Month: November 2017

2 Car Crash Critically Injures Frostproof Teen


On Wednesday, November 29, 2017, at around 7:04 p.m., deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two-vehicle crash on Hwy 27 near Overpass Road, southwest of Frostproof. Two of the three people involved were injured, one of whom was injured critically.

According to the preliminary investigation, a green 2012 Kia Soul, driven by Sally Cruz Navarro, 42, from Frostproof, and a gray 2013 Toyota Tacoma, driven by Dennis Eckert, 45, from Frostproof, were both travelling north on Hwy 27.  Eckert’s truck was struck in the rear-driver side corner by Navarro’s car. Eckert’s truck rolled onto the roof, and came to a rest in the median. The Navarro vehicle came to a stop across both northbound lanes.

Mr Eckert was wearing his seat belt, and was not injured. Ms Navarro also wore her seat belt, and had only minor injury. Her daughter, Jasmin Navarro, 19, of Frostproof, had not been wearing a seat belt, and was ejected from the Kia. Jasmin Navarro was initially transported to Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center in Sebring, and then flown to Tampa General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

This area of Hwy 27 has four lanes, curves to the east, and a has a posted speed limit of 65 mph.

Impairment and/or distracted driving do not appear to have been a cause in this crash. Further investigation will determine if speed was a factor.

Northbound Hwy 27 was closed for approximately four hours during the rescue, investigation, and clean up. Charges are pending completion of the investigation, which is ongoing.

Polk County Seeks Diversity Program Recruits


Bartow, Fla. (November 30, 2017) — The Proactive Diversity Recruitment and Training Program (PDRTP) is seeking three residents who would like a Polk County Fire Rescue career.  An orientation program to explain the benefits of the program, how to apply and the hiring process will be held on Monday, December 11, 2017 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Neil Combee Administration Building in Room 413. It is located at 330 W. Church Street in Bartow.

The PDRTP is designed to help increase diversity within Polk County’s fire rescue workforce.

Applicants selected will receive training and education to assist with obtaining the required firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certifications. All books, materials and equipment needed for the required firefighter and EMT courses will be provided.

Recruits selected are paid an hourly salary, receive free schooling for required certifications and will then be hired by the fire rescue division once they successfully complete the program.

Minimum eligibility qualifications include:

  • Must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass basic reading comprehension and math test
  • Must possess and maintain a valid Florida driver license
  • Complete a county driving course
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Pass a medical screening
  • Pass a physical agility test
  • Sign a sworn affidavit attesting to the non-use of tobacco products
  • Be economically disadvantaged by HUD guidelines
  • Must be a Polk County resident for two years prior to application submission

For more information, contact Sharon Mathis at (863) 534-6027 or

Train Carrying Molten Sulfur Derails


Bartow, Fla. (November 27, 2017) — A train carrying molten sulfur derailed in the Kathleen area early Monday morning. Polk County Fire Rescue firefighters on Engine 111, which is based in the Sleepy Hill area, were returning to the station around 1:50 a.m. when they observed that train derailment occurred. HAZ-MAT and additional crews responded.

A small fire was extinguished by firefighters. Following the incident, crews went door-to-door to notify residents on Strickland Road about the shelter in place order. They were asked to close their windows and shut off their air conditioners. Residents are now able to open windows and exit their homes; however, spectators should stay away from the derailment site. CSX and state officials are now working to clean the molten sulfur spillage and remove the damaged train cars.

Polk County Fire Rescue is no longer needed on scene, but the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, CSX and state officials will remain on scene. Cross sections at Kathleen Road/Strickland Road and Youngs Ridge to Spivey Road will be closed for an extended period of time. CSX officials believe the cross sections will remain closed until early this evening. Commuters should expect delays in this area and are advised to seek alternate routes of travel.

Charles Manson Dead at 83

Charles Manson, the wild-eyed 1960s cult leader whose followers committed heinous murders that terrorized Los Angeles and shocked the nation, died Sunday of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections. He was 83.

