News Cast 2/26


February 26, 2024

News Cast for February 26th:

Resiliency is the buzz word when it comes to environmental issues.

The Avon Park Bombing Range wants to remain in operation for generations to come.

They are doing a study to protect the range from stronger storms and hurricanes and make sure they have the infrastructure needed to keep operating.

The air to ground and ground training facility on the Okeechobee County line is used by all branches of the military.

The military also supports 860,000 jobs in Florida each year with an economic impacts in the billions of dollars.

Range Operations Office Lt. Buck McLaughlin said there is a big economic impact from the range.

“Military is number two or three as the top revenue generator across the state.”

He said the biggest concern is growth in population. Both Osceola and Polk County are among the fastest growing counties in the nation.

“The influx of people is putting a lot of pressure on insuring that there is compatible land uses underneath our military mission foot print. We work closely with local jurisdictions to try and achieve that.”

They also support the preservation of agriculture and support the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Glades County continues to try and improve fire and ems services a little at a time.

A new fire tax would help the effort but so far, the commission has been reluctant to put the issue on the ballot.

Commissioner Tony Whidden suggests this is the year to do it and wants a fire tax on the ballot.

He said the county needs to end the debate.

“We have beat the hair off this horse again and again. What would it take to get this on the ballot and just let Glades County vote?”

The county also continues to search for a location for a sheriff’s administrative office complex.

Whidden said guidance is great but the options must be affordable.

“Even though it is grant money, I don’t need them to go out and tell us we need something that we can’t afford. I just want that narrowed down so we get something that is within reason.”

Highlands County decided to stop until July consideration and review of any new mobile home park applications not already in the system.

Some on the commission worry there are too many parks now. They have 14,400 units and another 4,600 have been approved.

Dana Ridell told commissioners that mobile homes help Highlands County.

“This is vital in a community like Highlands County where there is a shortage of workforce housing available to meet the demands and there are no comparable alternatives.”

Staff will be working on new updated regulations for parks, requiring things like clubhouses that can be used as hurricane shelters, limiting the density, and how close mobile homes can be to one another.

Commissioner Chris Campbell said he is not opposed to mobile homes but would support a limit on the number of them.

“Mobile homes themselves aren’t the problem. It is just what do we want to see in the future in Highlands County. We have 14,000 plus now. The newer mobile home parks are gorgeous, they have the community center and shelter, if we look at the housing in Highlands County are we attracting working families year round or seasonal retirees. “

Campbell said they love the retirees but need to find places for working families to live.

“If it wasn’t for retirees and seasonal people we would be paying income tax here in Florida.”