CAFE ROTI: Lakeland’s only Indian/Pakistani benefited with from a move downtown with improved cuisine choices and decor, restaurant critic Eric Pera writes. Despite online rumblings when opening-week crowds experienced first-days snags, the staff is hitting its stride and the menu is being fine-tuned, he says in a four-star review.
BS RANCH: The east Lakeland recycling company that generated odor complaints will stay open under a settlement agreement approved by county commissioners 5-0, but it still needs to pass several layers of review in coming months.
THING TO DO: Cardboard boat races on Lake Hollingsworth Saturday
HEART: Frank Spurlin of Lakeland, Florida’s longest-living heart transplant recipient, has died at Tampa General Hospital at age 76, 33 years after receiving a new heart that at the time was expected to keep him alive another five to 10 years.
COUNTY GOV: We follow Lakeland City Hall more closely, but wanted to share a couple of news bits from the Polk County Neil Combee Administrative Building. Strike that: It’s now the Polk County Administrative Building. County commissioners are removing Combee’s name from the signs out front, drawing condemnation from those who served on the commission with Combee and see it as political payback for Combee’s support of a reduction in homestead exemptions.
ALSO: Recently elected County Commissioner Rick Wilson was sworn into office seven weeks early on Tuesday. He was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to fill out the term of Melony Bell, who resigned to concentrate on her efforts to win a Florida House seat.
GUNS: Polk County is second only to Broward in applying newly enacted “risk protection orders” that enable law enforcement officers to seize weapons from individuals deemed to present a threat to themselves or others. The Polk Sheriff’s Office has filed 101 of the county’s 121 orders as of Sept. 17. The Lakeland Police Department has been more cautious, filing only one.
LINCOLN SQUARE: The first new home-owners are about to move into a 21-home community built on the site of a former blighted apartment block near Lincoln Avenue Academy.
MONARCH SCHOOL: Pastor Randy Coggins got mixed news via the summary of a State Attorney’s Office investigation of his Monarch School for autistic children: “No charges will be filed at this time. However, the accounting practices of the school and the church are concerning and this entire investigation will be referred to the Internal Revenue Service for their review.”
- Lakeland 57, Bartow 0
- Gateway 56, George Jenkins 28
- Kathleen 14, Winter Haven 10
- Lake Gibson 47, Lake Region 0
- Lakeland Christian 28, Fort Meade 0
- Victory Christian 34, Frostproof 13
- All Saints Academy 48, Lake Mary Prep 27
- Mount Dora Christian 44, Santa Fe Catholic 15
SCHOOL BOARD: Reporter Kimberly Moore looks at the emerging “Billy Needs Three Friends” movement in the Polk County School Board elections. The slogan’s idea is that School Board member Billy Townsend, who is often at odds with the other six members, can get majority support for his activist agenda if three reform-minded candidates are elected. He says he has come to admire three candidates, all former or current classroom teachers. One, Lisa Miller, was elected in August. The other two, Sarah Fortney and Jennifer Sabin, are in runoffs to be decided Nov. 6.
SOLAR: The Polk County Solar Co-op is officially looking for 30 to 225 home-owners who want to participate in their effort to expand solar energy use. The group plans to use the power of bulk purchasing to get discounts on solar installations for its members. An info session is planned for 6 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Lakeland Public Library on Lake Morton | Learn more
HOMELESS: A committee assembled to guide Lakeland’s efforts to reduce homelessness regrouped today, five days after city commissioners narrowly turned back their four-part recommendation. Committee members agreed to refocus their effort on educating the public about the hidden financial costs of homelessness. Mayor Bill Mutz also said he would meet with philanthropists who feel a new approach could marginalize the organizations they support.
UNITED WAY: The United Way of Central Florida will be looking for a new chief exec. A little over three years after he started, Alan H. Turner II has announced he will depart in October to become regional CEO of the American Red Cross in Syracuse, N.Y., in November | News release | LinkedIn
LAKELAND LOVES: It began as a professor’s gesture to give out 20 Hate Has No Home yard signs. Now Lakeland Loves is a non-profit organization that has distributed 4,500 signs at no cost and donated goods to children.
HEART HEALTH: Lakeland Regional Health is consolidating cardiovascular care into an institute named for Jack and Tina Harrell, who provided a “significant” donation (amount undisclosed) for its creation.
- Lakeland, 42, East Lake 6
- Kathleen 27, Auburndale 14
- Palmetto 51, Lake Gibson 32
- Santa Fe Catholic 13, Keswick Christian 0
WINSTON ACADEMY: Drinking and cooking water at Winston Academy of Technology no longer contains elevated lead levels, the Polk School District reports.
WATER SUPPLY: In an effort to deflect litigation between local governments in Polk County and those in four counties to the south, a water management leader has suggested a compromise. The head of the Southwest Florida Water Management District proposes that Polk’s water consortium work with Hillsborough County in a plan that would build that county’s underground reserves to be shared by both counties.
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.