News 2-11-2020

A new bill plans to make the financial burden a little easier by making diapers and other similar products tax-free. Also included in the bill are incontinence pads, liners and undergarments. This new bill is supported by local moms and community organizations that help struggling mothers. A pack of 25 diapers costs about $9.00 with 50 cents in sales tax. So, if someone’s child uses around 200 diapers a month, the cost can start to add up. Debate over the bill begins today. If the state passes it into law, it would be effective in 2021.

A driver’s speed led to a drug bust in Clewiston last Tuesday. A Clewiston police officer saw a car speeding doing 52 in a 35 mph zone around 10 p.m. The officer pulled the car over and could smell marijuana in the cabin. The driver, 27-year-old Albert Rodriguez, handed the officer a black container with 8 grams of marijuana inside. During a pat down, and the officer found a small glass vile with a white powder inside, later found to be fentanyl.  A search of the car yielded a clear bag filled with 129 grams of marijuana and a black container with THC liquid. Rodriguez was arrested for drug possession charges. He’s since been released from jail.

A proposed manufacturing facility in Palm Beach County is asking for $2.3 million in public incentives to bring 200 new jobs to the region. The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners will consider awarding the incentives at its meeting today. The unnamed company in question, identified as “Project Jacobson,” aims to invest $45.5 million to purchase 85 acres of land to construct and equip a 140,000-square-foot facility in Belle Glade, according to the commission’s board meeting agenda for today. The deal would include a $1.9 million economic development incentive from the county in the form of a cash grant over ten years. It would also include a state ad valorem tax exemption – a tax based on the assessed value of an item, such as real estate – not to exceed $400,000. If approved, the company will create 200 new jobs over five years, with each job paying an average of $38,000 per year. The median household income in Belle Glade was $24,901 in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 42 percent of the community’s residents lived in poverty that year.

Speaking of the Okeechobee County School Board, the Okeechobee Utility Authority (OUA) is the owner of some new property, thanks to the school board. At their last meeting, the school board voted to sell off two acres of a forty acre property to the OUA so they can build a pump station to serve residents of that community and make the conversion of septic to sewer service. County School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy says the school board bought the property 15 years ago with the intent of building a school for kindergarten through eighth grade students because of increasing enrollment at the time, but the property market fell apart and enrollment numbers fell and they haven’t built anything or sold the property since then. Kenworthy says the OUA came to the school board offering to buy the two acres and he’s not only happy with the purchase, it’s also a relief (Kenworthy-OUA Buys School Property 1). OUA bought the two acres of the unused property for $72 thousand dollars. Kenworthy says while anything can happen, it’s unlikely that a new school will be built on that property. The sale of the two acres to OUA will benefit their customers and the school board in terms of the property’s value.