Kathleen Middle School, under threat of shutting down, missed its goal of improving from a D grade by one point, according to scores released by the Florida Department of Eduction today. Meanwhile, Socrum Elementary jumped two grades from an F to a C, while two Lakeland schools dropped a letter grade: Southwest Middle and Kathleen Elementary went from C to D | View statewide results
The race for mayor of Lakeland has attracted a fourth candidate: Christopher Diaz, a 33-year-old former Polk Sheriff’s detective and current co-owner of a children’s goods retailer. He told The Ledger he doesn’t have a position on the strong-mayor ballot issue: “It’s up to the voters. I’m looking to be a representative of their voice. … I’m not running for mayor to put my ideals in them. They tell me what do to, and I will serve them to the best of my ability.”
The chain, whose five locations are on Florida’s west coast, is hoping to open by the end of the year at Lakeland Park Center, just north of Interstate 4.
It’s a story of mixed signals and frayed tempers. Police say a 39-year-old Lakeland man is a good Samaritan who was trying to help a lost child find her family. But the child’s 22-year-old father isn’t buying it and told reporters he has no regrets about punching the older man. His friends and family took to social media to post the 39-year-old’s photo and call him a child predator. Police say they’re convinced he was trying to be helpful and warned on Facebook (link) against posting untrue information. Fox 13 | The Ledger
In a LkldTV video, Jim Studiale, the city of Lakeland’s community development director, reviews the history of urban planning here after receiving a lifetime achievement award from Historic Lakeland Inc.
Lakeland resident Heather Robertson, 41, started a podcast called “Half-Size Me” and a company by the same name to offer weight-reduction advice after dropping nearly half her body weight.
Jason Montgomery (LinkedIn), a 43-year-old Lakeland resident who works in Manatee County as the school district’s athletic director, has filed to run as a Democrat for the Florida House District 40 seat currently held by Republican Colleen Burton. He faces another Democrat, Shandale Terrell, in the August 2018 primary.
CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: Candidates in Nov. 7 Lakeland City Commission races who collected the most campaign dollars so far are Stephanie Madden ($23.8k) in an at-large race, C. Scott Franklin ($21.9k) for the Southeast district and Larry Durrence ($18.9k) for the Southwest district | ALSO: Charts by Chris Guinn track campaign funding | Lists compiled by Michael Maguire show who’s contributing.
OPEN GOVERNMENT: A scorecard compiled by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors graded state legislators on public records and open meetings votes this year (overview.) Scores for lawmakers with Lakeland-based districts were: Sen. Kelli Stargel, C-; Rep. Colleen Burton, D+; Rep. Neil Combee, D+
The people working to preserve two tile mosaic murals that were whitewashed at the former Searstown have gotten permission to move them. Now they’re asking for input on two possible locations: the Polk Museum of Art or the Polk Tax Collector’s Office.
POLK THEATRE: The 1927 landmark reopens Sunday after undergoing a renovation paid largely with state grants.
BRYANT STADIUM: The city of Lakeland is asking for $1.2 million as it negotiates with the Polk School Board for the 76-year-old home of the LHS Dreadnaughts. Proceeds would go toward a North Lakeland park.
- First up: A mandolin takes on the violin solos in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” at the ISO‘s 5:30 Classical Cocktail Hour at Lake Gibson Village.
- Brian Sutherland kicks off a national tour and debuts a new CD at LkldLive at 7 p.m. Gypsy-jazz storyteller Dean Johanesen opens.
- Elsewhere downtown, David Brimer picks jazz guitar at Lakeland Loft and singer-songwriter Bryan Rivers plays Fresco’s, both at 8 p.m.
- Dan Signor‘s keyboards pair with Kelly Halloran‘s fiddle at The Pink Piano at 9 — and rumor has it some musicians may wander over from LkldLive to jam.
BRYANT STADIUM: City officials confirm they are in talks with the Polk County School Board to sell the 1941 football stadium that’s home to LHS Dreadnaught games and youth leagues. If terms aren’t reached, there’s interest from Florida Southern College, which bought neighboring Henley Field from the city two years ago.
Special education teacher Stacie Long, 41, was charged with cocaine possession, lying to deputies, possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a motor vehicle for drug use, The Ledger reported.