News Cast 7/7

News Cast for July 7th:

City cuts deal for chips

Frito Lay and the City of Okeechobee appear to have a deal for two lots in the commerce center. The purchase price is $130,000 for two acres.

Mayor Dowling Watford said he was hoping for a better purchase price but supported the deal.

“It will be a good project, good for the commerce park, and shows some activity out there.  Sometimes activity leads to more activity.  I think it will be good for the city commerce center.”

The company would be required to build a 6,700 foot distribution center if the contract to purchase the property is approved by the buyer. Six jobs could be created and about $1 million dollars invested. The city could see about $20,000 in permitting fees.

A recent appraisal of the lots showed they were worth $100,000 apiece.

Florida avoids major impacts form Elsa

Tropical Storm Elsa was expected to make landfall soon on the Gulf Coast near the Steinhatchee River. Governor Ron DeSantis said 26,000 people were left without power mostly in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk County.

He said Floridians were able to dodge major impacts.

“We are monitoring the storm as it makes landfall.  We ask Floridians to be safe and use common sense.  I think the impacts have been less than what we thought would have been reasonable 72 hours ago.” Maximum sustained winds were at 65 miles per hour.

There were tornado watches in Okeechobee early Wednesday.

Tragic crash near Kenansville

Three people died in a head on collision north of Kenansville on Canoe Creek Road on July 4, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Troopers said they are unsure why a southbound SUV was in the wrong lane colliding head on with a pickup truck. Killed in the wreck were a 65 year old Orlando man, a 40 year old St. Cloud man and his 14 year old son. The accident occurred near the intersection of Sullivan Drive.

Toxocology tests will be conducted on the drivers to check to see if either drive was impaired.

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners tomorrow is scheduled to consider a rezoning of six acres on 78 west to continue the Lake and Trails project. Three businesses could eventually be developed there.  There is an indoor storage facility already built. In the process of construction are boat trailer sales, a repair shop, a gas station and service shop, and boat and RV storage.

Jeff Sumner explained the latest project.

“This project is really for boat and RV storage, an accessory to the other projects.  The whole idea is to have a cohesive group of projects that have a similar architectural feel.  They are building a top quality project there.”

The planning board recommended approval of the rezoning to neighborhood commercial. Sumner said 78 has been attracting some growth because it is attractive to have a boat facility on the way to Scott Driver and Okee Tantie.

Lorida landfill could be expanded

The Highlands County Board of County Commissioners don’t expect to raise property taxes this year.

Their proposed budget included a 1 percent cost of living raise and up to 3 percent merit raise for county employees.

It also includes a $3.6 million dollar expansion at the landfill in Lorida.

Office of Management and budget director David Nitz said the Highlands County Sheriff wants a nine percent budget hike at just over $33 million.

County Administrator Randy Vosburg explained the spending plan.  He noted spending would go down about $2.3 million over all.

The county also saw a tax base increase of 5.25%.

“We understand where the commission is when it comes to a millage increase.  We know there is no support at this point for a millage increase.”