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Trucker dies in collision with cow

LAKE PLACID — A traffic crash on Highlands County roads has resulted in the fourth fatality of the year, again involving a single vehicle crash.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, Kenny Lee Jenkins, 42, of Lake Placid, died late Sunday when the 2000 Freightliner semi he was driving went off the road after colliding with a cow.

Around 11:50 p.m. Jenkins was driving westbound on State Road 70 approaching County Road 29 when the front right of his semi tractor collided with a cow in the roadway. The truck was reportedly redirected in a northwesterly direction causing the front right side of the truck to then collide with a guardrail, barb wire fence and a tree on the westbound shoulder of SR 70.

Upon collision with the tree, Jenkins was ejected. The use of alcohol is not suspected. Jenkins was reportedly not wearing a seat belt.

This was the fourth fatality since Jan. 1, each of which has taken place on rural roads.

Carlos Martinez-Leon, 28, of Venus, died Jan. 8 when his truck failed to negotiate a curve at Old State Road 8 south of Pimlico Road. Dale Ray Strang, 45, of Lake Placid, died Jan. 6 when his Harley-Davidson motorcycle hit a wild hog at the intersection of County Road 621 and Cypress Isle Lane. Troy Lee Jones, 31, of Sebring, died Jan. 1 when his car left the roadway, entering a private driveway and colliding with a barb wire fence and then an abandoned building.

Semi tips, dumps load at U.S. 27, State Road 70

LAKE PLACID — A truck hauling demolition debris lost balance Monday while turning from U.S. 27 west onto State Road 70.

The load shifted and tipped the entire trailer and cab onto the northwest shoulder of the intersection, blocking the southbound right-turn lane for more than two hours.

Fortunately, there were no injuries, Florida Highway Patrol reported, but the investigating trooper said the driver would likely be cited for speeding and/or failing to secure a load.

Artistic Towing of Sebring sent four rigs and a Kubota front-end loader, first to clear the load from around the trailer and then to winch the semi-trailer upright.

The black Kenworth cab, partially crushed from falling over, looked to be a total loss.

Jesse Dombroski of Artistic Towing said it was the second big job his crews had handled that day in that area, having been called out shortly after midnight to clear away a semi-tractor cab from a fatal wreck east of U.S. 27 on SR 70 [See related story].

Sgt. Donivan Cooper of Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol said he’s seen many open-top, canvas-covered trailers hauling debris from the south and turning west to dump their loads at the Hardee County Landfill.

He confirmed the load was demolition debris from his time serving as environmental crimes deputy, and a situation where a different semi-trailer, running late, decided to dump its load on the shoulder of U.S. 27.

Early suffragists lay the groundwork for a successful 20th century campaign

Aug. 26, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the official adoption of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. In the coming months, the Highlands News-Sun will publish occasional articles about the history of the female suffrage movement.

The 19th Amendment came about only after a long and difficult struggle that lasted almost 75 years. In the early years, no one was more committed to fighting for female suffrage than Susan B. Anthony and her close friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Stanton was married with seven children, so family obligations sometimes interfered with political work. Anthony, on the other hand, was single and from the time she joined the movement in 1852 until she retired in 1900, she gave her undivided attention to winning the vote for women.

Stanton and four other women organized the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Stanton wrote a Declaration of Sentiments modeled after the Declaration of Independence, which included 12 equal rights resolutions.

Attendees adopted all the resolutions. The one on voting rights was the most contentious, and it passed only after Frederick Douglass, a black abolitionist and a champion of women’s rights, gave a passionate address supporting it.

Woman’s Rights Conventions were held annually for the next 10 years except for 1857. No meetings were held from 1860 to 1865, because attention was focused on the Civil War.

In 1865, Congress passed and the States ratified the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. Not surprisingly, many women’s rights activists supported the amendment. After all, many of these women, including Anthony and Stanton, were also members of the Anti-Slavery Society and had gathered over 400,000 signatures on a petition to abolish slavery.

But when the word “male” was introduced three times in the proposed 14th Amendment, giving full rights as citizens to those who had been slaves, both white and black women grew concerned that women’s rights would be set aside.

In January 1866 at an American Anti-Slavery meeting, Anthony and activist Lucy Stone proposed that female suffragists campaign for voting rights for both African-American males and for women. But Wendell Phillips, president of the Anti-Slavery Society, and other abolitionists requested that women postpone their campaign until African-American males had been granted voting rights. Anthony and Stanton refused to do that.

Instead, they convinced the delegates at the 11th Woman’s Rights Convention in May 1866, to transform the Convention into the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) whose goal would be to secure universal suffrage.

This angered Phillips so much, that he refused to fund the AERA, even though the Anti-Slavery Society had often supported the Woman’s Rights Conventions.

Desperate for funds, Anthony and Stanton decided to accept help from George Train, a Democrat and a wealthy businessman, who supported women’s suffrage but opposed black suffrage and openly denigrated the integrity and intelligence of African Americans.

The AERA divided into two camps — those who stood by Anthony and Stanton and those who decided to honor Phillips’ request and temporarily stop campaigning for female suffrage. The latter assumed naively that the Republicans in Congress would vote in favor of female suffrage as soon as African-American males were granted the vote.

Congress passed the 14th Amendment in 1866, affording citizenship to black males. The amendment was ratified by the necessary 3/4 of the States by 1868.

Anthony and Stanton began to use new arguments to make their case for female suffrage now.

