News Cast for August 15th:

Did you know that we have over 60 species of lizard in Florida? Thanks to irresponsible pet owners, only 15 of those species are native to Florida—that’s barely 20%! One lizard we struggle with in Jonathan Dickinson State Park is the agama. Known by many names, the Peter’s Rock Agama, AKA the Redhead Agama, AKA the African Rainbow Agama, is a large lizard with a (typically) red head, blue body, and red tail. Why are they such a problem? Well, they outcompete our native lizards and snakes and decimate our native insect populations, including imperiled butterflies.

Growth continues

The Okeechobee County Board of County Commissioners approved an industrial project at 5198 highway 710.

They also approved a rezone for a commercial plaza at 30398 highway 441 north in Fort Drum after a public hearing on August 10.

Bureau Chief Keith Bourgault of Okeechobee County Fire Rescue, and Ty Hancock, County Planner, were honored for 20 years of service to the county.

The county is also looking to purchase land around the Basinger Cemetery.  Currently they have 21 plots remaining before it is sold out.

Glades County commissioners appear to support the Seminole Tribe spending their own money to upgrade 721 through the reservation to help with the new casino.  They are working with the Florida Department of Transportation on the project.

More land is under contract around Buckhead Ridge to build homes according to County Commission Chairman Tim Stanley.

(Stanley cut 1)

Four other developers are looking at Okeechobee and Glades County because they can’t build homes on the coast due to flood insurance and lower homeowners insurance inland.  He says he’s been told Okeechobee and Glades are fixing to hit a boom in residential growth.

The reporter who wrote a series of NY Times articles claiming Lake Okeechobee is toxic, appeared before the Rivers Coalition meeting.

Dan Egan said Florida is running out of phosphorus and could be completely out in three to four decades.

The phosphorus in fertilizer is wildly popular and used because it grows all kinds of vegetables and crops.

Egan said what will the state do when it runs out.

“We are relying on a very finite resource that sustains an agriculture system of 9 billion people.  There is a day of reckoning coming.”

He said another issue is removal of manure from the lake and finding a place to find it.

“The agriculture industry has gotten a lot better in recent years in not overdosing or over applying chemical nutrients on crops.  Manure is still a huge deal, as they are still overdosing crop lands.”

Dr. Paul Gray of the Audubon Society said we shouldn’t expect much improvement in the water quality in the lake this year.

“The lake is going to be in a problem mode for quite awhile and there is nothing we can do about it.  LOSOM does have provisions that we know when the lake gets like this and we get a drought and drawdown, it can recover.  We kind of have to wait until we have a drought.”

As many as 16 people were hospitalized Monday when two airboats collided on Cypress Lake at Wild Florida in Kenansville.  Two were in serious condition after being flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center.  The US Coast Guard is investigating the crash because it was commercial vehicles involved.  There were 30 people on board the airboats at the point of collision.  Wild Florida said they have suspended all airboat operations until a cause of the crash is determined.

Volunteers in Pahokee collected $1,775 dollars to give out $25 dollar checks to 71 needy seniors in the city. 

City manager Rodney Lucas received a barely passing grade on his evaluation, as his job hangs in the balance again.  He was rated 3.01 out of a possible five points.

Lucas said he’ll continue to work on things to improve the city by using innovation and creativity, and problem solving, while doing a better job of carrying out directions from the city commission.