DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Headline Surfer is counting down the Top 100 stories of 2016 in the greater Daytona Beach, Sanford and Orlando metro area otherwise known as the I-4 corridor of Central Florida through Volusia, Seminole and Orange counties.
Among the top 5 contenders for the No. 1 story of the year in no particular order: The Pulse gay nightclub terrorist massacre; the ugliness of the presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; the continuing saga over homelessness in Daytona Beach; records tied or broken in NASCAR races at Daytona International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway; and no relief from escalating violent crime, especially in Daytona and Orlando.
Here are the stories ranked 31-40:
31. Parker the little doggie from Ormond Beach back home: 'We missed you Sweetheart!'
ORMOND BEACH, Fla. -- Parker, the little dogie from Ormond Beach, who got lost trying to conquer a fire station, was back home after a one-day jaunt in mid-November, with her relieved owner proclaiming: "We missed you Sweetheart!"
In big letters, owner Heather Dougherty-Harris posted the following on her Facebook page: "FOUND DOG!!! PARKER IS HOME!!"
"Thank you everyone!!! She was picked up and brought to Ormond Veterinary Clinic," Dougherty-Harris explained. "Dr. (Michael) Burke, his staff and a super nice lady (who had just lost her dog) took great care of her. I can't say Thank you enough for everyone's all help spreading the word, all of the prayers and the very helpful advise!! Oh Happy Day!!!"
"Thank you everyone!!! She was picked up and brought to Ormond Veterinary Clinic," Heather Dougherty-Harris, shown here, explained of her little dog, Parker, who went missing Wednesday.
"Dr. (Michael) Burke, his staff and a super nice lady (who had just lost her dog) took great care of her. I can't say Thank you enough for everyone's all help spreading the word, all of the prayers and the very helpful advise!! Oh Happy Day!!!"
Parker was described to Headline Surfer by Dougherty-Harris as a "shorkie" -- half Shitzu and half Yorkie. She Is about 7 years old, but looks like 2 to 3 years old, her proud owner said.
Parker was not wearing her trademark red bandana when she went missing near the Granada Street Fire Station. So the distraught owner called the Ormond Beach Police, several animal shelters and then took to Facebook. A friend of her's contacted Headline Surfer, which then wrote an initial story.
32. Feds: Former Longwood top cop Thomas Jackson sentenced to 4 years in prison for bribery conviction
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Senior US District Judge Gregory A. Presnell sentenced a stone-faced Thomas S. Jackson, the disgraced ex-Longwood police chief to four years in federal prison in early March for conspiracy and bribery in his dealings with an ex-con he hired as a cop and even promoted to sergeant, lieutenant and commander in exchange for $30,000 in cold hard cash.
A federal jury found Jackson guilty in October, following a brief trial. He did not take the stand in his own defense and said nothing during his sentencing.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Jackson, who was the chief of police of the Longwood PD for three years before retiring May 28, 2010, received steady cash payments from Samer Majzoub, a convicted felon, who remains at large despite a longstanding warrant for his arrest as a fugitive from justice.
In return, Jackson appointed Majzoub as an officer with the Longwood Police Department. He gave Majzoub, who was living in Heathrow, the supervisory titles of commander, lieutenant, and sergeant, and provided him with badges and credentials that represented Majzoub as an officer of the Longwood police force.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Jackson, who was the chief of police of the Longwood PD for three years before retiring May 28, 2010, received steady cash payments from Samer Majzoub, a convicted felon, shown here, who remains at large despite a longstanding warrant for his arrest as a fugitive from justice.
In return for the cash bribes, Jackson appointed Majzoub as an officer with the Longwood Police Department. He gave Majzoub the supervisory titles of commander, lieutenant, and sergeant, and provided him with badges and credentials that represented Majzoub as an officer of the Longwood police force.
Jackson also assisted Majzoub in possessing firearms and ammunition. As a previously convicted felon, Majzoub was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law.
