The area around the Bulloch Family Ranch on Tom Costine Road is still flooded weeks after Hurricane Irma, a situation exacerbated by poor county maintenance of culverts, the ranch owners say.
TWO LOCAL GROUPS, the Polk County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County and United City, are collaborating to collect goods and raise money to help Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico | Donate
POLK SCHOOLS are taking in students fleeing Hurricane Maria’s destruction, and the Citrus Connection is offering transit passes for new arrivals from the islands, but extra funding is uncertain.
LAKELAND ELECTRIC is sending 20 workers and 10 vehicles to help the effort to restore electricity to Puerto Rico.
Author Trent Saunders recounts stories he’s heard about smuggling onto Central Florida ranches in the 1980s. Sheriff Grady Judd vouches for the stories, saying he remembers staking out some of the deals when he was a deputy.
Consider the guitar. It takes many forms, and its six strings can be played in myriad ways. For example, this weekend you can hear:
- The lilt of the classical style as Midday Meditations starts its 2017-18 season Friday morning with artist Samuel Ortiz.
- The thrash of metal at “The Story of an Undead World,” a seasonal rock opera at LkldLive Friday night.
- The wail of mainstream rock as Saliva and seven other bands play Rocktoberfest 2017 at Masons Live on Saturday.
Dramatic video: An LPD officer making a DUI stop at Florida Avenue and Main Street on Sunday was grazed by the rear-view mirror of a passing driver who was later charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. Remember: Move over when you see flashing lights.
CITY COMMISSIONERS were busy Monday. Among other things they:
- Sold 10+ downtown acres for $3.7 million to Framework Group LLC, which plans to build 306 rental apartments and townhouses | Staff presentation
- Donated about $94,000 worth of property and rights of way to the developers of the massive Bonnet Springs Park planned for property west of downtown.
- Awarded raises of 4 percent each to City Manager Tony Delgado and City Attorney Tim McCausland after giving them favorable performance reviews.
- Applauded as Mayor Howard Wiggs named Ana Rivera winner of the October CityMakers Award | Also: CityMakers website profiles Rivera.
THE POLK SCHOOL BOARD had a lot of Lakeland action, too:
- Nearly 9,000 employees came to Joker Marchant Stadium for a motivational event that was mandatory for teachers on a day without students | Fox 13 coverage
- Employees entering the Tigertown event passed about 15 protesters expressing displeasure with Tenoroc High School Principal Jason Looney, who has been subject of two sexual harassment investigations that both concluded there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
- Justin Troller, who is a city commissioner, reported on Facebook (here) that he’s been reinstated as a school district employee, but Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said his new job, which hasn’t been announced yet, would not involve working with students.
Many returned today after being turned away Saturday from Irma temporary food stamp registration at the RP Funding Center.
BROADBAND: City Commissioner Justin Troller pushes to expand Lakeland’s extensive fiber optic network into a utility offering fast, affordable Internet to residents and businesses. The first step, he says, is a test project in areas just north and east of downtown.
CIVICS: Alarmed that most students no longer understand how government works, Florida Southern College and All Saints Academy are combining forces to revive civics education, Bruce Anderson writes in his weekly politics column.
ROWBOTHAM: Radio exec Art Rowbotham calls “miraculous” a procedure that suppresses the effects of Parkinson’s disease that he’s experienced.
Crowds snaked up to the RP Funding Center this morning before registration opened at 7 a.m. Also: Check a short video of the line taken after daybreak. Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here.
Registration takes place daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Wednesday. Applicants are asked to come on a day corresponding to the first letter in their last name:
- People with last names A-F should show up 10/14
- People with last names G-J should show up 10/15
- People with last names K-O should show up 10/16
- People with last names P-Z should show up 10/17
- A make-up day will be held 10/18
MAYOR CANDIDATES: Reporter Chris Guinn looks at the four men running for mayor; the winner will find out the day he’s elected whether he’ll be a “weak” ceremonial mayor or a “strong” mayor overseeing the city’s administrative apparatus.
MAYOR QA: The candidates answer questions. Asked how they’ll vote on the strong mayor initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot, candidates James Green and Patrick Shawn Jones say they’ll vote for it, and Bill Mutz says he’s voting against. Christopher Diaz doesn’t say.
DEBRIS: For some residents of unincorporated Polk County, it could be two more months before yard debris from Hurricane Irma is picked up. An online map (here) gives a rough idea where crews are working.
Lakeland: City officials expect the first round of debris removal to be completed by the end of October.
