Polk County, FL news including Bartow and Lakeland - WFLA News Channel 8

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  • Family shoots and kills burglary suspect in Winter Haven

    Family shoots and kills burglary suspect in Winter Haven

    Monday, April 7 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-04-07 21:02:01 GMT
    Mitchell Large Mitchell Large
    A homeowner in Winter Haven shot and killed a burglary suspect, according to the Winter Haven Police report.
    A homeowner in Winter Haven shot and killed a burglary suspect, according to the Winter Haven Police report.
  • Lakeland woman says cats missing, found cut in half

    Lakeland woman says cats missing, found cut in half

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:59 PM EDT2014-04-25 00:59:47 GMT
    A Lakeland woman is trying to figure out what's happening to several cats that have gone missing in the neighborhood and two that have been discovered cut in half.
    A Lakeland woman is trying to figure out what's happening to several cats that have gone missing in the neighborhood and two that have been discovered cut in half.
  • Police working with 2 new victims in Polk teacher sex scandal

    Police working with 2 new victims in Polk teacher sex scandal

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:38 PM EDT2014-04-25 00:38:49 GMT
    The Lakeland Police Department is working with two new potential victims in the case involving Jennifer Fichter, the former Polk County high school teacher who faces multiple sex charges.
    The Lakeland Police Department is working with two new potential victims in the case involving Jennifer Fichter, the former Polk County high school teacher who faces multiple sex charges.
  • 2014-2015 Florida Hunting Season Dates

    2014-2015 Florida Hunting Season Dates

    Thursday, April 24 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-24 18:49:52 GMT
    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released the following hunting dates for the 2014-2015 season.
    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released the following hunting dates for the 2014-2015 season.
  • Silver Alert cancelled for missing, endangered Polk man, age 77

    Silver Alert cancelled for missing, endangered Polk man, age 77

    Thursday, April 24 2014 1:51 PM EDT2014-04-24 17:51:52 GMT
    Robert RinglerRobert Ringler
    The Polk County Sheriff's Office has cancelled a Silver Alert Thursday morning for Robert Ringler, age 77, who was considered missing and endangered.
    The Polk County Sheriff's Office has cancelled a Silver Alert Thursday morning for Robert Ringler, age 77, who was considered missing and endangered.
  • Music program founded by Usher coming to Polk County High Schools

    Music program founded by Usher coming to Polk County High Schools

    Thursday, April 24 2014 1:50 PM EDT2014-04-24 17:50:06 GMT
    Usher (Photo: NBC's The Voice)Usher (Photo: NBC's The Voice)
    The Polk County School District is partnering with award-winning artist Usher to introduce a new course to high school students in the district.
    The Polk County School District is partnering with award-winning artist Usher to introduce a new course to high school students in the district.
  • Polk deputies arrest Plant City murder suspect

    Polk deputies arrest Plant City murder suspect

    Thursday, April 24 2014 12:59 PM EDT2014-04-24 16:59:35 GMT
    Master Brown was arrested on a second degree murder warrant. Polk Co. Jail booking photoMaster Brown was arrested on a second degree murder warrant. Polk Co. Jail booking photo
    Plant City Police Officers have arrested a man suspected of shooting and killing a man outside a convenience store on Wednesday.
    Plant City Police Officers have arrested a man suspected of shooting and killing a man outside a convenience store on Wednesday.
  • New student victim in Polk teacher sex scandal

    New student victim in Polk teacher sex scandal

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:32 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:32:21 GMT
    Jennifer Fichter was fired today as a Polk County teacher.Jennifer Fichter was fired today as a Polk County teacher.
    A former Polk County teacher has been charged with 20 new counts of sex with a minor, the Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday afternoon.
    A former Polk County teacher has been charged with 20 new counts of sex with a minor, the Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday afternoon.
  • Lakeland man accused of road rage

    Lakeland man accused of road rage

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 3:19 PM EDT2014-04-23 19:19:32 GMT
    A Lakeland man has been charged after a road rage incident that occurred in Mulberry. Polk County Sheriff's deputies arrested 25-year-old Warren "Chalmers" Orr for the alleged attack on a passenger in another car.
    A Lakeland man has been charged after a road rage incident that occurred in Mulberry. Polk County Sheriff's deputies arrested 25-year-old Warren "Chalmers" Orr for the alleged attack on a passenger in another car.
  • Polk teacher arrested for sex with student fired

    Polk teacher arrested for sex with student fired

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:25 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:25:13 GMT
    Jennifer Fichter was fired today as a Polk County teacher.Jennifer Fichter was fired today as a Polk County teacher.
    Polk County high school teacher Jennifer Fichter says she fell in love and had sex with her 17-year-old student.Tonight, the Polk County School Board voted to fire the teacher.Fichter told investigators her relationship with the boy started in November and that they had sex 20 to 30 times.
    Polk County high school teacher Jennifer Fichter says she fell in love and had sex with her 17-year-old student.Tonight, the Polk County School Board voted to fire the teacher.Fichter told investigators her relationship with the boy started in November and that they had sex 20 to 30 times.
  • Polk County School board voting on termination of teacher facing sex charges

