A new 34-foot mural on the south-facing wall at Thom Downs Antiques on North Florida Avenue is the first of three commissioned by the Lakeland Community Development Agency. The mural was painted by Gabriela Jaxon (website), a native of Peru who grew up in Lakeland and spends much of her time in New York City working with mural masters.
Save Southern Heritage, an organization that has been a vocal advocate for keeping the Confederate monument in Munn Park, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to keep the city of Lakeland from moving the 108-year-old memorial to Veterans Park. More
After casting the deciding vote today that will allow the city to proceed with plans to move the Confederate monument out of Munn Park, Commissioner Stephanie Madden said it was the power of personal stories that persuaded her. More
The divisive issues around moving the Confederate monument from Munn Park to Veterans Park continued to divide Lakeland city commissioners Friday, with some suggesting voters should have a say during a January special election and others insisting they were elected to make tough but potentially unpopular decisions that benefit the community.
Commissioners discuss the monument again today when they will be asked toward the end of their 3 p.m. meeting to make a budget transfer to facilitate the monument move. More
UPDATE: A rooftop fire at Mojo Federal downtown did so little damage early this morning that the restaurant and bar is planning to open at 12:30 p.m., just an hour and a half later than their usual Sunday opening. The fire, which started after closing, was confined to a small area around the base of a rooftop smokestack connected to the barbecue restaurant’s meat smoker. Some debris could be seen on a nearby patio this morning. The fire set off interior sprinklers, so workers this morning mopped up water. Crews from the Lakeland Fire Department’s nearby downtown headquarters responded quickly, according to Stuart Simm, owner of the neighboring Federal Bar. The pre-dawn photos below are by David Dickey Jr.:
Work is scheduled to start later this month on exterior renovations to the 94-year-old, eight-story downtown hotel. The $2 million project is backed by the same investment group assembled by Lakeland native Rob Scharar that bankrolled the hotel’s $7 million restoration two decades ago.
During public comments at the end of their regular meeting Monday, city commissioners faced a barrage of criticism (and a bit of support) for their 4-3 decision three days earlier to use red-light camera funds to move the Confederate monument from Munn Park to Veterans Park. Former Mayor Howard Wiggs said it was disingenuous to claim the funds collected from fines “do not belong to our citizens.” An assistant city attorney said commissioners will be asked to make a formal vote on the red-light camera appropriations at their Nov. 19 meeting. ALSO: Video of the monument discussion
A four-prong attempt to reduce homelessness in Lakeland kicks off in January after city commissioners decided 4-3 Friday to fund it with $190,000 in red-light camera fines that had been held in reserve. The package has the backing of the Polk Homeless Coalition and the major local non-profits that serve the homeless, Mayor Bill Mutz said.