News Cast 8/9

News Cast for August 9th:

Little information yet on death investigation 

More details were released Monday in the death investigation at 888 US 441 south east. 

The Okeechobee County Sheriffs Department identified the person found as 27 year old Alex Garland. 

He was found floating in the rim canal at 9 am Sunday. 

Garland had been reported missing by his family on Saturday and had last been seen on Friday. 

The investigation is ongoing. 

Okeechobee County is considering three administrative rezoning applications to allow 67 more home sites in Okeechobee. 

They include 15 lots on North West 35th Drive in Basswood, another 29 lots along US 98 near Basswood and 23 lots on North West 138th Street. 

Planner Bill Royce spoke on the proposal to change lots along US 98 to residential single family from commercial. 

“It has been tough figuring out what to do with these lots.  The thought was if someone owned the front and back lots they could do commercial zoning and design the commercial at the front of the property and retention at the rear.  Commissioners said maybe we are better off making this residential to take away the risk of commercial uses intruding onto the residential neighborhood of Basswood.” 

The county planning board recommended approval of these rezoning applications. 

They also recommended approval of a rezoning to allow a warehouse and storage facility at 7248 Highway 70 east.  They recommended against making about half the property 11 acres agriculture to allow a single home site. 

County commissioners discuss these projects on Thursday. 

The python challenge is underway with thousands in prize money available to hunters in the Everglades. 

A south Florida bank is offering thousands to veterans and active duty military who capture pythons. 

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton said they are doing all they can to improve the Everglades. 

“The eradication of these invasive species that cause havoc to the ecosystem are a priority.  They compete with native wildlife and hunt various food sources for birds and reptiles.  We have taken unprecedented action to remove these critters. 

The challenge runs through August 14th

Some 17,000 pythons have been removed from the wild in Florida since 2000. 

Three structure fires causing damage but no injuries in Okeechobee over the weekend. 

$19,000 in property damage was done during a blaze at 8052 SE 99th trail on Saturday morning. 

A laundry room fire caused about $20,000 in damages on Sunday night at 18007 NW 33rd Terrace. 

About $12,000 in damage was done in an apartment fire at 1014 NW 3rd Street on Saturday night.  That fire caused by an electrical problem. 

Glades County Commissioners reduced the millage to below 9 mills and are rethinking a proposed 8.5 percent raise for employees. 

A budget workshop planned for August 29th

County commissioner John Ahern said he opposes a tax hike this year. 

“We need to reduce taxes because the taxpayers deserve a break.” 

Chairman Tim Stanley said the county must approve a salary hike for employees this year. 

“I agree we need to be fair to the taxpayers.  We also need to be fair to our employees.  They’ve sat here getting paid minimum wage for 20 years and we finally have the money to give them a raise.” 

The county recently received $1.3 million in federal stimulus dollars. 

They plan to spend over $861,000 improving the Buckhead Ridge Volunteer Fire Department building, $250,000 for the Palmdale Community Center and $150,000 to improve the old county jail. 

Private ventures are also being sought to renovate and restore the Ortona Store and a Moore Haven trailer park.