News Cast for August 16th:
Sales tax considered to help fund community improvements
Okeechobee County Commissioners supported the infrastructure sales tax over 20 years.
It could raise around $100 million dollars to help fund the jail expansion and a multi-use facility that could double as a hurricane shelter at the Agri-Civic Center.
They could also fund sidewalks, drainage improvements, parks, and ballfields with the money.
Commissioner Brad Goodbread said he thinks some voters would support the hurricane shelter.
“That to me sounds like something that can be easily sold. People can see themselves going to an event there, indoor car shows or whatever.”
The plan estimates the price of the arena at $12 million.
The estimated price for the jail expansion is $65 million dollars.
Voters would have to approve the new sales tax in November, 2022.
Jury acquits man in alcohol related crash
A Glades County jury returned a not guilty verdict against Craig Colton of Fort Lauderdale on August 12.
The verdict came after a near 10-day trial in Moore Haven.
Colton had been charged in an August of 2018 motorcycle crash on route 721 that claimed the life of Nicole Hobin.
Dr. Khan found not guilty
An Okeechobee jury acquitted Dr. Saheed Khan on a charge of misdemeanor battery.
He’d been accused of improperly touching a patient at his office.
He still faces another misdemeanor trial on a battery charge and a civil case.
In a statement released through a publicist and reported by the Palm Beach Post, Dr. Khan said he was “humbled and grateful” at the jury’s verdict and that he looked forward “to getting back to his life’s work and passion, and his patients.”
Drugs keep lawmen busy
Okeechobee Sheriff deputies continue to crack down on drugs.
Kenneth Nipper is charged with selling methamphetamines near a church.
Five people were arrested after a search warrant was served at a residence on South East 21st Court.
Lawmen said the search turned up methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and ammunition.
The Drug Enforcement Agency helped the deputies with this bust.
Charged in the case are Brenda Miner, Christopher Miner, Timothy Miner, Wilson Stone and Rebecca Fuguay.
Glades County budget becomes clear
A $1.00 per hour raise is likely for Glades County employees.
At issue is a raise for employees of the Glades County Detention center.
The Board of County Commissioners wants the Glades County Detention Center board to fund the raise with money they get from the federal government.
The Board is expected to meet before the end of the month to vote on the raise.
Commission Chairman Tim Stanley said the county continues to have a tight budget.
“It is always tight. We are a small county. Everybody wants service but the funds are very minimal. I hope that we get some development and our tax roll continues to go up.”
The commission has discussed closing the detention center if the federal government does not send more detainees.
Sheriff David Hardin predicts they will get more.
“It is a lot of political rhetoric. At the Sheriff’s Conference we heard from Gov. DeSantis about the situation. He said the federal government will have to do something. Seven out of ten illegal aliens come to Florida. They will bankrupt our state if this continues.”
COVID report released
The Florida Department of Health reported 260 new cases of COVID-19 in Okeechobee and 40 in Glades County in the weekly report ending August 12.
Okeechobee has had 5,029 total cases and Glades County 1,094 cases during the pandemic.
The report said 32.6% of those tested came back positive for COVID in Glades County and 29.3% in Okeechobee County in the past week.
The report said the vaccination rate in Okeechobee was 42% and was 45% in Glades County.
The report said 383 got vaccine shots in Okeechobee and 90 in Glades County in the past week.
Okeechobee Schools reported 11 exclusions during the first three days of school.