A grand jury indictment handed up accuses Majzoub of one count of conspiracy and three counts of bribery of an agent of a local government receiving federal funds.
According to a 1994 civil complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Majzoub's company, Special Delivery Services, violated federal anti-fraud regulations when he lied to investors and hid inflated payments from brokers.
Majzoub had pleaded guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud in Manhattan federal court, in 1993, and was sentenced in to three years of supervised release, the US Attorney's Office in Tampa said.
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst had testified that she told Jackson that Majzoub was not eligible for police certification due to his felony conviction.
Jackson submitted his name for certification anyway and then tried to cover it up, federal prosecutors asserted at his trial.
Jackson's defense counsel in closing arguments said he was not aware Majzoub was a convicted felon, despite the prosecution's star witness testimony, and that he only took the money as a loan to buy his dream property in North Carolina, which is not a crime.
Jackson stood alone, expressionless, during his presentment for sentencing.
News of the former lawman's punishment drew quick reaction from a woman whose former husband worked with him in Longwood municipal government.
"Omg tommy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Rose Mcwhorter, a tarot card reader in Daytona Beach, reacted, after Headline Surfer® put out a news flash on its social media contacts via Facebook and Twitter.
"You know this guy" she was asked? "Yep. My ex-husband was city attorney in Longwood during some of his time as chief."
News of the former Longwood lawman's punishment drew quick reaction from a woman whose former husband worked with him in Longwood municipal government.
"Omg tommy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Rose Mcwhorter, a tarot card reader in Daytona Beach shown here, reacted to the four year prison sentence given Thomas Jackson, after Headline Surfer® put out a news flash on its social media contacts via Facebook and Twitter.
"You know this guy" she was asked? "Yep. My ex-husband was city attorney in Longwood during some of his time as chief."
Jackson, who lives in Murphy, NC, was allowed to walk out of the courthouse to get his personal affairs in order by the end of next week and then surrender to the US Bureau of Prisons to begin his four years of incarceration,one year of supervised release.
This government's case against Longwood's former top cop was investigated by the FBI and IRS. He was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Roger B. Handberg and James D. Mandolfo.
33. Chase Elliott wins Powershares QQQ 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The finish of the Feb. 20 Powershares QQQ 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks put Chase Elliott in Victory Circle and Joey Logano as the runner-up in a closely-contested race..
Fearing he wouldn’t get help from Kasey Kahne, Elliott’s JR Motorsports teammate, Logano pushed Elliott clear of the pack on the final lap, hoping to make a move to the outside as the cars sped off Turn 4. But when Logano went high, Elliott moved to his right, and repeated contact between Elliott’s No. 88 Chevrolet and Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford—hard enough to pound a deep dent into Elliott’s right rear quarter panel—broke Logano’s momentum and allowed the No. 88 to cross the stripe .043 seconds ahead of the No. 22.
"He blocked it—I got there a little bit late," Logano acknowledged. "And then I got hooked on his right rear, and that’s what killed my momentum. That contact just stopped my car."
So the pole winner for the Daytona 500 beat the winner of the 2015 Daytona 500 by a small fraction of a second, and Logano was runner-up for the third time during Speedweeks, having run second to Denny Hamlin in the previous Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited and second to JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the first Can-Am Duel.
Kasey Kahne finished third and XFINITY regular Elliott Sadler fourth in the season opener, as JR Motorsports grabbed three of the top four positions. Austin Dillon ran fifth, followed by Darrell Wallace, Jr. and rookie Brandon Jones.
"That was a heck of a battle, man," said Elliott, who survived early contact during a six-car incident on Lap 13 and rallied to win his first XFINITY race at Daytona and the fifth of his career. "I had such a great car, and we just found ourselves in the right place at the right time. "Luckily we just barely had enough to get in front of Joey there."
