Bass Pro and county to sign contract for Okee-Tantie

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County and Bass Pro are close to signing a contract for Bass Pro to take over the Okee-Tantie campground.

At the Dec. 28 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission, County Attorney John Cassels said the last issues for Bass Pro to sign off on are minor.

He said he has been following up with the Bass Pro attorney since the last meeting.

“Over the past week, Mr. Cassels and I have had conversation of trying to move this thing forward,” said Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs.

“I sent a message to the principle in Bass Pro and he responded to me about midnight last night, and unfortunately I didn’t see it until a few moments ago.”

“Basically it says that he didn’t think we would be able to have a signature by today’s meeting, because Mr. (Johnny) Morris is out of town on a trip, but he did not see any remaining issues and would expect that we could execute the contract as soon as Mr. Morris returns from his trip,” said Chairman Burroughs.

“I think this is a good contract for both parties,” said the chairman. “It’s a fair opportunity for both of us.”

The chairman said he hopes the contract will be signed by the next board meeting.

“This is a team effort, with the board, the administrator and the counsel. I appreciate everybody’s time and effort they put into it,” he said.

Culvert to help reduce flooding on N.E. 138th St.

OKEECHOBEE — Taking advantage of road work already planned in the area, the Okeechobee County Commission Thursday voted to pay the cost to install a pipe under U.S. 441 at N.W. 144th St. The commissioners authorized staff to negotiate a price with Ranger Construction, to install a culvert under U.S. 441 at N.E. 144th Street to help with flooding occurring on Northeast 138th Street.

According to the staff report, the Florida Department of Transportation has issued a contract for the resurfacing of U.S. 441 from south of Northeast 131st Lane to north of Northeast 208th St. This resurfacing project includes the intersection of Northeast 144th Street and Potter Road and provides for the installation of turn lanes at the intersection.

There is extensive drainage that comes from the northeast of this intersection, crosses under N.E. 144th Street, goes under U.S. 441, then southwesterly to N.E. 138th Street resulting in flooding near the west end of N.E. 138th Street.

In order to help with this flooding, the ditch along the north side of N.E. 144th Street could be extended to the west to U.S. 441, a pipe installed under U.S. 441, and the limited improvement to the north ditch along N.E. 144th Street to Cane Field Ditch.

Staff has discussed the possibility of installing a pipe under U.S. 441 during the resurfacing project since the intersection will be under construction at that time with the widening to add turn lanes to the intersection. The FDOT Project Manager and the FDOT Drainage Engineer for the resurfacing project have agreed to the installation of the pipe, the staff report continued. They have checked with other FDOT officials who have agreed to its installation as long as the county can obtain approval from Ranger Construction (contractor for the project) to install the pipe, negotiate a contract with Ranger Construction, and pay the cost of the pipe installation.

Estimated cost of pipe is $30,000.

“This would help divide the water and I think it is our best chance of alleviating the flooding,” said Commissioner David Hazellief.

He said the pipe west of this area has to be replaced due to hurricane damage. He said that pipe will be designed to be able take the additional flow.

The action came during the commission’s Dec. 28 meeting in the Historic Okeechobee County Courthouse.

In other action Thursday, the commissioners voted to surplus a portion of an alley and the property to FDOT for the appraised price of $11,900. The alley, which is east of Northwest 20th Street. FDOT is taking the whole block, which will be used for a retention pond.

According to the staff report, FDOT is in the process of taking by eminent domain, Block 10, of Okeechobee Park subdivision, lying within Section 17, Township 37 South, Range 35 East, in Okeechobee. The purpose of this taking is to establish a retention pond to alleviate flooding on U.S. 98. The property being taken is east of Northwest 20th Street and north of Northwest Sixth street. The county’s involvement is due to a dedicated alley lying within Block 10 which will be consumed by the retention area.

In other business, the Okeechobee Kiwanis Club donated $793 for a molded bucket handicapped seat for the Kiwanis playground. On behalf of the Kiwanis Club, Dowling Watford thanked the county for their cooperation with the playground. He said they want the park to be accessible to handicapped children.

“We hope in the future to do more improvements to that park,” said Mr. Watford.

“Kiwanis Park is being used quite well,” said Commission Chair Terry Burroughs. “This will be a nice addition for those folks not capable of utilizing the other portions of the park.”

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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