News Cast for October 6th:

The Okeechobee Utility Authority (OUA) is currently undergoing a large septic to sewer construction project [Southwest Wastewater Service Area (SWSA) Project 2 Septic to Sewer Conversion] within the area of SW 16th Street and SW 24th Avenue. To continue this project, the OUA and its contractor, Hinterland Group, Inc., the road closure is necessary on SW 16th Street, from SW 10th Drive to SW 24th Avenue, from Monday, October 2, 2023, to Friday, October 13, 2023 (daytime hours only in accordance with the County’s Land Development Regulations). The proposed road closure request is approximately 0.5 miles in length with a detour route of approximately 1.7 miles. Residents within the closed off area will have access to their homes with the help of flaggers

Inching along on 70 widening project

The state is working on a plan to piece meal the widening of 70 across the state.

A public hearing last week in Lake Placid discussed a $57.3 million plan to widen the road for 4.4 miles between state road 29 and Lonesome Island Road.

Project manager David Turley said a study is underway to look at all the impacts of making a two lane road a four lane road.  These include roadway deficiencies, emergency evacuation, vehicle safety, economic development.

Citizen concerns raised included drainage, wildlife impacts, and making sure agriculture operations have safety and adequate access for trucks.

Buck Island Ranch manager Gene Lawless talked about where the water would go and having access for farms.  He noted a former citrus grove is targeted by FPL as a solar farm.

“There are no wildlife crossings.  There are bears and bobcats that cross that road and now you are making it wider to cross it.”

Others talked about the dangers of the road and having lost loved ones in traffic crashes.

Glades County staff and planning board have worked for months on new regulations on farm animals in residential areas.

They’ve supported exemptions for FFA students to have farm animals in residential areas.

Another issue is set backs for hogs.

County attorney Richard Pringle said the public even asked about regulating buffaloes in backyards.

“Do we really want to include bison in somebodies back yard, of two acres, but still a back yard,” he added.

Okeechobee County Commissioners took public comment again on the Lower Kissimmee Stormwater treatment area project.

Residents of nearby subdivisions have been opposed to the facility due to drainage, flood insurance, mosquitoes, and other disruptions.

Resident Scott Hunt said the reservoir will bring birds and make it dangerous for small planes.

“Building this facility is not a best management practice but a worst management practice, a dangerous practice.”

Linda Crane questioned the location.  She said there are much better remote areas north on the Kissimmee River that would be better than this site right on route 70.

“The Lord giveth and water management take it away.  Those were signs at the Basinger Church.   There is land up there that they could store water on it.  I don’t understand this.  The water quality is not that bad.”

The Florida Highway Patrol is trying again to solve the murder of a biker headed through Okeechobee.

Alexander Osborne was shot on the Florida Turnpike on November 13, 2021 just before midnight.

Troopers thought at first it was a motorcycle crash, but they found he had been shot.

They haven’t had any eye witnesses come forward and need the public’s help.

You can contact FHP investigator N. Tineo at 561-357-4171.  

An Osceola County School Board member was charged with two misdemeanors.

45-year-old Julius Melendez, a local café manager, is accused of providing nine alcoholic drinks to one of his employees, an 18 year old girl.

She claimed Melendez allowed her to stay at his home and touched her without her consent in July.

Charges filed were battery and serving alcohol to someone under 21.