Life is returning to normal in Highlands County as the recovery from Hurricane Ian continues. Most electrical service has returned, although internet remains out in some places and cell phone service continues to be spotty.
Additionally, 90-percent of businesses are back up and running, including grocery stores, gas stations, most restaurants and dry goods stores.
All points of distribution have now been shut down, and the hurricane shelters also have been closed.
The debris collection continues, with crews so far picking up better than 6,000 cubic yards. Residents are reminded that debris must be separated into piles of yard waste, construction debris, and household goods in order to ensure pickup. Yard waste cannot be bagged up, and must remain loose.
Tipping fees have been waived at the landfill for homeowners bringing in debris from their yards. Provisions also have been made for contractors hauling in local debris.
Those needing to apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Administration may do so by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-621-3362. They also may apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
Official information may be obtained through the Citizens’ Hotline at 402-6800. That will be open from 8am until 5pm.
There may be an upcoming investigation in the Highlands County School system, and it could have something to do with the office of Superintendent of Schools Brenda Longshore.
At their meeting Tuesday, outgoing board attorney John McClure asked about the hiring of a Tallahassee law firm to do a third-party investigation into a matter, saying for him to do it would be a conflict of interest.
Board member Donna Howerton objected to any action, saying the matter should be brought back as an agenda item at a meeting where it could be more fully discussed.
No details were given as the item was discussed during the last 15 minutes of Tuesday’s session. It was in a portion designed for reports and concerns; however, the superintendent’s office was mentioned as they hashed out the item.
Activity in the skies will continue over Highlands County today as exercises wind up at the Avon Park Air Force Range.
Again, residents will be able to see jets and hear the sounds of freedom well into the night.
Three people with criminal histories are facing charges in a shooting that led to a deputy’s death in Polk County. Sheriff Grady Judd has announced that Cheryl Williams, Donald Mathis and Joseph Albritton, Jr. were arrested for the shooting this week near Polk City that killed Deputy Blane Lane.
The 21-year-old and three other deputies were serving a warrant on Williams when she allegedly pulled what looked like a real gun on deputies inside the home. Deputies fired their weapons, and a bullet hit Lane, who was outside the home.
The 46-year-old Williams is facing 13 felonies, including second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer. Judd says she’s still in the hospital in stable condition.