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Robin Sussingham

Reporter/Host

Robin Sussingham is a reporter/producer and host at WUSF Public Broadcasting.  A native of Lakeland, she frequently reports on events and issues in Polk County.

She came to WUSF from public radio stations KUER and KCPW in Utah, has contributed stories to NPR and Marketplace, and has an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and online reporting. 

Robin majored in chemistry at Duke, and went to NYU for a Masters Degree in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting. She's reported on everything from the Olympics to the oil spill, but will jump at a chance to talk about food or books.

Ways to Connect

CF Industries

The Mosaic Co. has announced it's buying the Central Florida operations of CF Industries. The price - $1.2 billion.

Among the CF properties included in the deal is the South Pasture phosphate mine and beneficiation plant in Hardee County, which totals 22,000 acres; a Plant City phosphate mine and beneficiation plant; and facilities at the Port of Tampa, including an ammonia terminal and warehouse facilities.

Phosphate mining was once an economic pillar for Polk County -- but that era is coming to a close. The last active mine in the county is nearly depleted and will close next year .

Mosaic says it will close its Hookers Prairie phosphate mine in Polk  by the fall of next year.

"That will be the last rock we extract from Polk County," says Karen Swager, Vice President of Mining Operations for Mosaic.

Florida Polytechnic University

In-state undergraduate students who enroll at Florida Polytechnic University next year will get free tuition. The school's Board of Trustees approved the scholarships Monday at its meeting at the Orlando International Airport.

Polk County Sheriff's Office

Juveniles incarcerated at a facility in unincorporated Polk County rioted Saturday evening, destroying 18 of the 20 buildings at the Avon Park Youth Academy. The Polk County Sheriff's Office is reporting rampaging youths caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage, and said that seven boys were taken to an area hospital with minor injuries, including a broken leg, lacerations and a concussion. None of the staff or any law enforcement officers were injured.

Sarasota County has a higher percentage of people over 65 than any other large county in the nation. And some business leaders now say that all those seniors - rather than a demographic drawback - could be a valuable asset.

They could actually help diversify the economy - even turn the county into what they're calling a "mecca" for those who want to learn what an aging population looks like.

Scott Wheeler / The Ledger

The Lakeland Police Department is coming under increasing public criticism as reports of a years-long sex scandal and other high-profile incidents continue to mount.

WUSF's Robin Sussingham sat down with investigative reporter Jeremy Maready of The Ledger to get an update on the department.

More reports from Maready and his colleagues are at http://www.theledger.com/

Robin Sussingham / WUSF

Florida Southern College in Lakeland is building a brand new house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright -- even though the architect died in 1959.  And college officials say the new structure is part of their plan to become one of the country's premiere cultural destinations. 

Larrykoestler.com

The Tampa Bay area is the state's epicenter for the craft brew scene -- but neighboring Lakeland is not being left out of the scene.  The city has plans for a new brewery cooperative, which would help local, small brewers reach bigger markets. And there's a lively craft brew scene popping up in Lakeland's restaurants.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF

As state budget negotiations continue, members of the Florida Senate have changed their minds about cutting $22.4 million in operating funds for Florida Polytechnic University.

Florida Poly Chief Operating Officer Ava Parker thanked supporters, and told The Ledger:

"We are focused on continuing our mission to develop Florida Poly as an applied research university that partners with industry and produces graduates ready for high tech jobs."

http://www.theledger.com/article/20130420/NEWS/130429984?tc=cr

Festina Lente, LLP

Several hundred people gathered Tuesday to celebrate the construction of Florida Polytechnic University's signature building, designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava.

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, told The Ledger Wednesday that he did not call Florida's newest university a "disaster," as had earlier been reported. He said his remarks to the editorial board of the Tampa Tribune earlier in the week were directed toward a request by Florida Polytechnic for additional state funds.

Robin Sussingham

Gov. Rick Scott spent the day working at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium Wednesday, raking the field and selling strawberry shortcake.  But he also made an announcement about state funding for baseball. 

A decade ago, speculators in Florida were pumping up a huge housing bubble.

"You couldn't go wrong," Tampa real estate attorney Charlie Hounchell says. In that overheated period from 2001 to 2006, "you could buy a house and make $100,000 a year later by selling it," he says.

But the party ended in 2007 and the hangover persists. The state now has the highest foreclosure rate in the country, beating out Nevada for the first time in five years.

Experts say the legal process in Florida is the key reason for the sluggish pace of foreclosures there.

Sun 'n Fun

A group of about 200 schoolchildren, teachers, local officials and aviation buffs gathered  to watch a Boeing 727 aircraft make its final landing at Lakeland Linder airport's Sun 'n Fun campus Friday.

Florida was a poster child for all the familiar excesses of the housing bubble -- the bad loans, the overheated market, the frenzied development. Although the party ended in 2007, the hangover continues. Recent numbers show the state has the highest foreclosure rate in the country.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF

A third of the dogs coming in to the Hillsborough County pound are one type of breed -- pit bulls. They're hard to adopt out,and most will be euthanized after only five days. But a new program at the shelter is trying to save some of those lives.

The Pit Bull Ambassadors are a select group of pit bulls with a mission: to convince more people to love the breed, and to take them home.

Pam Perry, the investigations manager for  Hillsborough County Animal Services, says, "It's about changing people's stereotype that these are bad dogs. These are great dogs. They're not bad dogs."

Perry calls pit bulls special needs dogs. She says they're far more likely to be abused than other breeds.

Courtesy of Robin Sussingham

For my  family, the traditional holiday food is smoked mullet.

My father, Bob Trohn, has been catching and smoking mullet at his home on the river in Palmetto for more than a quarter century. When the extended family all congregate there at Christmas-time, there's always enough smoked mullet to eat and to give away to friends.

I followed my father around the dock one weekend, to see how it's done.  (A version of the story originally aired on American Public Media's Weekend America).

Polk County Sheriff's Office

Polk County deputies have arrested six young teens from Lakeland in connection with the shooting of a 79-year-old man.

A major component of President Obama's Affordable Care Act is the creation of "state health exchanges." These are online markets where consumers will go to compare and shop for health insurance. Some groups, which are longtime supporters of Obamacare, are calling on the feds to step in and set up this exchange in Florida. They say there's no way state officials can do it by the deadline -- a little over a year from now. The states have until Dec.

The St. Lucie County Canvassing Board ordered a recount of early-voting ballots in the race between U.S. Rep. Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy. Murphy had been declared the unofficial victor in the race.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20121116/APN/1211160711

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