    Polk County School board voting on termination of teacher facing sex charges

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 8:51 AM EDT2014-04-22 12:51:48 GMT
    Jennifer Christine Fichter, 29. Jail booking photoJennifer Christine Fichter, 29. Jail booking photo
    The Polk County School Board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the termination of a teacher accused of a sexual relationship with a student.
    The Polk County School Board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the termination of a teacher accused of a sexual relationship with a student.
  • Highest & Lowest Salaries: Lakeland, Winter Haven

    Highest & Lowest Salaries: Lakeland, Winter Haven

    Monday, April 21 2014 8:11 PM EDT2014-04-22 00:11:54 GMT
    Downtown Lakeland. Wikimedia Commons photoDowntown Lakeland. Wikimedia Commons photo

    Ever wonder how your salary stacks up against others? We were curious to find out what the high and low salaries are in the Tampa Bay area.

    Ever wonder how your salary stacks up against others? We were curious to find out what the high and low salaries are in the Tampa Bay area.


  • 'Voice' Top 12 include two Bay area natives

    'Voice' Top 12 include two Bay area natives

    Monday, April 21 2014 8:11 PM EDT2014-04-22 00:11:37 GMT
    The Bay area is well represented in the Top 12 contestants on NBC's sing-off show The Voice.
    The Bay area is well represented in the Top 12 contestants on NBC's sing-off show The Voice.
  • Restaurant Buzz: Free McDonald's breakfast, steakhouse closes, Tampa Ferg's

    Restaurant Buzz: Free McDonald's breakfast, steakhouse closes, Tampa Ferg's

    Monday, April 21 2014 11:19 AM EDT2014-04-21 15:19:03 GMT
    A Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill is scheduled to open across the street from the TBT Forum in August. Facebook photoA Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill is scheduled to open across the street from the TBT Forum in August. Facebook photo
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.
  • Facebook post leads to teen's arrest in Zephyrhills

    Facebook post leads to teen's arrest in Zephyrhills

    Monday, April 21 2014 10:38 AM EDT2014-04-21 14:38:44 GMT
    Mug shot of Leo HarveyMug shot of Leo Harvey
    When 18-year old Leo Harvey spray painted graffiti in the bathrooms of two Zephyrhills parks, he probably shouldn't have bragged about it on Facebook.
    When 18-year old Leo Harvey spray painted graffiti in the bathrooms of two Zephyrhills parks, he probably shouldn't have bragged about it on Facebook.
  • Polk County deputies searching for Winter Haven man

    Polk County deputies searching for Winter Haven man

    Saturday, April 19 2014 8:44 PM EDT2014-04-20 00:44:05 GMT
    Polk County sheriff's deputies are asking for the public's help to locate Travis "Pinky Barrientos of Winter Haven.Deputies said a warrant has been issued for Barrientos' arrest for attempted second degree murder. He is considered armed and dangerous.Early Saturday morning Barrientos and 32-year-old Juan Bautista got into an altercation on Rifle Range Road in Wahneta, a Polk County Sheriff's Office news release stated. Barrientos stabbed Bautista several times and threatened his life/Bautista...
    Polk County sheriff's deputies are asking for the public's help to locate Travis "Pinky Barrientos of Winter Haven.Deputies said a warrant has been issued for Barrientos' arrest for attempted second degree murder. He is considered armed and dangerous.Early Saturday morning Barrientos and 32-year-old Juan Bautista got into an altercation on Rifle Range Road in Wahneta, a Polk County Sheriff's Office news release stated. Barrientos stabbed Bautista several times and threatened his life/Bautista...
  • Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations April 7-13

    Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations April 7-13

    Saturday, April 19 2014 6:47 AM EDT2014-04-19 10:47:28 GMT
    We’ve gathered details about the Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from April 7 to 13, 2014.
    We’ve gathered details about the Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from April 7 to 13, 2014.
  • Report: Polk teacher accused of sex crimes had similar behavior in 2008

    Report: Polk teacher accused of sex crimes had similar behavior in 2008

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:11 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:11:51 GMT
    Jennifer Fichter, 29, during her first court appearance on Wednesday.Jennifer Fichter, 29, during her first court appearance on Wednesday.
    In a report New Channel 8 received from Orange County on Friday, it shows a teacher recently arrested for allegedly having sex with a student in Polk County also exhibited inappropriate behavior while employed there.
    In a report New Channel 8 received from Orange County on Friday, it shows a teacher recently arrested for allegedly having sex with a student in Polk County also exhibited inappropriate behavior while employed there.
  • Fatal crash involving tractor trailer closed Hwy 60 East in Lake Wales

    Fatal crash involving tractor trailer closed Hwy 60 East in Lake Wales

    Thursday, April 17 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-04-18 02:32:03 GMT
    Polk County Sheriff's Office is investigating a fatal crash on Highway 60 East, between 630 East and Grape Hammock Road, in Lake Wales.
    Polk County Sheriff's Office is investigating a fatal crash on Highway 60 East, between 630 East and Grape Hammock Road, in Lake Wales.
  • Student shocked Polk teacher used her name in affair

