Florida veterinarian convicted of animal cruelty charges

The Lakeland Ledger reports that 68-year-old Gail Nichols faces up to five years in prison after a jury convicted her late Thursday. Evidence showed the horses were malnourished, infested with parasites and had hooves so overgrown the animals had difficulty walking.

Nichols claimed on the witness stand that the horses were born with deformed hooves, were not in pain and that their conditions were unavoidable.

Authorities seized 28 miniature horses, two full-sized horses, eight dogs and two birds after Nichols and her husband were arrested in 2017 at their Polk County property. The husband is set to stand trial later on similar charges.


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Colorful Florida Sheriff’s Image Captured In Bobbleheads

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd’s likeness has been captured in a baseball bobblehead. (Courtesy Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

LAKELAND, FL — When the Lakeland Flying Tigers take the field Friday night they will be under the watchful eye of colorful Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. Make that 2,400 watchful eyes of the good sheriff.

The first 1,200 paid adult fans, 13 and up, will each receive a voucher for a free Sheriff Grady Judd bobblehead as they enter the stadium. The bobbleheads will be distributed starting in the fifth inning.

"You can take me home, your very own Sheriff Grady Judd bobblehead, to look over your house when you’re not there," Judd said in a promotion for the giveaway by the minor league franchise owned by the Detroit Tigers.

Judd’s folksy way of describing some pretty terrible criminals and their misdeeds have made him one of the best known figures in central Florida and within Florida law enforcement circles.

Earlier this month, Judd described a North Carolina fugitive like this:


"For some reason, he thought Polk County would be a good place to hide. We’re not too fond of the bad guys who are already in the county," said Judd on social media. "We certainly aren’t thrilled with out-of-state bad guys who want to bring their violent drama here."

This week Judd had this to say about a suspected thief:

"If we had to say something nice about him, we would say that he doesn’t let failure stop him," the sheriff lamented. "Too bad he can’t put that quality to good use instead of using it for criminal exploit."

The unusual giveaway is part of the team’s law enforcement appreciation weekend. On Saturday, the sheriff’s office is playing against the Lakeland Police Department in a battle of the badges softball game prior to the Flying Tigers game.

The bobbleheads are sponsored by 97.5 WPCV and Browning Moving and Storage. Fans must be present to claim their bobblehead.

The gates open on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The Flying Tigers hit the field at 6:30 p.m. to play Fort Myers.

On Saturday, the gates open at 3 p.m. The first pitch for the softball game will be at 3:45 p.m. Teams will halt play at 5 p.m. before the Flying Tigers take the field at 6 p.m. with new specialty jerseys.

The jerseys will be available for $100. Jerseys will be game worn and autographed by a Flying Tigers player or coach following the game.

Proceeds from the jersey raffle will benefit the corresponding foundations of the Lakeland Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The team is also offering a promotion for a signed Sheriff Grady Judd Bobblehead as well as two tickets to the May 31 game. See details below:

What does the sheriff think about the bobbleheads?

"He loves it," spokesman Brian Bruchey said of the lawman’s reaction. "Several people pooled their money together a few years back and had one made for a Christmas gift. We’ve even had some fun with it on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ve gotten a lot of requests for one."

Click here to purchase tickets to the Lakeland Flying Tigers. For additional event information, contact Dan Lauer at 863-413-4115 or via email at dan.lauer@tigers.com.

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Clemens hits walk-off homer, Lakeland beats Palm Beach 3-1

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Kody Clemens hit a walk-off two-run homer, as the Lakeland Flying Tigers beat the Palm Beach Cardinals 3-1 on Tuesday.

The Cardinals tied the game 1-1 in the top of the seventh when Rayder Ascanio hit an RBI single, driving in Scott Hurst.

Lakeland starter Tarik Skubal went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and three hits. He also struck out two and walked one. Max Green (1-0) got the win with two innings of scoreless relief while C.J. Saylor (2-2) took the loss in the Florida State League game.

