Ham Radio Field Day set for this weekend

TAVARES, Fla.—Each June, more than 40,000 amateur radio operators, known as “hams” set up temporary transmitting stations in public places  throughout North America to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill, and service to our communities and nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933 and remains the most popular event in ham radio. The competitive aspect of Field Day is to contact as many other amateur stations as possible between 2 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The public is invited to attend the event in Tavares this weekend that will showcase mobile command vehicles from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake Amateur Radio Association (LARA.) It will be held at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Training Bureau and Lake Tech Institute of Public Safety Weapons and Driving Range, 13000 Frankies Road, Tavares.

LARA consistently wins top honors each year in Florida and North America. The club was established in 1952 by a local group of radio amateurs and now has a membership of over 150 “Hams.” LARA’s vast radio systems enable worldwide communications, amplifying the club’s impact and reach. For their life-saving work, hams worldwide have received commendations and international praise.


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FWC: License-free freshwater fishing this weekend

FLORIDA—The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting a license-free freshwater fishing weekend Saturday and Sunday

Florida residents and visitors of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to try recreational fishing this weekend and FWC has helpful resources for new anglers to get started.

Largemouth bass are Florida’s most popular freshwater fish and if you catch one 8 pounds or heavier, submit it to TrophyCatch. There is a special promotion this season where pink-tagged bass are swimming and worth extra prizes in five waterbodies across the state. Try your luck and you could even win sunglasses just for fishing in these five waters!

All other rules, such as seasons, bag and size limits apply during license-free fishing weekend.

Keep the fun going all year and buy a recreational freshwater fishing license, to renew or purchase a fishing license, visit

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Deputies OK after Clermont woman sprays them with chemical during well-being check

CLERMONT, Fla.—Four Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies are OK after being doused with a substance Friday by a woman while they performed a well-being check, according to an arrest affidavit.

Deputies arrived at an apartment in unincorporated Clermont after a father requested a well-being check on his small child. The child’s age and address are redacted from the affidavit.

They attempted to contact Crystal Lorraine Velez, 36, at her apartment and she did not answer the door. They found the door was unlocked but barricaded and “due to concerns for persons inside the apartment” they removed the barricade, entered the apartment and began announcing themselves and clearing a path through the apartment that was flooded with water and cluttered, according to the affidavit.

They found one of the bedroom doors was locked and as they forced entry, they heard a woman screaming and a small child cooing or crying. They partially entered the room and Velez began “dousing” them with an unknown chemical from a spray bottle, believed to be a chemical degreaser. Velez was tased by a deputy and other deputies secured the child, and she was given to her father. Velez was taken into custody and the four deputies were taken to South Lake Emergency Room, where they were treated and released.

Velez was arrested for four counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and transported to the Lake County Jail.

Detectives spoke with a deputy who went into the apartment and the deputy said they could barely walk through the apartment because there was so much clutter. They spoke with the child’s father who said he left Velez approximately three months ago because of her mental health and the apartment was clean and orderly when he left. Detectives were also able to observe the child with her father, who “appeared healthy and happy,” the affidavit states.

Detectives secured a search warrant for the home and when they entered, they found every piece of furniture was overturned, every appliance was disconnected, including a moldy refrigerator. Windows were open, with only small objects or screens that could be easily moved or pushed by a small child. There was little food in house and every water source was turned on, causing the carpet to be saturated with water while every other floor had standing water, the detective noted.

Detectives determined Velez failed to provide the child with proper care and supervision and she was also charged with child neglect, in addition to the four counts of battery on a law enforcement officer. She continues to be held in LCJ on $10,000 bond.

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National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday

LITTLE LAKE HARRIS, Fla.—The unofficial start to summer is upon us and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding boaters to stay safe during National Safe Boating Week that begins Saturday.

Inside Lake had the opportunity to speak with FWC’s Kristen Turner and Chad Weber, along with Hunter Bland of the National Safe Boating Council Friday about staying safe on the waterways. Florida is the “Boating Capital of the World,” with more than 1 million vessels registered in the state, according to FWC.

Florida does have some requirements for boating but common sense and taking simple precautions can prevent a tragedy. A boating safety course is required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1988; classes are available in classroom setting and also online, FWC-approved courses can be found here.

All vessels are required to have personal flotation device (PFD) for each person onboard and FWC encourages everyone to wear it at all times. In an emergency situation, people often won’t have time to put on a PFD. This reporter and Inside Lake Photographer Bonnie Whicher were required to wear a PFD during a ride-along Friday. The weather cut the ride-along short, but Weber used that opportunity to educate the Inside Lake staff on how to handle changing weather conditions.

FWC Officer Chad Weber PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

“You need to know where you are at. (Bad weather) is one of the hidden dangers (people) overlook,” Weber said. “The best thing to do is get out of the water.”

Bland said often homeowners will let a vessel stay at their dock to ride out a storm and he’s even known people to invite boaters in their home to ride it out.

“There are good people out there,” Bland said.

Filing a “float plan can also save your life, Turner told Inside Lake. Though not required, a float plan is letting someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. The United States Coast Guard provides a fillable PDF float plan and suggests you provide it to a reliable person, along with a photo of the vessel. While the information would be extremely helpful in an emergency, Bland stressed that something as simple as a text message letting someone know your plans, would suffice.

FWC Northeast Region Public Information Director Kristen Turner PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

Weber also suggested other things to have onboard, such as rain jackets, a cooler with water and a first aid kit; tools and extra fuses can also come in handy, Bland added.

