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Lake Placid 'Celebrates America' in Christmas parade

LAKE PLACID — The Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade wrapped-up the holiday parade season Saturday night with a flurry of lights, floats music and costumes. The patriotic them this year was “Celebrate America.”

The parade route moved from Dal Hall Boulevard south on Main Avenue and east onto Interlake Boulevard.

The Lake Placid High School JROTC led the parade by stepping off on Dal Hall Boulevard and presenting the colors and singing Christmas-related cadences. They ushered in the Grand Marshals, Vann Peeples and Dale McQuillen, who rode in on a little red Corvette.

The Lake Placid High School marching band kept everyone in step with a its drumline and Christmas carols while the color guard performed in time.

Mayor John Holbrook and his wife Marge waved to the crowds and wished everyone a Merry Christmas. Beauty queens rode in cars. Decked out boats, floats and even swamp buggies were decorated and strung with twinkling lights.

Churches had floats with Nativities and other religious scenes and drove slowly by. Walkers dressed as Santa’s helpers passed out candies to the crowd and Bible tracks.

Dance troupes showed off their talents as they twirled through the streets. A demonstration of martial arts with fighting sticks was performed by the youth from a local martial arts studio.

Law enforcement and first responders rolled by with lights and sirens on. Families of the firefighters rode on the trucks and the kids wished everyone a happy holiday over the loudspeakers.

The long parade was more had many new floats this year, with several new businesses from the area participating.

Santa and Mrs. Claus, also known as Steve and Gini Shevick, made spirits bright while they tutted through the streets in a decorated buggy and waving at residents. Bringing up the rear of the parade, for obvious reasons, were riders on horseback dressed in western wear.

Goodson mural livens up office interior

LAKE PLACID — Staring at the inside of four walls is supposed to be the epitome of boring, but not when those walls have been painted by muralist, Keith Goodson. State Farm Agent Terri Conley hired Goodson to paint a mural in her office at 139 Tower St. in Lake Placid.

The mural that Goodson was planning on finishing on Friday embodies the spirit of Lake Placid.

“Since I began the agency, I have always wanted to incorporate Lake Placid into my office,” Conley said.

With the caladium fields, orange groves, lakes and iconic Happiness Tower, the mural certainly represents the Town of Murals. Goodson also integrated the vintage clock that is located in front of Wauchula State Bank, cows point to the town’s agricultural history and the blue heron is a nod to the lakes and wildlife and their importance to the area. A clown riding in a little red convertible is another highlight of the mural.

Conley said most offices have large acrylic signage with the agent’s name and company logo. She said she didn’t want that and asked the Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce for recommendations for an artist. Eileen May, executive director of the chamber, gave her Goodson’s name.

Goodson is a well-known artist, especially in Lake Placid, where he has painted more murals on walls and inside buildings than any other muralist. He has also refreshed many other murals done by others.

“I would recommend other businesses to have murals,” Conley said. “It was not as expensive as I thought would have been.”

Goodson drew Conley an artist’s rendering that she was thrilled with. The only thing she changed was the color of the clown car from a blue to red. The painting has taken about a week to complete. Conley said she would welcome anyone who wanted to see the latest mural in her office.

The lowdown on recycling

SEBRING — Ever wonder why certain “recyclable” products aren’t accepted or perhaps where they go? Robert A. Diefendorf Jr., EI, project manager of the Transportation/Utility Division at the County Engineering Department, explains the process of recycling. Diefendorf goes into detail, from when trucks pick up the bin, to when it transfers out to a processing facility and everything in between.

“The drivers pick up the recycling waste, where it’s then taken to the Recycling Material Transfer Facility. They dump it in a pile, it gets sorted through and checked for contamination,” Diefendorf said. “Then it’s separated into different materials.”

From there, everything is loaded onto a flatbed truck and driven to a processing facility in St. Petersburg or Miami. As simple as the process may seem, Diefendorf and workers encounter a number of problems every time. Contamination being a big issue.

“Contamination could be non-recyclable items found in the garbage. Some families only have one garbage can and end up throwing their non-recyclables in the recycling bin and most times, the driver can’t tell what’s in the bin until it’s been dumped,” Diefendorf said.

This is due to the fact, that drivers can’t stop and check every resident’s trash. However, if drivers do notice wrongly placed materials in a bin, it will be tagged and left untouched until sorted correctly.

Not all plastic is created equal. “Everyone thinks that every little piece of plastic is recyclable, when it should only be items #1-7 or what you can limit it to, is the recycling triangle on the bottle,” Diefendorf said. He continues to explain that within those numbers, things get lost in translation.

According to Resin Identification Codes (RIC), most recycled plastics are #1 PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) such as plastic bottles. Normally, #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and #6 PS (polystyrene) are not accepted in many curbside recycling programs; #5 PP (polypropylene) has a higher rate of being accepted. Then at the bottom, is the miscellaneous #7, it includes a wide variety of plastic resins that don’t make teams #1-6. It easily includes non-recyclables and corn-based plastic such as phone/computer cases, bulletproof materials and sunglasses.

Curbside recycling varies county to county, residents should call and verify what’s accepted.