SCHOOL BOARD: Developments surrounding an investigation into the principal of Tenoroc High School have prompted School Board member Billy Townsend to call for the resignation of his colleague Tim Harris.
LAND DEALS: City commissioners will be asked to rule on two land deals Monday: a request to donate parcels valued at $94k for the privately funded Bonnet Springs Park and a $1.65 million sale of 15 acres at Lakeland Linder Airport for Geico expansion. (A third, highly visible land deal on Monday’s agenda involves 10 acres north of Lake Mirror.)
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The nine Lakeland physicians on the state’s list of doctors qualified to treat patients with medical marijuana (see the list here) work in small practices. Large employers of doctors, such as Watson Clinic and Lakeland Regional Health, have no employees on the list.
Florida Hospital has disclosed it plans to build a free-standing emergency room on 104 acres it recently purchased for $14.5 million just west of Florida Polytechnic University.
Violins or fiddles? Take your pick Saturday night. One concert in downtown Lakeland spotlights a soprano and show tunes. Another one four blocks away showcases twangs and bluegrass.
TRAFFIC INFLUX: Local agencies are preparing for heavy traffic to the RP Funding Center Saturday through Oct. 18 as people come to register for Irma food assistance.
CANDIDATES: The four candidates for the City Commission’s Southwest seat give their views on issues.
WINN-DIXIE: The Winn-Dixie stores at U.S. 92 and Combee and on Ariana Street will become Harveys Supermarkets next month.
HEADLINES: A house fire claimed the life of a 78-year-old man, but six family members escaped | An eight-year prison sentence is expected after Anthony Conti pleaded no contest to charges he molested women clients of his mental health therapy practice.
FOOD FOR FLORIDA: Certain families affected by Hurricane Irma (see if you qualify) will be able to apply for temporary food assistance . First, pre-register online here, then show up for an interview Saturday through Oct. 18 at the RP Funding Center’s Sikes Hall | Learn more
CANDIDATES: The race for the Southeast district seat on the City Commission gives voters a choice between business/military experience (Scott Franklin) and civic/volunteer experience (Sandy Toledo) | ALSO: Both candidates respond to questions
COGGINS: A DCF investigation concluded that Randy Coggins, who has been in the news because of troubles with the Monarch School he runs, swindled an elderly couple out of $25k, but no charges were filed, The Ledger reports.
BROADWAY TUNES: Soprano Elizabeth Burton fronts the Imperial Symphony Orchestra Saturday at the Polk Theatre as the orchestra kicks off its 2017-18 season with a “Broadway Through the Years” concert.
Both sides of Lakeland’s strong mayor issue were explored Tuesday evening at a forum at New Bethel AME Church. The forum was sponsored by the local chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Deta Sigma Theta Fraternity. Moderator was Sylvia Blackmon-Roberts.
City commissioners heard howls of protest last week when they were about to vote on a contract to sell 10 vacant acres near the LPD headquarters to a private developer. Most of the complaints weren’t as much about the terms of sale or the developer’s intentions as much as a perception that the deal was being rushed through before members of the public had a chance to understand the plans and comment on them.
JARVIS KENDRICK: The former credit union vice president and civic volunteer was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading no contest to leaving the scene of a crash involving a fatality.
TENOROC PRINCIPAL: Sexual harassment claims against Jason Looney were “not substantiated” by a School District investigation that leaves open questions about his management style.
RELATED: School Board member Billy Townsend responds that two investigations involving Looney reveal a “comprehensive, catastrophic leadership failure” by the School District.
COAL: Lakeland Electric is continuing its plans to reduce reliance on coal despite Trump Administration plans to loosen restrictions on the fuel. (No link; the article isn’t online yet.)
Shane Lawlor performs Oasis’ “Wonderwall” at Munn Park this afternoon during a Music Munndays concert. Lawlor was in a band (Nic Armstrong & The Thieves) that toured the U.S. with Oasis in 2005. He said he almost saw Oasis before they hit it big when they performed Nov. 1, 1993, at The Wherehouse in Derby, near his hometown of Nottingham, England. The Music Munndays series, sponsored by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra and the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, returns next Monday 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with Sumner Curtis. Also coming up: Alex Lopez Xpress on Oct. 23, and ISO musicians on Oct. 30.
Donations came in after thousands of dollars of tools were stolen from Pedal Power Bicycle Ministry at First Presbyterian Church.
