News Update for 3/30/23

As some Highlands County commissioners consider whether or not to impose impact fees, taxes and charges as new revenue sources for the upcoming fiscal year, a new report by Construction Coverage shows that homeowners in the Sebring-Avon Park metro area pay a median of $1,150 in property taxes anually.
The study indicates that’s about .7-percent of the median household income of $48,500 a year. The local numbers are below the national average of $2,800 in property taxes annually. That’s set at a one-percent effective property tax, of an average national median household income of $70,000.

More fires in Highlands County. Units from West Sebring and the Florida Forest Service were called to put out a brush fire off Lake Letta Drive yesterday. The road reportedly was closed for a time until the situation was resolved. Apparently, downed power lines started the blaze.
Meanwhile, officials say that fire at Sun ‘N Lake north earlier this week charred about 15 acres before crews got it out. There were no injuries and no structures were damaged in either incident.

Good news from the The Florida Department of Health in Highlands County. They reportedly have lifted the health alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algae toxins in Lake Placid at the boat ramp.
The most recent water samples taken by the Department of Environmental Protection did not detect algal toxins, meaning the public may resume water-related activities there.
However, they say, the alert remains in effect in Blue Lake and Lake Glenada at the boat ramp.

The Right Gate Fire in Polk County is contained. Now Florida Forest Service officials say they want to know what caused it. The blaze apparently burned nearly 660 acres.
The fire, sparked in the River Ranch camping area, broke out Tuesday in the area of south Lake Kissimmee and west of the Kissimmee River, and burned an estimated 660 acres.
It forced River Ranch to close as crews worked to contain the fire. The flames destroyed 200 outbuildings including sheds, and hand-made structures.
Lakeland District Wildfire Mitigation officials said dry, windy conditions were fueling the fire.
In 2017, another fire burned 6,500 acres and took a week to get under control.

Two more people are facing charges for a targeted attack on a Polk County pregnancy center.
The US Justice Department yesterday announced superseding indictments against Gabriella Oropesa and Annarella Rivera.
They and two others, who were already charged, allegedly spray-painted threats on the walls outside the Life Choice Pregnancy Center in Winter Haven last year.
The center offers alternatives to abortion for those with unwanted pregnancies.