News Headlines 9-25-19

David Flowers is out as Avon Park City Manager effective October 20. Flowers offered his resignation at the Council’s Monday meeting, and it was accepted on a 3-2 vote with Mayor Garrett Anderson and Vice Mayor Jim Bernard voting “no.” Flowers just started the Job in January of this year, and friction with a couple council members began almost immediately – he followed June Fisher, who lasted from April to November of last year.

Things are getting dry around here after only a couple weeks of dry weather. Yesterday turned into a busy one for local firefighters – Forest Service officials were on watch for hot spots overnight at a site off Highway 64 west of Avon Park that involved about 70 acres and involved units from at least four area departments from the County’s Fire Rescue system … with Polk County units standing by, just in case. Officials say the fire was 100% contained a little before 7pm, and no significant structures were involved.

Regular visitors to Highlands Hammock already know we have a pretty good State Parks system. Seems the rest of the country has noticed. The Florida Park Service has been awarded the 2019 National Gold Medal award by the American Academy for Parks and Rec Administration. That’s darned good, but it’s also the fourth time the Service has won gold – the only system in the Country to have done that, by some reports.

In case you thought that the opening of the new Sheriff’s Department facility a couple years back was it for money spent on physical plant, you may have forgotten the jailhouse itself. County Commissioners last week approved a $346,000 bid from E.O. Koch Construction to re-do parts of the jail, including the sprinkler system, to reflect both the new uses for floor space and the aging system. The County Jail has expanded in capacity by almost 400 beds in the last 35 years … by nearly 200 since the mid-1990’s. The County has a million dollars budgeted – not from general operating funds – to make the full renovations, including conversion of what had been sheriff’s office space to more inmate capacity past the 512-bed figure it currently considers “full.”