News Update for 4/12/18

This is the last year for some 33 employees of the Highlands County schools. The retirees, who represent some 787 years of experience, were given trophies for their years of service at this week’s school board meeting.
The retirees also were given a reception in the school’s Human Resources portable.

If you want a proclamation read into the record of the city of Avon Park, there now is a set of policies and procedures that must be followed for any such document.
Among other things, the city retains the right to modify, edit or amend proposed proclamations – or even to decide whether or not to issue a proclamation at all.
The policy also calls for somebody to show up at the council meeting to pick up the proclamation.

Two people reportedly were injured yesterday when their car was hit by a semi-tractor trailer rig in Sebring. According to reports, the Hyundai sedan was making a turn from Lakeview Drive onto Highway 27 when it was clipped by the big rig.
A female passenger in the car reportedly was transported to the hospital in “stable” condition. The mishap remains under investigation.

News Update for 4/11/18

Highlands County school board members last night voted to move ahead with a plan for student retention in the high schools. Under the new measures, students would only need 17 credits to become a senior and just a 1.8 grade point average.
They still would be responsible for core requirements. Teachers say it is not uncommon to have 9th, 10th and 11th graders in the same algebra class.
School board member Donna Howerton voted against the move.

It appears the city of Avon Park won’t be getting on the solar train. A resolution that would have required the city manager to distribute material relating to informational meetings regarding solar purchasing opportunities died for the lack of a second.
Nobody from Solar United Neighbors of Florida was in attendance at the session.

It was a double-whammy for volunteers of the West Sebring fire department yesterday afternoon. While at the scene of a traffic accident on Highway 27 at the entrance to Sun ‘N Lake, a motor home caught fire and pulled behind one of the trucks.
Firefighters were able to douse the flames, No serious injuries were reported in either incident.

News Update for 4/10/18

Plans by the “Just Like Home Pet Motel” to plant a tree for Earth Day on the mall in Avon Park have been put on hold. The idea was to put the Florida Oak in the ground next Friday. However, Avon Park city council members last night declined to grant permission.
City attorney Glenda Pruitt said she needed more time to review the request. Moreover, council members said other such requests to put things on the mall had been turned down inasmuch as it is Florida Department of Transportation right-of-way.
An alternative site in Donaldson Park is being considered.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office has added two new K-9 officers to the force. They include K-9s “Kevlar” and “Ulix.” They come thanks to donations from American Legion Post 69 in Avon Park – which made the purchase of the new dogs possible.
The K-9s have been paired with handlers and now are undergoing training and becoming familiar with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office operation.

Volunteers from the West Sebring and Desoto City fire departments teamed up with Florida Forest Service crews to suppress another wildfire yesterday afternoon. This one occurred near Dahlia Terrace and Lime Road just east of Highlands Hammock State park.
Forestry officials say although it was kept to a half-acre, it could have been a lot worse had the wind shifted. There were no injuries. Several structures were threatened but not damaged.
Officials say an unauthorized burn aparrently got out of control.

News Update for 4/9/18

The Avon Park city council will gather this evening for their first meeting of April. Among other things, the council will consider rules for issuing proclamations – including the ability to “modify, edit or otherwise amend” a proposed proclamation to meet the city’s requirements.
Council members also will look at a resolution supporting the concept of solar purchasing co-ops.

If Highlands County Superintendent of Schools Brenda Longshore has her way – there will be a lot of pink slips going out. Her draft plan for personel allocations for next year shows at least 30 positions being eliminated.
That would include 13 instructional posts, 11 school-level support positions and four district levels support jobs.
It was unclear how many administrative posts might be eliminated.

Highlands County School Board officials are calling Saturday’s active shooter training exercise “a huge success” – despite the fact that in the drill, the shooter was able to administer fatal gunshots to seven students and faculty as well as a sheriff’s deputy – in addition to wounding six other students and faculty members before being neutralized by the responding law enforcement team.
The practice scenario was held at the Avon Park High School Saturday morning. Officials say the drill “provided much valuable information that will assist (us) in preparing for and responding to events such as this.”

News Update for 4/6/18

Today begins a new, two-day event in Highlands County. It’s the inaugural Sebring Soda Festival. There will be a Rockin’ 50’s Block Party on the Circle tonight from 5-8 PM with live entertainment, games and contests.
Tomorrow is the Soda Festival with better than 200 craft and retro sodas ready for consumption. People from all over Florida and a number of out-of-state bottlers are expected in for the first-ever celebration. That will run Saturday from 10-5.
Sodas won’t be the only beverage making their debut in Highlands County tomorrow. The first-ever distillery here will be opening its doors to the public.
The Sugar Sand Distillery will be offering their inaugural tours and tastings. Located just down the road from Henscratch Farm & Winery – that event will run tomorrow from 11am until 4pm.

Meanwhile, if you like gyrocopters, Hardee County is the place to be. The annual Bentzen Days event is going on at the Wauchulla airport. It’s one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country.
The airport has been buzzing with gyroplanes, helicopters and even powered-parachutes or other non-rotorcraft. The event runs through Sunday.

