Groove to reggae-related rhythms at the three-day Irie Vibes Music Festival (Ledger article) starting Friday at the Maddox Ranch. Or re-live late 70s/early 80s commercialized progrock tonight at Classic Albums Live’s re-creation of Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” at the RP Funding Center. Keep scrolling for more live music listings.
MUTZ: Bill Mutz, the mayoral candidate who has rounded up the big money and endorsements so far, is running on his resume as a civic leader, “not a list of big ideas to be tossed into the political meat grinder or a hot take on a recent issue,” Christopher Guinn writes.
SHERWOOD SMITH, 1925-2017: Smith, administrator of Lakeland General Hospital for 28 years starting in 1956, died Monday at age 92. Read his family-placed obituary.
ART PARTY: A Platform Art event at Just Dance Friday night combines visual arts, film, fashion, live music, performance and entries for ArtPop billboards.
DOWNTOWN BAR: Federal Bar, a lounge and restaurant with live music, will share the 1920s-era Federal Building on Tennessee Avenue with the previously announced Mojo BBQ-and-whiskey spot as downtown Lakeland continues transforming into a nightlife destination. Principals in Federal Bar Lakeland LLC (link) are Barry Carew, an owner of Mason’s Live in south Lakeland, and Stuart Simm, president of MAX Home Inspections.
LPD OFFICER SUSPENDED: Brenda Crispin, who was hired by LPD under fanfare after her brother Arnulfo was gunned down while on duty with the department, has been suspended and is the subject of an internal investigation. Officials are mum about what’s being investigated. The article discloses that Crispin acknowledged on her LPD application she had been affiliated with a gang.
DOGS OF FIRST FRIDAY: The theme of the Sept. 1 First Friday is “Dog Days Downtown,” but a veterinarian urges dog owners to keep their pets at home if they haven’t been vaccinated for canine influenza because the disease has appeared in Polk County.
EMERGING LEADERS: Three Polk organizations for professionals 21-42 recognized five emerging leaders, including two from Lakeland: Derek Oxford, a financial planning analyst with CPS Investment Advisors (LinkedIn), and Alice Koehler, chief development officer at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LinkedIn).
ART SHOW: An outdoor arts festival moves indoors at the Magnolia Building Saturday and Sunday.
The Polk County Government Center, 930 E. Parker St., was evacuated this afternoon when 16 people were exposed to a white powder. After testing, the powder was found to be non-hazardous, but the 50 or so people inside the building went through a “basic decontamination process,” Polk Fire Rescue reported. (News Channel 8 aerial view)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lakeland Police Department will investigate the incident. The building houses the Lakeland courthouse, offices for the Property Appraiser, Clerk of Courts, County Probation, Public Defender and Polk County Healthy Families.
— Lucas Bogg (@LucasBoggPhotog) August 15, 2017
AFTER CHARLOTTESVILLE: Rep. Neil Combee‘s reaction to Virginia unrest is questioned | Sen. Kelli Stargel says UF shouldn’t give white supremacist Richard Spencer a platform unless someone at the university sponsors him.
“Community beware; he is out, and he shouldn’t be,” Sheriff Grady Judd said after William Torres-Morales was ruled incompetent to stand trial for harsh punishment and sexual assault and sent to live with his father in a neighborhood near Jesse Keen Elementary School.
Well over 100 people attended a candlelight vigil against bigotry in Munn Park Sunday evening that was announced on Facebook earlier in the day by members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lakeland. Speakers denounced the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and called for unity. Check a video of some of the speakers.
ALSO: Ledger coverage
Lakeland campaign contribution reports for July aren’t a whole lot different than June’s tally. While reports from the two groups on either side of the strong-mayor debate haven’t been posted online yet, it’s probably safe to say that the Strong Lakeland group still has the largest pot. City Commission candidate Larry Durrence has collected the largest number of contributions, while Scott Franklin has the largest dollar total among commission candidates. Many thanks to Michael Maguire, for keeping campaign reports accessible and searchable on The City Zen Ship and for providing the chart below of contributions to date:
A service in memory of Carl Dicks, who served on the Lakeland City Commission for 24 years, has been scheduled for Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. at College Heights Methodist Church, 942 South Blvd. Dicks, who owned a hardware store in Dixieland for many years, died Wednesday at age 90.
