News Cast 12/4


December 4, 2023

News Cast for December 4th:

That’s a lot of land

The state intends to spend $300 million to conserve ranches in the Rural and Family Lands program this year.

Seven ranches in Okeechobee made the top 100 list of ranches the state has their eyes on for conservation easements and or outright purchase.

That covers nearly 20,000 acres in the county.

Todd Clemons owns his own ranch which was ranked 50th on the list.

He endorses what the program tries to do.   He noted it will help the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

“Preserve land that the birds and wildlife use.  The corridor goes up from the Everglades to Orlando along the Kissimmee River.  We are trying to keep that land intact not only for wildlife but for preservation and environmental sensitive areas.”

Other ranches in Okeechobee on the list include, Dixie Ranch West, Williamson Cattle Company East, Micco Bluff Ranch, the Triple S Ranch, One Nine Cattle, and the Remlap ranch which made the top 10.

Others in the area include the Peeples Ranch in Glades County, and several in Osceola County including the Overstreet Ranch, Adams Ranch, the South Port Ranch, the Roberson Ranch and the Double C Car Ranch.

The top 100 also includes ranches like the Finca Vigia in Hendry County, Bull Hammock in Martin County, and the Perry Smith, Dark Hammock Ranch, Square One Ranch and Montesdoca Ranch in Highlands County.

Glades County Commissioner Donna Storter Long died on Friday.  She had served District 2 since her election in 2004.

The county board of county commissioners last Monday voted to name the pavilion at the Ortona Cemetery after her.  She was 75 years old.

Her funeral services will be held in Ortona on Thursday at 10 am.

Glades County continues work on a sheriffs administrative building.

Commissioner Tony Whidden provided an update on the current facility owned by the Glades Correctional Development Corporation.

He said GEO, the private company that operates the state prison across the street, is making a push to lease that facility and are seeking a state grant to pay for it.

“We would still have the right to lease the administrative offices for now.  We will be paying GEO to provide the food for our jail.  It is kind of urgent that we get a little more independent of that facility.”

St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara retired on Friday.

The governor appointed Lt. Keith Pearson to finish off Mascara’s term.

He wrote a letter to the community stating he has been battling health issues and could not pass the departments mandatory physical agility test.

In the letter Mascara wrote, “I’ve come to the sad realization that I cannot maintain that standard. The last thing I ever want to do is put our community, my fellow law enforcement officers or myself in harm’s way due to the fact I couldn’t react in a situation.”

Lake Okeechobee dipped below 16 feet again over the weekend.

It is not expected to get low enough this winter to benefit vegetation.

Col. Jamie Booth of the US Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville said they are expecting above average rainfall this winter.

“Our water managers remain vigilant and we will reassess our strategy if rainfall does cause a significant reversal of lake stages during the dry season.”

The El Nino effect is expected to bring above average rainfall this winter.

“I don’t get too terribly nervous.  We understand what the conditions can be.  We watch and see what happens with rainfall and how lake Okeechobee is reacting to that precipitation,” Booth added.