Lake County Florida News Briefs

Florida Python Challenge registration open

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY—Registration for the 2024 Florida Python Challenge is now open, according to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC.) Online training is required to compete in the 10-day competition that is scheduled for Aug. 9 -18 and more than $25,000 in prizes will be awarded for removing invasive Burmese pythons from the wild. Prizes will be awarded in the professional, novice and military categories, courtesy of sponsors and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida. In 2023, 209 Burmese pythons were removed from the Everglades, FWC said. In addition to python removal opportunities on 32 commission-managed lands which are available year-round, pythons can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission — no permit or hunting license required — and the FWC encourages people to remove and humanely kill pythons from private lands whenever possible. For more information, and to register, visit https://flpythonchallenge.org/

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 GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Lake County Golden Triangle Rotary awards scholarships for 2024-25 school year

MOUNT DORA—The Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle awarded $26,000 in scholarships to 13 central Florida residents who are pursuing higher education degrees in the 2024-25 academic year. The awards are based on criteria including scholastic ability, responsibility toward education and financial need with a special emphasis on community service Morris W. Dunbar established a Nursing Scholarship in honor of his wife. The recipient is Reyna Green, a Mount Dora High School graduate, studying at the University of South Florida. The Richard Earhart Endowment provides a scholarship to students from Mount Dora. The recipient is Kari Martinez, a Mount Dora High School graduate attending Advent Health University. The Norma Jean Schloot Endowment funds a scholarship for students in education and agriculture. It is awarded to Hunter Taylor, a Eustis High School graduate studying at the University of Florida (UF.) The Bill Bland Rotary Scholarship Fund helps students in finance and business, law enforcement, agriculture and technical training. College students receiving scholarships are Alysia Fritzke, University of Central Florida (UCF) and Shelby Mulholland, UF. Eight graduating seniors also received Bland scholarships: Eustis High School graduates Reagan Baker, Auburn University; Aeyden Bedard, Florida State University and Sierra Funderburk, UCF. Mount Dora High School graduates Alex Mancilla, Lake Technical College (LTC); Trinity Mathie, UCF and Marissa Williams at LTC; Mount Dora Christian Academy graduate Bryan Schutte, Florida Institute of Technology and Hampton Dubose Academy graduate Shepard Smith, Brigham Young University. The club funded scholarship was awarded to Paris Chambliss, a computer animation major at Ringling College of Art and Design. “Rotary enjoys supporting our local students. Not only are they future leaders, but they are also making significant contributions in their schools and in our local community,” said Janet Porfilio Westlake, chair of the organization’s Youth Services Committee. “Observing their passion gives us hope.”

Leesburg selects 30-year veteran as new police chief

LEESBURG—Joe Iozzi, a 30-year veteran of Leesburg Police Department has been named as the city’s new top cop. Iozzi replaces Rob Hicks, who was promoted earlier this month to deputy city manager. Iozzi began his career at LPD in 1994 and has served as bureau commander for Uniformed Services and Special Services and Investigations. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Columbia College and has completed the FBI National Academy, the Southern Police Institute Administrative Officers Course at the University of Louisville and Florida Police Chiefs Association’s “Future Chiefs” seminar. Iozzi has been a command officer for a decade, supervising and managing personnel matters, department planning, training, policy creation, budgeting, and general department-related functions. Iozzi also served as LPD’s public information officer, working directly with the media. “His belief in community-oriented policing has successfully developed cohesive relationships with citizens, business owners, elected officials, and community stakeholders throughout his career. He has a diverse understanding of policing concepts critical to all community-driven objectives. Chief Iozzi welcomes the opportunity to lead the men and women of the Leesburg Police Department as Chief of Police, and his nearly three decades of living and working in Leesburg make him a uniquely qualified leader for the position,” the City of Leesburg stated in a social media post.