A non-profit that makes instruments and music lessons affordable (link) aims to raise $120k to renovate a vacant dry-cleaning facility downtown into teaching studios.
PALACE: Downtown Lakeland’s Palace Pizza is expanding into the space currently occupied by Hurricane Alley, which closes at the end of the month. (No link yet. Ledger staff is spotty about timely posting of Business page articles.)
MILLIGAN: Editor Lenore Devore pays homage to outdoors/golf writer Del Milligan, who, as we noted (Twitter), is retiring from The Ledger at age 65 after 37 years of providing precision prose for the newspaper.
Neighbors’ discomfort with a group home became more intense when an agitated man who lived there walked to a nearby yard and threatened to kill the occupant and his family. But residents of Poinsettia Street, a few blocks from Lakeland’s Beacon Road fire station, have been told little can be done because the home for adults with developmental disabilities is protected by the federal Fair Housing Act.
A handful of local businesses and executives (donors) have pooled $121,000 to form Lakeland First (Facebook | web), a political action committee that has spent $29,735 (recipients) and plans to support business-friendly City Commission candidates. The organization is aligned with the interests of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, the Ledger article says.
Stan Heath, who is happy to be moving from college to pro, likes Central Florida so much he kept his family in Tampa after he left USF and took a job at Boston College.
“Fortunately, the home is very close to our Fire Station 7. In this case, we were able to get there very quickly. The first few minutes in a drowning is critical,” Lakeland Fire spokeswoman Janel Vasallo said of the rescue of a 3-year-old in the Steeplechase community.
BROADBAND: Freshly back from a national “gigabit city” summit, City Commissioner Justin Troller pledges to push for expanded access to high-speed Internet in Lakeland. Troller, Commissioner Don Selvage and Assistant City Manager Shawn Sherrouse will share insights from the summit at a public “policy session” at City Hall Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m.
EXPLORATIONS V: Georgann Carlton, 62, says she’s stepping down in December from directing the downtown Lakeland children’s museum she’s been affiliated with since 1992.
UTILITY FEES: Lakeland Electric might get rid of an accounting and p.r. headache by folding the “Inside the City Utility Tax” and the “Florida Public Service Surcharge into a single rate for all customers.
FAMILY TRAGEDY: Reporter John Chambliss looks at the last day in the life of 6-year-old Adam Roach, a special needs child whose body was found in a retention behind his family’s apartment on Friday.
CITY RETIREES: Responding to concerns that retiree payments lag behind inflation, city commissioners agreed to a plan for one-time bonuses tied to pension income.
BROADWAY VOICE: Harrison Arts grad Jamarice Daughtry is about to hit the road with a featured role in a touring production of “The Color Purple” and is being considered for several upcoming Broadway productions.
Audio: Monthly radio show about people working to make Lakeland more livable hosted by Laura Rodriguez, director of Lakeland Vision.
Neighbors were urged to search for Adam Roach, a non-verbal 6-year-old, shortly after he was discovered missing around 3:30 p.m. Friday from his family’s home off Shepherd Road. His body was discovered in a pond 50 feet from the family’s back door, Sheriff Grady Judd announced at 11:30 p.m.
The fire started around 2 p.m. today in an office-turned-apartment at 455 Commerce Drive, just a few blocks from the SPCA.
Niriham Shah is developing an app that will track the location of school buses. “For the parents, it’s a peace of mind,” his dad, Malay Shah, says.
Florida Poly University today unveiled a new logo fusing the wings of its phoenix mascot and the louvers of its signature building. A video introducing the logo also revealed a new motto: Fueled From Within. And the website floridapoly.edu was updated with a mobile-first design and tech-centric typography.
If you’re going to First Friday, watch for country duo OakLee at Munn Park and popster Dan Signor by Uncle Nick’s Bagels. Fans of jazz/indie multi-instrumentalist Luke Wilmoth can hear him Friday at 801 E. Main and with a quartet Saturday at Lakeland Loft. And Sumner Curtis brings his upbeat musical persona to Patio850 Saturday. More listings after the jump.
VA CLINIC: The Veterans Administration will be able to replace its 20,000-square-foot clinic occupying two buildings on South Pipkin Road with a single-site, 93,000-square-foot Lakeland clinic at a site to be named, thanks to an $11 million appropriation from Congress.
BUSINESS GETTER: As the new business development veep for the Lakeland Economic Council, Kelly Deese, 26, will be the primary contact for businesses thinking about moving here. She’s a Lakeland Christian product who learned the finance side of real estate at FSU and at Publix.
