News Cast 2/8

News Cast for February 8th:

State expects economy to shine in 2023

The Florida Chamber of Commerce said it expects strong growth in Florida this year.

Jobs are expected to increase by 4.7 percent.

Population is also expected to go up by 416,000.

For every 1 hundred jobs, there are 62 job applicants in the state.

Nay sayers said its getting less affordable to live in our state partly due to inflation but partly due to rising housing costs.

One of those is Shakeria Brown.

“Incomes have not been going up at the rate that the cost of housing has.”

The chamber said we will need to create 1.5 million new jobs in the next eight years due to growth in population.

Executive Director Mark Wilson said it will be another year of a strong economy in Florida.

“We believe that Florida will see another year of growth, we believe we will see job growth, population growth, and gross domestic product growth.  We are very excited about that.”

The state wants to have the 10th largest economy in the world by 2030.

A 250 acre wild fire put out in the Micco Bluff area, northwest of Basinger.

The Florida Forest Service had bulldozers and forest rangers battling the blaze for most of Tuesday along with help from Okeechobee County Fire Rescue.

Highlands County sheriff deputies arrested 21 year old Joel Marroquin for a Saturday shooting at 70 west and US 27.

Marriquan critically wounded a 42 year old man shooting him in the head.  He is charged with four counts of attempted murder.

Deputies said Marroquin was identified as the gunman in the shooting that happened at around 11:40 p.m. in the parking lot of the BP station at the US 27/SR70 intersection.

The victim was critically wounded in the shooting, while the three other men in the car with him escaped injury. The victim is in stable but guarded condition after being airlifted to a trauma center in Fort Myers.

Marroquin’s bond was set at $140,000.

A traffic stop on US 98 in Basinger nets lawmen some 86 grams of methamphetamines and small quantities of prescription drugs.

Joseph Hawkins is behind bars on  1hundred and 5 thousand dollars bond facing drug trafficking charges.

Wild Florida in Kenansville was criticized by the US Department of Agriculture for facility violations.

This comes after staff there shot and killed a white rhino delivered to the facility in September.

It escaped enclosures and forced the park to shut down for the day.

The inspection found outdated prescription medications and unsatisfactory enclosures for animals.

General Manager Jordan Munn said they were told by its owners that the rhino wouldn’t be a problem.

“It was a three-year-old white rhino.  Every animal is different you don’t know exactly what you are getting.  We were told it was a gentle animal, it was freight trained, and we thought it would be a great fit.”

Investigating officer for the FWC Duane Saunders was asked during his probe by Munns if he had done the right thing in shooting the animal.

“Were not casting any blame.  To answer your question did you make the right call.  If it got out into the open, call it the public, not Wild Florida, you would have had to do that anyway.  It would have been a bigger issue had it escaped.”

Wild Florida issued a statement to the media after the report.  For more than 12 years Wild Florida’s mission has been to provide an unforgettable Everglades experience that promotes a connection with animals while inspiring education and conservation.  Unfortunately we are sometimes faced with unforeseen situations and circumstances that require and immediate response to ensure the continued safety of visitors, staff, neighbors, and most importantly animals in our care.  In September, 2022, a new rhino began to pose an imminent danger to the park at large, and after consultation with leadership and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission guidelines, we made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the animal.   As an organization, Wild Florida will continue providing the best care for our animal family and promote the importance of conservation through our educational programs.”