News Update for 06/05/24

Fire rescue crews and Florida Forest Service were dispatched to a brush fire off Grace Lane in Sebring late yesterday afternoon. In a 9:00 PM update, Highlands County Fire Rescue has reported that the brush fire has been contained at 6.5 acres. No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged. The Florida Forest Service is still investigating the cause of the fire.

The Sebring Post Office on North Ridgewood Drive is on track to receive a new name. The new name will honor Sebring’s Major Thomas McGuire, an ace fighter pilot killed in action during World War II. A bill sponsored by Congressman Scott Franklin and co-sponsored by the entire Florida Congressional delegation, passed unanimously on Monday. The bill is now heading to the Senate for approval. Last month, Major McGuire was also commemorated with a mural in the Sebring Regional Airport Terminal. The designated name will be the US Army Air Corps Major Thomas B. McGuire Post Office Building.

The girlfriend of a man accused of shooting the Battie brothers last month in Sarasota is being charged. Authorities say Nicole Roberts was arrested last Friday after she was seen on surveillance video getting rid of the gun believed to have been used in the shooting. Roberts is the girlfriend of Darryl Brookins Junior, who is accused of shooting Tommie and Brian Battie on May 18th near a hookah lounge on 17th Street. Tommie died in the shooting and Brian, who is an Auburn running back, was seriously injured.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to approve a 17-billion-dollar investment deal with Disney World. “The New York Sun” says a deal will be announced on Wednesday that could include new additions to the theme park as well as commitments from Disney to help develop housing for its employees, with Florida promising to maintain the necessary infrastructure for the park. The governor’s office and Disney have been feuding since 2022 when the Florida legislature passed a law banning lessons concerning sexual orientation and gender identity through the third grade.

A Bartow Police Department officer was arrested by detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday May 28th, after the PCSO investigated his actions involving four teenage females, inappropriate video, drugs, and alcohol. 24-year-old Markanthony Fernandez was charged with four felonies and six misdemeanors for events that occurred during the weekend of February 3, 2024. Fernandez recorded these events on video and sent them to fellow Bartow PD officers who then reported it to their supervisors. Fernandez has been on administrative leave since February and his employment with Bartow PD is pending termination based on his arrest.

Commissioners recently approved the purchase of property to build a fire station in Lakeland to help reduce the number of calls for Fire Station 3. In an effort to help with the growing population, the new station will take on an estimated 12% of overall calls. The Lakeland fire department says they’ll provide updates to the board of commissioners as the plans for the fire station are developed. The goal is to complete the project in the next 24 months. It will be located on the corner of Sleepy Hill Road and Mall Hill Drive.

And good news for Florida. Jobless claims in Florida fell last week while national unemployment claims rose from the week prior. The number of unemployment claims filed in the Sunshine State totaled a little more than 61-hundred, while the week before saw claims totaling more than 66-hundred. Nationally, jobless claims rose by three-thousand from the week before.

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