Tuesday June 22, 2021

Health alerts have been issued for blue-green algal toxins found in Florida waterways. The toxins were found in water samples taken, according to the Department of Health in Palm Beach, Hendry and Glades Counties. Blue-green algae bloom alerts are in effect fortwo areas on the southern part of Lake Okeechobee and the Pahokee Marina. For other specific locations, we’ve posted a link on our website at wafcfm.com https://floridadep.gov/dear/algal-bloom/content/algal-bloom-sampling-results. Blue-green algae is a type of bacteria is that is common in the freshwater environment. It can be found year-round but is more frequent in the summer and fall. To report a bloom, contact the Department of Environmental Protection at 855-305-3903 or click here.

Crime statistics have been released for the first year of the pandemic. The annual crime report shows crime dropped 14% last year in our state. But murder and aggravated assaults were up statewide in the last year. There were 165 more murders in Florida in 2020 than in 2019 and 80% of them were committed using firearms. There were nearly 5,000 more aggravated assaults in the state last year than the year before, with 38% of those involving a gun. Although violent crime has risen overall in Florida, Duval County, retained its dubious distinction as the murder capital in 2020. In a year when many people worked at home or stayed home more often during the coronavirus pandemic, burglaries, robberies and larcenies dropped significantly and motor vehicle thefts also slightly dropped. Overall though, all crime was down 15.7% in 2020.  For the full crime report, click here.

Electricity costs for Florida Power and Light customers could go up by nearly 20 percent over the next four years if approved by the Public Service Commission. The first of 12 hearings saw public response generally supportive of the increased rates. The utility said the intention is to improve clean energy infrastructure. There were plenty of customers who testified one way or the other, and the overwhelming majority said, they supported the rate hike request. One of those customers was Keitha Daniels, Director of Economic Development for Hendry County. Daniels says FP&L has been an amazing resource in revitalization projects and job creation, specifically in LaBelle, for many years. But groups fighting the rate hike criticized FP&L for trying to raise rates while more than 650,000 of its customers are still struggling to pay their bills. A decision on the rate hike request is expected by November 12th. FP&L did note in the hearing that it spent $75 million helping its customers keep the lights on throughout the pandemic. The company urged anyone still struggling to pay their bill to call FP&L at their toll free number for assistance.