MAGIC COURT: A new Lakeland Magic-theme basketball court is unveiled at the RP Funding Center as the NBA G-League team reveals its “cornerstone partners:” Pepsi, Southeastern University, Florida Hospital and the city of Lakeland. Gone: Publix green and Publix logos | Photos | Video (provided by the team)
CASH FEED FUTURE: The city’s historic preservation specialist recommends demolishing the roof and trusses at the Cash Field building but trying to retain the outside walls as LEDC converts it into the Catapult 2.0 business incubator. The Historic Preservation Board takes up the LEDC’s building demolition request Thursday, and unlike their staff member, the board can consider economic factors | Read the report
All 15 candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot were asked the same questions and given up to 10 minutes to answer.
POT DOC: The ninth doctor’s office operated by Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida is opening near the in-town WalMart under a sign promoting “low cost cannabis recommendations.”
LRH EMPLOYEES: A new 3-year deal between Lakeland Regional Health and the union representing registered nurses and technical workers offers enhanced educational benefits. In addition, most nurses will get 2 percent raises each year, and technical workers get two 2 percent raises this year, then 2 percent raises the next two years. (The story online now offers only a few paragraphs. Let’s hope the online version catches up with print shortly.)
PORCH PIRATE: A woman videotaped stealing packages from a Lakeland porch has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Central Florida Development bought its first County Line Road property in 2004 after a friend asked Richard LeFrois if he’d heard about Lakeland. “I flew down the next weekend and things just felt right, like it was the right environment to expand the business.” Expansion was scarce during the recession but took off after Lakeland became seen as a logistics hub.
A couple of fresh starts:
- Among Friends Music launches its 2017-18 house concert series Sunday evening with Grant Peeples, a “self-described tree-hugger (who) watches NASCAR, and a Buddhist with a gun below the seat.”
- Music Munnday kicked off this week with Patty Kenoly, who’s suddenly everywhere, and follows up this Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Munn Park with the songster of Nottingham, Shane Lawlor. The last time I saw the son of England’s Midlands play solo, he favored tunes from the two British Invasions: the Beatles Liverpool one in the ’60s and the Oasis Manchester one in the ’90s.
Randy Borden bought a distinctive, mid-century building in downtown Lakeland to house two of his dreams: a video news-and-information service about Lakeland and a performing arts venue for shows attracting up to 200 people.
A video by Catapult members Jamie Clemens and Caleb LB Randall looks at damage inside the Cash Feed building on Lake Mirror caused by Hurricane Irma. That damage has forced the Lakeland Economic Development Council to abandon its plans to convert the 1924 building into a new home for the Catapult Lakeland small business incubator. Next step: The Lakeland Historic Preservation Board meets next Thursday to consider the LEDC’s request to demolish the building. Project manager Wesley Beck told The Ledger that LEDC hopes to build a new structure for Catapult on the 502 E. Main Street property, perhaps emulating Cash Feed’s Mediterranean architecture.
Bob Kealing, author of “Elvis Ignited: The Rise of an Icon in Florida,” (Amazon) speaks at FSC’s Branscomb Auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday. The lecture is free and open to the public. Kealing also wrote a book chronicling the formative years of country rock pioneer Gram Parsons (Amazon) that mentions his Lakeland performances as a teen.
CANDIDATES: Reporter Christopher Guinn catches up with 14 of the candidates for mayor and city commission at a Chamber of Commerce meet-and-greet.
POLICE PENSIONS: Retired LPD employees will get bonuses of about $2,600 each under an emergency ordinance passed by the City Commission as it asserts its authority over pensions.
MONARCH SCHOOL: The private school teaching children with autism has closed.
Note to Ledger: I’da posted a link to your advance of Saturday’s Cardboard Boat Race (8:30 a.m. Saturday, Lake Hollingsworth | Facebook) if you’da put it online.
The magazine asked about strong mayor, small business, biggest community challenges and top priority. Their questionnaire went out before the last three candidates announced for office.
FSC PREZ RES: Florida Southern chief Anne Kerr has vacated the stately, red-brick president’s residence on campus as it undergoes unspecified repairs.
Two hours and forty three minutes after they began discussing the issue, the City Commission voted 4-3 today to wait two more weeks before deciding whether to sell 10+ downtown acres to a Tampa developer that wants to build 306 apartments and townhouses. And most of the people in the audience were happy for the delay.
