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Sebring CRA to discuss bank properties

SEBRING — The Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency Board will discuss two bank properties, one that it owns and one it may purchase, at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. today.

The former Bank of America building is being considered for having a civic center on the second floor. The CRA’s waterfront redevelopment plan is being revised with the Jack Stroup Civic Center possibly being removed for a more expansive change of the city-owned waterfront property.

The preliminary plan is to have the Highlands Art League, Sebring Historical Society and the Hall of Fame from Sebring International Raceway on the ground floor of the two-story building.

CRA Board Chair David Leidel said recently the former bank building on South Ridgewood Drive is owned by Mike Tellschow and is for sale.

Leidel said he wants to get input from the City Council because the CRA shouldn’t purchase the building if the City Council doesn’t like the idea or wants to do something else.

“I need to get a little more feedback from my board, support there, and then support from City Council,” he said.

Also, the CRA Board will discuss the former Wachovia Bank building on North Ridgewood Drive, which the CRA purchased in February of 2019.

The CRA Board agenda states, the City advertised for letters of interest for the current location of City Hall on May 10 to determine if there was interest from anyone to purchase the property in order to have enough funds to take on the relocation of City Hall to the Wachovia Bank Building.

No responses were received for the property.

Staff will plan to work with the city’s purchasing agent to draft a disposition notice for the property to determine interest for the redevelopment of the property in the event the city does not move forward with the relocation and the property is not needed for additional parking to accommodate the redevelopment of the Nan-Ces-O-Wee property.

The board will discuss this property in great detail as a separate item under new business, the agenda states.

LP tackles Tractor Supply site plan, recreation money

LAKE PLACID — The town council will discuss Tractor Supply’s use of its parking lot.

Also on the agenda: whether to require citizens or others to review RFPs received from potential auditing firms.

The meeting, at 5:30 p.m. today at the Town of Lake Placid Government Center, also will discuss items on the community redevelopment agency (CRA) agenda. Like other Florida towns, the council also sits as the CRA.

Tractor Supply, which opened a store recently at 60 Plaza Ave., has council permission to use part of the parking lot as a bin for customers to walk in and select fence posts and other outdoor building supplies.

The store needs the council’s permission, or waiver, to depart from the town’s landscaping and parking rules.

As part of the review of the revised site plan, Lake Placid Police Chief James Fansler asked that the parking in front of the store be eliminated or reduced for safety concerns. Also, Town Engineer Joe Barber found that landscaping is also required in the parking area on the side of the Tractor Supply building. Both changes require the council’s vote.

Town Administrator Phil Williams is asking the council to consider changing the process the town uses to choose the company that audits the town’s financial practices every year. Though no one is accused of conflict, Williams wants to add another step to in the RFP process to insure integrity, he said.

“It is important to the objectivity of auditing services that whatever process Town Council approves has a track record of supported integrity,” he wrote.

He wants the council to consider appointing a citizen auditor selection committee; have the council serve as a selection and review committee; or direct the town staff to populate a selection and review committee.

The contract for the town’s present auditor, Mauldin & Jenkins CPAs and Advisors of Bradenton, ends in 2020. The company will have to compete with other financial auditing firms who answer the RFP for 2021. Mauldin & Jenkins has had a contract since 2015.

Barber also will ask the council to raise the salary of the town’s Geographic Information Systems expert from $12 an hour to $15 an hour. The employee builds and maintains maps using software that uses satellites to map the exact location of water mains and their relation to streets, other utility rights-of-way, streams, lakes and private and public property. Municipalities from large cities to small, rural districts, use the software.

“We currently have a very rough map,” Barber wrote in his summary to the council, “but the valve locations and mains need to be made more accurate, so as we have a better ability to isolate portions during water main breaks.”

He estimates the raise would add $1,900 to the town’s 2021 budget.

Other town employees could see their salaries rise to $15 an hour; Florida voters approved statewide minimum wage at that rate, to be phased in over several years.

Another item on Monday evening’s agenda is a $110,000 interlocal recreation agreement with the Highlands County Commission. The town plans to use the money for the maintenance and operation of city parks. Lake June Park’s Sports Complex would receive money for operation and upkeep for its existing ballfields, softball fields, soccer fields, football field and three restrooms.

