Wildfires Spark in North Central Florida

Multiple wildfires broke out in separate locations throughout North Central Florida over this past weekend according to the Florida Forest Service.

According to posts on their Facebook page, the Florida Forest Service responded to a total of five wildfires over this past weekend.

Forestry crews first responded to the “South Gasline Fire”, a 30-acre wildfire Saturday afternoon located in the south end of the Goethe State Forest in Levy County.

The South Gasline Fire was caused by lightning and smoke from the fire impacted traffic on Highway 19 from Lebanon Station to Inglis.

Forestry dozers quickly worked on creating a fireline to contain the fire and by Sunday the wildfire was 75% contained.

On the same day, another lightning fire, dubbed the Cowpen Fire, broke out in the town of Bell, located approximately three miles east of US Highway 129 in Gilchrist County.

The Cowpen Fire consumed approximately 70 acres and was 40% contained by Sunday.

On Sunday, the third lightning-caused wildfire later named the Barge Canal Fire, spread over 80 acres in Marion County in an area near State Road 200 and County Road 484.

Forestry crews and Marion County Fire Rescue worked together to contain 75% of the fire by Monday morning utilizing helicopter bucket drops.

All hiking and biking trails on Greenways and Trails were closed and currently remain closed as a result of the Barge Canal Fire.

A fourth fire caused by lightning broke out and consumed 2 acres in Alachua County off of NE 39th Avenue in Gainesville.

The fire was quickly contained and no structures or buildings were damaged.

Another fire broke out late Sunday night in Marion County at the Rodman Bombing Range in the Ocala National Forest.

The latest fire is approximately 70 acres in size.

Drivers near the Oklawaha Bridge, State Road 19, and County Road 310 are asked to use caution when driving through the area due to the smoke.

The cause for this fire has not yet been released.

Crews are currently working to contain the fire.

Florida Suspends All Alcohol Sales at Bars Due to COVID-19

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBRP) issued an emergency order suspending the sale of alcohol at all bars and establishments in Florida who derive 50% or more of their sales from the sale of alcohol according to a statement released earlier today.

According to the DBPR Order, all vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises and whose sales are 50% or greater in alcoholic beverages are suspended from selling any alcoholic beverages to the public until further notice.

The same vendors will still be permitted to sell sealed alcoholic beverages for consumption off of the premises.

Other licensed establishments such as restaurants whose gross sales consist of less than 50% alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption will be permitted to remain open under the new executive order.

The order is a response to the record breaking spike in COVID-19 cases seen in Florida in the last two days with new cases reaching upwards of 10,000 cases.

Deputies Seek Help in Identifying Suspects in WalMart Theft

Sumter County Deputies are seeking help from citizens to identify three men caught on surveillance video removing items from the WalMart located on Wedgewood Lane in The Villages without paying.

According to deputies, the surveillance video shows three men, one described as a white male with a thin build and bald head wearing a black shirt and black pants, another as white male with a medium build wearing a black “Real Tree” logo shirt, black ball cap, and shorts, and the third as a white male with a medium build wearing a black shirt and black pants.

According to a Facebook post posted on the Department’s page, the men were seen entering the store then splitting up. They each selected various items before leaving the store without making any attempts to pay for the merchandise.

The three men then got into a dark colored Honda before driving away with the unpaid merchandise, deputies say.

Anyone with information on the identity of the suspects is asked to contact Detective M. DeArmond at (352)793-2621 or you can remain anonymous by calling Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS(8477) and use reference number 2666.

Mount Dora Pool Closes After Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

The Mount Dora public pool located in the Lincoln Avenue Community Park is now closed after two employees tested positive for COVID-19 according a press release Friday morning.

In the release, officials stated, “Two of our employees at the pool have tested positive for COVID-19. The pool is closed and will not reopen until the public safety risk has been eliminated and staffing ratios can return to normal…We are very sorry for this inconvenience.”

Anyone who has been to the pool recently and may have come into contact with any of the staff members is urged to self-quarantine and self-monitor.

Anyone with questions can contact Leisure Services by email parksandrec@cityofmountdora.com.

According the the statement, the city has notified citizens who have been in contact with the employees and also posted notices at the pool and on social media.

City of Mount Dora Continues to Open Operations Post COVID-19

MOUNT DORA — Mount Dora Mayor Cathy Hoechst released a statement Wednesday updating residents on the current COVID-19 situation in Mount Dora.

