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$11 million 4-story residential building eyed for former hotel property
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SEBRING — A construction company proposes building a four-floor mixed use residential building on the Nan-Ces-O-Wee Hotel property, with an estimated construction cost of $9 million and total development to be $11 million.

The Sebring CRA, which owns the property at 139 N. Ridgewood Drive, issued a request for proposal (RFP) for the development of the old hotel property last month.

The CRA received two proposals for the construction of multi-family housing on the parcel. The selection committee for this development opportunity met on March 25 and is recommending the proposal received from Construction Revolution for the board’s approval at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday. .

In its letter of interest, Construction Revolution Inc., of Sebring, states, “We are making Sebring/Highlands County our business home and for my family & many of our employees our actual homes. Our vision for this site is for it to become the crowning jewel setting in the center of what we have found to be a wonderful community on the verge of being even better.

“What we are proposing will bring elegant living options to the heart of the city and we hope will be the spark for attracting additional dining, shopping & entertaining to make the circle district the attraction it should be.”

The company provided the CRA with the following narrative and vision statement: The economic impact to what we are proposing for “Sebring On The Circle” goes far beyond just what is housed in its four floors and white concrete elevation.

They explain the “first impact will be seen when the 50 apartments it contains will be filled with the sort of resident that is hungry (often literally) to stroll around the circle for an evening dinner, will have a glass of wine on a patio, will enjoy breakfasts & lunches in cafes, will frequent & purchase authentic art from the art fair, will attend the live theater performances and will seek out more offering variety in the more mundane shopping such as buying groceries & clothes here in Sebring.

The larger impact is the part where we are making this our business home, according to Construction Revolution.

Designing, manufacturing and constructing this building will all happen within Highlands County. The companies that lie under Construction Revolution expect to employ more than 200 in our manufacturing, distribution, architecture, engineering and construction businesses over just the next 12 months.”

Today, within the boundaries of Highlands County, the group says it has more than $65,000,000 of new development in process.

For the old Nan-Ces-O-Wee Hotel property, Construction Revolution proposes a four-floor mixed use residential building with on-grade parking under the building and a penthouse restaurant.

The ground floor will house 32 covered parking spaces, 4,200 square-foot retail, management office and fitness center.

Floors two through four will have as many as 50 apartments for rent.

The final distribution of unit sizes will be determined after a study is completed addressing the best opportunity, but the current design is for 22 two bedroom/two bathroom units, 24 one bedroom/one bathroom units and four of what they call ‘lock-out’ units, which are small efficiency units available to the tenants and building operator for overflow space.

Eight of the units will have private fourth-floor terraces with unobstructed views across downtown Sebring.

A full rooftop amenities deck is proposed to include an infinity pool, sun decks, restrooms and rooftop bar/restaurant.

“The apartments will be affordably priced but will appeal to those seeking a high-end urban living experience which will be a great boost to the downtown economy and culture.

“Architecturally, we build with concrete and plan to include simple classic details such as windowsills & headers, white with cream accents and bronze or grey inset windows. It will be as historically sensitive as a modern four floor building can be designed,” according to Construction Revolution.

If the proposal is approved by the CRA Board, there would be a public hearing and approval process with City Council.

Construction Revolution is seeking a transfer of ownership of the property for $1.

The company states the incentives the development team intends to seek are reasonable and relative to the positive impact to the community, minor. Those include waiving building permit fees, utility connection fees and as many as 10-year tax abatement.

Mullins receives Congressional MVP Award
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LAKE PLACID — Once again proving that all superheroes don’t wear capes, Lake Placid Police Department’s Sgt. Mostyn Mullins was recognized for his efforts in the community, both on and off the clock. Congressman Greg Steube presented Mullins with April’s Congressional MVP Award for Florida’s 17th District on Thursday afternoon at the Lake Placid Government Center.

Among friends, family and co-workers, Mayor John Holbrook introduced Steube. Steube gave Mullins a folded United States flag that was flown over the Capitol building as well as a certificate from the Congressman’s office. A plaque will be given to Mullins but was not ready before the ceremony took place.