Cole Peterson singled three times in the win.

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With the win, Lakeland improved to 4-1 against Palm Beach this season.

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Silver Alert issued for missing Lakeland man with dementia

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The Lakeland Police Department has issued a Silver Alert for a missing man with dementia.

John Patrick Gordon, 79, was last seen leaving the parking garage at Lakeland Medical Center at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, according to police.

Gordon left in a silver 2008 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck bearing Florida Tag# KGK-X21. The truck has a sticker on the rear that says either “Alley Cat” or “Ally Cat.”

Police said Gordon was last known to be in the Daytona Area around 6 p.m. and was last seen wearing a multicolored black, brown, and gold striped shirt, khaki pants, and possibly white shoes.

Anyone who sees him can call 911 or the Lakeland Police Department at 863-834-6900.

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Policelli hits two homers as Lakeland defeats Bradenton 13-7

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Brady Policelli hit two of the Lakeland Flying Tigers’ season-high five home runs in a 13-7 win over the Bradenton Marauders on Friday. The Flying Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak with the victory.

Christin Stewart, Dylan Rosa and Zac Shepherd also homered for the Flying Tigers.

Policelli hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning off Aaron Shortridge and then hit a solo homer in the ninth off Ryan Valdes.

Burris Warner (1-1) got the win with three innings of scoreless, one-hit relief while Drew Fischer (0-1) took the loss in the Florida State League game.

Robbie Glendinning doubled twice and singled for the Marauders. Cal Mitchell homered and singled, driving in three runs and scoring a pair.

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Policelli, Burch lift Lakeland over St. Lucie 10-4

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Brady Policelli tripled twice, scoring two runs as the Lakeland Flying Tigers defeated the St. Lucie Mets 10-4 on Wednesday.

Luke Burch tripled and singled with three RBIs for Lakeland.

Lakeland got on the board first with a run in the third inning. After hitting a triple with two outs, Policelli scored on a single by Kody Clemens.

After Lakeland added six runs, the Mets cut into the deficit in the seventh inning when Blake Tiberi hit a two-run double and then scored on a two-run single by Jacob Zanon.

Lakeland starter Elvin Rodriguez (2-1) picked up the win after allowing just three hits over five scoreless innings. Opposing starter Tommy Wilson (1-2) took the loss in the Florida State League game after allowing three runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings.

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Lakeland: 5 Latest Homes To Hit The Market


LAKELAND, FL — When you’re in the market for a new place, keeping tabs on all the latest listings can take hours of tedious investigating online. That’s why we here at Patch have stepped in and done the prepwork for you.

Below, you’ll find the five newest homes to go up for sale in the Lakeland area — including one with 1 bed and 1 bath for $55,000, and another with 3 beds and 2 baths for $210,900.

Like what you see? Simply click on any address in the list to get additional pics and details. Happy house hunting!


Price: $55,000
Size: 752 sq. ft., 1 bed, and 1 bath

Price: $183,000
Size: 1,680 sq. ft, 3 beds, and 2 baths

Price: $129,900
Size: 1,410 sq. ft., 3 beds, and 1 bath

Price: $210,900
Size: 1,669 sq. ft., 3 beds, and 2 baths

Price: $139,000
Size: 1,326 sq. ft., 2 beds, and 2 baths

Want more options? Keep scrolling for more listings. Or you can always find a full list of local homes in Patch’s real-estate section for the Lakeland area.

Photos courtesy of Realtor.com

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Carlisle Events’ 2019 Lakeland Winter AutoFest for Corvettes

Here is some good news for Corvette fans. If you live in the South or travel there to avoid harsh winters, Carlisle Events added the Winter AutoFest to their schedule. Many Corvette activities are embedded into this show’s schedule. It takes place at the Sun ’n Fun Expo Campus in Lakeland, Florida. It is a perfect place to park your Corvette and enjoy the many activities the show has to offer. This is the same company that presents the highly successful Corvettes at Carlisle show in Pennsylvania. The friendly and well-trained staff works hard to make your visit pleasant and enjoyable. Here is a little background about this unique company and how they expanded to Florida.

