News Cast 3/28

News Cast for March 28th:

3/24/23 FDOT ROADWATCH REPORT: Week of March 26 – April 1, 2023 – Okeechobee County

▶️SR 70 at SE 10th Avenue: Driveway permit project: Crews are re-constructing sidewalks and modifying utilities. Watch for workers close to and in the roadway.

▶️US 98 from north of NW 80th Avenue to US 98: Construction project: Crews will resurface the roadway on US 98 from north of NW 80th Avenue to US 98. Additional work includes shoulder treatments, roadway reconstruction at the railroad, sidewalk, traffic signals and signing and pavement markers.

🟡Motorists should expect intermittent single lane closures on US 98 from north of NW 80th Avenue to US 98 and on SR 70 during construction.

🟡Beginning the week of Monday, May 22, 2023, US 98 will be closed at the railroad tracks for ten days while crews reconstruct the railroad tracks. Detours will be in place. Please follow signage and use caution in the area.

Please use caution in the area and watch for workers in the construction zone. Estimated completion is fall 2023.

Bass fishing still helps economy

The Okeechobee Tourist Development Council learned the Bassmaster Elite Series had a great promotional impact on Okeechobee in February.

There were 795,000 views of their live streaming, weigh-ins and videos during the tournament.

The local economic impact was $9 million.

The TDC also debated whether to fund billboards to promote the accomplishments of our young people like Taylor Fulford, Evan Neal and Kutter Crawford.

Chairman Brad Goodbread questioned whether it would benefit Okeechobee tourism.

“I can see the community pride but I don’t see where it turns into dollars.  I don’t see where you can take that and draw a line to dollars.”

Board member David DeSai reported he did not think the Okeechobee Music Fest had as much impact on local hotels and motels this year. 

He noted most of the staff and bands stayed in lodging outside the county.

The Governor signed House Bill 1 the school choice bill.

It opens the state voucher program to all students in the state.  Currently 252,000 children with disabilities and low incomes take advantage of the program.  There are an estimated 2 .9 million students in Florida.

Local state rep. Kaylee Tuck(R) sponsored the bill.  She said it was a great day for education.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect on the monumental and historic day we are seeing right here.  Florida has always put parents in the driver’s seat.  Today we keep parents in the driver’s seat by making sure that every family and every student is empowered to get the education that they deserve.”

Okeechobee school superintendent Ken Kenworthy said the bill will impact school funding.  He noted it amounts to about $8,000 per student.

“This bill has been sold as being cost neutral to Florida schools because the state is going to fund that and that is just not true.”

He noted the impacts will be limited in Okeechobee by the fact that we have few private schools.  He also emphasized he wants to make sure private schools are accountable and required to provide a quality education. 

“I like the fact that it requires home education and private school to do a norm reference standardized test.  That is closer to leveling the playing field because all public students have to take a standardized test.  That is the only push back were getting from home education and private schools is the governmental regulation.”

A Pahokee homicide is solved by Palm Beach deputies.

Sheldon Miles had some kind of beef with the victim after an altercation at a local night club on February 4th.

He shot the victim in the back at Carver Place and fled.

Eye witnesses were able to identify him and his vehicle.

He was located in Orlando and will face first-degree murder charges.

Glades County Commissioners are talking impact fees again.

They suspended them back in 2008 for parks, public education, roads and emergency medical services.

They’ve opted to get quotes on how much a new study will cost.

Chairman Tim Stanley was supportive but with this caveat.

“I truly don’t want to go out and spend $80,000 and then we decide not to do it and thus waste $80,000.”

Wild fire threats continue to rise.  The drought index has steadily increased.

The lack of rainfall helping to fuel many brush fires in recent days.

Okeechobee had three wildfires in recent days

-7055 NE 80th Ave (41 acres)

-NW 298th St (7 acres)

-NW 256th St (6 acres)

Martin county had to close South Fork High School Monday for the day due to a large brush fire.

Osceola county instituted a burn ban on Monday.

A fatal stabbing in a domestic incident on SW Cherokee Drive in Indiantown last night.

Martin County deputies said the female victim was stabbed multiple times and died at an unnamed hospital.

39-year-old Pedro Mateo-Andres was arrested on homicide charges. 

Deputies said a three-year-old child was in the residence.