Tammy Mullins, Mostyn’s wife of over 30 years, nominated him for all of the selfless acts he does for those in the community as a police officer but also as someone who is willing to help anyone out without any expectation of recognition. In fact, she said he is very humble and never does anything to be in the spotlight.

Steube said that within the nine counties he represents, there are a lot of people who are nominated for the monthly award. To be picked from all the other candidates is, indeed, a great honor. He said the community was safer because of Sgt. Mullins.

“Sgt. Mullins’ influence can be felt throughout our community and the area in the lives of our children. For years, he has ensured that child safety is a top priority for Highlands County,” Steube said in the ceremony.

Besides being a sergeant and code enforcement officer for LPPD, Mullins is the only Certified Child Safety Instructor in Highlands County. Mullins attended 120 hours worth of classes on his free time to become certified. He is an organizer for the Bike Rodeos where he is a Certified Bicycle Helmet Fitter. He has given away some 750 bike helmets, but who’s counting? Mullins has given away dozens of bicycles to local children and youth. Steube told Mullins that he wanted to know what a Bike Rodeo was.

Mullins’ concern for children’s safety can also be seen as a Child Passenger Safety Instructor. Over the past six years, Mullins has given away 820 car seats to families in need. He instructs parents and caregivers at hospitals on the proper use of car seats when newborns are discharged.

In his efforts to promote community safety, he is a member of the Child Abduction Response Team and a voting member on the Children’s Services Council of Highlands County.

He also talks to children in schools and churches about bullying. Beyond keeping children safe, Mullins is a woman’s self defense instructor.

“Sergeant Mullins has dedicated his career to keeping our community safe through the Lake Placid Police Department and has gone the extra mile to ensure that children in our community are protected through his work as a Child Safety Instructor,” Steube said. “From instructing local caregivers on how to transport children safely in vehicles to teaching kids how to ride a bike, our community is blessed to have such an outstanding individual, and I am honored to represent him.”

LPPD Chief James Fansler took to the podium to say a few words about his friend and colleague. He talked about Mullins’ career change from the banking industry to a career that, at times, can be thankless. Fansler said Mullins has grown into his role and is one of the most dedicated people he knows to child safety in the community. Fansler mentioned the “hours and hours” of schooling that Mullins had to do on his own to get the certifications. He said he admired Mullins’ devotion to find and apply for grants to obtain the car seats on top of his other duties.

“This is a very well deserved award,” Fansler said. “I am very proud of you and I am thankful to have you on my staff, knowing that you will continue to serve the community to the best of your ability.”

After the ceremony, Steube said it was a blessing to him to be able to get out into communities and recognize people.

“It’s an honor to be nominated for the Congressional MVP,” Mullins said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to help others in the community. I don’t do what I do for the recognition. I do it for the genuine desire to help people.”

Mullins has been with LPPD since 2006 as a reserve officer and full time since 2008. He married his high school sweetheart and the couple has a son, Braden Mullins.

SUV overturns in morning crash
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SEBRING — Friday saw yet another violent crash on U.S. 27 in a week of violent crashes.

Both the driver and passenger from a small blue SUV survived getting overturned, but were transported to a local hospital for treatment. Their car and a small white delivery car collided at the intersection in front of Alan Jay Ford in Sebring.

The incident happened at 9:15 a.m. Sebring and Highlands County firefighters had to extricate the driver and passenger, who were later walking and talking.

The driver of the delivery car was also walking around and refused transport, fire officials said. Sebring police investigated the crash but did not have names, conditions or charges to report immediately after the incident.

It was the latest in a series of collisions on roads in the Sebring area throughout the week. The worst took place just before 2:40 p.m. Thursday in a fatal crash on U.S. 27 at Lake Josephine Road, between a minivan and a sport-utility vehicle.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the SUV was traveling east on Lake Josephine Drive from a posted stop, attempting to cross U.S. 27, while the minivan was traveling south on U.S. 27 approaching the intersection. The front of the minivan collided with the left side of the SUV at the intersection.

The impact of the collision resulted in the driver of the SUV, 55, being ejected. The driver of the minivan, 29, suffered minor injuries. Reports indicate that neither driver was wearing a seatbelt.

According to unofficial records kept by the Highlands News-Sun, this marks the ninth fatality on county roadways this year.

