News Update for 06/07/24

A traffic stop for illegal tint led to a high-speed chase in Zolfo Springs on Wednesday. The chase ended when Hardee County Deputies deployed spike strips to stop the vehicle as it travelled the wrong way down US 17. Nelson Tyrone Lee of Wauchula was arrested on multiple charges including possession of a large amount of illegal narcotics and two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. A 16-mile high-speed chase ensued that reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour as Lee tossed drugs on the side of the road. Lee was taken into custody and is being held without bond at Hardee County Jail.

The Sebring City Council has unanimously voted to move forward with a tentative raise to the Sebring Fire Assessment. The current rate is at 23% and generates about $1.1 million which covers 23% of the Fire Department’s budget. The proposed increase will be to the 29.3% level which sets the new annual residential unit assessment to $165. The Council will vote on the preliminary assessment rates at the June 18th meeting and the public hearing to adopt the annual fire assessment rates resolution will be held August 6th.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Dr. Randy K. Avent, President of Florida Polytechnic University, will discuss the details and launch of a new initiative, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, today at 1:30 p.m., at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Operations Center in Winter Haven. The purpose of the collaborative effort is to protect people and keep them safe from AI threats. Multiple components of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory will be discussed, including research, planning, education, collaborations and partnerships, technology, protecting private data, and investigations.

Three Florida women are suing the state over school book bans. A suit was filed yesterday in federal court in Tallahassee. The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center and Democracy Forward are representing two women from St. Johns County and one from Orange County. They claim the state is violating the First Amendment by supporting those who want to pull books off school shelves but not those who want to stop books from being pulled. One plaintiff tells the Orlando Sentinel the state should not be able to discriminate against the voices of parents it disagrees with.

Within 24 hours of disclosing a key piece of evidence sought in the disappearance of Lakeland man, Ethan Fussell- The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said yesterday afternoon that they now have the 2000 silver Lexus that investigators suspect was used to remove the victim’s body. Fussell was last seen the night of May 7th in rural North Lakeland. 4 suspects have been charged in his disappearance and murder after detectives were able to tie them to blood and video evidence. Crime Stoppers is offering a $5000 cash reward for information about the location of Ethan Fussell’s body, which has not yet been recovered. You can contact Crime Stoppers at 888-400-8477, by dialing **TIPS from a cellphone, or by clicking submit a tip at

A major highway project was celebrated in Polk County on Wednesday, as Florida Department of Transportation officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new interchange at I-4 and County Road 557. Polk County is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and the interchange means there will be an ease of traffic congestion in the area. Environmentalists say it will also have a positive impact on wildlife. A wildlife underpass was included in the design, connecting conservation lands on either side of I-4 for the first time in 50 years. Cameras will be used to monitor the underpass with hopes it will allow for the return of the Florida black bear and even the endangered panther to the region.

(North Miami, FL) — First responders from around the world are in North Miami as Florida International University puts its 58 Academy for International Disaster Preparedness graduate students to their final test. Assistant Director Dr. Dulce Suarez says all day today and tomorrow they’ll be completely isolated from the world – no electricity, no WiFi and lots of mosquitoes – simulating the response to a Category 5 hurricane that just hit a Caribbean island. Realizing the program’s importance, local, state, national and international organizations are participating in the exercise. Assistant Director Dr. Suarez says the two-day disaster field course is the culmination of a nearly year-long graduate degree program.

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