News Update for 9/5/23

Highlands County school board members will get an update on Florida House Bill One tonight, and how the voucher program may affect schools, parents and students.

State Representative Kaylee Tuck, who represents Highlands County – and was a sponsor of the measure, will address the board this evening to discuss how the new state law expands school choice for local families and how it might affect the district schools.
The regular school board meeting will commence at 5:30. Prior to that, the board will hold a public hearing on their final budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. That will start at 5:05.

The use of Lake Jackson and public parks will be on the minds of Sebring city council members when they get together in regular session this evening. At issue is a local couple who have been running a business renting watercraft out of their lakefront home.
Apparently the citizens had a deal with the city to use nearby Veterans Beach, before their operation grew into a full-fledged business. Council members will discuss that and more about the lake tonight.
In other action, the council will hear a plea from a local mobile home park owner not to annex his property and will honor outgoing Sebring Police Commander Curtis Hart.

It will be a couple of days before Highlands County commissioners meet for their regular session. Due to Monday’s government observance of the Labor Day holiday their meeting date has been pushed back to Thursday.
Apparently, county staff has not had sufficient time to prepare for a Tuesday meeting after a three-day weekend.

A Lake Wales man is accused of killing his teenage son. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says Stephen Thomas Rodda was arrested after 16-year-old Stephen Rodda was found dead at his grandfather’s house.
Judd says the 37-year-old killed the teen with an angle grinder in the home off Old Bartow Road.
There’s no word on a motive.
The younger Rodda was a junior at Frostproof High School, and Judd says he was studying to be an electrician. Judd says the suspect’s father told deputies his son has a history of drug use and psychotic episodes.

A man was injured after being shot by sheriff’s deputies near Bartow. It happened yesterday while lawmen were chasing Joshua Lee Walker on US Highway 98.
The 32-year-old was wanted for carjacking.
Sheriff Grady Judd said Walker reportedly had tried to run after crashing the car he’d stolen. At one point, Walker allegedly pointed a gun at officers. They shot him, and he’s in critical condition.
Judd says Walker learned you don’t try that in a small town, and if you do, you get shot, a lot. He also says Walker has a criminal history that’s 30 pages long, and it includes eight felony convictions.

A Winter Haven man was killed yesterday in a Polk City traffic crash. Polk County sheriff’s officials say the driver, identified as Cameron Gumble lost control and hit a tree.
He died at the scene. Authorities say speed may have been a factor. They say the 26-year-old Winter Haven man was NOT wearing a seatbelt. The force of impact reportedly threw him from the vehicle. A 24-year-old passenger apparently DID have his seatbelt buckled – and suffered only minor injuries.

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