News Cast for August 29th:

SANDBAGS are available at the Public Works Department Compound located at 804 NW 2nd Street. Limited bags (20/vehicle) and shovels will be available at the site at no charge today. Citizens will be required to fill their own bags, however, if you are a special needs resident and require assistance with sandbags please call 863-763-3514 between 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sandbags will be available after 5:00 p.m. with no assistance available

Looking for guns and answers

A day of looking for evidence Monday as Okeechobee County sheriff deputies continue to investigate a fatal shooting of a 16- year-old boy.

Sheriff Noel Stephen said the 17-year-old charged in the crime Sebastian Urbano stood over the victim and fired rounds into his body.  He is facing first degree murder charges.

Stephen said the youth could be prosecuted as an adult but that decision is yet to be made.

They have found one gun possibly involved and are looking for more.  Divers were seen in the waters around Scott Driver Boat Ramp looking for evidence.

He said they still need witnesses to come forward and tell them all that happened that night.

“What happened?  Exactly that.  What caused this, who done what?  It is a very dramatic thing and we need the assistance of the community to figure it out.”

Stephen said guns and teens are not a good mix.

The deputies found more than two dozen shell casings and one handgun believed to be involved in the shooting.

Hurricane Idalia has taken a more westerly track overnight.  The category 1 storm is expected to strengthen to a category 3 and is forecast to hit in Dixie or Taylor counties.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said they are closely monitoring this storm.

“This is going to be a major hurricane and it is likely to continue to strengthen all the way to impact.  It could have catastrophic storm surge on the gulf coast.  The track may change in one direction or another.  You know if you are on the gulf coast you will have major impacts even outside the cone, so please prepare accordingly.”

An accidental fire kills animals at South Elementary School.

Okeechobee County fire rescue said portable went on fire with the animals inside.

The Okeechobee Board of  County Commissioners approved assessment increases for fire, EMS and garbage this year.

Each residence will pay an additional $108 dollars this year combined.

Viking resident Diane Diaper complained they don’t get no benefit from EMS or fire because of the slow response times.

“For you to keep raising it and for me to be dead before you get out isn’t fair, I’m sorry.”

She also complained about having to pay the same for garbage but not having curbside pickup.

Residents have a garbage drop-off site on the Peavine Trail.

A community meeting today to discuss the proposed Kissimmee Stormwater Treatment Area west of Okeechobee.

South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett defended the project.  He said they have to clean up the pollution in that basin.

“When we look across the landscape north of Lake Okeechobee, there was a hot spot that needed regional treatment.  We just come off an incredible algae bloom on the lake.  We all know the importance of improving water quality before it goes into Lake Okeechobee.  Your staff is committed to continue to work through what ever issues are necessary for us to execute our mission.”

Two public meetings were schedule today at the Okeechobee Civic Center on 98 from 2-4 pm and 5-7 pm.

The site selected for the LOCAR reservoir in Highlands county is along the C-41A canal.  It can hold 19 feet of water and includes 18 miles of embankment, two pump stations and recreational boat ramps.

Governing Board member Ben Butler said some of the neighbors have legitimate concerns.

“Stacking that much water on top of ground.  All the locals are concerned about seepage and what it will be like.”

Highlands County had to suspend assessments for the Lake Istokpoga Marsh Watershed district.  The state removed all assessments from agriculture land, like fire and EMS.

The district has not near enough funding to do the maintenance the district needs.

They want to meet with state officials and amend the new law.