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
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.
After sewage backed up in a shed-turned-dwelling at 535 W. Belmar St., the 74-year-old tenant was forced to sleep outside and says the owners still wanted rent. The city has ordered the building vacated, saying it never should have been a residence; owners Belmar Properties LLC (link) did not respond to WFLA’s calls for comment.
DIGITAL DIVIDE: Panelists at a public meeting at City Hall at 5:45 Thursday will discuss ways to provide fast Internet access to poorer homes, including a possible expansion of the SurfLakeland public wifi network and Spectrum’s new low-cost Internet Assist program (info).
FINAL ADVENTURE: When 70-year-old Lakeland electrician Richard Douglas hiked the top of Mount Vesuvius last month, the steep grade was his last conquest. He collapsed afterward and died of heart failure June 9.
MEDICAL POT: The city of Lakeland is redrafting its marijuana dispensaries regulations now that the state Legislature has said land-use rules can’t be stricter than those applied to pharmacies. The new rules could come up for a vote July 17.
TRANSIT HUB: A center for city buses, carpooling and soon-to-start Megabus service has opened on U.S. 98 near I-4 and named for former Mayor Gow Fields.
BUSINESS HUB: The Lakeland Chamber discusses its plans for a center housing multiple organizations that serve entrepreneurs, modeled on the National Entrepreneur Center in Orlando.
CALL HUB: Sykes Enterprises Inc. has moved 100 employees from Lake Parker Avenue into a new call center at 2525 Drane Field Road.
City commissioners on Tuesday raised stormwater fees and parking ticket fines. They got updates on medical marijuana dispensaries, Chamber of Commerce plans, the Lakeland Magic and a Simpson Park teaching garden. They also chose a firm to coordinate a homeless strategy and delayed hearing a land-use dispute between a boat storage facility and homeowners. Check meeting highlights below as shared on Twitter.
Jim Hendrick, an entertainer and WONN morning host, has died.
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GOING UP: City commissioners are set to vote Monday on a proposal to increase the stormwater fee on utility bills by one-third. For private residences, it means a monthly boost from $6 to $8. The extra revenue will allow the city to make infrastructure improvements.
AND UP: Commissioners will also consider a proposal to increase penalties for downtown parking violations, a move aimed at changing the behavior of habitual offenders. (An infographic by reporter Christopher Guinn illustrates the problem.)
Initial accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges came six months faster than other universities, Florida Poly President Randy Avent said. (Early this morning, the online version of this article was far shorter than the one in print.)
Lydia Pogu, 19, and Joy Bishara, 20, who will attend Southeastern University this fall, were among 300 Nigerian girls kidnapped by a terrorist group in 2014.
Some chances to rock this weekend: Classic Albums Live delivers Rush’s “2112” at The Lakeland — I mean, RP Funding Center — tonight; the Ellie Lee Band brings blues to the Music Ranch Saturday; the Sofa Kings crown Frescos Underground with a Play It Forward Polk benefit. See more listings after the jump.
OLIVO: Rick Olivo has put his acting on display for years, but has been reluctant to expose himself by exhibiting his visual art. That changes Friday evening at Tay’-cho Gallery in Bartow.
YOUTH SPORTS: Highland Park Church is getting a donation of $10k worth of equipment for its youth sports program, serving about 3,000 kids.
Painters recently covered a 53-year-old mosaic at the shopping plaza formerly known as Searstown. A petition at change.org (link) asks the Clearwater-based owners to either remove the paint or allow the mosaic to be removed.
Remember Abraham Shakespeare, who won a $17 million Florida Lottery jackpot and fell victim to homicide? His son’s mom just won a $1 million in a scratch-off game she played from a Lottery ticket bought at a Circle K at 7250 U.S. 98 N.
Drew Lausman’s Explosionism art involves controlled explosives and acrylic paints.
Lakeland residents Tracy Dean Tronco, 51, a DOT transit coordinator, and Alejo Tronco-Diaz, 50, face charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and federal program theft.
