News Cast for October 20th:

Providing opportunities for our young people

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue, the Sheriff, Okeechobee High School and the Okeechobee Education Foundation are thrilled with their new career programs for emergency dispatchers and firefighters.

The high school will start offering programs in January.

The foundation was instrumental in getting $500,000 to start the program.

Commission Chairman David Hazellief said for a long time Okeechobee has been trying to get more job opportunities so graduates of OHS don’t have to leave the area.

Deputy Fire Chief Justin Hazellief said this gives kids a taste of the career and they won’t waste their time on a career that is not for them.

“We see people go spend two years in college before they get into fire service or law enforcement.  Then they don’t want to do this job, its too much for them.  So they waste a portion of their life.  We are hoping to alleviate that.”

Education Foundation Director Alaina Barron said they had great cooperation to put the program together.

“None of this was possible without every single organization that was involved.  It truly took the community coming together, having difficult conversations, in getting this done.”

Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen said since he took office, he has had to hire 174 new employees.  The agency currently has 206 employees.

“Growing our youth and developing them and keeping them home is a priority.  We need to control and hold what we’ve got and grow our own.”

A county jail trustee who tried to smuggle narcotics into the Okeechobee County Jail on April 8, 2022, was sentenced to four years in prison and over $53,000 in fines and court costs.

Clifford Ryder had served 542 days behind bars before he pled no contest to drug trafficking and other charges.

He had scored 91 months in prison.  He was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Laurie Buchanon.

Corrections guard Chris Dodd noticed Ryder pick something up at the garbage dumpsters and bring inside.

When they checked the item it included 21 grams of methamphetamines, over two grams of molly and over three grams of fentanyl.

South Florida Water Management District said will research and explain every impact of the lower Kissimmee Storm Water Treatment project in Okeechobee.

Residents said they worry about flooding and leaks, more birds and mosquitoes, and the cost of the project.

Resident Scott Hunt told the governing board that this is too costly.

“I think you all know first hand about Tallahassee monkey business.  You discussed the notorious SB 2508 last year and expressed disapproval.  This STA in Okeechobee is our 2508.  You worried about the impacts on the funding of the EAA reservoir.  We worry about the STA impacts on our safety of flight, flooding, flood maps, seepage, insurance and property values.”

Pilots have said they are worried the birds will interfere with flight paths to and from local airstrips and the county airport.

The Pro Rodeo comes to Indiantown for the annual event this weekend.

The annual event is coordinated by the Indiantown Chamber of Commerce.

Shows are Friday night and Saturday at Timer Powers Park on Citrus Boulevard.

St. Lucie County Commissioners approved future land use and comprehensive plan amendments for the large Oak Ridge Ranches project.

8,600 new homes could be built over 25 years off Carlton Road.

3,229 acres of pasture and old citrus grove will be lost.

The only concern raised was additional traffic.

Commissioner Larry Leet said there’s too much traffic now in the county.  He said he wanted to see even more commercial businesses near the community.

“We are adding 60,000 cars to this.  If we don’t have a place for these people to go other than Ft. Pierce, Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie West, this will create a traffic nightmare.”

The developer did agree to keep more open space and nature trails while also providing more commercial so residents don’t have to travel to get groceries and other every day supplies.

Kenansville is hosting the Florida Soldiers Vietnam Memorial Wall this month.

It will be at the Kenansville School Museum this Saturday and next Saturday from 9 am until 3 pm.