Skip to main content
A1 A1
Lakeview Drive repair completed at Don Drive
  • Updated

SEBRING — Repairs were completed Wednesday, with the roadway reopened, on a section of Lakeview Drive near Veterans Beach that was damaged by the heavy rain over last weekend.

At Tuesday’s Sebring City Council meeting, City Administrator Scott Noethlich said the rain from the past weekend produced damage on Lakeview Drive near Don Drive. The water overwhelmed the structure (under roadway pipe) that was there, crossed the road and then undermined the soil on the opposite side.

The structure itself is still intact, he said. There was too much water for the structure to handle causing the water to jump the structure and undermine the other side.

Excavation Point has done the repairs, Noethlich said.

Lakeview Drive is a county maintained road, but the city-maintained portion at Lakeside and Golfview had a collapse, which the county repaired. That was completed Tuesday afternoon, he said.

Councilman Lenard Carlisle asked if a larger culvert was put under Lakeview Drive or was it just repaired.

Noethlich replied, “No, they just did a repair.”

CivilSurv Design Group engineering took a look at the work being done Monday and agreed with the repairs that Excavation Point was making, he said. “But, as you all know, that is going to get an entirely new infrastructure when we perform the engineering.”

Noethlich was referring to the West Lake Jackson Infrastructure Upgrade involving an area along Lakeview Drive on the west side of Lake Jackson from U.S. 27 to Fairmont Lane, a corridor of about 2.7 miles.

A review of the area found the stormwater culverts crossing the roadway were typically undersized and many were located where there were no easements. Also, the runoff from the roadway is flowing into the lake with no treatment.

Noethlich said CivilSurv is proposing to do just the structure itself and would probably take 20 weeks to put it in.

CivilSurv also took a look at the flooding up and down Lakeview Drive to give credence to the engineering report that has been provided.

“We are going to have to deal with Don Drive, maybe even outside of Phase I [of the infrastructure project],” Noethlich said. “They are going to provide us with a plan and a cost to do Don Drive and the structure that we are having a problem with.”

There is a pipe that runs down Don Drive and it is undersized, he said. It performs a 90-degree turn into the structure that was compromised and water flooded over Lakeview and actually took out the property owner’s beach across the street.

Since it is independent of all the other facilities, it is something that can be addressed outside of the overall plan.

Representation Matters

SEBRING — The next step for people who want equality in the United States is representation.

To do this, everyone who believes in this cause must fight for this where they can, however they can, meeting others who fight for that same cause “at the front.”

Saturday night’s NAACP Freedom Fund Gala at Island View Restaurant helped raise funds and awareness for the continued fight for equal civil rights, including when, where and how to vote, and the ability to run for and serve as elected representatives of each other.

It also gave an opportunity for the Highlands County Branch of the NAACP to honor those people who, locally, work to ensure the rights of all persons by eliminating racial hatred and discrimination.

“If we don’t train the next leaders in the next generation to be better than us, we fail,” said Rev. Dr. Robert Shannon, the emcee for the evening.

One, attorney Richard A. Brown, spoke at the event on the subject of what it means to fight at the front in light of the night’s theme: “Forward with Freedom.”

He said the fight for freedom should advance, boldly, without presumption, to “the place where opposition is met”: The front, wherever that may be, in whatever form it might take.

He said the 20 Africans carried over to the Americas in 1619 were on the front, as were John Brown; Harriett Tubman; Frederick Douglas; the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first Black American soldiers; those in the 20th century Civil Rights Movement such as Rosa Parks, John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges and the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas.

“So where is it that we should be? Pick your place, pick your fight, and I’ll see you at the front,” Brown said.

He cited the “Battle for the Ballot,” starting with literacy tests, financial tests, outright intimidation, voter access, voter access and alleged voter fraud, all of which have been used or have the effect of discouraging or preventing voters from participating in the process.

Housing is a part of the fight, too, now, Brown said, including who can or cannot get loans. Criminal justice equity also plays a part in gaining equality, he said.

Athletes like Jess Owen, Jackie Robinson and Serena Williams have fought on the front, Brown said. Yet still people are targeted and killed, he said, while jogging, sleeping in their own beds or just going to the store “for Skittles and a drink.”

“If you agree, then join me to get the things we want,” Brown said. “And join us in the battle lines advancing at the front.”

