News for 6/5/18

Beginning in August, it will cost a bit more for tourists to stay in Highlands County. Commissioners this morning voted to bump the tourist tax up another two percent.
The third cent would increase marketing money, with the fourth cent to be used to build a tourist-related facility. There’s no indication what that might be.
The action also eliminates the special carve out for arts and culture, however, commissioners assured residents that there still could be allocations for arts or cultural events should they be approved by the Tourist Development Council and the board of county commissioners.

Highlands County Sheriff’s officials warn that here is a scammer making calls today claiming to work for the sheriff’s office.
The man claims to be a Highland Deputy but is not. He has used the names James Marshall or Deputy Davis. The calls apparently have originated from Davenport. He charges the person who answers the phone has missed a court date and needs to send in an electronic payment in order to avoid being arrested.
Sheriffs officials say if resident receive such a call – they should just hang up.

Two Avon Park Teenagers have been arrested following a high speed pursuit in a stolen vehicle. The incident reportedly started in Polk County, when Lake Wales police spotted a Ford Escape – which had been reported stolen in Avon Park.
The vehicle fled a traffic stop, and that’s where the chase began. It ended in Avon Park when the car hit a pole on Byrd Street and the occupants fled.
Lawmen apprehended 17-year-old Lawan Christopher Burns of Avon Park – said to have been the driver. He already is on probation. He was charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle and violation of probation among other things.
18-year-old Isaiah Tyree Golden of Avon Park said to have been the passenger, allegedly left a backpack with a fully loaded handgun in the vehicle. The gun turned out to have been stolen from Highlands County. He was charged with grand theft of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting an officer.

It appears the rains have let up here locally – at least for a while. But the week full of wet weather has been good news for local firefighters. Officials of the Florida Forest Service say although the best thing is to call before you burn – the Florida Forest Service has no restrictions on open burning at this time.
Yesterday there were 600 acres of controlled burns that were authorized in Highlands County.