News Update for 4/23/19

Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman appeared at the Avon Park city council meeting last night in response to reports of citizen concerns about law enforcement in the City of Charm. Although no residents stepped forward to speak, the Sheriff had a lot to say.
He told the council that although Avon Park makes up about 10-percent of the county’s population, its two sectors account for about 25-percent of their calls for service. Moreover, the city is responsible for roughly three percent of the sheriff’s overall budget.
Blackman offered to sign the one-year opt-out if the city wanted to stand up their own police department. Council members agreed that they had heard nothing but compliments for the Sheriff’s office and that the agendad item had come “out of the blue” for most of them.

A 20-year-old Lake Placid man was shot and killed Sunday. Dead is Markie Kelajawan McCray. He died Sunday evening at Tampa General Hospital following an incident at a family Easter party in the Highway Park community.
Apparently, McCray was shot during a large annual gathering in the community and was taken to AdVent Health Lake Placid in a private vehicle. McCray later was flown out.
Detectives still are looking for witnesses and additional information to determine exactly what happened.

Two people were injured and traffic was tied up for a time last night after a car and a Sport Utility Vehicle collided there. The mishap occurred at the intersection of Highway 27 and Lake Damon Road near Avon Park about 9:30.
No names or other details have yet been released.

The Friends of Highlands Hammock State Park are planning a new project. Their plan to to restore the historical orange grove in the park.
Existing trees have not been maintained, and are growing in other areas due to what is termed “natural spread.” Officials hope to find and re-locate those trees back to the grove.
Known sometimes as “The Wild Orange Grove,” the operation dates back as far as the 1880s.
Volunteers are being sought for the first work day, Saturday, May 4th.

Florida Highway Patrol officials say a motorcyclist critically injured in an April 13th accident now has died. James Berry of Winter Haven expired over the weekend from injuries received in the accident.
Troopers say the 82-year-old Berry was southbound on State Road 17 when a white, four door Dodge Ram pulled from a restaurant and into his path. The truck fled the scene and still is being sought
Authorities say it should have damage to its left side.