CATAPULT: Structural damage to the Lakeland Cash Feed Building from Hurricane Irma is forcing the Lakeland Economic Development Council to abandon its plans to transform the 1924 structure into the Catapult 2.0 entrepreneurial center.
ALSO: Director’s blog post | Engineer’s letter, photos | Building inspector’s letter
LOVERS’ OAK: The director of Bok Tower Gardens, a career horitculturist, argues passionately that the city of Lakeland should preserve the conjoined live oaks at Success and Lake Morton. Instead, he said, the city should focus resources on “sound arboricultural evaluation and work” on the tree and replacement of the more precarious laurel oaks around town with live oaks. See past coverage.
A Lakeland sports bar is getting its 15 minutes of fame this week. On Thursday, the Orlando Weekly picked up on a recent Instagram photo and a year-old News Channel 8 report noting that Winners Circle owner Bill Alcock has placed decals of Colin Kaepernick’s jersey in the bar’s urinals — kind of like target practice for those who disagree with the quarterback’s National Anthem stand — um, kneel. That same day Ledger Editor Lenore Devore targeted the bar with a dining review (2 stars for food, 1 for service, 3 for ambience) that complained of skimpy bacon and skimpier service. We’re not sure how Winners Circle feels about the attention, but they probably relate to an old saying: “I don’t care what they say about me; just make sure they spell my name right!”
Lawmakers and hurricane researchers have expressed concern about the condition of NOAA’s Gulfstream IV-SP high-altitude jet nicknamed “Gonzo,” which was forced to abort its message and return to its Lakeland base Monday. It was the third aborted or scrubbed mission of the Hurricane Hunter craft in eight days, the Washington Post reports.
- The Downtown Lakeland Curb Market is coordinating with United City, a local non-profit; three kinds of help are requested: bring non-perishable goods to the Maria booth at the market Saturday; take home a box to pack and send; write a check or donate via Paypal | Ledger coverage
- Twenty-five businesses are collecting goods on behalf of the Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County. See the list | Bay News 9 coverage
YLakeland’s guide to ethnic markets shows where to find tastes of Mexico, the Caribbean, India and East Asian nations.
It took large cranes Wednesday to lift Gino Miles‘ large sculptures into place at the Polk Museum of Art, which features his work in its sculpture garden through Jan. 14, and at ART/ifact Studios at Mass Market. The Santa Fe-based sculptor is scheduled to give a gallery talk at the museum at noon Nov. 10.
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STRONG MAYOR: Fund-raising became a focus in a Lakeland Rotary Club forum on Lakeland’s strong mayor ballot initiative. A questioner pointed out that the vast majority of the $366,000+ to promote strong mayor came from one donor, Gregory Fancelli. Supporters countered that large contributions and campaign direction for No Boss Mayor come from a Washington-based, international organization for city managers. Strong Lakeland donors | No Boss Mayor donors
SKEETER SPRAYING: With mosquitoes in Polk tripling after Hurricane Irma, a FEMA-provided plane will spray soon over Kathleen, North Lakeland and the Green Swamp.
GUITARIST: Accomplished performer Robert Phillips (website) spreads appreciation of classic guitar through teaching. Fact check: He’s directed the guitar program at Harrison School for the Arts far less than 24 years, and former Principal Craig Collins came to the school well before 2009.
FROM OTHER SOURCES: Irma exposed electric grid weaknesses, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports | Lakeland isn’t mentioned in this Bloomberg article about Amazon warehouses and local employment, but it could have been.
Get a hit of trippy love and peace two ways this weekend: There’s ’60s style noon today at LkldLive’s Bite-Size Beatles, where David Brimer, Shane Curtis and Shane Lawlor play an hour of Fab Four favorites. And there’s 2017 style at Earthdance Florida, a today-through-Monday festival at the Maddox Ranch. (The Ledger previewed it.) See more live music listings after the jump.
ELECTRIC BILLS: Lakeland Electric clarifies a billing issue, saying those who were billed for consuming electricity while their power was down should pay in full; an adjustment will be made on the next bill. To accommodate customers, late fees will be waived from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22 and non-payment disconnections will be suspended until Oct. 23.
IRMA AND SEWAGE: The city of Lakeland is preparing a report showing 24 sewage overflows during the hurricane, some of them damaging property.
POSTO 9: Following “some unfortunate disputes with creditors,” the owners of downtown Lakeland’s upscale Brazilian gastropub have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Co-owner Marco Franca characterized the filing as nothing more than a way to reorganize debt and said the restaurant will remain open while the case is pending.
