The campaign finances of U.S. Rep. Ross Spano of Dover, whose district includes most of Lakeland, are apparently under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice. The House Ethics Committee said today it is deferring its own investigation at the request of the DOJ. A statement from Spano said he is cooperating with the investigation and that the probe was motivated by “the left.”
ALSO: Coverage by Politico
The campaign finances of U.S. Rep. Ross Spano of Dover, whose district includes most of Lakeland, are apparently under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice. The House Ethics Committee said today it is deferring its own investigation at the request of the DOJ. A statement from Spano said he is cooperating with the investigation and that the probe was motivated by “the left.”
Photographer David Dickey Jr. got a chance this week to take some shots inside the Deen House, the 107-year-old landmark at Success Avenue and Frank Lloyd Wright Way. The Lakeland Planning & Zoning Board is scheduled to decide Tuesday on a conditional use permit allowing the building to be used as a preschool.
Friday I’m in love with the music choices in Lakeland:
- Van Plating, backed by a full band, releases her eponymous album and fans get a sneak peak at the soon-to-open Yard on Mass food-truck park/ beer hall. Videos: WLKF | The Lakelander
- Beat boxer Tom Thum fronts the Imperial Symphony Orchestra at the Polk Theatre. (We included some info in our ISO season preview.) Videos: TedX Sydney
- The music of Burt Bacharach is celebrated at a LkldLive tribute by performers Nicole Celesete, Kristy Scott and Shane Lawlor.
- The Volume Art Collective & Lakeland Women’s Collective’s Medusa Moon Art Show at Art/ifact Studios showcases music by Proud Miranda, Lady Moonbeam Band, and Bucoda. Keep scrolling for our updated music calendar: More
The mother of a young woman shot and killed by Polk sheriff’s deputies in north Lakeland this week says her daughter didn’t have to die. Deputies said they shot because Sidney Alexis Renew, 20, was trying to run them down with a stolen pickup truck. But Ohio resident Heather Renew says they could have shot the tires out and questions why one of the wounds was to the side of her 20-year-old daughter’s head if the deputies were shooting from in front of the truck.
- Bay News 9: The food bank at Mount Tabor Baptist Church is operating again; a mobile container gifted from Kathleen Middle School replaces a structure destroyed in the Oct. 18 tornado.
- ABC Action News: Tucker, a 60-pound African tortoise that escaped through a backyard fence damaged during the tornado, was returned home by somebody who found him more than a mile away. Earlier: Ledger coverage
A mishmash of parking situations dot Lakeland’s neighborhoods because land development codes do not specify driveway design for single-family and two-family housing. That could change very soon — at least for new housing. More
The Lakeland Margarita Society is proud to announce that they will be hosting the 32nd annual Margarita Ball, happening Nov. 23, 2019, at the Lake Mirror Promenade in Lakeland. From 8 to 11 p.m., guests can expect to enjoy an evening of live music, hors d’oeurves, margaritas and more from local restaurants and bars. More
Sidney Renew of Lakeland was shot and killed by Polk County Sheriff’s deputies who say the 20-year-old woman disregarded their order to leave a stolen Ford F-250 Monday afternoon and instead floored it toward them on rural Lakeland Acres Road.
Lake Morton residents posted nearly 100 yard signs protesting a plan to turn the Deen House at Success Avenue and Frank Lloyd Wright Way into a preschool. Meanwhile, the couple planning the preschool is revising their design after the city Historic Preservation Board rejected their plans for fire escapes.
Friends of Paul Hughes filled the Polk Theatre this afternoon for a celebration of his life as an actor, singer, teacher, director and mentor. Speakers and performers represented his different “stages of life,” including work with Pied Piper Players/Lakeland Community Theatre, Harrison School for the Arts and All Saints Academy. Hughes died in July at age 63.
LkldNow thanks Joe Havens and the staff at the Polk Theatre for their assistance setting up this livestream and especially for making sure we got a quality audio feed.
Oscar J. Pope Elementary School is faced with rebuilding its fifth-grade building after its roof collapsed in the aftermath of Lakeland’s October tornado.
Women locked hands in prayer and men laid on the ground in a death pose in a protest at the Polk County Courthouse. They came together to protest after prosecutors cleared Lakeland Police officers in the December fatal shooting of Michael Taylor.
An investigation that began when board members noticed financial discrepancies led to the arrest of the president and vice president of the Lakeland Highlands Babe Ruth Baseball League on charges of fraud and theft. Deputies say more than $50,000 from the organization was converted to personal use. The organization says on Facebook it’s cooperating with law enforcement and working to rebuild.
A Lakeland Police Department K-9 officer who was charged with DUI while driving a department SUV in the Panhandle last weekend has been fired, and the police chief issued a public apology. More
RESTORED: A 99-year-old house next to the South Florida Avenue Church of Christ that was once a candidate for demolition has been restored. It is now home to a family and students at a school of preaching based at the church in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. Restoration was performed by Albert C. Moore Construction and funded by Gregory Fancelli, a historic preservation advocate.
