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Roberto Roldan

When Lakeland resident Judy Smith walks by Munn Park she isn't bothered by the 26-foot tall Confederate Monument.

She's heard other people say it is racist or that it symbolizes slavery. But when Smith looks at the Confederate soldier on top of the marble memorial, that's not what she sees.

FWC

Some of the first sea turtle nests of 2018 are already being discovered by Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Patrol. That’s right. The turtles are coming.

But it isn’t unusual for sea turtle nesting season to begin early, which officially runs May 1 to Oct. 31.

WLRN

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz is due back in court for a hearing designed to get the death penalty case moving forward.

The sheriff whose deputies responded to the Florida high school massacre received an overwhelming vote of no-confidence Thursday from the union that represents about half his sworn personnel, with the union's president calling him "a liar" for saying the poll was a union tactic to extort raises.

As an appellate court reviews an appeal by Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet in the battle for a new rights restoration scheme for felons, protesters rallied at the Capitol Thursday. Civil rights leaders urged support for a citizens’ initiative amendment on the ballot in November.

WUSF

Saturday is National Drug Take Back Day, in which people are encouraged to clean out their old prescriptions and properly dispose them. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is one of many police departments that will be participating.

Danny Alvarez, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson, said that properly disposing drugs will protect everyone from potential opioid abuse.

Google Maps

Panic and fear gripped an Ocala school Friday when a gunman opened fire, wounding one student before being taken into custody on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence, authorities said.

A gunman shot and killed two sheriff's deputies in a restaurant in Gilchrist County, Fla., on Thursday, in an attack that seems to have come with no warning.

Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, were shot through the window. The gunman was later found dead nearby.

Sheriff Bobby Schultz called the two deputies "the best of the best," adding, "They're men of integrity, they're men of loyalty. They're God-fearing, and they loved what they did. And we're very proud of them."

Tim Fanning / WUSF Public Media

After the deadly school shooting in Parkland, teenage voices rang through the television sets, radios and newspapers of senior citizens in Sun City Center.

On Saturday, some of those seniors are holding a rally to show their support.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Elected leaders in Hillsborough County were in the hot seat Monday night, asked to commit on the spot to action on community issues.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

With another hurricane season around the corner, there could be some changes to the way school districts and counties receive reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the cost of storm shelters.

Florida AP Broadcasters

WUSF News reporters won honors in six categories of the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters contest.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Former ambassador Vicki Huddleston criticized the contraction of U.S.-Cuba relations under President Donald Trump and called for more engagement at a talk on Friday.

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival Facebook

Starting Friday, you’ll be able to see Abraham Lincoln and the Statue of Liberty in a way you’ve never seen them before.

Bizbraid

Members of the Pasco County Planning Commission on Monday approved a $75 million solar farm to be built on land previously zoned for agricultural use near Dade City.

The solar plant, which will add around 50 megawatts to the power grid by the end of the year, is part of an $850 million plan by Tampa Electric to create 10 solar plants by 2021.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Susana Matta Valdivieso was hiding in a dark classroom when a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Constitution Revision Commission

Things are heating up for the upcoming November election as the Constitutional Revision Commission unveils 24 proposals that may be seen on Florida ballots.

The CRC is a rare but powerful, handpicked group that only meets every 20 years. Committee members are selected by Florida's current governor, House, Senate, and the Supreme Court. The committee has the ability to choose, revise and merge what amendments are added to the upcoming state election.

St. Petersburg Police Department

A crane at a construction site in St. Petersburg this morning fell, nearly crushing at least one worker.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Local governments in Florida can't regulate guns and city leaders who don’t abide by state law can face up to a $5,000 fine or removal from office.

Courtesy Drug Free Manatee

Manatee County is trying to turn things around for the youngest victims of the opioid epidemic - children.

Organizations within the community, such as Drug Free Manatee, are working with law enforcement, social service agencies and schools.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Confederate flags and memorials have become a point of political controversy in Tampa Bay and beyond.

Michael Kernodle / Lakewood High School

When Lakewood High School’s band director Michael Kernodle walked through the music room door eight years ago, he found one marching band, no equipment and a program without structure — a far cry from glory days half a century earlier.

It’s been a lot of work, but the St. Petersburg school's music program has exploded. It has three full-time music instructors who teach orchestra, jazz, piano, steel drums and AP music theory.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

The campaign to rally local support for an Ybor City baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays is gearing up.

Chuck Sykes of Sykes Enterprises and lawyer Ron Christaldi said 100 local civic and business leaders have already signed on to support a Rays stadium in Ybor. Sykes and Christaldi are in charge of Tampa Bay Rays 2020, an organization focused on drumming up community support for the stadium move.

Valpak

How often do you open your mail to receive those blue envelopes full of coupons that you then toss right into the trash? You may want to open them first, there’s a chance you could have thrown away free money.

In celebration of its 50th year in business, St. Petersburg-based Valpak will be mailing $100 checks to a few lucky people across the country every month this year. The only catch is that you have to open the “Blue Envelope” to see if you are a winner. 

Southeastern Grocers

It’s called a food desert. That’s when it’s difficult to buy affordable or quality fresh food, and it’s a major problem in Florida.

In west central Florida, about 60 percent of residents live either in poverty or more than a mile from a supermarket, according to Feeding Tampa Bay, a nonprofit food bank. 

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Employees of the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa took to the streets Tuesday to protest the large number of job vacancies in the VA system.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is outlining next steps for school districts, following his signing this month of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act.

Students at Florida International University made a somber return to campus this week after spring break. They prayed at vigils and walked to a memorial erected near the site of last week’s pedestrian bridge collapse.

READ MORE: Campuswide Vigil At FIU Honors Bridge Collapse Victims

Tim Fanning / WUSF Public Media

Some local government leaders are saying state legislators are choking their ability to pay for programs for their communities. City and county governments across Florida face a possible decline in tax revenue. That’s because of a proposed homestead exemption on the November ballot.

At the same time, local leaders are scrambling to find funds to pay for state mandated programs, such as Pinellas County's new $20 million school safety officer requirement.

Michele Shapiro

Ignited by the deadly shooting in Parkland, tens of thousands of Tampa Bay area teenagers plan to demonstrate for gun reform on Saturday. Beyond making a statement, many of the students hope to register and mobilize young people to vote.

That’s the main message behind Tampa’s demonstration, which takes place at 10 a.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, said organizer Brooke Shapiro.

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