In the statement, Hoechst announced plans for the Mount Dora High School graduation ceremony which is scheduled to be held on June 11 at 9 a.m. at Reninger’s Market.

In support of the Class of 2020 graduation, businesses throughout the city are decorating their locations with the Mount Dora Hurricanes colors.

Hoechst also stated that all restaurants and stores are now at 50% capacity. While restaurants and stores are now open, residents are asked to continue washing and sanitizing their hands frequently.

Face-masks are option in most places but are required in some facilities.

Other businesses such as bars, theaters, and entertainment facilities are still closed at this time, according to Hoechst.

Hoechst also stated that City Council members came to a decision to cancel the 4th of July parade and fireworks Freedom on the Waterfront celebration after a long discussion at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Officials are exploring other options for a fireworks show later this summer, Hoechst stated.

Repeat Offender Back in Jail After Judge Releases Him Without Bond

MOUNT DORA — A repeat offender is back in jail as of Wednesday after violating a pre-trial release order stemming from a felony domestic battery charge.

52-year-old Darren Williams was arrested and charged with felony domestic battery on March 26 according to arrest records and later released on his own recognizes on May 8.

Williams, who had 13 prior arrests at the time, was released without bond and ordered to have no contact with the victim.

According to a police report, only ten days after his release, Williams allegedly violated his pre-trial release order when he was charged with two felony counts of battery, a felony count of burglary, and a misdemeanor count of resisting officers.

According to the report, Mount Dora Police officers responded to a home on Hacket Street in after receiving calls in reference to a battery.

Upon arrival, officers met with the victim, Williams’ victim from previous domestic batter charges.

Officers stated that the victim was “crying hysterically and pointing to a hematoma on her forehead” when they arrived.

The victim confirmed that her injuries were made by Williams who had fled the area before officers arrived. She also told officers that Williams had come to her residence, kicked her door in, and began battering her. The victim was later transported to a nearby medical facility to treat the injuries she sustained during the incident.

After searching the surrounding area, Williams was found in the parking lot of a nearby store. Williams reportedly saw the police patrol vehicle arrive and immediately began walking away from the officers.

One officer exited the vehicle and ordered Williams to stop at which time Williams looked at the officer and once again fled the area.

The officer began chasing Williams on foot and was able to get Williams to stop only after warning him he would be tasered if he did not stop.

With these last two arrest, Williams has been arrest a total of fifteen times since 2012 with six of those arrests being in the last 11 months. His previous charges also include multiple felony domestic battery charges, previous violations of no contact orders and violations of pre-trial releases, as well as other charges of resisting or fleeing officers.

Aside from Williams’ case, many residents in Lake county have begun to worry about the increasing number of habitual offenders being released without bond.

Williams is an example of one of those cases with multiple previous felony charges and order violations.

The increasing number of no-bond releases has sparked heated discussions about the need for bail reform in Florida.

While some believe bail reform is need to provide a safer and fair way to keep repeat offenders in jail, others believe that bail amounts are too high and force arrests to “buy their freedom”.

Man Dead After Truck Crashes Into Building

A 21-year-old man was pronounced dead after his vehicle struck a building Monday night according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

Troopers responded to the intersection of County Road 100 and County Road 100B in Lady Lake just after 8 p.m. Monday night to the scene of a crash.

Upon arrival, troopers discovered a 21-year-old man was traveling northbound on County Road 100 approaching County Road 100B when for an unknown reason, the driver lost control of the pickup truck, left the roadway and overturned several times before colliding with the Elder Mary Newsome Hudson Church building.

According to the report, the driver was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the incident.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

Alleged Snapchat Dare Lands Clermont Man in Jail

A Clermont man was arrested Monday afternoon after claiming that he was dared to “take all of his clothes off in a public area” by a friend via the popular social media app, Snapchat.

Lake County deputies were dispatched to an apartment complex on Nelson Park Drive shortly after 4 p.m. after receiving calls about a man standing nude in the bushes at the complex.

Upon arrival, witnesses told deputies they saw the man standing completely naked with his penis exposed standing in some bushes along Glenbrook Drive as they were riding in their vehicle.

The victims told deputies they were riding in the vehicle with a juvenile passenger when they noticed the man, later identified as 20-year-old Ivan Butcher, standing naked in the bushes.

