News Cast 12/13

News Cast for December 13th:

Expect long lines at the post office 

The US Post office saw a 47 percent increase in mail last December with a record amount of packages being mailed. 

They are expecting the same Christmas rush this week as it is the busiest mailing week of the year. 

Spokesperson Debby Fetterly said they have hired the staff to handle the onslaught.  That includes several hundred in South Florida. 

The mailing deadlines for first class letters, cards and packages to reach their destination by Christmas are Friday, December 17th, priority mail is December 18, and priority mail express service is December 23rd

The busiest mailing day is expected this weekend. 

The post office urges customers to do as many services as they can online to avoid the long lines. 

Lobby hours have also been expanded in many areas. 

A Moore Haven man is charged with stealing a gun at his ownbirthday party. 

Tommy Whaley, 42, was caught on surveillance cameras taking the 9 millimeter off a table at his neighbor’s home during the party. 

He is a convicted felon as he served five years in prison for a crime in Gadsden County back in 2004. 

The Rivers Coalition discussed the impacts of the new Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule. 

Eve Samples with Friends of the Everglades told the group that fewer releases to the coast will mean more water staying in the Lake. 

“I want to be realistic.  The bad news in the LOSOM plan is at the very highest lake level, discharges will increase east and west.  Overall the discharges decrease in total annual volume to the St. Lucie.” 

The group would like more water to head south and this year that is possible with construction and repairs done on more storage areas. 

The current plan reduces releases to the east coast by more than 30 percent. 

Agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried announced a $500,000 United States Department of Agriculture grant for the Farmers Mental Health Awareness Initiative. 

The suicide rate among farmers is five times the national average. 

Fried said a recent survey found that 80 percent of farmers say it is tough to find mental health services in rural areas. 

The grant will create a new farm stress awareness and reduction initiative. 

It means more promotion of the services that area available and more telehealth sites to help farmers in rural areas. 

Nine in ten farmers report financial issues, business-related  issues, and fears of losing their farms are major points of stress in their lives.