News Cast for June 11th:

Farm Bill advances in Congress

The US Congress took action on the farm bill known as the Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024.

It passed through the House Agriculture committee.

Florida congressman Darren Soto said the priorities for our state include more disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers.

“I appreciate the inclusion of key Florida priorities, disaster block grants, citrus greening, land conservation, research, meat and poultry processing, artificial intelligence, combatting invasive species and expansion programs.”

Chairman of the committee GT Thompson said he thinks this bill will strengthen rural economies.

“Some critics have gotten louder and aimed to divide the committee and fracture the process of getting passed a bi-partisan farm bill, I think it is important to focus on the legislation itself.”

Democrats are fighting for more SNAP assistance or food stamps and expansion of school breakfast and lunch programs.

Opening statements, a long 911 call, crime scene videos and photos dominated the first day of the penalty phase in the Zephen Xaver trial in Highlands County.

He is accused of gunning down five women who worked in the bank on January 23, 2019.

FDLE Agent John King discussed many of the crime scene videos and photos which captured the entire episode.

One of the victims was Ana Williams of Okeechobee, a teller at the bank.

The jury is deciding whether Xaver deserves the death penalty or life in prison for his actions.

He already admitted to five counts of first-degree murder.

Highlands County Economic Development announced two agriculture projects are due to be developed.

Both are in the Venus area. They go before the planning and zoning commission today.

One involves commercial and the parking of commercial vehicles used to transport crops and goods.

Sarah Beth Rogers told county commissioners this is good for the area.

One of the projects could lead to creation of 80 jobs and close to $35 million in investment.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced another $1.25 billion in teacher salary hikes this year.

This will total $4.25 billion in teacher salary hikes since he took office.

No injuries were reported after a structure fire at 13300 NW 160th Street near Basinger on June 6.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue crews found a large column of smoke as they approached the home on US 98 north.

The large home was fully engulfed as they arrived around 4 pm.

The home was a total loss with the property damage listed at just under $460,000 and contents inside the home valued at $30,000.

Some 26,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the flames. A parked vehicle was also damaged.

The embers from the flames also started a small grass fire.

The Florida State Fire Marshal will determine the cause of the blaze.