AFFORDABLE: A Tampa developer that specializes in affordable housing is planning Swan Lake Village, an 84-unit complex at 2076 Griffin Road. Residents will include people with disabilities and people who qualify as low income and very low income. City commissioners decided Monday to waive more than $400k in impact fees for the project.
FATALITIES: Motorcyclist Phillip Steven Mouser of Bartow and his passenger, 22-year-old Tayler R. Rozelle of Lakeland, died Sunday when they collided with a car that turned into their path on Gary Road at Interlachen Parkway, police reported.
The life of Paul Hughes, a guiding force at Lakeland Community Theatre for many years and a teacher at Harrison School for the Arts and All Saints Academy, will be celebrated by friends and ex-students in a gathering at the Polk Theatre at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. He died in July at age 63.
WATCH IT: LkldNow plans to live-stream the ceremony on our Faceboook page starting at 2:30 Sunday.
There’s one concert where you’ll be sure to find me this weekend (other than the Elvis Costello show in St. Pete on Sunday): News Aid on Friday night at LkldLive.
News Aid kicks off NewsMatch, the year’s major fund-raiser for LkldNow, our non-profit operation that provides independent, community-driven news about Lakeland. During NewsMatch, which lasts until Dec. 31, donations to LkldNow will be matched 100% by a coalition of national foundations that want to see nonprofit news prosper.
Performers at News Aid include Fount, Munn Park Saints, Sumner Curtis, Emily Jones, Shane Lawlor, Keep Us Sane, and members of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra. In addition, visual artist Bump Galletta will be on stage creating a large Lakeland-centric drawing that will be auctioned.
TORNADO: The damage done by the tornado that gouged west Lakeland Oct. 18 did not hit the target for FEMA assistance, but local businesses and residents may be eligible for SBA loans, the county’s emergency services director says. The next step is a request from Florida’s governor to the feds.
CITY ATTORNEY: Lakeland’s interim city attorney has a new contract. It’s based on one written for the city manager by former City Attorney Tim McCausland, though McCausland never operated under a contract himself.
WOMEN FIREFIGHTERS: When 19 high school students from PACE Center for Girls toured Lakeland Fire Department’s headquarters Tuesday, the main message was that firefighting is a career worth exploring.
UPDATED 9:11 p.m. — Bill Read was re-elected to the Lakeland City Commission today, but it will take a Dec. 3 runoff to determine the victor in the other commission race on the ballot. Top vote-getters Chad McLeod and Carole Philipson face each other in a runoff because no candidate won a majority in their four-way contest. More
The hotel being built next to the RP Funding Center will be managed by somebody who knows a thing or two about running a hotel near an entertainment/convention center. John Loute has been named general manager of the 126-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott, according to a news release. His extensive hospitality resume includes nearly eight years (1999-2007) as manager of the Hyatt Place, the next-door neighbor to his new hotel. For the last eight years, he was manager of the La Quinta Inn & Suites near Lakeland Square mall.
Chef T’s Garden Grill has recently closed for business after a long run. It’s not entirely out of the question that the popular fine-dining restaurant in a 1920s-era yellow house has a future as Chef T’s again. “But for now I’m hanging up my chef’s jacket,” Terry Doner said. More
The head of the Lakeland NAACP chapter is asking the State Attorney’s Office and Lakeland Police Department to have an outside agency review whether police were operating within standards the night they shot and killed 17-year-old Michael Jerome Taylor in a restaurant parking lot. Prosecutors said they’ve done their job in determining that deadly force was justified. The police chief said his agency is looking into whether their procedures need to change and suggested the NAACP is welcome to hire its own expert, saying the records are open to public inspection.
The parents of a 10-year-old boy claim in a lawsuit that their son was injured when he fell 20 feet from the “Sky Rider” zipline at Urban Air Adventure Park at Lakeland Square mall because employees failed to secure him properly. The company released a statement saying it takes safety seriously and the employees involved are no longer working there.
TALBOT HOUSE: In a Sunday ceremony, the faith-based homeless services provider placed memorial pavers for four supporters: Beverly Daniel, a “loyal advocate;” Michael Klingaman, an Air Force veteran who spearheaded the Memorial Garden; Capt. Clarence “Clancy” LeMasters, a past president of the organization’s board, and Peggy Watkins, a past president of the Ministerial Alliance.
BETSYE KAY FINCH: The late dancer, known in Lakeland for her dance studio, was remembered at a Manhattan luncheon that launched a scholarship to help Lakeland-area high school seniors pursue careers in dance or musical theater. (No link yet; we’ll add it if the article gets posted online.)