    Student shocked Polk teacher used her name in affair

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:43 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:43:59 GMT
    Jessica SeamanJessica Seaman
    A Polk County high school student is trying to clear her name from an ordeal she says her former teacher brought her into. Jessica Seaman says her teacher posed as her in a messaging app and talked to a 17-year-old boy. Now that teacher, 29-year-old Jennifer Fichter, is under arrest, charged with having sex with the teenaged boy.“It's not just that it was my first name, it was my full name,” Seaman said, of what she learned was spelled out on the affidavit describing the relationship between ...
    A Polk County high school student is trying to clear her name from an ordeal she says her former teacher brought her into. Jessica Seaman says her teacher posed as her in a messaging app and talked to a 17-year-old boy. Now that teacher, 29-year-old Jennifer Fichter, is under arrest, charged with having sex with the teenaged boy.“It's not just that it was my first name, it was my full name,” Seaman said, of what she learned was spelled out on the affidavit describing the relationship between ...
  • 3 Tampa Bay restaurants honored for perfect inspections

    3 Tampa Bay restaurants honored for perfect inspections

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:06 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:06:57 GMT
    Three Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
    Three Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
  • Polk teacher faces more sex charges

    Polk teacher faces more sex charges

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:36 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:36:49 GMT
    Jennifer Fichter, 29, made her first appearance in court on Wednesday.Jennifer Fichter, 29, made her first appearance in court on Wednesday.
    A Polk County teacher accused of having sex with a student now faces additional charges in Hillsborough County.
    A Polk County teacher accused of having sex with a student now faces additional charges in Hillsborough County.
  • Female sex offenders in still in minority, despite recent cases in Pasco and Polk

    Female sex offenders in still in minority, despite recent cases in Pasco and Polk

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:28 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:28:16 GMT
    Clinical Sex Therapist Dr. Barbara Cook talks to News Channel 8's Yolanda Fernandez about why teachers prey on their students for sex. Clinical Sex Therapist Dr. Barbara Cook talks to News Channel 8's Yolanda Fernandez about why teachers prey on their students for sex.
    Now, women having sexual relationships with teen boys is more common in the headlines. In cases just this week, a Pasco mom was convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old boy and a Polk teacher was also charged with having sex with a minor.
    Now, women having sexual relationships with teen boys is more common in the headlines. In cases just this week, a Pasco mom was convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old boy and a Polk teacher was also charged with having sex with a minor.
  • Mom says she complained about Lakeland teacher facing sex charges

    Mom says she complained about Lakeland teacher facing sex charges

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:05 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:05:24 GMT
    Jennifer Christine Fichter, 29, is charged with 6 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Polk Co. Jail booking photoJennifer Christine Fichter, 29, is charged with 6 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Polk Co. Jail booking photo
    WFLA News Channel 8 has learned of another case involving Jennifer Fichter, the Polk County teacher charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
    WFLA News Channel 8 has learned of another case involving Jennifer Fichter, the Polk County teacher charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
  • Crossing guard no longer on duty at Lakeland elementary crosswalk

    Crossing guard no longer on duty at Lakeland elementary crosswalk

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:33 AM EDT2014-04-16 15:33:11 GMT
    The Cleveland Court Elementary crossing guard located at Cleveland Heights Boulevard and Edgewood Drive in Lakeland will be removed due to the inconsistent use of the crossing by elementary students, eliminating the need for the crossing guard at that location.
    The Cleveland Court Elementary crossing guard located at Cleveland Heights Boulevard and Edgewood Drive in Lakeland will be removed due to the inconsistent use of the crossing by elementary students, eliminating the need for the crossing guard at that location.
  • Lakeland teacher accused of sex with student facing charges in 2 counties

    Lakeland teacher accused of sex with student facing charges in 2 counties

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 11:06 PM EDT2014-04-16 03:06:03 GMT
    Jennifer Christine Fichter, 29. Jail booking photoJennifer Christine Fichter, 29. Jail booking photo
    Sex with a student and no regrets. That’s the story of a 29-year-old high school teacher who is spending Tuesday night behind bars.
    Sex with a student and no regrets. That’s the story of a 29-year-old high school teacher who is spending Tuesday night behind bars.
  • Polk man gets life for setting wife on fire

    Polk man gets life for setting wife on fire

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 4:51 PM EDT2014-04-15 20:51:30 GMT
    Joshua Kimbrough (Polk County Sheriff's Office booking photo)Joshua Kimbrough (Polk County Sheriff's Office booking photo)
    A central Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.
    A central Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.
  • Lakeland teacher arrested, accused of having sex with student

    Lakeland teacher arrested, accused of having sex with student

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:48 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:48:33 GMT
    Jennifer Christine Fichter, 29. Jail booking photoJennifer Christine Fichter, 29. Jail booking photo
    A Central Florida Aerospace Academy English teacher has been arrested and charged with six counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
    A Central Florida Aerospace Academy English teacher has been arrested and charged with six counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
  • Florida Wawa stores to offer free coffee April 16

    Florida Wawa stores to offer free coffee April 16

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 1:19 PM EDT2014-04-15 17:19:40 GMT
    Florida Wawa stores to offer free coffee April 16Florida Wawa stores to offer free coffee April 16
    To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Wawa stores across Florida will give away a free cup of coffee, all day, on Wednesday, April 16.
    To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Wawa stores across Florida will give away a free cup of coffee, all day, on Wednesday, April 16.
  • Fla. chooses new test to replace FCAT next year

    Fla. chooses new test to replace FCAT next year

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 8:31 AM EDT2014-04-15 12:31:33 GMT

    Florida is picking a new test to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test that has been a mainstay in the state's schools for more than a decade.

