News Cast 3/10

News Cast for March 10th:

Elections held around Big Lake

Several cities around the Big Lake held municipal elections on Tuesday.

Joaquin Almazan, Mary Ross Wilkerson and Andrew Berry won seats on Belle Glade City Council. Sara Perez and Juan Gonzales Junior won seats on the Pahokee City Commission. Joe Kyles and Betty Barnard were victorious in South Bay elections.

Dairies look to modernize

Dairies in Okeechobee are considering new technology to make their operations more efficient and profitable. Extension Agent at the Cooperative Extension Colleen Larson said the area would have to have professionals capable of fixing these new technologies.

This could lead to new jobs in the area, “It is great to have new technology but if you don’t have technical support from the companies that make them, if all of them are in Wisconsin, it is not a quick trip to Florida if you have a breakdown.”

She said robotic milkers would require a lot of changes in the infrastructure of local farms.  She noted they might not meet the needs of local producers. One rob accommodates about 160 cows.  In Okeechobee a dairy farm would need about 30 of these robots to accommodate the size of their herd. We have foru methane digestors that willgo in the next year to help with renwable energy andfuel.

Two departments team up to arrest alleged thief

Okeechobee and Highlands County deputies chased after a stolen vehicle on Monday.

Bryan Corwin, 31, was captured after a K-9 search in a remote area of South West 196th Avenue. He reportedly had bailed from the vehicle into the brush but was located Monday afternoon. Okeechobee Deputies began the pursuit and chased him to Brighton where the vehicle was seen on Fulmar Terrace. Deputies said when they found the vehicle it was abandoned.

The driver wore a camouflage face mask that covered the lower portion of his face, Highlands Deputies said. He was held at the Highlands County Jail on a charge of grand theft auto.

Moore Haven gets extra vaccine this week

The Glades County Health Department will accept walk-ins for COVID-19 vaccinations on Sunday, March 14 from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The clinic to be held at the Glades County Training Center at 1030 Industrial Drive in Moore Haven. The vaccine is available to long-term care facility residents and staff, person 60 years and older, K-12 school employees ages 50 and older, sworn law enforcement officers 50 and older, and firefighters and paramedics 50 years and older.

Glades County considers fire assessment

The Glades County Board of County Commissioners agreed to move forward with a fire assessment that could cost residents $60 per year.

New growth and demand for service are behind the proposal. The tax would also be imposed on non-residential and businesses of four cents per square foot. Most agriculture uses would be exempt other than buildings valued at over $10,000 by the property appraiser.

In other actions the board…

-adopted an ordinance to close a portion of County Road 720 or Benbow Road south of Moore Haven to Hendry County to truck traffic.  This closure will not impact agriculture operations.

-agreed to continue suspensions of various impact fees for public education, parks and recreation, roads, and emergency medical services.  The county would have collected $925,425 from impact fees in 2020.  They have suspended the fees since 2008.

-voted to reappoint Ellen Beers, Steve Dobbs, Carl Perry, and Jack Wilson to two year terms on the Glades County Planning Board.

-approved the purchase of new radios for public safety at a price of $247,802.

-approved a contract with Denco Construction for $934,259 for sanitary sewer and lift station improvements in Washington Park.

-approved a quote to make improvements to the Buckhead Ridge boat ramp and dock for $13,670.

DUI fatalities rise in Okeechobee County

Okeechobee bucked a state wide trend by seeing an increase in alcohol related fatal crashes in 2020.

DUI fatalities dropped by 33% in Florida last year.  Traffic crashes involving drugs and alcohol dropped by 16%. Okeechobee reported an increase from five fatalities to seven fatalities.

Glades County had no fatalities that were alcohol related in 2019, but had two deaths in 2020. Throughout March the Florida Highway Patrol will be conduct the Never Drive impaired campaign.

Lt. Yanko Reyes said fatalities may be down in the state but there still is a problem with younger drivers, “The ages of 20 and 29 had the most reported crashes with 1,241 drug related crashes.  The most common drug reported was marijuana.”

Lt. Reyes said he expected to see more patrols out in Okeechobee County throughout the month, “We are going to be out there working with the Department of Transportation.  We will be focused a lot more on impaired driving.”

Reyes said make sure you don’t make the mistake of drinking and driving.  He said a conviction can stay on your record for 95 years.  “It is just not worth it.  When the alcohol comes down you find yourself in a jail cell and you might have taken a life.  There is no going back at that point.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife commission will also be focused on impaired boating this month.