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News
No response in Sebring City Hall property

SHOOP

SEBRING — The City of Sebring has received no letters of interest in purchasing the City Hall property on South Commerce Avenue as the city considers relocating its offices to a former bank building on North Ridgewood Drive.

On May 4 the City Council approved the posting of a notice seeking letters of interest in the purchase of the City Hall property at 369 S. Commerce Ave.

There was no response by the June 14 deadline.

The city sought letters of interest from: private individuals, legally established companies or corporations, government entities and realtors/brokers to list, advertise, market, and sell the property.

Mayor John Shoop said Monday that it will probably go back to the City Council to discuss the current City Hall property again. The council could decide to put a price on it and put it up for sale.

The proposed announcement had stated the city-owned property contains two structures, a tennis court and three parking lots.

The City Hall building, which was remodeled in 2011, is 9,944 square feet. The air conditioning chiller system was replaced in 2020.

The other structure, The Sebring Bridge Club building, was built in 1963 and is 1,976 square feet.

The two tennis courts total 125 by 110 feet.

The three parking lots have a total area of 34,200 square feet.

Since July 2020, the city has been exploring the possibility of relocating City Hall to the former Wachovia Bank Building at 228 N. Ridgewood Drive, which was built in 1973, but has been vacant for more than 10 years.

The building and the entire block along Ridgewood Drive was purchased by the Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency in February of 2019.


Highlands_news-sun
Brown brings joy, dedication to library job

SEBRING — As a kid, many of us remember going to our local library to explore and find a treasured title or discover a new one. You may even have a memory of a favorite librarian who helped us.

We want you to meet Vikki Brown, the Highlands Library System manager. She embodies a true love for libraries, books and sharing that enjoyment with other people.

Brown began her employment with the Board of County Commissioners in 2018 but her love for the job started long before when she became a volunteer at a local library almost 21 years ago at the age of 12.

“My job isn’t just a job,” Brown said. “It is a dream come to fruition, and I aim to do the very best I can every single day.”

When she describes a day in the life of the library manager, Brown shares that something different could happen every day. Some days she attends meetings, like Board meetings, cooperative board meetings, and staff meetings, and others she can be found assisting patrons and staff at the circulation desks.

“My job also entails me attending webinars on what’s trending in libraries, planning the future of the libraries and programming, inputting new materials into our system (called cataloging), and ordering new materials for the libraries based on trends, popularity, patron suggestions, and current events,” Brown said. “Budgeting is another major aspect of my job – one I take very seriously!”

Running libraries requires, at times, a great deal of scheduling. It is important to not only ensure the public is served to the best of our ability, but to ensure staff are well taken care of through approving annual leave, holding staff enrichment meetings, and the like.

“We have to be creative, and shuffle people between the three libraries when necessary,” Brown said. “You never know which smiling face you may see assisting another branch some weeks.”

Brown is also the coordinator for the Cooperative. As part of that role, she orders the popular pink cart titles, manages finances and grants, oversees Cooperative staff, and catalogs for some of the other counties.

“Be on the lookout for summer programming to have some fun new technology this year,” she said.

One of the questions we asked Brown: What is commonly misunderstood about your job/role?

“We do not read books all day, every day while working,” she said. Staff is too busy at the library to read while working, she said.

Brown said that she began volunteering at the libraries at a young age due to a love of reading, and while that will always be an aspect for her, she has stayed passionate about this field of work because of all the other ways libraries help a community.

Another question we asked Brown was if she was not a librarian/library manager, what would she be?

“Honestly, if I wasn’t the library manager or any type of librarian, I don’t know what I would be,” she said. “I do enjoy photography, so possibly a photographer. When I was very young, I wanted to be the first female president – maybe that’s what I would have done instead!”

When it comes to work accomplishments, Brown credits her team of employees for everything they have accomplished together.

“Each program, transition, rearrangement, idea, etc. that has been accomplished is something I am proud of, and each time I learn something new,” she said. “Even ‘bad ideas’ are great ideas and opportunities to learn!”

Brown urges the public to keep up to date with their local library “because you never know what other ideas we have coming.” The Cooperative’s website was recently updated, and she would love it everyone would check it out at myhlc.org.

We also asked her about some unique ways she contributes to the community outside of work.

“I spend most of my outside of work time with family camping, playing board games, reading, or just spending time together,” she said. “Family matters most to me, so while that isn’t unique, that is how I spend my time – with the people I love most.”

But speaking about accomplishments again, Brown has this to say: “My greatest achievement in life will be realized if I raise good, productive children who care for others and give back to society at some point in their life.”


News
Sheriff’s Office seeks info on Avon Park shooting

AVON PARK — Highlands County Sheriff’s Office detectives want to know who shot a 16-year-old boy and an older man in a parking lot of Castle on Delaney in Avon Park at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The teenager, whom the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office did not identify, was airlifted to a trauma center after the shooting at 212 McRae Blvd. He is expected to recover. The second victim, a 21-year-old man, is also expected to recover, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Melissa Kurtz at 863-402-7250 or email detectives@highlandssheriff.org, Anonymous tips can be left via the Sheriff’s Office smartphone app or with Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS. If calling from a mobile phone, hit TIPS, or if online, contact them at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.


Highlands_news-sun
Mom accused of drowning son out on bail
  • Updated

SEBRING — Philletta Breanna Moransit, the woman whose 5-year-old son was found drowned in an Avon Park lake, was released Friday after someone posted $200,000 bail on her behalf.

“Yes, she’s out,” said Scott Dressel, spokesman for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.

She was released on her own recognizance after bond was paid to HD Bail Bonds; she still faces charges stemming from the youngster’s death.

Moransit is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child; her next court date, which she can dial into remotely, is set for July 21 – almost exactly a year after her son was found dead in a lake.

Moransit was arrested July 24, 2020 after police found the body of her son, Chance Peterkin, floating in Lake Lelia, also known by locals as Gator Lake. Family members reported Moransit and her son missing on July 23, 2020, in the early evening. They told police that no one had seen the pair since 9:30 that morning when they left a Purcell Street home. Relatives searched for the two without luck throughout that afternoon.

Later that evening, deputies found Moransit wandering unclothed in the Tri-County Human Services parking lot on College Drive. The child was not with her, according to sheriff’s Deputy Meghan E. Nielsen’s arrest report.

During questioning in the parking lot, she gave investigators vague answers about swimming with the boy and seemed to be unaware of where she, or the child was, the deputy wrote in her report.

Deputies immediately launched an evening search for the child using air, water and ground assets around Lake Lelia. Deputies and other searchers, including Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman, walked the shore of the lake, searching for the boy in thick grass and undergrowth.

Blackman reportedly found him just after midnight on July 24, in thick grass about 100 feet from shore. Deputies found Moransit’s and the child’s footprints nearby; they also reported finding Moransit’s white blouse in the area.

She was arrested after being treated and released from AdventHealth Avon Park and pled not guilty on Aug. 20, 2020.

Since then, she has had five pretrial conferences, her last being May 20.

She celebrates her 30th birthday today (Tuesday).


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