The driver of the vehicle told deputies he stopped the vehicle and got out to confront Butcher at which time Butcher put his clothes back on and took off running.

The driver then took out his cell phone and recorded video footage as Butcher fled the area and jumped through more bushes behind the apartment complex.

A member of the complex’s management office was able to help identify Butcher and lead deputies to his apartment.

Upon questioning, Butcher told deputies that he had stood there naked because a friend on Snapchat dared him to get completely naked in a public place.

Butcher stated that once he saw the victims’ vehicle, he fled the area to avoid getting into trouble.

Butcher was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition with a juvenile victim.

He was transported to the Lake County Jail where he was later released after posting a $10,000 bail.

Mount Dora Hosts Virtual 5k Race Amid COVID-19 Social Distancing

The City of Mount Dora is scheduled to host a Virtual 5k race in an effort to help residents stay active while still adhering to the COVID-19 social distancing order.

Residents can register online for the event which begins on May 1 and runs through to May 3.

Entrants will be given the freedom of choosing their own starting line whether it is on a treadmill or neighborhood street.

Participants can run or walk the given distance for the race and record their times and post them to social media with the hashtags #WeRunThisCity #MountDoraVirtual5K to receive a medal.

Medals will be mailed to participants several days after the event has been completed.

Participants can register by visiting Mount Dora’s official website. There is a $15 participation fee and a $7 fee to cover the cost of shipping the medal.

Man Suffers Serious Injuries in Golf Cart Crash

An 89-year-old New York man was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after crashing his golf cart early Monday morning according to Florida Highway Patrol reports.

The man, who was not identified in the report, was traveling southbound on the golf cart path along El Camino Real just south of Morse Boulevard at approximately 10:12 a.m. when the incident occurred.

According to the report, the driver failed to see a metal pole and concrete traffic barrier and collided with the pole and barrier.

The driver was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries as a result of the crash.

Suspects Sought After Stolen Truck Found Burned in Florida Highlands

Detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office are searching for the person or persons responsible for stealing a 2019 Ford F-250 pickup truck and leaving it to burn at the Highlands Mud Hole in Florida Highlands.

The truck, which was a company vehicle for American Sites & Utilities, Inc. was parked at the home of the company owner near SW 151st Place in the Florida Highlands when it was last seen.

According to a Facebook post by Garry Bach, the company’s Vice President, stated the truck was stolen at some time late Sunday night.

A photo of the 2019 Ford F-250 stolen from the Florida Highlands Sunday night and found burned at the Highlands Mud Hole.

Bach also told Central Florida Wire that they received multiple error codes on a GPS tracking app for the truck which lead them to the burnt remains at the mud hole.

Bach believes the the truck was set on fire at approximately 3:15 a.m. which is the time they received the error codes through the GPS app.

Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office are currently investigating and asking for help from anyone who may have information leading to the suspect or suspects.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective J. Williams with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office at (352) 732-8181.

National Weather Service Warns of Severe Weather and Possible Tornadoes

The National Weather Service issued a severe weather warning for northern and central Florida counties beginning Thursday night and possibly extending into mid-day on Friday.

According to weather reports, a band of severe weather is making its way across the Gulf of Mexico heading east.

As shown in the radar image above, the some of the weather has already reached parts of northern Florida such as Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and Gainesville bringing heavy rains, damaging winds, and several areas under tornado watch or tornado warning.

Other parts in central Florida such as Lake, Marion, Sumter, and Citrus counties are expected to experience some of the same weather just after 11 p.m. Thursday nights including damaging winds, heavy rain, severe thunder storms and possible tornadoes throughout the region.

According to the NWS, the sever weather is expected to last through the night and into Friday mid-day with most of the damaging weather happening around 4 a.m. in most areas.

Residents are advised to monitor their local weather channels and be prepared for the severe weather.

For more weather information and severe weather alerts, visit the National Weather Service website at www.weather.gov.

Sumter Humane Society Asking for Photos of Your Pet for “Pup-casso” Art Fundrasier

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses are at a stand-still while others are coming up with creative ways to keep business going.

While most businesses are taking to curb-side service or delivery options, YOUR Humane Society SPCA of Sumter County is taking to social media in their latest fundraiser.