MUSEUM: More details emerge about the affiliation agreement behind the institution that’s being renamed the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College.
POLK STATE: A last-minute legislative deal preserved funds Polk State College needed to keep its Lake Wales center open.LEGISLATORS: Seventeen months before the election, political action committees are already promoting the re-election of two Republican state legislators from Lakeland — Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Colleen Burton — as possible opponents are being discussed.
Lakeland Regional Health and its trauma center is the largest in the nation without a teaching program, a hospital official says. That could change under legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that would close what’s being called a Medicare glitch that is keeping the University of Central Florida from supplying residents to LRH.
You’d hardly know summer is starting based on the number of musicians playing around town this weekend. One sign of summer is Caribbean Chillers, a Jimmy Buffett tribute act, playing after the Flying Tigers game Friday. Other highlights include Bite Size Boom, LkldLive’s lunchtime percussion smashup Friday (check the rehearsal video) and a seven-band rock festival at Mason’s Live Saturday. More listings after the jump:
GROCERY DELIVERY: Publix announces it is rolling out online ordering through Instacart (link), but it’s unclear when the service will come to Lakeland. Said company spokesman Brian West: “We know it will happen. We just don’t know when. For us in Lakeland, it can’t come soon enough.”
Patrick Shawn Jones, a 52-year-old heavy metal DJ and certified sterilization technician (Facebook profile), has filed (document) to run for mayor, offering a strong contrast with businessman Bill Mutz, the only other announced candidate. “I know how it is to ride a city bus to work and have to walk home because the bus doesn’t run at night. I know what the price of bread is at Walmart — I can’t afford Publix,” he told reporter Christopher Guinn.
RADIATION: In the face of a lawsuit that alleges high radiation levels in Oakbridge and Grasslands neighborhoods, a scientist with the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute (link) told nearly 400 residents Tuesday night that “the average radiation dose attributable to mining practices … is zero.”
MALLESS: An urban planner by training, City Commissioner Jim Malless is taking on city planners in his re-election bid, saying they have been too restrictive in dealing with creative development ideas.
PENSIONS: City commissioners are moving toward a one-time $750 payment to city retirees with pensions of less than $40k per year to help keep up with inflation.
Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center is one of at least 11 hospitals in the U.S. that would be given a path to establish a residency program under legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.
The 2.93-mile path around Lake Hollingsworth ranked 20th on a list of mostly big-city runs compiled based on the number of times the routes were recorded by users of the MapMyRun app. The lake is particularly popular at 7 a.m. Saturdays, and 57 percent of MapMyRun users there are women.
Also: Ledger coverage
An urban pioneer uncovered a big surprise when she started converting a commercial building on Munn Park into her residence: The white plaster in her spacious living room had been hiding a well-preserved Coca-Cola sign that was painted on a brick wall more than 100 years ago. There was a Bull Durham tobacco sign, too.
SUSHI: Downtown Lakeland is getting the third location of Winter Haven’s Tsunami Sushi (web). The 4,000-square-foot restaurant will be on the ground floor of the BB&T Bank building, which is on the Tennessee Avenue side of Munn Park and just a block and a half from the recently announced Screaming Tuna restaurant opening on Bay Street in the NoBay complex.
AUDITOR: City commissioners agreed with their staff in a 5-2 vote to retain the outside auditors they’ve used for at least three decades even though the firm was the most expensive of three finalists.
CANNABIS: City commissioners fine-tuned proposed land-use regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries in preparation for a June 19 public hearing and July 5 vote on the issue. The commission voted 4-3 to allow drive-through sales, but a motion that would reduce the distance between dispensaries failed.
MOSAICS: Large mosaics at the Searstown Publix generated a lot of affection since the store opened in 1964. So Lakelanders were sad to learn that the owners of the plaza, now called Town Center, painted over the mosaics at what is now a a Sav-A-Lot.
CANDIDATE: Retired Circuit Judge Bob Doyel, a Democrat, has announced he will oppose Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel next year, and the battle lines are already being drawn. He says Stargel is out of touch with people back home; she’s calling him a liberal.
