Local News 12-23-21

There’s just one more hurdle before the City of Sebring can transfer the old Girl Scout House on South Commerce to the Medal of Honor Memorial … it has to be advertised at a public meeting of the Council. That last hurdle gets crossed January 4th, when the Council is expected to finalize the donation to make the property the site of a relocated Medal of Honor Park in the County. First step was to open the property up to other proposals – that deadline’s passed, so the public meeting step will mean the ball can move forward and the property donated. The facility has fallen into a state of disrepair with estimates running up to $200,000 to make it usable again. The Medal of Honor Memorial would move the County’s Memorial to those Veterans downtown with increased visibility and a better educational; setting on the meaning of the Award.

We might be coming into some money to help us get ready for the next emergency here in the County. The Highlands County Emergency Management Department has been notified it’s getting a $15,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation for Community Education on preparedness techniques – it’s part of a $523,000 bank of funds distributed statewide … 28 different organizations and groups are getting grants from the program.

And while there were a few snowbirds who got scared away from Florida last season as the pandemic closed the Canadian border and northerners made themselves a bit scarcer, it didn’t seem to affect Highlands County’s Tourism tax receipts. From October of 2020 through September of 2021, Tourism Development Tax Collections totaled $1,174, 532. That’s up from the 2018-2019 pre-pandemic year by a good chunk and almost $300,000 ahead of the 2019-2020 year, when things went way down during the height of the pandemic. The Tourism tax is a tax paid by visitors on hotel stays and under-six-month rentals in the County.

Just in case you were wondering, there are no changes in trash pickup schedules for the County this week – your usual pickup day will happen – including Christmas Eve. In case you’ve lost track, this is yard waste week. Bulk waste – next week, just in time to throw out that stuff Santa replaces with new – uh, stuff.