News Cast 8/26

News Cast for August 26th:

Same concerns…new plan 

Okeechobee got to comment on the recent changes to the lake operation plan. 

Commissioner David Hazellief said he thinks the water supply will be available for Okeechobee. 

“I think there is especially with water storage being done north of the lake.  That water can go into the lake when we need it.” 

Ben Butler, governing board member for the South Florida water management district said farms do rely on lake water the closer they get to the lake. 

“Stake holders have to help interpret the data and what they see.  To me that is the biggest difference in this plan.  It is important for the public to stay involved.” 

Environmentalists don’t want the water to leave the lake to the east and west, but then admit the high lake levels will kill off vegetation. 

They also question whether there is enough treatment south of the lake. 

Aquifer storage wells are also going in on the Kissimmee River. 

The state allocated $250 million and congressional funding is pending for these wells. 

Colonel Jamie Booth Commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District was asked will the lake be too high for too long. 

“I think we will be able to manage it.  We have an increased capability to store water  in the lake due to Herbert Hoover dike repairs.  The schedule holds water a little higher, but the dike is stronger and we have the plan to allocate the water throughout the year.” 

St. Lucie county celebrated improvements to route 70 east like new signage, lighting, and a red light at Midway Road. 

County Spokesperson Erick Gill said the new striping and signs should help motorists. 

“Anybody that is familiar with that road where Midway intersects with route 70.  It had been a two lane road.   There have been a couple of accidents where people turned left into east bound traffic and two teens were killed there a few years ago.” 

A school bus crash, the death of two Okeechobee residents, a wrong way crash involving a motor home that took two lives, and the death of a state wildlife officer have occurred at or near this intersection in recent years. 

Another crash recently claimed the life of a state wildlife officer. 

In the courts, 37 year old Ben Wilcox was sentenced to five years probation for child abuse. 

The charge was reduced from sexual battery of a child. 

The victim said Wilcox touched them inappropriately when she was 15 or 16 years old. 

The state coming up with gun storage safety tips to combat a rising number of accidental shooting deaths in the home. 

Guns are now the leading cause of death of children in Florida. 

There have been at least nine unintentional shootings involving children with four deaths and six injuries in Florida as of June 30. 

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and State representative Dan Daley said they are opposed to open carry of firearms in the state. 

Safety tips will be added to mail outs when Floridians renew their concealed weapons permits.