Month: July 2017

Polk County Fire Rescue receives SAFER Grant for additional firefighters

images (1).jpg 

Bartow, Fla. (July 28, 2017) — Fire services will be improving in Polk County, thanks to the county’s receipt of a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant. Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR) was notified today by the Department of Homeland Security that they have been awarded the grant that will allow the division to add new firefighters next year.

The three-year grant award of about $4 million requires matching funds to the federal contribution. Polk County will pay about $2.5 million to match the grant. PCFR will hire 30 new firefighters with SAFER grant funds that will augment staffing on under-staffed engines. Currently, Polk County Fire Rescue has 534 employees, most who are also cross-trained as EMTs or paramedics.

“We are very pleased to receive this SAFER grant,” said County Manager Jim Freeman. “Public safety is the most important service that we provide the residents of Polk County. This federal grant comes at a critical time, as the county continues to pursue ways to address growing public safety service demands.”

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank U.S. Representatives Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney and Darren Soto, and Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio for their letters and phone calls of support that helped Polk County secure this funding,” said Melony Bell, Board Chair. “This will allow the county to provide more effective services and enhance firefighter safety.”

Former Polk Principal Arrested


Sheriff Grady Judd will brief the media at 1:00 p.m. today, Friday, July 21, 2017, at the PCSO Sheriff’s Operations Center (1891 Jim Keene Blvd in Winter Haven), about this morning’s arrest of former Kathleen Middle School Principal (2014-2015 school year), 46-year-old Ginger Collins, for 60 counts dealing in stolen property (F-2); 16 counts passing forged or altered documents (F-3); 2 counts fraudulent use of credit card (F-3); 1 count obtaining property by fraud (F-2); 1 count money laundering (F-2); 1 count grand theft ($10,000-$20,000) (F-3).

These crimes occurred while Collins was the Principal of Kathleen Middle School. She resigned as Principal of Kathleen Middle School in June 2015, and was hired in July 2015 by Seth McKeel Academy as Assistant Director of Academics. As previously released and reported, she resigned from that position in September 2016 when confronted by school officials about suspected fraud and theft (total amount stolen, $105,426) at Seth McKeel Academy, and was arrested by PCSO on January 10, 2017, for grand theft, fraud, fraudulent use of credit card, money laundering, and criminal use of personal ID. She was released from jail on January 12, 2017, after posting bail (total amount, $39,000). That case is still pending outcome.

Collins was taken into custody without incident this morning at her residence in north Lakeland. Her January 2017 mugshot is attached. She will have a first appearance hearing tomorrow morning, Saturday, July 22, 2017. Details of the investigation and charges will be released at the news briefing. PCSO will also stream the news briefing on Facebook live.

Click here to read the January 2017 news release: