News Update for 5/29/24

The City of Avon Park released a notice of collective bargaining May 23rd in regards to the labor negotiations for the Avon Park Professional Firefighters Association, Local 3132 that began 2 years ago with former City Manager Mark Schrader. The process has been slow and was further impeded by Schrader’s removal earlier this month. Negotiations are slated to continue where they left off later this morning at the Avon Park City Hall. The agreement proposes a 25-year tenure to retire and a 3% pay increase. The session will begin at 10AM this morning and is open to the public.

The Lake Placid Town council recently appointed a Vice Mayor and board positions in their May 13th meeting. Council Member Debra Ann Worley was unanimously voted in as Vice Mayor after a self-nomination. The council also voted newly elected council member Joy Eberhardt to fulfill the liaison role to the Lake Placid Regional Utilities Advisory Committee, Worley to the Highlands County Tourism Development Council, and Town Administrator Kevin McCarthy to the county Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee.

A vacant 100-year-old Lemon Avenue building will be redeveloped to house residential units after the Sebring Planning and Zoning Board and Sebring City Council gave their unanimous approval for rezoning the two-story structure from Commercial to Planned Unit Development. The redevelopment of the building at 339 Lemon Ave. will result in a total of six residential units, 9 parking spaces, and a one-story washer and dryer facility with storage for tenants. The second and final public hearing and reading of the zoning change ordinance is scheduled for the June 4th City Council meeting.

Lake Placid is currently looking for ways to pay for the renovation and management of the iconic tower on the east side of US 27. Some ideas for the tower include a viewing platform or a lighted tourist attraction, where the owner of Tower Plaza, Charles Svirk, said he would be willing to donate the tower to the town. The topics of Maintenance, elevator and liability insurance, and a proposed renovation cost of $3 Million dollars is causing the town seek possible funding sources and suggestions on how to raise the money.

The Lakeland Police Department is reviewing an arrest made by two of its officers. It involves a 16-year-old and a video that appears to show one officer punching him in the head and another using a taser. Community activists are calling this an act of police brutality. The confrontation between the officers and the teen started at a Memorial Day pool party, where the teen is accused of trespassing. Community leaders are calling for criminal charges against the officers. Lakeland PD said that Chief Sam Taylor has been informed of the incident and has already requested an administrative review by the Office of Professional Standards. Some community leaders will meet with the police chief later this week. There is a protest planned for Saturday outside the Lakeland Police Department at 6 p.m.

County, state and federal officials are opening hurricane season with a warning: be ready, or be sorry. Sen. Rick Scott urged Floridians to be ready in a press conference in St. Pete Beach yesterday,
after NOAA is predicted a busier than normal hurricane season, featuring between 17 and 25 named storms, compared to an average of 14. Ways to prepare are to gather hurricane kits now, know where vital information is going to come from, and to believe officials when they issue warnings.

A new law may protect seniors from getting scammed. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill yesterday that allows banks to delay a transaction if an employee thinks a senior may be getting exploited. St. Petersburg State Senator Darryl Rouson sponsored SB 556. He says it’s necessary because many people are at increased risk of financial exploitation because of their age or disability. The new law takes effect January 1st.

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