POLY: Florida Poly fired its new Title IX coordinator after discovering he failed to disclose he was dismissed from a similar job at the University of Florida for using campus email to buy porno. And the UF dean who gave him an effusive recommendation has resigned, the Gainesville Sun reports.
Lakeland’s homeless people would be better served with more focus on “rapid re-housing” (info) and less on transitional housing, according to a consultant recommended to guide the city’s strategy on homelessness. Commissioners are scheduled to decide June 19 whether to award a contract to Tallahassee-based Florida Housing Coalition (link).
The Hurricane Hunters, who dedicated their new quarters at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport Friday, get a $2 million budget boost as their parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, faces a cut from of about $1 billion to $4.8 billion. U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland, attending the ceremony, wouldn’t say whether he supports President Trump’s proposed NOAA cuts.
It was 50 years ago today
Sgt. Pepper came to stay and stay.
Come and hear the album played in style
at Lakeland Live; you’re guaranteed a smile.
So may I introduce to you the band that’s gonna play the tunes:
Jason, David, Sumner, Shane — and the ISO
To celebrate today’s 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ landmark “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” 17 local musicians are staging an ambitious concert Saturday reproducing the entire album from start to finish.
Brian Sutherland and Craig Morby bring both humor and intensity to Fresco’s tonight. On Friday and Saturday, jazz lovers and curiosity seekers who weren’t invited to last weekend’s grand opening can check out Lakeland Loft (after checking the dress code.) But the big music event this weekend is Sgt. Pepper Redux at LkldLive, where 17 musicians will recreate the classic Beatles album from beginning to end. We’ll have more on that later today. Check more listings after the jump…
Soraya Carmen Matias-Roth, the 53-year-old Lakeland woman who died in a head-on crash in Orlando early Monday, was a YMCA swim coach who worked at the Achievement Academy and had adopted five children.
Youngsters using fire to try to kill fire ants started a blaze that destroyed a house in the 1200 block of Sycamore Street, displacing two adults and four children. A relative has started a GoFundMe drive to help the family.
“I know they’re doing things with robotics, for example, that we could learn from,” Capt. Michael Silah of the NOAA Hurricane Hunters told WUSF News, referring to local higher education institutions. “And so our intention is to bring some of their expertise over and hopefully start growing the next generation of employees, which I think will be from Lakeland.” Crews are working quickly to prepare their new building at Lakeland Linder Airport for Friday’s ribbon cutting (info). The story is part of a larger overview (link) of the 2017 hurricane season, which starts Thursday.
Harold Truman Spears Jr., a theater company executive who bought Lakeland’s 1940s-era Silver Moon Drive-In after his company told him to close it, died Sunday of multiple myeloma at age 87.
LkldNow, the news site I started, wasn’t the first; I believe LkldTV gets that honor. But I was there when some early Twitter adopters decided more than eight years ago to formalize use of #lkld to identify posts about Lakeland.
LIBRARY: Even as its number of E-books is increasing, the Lakeland Public Library has trimmed 12 percent of its physical books during the past year. The library is reconfiguring its space and has discontinued placing books on ground-level shelves.
MEMORIAL DAY: Nine Polk soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were honored Monday during a Memorial Day Tribute at Lakeland Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens.
Soraya Matias-Roth, 53, of Lakeland, died about 12:30 a.m. Monday when her northbound Dodge Durango was hit head-on by a southbound Mitsubishi Lancer that had crossed a grass median, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The accident took place on State Road 417, also known as the Central Florida GreeneWay, near University Boulevard in Orlando.
The 20-year-old Orlando woman driving the Lancer also died; her identity has not been released yet. Three passengers sustained injuries, including a 10-year-old boy who was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, according to WKMG Orlando.
MEET RP: Entertainment writer Paul Catala profiles Robert Palmer (LinkedIn), the 1998 LHS grad and super successful real estate entrepreneur behind the rebranding of The Lakeland Center into the RP Funding Center.
