- Local businesses kicked in $1.8 million to help the Lakeland Economic Development Council attract and retain young professionals. LEDC plans to devote staff to local college outreach, internships and talent recruitment.
- Lakeland Electric bills will see a $1-per-1,000-kilowatt-hour decrease even as the utility steps up savings in a reserve fund meant to guard against future fuel-price volatility.
- Low-income military veterans can get help with home repairs through a program sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and Home Depot.
TIGERTOWN: Despite escalating costs, delays and concerns about project leadership detailed in a 2,800-word Ledger investigative piece, city officials insist the renovation of Joker Marchant Stadium will be finished on time
RESTAURANTS: Marcos Fernandez, former chief chef at the Lakeland Yacht & Country Club, is opening a gourmet restaurant on South Florida Avenue emphasizing upscale gastronomy. It replaces Butterfly Bistro, whose owner has taken a new job and plans to stage pop-up dinners around town.
- When the City Commission approved a .9-mill increase in property taxes last night, Don Selvage joined a five-member “supermajority.” But he made it clear he might not provide the needed fifth vote when the commission takes a final vote on the budget Sept. 15.
- Coffee aficionados are paying $5-7 a cup for the big taste of cold-brewed “nitro” coffee poured from a tap, the latest offering at local java spots like Concord, Mitchell’s and The Poor Porker. Mitchell’s Mitch Harvey likens the rich, thick brew to a pour of Guinness “without the need to get a ride home.”
- A $10 million renovation of Lakeland Automall opened Tuesday. The business received a $150,000 city Community Redevelopment grant for revitalizing the West Memorial Boulevard gateway area.
- The owner of a nightclub that booked a rapper known for violence says he was shocked that Kevin Gates kicked a woman from the stage and knocked her unconscious. Video of the incident surfaced on tabloids and went viral.
- Southeastern University’s record enrollment of 4,500 is almost halfway to its audacious goal of 10,000 students in five years.
- Citing a time crunch and frustration over budget decisions, City Commissioner Keith Merritt says he won’t seek re-election. His parting hope: a working wage for city commissioners so that more working-class people will be attracted to the job.
City government reporter Christopher Guinn had two intresting reads today:
Tigertown: A combination of design changes and poor soil has ramped the cost of renovating Joker Marchant Stadium, and the City Commission will be asked to up its contribution to the now-$40.8 million project from $2.4 million to $6.2 million.
Cleveland Heights: Frescos Bistro and Bakery, the only bidder, has reached an agreement to take over the bar and restaurant at the Cleveland Heights Golf Course. The eatery’s owners propose a rent starting at $4,000 a month instead of the revenue-share deal the city has with the current concessionaire.
- Plans to renovate Joker Marchant Stadium will have to be redrawn since soil near the clubhouse won’t bear the weight of construction, Christopher Guinn reports. No word yet on how much will be added to the $2.4 million the city of Lakeland has pledged (out of a total cost of $37 million.)
- Free rent was part of the deal to lure the Miss Florida Pageant to The Lakeland Center for five years. The city is also offering free rent at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport for three years to host the Polk State College aerospace program.
- A new lawsuit against lawyer John Vreeland is being withdrawn because he agreed to resign from overseeing a trust. He denies the allegations in the suit and says it was filed “for purposes of public consumption and in a further attempt to damage my reputation.”
- FSC is getting all STEMmy as the school year begins with more science students enrolled. “People often think of us as primarily focused on humanities or business and education, but sciences are essentially our biggest program,” its provost said.
- Three congregations are moving into new digs around North Socrum Loop Road following a series of real estate transactions.
- The school year beginning today has Florida Poly students looking forward to new recreational equipment but not as excited about some students having to share dorm rooms.
- Lawyer John Vreeland can continue overseeing the Leland R. Bryan trust as litigation against him from Bryan’s sons proceeds, Judge Keith Spoto ruled.
- Florida Poly is buying its president a Grasslands home costing $975,000, a value in the top one-tenth of 1 percent in Polk County.
- Sheriff Judd knew a $500 reward would lead him to the wanted man who taunted him on Facebook. “I knew it’d be just a matter of time before people he thought were his friends would give him up,” Judd said. The story was picked up by at least two tabloids.
- A little dog named Toto was the first pet to get emergency treatment under a new agreement between the Lakeland Fire Department and the SPCA. See more photos.