Little-league team recognized by city council

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 4, saw the Okeechobee 8-years and under All-Star Team’s efforts recognized for being district champs, state champs and ranking 11th out of 5,500 participating teams of the 2018 Dixie Youth World Series tournament.

The Okeechobee 8-and-under All-Star Team’s efforts were recognized for being district champs, state champs and ranking 11th out of 5,500 participating teams of the 2018 Dixie Youth World Series tournament. The team’s accomplishments included them being the 2018 Florida Dixie Youth Machine Pitch District 8 Champions, 2018 Florida Dixie Youth Machine Pitch State Champions and 2018 Dixie Youth World Series Participants. Okeechobee News/Matt Tullio.

“When I used to coach, back in the really dark ages, I would tell people it’s not the winning or losing that counts. It’s that you give your best in every single game, that you do the best you can do,” Mayor Watford said to the young ballers. “One of the best games I ever coached in was a t-ball game, that was my level and about all I could coach,” he jokingly stated before continuing, “and we played a team that beat us, but it was absolutely the best game that I have ever been involved in. We didn’t have that good of a team but we played a very competitive game against them and thought we might beat them. They were really worried and that was a good sign.” Mayor Watford then stated, “Even the coaches came up afterwards and said that was quite an improvement in the team, so playing and doing your very best you can every game is what counts.” Mayor Watford concluded his congratulatory speech to the team saying, “We are really, really proud of you for representing your community, Okeechobee, in North Carolina.”

Councilman Gary Ritter, spoke to those in attendance and the team stating, “I had the pleasure of watching you guys play in Avon Park and I was extremely impressed by you and the coaches as well. It’s so important to have people in the community who want to get together with our youth. I was just astounded at the fielding and hitting these guys did.

“I was just blown away by the ability of everyone on the team. You all represented Okeechobee well and I’m proud of all of you.”

Each person on the team received a certificate from the Office of the Mayor for outstanding achievement for their dedication, sportsmanship and team spirit as members of the Okeechobee, 8-years and under, All-Star Team. The team’s accomplishments included them being the 2018 Florida Dixie Youth Machine Pitch District 8 Champions, 2018 Florida Dixie Youth Machine Pitch State Champions and 2018 Dixie Youth World Series Participants.

Each person on the team received a certificate from the Office of the Mayor for outstanding achievement for their dedication, sportsmanship and team spirit as members of the Okeechobee, 8-and-under, All-Star Team. Okeechobee News/Matt Tullio.

Head Coach Ruben Guerrero addressed the crowd of attendees, “I’d like to thank everybody for having us here. We started this in Avon Park and we finished and went to Bristol, Fla. and got the opportunity to take these kids up to North Carolina. At the beginning 5,500 teams started, we finished 11th. These kids really worked hard and they are becoming local celebrities. People are starting to notice who they are, these kids are enjoying every moment of it, they work hard and they deserve it. We want to thank the community of Okeechobee, you really helped us out with donations and getting us to these competitions.”

According to the team’s coach, “We wanted to wear purple and gold to represent Okeechobee, but we had to wear the colors that were representative of the State of Florida. We were the only team that put the name of our town on our shirts.” The coach left off saying, “The team that won the World Series, we were the only team to beat them in the whole tournament. Once again thank you and we appreciate everything you’ve done for these kids.”

Mayor Watford’s final words to the team after they received their certificates were nothing shy of future goal setting: “Thank you very much and congratulations. Next year we will see you here at 9-years and under.”

In addition to Head Coach Guerrero the roster included: Assistant Coaches James Belville, Cody Clanton and Bobby Koedam; and players Izaak Alaniz, Matthew Belville, David Busbin, Cody Clanton, Walt Fortner, Ruben Guerrero, Kylar Koedam, E.J. McQueen, Levi Larson, John Richards, Jakoah Spencer and Carder Stokes.

Mayor Dowling R. Watford Jr. also proclaimed the month of September 2018 as “Hunger Action Month” and presented the certificate to the Treasure Coast Food Bank representative, Chief Strategy and Advocacy Officer, Krista Garofalo.