    Florida is picking a new test to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test that has been a mainstay in the state's schools for more than a decade.


  • 'Voice' contestant Sisaundra's Polk school stands behind her

    'Voice' contestant Sisaundra's Polk school stands behind her

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 12:06 AM EDT2014-04-15 04:06:33 GMT
    Lewis graduated in the class of 1987 from Haines City High School in Polk County.
    Lewis graduated in the class of 1987 from Haines City High School in Polk County.
  • Publix employee celebrates 50 years on the job

    Publix employee celebrates 50 years on the job

    Sunday, April 13 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-04-13 13:00:40 GMT
    Publix Supermarkets headquarters are in Lakeland. Publix Supermarkets headquarters are in Lakeland.
    A Publix employee in central Florida is celebrating his 50th year working for the grocery store chain.Larry Delaney is something of a rarity at Publix. In the company's 83-year history, only 16 employees have reached the 50-year milestone.
    A Publix employee in central Florida is celebrating his 50th year working for the grocery store chain.Larry Delaney is something of a rarity at Publix. In the company's 83-year history, only 16 employees have reached the 50-year milestone.
  • Restaurant Buzz: Big changes at Panera, Glory Days Grill opens, fire at Joffrey's Coffee

    Restaurant Buzz: Big changes at Panera, Glory Days Grill opens, fire at Joffrey's Coffee

    Friday, April 11 2014 8:09 PM EDT2014-04-12 00:09:21 GMT
     Hillsborough County firefighters put out a fire in a coffee roaster at Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea. HCFR photo Hillsborough County firefighters put out a fire in a coffee roaster at Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea. HCFR photo
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.

  • Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations Mar. 31- April 4

    Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations Mar. 31- April 4

    Friday, April 11 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-04-11 23:07:05 GMT
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about the Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from March 31 to April 4, 2014.
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about the Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from March 31 to April 4, 2014.
  • Polk deputies round up 41 for theft, other charges

    Polk deputies round up 41 for theft, other charges

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:25 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:25:47 GMT
    Some of the suspects were caught on the security cameraSome of the suspects were caught on the security camera
    In two days Polk County Sheriff's Organized Crime Unit arrested a total of 41 people, including teenagers, during the operation "Sticky Hands."
    In two days Polk County Sheriff's Organized Crime Unit arrested a total of 41 people, including teenagers, during the operation "Sticky Hands."
  • Probe into Lakeland's acting police chief over

    Probe into Lakeland's acting police chief over

    Thursday, April 10 2014 6:01 PM EDT2014-04-10 22:01:53 GMT
    Larry Giddens was promoted to acting police chief after Chief Lisa Womack was put on administrative leave.Larry Giddens was promoted to acting police chief after Chief Lisa Womack was put on administrative leave.
    An investigation into accusations that Acting Chief of Police Larry Giddens made threatening statements to retired police officer Jimmy Mock have been determined to be unfounded.
    An investigation into accusations that Acting Chief of Police Larry Giddens made threatening statements to retired police officer Jimmy Mock have been determined to be unfounded.
  • Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack resigns early

    Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack resigns early

    Thursday, April 10 2014 2:17 PM EDT2014-04-10 18:17:28 GMT
    Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas announced Friday that Police Chief Lisa Womack and the City of Lakeland agreed to accelerate her planned separation from the city from May 1, 2014 to Feb. 17, 2014.
    Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas announced Friday that Police Chief Lisa Womack and the City of Lakeland agreed to accelerate her planned separation from the city from May 1, 2014 to Feb. 17, 2014.
  • Lakeland PD chief Lisa Womack placed on leave

    Lakeland PD chief Lisa Womack placed on leave

    Thursday, April 10 2014 2:17 PM EDT2014-04-10 18:17:23 GMT
    Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack has been placed on paid administrative leave.
    Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack has been placed on paid administrative leave.
  • Family Dollar to cut jobs, close about 370 stores

    Family Dollar to cut jobs, close about 370 stores

    Thursday, April 10 2014 11:30 AM EDT2014-04-10 15:30:41 GMT
    Family Dollar plans to cut some jobs and close about 370 under performing stores as it tries to reverse sagging sales and earnings.
    Family Dollar plans to cut some jobs and close about 370 under performing stores as it tries to reverse sagging sales and earnings.
  • Body found near car in Winter Haven

