News Cast 9/1


September 1, 2023

News Cast for September 1st:

Water project still controversial

Two public meetings to explain the proposed Lower Kissimmee basin storm water treatment area in west Okeechobee were well attended this week.

Residents remain concerned about possible leaks and flooding, impacts on homeowners insurance rates, the effect on birds and wildlife, and even flights to area air strips.

The county has gone on record in opposition to taking the former Rio Ranch off the tax roll.

Commission Chairman David Hazellief said it’s a money loser for Okeechobee.

“It would be a great cost to our citizens in terms of flood insurance and not being able to save their homes.  We are not against the concept of the project but there are better and more remote areas to put the project.”

He said it makes no sense to allow septic tanks at the new Lakeside Estates development on Lake Okeechobee and hurt the water quality in the lake and then turn around and approve this project designed to help the lake.

Ecosystems Investment Partners said they have seven years to prove this project will take enough nutrients out of the water in the Kissimmee River.

Kyle Graham said if successful they could expand to other riverside property further southeast.

“There have been some discussions with the district about possibly looking at doing the other side.  We have done some initial evaluation on there to see if we can serve it from the one pump station and if there is efficiencies to adding additional acres.”

He said they have heard the concerns and plan to answer each and every question and concern in the near future.

Expect heavy traffic on major roads across Florida for Labor Day.

Okeechobee has a Labor Day festival and parade Monday at 10 am and Ranch Rodeos at the Ag Civic Center Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at 6;30 pm to attract folks.

Lt. Indiana Miranda with the Florida highway patrol said high speeds and crashes continue to go up in the state.

She said extreme speeds are still a problem.

“That still is a problem.  It is still being cited, still being patrolled and we are doing everything possible to make sure we educate the public.   A hefty fine will follow.  We don’t want a citation and education and nothing gets through to them.  We don’t want to be knocking on doors at odd hours giving next of kin notifications, we do that too many times every week.”

Speeding is even a problem in school zones and around school buses.

13 Okeechobee deputies spent a combined 75 hours in August patrolling and watching the school crossing zones around Okeechobee high school, the middle schools and North and South elementary.

They wrote citations and give out 85 warnings for speed, failing to yield to students, and careless driving.

Sheriff deputies plan to hold more operations to try and slow people down.

Two 13-year-old suspects allegedly use a blow torch to break a lock and break out the glass to the front of the store in a burglary Tuesday.

Store surveillance caught the youths at the store on SE 26th Street in Treasure Island.

About $2,000 in property damage was reported.

The youth allegedly took $193 from the cash register and took $723 dollars in store merchandise.

Charges include burglary, possession of burglar’s tools, criminal mischief and grand theft.

Both were taken to the department of juvenile justice.