News Cast 12/11


December 11, 2023

News Cast for December 11th:

Needed road improvements

A push to widen  710 appears to be working

Martin County sent a letter asking Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to speed up the widening to four lanes of route 710.

About half of the 57 miles of road between Riviera Beach and Okeechobee is now four laned.

Indiantown Mayor Susan Gibbs Thomas has long complained about the dangers on the road and the number of traffic deaths.

She said hearing news that the FDOT has budgeted $43 million to get the design and engineering rolling is appreciated.

“And its in order to save lives.  We’d like it fast tracked.  Living out in Indiantown I realize that time is lives.”

The road would be widening from Indiantown to Okeechobee.  The right of way effort could take three years alone.  The road runs along the CSX railroad and is relatively straight with the only curve in Okeechobee just south of Sherman.

The Ag Venture program remains popular in Okeechobee and organizers hope adding a local cowboy and his horse and dog will get students more excited.

Local extension agent Lauren Butler recruited Tre Bennett of Rollins Ranch to produce a video sent to all the classrooms in the fourth grade in Okeechobee, introducing himself and telling kids what he does on the ranch every day.

Butler said so far the feedback has been very positive.

“The adopt a cowboy program is an effort by extension and our ag venture committee.  We have filmed a cowboy on his ranch with his horse and his dog and put a narration to that.  We sent that to all the kids that will be attending the program in January.  They will get to meet the cowboy when they come to the event in January.  I think that will create more buy in from the kids and should make it more exciting.”

The annual event is held on January 10th and 11th at the Ag Civic Center.  They are looking for volunteers to help put on the event.

The Okeechobee County Sheriffs Christmas Party was a time to look back on the accomplishments of the department this year.

Sheriff Noel Stephen oversaw the opening of a new jail pod, the planning for a new kitchen, and more jail cells, and continued improvements in facilities and training.

Stephen said he’s also proud of the investigation into a murder at Scott Driver that solved who shot a local 16-year-old boy.

Stephen said he wishes he had gotten more help from the witnesses who were at the event that preceded the shooting.

“We had a young man murdered right here at this location.  We got a bad guy in jail.  We need the help and assistance from those that were they.  I have no crystal ball or wand to wave to tell me what happened.”

“These young men and women that were here that videoed and witnessed it.  We have got to as a community collaborate and work together and help each other to make our community better.  I can not do it by myself or my men and women all by themselves.  We have got to stick together and we could really use the communities help when things like this happen.  When you see something say something.”