It began when Chip Miller and Bill Miller became friends in the early ’70s. The thing about their friendship is they shared the same last name, but were not related. Their business relationship grew over the years because they shared a passion for classic cars. They held their first automotive event at the Carlisle Fairgrounds (Pennsylvania) in 1974, and it was a rousing success. They began adding shows to their schedule and experienced rapid growth.

Chip and Bill created Carlisle Events in order to effectively manage this growth. Their next major decision was to create a permanent home for the company. In 1981, they purchased the 82-acre Carlisle Fairground site and made it the company’s headquarters. This purchase allowed them to make the Fairgrounds a more compatible location for their automotive events. During the ’80s and ’90s, the company continued to expand their schedule.

In 2013, Carlisle Events introduced itself to the Florida market by hosting events in Zephyrhills. Now, with Florida’s rapid growth, the company moved to the larger Sun ’n Fun complex in Lakeland, Florida. This year’s Lakeland Winter AutoFest was held on February 22-24, 2019, and was packed with Corvettes and visitors.

The 41st NCRS Winter Regional Meet was part of the Winter AutoFest activities and certified NCRS judges judged 42 Corvettes. A large hanger was used by the experts the judging. A total of 4,500 points are available for judges to award a Corvette. Ninety-four percent (4,230) of those points are the minimum required to qualify for a Top Flight certificate. Of the 42 Corvettes judged, 17 received Top Flight certificates. For owners who didn’t reach their goal they now have a good guideline on what needs correcting. People attending the show were welcome to visit the NCRS building, and many did. It was a great opportunity to closely inspect these factory-correct, historic Corvettes. In addition to the NCRS event, the show featured a Corvette Fun Field, Corvette Celebrity Judging, vendor displays and seven Corvette related seminars. There was a food midway, automotive flea market and a for sale car corral where buyers could purchase their perfect Corvette. The National Corvette Museum sold $10 raffle tickets for the opportunity to win a 2019 Corvette. The Winter AutoFest will return to Lakeland February 21-23, 2020. To get the latest show information visit www.carlisleevents.com.

Co-founder Chip Miller passed away in 2004. His son Lance Miller became co-owner and works with co-founder/co-owner Bill Miller Jr. to manage the company. Lance wants to continue his dad’s “Life is Good” mentality and legacy as the 21st century rolls forward. What started as a pair of automotive flea markets in the mid to late ’70s has spawned specialty show after specialty show. Their 2019 schedule includes 10 automotive events (including one in Lakeland) and four Carlisle Auctions (including one in Lakeland). The company has evolved from “cars in a field” to destination activities for individuals and families from around the world. Annually, more than half a million guests visit shows promoted by Carlisle Events. We encourage you to visit one of their Corvette shows in Pennsylvania or Florida … you will not be disappointed. Vette

This 1976 Corvette is shown entering the Lakeland Winter AutoFest entrance as it passes by a vintage World War II C-47 cargo plane. The plane serves as a gate guardian for the Sun ’n Fun Expo Campus at the Lakeland airport.

GM stylist and NCM Hall of Fame inductee Randy Wittine designed the paint scheme on this 1998 Indianapolis Pace Car. Fred Richards was awarded an NCRS Performance Verification award for his pace car.

Only 199 Corvettes were ordered in 1963 with the Z06 performance option. This Sebring Silver example owned by Ted Freund is one of them and was awarded Top Flight certification.

Jose Jorge Valencia received a Top Flight award for his Silver Pearl with red stinger 1967 427 coupe.

The Lakeland Sun ’n Fun airport provides ample parking for the many Corvettes that visited the event this year.

Roger and Connie Lester have traveled the around the U.S. in their 1962 Corvette. The custom trailer provides plenty of extra room for their luggage.

