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Corps to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee
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Release no. 14-018
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will reduce the amount of water currently flowing from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River.
Beginning Wednesday (Apr. 9), the new target flow from the lake to the Caloosahatchee is a 10-day average of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock (S-79) near Fort Myers. Local runoff outside the lake into the Caloosahatchee River could cause flows to exceed this target. The target flow for the St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) is unchanged at 0 cfs, although local basin runoff from the St. Lucie Canal will continue to be allowed to pass through the St. Lucie Lock as necessary.
“The lake level dropped into the Base Flow Sub-Band of the 2008 LORS (Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule) over the weekend,” said Jorge Tous, chief of the Water Management Section for Jacksonville District. “The change in flows mirrors the 2008 LORS guidance for the lake level at this point in the dry season.”
Today, the lake stage is 13.45 feet and has been on a slow downward trend over the past month. The Corps will closely monitor conditions and adjust flows as necessary to balance the competing needs and purposes of Lake Okeechobee.
For more information on water level and flow data for Lake Okeechobee, visit the Corps’ water management page at the Jacksonville District website:
Bear injures Lake Mary Woman; FWC investigating
On April 12, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) received a report that Mrs. Terri Frana was injured during an encounter with a bear in the yard of her Lake Mary home. The FWC responded to the scene, and the investigation is ongoing. Our thoughts go out to Mrs. Frana and her family. We hope for her speedy recovery.
Early media reports that Ms. Frana was attacked by several bears are inaccurate. There were several bears observed near the area, but one bear is responsible for her injuries.
The FWC has positioned several traps in the area and is reaching out to residents of this neighborhood to discuss actions they can take to avoid encounters with bears.
Mrs. Frana was treated for her injuries and released from the hospital.
The FWC reminds residents in this area to be aware of their surroundings and always supervise pets and children while outdoors. The FWC relies on residents to report threatening bear behavior. Residents should contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) to report any threatening bear activity.
Springtime sparks activity for Florida black bears, cubs
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds the public to be aware that bears are now or soon will be on the move as they are leaving their winter dens. There are important things people can do over the next few months to reduce negative interactions with Florida’s largest land mammal.
“Now is the time to expect bears to show up looking for food,” said Dave Telesco, who directs the FWC’s bear management program. “If they can’t find food in your neighborhood, they’ll move on.”
Female bears that gave birth to cubs that were only 12 ounces in January are beginning to move around with their babies, which are now around 5 pounds. As the cubs continue to grow, the family unit will roam farther and could be more visible to people.
While black bears generally are not aggressive, a mother bear may try to defend her cubs. Never intentionally approach a bear. Do not assume when you see a lone adult bear that there are no cubs, because the cubs may be hidden nearby. When walking dogs, keep them close and be aware of your surroundings. Dogs can trigger defensive behaviors from bears.
Keep human sources of food, like garbage, birdseed and pet food, secure from bears so they won’t wander into your neighborhood this spring looking for an easy meal. Use a bear-resistant trash can, build a bear-resistant trash can shed or modify your existing trash can with hardware to make it more resistant. Instructions for these methods, plus a video on how to use an electric fence to deter bears can be found at www.pinterest.com/myfwc/bear-necessities/.
If you do not have a bear-resistant garbage can, consider building a bear-resistant trash can shed. In Collier County today, the FWC is partnering with local Boy Scout volunteers to build sheds that will deter bears from accessing garbage. The FWC received a grant from the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, using proceeds from the Conserve Wildlife license plate, to build and install 70 bear-resistant wooden trash can sheds for residents of two East Naples mobile home parks, who have no other way to keep their garbage away from bears.
As females and cubs increase their movements this time of year, they also increase the number of roads they cross. For the safety of yourself and bears, remember to slow down when driving, particularly on rural highways at dawn or dusk. Watch for road signs identifying bear crossing areas. Over 200 Florida bears were killed after being hit by vehicles in 2013.
Having conflicts with bears? Call one of the FWC’s five regional offices. Go to MyFWC.com/Contact, and click on Regional Offices to find the phone number for your region. Need to report someone harming bears or intentionally feeding them? Call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
More information is available at MyFWC.com/Bear, where you can click on Brochures to access “A guide to living in bear country.”
