News Cast 2/17

News Cast for February 17th:

Animal shelter weathers pandemic

COVID-19 hasn’t been a huge problem for the Trail of Hope Animal Rescue in Okeechobee.

Earlier this month they had 20 puppies and 26 adult dogs ready for adoption. These dogs come from all over the state and many have been rescued from difficult situations. Volunteer Dakota Hart said some of the dogs were in rough shape when they arrived, “There are some dogs that have no teeth, have cancer, and don’t even know what food is.”

He noted that dogs are brought back to full health at the shelter.

The adoption fee is $250.  That includes all the veterinarian fees and up to date shots.

Hart said they can always use more donations and volunteers at the facility located just north of the Okeechobee Livestock Market.

Dairies facing challenges

In addition to the never ending water quality issues, local dairies continue to battle problems like stagnant dairy and milk prices and a shortage of workers.

Cooperative Extension Dairy Agent Colleen Larson said some dairies have begun to diversify in an effort to help their bottom line.

Milking R Dairy began offering tours and sells its own ice cream.

Florida Dairy Farmers wants to promote the sale of more local products.

Larson said it is hard for a dairy to be good at processing, marketing and delivering milk.

“It is a stretch to ask every dairy to do that.  There are ways to promote local milk and help people understand where their milk is coming from.  Hopefully people will be willing to pay a little more for milk produced locally than for milk being shipped in from out of state.”

Another issue has been trade deals.  She notes the European Union has fewer regulations and lower quality standards than those required in the United States.

She said the dairy industry also wants changes to the guest worker program.  She said they have trouble attracting workers to the farm.

“There are fewer people interested in doing manual labor jobs.  The dairy industry has to have people all year round.  If that is the labor pool we are able to draw from we need people to be here all year.”

TDC supports Bass Pro Tournament

Bass Pro plans to host the inaugural Johnny Morris Outdoor Regional Bass Tournament on Saturday, March 13.

The event will include 250 boats and 500 anglers.  It will use both the Scott Driver Boat Ramp and the Okeetantie Recreation Area.

The Tourist Development Council spoke on the benefits of the tournament and agreed to provide $5,000 in funding to help promote the event.

The series of eight tournament begins on Lake Okeechobee and will also have the richest payout of any bass tournament series in history, $1 million.

TDC Member Mike Krause said the event will also help Lake Okeechobee, “I think it will be great for the Lake.  Getting Bass Pro Shops behind the Lake would be the best thing that happened to Lake Okeechobee in a long time.”

TDC Chairman Brad Goodbread said the event will show Bass Pro that Okeechobee is worth investing in, “They are a super large force in the outdoor and fishing world.  I’m all for whatever we can do to help them.”

The company is working with Okeechobee County to purchase Okeetantie and possibly develop it into a first class fishing resort.