News for Monday, July 18th

Okeechobee County Commissioners appointed Tod Hardacre ad their new Emergency Management Director. He will begin on August 1st. Hardacre takes over for long-time director Mitch Smeykal who is retiring.  Hardacre has a masters degree in disaster management and worked for the past five years at the Department of Health working in Public Preparedness.

Hardacre says he is happy for the opportunity.

Tod Hardacre

Commissioners also approved a rezoning to allow a seventy-two unit rental housing project at 2131 Highway 441 North.

County planner Bill Royce says the project fits in with 441 North uses.

Bill Royce

County Commissioner David Hazellief says he supported the multifamily project.

David Hazellief

Hazellief the project  to the Towns of Okeechobee project.

Commissioners also expanded the hours of liquor sales on Sundays to match city regulations. Alcohol can now be purchased at 7am. The prior hours were starting at 10am on Sundays.

North Elementary Librarian Rachel Williams (back center) pictured with parents and students of North Elementary during the unveiling of the book vending machine

Okeechobee County Schools will have a unique way to offer students brand new books this school year with new book vending machines that were secured with a grant from the Okeechobee Educational Foundation. North Elementary held a ribbon cutting last week to unveil theirs. North Elementary librarian Rachel Williams says that this a very unique machine.

Rachel Williams

  Williams went on to say that this is all to try and promote reading excitement for all students

Rachel Williams

Williams says that the idea is to get all students excited to read

Rachel WIlliams

Williams went on to say that getting students excited to read for pleasure has always been a challenge because of all the reading they are required to do in school. She hopes that the book vending machine will help.

The machine is just as it sounds, large vending machine with a clear display of a variety of books. Students will earn tokens, push the corresponding button for the book they choose and watch it drop to a pickup bay just like they would a candy bar. Schools are responsible for filling the machine with new books and obtaining new books on a consistent basis will be a new challenge for the schools. Schools all over the district will see these book vending machines in their schools this fall.

In the village of Indiantown:

Council decided not to pursue the donation of a trolley from a local grocery store. They had considered running the trolley on Saturdays. Village Manager Harold Brown says repairing  the trolley was not a  good idea.

Councilwoman Janet Hernandez attended a national Hispanic elected conference in Chicago. She spoke about developing relationships with federal officials to receive grants.

Hernandez says that even California liked what the village did with water improvements.

Janet Hernandez

Hernandez also spoke about urging citizens to be polite when it comes to politics.

Janet Hernandez

Indiantown will hold budget workshop meetings this week with the first one on Thursday, July 21st at 6pm.  The Post Family Park will host a back to school bash for students and families on August 6th