    Body found near car in Winter Haven

    Thursday, April 10 2014 10:52 AM EDT2014-04-10 14:52:59 GMT
    Winter Haven Police are conducting a death investigation, after the body of a female was found near a car that matches the description of one driven by 58-year-old Lynda Sorrell, who was reported missing.A Silver Alert was issued Wednesday for Sorrell, who was considered missing and endangered.Sorrell was in the early stages of dementia and did not have her medication with her.Detectives found the care around 7:30 a.m. Thursday while searching a field in the area of 21st St. N.W. in Winter Ha...
    Winter Haven Police are conducting a death investigation, after the body of a female was found near a car that matches the description of one driven by 58-year-old Lynda Sorrell, who was reported missing.A Silver Alert was issued Wednesday for Sorrell, who was considered missing and endangered.Sorrell was in the early stages of dementia and did not have her medication with her.Detectives found the care around 7:30 a.m. Thursday while searching a field in the area of 21st St. N.W. in Winter Ha...
  • Silver Alert cancelled for Winter Haven woman with dementia

    Silver Alert cancelled for Winter Haven woman with dementia

    Thursday, April 10 2014 10:27 AM EDT2014-04-10 14:27:40 GMT
    Thursday morning, Winter Haven Police cancelled a Silver Alert for a 58-year-old woman who was reported missing.
    Thursday morning, Winter Haven Police cancelled a Silver Alert for a 58-year-old woman who was reported missing.
  • Skeletal remains case sparks change for Lakeland PD

    Skeletal remains case sparks change for Lakeland PD

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 9:41 PM EDT2014-04-10 01:41:30 GMT
    The case of Mary Rhodes could be a game-changer for the way the Lakeland Police Department does business.
    The case of Mary Rhodes could be a game-changer for the way the Lakeland Police Department does business.
  • Florida's orange production is declining

    Florida's orange production is declining

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:36 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:36:57 GMT
    This year's Florida orange crop is approaching the fruit's lowest harvest in decades, and experts say a deadly bacteria that's infecting the trees is to blame.
    This year's Florida orange crop is approaching the fruit's lowest harvest in decades, and experts say a deadly bacteria that's infecting the trees is to blame.

  • Cousin of man shot in Winter Haven home invasion disputes story

    Cousin of man shot in Winter Haven home invasion disputes story

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 5:56 PM EDT2014-04-08 21:56:14 GMT
    The cousin of a man who was shot during what police called a home invasion is speaking out because he believes there's more to the story.
    The cousin of a man who was shot during what police called a home invasion is speaking out because he believes there's more to the story.
  • 5 Tampa Bay restaurants honored for perfect inspections

    5 Tampa Bay restaurants honored for perfect inspections

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 10:54 AM EDT2014-04-08 14:54:17 GMT
    Five Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
    Five Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
  • Sheriff: Lakeland woman dead for 'extended time' before bones found in box

    Sheriff: Lakeland woman dead for 'extended time' before bones found in box

    Monday, April 7 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-04-07 22:50:10 GMT
    Mary Elizabeth Rhodes, booking photo from Polk County Sheriff's Office in May 2011.Mary Elizabeth Rhodes, booking photo from Polk County Sheriff's Office in May 2011.
    The bones found in a box in the woods in Polk County last year belong to a Lakeland woman who disappeared in 2012
    The bones found in a box in the woods in Polk County last year belong to a Lakeland woman who disappeared in 2012
  • Portrait of bullied Polk girl emerges from case file

    Portrait of bullied Polk girl emerges from case file

    Monday, April 7 2014 5:41 PM EDT2014-04-07 21:41:59 GMT
    The Florida girl who authorities said jumped to her death because she was bullied also had a spotty relationship with her father and had just broken up with an online boyfriend, according to police documents.
    The Florida girl who authorities said jumped to her death because she was bullied also had a spotty relationship with her father and had just broken up with an online boyfriend, according to police documents.
  • Fantasy of Flight soars on final day

    Fantasy of Flight soars on final day

    Sunday, April 6 2014 9:40 PM EDT2014-04-07 01:40:16 GMT
    Sunday marked the last day of Fantasy of Flight, an attraction centered on aviation that's made Polk City home for the past 18 years. The founder, Kermit Weeks, said the attraction would have to double it's foot traffic or double admission price just to break even. He said the time has come to change directions and focus on a different business model. About 30 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closure. The facility will remain open for corporate and private events ...
    Sunday marked the last day of Fantasy of Flight, an attraction centered on aviation that's made Polk City home for the past 18 years. The founder, Kermit Weeks, said the attraction would have to double it's foot traffic or double admission price just to break even. He said the time has come to change directions and focus on a different business model. About 30 employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closure. The facility will remain open for corporate and private events ...
  • Charges upgraded against couple in death of toddler

    Charges upgraded against couple in death of toddler

    Saturday, April 5 2014 1:56 PM EDT2014-04-05 17:56:06 GMT
    Reyes (left) was arrested in February; Meadows (right) in March. Reyes (left) was arrested in February; Meadows (right) in March.
    Charges have been upgraded against a Plant City woman and her boyfriend in the August 2013 death of a 15-month-old little boy.Victoria Reyes, 34, and Kevin Meadows, 48, are facing a variety of charges including a felony charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child. Reyes was the toddler’s mother but Meadows was not the father.
    ?Charges have been upgraded against a Plant City woman and her boyfriend in the August 2013 death of a 15-month-old little boy.Victoria Reyes, 34, and Kevin Meadows, 48, are facing a variety of charges including a felony charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child. Reyes was the toddler’s mother but Meadows was not the father.
  • Greyhound bus involved in fatal crash in North Fla.

