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Sharing and Caring will go on despite COVID

LAKE PLACID — Those who know Eddie Mae Henderson, know that she won’t let anything get in the way of her ministry, even a pandemic. Admittedly, she did give some serious thought to canceling the 43rd annual Sharing and Caring but her family reminded her how important the Christmas dinners and toys are to the community.

The tradition continues with a new twist. Due to COVID-19, diners will be picking up their meals and toys for the youngsters from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Day at the Masonic Lodge #282 at 103 N. Main Ave. There will not be any sit down dining this year. Deliveries can be arranged for those with transportation limitations.

Henderson and her army of volunteers and family typically serve 1,000 meals. Now that Sharing and Caring is firmly in place, it is time to start in on donations. Henderson says she is in need of everything. While it is her policy not to tell people what to give, saying she will cook whatever people donate, there are some staples that are needed such as turkeys, vegetables and pies. Henderson will need volunteers to help with the cooking and assembling the to-go containers.

Monetary donations are always welcome and checks should be made out to Eddie Mae Henderson and mailed to P.O. Box 1494 Lake Placid, Fl 33862. Toys can be delivered to Henderson’s home at 146 Zion in Lake Placid or they can be brought to the Masonic Lodge on Christmas morning. Henderson said she could pick up donations, call 863-465-5022 to arrange.

Trees on parade

SEBRING — One Sebring-based small business is looking to brighten the holidays for some this year. Bare Wood Market in Sebring plans to help Ridge Area Arc with proceeds and donations from its second annual Parade of Trees event.

Bare Wood Market is a locally-based small business that is dedicated to supplying Highlands County with quality painted items — whether furniture, signs or home decor. Laura Young, owner of Bare Wood Market, began the Parade of Trees last year as a way to give back to a local charity but doing it with a Christmas theme. Young approaches local businesses and asks if they would like to participate. Each business purchases and decorates a 3-4 foot tree, this becomes their donation. Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 25 the trees will be on parade (display) for the public to view at Bare Wood Market until Dec. 11.

Anyone coming in during this time to view the trees are given a ballot and can mark their choices in five categories such as “Crazy Creative,” “Most Whimsical” and “Best Business/Shop Theme.” After Dec. 11, the ballots are tallied and one winner per category will be selected. Last year’s winners included Nail Niche for “Most Whimsical,” Jesse’s Auto Body for “Most Business-Like,” Organically Local for “Most Creative” and Manor at Lake Jackson for “Most Beautiful.”

While on display, customers will be able to purchase any tree they like, but will have to wait until after the Parade of Trees is over on Dec. 11 to pick it up. All money collected this year will go to Ridge Area Arc. “We are honored and humbled to once again be the beneficiary of Bare Wood Market’s Parade of Trees event,” said Ridge Area Arc’s Director of Development Donna Scherlacher. “What a great way to get into the holiday spirit. This year’s event is shaping up to be even bigger than 2019.”

During the inaugural Parade of Trees, Young had four businesses participate. This year, she has 11 so far, including Kathy’s Consignment Shop, The Children’s Museum of the Highlands, Nail Niche, Cut N’ Up Styling Salon, Beauty Fit For a Queen, The Manor at Lake Jackson, Markland Acupuncture, Jesse’s Auto Body, LB Hair Company, Woof and Friends Treats and Wei of Chocolate. There are also two individuals donating trees this year, Mary Seigfreid and Deborah Foxworth.

“Laura Young has a heart for her community and Ridge Area Arc and we cannot thank her enough for organizing and hosting this holiday happening,” said Scherlacher.

Bare Wood Market is at 130 N. Ridgewood Drive in Sebring. Hours of operation are Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, email barewoodmarket@gmx.com or visit them on Instagram (barewoodmarket) or Facebook (itsBareWoodMarket).

Thanksgiving edition

In honor of Thanksgiving, the Highlands News-Sun will be printed on Thanksgiving Day.

