SCHOOLS: The Morning Paper’s back-to-school section contained some interesting reads, even for non-parents, including mini-profiles of the nine candidates for Polk County School Board. There’s also an article about the growth in enrollment (biggest percentage jump among Florida’s 10 largest school districts) and what it means for capital spending. And section editor Christopher Guinn penned a touching tribute to teachers who make a difference. Those pieces aren’t online yet (I’ll link to them if they get posted) but if you have a print edition, you’ll find the Making the Grade section tucked among the inserts.
FAMILY MISSION: A Lakeland couple in their mid-20s have already started a no-cost cafe to spread food and the gospel to homeless people. Now Kyle and Lindsey Palmer and their five children are hitting the road in an RV to spread the concept in other communities and perhaps plant a church.
Repairs of the splash pad, which was closed for more than a year, cost about $70,000; future repairs won’t take as long because electronics have been moved above ground, The Ledger reported.
CITY PENSIONS: With city of Lakeland retirees receiving only three pension increases since 2002, city administrators are offering a plan that would give a bonus every other year to about 326 pensioners who are making less than $40,500 per year and meet other conditions. One negotiator for retirees called the offer a “slap in the face.”
ARREST: Remember the hostage situation the weekend before last when a father holed up in a house with his 6-year-old daughter for a full day before releasing her and then committing suicide? Police searched the house afterward and have charged the girl’s mother with multiple drug charges and negligent child abuse without bodily harm. State officials said the girl has been released to a relative they will not name.
- A report from the city’s preservation expert recommending they approve the request to move the 108-year-old monument to Veterans Park.
- A larger audience than they’ve probably ever encountered.
Dramatic video has drawn national attention to the wounding of a beer thief by a convenience store co-owner in Lakeland. The young merchant has been charged with attempted second-degree murder; the wounded man who stole $36 worth of beer will be charged with felony if he pulls through at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where he’s in critical condition, Newsweek reports. His sister-in-law told the magazine that although he’s a convicted felon who “doesn’t make good decisions,” he’s got a job and could have paid for the beer. “Nobody deserves to be gunned down for beer,” she said.
Creative Loafing includes Lakeland’s Emily Jones, 20, as one of 30 “young Tampa Bay musicians who are (re)making a scene.” The profile begins: “Lakeland’s Hillcrest Coffee has become something of a hub for the city’s creative class, and in the middle of all the activity is Emily Jones, a barista there and someone whose musical tastes and efforts are all over the Hillcrest concert calendar.” Jones has been a part of several local bands, but is currently focusing on her solo work, a folk/experimental noise/ambient project called ROVER and the punk band Clang!
Lakeland native Chris Sale, just the third MLB pitcher to start three consecutive All Star games, didn’t seem destined for greatness, his JV coach from Lakeland High School says. He was “a good pitcher, nothing great, didn’t stand out,” Ron Nipper said. “What did you see in him that made you think he’d be a major leaguer? I said, ‘Nothing.’ ” But Nipper said Sale showed intensity and was fearless as a sophomore when pitching against Andrew McCutchen, then a Fort Meade player and now an MLB hitting star | Check the WFLA video
The Polk Sheriff’s Office has received 98 applications for 90 armed guardian positions at elementary school. But the agency wants more applicants since some applicants won’t pass the intensive training that’s under way, 10 News reports.
WEEZER AND THE WALL: Two shows this weekend pay tribute to notable rock albums. First up: Classic Albums Live gives their note-for-note treatment to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at RP Funding Center tonight. On Saturday, Gary Love Band returns to LkldLive (their Nirvana Unplugged tribute in March drew raves) to perform Weezer’s Blue Album. Check more live music listings after the jump.
- Keely Rai Oltmanns, 15, of Lakeland, died Tuesday evening when the car she was riding in failed to stop at a flashing red signal north of Dade City | Tampa Bay Times
- A 22-year-old convenience store co-owner faces charges after video captured him shooting into the car of a fleeing beer thief | WFLA
- The city of Lakeland says it is accelerating efforts to place more security cameras in Barnett Park following an arrest near the playground | WFLA
The Ledger’s Kevin Bouffard breaks news that the Publix Supermarket at Grove Park Shopping Plaza will be torn down and replaced by a slightly larger structure that will include a pharmacy and liquor store. The owners two small businesses say the Publix expansion is pushing them out. Shopping center owner Forge Capital Partners has cancelled the leases of:
- Liquor and Tobacco owned by Mike and Jay Patel for 15 years. The Patels had not started re-negotiating a five-year lease that ended last month, and industry observers told The Ledger that their store was probably the victim of an “exclusive use clause” giving Publix sole right to peddle liquor in the plaza.
- The Mail Room owned by Jack Frankenberger for 18 years. Frankenberger had switched to a month-to-month lease, giving him little leverage when Publix wanted to expand into his space.
The other business affected by the Publix expansion is Chamberlin Natural Foods, which plans to move to another Grove Park location.
Democrat Kristen Carlson, a Lakeland lawyer, has raised $249,722 in her bid to replace Dennis Ross in the District 15 U.S. House seat. The only other candidate collecting more than $200,000 was Democratic rival Andrew Learned of Valrico, who has raised $223,218.
Carlson started collecting donations in May; her warchest includes about $75,000 in candidate loans and contributions. Learned started collecting donations about a year ago; his warchest includes $2,000 in candidate contributions.
On the Republican side, candidates collecting more than $100,000 are state Rep. Ross Spano of Dover, whose $157,068 includes $45,000 in loans, and former state Rep. Neil Combee of Polk City, whose $128,000 includes no loans.
Democratic and Republican primaries are Aug. 28; the winner in each will face off on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
With membership declining, the 65-year-old congregation is having difficulty maintaining its 1.5 acres and 23,000 square feet of buildings on Edgewood Drive a block from Florida Avenue. The Rev. Robert Moses said a task force is exploring options, including:
- Moving to a smaller location
- Selling and renting from the buyer
- Sharing the space with another church.
This video went live Monday as Assistant Fire Chief Mike Williams was telling city commissioners that the Lakeland Fire Department is actively recruiting more women. With eight women firefighters, the force is 4.7 percent women, slightly above the national average of 4 percent but not good enough, Williams said. “We want to be better in all realms of this,” Williams said. “We believe these numbers are low because of a lack of awareness.” | Ledger coverage