polk county

Daylina Miller/Wikimedia Commons

Polk County is a place of so many contradictions. It's the home of beautiful lakes, charming downtowns and historic landmarks. But this birthplace of several of Florida's governors, was also named by one recent study as having the country's second largest percentage of people struggling to avoid hunger.


Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Polk County is consistently ranked as having among the highest rates of suburban poverty in the country. And one recent study put it second in the nation for the number of people struggling to avoid hunger. The beautiful lakes and historic downtowns form a stark contrast to the sobering statistics.

Florida Matters recently hosted a town hall discussion on these issues in Lakeland, at Florida Southern College’s Annie Pfeiffer Chapel.

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

On a recent Tuesday, the weekly produce market co-op at the Woodbrook Estates mobile home community in Lakeland was bustling. 

Daylina Miller/WikiMedia Commons

Polk County is a place of so many contradictions. It's the home of beautiful lakes, charming downtowns and historic landmarks. But this birthplace of several of Florida's governors, was also named by one recent study as having the country's second largest percentage of people struggling to avoid hunger.


You can be a part of our audience for a special Florida Matters town hall featuring a panel discussion on food insecurity in Polk County.

Mary Wells Frates (Facebook)

Video of a massive alligator caught walking through a Florida nature reserve in front of stunned onlookers has prompted crowds of people hoping to catch their own glimpse.

When Florida voters go to vote on March 15, the state's voting machines may once again be in the spotlight.

Back in 2000, the nation's most spectacular elections meltdown took place in Florida thanks to the infamous paper butterfly ballots, ancient voting machines and poorly trained poll workers. The ensuing chaos led to a massive recount, a Supreme Court battle and a narrow victory for George W. Bush.

A toddler died Tuesday afternoon after he was found by his mother face down and unresponsive in a kiddie pool, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

Ashley Norman told investigators she had left her 18-month-old son Cedric Phipps in a baby swing while she went across the street to check on other children. When she returned, the boy was in the pool.

Family members and neighbors called 911 and attempted CPR.

Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilder said paramedics attempted to resuscitate Cedric on the way to the hospital, but the boy was declared dead.

Don Becker / U.S. Geological Survey

Residents living in flood prone areas of Polk County are encouraged to be proactive and fill up some free sandbags now.

Polk County Fire Rescue stations at 14 locations are offering free sandbags.  Each household can fill a maximum of 25-30 sandbags beginning at 2 p.m.

Be sure to bring your own shovel.

Polk County Sheriff's Offic

Police have arrested an 82-year-old Lake Wales man for slashing a woman’s tires because he claimed she was sitting in his favorite bingo seat.

Fred Smith faces a charge of criminal mischief after police say he took an ice pick to 88-year-old Ethel Britt’s van during a weekly bingo game at the Lake Ashton Retirement Community Club House.

Police say Smith stormed out of the bingo hall and punctured two of Britt’s tires because she was sitting in a chair he usually sits in. Smith was caught on surveillance video in the act.

AP

  

 Deputies in Florida say an 81-year-old man picked thousands of tangerines - 11 truckloads worth - and then sold the stolen bounty at a nearby market.

Herman Southall was charged Wednesday with 11 counts of transporting citrus without a certificate, grand theft of more than 2,000 pieces of citrus and trespassing. He is being held at the Polk County Jail on an $8,500 bond.

Southall and another man were found by deputies Wednesday picking fruit in a Dundee grove after a Sheriff's Office helicopter pilot saw them. It's unclear if he has retained an attorney.

The Lakelander

You often hear that print media is out -- or going digital.  So when an upmarket, city magazine  with big  production values suddenly appears in a mid-sized town like Lakeland, can it succeed? Publishers of the new magazine, The Lakelander, are banking on it.

Robin Sussingham

A piece of history from Bartow will be included in the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

The museum recently acquired a foundation stone bearing the initials of builder L.B. Brown, a former slave who built scores of homes during Bartow's early years. Museum officials see Brown as an example of the often overlooked contributions to America's growth by pioneering African Americans.

Friday Flooding Making Driving Tricky

Nov 26, 2013

A class action lawsuit against the Polk County Sheriff and the agency's treatment of juvenile detainees is underway in federal court in Tampa.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit against Polk Sheriff Grady Judd and Corizon, a company the sheriff contracts with to provide inmates with medical care.

Grady Judd: Expect Felony Charges in Juvenile Riot

Aug 19, 2013
Polk County Sheriff Office

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says he expects felony charges to be filed against those who started a riot at a Polk County juvenile facility Saturday.

Golf carts were stolen and TVs were thrown out of windows at the Avon Park Youth Academy. The charges against those involved in the riot could range from grand theft, to rioting, to assault.

The riot began with a wager of cups of noodle soup on a pickup basketball game. When things got out of hand an employee in the control room called 911.

Polk County commissioners approved Tuesday almost $14.6 million in tourist tax funds to renovate and expand the Detroit Tigers' spring training complex.

The Detroit Tigers have made Lakeland their spring training home for 77 years. That relationship is the longest of its kind in Major League Baseball.

To keep that relationship going past the agreement end date of 2016, Polk County commissioners approved the money to renovate and expand the Tigertown complex.

University of Florida

If Florida is God’s waiting room, then Polk County must be the alcove reserved for his longtime patients.

Researchers have used 5-million-year-old fossils found in Polk County phosphate mines to identify a new genus and species of extinct saber-toothed cat.

Scientists had previously thought the animal's ancestors originated in the Old World and migrated to this side of the pond. But the latest findings, based on fossil acquisitions from the past three decades, make one thing clear: Just like Super Bowl champ Ray Lewis and former Mouseketeer Lindsey Alley, the new species  hails from closer to Polk County.

SR 60 in Lake Wales May Stay Closed For Hours

Jan 9, 2013
Polk County Sheriff's Department

State Road 60 in Lake Wales is closed in both directions at Kissimmee Shores after an accident at 6 this morning. Both drivers were killed after their vehicles, a semi and a car, burst into flames on impact.

Around 11 this morning, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said it would take about 3 to 4 hours to clear the wreckage.

The only travel alternate suggested is Walk-in-Water Road.