Polk State College is using $1.2 million of its federal COVID-19 relief funds to forgive 1,300 student loans, Fox 13 News reports. The debt relief applies to loans issued by the college to students enrolled between March 2020 and June 2021. Amounts vary from 47 cents to $17,000. | ALSO: News Channel 8, Bay News 9 | More
Lakeland’s police department had good news for city commissioners today: When they went shopping for body cameras and related technology, they came up with more equipment than they initially planned and it will cost less money than was budgeted. More
An estimated 50,000 people attended the 41st annual Lakeland Christmas Parade on Thursday evening. The fireworks that opened the parade were double the normal amount to make up for last year, when the parade was suspended because of COVID-19. Keep scrolling for our extensive photo gallery by David Dickey Jr., and click on any image for a larger view. More
Neighbors are fighting a proposal to build 240 apartments on Publix property at the corner of Lake Miriam Drive and South Florida Avenue, The Ledger reports in a subscribers-only story. A major objection is the addition of traffic to an already congested area, but representatives of developer Preferred Apartment Communities said apartments will generate fewer trips than the currently approved commercial uses. The Lakeland Planning and Zoning Board is scheduled to decide on the project Jan. 19.
If you were not one of the thousands who flocked to downtown Lakeland last night to view the 41st annual Lakeland Christmas Parade — of it you were there and want to live it — here is the city of Lakeland’s video coverage of the entire parade. Hosts are Kevin Cook with the city Communications Department and Beth Sherling with Parks and Recreation. Below the full parade video, find highlights coverage from Tampa’s News Channel 8 and Fox 13 News. More
- PALMETTO STREET: The 96-year-old building at 719 E. Palmetto Street across from the main library that formerly housed a rubber stamp company is being renovated for retail use. So far the only confirmed tenant is a yoga studio.
- OPIOID SETTLEMENT: Polk County and its cities will get $17.2 million to address the opioid crisis as part of a legal settlement with drug manufacturers and distributors. (The city of Lakeland expects $750,000 of that, an assistant city attorney said in October.) | City of Lakeland resolution agreeing to participate
- SANTACON, Lakeland’s annual holiday-themed pub crawl, takes place downtown on Dec. 11 starting at 5 p.m. | LkldSantaCon.com
Thousands of people are expected to converge on downtown Lakeland on Thursday evening for the spectacle of the annual Christmas parade and fireworks. Read on for a parade map and a look at festivity basics: More
Noah’s Ark of Central Florida announces Lisa Gifford and Sonia Glisson as new members of the Board of Directors. More
- MEETING INVOCATIONS: Polk County commissioners voted unanimously to restrict the people eligible to give invocations before their meetings to only those who volunteer as chaplains with the county fire rescue service. Currently all five are Christian ministers. Previously, the county invited the leaders of more than 1,000 faith organizations to sign up. At least one commissioner acknowledged the action will probably prompt a lawsuit. (Subscribers-only story)
- TEEN ENTREPRENEUR “Queen” Michaelah Williams has established a wide reputation for the lemonades she has been selling since she was nine. The 13-year-old Sleepy Hill Middle School seventh-grader is hosting a Children’s Entrepreneur Expo at The Poor Porker on Jan. 29 where all vendors will be 17 and under. | Previous features: ABC Acton News | LKLD Haven
- COMEDIAN Bill Engvall brings his farewell tour to the RP Funding Center on Friday.
The second-degree murder trial of former Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn has been set for three weeks starting tentatively March 14. Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen has previously ruled that Dunn’s “stand-your-ground” defense could not be applied in the October 2018 shooting death of a man attempting to steal a hatchet from the Vets Army Navy Surplus store that Dunn managed. A January pre-trial conference is planned.
The 61-year-old man who was shot and killed by Lakeland police officers at an I-4 construction site Sunday morning was a Miamian who has been working nightly at the site, Fox 13 News and News Channel 8 reported. Police said officers fired after the man pointed a gun at them when they tapped on the window of his parked car, which had been reported as suspicious. The man, who stayed in his personal car while monitoring a pump overnight, started carrying a handgun after being awoken a few weeks ago to men prowling the construction site near Kathleen Road, a friend of the man told the TV stations. | Earlier LkldNow article | More
Nerf guns and virtual reality games will be the focus of a family-friendly business coming to downtown Lakeland and adding to the growing roster of entertainment-oriented venues in the city core. More
A 61-year-old man was shot and killed after he pointed a gun and possibly fired at two Lakeland police officers who approached his vehicle parked in a construction zone on Interstate 4 early this morning, police said. More
Downtown Lakeland’s new shuttle service, “The Squeeze,” kicks off Monday. The eight-person carts will circulate every seven minutes during lunchtime on weekdays, Fox 13 News reports. A longer route will run in the evening on Fridays and Saturdays. Costs are $2/day, $3/week or $9/month via cash apps or tokens available downtown. | Route maps, times, details More
The community responded after VISTE put out a call for more volunteers for their annual Thanksgiving meal delivery to the homebound elderly. The organization went from 200 volunteers signed up last week to 350 in time for Wednesday’s deliveries of 2,000 meals, News Channel 8 reports. There was also an outpouring of cranberry sauce cans, which have been in limited supply this year. More