The diminutive and charismatic Manson orchestrated a wave of violence in August 1969 that took the lives of seven people, spawned headlines worldwide and landed him and his “Manson Family” of followers in prison for most of the remainder of their lives.
“He was the dictatorial ruler of the (Manson) family, the king, the Maharaja. And the members of the family were slavishly obedient to him,” former Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi told CNN in 2015.
To the point they would kill for him.
The brutal killings began on August 9, 1969, at the home of actress Sharon Tate and her husband, famed movie director Roman Polanski. He was out of the country at the time. The first set of victims were Tate, who was eight months’ pregnant; a celebrity hairstylist named Jay Sebring; coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger; writer Wojciech Frykowski; and Steven Parent, a friend of the family’s caretaker.
Manson Family Murders Fast Facts

The next evening, another set of murders took place. Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home.
Although Manson ordered the killings, he didn’t participate.
Over the course of two nights, the killers inflicted 169 stab wounds and seven .22-caliber gunshot wounds. Both crime scenes revealed horrifying images. And a few details linked the two.
The word “pig” was written in victims’ blood on the walls of one home and the front door of another. There was also another phrase apparently scrawled in blood: Helter Skelter (it was misspelled Healter). The reason for the disturbing writings, a prosecutor argued, was because Manson wanted to start a race war and had hoped the Black Panthers would be blamed for the killings.
Little-known facts about the Manson murders

On June 16, 1970, Manson and three of his followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — went on trial in Los Angeles.
All of those details came tumbling out in the trial that both mesmerized and horrified the nation. During the trial, Manson and his followers created a circus-like atmosphere in the court with singing, giggling, angry outbursts and even carving X’s in their foreheads.
The charges came after a major break in the case when Atkins, who was already in jail on another charge, bragged to a fellow inmate about the Tate murders. She said they did it “because we wanted to do a crime that would shock the world. …”
Manson was originally sentenced to death but the death penalty was briefly abolished in the state and his concurrent sentences were commuted to life in prison.
He also was convicted in the connection with the killings of Gary Hinman, a musician, and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea in 1969.

Early life

Charles Manson was born Charles Maddox in Cincinnati in 1934 to an unmarried 16-year-old mother. He later took his then-stepfather William Manson’s last name.
At age 12, Charles Manson was sent to Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, for stealing. Over the next 20 years, he was in and out of reform schools and prison for various crimes.
In a 1987 prison interview with CNN, he said, “I spent the best part of my life in boys’ schools, prisons and reform school because I had nobody.”
After marrying twice and spending half his life in prison, 32-year-old Manson made his way to Berkeley, California, by way of San Francisco in 1967. He established himself as a guru in the summer of love, and soon shared a home with 18 women.
By 1968, race riots, the Black Panther movement, and anti-world violence convinced Manson that Armageddon was coming. He called it Helter Skelter after the famous Beatles song.

Orgies and sermons

The so-called Manson Family made a dilapidated old movie set called Spahn’s Ranch near Los Angeles their home.
“I was mesmerized by his mind and the things he professed,” Manson Family member Leslie van Houten once said.
Killer love: Why people fall in love with murderers

At the ranch Manson, who was 5-feet-2, hosted LSD-fueled orgies and gave sermons. His followers were in thrall of Manson, who told them he was Jesus Christ and the devil, rolled into one.
“They worshiped Charlie like a god,” former Manson Family member Barbara Hoyt told CNN.

Manson’s music

While in prison as a young man, Manson would listen to the radio. Inspired by the Beatles, he started writing songs and performing in prison shows.
Manson believed that the Beatles were speaking to him through the lyrics of their White Album, which was released in late 1968. The apocalyptic message, as Manson interpreted it: Blacks would “rise up” and overthrow the white establishment in a race war. Manson and his Family would be spared by hiding out in a “bottomless pit” near Death Valley until he could emerge to assume leadership of the post-revolutionary order.
After moving to California, Manson met Hinman, a music teacher who introduced him to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.
Wilson took one of Manson’s songs, “Cease to Exist,” and turned it into the Beach Boys’ “Never Learn Not to Love.” Manson was furious when he didn’t get a songwriting credit.
Wilson had introduced Manson to record producer Terry Melcher, the son of actress Doris Day. After initially showing interest in Manson’s music, Melcher declined to work with him further.
Melcher later moved out of his house, which was then leased to Polanski and Tate.