Daytona International Speedway
Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 Order of Finish:
34. Don Burnette wins Port Orange mayor's race in November following tough debate & 3-way primary
PORT ORANGE, Fla. -- Don Burnette had several hurdles to overcome on his way to ewlection sas mayor of Port Orange in the 2016 election cycle. First there was a public canduidate deabte by Headline Surfer held on July 25 at the Lakeside Community Center, which the internet news outlet wanted to stage on the dais in the city council chambers and shown on Port Orange Government TV.
But the city manager Jake Johansson opposed the request, calling it "hallowed ground" and so the less desirable site with lousy acoustics was chosen. More on the debate venue later in the countdown.
Burnette, a two-term councilman, was dealing with two worthy opponents: Lance Green's father, Allen Green is the current mayor prohibited by term limits from seeking re-election, and Ted Noftall, a citizen watchdog, who was highly critical of the city during the water billing scandal.
Following a tough debate, Burnette won the Aug. 30 primary with 4,865 votes, Noftall was second with 3,796 and Green finished third and out of the running with 2,996 votes and out of the running.
Although he generated 41.73 percent of the primary votes, Burnette finished below the threshold of 50 percent plus 1 vote needed to win it outright. Burnette was subsequently endorsed for mayor by Headline Surfer prior to the November elections.
Although he generated 41.73 percent of the primary votes, Don Burnette finished below the threshold of 50 percent plus 1 vote needed to win the race for mayor of Port Orange outright. Burnette was subsequently endorsed for mayor by Headline Surfer prior to the November elections.
In the Nov. 8 general elections, Burnette easily defeated Noftall, garnering 58.12 percent of the vote. Burnette received 16,348 votes to Noftall's 11,780 votes.
35. Funeral procession for k9 Forest killed in line of duty in Deltona
DELTONA, Fla. -- A k-9 dog shot and killed in November in the apprehension of a suspect was killed by friendly fire, the Volusia County Sheriff conceded the following month in a prepared statement.
"Sadly, unintended consequences sometimes occur in shooting situations," Sheriff Ben Johnson said in a statement. "This doesn't change the fact that Forest died a hero while trying to subdue a dangerous gunman."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded in its investigation that suspect Eddie Durell Powell did not fire his gun resulting in the death of the cane, Forest. Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson previously said Powell shot at deputies first and they returned fire.
Deputies were looking for a fugitive about 7 p.m. on Nov. 22 near Vann Park in Deltona. A man later identified Powell ran from the house, according to Davidson.
The dog, Forest, chased him down. Powell was fighting with Forest and pointed a gun at deputies, they said. That's when Deputy Brandon Ellis and Sgt. Brodie Hughes shot toward Powell, according to Davidson. But as FDLE stated in its investigation, it was friendly fire that ultimately killed the dog.
A makeshift memorial was held in honor of the slain canine on Nov. 25.
36. AJ Styles receives 'phenomenal' pop in WWE's Royal Rumble at Amway Arena in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. -- WWE fans filled the Amway Center in Orlando on Jan. 24, to see the pay-per-view event known as the Royal Rumble. And what an event it turned out to be.
It was during the main event - a 30-man over-the-top battle royal (it starts with one contestant and then every two minutes another enters and it ends when only one of the 30 entrants is left in the ring) where one wrestling superstar got the largest "pop" -- wrestling term for loudest cheer -- and that was "The Phenomenal One" AJ Styles, who finally premiered in pro wrestling's largest organization -- WWE -- after a decade in smaller organizations like TNA Wrestling. The moment fans saw the term "Phenomenal One" on the large screens, they knew who it was and they went crazy.
More on the Royal Rumble main event, but first here is a rundown of preliminary matches.
Pre-Show: The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley), Jack Swagger and Mark Henry, Damien Sandow and Darren Young and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) competed in a Fatal Four Way Tag Team match, in which the winners would qualify for the Royal Rumble match. In the end, Bubba Ray and D-Von performed a 3-D on Viktor before Swagger applied a Patriot Lock on Bubba Ray whilst Henry performed a Running Splash on Bubba Ray. Henry pinned Viktor, allowing Swagger and Henry to qualify for the Royal Rumble match.
