News Cast for January 4th:
Job market remains steady
Jobless rates remain low across our region.
Okeechobee’s November rate was 3.2 percent. Across the state more people have been looking for work.
Our labor force did drop by 135 workers between October and November.
Labor Economist Jimmy Heckman said 18 of 24 metro areas in the state gained jobs. He noted a rebound in construction jobs continued with 6,000 added in November.
Glades County saw a work force decline of 74 workers between October and November.
They had an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent.
Around the area, Highlands County had 4.4 percent, while Hendry County had the highest rate in the state at 4.7 percent.
Okeechobee County Fire Rescue clearing a home of smoke early this morning.
They were called to a location on NW 5th Street and found the home filled with smoke.
They used fans to prevent further damage. There was no report of injury.
Okeechobee County will enjoy some more money from the state for affordable housing.
Coordinator Jessica Schooley said funding increased from $380,000 in 2023 to $454,000 for 2024.
The affordable housing committee decried a lack of public input on the shortage in Okeechobee.
The committee plan to add housing includes developing an inventory of public lands available for housing, allow price controls at the local level when increases are proposed, reduced parking and setback requirements and processing building permits quicker at the county level.
Glades County remains preoccupied with the future of their jail.
The GEO Group has expressed interest in the former county jail owned by investors.
The old jail is getting a new kitchen.
The county is also looking for a new jail administration building.
ICE also has expressed an interest in returning inmates.
County Commissioner Tony Whidden told his colleagues that’s he’s reluctant to bring ICE back because of the uncertainty.
They would have to hire 70 corrections officers and after years of layoffs that might be difficult.
Martin County approved the site plan for the Fawn Solar Facility east of Indiantown on SW Citrus Blvd.
The 600 acre project would produce 74.5 megawatts of power enough to power 15,000 homes. There was no opposition to the project at the public hearing in Stuart.