Mayor Dowling R. Watford Jr. (right) proclaimed the month of September 2018 as “Hunger Action Month” and presented the certificate to the Treasure Coast Food Bank representative, Chief Strategy and Advocacy Officer, Krista Garofalo. Okeechobee News/Matt Tullio.

The council was presented with a Merit Award from Okeechobee Main Street. The award was delivered from Okeechobee Main Street President Angie Griffin and was awarded for the median beautification project that took place on Park Street in the Downtown Business District of the city.

The council was presented with a Merit Award from Okeechobee Main Street. The award was delivered from Okeechobee Main Street President Angie Griffin (left) and was awarded for the median beautification project that took place on Park Street in the Downtown Business District of the city. Mayor Watford is holding a photo of the new speed limit sign on Park Street. Okeechobee News/Matt Tullio.

In business actions at the Tuesday meeting:

• The council approved a payment in the amount of $10,000 deductible in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Florida Petroleum Liability and Restoration Insurance Program (FPLRIP) for the purpose of assessment and remediation of an aged petroleum spill at the Public Works Facility.

In a memorandum sent from Public Works Director David Allen to City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca, it read: “The City of Okeechobee Public Works Facility has become eligible for DEP Petroleum Restoration Program (PRP) funding for further assessment and remediation of a petroleum spill that occurred many years ago. The discharge occurred when the old underground fuel tank in the yard was removed and replaced with the above-ground tank that is currently in use. DEP recently lowered the priority score to fund discharges with scores 20 or above, the score for our site is 25. The lower threshold provides state funding for remediation of our discharge site.”

The memo also stated: “The PLRIP deductible is $10,000 which is a significant amount.

However, when compared with the potential liability to the city of the contamination, the expenditure is well warranted. Having the discharge and accompanied contamination remediated will benefit the city as: 1) Future liability to the city will be greatly limited as the city will have met the requirements of FDEP for remediation. 2) Due to the potential need for future action, the area of the old underground tank in the Public Works Yard has been left unpaved. The location is central in the Public Works Yard and regularly has standing water after rain storms. After remediation is complete, the area can be paved and better utilized.”

• Council approved a recommendation by the Code Enforcement Board to consider foreclosure proceedings on property located at 1006 Southwest Fifth Avenue. According to Code Enforcement Officer Fred Sterling the property owner is deceased, has a house with no electricity/water and the grass is very overgrown. As of Aug. 31, the fine had accrued to $3,375 and continues to accrue at a rate of $15 per day.

In an open and public hearing for first reading of budget ordinances:

• Mayor Watford announced that the purpose of the public hearing was to consider the first reading of ordinances for the proposed millage rate levy and proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-2019.

• Mayor Watford also announced that the proposed millage rate levy represents five percent more than the roll back rate computed pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 200.065(1).

• Motion to read proposed Ordinance No. 1171 by title only and set Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. as a final public hearing date, levying a millage rate of 7.9932 for fiscal year Oct. 1, 2018 – Sept. 30, 2019 was approved by the council.

• The council’s final action was the approved motion to read proposed Ordinance No. 1172 by title only and set Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. as a final public hearing date, adopting an annual budget for fiscal year of Oct. 1, 2018 – Sept. 30, 2019.

The ordinance states: “Budget sets forth general fund revenues of $9,941,199, Transfers-In of $1,195,215 and Expenditures of $6,959,394, leaving a fund balance of $4,177,020; Public Facilities Improvement Fund Revenues of $1,907,529, Expenditures of $681,337 and Transfers-Out of $350,000, leaving a fund balance of $876,192; Capital Improvement Project Fund Revenues of $4,571,144, Transfers-In of $171,120, Expenditures of $660,346 and Transfers-Out of $845,215, leaving a fund balance of $3,236,703; Other Grants Fund Revenues of $221,120, Expenditures of $50,000 and Transfers-Out of $171,120, leaving a fund balance of $0; Appropriations Grant Fund Revenues of $210,000, and Expenditures of $210,000, leaving a fund balance of $0; Law Enforcement Special Fund Revenues of $3,720, and Expenditures of $3,500, leaving a fund balance of $220.

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