News Cast for June 24th:
State money will help
State Representative Kaylee Tuck said it was a productive legislative session for Okeechobee.
They got funding for Treasure Island and other septic to sewer projects and $15 million to help construct the new high school.
Tuck said the high school funding was a big victory for the community.
“This money for the school is great. We received $68 million last year to build the new high school but that was based on 2019 construction numbers. Due to inflation we had about a $15 million gap. We were able to bring that forward and get full funding for the high school.”
She also supported over $800,000 for the sheriff’s office to increase starting pay of deputies.
In the courts, an Okeechobee man was sentenced to five years in prison and five years probation for video voyeurism and sexual battery.
Bryan Jones pled no contest to five felony charges.
He was accused of sexual battering a woman in western Martin County in 2019 and recording his actions while the woman was unconscious.
Florida’s two US Senators voted against a bi partisan gun bill last night.
Marco Rubio said the federal government should control all red flag laws and not states.
In a statement ahead of the vote, Rubio praised the bill for including a measure dealing with the creation of a school safety clearinghouse that was named after two Parkland victims.
But he still called the “constitutional protections” in the gun measure “inadequate.”
Belle Glade city commissioners supported a memorial to honor Gold Star Families. One possible location is Torrey Island Campground.
Mayor Steve Wilson promised the city would find an appropriate location.
“There are three things with Gold Star families, honor, hope, and healing. We are here to honor those soldiers and their families, provide hope to them, and make sure we have the healing.”
Glades Central high school class valedictorian Ja’Leaha Thornton was honored for earning $3.5 million in scholarships. She plans to study at Xavier University.
Perla Cervantes was honored as the Belle Glade resident graduated from the Harvard School of Medicine.
Drumming up support
New Brahman football coach BJ Pryor wants to raise the profile of his program in the community.
He’s been meeting with community leaders, the economic council, Okeechobee city council and others to drum up support for the team.
Coach Pryor said he’s been impressed by the kids so far, “I tell the kids I don’t worry about the wins and losses. I worry about the kids characters and how they develop. The kids will take care of the winning and losing. So far we have great high quality kids.”
They have held a Men of Distinction Camp this week trying to improve the morals and characters of players.
Assistant Coach Jeff Whitlock is running the camp.
“The purpose of the camp is to raise the quality of the kids that come through our program to allow them to know what it takes to become a good man.”
Pryor said about 70 kids have come out for summer practices and camps.
Another bad wreck on 441 north at the intersection of 68 west Wednesday afternoon. The Sheriffs Office said a medical helicopter transported one person to a regional hospital.
The north bound lanes of the Florida turnpike were closed for a few hours Thursday morning between Okeechobee road and Yeehaw Junction for a tractor trailer fire.
A researcher claims extreme heat in Florida is hurting the health of those working outdoors.
Roxana Chicas said there are more cases of kidney disease for outdoor workers like those in construction, lawncare and agriculture.
Chicas said dairy workers and our cowboys face the same threat.
“We have not done studies with cattle ranchers and dairy. A few studies show they also suffer heat related symptoms. Anyone who works outside with physical activity is at risk for heat related illness, the worst being heat stroke and death.”
She said more mandatory water breaks and more heat protection standards would help our workers be more productive.
She said the average body temperature of 300 workers tested was 100.4 degrees, meaning they are running a fever without an infection on most work days.
An Okeechobee man labeled a sex offender and sentenced to 10 years in prison in a large child porn case.
Highlands County deputies acted on a tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about child porn being downloaded near Okeechobee.
They searched a residence on Bridlewood Drive and arrested 61 year old Mark Graham.
He pled no contest to 24 felony counts and will also serve 10 years on probation.
Highlands County named Lori Herner as their interim county administrator.
Randy Vosburg is leaving the position on July 1st.
Herner will get a 10 percent raise. She had been deputy administrator.
A search is ongoing to find a permanent administrator.