The no-kill non-profit organization helps animals in need throughout their community and in order to continue operating, they rely on donations.

With the current epidemic, however, their offices have been closed to the public making it harder to receive necessary donations to provide services for the shelter’s homeless pets, public assistance programs and their Hope Fund, which provides veterinary care for animals beyond routine medical needs and more.

Sample from a “Dollars for Doodles” fundraiser held at another Humane Society shelter. Photo Courtesy of YOUR Humane Society of Sumter County.

The organization decided to host a “Dollars for Doodles” fundraiser where donors can send in their favorite photo of their furry family member and receive a hand-drawn version in return.

Volunteers for the shelter, staff members, and even their children are all waiting to begin drawing your pets to help support the shelter.

To receive a drawing of your pet, you can submit your favorite photo along with a $15 donation on the shelter’s official Facebook page or send your photo along with a $15 check payable to YOUR Humane Society SPCA, PO Box 67, Lake Panasoffkee, FL 33538.

The process is expected to take a few days for each drawing. Once drawings are complete, they will be posted on the shelter’s Facebook page as well as mailed to the donor.

Donors wishing to offer more support for the shelter can also choose to donate $100 and receive a rendering of their pet from a professional local artist.

For more information or to learn more about YOUR Humane Society SPCA of Sumter County, visit hsspca.org or call 352-793-9117.

Man Arrested After Reportedly Sexually Assaulting Children

A Clermont man was arrested Tuesday night after sexually molesting three minors according to arrest reports.

According to the arrest report, Deputies from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to a residence in the Greater Pines subdivision in Clermont after receiving a call in reference to a child being sexually touched.

While interviewing the victim, deputies discovered that two other minors in the home were also sexually molested by 33-year-old Joshua Aybar.

The three victims, two of which who were under the age of 12, told deputies that Aybar had exposed himself to them, touched their genital areas, asked for sexual favors, used sex toys, and even made video recordings of some of the encounters while he was molesting them.

During their investigation, deputies retrieved Aaybar from his workplace and returned him to the home for questioning at which time Aybar confessed to the allegations.

Aybar stated that he was trying to bond with one of the children since they do not have anything else to bond over and was trying to teach the child “how to masturbate”, according to the report.

One of the children molested by Aybar also suffers from Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.).

Aybar was arrested and transported to the Lake County Jail where he remains without bond.

Lake County Offers Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing

Lake County officials partnered with Adult Medicine of Lake County, Lake-Sumter State College, the Florida Department of Health, and the City of Leesburg to offer residents three locations for COVID-19 testing.

The drive-thru testing offers residents the opportunity to be tested for COVID-19 now through May 17 for only $20.

Non-residents can also be tested at the Adult Medicine of Lake County testing site located at 3619 Lake Center Drive in Mount Dora. Non-residents will be offered swab or antibody tests at a cost of $85.

To get the resident pricing, those wanting to be tested must provide proof of residency.

While the Adult Medicine of Lake County testing site is available now, two more locations will also be made available.

The Cooper Memorial Library located at 2525 Oakley Seaver Drive in Clermont will begin offering the drive-thru testing on April 23 and then on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A testing site will also be made available on Wednesdays and Fridays beginning April 24 at Venetian Gardens located at 109 E. Dixie Avenue in Leesburg.

The test site located at Adult Medicine of Lake County will be open Monday through Friday.

All sites will be available between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on their respective operating days.

For more information about COVID-19 testing in Lake County, contact the Adult Medicine of Lake County office at (352) 329-1133.

Residents with symptoms who are unable to receive testing through their primary care provider should contact the Florida Department of Health Hotline at (352) 742-4830.

You can also sign up for the latest COVID-19 emergency notifications by texting COVIDUPDATE to 888777, visiting Lake County’s COVID-19 site, or calling the Citizens Information Line at (352)259-9999.

Bicyclist Pronounced Dead After Being Struck by Vehicle

A Homosassa man was pronounced dead after being struck by a vehicle Monday night while bicycling according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

According to the report, the incident occurred at approximately 9:45 p.m. Monday night.

49-year-old Arthur Nesbitt was traveling southbound on US Highway 19 in Citrus County just north of Warber Court on his bicycle in the outside shoulder.

At the same time, 35-year-old Sarah Fogel of Lake Panasoffkee was traveling behind Nesbitt in her 2017 Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Nesbitt maneuvered his bicycle around several construction barrels at which time he was struck by the outside mirror of Fogel’s truck.

