News Cast 3/1

News Cast for March 1st:

Dispatchers want respect

Police and fire dispatchers want to be reclassified as first responders.

Under Florida law it could lead to more pay, health benefits and retirement benefits.

Corporal Mary Royce Lookabill at the Okeechobee County Sheriffs Office urged the local state delegation to support the bill.

She noted dispatchers deal with a lot of stress on the job.

“We take the initial calls for every emergency.  Dispatchers are just as susceptible for PTSD and witnesses who see a traumatic event.  Emerging technology is bringing video into the dispatch center exposing us to even more stress and trauma.  We see the same horrible calls that our EMS, police and fire, are exposed to.”

Similar efforts to reclassify dispatchers have failed in the legislature in prior years.

A recent report found law enforcement agencies lose 23 percent of their dispatchers every year.

Glades County has just six dispatchers on staff today, with one per shift, making burnout a distinct possibility.

In the courts, Robert Skinner was sentenced to two years on probation after he pled no contest to felony child abuse.  A charge of lewd and lascivious acts was dropped in the case.

Prosecutors note there is a pending sexual battery on a child case against Skinner.

Kysell Richardson was sentenced to 18 months in prison with five months credit for time served for twice selling crack cocaine at a local motel in Okeechobee last June 10 and June 13.

He pled no contest to charges of sale and possession with intent to sell cocaine.

US Senators are trying to get ranchers a fair price for their cattle.

They note four companies have cornered the meat packing business and have too much control of the market and the prices.

Senator Chuck Grassley reintroduced the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2023.

He noted he held public hearings last summer and got a lot of support for the legislation.

“The hearings showed what we all knew.  The big four packers dominate over 80 percent of the market at the same time harming our farmers.  These hearings want more input from producers to bring more transparency, needed transparency, to the cattle market.”

Another bill would fight consolidation and enforce the national anti-trust laws against meat packing companies.

It would create the office of the special investigator for competition matters in the US Department of Agriculture.

The first phase of the large Terra Lago development gaining support of the Indiantown Village Planning Board.

It includes 130 acres of single family homes.

The board approved the site plan for the first phase after a public hearing this month.

The project could eventually cover 800 acres and include over 2,000 homes, 174 townhouses, 300 apartment units and commercial space.

A red light will be added at 710 and route 609.

Village attorney Wade Vose said this was a priority for village staff.

Garcia Group Spokesperson Josh Kelham said this is an important project for the future of the village.

“We made a commitment over a year ago to deliver attainable housing for members of the village of Indiantown and that is what we are here to do.”