News Update for 6/12/19

Highlands County school board members spent the bulk of their meeting last night going over nearly 50 policy changes. Board attorney John McClure explained each one briefly – noting that they come in response to state mandate.
One regards religious expression in public schools – with mandates that students not be prohibited from prayer. Another orders that American Flags be displayed at each school, and the state motto “In God We Trust” be prominently displayed as well.
Board members approved all the policies without comment.

Roberts Rules of Order got a workout at the Avon Park city council meeting as the board debated a freeze on pay raises in the City of Charm. City councilman Stanley Spurlock made the motion, saying the city is spending too much money.
City Manager David Flowers told the council that under the current budget, he had no money for raises in any event – and moreover, is under the gun by state officials to hire a pair of new employees for the water treatment plant.
After a series of motions, and an explanation of parliamentary procedure by City Attorney Gerald Buhr, the freeze passed on a 3-2 vote.

The Florida Department of Health and AdventHealth reportedly have partnered to conduct a local survey. They say it’s an effort to better understand and address the health needs of Highlands County’s populace.
The 2019 Community Health Assessment involves a wide range of health topics – asking residents to share about topics such as: nutrition, physical activity, access to care, and mental health.
Data from the survey will be used to create a new Community Health Improvement Plan. Those wishing to take the survey can find a link at the Highlands County Commissioners Facebook page.

Discharges from Florida’s Lake Okeechobee that send nutrients down two rivers triggering algae blooms are being challenged in a new federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday contends the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has refused to address harm to human health and wildlife from the discharges along the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. Those waterways and their estuaries last summer experienced damaging blooms of blue-green algae due to the lake water.
A Corps spokesman declined comment. The lawsuit was filed in Fort Pierce federal court by the Center for Biological Diversity, Calusa Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance.
Among other things, the lawsuit asks a judge to halt further releases of Lake Okeechobee water until the Corps is in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws.