Works by Florida sculptors took the top two spots as Lakeland residents voted for their favorites among the 10 sculptures along the Lemon Street Promenade downtown, the Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department announced. People’s Choice winners in the 2018 Florida Outdoor Sculpture Competition were:
- Gaia, by Donald Gialanella, 508 votes.
- The Seahorse Serefina, by Lee Bell, 455 votes.
- Mare and Filly, by Jonathan Bowling, 232 votes.
One person who works for the city of Lakeland, two who work elsewhere in Florida and one from Ohio are finalists to become the city of Lakeland’s new community development director, replacing Jim Studiale, who retired in October. All four candidates are being interviewed this week, and City Manager Tony Delgado said he should make a selection by the first week of June.
Sometimes it helps to be in Lakeland. Just ask Chris McArthur, the founder of Patriot Coffee Roasters. Somebody who bought his coffee beans at the downtown farmer’s market passed a sample along to a friend who works at Publix Super Markets headquarters. Long story short: That person is the buyer for Publix’ Florida Local program, and Patriot Coffee now has a deal to sell three kinds of its whole beans at 350 Publix stores throughout Florida.
A six-day-a-week food truck park combined with a small dog park and a comfortable bar is a Lakeland agency’s latest idea to continue redeveloping the Parker Street neighborhood just north of downtown.
That idea came a bit closer to reality Thursday when a city board made a formal recommendation that Lakeland’s Community Redevelopment Agency spend up to $440,000 to convert the lot at the northwest corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Parker Street into a public gathering space centered around food trucks.
It’s been years since there’s been a contentious Democratic primary for the U.S. House District 15 seat that’s been held by Republicans since the mid-1980s, FloridaPolitics.com notes. Sparring between contenders Kristen Carlson of Lakeland and Andrew Learned of Valrico shows this year will be different, political reporter Bill Rufty says.
Explorations V was named the anchor institution at the private Bonnet Springs Park planned for 160 vacant acres west of downtown, LakelandMom reports. The children’s museum expects to move in two to three years to its new space from its current location in the Kress Building on Kentucky Avenue across from Munn Park.
The meeting at Southeastern University on Saturday kicked off Mayor Bill Mutz’ “One Lakeland” initiative to expand prosperity through economic inclusion.
Benjamin Stevenson, director of the Lakeland Housing Authority, said he thought the insect problem at Renaissance at Washington Ridge had been solved and was surprised when ABC Action News reported otherwise this week. He also said some of the senior residents contribute to the problem through hoarding, dumpster diving and other uncleanly habits.
- Every public school will have a uniformed law enforcement officer next week, the last of the school year.
- Students will be prohibited from bringing backpacks to school next week.
BROADBAND: City commissioners — discussing whether to offer gigabit Internet service to businesses and residents since 2014 — are looking for a consultant to put together a business plan to make the city a service provider. A decision on whether to start a new utility is at least a year away.
CONGRESS: Lakeland lawyer Kristen Carlson, 64, has joined the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Dennis Ross. She offers herself as a fiscal conservative whose experience as a lawyer for the Department of Citrus shows she can work with Republicans and government agencies.
RAIN: We all know we’ve had a wet week. How wet? With almost half a month left to go, we’re already nearly three times the average rainfall for May. The weekend forecast: 70 percent chance of more rain.
Lakeland resident Sydney Devore, a former track athlete at the University of Florida and a fourth-grade teacher at Spessard Holland Elementary School, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials by winning a marathon in Pittsburgh, the first one she attempted.
- City commissioners seeking greater residential density near downtown asked their staff to look into the issue last year.
- The recommendations the staff returned included raising height limits for multi-family buildings in places like the Lake Morton District and Dixieland from 40 feet to 70 feet.
- Residents of those neighborhoods registered intense displeasure in community meetings, saying high-rise apartments would damage the historic character of the surroundings.
- As a result, the staff changed their recommendation for height limits to 55 feet.
- The Lakeand Planning and Zoning Board approved the compromise height in a 4-2 vote Tuesday.
- Next: The issue goes back to the City Commission.
- Epilogue: The commissioners who spoke most passionately about increasing urban density are no longer on the board.
- View video highlights of the planning meeting on The City Zen Ship and read the planning staff’s most recent report here.
The utility says its call system doesn’t allow directing Spanish-speaking callers to its four bilingual service representatives, so those calls go to an outside service that charges by the minute for translation into Spanish and other languages. Wait times would have to increase if callers had to hold until a Spanish-speaking Lakeland Electric employee was free to answer, the city utility adds.
UPDATE: Charles Kimbrough, Jr., 59, of Creekwood Run in Lakeland, died Thursday afternoon when his Nissan Altima was hit by a semi at the intersection of U.S. 98 and Rockridge Road, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
Kimbrough had a green light when he traveled eastbound on Rockridge Road toward his home a short distance away, deputies said. The driver of the semi failed to stop at a red light, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Its investigation continues.