PAYING FORWARD: Rodney Snow, a family nurse practitioner, was honored by Blake Academy for his role in a program that provides school yearbooks to students who can’t afford them and encourages them to pay it forward later in life | Video
Check out photos (below and here) and a video from Saturday’s VIP grand opening for Lakeland Loft, Solomon Wassef’s jazz and cigar bar opening Tuesday on the second floor at the corner of Main Street and Tennessee Avenue. Live music is planned for this Friday and Saturday. If you go, check out the dress code.
SMART GALS: It’s all in the family for Mary Claire Madden, who graduated as LHS’ valedictorian Thursday. Her sister, mother and maternal grandmother were all vals at their high schools.
Grady Judd’s deputies have a suspect and the stolen truck that was used, but they’re still looking for a large Swansation sculpture that was hauled away from a local business. One thing’s for sure: This story’s gonna put Lakeland back in the tabloids, despite the lack of a gator playing dress-up or terrifying tourists.
Deb Hunseder, half of the folk-pop duo Halcyon (anybody else remember when they played one of Joe Prine’s early Lakeland shows?), performs at Fresco’s tonight. Tomorrow night following the Flying Tigers game, expect a few rebel flags as Nuthin’ Fancy rocks a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Check listings after the jump.
STORM: Yesterday’s wind and rain felled an oak on West Pine, toppled a sign on Memorial and left nearly 600 Lakeland Electric customers without power.
FREDDIE: Lakeland entertainment maestro, dance artist and character-about-town Freddie DeJesus heads the cast of “ButchQueen and the Bad Habits” (Facebook), playing three times this weekend at the Orlando Fringe Festival.
The colorful street mural marks the East Main Street gateway to downtown Lakeland in an area that city planners envision as Lakeland’s design district. It was painted Sunday by students from Harrison School for the Arts and Rochelle School of the Arts.
KC’s Artisan Pizza (web) in south Lakeland gets a 3 1/2-star review from dining critic Eric Pera, who praises its appealing rusticity and says Lakeland needs more eateries similarly “informal and moderately priced, with food that’s freshly prepared and tilts to the exotic.”
The Lakeland philanthropist is the 18th person named a Notable Member of the Association of Junior Leagues International (see a list) since the organization was founded in 1901.
Robert Palmer, whose high school graduation took place at The Lakeland Center 19 years ago, announces that the building will carry his initials now that its name is being changed to the RP Funding Center. Palmer's mortgage-lending company has signed a five-year naming rights deal for the building that opened in 1974 as the Lakeland Civic Center. RP Funding is also founding partner of the Lakeland Magic NBA D-league team that will be headquartered at the renamed center.
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The Ledger: The five-year naming rights deal was part of a larger package involving the building, the Lakeland Magic and the Orlando Magic likely exceeding $5 million.
Video: Lakeland Magic | Full news conference
“People have been calling all morning wanting to donate their tools,” an official with First Presbyterian Church says.
A bungalow-turned-coffee-shop, an urban residence with a balcony on Munn Park and a mammoth Florida Boom building restored to its former glory were among structures recognized by Historic Lakeland Inc. Monday night. The organization also gave a lifetime achievement award — only its second ever — to city planning chief Jim Studiale. Check below for then-and-now photos of the winning homes and businesses.
CRIME: Burglars took more than $5k in tools used by a First Presbyterian Church ministry to fix bicycles and give them to children and adults in need | A drunk driver who kept going after hitting and killing a motorcyclist was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
EVENTS: Bruce Dube, The Ledger’s new marketing director, coordinated events with major league teams when he was a Tampa Tribune exec and will bring big events to Polk, Publisher Brian Burns said.
TOYS FOR TOTS: David Waller, a career law enforcement officer, is working to revitalize the program that provides Christmas toys.
LAKES: Maintaining the quality of lakes is all in a day’s work for Laurie Ann Smith, the city’s new stormwater director.