Ada McGowan was honored Saturday with the Gwendolyn Sanders-Hill Memorial Award for her 60 years of work in the community working with youth and the elderly and getting the community moving, at large, toward a task.

“I want to say, ‘Thank you, God,’” McGowan said after receiving her award. “I wasn’t looking forward to this. I just enjoyed what I was doing.”

She said she learned from Robert Saffold, a mentor and community leader, as well.

“I just followed what he was doing,” McGowan said, adding, “If we talk about it, look for it to happen.”

She said Friday that she may look to run for city council in 2023.

“I feel like I will be participating in that,” McGowan said. “It’s not a Black thing. It’s not a white thing. It’s the right thing.”

Also honored were scholarship recipients Jakaiyah Smith, graduate of Avon Park High School who is pursuing a degree in nursing at Florida State University, and Alyson Smith (no relation), graduate of Sebring High School and a sophomore at South Florida State College who will study biology at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Both want to become doctors.

Other honorees were: Beverly Norton for her work in mentoring younger members of the NAACP; Al Norton, working with veterans; Patricia Sholtz, working with youth on the Education Committee; Patricia Henderson, who works to improve voter registration; Brenda Gray, who works on membership and in the community on fighting homelessness; Davette Thompson, whom NAACP Branch President Angel Wiggins credits with getting her involved in the local branch.

Dignitaries at the event included Avon Park City Councilwoman Bernice Taylor, Avon Park City Council candidate Aletha Johnson, Highlands County Commission candidate Chantel Parris and U.S. House of Representatives District 26 candidate Christine Olivo.

Also present were Highlands County Commissioners Kathy Rapp and Scott Kirouac, as well as Sebring Mayor John Shoop and his wife, Highlands County School Board member Jan Shoop.

The gala honors and helps support the effort started in 1953 when the NAACP initiated the “Fight for Freedom” campaign. The NAACP vowed to raise $1 million annually through 1963 to fund the campaign to abolish segregation and discrimination by 1963, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Biden at UN to call Russian war an affront to body's charter

NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden is ready to make the case to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly that Russia’s “naked aggression” in Ukraine is an affront to the heart of what the international body stands for as he looks to rally allies to stand firm in backing the Ukrainian resistance.

Biden, during his time at the U.N. General Assembly, also planned to meet Wednesday with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, announce a global food security initiative and press allies to meet an $18 billion target to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

But White House officials say the crux of the president’s visit to the U.N. this year would be a full-throated condemnation of Russia as its brutal war nears the seven-month mark.

“He’ll offer a firm rebuke of Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we’ve seen these past several months,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in previewing the president’s address. “He will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The address comes as Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine have announced plans to hold Kremllin-backed referendums in days ahead on becoming part of Russia and as Moscow is losing ground in the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization to call up 300,000 reservists and accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail.”

Biden is confronting no shortage of difficult issues as leaders gather this year.

In addition to the Russian war in Ukraine, European fears that a recession could be just around the corner are heightened. Administration concerns grow by the day that time is running short to revive the Iran nuclear deal and over China’s saber-rattling on Taiwan.

When he addressed last year’s General Assembly, Biden focused on broad themes of global partnership, urging world leaders to act with haste against the coronavirus, climate change and human rights abuses. And he offered assurances that his presidency marked a return of American leadership to international institutions following Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.

But one year later, global dynamics have dramatically changed.

Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Global Order and Institutions Program at the Washington think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in an analysis that Biden’s task this year is “immense” compared to his first address to the U.N. as president.

“Last year, the U.S. leader won easy plaudits as the ‘anti-Trump,’ pledging that ‘America was back,’” Patrick said. “This year demands more. The liberal, rules-based international system is reeling, battered by Russian aggression, Chinese ambitions, authoritarian assaults, a halting pandemic recovery, quickening climate change, skepticism of the U.N.’s relevance, and gnawing doubts about American staying power.”

Beyond diplomacy, the president is also doing some politicking. This year’s gathering comes less than seven weeks before pivotal midterm elections in the United States. Shortly after arriving in Manhattan on Tuesday night, Biden spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser for about 100 participants that raised nearly $2 million, and he’s set to hold another fundraiser on Thursday before heading back to Washington.

His Wednesday address comes on the heels of Ukrainian forces retaking control of large stretches of territory near Kharkiv. But even as Ukrainian forces have racked up battlefield wins, much of Europe is feeling painful blowback from economic sanctions levied against Russia. A vast reduction in Russian oil and gas has led to a sharp jump in energy prices, skyrocketing inflation and growing risk of Europe slipping into a recession.

