News Cast 3/7

News Cast for March 7th:

County agrees to settle lawsuit

Okeechobee County settled a near 10-year legal dispute with a local family that lost their daughter to a fatal car crash on December 1, 2013.

Okeechobee agreed to pay $300,000 per year over the next four years.

The jury trial had awarded the family $5 million.

A claims bill in the state legislature for that amount never generated enough support.

County Attorney Wade Vose explained how the settlement came together.

“The ultimate result of this was a number of folks killed and injured.  Settlements were done with sovereign immunity limits with other folks, but no settlement was reached with the one family.”

Elizabeth Arellano Renteria and Hilda Medrano were killed in the crash on state road 70 near McDonalds.

Vantage Oaks and Treasure Island mobile homes were visited by Okeechobee County Fire Rescue and the American Red Cross on a mission of fire safety.

They installed 47 smoke alarms in mobile homes and also discussed fire escape plans and hurricane evacuation plans with the residents.

Deputy Fire Marshall Jessica Sasser said fire safety is a very important message.

“Fires are job security for us but we don’t want them to happen if we can help it.  We want to educate the public about the risks.”

She said the smoke detectors had been donated and didn’t cost the residents any money.

She said many people in Okeechobee don’t realize they don’t have fire alarms.

These new systems include batteries that last for 10 years.

As many as 30 firemen and landfill personnel were busy controlling and putting out a fire at the Lorida landfill.  It raged all of Sunday and much of Monday before being put out with water and bulldozers.

Firemen suspect batteries in the garbage caused the fire.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue said a kitchen fire caused by cooking led to about $50,000 in damages to a home on NW 95th Court in Dixie Ranch Acres.

No one was hurt and the American Red Cross assisted the family.

Highlands County is asking the state for close to $10 million dollars this year to improve Arbuckle Creek Road from Butler Dairy Road to the bridge over the creek.

County Commissioner Scott Kirouac said a lot of work needs to be done to make the bridge smoother.

Kirouac had concerns about loads heading to the landfill hitting the bridge’s rough edges and losing materials like screws and nails that damage tires.

There is road work today in Okeechobee on US 98 between Basswood and Dixie Ranch Acres as crews resurface and improve the road.   Expect slight delays in that area for the next several weeks.