FIRE: Firefighters extinguished a blaze at Wood Mulch Products Inc. in East Lakeland that could be seen for miles Sunday morning.
BOLO: Police are looking for endangered adult Richard Jones, a disabled 44-year-old who lives off Prescott Loop and was last seen Friday.
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Students from Harrison School for the Arts and Rochelle School of the Arts painted a mural on the roadway at the intersection of East Main Street and Ingraham Avenue Sunday to mark Lakeland’s emerging Design District | Background
Anti-bullying activist Jaylen Arnold, 16, is flying to the UK to accept a Legacy Award from Prince William and Prince Harry that is given to 20 young people who have made a “monumental impact” on society.
Charles Custer, 86, was awake and talking but unable to remove his seatbelt as his pickup truck started sinking in a lake at Saddle Creek Park this afternoon, witnesses told deputies. The truck sank, and the truck with Custer’s body was later pulled from 30 feet of water, according to the Polk Sheriff’s Office.
10:30 P.M. UPDATE: A 25-acre brush fire under the George Jenkins Boulevard overpass west of Kathleen Road has been contained, the Lakeland Fire Department says. All the department’s engines responded to the smokey fire and were assisted by the Florida Fire Service and Polk County Fire Rescue. Train traffic had been discontinued but was allowed to resume around 8:20 p.m., and the overpass r-opened to traffic around 10:30.
Photos just taken at scene of brush fire at George Jenkins Overpass area. Flames jumped overpass due to heavy winds. Only half contained now pic.twitter.com/oHsV8btRzq
— Lakeland Fire (@LakelandFD) May 17, 2017
Three new candidates for Lakeland City Commission share a desire to speak for citizens they say have been marginalized:
- Kathy Barsotti, the 58-year-old co-owner of Django and Friends Dixieland Emporium, wants to represent people who work and pay taxes but are never asked their opinion: “small businesses, artists, the creators in town, the people all through Dixieland and the lower elements of Lakeland.” She enters a four-way race for an at-large seat.
- Laurel Pullo, a 42-year-old who’s had a career as a manager and supervisor in the hospitality sector, is also running for the at-large seat. She said she wants to bring a blue-collar voice and also end red-light cameras, increase littering penalties, help fund schools and curb interferences on property rights.
- Pablo Sologaistoa, a 28-year-old with a background in social services and volunteerism, is the fourth candidate in the race for the southwest district seat. He wants to make sure north Lakeland residents have an equal voice and supports both the strong-mayor move and plans to test a South Florida Avenue “road diet.”
Woodturner John Mascoll of Safety Harbor won the $5,000 best-of-show award at this weekend’s Mayfaire-by-the-Lake. The annual art festival on Lake Morton, sponsored by the Polk Museum of Art, continues today through 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other winners, their booth numbers and a map follow:
CITY RACES: Larry Durrence pushed attracting high-wage jobs as he launched his campaign for City Commission. The article catches up with finance of all city races and reveals that Gregory Fancelli has donated another $50,000 to the strong-mayor effort.
SEU SCHOLARSHIPS: Two young women from Nigeria who were among the 276 students kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 will enter Southeastern University’s freshman class this fall under full scholarships.
EASTSIDE ODOR: Polk County has no grounds to shut down BS Ranch & Farms and hasn’t proved it’s the cause of odors, a special magistrate ruled. (Note: There’s a longer version in print and eReplica.)
CITY RETIREES: Commissioners are considering a $500 one-time payment to 985 retirees or surviving spouses because pensions have not kept up with inflation.
QUEEN AT WAL-MART: Gary White pens a delightful feature about the mad dash to find a copy of “Stone Soup” for Queen Noor of Jordan to read to students when she spoke at a Roberts Academy benefit. My favorite scene: the queen searching the aisles of the Dale Mabry Wal-Mart on the way from the airport.
TONIGHT: Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Animals” gets the Classic Albums Live treatment at the Lakeland Center, and the Harrison Symphony Orchestra wraps up its year with its spring concert.