    Greyhound bus involved in fatal crash in North Fla.

    Saturday, April 5 2014 11:59 AM EDT2014-04-05 15:59:02 GMT
    The driver of this vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of this vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.
    A Greyhound bus that departed from Tampa earlier in the day was involved in a multi-vehicle crash Friday night that claimed the lives of two men on Interstate 75 in Hamilton County.The incident occurred at approximately 11:44 p.m. just south of Jasper.
    A Greyhound bus that departed from Tampa earlier in the day was involved in a multi-vehicle crash Friday night that claimed the lives of two men on Interstate 75 in Hamilton County.The incident occurred at approximately 11:44 p.m. just south of Jasper.
  • Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations Mar. 24-28

    Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations Mar. 24-28

    Saturday, April 5 2014 7:06 AM EDT2014-04-05 11:06:49 GMT
    Multiple Tampa Bay restaurants had problems with rodents or roaches during the week of March 24-28, 2014.
    Multiple Tampa Bay restaurants had problems with rodents or roaches during the week of March 24-28, 2014.
  • Woman nearly hit by car in Winter Haven CVS: 'God was good'

    Woman nearly hit by car in Winter Haven CVS: 'God was good'

    Thursday, April 3 2014 5:30 PM EDT2014-04-03 21:30:16 GMT
    The woman who was almost hit at the store on State Road 54 is smiling and laughing about it.
    The woman who was almost hit at the store on State Road 54 is smiling and laughing about it.
  • 84-year-old woman crashes car into Winter Haven CVS

    84-year-old woman crashes car into Winter Haven CVS

    Thursday, April 3 2014 5:22 PM EDT2014-04-03 21:22:04 GMT
    The crash caused an estimated $65,000 damage to the CVS store at 970 SR 540. Winter Haven Police photoThe crash caused an estimated $65,000 damage to the CVS store at 970 SR 540. Winter Haven Police photo
    A 74-year-old woman almost hit a customer when she crashed her car through the front door of a Winter Haven CVS on Wednesday afternoon.
    A 74-year-old woman almost hit a customer when she crashed her car through the front door of a Winter Haven CVS on Wednesday afternoon.
  • Crews ready for any emergency at Lakeland's Sun n' Fun

    Crews ready for any emergency at Lakeland's Sun n' Fun

    Wednesday, April 2 2014 4:25 PM EDT2014-04-02 20:25:59 GMT
    More than 100 people are prepared to respond should an emergency happen.More than 100 people are prepared to respond should an emergency happen.
    Spectators at the Sun n' Fun International Fly-In may be looking to the sky, but crews on the ground are working to keep everyone safe.
    Spectators at the Sun n' Fun International Fly-In may be looking to the sky, but crews on the ground are working to keep everyone safe.
  • Lakeland family searching for answers after murder

    Lakeland family searching for answers after murder

    Tuesday, April 1 2014 3:37 PM EDT2014-04-01 19:37:36 GMT
    Bridgett Stacy doesn't understand why someone would kill her nephew, 22-year-old Demetrice Stacy. Stacy's body was found in a ditch in Lakeland Monday. Police say he had been shot multiple times.Bridgett Stacy doesn't understand why someone would kill her nephew, 22-year-old Demetrice Stacy. Stacy's body was found in a ditch in Lakeland Monday. Police say he had been shot multiple times.
    The family of a Lakeland man shot and left for dead is trying to come to grips with why someone would take his life.
    The family of a Lakeland man shot and left for dead is trying to come to grips with why someone would take his life.
  • Lakeland police identify shooting victim

    Lakeland police identify shooting victim

    Monday, March 31 2014 8:53 PM EDT2014-04-01 00:53:12 GMT
    The scene where a dead body was found in LakelandThe scene where a dead body was found in Lakeland
    Lakeland Police detective investigate a homicide after a body was found on Prospect Street early Monday morning.
    Lakeland Police detective investigate a homicide after a body was found on Prospect Street early Monday morning.
  • Ban of biometrics in Tampa Bay area schools

    Ban of biometrics in Tampa Bay area schools

    Monday, March 31 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-03-31 22:04:43 GMT
    State legislature may ban palm scans like these in Pinellas schools.State legislature may ban palm scans like these in Pinellas schools.
    Use of biometric devices in two Tampa Bay area schools prompted the state legislature to take a hard look at the use of personal information of students.Last week the Senate in Tallahassee passed a ban on the use of biometrics in schools.
    Use of biometric devices in two Tampa Bay area schools prompted the state legislature to take a hard look at the use of personal information of students.Last week the Senate in Tallahassee passed a ban on the use of biometrics in schools.
  • Video shows man throwing punch at McDonald's drive-thru

