JUVENILE CRIME DOWN IN POLK COUNTY: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice crime data indicates that youth offenses seem to be trending downward. For fiscal year 2018, Polk County saw 22 percent less juvenile crime than in 2017. Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens noted that an “alternatives to arrest” program for youth who commit first-time misdemeanors (excluding sex offenses and those involving firearms) appears to be working.
IN THE GARDEN DISTRICT: Lakeland City Commissioners will consider an ordinance to bump the maximum height for buildings in the Garden District from 40′ to 60′. The ordinance would have to pass to allow a proposed four-story apartment building near the intersection of Indiana Avenue and Lime Street.
LKLDNOW NOTE: As ordinance 18-064 currently reads, the the maximum height change would go into effect only for a sub-section of the Garden District in the areas shaded below:
IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS: The Panara family home in south Lakeland is festooned with figures of Santa Claus, nutcrackers, and Christmas villages. It takes the family about a month to unpack and place all the items. “Panara said that family members are usually more eager to help put it out than box it up.”
SLEEPY HILL: A Polk County Circuit Court judge issued a restraining order against a Sleepy Hill Middle School student who beat another student. The aggressor was also transferred to another school.
LIMITED SEATING: To prevent fire code violations, the RP Funding Center will limit tickets to May 2019 high school graduation ceremonies. Each school will have approximately 3500 tickets. The center will also limit most ceremony start times to either 2 pm or 8 pm.
CITY OF LAKELAND: Mindi Fitch, the City’s former parks department fiscal operations manager, has petitioned the court to overturn her dismissal. The city’s Civil Service Board had upheld a decision to let Fitch go after $117,000 was found missing.
IKEA: DHL Supply Chain is renting 320,000 square feet of Lakeland warehouse space for an IKEA e-commerce fulfillment center. The company hopes to employ about 200 and start operations in the spring.
Cary Carreno, a longtime advisor and financial backer of newly elected U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, isn’t on Spano’s staff, so his role in firing a campaign treasurer and interviewing prospective staffers is raising concerns on Capitol Hill, Politico’s Marc Caputo reports. Campaign finance irregularities have led to calls that Spano not be seated in Congress, but Caputo reports there is little chance of that happening because the election has been certified by state officials.
- In south Lakeland, a small freestanding emergency room on Florida Avenue planned by HCA.
- In northeast Lakeland, a slightly larger freestanding emergency room just west of Florida Polytechnic University planned by Adventist.
- North of downtown, Lakeland Regional Health’s massive emergency department with its pediatric ER and a trauma center.
LAKELAND REGIONAL: In a report that spans roughly two full pages, business writer Kevin Bouffard examines the quickly dissolved partnership between Lakeland Regional Health and Orlando Health. The picture that emerges involves a clash of cultures and lines of authority, as well as disagreements over whether a merging of IT and supply chain could achieve savings.
WATSON CLINIC: More than 200 people reported stomach ailments after a clinic holiday luncheon Wednesday, prompting a Polk County Health Department investigation of a possible food-borne illness outbreak.
Lakeland High School’s football team proved the naysayers wrong Friday night when they ended a 15-0 season by rolling over nationally seventh-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas 33-20 for their seventh state championship, all under the tutelage of 43-year coach Bill Castle.
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There are numerous stories about George Frideric Handel’s majestic oratorio, “Messiah.” By Handel’s own account, he wrote it in 24 feverish days. After a performance, a nobleman remarked that the audience had enjoyed the work.
The three candidates running in the Jan. 15 special election for Lakeland City Commission introduce themselves in videos produced by the city communications department. The candidates are asked to talk about their background, campaign themes, time management and why a citizen should vote for them. Video links:
A space heater is blamed for the fire that destroyed the Savannah Avenue home of Mike, Meaghan and Milo Henderson early Thursday.
In advance of tonight’s 8 p.m. Dreadnaughts-Raiders 7A state championship game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, longtime preps writer Roy Fuoco examines the long rivalry between Lakeland and St. Thomas Aquinas.
When the faculty at Oscar J. Pope Elementary School kept hearing that students were missing school because they didn’t have clean uniforms, one longtime teacher had a brainstorm of an idea.