News Cast 8/17

News Cast for August 17th:

Smooth sailing for school budget 

The Okeechobee County School Board voted unanimcously to supporting this year’s budget. 

The first public hearing resulted in few questions and no public comment. 

$96 million would be spent, and the tax rate would be reduced by 7 percent. 

Local taxes collected would increase by $665,000 or 4.8 percent because the tax base increased. 

School Board member Malissa Morgan said she liked what she saw in the spending plan. 

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy said he felt the district’s finances are strong. 

Student enrollment is projected to drop by 390 students. 

Corps still working on Lake regulation plan 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers promises to improve the proposed Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule. 

Competing interests include the cities of Okeechobee and West Palm Beach as they want drinking water. 

Agriculture wants more water for irrigation. 

Ranchers need water for cattle and horses. 

Boaters want the lake to be high enough to have a boat ride. 

Fishermen want the lake healthy so they can catch fish. 

Newton Cook said the lake is in bad condition now and the new schedule will make it worse. 

Cella Jones urged the Corps to do more to protect the manatee.  Over 9 hundred have died this year alone. 

Mayor Dowling Watford said the Corps had appeared to address some of the water supply concerns Okeechobee had.  

Jacksonville commander Andrew Kelly said they plan to address the manatee issue. 

Moore Haven considers honoring fallen marine 

The young marine, believed to be the only Moore Haven resident to die in Vietnam, would be honored by renaming Avenue K where he lived. 

Moore Haven City Council plan to discuss renaming the Avenue after Mike Thielen. 

There is some concern about having to change addresses and driver’s licenses for residents who live. 

Councilman Clay Browning said he has gotten nothing but support for the idea.  He called it the least the community can do. 

Vice Mayor Jake Eigner said some senior citizens worry they might have a delay in delivery of mail like social security checks. 

There could be a way to ceremonially rename the Avenue without having to require change of addresses. 

The city has also been assisting in development of a veteran’s memorial downtown.