News Cast 4/12

News Cast for April 12th:

Smoke caused a problem for drivers overnight due to numerous brush fires in the Fort Drum area.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue, the Florida Forest Service and the Sheriff’s Department were on scene for much of the night.

The largest fire was between NW 342nd Trail and NW 364th Road.

There was no report of any structural damages or injuries.

Glades County approved a burn ban on all outdoor burning including bonfires, campfires and burning of yard waste and debris.  Certain cooking fires and BBQ grills are still allowed.

Okeechobee Schools are aware of talk of new housing developments coming into Okeechobee in the next few years.

Although the Lakefront Estates Project includes private schools Okeechobee will certainly get some students.

Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said he tries to work with developers on capacity issues

He said they don’t have any new schools in their plans but could add classroom wings.

The Okeechobee Utility Authority honored Melanie Anderson as she retired after 30 years of service.

She represented the Buckhead Ridge area and the former Beach Water service area.

Harry Moldenhauer will replace her as the regular member.

The board continued to discuss ways to improve employee salaries and employee morale.

New Chairman Tommy Clay said he would like to see the OUA become more customer friendly.

“We want to get to the bottom of some issues we have.  We have some customer complaints and employee complaints.  we have customers who praise us.  This is not a head hunt.  This is not a way to train wreck somebody’s career.  This is to try and help us get better at what we do.”

April is Child Abuse Prevention month across Florida.

Numerous counties have passed proclamations.

The state continues to have a need for more foster homes.

Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said the entire community has to work together on the issue.

“It takes parents, teachers, counselors and coaches, and everyone else working together to make sure children at risk are identified and protected.”

The sheriff has created a special unit that focuses on crimes against children.

This week also honors our police and fire dispatchers as Telecommunicators Week in Florida.