The council, sitting as the CRA, also will discuss fixing the parking lot and drainage at the Lake Placid Woman’s Club, 10 North Main Ave. The $7,848 project will pay for the replacement of concrete curbs and gutters, the installation of a new concrete sidewalk, and other improvements.

Security video leads to arrest of Avon Park shooting suspects

SEBRING — A security video from two Avon Park businesses led to the arrest of two suspects in the June 22 shooting of a 16-year-old.

Security footage detectives obtained from The Joint bar and Castle on Delaney takeout shows a white car pulling up to the curb and the minor victim suddenly falling to the ground. The white car then drives away at high speed.

According to Highlands County Sheriff’s detectives, the bullet entered the victim’s left eyebrow and exited behind his right ear. The wound was so serious that he had to be airlifted to Tampa General Hospital. He has since been released from the hospital.

When detectives arrived at the intersection of Hal McRae Boulevard and South Delaney Avenue immediately after the shooting, they found blood in the roadway, as well 9mm gun casings and a spent bullet nearby.

They returned to retrieve the security videos a few days later and watched as the scene unfolded in an area that has seen other shootings. They focused on the white car.

As detectives asked around, they began to hear the name Isaiah Golden, 20, described as the shooter and another man, named Keisaac Quintrel Harrison, 22 as the driver of the white car, their report states.

They searched motor vehicle records for Harrison’s vehicle tag and determined his address. They eventually found his car parked behind someone else’s house. It was backed in to hide the license tag, detectives said.

They put together a photo array that included the two suspects and showed them to the victim in the hospital on June 29. The victim circled Golden’s image and wrote “Nightride” and “100 percent sure” next to it. He told detectives Golden had shot him.

He also identified Harrison’s photo as the man who had been in the driver’s seat of the white car, detectives said.

Detectives arrested Golden on July 10. Detectives, however, determined that Golden had already served a prison term for carrying a concealed weapon and armed trespass on school property. He got out of jail in March 2020.

That prior conviction makes Golden eligible for not only a charge of attempted homicide without premeditation, but a second charge of possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted felon, detectives said.

Harrison twice failed to show up for appointments to give police a statement. He then sent a message to detectives that he would not cooperate.

Detectives arrested Harrison on July 10 and charged him with attempted homicide without premeditation and accessory after the fact for driving Golden from the scene.

Sebring CRA to consider agreement for Circle Park property
  • Updated

SEBRING — The Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency Board will review the updated agreement with Sugar Sand Distillery for the CRA owned property at 301 Circle Park Drive.

The agreement and a request for improvements at the property are on the CRA Board’s agenda for its meeting at 5:30 p.m., Monday.

If approved the Board will direct staff to move forward with notifying the City of Sebring of the CRA’s intent to award the property to Sugar Sand Distillery, publish a notice for the public hearing for the disposition of the property and present to the City Council and hold the public hearing for final approval of the disposition, according to the agenda for the CRA Board meeting.

The CRA received three proposals for the property it purchased in 2020 for $230,000, which once housed a pharmacy and then Gallery 301. The CRA selection committee gave top ranking to Sugar Sand Distillery’s proposal.

The proposal from Sugar Sand Distillery/Don Davies and Tony Castronova stated the building would contain three opportunities for visitors to enjoy, first a copy of the current Sugar Sand Distillery (currently on Henscratch Road), then a partnership with Castronova in the new Sugar Sand Brewery and the Castronova-owned Michael Anthony’s Italian cuisine.

Also, the Board will review and discuss improvements requested by Sugar Sand Distillery for the 301 Circle Park Drive property.

The agenda shows the following requested improvements:

• Installation of additional electrical service to the property utilizing the City’s electrician — Air & Electrical Services -quoted at $2,170 plus additional chages for load calculations with Duke Energy.

• Relocation of the rear power line that connects the power to the property from the power poles in the alley way on Wall Street to a taller location on the back of the property — current power line hangs too low to utilize the back of the property for deliveries.

• Remove/demo the current drop ceiling inside the building.

Also, the CRA Board will consider approving a budget amendment in the amount of $42,000 for legal fees and to cover the expense of termite tenting for the following CRA owned properties: 301, 305 and 309 Circle Park Drive and 120 North Ridgewood Drive and for professional services to cover the expense of the environmental reviews of the following CRA owned properties: 209, 301 and 305 Circle Park Drive and 120 North Ridgewood Drive.