Preliminary Royal Rumble Matches: The event opened with Dean Ambrose defending the Intercontinental Championship against Kevin Owens in a Last Man Standing match. In the end, Ambrose pushed Owens off the top rope through two tables stacked outside the ring. As Owens could not stand by a ten count, Ambrose won the match to retain the title.
Next, The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) defended the WWE Tag Team Championship against The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso). The ending saw Big E tackle Jimmy into the barricade, only for Jey to perform a Superkick on Big E. Jey leapt to the top rope but was caught by Big E, who performed a Big Ending on Jey to retain the title.
Alberto Del Rio defended the United States Championship against Kalisto. In the end, Del Rio removed the padding from a turnbuckle but Kalisto performed a Diving Hurricanrana on Del Rio, knocking Del Rio into the exposed turnbuckle. Kalisto performed a second Salida Del Sol on Del Rio to win the title.
Charlotte defended her Divas Championship against Becky Lynch. The match ended when Lynch applied the Dis-arm-her on Charlotte but Ric Flair threw his jacket onto Lynch. While Lynch threw the jacket away, Charlotte executed a Spear on Lynch to retain the championship. After the match, Sasha Banks returned, applying the Bank Statement on Charlotte until Flair pulled Charlotte out of the ring.
Photos for Headline Surfer / Far left, AJ Styles enters the ring to battle Roman Reigns early on. In the photo at right, Dean Ambrose and Triple H are the final two left in the 30-man Royal Rumble, which Triple H wins.
Here is a synopsis of the main event, a 30-man Royal Rumble match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns and Rusev began the match as number one and number two, respectively.
After Reigns eliminated Rusev, AJ Styles entered at number three, marking Styles's WWE pay-per-view debut, and eliminated the next entrants, Tyler Breeze and Curtis Axel. On orders of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, the League of Nations pulled Reigns out of the ring and attacked him, where Rusev performed a Running Splash on Reigns through a broadcast table, causing an injured Reigns to be taken backstage.
As the match continued, Braun Strowman eliminated Kane and Big Show. Kevin Owens eliminated AJ Styles but was later eliminated by Sami Zayn, who was a surprise entrant at number twenty. Brock Lesnar eliminated Jack Swagger and three members of the Wyatt Family, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper and Braun Strowman. When Bray Wyatt entered, The Wyatt Family attacked Lesnar again and eliminated him from the match. After Sheamus entered, Reigns attacked him with a Superman Punch before returning to the match. Reigns then eliminated The Miz and Alberto Del Rio.
At No. 30, Triple H, who had been inactive since being attacked by Roman Reigns at TLC, made his return and eliminated Dolph Ziggler. Sheamus performed a Brogue Kick on Wyatt and, together with Triple H, eliminated Wyatt. Chris Jericho performed a Codebreaker on Triple H but was eliminated by Dean Ambrose. Sheamus attempted another Brogue Kick on Ambrose however Ambrose avoided it and Sheamus fell onto the ring apron. Reigns eliminated Sheamus after a Superman Punch but was then eliminated by Triple H.
After a back-and-forth shuffle, Triple H eliminated Ambrose, resulting in Triple H winning his second Royal Rumble and becoming WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the ninth time, and a 14-time World Champion overall.
37. Three suicides occur within weeks of each other in greater Daytona with victims leaping from multi-story buildings
Photos for Headline Surfer / April France, 41, leapt to her death from her 18th floor balcony at the Sherwin Condominium in Daytona Beach Shores, shown at left on Sept. 6, the third such suicide victim from a deliberate jump from a multi-story building along the shoreline in a matter of weeks last summer.
