Highlands County joined the rest of the Sunshine State this weekend in blast of freezing temperatures. Local officials took the opportunity to open up a cold weather shelter. The facility was opened in the Ag-Center Friday and Saturday night.
There was one person each evening. There was no shelter opened last night.
Like hurricane shelter rules, those wishing to escape the cold had to bring their own bedding and other supplies.
Four youth were pulled to safety in a pre-Christmas boating accident on Lake Placid. According to reports, a number of off-duty Sebring municipal firefighters responded and pulled the boys from the water.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials are investigating the incident, but it appears the teens were in a craft that either capsized or sank.
The firefighters used a private boat to motor to the scene and pluck the boys from the water. The youngsters apparently had no life jackets. There were no serious injuries to report.
Units from Sun ‘N’ Lake South. Placid Lakes, Highlands Park, Lake Placid and Venus were called out over the weekend to a structure fire off Recreation Drive in Venus. The structure was fully involved in flames when units arrived at the scene.
A Gradall from the Highlands County Road & Bridge Department had to be dispached to move debris in an effort to help responders check for any remaining hot spots.
No injuries were reported in the incident. Cause remains under investigation. The building reportedly was totally destroyed.
Highlands has joined 50 Florida counties affected by Hurricane Nicole, and now is eligible for additional Federal Emergency Management Agency protective measures. Those include direct federal assistance under the Public Assistance program.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides reimbursement to local and state government agencies for the costs of such things as emergency response, debris removal and restoration of disaster damaged public facilities. Authorities say churches and other nonprofit organizations also may be eligible for that FEMA Public Assistance.
An investigation is underway after an inmate died in Polk County. Eric Nelson died Friday after he was arrested on drug charges in Lakeland. The sheriff’s office says the 46-year-old kicked and bit three deputies at the South County Jail. He was shackled and brought to another cell, and as deputies were leaving, they noticed he wasn’t breathing and was turning blue. Nelson was brought to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. No cause of death has been determined.