The Lakeland Winter Collector Car Auction was a popular stop for buyers and spectators. Lots of interesting cars and trucks crossed the block throughout the weekend, and many found new homes.

James Davis brought his Harvest Gold V-8–powered 1955 Corvette to the 41st NCRS Winter Regional Meet. James received a Sportsman award for displaying his classic.

Tom DeBold’s fuel-injected 1960 roadster received a Stock Blue Ribbon after it was entered in the Concours Stock category.

The Corvette vs. Cobra War seminar discussed how each brand battled each other. Two cars were available for inspection. They were the Fabulous Restorations Owens/Corning L88 Corvette replica and Dr. Gingold’s 1965 427-cid Cobra.

Forty-two Corvettes were brought to the 41st NCRS Winter Regional Meet to get judged for coveted awards. John Secchiano’s 1967 427 coupe was awarded Top Flight.

NCRS judges inspect John Landis’ 1965 L78 396/425hp Corvette. John’s Corvette earned Top Flight.

The L78 396/425hp big-block in John Landis’ Corvette has been restored to look like it did when it left the St. Louis assembly plant in 1965.

James Henry purchased this one-owner 1967 coupe in 2010. It was damaged in a flood and did not run. James repaired it and has driven it around the country. He was presented with a Sportsman award.

The ’67 Corvette has amassed 245,000 miles since it was built. The unrestored original interior has held up surprisingly well.

The L75 327/300hp engine is backed with a two-speed Powerglide transmission and factory air conditioning. This car is a true survivor.

Bill Miller Jr. (co-founder/co-owner of Carlisle Events) spent much of his time watching over the collector car auction. Bill did an excellent job directing sellers and buyers to the right auction spots.

Mark Wiley drove 450 miles to bring his rare (1 of 4 produced) 1954 to the NCRS Winter Regional Meet for judging. Mark’s beautiful Corvette was awarded Top Flight with “longest driven” noted on his certificate.

This I-6/150hp six-cylinder engine in Mark Wiley’s 1954 Corvette had no oil stains even after being driven 450 miles to the NCRS Winter Regional Meet.

The large food court was a popular place to visit so attendees could buy a cold drink, snack or lunch.

Lance Miller (co-owner Carlisle Events) spent the weekend hosting social media events about the Winter AutoFest. Lance is shown conducting a live podcast to provide up to the minute information for those attending the show.

The Lakeland Winter Collector Car Auction was a popular stop for buyers and spectators. Lots of interesting cars and trucks crossed the block throughout the weekend and many found new homes.

This large automotive flea market provided attendees plenty of shopping space to locate hard-to-find parts.

Carl Everett put his big-block 1969 Corvette convertible through the “as manufactured” Performance Verification testing process. His car passed after it did not have a single failure.

Larry Sturm’s Bowling Green-assembled two-tone 1981 Corvette was presented in like-new condition. It was awarded a Top Flight at the NCRS Winter Regional Meet.

This bright-red 1989 convertible owned by Fred Jenkins received a Performance Verification Award.

Paul Schwack’s 1996 Commemorative Edition Corvette received the Hill Mark of Excellence Award. This award recognizes owners for the preservation of 1993-’02 Corvettes.

Carlisle Events provides very clear signage that easily directs incoming guests to their correct entrance.

Coffman Corvette received a Modified 427 award for this restomod 1965 Corvette convertible. It features many newer parts while retaining the look of a classic 1965 convertible.

The engine in the Coffman Corvette has a vintage-appearing fuel-injection unit that hides a newer technology LS Classics fuel-injection system. It is a very impressive presentation.

Photography by Walt Thurn

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Lakeland Artist Takes Painting Down Following Complaints

LAKELAND, Fla. — A Lakeland artist decided to take one of his life-sized artworks hanging on the side of a private building down this week after people on social media decried it as satanic and threatened to vandalize it.