ELECTRIC BILLS: Some Lakeland Electric customers received bills with excess charges because of incorrect estimates made when smart meters were unavailable during Irma recovery. Bills will be adjusted so that phantom usage isn’t charged, the utility said.
CITY BUDGET: City commissioners are expected to retain the current property tax rate of $5.56 per $1,000 of taxable value when they hold their final hearing on the 2017-18 budget at 6 tonight at City Hall. Because of increased property values, that rate is projected to generate an extra 5.5 percent in revenue.
As out-of-town lineman trucks left town in two groups today (video: morning convoy via City of Lakeland | afternoon convoy via News 10), Lakeland Electric said all but 300 customers who lost power during Hurricane Irma have been restored.
Those that are left “require a reconnect due to storm damage to their service line, meter box or weatherhead,” the utility added. Lakeland Electric also said it is experiencing technical difficulties with its online outage map, which was showing 1,195 outages at 10:30 p.m.
LPD provided an escort this moring as 50 trucks brought in from out of town for Hurricane Irma recovery headed home. At 8 a.m. today, Lakeland Electric announced 1,300 customers still lack power and “several hundred crews” on duty aim, by the end of today, to restore all except those with meter or weatherhead damage.
AIRPORT: The NOAA Hurricane Hunters were attracted to Lakeland Linder because of the city’s ability to build their HQ quickly to spec and the presence of aviation schools.
JBT: As citrus shifts, the processor diversified, modernized and deepened ties to local colleges.
PUBLIX: Lakeland’s favorite grocer still leases most of its stores, but it has doubled the number of locations it owns to about 300 since 2010.
A dozen area residents questioned the $17-a year tax to pay for street lighting along the dangerous road.
Polk County and the city of Lakeland are each offering Geico $369,000 plus other incentives if it lives up to promises to bring 300 to 500 new jobs to a new $12 million facility planned to be built near their current Pipkin Road site.
- Don’t burn it.
- FEMA’s bringing big trucks to claw debris within 10 feet of the road.
- Take it to the county landfill; fees are waived through Oct. 18.
Gator trapper Julie Harter fried and served the reptiles she catches at a Lakeland dinner for 100 visiting electric workers helping with Hurricane Irma recovery.
Members of the Cleveland Heights Neighborhood Association heard from three candidates for mayor and both sides of the strong-mayor debate in an election forum tonight. Here is video from the event; the audio peters out toward the end, so you may want to switch at that point to this version.
LKLDTV: The Morning Paper, which never acknowledged the existence of LkldTV when it was operating, finally writes about it when owner Randy Borden announced the operation, which chronicled Lakeland people and organizations via video, is shutting down.
- After its sanctuary suffered storm damage, Temple Emanuel will hold High Holy Day Services at First Presbyterian Church.
- Damage to their respective Lakeland homes displaced sisters Liz Cruz and Janet Sabo.
- The heart attack death of Carlos Arencibia is the second Polk fatality attributed to Irma.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: Ten readers share varying opinions about the Munn Park statue and other rebel monuments in a collection of letters to the editor.
With a rock and a brick as weapons, City Commissioner Bill “Tiger” Read got a 10-foot alligator to release a neighbor’s dog from its jaws | Read his version on Facebook
A dozen musicians delivered an evening of jazz and swing standards at LkdLive Friday night. Styles varied from the Judy Garland stylings of Victoria Anastasio to the gypsy jazz of Dean Johanesen to the soulful ballads (and fancy footwork) of Kristy Scott. Check the video to see how three of the songs ended.
Lakeland Electric has identified the parts of its grid that were hit the hardest by Hurricane Irma and said some of the roughly 2,000 people there can expect to be without power until Tuesday or Wednesday. All others without power should be restored by Sunday, the utility said in a Facebook post.
The areas that will take longer include:
- Lake Hollingsworth area (southwest side of the lake)
- Southgate Area (Beacon Road south to Imperial Boulevard)
- Sylvester Road area (sest of U.S. 98 and between Sylvester Road and Crystal Lake Road)
As flooding persists off Rock Ridge Road and the Pineville Apartments on Swindell Avenue, Lakeland Electric expects 95 percent of customers to have power by Sunday afternoon and cable companies caution that their service won’t always be available when power returns.
Amid a few Irma-related cancellations, most Lakeland music events remain on schedule for this weekend. Highlights include the Classic Albums Live note-for-note rendition of “Woodstock” tonight at The Lakeland Center and Summertime Swingtime Review (rescheduled from last weekend) at LkldLive on Friday.
