Local News Headlines 7-1-19

Two people died in a wreck just past 1:30 Saturday afternoon on Highway 70 south of Lake Placid. The accident report says 72 years old Francisco Cordoba of Lake Placid was driving a Freightliner semi truck and trailer westbound east of Robert McGree Road when a Toyota pickup with a couple from Boynton Beach coming towards him eastbound hydroplaned on the wet road and crossed into Cordoba’s lane in front of him. Two the collided head on, and the pickup got jammed under the front of the semi – the driver, 51 year old Jerry Hughes and his passenger, 44 year old Stephanie Hughes of Boynton Beach were killed in the wreck.

There was a little excitement in the Bridle Path neighborhood south of Highlands Hammock State Park Friday, as a burn pile got out of control and scorched about three acres of private land, requiring fire personnel to come out and put the burn out. Fire rescue crews had the noon-hour blaze out in about an hour and a half, but not before it took out a storage shed on the property. Net-net, the fire stayed on the single-owner land, but the property owner was cited for letting the fire get out of control.

It may feel way early for the 2020 election cycle, but even some local races are starting to take early shape. County Commissioner Greg Harris found out he’ll have competition for his District Five seat next year if he goes for re-election. Vicki Pontius, the Highlands County Leisure Services Director, has filed to run for the seat. Pontius spent 35 year working for the County, and says she plans to begin campaigning in earnest around the first of the year.

A courtroom in Highlands County is going to hear charges that sound like an episode of SVU on television as an arraignment hearing takes place for 37 year old Nathan Ray Cowles of Avon Park. Cowles was arrested in February on a variety of charges and has been in the county jail in lieu of $1.1 Million in bond after his home was searched and evidence of child abuse, molestation and kiddie porn was found. Today’s arraignment will list another 42 counts stemming from two other incidents detectives uncovered during the investigation.