The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida on February 20, 1997 · 39
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The Tampa Tribune from Tampa, Florida · 39

Tampa, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, February 20, 1997
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THE TAMPA TRIBUNE Thursday, February 20, 1997 Lakeland Winter Haven Bartow Lake Wales Haines City Mulberry Frostproof Aubumdale Polk City Eagle Lake The Ridge Send comments and tips through e-mail to or write co The Tampa Tribune, 230 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland, Fla. 33801 fin NEWS OF POLK LAKELAND Cops, EMT work to save man An off-duty police officer and her emergency medical technician roommate performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on an unconscious elderly man and helped jump-start the man's heart. About 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, 73-year- old John Schuch, 830 Golden Rule Court, started having chest pains as he rode with his family in a car. His daughter drove to a house where she knew the officer lived, according to police spokesman Jack Gillen. LeAnne Yeager and EMT Cindyx Layce started CPR and were joined by police officer Mike Plavchek. They manually pumped the man's heart until an ambulance arrived. Schuch was listed in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Medical Center late Wednesday. Lake cleanup progresses The cleanup of Lake Hollingsworth should start in earnest March 1, the city lakes supervisor said Wednesday. The $7.3 million project is expected to remove about 3.6 million cubic feet of muck from the bottom of the popular lake. Without the work, the lake would fill up with muck and become a marsh in about 20 years. The federal government is contributing $3 million to the project because it is pioneering a marriage of old-fashioned dredging technology with phosphate de-watering techniques. City officials and BCI Inc., which designed the dredging and de-watering system, are trying to fine-tune the de-watering plant at Peterson Park to make it run as efficiently as possible, said Gene Medley, city lakes supervisor. The lake has been filling with decomposing vegetation and muck. After separating as much water as possible from the muck, it will be pumped to a site south of the city and dumped. After being dried by the sun, it should turn it into a product resembling peat moss. The project should take about two years. Shops to open late Tuesdays The Antiques District Association, an organization of shops in downtown Lakeland, will start staying open until 9 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month beginning March 4. The association will offer special events, displays and discounts. Many stores participating in the March 4 event will feature a baseball theme in keeping with Tigers Appreciation Night at Tigertown. Other events planned for First Tuesdays Downtown include a regional arts and crafts show in May. In October, the topic will be cooking and decorating for the holidays. Town hall meeting planned State Rep. Paula Dockery, R-Lake-land, and state Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Spring Hill, will conduct a town meeting at North Lakeland Elementary School on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The meeting is intended to arm the lawmakers with information and opinions from constituents on pending issues. The meeting is in the school cafeteria, 410 W. Robson St., Lakeland. For details, call 284-4525. WINTER HAVEN Man drowns while fishing A 73-year-old Winter Haven man apparently drowned Tuesday while fishing alone on Lake Pansy. Roland Smith Knox, 251 S. Lake Pansy, was discovered by his wife as he floated face-down about 20 yards offshore about 6 p.m. He had gone fishing by himself Tuesday afternoon. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Winter Haven Hospital. Winter Haven police are investigating. Rabid raccoon shot A rabid raccoon was shot Sunday by the owner of a dog that had come in contact with the animal, according to the Polk County Animal Control office. The dog was vaccinated, but is quarantined for 45 days as a precaution. The shooting was at 1760 Crump Road in Winter Haven. It was the ninth confirmed Polk rabies case this year. All pets not vaccinated, especially cats that roam and hunt, should immediately get their shots. Cats and dogs legally must wear a county rabies tag. For details, call 499-2600. BARTOW Band plans free concert The Bartow Adult Concert Band will present its "February in Florida" concert Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Bartow Civic Center, 2250 S. Floral Ave. The public is invited to the free one-hour concert. Compil-j by Tribune staff 11. X - Fletcher gets life sentence SCOTT ISKOWITZTribune photo Albert Leon Fletcher is fingerprinted in court Wednesday during his sentencing hearing. