News Cast 6/17

News Cast for June 17th:

Okeechobee is after high tech jobs

A contingent from the Okeechobee business community led state officials like Rep. Kaylee Tuck and Senator Ben Albritton on a tour of the former Okeechobee School for Boys on Wednesday.

They’d like the state to convey the property to Okeechobee County and Indian River State College is also interested in a partnership to use the property.

They’d like to use it to bring high tech jobs to Okeechobee.

Rep. Kaylee Tuck said she was impressed with the people involved.

“Everybody is very aware of the position of the Division of State lands and how they don’t like to give away state property easily.  It will be an uphill battle.  The team I was with today are incredibly capable and I can’t imagine a better team to work with.  It may be an uphill battle but I think it is doable.”

Kaylee King, Business manager for Okeechobee Economic Development Corporation,  said they have been talking with the state for a while.

“Trying to get anything from the state is tricking so it has to be done the right way.  We are working on it behind the scenes,” she added.

The Department of Juvenile Justice did not renew the operating contract for the school and it has been closed since the end of last year.

Senator Ben Albritton voiced his support for the effort.  He has tried to help other communities in his district to get property from the state.

“I won’t give up trying to help Okeechobee secure the land they are looking for and pursuing economic development.  There are a lot of these kinds of properties in rural areas and we struggle with trying to figure out the right process to get them transferred over from the state to local level.”

Price of new high school has risen 20%

Okeechobee schools got the $66 million they were after in the state budget.  Even with that cash, they might be short on paying for the new Okeechobee high school campus.

Since the effort to get state help began in 2016 construction and other costs are up about 20 percent.

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy said blame inflation.

“Anybody who has involved in the construction industry knows that the costs of building materials has sky rocketed lately.”

Kenworthy said they could build a school for $66 million but then cut corners that will increase the maintenance costs later on.

FPL implodes coal plant announces new solar project 

Florida power and light blew up the 495 foot high chimney stack on their coal fired power plant in Indiantown.

At the same time they announced another large 500 acre solar project for the site.

Company President and CEO Eric Silagy said they have shown a commitment to solar.

“We have now embarked on the largest solar energy build in the country by far.  We’ve announced 30 million solar panels will be installed in Florida by 2030.  I’m proud to tell you today that we are ahead of schedule.”

He called the project a milestone for clean energy.

“We will continue to innovate and we will continue to make a difference.  We think that future generations will look back at today as something to be proud of and remember today as the first step in a long march toward cleaner energy.”