A car chase that started in Plant City ended on New Tampa Highway in Lakeland near a Publix warehouse, where a robbery suspect continued shooting at the law enforcement officers pursuing him. Francisco Cabrera, 27, was apprehended after being hit when officers from three agencies, including LPD, shot at him, News Channel 8 reports. | ALSO: Fox 13 News | More
FCC Environmental, which contracts with Polk County to collect garbage in unincorporated areas near Lakeland, has hired a subcontractor and is generating fewer customer complaints since it was put on notice, county officials said Wednesday. Starting Feb. 1, residents whose collections are missed by the company will be able to dispose of their garbage at the county landfill without paying a fee, The Ledger reports.
Lakeland’s planning board today approved several changes to a 300-unit apartment complex planned for Airport Road at the entrance to Carillon Lakes: The buildings will be fewer but taller than originally planned, and for now a hoped-for access off Airport Road will be for emergency vehicles only. More
The city of Lakeland’s pooled investment fund earned $18.8 million in 2021, a 3.26% return that fell $2.2 million below the previous year but was still “well above the average earning index” for municipal governments, city Treasurer Jeff Stearns told commissioners today during an update on the city investment performance and policies. More
The Florida Legislature convened last week and, once again, the 60-day legislative session will be marked by power struggles with cities and counties as state lawmakers have submitted more than 40 bills that cuff local government regulatory authority or cede municipal control to the state. More
Benny Valentin of Poinciana filed last February to run next November for the Florida Senate District 22 seat being vacated by the term-limited Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and hasn’t been heard from since. More
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Polk County hit a new high last week, but the rate of increase is slowing down, according to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health. The testing positivity rate is still over 30%, but lower than the previous week, the report shows. And Lakeland Regional Health is seeing strain on employees as admissions fueled by the omicron variant continue to escalate. More
- COUNTY GARBAGE: The company that hauls garbage in Lakeland’s unincorporated suburbs has responded to Polk County’s written threat to sever its contract. FCC Environmental says the county has not proven the company defaulted on its agreement and that missed pickups account for fewer than 1% of customers.
- RANCHO BONITO: Polk County’s wish list for the Florida Legislature for 10 years has been topped by hopes for a law to help them control the “lawlessness” in the undeveloped Rancho Bonito subdivision north of Lakeland. But as this year’s Legislature convened this week, no bill had been filed to increase controls over nuisances in unrecorded subdivisions. (Subscribers-only story)
A proposed recreational trail along the west side of Lake Hunter should use boardwalks to take walkers, joggers and bicyclists over the water instead of hugging the shoreline next to a busy roadway, even if it means the city of Lakeland supplements the project’s state funding, Mayor Bill Mutz said Friday. More
- TEACHER SALARIES: The Polk School Board has ratified retroactive teacher pay increases negotiated between administrators and union reps. Among the raises: Teachers hired before July 1, 2014, get an extra $210; those hired later get an extra $315.
- COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS in Polk were up 74% last week over the prior week, according to the CDC. Lakeland Regional Health reported 208 COVID-positive patients as of Monday evening, with 54.8% of them unvaccinated; the hospital’s chief informatics officer said the vaccinated patients generally have co-morbid conditions and those who are unvaccinated are typically sicker and require more care.
- LEDGER CUTBACKS: Like 135 other newspapers owned by Gannett, The Ledger will cease printing its Saturday editions but will make them available to subscribers as an online replica. “The change we are making this year is in response to the direction in which subscriber and advertising trends are headed,” Editor Leon Tucker said.
The average cost of rental housing in Lakeland has increased by more than 25.3% since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March 2020, Apartmentlist.com reports. But for the second consecutive month, median monthly rents in the city appear to be stabilizing with a negligible 0.7% increase last month, according to the digital platform’s December Rent Report, which followed a decline of 1.2% in city rental rates in November. More
It’s January and that means it is time for the annual Lakeland quality-of-life survey where the city government asks area residents to rate Lakeland across a series of metrics and to identify their top concerns for the coming year. More
As the Florida Legislature convened Tuesday, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, filed a bill restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, mimicking a Mississippi law under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Exceptions can be made if the mother’s health is at risk or in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, the Tampa Bay Times reports. There is no exception for incest or rape. ALSO: Fox News | Politico | News Channel 8
Polk County experienced record numbers of new COVID-19 cases and a record high testing positivity rate last week as the Omicron variant — said to be more contagious but less virulent than previous strains — spreads. More
The general manager of downtown Lakeland’s Dissent Brewing got a $1,000 “welcome-to-the neighborhood” tip courtesy of the local Big Fat Tip non-profit. So the brewery’s owner decided to pay it forward; he donated $1,000 to the organization, which surprised a Mister Fish employee with a one-grand gratuity, News Channel 8 reports. | Big Fat Tip website More
Three people — a mother, her 3-week-old daughter, and a family friend — died in a fire at Lakewood Terrace Apartments on Dec. 30, Fox 13 News reports. The mother, Alexus Craig, leaves behind three children, all under age 7. The cause of the fire, which officials said started in the kitchen, has not been determined yet. More
Ms. Constance “Connie” R. Murray, age 85, passed away at home on October 29, 2021.
Connie was born in Stryker, Ohio the oldest child of Calvin and Louella Riter. She grew up on the family farm in Stryker, where she graduated from Stryker High School as class valedictorian. She was a talented artist of oil paintings, enjoyed many hours of gardening and was an avid reader. A graduate of the University of South Florida, Connie worked as an accountant for several nonprofit businesses before retiring.
Connie was preceded in death by her parents and sister Fairy Riter all of Stryker.
She is survived by her brother Phil Riter of Stryker; children Wendy Arden of Plano Texas, Brad Murray of Lakeland, and Lisa McNamara of Lutz, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
A family celebration of life will be held at a later date. Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.