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. King warns of intolerance SUMMARY: Convicted killer Albert Leon Fletcher escaped Florida's electric chair during sentencing Wednesday, but will spend the rest of his life in prison. By BILL HEERY of The Tampa Tribune BARTOW Albert Leon Fletcher was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison plus 35 years for the 1993 shooting death of a Lakeland man during a failed robbery. The state had sought the death penalty for Fletcher, 26, of Zephyrhills, once Polk County's most-wanted fugitive. But the jury, which convicted Fletcher last week, recommended a life sentence by a tie 6-6 vote. Under state law, a judge must give "great weight" to a jury's recommendation for a life term or electrocution in Florida's electric chair. A tie vote equals a recommendation for a life sentence under state law. Under sentencing regulations in effect in 1993, Fletcher is eligible for parole after 25 years on the life sentence. But Circuit Judge Dennis Maloney add- SUMMARY: Martin Luther King Jr.'s son visited Lakeland Wednesday, where he shared a message celebrating the nation's diversity. By BETH FOUSHEE of The Tampa Tribune LAKELAND Martin Luther King III was 10 when his father was gunned down by a white man on a Memphis motel balcony in 1968. But because of his upbringing by parents and grandparents who refused to be overcome by hate, he never harbored malice. That was his message Wednesday to students, teachers and the public at Florida Southern College. "The price of hate is too great to bare," said King. ; H e .f-f.-i.-l talked about 5 his grandfa ther, and how the el der King balked at living a life of hatred even when his wife was murdered six years after the assassination of his son, civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. King said his grandfather even visited his wife's killer in prison. King, a human-rights advocate like his father, talks about his message of peace around the country. His plate is full during Black History Month, he said. At Florida Southern, he talked about lingering racism, an explosion of violence in the country and how individuals can- bring about change. "Those are issues that will tear our nation apart. Other nations are moving forward. We are wasting a BLACK HISTORY MONTH lot of time fighting each other," he said "It only takes a few good men and women with a plan and vision to move forward." King pointed to efforts by a few that ultimately led to victories such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a question-and-answer session following his 45-minute speech, King talked about his family's quest to finally have James Earl Ray tried for killing Martin Luther King Jr. Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. But he recanted three days after entering his plea, saying he was duped by a middleman named Raoul who arranged for a rifle with his fingerprint to be dropped near the shooting scene. State and federal courts have upheld his plea seven times. And because Ray is dying from a liver disease, the King family wants the truth before he passes away. "Everybody knows it was a conspiracy," King said. A hearing is scheduled for today before a judge in Memphis to decide whether there will be a trial. "James Earl Ray was basically a pawn in the case." King talked about a variety of issues hovering over Americans. He said he's fearful of what welfare reform will mean to the many disadvantaged people in this country. "Every one of them are millionaires," he said about the lawmakers who signed off on the welfare legislation. In his speech, King talked about stereotypes the common associations of black with bad and white with good. "When I was a small child, black was always negative and white was positive," he said, citing ed a 35-year consecutive sentence on related attempted robbery, possession of a short-barreled shotgun and aggravated assault conviction. The sentences handed down Wednesday also will run consecutive to a 17-year sentence Fletcher already is serving on armed burglary, grand theft and escape charges from Pasco County. In all, Fletcher would be more than 100 years old before becoming eligible for parole. Maloney exceeded state sentencing guidelines in the non-murder charges. Those guidelines called for 12 to 27 years in prison. Fletcher and his cousin, Douglas Porter, 27, of Lakeland, were charged in the killing of Nelson Medina Oliveras, 32. Oliveras was shot in the neck with a sawed-off shotgun after a tire on his station wagon was shot out in the early morning hours April 3, 1993, on Harden Boulevard in Lakeland. Police found his wallet under his right leg. The aggravated assault