News Cast 12/1

News Cast for December 1st:

Farmers and ranchers face more enforcement 

Agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried unveiled her plan to crack down on agriculture pollution to the Rivers Coalition. 

Best management practices will be required and enforcement will be tougher on violators. 

Fried said she needs help from all farmers and ranchers not just a small percentage. 

“Otherwise why are we doing this?  We can have all the BMPS in the world but the fact of the matter is if people aren’t following them and not getting the intended results, there is no purpose in them.” 

She promised to beef up inspections and visits. 

Okeechobee continues to lose producers due to expensive regulations and oversight. 

She recently took a tour of the state showcasing the first update in BMPs in more than 10 years. 

“What I saw on the Treasure Coast to Tampa Bay just broke my heart.  I don’t know how anyone can see what is happening in our waterways and not have an impact on how they think about water and the environment.” 

Fried voiced optimism that farmers will do the right thing and do all they can to help the environment. 

Congressman Greg Steube wants to lower the price of food. 

He introduced the Keep Food Local and Affordable Act. 

It would put a temporary stay on wage hikes for farm labor to foreign workers. 

The current wage is $12.08 per hour and a minimum of $1,700 per month. 

Steube says farmers are seeing a 60 percent increase in fertilizer costs and gas prices have doubled and they need a break. 

He noted the H-2A wage has risen by 20 percent in the past five years. 

The village of Indiantown planning commission reviews plans for the Indiantown Development of Regional Impact Thursday night. 

The village has received applications for over 3,000 housing units in various projects this year. 

Councilmember Guyton Stone is concerned they’ll only be rental housing. 

He slammed renters who don’t care about the property they are living in. 

“I don’t care if it is cheap or expensive or whatever.  People need to own their own home.  If we just put in just rental property everything will be run down.  I don’t want Indiantown to be just another rundown community.” 

Okeechobee County isn’t interested in supervising prison work labor. 

The idea was suggested as a cost cutting measure since OCI has a shortage of prison guards. 

The commission recently renewed their contract with the state for work crews that do various projects in the community as a savings to the taxpayer. 

The state suspended the crews after COVID 19 hit. 

Commissioners Kelly Owens and Terry Burroughs had concerns about using county staff as supervisors. 

Owens said they should at least look at what other counties are doing and assess the costs. 

Arrests of note 

Brittney Heinz faces counts of battery and aggravated assault. 

It’s alleged she pointed a .22 caliber rifle at people during an argument on the prairie off NW 302nd Street. 

No shots were fired.  Alcohol was a factor in the incident. 

The deputies found Heinz hands bound with tape and zip ties when they arrived. 

An Okeechobee man charged with selling crack cocaine near a county park. 

The Okeechobee narcotics task force said the alleged transaction occurred near Alderman Park on July 19. 

Damion McGriff was also held on a warrant out of Leon County charging him with armed robbery. 

A slow speed chase involved a reckless driver and an alleged drunk driver. 

Sheriff deputies said Sandra Bailey refused to stop on 441 for about 4.3 miles as she headed home to Fort Drum. 

She was charged with DUI and fleeing and attempting to elude police. 

An Okeechobee woman who faces first degree murder and other charges will remain in jail without bond.

Venus Bubel appeared for a bond hearing on Tuesday.

She has been held since May 31 for a shooting on NE 9th Lane in Four Seasons of a woman that might have been a romantic rival.

Okeechobee Deputies said they have video footage of the confrontation between the two women and the shooting.

Prosecutors said they hope to try Bubel sometime in 2022.

Miami, FL —  U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement after President Joe Biden signed S. 108 into law. Rubio’s bill will allow the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s investment fund to purchase, lease, and sell commercial real estate properties to create generational wealth for the Tribe and its members. U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) is an original cosponsor. The bill passed the U.S. Senate unanimously in May and passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. 
 
“Removing this paternalist, decades-old restriction on the Seminole Tribe is long overdue,” Rubio said. “I am grateful that this bill is now law because it will provide the autonomy and flexibility the Tribe needs and deserves as it works to secure a strong future for their members.”
 
“This bill is necessary in order to create additional economic opportunities for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and its members,” said Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola, Jr. earlier this year. “Senator Rubio’s leadership in moving the bill through the Senate is invaluable in our efforts to diversify and provide for future generations of Seminole tribal members.”