News Cast 5/16

News Cast for May 16th:

US 98 to close for two weeks

The contractor resurfacing and improving US 98 north from Okeechobee into Highlands County will have the need to shut down the railroad crossing between May 22 and June 2nd.

Trucks will have to detour around town to state route 68 west onto US 441.

Engineer Steph Mathes said no through trucks will be allowed on NW 36th Street in Whispering Pines and Basswood during this two week period.

The Florida Department of Transportation also told the county they won’t take over maintenance of Berman Road, damaged by years of heavy truck traffic.

They said any additional road maintenance would have to be mile neutral.  In other words the county would have to pick up 11 hours of state roads to maintain.

An Okeechobee man was seriously injured when he jumped from a moving vehicle.

Okeechobee County Sheriff Deputies said 34 Benjamin Dunham was flown to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center with head and other injuries.

Deputies are also investigating a dead body found alongside the road.  The discovery made on May 15th at 7:30 pm.

Few details have been released as the incident is under investigation.

National Travel and Tourism Week was celebrated last week in Florida.

Tourism remains important to our economy.

In Highlands County it has an annual economic impact of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

Tourism coordinator Casey Hartt said tourism has grown in recent years.

They see $272.5 million per year in visitor spending, $247.5 million in annual economic impact, tourism supports 3,688 jobs, and saves each Highlands County household $169 per year.

US Senator Rick Scott wants a deal done on raising the debt limit.

He’s calling on less government spending.

He spoke about spending reforms that are needed at the federal level.  He admits the debt ceiling will have to be raised to keep the government funded.

He blamed democrats for high taxes and reckless spending.

Negotiations were continuing in Washington DC this week.

The Florida Trail Association is expecting more visitors on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.

The entire length of the trail is expected to be paved soon.

Kate Adams of Lakeport told Glades County commissioners her goal is to bring new hikers and bikers to Moore Haven.

They have requested to put in an information kiosk on the trail at Alvin Ward Park so that hikers and bikers know the businesses and services available at the county seat.

Adams said a lot of times hikers and bikers come as far as John Stretch Park in Lake Harbor and don’t go any further.