Biden’s visit to the U.N. also comes as his administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal appears stalled.

The deal brokered by the Obama administration — and scrapped by Trump in 2018 — provided billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s agreement to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to extensive international inspection.

Sullivan said no breakthrough with Iran is expected during the General Assembly but Biden would make clear in his speech that a deal can still be done “if Iran is prepared to be serious about its obligations.” He added that administration officials would be consulting with fellow signatories of the 2015 deal on the sidelines of this week’s meetings.

This year’s U.N. gathering is back to being a full-scale, in-person event after two years of curtailed activity due to the pandemic. In 2020, the in-person gathering was canceled and leaders instead delivered prerecorded speeches; last year was a mix of in-person and prerecorded speeches. Biden and first lady Jill Biden were set to host a leaders’ reception on Wednesday evening.

China’s President Xi Jinping opted not to attend this year’s U.N. gathering, but his country’s conduct and intentions will loom large during the leaders’ talks.

Last month, the U.N. human rights office raised concerns about possible “crimes against humanity” in China’s western region against Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic groups. Beijing has vowed to suspend cooperation with the office and blasted what it described as a Western plot to undermine China’s rise.

Meanwhile, China’s government on Monday said Biden’s statement in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that American forces would defend Taiwan if Beijing tried to invade the self-ruled island was a violation of U.S. commitments on the matter, but it gave no indication of possible retaliation.

The White House said after the interview that there has been no change in U.S. policy on Taiwan, which China claims as its own. That policy says Washington wants to see Taiwan’s status resolved peacefully but doesn’t say whether U.S. forces might be sent in response to a Chinese attack.

Cyclist killed on Kenilworth

SEBRING — A cyclist died early Wednesday morning on Kenilworth Boulevard after being struck by a vehicle near Snyder Road.

The incident took place at or just before 6:26 a.m., according to Florida Highway Patrol reports. FHP traffic homicide investigators had the two-lane road closed for almost four hours.

Westbound traffic was sent onto Snyder Road, close to the site of the incident, to Moon Ranch Road. Eastbound traffic was diverted either onto County Road 17 or Moon Ranch Road to Snyder Road.

FHP reports state that the 37-year-old male cyclist was westbound as was a 20-year-old man driving an SUV.

The SUV hit the cyclist on the roadway, reports said, and the cyclist was pronounced dead on the scene.

The tan SUV with front-end damage sat facing southeast on the northbound shoulder while investigators measured distances on the road right up until the time they reopened it to traffic.

Names have not yet been released on reports, although next of kin has been notified. The crash remains under investigation, reports state. The report also indicates the cyclist was not wearing a helmet.

Based on unofficial records kept by the Highlands News-Sun, this is now the county’s 23rd traffic fatality and the second one involving a cyclist this year. There has been one pedestrian traffic death.

At this same time last year, based on Highlands News-Sun records, the county had seen 29 traffic deaths.

The death comes just one week after a cyclist on a recumbent trike was hit and rolled on westbound Arbuckle Creek Road by a customized van just beyond the crest of a small rise in the road.

That cyclist only suffered “scrapes and bruises,” according to FHP at the scene.

Dan Andrews, owner of Legacy Cycles in Sebring and organizer of the annual Heartland Triathlon, said that roads without bike lanes — Arbuckle and Kenilworth — don’t provide that space buffer from traffic, but roads that have such lanes tend to have higher speed limits.

He also said that cyclists riding alone are not as visible to approaching motorists as those riding in a group.

Single riders can utilize technology to help them, Andrews said. A new bike-mounted radar device can warn of approaching cars from 1,000 feet away.

Another cyclist out for a ride between 9-10 a.m., Cynthia Buckwalter of Moon Ranch Road, said she avoids Kenilworth when out riding, and would be extra certain to do so in the future.

The two-lane road on that stretch has a hill that obscures both cyclists and motorists from others’ view. Buckwalter said she once rode Kenilworth as far out as Haywood Taylor Boulevard, to visit the Humane Society of Highlands County.

“I won’t come this way,” Buckwalter said.

Typically, she said, she stays on County Road 17 and Mike Kahn Road, rolling through residential areas as far out as the Raceway gas station on U.S. 27.

“There are a lot of friendly people,” Buckwalter said of residents. “(The) motorists are inconsiderate.”