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News Cast for January 3rd:

Lake to see no impacts from closed locks 

The shortcut for Florida large boat owners will be closed for three months. 

The US Army Corps of Engineers will begin maintenance on the St. Lucie locks tomorrow. 

This interrupts travelers along the Okeechobee waterway as they take larger vessels from coast to coast. 

Saiboats and trawlers will have to go around and that means a couple of days of extra travel to traverse an extra 320 miles. 

Tammy Cleveland is The Corps Deputy Chief of the South Florida Office in Clewiston. 

She said they want to have as little disruption as possible. 

“We know how important the Okeechobee waterway is to recreational and commercial vessels.  We have been planning it for over a year.  We are excited to get it underway.  Our folks will work 12 hour days, six days per week so we can get this lock open as quickly as possible and when it is safe to do so so vessel traffic can resume.’ 

The project is expected to cost $4.7 million. 

The Corps says about 3,300 boats pass through this lock each year. 

An Okeechobee man who was interrupted in a sexual rendezvous with an underage girl in Spot in the Sun was sentenced to 8 months in jail. 

Rigoberto Chavez, 25, also will serve two years on probation. 

He pled no contest to a reduced charge of felony battery. 

Okeechobee Sheriff Deputies contend he met an underage girl online and then met her on a remote road…the father showed up, the pair fought, and Chavez drove the vehicle into a tree trying to get away. 

The vehicle burst into flames on North East 103rd Avenue on May 4, 2020. 

There were no injuries reported in the fire. 

The county will keep the lights on at the Okeechobee County airport runway. 

Commissioners approved a contract with Close Power to maintain the lighting on the field for just under $75,000 per year. 

They have been served for years by Curren Electric. 

County Commissioner Brad Goodbread said the county should not skimp on airport maintenance. 

“The airport lighting has been a big mess for the past six months.  The lights have not been working.  A couple of pilots had to land in the dark because the lights wouldn’t come on.  I want this handled properly and make it safe.” 

Close Power has had airport experience working on lights at the Stuart airport.