DAYTONA BEACH SHORES -- A 41-year-old woman jumped to her death from the 18th floor of the Sherwin Condominium in Daytona Beach Shores on Sept. 6, making her the third person in a matter of weeks to commit suicide by leaping from a multi-story building in greater Daytona Beach.
April France, 41, jumped from the balcony of her condominium at 1:38 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, according to a police report.
Timothy Conaway, 54, of Destin in the Florida Panhandle, jumped from the seventh floor of the Holiday Inn Resort on Aug. 29 in Daytona Beach, police said. He succumbed to his injuries on Sept. 3, at Halifax Health Medical Center. According to a police report, Conaway had checked in the night, paying cash for his room, and jumping the next day.
The first suicide victim was 59-year-old Janet Trainor of Port Orange, who was a guest at the Hilton Daytona Beach Resort/Ocean Walk Village on Aug. 1, when she jumped to her death from the 15th floor of Daytona's largest hotel.
Daytona Beach Shores cops forced their way into April France's condo and found the living room and the master bedroom both to be in "complete disarray," according to an incident report. Cops took note of a chair on the balcony had been pushed up to the rail and faced the ocean, the incident report stated.
April France was the ex-daughter-in-law of Jim France, vice chairman of NASCAR and chairman of International Speedway Corp. She had a 12-year-old son, Jayce Cameron France.
38. Anita Bradford romps to victory in race for district 2 seat on Deltona City Commission
DELTONA, Fla. -- Anita Bradford romped to victory over fellow challenger Tom Stauffenberg with 64.1 percent of the votes to win the district 2 seat on the Deltona City Commission in the Nov. 8 general election.
"I am honored and so excited to be your next Commissioner," an ecstatic Bradford, 48, said after the votes came in showing her with 4,044 votes to 2,235 votes of her opponent, 49-year-old Tom Stauffenberg. "Thank you all for your support and faith in me. I will be your voice and serve you all proudly."
Bradford also thanked her husband, Wendell Bradford, himself a candidate in the earlier Volusia County Sheriff's race where he finished fourth among five candidates won outright in the Aug. 30 primary by Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood. "Wendell Bradford, I could not do this without you by my side," she said. "I love you."
"I am honored and so excited to be your next Commissioner," an ecstatic Anita Bradford, 48, shown here, said after the votes came in showing her with 4,044 votes to her opponent Tom Stauffenberg's 2,235 votes. "Thank you all for your support and faith in me. I will be your voice and serve you all proudly."
Bradford also thanked her husband, Wendell Bradford, himself a candidate in the earlier Volusia County Sheriff's race where he finished fourth among five candidates won outright in the Aug. 30 primary by Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood. "Wendell Bradford I could not do this without you by my side," she said. "I love you."
Headline Surfer co-endorsed Chief Deputy Eric Dietrich and Wendell Bradford, a retired Seminole County Sheriff's deputy, in the primary race for Volusia County Sheriff, and endorsed Anita Bradford for the district 2 Deltona City commission seat.
This was Anita Bradford's first campaign for elective office and she was a big winner. She takes the seat held by Dine Smith who held it since 2014 when she filled a vacancy left by then-Commissioner Webster Barnaby's decision to run for the at-large seat in the 2014 elections.
Barnaby finished third among three candidates in the 2014 primary and out of the running for the county seat eventually won in the general election by incumbent Joyce Cusack over then-district 5 County Councilwoman Pat Northey, who was term limited in her own seat.
Smith, who had been appointed in a 3-2 vote of the city commission to fill the seat vacated by Barnaby who wanted to return to it, opted not to run in this election cycle to try and hold onto the municipal seat.
Like winner Anita Bradford, this was defeated Tom Stauffenberg's first try at elective office.
District 2 covers the northwest section of Deltona.
In the zone 4 commission race, fellow newcomer Chris Alcantara defeated incumbent Nancy Scheicher.
39. Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line had several eventful visits to Daytona Beach in 2016: Daytona 500, Country 500 Concert & Daytona State College Foundation Gala
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Volusia County Chair Ed Kelley and his wife, MaryMargaret Kelley have at least three occasions where they got to see their son, Brian Kelley of Florida-Georgia Line do his thing in Daytona Beach in 2016.
Here is a chronicling of the country crooner as described by Fred Costello, then-State Rep. and former Ormond Beach Mayor.
Here is what Costello said of Brian Kelly at the 2016 Great American Race: "Home grown Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line at the Daytona 500 with Brian's family Ormond Beach Mayor and First Lady Mary Margaret Kelley and sister Katherine and the Ryans and a hundred thousand plus fans!!!!" Now that's a mouthful to get out in one sentence, but Costello loves to express himself.
Here is how Costello described Florida Georgia Line's performance at the inaugural Country 500 at Daytona International Speedway, which drew a moderate crowd for the weekend event in May.
"Florida Georgia Line's (performance of) HOLY (High On Loving You!) at the Country 500 hosted by DAYTONA International Speedway. There was a huge crowd with ALL kinds of people who had one thing in common ... they were all courteous, respectful of others and all seemed to be genuinely having a great time!," Costello wrote on his Facebook page.
Costello continued, "Obviously all of Daytona/Ormond Beach residents are justifiably proud of our home grown Brian Kelley who gave well deserved shout outs to his wife, dad and mom."
And in September, Brian Kelley was honored at Daytona State College.
Fred Costello took note of the occasion by writing on his Facebook page, "It was a great night honoring Ormond Beach's 'Favorite Son' Brian Kelley at the Daytona State College Foundation Annual Gala! Ed and Mary Margaret are justifiably proud of both BK and Katherine! Linda had a School Board meeting so I took Skylar who blew everybody away with how grown up she is at 16. She was excited to have her picture taken with Mayor Ed and with BK ... and allowed me to have my picture taken with her as well. I am especially proud that Skylar is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside!"
40. David Fernandez, owner of Traders bar on Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach dies
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- David Patrick Fernandez was down the street at the Beacon restaurant having a coffee when he was suddenly stricken on Oct. 14, and died shortly after arrival at Halifax Health Medical Center, due to a blood clot, said Justin Kennedy, a former Edgewater city councilman and an acquaintance. He was 48 years old.
A funeral Mass was held six days later for Fernandez of New Smyrna Beach, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 4000 South Atlantic Ave., New Smyrna Beach. A reception of family and friends will follow from 5 to 7 at Traders on Flagler Avenue.
Several hundred thousand dollars in taxpayer money -- CRA and Southeast Volusia Ad Authority bed tax grants for "Feet on the Street" were spent on Flagler between 2005 and 2015, for alcohol-related pub crawls, of which Traders was a benefactor. But excesses in partying led to a DUI crash fatality on the South Causeway Bridge in 2013, during a Cinco de Mayo festival. A young Port Orange mother of three girls, 32-year-old Riccilynn Rigoli, was killed when she was ejected from her SUV which overturned and landed on top of her and crushing her to death.
Fernandez was a boyhood friend of former Mayor Adam Barringer and was able to get a $60,000 CRA grant from the city to have the bar remodeled. But Fernandez was well known to New Smyrna Beach cops and courtroom prosecutors for more than a dozen arrests, mostly for bar fights.
One in particular, in 2011, was pretty gruesome when Fernandez and a bouncer were accused of felony assault on Henry Wheeler, a petty criminal who later was sent to prison for his role in a drug-deal gone bad where a man was killed.
Even though the bouncer copped a no contest plea to a lesser included charge and adjudication of guilt was withheld, Fernandez walked away from the felony charge, which was dismissed after extensive plea negotiations failed and he insisted the state put him on trial and prove the charges, knowing how unreliable Wheeler had been previously with more than 600 arrests for petty crimes before he was sent to prison.