News Cast 3/4

News Cast for March 4th:

Moore Haven set to host the Chalo Nitka Festival Friday and Saturday.

The event began in 1948.  Originally it was to celebrate the paving of Main Street.

The event includes kid activities on friday that include a small fry fishing contest, midway, and ranch rodeo.

Saturday events include a parade at 10 am. Afternoon entertainment.  A morning 5 K walk and run and the ranch’rodeo a thte Bronson Arena at 7 pm.

Moore Haven Vice Mayor Jacob Eighner says the city took over the festival operations and planning this year

Vice Mayor Jacob Eighner says he thinks the festival will give the community a boost

Officials concerned by uptick in manatee deaths

Over 300 manatees have died during the first two months of the year.

Those numbers include about 30 per week on the east coast near the Indian River Lagoon.

A lack of food due to a reduction of 50,000 acres of sea grasses deemed the cause.

Patrick Rose with the Save the Manatee Club said only one of the deaths occurred around Lake Okeechobee.  He noted many manatees don’t stay in our region during the winter.

“When you get to the interior of the state there is not a significant warm water source for them.  Not many manatees spend time in those areas in the winter.”

He said nutrients in the water are causing algae blooms and taking away seagrasses, the main source of food for manatees.

He added it is illegal to feed or give water to manatees in Florida.

Rose said there have been about 40 rescues of manatees around Lake Okeechobee this winter.

He said he thinks a lot of juvenile manatees waited too long to travel before cold snaps hit the area.

“We had a late winter this year and the manatees kept feeding in those areas.  The younger ones didn’t move as soon as they should and got caught.”

Senate Committee approves bill to stop toll road

A blow to plan for a toll road that connects Collier to Polk County that could possibly cut through western Glades County.

The Senate Transportation committee voted (5-3) to not pursue the road for now, opting instead to put money into rural, two lane roads with lots of truck traffic.

The plan would be to improve those roads and intersections and spend roughly the same amount of money, $130 million.

Sponsor of the bill Senator Gayle Harrell from the Treasure Coast said the state would have to bond these projects and it wouldn’t work financially right now.

The state is working with a $2 billion budget shortfall.

Supporters said the road would provide crucial infrastructure and help accommodate future growth.

Opponents claim the road would damage the environment and threaten the habitat of the Florida Panther.