For more boating information from FWC, visit

National Safe Boating Council Program Director Hunter Bland PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday Read More »

Lake County Schools high school graduations scheduled for this week and next week

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—Caps will be flying through the air this week and next as Lake County Schools seniors say goodbye to high school and hello to adulthood. Graduations are scheduled to begin Tuesday with Tavares High School and will end with Lake County Virtual School next week. Schools are listed below in alphabetical order.

East Ridge High School—9 a.m. Wednesday at UCF/Addition Arena

Eustis High School—9 a.m. Saturday, at Eustis High School Panther Stadium

Lake County Virtual School—6 p.m. May 23, at Mount Dora High School Auditorium

Lake Hills School—occurred May 1 at Lake Hills Gymnasium

Lake Minneola High School—7 p.m. Friday at UCF/Addition Arena

Lake Success Academy—3:30 p.m. Friday at Lake Success Academy

Leesburg High School—8 a.m. Saturday at Leesburg High School Stadium

Mount Dora High School—8 p.m. Thursday at Mount Dora High School Stadium

South Lake High School—7:30 p.m. Wednesday at UCF/Addition Arena

Tavares High School—7:30 p.m., Tuesday UCF/Addition Arena

Umatilla High School—7 p.m. Friday Grafton Center Elks Club


Lake County Schools high school graduations scheduled for this week and next week Read More »

Head-on collision kills Clermont man Wednesday morning

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—A Clermont man was killed Wednesday morning after the car he was driving hit an SUV head-on near Clermont, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Clermont man, 52, was driving a 2018 Nissan Maxima eastbound on Schofield Road when he failed to maintain his lane and struck a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee head-on that was traveling westbound on Schofield Road near Five Mile Road, around 6:30 a.m. The impact caused both vehicles to overturn several times, FHP said.

The Clermont man was pronounced deceased on the scene. The Grand Cherokee’s driver, a 39-year-old Orlando man, was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition. Both men were wearing their seatbelts.

Previous story: Troopers investigating fatal crash near Clermont Wednesday morning – Inside Lake

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Troopers investigating fatal crash near Clermont Wednesday morning

LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash that killed at least one person Wednesday morning.

The crash occurred on Schofield Road near 5 Mile Road near Clermont around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and troopers have shut down a portion of Schofield Road.

MAP: Florida Highway Patrol

This is a developing story. 

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5th Annual Lake County Back the Blue and Red Walk

Photos from the 5th Annual Back the Blue and Red Walk. Organizer Shannon Cook has been supporting law enforcement since 2019 with this walk. This year, firefighters were added to the event, and the name was changed. PHOTOS: Bonnie Whicher/Special to Inside Lake

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5th Annual Lake County Back the Blue (and Red) Walk scheduled for Saturday; Firefighters added this year

TAVARES, Florida—For the fifth year in a row, law enforcement and supporters will join forces for the annual Lake County Back the Blue Walk at Wooton Park Saturday morning, and this year firefighters will join the fun. 

Scheduled for 9 a.m., this is one of many law enforcement events around Lake County held in May during Law Enforcement Appreciation Month and this year, Organizer Shannon Cook wanted to add firefighters to the appreciation walk to coincide with the Lake County Board of County Commissioners proclaiming May 4 “International Firefighters’ Day” in Lake County, she told Inside Lake.

“I figured what better day to honor our heroes in red,” Cook said.

The walk began in 2019 to show support for law enforcement during a time when the “defund the police” movement was making its way across the country, Cook said, representatives from several law enforcement agencies and numerous public officials are expected to be in attendance.

“The good ones needed to know they were appreciated,” Cook said.

Ryan Koester, son of fallen Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester, left, and Deputy Koester’s brother Vic, right, at the 2023 Back the Blue Walk PHOTO: Shannon Cook

Cook’s close friend, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester, was killed in the line of duty Feb. 9, 2005. Koester, who was 33 at the time, and two other deputies were ambushed while responding to a domestic violence call. All three deputies were shot, and Koester succumbed to his injuries; the other two deputies recovered. Jason Wheeler was shot and paralyzed during his capture and convicted in Koester’s death. Cook was also close to Chris Daniels, who was serving as Lake County Sheriff when he was tragically killed in a charity bus race in 2006, on his birthday.

Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at Wooton Park, 100 East Ruby Street, Tavares. The first stop will be the Lake County Administration Building, then a stop at the Tavares Public Safety Complex and the walk will end at Kalua Beach Bar with lunch, provided by owner Randy Connor; come a little early to enjoy donuts and coffee donated by Greg Wilmore of New Life Baptist Church Leesburg. 


5th Annual Lake County Back the Blue (and Red) Walk scheduled for Saturday; Firefighters added this year Read More »

Orlando Health South Lake Hospital receives 12th consecutive “A” grade for patient safety

CLERMONT— Orlando Health South Lake Hospital has earned its 12th consecutive ‘A’ grade from the Leapfrog Group, an independent nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety and transparency in the U.S. health system.

“Providing a safe, quality experience for patients is at the core of what our team does every day, no matter the unit or department,” said Lance Sewell, senior vice president, Orlando Health North Central Region and president, Orlando Health South Lake Hospital. “To achieve 12 ‘A’ grades in a row is a gratifying recognition of the seamless collaboration and teamwork that occurs between our providers, clinicians and team members.  This is a true testament of the team’s dedication to keeping our patients safe.”

Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital and Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital also earned ‘A’ grades for patient safety in the spring 2024 reporting period.

To view Orlando Health’s Leapfrog scores, visit the Hospital Safety Score website at

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