Nesbit suffered fatal injuries from the incident and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

According to troopers, alcohol was not involved in this incident, however, other charges are pending.

Man Arrested for Aggravated Assaulted Claimed to be Working for Police

LEESBURG — A man arrested for aggravated assault and battery claimed he was working for the Leesburg Police Department when he allegedly chased woman with a baseball bat.

Officers were dispatched to the bike path near the 500-block of North 14th Street in Leesburg just after 10:30 p.m. Friday according to arrest reports.

One victim told officers that she was sitting on a lawn chair next to the bike path waiting for someone to come help her move some of her belongings when 41-year-old James McGlocklin approached her mumbling “something about her being a heroin addict”.

McGlocklin allegedly told the victim that he was hired to throw everyone out of the woods in the area.

The victim then told officers that McGlocklin picked up three containers that had her belongings and threw them across the bike trail before he “got in her face” and called her a “heroin junkie”.

McGlocklin then allegedly grabbed the victim by the arm and pushed her across the bike trail stating, “If you don’t get the [explicit] out of here, I’m going to bash your head in!” and then began to chase the victim while “singing the Green Mile”.

When questioned by officers, McGlocklin denied swinging a bat or pushing the victim and stated that he was hired by the “local 47” and was working for the Leesburg Police Department evicting all of the “junkies” out of the woods.

Police searched the area and found a bat near where McGlocklin was that matched the description given to them by the victim.

McGlocklin was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery. He was transported to the Lake County Jail where he remains in lieu of a $3,000 bond.

Man Arrested for Death of Webster Woman in Fatal Crash

KISSIMMEE — A Webster man was arrested after a woman was found dead in his vehicle Sunday morning according to Florida Highway Patrol reports.

26-year-old Kabir Ramnarine was reportedly traveling northbound on San Lorenzo Road near Cortez Court in Poinciana at approximately 3:30 a.m. On Sunday with 26-year-old Ashley Ramnarine in the passenger seat when the incident occurred.

According to the report, Ramnarine lost control of the vehicle and left the roadway colliding with a sign and a tree.

After colliding with the tree, Kabir Ramnarine fled the scene on foot leaving Ashely Ramnarine behind in the vehicle.

Upon arriving on the scene, first responders discovered Ashley deceased in the vehicle.

The report indicated that Ashley was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Since Kabir had fled the scene, it is unknown if he was wearing a seat belt or if alcohol was involved.

Troopers later tracked Kabir to a hotel in Kissimmee where they managed to take him into custody.

Kabir arrested and charged with negligent vehicular homicide, failure to stop and remain at a crash involving a death and driving on a suspended license resulting in death.

He was transported tot he Osceola County Jail where he remains in lieu of a $12,000 bond.

Troopers Respond to Fatal Crash in Clermont

CLERMONT — The Florida Highway Patrol responded to a report of a crash just after 11 a.m. Wednesday morning in the Four Corners area of Clermont.

According to a press release, one person was pronounced dead in the two-vehicle collision that occurred near the intersection of US Highway 27 and Golden Eagle Boulevard.

Troopers are still on scene investigating and more information will be released as soon as it becomes available.

Lake County to Host Hurricane Expo with Free Pet Services

Lake– Lake County Animal Shelter, Office of Emergency Management and UF/IFAS extension office have joined forces to host 2019 Hurricane Expo for Lake County residents.

The event will include information, tools, and how-to presentations for preparing for the hurricane season. Family preparedness and shelter information will be shared, along with emergency crews and first responders on site to talk with and answer questions regarding storm safety protocols.

Lake County Animal Shelters contribution to the event is new this year, featuring free vaccinations, micro-chipping, de-worming for cats and dogs and disbursement of free animal ID tags.

“It’s very important for pet owners to be proactive about getting their pets vaccinated before hurricane season, should they ever find themselves needing to take their pets with them to an emergency shelter during a storm,” said Lake County Animal Shelter Director Whitney Boylston. “Should families ever become separated from their pet during a disaster, a microchip and ID tag is the best way to ensure that pet owners can quickly be reunited with their pet.”

Director of Lake County Emergency Management, Tommy Carpenter, urges residents to take advantage of this event to learn about preparedness, flood dangers, weather hazards, and go kits in addition to the pet services offered in preparation of storm season.

