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CRA committee to review 9 proposals for Circle property

SEBRING — The Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency received nine business proposals for its 305 Circle Park Drive and 250 Wall Street properties. The properties were purchased this year for $109,000.

A CRA Selection Committee will meet at 2 p.m., Sept. 29, in the City Council Chambers, to review the responses received for the disposition of the property on the Circle that previously housed Shoemaker Plumbing.

“We received nine proposals for 305 Circle Park Drive,” and 250 Wall Street, CRA Executive Director Kristie Vazquez said. “It’s a package deal. Both of those properties were a part of what we acquired. They have two different addresses and strap numbers with the county, but we purchased them as a whole.

“There is the potential that an applicant could utilize the building or they could say they don’t need it for their usage.”

CRA Board Chairman David Leidel, who is on the selection committee, said the committee will review the proposals and hopefully be able to make a recommendation to the CRA Board fairly quickly.

The other CRA Board members who are on the selection committee are Kelly Cosgrave and Tracy McCoy.

The proposals are from the following individuals with a summary of their business proposal for the location:

• Carissa Hughes — Gourmet Goodies Bake Shop — Add a second location to the already successful Gourmet Goodies Bake Shop in Polk County (downtown Winter Haven).

• Donna Ellison — Eatery offering a selected variety of foods and drinks.

• Robin Tillman — Gina Bees Unique Boutique & Rustic country boutique carrying clothing, accessories, jewelry, handbags, and home décor

• Aisha Lusby — Gator Grove Company and Gator Grove Graphics & Design — Luxury boutique offering apparel, creative gifts and the option to customize each item

• Mahdi & Houda Ammons (submitted two proposals) — The Golden Shovel — Offering a distinctive variety of international cuisine; Le Rendez Vouz — Coffee Clubhouse for students with WiFi available for phones or computers.

• Katie Walker — Circle Park Kitchen — A farm to table restaurant.

• Claudia Dos Santos and Lucia Cortez — Sebring Bakery.

• Judith Temple — JPs Big Boy Subs LLC.

The deadline was Tuesday for proposals for the property, which is a single-story building totaling more than 1,300 square feet.

The CRA noted the property has a prime location in the Historic District of Downtown Sebring and is currently zoned C1 Commercial, and has a large display window facing Circle Park offering high visibility from both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The CRA’s request for proposal (RFP) stated, the property could also come with a rear storage building located at 250 Wall Street if needed. The storage building was constructed in 1991 and is 625 square feet. The building also offers rear alley access for deliveries and two dedicated parking spaces.

Knotty Girl T-shirts are back
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SEBRING — Get ready to support breast cancer awareness.

The annual Sebring Professional Firefighters T-shirt sale will begin soon, once organizers have their website ready to take orders. Last year, the sale raised $1,010 for the Knotty Girl Foundation and its education and awareness campaigns.

This year, firefighters hope to double that amount to $2,020, said Sebring Firefighter/EMT and Senior Engineer Anthony “Tony” Perez with the Sebring Fire Department. They have ordered 300 shirts in men’s sizes: small to 3XL, selling for $20 each, through sfdlocal3210.company.site.

“We hope the website will help out a lot,” Perez said.

There will be a small fee if you order online, however. Perez said the cost of the domain name will make an online card payment $22. People can pay by cash or check, however. They can select that option at checkout, Perez said, and pay when they pick up their shirts.

Shirts ordered through Oct. 5 can be picked up 3-7 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Turn2 Brewery, 4496 Tanglewood Drive in Sebring. All proceeds will go to Knotty Girl Loves Inc., Perez said, the non-profit brainchild of Diana Albritton, which works to get the word out on self-examinations.

Albritton, a cancer survivor since 2002, has frequently said that the mammogram missed the first time she had cancer, but she could feel it. Her doctor ordered a sonogram and they found the cancer.

Albritton said financial help from organizations like Sebring Professional Firefighters Local 3210 makes sure she can continue to get out the word, even in trying times. The pandemic, she said, has made getting out in person more difficult.

“Once your immune system is violated, what do you do?” Albritton said of cancer survivors’ vulnerability to COVID-19. “We’re using social media. We’ve had a couple of appearances, but the pandemic has cut those back.”

One of those cutbacks has been the annual retreat, something that she did for cancer survivors to give them time away and to celebrate them for being cancer free. COVID-19 has kept that from happening.

That’s fine, Albritton said. Her trademark is education.

“I need to go back to my trademark: education and awareness,” Albritton said. “We’ll save lives that way, men and women.”

Albritton said there are plenty of ways to make people feel loved as they go through cancer treatments. She still has cards and letters of encouragement that she can take out and read whenever she needs.

She also posts information and messages on the Knotty Girl social media, including “Just Talk with Justine,” a podcast for breast cancer “fighters, survivors, thrivers and supporters.”

Sales and distribution of the shirt will coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in October, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast when cells begin to grow out of control. Cancer cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an X-ray or felt as a lump.

Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get breast cancer, too, the American Cancer Society reports.

Most breast lumps are benign and not malignant. Non-cancerous breast tumors are abnormal growths, but do not spread outside of the breast and are not life threatening. However, some types of benign breast lumps can increase the risk of getting breast cancer, the American Cancer Society states, so it’s important to have them checked.

Most people tell Albritton that she doesn’t look like a survivor. Many people don’t “look” like they’ve survived cancer, but it does change people on the inside, she said. It gave her a greater sense of purpose to help others.

“I’m just an average girl doing her job every day,” Albritton said.

For more details on breast cancer, visit “Knotty Girl” on Facebook or the American Cancer Society at Cancer.org.

County's community garden has plots for rent

SEBRING — It will soon be fall, and in Florida, that’s the time to plant your vegetables.

The Highlands Soil & Water Conservation District has 15 to 20 open plots at the Highlands County Community Garden off West George Boulevard, when you’re ready to plant.

“It became a hot item when COVID came out,” said Susie Bishop, executive director of the Soil & Water Conservation District.

Over the summer, the 45-plot garden gained a number of vacancies for various reasons, including people moving away or taking new jobs. Bishop thinks she can fill them quickly at $10 for a six-month rental and $20 for a year.

“We’ve got them all in shape,” Bishop said of the vacant, overgrown plots. “They got out of control in the summer.”

Now that it’s cooling down, people can start their winter vegetable gardens, she said. Tomatoes and peppers are most popular, but people have been growing green beans, English peas, okra and squash. Some, over the years, have grown sunflowers and other specialty crops.

“People can grow anything, as long as it’s legal,” Bishop said.

Corn has been a bit of a challenge, Bishop said, mostly because it’s hard to control the pests. However, the garden has irrigation lines, fresh compost to fertilize the beds and tools on hand to till the soil further. It even has a shaded picnic area.

The garden first started in September 2014, and it has stayed successful with green-thumbed growers every year, Bishop said.

“Gardeners share ideas,” she said. “We have a lot of avid gardeners.”

Anyone who doesn’t have the space or property to plant a personal garden can find space at the Community Garden. They can rent the 25-by-12-foot plots by contacting Bishop at the Highlands Soil & Water Conservation District by calling 863-402-7020 or emailing sbishop@highlandsswcd.org.