FRIDAY: Broadway show tunes are the focus of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra’s free Pops by the Lake concert at Lake Mirror, and a benefit featuring the Fleetwood Max tribute band follows the Flying Tigers game.
SATURDAY: Orlando’s Mpire returns to Mayfaire Saturday Night at Lake Mirror. See more listings after the jump:
NEW BUSES: The Citrus Connection unveiled its first new buses in more than a decade Wednesday. They replace slightly larger vehicles that were at least 15 years old with more than 500,000 miles each. After voters turned down a transit tax in 2014, the agency turned to service cuts to fund new equipment.
An abbreviated version of “Masterwork” by veteran actor Karissa Barber is being performed this week at the Tampa International Fringe Festival. The article does not mention that local audiences will get to see the play May 20 at LkldLive, a venue The Ledger has chosen to ignore.
Greg Williams, a 12-year Lakeland resident who teaches graphic design at Keiser University, is one of four Democrats running for the congressional seat held by Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican.
The legislation aims to divert Title I funds from public schools to charter schools.
The Red Sox beat the Orioles 5-2 in a game that paired Boston pitching ace Sale, a 2007 Lakeland High School grad, against Baltimore’s Alec Asher, a 2010 LHS grad. “As he has all season, Chris Sale looked good,” the article noted.
OAKBRIDGE/GRASSLANDS: Lawyers who organized a meeting to explain a lawsuit against Drummond Co. were met with skepticism from residents who questioned their data citing high radiation levels and expressed concern for property values in two upscale communities off Harden Boulevard.
CITY CHARTER: Now that a group appointed by the City Commission has recommended changes to the city’s “constitution,” when should voters have their say? Several commissioners say it will be too confusing to put charter changes on the November ballot, when voters are already being asked whether Lakeland should change to a strong mayor form of government.
More than seven months after kicking off their 2016 campaign, Ashley and Wesley Barnett, 2016 campaign co-chairs, reminded a crowd of nearly 300 donors, volunteers and supports, at the United Way of Central Florida’s annual meeting that the 2015 campaign was the best campaign ever by the organization, raising more than $9.08 million. That was until the 2016 campaign.
LAKELAND ELECTRIC: A recent accident has city leaders pondering the future of the McIntosh 2 power plant.
BULLYING CASE: Federal jurors are being asked this week to decide whether Polk deputies violated civil rights of a then-12-year-old girl who was arrested for aggravated stalking in a case involving the death of classmate Rebecca Sedwick.
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SALVATION ARMY: A shift in federal funding priorities has left the two-year-old George Jenkins Community of Hope transition shelter for homeless families with a $130,000 gap, so the Salvation Army is looking to the community for support. (UPDATE: The Friday was finally posted online Monday afternoon.)
DOWNTOWN: Ellen Simms, who has been active with the Downtown Lakeland Partnership for 12 years, has resigned as the organization’s executive director effective May 31.
MURDER CASE: Jurors unanimously recommended the death penalty for Benjamin Davis Smiley Jr., who shot and killed a Lakeland man during a 2013 home invasion robbery.
SOCRUM: A historic marker honoring the Socrum community north of Lakeland will be dedicated Sunday afternoon.
Reporter Chris Guinn talked with several people who attended a workshop on two railroad overpasses proposed for downtown Lakeland and found little support. Among other concerns, critics wondered whether the number of walkers and bicyclists using the structures to bypass long trains would justify the roughly $7 million construction costs that would be paid by the state plus maintenance paid by the city.
The live music focus is on local acts, starting with tonight’s “Ladies of Lakeland II” showcase of five solo artists at The Pink Piano (video). Dan Signor‘s fans have three chances to see him this weekend (details below). And Bully For You cranks up the covers at Ybor Cigars & Spirits Saturday. More listings after the jump.
BOSKO’S: Restaurant reviewer Eric Pera is underwhelmed by the cautious approach that a pair of experienced restaurateurs bring to Bosko’s Clubhouse Grill at Cleveland Heights Golf Course but remains optimistic that it “may inded become a dining destination.”
