News Cast for December 9th:
Fog likely caused fatality
An 18 year old Okeechobee man was killed this morning after a three vehicle crash in the 16,000 block of 441 north.
Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Yanko Reyes said a tractor trailer, sedan and pickup truck were involved in the crash.
Due to an accident at 16000 HWY 441N and 68 West, the roadway was closed until the investigation is completed.
Traffic was backed up for miles in each direction as deputies tried to clear the road.
Traffic was directed from 68 West to 34th Ave to Potter Rd. for the closure duration.
South bound traffic was being detoured onto route 724.
Another rear-end collision in the traffic that was stopped involved a small car and tractor trailer on 441 further north.
Lawmen asked the public to please slow down and use caution in this dense fog. They also remind motorists that they must have their lights on in this fog.
The Okeechobee City Council heard a presentation from the Department of Transportation about improvement plans for 441.
Improvements are expected at 28th street and 21st street intersectios. Lighting will be added at various intersections. Bike lanes are planned north of 9th Street.
They also would reduce the speed limit on South Parrott from 3rd-6th Street to 25 miles per hour.
Project Manager Vitor Siguri said they want to make the Okeechobee Freshman campus school zone a bit safer.
Councilmembers complained about the reduced speeds in this area.
They hope to improve visibility for motorists along 441 north.
They also plan a temporary red light at Cemetery Road.
Work on these improvements won’t begin until 2026.
Glades County welcomed a new bicycle race series this winter.
Six races will occur on Saturdays in January, February and March.
Tourist Development Coordinator Susan Whidden said Glades County is the perfect spot for these races.
“The organizers want to provide tours on the Lake Okeechobee trail. They are avid cyclists. They mapped out several routes in Glades County that give them wide open roads, few red lights and right hand turns. These amenities make Glades the perfect spot for the Glades Cycling Series.”
Some of the cyclists stay in local motels. The series wants to help local businesses and the local economy.
Large organized theft rings have come to Florida and hit retailers.
Attorney General Ashley Moody created a task force to help identify suspects and help lawmen break up these rings.
Moody said thefts continue to pick up during the holidays.
“70% of store owners across the nation have reported an increase in crime.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said one ring hit Lakeland recently with television sets. They pulled up in a tractor trailer filled with these items and tried to return them to the store.
“When a van pulls up in a parking lot and has a trunk full of new televisions, in our business we call that a clue. You need to call us. This is not right. They showed us receipts that they paid. We were born in the morning but we were not born yesterday.”
Florida power and light, Florida Fish and Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced they will temporarily feed manatees on the east coast.
Over 1,000 manatees have died in Florida this year.
Larry Williams with the US Fish and Wildlife Service praised FPL for doing something they don’t have to do.
“Florida Power and Light is doing this out of their own generosity and the need to do the right thing. That is an incredible model of what we are going to need if we are to restore the manatee and the Indian River Lagoon.”
Kate McGregor with FPL said they have long been an advocate for the manatee.
“The FWC and US Fish and Wildlife have done a rigorous job to identify threats to the manatee. In addition to supporting the temporary field response station, FPL has committed $700,000 over the next three years to support the manatee.”
Many manatees have died in the Indian River lagoon because poor water quality has killed off too much sea grass and other food sources.
Officials note it is still illegal for private citizens to feed manatees. They urge residents to support non-profit groups if they want to help the manatee.