City plans park near Taylor Creek

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee City Council moved forward with their Taylor Creek Park planning process and heard an update on the Florida Power and Light Natural Gas power plant Tuesday night.

The council approved a professional engineering services contract with the firm of Culpepper & Terpening to design, permit and provide construction administration for the proposed Centennial/Taylor Creek Park to be located at the intersection of Southeast Seventh Street and Southeast Sixth Avenue in the City of Okeechobee.

The park will include a temporary boat dock, boardwalk, fishing and observation platform, canoe and kayak launch area, a ‘Chickee’ picnic area, a central pavilion, child playground, open grass lawn areas, walkways, a restroom facility, parking, lighting, and drainage and landscape improvements.

City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca reported the permit process should take six to eight months. He said the city still would like additional funds through grants. They have $300,000 budgeted in the current fiscal year for this park.

Stephanie Mitrione said the Florida Public Service Commission will hold hearings Dec. 1-2 to discuss the need for the proposed Okeechobee Clean Energy Center. She reported the firm filed their determination of need application in September in Tallahassee. She said permits are also being sought for the Florida South East connection natural gas line.

“We are working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and working on any concerns. We expect no holdups with construction in 2016 and 2017,” she added.

Ms. Mitrione also spoke about the company’s increased development of solar power with six sites across the state in operation or in the process of being constructed. She said there is no current plan for a solar plant in Okeechobee County.

Ms. Mitrione said the request for proposal process found that the Clean Energy Center project was the most cost efficient option for the company to produce power for the future.

“There will always be environmental groups that have concerns. We haven’t had a lot of opposition and we anticipate it will be approved,” she added.
Centennial Celebration Ad Hoc Committee Chairman J.D. Mixon reported 46 entries were submitted for the creative writing contest. There will be 15 finalists in three different age groups invited to the Dec. 15 regular council meeting where the winner will be announced. The public can read the entries at the Christmas Frolic planned for the Okeechobee Court House on Friday, Dec. 11, between 7 and 11 p.m.

The plans are complete for the Festival of Lights presentation on Friday, Dec. 4, at City Hall, the police and fire departments, and City Hall Park. A ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication will take place in the Centennial Commemorative Walkway in front of City Hall. The grandchildren of the architect of City Hall, Mr. William Hatcher, Mr. Doug Rooks and Mrs. Kathy Krueger will be in attendance.

School choir performance begins at 5:40 p.m. and the Mayor and elected officials will begin their performances around 6 p.m.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are also scheduled to appear. Demonstrations, booths and tours of the city facilities begin at 6:15 p.m. Those demonstrations include a fire safety puppet show, fire, police and public works demonstrations, a children’s ornament craft area, a centennial photo booth, Santa’s workshop, and a snow play area sponsored by the City and Okeechobee Main Street. A family movie, “Elf,” will be shows on the south lawn of the Fire Department at 7:45 p.m. Additional Okeechobee Holiday events can be found here.

India Riedel was honored for 10 years of service to the city as their Finance Director. At left is City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca and on right is City Mayor Jim Kirk.

India Riedel was honored for 10 years of service to the city as their Finance Director. At left is City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca and on right is City Mayor Jim Kirk.

In other actions, the city council presented a five-year longevity service award to City Police Patrolman Victoria Davito, 10-year longevity service awards to City Police Patrolman Danny Green and Finance Director India Riedel and a 15-year service award to Executive Assistant for the City Administrator, Robin Brock.

Victoria Davito was honored for five years of service to the Okeechobee City Police Department Tuesday by Mayor Jim Kirk.

Victoria Davito was honored for five years of service to the Okeechobee City Police Department Tuesday by Mayor Jim Kirk.

Police Captain Robert Peterson said both officers have bachelor’s degrees which is rare in law enforcement. He said both are well trained and well educated and do a fantastic job.

Executive Assistant Robin Brock was honored for 15 years of service to the city Tuesday. She is joined by City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca (left) and Mayor Jim Kirk. Photo by Charles Murphy.

Executive Assistant Robin Brock was honored for 15 years of service to the city Tuesday. She is joined by City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca (left) and Mayor Jim Kirk. Photo by Charles Murphy.

Mrs. Brock said she takes the slogan ‘My City’ to heart, and has loved her job for the past 15 years.

The council also approved a contract of $8,800 with Global Mapping, Incorporated to do annual mapping services for the city.

The council also recommended to the pension board that the current pension plan remain as a cost sharing multiple employer pension plan.

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