COMING UP: Pedestrian bridges over downtown railroad tracks will be discussed at a forum at 5 p.m. today at the Peggy Brown Building | Christian comedians John Crist and Mike Williams perform at the Polk Theatre Saturday
No injuries were reported in the incident at McIntosh Unit 2, a power plant usually held in reserve for use when demand peaks.
Jacob Phillippi, 17, a student of Kathleen High School’s Sports Medicine Program, helped prevent Adam Birk, 55, from going into shock after he crashed his motorcycle.
SUPERDROMES: Reporter Chris Guinn previews plans for a manufacturing facility at Lakeland Linder Airport by Griff Aviation North America, which is affiliated with but independent from the Norwegian company that originated drones capable of lifting several hundred pounds.
TROLLER: The School Board unanimously backed a recommendation to fire Justin Troller from his job as LHS athletic director, but he remains suspended without pay pending a hearing he requested.
CANDIDATE: Jorge Fonseca is stressing education as a path toward economic development as a candidate for the southwest district seat on the City Commission. The 44-year-old chief administrative office of Romero Medical Plaza faces Michael Dunn and Larry Durrence for the seat being vacated by Don Selvage.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers filed more documentation about elevated gamma radiation in the south Lakeland communities, while several homeowners say their own testing shows normal levels. Lawyers who filed the suit are holding a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 2 at The Lakeland Center to review their findings.
SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: SEU is renaming its ministries college for Chancellor Tommy Barnett and this fall launches its School of Worship, which will prepare students to lead contemporary styles of worship and music.
“I was expecting more photographs of despair, and I didn’t see that,” said Steve Turbeville of Lighthouse Ministries. The photos, taken by 32 people from Lighthouse and Talbot House Ministries, will be displayed at the First United Methodist Church welcome center May 5-June 2.
ATTRACTING JOBS: The city of Lakeland needs to step up incentives it offers to attract companies offering high-skill, high-wage jobs if it wants to compete with Florida’s larger cities, LEDC’s Steve Scruggs tells city commissioners at a planning retreat | Examples
HOSPITAL: Lakeland Regional Health received its second straight B safety grade from the Leapfrog rating agency; the hospital has received four B scores and three A scores in the most recent ratings | Leapfrog LRH profile
ALSO: A magistrate heard from both sides about alleged BS Ranch and Farm code violations but hasn’t ruled yet | A children’s reading festival is set for Barnett Park on Saturday | Staff Sgt. Richard Caton, 34, of Lakeland is one of two Florida contenders for Army National Guard Best Warrior Soldier
Look for some triple plays this weekend: a trio of special events downtown Friday evening and a couple of indie-rock three-packs: On Friday:
- Jah Movement plays reggae and other island rhythms at Lakeland’s Green Celebration at the Lake Mirror Amphitheater.
- Across the lake, Glass House Point headlines a show at LkldLive that also showcases Spirit & the Cosmic Heart and Hoss.
- Weather for Strangers and Jason Baker entertain at the Polk Museum of Art’s third annual Art+Music event.
The other triple decker: Almondy Brown, Mr.Handsome and Laundromat play 801 E. Main Saturday night. More music after the jump.
A hearing on the county’s cease-and-desist order involving odor and BS Ranch and Farms was halted after Judge Keith Spoto determined testimony would last far longer than promised. A date for the next session is undetermined.
Lakeland bicyclists and families will gather Saturday at First Presbyterian Church on Lake Hollingsworth for the second annual Light the Lake and Bike Rodeo, an event to raise awareness about safe bicycling, which includes being visible to drivers.
The first anniversary of the George Jenkins High School student’s death and his 18th birthday are being marked Saturday with an 18k run that includes the donation of 18 pair of shoes to kids who need them | Event Facebook page
New detention deputy Kyle Swonger fulfilled his dream of having his badge pinned by his grandfather, Louie Mims, who served as Polk sheriff from 1976 to 1985.