Scott budgets $50 million for dike

Clewiston News/Katrina Elsken
Gov. Rick Scott chatted with local schoolchildren during a Feb. 1 visit to the Herbert Hoover Dike near Clewiston. The governor pledged his support for the repairs to the dike. His new budget includes $50 million in state funding for dike repairs.

CLEWISTON – Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited the Herbert Hoover Dike near Clewiston on Feb. 1 to announce that his proposed budget includes $50 million to help speed repairs to the dike.

Gov. Scott was greeted by the Clewiston High School Marching Band, which played its signature song “Eye of the Tiger” as he arrived. The crowd gathered for the announcement included local schoolchildren, public officials, business leaders and other community members.

Clewiston Mayor Mali Gardner thanked the governor for focusing attention on the need to repair the dike.

“Our concern is for our future, that this generation does not have to go through what my generation and the generation before us had to go through when there is a storm coming,” she said, referring to the schoolchildren present.

“As governor you can travel anywhere you want around the state of Florida,” said Gov. Scott. “I don’t know if there is a sweeter city, with nicer people, than Clewiston.

“I want to thank the mayor; you have a mayor who cares about this community,” he said.

“The elected officials, including Mali, down here that I hear from, they care about this community,” he said.

The governor also thanked Tammy Jackson-Moore of Guardians of the Glades.

“It really matters when you have people who show up, who show unbelievable heart and organize people to focus on the things and get things done,” he said.

Gov. Scott said that as he has traveled the state during his first seven years in office, he has met with hundreds thousands of Floridians.

“They are about jobs. They care about the children having a chance to get a great education. They want to be safe. But they also want to live in a pristine environment. We have got to invest in our environment whenever we can, to make sure this is a place their kids and grandkids want to continue to live.”

The governor made a similar trip last year. Gov. Scott backs a plan to contribute $200 million in state money to speed up dike repairs by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by three years. With the additional state funding, the corps projects the dike repairs can be completed in 2022, instead of 2025 as projected based on federal financing alone.

“We’ve invested, in the last seven years, more than $1.8 billion to restore the Everglades and we are going to continue to invest in this year,” he said. “We have made historic progress to store water. We’ve made historic progress to clean water.”

He said his new budget, which he has titled “Securing Florida’s Future,” includes $355 million for Everlgades projects. Part of that allocation, $50 million, will be budgeted to accelerate repair of the dike.

“The restoration of the Herbert Hoover Dike is a federal project,” he said. “We have worked with the federal government to do everything we can to accelerate the repair of the dike.”

The governor said he has had meetings with President Donald Trump, who has given assurances that he will be a partner in the Everglades projects.

“I have been working with the federal Congress to make sure they are going to get the budgeting done,” he continued.

He said Hurricane Irma renewed the concerns about dike safety.

The governor asked those in the crowd who gathered at the top of the dike to continue to pressure their state and federal representatives to provide funding for the completion of the dike repairs and for the Everglades restoration projects.

“Make sure they know the importance of the dike,” he said.

“The urgency couldn’t be more clear,” said Florida Secretary of Environmental Protection Noah Valenstein, noting the lake was above the recommended maximum of 15.5 feet for more than 100 days in 2017.

“We look forward for the department to having a very busy year with projects north of the lake, east, west and south,” he said.

Reach Katrina Elsken at kelsken@newszap.com

The Clewiston News is published every Thursday.

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