News 5/17/23

Overriding objections of Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell, the board of commissioners agreed by consensus to pursue another penny on the dollar tax on tourists visiting Highlands County.
Elwell had objected to the lack of a plan for the money, noting that if a facility were built, tourists might pay for construction – however, local residents could be on the hook for maintenance.
He also asked about the rush to getting the issue approved – noting that after July 1st, the matter instead would go to a voter referendum, allowing local residents to have their say on the matter.
The issue will be up again before the commissioners at their next meeting.

Highlands County Superintendent of Schools Brenda Longshore and school board members got another report from an unhappy parent last night about the failures of the local system. Parent Jesse Sapp brought forward numbers from the district showing that test scores in English reading & writing for eighth graders at the Lake Placid Middle School are concerning.
Of 189 students tested, 102 were at Level one – which is the lowest. Sapp said it appears that Lake Placid Middle School also has jumped ahead in teacher vacancies.
At last report, there were more than 80 teacher vacancies across the district, with another 60 subsitute teachers in the classrooms on a continuing basis.

Highlands County Sheriff’s officials say they have arrested an Avon Park man in connection with a trio of shooting incidents in the City of Charm. According to reports, 23-year-old Austin Tillman Demery has been charged with numerous counts including three counts of attempted murder.
He was booked into the Highlands County jail.

A woman in the United States illegally reportedly has comes forward in connection with an infant found in a Lakeland Dumpster. According to reports, the woman, identified as Brusela D’Enstachio-Lugo, told police she did not know she was pregnant and thought she was just sick.
She said she had afraid to go to the hospital afterward because she was in the country illegally and did not want to get in trouble. She also said she did not have any money to pay the medical expenses.
D’Enstachio-Lugo’s country of origin has not been released.
The infant reportedly was stillborn and later was put into a dumpster. The 34-year-old D’Enstachio-Lugo has been charged with transportation of human remains. The incident remains under investigation.

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