Help us help bears and other wildlife by purchasing the Conserve Wildlife tag at BuyaPlate.com.
News Cast for April 14th:
Louisiana bull rider Jeff Ram Ah Goss says despite horrific facial injuries sustained at the Okeechobee Rodeo in March, he plans to ride bulls again next month. Ramagos said his recovery is going well and he decided he loves the sport too much to leave it. Ramagos says he doesn’t’ remember very much about the horrific accident on a Bull named Big Deal. He plans to return and ride in Okeechobee as well next year.
Glades County is getting ready to close down the Glades Detention Center that doubles as their county jail. Sheriff Stuart Whiddon says the federal government immigration and detention haven’t sent the inmates they promised to send in recent months. He says the future of the facility is up in the air depending on what investors decide.
Whiddon says the county jail can be rehabbed and be ready fairly quickly for inmates without a huge expense for the County.
Sports Cast for April 14th:
Jonathan Crawford is playing in the Midwest League for the Western Michigan White Caps of Grand Rapids this season.
The Okeechobee alum enjoyed the first spring training of his career in Lakeland and said he is getting adjusted to the professional game. After a rough first start, Crawford shut out the Beloit Snappers, an affiliate of the Oakland A’s, as his team won 2-1. Crawford also looks forward to working with pitching Coach Mike Henneman who had a long career in Detroit as their closer. He says so far he has enjoyed playing for the White Caps. Crawford says depending on how he performs, he could see some time at the Lakeland affiliate this year. His goal is to play his best baseball for the White Caps.
Lady Brahman softball got two hits and three runs batted in from Kaylen Fulford in a 6-5 victory over Treasure Coast at the Greyhound Classic in Vero Beach Saturday. The Lady Brahmans also defeated Eau Gallie 1-0 in the tournament. They play South fork at districts on Wednesday for a regional berth.
On the sports schedule today, boys’ baseball will host Martin County with first pitch at 7 pm.
News Cast for April 11th:
An increased reward of 7 thousand dollars is now offered to try and help investigators solve the homicide of 31 year old Mario Hughes of Moore Haven. Florida Department of Law Enforcement and South West Florida crime stoppers have offered 1 thousand dollars apiece, and an anonymous donor came forward to offer another 5 thousand dollars. Hughes was killed in his own home on January 31st.
Tom Bonasera stepped down last month as president of the Okeechobee County Educators Association. Donna Dennison of North Elementary has stepped in until union elections this month. Okeechobee county commissioners Thursday approved 208 thousand in grant applications for improved computer programs for the public safety complex; they learned 130 vendors and over 22 hundred people visited the Health and Safety Expo at the Ag Civic Center in January. Commissioners voted to host the event again next January 31. They also heard from a Treasure Island resident asking for increased code enforcement, especially on rental properties. The commission also honored firefighter paramedic Olie Hedrick of Okeechobee County Fire Rescue upon his retirement and proclaimed April as Water conservation month. The commission also heard staff rejected an offer from the state park system for the county to take over maintenance and management of the Okeechobee battlefield park.
The Florida senate has 43 million and the house over 1 hundred million in water projects for the coming year. The senate version includes 2 hundred thousand dollars for the Okeechobee County east west conveyance flow way, and 100 thousand dollars for the Okeechobee storm water conveyance and retrofit.
State Senator Joe Negron says there is 33 million set aside in the senate budget for projects that help the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River from excessive discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
The south Florida water management district did approve a plan to move runoff water south and away from the St. Lucie River but it’ll be another 15 years before they can implement it. The project would cost over 1 billion dollars and would need congressional approval and funding.
Sports Cast for 4/11:
Okeechobee defeated Desoto 5-1 in extra innings last night for the 7th straight victory in high school baseball action in Arcadia.
Trenton Hickman had three hits to lead the attack.
Kevin Coleman threw eight strong innings to get the win for the Brahmans. He gave up an early run and then quickly settled down. Okeechobee tied the score in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Paul Jackson and Coleman kept getting outs in the late innings with the game on the line. Okeechobee is over the .500 mark for the first time this year at (10-9).
