News Cast for June 4th:

Okeechobee County continues to push forward with the county jail expansion.

They are likely to receive more funding from the state this year.

At the moment, they are adding a second pod along with a new laundry and kitchen facility.

They opened up another pod last year.

They’ve also reduced the overcrowding problem.

Sheriff Noel Stephen said they’ve been averaging about 260 inmates which is less than capacity.

He said some pre-trial release programs like ankle monitors have been a success cutting the costs of operating the jail.

Adams ranch in western St. Lucie County agreed to preserve more land for the state.

Owner Mike Adams recently hosted a farm tour of St. Lucie educators and others to explain the benefits his ranch has on the environment and protecting various animal species.

He said farms and ranches remain the solution and not the problem for the state’s water woes.

Adams said water management has realized the mistakes they’ve made.

“The water management district has evolved. That’s a good thing. They realize agriculture is not the problem that they are portrayed to be.”

They have been storing water on the ranch and Adams notes that revenue source is important for farms and ranches, especially when we have droughts, like the one were experiencing.

“Every time we get another million people in Florida our water quality gets worse.”

The Okeechobee County School Board approved a contract for new and better lighting for Brahman stadium.

The LED lights from Musco Sports Lighting will cost approximately $422,000.

They immediately turn back on which means fewer delays during storms.

The schools will have about 35 teaching vacancies to fill this summer.

The board honored two retiring teachers, Eddie Matchett who served 38 years and Amelia Lozano who served 34 years.

The board honored several support staff who worked to become certified teachers this year. The list includes Melissa Brewer, Matthew Burkes, Amber Dryden, Sandra Hernandez,

Amanda Huff, Lizeth Reyes, Daisy Samuel, Jade Viray and Amy Witmer.

The new sheriff in St. Lucie County Keith Pearson vowed to continue working with Okeechobee law enforcement on the drug problem. He said they work with all the Treasure Coast counties trying to stop the flow of fentanyl, methamphetamines and prescription pills into the community.

He also is a big supporter of the sheriff’s agriculture unit.

He notes it is an important resource for farmers and rancher as they help with illegal ATV use, diesel fuel thefts, trespass complaints, poachers

“We help the owners o the land and help them with challenges they face. Agriculture deputies are part of that community and are always on shift to help and serve.”

Pearson was appointed sheriff when Ken Mascara retired early.

He is also running for the job on his own merits.

He began his law enforcement career 21 years ago right out of high school