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Scholarships awarded in memory of Parker Wayne Williams

SEBRING — The Parker Wayne Williams Memorial Scholarship is awarding eight scholarships to graduating seniors of the Class of 2020.

The scholarship is opportunity is open to seniors who are a member or past member of the golf team, fishing team, FFA or Ag.

Students enter by writing a brief essay on their life goals, why they enjoy their activity in golfing, fishing, FFA or Ag, who has inspired them, where they see themselves in five years and, if they have one, share a favorite memory/story of Parker.

Parker’s mother, Christi Williams, administers the scholarship, which is funded through raffles, fundraisers, livestock sales and an annual fishing tournament, which had to be postponed this year due to COVID-19.

This is the second year for the scholarship, which had seven recipients last year, Williams said. “In two years we have given out over $10,000.”

This year’s scholarship recipients are: Zachery Taylor, Carli McWaters, Julie Laframboise, Andrew Messer, Brandon Dean, Mason Smith, Kevin Myers, Jr. and Gabrielle Hammond.

Parker Wayne Williams, 16, passed away in May 2018. He attended Sebring High School and was ending his sophomore year at the time of his passing.

He was a member of the fishing team, the golf team and FFA.

Williams enjoyed volunteering with the Homestead Rodeo Association and working for the Weekly Brothers at the Davie Pro Rodeo. He enjoyed baseball, fishing, golfing, hunting, working on his truck.

For more information or to support the scholarship, contact Williams at 786-897-9716

West Center Ave. project headed for June completion

SEBRING — The streetscape improvements on West Center Avenue should be complete soon with the north side of the street finished as work continues on the south side of the street.

Work started in December on the Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency’s West Center Avenue Revitalization Project to improve the curbside appearance.

The purpose of this project is to form a more cohesive and visually harmonized link between the city’s downtown Circle Park and Rotary Park, the City Pier and the Cultural District.

The scope of the project includes removing the existing sidewalks; removing tree roots and grading the area to install eight-foot wide paver sidewalks on both sides of the street; and installing multiple palm trees on each side of the street, tree grates, irrigation, lighting, sodding, parking spot striping and crosswalks.

Originally the project design did not include the installation of irrigation to supply water to the grassed areas.

In February the CRA Board approved a change order to include irrigation to the grassed right-of-way area between the front of the sidewalk and the curb of the road for both sides of the street, as well as an upgrading of the grass planned for that area from Bahia to the St. Augustine variety for a more attractive appearance.

CRA Executive Director Kristie S. Vazquez said the West Center Avenue project should be finished by the end of the month.

“We are very pleased with the project, and how it enhances the downtown,” she said. “The revitalization of this street accomplishes an objective in our redevelopment master plan and will serve as an aesthetically pleasing connection between downtown and the waterfront area.”

Sebring Mayor John Shoop said he believes the trees and sod are going in soon and the installation of the pavers is nearly complete, but there are a few areas that have to be cut in by sawing the bricks.

The project took a little longer than everybody wanted, but it is moving along, he said. There were some 80-year-old waterlines that needed repair so that work was done when the sidewalk was dug up.

The waterline repair was not in the original plan for the project, but when it was discovered how old the lines were and they were right under the sidewalk, the City made the decision to make the repairs, which backed the project up a little bit, Shoop said.

Also, they were trying to address some of the drainage issues on Lakeview Drive as part of the project, he said.

“If they keep on schedule, by the end of the month we will be in pretty good shape,” Shoop said.

Excavation Point, Inc., of Sebring is the general contractor for the project with Polston Engineering handling the construction administration.

The total project cost is $317,471.66.

Florida sees 2,581 new virus cases

For the third straight day, Florida saw an all-time high in the number of new COVID-19 cases. With the release of Saturday’s daily report by the Florida Department of Health, there were 2,581 new cases since Friday’s numbers were released.

After having six straight days with the percentage of positive tests coming back at less than 6% between June 3 and June 8, the state has seen four straight days of 6.63% or higher, with 8.82% of Friday’s tests returning positive results. Florida has seen the third-highest number of cases in the country over the past seven days according to the CDC, trailing only California and Texas.

There have been 2,925 deaths in the state and 11,874 hospitalizations.

Highlands County saw just one new case to bring the total to 170. There have been 43 hospitalizations and nine deaths attributed to the virus. Twelve people under the age of 18 have tested positive for the virus.

It was another bad day for surrounding counties, with DeSoto County seeing 19 new cases to bring its total to 348. DeSoto County has also seen 43 hospitalizations and has 10 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

Glades County saw just one new case, which was related to a correctional facility. Of the 110 cases in the county, 63 (57 percent) of them have been tied to a correctional institution.

Hardee County saw 12 new cases for the second straight day, bringing its total up to 189, while Okeechobee County climbed eight cases to 166 after seeing its positive testing percentage above 8% for the seventh straight day.

Polk County saw 45 new cases and now has had 1,414 cases, with 75 deaths and 372 hospitalizations. Nearly one-fourth of Polk’s cases have involved long-term care facilities.

Miami-Dade saw 761 new cases with a testing percentage in excess of 10% positive, while Hillsborough, Broward and Palm Beach counties each saw increases greater than 200.

While typically thought of a disease that affects older people, the largest group of Florida residents to have contracted COVID-19 is the 25-34 age category, where 12,177 people have contracted the virus. The 45-54 age group has seen 12,165 cases. There have been 2,696 cases contracted by those 14 years of age or younger.

There has been only one death attributed to the virus by those 24 years or younger, with nearly two-thirds of the deaths occurring in ages 75 and over.

There have been 179,109 antibody tests given in the state with 7,717 positive results for a positive percentage of 4.31%. Younger people are testing positive for antibodies at a higher rate than adults, as those 4 years of age and younger have a 7.92% positive rate and those 5 to 14 yielding a 7.21% rate. Ages 15-24 have seen a 6.67% positive rate and ages 25-34 have a 5.09% positive rate. No other age group is above 4.44%.

There are two testing events scheduled next week. Testing is free; no insurance is required.

The first testing event will be from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 16 at the Florida Department of Health, 7205 S. George Blvd. in Sebring. Call 863-386-6040 for more details

The second event will be at Samaritan’s Touch, 3015 Herring Ave. in Sebring, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20. Call 800-641-0133 for more details.