News cast for 7/26:

Join Ken Keller this Saturday from 9 to 11am at the annual Back To School Expo held at Okeechobee High School presented by Our Village Okeechobee!

The event is 8 to noon and features education, games, school supplies and clothing all for free!

Learn how this amazing event has grown over the years and how your family can help and take advantage of this great event by Our Village! For more info call Our Village Okeechobee 447-0473.

Lake Okeechobee levels were at 15 feet this morning.

Still too high for some, mostly those interested in wading birds and submerged vegetation to feed the fish.

Nila Pipes with the One Florida Foundation said more emphasis needs to be placed on lowering lake levels.

She noted we shouldn’t be surprised that there are algae blooms on the lake.

“Forgive me but I find it a little bit disingenuous and frankly dishonest for so many who have advocated for running Lake Okeechobee too high for their advocating for LOSOM, to now ring their hands in fear over the discharges we are going to get.”

The water management district continues to pursue more water storage and treatment projects north of Lake Okeechobee to clean the water before it gets to the lake.

The Okeechobee County health department is not after more funding from the county this year.

Director Brett Smith said he tires to emphasize efficiency when he works out budgets.

“You probably will hear a lot of complaints.  People have to do their jobs.  I take this taxpayer money very seriously and want to hold everyone accountable for it.”

Suncoast Mental Health requested a $20,000 budget hike.  They are seeing about 300 clients now in Okeechobee.

They received $30,000 last year and easily went through the funding.

Officials said the money goes to uninsured and under insured patients.  They note fewer people have health insurance since the pandemic ended.

The program provides 8 therapists and has programs in all 10 of our public schools.

Jenna Stephens was introduced as the new director at Okeechobee Main Street.

She is a native of Glades County and previously worked for Okeechobee Schools.

She plans to emphasize more culture and art downtown, and historic preservation.

The annual Florida Back to School Sales Tax Holiday began on Monday, and runs through August 6th.

Learning aids, jigsaw puzzles $30 or less, most school supplies $50 or less, clothing, shoes and accessories, $100 or less, computers $1,500 or less are tax free.

By Taylor