News Cast 10/15

News Cast for October 15th:

Water managers get a lesson on rural life 

Okeechobee hosted the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board and held a day long meeting focused on Okeechobee issues. 

The Okeechobee Economic Council held a reception at the Okeechobee Bank Building to welcome the group. 

The governing board extended some cattle pasture leasing deals, and spoke about the new lake regulation schedule. 

Board member Ben Butler said LOSOM as proposed will mean no submerged aquatic vegetation will be left in the lake. 

“Lake ecology is going to suffer.  There is no way around it.  If we reach 17 feet we will not have vegetation.” 

Jim  Handley with the Florida Cattlemen’s Association says ranchers will continue to help South Florida Water Management. 

“Okeechobee County is a tremendously strong cattle county with both beef cattle and dairy.  We have a tremendous amount of experience in managing land and are willing to help the district.  We applaud you giving us the opportunity to continue to graze on district lands.” 

Okeechobee city administrator Gary Ritter said the local field station helped save the city from some flooding problems during a rain storm last week. 

“We had four inches of rain in a short period of time.  Collaboration with the field station really helped our city from flooding.  Communication is extremely important.” 

Water managers say lake levels of 15.86 feet are in good shape heading into the winter. 

They are expecting a dryer than normal dry season. 

Jail bid more than expected 

The cost of expanding and improving the Okeechobee County jail continues to sky rocket. 

The county learned bids for the first phase came in well over budget. 

They are looking at an over $23 million dollar first phase that includes one new jail pod, a chiller, and related utilities. 

Architect Joe Morak said the county shouldn’t be surprised by the costs since they have been discussing the need for the project since 2008. 

He said inflation costs, and the rising costs of building materials have doubled the cost of the project since 2008. 

His estimated price was $53 million. 

County commissioner Brad Goodbread noted the counties hands may be forced by the state due to the condition of the jail. 

“Nobody wants to build a new jail.  This isn’t a memorial to ourselves.  We’re doing this because we have to.  We had to do this 13 years ago.  Now we have to do it even more.”   

City turns down speed bump 

Residents complained about speeding on SW 14th court and wanted a speed bump to slow them down. 

City council refused. 

Resident Melissa King said the speed bump wouldn’t help anyone. 

“I really don’t want a speed bump on my road.  I’d have to go over it two or three times per day.” 

She suggested being safety conscious and considerate of others would solve the problem.