News Cast 7/7

News Cast for July 7th:

Focused on State Road 70 

State Representative Kaylee Tuck plans to meet next week with the Florida Department of Transportation to discuss pushing the widening of route 70 west to Bradenton. 

She also plans to support the county effort to get back the Okeechobee school for boys 

Tuck pulled her support of the bill last year after learning about the history of the school. 

Tuck said she will support the bill during the 2023 session. 

“We ran into some issues, some information came to light, that we weren’t sure on how to handle it, as we ran up against deadline to the session.  We plan to bring it before the Cabinet and see if that works. If not we will keep trying.” 

The state set aside an additional $2 billion for road improvements this year. 

Senate President Wilton Simpson said the plan was to use that money for significant roads like route 70. 

Okeechobee City council began talk on the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget. 

They plan a five percent pay hike for employees and will consider merit pay of an additional three percent. 

They also plan an increase in starting pay for police officers to $45,000. 

They have 23 sworn officers that would be impacted by the pay hike. 

The city also will send a letter to CSX complaining about a train blocking the railroad crossing at 441 north and NW 9th Avenue last Wednesday morning. 

Mayor Dowling Watford said the city learned about the problem after the fact. 

“We don’t know what happened.  I know the sheriff was involved in controlling traffic and I’m not sure how involved we got.  I can tell you it was a nightmare.” 

In a statement, CSX says a train had mechanical issues and that the blockage lasted for over 90 minutes. 

“Around 7:30 am on June 29, CSX was notified that a train was blocking a crossing at US 441 near our Okeechobee  yard.  One of our trains experienced a mechanical issue that resulted in the crossing at NW 9th Avenue also being clocked. 

They went on to state that the tracks were cleared by 9 am.
“We apologize for the inconvenience of this unexpected disruption.  Our goal is to safely and efficiently transport freight for our customers while working to limit the impact of our operations on motorists, pedestrians and communities.” 

The Clewiston city council.. 

Heard major increases are in store for power costs this year. 

The average Florida family is paying $4,000 more for energy mostly due to gas prices. 

The average family also is paying about $3,000 more per year for food. 

Jacob Williams with the Florida Municipal Power Agency said one tip is to keep your thermostat higher during the day. 

“Most of our energy consumption is the air conditioner.  Do you set back the temperature? If you aren’t at home during the day let it flow up to 82 degrees.  We want it comfortable at night to sleep, but if the house is open, putting up the thermostat is the single biggest thing you can do that really moves the needle (on costs).” 

The city also has reported more noise complaints this year. 

They suspect newcomers aren’t used to quiet communities. 

Police Chief Tom Lewis said his officers try to broker resolutions between neighbors.  He noted complaints can remain anonymous. 

“The unfortunate thing is when we start issuing citations and criminal penalties it can create a worse situation for the neighbor because now you have a dispute that goes on for years and years and years.”