LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—Lake County Schools will follow Wednesday schedules on Tuesday in anticipation of severe weather, according to an LCS spokesperson.
“Severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024) in Lake County, particularly in areas on the northern end. In an effort to get as many students home before the worst of the storm begins, Lake County Schools will follow our Wednesday early dismissal schedule on Tuesday,” LCS Communications Coordinator Sherri Owens said in an email Monday night.
LCS will excuse weather-related absences and all after school outdoor activities are canceled. Extended Learning Centers (ELC) will be open, Owens said.
LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—At press time Christmas Eve, the jolly fellow best known as Santa Claus was last spotted in Greenland and had delivered more than 5 billion gifts, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD.)
Little boys and girls (who should be in bed) can track the big guy’s movements online as he makes his way across the world with his trusty reindeer crew, by visiting NORAD Tracks Santa.
NORAD began tracking Santa in 1958 after taking over the duty from the U.S. Air Force.
LEESBURG, Fla.—The Lake-Sumter State College Foundation honored its Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame recipients Tuesday night in a ceremony held at the Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center at the college’s Leesburg campus.
Nine individuals and a community organization were recognized for their achievements and contributions to the community in front of a large crowd that enjoyed a three-course dinner and video testimonials from the recipients.
Each year, the LSSC Foundation Board of Directors select the recipients from nominations made by the public to receive distinguished alumni awards. For the first time its 12-year history, two people were awarded the prestigious Professional Achievement Award, and one of the recipients was Inside Lake’s Publisher Marilyn Aciego.
Aciego discovered her passion for journalism at Lake-Sumter State College after taking a media class and later became editor of both The Angler and The Odyssey, LSSC’s student publications. She was hired by the Daily Commercial while she was still a student at LSSC and worked her way up to the lead cops and courts reporter. She covered numerous stories that gained national interest, including the death of beloved Sheriff Chris Daniels, a murder committed by identical twins and the disappearance of Trenton Duckett. Aciego’s coverage of these stories lead to appearances on Nancy Grace dozens of times and an episode of Evil Twins on Investigation Discovery.
She left the Daily Commercial in 2009 and began working for an international media organization in an entry-level position and was named Florida bureau chief just three years later. In 2010, she joined recently-retired attorney James Hope to write local stories for Hope’s Lake Legal News magazine, rising to editor-in-chief and then partnering with Hope to start the online edition that focused on breaking crime and public safety news.
In 2021, Aciego and Hope dissolved their partnership and Aciego rebranded Lake Legal News to Inside Lake and began covering general news along with crime news.
“Lake County was becoming a news desert,” Aciego said. “I knew it was time to start Inside Lake.”
It was these achievements that earned Aciego the prestigious Professional Achievement Award and Tuesday night she shared that honor with Sandra Wilson, a 1989 graduate of LSSC.
Lake-Sumter State College Foundation Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame 2023
Marilyn Aciego—Distinguished Alumni, Professional Achievement Award
Sandra Wilson— Distinguished Alumni, Professional Achievement Award
Pat Atley— Distinguished Alumni, Scholar Award
Christine Boodhoo— Distinguished Alumni, Valor Award
Juliana Green— Distinguished Alumni, Community Engagement Award
Andrew LoFaro—Distinguished Alumni, Graduate of the Last Decade Award
Toni Upchurch— Hall of Fame, Faculty Award
Kevin Yurasek— Hall of Fame, Staff Award
Patrick Ryan— Hall of Fame, Athletics Award
The Live Well Foundation of South Lake— Hall of Fame, Community Partner Award
LAKE COUNTY, Fla.—The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has launched a public reporting tool to help in its research on a virus that is killing Florida freshwater turtles.
FWC has been studying turtle fraservirus (TFV1) since 2018 and is now asking the public to report any sick or dead turtles to help them combat and understand this deadly virus. TFV1 has been found in Lake County, in addition to several other counties in Central Florida, but it could be present throughout the state, FWC warns; it has been identified in softshells, cooters, sliders and snapping turtles.
Signs a turtle could be infected:
Appears sluggish, unresponsive or reluctant to flee.
Stays in shallow water or beached on banks for prolonged periods of time.
Head and neck outstretched flat along the ground.
Sunken, swollen crusty and/or cloudy eyes.
Reddened skin on head, neck, limbs or bottom of shell.
Swims irregularly (sideways, in circles or is unable to submerge)
In 2021, FWC enacted an executive order prohibiting unpermitted taking and transporting of softshell turtles and yellow-bellied sliders to reduce the spread of TFV1, Turtles should not be captured and transported to a new location even if they seem healthy.
TAVARES, Florida—The Lake Amateur Radio Association (LARA) hosted its annual Ham Radio Field Day event June 24 and 25 at the Lake County Institute of Public Safety, drawing enthusiasts from far and wide. The event, captured in a captivating photo, featured the club’s president, Glenn Casselman, and his spouse, Laura, who is also a Ham radio enthusiast. The picturesque location provided the perfect backdrop for a day filled with showcasing mobile command vehicles from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Fire Rescue, and, of course, the Lake Amateur Radio Association.
