News Cast 11/12

News Cast for November 12th:

If they build it they have to come 

Okeechobee Schools want to break ground next spring on the new Okeechobee High School. 

The School Board approved a contract with Morganti Abney to serve as the construction managers of the project. 

Assistant Superintendent Dylan Tedders said one priority is hiring local people and local contractors.  He said that they want to build up local contractors and the work force so they participate. 

“We asked them how will you able to keep jobs in the community and can the community be a part of the process.  We will try to attract contractors that could get themselves part of the process.” 

One concern will be the noise during construction and will it break student’s concentration. 

Tedders added they won’t be disrupting instruction. 

“Morganti has experience working on active school campuses.  They have a plan for that that they used in the past. The architect will lay out a phased plan.  One of the first decisions is we going to build in phases or go ahead and build the majority of the building and not start to partitioning the campus into active and under construction.  

The district received some $67 million for the project. 

They will request more in 2022 due to inflation increasing the cost of building materials and other costs. 

The proposed lake regulation schedule expected to be unveiled November 16. 

US Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville Commander Colonel Jamie Booth said he is confident in the work that is being done. 

“One of the feedback was concern with speed.  The speed in which we have moved in the past six months can be a little disconcerting.  We appreciate that but we have to understand we are listening and taking feedback as we move though this process.” 

He said it will be much better than the current plan. 

“That plan as it evolved has certainly gotten better and better.  It will be a vast improvement over how we are operating today.” 

A town hall for veterans was hosted by the Secretary of the Veterans Administration Dennis McDonough on Veterans Day. 

Quicker access to health care and mental health services, prevention of veteran suicide, tackling the veteran’s homeless problem, improvements to the quality of health care provided veterans, and increasing benefits for veterans were among the top issues. 

McDonough said veterans will see a 5.9% increase in benefits this year due to the costs of living increases. 

He said the VA has not done a good job compensating veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan that were exposed to toxic chemicals. 

He said the country has a sacred obligation to support veterans. 

“They had our back now we have their back, they fought for us, we need to fight for them.” 

A Highlands County man wants the commission to enact some limits on the number of dogs per household. 

Dennis Morris purchased a home in a rural subdivision only to see a neighbor move in that has 25 dogs. 

He claims they are operating it as a commercial kennel against the law. 

The county is investigating.  

Morris claimed the county told him there is no limit on the number of household dogs a resident can have. 

Morris said that does not make sense. 

Morris said he likely will have to sell his property and move.