Shortly after that, calls came Thursday afternoon to 911 Consolidated Dispatch for a pedestrian or cyclist hit on Sebring Parkway at Lemon Avenue. Sebring police said that person suffered a minor injury to an ankle.

Tuesday and Wednesday had seen four collisions, two of them rollovers and the other two from people attempting to exit parking lots into or across traffic.

State's new cases of COVID still high at 7,121
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Highlands County got another mixed bag as far as COVID numbers go on Friday when the Florida Department of Health released the daily coronavirus report. After coming off a good day on Thursday, where all the numbers were decreasing, the county saw an increase in new cases and more deaths but an increase in the positivity rate.

There was an increase of 30 new cases of infection. Friday’s cumulative total was 7,848 cases of COVID. Residents make up 7,790 of those cases, while 88 non-residents make up the rest.

Two more deaths were reported overnight to bring the total deaths to 330 that have been attributed to COVID.

Testing went up considerably with 471 processed and 442 negative results. The positivity rate was 6.16% , which is the best it has been since March 26.

Hospitalizations has risen to a cumulative total of 627, or 8% of all cases. The Agency for Health Care Administration reported 24 people were being treated for COVID on Friday afternoon. Statewide, there were 3,008 being treated primarily for COVID in the same timeframe.

Long-term facilities have seen 690 cases of the virus. The county has had 86 deaths from residents or staff from long-term care facilities.

The daily median age was 48 with an overall median age of 52 years old.

The Highlands County Board of County Commission is providing Moderna vaccines to those 18 years and older in the former JC Penney store at Lakeshore Mall on Wednesdays through Saturdays. The HCBoCC schedule is as follows:

  • Appointments only for first and second dose from 8-11 a.m.
  • Walk-ins for first dose from 1-4 p.m. subject to daily availability
  • Walk-ins for second dose from 1-3 p.m. subject to daily availability

For first doses, use the entrance closest to Planet Fitness. For second doses, use the entrance closest to the former Kmart store.

Eligible individuals may register for an appointment by calling toll-free at 866-200-3858 or by visiting myvaccine.fl.gov.

Those who received their first inoculations from the federally supported (FEMA) point of distribution at the Lake Placid Camp and Conference Center can get their second shot 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 12-13.

Florida added 7,121 new cases of coronavirus, which is a bit better than Thursday. The cumulative cases of infection of Friday was 2,111,807. The cases can be divided by 2,072,053 residents and 39,754 non-residents who have contracted the virus.

With 62 new deaths reported overnight, the death toll has reached 34,626 people whose deaths are due to COVID.

There were 107,653 tests processed across the state with 100,642 negative results. The positivity rate for Friday was 6.51%.

Florida saw an increase of 302 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), raising the state to 3,494 cases out of the 19,554 seen in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Michigan has seen 2,262 cases, while Georgia, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts have each seen more than 1,000 cases.

Massachusetts has taken over as the state with the cases of the Brazilian variant (P.1) with 102. Florida is No. 2 with 87. There have been 434 cases in the country.

There have been 424 cases of the South African variant (B.1.351), with South Carolina having had 75. Florida has seen 25 cases.

Numbers in the U.S. were slightly higher on Thursday, with states reporting 78,810 new cases and 1,010 new deaths. But testing also jumped considerably, with 1.86 million tests processed, which is 500,000 more than were reported on Wednesday.

Over the past week, the U.S. has averaged 63,535 cases and 719 deaths.

According to the CDC, 33.7% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 43.2% of adults 18 and over have received at least one dose. Among seniors 65 and older, 76.9% have received at least one dose and 58.4% are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Melanie Swift, co-chair of the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group, said it’s important for everyone to be vaccinated, even those who are healthy or not at risk for COVID-19 complications, as being vaccinated offers protection for the person receiving the vaccine, as well as those they come in contact with.

“Our society really needs everyone to be vaccinated so that we can stop transmission,” she said. “And that means the virus stops replicating. These vaccines are our quickest and safest way to get immunity so we can go back to normal life and end the pandemic.”

According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the United States has seen 31.05 million cases and had 560,825 deaths.

Globally, there have been 134.3 million cases and 2.91 million deaths.