Applications for Leesburg’s Summer Youth Employment Program due Friday

LEESBURG—The City of Leesburg’s human resources department will be accepting applications until Friday for its Summer Youth Employment program. At City Hall, Third Floor, 501 West Meadow Street, Leesburg. Lake County residents ages 15 to 18, who are currently enrolled in high school or a GED program or are a 2024 high school graduate are eligible to apply. The program runs June 10 to July 26 and the jobs pay $13 per hour. For information, call 352-787-9786 ext. 1200 or email [email protected]

Mount Dora to unveil sculpture by Joaquin Restrepo Wednesday

MOUNT DORA— The public is invited to the unveiling of “Temet Nosce,” a sculpture by international artist Joaquín Restrepo. Mount Dora Center for the Arts, in partnership with the City of Mount Dora has scheduled the unveiling for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Simpson Cove. “Temet Nosce,” meaning “Know Thyself,” has been displayed in various countries and prominent cities around the world. Inspired by Carl Jung’s analytical psychology, the sculpture features intertwined heads that represent the complexity of identity, topped with a structure resembling a cage, symbolizing the self-imposed barriers to personal growth.

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  

Lady Lake honors young artists at Monday’s commission meeting

LADY LAKE—The Town of Lady Lake hosted its annual Water Conservation Poster Contest awards presentation during the Town Commission meeting on Monday. The event showcased the talent of first, second, and third-grade students from The Villages Elementary of Lady Lake, who submitted posters. Under the theme “One Water, One Earth,” young artists explored innovative ways to promote water conservation through their artwork. Brittany Wendt, art teacher at The Villages Elementary, played a pivotal role in nurturing the students’ artistic endeavors. Nine winning posters were selected, and the winners were honored with gift cards, gift bags, and medals. Their artwork will be prominently displayed at the Lady Lake Library, serving as a reminder of the importance of water conservation to our community.

Leesburg Splash Pad closed this weekend for maintenance

LEESBURG—The Leesburg Splash Pad will be closed Saturday and Sunday for maintenance, according to the Leesburg Recreation Department. The H.O. Dabney Aquatic Center, 312 Pine St., Leesburg  will be open from noon to 5 p.m.

Coffee with Lady Lake Town Manager scheduled for next week

LADY LAKE—Coffee with the Town Manager is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at Lady Lake Library. Lady Lake Town Manager Bill Lawrence will be at Lady Lake Library, 225 West Guava St. for a casual conversation discussing town services, news and events. Enjoy coffee and light snacks provided by Friends of the Lady Lake Library. RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/1095441401906996/

Applications for alligator harvest permits open today, including new Alligator Super Hunt

FLORIDA- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers two alligator harvest opportunities: the Statewide Alligator Harvest Program and the new Alligator Super Hunt. Applications for both opportunities open Friday at 10 a.m. and may be submitted at any county tax collector’s office, license agent or online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Random drawings are held to distribute all available alligator harvest permits. Those awarded a permit will be automatically charged for an alligator trapping license and two hide validation tags, but those possessing an alligator trapping license that is valid through Dec. 31, 2024, will not be automatically charged for a license. A hunting license is not required to participate in either the Alligator Super Hunt or the Statewide Alligator Harvest Program. Alligator Super Hunt New this year, the Alligator Super Hunt offers a flexible alternative to the traditional statewide hunt. Each permit allows the harvest of two alligators from most alligator management units and private property (with owner permission) from Aug. 15 – Dec. 31. Hunters pay a nonrefundable $5 fee for each application and may apply as many times as they want between 10 a.m. ET May 3 through 11:59 p.m. June 3. Applying multiple times will increase the chance of being drawn. This year, 100 permits will be awarded.

Leesburg police chief promoted to deputy city manager

LEESBURG—After more than three decades in law enforcement, Leesburg Police Chief Robert Hicks is putting away the badge and will begin serving as Leesburg’s deputy city manager next week. Hicks has been with the City of Leesburg for 28 years and served as police chief for the last ten years. He is an Army combat veteran, has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Warner University and Master of Business Administration from Columbia Southern University. Leesburg Police Department Major Steve Rockefeller will serve as interim police chief while the city searches nationwide for a new chief. Multiple internal candidates are also being considered, the city said in a social media post.

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 www.hospitalsafetyscore.org

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