News Cast 4/26

News Cast for April 26th:

Change of command ceremony Friday

Okeechobee County will have a new fire chief this week.

The official title is Public Safety Director.

Ralph Franklin is retiring.  He looked back on his career with WOKC news this week.

He talked about adding more staff, improving facilities, improving equipment and technology, more training, and an overall improvement in service provided citizens.

He was asked the biggest obstacle for fire rescue moving forward.

“I think we need to look at additional stations strategically around the county depending on the overall growth patterns.  That will mean additional staffing.  That will be the cutting edge component based on growth.”

He said fire rescue will also be embracing more technology in the future.

“The biggest changes will be technology, the use of drones are a plus, one of the big things in fire service is cancer presumption and cancer rates among firemen.  That is already leading to changes in the design of apparatus, clothing, and stations.”

Another trend is helping focus on community health and wellness to try and reduce the number of ambulance rides to the hospital.

The change of command ceremony is scheduled for Friday, April 28, at 3 pm at More 2 Life Ministries new facility on Cemetery Road.

It remains easy to find a job in Okeechobee.

The state said 138 people in Okeechobee gained new jobs in the past month and the labor force grew by 140 workers.

The unemployment rate at 2.7 percent.

Labor economist Jimmy Heckman said across Florida, more people were looking for work.

Okeechobee had 491 residents collect benefits in March and 489 in February.

The labor force in Okeechobee totals 18,041 workers.

Four of the ten job sectors in Florida did lose jobs in March.

Around the area Highlands had 3.8 percent, Glades 3.1 percent, Hendry 3.7 percent and Martin 2.5 percent.

Okeechobee County Commissioners decided not to hold a workshop to discuss the use of golf carts on county roads.

Lazy 7 residents had requested to be able to use them on certain less traveled streets.

Commissioner Brad Goodbread said the county shouldn’t consider this.

“IF you give its head it will go forever, this neighborhood will want it, others will want it and it will be pandemonium.  People are going to get hurt.  I’m a live and let live type person.  If you want to use a golf cart I don’t care.  I just think people will get hurt, kids will be out there, they will get hurt and there will be property damage, death, and dismemberment.”

Commissioners are taking part in rural county days in Tallahassee today.

They likely will bring up issues like the legislature imposing term limits on county commissioners to two four-year terms, and a blue ribbon committee formed that is expected to consider changes to Florida county boundaries and even the combining of counties.

The Glades area has seen a sharp hike in fatal and serious injury car crashes so far in 2023.

The Palm Beach sheriffs office is devoting more resources to traffic enforcement.

Lt. Adam Avey explained they also had to shut down Pahokee parks over Easter weekend due to social media threats.

Vehicle burglaries are up 200 percent in Pahokee this year with most of the vehicles being left unlocked.