News Headlines 11-13-19

Tuesday’s County Commission meeting should be an interesting one – and a big part of the fireworks will be over a proposed resolution with no legal teeth to it. At the last meeting of the Board, Commissioner Arlene Tuck proposed a resolution declaring Highlands County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County – a symbolic response to gun control proposals and laws like the state’s Red Flag Law that have rankled many gun owners and gun right advocates. The Commission voted to table Tuck’s proposal until it could be properly noticed and put on a meeting agenda, and it’s at the top of Tuesday morning’s Action Agenda. Commissioner Don Elwell has been hinting at an alternative resolution supporting the ENTIRE constitution on his official Facebook page, asking for input and hearing strong opinions on all sides of the question. The meeting’s at 9am Tuesday morning – unarmed voters are welcome to attend.

Mobile home parks outside the city limits but still on Sebring City Sewer and Water service are going to court to force the utility to hook up new residents in those parks. The tiff stems from an ordinance passed back in September where the city can demand a property owner consent to annexation into the city before water and sewer will be provided new tenants or residents. Sebring Utilities expanded the city’s water and sewer footprint outside the city limits decades ago, but didn’t require those covenants – and it means now, one new tenant in a mobile home park can force the owner of the park to agree to annex the entire property before that new resident can get their water and sewer hooked up.

Members of Sebring’s Planning and Zoning Board got an earful at this week’s meeting over a proposal to place a treatment center on Lakeview Drive, near the Kenilworth Lodge on the lake-facing side of Lakeview Drive. Academy Health Solutions from Palm Beach County wants to run a substance abuse treatment center for up to 15, mostly veterans with prescription pain medicine issues. Neighborhood residents brought up the proximity of the St. Catherine’s pre-school facility, crime risks and neighborhood’s ambience as reasons for opposition. The Zoning Board voted 4-0 to recommend denying the application – the City Council will take up the issue for a final decision at its Tuesday meeting. Public input will again be taken before that vote.

A Highlands County jury this week handed down the third largest jury award in Florida this year, and the second largest in Highlands County this year. A verdict of $202.2 million was awarded victims of an accident, in the verdict against Ricardo Espildora. Espildora had already been found guilty of negligence by the judge in a wreck that injured Ezekiel and Isamor Loraine Gonzales, whose lives were saved by emergency surgery four years ago.