DINING: In her second non-chain review in a row(!), Editor/food taster Lenore Devore gives Scarpa’s Italian 3 1/2 stars and a stellar headline saying it “doesn’t disappoint.”
THINGS TO DO: TimeOut previews two multi-act shows billed as family entertainment — “Living the Dream“ at Lake Mirror Auditorium Saturday and With Love Productions’ Spotlight Night at Fresco’s Speakeasy on Friday.
The head of UF’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences writes in The Orlando Sentinel that one of his master’s students, Santa Fe High grad Sean Kryger, is training testers to grade hops by smell as part of an effort to develop a new Florida crop to serve the state’s beer industry.
TROPICAL FISH: Hidden cameras at a fish farm captured video of a masked woman taking about 50 bags of cichlids, angel fish and kois worth up to $20,000. Now deputies hope to reel her in. – ABC Action News
PANCAKE PRANK: The video went viral when a man in pajamas ate breakfast in a Memorial Boulevard crosswalk in March. Now he has to pay fines and court costs after being found guilty of placing an obstruction in the roadway and obstructing the free flow of traffic. – News Channel 8
MORE FLOODING: Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Emily led to as much as 40,000 gallons of wastewater overflowing at three Lakeland wastewater facilities and pump stations. ALSO:
- WTSP reports about a wastewater overflow on Paddington Street in north Lakeland and elsewhere in Polk.
- WFTS checks with flood victims along Cannon Street in west Lakeland.
- WFLA and WTVT catch up with flooded residents of the Meadowbrook Mobile Home Park off Old Tampa Highway.
BUDDY FLETCHER: The 17-year Lakeland mayor who died last week at 84 was eulogized today by current Mayor Howard Wiggs and former Mayor Joe P. Ruthven during funeral services attended by hundreds at First Baptist Church at the Mall.
MEGABUS: The inter-city bus service known for wifi and cheap fares starts service in Lakeland Wednesday with routes to Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach and Miami.
KENDRICK: Former credit union exec Jarvis Kendrick pleaded no contest today to hit-and-run in a crash causing a fatality and could be sentenced to as many as 35 years in prison.
FLOODING: A drainage problem exacerbated flooding in a mobile home community just west of Lake Bonnet during Monday’s Tropical Storm Emily rains. City officials say a drainage study of the area aimed at solving the problem should be completed in a few weeks.
PLEA: Jarvis Kendrick, formerly a credit union vice president and chamber of commerce treasurer, is expected to enter a plea today on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving a fatality.
Rains spawned by Tropical Storm Emily have brought flooding to some parts of Lakeland as Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 31 counties, including Polk.
HOUSE OF TRAGEDY: Gary White tells the story of an abandoned property just north of Southgate Publix — no, not the house that was demolished a few years ago; the one next door — and the tragic events involving its owners.
CITY PLANNING: When it was time for city commissioners to push for pet projects at the end of budget talks last week, Jim Malless called for a $150k overhaul to simplify Lakeland’s building/development code. Other commissioners said they prefer to let the next chief planner — Jim Studiale plans to retire soon — put his or her stamp on any code revision.
Written while chilling to soothing solo guitar at Hillcrest Coffee: Music I hope to check out this weekend includes Brazilian jazz by Ipanema at Posto 9 Friday night and the gospel-laden rock of Richard Sherfey & All God’s Children at LkldLive, also on Friday. On Saturday, LkldLive hosts an evening of Americana, including Lakeland’s Fount and headliners Menagerie of Bowling Green, Ky. I’m also intrigued by the promised combo of improv comedy and dueling pianos at Winner’s Circle. See more listings after the jump.
Is it just me, or does it look like anchor Jen Leigh, a Lakeland native, chokes up a bit at the end of Merissa Merino’s report?
- A dog park proposed for city property along Cleveland Heights Boulevard is losing support among city commissioners.
- Crystal Lake Elementary has been selected to pilot the community school concept in Polk County.
- BS Ranch & Farm has submitted a plan for ways to reduce odors from their east Lakeland facility near the Polk Parkway.
