- Lakeland police suspect Alecia Dotson, who pleaded guilty to a child sex charge last week, set the condo fire that injured her mother before committing suicide with a gun next door. (See our earlier story.) Fire officials say Dotson suffered burns on her body, WFLA reports.
- What is Harrison Arts Center Principal Daryl Ward doing with his spare time now that he has the doctorate he’d been working on? He’s “working on a Broadway style musical based on the music of The Monkees,” of course. Check the Monday Profile.
- Proceeds from a business that hangs Christmas lights benefit Repurpose Art Studio, which sells items made by at-risk women.
TRANSPORTATION: A study will determine if more train quiet zones are needed, and elected officials urge the state to improve the I-4/SR 33 interchange near Florida Poly.
GRADUATION: Commencement speakers at SEU tonight are Grady Judd and a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship winner.
ART: Rock photographer Russell Young’s pop art explores the American Dream in a new exhibition at the Polk Museum of Art.
DOWNTOWN: Broadway Real Estate Services’ NoBay residential/retail project is hailed as a public-private partnership as it breaks ground.
MEMORIAL: The LPD Foundation is raising money for a tribute to fallen officers at the police station.
CRIME: A focus on gangs has led to a 25 percent drop in violent crimes over last year, the police chief says.
OBITUARY: The Rev. Gene Parks, a civil rights advocate who was at Martin Luther King Jr.’s church the night he was assassinated, has died at age 86.
- A woman whose attorney said she was feeding her Lottery addiction was convicted of stealing $800k from her employer but acquitted of money laundering.
- The Ledger says farewell to two veteran journalists who are retiring: Jeff Kline after 43 years at the paper and Robin Williams Adams after 35. (Best wishes to you both!)
- In the wake of Publix announcing its first store in downtown Tampa (you could argue it’s the second), there’s still yearning for a store in downtown Lakeland — but so far, it’s only talk.
- Resurrection Catholic School and Church opens Polk’s third Regenerations Resale Shop on Shepherd Road on Saturday.
- Christmas Parade forecast: Good cheer bolstered by mild temps and punctuated by a fair chance of rain. Those who stay home Thursday evening can view the festivities via the city’s LGN on cable or Internet. Map | Participants
- Kathleen Road: Expect intermittent lane closures from downtown to I-4 as crews prepare for paving that starts in January and could end as soon as March. Learn more.
- Dreadnaughts: Deaf basketball players rely on visual cues.
Parks: Donations, like the one from an insurance company that will upgrade Webster Park, are essential for the city rec system, an official says.
Fish tales: A Lakeland-based fisheries biologist spends work hours checking lakes. His PhD wife studies salt-water creatures. Their dinner conversation: “some pretty nerdy fish conversations.”
Busted: Hippy-looking undercover detective pumping gas starts talking to a guy who pulled up. Guy offers to sell him $10 worth of pot. Arrest ensues.