Cancellations include the re-creation of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” by Copeland and other bands that had been scheduled for Saturday at LkdLive. The concert will be rescheduled, LkldLive says, but the date is undecided.
A few venues, including Lakeland Loft, are starting music earlier than normal to accommodate Polk County’s post-hurricane curfew. It’s best to call or check venue Facebook pages before leaving home to see if the event you’re interested in has been changed. Check our music calendar after the jump.
“If you don’t have power by this afternoon when the remaining distribution circuits are restored, then you could be without power for up to one week,” the city of Lakeland says in a Facebook update.
Mayor Wiggs says on Facebook that Lakeland Electric is moving from restoring to rebuilding — meaning that if you don’t have power by the end of today, you’re in a part of the system that needs to be rebuilt, and it could take days.
The utility, which serves 125,000 homes and businesses, saw 40,000 outages with 2004’s Frances and 30,000 with Charlie.
A Washington Post food writer says folks are wondering if Irma-themed cakes at Publix are in bad taste or just a sign of Florida’s eccentricity.
Hurricane season in Florida can be unpredictable, but your plan doesn’t have to be. Many people think that hurricane season is just the months of June, July, and August. In reality, hurricane season spans from June all the way until November. The last few years we have been lucky, and major storms have missed our area. From the past, we know that storms do come through Lakeland. If left unprepared, damage from a large storm can leave you feeling hopeless. It is important you and your family have a plan before a storm arrives.
Dining critic Eric Pera gives the new Dixieland eatery two stars for food and three each for service and ambience. He concludes: “Crane’s Crossing has plenty to offer, perhaps too much. Fewer menu items would allow the kitchen to concentrate on details.” | View the menu
The Polk Sheriff warns sexual predators to stay away from storm shelters and advises those with warrants to turn themselves in. The ACLU says many people with outstanding warrants have minor offenses and shouldn’t be exposed to harm.
IRMA: The Morning Paper has set up a page for Hurricane Irma coverage, including local preparations. (LkldNow’s Irma page should go live later today.)
VITO’S BUILDING: The Dixieland building that housed Vito’s restaurant is being transformed into a suite of $1,000-a-month offices for professionals. (Check our photos from November, when the new facade was approved by the Historic Preservation Board.)
City commissioners handled a wide range of issues today in a series of meetings that began at 7:40 a.m. and ended after 2 p.m. They agreed to incentives to bring an unnamed employer promising 500 new high-skill jobs to Lakeland, and they considered a request to change downtown noise regulations. Here’s a roundup of the meetings as reported on Twitter.
LOVER’S OAK EVENT: A donation to Historic Lake Inc. will get you a portrait under the slated-for-removal “Lover’s Oak” (background) at the south end of Lake Morton or even a piece of the sprawling tree. The event is scheduled for 3-6 p.m. Saturday.
CLUBHOUSE ROAD: Sept. 19 is the day county commissioners will take public comment and vote on a plan to set up a special taxing district to pay for street lights on Clubhouse Road. Installing and maintaining the lights will cost roughly 2,000 area homeowners about $17 a year for the first 10 years and about $8 a year after that.
LOGISTICS JOBS: Reporter Kevin Bouffard looks at how e-commerce is affecting logistics businesses, a growing part of Lakeland’s economy. A rise in aviation employment has fueled training opportunities locally, while warehousing is seeing a mix of automation and human labor.
BASKETBALL: Anthony Parker, newly named general manager of the Lakeland Magic, has seen pro basketball from many sides.
CHRISTINA CHASE: A wild chase through a south Lakeland subdivision ended with an arrest.
A candlelight vigil in support of removing Lakeland’s Confederate monument drew about 50 people to Munn Park Sunday night, as well as a half-dozen counter protestors. The gathering was organized by members of the Lakeland Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and organizers said they plan to return each Sunday at 7 p.m. until the monument is removed from the center of the downtown park.
View 10 News coverage of the protest, and here is Facebook Live video from the event:
Gregory Fancelli says he thinks trimming limbs and removing Spanish moss from the twined trees at Lake Morton Drive and Success Avenue will make them safer and has offered to pay for the work. Three arborists told city officials the tree is unsafe and needs to come down, but top city brass plan to meet with Fancelli before taking action.
HURRICANE HUNTERS: Capt. Nancy Hann starts her new job as commander of the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center at Lakeland Linder Airport just as part of her team is helping with Harvey rescue and another part is being deployed today to Barbados to track Hurricane Irma.
