Scheduled Holiday Closings And Modified Garbage Pickup

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—Many local government offices are scheduled to close this week in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Lake County Government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday and county garbage pickup regularly scheduled for Thursday will be Friday and regularly scheduled pickup for Friday will be Saturday. This includes Altoona, Astor, Ferndale, Grand Island, Okahumpka, Paisley, Sorrento and Yalaha. For more information, visit  https://lakecountyfl.gov/trash-recycling.

Most city government and town halls will be closed Thursday and Friday; this includes Clermont, Eustis, Fruitland Park, Groveland, Howey-In-The-Hills, Leesburg, Mascotte, Mount Dora, Tavares and Umatilla. Astatula, Lady Lake and Minneola are scheduled to close just on Thursday. Aligning with the county garbage pickup modified schedule; garbage pickup for Thursday will be Friday and pickup for Friday will be Saturday for most cities, except Lady Lake, Leesburg and Tavares.

Lady Lake’s and Leesburg’s garbage pickup will resume Monday and Tavares will resume Tuesday. 

People Helping People, Tavares Police Department Creates Special Needs Database

TAVARES, Florida—Following in line with its motto, “People helping people,” Tavares Police Department has launched a new initiative to get to know its community members with special needs.

TPD announced Friday on its Facebook page, it is creating a database that will include details about individuals who may require a different response from officers and is asking for the public’s assistance to gather information and give the agency any ideas they feel will make the program better.

If you have a family member or friend with special needs, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy or any other condition you feel the police should know about, TPD is asking you contact the agency to create a file on your loved one. Officers and dispatchers will have access to the information and individual addresses will be flagged so the officer is aware of any special circumstances before they arrive to the call.

“We are big on community policing,” TPD Public Information Officer Courtney Sullivan told Inside Lake. “There are always ways we can be better,” she said, “and there are always opportunities for the community to teach us how to better serve them.”  

The department is aware those with special needs may be sensitive to lights and sirens, may be nonverbal or may have a history with law enforcement, and TPD having that information before they respond to a call will help ensure everyone stays safe.  A TPD officer who has an autistic child suggested creating a database recently, Sullivan said, and through collaboration with other officers and encouragement by Chief Stoney Lubins, the idea blossomed into this new program very quickly.  

The database will include names, addresses, photos, known locations the individual frequents, emergency contact information and any additional information that may be relevant. Just last month an elderly woman was found walking alone in the city and it took officers more than an hour to identify her and find where she belonged. With the creation of this database, Sullivan hopes that hour will be cut to just a few minutes in a case of a missing or found person.

“We’ll have all the information to put out to social media and all the news outlets quickly,” she said.

Arguably the most popular law enforcement Facebook page in Lake County, the public interacts with TPD and often shows its appreciation for the humor that can be found on almost every post. Sullivan enjoys the interaction with the community through social media and appreciates how helpful they are. In the case of the elderly woman in October, so many people shared the post, the woman was identified within about 30 minutes of TPD’s original post.

“People know we’re funny, but when it comes time to be serious, people want to help us. And we love that,” Sullivan said.

Community members may call TPD’s non-emergency line at 352-343-2101, extension 4 and request an officer to come by your home or business, or you may stop by TPD, 911 Gateway Drive, Tavares during regular business hours. You can also message their Facebook page, or send Sullivan an email at CSullivan@tavares.org.

Former LCSO Sheriff Gary Borders Dies After Cancer Battle

TAVARES, Florida—Former Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders has died following a battle with cancer.

Borders was appointed sheriff in 2006, by then-Governor Jeb Bush following the tragic death of Sheriff Chris Daniels during a charity bus race in Volusia County. When appointed, he was serving as a major over the Corrections Operations Division, and before working for Lake County, he began his career at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in 1980.

PHOTO CREDIT: Inside Lake/Bonnie Whicher

He was elected in 2008 and 2012 and filed to run in 2016, but later withdrew and retired after 36 years in law enforcement in January 2017. Current Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, who was elected in 2016, served as Borders’ chief deputy.

Borders lived in Howey-in-the-Hills and passed away peacefully Tuesday morning, LCSO Lt. John Herrell said in a press release.

Arrangements will be announced once they are solidified, LCSO said in a Facebook post. 

Lake County Student Holiday Card Contest Exhibit Opening Reception

Lake County Museum of Art 213 West Ruby St., Tavares, FL 32778

Join us for an opening reception at the Lake County Museum of Art, and vote on your favorite LCMA card – all designed by Lake County students! Tickets to vote are $1, with half going back to the student’s school. Vote on your favorite designs through November 27th. Winners will be announced December 2nd.

Plea Negotiation Conference Scheduled For Former EMT Facing Child Pornography Charges

TAVARES, Florida—A former Lake EMS EMT who was arrested by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents in June for four counts of possessing child pornography and four counts of transmitting child pornography is now facing a total of 17 felony charges.

Acting on a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), FDLE agents met James Bryan Hamrick, 30, in his Eustis driveway the morning of June 11 and took possession of his phone after obtaining a search warrant, according to an affidavit.

NCMEC’s CyberTipline Report included copies of the four videos Hamrick is accused of direct messaging (DM) on his Twitter account. The videos depict male and female children as young as 2, performing sex acts; the details of the abuse are too graphic for publication.  FDLE also received copies of Hamrick’s DMs and in those DMs, he indicates his interest in child pornography, according to the affidavit.

