in two other divisions, the Angels X and Ponytails.  Belles finished third.

The Okeechobee t-ball all-stars defeated Bartow last night 27-26 but lost to West Volusia 28-17.

Okeechobee, West Volusia and Wesley Chapel American are still alive at the state tournament.


SFWMD Continues Actions to Address Blue-Green Algae

SFWMD Continues Actions to Address Blue-Green Algae

Since Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency because of blue-green algal blooms in South Florida waterways, the South Florida Water Management District has been pursuing actions to address the impact of the blooms. These actions include storing additional water in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes north of Lake Okeechobee and Florida Power and Light Co. agreeing to the use of their cooling pond at the Martin Clean Energy Center for additional storage. The District is also timing releases based on tides into the West Palm Beach (C-51) Canal to give the Lake Worth Lagoon time to naturally dissipate any algae that may be contained in those releases.

The District is also implementing the Governor’s executive order by accelerating the use of private properties to store additional water. The Florida Legislature and Gov. Scott appropriated approximately $47.8 million for that purpose last session.

A good example of a private landowner stepping forward to help with the state of emergency is Consolidated Citrus Limited Partnership, which has volunteered the use of its 1,700-acre Sunrise Grove property near the C-23 Canal in Martin County. Today, Consolidated Citrus began pumping in additional local stormwater that will be stored in the property’s vast network of ditches. This will allow the storage of up to 1,000 acre-feet of water, keeping it out of the St. Lucie Estuary.

If drier conditions persist, Lake Okeechobee levels will continue to drop this week. Furthermore, the increased demand for water supply will allow for additional discharges of water. As of today, Lake Okeechobee’s water level stands at 14.82 feet. A week ago the water level was more than an inch higher at 14.94 feet.

The District will continue to explore practical operational steps that can be taken to address the algal blooms. In addition, the District is continuing to sample waterways as it has been doing and is coordinating with other state agencies that are responsible for algae response.

For more information about blue-green algae visit the Florida Department of Health’s website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/_documents/cyano-faqs-pio.pdf


Miami Marlins Donates $15,000 to the Florida Disaster Fund for Orlando Terror Attack Victims

Miami Marlins Donates $15,000 to the Florida Disaster Fund for Orlando Terror Attack Victims

MIAMI, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott recognized the Miami Marlins for collecting $15,000 in donations for the Florida Disaster Fund to support the organizations that serve survivors, families and all those in need following the Orlando terror attack last month.

Governor Scott said, “We are very grateful to the Miami Marlins for collecting $15,000 in donations for the Florida Disaster Fund for victims of the Orlando terror attack at Pulse Nightclub. Following this horrific attack on our state, we have seen businesses and organizations like the Miami Marlins display an incredible commitment to providing survivors, their loved ones, and all those affected by this loss with the support and care they need. We will continue do everything we can to support the Orlando community.”

David P. Samson, President of the Miami Marlins, said, “The Miami Marlins are honored to come together with our fans to mourn the victims and offer our support to the survivors of the Orlando terror attack. We appreciate everyone who participated in raising these funds and hope that these donations will send a message of hope to the Orlando community to let them know that the Marlins stand with them during this incredibly difficult time.”

The Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. In partnership with the public sector, private sector and other non-governmental organizations, the Florida Disaster Fund supports response and recovery activities. There is no overhead funding; 100% of funds raised will go toward those in need. Donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, 501(c)(3) charitable organization and are tax deductible. To make a contribution, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org


SFWMD Continues Emergency Action to Address Blue-Green Algae

SFWMD Continues Emergency Action to Address Blue-Green Algae

Since Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency because of blue-green algal blooms in the lakes, rivers and canals of South Florida, the South Florida Water Management District has been pursuing several actions to address the impact of the blooms. This includes storing additional water in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes north of Lake Okeechobee and in Florida Power and Light Co.’s cooling pond at the Martin Clean Energy Center near Indiantown.

Engineers at SFWMD today began an unprecedented operation to help lessen the potential of blue-green algae flowing into the Lake Worth Lagoon. The procedure involves intermittently suspending stormwater releases from the West Palm Beach (C-51) Canal along Southern Boulevard to give the lagoon time to naturally dissipate any algae that may be contained in the stormwater runoff.

The District will implement the Governor’s executive order by accelerating the use of private properties to store additional water. The Florida Legislature and Gov. Scott appropriated approximately $47.8 million for that purpose last session.

The District will continue to explore practical operational steps that can be taken to address the algal blooms. In addition, the District is continuing to sample waterways as it has been doing and is coordinating with other state agencies that are responsible for algae response.

For more information about blue-green algae visit the Florida Department of Health’s website at http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/_documents/cyano-faqs-pio.pdf


Charles Murphy News 7/11

News Cast for July 11th:

Okeechobee stopped to pray for the Dallas police force Friday after a sniper took five lives at a protest. Sheriff Paul May said no one is above the law and all deserve due process in the courts.

May 1

May 2

Bishop Maurice Alexander of the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Okeechobee prayer for unity.

Alexander 1

Alexander 2

Okeechobee Police Chief Denny Davis said law enforcement appreciated the large turnout.  He said there is only one solution to our nation’s problems.

Davis 1

Okeechobee correctional held a job fair last month looking for certified guards, cooks and maintenance workers.  OCI has one of the largest payrolls in Okeechobee County. Warden Lars Severson said the benefits offered by the state make the career appealing. There is also a corrections academy on site where they train state certified corrections guards.

Severson 1

Severson 2

Desoto SR 70 Fatal 7-9-16

Sports Cast for July 11th:

The Dixie youth softball tournament is expected to wrap up today. Okeechobee’s Belles teams is still alive today, they swept a double header from Belleview 22-7 and West Pasco on Saturday to enter the semifinals. Coach Dallas Nunez said his girls came back strong from an opening game loss and have stayed ready. Nunez said the biggest issue is the heat.  He said the girls have responded well.

Dallas Nunez on win over Belleview

The Darlings made it into the semifinals before they lost to Lake Placid 17-3 on Sunday. Games are being played at the OK softball field and the Okeechobee sports complex.

The Dixie boys lost in their opener in Spring Hill to West Volusia while the T-ball all-stars won their first game 30-9 over West Seminole at their state championships.


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