News Cast 7/13

News Cast for July 13th:

Budget work begins 

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners voiced some concerns about the Clerk of the courts and the Supervisor of Elections budget at the first of five budget workshops Monday.  The clerk’s budget is up 11 percent and the elections by 22 percent. 

The clerk would like to beef up his cyber security efforts.  Clerk Jerry Bryant said the county computer system is constantly under cyber attacks. 

Commissioner David Hazellief had a message for those constitutional officers. 

“I would rather they come back to us with things they can live with rather than having us cut their budgets.” 

County administrator Debra Manzo said the proposed budget seeks to add more revenues to the county.  The garbage assessment would rise by 2.5%, the fire assessment by 12% and the EMS assessment by about nine percent.  The budget also calls for an 8 mill property tax rate.  The roll back rate would be 7.4 mills. 

Chairman Terry Burroughs said the commission should avoid a tax hike this year as he noted the tough times our residents and businesses have experienced during the pandemic. 

Troopers can’t identify crash victim 

A single vehicle wreck claimed a life in Lorida early Monday.  The Florida highway patrol said a west bound sedan left US 98 near Johnson Lane, and struck a tree.  The sedan broke into flames and troopers have been unable to identify the driver.  They continue to investigate the crash first reported at 2 a.m. Monday. 

Fort Pierce to seek Highwaymen’s Museum 

A Highwaymen’s museum could be developed in Fort Pierce.  The city commission agreed to apply for a state cultural arts grant of 1 million dollars.  They hope to raise local funds as well and possibly build a $2 million facility. 

Former State Representative Larry Lee said they will continue to work on this project.  The highwaymen were all African-American men who painted landscape portraits .  They sold their wares along US 1 and other Florida roads. 

Protect Okeechobee kids from drowning 

Drowning deaths among children continue to be a problem in Florida.  It is the leading cause of death among children four years and younger. 

Okeechobee city fire chief Herb Smith says children under five are more likely to drown in home pools.  Those over five are more likely to drown in natural bodies of water. 

The chief encourages parents to have their child take swimming lessons.  He noted there was a large increase in store bought pools in 2020 as people tried to find safe things to do during the pandemic.