News Update for 10/3/23

Some residents have been complaining about a haze or smoke in Highlands County. Officials from the Florida Forest Service say drift smoke from Canadian wildfires is covering most of the state. So far, there’s no indication how long it will be here, despite good numbers from the Smoke Dispersion Index.
The effects of the cloud reach as far north as Jacksonville and as far south as Miami and Collier County. Current numbers show the air quality here as "unhealthy for sensitive groups."
Older adults, children and those with heart or lung conditions are urged to stay in air conditioning and avoid the outside until conditions improve.

The Highlands County Legislation Delegation will make a stop here tomorrow. State Senator Erin Grall and Florida House Representative Kaylee Tuck will be at the Highlands County Commissioners Chambers starting at 9:30.
On tap will be updates on some of the pending legislation that will have local effects in the upcoming session.
A number of individuals and groups have signed up to address the state legislators on a number of issues.

Highlands County commissioners this morning voted to give new Couty Administrator Laurie Hurner a four-percent pay raise, coupled with a pending one-percent increase slated for all county employees, Hurner’s increase will jump a full five percent.

Highlands County Sheriff’s officials have made an arrest in connection with a September 15 fatal shooting in Avon Park. 28-year-old Trevor Jaime Manning has been charged with second degree murder in connection with the incident.
The body of 21-year-old Michael Hilton was found behind a home on A Avenue by a resident after daylight. Reportedly the resident had heard gunshots in the area during the early morning hours.
Apparently, Manning already was in jail, when evidence in the shooting led detctives to him.

Construction of a new VA clinic in Highlands County got a ceremonial start yesterday, as local officials turned the first shovels-full of earth in groundbreaking ceremonies. When completed, the new 14,000 square foot facility will service as many as 5,000 veterans each year.
The clinic, to be set off New Life Way in Sebring, will feature mental health services, social workers, pharmacists and tele-health facilities.
It’s expected to be operational in the spring of 2025.

A Highlands County resident reportedly was killed Sunday in a Hardee County traffic crash. According to reports, a Sebring man failed to negotiate a curve on Parnell Road. The car ran off the highway, down an embankment and slammed into a concrete culvert.
Florida Highway Patrol reports indicate hew was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Highlands County commissioners will consider whether or not to give a merit raise to Highlands County Administrator Laurie Hurner when they meet in regular session this morning.
In other action, commissioners will be asked whether or not they want to add another paid holiday – to coincide with the 10th Judicial Circuit Court calendar, and will hear a proclamation for National 4-H Week in the county.