In 1869, Congress passed the 15th amendment, and by 1870, it had been ratified. It insured that “the right of citizens to vote would not be denied or abridged on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” With no mention of sex, Anthony and Stanton said they would support it only if Congress enacted a 16th amendment, granting female suffrage.

By 1869, the AERA was in disarray and its finances were exhausted. Two competing women’s suffrage organizations were created in its place.

The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), founded by Anthony and Stanton, would work to secure the vote for women through a national Constitutional amendment. The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) would concentrate on securing the vote for women state by state.

Anthony and Stanton drafted the first female suffrage amendment in 1878. Senator Aaron Sargent, a friend of Anthony, introduced it but when it finally came to the Senate floor for a vote in 1887, the Senate voted it down.

Frustrated, NWSA members began to put more energy into campaigning at the state level, along with AWSA. The territory of Wyoming was the first to give women the right to vote in 1869. Other western states and territories followed. But the movement did not spread elsewhere.

In 1890, NWSA and AWSA merged and became the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Stanton was president, Anthony was vice president, and Stone was chair of the Executive Committee. In 1892, Anthony became president, when Stanton retired.

The suffrage movement wasn’t as active in the next several years. When Anthony retired in 1900, she picked Carrie Chapman Catt to succeed her. Catt would transform the unwieldy organization into one that could lead a 20th century suffrage campaign.

Stanton died at age 87 in 1902, and Anthony died at age 86 in 1906 — 18 and 14 years respectively before passage of the 19th amendment. Anthony’s obituary in The New York Times included this quote: ”To think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel.”

Sources: “Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot” by Winifred Conkling, plus chapters from other books and numerous online articles about the suffrage movement.

Educators throng Florida Capitol to fight for more money

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Thousands of school workers from around the state thronged Florida’s Capitol on Monday to press Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to more than double the nearly $1 billion the governor is proposing for teacher raises and bonuses.

Large crowds of demonstrators streamed into the Capitol’s main thoroughfare, some hoisting signs beseeching Florida lawmakers to “Fund our Future.” Rally organizers said as many as 10,000 demonstrators, some from Highlands County, would descend on the Capitol on the eve of the official start of the 2020 legislative session.

Florida’s protest erupted amid a wave of education activism across the country over the past two years in states such as Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

The popular Republican governor has made the raises a centerpiece of his $91.4 billion budget plan, which also includes significant spending on environmental programs. His agenda may wrest control of key political issues — education and climate change — long championed by Democrats.

On education, DeSantis is asking lawmakers to approve $600 million to boost the minimum salary of public school teachers to $47,500, which would catapult starting salaries to among the highest in the country. Another $300 million would be distributed based on merit.

But the state’s largest school union said the governor’s proposal merely gives the illusion that he is addressing problems that have long plagued public schools, such as understaffing, crumbling facilities and low morale. The union said as many as 2,400 teaching jobs remain unfilled.

“The governor says he wants to raise entry-level pay. We have any veteran teachers out there?” said Fedrick Ingram, the president of the 145,000-member Florida Education Association, to raucous cheers. “We have any custodians and bus drivers, mental health service workers, counselors? The governor’s plan does not include you.”

He was talking to educators like Bill Hudson, an engineering and design teacher at a Jacksonville-area middle school who arrived at the rally with his wife, Theresa. As a veteran teacher, he already makes less than the minimum pay the governor has promised.

“I think it’s great that the governor is trying to move the ball. I’m kind of shocked the plan wasn’t better thought out,” he said. “It seems there’s still no plan to address veteran teachers and support staff. We have teachers that have been teaching 15 years that still don’t make $47,000 a year. That’s absurd.”

Union officials said the governor’s $1 billion proposal is far short of what is needed to restore funding for traditional public schools that was lost in recent decades through budget cuts and diversion to voucher programs and charter schools.

The union is calling on the governor to increase his legislative request to $2.4 billion for the current legislative session and similar amounts annually for the rest of the decade.

The money would be used to fund 10% raises across the board — not only for teachers but also for other school employees.

Senate Democrats unveiled their own funding proposal Monday along those lines, arguing that the governor’s plan ignores veteran educators as well as non-teaching staff. Their plan would allocate the same amount of money proposed by the governor, but would spread the money across all job classifications.

“No successful business would ignore rewarding loyal, veteran employees while almost exclusively raising the salaries of new ones. It’s demoralizing and counterproductive,” said Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson.

Union officials said 17 busloads of school employees were en route to Tallahassee for Miami. In Polk County, about 1,600 teachers requested time off to the attend the rally, prompting state school officials to send out an email reminding educators that a concerted walkout could constitute an illegal strike.

The rally has drawn national attention, including from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Florida teachers are rallying for fair pay and better funding for schools, and they won’t be intimidated or undermined,” Warren said in a tweet. “I stand with the teachers — and I’ll fight so that teachers get the fair pay and well-funded schools they need and deserve.”

DeSantis was in Jacksonville on Monday morning to announce a college funding program, returning to the capital in the afternoon.

A legislative committee was expected to begin taking up the governor’s school funding proposal Monday afternoon. The $1 billion funding request already has drawn scrutiny from fiscally conservative members within DeSantis’ own party.

When the governor unveiled his proposed budget last fall, he declared it the “year of the teacher.”

The governor is strongly supporting Florida’s teachers, especially younger ones that face the greatest challenges in the classroom, DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre said. “To suggest otherwise is an unfortunate disconnect with reality.”

Associated Press reporter Michael Schneider in Orlando contributed to this report.