Sister of murdered youth says her case, and the Trayvon Martin shooting, point to a failed justice system.

Attending a rally to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin, Vikki Hankins shows how this case made her remember the tragic shooting death of her younger brother in 1991. (Photo by Garry Jones).

Vikki Hankins was watching television when she heard that haunting voice in the background, which literally grabbed at her.
Since then, she’s joined thousands of others who have attended rallies in Sanford to protest the way the local police department has handled the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“It took me a minute to determine whether I wanted to get involved,” she said. “I was looking at television like everyone else, and by the second or the third day, I heard it. When I listened to the media play that 911 tape, I heard someone pleading for help in the background. When I heard the cry for help in the background, at that point I remember telling a friend I was making a determination that I wanted to get involved. Hearing that plea for help compelled me to get involved.”
Attending those rallies in Sanford, she said, has been a very powerful experience, because it was about so much more than protesting the senseless killing of a teenage boy armed only with a bad of Skittles and an iced tea, and about so much more than the failure of the Sanford Police Department to make an arrest in this shooting death. Continue reading

Review: Deep fried Southern paradise at Homestyle Chicken N Fish.

Homestyle Chicken N Fish is in downtown Haines City. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

HAINES CITY – As the nation’s current obsession with obesity and changing our eating patterns continues unabated, I wonder sometimes if we’re missing another aspect of this picture: namely, whether this well-intentioned public health and awareness campaign may be producing a casualty that deserves to stick around a lot longer: southern fried foods.
If you’re someone who worries that this nation isn’t taking seriously the problem of poor dietary habits and feel a need to steer people toward only the healthiest and most nutritious foods available, you might want to stop reading right about now. I’m not going to be saying anything that you’ll find encouraging or supportive.
Because while I agree that a trip to the salad bar beats out a juicy hamburger with fries and a tall coke, the demonization of fast foods and sodas sometimes makes me a little bit nervous, because what I also see out there is one of the great traditions of the South: fried foods. Continue reading

Get Out and Vote campaign launched in Poinciana.

The Poinciana Medical Center is now being built, Wendy Farrell says, because local residents spoke up loudly and demanded their political leaders make it happen. (Photo by Dave Raith).

POINCIANA — Wendy Farrell admits that she’s the last person to be giving advice in Poinciana about getting to the polls, because as a native of England who is here on a business work visa, she can’t cast a ballot in any Florida elections.
“Me, of all people, who can’t even vote,” she laughed.
At the time time, Farrell said she’s seen first hand just how important the political process is in the United States – and more, importantly, locally. When a community comes together with a shared voice and really pushes the major political leaders to make things happen, she said, that’s when they get results.
“It’s just one of those things,” she said. “A lot of people don’t think about the vote, and how they can make change. I understand that the economy is tough at the moment and people are running around like headless chickens, but here in Poinciana we’re starting to address our issues, but it’s a small core of issues with people working hard on them. We need people to say we are about change, and even down to local elections, if you don’t like what’s going on in Polk or Osceola counties, then go vote with your feet at the polls. Every time we use that collective voice, things happen. We got the hospital because we used our voice.” Continue reading
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