- Things to do: Family skate night Monday and Aug. 7 | Improv comedy Saturday
Former Mayor Buddy Fletcher’s last public appearance at Lakeland City Hall was Dec. 21, 2015, when current Mayor Howard Wiggs declared that Lake Bonny Park would be renamed Fletcher Park on Lake Bonny in his honor. Fletcher, 84, died Tuesday at Lakeland Regional Medical Center from complications arising from a recent stroke. #lkld
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BUDDY FLETCHER, 1932-2017: As a businessman, he built a printing business from scratch. As a politician, he promoted Lakeland tirelessly in 17 years as mayor and five as a city commissioner. Buddy Fletcher developed dementia in 2012 and died at LRMC Tuesday of complications from a stroke suffered May 1.
BRYANT STADIUM: Polk School Board members took a look at the numbers associated with buying the stadium where the LHS Dreadnaughts play football and decided to hear from the public Aug. 22 before taking a vote.
The alligator had become ensnared in a device set in Lake Parker by a licensed trapper. Police say a passerby killed it, severed its tail and then he and his girlfriend tried to sell the meat door-to-door to nearby residents.
HAGAN: Former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who grew up in Lakeland, has left the rehab center in Atlanta where she spent 5 1/2 months slowly regaining the ability to speak and hoping to be able to walk again. Her family has disclosed that the ailment that struck eight months ago and rendered her unconscious for 43 days was diagnosed as Powassan virus, a tick-borne disease causing brain swelling. Her husband believes she was infected during a Thanksgiving-weekend picnic in Virginia.
HOMELESS: An annual survey that attempts to catalog the state of homelessness in Polk County found fewer homeless people this year — at least fewer willing to answer a questionnaire. The numbers: 512 this year; 635 last year.
Tyson McMorrow was arrested Saturday after 10 p.m. and charged with DUI, DUI property damage, leaving the scene of a crash and driving on the wrong side of a divided highway.
Skip ahead to 13:00 to see the start of the debate. Saturday night’s two-hour debate was hosted by LkldTV and sponsored by Bella Viságe. It was moderated by Brian Dockery. Panelists promoting a Lakeland strong mayor were FSC political science professor Bruce Anderson and consultant Matt Doster. Panelists urging a vote against the strong-mayor charter were former City Manager Gene Strickland and former City Attorney Joe Mawhinney.
Today’s morning paper introduced readers to some interesting folks:
Randall Edwards, a former U.S. Navy sailor who nearly perished in a Japanese POW camp during WWII and is now celebrating his 100th birthday.
Lisa Marini, a teacher moving from McKeel Academy to Lakeland High School whose teaching about the WWII Holocaust was honored and strengthened through a scholarship to an international symposium at Columbia University.
Apollo Allison, 10, who learned how hard firefighters work at a camp that doubles as a recruitment tool for the Lakeland Fire Department.
Since plans for a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks near Munn Park got little support when unveiled earlier this year, a new idea has emerged for the $7 million that had been budgeted for it:
Build a walkway from the side of the tracks where the Amtrak station overlooks Lake Mirror and the Catapult 2.0 business incubator is being built to the side of the tracks where a lot of new growth is expected.
Ginger Collins was also arrested in January on charges she stole from McKeel Academy, where she was named assistant director of academics after leaving Kathleen Middle. The ABC Action News report includes video from this afternoon’s news conference by Sheriff Grady Judd.
If you’d like to share your opinions about what should go into a large urban park in Lakeland, you can fill out a short online survey.
A trapper tried to lure an alligator out of water near Sleepy Hill Road Wednesday after viral video of the animal crossing the road got neighbors worried. The gator wasn’t caught, but the trapper says he’s coming back.
And they’re buying a stairway to Latin rhythms and serendipity. Some music highlights this weekend include a Classic Albums Live tribute to Led Zeppelin IV at RP Funding Center tonight, the flamenco guitar and Zendrum of Don Soledad and Matthew Antolick (YouTube) at Posto 9 Friday and the spontaneity of Brian Sutherland and Craig Morby at Patio850 Saturday night. More listings follow:
ELECTIONS: Ricky Shirah, motivated in part by an insult by incumbent Jim Malless, has launched his fifth campaign for Lakeland City Commission.
THE LEDGER: The morning paper deviates from its pattern of not writing about internal issues and reports the third-degree felony arrest of its former marketing director, Nanay Pittman, on charges of defrauding the company. ALSO: LPD Facebook post
Polk County increases the amount of its subsidy to the city of Lakeland for fire services near city limits under a five-year agreement approved by the City Commission Monday. Commissioner Justin Troller voted against the deal, saying the county still isn’t paying enough.