The event will be held on Saturday, June 1st from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at the UF/IFAS extension office located at 1951 Woodlea Rd. in Tavares. There will also be a Kids Corner with related activities.

Pre-registration for pet services is required at http://bit.ly/HurricaneExpo.  More Emergency Management contacts and info can be found at www.lakecountyfl.gov/emergency and via the free weather alert program alertlake.com.

Pickup Truck Runs Into Brick Law Office in Ocala

Ocala– Mid-morning Tuesday Ocala Fire Rescue responded to a car accident on SR 40 in Ocala. Upon arrival, crews found a heavily damaged pick-up truck had run into a brick building located at the 2300 block of East Silver Springs Blvd.

Fire Rescue secured the area and assisted with patient care for the driver and two passengers. One person was trauma-alerted to the hospital, second transported due to related injuries, and the third person is also being evaluated in the hospital as continued investigation.

Pickup Truck Crashes into Building

Ocala Police and Marion County Fire also responded to the call, and a building inspector was called in to assess the damage to the building, Melanie Slaughter’s law office located at 2337 E Silver Springs Blvd.

A paralegal working in the office during the time of the crash told Ocala.com “I thought the building was crashing down. That’s how loud it was.”

No further information has been released regarding the cause of the accident.

SPCA Offers Pet Safety Tips for Hurricane Season

Sumter– With hurricane season quickly approaching, many communities are preparing early for a summer of unknowns. Alongside those preparations, YOUR Humane Society SPCA (formerly known as Humane Society SPCA/Sumter County) has released important info, safety tips and reminders for pet-owning Floridians.

YHSSPCA Disaster Prep

With potential extreme weather on the mind, the YHSSPCA urges animal caretakers to have indoor facility arrangements available for their animals when severe conditions may arise. Other hurricane preparedness tips shared by the YOUR Humane Society SPCA are below:

  • “If you plan to evacuate, bring your pets.  Remember, if it’s not safe for you to be there, it’s not safe for them either. Evacuation should take place no later than 24-48 hours before any storm makes landfall predicted towards your residence.  Notify family or friends that you will be bringing your pets along.  If you are leaving the storm area and you plan to stay at a pet-friendly hotel/shelter, reservations must be made immediately as sites book up rapidly during an emergency.
  • Keep your pets inside or in a secure room or crate. Animals have been known to panic to such an extent that they will bolt from their home and run in terror to avoid storms. If windows break, loose pets in a house, have been known to flee from the debris and chaos. Operating portable generators must be kept in sheltered but open-air environments.  Do not keep pets in a garage with an operating generator. The carbon monoxide fumes are toxic and will potentially kill them and you. Have a Pet Alert window cling on your home’s front and back doors for emergency workers to know who needs to be pulled from danger if you are not home at the time.
  • All pets should have more than one form of ID (collar with a personal tag and a County License tag, a microchip) on them and an emergency contact number out of the storm’s range in case you are separated. Have their current paperwork stored in waterproof bags or storage containers. Advice for newcomers to FL: Update your in/out-of-state contact information at the microchip company’s website.
  • All pets should be current on vaccinations and needed prescriptions should be filled before the storm arrives. Provide at least a week’s supply of water and pet food for each pet and a 30 day supply of prescription medications. Have a manual can opener if there is no electricity and a pet first aid kit ready.

Horses and other livestock:

          If you plan to evacuate your horses, do not find yourself stranded on a crowded highway with a loaded horse trailer. High winds may cause a trailer to flip over and flooded areas make hauling livestock even more dangerous. Make all pet related boarding arrangements well in advance, have ample fuel, tires/brakes/lights checked and allow for slower than normal travel time.

  • If you have horses or other livestock, make sure they are NOT locked in barns but instead have the option to run out towards an open space in case of a barn collapse during high winds or potential tornadoes. Have a breakaway halter (preferably leather) with an ID tag secured to it or a luggage tag woven into their mane. Fetlock ID bands, available at local feed stores, allow you to write your contact information on them should the animal escape their property lines if trees come down on fence lines. Store perishable livestock feed and hay elevated from flooded areas and store feed in plastic bins to prevent deadly molds from growing.
  • Remove any loose or lightweight objects which could become projectiles in high winds. These items can potentially impale and kill animals. Fill all empty tubs with water so it will be readily available to livestock during the entire storm’s presence in the event you may lose power and cannot pump water from your well.”

