News Cast 10/10

News Cast for October 10th:

Schools getting contracts done

A new contract for Okeechobee teachers and classified employees could be ratified this week.

Union members and the Okeechobee County School Board were both expected to vote on the proposal.

Okeechobee budgeted a raise in beginning salaries to $47,500 annually.

All workers in the school district earn a minimum of $15 per hour under state law as of October 1.

The proposed teacher wage hike is 5.1 percent with a $2,000 retention bonus.

The classified employee wage hike is 7.9 percent with a $1,000 retention bonus.

Assistant Superintendent Dylan Tedders said they also gave veteran classified employees a raise in this package.

“We have different tiers of our classified contract.  Some of the steps could be between 50 to 80 cent hourly raise.  We gave them a multiple step increase to separate them from the base minimum salary of $15 per hour.”

Tedders said no classroom or instructional issues came up during the negotiations.

Debris removal for the trees, limbs, and other yard and building materials damaged by Hurricane Ian began in Okeechobee today.

Glades County is currently working on a contract with a hauler to take debris.

County Manager Marcos Montes De Oca said they were waiting for the state to approve the pickups.

He said 10 homes were lost during the storm in Glades County.

The county did send pallets of food and water to Pine Island as a gesture of support last week.

Most of the damage in Glades County was done to mobile homes and support sheds.  Things like awnings, car ports, and screened in porches.

Montes De Oca praised county staff for the hard work they have done.  He also praised electrical workers for getting power restored quicker than expected.

The Okeechobee Tourist Development Council agreed to contribute $3,325 to the costs of a new welcome sign at the Okeechobee County Chamber of Commerce.

The Leadership Okeechobee class is helping to coordinate the project.

The sign will say welcome to Okeechobee, the center of it all.

The county is working on a fitness trail at the Okeechobee Sports Complex.

The county also received a grant for the airboat launch planned at Lock 7 and for a pump track at Kiwanis Park.

Bed tax collections have exceeded $410,000, a record amount for Okeechobee, with still three months to go in the year.

Tourism Coordinator Denise Whitehead said they plan to reduce promotional spending for events, and more money for sponsorships.

The TDC also budgeted $75,000 for the host fee for the Bass Master Elite Series event planned in February while also hosting an expo that will feature, boating, fishing and family activities during the event.

Board member David Desai raised some concerns about the host fee.

“Just because they are asking $75,000-$80,00, I think sometimes we need to stick to our guns.  They also need us. They need to come to Okeechobee.”

Chairman Brad Goodbread said he understood $75,000 is a lot of money.

“We can’t get too cocky about it.  We want to bring the business and the notoriety here because these things are nationally televised.  We can’t be just run over either.”