Artist Aaron Corbitt’s work one of 65 tapestries hanging around city Corbitt said his work inspired by Greek mythology People threatened on social media to damage tapestry with paintball guns

Aaron Corbitt’s controversial painting was one of 65 tapestries hanging on private buildings around downtown Lakeland and nearby Dixieland neighborhood since November. The tapestries are part of a project by artist David Collins to promote quality street art in Lakeland and to enhance urban areas.

On March 18, Lakeland Barbeque Company owner Joel Vann posted on Facebook about Corbitt’s artwork.

“They’re taking down Lakelands monument and replacing downtown with art like this. Satan laughing at the spilling of Christ’s blood,” Vann’s post reads.

The post received more than 80 comments, many agreeing with him. (Vann declined to do an interview.)

“It’s kind of distasteful for being outside for family," said Lucas Barley, who was among those who commented on the post. "I think it’s more of a … to go inside of an art museum.”

There were also threats in the comments to use paintball guns and a ski mask to destroy it, and others hoped it would “get graffiti all over it.”

"Nothing to do with Christianity or Satanism"

Corbitt said he was alerted about the threats soon after the post appeared on Facebook and decided to take it down.

“There were threats to vandalize the mural and that scared me," Corbitt told us. "So, I didn’t want to see my work destroyed."

Corbitt said his painting represented the fall of Dionysus, the God of Wine, and the madness that can come from over-indulgence.

”It has nothing to do with Christianity or Satanism,” Corbitt said.

He said he chose to paint it to represent his personal battle with alcoholism.

“I went through hell self-medicating with alcohol and other drugs," he explained. "I felt the only way I could share my experience was through painting."

After hearing about the complaints, Corbitt said he chose the high road and took it down.

“I’m a full-time artist. I got to choose my battles," he said. "I got to choose my battles according to my business."

When Corbitt posted on Facebook that he was taking down the tapestry, his post received more than 400 comments, most of them supportive of his artwork.

“Because it was taken down, it actually brought to light the painting’s purpose and intent more than ever, so I really have to thank all those who brought it down, and that’s just great,” Corbitt said.

Now he plans to make prints of it and sell them. He said he’s also received quite a few offers from people who want to buy it.

For now, the painting will remain in his studio.

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Tigers’ Joker Marchant Stadium named best spring training ballpark in Florida

The Tigers play their spring games at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.

When it comes to spring training stadiums in Florida, it doesn’t get better than Joker Marchant.

That’s the word from BallparkDigest.com, which named the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers the best Grapefruit League ballpark of 2019 on Monday.

Officially Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, the longtime home of the Tigers in Lakeland won over Clearwater’s Spectrum Field, spring home of the Philadelphia Phillies, in the finals of a bracketed online competition.

“We know Tigers fans love Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, and so do so many fans of spring training,” said Ballpark Digest/Spring Training Online publisher Kevin Reichard in a statement.

“This ballpark represents all the great traditions and history of spring training, and with recent upgrades fans can also enjoy a modern experience. It’s really the best of both worlds.”

Joker Marchant Stadium opened in 1966, but has undergone multiple renovations since then, most recently in 2017.

Part of the historic TigerTown training complex, the stadium now has outfield seating areas, premium group spaces and new administrative and training buildings.

The Tigers and Lakeland have the longest active relationship between a club and spring training host city.

In 2017 the ballpark, which is also home to the Florida State League’s Lakeland Flying Tigers, was selected as the fans’ choice for best High-A MiLB ballpark.

“This award means a great deal to all of us with the Detroit Tigers, and we’re honored to be recognized considering the high standard of ballparks throughout the Grapefruit League,” said the Detroit Tigers Director of Florida Operations, Ron Myers.

Myers also noted the partnership between the Tigers, city of Lakeland, Polk County, the state of Florida and Publix Corporation, among others.

LECOM Park in Bradenton, the spring home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, won the honor in 2018.

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