News Cast for June 12th:

Maybe just one more extension

Bass Pro was given another five months to see if they want to purchase the Okee-Tantie Recreation Area to create the Big Cedar Lodge.

County Attorney Wade Vose said the company has been spending more time and resources on the project in recent months.

He said staff concurred with giving them more time.

“We mutually came to the suggestion that we come to the board that they agree to an extension of the option period until November 1, 2023 to give them an opportunity to finish up the pieces of due diligence that are in progress right now.”

County Commission Chairman David Hazellief said he thinks Bass Pro is committed to making this project happen.

“The thing that really excited me is when you (Attorney Vose) told me the Bass Pro representative told you they are committed to this project.  To me that means everything.”

Commissioner Terry Burroughs said he had a conversation with Bass Pro owner Johnny Morris in the past month and was reassured by him personally that they are committed to making this project happen.

The Florida Highway Patrol is getting a boost from hiring bonuses of $5,000.

The have had better luck filling trooper positions with constant job fairs around the state.

Lt. Greg Bueno said they have more manpower in rural counties and should be writing more citations and doing more traffic enforcement.

A new law goes into effect in two weeks to require operators of golf carts be at least 18 years of age.  The exception is those that have learners permits or driver’s licenses if 14 or older.

Lt. Bueno said golf cart operators must know the rules of the road.

“You have to be a good judge of speed.  You have to understand that anytime you are in a vicinity of the road you are subjected to one person being distracted driving a car and all of a sudden we have a tragedy.”

The new law also requires you carry a government issued ID while driving a golf cart, even if you are 18 or older.

A modest garbage rate increase planned in neighboring Highlands County this year.

The increase of $6 dollars to just under $223 per year.

Residents still didn’t like the hike.

John Brennan urged the county not to add to the expenses of senior citizens.

“IF you are in favor and love the old people in this county, you will quit raising these taxes.  They only make so much money, they can’t afford it, now you’re talking about raising our fire department by seven percent, garbage by three percent, and building a big recreation building.  The kids won’t get off their computers and come out of the house to do that.”

Highlands county staff is looking at $27.6 million in improvements at the Lorida landfill in coming years and are struggling to find ways to pay for those improvements.

The commission also agreed to consider regulations on puppy mills trying to come to the county and those selling puppies out of their home as a commercial operation.

By Taylor