News Cast 8/2

News Cast for August 2nd:

Neighborhood crackdown coming 

ATVs, golf carts, mini bikes, dirt bikes, and side by sides will be catching the attention of sheriff deputies this month. 

The sheriff, burdened by complaint after complaint, announced Operation Ride Right. 

They will be issuing warnings to those illegally operating these vehicles on public roads and in neighborhoods. 

Sheriff Noel Stephen said every neighborhood has been impacted. 

“There is not a neighborhood in Okeechobee that doesn’t have an ATV, UTV, or golf cart running up and down the road.  In that same subdivision there is somebody selling dope.  I can’t concentrate on the drug dealers because little Johnny or big Johnny is running up and down the road causing problems.” 

Stephen added he was impacted by several accidents involving young people not wearing safety gear or being properly supervised and had to take action. 

He said they will be forced to write citations for repeat offenders. 

City council voted 3-2 to increase the set the millage rate at 7.6 mills. 

The vote did not come without discussion and debate. 

Bob Jarriel wants to reduce spending this year in the city. 

He explained people are going through hard times and struggling to make ends meet. 

“We think that we need to spend all this money.  I totally disagree.  Citizens aren’t interested when they have to come up with $500 to $600 more to pay their bills.  They are interested in having a new street, they are interested in paying their bills.” 

Councilmember Noel Chandler said he was against putting off infrastructure projects that have been needed for years. 

“Times are hard for everybody.  To me if you get a check, your fixed.  Your income is fixed.  WE can’t put any of these projects off.  We don’t have to use all of this money.  If we have to we can.  We don’t want to get into reserves.” 

The council also gave city manager Gary Ritter high marks on his annual evaluation, 4.6 out of a possible five points. 

The estimated tax base in the city rose by 10 percent this year. 

A lawsuit was filed after an accidental shooting in rural Martin county. 

Heather Sitton was struck by a rifle round while walking in her yard in Clementsville off route 710. 

She sued the owners of property next door, Americas Underground Costruction and Farming, LLC and four men who fired weapons that day in January. 

Her attorney Danielle Sherriff says her client does not want this to happen again. 

“For my client it is not about a dollar amount but is about justice for her and her children.  Its about feeling safe at home, it’s about going outside and enjoying the property they are on.  She doesn’t want people to go outside and be injured.” 

Sitton was shot through the collarbones and has had a slow recovery from her injuries. 

Sherriff explained it is important to emphasize gun safety and to be sure of your target. 

The men were shooting at a berm, but it was not tall enough or sturdy enough and one round made its way through. 

Highlands County considering $26 million in improvements for the Lorida landfill this year. 

Public Works Director Clinton Howerton said the cost of expanding the landfill has increased due to inflation. 

“It was $12 million last year and this year it is close to $14.25 million.  The operation costs have continued to increase since 2016.  We have rising contract costs, labor costs, equipment costs, and the list goes on.” 

The county plans to add a new office building, fuel station and are looking at another cell for construction and demolition debris at the landfill. 

They also are continuing to consider a sale of the Florida Highlands Hospital. 

The county also will put up an historical marker at the Lorida School House. 

They received a grant from the state of just over $1,000 for the marker.