News Cast 4/20

News Cast for April 20th:

Tax collector wants more security

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners agreed to fund a new security position at the Tax Collector and Property Appraisers Building.

Tax Collector Celeste Watford said they have had to call the sheriff several times in recent weeks after customers became unruly.

She said they often see people that have just been released from the county jail.  She said they also see many others that are having legal issues, problems and dealing with stress.

County Commissioner Terry Burroughs said he supported the extra security.  He said the county might be behind the times on this issue.

The annual cost will be $83,000.

The state wants to conserve the Williamson Cattle Company ranch.

They added the property to the Florida Forever 2024 cycle list.

They would purchase conservation easements to take away the development rights and the ranch would still continue to operate.

Julie Morris told the Department of Environmental Protection acquisition and restoration council that the property is a priority for the state.

The ranch includes a horse farm, working cattle ranch and citrus grove.

Morris said the property has frontage along Taylor Creek and the project would benefit water quality.

She said it also is an important area for the Florida panther.

Glades County ranked 52nd out of 67 counties on the annual health report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The survey found 33 percent of adults lack physical exercise and 18 percent drink alcoholic beverages excessively.

Glades County was also above the state average on teenage pregnancy rates and sexual transmitted diseases.

Foundation spokesperson Nicholas Schmuhl said Glades County is dealing with several issues that include no physicians, high rates of uninsured residents, and high rates of obesity.

The community also has a high childhood poverty rate of 25 percent.

The state legislature is considering a bill to allow urban agriculture pilot projects.

The bill would allow things like fish farms, indoor hydroponic greenhouses and even rooftop agriculture.

Community gardens are also gaining in popularity.

City officials see them as better alternatives that vacant lots and dilapidated buildings that are common in urban areas.