With city elections nearly four months away, the campaign to change Lakeland’s city government to a strong-mayor system has amassed $231,193, by far the largest war chest in any Lakeland election campaign ever. Read on to see how each of the 15 announced candidates for city office are financing their races and who the biggest donors are.
Brian Goding is stepping up the live music at his cozy Hillcrest Coffee in Dixieland. Tonight’s 6:30 p.m. lineup features the Margaritaville vibes of John Frinzi, a nationally touring singer-songwriter based in Lakeland, and the guitar virtuosity of Carlton Music’s Joe Gavin as well as Hillcrest’s Hannah Dobson.
HOUSING: A $1.2 million grant will help construction of modern apartments for seniors at the 1950s-era West Lake public housing complex.
SCHOOLS: Three Lakeland elementary schools — Crystal Lake, Dixieland and Philip O’Brien — are among eight in Polk under consideration to pilot the community school concept.
CANDIDATE: Prayer inspires the candidacy of Terry Clark, who is running for the School Board seat now held by Kay Fields. Fields, also a prayer proponent, hasn’t decided whether she’ll seek re-election.
THEATER: The musical “Rock of Ages” plays at Lakeland Community Theatre this weekend and next.
The discovery was made after an FSC resource officer arrested a man suspected of stealing lawn equipment from a contractor working at a college housing site. If your lawn gear was stolen recently, LPD suggests you call Detective Alex Urra at 863-834-8951.
Thanks to Michael Maguire and Lakeland District 8 for capturing highlights of this morning’s 1 a.m. radio appearance by four candidates for mayor of Lakeland. Christopher Diaz, James Green and Bill Mutz joined Patrick Jones on his heavy-metal show on WMNF community radio.
ALSO: View a photo from the studio | Read Ledger coverage
— Rodney Dunigan (@rodneydunigan) July 10, 2017
It took firefighters three hours to contain a blaze reported at 12:30 a.m. at Precision Wallboard on Winter Lake Road near U.S. 98 S. No injuries were reported, but offices, equipment and a boat were destroyed. The fire briefly closed traffic on Winter Lake Road. (Check video from Polk Fire Rescue.)
The Kmart at 4717 S. Florida Ave. was on a list released today of 43 Sears and Kmart stores slated to close by October. The troubled chain has announced several rounds of closings this year totaling more than 300 stores. A manager at the Lakeland store told The Ledger he wasn’t authorized to answer questions such as how many people work there.
ENTERTAINMENT: Executives with the venue formerly known as The Lakeland Center explain why they favor nostalgia acts over contemporary music: They can sell more tickets in this market.
The vehicle, stationed at station 3 on North Florida Avenue, uses a pickup truck as its base and costs about $50,000 less than the unit it replaced.
It’s a good weekend for jazz lovers in Lakeland. Friday sees Jazza-nova at Posto 9 and B&B Jazz Quartet at Lakeland Loft. On Saturday, hear a Miles Davis tribute featuring Paul Butcher at LkldLive, Zemsemble (including Philip Booth and Rick Runion) at Fresco’s and Shawn Villanueva Jazz Trio at Lakeland Loft. See more music listings after the jump.
UTILITY: Lakeland Electric’s leaders are looking for a new manager for the McIntosh power plant as they reorganize duties there in the wake of mechanical failures.
VOTING: City commissioners are sending a letter urging Florida’s secretary of state to resist a presidential commission’s request to turn over private voter data.
Deputies say a man kicked out of Mason’s Live for groping women returned to the bar, targeted people with his car and fired a shotgun into the air.
The WESH report shows some of the training given by the Polk Sheriff’s Office to nine Southeastern University staffers to neutralize active shooters. Rep. Carlos Smith, an Orlando Democrat, says the school employees shouldn’t be allowed to carry weapons on campus as special deputies because they’re not on the sheriff’s payroll.
HEALTH CARE: Tops execs at Lakeland Regional Health say the GOP health care bills would curtail access to preventive care and disable the hospital’s ability to upgrade technology.
SEU: Southeastern University’s student development veep, Chris Owen, became the public face of Grady Judd’s effort to arm staff against potential active shooters when he was deputized as a “sentinel” on Monday. The other eight SEU employees who went through the training were sworn in privately to maintain anonymity, a key element of the program, according to Judd.
