News Cast 3/31

News Cast for March 31st:

Okeechobee Schools received a  $129,000 settlement for the impacts of students vaping.

They use a lot of administrative time dealing with vape pens in school.

School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said our district isn’t alone when it comes to vaping.

“We have a first time offender program but a lot of students are getting caught a second and third time.  It is a serious problem that we are facing and I fully appreciate the board’s participation in this class action lawsuit.”

He said the money likely will go to pay for administrative time dealing with the problem.

Next month the school board will consider joining another class action lawsuit against social media companies.   They also have impacts, mostly spreading rumors and threats at schools.

“IF we can get their attention to assist us and monitor the content a little bit more maybe the school can focus more on education instead of all this information being passed around on any given day at school.”

Highlands County School Board member Jan Shoop said their schools have no chance of stopping cell phone use during school.

“There is no way they can control this during change in classes when students are on their phones.  When they are in the hallway, you bump into people, but principals say there is no way to control or stop it.”

Okeechobee County saw 2.7 percent unemployment in February, identical to January numbers.

They had 113 more workers in the labor force.

Glades County had 2.9 percent unemployment down from three percent in January.

They had 54 more workers on the job.

Labor economist Jimmy Heckman said the state added 38,000 jobs during the month.

“The fastest growing industries are leisure and hospitality growing at 8.7 percent, education and health services at 6.5 percent, and other services at 5.4 percent.”

Information, government, trade and transportation saw the slowest growth in jobs in February.

Around the area St. Lucie had three percent, Osceola 2.9 percent, and Highlands County 3.8 percent.

The saga of farm animals in Indian Hills had another chapter as the Glades County Board of Adjustments approved a special exception for a resident to keep two horses.

It was a close 4-3 vote.

Neighbors have complained about the horses and another property with a miniature horse.  The consensus comments said farm animals aren’t allowed in subdivision regulations and in county code.  Many argue that two acres isn’t enough room for the horses to fully enjoy life.

David Angle said they don’t want farm animals period.

“When I purchased property here I liked the fact that there were no farm animals in the area.  I would not have wanted to live in an area with farm animals.  I would have not purchased property in Indian Hills I would have purchased property elsewhere.  I feel most of the residents in our community feel the same way.”

Eliceo Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison for killing FWC officer Julian Keen in LaBelle.

He was found guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder at his trial earlier this month.

Prosecutor Andreas Gardiner said the tragedy of the killing was Keen was only trying to help a friend.

“He hadn’t done anything.  The problem is when you are firing at somebody 40 feet away that person could have been anyway, like a person walking his dog, or somebody on the scene like a good Samaritan.”

Hendry County deputies were able to find the vehicle and the suspect not long after the shooting.  The hearing included testimony from Hernandez, his mother, and several of Keen’s family members and friends.

Keen was off duty at the time and was trying to chase after a suspected hit and run driver when he was shot.  “The most egregious part of the shooting was the defendant leaving the scene for about a minute and 20 seconds, giving him time for reflection, then deciding to return to the scene, getting out of the car and just opening up with fire,” Gardiner adde