A dark legacy

Manson got people everywhere to pay attention to him.
With their brew of violence, music and anti-establishment youth counterculture, the 1969 murders and ensuing trials established Manson as a perverse cultural icon whose twisted legacy endured until his death. Along the way, the mastermind’s infamy transcended his crimes, and the Tate-LaBianca murders became known as the Manson murders.
Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School who follows high-profile cases, described Manson in 2009 as the worst of the worst, evil incarnate.
“If you’re going to be evil, you have to be off-the-charts evil, and Charlie Manson was off-the-charts evil,” Levenson told CNN.
Manson’s image can still be found on posters and T-shirts. In 1998, the animated television series “South Park” featured Manson in a Christmas special. There have been books, a play, an opera and television movies about Manson and his followers.

Fort Meade Hosts Vietnam Memorial

By. Ramona Waibel 

Fort Meade Florida – When you say the number 58,318, usually it has no real significance. However, for the families, soldiers, and comrades each digit in that number carries tremendous value. This is the number of names that as of Memorial Day 2017, were etched in the marble on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

For families of those that are departed as a result of the Vietnam War, this is the ultimate memorial for their loved ones. However, for those survivors this is a place not only to remember the battles but to connect with those that did not come home with them.


The traveling Vietnam Memorial has made it possible for those that can not make the trip to Washington, the ability to see the names listed there and provide a small piece of closure to those left behind. A single red rose laid at the bottom of one of the panels of the traveling wall brings to mind the harsh reality of the loss felt by those left behind.

This week the memorial made its way into Fort Meade. The memorial will be here through Sunday November 12th 2017. The city of Fort Meade has a special connection to the wall as at least one high school graduate, James W. Spivey, lost his life and is listed on the wall.


Spivey was a 1966 graduate of Fort Meade High School and just 3 short years later lost his life as a result of the war. There are other stories so many very much the same; of young men and women lost to young and the hole left for those left behind.

You can find more pictures of the memorial and the Fort Meade Miner football and baseball teams helping to erect this monument on our Facebook page: Fort Meade Daily.


Vietnam Memorial Wall Arrives in Fort Meade


Fort Meade Florida – The Vietnam Memorial Wall arrived at the American Legion Post 23 in Fort Meade today complete with an escort worth of the display. In order to get this display set up the Miner Football and Baseball teams were in attendance to assist.


The memorial will be in Fort Meade through Sunday November 12th 2017. There will be an opening ceremony for the public beginning on Thursday November 9th 2017 starting at 5:00pm


November Happenings at the History Center


Bartow, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2017) – Journey into Polk history this month at the Polk County History Center. The following programs and events are open to the public and free of charge:

  • November’s Family Program – Learn how a dog became a soldier

o    Sgt. Stubby was a decorated dog soldier in WWI and a true American hero. He helped American Troops in France during the war and became their mascot. Learn more about Sgt. Stubby and his bravery while creating your own unique Christmas ornament.

  • Nov. 2, 5 p.m. – Opening Night of Festival of Wreaths and Silent Auction

o   Take in the sights and sounds of the season and enjoy the Seventh Annual Festival of Wreaths. More than 40 wreaths will be on display, decorated through the generosity of area businesses, organizations and individuals. In addition, opening night will feature a performance by the Frostproof Middle-Senior High School Choral group. This talented group will perform a-cappella from the second floor rotunda at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The group, under the direction of Jonathan Carter, performed by invitation at New York City’s Carnegie Hall during the summer of 2017.

In addition to creating a holiday atmosphere for visitors to enjoy, the wreaths on display at the History Center are available for purchase through an online silent auction with proceeds benefiting History Center programming. View photographs of the wreaths and place your bid Take home a unique or elegant wreath from a wide selection of wreath styles to embellish your door just in time for Christmas.  Wreaths will be on display until Thursday, Dec. 14. 

