CITY BUDGET: After an initial budget hearing two weeks ago that left none of the city commissioners filling satiated, they meet again at 6 p.m. today for a final agreement on packing the sausage or topping the pizza — pick your favorite analogy. On the menu: whether to reduce property taxes and how much, a homeless initiative pushed by Mayor Mutz, and details of a pension boost for lower-paid city retirees | Budget summary | Current and previous budgets
TOOJAY’S: Restaurant critic Eric Pera laments the passing of kosher-style delis and praises the execution of the style by TooJay’s at Oakbridge Square, part of a Florida chain. He gives the food 3 1/2 stars, a decline from the 4 stars awarded in February 2015.
A new research center at Florida Poly University, the Advanced Mobility Institute, will focus on safety of autonomous vehicles. The university is working alongside Suntrax, the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s test track being built nearby.
LEARN MORE: ABC Action News talks with Gregory Fancelli, who is driving the save-the-mural effort.
The St. Petersburg-based newspaper looks at Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s hiring of a Publix-connected member of the Hollis family as a liaison to the ag industry and frames it among other links between Putnam and Publix, a company regulated by Putnam’s department.
When city commissioners changed their twice-a-month meeting time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., they said they hoped the late-in-the-day start would encourage more citizen participation. With only two meetings held at the new time, it’s too early to draw any conclusions, but so far nobody has taken advantage of the public speaking time near the end of the meeting.
It didn’t help that the audience participation part of the meeting came at 4:37 p.m. today and 5:03 p.m. two weeks ago — inopportune times for somebody who wants to come to the meeting after a typical 9-to-5 work day.
In an interview with The Lakelander, Jae Choe discusses his path: growing up with martial arts at his family’s tae kwon do dojo, studying architecture and applying concepts he learned from architecture to a new karate business.
There were scenes of joy as those who had been away for years, even decades, returned and were greeted with hugs and laughter. And there were tears, too, for the loss, not of a person but of a place and the fellowship that lived there.
CITYMAKER: Kevin Rios, founder of Just Dance Academy and the non-profit Just Cares, was named CityMaker for September by former Mayor Howard Wiggs’ LoveLakeland organization. In recent months, Rios has organized a toy drive for Hurricane Maria victims and a series of suicide prevention events | MORE: LoveLakeland feature on Rios
HOMELESSNESS EDITORIAL: The Ledger editorial writer Sunday urged city commissioners to continue discussing a four-prong plan backed by Mayor Bill Mutz aimed at reducing homelessness in Lakeland. (In my mind, the editorial erred in saying “the mayor found himself marooned on a political island, population one” at a recent budget hearing. From my observation, the mayor’s position was supported by Commissioners Troller and Walker and he received support with a few reservations from Commissioner Franklin.)
As Lakeland has grown, so has enrollment at the local campus of Polk State College, PSC President Angela Falconetti said in the Listen Lakeland podcast. “It used to be that the Winter Haven campus had more students than the Lakeland campus,” she told Lakeland Vision’s Ashley Troutman. “Now the Lakeland campus has a higher enrollment than the Winter Haven campus, so the potential is limitless.” For the 2017-18 academic year, FTE enrollment was 3,330 in Lakeland vs. 2,743 in Winter Haven, according to a college “fact book.” | Listen here.
NOTE: An earlier version of this summary included an incorrect higher number for Winter Haven enrollment. It was pointed out by a reader who noted that the Lakeland campus had higher enrollment “for years.”
The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority is asking for public input as it works with the city traffic department to refine parking rules and signage. They’re asking residents to take a survey; they want to know what the wording on the sign at the left means to you and how it can be improved (and they’d prefer you take the survey before immersing yourself in the extensive Facebook debate about it.) | Take the survey
Lakeland police and fire personnel are already in the Carolinas to help run Hurricane Florence emergency operations centers and 18 Lakeland Electric line personnel are traveling to South Carolina today in four line trucks and three service trucks to help restore power.
Buoyed by an internal poll showing Kristen Carlson of Lakeland is tied with Ross Spano in a race for Congress, national Democrats have added the District 15 race to its “Red to Blue” list. The designation shows national party leaders think Carlson can win and opens her campaign to campaign advice and possible funding via the national party.
READING: To promote literacy, students at Lake Gibson Middle School are repainting newspaper racks and filling them with books aimed at students ages 4 to 14. They’re looking for book donations and businesses willing to host the free-book boxes.
- Lake Wales 16, Lake Gibson 13
- Lakeland 58, Gibbs 0
- George Jenkins 14, Ridge 7
- Berkeley Prep 28, Lakeland Christian 7
- Mulberry 7, Tenoroc 6
- All Saints 26, Ocoee Legacy 7
Black and silver tarps are being draped over the Polk Theatre today as the 90-year-old structure is being readied for fumigation. The panels will stay up through Monday, according to a Polk Theatre Facebook post, and programming resumes next Friday, when “Love, Gilda,” a documentary about Gilda Radner opens | View a larger version of the photo