 When questioned by an FDLE agent, Hamrick admitted to downloading the kiddie porn from Kik (a messaging app) and participating in Twitter direct messages with the account “Pedo Chic.” He also admitted taking part in conversations about sexual activity with minors, but claimed, “it was for fantasy purposes only and he never touched a child inappropriately,” the affidavit states.

Hamrick, who worked at EMS for a little over a year, also engaged in a DM conversation with an account named “Mistress.” “Mistress” agrees to engage in a sexual conversation with Hamrick if he buys a $50 gift card and screenshots a copy of the receipt. Hamrick sent “Mistress” the screenshot of a receipt from his own PayPal account, according to the affidavit.

While exchanging DMs with “Mistress” Hamrick tells her to be patient with his slow responses because he is feeding an infant child. He then sends “Mistress” a photo of him holding an infant.

Hamrick, who was fired as soon as Lake EMS was informed of his arrest, has been held in the Lake County Jail since his arrest on $80,000 bond. Hamrick is represented by Assistant Public Defender Wanda T. Greene, who filed a motion in July requesting Hamrick be released on his own recognizance due to the state not filing charges. Later that same day, that state formally filed 17 charges.

Hamrick’s next plea negotiation conference is scheduled for Nov. 9.  

Leesburg Sex Offender Arrested Just 13 Days After Being Released From Prison

TAVARES, Florida—A sex offender who was released from prison just two weeks ago is back behind bars for failing to register his new address within 48 hours of his release, according to an arrest affidavit.

Christopher Michael Shea, 36, was arrested Wednesday when he finally went to register 11 days late, the affidavit states. Shea, who according to Florida Department of Corrections records, was convicted in Martin County in 2020 of sending harmful information to a minor, said he visited friends and family upon his release and did not make it to his home on Lake Bend Circle in Leesburg until Monday.

On Wednesday, when Shea went to the Lake County Jail to complete his registration, he was arrested for failure to register his new address within 48 hours and failure to register as a sex offender. He was booked into the jail on no bond and his bond has since been reduced to $10,000. He is currently being held in LCJ.

Breaking The Glass: LCSO Makes History With First Female Captain

The following story was published under a different headline in another publication.  

LEESBURG, Florida — History was made Wednesday as longtime Lake County Sheriff’s deputy Christie Mysinger was appointed as the first-ever female captain at LCSO at a ceremony at Leesburg High School. 
LCSO Sheriff Peyton Grinnell is the first sheriff to appoint a woman to his command staff. 
“It’s history in the making, “ Grinnell told Lake Legal News. He said he chose Mysinger for a number of reasons, including her college education and her ability to think outside the box. “She has excelled in everything she has been assigned to,” he said. “She thinks outside the box, she doesn’t hesitate; that’s important to me because I learn from my employees.” He noted how well she supervised the school resource unit and how important school safety is, along with forging into the unknown with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mysinger, a 30-year veteran, rose through the ranks in her career, starting at LCSO when she was just 20 years old. At 20, Mysinger looked so young, someone once reported her to LCSO for driving her “dad’s patrol car,” she remembers with a laugh.

Becoming a captain was one of Mysinger’s goals from the start of her career and being appointed the first female was something she never envisioned.
“It is both an honor and a huge responsibility. Not only am I being given the opportunity to forge a new path, but I also have the responsibility of being a role model for the many young women who are just beginning their careers in law enforcement.” 
Mysinger has served in numerous different capacities at LCSO, including road patrol, field training officer, mounted patrol, community services, public information officer, DARE and most recently as lieutenant in the school resource unit — her third time in the unit. She served first as a deputy, later as a sergeant and finally as lieutenant. 

“Every time I came back to the unit, I was a higher rank,” Mysinger told LLN earlier this week.”
Mysinger will now serve as captain over support services, emergency management bureau, aviation and communications.

Grinnelll gave a small speech to his deputies and attendees and said how blessed they are to work in Lake County — a county that is so supportive of law enforcement. He thanked all of his deputies for “holding the ‘thin blue line,’” and said, “All of you make me look good.” 

Mysinger was joined by 21 other deputies who were also promoted Wednesday, Todd English and Skott Jensen were appointed to major; Russ Edwards, Michael Marden, Mysinger and Shawn Vance were appointed to captain; Cameron Crews, Fred Jones, Tim O’Brien and Bill Reed were promoted to lieutenant; Tim Beary, Sandi Chessher, Jasen McCormick and Billy Walls were promoted to sergeant and Brandon Barnard, Joe Brocato, Austin Chandler, Richard Dolen, Adam Kelly, Charles Pendergrass, Todd Rowley and Jarrod Strickland were promoted to corporal. Captain positions and above are appointed by the sheriff, lieutenant positions and below are earned through testing and an interview.  

Major Chris DeLibro announced each deputy’s name and they walked across the stage to get their certificate and pose for a photo with Grinnell. Newly-promoted Lt. Fred Jones stopped in the middle of the stage, pointed out towards the crowd and yelled, “I love you, mama,” which drew cheers and applause from the audience and it was an extra special day for newly-appointed Capt. Michael Marden, Wednesday was also his birthday and DeLibro led the audience in a rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song.

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