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'Stations of the Cross' event proposed for downtown Sebring

SEBRING — The Sebring City Council will consider Tuesday a special event application for a “Stations of the Cross” event on Good Friday, April 10.

The Stations of the Cross refers to a series of 14 events depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his execution, according to the background information for the City Council meeting.

Anne Shahid, who has organized such events in other locations, has submitted the event application for the hours of 6:45 — 8:30 a.m. beginning in the parking lot adjacent to the Public Library and proceeding to Lakeview Drive to West Center and then Circle Park.

In a letter to the City, Shahid stated, “I use people from all walks of life in my cast — the youth and elderly portray different roles to make what Jesus did for us more a reality.

“I also use horses and Roman soldiers all dressed in appropriate costumes for the event. Whippers are also used for the scourging when Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified. The use of appropriate songs and prayers relating to each Station are also used.”

Shahid stated she has been doing this special re-enactment for the past 15 years in different countries and it has brought people to tears and hopefully a changed lifestyle to improve their quality of life and so with a better society and country.

City staff has checked and there are no other activities in the area that would conflict with the event, according to the agenda. The 14 stages would take place along this route.

In accordance with City policy, there will be no fees for City services for the event as the event serves to promote a holiday observed by the City, the agenda states. Both the Sebring Police Department and Sebring Fire Department will provide services with on duty staff.

The requested motion from City staff is for approval of the event as presented.

The City Council will meet at 6 p.m., Tuesday in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 368 S. Commerce Ave.

Soup up the Arts a savory and sweet success

SEBRING — Heroes, with and without capes, were in abundance at the Sebring High School cafeteria for the annual Soup up the Arts event. “Be a Hero” was the theme for the fun and tasty fundraiser to help children with special medical needs in Highlands County.

The patrons formed a long line waiting for the doors to open. They purchased tickets and got to pick out a hand crafted, one-of-a-kind ceramic bowl to enjoy their soup and sides.

Art club students and volunteers worked for weeks to create the bowls from forming the clay, painting and firing. The patrons, or heroes, were able to take home a piece of art as gift of gratitude.

Artwork from the students was on display and a silent auction was held to raise additional funds. The Sebring High School Show Chorus and the Jazz band used their talents to entertain the diners. Sebring Art Club President Mariluz Guzman demonstrated her skills on a pottery wheel.

“I have created at least 200 bowls for tonight,” she said. “It’s for a really good cause and we can help the community through the arts. I love ceramics. It’s going to be my major.”

Cracker Trail Elementary School once again created ceramic bowls and volunteered their time at the fundraiser. The youngsters wore capes in keeping with the “Be a Hero” theme.

The three families that will be helped as a result of this year’s event are:

Roman Graham, a 7-year-old at Sun ‘N Lake Elementary School who was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt’s Leukemia with days to live. In December 2019, doctors declared him cancer free but he still has to finish treatment and travel monthly blood work and other monitoring.

Sylas Ruetz is a 7-year-old from Avon Park who has been diagnosed with autism and other severe impairments in social behavior, motor functioning and communication. The needed funds will allow the second stem cell treatment in Panama that eases the symptoms of autism by decreasing the inflammation in the brain. The first treatment has resulted in improvements in the youngster.

Jazsmin Ganaban is a senior at Lake Placid High School and Art Club president who was recently diagnosed with a lung condition (CCAM) that will require surgery after she graduates. Jazsmin volunteered during the event and her brother, Brandon, played in the Sebring Jazz band.

Janine Ganaban, Jaszmin’s mother was attended the event with her family.

“It’s beautiful,” she exclaimed. “It’s amazing to see so many people willing to give; it’s beautiful. You hear it takes a village so often but you never really know it means until you see and meet people who care enough to encourage and help your child when she needs it the most. Jaszmin was struggling because she didn’t think she made that much of an impact on peoples’ lives. This program has made her see that there are people who really care about her and that’s going to be a real boost for her recovery. Thanks to everyone who made this possible and for everyone who donated.”

Schmidt to speak at Highlands Hammock

SEBRING — Highlands Hammock State Park is hosting the third and final program of the Florida Humanities series on Tuesday evening, March 3 at 7 p.m. in the park recreation hall. David Schmidt, curator of the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, will examine the extraordinary life and work of the great American wildlife artist Charles R. Knight.

Knight is internationally famous for his authoritative and ground-breaking depictions of dinosaurs, mammoths and other prehistoric animals. Between 1923 and 1930, he created three great murals of prehistoric life for the museums of natural history in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Park Services Specialist Carla Sherwin remarked, “It may be surprising to learn that a mural by one of America’s greatest artists hangs in the Sebring Public Library. It would be impossible to walk into the library and not be captivated by his painting of prehistoric Florida.”

Knight, who was an essentially self-taught artist, made meticulous studies of wild animals, their skeletal systems and musculature. His work with some of the foremost museum paleontologists during the early years of the 20th century resulted in exhibitions which featured murals, dioramas and mounted dinosaurs. “What is really fascinating is that his work influenced motion pictures with the appearance of prehistoric animals in films such as “The Lost World,” “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,” Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” and “Jurassic Park,” Sherwin continued.

Knight completed the mural of saber-toothed cats and mammoths for the Sebring Post Office in 1942 while working as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist. The mural was moved to the Sebring Public Library in 1994 when the post office, which was also constructed as a WPA project, became the Sebring Police Department. According to David Schmidt, “Knight was paid $130,000 for Chicago’s Field Museum panels.” He stated, “This indicates the value placed on his paintings during his professional heyday, and I think that Sebring is incredibly lucky to have someone of such national stature to have done the mural for the post office.”

Schmidt will hold an informal “meet and greet” discussion at 6 p.m. prior to his presentation. As parking is limited, visitors may park in the overflow field and walk or take a tram shuttle to the recreation hall. ADA handicapped parking will also be available at the recreation hall. Funding for this program is through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Highlands Hammock State Park.

Highlands Hammock is at 5931 Hammock Road in Sebring. Park entry fees of $6 per vehicle are waived after 6 p.m. For more information, call 863-386-6094 or visit FloridaStateParks.org/park/Highlands-Hammock.

AP hires new finance director

AVON PARK — The City of Avon Park will have a new finance director starting in April who has many years of experience in fiance positions in Michigan and Ohio.

Daniel Zimolzak, who has been in the financial field for over 30 years, both in credit unions and public education, will be starting April 6, according to City Manager Mark Schrader.

Zimolzak is a CPA, with a MBA degree and has managed directly and indirectly, as many as 75 staff members.

He has developed and managed operating budgets greater than $65 million, Schrader noted.

Zimolzak’s work history includes 25 years of experience with school districts in Michigan, in positions of: director of finance, business manager overseeing financial operations for the school district and assistant superintendent over business and operations.

Also five years experience as a senior associate with a CPA firm specializing in financial and compliance audits for credit unions.

”We are very enthusiastically waiting for Daniel to start, as he seems to be too, and we believe he is going to be an outstanding addition to our team,” Schrader said.

Though Daniel is currently working and living in Ohio, he also owns a home in Highlands County (which he spends time at, and was at when he applied for the position), Schrader said.

Danielle Phillips has been serving for five months as the City’s interim finance director.

Former finance director Ricky Helms cited a majority of the council did not support any of his budget recommendations when he resigned Sept. 30.

Schrader said he is hoping to have the infrastructure director job announcement ready to go out in a few days.