News Cast 5/5

News Cast for May 5th:

Two Okeechobee projects made the annual list of budget turkeys. 

The list is put out by the taxpayer watchdog group called Florida Tax Watch. 

They said the expenditures weren’t properly vetted by the legislature and public. 

Those items are $2 million for the Okeechobee county livestock and expo building, and $3.5 million for Treasure Island septic to sewer projects. 

Former US Senator George Lemiuex is Chairman of Florida Tax Watch. 

He said the legislature did surprise the group this year. 

“Given the sure magnitude of funds at the legislature’s disposal, we thought there would be a lot of budget turkeys this year. The legislature frankly surprised us and they heeded many of the recommendations we made in the past.” 

The budget contains 166 appropriation items worth $281 million that were qualified as budget turkeys by the group.  

Martin County Commissioners after nearly a day of public testimony, denied a new zoning designation called rural lifestyle. 

They want more study and won’t make it a county wide district. 

David Hafner with The Martin County Farm Bureau said this designation would actually preserve agriculture land. 

“As much as I”d like to say that we need to keep our farm land from being developed.  Farm land is often the last resource a farmer has to gain needed capital to continue farming, or to use when a farmer is looking to retire.” 

He said agriculture can use these funds to reinvest in themselves and keep farms going. 

Scott Fay told commissioners that there can be positive growth in Martin County. 

“We have to accept change.  We have to have growth, but careful growth.  Every one of us in Martin County live in a place that at one time was agriculture or natural land.  Just because it was ag or natural doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.” 

A 57 year old Okeechobee man sentenced to two years in prison, originally charged with methamphetamine trafficking. 

Don Morgan pled no contest to a reduce charge after deputies say they found 35 grams of the drug in a speeding vehicle on US 98 last July 21. 

Speaking of speeding, a 20 year old Pompano Beach man, Richard St. Leger, led authorities on a high speed chase down the Florida turnpike and onto I-95 this week reaching speeds of 178 miles per hour. 

The chase went through Okeechobee County, and several other counties and ended near Kanner Highway in Martin county. 

The governor announced $14 million more in funding to combat red tide and algae blooms. 

He said there is progress being made on compounds to fight algae. 

Rodney Barretto with the Florida Fish and Wildlife commission said this is important to our state and its wildlife too.