“That’s pretty remarkable for all the wrong reasons. To be shot twice, in two gang-related shootings — at 11 you’re paralyzed and 17 you’re killed; it’s horrific,” Sheriff Grady Judd said of Monday’s 7:45 incident at 2602 Tennessee Road (map).
The tips about Red White & Kaboom includes a map of food vendors.
HOLLINGSWORTH: A quartet of articles explores Lake Hollingsworth as a popular spot for running and other activities while reviewing car/bicycle safety initiatives and the stalled effort to add public restrooms.
S. FLORIDA AVE.: The proposal to slim down Florida Avenue through Dixieland and downtown has prompted business and government leaders to plan a trip to Orlando to check out a similar project along Edgewater Drive.
Spent the day with two modern masters of light and space. . #franklloydwright #santiagocalatrava #architect #famous #architecture #architecturelover #architecturelovers #modernarchitecture #inspiration #motivation #whatarchitectsdo #ilookup #storyofmyday #roadtrip #lakeland #florida #design #designlover #architectlife #architects #ig_architecture #architecturedesign #architecturewatch #creative_architecture #light #space
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Architecture at Florida Southern and Florida Poly by Frank Lloyd Wright and Santiago Calatrava enthralled Jeff Echols of Indianapolis, whose Instagram profile says he helps architects “build better businesses and a stronger profession.”
Reporter Brady Fredericksen takes a hyperlapse bike tour of Lake Hollingsworth, stopping to ask folks why they like coming there.
CITY MANAGER: Mayor Wiggs compares Tony Delgado’s salary with administrators in similar-sized Florida cities and concludes Lakeland’s manager deserves a raise.
CHARTER: When the strong-mayor push was brewing, city commissioners appointed a group to study the city charter and recommend changes. With the strong-mayor group’s version of a new charter on the Nov. 7 ballot, commissioners decided to hold off on putting their group’s proposals to a vote on the same day. Now they’re debating whether a spring special election is needed and when a decision should be made.
A Florida Southern student who’s running for mayor learned that professors are correct when they warn to watch what you post on social media. The Ledger reports that after James A. Green announced he’s running for mayor, people started posting screenshots of his Facebook posts (private to most people) that express contempt for liberals, Democrats, transgender people and those who denounce racism. Green, who has since deleted two Twitter profiles, told the newspaper those posts were written during the heat of last year’s election campaign and don’t reflect his current views.
CRASH: An LPD sergeant responding to a shoplifting incident crashed his cruiser into a tree at Lakeside Village. The Ledger
PORN: Polk detectives filed child porn charges against an army specialist stationed at Fort Bragg in connection with an incident that occurred when he was visiting family in Lakeland. News Channel 8
When the city of Lakeland communications staff overhauled the city website for the first time in 10 years, they set out to make it easer for users to find information and navigate the site on mobile devices.
Crews today demolished the false front on the building overlooking Lake Mirror that will become the Catapult 2.0 small business incubator. The facade, added more than a quarter century after the structure was built in 1924, will be replaced with a dramatic steel-and-glass entryway. Next steps in the renovation project will be interior work to replace the concrete floors, according to Steve Scruggs, president of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, Catapult’s parent organization.
Expect fireworks this holiday weekend. Jimi Hendrix’ explosive music will be recreated at LkldLive Saturday night as David Brimer and his band of gypsies perform “Are You Experienced.” And real fireworks light the skies following Monday’s Lake Mirror performance by reggae band Jah Movement at Red White & Kaboom and also after a Bob Seger tribute band plays on Independence Day following the Flying Tigers baseball game. Check more music listings after the jump.
“My whole life is tragic now. Everybody is looking at me funny. And my respect now is endangered because nobody will trust me,” Utpal Patel told NBC’s Kerry Sanders. Patel is in hiding after some people beat him up at Lakeland’s Southwest Complex and smeared him on Facebook. They claim he was trying to abduct a 2-year-old girl but Lakeland Police say Patel was a good Samaritan trying to help a lost child find her family.
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.
ALSO: View statewide results | Polk Schools news release
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.
Photographer Tom Hagerty documents a weekend of activities at Tigertown that included the Florida State League All-Star Game, two tribute concerts, fireworks and a charity game between the Lakeland Police Department and the Polk Sheriff’s Office. (LPD won 21-8)
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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).