Established in 1952 by a group of Lake County/City radio amateurs, LARA has steadily grown over the years and now boasts a membership of more than 130 dedicated individuals. Not only do they own their own property, but they have also constructed a state-of-the-art clubhouse onsite. LARA’s primary focus lies in the fun hobby of Ham radio and service to the community. Furthermore, the club’s three VHF repeaters and three UHF repeaters, some of which are linked to Echolink, DMR and the IRLP network, enable worldwide communications, amplifying the club’s impact and reach.
The Ham Radio Field Day event at the Lake County Institute of Public Safety serves as a testament to LARA’s commitment to promoting the invaluable role of amateur radio in emergency situations. The event not only highlighted the association’s advanced communication capabilities but also fostered a sense of camaraderie among radio enthusiasts and local public safety agencies. As LARA continues to expand its membership and community involvement, their dedication to serving as a vital link during times of crisis remains unwavering. For more information, visit www.k4fc.org
TAVARES, Florida—Law enforcement and supporters will join forces for the fourth annual Lake County Back the Blue Walk at Wooton Park Saturday morning.
Scheduled for 9 a.m., this is one of many law enforcement events around Lake County held in May during Law Enforcement Appreciation Month. In its fourth year, 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, event organizer Shannon Cook told Inside Lake. 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.
Cook has always had respect for law enforcement officers and the job they do, she said. Her 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.
Cook told Inside Lake it is important the community show its support for all of the good officers and those who were lost in the line of duty. Usually a one-woman show, Cook has some help this year from Wayne Koester’s brother, Victor Koester, Jolie Fowler, owner of The Car Doctor Automotive Specialist Inc., in Eustis, Lt. Kristin Thompson of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Nina Rosania, who is very active in the community, especially in her efforts helping out small businesses in Lake County.
Participants will meet a 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. Donuts will be provided before the walk by Lake Tire & Auto in Tavares, and a hot dog lunch will be available at Kalua Beach Bar, provided by the restaurant and Duct-Man Mechanical LLC in Eustis.
LAKE COUNTY, Florida—Lake County officials imposed a burn ban effective Friday that will last indefinitely, according to a press release.
The burn ban is in effect for all of Lake County and prohibits the burning of yard debris, land and recreational fires but does not include outdoor fireplaces, barbecue grills and barbecue pits that have a total fuel area of 3 feet or less and 2 feet or less in height.
Dry conditions forced the move by county officials and surrounding counties have enacted similar bans. For more than three weeks, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) rating has exceeded 500 and the ban is necessary for public safety, the press release stated.
When the KDBI rating falls below 500 for seven consecutive days, the county will lift the ban.
MONTVERDE, Florida—A Montverde man is being held on no bond after a tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) resulted in a search warrant that revealed more than 1,000 digital child pornography images, some with children younger than 4 years old, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) began investigating Joseph A. Greene, 64, after NCMEC reported Greene had uploaded approximately 500 child pornography images to his Google account between Feb. 18, 2022 and Oct. 25, 2022. FDLE executed a search warrant for his account and found graphic images depicting young girls in various sex acts alone, and with adults, the affidavit states.
There were also numerous images of Greene masturbating with captions referring to children, in addition to photos of a young girl Greene knows. Those images appeared to be taken from social media accounts, according to the affidavit.
A warrant was issued for Greene Wednesday and he was arrested at his home on Omega Court in Montverde Thursday. Greene, who has an active warrant out of Georgia for an undisclosed crime, is facing 20 counts of possession of sexual performance by a child, but there are more than 1,000 additional counts that could be charged, the agent noted in the affidavit.
Greene, who does not have a Florida driver license or ID, has no known family in the area and is a potential flight risk, according to FDLE. He is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.
OCALA, Florida—In an effort to streamline delivering justice to those who hurt animals, State Attorney Bill Gladson has created an Animal Cruelty Task Force for the Fifth Judicial Circuit that includes Lake, Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter counties, his office said in a press release last week.
The task force includes the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC,) county animal services, and local law enforcement agencies and the goal is for law enforcement, animal services and animal protection organizations to work together to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes throughout the circuit, according to the press release.
“My office is committed to aggressively prosecuting animal cruelty cases, and I am grateful for the team which shares our commitment,” Gladson stated. “The reach of these crimes goes beyond harm to innocent animals; these criminals pose a risk to the entire community.”
Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, nearly 70 percent have criminal records.
LAKE COUNTY, Florida—For the second time in less than a month, Lake County is scheduled to open two cold weather shelter locations in anticipation of this weekend’s near-freezing temperatures.
Both locations open Friday; Trinity Assembly of God, 200 Urick Street, Fruitland Park will open at 5:30 p.m. and remain open through 7 a.m. each day, Friday through Sunday, and LifePointe Church, 3551 East Orange Avenue will be open 5 p.m. through 8 a.m. each day through Sunday, according to Lake County Emergency Management.
A warming shelter will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Salvation Army, 2605 South Street, Leesburg,
Lake Xpress will provide free transportation to cold weather shelters for those who need assistance traveling to a shelter. Schedules are available on Lake Xpress’ website. Residents who do not have access to a Lake Xpress fixed route must call 352-742-2612 to arrange transportation.
Friday night, cold temperatures and breezy winds will bring windchills in the upper 20s to lower 30s. A Wind Chill Advisory has been issued for east Central Florida, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, Melbourne.