News Headlines 12-28-18

Another fatal traffic accident in the County. This one happened yesterday just after 11am on Lake June Road at Piney Point Drive west of Highway 27. A 2003 Ford driven by 76 year old Joanne Hill of Lake Placid was negotiating one of the turns on Lake June Road and drove onto the shoulder. At some point, she evidently lost control, continued into the ditch and struck a tree. Hill was taken to Florida Hospital Lake Placid where she was pronounced dead.

Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida’s high school graduation rate has reached a 15-year high according to data released last week by the Florida Department of Education. For the 2017-18 school year, Florida’s statewide graduation rate rose to 86.1 percent, an increase of 3.8 percentage points over last year. Here in Highlands County, our District wide graduation rate was 77.2%. There were some comparative bright spots for our schools in the report; African American students at Sebring High School achieved an 81.4% graduation rate – above the District average, and above the state average of 80.9%.

As you plan your New Year’s revelry this weekend and Monday, do keep in mind there’s a TON of road construction going on the county right now. The Florida Department of Transportation’s weekly “Road Watch” report lists at least nine spots where work is starting or ongoing, ranging from the work running a few blocks east, west, north and south of the intersection of Highway 27 and Main Street in Avon Park, through three road work sites on Highway 70 as it runs through the County, two on Highway 66, and Lakeview Drive between Mellow Lane and Kenilworth Avenue. Don’t let them surprise you – drive with a little extra caution this weekend. The completion date for the Avon Park project, by the way, is still listed as early 2020 so we’ll be warning you about that next year at this time, too. Northbound 27 may see lane closures as attention turns there next week.

The plunge at the pump continues this week, and gas prices are poised to have their lowest start to the New Year since January 1, 2016. The Florida AAA says some Americans are finding gas prices below $2 a gallon in time for the New Year’s holiday weekend. Since mid-October, the national average has plummeted a total of 61 cents. Thursday’s national average price of $2.29 per gallon is the lowest since July 2017. Here in Florida, the average has gotten down to $2.19 a gallon – that’s down from last New Year’s Day’s average of $2.44.