Jensen Beach defense shut down Okeechobee as their flag football team defeated the Brahmans 14-0 in the junior varsity contest. Ryann Sheridan had a 45 yard touchdown run and caught a 42 yard touchdown pass to lead the Falcons. Kayla Moore had an interception for Okeechobee.
On the sports schedule this week the Lady Brahman softball team competes at the Greyhound Classic in Vero Beach with games on Friday and Saturday.
Central Everglades Planning Project
The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board today approved a resolution signing on as the local sponsor of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and affirming the District’s financial capability for the project.
The Central Everglades Planning Project identifies and plans for projects on land already in public ownership to allow more water to be directed south of Lake Okeechobee to the central Everglades, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay while protecting coastal estuaries.
Commissioner Putnam Seeking Nominations for Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award
Award Recognizes Those Developing and Adopting Environmentally Innovative Farming Practices
Tallahassee, FL – Each year, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam recognizes innovative Florida farmers with the Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award. The award commends enterprises that demonstrate leadership in developing and implementing innovative and progressive techniques to safeguard the environment and conserve natural resources.
The deadline for submitting nominations is May 2. Commissioner Putnam will present the awards at the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting in October.
“The future of our state’s $108 billion agriculture industry depends on innovation, technology and leadership,” said Commissioner Putnam. “This award highlights growers who implement these qualities to continue growing this industry while also protecting our natural resources for the future.”
The following environmental practices will be considered in judging nominations for the 2014 Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award.
- Wildlife protection and Habitat Conservation: Provide a safe, vibrant habitat for wildlife within an agricultural operation
- Pesticide/Nutrient Management: Use pesticides/nutrients responsibly, maximizing benefits and minimizing potential adverse environmental effects
- Water Quality: Preserve or improve water quality within or adjacent to an agricultural operation
- Soil and Water Conservation: Reduce soil erosion, nutrient depletion and water consumption, and enhance water recharge
- Waste Management/Recycling: Reduce waste by recycling agricultural by-products and waste products on site
For more information about the 2014 Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award and past award winners, visit our website. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.
FWC responds to panther incident report
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently was contacted by a turkey hunter who reported injuries caused by a Florida panther. He indicated the incident occurred while hunting in the Tiger Creek area near Lake Kissimmee on March 17. He said he had two wounds to the top of his leg and a cut to his arm. He noted that after being injured, he was able to identify the animal as a panther from its color and long tail.
Immediately after learning of the incident, FWC officers visited the individual and took his statement; however, it was not feasible to confirm the details due to the lapse of time from when the event occurred to when the report was made to the FWC.
Turkey hunting is a safe activity, but hunters should always be aware that animals such as bobcats, panthers and coyotes are known to prey on wild turkeys and may follow the sound of hunters’ calls.
Rooney: Appropriations Bill Improves Mental Health Services, Holds VA Accountable for Serving Veterans
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, said the MilCon/VA bill approved today by the full Appropriations Committee will improve mental health services available to veterans and help hold the VA accountable for delivering better results.
“Our bipartisan VA Appropriations Bill keeps the promises we’ve made to our veterans and ensures they continue to receive the benefits they have earned,” Rooney said. “I am particularly pleased that the bill includes significant funding for mental health services, suicide prevention activities, and traumatic brain injury treatment.”
Rooney is a founder and former Co-Chairman of the House Invisible Wounds Caucus. He currently serves as Co-Chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.
“We have nearly one million veterans waiting for an answer from the VA on their disability claims, and that is simply unacceptable,” Rooney said. “Our bipartisan bill provides the VA with more tools and resources to end the backlog, but it also includes key reporting requirements and oversight to hold each regional office and the VA as a whole accountable for delivering better results.
Rooney noted that the bill will save taxpayers $1.8 billion below the fiscal year 2014 level without cutting services for troops and veterans. Rather, the bill reduces spending on military construction projects while increasing funding for veterans programs by $1.5 billion.
