ALSO: LPD’s 108-photo Facebook gallery from the celebration.
Updated Jan. 2. Lakeland’s downtown has seen a surge in new restaurants, with six opening in the last year alone. It’s getting harder to find an empty storefront near Downtown’s Munn Park, but easier to find parking, thanks to a new valet system.
Julie Townsend, executive director of Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, says that lots of restaurants seem interested in moving downtown, and that’s a good thing. “Most of the businesses that are looking in downtown right now are restaurants,” Townsend says, “which is wonderful. We want to have a cluster of restaurants so that people see downtown as a destination for dining. We want them to come downtown and then decide where to eat, instead of picking a restaurant and then driving to that destination … The more restaurant choices you have and types of cuisine to choose from, the better for the district.” More
Weeks before leaving Washington, where he’s represented Lakeland in Congress for the last eight years, Dennis Ross discusses his role at Southeastern University and whether he will run for office again. At SEU, he is heading a “conservative think-tank and leadership program” that he says will emphasize compromise. As for politics, he’s not closing options.
Retired Ledger sports writer and web editor Mike Cobb and his family were displaced from their home of 25 years at 1836 Michelle Lane after a fire destroyed its middle section. No humans were injured, but eight cats are feared dead and a dog is hanging on for life.
Meet Joe Cruz. He’s a 31-year-old software engineer and aspiring comedy writer. You probably don’t know him, but his funny and shrewd observations are quite popular in Lakeland. We couldn’t get enough of him last month when he was entertaining us as The Lakelandist. More
Vince and Monica Strawbridge and their four children are within 50 miles of finishing a 2,650-mile hike along the Pacific Coast Trail from Canada to Mexico. The trip has been an opportunity for family bonding, self discovery and fund-raising for favorite causes.
MORE: Follow on Facebook | Trip website | Lakelander article
Samantha Kunin, a 20-year-old Florida State University senior from Lakeland and graduate of the International Baccalaureate School in Bartow, interviewed in Birmingham, Ala., this past weekend as a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. More
Republican Josie Tomkow, elected this week (the second time this year) to a Florida House seat representing a largely rural district north and east of Lakeland, says when she finally serves in Tallahassee, she will advocate for agriculture, promote foster care and adoption and support school choice.
In a wide-ranging discussion with podcaster Bump Galletta, real estate investor Gregory Fancelli says he envisions another push for a strong mayor for Lakeland. “I firmly believe that the opportunity to do this again will present itself pretty soon,” said Fancelli, who spearheaded last year’s unsuccessful attempt to change the city charter to allow an elected chief executive for the city of Lakeland. The next attempt will need a broader group backing it, he said. The mayor discussion begins 33 minutes into the podcast.