Local News 5-5-22

Today has been designated the National Day of Prayer. If you’d like to join others of any faith in observance of the day, there’s a program scheduled for 11am this morning on the Courthouse lawn, at 430 South Commerce Street in Downtown Sebring. There’s guest speakers, music and a prayer service scheduled.

Highlands County Sheriff’s detectives say a customer with a doorbell cam made a quick call to dispatch after seeing someone attempt to get into his car early yesterday morning, and the think the result was that they solved a string of car burglaries in the Avon Park Lakes area. The two fifteen year olds deputies picked up have been charged with burglary, grand theft of a firearm and conspiracy to commit a felony in connection with one of the burglaries. There’s a good chance the charges will be adding up, though, as detectives look to make a connection to burglaries in 19 locations in the area.

Yeah, rainy season looks like it’s getting an early start, but it takes a lot of “wet” tosoak into the dry brush around here at the end of dry season. Fire Rescue crews responded to a reported brush fire in Highlands Hammock State Park yesterday afternoon that charred around 15.2. Crews say the blaze was under control by the end of the afternoon this one was evidently caused by a lightning strike. Another brush fire is blazing last night on the southern end of the County, off Highway 70 at the intersection with County Road 721 at the Brighton turnoff.

We got a pretty good hail storm a few weeks ago, and a lot of damage got reported in the northern half of the County – after collecting the data they could, County staff says it appears that we didn’t get enough damage for Highlands County to qualify for state or Federal Disaster assistance. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing available by way of help if your home got creamed and you’re coming up short. Loans at low and no interest are available through the state’s Housing Initiative Partnership – SHIP – program. The County Housing Division has information on these programs. You can find contact information for the department on the web under the “Departments” tab at highlandsfl.gov.

A Highlands County murder trial got set back a bit this week when Judge Peter Estrada dismissed the entire jury panel after prospective jurors were found to have disobeyed instructions not to discuss the case among themselves. Estrada said he was striking the entire jury pool after discovering one potential juror was a relative of the victim, and another had been heard telling another panelist that African Americans commit heinous crimes more often than whites. James Sanchez is charged in the death of a four year old child. The next hearing and a rest for the trial is scheduled for May 18.