County breaks ground on new offices

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County officials Thursday broke ground on a new building to house the Okeechobee County Tax Collector’s office, the Okeechobee County Property Appraiser’s office and the Driver’s License office.

Lake Okeechobee News/Katrina Elsken
The ground breaking for the new offices of the Okeechobee County Tax Collector and Property Appraiser was held Aug. 22. Left to right are county administrator Robbie Chartier, Commissioner Brad Goodbread, County Commissioner Kelly Owens, Commission Chair Terry Burroughs, Marty Johns of Native American Construction, Commissioner David Hazellief, Property Appraiser Mickey Bandi, Tax Collector Celeste Watford and Jerry Trout of Straughn Trout Architecture.

The architect for the project is Gerald Trout. Native American Construction is the contractor for the project.

“We are looking forward to a successful project,” said Mr. Trout.

“It gives me great pleasure to be part of the community,” said Marty Johns of Native American Construction. “I thank the commissioners for keeping it local.”

Native American Construction was the only local contractor to bid on the project and was the low bidder at $4,005,963. Other bids came from contractors from Lakeland, Sebring, Lantana, West Palm Beach, Wauchula, Vero Beach, Delray Beach and Palm Bay. The high bid was $5,031,963.

The Alderman building, currently occupied by the Tax Collector’s Office and the Property Appraiser’s Office, was originally the old jail. The Driver’s License office, which is one of the responsibilities of the Okeechobee Tax Collector’s Office, is currently in a rented building. When the new building is completed, the Alderman building may be renovated for other use by the county.

The building site is that of the old Okeechobee hospital building, which was most recently occupied by the Okeechobee Arc.

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