A1 A1
Sebring police seek information in shooting

SEBRING – Investigators from the Sebring Police Department are seeking a suspect in a shooting that took place about 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Police are seeking information from the public on the location and identification of the suspect.

According to SPD Lt. Thomas Gilliard officers arrived at the scene in the 1500 block of Colmar Avenue regarding a shooting where they found the victim, described as a 26-year-old Hispanic male. The victim was taken to nearby Highlands Regional Medical Center with injuries that are not expected to be life-threatening.

Gilliard said the suspect got away in a grey four-passenger vehicle, heading south from the scene. The suspect was driving the car and is described as an African American male.

Anyone with information is asked to call SPD Investigator Stephen Williams at 863-471-5107. Anonymous tips can be given to Heartland Crime Stoppers and could be eligible for a reward of $3,000. Call 800-226-8477 or visit heartlandcrimestoppers.com.

Highlands County deputies continue to investigate a shooting that took place early Saturday morning near Hal McRae Boulevard and Delaney Avenue in Avon Park. That incident left one person dead and two others injured. Alexander Nowell, 29, died in the incident; the other two victims are “expected to recover,” according to deputies.

Anyone with information regarding the Avon Park shooting incident is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 863-402-7200 or email detectives@highlandssheriff.org. Tips can also be sent to HCSO by using the mobile app. Anonymous tips can be turned into Heartland Crime Stoppers and may be eligible for a reward of $3,000. Reach Heartland Crime Stoppers a 1-800-226-TIPS or heartlandcrimestoppers.com.

Center for Great Apes gets an unexpected but welcome bundle of joy

This good news story sponsored by Sebring Meats, 3721 Kenilworth Blvd., Sebring, FL 33870; 863-314-6177.

WAUCHULA — The Center for Great Apes, which is located on 130 acres of land in nearby Wauchula, provides a permanent home and sanctuary to chimpanzees and orangutans who have spent their lives in the entertainment industry, commercial breeding facilities, research labs or the exotic pet trade.

The Center provides care with dignity in a safe, healthy and enriching environment for the remainder of the great apes’ lives.

Recently Center founder and director Patti Ragan sent out an email to supporters and friends about a most unusual event that has never occurred in the Center’s long history. The email begins as follows.

“In our 27-year history, the Center for Great Apes has successfully implemented birth control methods for all our sanctuary residents with no ‘birth control failures’ … until now.

“Sunshine, a 37-year-old female orangutan who arrived at our sanctuary three years ago from the entertainment world, gave birth to a little female one morning in February. She had been on birth control since she arrived at the sanctuary, so we had no reason to think she was pregnant.

“However, suddenly there was a tiny orange bit of fluff climbing up to her chest … the caregivers saw the baby only minutes after she was born. To say we were all shocked is to put it mildly!”

Ragan’s e-mail continues.

“While reproducing more infants is definitely not a sanctuary ethic or activity, this little female will have all the love and care that each of our other great ape residents receive at the Center. Thankfully, Sunshine is being a loving and caring mother.

“Sunny (as we call her) gave birth to three previous infants at a breeding compound, but they were each taken from her, and she never raised them.

“Our staff has named the infant Cahaya, which in Indonesian means ‘light,’ ‘radiant’ and ‘shine.’ We thought this an appropriate name for Sunshine’s offspring.

“Sunny is doing a very good job raising her infant, and she watchfully allows the others in her group to interact with the baby.

“The father, 15-year-old Archie, still acts like a juvenile himself and can barely contain his desire to touch the baby and kiss her. He is completely fascinated with little Cahaya and gentle in his approach. Sunshine lets Archie touch Cahaya, but not yet hold or carry her.

“Archie’s older sister, Keagan (17 years), is a wonderful aunt to the infant, and Sunny allows Keagan more privileges and interactions than she does Archie.”

Ragan’s e-mail concludes with the following comment.

“This birth was not in our plan or mission… but when we look at this precious infant, it’s hard not to feel happiness and joy for Sunshine that she will finally be able to raise her own infant.”

The care that Cahaya and other great apes receive at the Center is impressive. The Center has a dedicated team of trained caregivers, an on-site veterinary clinic, a nutrition program that provides fresh fruits and vegetables, 20 individual outdoor ape habitats, heated nighttime houses, and over two miles of overhead aerial trailways, which the apes can explore and which are surrounded by lush tropical forested land. To call the center a resort for apes is not an overstatement.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center is closed to outside visitors at this time. Even during normal times, the Center is not open to the public on a regular basis, but it does offer group tours for grade school and high school students and for college and university students by appointment.