Highlights of the bill include:
- VA Medical Services –The bill funds VA medical services at $45 billion – providing for approximately 6.7 million patients to be treated in fiscal year 2015. This total includes: $7.2 billion in mental health care services; $133 million in suicide prevention activities; $229 million for traumatic brain injury treatment; $7.4 billion in homeless veterans treatment, services, housing, and job training; and $250 million in rural health initiatives.
- VA Electronic Health Record – The bill contains $344 million for the modernization of the Veterans Affairs electronic health record system. To hold VA accountable, the bill includes language restricting funding until the VA demonstrates progress on the system’s functionality and interoperability.
- Disability Claims Processing Backlog – The bill provides $173 million for the paperless claims processing system and an increase of $20 million above the request for digital scanning of health records, centralized mail, and overtime to end the backlog in disability compensation claims by 2015. In addition, rigorous reporting requirements to track the performance of each regional office on claims processing are continued.
- VA Mandatory Funding – The bill fulfills mandatory funding requirements such as: veteran disability compensation programs for 4.6 million veterans and their survivors; education benefits for more than one million veterans; and vocational rehabilitation and employment training for more than 130,000 veterans.
- Oversight –The legislation includes provisions to increase oversight of taxpayer dollars at the VA, including requiring the agency to report on construction expenditures and savings, forbidding new changes in the scope of construction projects, and restricting the agency from taking certain spending actions without notifying Congress.
The draft text of the bill is available here: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/BILLS-113HR-SC-AP-FY2015-MilCon-SubcommitteeDraft.pdf
The draft bill report is available here: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-fy2015-milcon.pdf
News Cast for April 10th:
Okeechobee killer Troy Scott won’t get out of prison any time soon. Parole was denied for the Okeechobee man who was just 18 when he participated in the burglary and murder of Valentine Meserve at a city residence off South Parrott Avenue in 1985.
The parole commission agreed to interview Scott again in the year 20-twenty. They also extended his release date until 2079 due to poor behavior in prison. Scott’s codefendant, Richard White is now 44 years old and is serving a life sentence in Oregon. Okeechobee city putting some dollars into new sidewalks.
Vest Concrete won a low bid for 91 thousand dollars to do the work which begins this month. Nearly 59 hundred linear feet will be installed.
City public works director David Allen said each neighborhood in the city are due from some new sidewalks. He invites residents to see the maps at city hall upon request. The low bid was 11 thousand dollars under budget.
Among arrests, 24 year old Andrew Phillippi of Buckhead Ridge was charged with cutting his father in the thumb and shoulder with a knife during an argument. Okeechobee EMS crews said the victim suffered a serious thumb injury.
29 year old Vanessa Garcia was charged with aggravated battery for allegedly striking her husband in the head with a rock in Glades County.
33 year old Javier Batan and 34 year old Murciano Bastida of Homestead were jailed in Glades County on three felony charges after Glades Deputies say they found 52 marijuana plants in a vehicle stopped for headlight violations on US 27. The suspects said they thought they had purchased cucumber plants.
Sports Cast for April 10th:
Kutter Crawford had four hits and four runs batted in to suport the strong pitching of Elijah Finney as Okeechobee defeated Jensen Beach 7-5 Wednesday night.
Finney struck out six in five innings plus as Okeechobee reached the .500 level for the first time this year.
Coach Eric Kindell says the team grows each game and learns from adversity and mistakes and has really started to come together. Okeechobee held off a late Falcon rally to win their sixth straight game and their ninth in 11 games.
Crawford says the team has more confidence and is working together. Okeechobee plays at Arcadia Desoto tonight at 7 pm
Jake Mostyn-Kolb and Greg Durham each posted singles wins and combined on a doubles victory to lead Melbourne past visiting Okeechobee 6-1 in Class 3A regional semifinal action.
Mostyn-Kolb defeated Otto Ramirez 6-2-6-1, while Durham blanked Cody Walker 6-0, 6-0. The duo defeated Ramirez and Dylan Ferneau 6-0, 6-0.
Melbourne improves to 15-1 with the win and will compete in regional semifinal action today at Jensen Beach.
On the sports schedule tonight, OHS flag football will host Jensen Beach with JV at 5 pm and the varsity at 6 pm.