HELPING HARVEY VICTIMS: Several local organizations are setting up efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Rain stalled Friday night’s game during the first quarter. After play resumed around 9, Lakeland High School beat Cooper City 54-7.
A Storm is a Brewing, Go Deadnaughts! iPhone 7 #dreadnaughts #lakelandflorida #lakelandfl #highschoolfootball #lakelanddreadnaughts #lakelandfootball #football #kickoff2017 #centralflorida #centralfloridaliving #centralfloridalife #bryantstadium #stormabrewin
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The glass-paneled, six-story Citizens Bank & Trust building overlooking Lake Morton has been sold to The Geneva Group, a Deerfield Beach real estate investment company, for $7.2 million.
This is a good weekend to catch local music acts. If you like acoustic music, check out:
Friday: John Corneal at Hillcrest Coffee, John Frinzi at The Pink Piano, Munn Park Saints at Patio850, or Jazza-Nova at 801 E. Main.
Saturday: Matthew Antolick and Don Soledad, Riley Harris, and Mike Monts De Oca at the Downtown Curb Market, Dean Johanesen at Fresco’s, or Annisette Mayer at The Pink Piano.
It’s too early to say when it will be ready or pinpoint the location, but Lakeland’s new 92,000-square-foot Veterans Administration clinic will be built somewhere in an area bounded by Interstate 4, County Line Road, Polk Parkway and Drane Field Road, officials said at a town hall meeting Wednesday. It will replace the current 20,000-square-foot clinic on South Pipkin Road | View a larger map.
As long these guys are the only ones swimming home around here, life is good. #prayforhouston 🙏 • • • • • • • • • #wednesday #latergram #morning #motivation #grateful #love #lakeland #florida #sunrise #clouds #sky #swan #lake #view #blessed #thankful #instagood
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THE COMPOUND: Writer Gary White takes a nostalgic look at a sprawling, L-shaped residence at Frank Lloyd Wright Way and Jefferson Avenue (street view) that dates to the 1920s. FSC, which recently bought the house, seeks to demolish it and eventually build an early-learning lab on the property.
CANDIDATE: Jennifer Sabin, an activist opponent of standardized testing in public schools, becomes the second candidate to file for the Polk School Board seat currently held by Kay Fields, who hasn’t said whether she will seek re-election.
SEU: Southeastern University begins the school year with record enrollment above 7,000 students, just under 3,000 of whom are on its Lakeland campus. The rest are at 80 extension sites in 29 states and online.
In an editorial-page column in The Ledger, Mayor Howard Wiggs calls for “collectively crafted solutions” to divisive issues such as the Confederate memorial in Munn Park. While not explicitly taking sides in his column (he’s defended the monument when it’s been criticized by members of the public at City Commission meetings), he singles out anger seen in “shameful name-calling and attacks on those who view the statue as their history and heritage.”
Sykes Enterprises’ (website) workforce of 940 in two Lakeland centers dwarfs the staff at its Tampa headquarters. The company’s 2012 decision to place 600 employees in a Griffin Road facility — Sykes’ largest — prompted other large employers to come to Lakeland, economic development people here say. Sykes specializes in outsourcing telephone customer support.
The company (site), based at Lakeland Linder Airport, operates decommissioned military aircraft and assists the U.S. and allies in aerial combat training.
Kevin Treadway, who persevered to overcome disabilities, and mother Cathy Clark, who suffers debilitating back injuries, were evicted from their Lakeland home last month. But Kevin’s scholarship to Syracuse University is giving the family a new start. “If there’s a kid that deserves to go to college, it’s him,” said Steve Morgan, Kevin’s chess coach at Crystal Lake Middle School. “Kevin was a natural gentleman. He was brilliant.”
LT. PACHECO: Dealing with his own grief made LPD’s Lt. Steven Pacheco more empathetic when encountering crime victims and their families, John Chambliss writes in a profile of the head of the department’s Office of Professional Standards.
PSC: Enrollment at Polk State College is up to 11,414, 1.1 percent higher than a year ago.
- The page width slimmed down from 12 inches to 11 inches, undoubtedly related to the recently implemented and hopefully lucrative contract to print the Orlando Sentinel.
- The Business section moved from the back of the Sports section to its own section front, a good move.
- UPDATE: With Madison Fantozzi leaving to become director of creative communications at Polk State College, Eric Pera is taking over the education beat for now. No word on whether it will become his full-time beat. “No final decisions have been made,” Editor Lenore Devore says.
