NEW LVIM/NEW SCHOOL: In a deal that Barney Barnett called a “win-win,” Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine is planning to sell its current property at the former John Cox Elementary School to Academy Preparatory Center, a school for promising, disadvantaged youth, and apply the proceeds toward a larger, modern campus on the northwest side of Lake Wire.
FLEETWING: The lawyer for Fleetwing Corp. has been accused of stalling tactics in a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against the company by its former president.
SPRING TRAINING: The Detroit Tigers saw the biggest decline in attendance among Grapefruit League teams this year. Polk tourism officials attribute the drop to the vagaries of scheduling: The most-anticipated games were too early in the season for Michigan spring breakers to catch.
ALCOHOL SALES: County commissioners on Tuesday are expected to support a land-use change that would allow alcohol sales close to churches that choose to locate in a commercial zone. In one example, a business that moves into the vacant Louie Macks building on South Florida Avenue could serve booze even though Word-Up Ministries plans to build nearby.
FATALITY: Odlanyer Rodriguez, 21, of Lakeland, died Friday when his Suzuki motorcycle was struck by a Ford F350 on U.S. 98 near the Interstate 4 overpass.
SCHOOL SAFETY: To comply with a law requiring armed safety personnel in all public schools, Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd proposed placing specialists in elementary schools who are neither educators nor sworn officers.
KICKING INCIDENT: Sheriff Judd weighs in on the widely circulated videos of Lakeland police officers using force to subdue a homeless man resisting arrest: “If you fight with police officers, they’re going to fight back. They’ve got to, and it’s not their choice to use force, it’s your choice by resisting.”
FLEETWING: The judge in the Fleetwing trial joked with the company’s lawyer during a break about the free-wheeling spending discussed during the trial. The lawyer then formally asked the judge to remove himself from the trial. His response: Not gonna do it.
SCHOOL SECURITY: Polk’s schools superintendent proposes placing armed guards in schools as opposed to increasing the number of more costly sworn officers or deputizing school employees as “guardians.”
FLEETWING: In the second day of trial in a lawsuit over back pay for a fired Fleetwing Corp. president, members of the family that ran the company described using company profits for lavish personal spending.
EMBEZZLEMENT: A woman accused of embezzling $200k from her husband’s company, Engineered Energy Equipment of Lakeland, was sentenced to 10 years probation under a plea deal. The now-estranged husband and others protested that the sentence was too light, but prosecutors said it’s unclear whether others were complicit in Julie Thompson Warren’s spending.
U.S. HOUSE: Andrew Learned leads in fund-raising among the five Democrats vying for their party’s nomination for the seat in Congress that represents most of Lakeland. He has collected $64k and says his next report will show him at more than $100k. Republican incumbent Dennis Ross has amassed $662 | View contributions
TRIATHLETE: Bob English, 79, has ambitious plans for Sunday: biking 56 miles, swimming 1.2 miles and running 13.1 miles. The Lakeland resident and former Polk County commissioner will be the oldest competitor in the Ironman 70.3 Florida | Event website
TWO OFFICERS: A circuit judge declined to issue a domestic violence injunction in a case involving a Lakeland Police detective and lieutenant.
POLICE BEAT: Michael Robert Guthridge, 31, died of gunshot wounds early Friday outside an apartment south of Crystal Lake | Willard Miller, 69, of Snowy Plover Drive in Lakeland, died when his three-wheeled mobility scooter suddenly accelerated across US 98 North near Thomas Road and was hit by a vehicle Friday evening.
FIRE ARREST: A 62-year-old man was charged with setting a fire that destroyed a north Lakeland house, displacing him and 11 other people. The article includes raw video of the fire, showing interactions between deputies and the man they arrested, and ends with a heart-wrenching quote from the daughter of the home-owner: “My mom gave Charles a place to live because he was living in the woods. She opened her doors to help homeless people and she is now homeless.”
NO DEBATE: Josie Tomkow, the 22-year-old Republican nominee for a Florida House seat, pulled out of the only debate scheduled prior to the May 1 election. Democratic opponent Ricky Shirah, 64, was disappointed: “Anybody that asks me to meet her, any time I will sit down and meet with her.”
NO THUNDERBIRDS: (UPDATE) The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have cancelled their April 14-15 appearances at the Sun’n Fun Fly-In following the death of a pilot during a training flight, and Fly-In organizers are looking for another military aircraft demonstration.
PASSENGER FLIGHTS: The director of Lakeland Linder Airport is telling airlines that the 4,300 local residents who fly in and out of Orlando and Tampa daily proves that Lakeland is ready for passenger service. He and City Manager Tony Delgado are asking city commissioners to consider offering airlines a revenue guarantee as an incentive.
DOWNTOWN PARKING: The city is collaborating with several large downtown employers to build a 730-space parking garage atop the surface lot east of Heritage Plaza. The city expects to pay roughly half the estimated $10M-$12M costs and get about 300 of the spaces in the garage north of Orange Street and east of Tennessee Avenue.
FLPOLYCON: A science fiction fest that started as a student-only event at Florida Poly in 2014 has opened to the public and is expected to attract 1,000 people Saturday.
MONUMENT MOVE: After the city manager recommended two places to relocate Lakeland’s Confederate monument and city commissioners heard from Southern heritage activists who want it to stay in Munn Park, The Ledger’s editorialist reiterates his position that the Veterans Park option provides “the most appropriate fit.“