News Cast for August 14th:

This Monday, in the Eastern Tropical Atlantic, a tropical wave is forecast to move off the west coast of Africa on Wednesday or early Thursday. Some slow development of this system will be possible late this week while the system moves gradually west-northwestward or northwestward across the eastern Atlantic. It has a near zero chance of formation through 48 hours and a low (30 percent) chance in the next 7 days.

In the Central Tropical Atlantic, another area of low pressure could develop by the middle to latter portion of this week over the central tropical Atlantic. Some slow development of this system is also possible while it moves west-northwestward through the end of the week. It has a near zero chance of formation during the next 48 hours and a low (20 percent) in the next 7 days. For the latest information please visit:

Fighting a reservoir

An effort to use 1,500 acres in west Okeechobee to store water drew the ire of county commissioners and residents.

Ecosystems Investment Partners working with the South Florida Water Management District see this as a way to take water out of the Kissimmee River before it gets to Lake Okeechobee.

Commissioners said they worry about losing tax base, and higher insurance costs for residents.

Commissioner Frank DeCarlo said the county can’t lose any more tax base.

“We don’t have the income.  The money we take in doesn’t balance.  Everything is going up, every time we turn around they are asking for more.  The tax base is important in Okeechobee County.  Every time you take a ranch we lose that revenue.”

Kyle Graham with Ecosystems said the project shouldn’t impact the cost of homeowners insurance.

“We are not changing the flood protection system.  It’s the same as it was before.  I know we are not affecting the FEMA maps.  We are adding to flood protection not taking it away.”

Resident James Madrigal said he’s worried he won’t be able to use land he paid for due to more standing water.

‘We employ 40 people and spend a lot of money in the county.  I’m worried it will completely shut our business down.  When it gets wet it will take longer for the water to run off.” 

Another public meeting on the reservoir is planned on August 29th at the Okeechobee Civic Center.

After being at large for three months Omar Ayala was able to post bond last week.

Prosecutor Ashley Albright said the bond was set at $80,000 on two charges, sexual activity with a minor and authority figure soliciting or engaging in romantic relationship with student.

Albright said Ayala was legally entitled to a bond.    He added there was some information that Ayala was returning to the country to turn himself back in.  He was intercepted at the Orlando Airport by US Marshalls.

“His flight could be considered as an aggravator.  There was some information that he was intending to come back to basically turn himself in.  He was just intercepted in the mean time as soon as he arrived back in Florida.”

Albright said he does not predict if a defendant will show up for his court dates.

“That is not a bet I’m willing to take on any defendant.”

All counties are wrestling with whether to impose impact fees that pay for the impacts of new development in the community.

Highlands County had a study done in 2010 but didn’t implement it.

They are looking to hire outside legal help at this point.

Commissioner Scott Kirouac said they know they need impact fees and a $200,000 study won’t tell them what they already know.

“For some odd reason we have to pay somebody to tell us what we need.”

He said he wants a commitment from commissioners they will implement the fees before paying for a study.

He would like the county to budget more revenues to improve drainage in the community.