TREES: Lakeland park crews are busy replacing two kinds of trees – palms that succumb to a disease carried by tiny planthopper insects and the Oriental sweetgums downtown that snarl underground utilities and buckle sidewalks.
BANK: Prime Meridian Bank (website) has opened a Lakeland branch, its first outside its Tallahassee base. Its location at at 3340 S. Florida Ave. was home to the former Community Southern Bank, which was founded in 2006 by Michael Micallef Jr., who leads Prime Meridian’s Polk operations.
SOLAR: The head of Polk’s nonprofit solar cooperative says Lakeland Electric’s demand charge is inhibiting Lakelanders from switching to solar. In an op-ed column, Rick Garrity disputes the need for a demand charge, saying net metering produces benefits for the utility.
PUBLIC RECORDS: Reporter Gary White delves into a Florida phenomenon – local governments, including the city of Lakeland, have pulled hundreds of thousands of documents from their websites in response to letters from two litigious men who want to ensure the records are accessible to the visually impaired.
DOWNTOWN: As the city of Lakeland plans for next year, the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority presses three initiatives:
- Hang overhead string lights above some key shopping/entertainment blocks.
- Reduce the number of street signs while making them more informative and attractive.
- Create parklets, removable platforms that could be place over on-street parking to create outdoor seating for restaurants during certain parts of the day. (Here’s a more complete definition.)
As Dan Signor sipped on a latte and talked about his plans to open a hip new music venue in Dixieland, it was easy to get caught up in his enthusiasm.
The rock ‘n roll musician has entertained in Florida for years, but now he’s setting up a permanent location in Lakeland called Union Hall at 1023 S. Florida Ave., formerly the site of Truly Nolan. More
Lakeland’s two biggest architectural firms didn’t consider themselves rivals because they had different specialties; so when the Lunz Group and WMB-ROI merged recently, it was looked at as a pooling of resources into a company with a footprint across the I-4 corridor.
- Reporter Sara-Megan Walsh writes about plans to transform a portion of the public library on Lake Morton into a history and culture center.
- She also profiles artist Josh “Bump” Galletta as Lakeland’s newest CityMaker.
- Gary White explains the neighborhood markers that have been showing up atop street signs since 2017.
- The family of Mayor Bill Mutz remembers patriarch O.U. “Oz” Mutz, a multiple corporate president who died Thursday at age 91.
The Yard on Mass food-truck park and beer hall easily jumped a hurdle this morning on its way to an expected May 9 groundbreaking and fall opening.
Two churches near the site at North Massachusetts Avenue and Parker Street sent no representatives to object, so the Lakeland Board of Adjustments and Appeals quickly approved an alcohol variance at a special meeting. More
It looks like a good weekend for musical comedy, a Swan Brewing birthday and good ol’ Southern Rock. Some of the music highlights:
- Tague Zachary, a Chicagoan with a guitar and a refined funny bone, brings his show (directed by Swan City Improv‘s Nate Fleming) to LkldLive Friday.
- Swan Brewing celebrates its first anniversary with the Deadhead sounds of Uncle John’s Band Friday night, Pensacola’s aptly named Spearman Brewers Saturday afternoon and the guitar/mandolin/violin interweavings of the Munn Park Saints Saturday night.
- Music Ranch continues to preserve Southern Rock with Second Shot out of Jacksonville and guitar slinger Jimmy Sexton Saturday night.
Keep scrolling for our updated music calendar: More
MUNN PARK: City commissioners are feeling no rush to put something new in the center of Munn Park even as downtown promoters press ahead with plans for a public meeting (info) on whether a carousel or something else should go there.
DINING: The original Uncle Nick’s deli is still serving solid sandwiches and Italian-American fare at Old 37 and Shepherd Road, even as two satellite locations have closed, writes restaurant critic Eric Pera, who dished out 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for food and 3 for service.
Lakeland resident Alice Hunt, who co-founded Hunt Construction with her husband Chuck, was elected chair of the Florida Polytechnic University Foundation Board of Directors. Jack Harrell III, senior vice president at Harrell’s LLC in Lakeland, replaces her as vice chair.
City commissioners and their senior staff spent the first day of a two-day retreat today looking at plans for the future. Among the stories that emerged:
CAROUSEL: As downtown development honcho Julie Townsend pondered what should go into the now-vacant middle of Munn Park, the idea that swirled in her head was a carousel to draw more families downtown. (In the instant-analysis feedback loop of Facebook, residents threw out many other ideas.) ALSO: LDDA explains the case for a carousel.
POWER PLANT: It’s probably time to close the 37-year-old, coal-fired McIntosh Unit 3 power plant and replace the lost power with a new natural gas plant and an expansion of solar, Lakeland Electric chief Joel Ivy said.
EMERGENCY COORDINATOR: In response to lessons learned during Hurricane Irma, city administrators are budgeting for an emergency operations manager to coordinate disaster response.
Latin fusion restaurant Nineteen61 is planning to move from Dixieland to downtown, owner Marcos Fernandez tells The Ledger. He and two new business partners plan to expand the menu as they move into the first floor of the former home of Posto 9 on Main Street across from Munn Park.
Shannon Oglesby, the 47-year-old manager of Web Pro Realty, died Sunday night when the Jeep she was riding in crashed into a utility pole on U.S. 98 across from the entrance to Oak Hill Cemetery. Rodney Wimberly, 52, who was driving the Jeep Wrangler, was in critical condition Monday morning. Deputies said it appeared the Jeep was racing a sports bike when it went out of control, and they hope to find the person riding on the motorcycle.
Facebook tribute | GoFundMe
During a one-year test of a “road diet” reducing Florida Avenue in Dixieland from five lanes to three, an unprecedented collection of data will supplement community feedback in determining how the project affects safety, travel time, economic impact and effects on nearby roads. Eleven sensors along the corridor are already collecting speed and travel-time data, and traffic counters will be installed at each intersection.
A Lakeland mom tells WFLA she’s angry she can’t retrieve family treasures from their burned-out apartment. She says she was under duress the night of the fire when managers at Arbor Glen Apartments encouraged her to sign a release form. Management says safety concerns prohibit former residents from entering the 24 units that burned March 11.