SEBRING Four locals have made the list of finalists to be interviewed for the assistant county administrator's job on Thursday: John Minor, David Flowers, Ramon Gavarrete and Christopher Benson.
The other two candidates are Randal Vosburg, Polk County Sheriff's Office director of professional compliance; and Sarah Hannah-Spurlock, Plantation, laid off as the financial director for the City of Sunrise.
The interview panel includes current Human Resource Manager Melissa Bruns, County Administrator June Fisher, and Glades County Administrator Larry Hilton, and Highlands County Sheriff's Major Mark Schrader.
Minor retired a few years ago as the county human services director; Gavarrete is the county engineer; Flowers is a former county commissioner and the current county facilities director, and Benson is in charge of special projects.
Several names were eliminated with locals who are familiar: former county commissioner Guy Maxcy, who is the current DeSoto County administrator; Parks and Natural Resources Director Vicki Pontius; Road and Bridge Supervisor Kyle Green; and Livestock Agent Randy Gornto.
Two eliminated candidates have held top jobs: Douglas Hewett was the city manager at Hollywood; Anthony Carson, of Ocean View, Del., was the town administrator for Berlin. One more is from out of state: Suzanne Davis of Leesburg, Ga. works for the City of Albany.
Three more were locals: Candice Ciesla of Avon Park is the director of programs and services at Ridge Area ARC, Jerri Kaplan of Sebring is a secretary in the emergency operations center and Shannon Sapp of Sebring is a vice president and comptroller at Highlands Independent Bank.
The rest were from Florida: Bill Veach, Tallahassee, director of the State of Florida's Division of Hotels and Restaurants; Tory Bombard, business operations manager for the City of Lakeland; Julio Granada, library affairs manager for the Miami-Dade library system; and Diane Papa, Palm City, human resources manager for the Torrey Pines Institute.
The salary is up to $133,140 per year.
The Sports Complex will go to the K-9s in May. Highlands County Sheriff's Office will host the U.S. Police Canine Association regional certification and field trials.
Narcotic dogs will be certified. Other canines will go through agility and obedience programs on May 20. On May 22, it's criminal apprehension challenges.
"That includes apprehension with gunfire," said Lt. Jim McGann. "We're hoping to get a big turnout."
"Seventy to 80 handlers will be here for a week," said Capt. Jim Nichols of Punta Gorda Police Department. Handlers have booked at least 70 rooms at Chateau Elan.
Deputy Kenneth Jorgensen was chosen Deputy of the Year by the VFW, who presented a $100 check and a plaque.
Major Booker Johnson, who nominated the former Florida Highway Patrol trooper, said Jorgensen has an exceptional level of commitment and a humorous side that makes people want to be around him.
Commissioners changed the ordinances for Sun 'n Lake of Sebring Improvement District. One would require residents to cut grass that's 12 inches tall. Grass can be 18 inches high on commercial property.
"Commercial – they are some of the biggest violators," said attorney John McClure. "Our concern is by the time it gets up to 18 inches, it's a real eyesore. We get a lot of residential complaints that people don't keep up their yards."
The same ordinance also raised the salaries of elected supervisors to $300 a month instead of $200.
"That's a pittance when you consider all the things they've got to deal with," McClure said.
The commissioners reversed course on recreation fees and allowed the three municipalities to charge users who use parks.
"We don't need to penalize them for raising fees," Commissioner Don Elwell said. "They are improving their financial position and taking care of their recreational areas."
"The intent is for the town to run their town, and for the cities to run their cities," said Commissioner Jack Richie.
Lake Placid Town Councilman Ray Royce said the money raised is dedicated to the "long-term viability of the facilities."
Veterans Service Officer Denise Williams got a 15-year longevity award from County Administrator June Fisher. Williams was supposed to receive the award in October, but she was serving in the Middle East. Pontius, Carpentry Supervisor Ron McClure and Library Director Mary Myers got 25-year pins.