charge against Fletcher did not involve the robbery attempt. He was charged with striking a man in the face with the shotgun See SENTENCE, Page 2 1: 1 L ,,'. . . .... . j 'J4 i - V Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights leader slain by a white man in 1968, came to the Florida Southern College campus SCOTT ISKOWITZTribune photo Wednesday to warn students that harboring hate for any person can be a heavy burden. Like his father, King is a civil rights activist as an example how movie villains always rode the black horse while the hero rode the white horse. There's a longtime expression of telling a white lie a lie deemed not to be so bad, King said. And if you're a bad egg in the family you're referred to as the black sheep. "Our challenge and goal is to eliminate racism," he said. King said he hopes for a day when history lessons in this coun try cover all ethnic groups. "There are so many contributions that every ethnic group has made," he said. "We are a great nation because we are a diverse nation." Branscomb Auditorium at Florida Southern was full of college students as well as students from area middle and high schools. "It was nice," said Van McKenzie, 15, a ninth-grader at George Jenkins High School in Lakeland. "He wasn't just talking to blacks. He was talking about blacks and whites." "I thought it was fantastic, just the opportunity to hear about his father," said Gwen McKenzie, a seventh-grade teacher at Kathleen Middle School. "I thought it was wonderful, powerful, inspiring," Florida Southern student Martha Valentine said. "It kind of gave me chills." J ' ' - -,,- i! t ' I 1 ; GREO FIGHTT rioune photo Heads up Florida Southern College first baseman Jenny Coppage warms up during a recent practice of the Lade Mocs. The team's first home game is with the University of Tampa today at 6 p.m. Story, this section-4 NAACP: Polk County lags in desegregation compliance SUMMARY: Polk's school system has failed to comply with a federal desegregation order, the head of Lakeland's NAACP chapter says. By BETH FOUSHEE of The Tampa Tribune LAKELAND Polk's school board has "acted in bad faith" by neglecting to complete "several million dollars" worth of construction at the county's first magnet school, the head of Lakeland's NAACP chapter said Wednesday. This conflicts with a federal court order outlining what should have been done at Rochelle School of the Arts in Lakeland, said Larry Jackson, also a Lakeland lawyer. Any failure or delay to "implement previously agreed to matters will create a crisis in this s litigation," Jackson wrote to Clar- & . Jrji ence "Bubba" Boswell Jr., the at- mmt -i torney representing the school board in the 34-year-old federal desegregation case filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. "There's several million dollars of construction at Rochelle and they just have not done it," Jackson said. "It's a real breach of good faith. "It's the past coming back to haunt us." Boswell couldn't be reached for comment late Wednesday; nor could Andrea Whiteley, the school board membrj who represents the Rochelle school Jackson area. Superintendent Glenn Reynolds was out of the house Wednesday night and couldn't be reached. Jackson claims the disputed construction, such, as an academics lab, hasn't been done at Rochelle. ; . He questioned why there have been so many, major construction projects among county schools id recent years the renovation of McKeel Academy lor one and why there's movement to build two flew, middle schools when work outlined by the court for Rochelle seems to have been abandoned. : ; - Jackson said because of what he considers bad faith, he will recommend to the Legal Defense Fond that all Polk's magnet schools be scrutinized to make sure what has been promised has been done. I T "This is going to cause us to review the entire consent decree every word to see what's been carried out," he said. . . Jackson said he learned of abandoned projects- at Rochelle through calls from people in the area.; He investigated, he said, and the callers were right In 1963 the National Association for the Advance ment of Colored People filed a class-action lawstlit against the Polk County School Board on behalf of Herman Henry Mills, a Winter Haven teenager whd attended all-black schools. In 1983, a final consent decree outlining a plan f6r desegregating Polk's schools was set down by a U.S. district judge in Tampa. School officials have claimed that the district has complied with the court order, pointing to the 'feet that eight magnet schools have been created here. They have talked for a year about asking a judge td rule the desegregation case closed. But Jackson said that's not likely to happen socf.

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