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Lakeland commission discusses $130,000 PR bill

Lakeland, FL -- As promised, Lakeland's Mayor Howard Wiggs raised the topic: close to $130,000 the city has spent on a public relations firm. 

The growing price tag is for advice and strategy to handle the city's police department sex scandal.

"I would have thought maybe $5,000 to $10,000 would have been a reasonable request," said Wiggs.

"I think we should be done with their services. We have a bunch of smart, highly paid people here that can take care of that," said Commissioner Justin Troller.

Couple married 71 years die just days apart

FORT MEADE, Florida (AP) - A central Florida couple married for 71 years died just days apart.

The Ledger of Lakeland reports Arno and Myrtle Birdsong were remembered by more than 100 people who attended their funeral on Saturday at the First Church of God in Fort Meade.

The newspaper reports that 88-year-old Myrtle Birdsong died a week ago. Her 89-year-old husband Arno died two days later. Both died of heart failure.

Delay in Kissimmee River restoration causes uproar

LAKE WALES, Fla. (AP) - A delayed in a massive project to restore sections of the Kissimmee River is creating uproar from both state officials and environmental groups.
The Lakeland Ledger reported on Sunday that the delay could push completion of the project back to 2019. The project was originally scheduled for completion in 2103.
The latest snag in the project involves a land dispute between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a West Palm Beach-based water district.

Family mourns son's death by spider bite

Lakeland, Florida -- They aren't much bigger than a thumbnail, but don't judge them by their size.

A Lakeland family says their son is dead after being bit by a brown recluse spider. Bill Reese says he is still very upset after laying his 62-year-old son Ron to rest.

"It's been devastating," says Reese.

Bill says 6 months ago when Ron was tearing down a roof at an old house near Mulberry, he was bitten by a brown recluse spider.

PR firm paid thousands for Lakeland PD scandal

Lakeland, Florida -- There's been a startling revelation in the Lakeland Police Department sex scandal.

The city hired a Public Relations firm to guide them through that shameful period, and has spent more than $100,000 in fees.

That, says the attorney for Sue Eberle, the woman at the center of the scandal, is "despicable'.

David Linesch, Eberle's lawyer, also called it shameful.

Lakeland man dies from spider bite

LAKELAND, Florida (AP) - Central Florida authorities are reporting a rare death from a spider bite.

Polk County Medical Examiner Stephen Nelson tells The Ledger that Ronald Reese of Lakeland died Feb. 16 from complications of a spider bite.

Reese's father says the 62-year-old had been bitten in August by a brown recluse spider. H.K. William Reese says required lengthy hospital stays and numerous procedures for six months after the bite.

Medical marijuana debate packs Polk State College

Winter Haven, Florida -- The Polk State College auditorium filled up fast. People on both sides of the issue took their seats to hear the pros and cons of medical marijuana in an open forum debate. But at least one person argued against it -- Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

"This is a wolf in sheep's clothing, tugging on the heartstrings of the good people of Florida," said Judd.

The sheriff didn't venutre into the science of pot, only his concerns about the amendment's wording and what he calls its true intent.