News Cast 2/14

News Cast for February 14th:

The Okeechobee United Soccer Team has been playing recreational league soccer on the Space Coast and Treasure Coast since last September.  They’ve won 2 tournaments and all their fall and winter soccer matches with 2 ties.  Saturday they were victorious against the Palm Beach Gardens Predators 3-0 to bring their record to 20-0-2.  Okeechobee United travel soccer team will advance from recreational league play to the under 11  (U11) bronze competitive division spring league in March.  They will be competing against other U11 teams on the Treasure Coast and in Palm Beach County.  Players in the U11 competitive division must be born in 2012 or later. – Gary Ritter

Property Tax exemption debated

The Okeechobee County Value Adjustment Board denied exemptions for Sanctuary 51 after a lengthy hearing.

The facility is located north of Fort Drum and house many exotic animals along with more traditional animals like goats, sheep and pot-bellied pigs.

They argue they are a charity.

The property Appraiser said they don’t qualify for exemptions.

About $32,000 in property taxes were at stake.

Attorney Brendon Lynch said the owners simply love and want to help animals.

“There is no question that this is a passion project that is doing a public service for the community at large.”

He said it deals with primates, birds and pigs. The family has determined as a sanctuary they don’t turn away animals that need rehabilitation.  It is a large acreage that allows them the opportunity for these animals to live out their remaining days.”

Chairman of the Value Adjustment Board Kelly Owens said sanctuaries don’t allow the reproduction of animals like what occurs here and can’t be compared to the county animal shelter.

“The county shelter is for the purpose of sheltering and preventing public health issues with strays.  That is not what I’m seeing with the sanctuary.  We would not take in and allow reproduction of the types of animals that I see on this property.”

Over 100 anglers will be on Lake Okeechobee from Thursday through Sunday for the Bassmaster Elite series.

Judging from the take in last weeks Major League Fishing tour event, bass will be available.

Veteran angler Bernie Shultz said the cold front might even help.

“I kind of like a cold front preceding a tournament because it changes things and makes it a little more challenging in practice.  If you get a warming trend going into the tournament days the fish can really turn on.”

Shultz predicts boats will bunch up in clear water areas and the high-water levels has reduced vegetation.

He said the key to winning the whole thing might be catching large bass in muddy waters.

“Its pretty easy to read the lake.  The challenge with the lake is where to start.  So much of it looks fishy and that you should get a fish with every cast.  The reality is the fish are in certain areas or certain parts of the lake and it comes down to a type of vegetation or a mixture of grasses or open water.  It is a real quality place to fish.”

He did expect the pros to converge in certain areas and the winner might be the one who pulls up a large bass in another area.

A 20 year old Belle Glade man who eluded Martin County Sheriff deputies in two vehicle chases last week, turned up dead in a canal not far from Lake Okeechobee.

Deputies stopped chasing Tyrone Miles Junior in Stuart due to his reckless driving.  Later they found him in Indiantown and chased him toward Port Mayaca before he bolted out of the car into a wooded area.

Martin County Deputies said they did an extensive search of the wooded area but could not locate the suspect.  They then halted the search.

A missing persons bulletin was put out by Palm Beach County Sheriff Deputies and authorities returned to the area to search again before finding the body.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

Pahokee city residents opposed a transitional housing project for state inmates.

A property on Banyon Avenue had been considered.

Pahokee Mayor Keith Babb said the owner decided not to pursue the project and the city commission will only do what the majority of residents want and most residents opposed this facility.

Resident Antoinette Kelly said the city has been opened to deviants for years.

“When the sexual predators were put out at Pelican Lake that gave people to come in and take over our community.  Anybody in the right mind would not have sexual predators five miles or 1.2 miles away from their homes.  I don’t have kids but I have raised kids in this community and I love my community.”

Its important to note the Pelican Lake facility is outside the Pahokee city limits.

The city also plans to hold a workshop on the future annexation of property and have yet to decide how to spend American Rescue plan dollars.