News Cast for August 30th:
COVID rates remain high
The Florida Department of Health said COVID rates continued to increase in Okeechobee in the past week with 534 new cases.
Glades County had 113 new cases.
Vaccination rates are now at 46 percent in Okeechobee for those over age 12 and 48 percent in Glades.
Okeechobee positive test rate last week was 35.6 percent.
Glades County had a positive test rate of 41.6 percent.
The state reported the test rate overall fell to just over 16 percent.
Highlands County reported 1,153 cases in the past week.
Manatee deaths likely to continue
Manatee deaths set a new yearly record in Florida in August with over 850 so far.
While some are natural and others due to boaters, the majority died due to hanging around the Indian River lagoon with not enough food to eat.
Gil McRae with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the area simply had to many manatees at once.
“So even if they did find food, they were in such poor condition that they were unable to make it through. That was the main story. In the Sebastian area there was enough grass for a healthy manatee to find. If there were a ton in that area in poor condition, some of those manatees unfortunately die.”
Experts said the manatee population on Florida’s east coast remained healthy with over 4,000 sea mammals.
Loumax Development wants to expand
The Okeechobee City Council approved the rezoning and future land use change for their manufacturing site on SW 7th Avenue earlier this year.
The site plan and review committee delayed action until September to clarify how much the company would pay for impacts to the road from truck traffic.
City Planner Ben Smith said the company has agreed to improve the road.
“They are going to be bringing a lot of semi-trucks. This is a residential area with narrow streets. The trucks will absolutely degrading the quality of that roadway and it really should be approved.”
The truck route would take trucks off State Road 70 down SW 7th Avenue.
The company wants to construct a 22,000 square foot building to expand the operation on three acres south of the current facility. They would also add about 15 employees.
Indiantown could get its first high school
The Martin County School Board, the Martin County Fair Board, Indian River State College and Martin County would develop the school at the proposed fair grounds on Citrus Boulevard.
The school would focus on college dual enrollment courses and worker training classes.
County Commissioner Ed Ciampi said the school could be used at night for adult job training.
“A lot of people have been left wondering what I am going to do in the future. This won’t be just a school for children, it will be a facility for grownups. This is well done.”
There is no date yet for when it might be constructed.
An anonymous donation of $40 million got the project going.
It can take Indiantown high school students 30 minutes to get to school. This would be much closer as the proposed fair grounds and Agriplex is located just east of the village boundary near Timer Powers Park.
Indian River operates another high school for 250 students, the Clark Advanced Learning Center.
This high school would be larger and accommodate more students, mostly from Indiantown and western Martin County.