News Update for 5/21/21

Don’t be doing any outdoor burning today. A Red Flag Warning has been issued for the tri-county area – meaning that conditions are ripe for wildfires in Highlands, Hardee and Polk counties. Residents are urged to be cautious with any kinds of combustibles. Those range from snuffed cigarettes to hot exhaust systems on cars and off-road vehicles.
Experts say any fires that do get started may spread rapidly due to winds and extra dry conditions.

In fact, landscaping reportedly caught fire yesterday at the Towne Square shopping center in Sebring. There were two separate incidents where some of the parking berms were set ablaze.
Witnesses charge the fires were started by discarded cigarettes. There were no injuries but reportedly, at least one of the cars suffered burn damage.

A Back the Blue Rally is planned for today in Sebring. Residents in favor of law enforcement will gather with signs and flags this afternoon at the intersection of Highway 27 and Bayview Drive at 4:30.
The group will push back against others who have called for de-funding police officers. Earlier this week, the Highlands Tea Party gave Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies and police officers in Sebring and Lake Placid more than 400 bags of snacks to take on patrol.

Highlands County Superintendent of Schools Brenda Longshore recently took a turn at the wheel of a school bus. Reportedly, she was not alone, she had two trainers, including the district’s driver trainer on board and five others on the lot.
She was not permitted to go on the public road.
Longshore reportedly negotiated her trip around the parking lot without incident. It remains unclear whether she got the job.
The stunt was designed to highlight the fact that in addition to teachers – the district needs qualified school bus drivers.
A virtual teacher career fair is slated for tomorrow. That will be held online.

A Polk County tow truck driver is charged with murder in the shooting of a man who had come to retrieve his vehicle from an impound yard.
Polk County deputies say Michael Shane Denn II has been jailed without bond.
Investigators say Denn fatally shot Juan Barroso-Muriel, who had gotten into a dispute with Denn’s brother while waiting for his vehicle. Deputies say the Denn’s brother began punching him and that Barroso-Muriel struck the brother with the vehicle, sending him airborne. They say Michael Deen then fatally shot the man. The brother remains hospitalized.