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Wilder leads Plant past Countryside 21-13

Tampa, Fla. -- Plant running back James Wilder, Jr. told head coach Robert Weiner at halftime to let him carry the Panthers past Countryside in the 5A region final.

Weiner listened and Wilder produced, scoring touchdowns of 8 and 43 yards in the second half to rally Plant from a 13-7 deficit to a 21-13 win and a third straight trip to the state semifinals.

Plant will host Lakeland in a semifinal rematch that the Panthers won in 2009 en route to a state title.

Quarterback Phillip Ely led Plant on a scoring drive to open the game but did not play another down due to a back injury.

Countryside built the 13-7 lead on the legs of running back Terry Johnson.  He scored a pair of 1-yard touchdowns to help the Cougars, but their offense stalled in the second half, allowing Plant to rally.

St. Pete election dates debated; Tampa's skirt the law

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - A battle over election dates could boil over in City Council on Thursday.

The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections wants to see the 2011 primary held on August 30 to allow extra time to prepare ballots for the general election.  On the other side of the debate, councilmember Karl Nurse is leading a charge to keep the primary in September, when he says voters are paying more attention to politics.

Supervisor Deborah Clark wants 10 weeks between elections; Nurse says the current eight weeks is plenty.

Pedestrian hit and killed in Clearwater

Clearwater, Florida - Clearwater Police are investigating a fatal pedestrian accident. It happened on Gulf to Bay Boulevard at South Glenwood Avenue, near Crest Lake Park just before 6:00 p.m.

Investigators say a man in his 50's was trying to cross the roadway near Crest Lake Park when he stepped into the path oncoming traffic.

Emergency crews flew him to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg where he died nearly three hours later.

The dead man's name is being withheld until family members can be located.

Police officials say the investigation continues and add that the driver of the car was not under the influence.

Countryside Booster Club disbanded after audit

Countryside Booster Club disbanded after audit

Clearwater, Florida --10 News has learned the Countryside Booster Club is going to be disbanded because of serious issues over the way it handled money.

Former treasurer Stephanie Hawks blew the whistle that led to the audit, as we first explained Friday.

Read the official report (.PDF)

Among other things the audit found:

Inspectors sweep into local pet shops

Largo, Florida - Their eyes, their wagging tails and their noses pressed against the cage practically scream, "Take me home!"

And this time of year, pet stores are filled with people like Michele Schuette falling in love. "He's the cutest little puppy ever," she says of a blue-eyed Husky.

And because there's so much puppy love going on, state inspectors are busy too. On this day, Ken Westerman is checking over puppy paperwork to make sure that vet exams are up to date. 

"To make sure they have the proper vaccinations and health requirements that are needed by law," explains Westerman.

Inspections go on year around, but because this time of year so many people are considering puppies for presents, inspectors from the Florida Agriculture Department are trying to hit as many stores as possible.

Possible case of human trafficking in Pinellas

Largo, Florida - A raid of two Pinellas homes and a business may have connections to human trafficking. The early morning raids found 27 men and women living in cramped conditions.

Federal agents began their Wednesday morning executing three search warrants. Investigators found 19 men and women in a duplex at 2820 Oaklawn Avenue in Largo -- possible victims of human trafficking.

"It looks like a mixture of Latin Americans and Asians," says Special Agent David Couvertier with the FBI.

Next door neighbors watched the round-up from their window. "I looked out the window and saw a big white van and a gray big van, a 15 seater. They were putting the women in the gray one and the men in the white one," says Michelle Kramer.

The Clearwater and Tampa Bay Area Task Force on human trafficking started working a tip a few months ago about human trafficking for forced labor.

Police crash ends with cruiser on top

Police crash ends with cruiser on top

St. Petersburg, Florida-- Northbound lanes of 4th Street North remained closed overnight near 72nd Avenue following a serious crash between a police cruiser and a second car.   No one was injured in the collision which left the back end of the police car propped on top of the other vehicle's trunk. 

Spectators and officers who arrived on scene struggled to figure out how the two vehicles ended up in such an unusual position.   

It is unclear what caused the crash but a passenger in the car tells 10 News the driver pulled into the intersection misjudging how fast the police car was coming.  

At least one witness says the officer was speeding.  It is unknown if that officer was responding to a call.