News Cast 7/21

News Cast for July 21st:

Working to improve state roads 

The Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization said it is optimistic there will be more funds available to improve route 70.  The governor signed a bill that would end planning and spending on the proposed Heartland Parkway from Polk to Collier County.  A section would have run through western Glades County.  Staff Services Director Pat Steed said she thinks this move will impact state roads like 70. 

“Replacing that we think there will be more emphasis on rural roads like route 70.  There is a change in the legislation.  Two new corridors will continue but not the one in the Heartland County.  M-Cores is no more for future consideration.”  Steed said they have worked hard to find funding for passing lanes and additional improvements. 

“Certain parts of route 70 are very constrained particularly the section between US 27 and Okeechobee.  We have looked at different ways to bring attention to it and funding to it.”

Steed says a 20 mile stretch of route 70 between Okeechobee and Lake Placid is a top priority of the group. 

Glades moves closer to fire assessment 

Glades County Commissioners agreed to hold a public hearing on a proposed $121 residential fire assessment.  The charge would be 4 cents per square foot for commercial and $17.55 cents for each parcel of vacant land.  The public hearing is scheduled for August 23 at the Doyle Conner Building at 6 pm. 

Chairman Tim Stanley said he thinks most Glades County residents support this assessment. 

“If we do the plan that is in the process I think everybody will support it.  We will have three stations, two will have fire and ambulance and Buckhead Ridge will have an ambulance.” 

They continue to work with Hendry County on the joint station north of LaBelle. 

The governor’s budget included a $900,000 grant to help build that station. 

Okeechobee city honors OCRA all-stars 

The Okeechobee City Council honored the members of the OCRA baseball all-star team that qualified for nationals this year.  The Ozone team, ages 10 to 12 will travel to Laurel, Mississippi from August 7th through the 12th.  They finished second in the state. 

They will be holding various fundraisers in the next few weeks that includes a barbecue in Flagler Park on July 30. 

The council also set a budget workshop for July 27 at 5 pm.  They set the tentative millage rate at 8.6018 mills.  The rollback rate is 7.33 mills this year. 

Court actions 

Kyle Sage, 19 pled no contest to sending harmful information and was sentenced to three years in prison and two years probation.  He was also labeled a sex offender.  Sage allegedly sent inappropriate and sexually explicit messages to children in April of last year. 

James Edison was sentenced to two years in prison for battering another jail inmate and 65 months for drug possession and sales. The sentences will run concurrently. Edison also won’t face charges in DeSoto County for a chase on route 70 after a reported armed carjacking in Okeechobee last year.  DeSoto deputies said they found a gun in the vehicle. The charges were not pursued by the State Attorney. 

Victor Bustos-Palacios, 35,  faces 11 years in prison for various drug trafficking charges investigated by the Okeechobee Narcotics Task Force.   He entered a no contest plea in several cases. He was also fined $400,000. 

Arrests of note 

Jessie Gonzalez, 32 was charged with selling and possessing methamphetamine.  The narcotics task force said they were able to buy methamphetamine from a home on North West 42nd Avenue last November 30. Bond was set at $80,000. 

Maria Gomez-Diaz, 25  was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. She allegedly struck a man with a vehicle on July 18th and then rammed the front door of a residence with the same vehicle. The incident was reported near state road 70 west and SW 17th Avenue. The arrest report said she also threw a vacuum through a window of the home. 

There was no report of serious injury. Deputies described the incident as domestic in nature. Bond was set at $30,000.