More tips shared from the ASPCA website include:

  • A sticker outside your home or shelter notating the presence of animals.
  • Having a list of pet-friendly hotels locally and in any evacuation plan cities.
  • Having designated standby pet caregivers in case of displacement or emergency.

Should your pet become lost during in-climate weather, immediately contact YHSSPCA  or your local animal rescues and shelters. Be ready to provide current photos of the pet and your proof of ownership. Next, create a flier including pictures, identifying information, microchip location if possible, names and owners contact info to share at local businesses and your neighborhood. Be sure to share on social media groups as well.

Should the need arise, emergency pet shelters will be opened in Sumter County. These listings can be found at https://www.sumtercountyfl.gov/1103/Make-a-Plan along with other tips and resources from The Sumter County Emergency Operations Center.

YOUR Humane Society SPCA can be contacted at 352-793-9117 and is located at 994 CR 529A, in Lake Panasoffkee.

Three Identified in Fatal Four-Vehicle Crash in Paisley

PAISLEY — Troopers have identified three of the people involved in a fatal crash that occurred in Paisley early Saturday morning leaving one dead and two hospitalized.

According to reports, 35-year-old Joseph Furguson was traveling eastbound on County Road 42 near NFS (National Forest Service) Road 545-A when for an unknown reason, Furguson’s 2004 Dodge pickup truck traveled into the westbound lane directly into the path of three other vehicles.

James Koon, 57, was traveling eastbound on County Road 42 when Furguson traveled into his lane. Koon, who was driving a 1986 Ford sedan and hauling a trailer, attempted to avoid colliding with Furguson, however, Furguson’s vehicle struck Koon and his trailer.

During the collission, Koon’s trailer struck a power pole causing the power lines to fall down.

The second vehicle, a 2017 Ford SUV driven by 51-year-old Thomas Livingston also attempted evasive maneuvers and left the roadway and came to a stop in a ditch.

Furguson then collided head-on with a third vehicle, a 1997 Dodge pickup truck injuring the driver and killing the passenger.

The driver of the third vehicle, a 71-year-old Paisley man whose name has not yet been released, was airlifted to Central Florida Regional Hospital with critical injuries.

The passenger of the third vehicle who has also not yet been identified pending next-of-kin notification was pronounced dead at the scene by the Medical Examiner.

Livingston and Koon both received minor injuries and were treated by first responders.

Furguson was also airlifted to Central Florida Regional Hospital after suffering serious injuries during the collision.

According to troopers, charges are pending against Furguson and the crash remains under investigation.

The report also indicated that the two unidentified victims and Furguson were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash.

Lake County Libraries to Forgive Library Fines in Exchange for Food

TAVARES — The Lake County Library System is launching their “Food for Fins” initiative May 19 and are accepting donations of dry or canned food items, baby products, and hygiene products and in exchange will be forgiving library fines.

The annual Spring event is held throughout 15 libraries in Lake County allowing residents to donate food and other necessities to help local food banks and charities.

Each unopened, unexpired item donated will equal $1 toward any overdue fines.

Residents without library fines are also welcome to donate and their donations will be used to “pay it forward” and will help forgive another library patron’s fines.

The event will be held at each of the 15 libraries in Lake County from May 19 through June 1.

Fines for lost, damaged, or those that have been sent to a collection agency cannot be forgiven.

The Leesburg Public Library and the Minneola Schoolhouse Library will also accept pet food donations during the program.

For more information about the event and to find a list of each library, call or visit your local library or visit online at www.mylakelibrary.org.

Roads Closed and Power Lines Down in Lake County After Fatal Crash

LAKE COUNTY — Troopers are currently working a crash scene in Umatilla involving four vehicles according to a Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson.

Update to this story found here

The incident occurred at approximately 7:35 a.m. Saturday morning near the intersection of County Road 42 and NFS (National Forest Service) Road 545-A.

The area surrounding the intersection is closed and blocked off to traffic as troopers work the scene.

Power lines were reported down as a result of the accident.

One person has been pronounced dead at the scene and two others were airlifted to nearby trauma centers.

No names have been released at this time as the investigation is still underway.

More information will be released once it becomes available.