Barring a change of heart by Okeechobee County Sheriff Ed Miller, Phish will be looking for another place to stage their planned multi-day millennial concert at the end of the year.| Last Thursday (June 10), County Commissioner George Long submitted a statement to the Commission recommending that they deny the request for a permit based on what he felt was a growing "atmosphere of fear within [the] community" that had the potential "to present a far more serious threat to the health, welfare and safety of [the] citizens than the event itself."
Long's report noted that Miller had repeatedly expressed concerns over security for the event, "including terrorist acts such as bomb and anthrax threats" but failed to note the fundraising campaigns that often accompany Phish events or the fans' "relatively tame" reputation. According to news reports, the sheriff was also concerned about drug use in the zero-tolerance region and strain on the department from Y2K problems. Just two weeks ago, the Board had voted unanimously in favor of a permit for the five-day fest, tentatively scheduled from Dec. 29-Jan. 2 at Kirton Ranch twenty miles outside of Okeechobee. At press time, Miller had not returned phone calls placed to his office.
All hope is not lost, however. Promoter David Werlin, president of Great Northeast Productions in Boston, explained to Palm Beach Post reporter Thomas Collins that "these developments have heightened interest in finding another site." One possibility is the Brighton Indian Reservation at Glades County, twenty miles southwest of Kirton.
This is not the first time Phish have been thwarted in their search for the perfect New Year's jam spot: Earlier plans had called for the event to be staged in Hawaii, but that fell through due to permit problems and concerns over the distance fans would have to travel.
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