Afternoon with the Apes educational walking tours are also offered on select dates and at select times of the year, although one must sign up for those tours beforehand.

Donation costs apply to all tours.

Another way to visit and tour the Center is to become a member. There are different giving levels with different benefits. All members are invited to two exclusive events: the Holiday Open House in December and an Annual Member Day in March. At these events, members can tour the sanctuary, meet staff and volunteers, and learn more about the great ape residents.

For up-to-date information, go to the website, centerforgreatapes.org, or call 863-767-8903.

Ridgeway selected to fill Sebring High AP position


SEBRING — Donald Ridgeway has been selected to fill an assistant principal position for the 2020-21 school year at Sebring High School.

In a recent announcement to administrators and School Board members, Superintendent Brenda Longshore stated, “It is my pleasure to announce that Mr. Donald Ridgeway has been named as the new Assistant Principal at Sebring High School filling a vacancy left due to Mrs. [Ilene] Eshelman’s retirement.”

Ridgeway worked as a classroom teacher and dean at Lake Placid Middle School. He became the dean at Lake Placid Middle in the 2012-13 school year.

During the current 2019-20 school year, he is serving as the dean at Sebring Middle School.

He was at Lake Placid Middle from August 2004 through May 2019 and then at Sebring Middle School from August 2019 through May 2020.

Ridgeway said, “I am super excited to announce that I have accepted a new position at Sebring High School as assistant principal. I am beyond thankful and blessed for this new opportunity. Go Blue Streaks!”

Superintendent appointments are subject to approval by The School Board of Highlands County.

Due to the size of its enrollment, about 1,500 students, Sebring High has three assistant principals. The other two assistant principals are David Holder and Laura Sherley.

Highlands virus cases totals 99

SEBRING — With one new case on Saturday and one on Sunday, Highlands County had 10 new COVID-19 cases in four days bringing the total to 99.

The new case on Saturday was a 59-year-old male and the new case on Sunday was an 11-year-old female, the fourth child under the age of 16 to test positive since the initial first positive case in March. Highlands also had an infant test positive in March.

According to Highlands County officials, the Florida Department of Health Highlands County, 7205 S. George Blvd., in Sebring will be open 9-11 a.m. today for drive-thru COVID-19 testing for residents of Highlands County.

In Highlands, there have been 33 hospitalizations and 8 deaths due to the virus.

Among the 98 residents with the virus, there are 48 male and 50 female cases within an age range of 0 to 85 with a median age of 56.

The FDOH’s update on nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALF) shows Sunny Hills of Sebring ALF has two positive residents, one positive resident transferred and one staff member positive for COVID-19.

Also, SIM ALF near Sparta Road in Sebring has one employee who tested positive. The Palms of Sebring has one employee who tested positive and one resident to test positive.

There have been 30 new cases in Hendry County in the past five days with many of those at the Clewiston Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, which has five positive residents, 11 positive residents transferred and 14 positive staff members.

There have been a total of 40,982 cases in Florida with 7,224 hospitalizations and 1,735 deaths.

In the United States, there have been 1,337,541 cases and 79,825 deaths.

Worldwide, there have been 4,142,970 cases and 284,124 deaths.

The Florida Department of Health Highlands County stated there will be additional testing sites and dates will be announced in the coming days. Local health officials are working to bring testing sites to areas throughout the county, so residents do not have to travel far to be tested.

Testing on Tuesday will be available for individuals over the age of 18 regardless of symptoms. Testing is free, and no insurance is required.

The test site is drive-thru only. The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office will provide traffic control.

Health officials ask people to please limit passengers in the vehicle to those who are being tested and no more than five people to a vehicle. Individuals being tested will not be permitted to exit the vehicle.

An appointment is not required. Health officials say they will test as many people as possible between 9-11 a.m.

Those being tested will be asked to provide some basic information to health officials, like their name, date of birth, address and a telephone number.

The test used will be a nasal swab.

Once samples are collected they will be sent to a commercial lab for testing and results will be provided as soon as they are available.

For more information contact the FDOH Highlands County at 863-386-6040.

Highlands News-Sun reopens with modified hours

The Highlands News-Sun will reopen its office today at 321 N. Ridgewood Drive in Sebring with modified hours.

The office will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. In taking safety precautions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control, only one customer at a time will be allowed in the lobby.