News Cast 8/18

News Cast for August 18th:

Early Voting going on now until Saturday, August 20th at 7pm!

Will they scale back new high school? 

The price of Okeechobee high school continues to go up. 

Construction costs, labor costs, transportation costs, are all increasing. 

The school board will hold a workshop next Wednesday to discuss ways to cut costs. 

One suggestion was a flat roof.  Others are reduction in the band room and wrestling rooms. 

Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy said the board has rejected some of the options. 

“It will be giving up some square footage and some features that we really don’t want to give up.  I don’t think a flat roof would function in Florida.  We’d like it be a sloped roof.  We’d also like it to be brick and consistent with all our other schools.” 

Another option is requesting more funds from the state legislature. 

School board member Jill Holcomb described the scaled down version of the high school as looking like a prison or strip mall. 

The school board learned a new survey found 75 percent of students, and 92 percent of Okeechobee parents, feel their schools are safe. 

Local ranchers and producers got to sit down with US Senator Marco Rubio this month. 

He spoke about the new farm bill, impacts from the anti-inflation act, and our ongoing water issues. 

Senator Rubio said he is not in favor of buying up all the agriculture land around Lake Okeechobee. 

“The answer is not buying up the land.  We want the ability to send more clean water south without flooding people’s land and turning large sections of our state into reservoirs putting people out of business.” 

Rubio said putting agriculture out of business would impact human beings, communities and jobs. 

“Agriculture is a critical part of the Florida economy and the national economy.” 

He also supports funding the expansion of broadband internet to rural areas like ours. 

A permit is now required if you want to go pick palmetto berries. 

Scott Dressel with the Highlands County Sheriff’s department said you can go online to get that permit at fdacs.gov 

He noted it is important to get permission from the land owner before you start to pick berries. 

He said they get a lot of trespass complaints during the berry picking season in all areas of the county. 

The punishment for trespass is up to one year in jail. 

The berries are a source of food for our deer, bears and hogs. 

Dressel said they also want pickers to do so safely. 

“We want to make sure everyone remains hydrated.  Where there are palmettos that means there are rattle snakes.  We encourage people to be cautious when they are walking around in the palmettos and watch for native wildlife.” 

An alleged drug dealer gets six months in the county jail and two years of probation for intenening to sell cocaine and selling ecstasy at the Okeechobee music fest. 

Dennis Hodge, 27, of Clarksville, Tennessee pled no contest to two felony charges. 

The sheriff’s office seized over 15 grams of ecstasy in the case.