News Cast 6/29

News Cast for June 29th:

County still seeking tenant 

The Advanced Stone building will remain vacant. 

A business interested in leasing it from the county balked at the estimated repair costs of $150,000.  

Airport Manager Andrew McBean said an adjacent tenant could be interested. 

“nexAir is currently trying to lease more space alongside their current lease hold.  They have contacted me about their interest.  They only intend to use the space for parking and storage.” 

The Board of County Commissioners agreed to look into that possibility. 

Steube wants better health care for veterans 

Congressman Greg Steube introduced the Veterans True Choice Act. 

The bill expands health care insurance options for veterans. 

The legislation would expand health insurance options for disabled veterans and enable service-connected veterans the ability to use TRICARE Select and TRICARE for Life. 

The bill would allow veterans to use local providers if a local VA facility does not offer these services. 

Veterans could go to the providers they choose for the health care they need and deserve without having to wait 30 to 60 days for care, Steube said. 

“You can go to any community care provider wherever your want and TRICARE will cover that.” 

Steube said the VA is failing when it comes to immediate care in crisis situations. 

“If you are having a mental health crisis and you call the VA and they set an appointment for two to three weeks.  In my opinion that is contributing to the suicide rates that are astronomically high in our veteran community.” 

There are 75,000 veterans living in the 17th district. 

Opposition to fire and garbage rate hikes 

Highlands County residents face a 7 % hike in fire taxes this year. 

They also could see an increase of $67 dollars in garbage bills. 

The residential rate will be $240 per year. 

Board of County Commissioners Chairman Scott Kirouac said they likely will reduce the garbage rates once they resolve issues with their trash hauler, Waste Pro. 

“Our garbage collection has been a mess.  It really has been a mess.  My phone and email have been burned up.  On the residential and commercial end it is going to be fixed.  We have to notice the public on the highest potential rate.  Are we looking to go with the highest rate?  Absolutely not.  Whatever the increase is will be as low as possible.  The garbage does have to be fixed.” 

Ray Royce of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association said the fire tax hike will be hard for some to swallow. 

“We talk about churches not being able to afford it but there are a lot of businesses that are going to have a hard time paying these rates.” 

Highlands is trying to improve fire and ems service in the county especially in rural, outlying areas.