News Cast 6/20

News Cast for June 20th:

Don’t forget to stop by and visit the Heartland Mobile Library today around Okeechobee! Check out books, video games, and DVDs! Take home free literacy book kits and craft kits! Use free computers, Wi-Fi, and printing! We’re at Scott Driver Rec Area from 3-4:30! See you there!

A quiet election year 

The supervisor of elections ended candidate qualifying for this year’s county and school board elections Friday. 

Elected without opposition were Frank DeCarlo to the county commission and new State Senator Erin Grall. 

Re-elected without opposition are state representative Kaylee Tuck, County Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs and School Board members Jill Holcomb and Melisa Jahner. 

The only local race will be in school board district 1. 

Joe Arnold opted not to seek re-election. 

That leaves Christine Bishop and Leslie Maynor on the ballot this year. 

86 percent of agriculture acreage in Okeechobee County is now registered with Best Management Practices. 

David Frady with the Department of Environmental Protection said that shows a vast majority of land in the region is in compliance now. 

“More than 69 percent of the parcels referred to us by the FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services), are now in compliance, that represents more than 83 percent of the acreage.” 

In Okeechobee, 79 parcels of about 1,400 acres are out of compliance and most of those measure under 10 acres. 

The state last year made best management practices mandatory. 

Two people died on route 70 near Brighton last night. 

The Florida highway patrol said a west bound sedan attempted to make a U-turn west of county road 721 and was rear ended by another sedan around 10:35 pm. 

Killed in the crash were a 15 year old Lakeland girl and a 53 year old Fort White man. 

The Lakeland girl was a passenger in the sedan struck from behind. 

She was not wearing a seat belt. 

Highlands County is considering a seven percent hike in the fire tax. 

They want to purchase around $2 million in new equipment to update their fleet. 

They also plan a new fire station in Spring Lake near Lorida. 

Fire Chief Laney Stearns defended the fire tax hike. 

“This allows us to continue to fund for the career employees and to reinvest in our volunteers.  We will return our volunteers to the status they deserve, to be a respected member of the Highlands County family.” 

This includes purchase of uniforms for volunteers. 

While they hope to recruit more volunteers there are no plans to cut any paid employees. 

An Okeechobee teen was charged with wearing a mask, arming himself with a tire iron, and trying to rob a person in his home. 

The dastardly crime earlier this month led to the arrest of Reyes Rivas on charges that include home invasion robbery with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. 

The victim was able to grab a baseball bat and fight off Rivas and another suspect. 

He was treated at the scene by Okeechobee EMS. 

The victim said he knew Rivas and that Rivas knew he had come into a large amount of money from a court settlement. 

The Indiantown Village Council approved permits for the Booker Park Swamp Festival. 

There will be two events on June 25th this Saturday. 

Some were concerned about the amount of people in the neighborhood. 

Sheila Downing said why are two events held on the same day. 

“There is going to be a problem.  We have no control over people.  They will park where they want.  They will do what they want to do.  We can tell them you can’t do this or can’t do that.  They will look at us and say who are we to tell them what to do.” 

The village also received $18 million from the state to improve water and sewer service.