News Cast for July 6th:

Let’s look inside

The open house for the new addition to the Okeechobee County jail is tomorrow at 2 pm.

They are asking you to RSVP if you want to take the tour.

Chief Deputy Michael Hazellief said it’s a modern building that will be easier to operate.

“It is a building inside of a building.  There is space around the outside that gives us command and control over each individual cell.  We can save money because we can control water and the utility side of this.”

He said they have more control of each individual function.

“When the current jail was built there were only certain mechanisms in place.  You don’t think about the things that happen and transpire with waste that we have to account for.  Inmates do deviant things with that and it’s a constant battle.”

The state budget included $7 million for the jail expansion.

Two proposed mines passed a hurdle in western St. Lucie County.

A 64 acre mine is proposed on Sneed Road and a second mine covers 164 acres on Carlton Road at the M Ranch.

Dust, noise, water impacts, and truck traffic were concerns of the neighbors.

The planning board voted 5-4 on the Sneed mine and voted unanimous on the M Ranch mine to recommend approval to the Board of County Commissioners.

David Rollins said the mine on Sneed Road will further damage the road.

“We have never seen any improvements to Sneed Road.  It has not been paved, it has not been cared for.  Now we will add another 300 trucks per day to this road to continue beating on it with no improvements scheduled.”

The M Ranch project would include a haul road from Carlton Road to Glades Cut off road across the ranch to possibly reduce truck traffic on county roads.

Becky Holcher told the board that you can’t control where these trucks go.

“There is a lot of development going up right on route 70.  These trucks are private enterprises.  They will got the quickest route.  Time and gas is money.  They will get on Carlton, they will get on 70 and go where the work is.”

Supporters said the materials from the mine are needed to handle all the growth on Florida’s coastline.

Okeechobee schools are reviewing end of semester exams.

A new study found ending the exams would negatively impact one percent of students, while positively impacting 30 percent.

The schools note with a 75 percent graduation rate, that leaves 20 percent of students listed as non-grads and five percent as dropouts.

Coordinator of K-12 assessment Britani Stanley said other districts like Martin County have stopped the exams and seen positive results.

“They validated to us that we are on the right path and these changes will have a positive impact on students.”

School officials said the exams can take 2-4 weeks a year away from classroom instruction time.

They argue some kids are just not good test takes even though they know the materials.

“I’m very excited and optimistic about the idea that we are discussing this topic and how we can impact students moving forward.”

By Taylor