    Video shows man throwing punch at McDonald's drive-thru

    Monday, March 31 2014 1:44 PM EDT2014-03-31 17:44:48 GMT
    Howard Carl Wilson, 68, is charged with assault. Jail booking photoHoward Carl Wilson, 68, is charged with assault. Jail booking photo
    A Winter Haven man is charged with assault after cell phone video showed him throwing a punch at a woman in a McDonald's drive-thru.
    A Winter Haven man is charged with assault after cell phone video showed him throwing a punch at a woman in a McDonald's drive-thru.
  • Interstate 4 reopens after man jumps off overpass

    Interstate 4 reopens after man jumps off overpass

    Monday, March 31 2014 11:23 AM EDT2014-03-31 15:23:30 GMT
    Eastbound Interstate 4 was closed by State Road 559 in Polk County Monday morning after a man jumped off the SR 559 overpass, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
    Eastbound Interstate 4 was closed by State Road 559 in Polk County Monday morning after a man jumped off the SR 559 overpass, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  • Career criminal arrested in Polk Co.

    Career criminal arrested in Polk Co.

    Sunday, March 30 2014 4:29 PM EDT2014-03-30 20:29:27 GMT
    Following his arrest Sanders told detectives that he receives assistance from the government to make ends meet. Following his arrest Sanders told detectives that he receives assistance from the government to make ends meet.
    Authorities in Polk County have arrested a 31-year-old career criminal on retail theft and credit card fraud charges.
    Authorities in Polk County have arrested a 31-year-old career criminal on retail theft and credit card fraud charges.
  • Loxahatchee man jailed after crime spree

    Loxahatchee man jailed after crime spree

    Saturday, March 29 2014 11:19 PM EDT2014-03-30 03:19:50 GMT
    A 21-year-old Loxahatchee man faces a series of charges connected with a crime spree early Saturday morning, Lake Wales police officials said.Caleb Michael Sementelli is accused of robbing at least two people at gunpoint and taking a cell phone, bicycleand an EBT card used for food and otherpublic assistance.Police said other personal items found in Sementelli's possession belonged to a third unnamed victim.According to Lake Wales police news release, the crime spree began about 2:20 a.m. whe...
    A 21-year-old Loxahatchee man faces a series of charges connected with a crime spree early Saturday morning, Lake Wales police officials said.Caleb Michael Sementelli is accused of robbing at least two people at gunpoint and taking a cell phone, bicycleand an EBT card used for food and otherpublic assistance.Police said other personal items found in Sementelli's possession belonged to a third unnamed victim.According to Lake Wales police news release, the crime spree began about 2:20 a.m. whe...
  • Tampa Bay Restaurants: Burger Fi coming, tablet menus, free coffee

    Tampa Bay Restaurants: Burger Fi coming, tablet menus, free coffee

    Saturday, March 29 2014 8:26 AM EDT2014-03-29 12:26:10 GMT
    Burger Fi will be opening soon in South Tampa. Facebook photoBurger Fi will be opening soon in South Tampa. Facebook photo
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.
    No doubt, dining out is a popular pastime here in Tampa Bay. We're here to keep you informed. Here's this week's "dish" about what's happening at Tampa Bay restaurants.
  • Internet security lesson lays in case of Lakeland sex abuse

    Internet security lesson lays in case of Lakeland sex abuse

    Friday, March 28 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-03-28 22:16:04 GMT
    The investigation into a Lakeland man charged with sexual battery on children comes with a lesson for all of us who use computers.
    The investigation into a Lakeland man charged with sexual battery on children comes with a lesson for all of us who use computers.
  • Stolen SUV recovered in Winter Haven, bandit sought

    Stolen SUV recovered in Winter Haven, bandit sought

    Friday, March 28 2014 2:27 PM EDT2014-03-28 18:27:49 GMT
    The Winter Haven Police Department is seeking the public’s help to identify a woman who took a SUV owned by a city employee from the City Hall parking lot Thursday.Authorities are looking for a woman in her early to mid 20s with black hair pulled into a ponytail who drove away in amaroon 1998 Ford Explorer, Winter Haven spokeswoman Jamie Brown said in a news release.The womanwas last seen wearing black pants, a blue shirt and a black jacket with white stripes on the arms. She was carrying a ...
    The Winter Haven Police Department is seeking the public’s help to identify a woman who took a SUV owned by a city employee from the City Hall parking lot Thursday.Authorities are looking for a woman in her early to mid 20s with black hair pulled into a ponytail who drove away in amaroon 1998 Ford Explorer, Winter Haven spokeswoman Jamie Brown said in a news release.The womanwas last seen wearing black pants, a blue shirt and a black jacket with white stripes on the arms. She was carrying a ...
  • Polk deputies arrest 5 for sexual activity in parks

    Polk deputies arrest 5 for sexual activity in parks

    Friday, March 28 2014 12:31 PM EDT2014-03-28 16:31:04 GMT
    Polk deputies acted on numerous complains about sexual activity at the Saddle Creek Park when they set up an undercover operation.
    Polk deputies acted on numerous complains about sexual activity at the Saddle Creek Park when they set up an undercover operation.
  • Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations March 17-21

    Restaurant Ratings: Most Violations March 17-21

    Thursday, March 27 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-03-27 22:04:01 GMT
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from March 17 to 21, 2014.
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from March 17 to 21, 2014.