The office at 321 N. Ridgewood Drive will be closed Thursday and Friday. The customer service desk will be available by telephone, 863-385-6155, from 7-11 a.m. both days.

We hope your Thanksgiving is a peaceful and wonderful time with family and friends.

Urban mayors urge new stance; local mayors keeping with state guidelines
  • Updated

SEBRING — While mayors from two heavily-populated areas of Florida want the governor to change course on COVID-19, local mayors said their communities want to follow the governor’s lead.

This comes after a spike of infections throughout Florida and a call this week from mayors in the Tampa Bay and Miami-Dade area for Gov. Ron DeSantis to consider imposing a statewide mandate on wearing masks to slow the spread of the virus.

However, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, reportedly, has made no plans to issue a universal mask requirement, or as some rumors have suggested, issue another statewide lockdown.

All reports in the news and from Governor’s Office channels debunk the rumor.

Highlands County Government also issued a notice this week to help squelch that rumor, repeating that the Board of County Commission has made no decision about a shutdown or mask mandate.

The Board did not have discussions about either issue at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and continue to ask our residents to practice social distance, to wear a mask and to stay home if not feeling well,” the county’s notice stated.

Local mayors echoed that sentiment. Sebring Mayor John Shoop said that local governments are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the lead of DeSantis. That includes personal responsibility to be careful and cognizant of others and wear masks while in the stores and buildings that require them.

Shoop said it would be an “economic disaster” to shut down again, although he noted that for mayors in St. Petersburg and Miami, their exposure to high-infection levels is much greater.

Lake Placid Mayor John Holbrook said no mayors from urban areas had contacted him about reaching out to the governor for a mask mandate.

“Personally, I think it’s a good idea,” Holbrook said. “If he mandates it we will follow it.”

For now, the town is still following the state direction and CDC advice, Holbrook said. With the new town hall on U.S. 27 in a former church, town officials have been able to spread out attendees at the meetings to ensure social distancing. The same goes for council members, he said, which have been kept up to 20 feet apart.

Avon Park Mayor Garrett Anderson also said his city has not reached out to the governor, but added that the city is still under its emergency ordinance, which follows CDC guidelines. Council members have barriers between them, he said, and meeting attendance is not high.

However, if a crowd gathers for a big issue, such as the local law enforcement contract, they can spread out into a side room across the hall from the main meeting room and follow proceedings via live video.

Garrett, who got married over the summer, said he and his wife, an emergency room physician, have taken extra precautions, given her job.

He’s concerned about pneumonia. While COVID-19 is not the same, it brings on pneumonia.

“Her take is that if you are young, you will survive pneumonia,” Garrett said, “[but] you will have lung scarring as if you smoked for 10-15 years.”

A problem there, he said, is that young people wait until they are really sick before seeking help. He knows because when he was about 21 or 22 years old, he had pneumonia with 104-degree Fahrenheit fever. It was not life-threatening but it did leave effects and has made him more susceptible.

Recent news reports on medical studies have suggested that, as the pandemic runs its course, the virus may become more contagious but less deadly, as did the 1918 flu. A report by Science Daily magazine stated that a study of 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Houston found that the virus is mutating genetically, and may have become more contagious, although most of the mutations don’t appear to have had an effect on the severity of the disease.

Meanwhile, certain types of vaccine have shown promise, while they are still a ways away from approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

“People need to be free and make some decisions,” Shoop said. “Hopefully, the vaccine will become un-politicized.”

But how did a rumor start about a shutdown?

Shoop suggested it might have had something to do with restrictions imposed in the Village of Sebring, Ohio, also founded and named for George Sebring, founder of Sebring, Florida.

The Village of Sebring, Ohio, as of Friday, had 5,644 cases, up 7.8% from last week, and 295 deaths.

In an effort to control spread of the virus, the Ohio city leaders have restricted access to city hall and are taking utility and fee payments either by check or credit card through the mail or over the phone.