Did anybody notice other changes?
TREE, REMEMBERED: Reporter Chris Guinn looks at the soon-to-be-felled “Lovers Oak” through the eyes of people who grew up or now live in the house overlooking it at the corner of Success and Lake Morton.
CANDIDATES HOB NOB: The ever-productive reporter Guinn summarizes statements made by candidates for city office at Friday’s Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “hob nob” event. (LkldLive had planned to livestream the statements, but our entire staff was sick in bed the last few days. We’re better now; thanks for asking.)
LRH SALARIES: Tax documents disclose salaries for Lakeland Regional Health’s highest-paid execs, including three exceeding $1 million in take-home pay.
LKLD MAGIC: The Lakeland Magic’s 50-game schedule includes 24 home games, the first on Nov. 10 against the Canton Charge. All games will be streamed on Facebook Live.
RESTITUTION: Fraud charges were dropped against David Osborne, a Lakeland car salesman, and his son Kyle after they repaid $200k to an Austrian couple who moved to Lakeland.
Ridley, a 65-year-old Tampa lawyer, takes over as chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, from Billy Payne. He has “come a long way from his childhood days playing public courses in rural Lakeland and Winter Haven, Florida,” notes the Golfworld profile by my former Tampa Times colleague, Tim Rosaforte.
Listen up, class. Our topic this week is American rock roots.
Our first stop is Hillcrest Coffee. Jon Corneal, who some call the first country rock drummer from his days playing alongside Gram Parsons, will be joined Saturday night by Ronny Elliott. Elliot’s a troubadour whose insightful, sardonic songs (Hear a “Fresh Air” review of his masterful “Poisonville”) include a persuasive argument that rock ‘n roll was born in 1947, the same year he was. You may have heard him explore rocks roots on WMNF-88.5 FM on Friday afternoons.
Some in the class may prefer to head north Saturday night to the Music Ranch, where Damon Fowler opens for Berry Oakley Jr. and Duane Betts, both sons of founding members of the Allman Brothers Band, a group that fused musical styles to originate and perfect Southern rock.
Class members who want to hear some more contemporary rock can check Masons Live, which features a “Women in Rock” review of seven bands from 2 to 11 Saturday. See more listings after the jump.
A 53-year-old man using a walker to cross Harden Boulevard outside of a crosswalk died after he was struck by a northbound GMC Canyon truck early this morning, Lakeland police said. A witness said the victim, Jeffrey T. Wells, was looking down as he crossed the road near Lakeland Christian School, police said.
Thirty-eight animals were seized from property on Bella Vista Street near Galloway Road (map) as deputies arrested Gail Anne Nichols, 66, who said she’s a part-time veterinarian at clinics in Gulfport and Port Richey, and Paul Craig Smith, 74.
BRYANT STADIUM: The Polk School Board has agreed to buy the football home of the LHS Dreadnaughts for $1.2 million. Next step: The agreement goes to the Lakeland City Commission, which is expected to approve it.
FSC: Florida Southern’s freshman class is it’s largest and most accomplished, the college announces.
The Lakeland Police Department’s nine K-9 officers were suspended after being caught traveling at speeds over 100 mph while caravanning on their way back from field trials in the Panhandle. Fox 13 News broke the story this morning. Also: 10 News coverage. Here’s how it unfolded on social media, including video from dash cams and a disappointed Chief Larry Giddens.
Mayor Howard Wiggs is backing Ben Albritton, currently a Florida House member facing term limits. The Wauchula Republican is the only candidate declared so far in the 2018 race. Incumbent Denise Grimsley plans to run for state agriculture commissioner.
A 6-year-who got off a school bus at the wrong stop got home safely after walking 1.7 miles. Her mother said the driver should have been aware of the situation. Officials at McKeel Academy Central said this was the driver’s first incident in 30 years.
CANDIDATES: The Polk County Builders Association has endorsed the mayor and City Commission candidates it thinks will do the most to reign in the Community Development department: Bill Mutz, Larry Durrence, Scott Franklin and Jim Malless.
SCHOOL BAN: A parent at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy has been banned from almost all Polk School District activities. Chris Stephenson says (here and here) he’s being punished for being a whistle blower. The principal says (here) it’s because he threatened to burn the school down.
LPD VESTS: Shield the Badges, a nonprofit org, has donated 240 heavy-duty vests officers can use during active shooter situations.
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.