News Update for 9/12/19

Monday night Avon Park city council members gave tentative approval to a budget and a millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year, but it’s far from over. After more than two hours of wrangling, the council decided to hold a special meeting to work on it some more.
That will be tonight at 6:00.
Among other things, the council moved to eliminate eight employee positions, eliminate a number of computer updates for the city and reduce funding both for stormwater drainage as well as curb and sidewalk replacements.

A brush fire off Henscratch Road yesterday had units from all over Highlands County busy. Firefighters from Leisure Lakes, Desoto City, Highlands Lakes and Lake Placid were called to the Adams Road area to quell the flames.
It chewed up several acres before being brought under control. Florida Forest Service units also were brought in to help. No injuries were reported in the incident.
Authorities say current conditions are ripe for such fires. However, a broad area of low pressure is moving towards Florida and could bring some rain this weekend.

A Polk County woman allegedly mailed threatening letters containing white powder to elementary schools where she previously worked as a teacher.
Federal prosecutors say FBI agents arrested 65-year-old Maria Bassi Lauro at her Davenport home yesterday. Records show she made her initial appearance in Tampa federal court on charges of mailing threatening communications and transmitting false information and hoaxes.
An indictment says Lauro sent the letters to three elementary schools in Polk and Lake counties between August and September last year. The recipients believed that the powder could be harmful because anthrax, ricin and other toxins can appear as a white powder.
Later analysis determined the powder was harmless. The indictment didn’t suggest a motive for the threats. Lauro was freed on restrictive bail.

If you’re carrying a gun, Florida’s largest supermarket chain doesn’t want to see it.
The Lakeland-based Publix Supermarkets is joining a growing number of retailers in asking customers not to openly carry firearms in its stores.
In an official company statement, Publix has asked that only law enforcement officers openly carry firearms in its supermarkets.
The chain has 1,226 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
In the months after the 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Publix came under fire from survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for donating to the campaign of a Florida gubernatorial candidate aligned with the National Rifle Association.
The students held “die-ins” at two stores in South Florida.