  • Sulphur Springs murder suspect arrested in Polk County

    Sulphur Springs murder suspect arrested in Polk County

    Wednesday, March 26 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-03-26 14:09:54 GMT
    Louis Johnson, 18, is charged with second degree murder. Jail booking photoLouis Johnson, 18, is charged with second degree murder. Jail booking photo
    A teen suspected of murdering a Sulphur Springs man is behind bars, after he was arrested in Polk County.
    A teen suspected of murdering a Sulphur Springs man is behind bars, after he was arrested in Polk County.
  • 5 Tampa Bay restaurants honored for perfect inspections

    5 Tampa Bay restaurants honored for perfect inspections

    Tuesday, March 25 2014 1:41 PM EDT2014-03-25 17:41:12 GMT
    Five Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
    Five Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
  • Fmr. Lakeland officer: why is acting police chief not on leave?

    Fmr. Lakeland officer: why is acting police chief not on leave?

    Tuesday, March 18 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-03-18 22:57:57 GMT
    A retired Lakeland police officer wants to know why the acting police chief Larry Giddens was not stripped of his gun, badge and car when Giddens was named at the center of two internal affairs investigations.
    A retired Lakeland police officer wants to know why the acting police chief Larry Giddens was not stripped of his gun, badge and car when Giddens was named at the center of two internal affairs investigations.
  • Manatee, Polk restaurants recognized for perfect inspections

    Manatee, Polk restaurants recognized for perfect inspections

    Tuesday, March 18 2014 6:23 PM EDT2014-03-18 22:23:25 GMT
    Two Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
    Two Tampa Bay restaurants are receiving kudos from the state for not having any safety or sanitation violations during recent inspections.
  • Polk Sheriff reacts to juvenile facility security changes after riot

    Polk Sheriff reacts to juvenile facility security changes after riot

    Friday, March 7 2014 5:38 PM EST2014-03-07 22:38:36 GMT
    File photo of Avon Park Youth AcademyFile photo of Avon Park Youth Academy
    Allowing staff at a juvenile justice facility where a riot broke out last year to carry things like pepper spray is among the changes that should be made at the Avon Park site, a Tampa Bay area sheriff says.The riot at Avon Park Youth Academy last summer involved dozens of teenagers and started with a fight over a basketball game and a wager over cups of noodle soup
    Allowing staff at a juvenile justice facility where a riot broke out last year to carry things like pepper spray is among the changes that should be made at the Avon Park site, a Tampa Bay area sheriff says.The riot at Avon Park Youth Academy last summer involved dozens of teenagers and started with a fight over a basketball game and a wager over cups of noodle soup
  • LEGOLAND to build resort hotel, bring 500 jobs to area

    LEGOLAND to build resort hotel, bring 500 jobs to area

    Wednesday, March 5 2014 5:15 PM EST2014-03-05 22:15:39 GMT
    LEGOLAND will build a four-story hotel that will bring 500 jobs to the area. Photo credit: LEGOLANDLEGOLAND will build a four-story hotel that will bring 500 jobs to the area. Photo credit: LEGOLAND
    LEGOLAND unveiled its plans Thursday for a four-story hotel that will bring 500 jobs to the area..
    LEGOLAND unveiled its plans Thursday for a four-story hotel that will bring 500 jobs to the area..
  • Fla. food trucks to battle for awards in Haines City

    Fla. food trucks to battle for awards in Haines City

    Tuesday, March 4 2014 7:35 PM EST2014-03-05 00:35:47 GMT
    Food Truck Wards comes to Haines City on March 22ndFood Truck Wards comes to Haines City on March 22nd
    What better way to kick off your Spring Break than with lots of food friends. Food Truck Wars is coming to Haines City on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 3:00pm to 9:00pm at the beautiful Lake Eva Community Park; 555 Ledwith Ave, Haines City, FL.
    What better way to kick off your Spring Break than with lots of food friends. Food Truck Wars is coming to Haines City on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 3:00pm to 9:00pm at the beautiful Lake Eva Community Park; 555 Ledwith Ave, Haines City, FL.
  • Polk residents want sidewalks installed after 2 pedestrians killed

    Polk residents want sidewalks installed after 2 pedestrians killed

    Wednesday, February 19 2014 6:30 PM EST2014-02-19 23:30:44 GMT
    Two teens have died while walking along Old Dixie Highway between Lakeland and Auburndale.Two teens have died while walking along Old Dixie Highway between Lakeland and Auburndale.
    Some Polk County residents fear that if sidewalks are not installed, more people are going to die while walking along Old Dixie Highway.
    Some Polk County residents fear that if sidewalks are not installed, more people are going to die while walking along Old Dixie Highway.
  • Polk Sheriff: missing Lakeland woman found

    Polk Sheriff: missing Lakeland woman found

    Tuesday, February 11 2014 8:47 PM EST2014-02-12 01:47:51 GMT
    67-year-old Alice Marie Bomboy.67-year-old Alice Marie Bomboy.
    The Polk County Sheriff's Missing Persons Unit says a missing 67-year-old woman has been found safe near her home.
    The Polk County Sheriff's Missing Persons Unit says a missing 67-year-old woman has been found safe near her home.
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