News Cast 9/20


September 20, 2023

News Cast for September 20th:

Job market adds 350 workers in Okeechobee

Okeechobee County unemployment rates rose from 3.5 to 3.7 percent in August.

The state rate remained at 2.7 percent in August.

671 collected benefits in August and 633 in July.

Labor economist Jimmy Heckman spoke about the job sectors that continue to gain in Florida.

“The fastest growth sectors were education and health services at 6.3%, leisure and hospitality at 3.5% and manufacturing at 3.2%.”

The construction industry also added jobs for the third consecutive month.

Around the region Osceola had 3.6 percent, St. Lucie 3.8 percent, Glades County 4.4 percent, and Palm Beach 2.7 percent.

Florida lawmen and prosecutors report an increase in anti semitic activity in the form of literature and vandalism, even in Okeechobee County.

Things like throwing flyers in neighborhood driveways are now a third-degree felony and a potential hate crime.

Rep. Mike Caruso sponsored the law.  He said there have been incidents of vandalism, hate literature, and intimidation in South Florida.

“There’s damage to statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and one of the worst is photos of a woman taking her two small kids to school being surrounded by a group of men that taunted, harassed and intimidated her so much that she turned around and went back home.”

State Attorney Dave Aronberg said these suspects wear masks and work at night in many cases.

Okeechobee County and Main Street agreed to a deal to allow vendor vehicles to park in the block south of the Court House and north of route 70. 

President Angie Griffin told commissioners this will create more parking downtown during festivals and for regular customers of downtown businesses.

Griffin said parking is precious during festivals.

“Downtown the parking is very limited.  When you add the festival goers and the vendors it is even more limited.  Sometimes we get complaints from the businesses because customers can’t just pull up in front of their shop and its not as easy.”

There was no public comment at the first public hearing on the Okeechobee County budget this month.  The final budget hearing is tomorrow night just after 5 pm.

The tax rate to remain at 8 mills.  The amount of local county property taxes collected would rise by 6.85 percent.

The proposed county budget totals $154.2 million.

Among arrests Gabriel Nunez of NE 36th Street was charged with animal cruelty after his dog was found with a chain embedded in its neck.

Okeechobee County Animal Control investigated the complaint and took the dog to a local veterinarian who was able to remove the chain.

The report stated that as the dog grew the chain had grown tighter and tighter around its neck.

Nunez was released on a $2,500 bond to face a third degree felony charge.

Chaka Smith was charged with two drug felony counts after a traffic stop on 710 for one head light in the vehicle.

Okeechobee’s Narcotics Task Force said they found 79 prescription pills, mostly hydromorphone.

They also located over $6,100 in cash in the vehicle.