News Cast 1/24

News Cast for January 24th:

Mayor honored for four decades in office

Okeechobee Mayor Dowling Watford received the John Land Award from the Florida League of Cities.

Land was the former Mayor of Apopka that served that city 60 years.

Watford has served Okeechobee for 40 years.

Watford said he currently is not the longest serving elected official in the state.

One elected official has served 50 years.

Watford is the longest serving elected official in city history.

“I enjoy doing it, I hope I’m serving the community in a good way and that they are proud of my service.”

He said he was taken by surprise by this honor.

“I thought it was really nice.  I’m greatly humble and grateful to the citizens of Okeechobee for allowing me to serve and for the city council selecting me as Mayor.  I’ve been very pleased with that and very humbled.

10 clients at the Everglades Youth Academy in Okeechobee on NE 168th Street were facing charges after a riot at the facility Saturday night.

Okeechobee deputies said the youths were tossing chairs and tables around, fighting with staff, and pulling down fixtures like security cameras.

One client was pepper sprayed by deputies for resisting arrest.

One staff member was hospitalized.  Other staff members suffered minor injuries.

Okeechobee had record lows for unemployment rates in December, some 2.2 percent.

The previous low had been 2.3 percent back in March and April, 2006.

The work force went up by 29 workers.

Labor economist Jimmy Heckman said the labor force grew across the state last month. 

The private sector gained 18,000 jobs last month and 425,000 new jobs in the past year.

Glades County had 2.3 percent unemployment last month.

Around the region, Palm Beach had 2.2 percent, Martin 2 percent, and St. Lucie 2.6 percent.

A memorial was built and dedicated at the Dozier School for boys.

Many of the former clients of the school attended in Marianna.

The Okeechobee School for boys was its sister facility.

Throughout the history of the schools there were reports of physical and sexual abuse with severe beatings.

Beatings were a much more common form of discipline in those times.

Many of the boys had been sent to these schools for minor crimes.

Jackson County Manager Lou Ann Daniels said Jackson County embraced this project.

It is our hope that this property will help us remember the past.  In 2018 we decided that was the key to moving forward.  Take a look back and don’t hide from it.  We hope to do that with our museum in the future and hopefully redeem this property into something it never was before.”

Many of the white house boys said the memorial is a sign of progress.

The legislature is considering a bill that would provide financial payments to the few survivors of these schools and their families.