News Cast 5/21

News Cast for May 21st:

Initial Report: The National Weather Service in Miami has issued a Red Flag Warning for Glades, Hendry, interior Collier, Mainland Monroe, and interior Miami-Dade Counties. The Red Flag Warning is in effect from 8 AM Friday morning to 2 AM EDT Saturday. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

NOAA predicts an active hurricane season

NOAA said we will have up to 20 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes this year. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell noted interior areas can still face threats from hurricanes.

“Climate change is increasing the amount of rainfall that we are seeing from these storms.  That rainfall will have tremendous impacts on communities that may not have thought they were vulnerable to hurricanes.”

Meteorologist Matt Rosencrans urged the public to pay attention this summer.

“Regardless of the activity level of a hurricane season it is important to note that one storm can devastate property and lives.”

2020 was the most active hurricane season on record with 30 named storms.

District eyes ranch to help with nutrient problem

The South Florida Water Management District is considering the purchase of the former Rio Ranch in west Okeechobee for another storm water treatment area.

It could measure as much as 3,300 acres and cost up to $300 hundred million.

Gary Ritter with the Farm Bureau called it another step toward cleaning our waterways.

“The fruit will bear out in some of the cost benefit analysis and it will be a cost-effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

Some of the public comment was opposed to the purchase as they did not see enough benefit from the project.

Chris Whitman told the governing board that farmers must do more to clean water.

“Is it the regulations are not accurate or are they not being enforced?  We see that you are signed up and we assume that you are doing what you are supposed to do.”

He said if a general contractor gets a permit is it just assumed that he is building to all hurricane standards and building code standards or do I have to have the process of the build inspected to make sure we are meeting the regulations required?

Lykes Brothers partnered with an indoor farming operation…Brick Street Farms

Brick Street Farms, a farm to table, small urban farm operation in St. Petersburg gained a new investor Thursday, the largest landowner and agriculture operation in the state, Lykes Bros.

Brick Street turned an abandoned junk yard into a farming operation on one city lot of about 1/3 of an acre.

They produce eight to 10 acres of produce every five weeks and use indoor greenhouse shipping containers to grow types of lettuce, greens, herbs, tomatoes and strawberries.

VP at Lykes Bros. Mallory Dimmitt called it the future of Florida farming.

“With this announcement we are celebrating the future.  Lykes takes pride in our role in pioneering the future.  This opportunity brings together all the things that we value only in a smalal footprint that we are used to.

She said the project will provide jobs, help with food security and improve health and wellness.

Owner Shannon O’Malley maintains her operation grows healthier food.

“Our mission is to change the way the world views urban agriculture.  We are the future of farming.  Our new investors have the perfect expertise to help us take our successful business model and sustainable urban growing to give more people healthy food.”

School District plans job fair

Want a job as a bus driver or teacher?  Saturday might be the best day to try. Okeechobee schools plans to hold a job fair in the Publix Plaza. They’ll have teachers and bus drivers on hand to explain their jobs.

Training and Safety Specialist for the district Lorraine Watson came on the WOKC morning show to promote the event. She noted it is common to have vacancies for bus drivers.

“Actually every year we have a percentage of drivers that we lose due to retirement.  This year with the pandemic it has really been a challenge.  We have lot a lot of people from that itself.”

The district also plans to return 10 bus routes that were halted this year due to reductions in student enrollment.