News Cast 5/26

News Cast for May 26th:

South Florida Water Management approved a list of projects to store more water around Lake Okeechobee. 

$19 million will be spent in our area. 

$107 million will be invested in the Caloosahatchee basin and $28 million in the St. Lucie basin. 

Jennifer Reynolds said they want to meet large goals. 

“This is really challenging.  This is challenging for staff, the public and all the agencies.” 

She said reduction of nutrients and improve water quality are still the main goals. 

“The additional projects and the ongoing completed projects will get us to the reduction we need over time.  We are nowhere near close in most places.” 

Nila Pipes with the One Florida Foundation urged the board to do all of these projects and preserve ranchland in the process. 

“We need to look for ways to keep parts of Florida rural.  In additional to water storage and quality, we can have places for wild animals to live and were not all concrete.  There is a lot to be said for that.” 

Projects in Okeechobee include two at McArthur farms to expand their storm water treatment ponds, a Dixie Ranch Retention Project, the XL Ranch and a project at the Alderman Delony Ranch on the Okeechobee St. Lucie county line. 

Lykes Brothers and Brick Street Farms said their urban farming partnership is working for the environment and for the companies financially. 

They opened a warehouse and plan their first retail store this summer in Tampa Bay. 

Shannon O’Malley said urban agriculture has been thriving. 

“We are doing something that is environmentally sustainable path and developed a system that reduces our carbon demand by 25% and offset greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.” 

Lykes Chief Financial Officer Carl Bauman said the company wants to continue its rich history in agriculture. 

He noted they can make a profit at this. 

“IT is economically viable or else we wouldn’t be engaged in this.  We have turned an idea into a profit and investment opportunity for other folks.  We are excited about the growth potential.” 

Glades County Commissioners signed an agreement to join the Heartland Resiliency coalition. 

The Central Florida Regional Planning Council wants to improve readiness and preparedness in the region. 

Okeechobee County is another member. 

Jennifer Codo Salisbury said the focus is on community readiness and preparedness for major events like wild fires and hurricanes. 

The state beefed up penalties for fentanyl sales and possession. 

The minimum sentence went from three to seven years. 

The bill also makes it first degree murder if somebody sells or gives methamphetamine to someone and that person dies from the drug. 

Drug overdoses remain a problem in Okeechobee.