News Cast 7/30

News Cast for July 30th:

50 years of Kissimmee River work completed 

Dignitaries celebrated the completion of the Kissimmee River Restoration during a ribbon cutting in Cornwell at the Riverwood’s Laboratory Thursday. 

Shannon Estanos representing the US Department of Interior recalled a tour of the river in the 1990s. 

She said she didn’t see this restoration coming. 

“I was on the C-38 canal in the 1990s.  I distinctly remember the trip.  I had a distinct failure of imagination.  Are these people crazy?  This canal is permanent what do they mean they are going to fill it in?  Thank God I was not in charge of the Kissimmee River restoration.” 

Chairman of the Lake Okeechobee Coalition Carson Turner recalled chats with his grandfather over what ailed Lake Okeechobee. 

“I heard about the US Army Corps of Engineers screwing up the Kissimmee River when they straightened it out.  That is why the lake is so dirty.  When your out in the lake and you can’t see your shoes, its because they straightened out that river.  You know what.  We have fixed it.  We have fixed it all together.” 

The project backfilled 22 miles of the canal between Lake Kissimmee and Lake Okeechobee, reconstructed river channels across the backfilled canal, restored flow into river channels, removed two water control structures, added two gates to the S-65 water control structure and acquired more than 100,000 acres of land. 

State considered closing and consolidating prisons 

The Florida legislature considered plans to consolidate and close prisons but took no action this year. 

The state doesn’t have enough prison guards to staff these facilities. 

Senator Ben Albritton said the state, like it or not, has to have prisons. 

“The challenge in our prison system is we look at it as a warehousing system.  I’m not interested in turning people out early.  I support minimum mandatory sentneces and serving those.  Society is a lot safer for it.” 

Albritton said prisons are an economic driver in many rural communities. 

He also voiced support for the reparations bill for former clients abused at the Okeechobee School for boys. 

The bill went nowhere this year. 

Albritton said he supports pay hikes for corrections guards as a way to attract more people into a career in corrections. 

Home buyers could be in the hole 

Buyer beware for home buyers in the state. 

Real Estate economists said homes are being sold for 22% more on average than they are worth. 

Economist and FAU Associate Dean Ken Johnson urged buyers to walk away from overpriced property. 

He had this advice for people looking to buy a home. 

“If you are looking to buy.  Ask yourself is this the right time?  We have told people to consider renting, and using the money you would have invested in the home, and putting into stocks and bonds.” 

He said in the short term that should be a better way or achieving additional wealth. 

He said those that are selling homes need to have a new home and that could be tricky. 

He said in the 2006-2008 housing boom, home prices were more than 60 percent higher than the actual value in Florida. 

Contributing to this year’s spike is the interest people have about living in Florida, low mortgage rates, and a lack of inventory.