Local News


SEBRING - After we count down to the New Year and warble Auld Lang Syne, what's next?

Can 2014 top the excitement of 2013, which featured the return of Twinkies and the controversial twerking and wrecking-ball-riding sensation Miley Cyrus?

There will likely be a few surprises along the way next year, but at this point what can we look forward to in 2014 in the technology, entertainment and sports worlds? What are the important dates that we should mark on our calendars? What are some Highlands County residents excited about for the New Year?

At the global level, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held Feb. 7-23 in the city of Sochi in the Russian Federation. Women's ski jumping will be one of the new events along with figure skating team event and luge team relay.

A big music-related anniversary is around the corner in 2014.

The English band that sang "Do You Want to Know a Secret" was a secret no longer in 1964 when they conquered America starting the "British invasion" of pop music. Many 50th anniversary events are slated for 2014 to mark the Beatles' musical and cultural revolution.

The Grammy Awards move up a couple weeks next year to Jan. 21 where a Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to the group (Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are the surviving members).

Super Bowl XLVIII will be held Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium, N.J., and aside from the game and commercials, it could be interesting to watch if there's a snow storm.

This big game has a comprehensive weather preparedness plan with the host committee touting that "the people of New York and New Jersey are proud to host the first outdoor, cold weather Super Bowl.

According to the plan, "In the seating areas, a fine-tuned system of snow chutes can direct snow to designated areas where it will then be loaded into Aero snow melters that can melt up to 150 tons of snow per hour.

There is no word if halftime performer Bruno Mars will be ready with a snowsuit or mittens in the event of a blizzard.

Closer to home, the 62nd annual 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race runs March 15 featuring the debut of the United SportsCar Racing series at Sebring International Raceway.

New technology

As automobiles continue to pack more and more technology, Inc.com reports that in 2014 display technology - touchscreen tablets built into your car - will improve dramatically.

"There's already a good example of this with the Tesla Model S and its massive 17-inch tablet-like display that supports finger swipes and pinch-to-zoom functionality," Inc.com notes. "Many cars have a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen today. Maybe soon we'll see the first production car that has an iPad running in the dash."

Forbes reports that 2014 is the year to keep an eye out for the Google watch. Rather than having to pull out your smartphone or tablet for frequent email, text and social media updates, you'll glance at your watch.

Rumor has it the device will integrate with Google Now, which aims to seamlessly provide relevant information when and where you want it (and before you'd asked for it), according to Forbes. Smart watches will become even smarter, learning what news and updates are important to us, when we want to receive them and responding more accurately to voice controls.

The Cleveland Clinic calls an early-stage bionic eye one of the top 10 medical innovations for 2014. After two decades of development and testing and more than $200 million in funding, the Food and Drug Administration approved a retinal prosthesis system for severe retinitis pigmentosa in 2013 that combined a surgically implanted 60-electrode retinal prosthesis, video-camera-enabled glasses, and a video processing unit worn at the waist or carried.

Personal anticipation

Erica Alvarez, 12, who is a fifth-grader at Lake Placid Elementary is looking forward to being on her school's Lighthouse Team (student council).

She is also keeping an eye out for the new Monster High television special "Frights, Camera, Action!" which is based on the ghoulish but fashionable Monster High dolls such as Clawdia Wolf, Elissabat, Honey Swamp and Viperine Gorgon. The special is slated for a spring 2014 release date.

Retired teacher Alan Kent is looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren.

Next month he and his wife will start planning for their annual vacations, which usually entail a week at a Florida beach and a week in the mountains in north Georgia or North Carolina.

He will be watching the Winter Olympics on television, in particular the figure skating and curling.

When informed that women's ski jumping will be a new addition, Kent said, "Really, oh my, I will have to watch some of that,"

Vanessa Ward, who during the holidays was visiting her parents and grandparents in Highlands County, recently graduated from the University of Louisville in Kentucky. She is looking forward to starting her career in nursing next year.

She will likely work at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Ward said.

On the lighter side, she is anticipating the movie "Finding Dory," which will be a sequel to "Finding Nemo."

But, Ward won't be finding Dory in 2014 as it's on track for a fall 2015 release.

Loretta Oliveros, of Lake Placid, said she is excited about her sixth grandchild coming in July or early August.

For herself, Oliveros hopes she will have a healthy 2014.

Movies and music

There's no forthcoming Batman or Superman movie in 2014, but production will start on a film teaming the two Justice League superheros.

But in lieu of the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader, there will be some muscle and power on the big screen in 2014 with two Hercules flicks.

"The Legend of Hercules" is scheduled for a Jan. 10 release, while "Hercules: The Thracian Wars," with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the mythical muscleman, is set for a July 25 date.

For another big blast from the past, volcanically speaking, the film "Pompeii" is set to erupt on Feb. 21. The mounting threat to Pompeii of the erupting Mount Vesuvius serves as the backdrop for a love story, which apparently our history books omitted.

According to the IMDB.com plot summary for the movie, "A slave turned gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator."

On the music front, albums are expected from Metallica, Guns 'N Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Lopez and Duran Duran.

Plus there is anticipation that after selling more than 26 million copies worldwide of her sophomore album "21," which was released in February 2011 in the U.S., British singer Adele will finally release her follow-up album in 2014.

So as we say goodbye to 2013, there's plenty to look forward to in 2014.


(863) 386-5826