News Cast 11/18

News Cast for November 18th:

Full speed ahead for sewer 

Work is already underway to plan new sewer service in Treasure Island. 

The governor announced a grant last week for $21 million dollars for the Okeechobee Utility Authority. 

Executive Director John Hayford said it will probably take two years to complete. 

He noted residents will see some impacts. 

“Residents can see some disruption if the work is on your road.  The other influence is when connections are required there will be some minimal disruption on each property as the connections are made.” 

The utility will seek other moneys to try and help residents with the connection fees. 

Hayford said as many as 2,400 new customers could be added to the system. 

He noted two studies in Okeechobee that involved Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Atlantic University showed removing septic tanks will help with water quality. 

The Florida Chamber of Commerce set a goal of making Florida the world’s 10th largest economy by 2030. 

President and CEO Mark Wilson said the state will need more manufacturing to make this happen. 

“We have just under 400,000 manufacturing jobs.  We need to add 200,000.  We need to get to number five in the country.  Right now that is Illinois.” 

The chamber said remote work is more common and that could bring more people to live in rural areas of our state. 

Jerry Ferrish said the pandemic showed employers that workers don’t have to be in one location. 

“COVID will be positive for Florida.  If you can work anywhere, Florida is a great place to be.  No state income tax.  If you work in Chicago, you have to show up for a monthly staff meeting.  The likelihood you will get a direct flight in Florida is pretty good.  Our tourist industry provided for all those direct flights.” 

The city of Pahokee settled a lawsuit filed by citizens upset with commission meetings held on July 23. 

They argued there was not sufficient notice in the newspaper or anywhere. 

The judge stopped short of ruling the city violated the Florida Sunshine Law. 

The commission fired the temporary city manager and the city attorney at those meetings. 

Two members boycotted the meetings, Clara Murvin and Mayor Keith Babb. 

City Attorney Gary Brandenburg read a statement that the city should not have held those meetings. 

The settlement costs the city about 95 thousand dollars in damages and back pay.  Former Attorney Burnadette Norris Weeks will receive about $21,000 of that sum. 

Murvin said the law was violated.  “You read into the record tha the meeting should not have been held.  It was not properly noticed.  You violated the Sunshine law and the city ordinance.” 

Brandenburg said the judge clearly stopped short of saying the city violated the law. 

“The stuff Commissioner Murvin muttered is outrageous.  The citizens need to know the street not the stuff you are babbling.”