To better educate residents, Diefendorf created the “What items can go in your recycling can” quiz. He gives the quiz to students in school seminars and also residents. It’s composed of pictures with different products, plus a description. Items would be circled if a person finds it recyclable. And here’s the not-so shocker, most materials aren’t.

There are certain products that aren’t recyclable, but don’t necessarily get thrown in the trash either: batteries, light bulbs, electronics. A resident can take any of these items to the Household Hazard Waste Center at 6000 Skipper Road, Sebring, where it can be properly disposed.

“Milk cartons and that kind of stuff are not approved recycling product. There has to be a specific program created through the Carton Council, so that’s not in our program,” Diefendorf said. Grocery stores will take back empty egg cartons; most have it listed on packaging.

Many wonder in the community, if glass is an accepted recyclable. Unfortunately, it is currently not a curbside recyclable, due to many encountered issues in the past. Specifically having no commodity value and issues with contamination.

However, you can bring it to the landfill at the Highlands County Solid Waste Management Center, where it gets broken down and used as an alternative cover for sand. Diefendorf also says, with residents bringing glass to the landfill, the program can use that towards their recycling percentage credit.

The biggest problem out of all non-recyclables are categorized in #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene) plastic bags.

Diefendorf said, “Plastic bags are probably one of the biggest problems within the recycling program. There has been a lot of push with DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) to educate people and force plastic bags out of the waste stream. The bags get all tangled up in the cutter; we call them tanglers.”

This also includes loose plastics, such as straws, plastic ties and straps.

Forcing plastic bags out the waste stream would be an achievement, since, “It’s a system dictated by market demand, price determination, local regulation, the success of which is contingent upon everyone, from the product designer, to the trash thrower, to the waste collector, to the recycling factory worker,” wrote Lilly Sedaghat in “7 Things You Didn’t Know About Plastic (and Recycling).” Sedaghat is an environmental journalist who contributes to National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic.

Until a solution is created, Diefendorf advises residents to take plastic bags back to grocery stores, such as Publix or Walmart.

Circling back to contamination, besides non-recyclables in the bin, there are other procedures that citizens of Highlands County should do. Residents should clean, rinse or empty out any liquids or foods from recyclable products. Though cardboard is a high-valued commodity, if your pizza box has leftover grease in it, it’s best to just throw it away in your regular trash bin. But if you find the top of the box clean, Diefendorf emphasizes to rip the top off and discard the rest.

According to Stanford University’s online page, Frequently Asked Questions: Contamination, recyclables mixed with liquids or “smeared” with food aren’t able to be processed due to the fact it can ruin new products if not caught in time. That’s why China is only accepting waste with a 0.5% contamination rate. That’s not a very high chance, since 25% of what ends up in recycling bins are found contaminated.

Found contamination can also mean state fines.

“It causes us fines and it causes us to not have product be accepted at the facility and then our contractor is going to say we’re losing money, and therefore prices will go up for homeowners, because it’s costing us more to recycle,” Diefendorf said.

Right now, the State of Florida Highlands County website states — Residential garbage is collected curbside from more than 37,658 residential units in the unincorporated areas of Highlands County through a franchise agreement with Waste Connections of Florida. The residential collection program is supported by a non-ad valorem assessment on all residential properties in the unincorporated area. The annual non-ad valorem assessment of $173 is collected on your annual property tax bill.

Diefendorf said he’d rather have residents who are in doubt, just throw it out. He also acknowledges that the facility on 6000 Skipper Road is no longer accepting recyclables, now only being used for household hazardous waste. He said the recycling program relocated to the Highlands County Solid Waste Management Center at 12700 Arbuckle Creek Road, where he also plans to eventually move the Household Hazardous Waste. He urges any resident to bring their recyclable waste to the Arbuckle Creek Road location.

Please remember to recycle responsibly and if there are any questions or concerns when it comes to recycling, just call the landfill at 863-402-7786. The landfill is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Dogs euthanized in Highway Park death

LAKE PLACID — A pack of four pitbull mix dogs killed Melvin Olds Jr., 45, of Lake Placid on July 4. Olds was found dead behind a home on Cochran Drive in the Highway Park subdivision. The dogs responsible for the death were located and euthanized.

According to an autopsy on July 5 by Dr. Stephen Nelson, District 10 Medical Examiner, there were over 100 dog bites on Olds’ body.

“In my 27 years of law enforcement, I have never seen anything like this,” Lt. Clay Kinslow of Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services said in July after the incident.

Kinslow said the elderly owner of the dogs was located and she surrendered the dogs to animal services. DNA was taken and measurements of the teeth were examined.

“DNA came back from one of the dogs,” Kinslow said. “The other three dogs couldn’t be ruled because their DNA was so close.”

Kinslow said the dogs’ inbreeding was the reason their DNA was so closely matched. The dogs were euthanized on July 15.

Kinslow said he had two deputies there for two weeks all day long and did not see any more aggressive animals.

“It seems like everyone is keeping their dogs inside or inside a fence after that. The tragic event seems to have educated the community and the neighborhood is safer for it.

Animal Control can be reached Monday through Friday at 863-402-6730; at night or during weekends call 863-402-7200.