News Cast 5/24

News Cast for May 24th:

Tourism still strong in 2023

New data found most of the visitors that come and stay in Okeechobee are from in state.

75 percent are from Florida, three percent from Georgia, two percent from Kentucky, two percent from Ohio, 1.5 percent from Indiana, 1.4 percent from North Carolina, 1.3 percent from Tennessee and 1.25 percent from South Carolina.

The study said the most common age group that come to Okeechobee, 34 percent, is between the age of 45 and 64.

Visitors 65 years and older and those between 25 and 44, both were at 27 percent.

Denise Whitehead said the service they’ve subscribed to provides great tourism data.

“I can pull data from three or four years ago or three or four days.  This gives us a chance to target events, specific locations, and find out where people are coming from.”

The proposed tourist development council budget includes $150,000 toward Okeechobee welcome signs.

They include $110,000 for advertising and $100,000 for promotions.

The county is on schedule to set another record for bed tax collections this year.  They collected $501,000 last year.

The top point of interest for our visitors include Lake Okeechobee 53 percent, the Brighton Casino over seven percent, Flagler Park 6.7 percent, over five percent for KOA, and two percent for Lightsey’s Seafood Restaurant.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue said a travel trailer was destroyed in a fire overnight.

They had all available units at a trailer park on 441 south east to put out the blaze.  The specific address was not immediately available.

There were no injuries reported.  The State Fire Marshall will investigate.

Sheriff Noel Stephen awarded an OHS student with a life-saving award.

Julio Guerreca noticed his teacher was in distress in the classroom, he asked him questions and tried to help him, and then ran to the front office to alert staff.

Staff quickly alerted EMS and the teacher is now doing well.

Indian River State College Professor Ronald Frazer gave a presentation on Henry Flagler and his impact on Florida and this region.

His hotels started the trend of northern visitors into the state.  He also built the railroads down the Atlantic Coast.  He also brought railroad to Okeechobee.

Frazer said Flagler saw the potential of Florida.

“He came down here for vacation in St. Augustine and fell in love with the place, then decided to build a hotel, saying how will we get people here.  One thing led to the other.  It expanded Florida.  It brought people down from the north to experience this beautiful weather.”

Frazer noted Flagler also overcame his share of failures

“He kept coming back, he kept persevering.  He didn’t give up and didn’t give up the dream.”

Highlands County Sheriff has been informing the community about the growing threat of human trafficking even in rural areas.

The commission is also asking the Corps of Engineers to do another study on Lake Istokpoga

The water management district is planning a reservoir project south and east of Lake Istokpoga.

This week is Emergency Medical Services Week.