Local News 11-13-20

Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies were involved in a shooting in the Hammock Road area last night. A 911 call came in a bit before 1am from 46 year old Julio Garcia, who said he’d been involved in a domestic situation where he battered his girlfriend. He told dispatchers he had a gun and was going to the Circle K on Hammock Road and planned to shoot people. Two deputies located Garcia on Jacklin Avenue, walking towards the store parking lot and was pointing what they thought was a firearm at the deputies. Witnesses say Garcia took an aggressive stance with what appeared to be a firearm, pointing it at the deputies. They shot Garcia in the upper body area – he was transported to a local hospital and is currently listed in stable condition. After the incident, the department says it appears Garcia was holding and pointing his cell phone at the deputies as if it was a firearm. As is the case with any deputy-involved shooting, both members have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an independent investigation

The track will be hot most of the day today as competition get down to the real thing in advance of tomorrow’s running of the 68th Mobil One Twelve Hours of Sebring, presented by Advance Auto Parts. The Super Trofeo and Porche GT3 cup sprints run today, capped off by the Alan Jay Automotive 120 with cars from the Michelin Pilot Challenge. Tomorrow’s running of the Twelve Hours gets kicked off by a flambouyant entry by jet by Grand Marshall Mario Andretti, a three-time winner at the track.

The national news keeps telling us about the Covid numbers skyrocketing in northern states, but this has NOT been a good week for the bug down here in Highlands County, either. As of yesterday’s count, the County had added 192 new cases of the virus and seven more deaths in the last week. As of yesterday, 55 people were in area hospitals fighting cases of the virus. Statewide, Florida’s case count IS showing an increase over the last few months although nowhere near the vertical trend upward some northern states are seeing, and the daily fatality rate statewide has been trending downward consistently in recent weeks.

Avon Park looks like it’s getting a bit more green space – the City Council agreed this week that the vacant lot that’ll be left after the Wylde Building gets torn down should turn into what’s called a “pocket park” – a patch of green with benches and trees for relaxing while downtown. Dates for the Wylde Building’s teardown aren’t certain yet.

We may be a bit stodgy around here, but we’re not too sexist. Data released this week from Self Financial this week indicates that over a quarter of businesses in the Avon Park-Sebring corridor are female owned. 152 businesses in the survey were owned by women, and the last decade has shown a trend upward in numbers and percentages of female owned businesses in the area.

Central Florida’s native grocery chain is catching some grief from PETA for an exotic beverage choice on its shelves. Publix is the target of a billboard campaign near the company’s Polk County home offices urging the grocery giant to stop buying Chaokah brand Thailand-based coconut milk based on reports that the company uses trained monkeys to harvest the coconuts. PETA has already gotten Walgreens, Costco and a couple other regional chains to pull the product off their shelves.

This record setting hurricane season may delve farther into the record books over the weekend when an area of low pressure south of Haiti in the Caribbean now dubbed Investigation 98-L is expected to mature into what would become Tropical Storm Iota. No expectations of it affecting the U-S, and it’ll most likely head straight west into Central America. Eta, by the way, is out in the Atlantic roughly opposite Wilmington North Carolina and headed away from land.