  • Nov. 4, 11 a.m. – Oak Hill Cemetery Tour

o   Regularly scheduled walking tours of historic Oak Hill Cemetery resume this month with an emphasis on pioneer families and World War I veterans interred at the cemetery. The tour starts at the History Center with a short walk of approximately one mile to include historic landmarks along the route to the cemetery. The cemetery tour is offered at 11 a.m. the first Saturday of every month, November through April.

  • Nov. 11, 1 p.m. – New Temporary Exhibit Opening, “Together We Win: Polk County’s World War I Contributions”

o   This exhibit features Polk residents who served in World War I. The exhibit will include:

  • A display of World War I propaganda posters
  • Photographs from the archives showing Polk people and places during the war
  • Never before-displayed World War I artifacts from the collection archives
  • A collection of original letters written by local soldiers, addressed to the Bartow Drug Co., to let friends know, here at home, where they were stationed and how they were doing
  • An informative history of the local division of the Florida National Guard, the 2nd Florida Regiment, known during the war as the Dixie Division
  • Biographies and achievements of Polk dignitaries who played a crucial role in World War I – including Gen. (then Capt.) James Van Fleet, Lt. Gen. (then Maj.) Albert Blanding, U.S. Senator (then 1st Lt. and Judge Advocate General) Spessard Holland and Dr. Knowles Oglesby, the first Bartow native to be killed in action during the war
  • Nov. 14, 4 p.m. – Launch Ceremony for Polk Proud History Digital Format

o   Through grant funding provided by the State of Florida Library and Service Technology Act, all issues of the Polk County Historical Quarterly and the publication’s present day version known as Polk Proud History, have been converted to an electronic, searchable, online format. Join us at the History Center for the “launch party” of this digital platform for the historical and genealogical library. The Quarterlies have been a valuable resource tool for researchers since 1974 due in large part to the efforts of Mrs. Freddie Wright, Director Emeritus of the Polk County Historical Association, whose dedication and commitment will also be honored at the ceremony.

  • Nov. 17, 5 to 6:45 p.m. – Extended Holiday Hours at the History Center

o   To coincide with the Main Street Bartow Magic on Main Street activity, the History Center will offer extended hours until 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, followed by the lighting of the tree by Santa Claus at 7 p.m. on the south lawn of the History Center.

  • Nov. 18, 11 a.m. – Architectural Tour

o   Join us for a family-friendly architectural tour of the History Center and learn more about neoclassical architecture, the construction of the building and the stories behind the iconic Old Polk County Courthouse. Special emphasis will be placed on the Mason Cornerstone. The architectural tour is at 11 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month.

  • November 21, 12:15 to 1 p.m. – Lunch and Learn – “Medical Services in Polk County – People, Places and Peculiarities,” by History Center staff, Madonna Davis, Research & Genealogy Historian and Maria Trippe, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

o   Step inside the early 20th century office of Polk County Doctor Frank Peacock, and go back in time to experience medicine the way our ancestors did. Do you know what ailment was treated by the frying of five frogs? How to cure the chicken pox? For what purpose did our ancestors use brown paper and vinegar? Learn the answers to these questions and more, and take a look at unusual medical-related artifacts from the History Center’s archives.

o   Book Club recommended reading for the month of November is, “Stubby the War Dog:

The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog” by Sibert Honor Award- Winning Author Ann Bausum.

“Stubby the War Dog,” tells the story of a young American soldier, Pvt. J. Robert Conroy and his companion Sgt. Stubby, a stray dog, who served bravely alongside him during WWI. Sgt. Stubby used his keen sense of smell to detect poisonous gases, and his alertness to the sounds of battle to warn soldiers about bombs that he could hear coming in. He located wounded soldiers on the battlefield and stayed with them until medical help could arrive. Highly honored and decorated for his bravery, Sgt. Stubby became an American hero. His body is now on display at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

  • History Center Holiday Closures

o   The History Center will be closed on Friday, Nov. 10 in observance of Veterans Day. The History Center will re-open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.

o   The History Center will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 23 and 24 for the Thanksgiving holiday. The History Center will re-open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25.

The Polk County History Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 100 E. Main St. in Bartow. Visit or call (863) 534-4386 for more information on exhibits and programming.  All programs and events are free and open to the public.