News Update for 4/5/18

Volunteers from the Lorida, Sun ‘N Lake South and Placid Lakes fire departments were joined by crews from the Florida Forest Service yesterday in dousing a wildfire. The blaze, located just north of Highway 70, was spotted by a Forest Service aircraft pilot.
Although the fire was kept to just three acres, the flames did consume a pickup truck and several pieces of agricultural equipment. Cause is being investigated.
Authorities warn Highlands County still is in a high alert area for wildfires.

As they prepare for their 20th anniversary celebration, members of the Sebring Sea Services Museum will be getting some help from the city of Sebring in repairing their building. A recent wind storm damaged the roof of the structure on Kenilworth Blvd – causing leaks in the museum library.
The museum opened on Memorial Day of 1998 – the group plans a large celebration on May 28th of this year to commemorate the anniversary.

Members of the Avon Park High School Choir are preparing for a little field trip. They are travelling to New York city and will sing at Carnegie Hall.
It’s part of the National Youth Choir festival – something they have done bi-annually since 2008. It is the sixth time that the Red Devil choir will have made the trek.
The group will leave tomorrow and return next Wednesday.

Polk County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly have recovered a stolen urn that contained the remains of a retired Florida police officer.
Daniel Antonio Nolasco Cardona was arrested Tuesday in Miami. The 27-year-old Cardona is believed to have been responsible for four burglaries in the Lakeland area and has been connected to 14 other thefts in nine Florida counties.
Detectives say the four Lakeland burglaries occurred March 28. Officials say that includes the one where the urn containing retired Lakeland Police Officer Buddy Newsome’s ashes was taken.
Video surveillance gave detectives a tag number for a rental van involved in the crimes, and authorities say the van led them to Cardona.
Cardona faces multiple theft-related charges, along with a charge of destroying a monument or gravestone.

News Update for 4./4/18

Sebring city council members last night approved a pact that will allow the Community Redevelopment Agency to move into the former Sebring Chamber of Commerce building on the Circle downtown.
However, they balked at a provision obligating the city to maintenance of the facility. They told CRA officials they could clean the offices themselves.
There’s no word on when the CRA plans to move out of city hall.

Resident Ted Hueglin yesterday again raised the question of whether or not to permit tent sales in the county at the Highlands County Commission meeting. Commissioner Jim Brooks said he had raised the issue several times over the past few years.
When staff was asked about their research on the matter – they said they have been “working on it,” and have been researching other communities. They said it would be brought forward at an upcoming commission meeting.

An investigation into an illegally parked vehicle reportedly has led to an arrest.
Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy Tevin Toney noticed an SUV parked on the boat ramp at Donaldson Park in Avon Park after hours and stopped to check it out.
Reportedly, the Ford Expedition that James Tyrese Ancrum was sitting in had been stolen a few hours earlier. The 19-year-old subsequently was arrested and charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, burglary of a vehicle and possession of burglary tools.

Each year, 24/7 Wall Street does a survey of the worst schools in each state. Gaining bottom honors this year for the state of Florida was the Hardee County School District. With per-student spending at just north of $9,200 each, the system has a graduation rate of just over 58-per cent.
To determine the worst school district in every state, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index based on various measures of child poverty, per-pupil expenditure, graduation rate and teachers per student, among other things.

It was not a good day for livestock in Polk County. There first was a major traffic tie up on the northbound side of Highway 27 in Lake Wales after a car hit a cow.
Then, a semi-truck hit a horse on Green Pond Road in Polk City. The semi driver reportedly was pinned in the cab of his truck for a time as a result of that one.

News Update for 4/4/18

Sebring city council members last night approved a pact that will allow the Community Redevelopment Agency to move into the former Sebring Chamber of Commerce building on the Circle downtown.
However, they balked at a provision obligating the city to maintenance of the facility. They told CRA officials they could clean the offices themselves.
There’s no word on when the CRA plans to move out of city hall.

Resident Ted Hueglin yesterday again raised the question of whether or not to permit tent sales in the county at the Highlands County Commission meeting. Commissioner Jim Brooks said he had raised the issue several times over the past few years.
When staff was asked about their research on the matter – they said they have been “working on it,” and have been researching other communities. They said it would be brought forward at an upcoming commission meeting.

An investigation into an illegally parked vehicle reportedly has led to an arrest.
Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputy Tevin Toney noticed an SUV parked on the boat ramp at Donaldson Park in Avon Park after hours and stopped to check it out.
Reportedly, the Ford Expedition that James Tyrese Ancrum was sitting in had been stolen a few hours earlier. The 19-year-old subsequently was arrested and charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle, burglary of a vehicle and possession of burglary tools.

Each year, 24/7 Wall Street does a survey of the worst schools in each state. Gaining bottom honors this year for the state of Florida was the Hardee County School District. With per-student spending at just north of $9,200 each, the system has a graduation rate of just over 58-per cent.
To determine the worst school district in every state, 24/7 Wall St. developed an index based on various measures of child poverty, per-pupil expenditure, graduation rate and teachers per student, among other things.

It was not a good day for livestock in Polk County. There first was a major traffic tie up on the northbound side of Highway 27 in Lake Wales after a car hit a cow.
Then, a semi-truck hit a horse on Green Pond Road in Polk City. The semi driver reportedly was pinned in the cab of his truck for a time as a result of that one.