SEBRING — A funeral service for Deputy Sheriff William J. Gentry Jr. will start at 11 a.m. today at Highlands News-Sun Center.
Those attending the public event will want to arrive early for a parking spot and a seat. Those not attending will want to avoid U.S. 27 from Lakeshore Mall around the south end of Lake Jackson to Highlands Avenue, north on Highlands Avenue to Sebring High School and the south end of South Commerce Avenue.
A processional of law enforcement vehicles will stage in the mall’s east parking lot by JCPenney and the former Kmart and leave in a funeral procession at 9:30 a.m. for the Highlands News-Sun Center.
Officers will close U.S. 27 southbound at Sparrow Avenue and U.S. 27 northbound at Highlands Avenue to let the processional pass.
Law enforcement will have designated parking areas at the venue, as will VIPs who arrive for the event. Scott Dressel, public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, advises the event could have as many as 1,000 law enforcement officials, or more.
Parking for the general public will be outside the Highlands County Fairgrounds, with overflow parking at the Highlands County Softball Complex, across the CSX railroad tracks on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Visitors are advised to arrive early, approach from the north on Sebring Parkway and prepare for rain, Dressel said, since many may have to attend outside at the adjacent Sebring Blue Streaks football stadium.
Law Enforcement Honors that normally take place graveside will be held on the football field, Dressel said.
“The weather forecast seems to get worse every time I look, so bring your rain gear,” Dressel said. “The honors will be held rain or shine.”
Inside or outside, visitors are also asked to silence all mobile electronic devices and to refrain from photography during the service.