ELSEWHERE: Charlotte Observer – Former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who grew up in Lakeland, was remembered at a memorial service Sunday | Orlando Sentinel – “Reflections on a Lost Post,” a concerto for clairnet and woodwinds by Lakeland’s Howard Buss honoring fallen soldiers, debuts at UCF Thursday.
Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets reported several gains for the third quarter of its 2019 fiscal year: sales were up 6.3%, as were same-store sales. Stock, available only to associates and board members, was at a record $47.10 per share on Nov. 1, up from $44.10 in the second quarter; the previous high was $45.20 in March 2016. | Stock price chart
Community support welled up after a tornado punched a hole in the roof of Kathleen Middle School, so much so that the school no longer has the space to store the donated supplies. But monetary contributions are still being accepted via the Polk Education Foundation | Donate online
The people who put on Art Crawl in Munn Park ordered up good weather for Saturday, and it looks like they’re getting it. Their stage will host a variety of local music and dance performers from 9:30 to 4. Musicians include include Anisette Mayer, Space Panda, Shae Kripinsky and Oxford Noland. Also:
- The Gary Love Band revives “Nirvana Unplugged” at LkldLive Saturday night; openers include Shane Lawlor re-creating Oasis (video), a band he opened for in 2005, and Nancye Blair Black playing ’90s covers.
- Will Kimbrough, an Alabama-to-Nashville singer-songwriter known for his fancy fretwork, takes the stage at Swan Brewing Sunday afternoon.
And here’s the updated local live music calendar: More
A city employee recently promoted to manage Lakeland Electric’s McIntosh Power Plant lied about his academic and professional credentials, and once discovered fled the state, the Lakeland Police Department reported. More
MOM REACTS: After yesterday’s announcement clearing three LPD officers in the December fatal shooting of 17-year-old Michael Taylor (our story), his mother tells The Ledger: “I’m not angry. I have an attorney who’s working on the case and I trust her to do her part, just like (State Attorney) Brian Haas has to do his part.”
POLY DEATH: The December death of Florida Poly student Joshua Barton has been ruled a suicide by Polk’s medical examiner.
CITYMAKER: Kathy Abels, named October’s CityMaker by the #LoveLakeland organization, started volunteering with VISTE after moving to Lakeland and now helps with multiple non-profits.
The actions of three Lakeland police officers who shot and killed 17-year-old Michael Taylor in a crowded restaurant parking lot on the morning of Dec. 26, 2018, were justified, according to an opinion released today by the State Attorney’s Office. More
Kay Hagan, who represented North Carolina in the U.S. Senate from 2008 to 2014, died at age 66 after a three-year ordeal with encephalitis. The Roll Call article mentions her growing up in Lakeland, that her father, Joe P. Ruthven, was mayor, and that she had a Washington internship with her uncle, the late U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles, also of Lakeland.
ALSO: Hagan’s family suffered a double tragedy. Her stepmother, Judy Ruthven, also died Monday, The Ledger reported.
A mom is pushing for changes at the intersection of South Florida Avenue and Alamo Drive, where her 24-year-old son died when a vehicle turned left in front of his motorcycle last month. Angela Naberhaus wants left turns to be allowed there only with a green arrow; she also wants the Legislature to change the law to impose criminal penalties for fatal traffic accidents.
Art Crawl, an outdoor festival in its seventh year, will showcase the work of 70 artists from 25 Central Florida cities at Munn Park on Saturday. More
Before Mount Tabor Baptist Church can rebuild its food bank building that was destroyed by the recent tornado, Polk County officials are requiring them to install a water tank estimated to cost $30,000, according to Pastor Matt Gilmore. He said he’s gratified that teachers at Kathleen Middle School have raised funds to rent a refrigerated container box for a year.
Students return to Kathleen Middle School Monday for the first time after a tornado ripped off part of the roof last week, but teachers returned Thursday and got their first look at the damage.
In its ongoing quest for a wider audience, the Imperial Symphony Orchestra is tweaking its formula a bit as the 2019-2020 season gets underway. In its choice of venue, its educational strategy and its programming, the orchestra’s leadership is trying different approaches. More
Maybe the biggest question looming over a fledgling downtown venue called The Joinery has been answered: Craft beer will continue to flow onsite. And the list of vendors who will fill the artisan food hall is nearly complete. More
A request to add fire escapes and alley-side parking to the historic Columbus W. Deen house was denied by the Historic Preservation Board’s Design Review Committee Thursday. More
Who doesn’t want to punk it up on a Monday night? You get your chance at Swan Brewing, where Zurich’s Überyou and Stuttgart’s Hell and Back are stopping during U.S. tours that climax with Gainesville’s three-day The Fest 18 next weekend. Joining them are Lakeland’s Butch Queen & the Bad Habits in a show produced by Will Shaffer of Unwholly Bikes. If Europunk on a Monday night isn’t your taste, keep scrolling for more options in our updated music calendar. More
A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit filed against the Polk Sheriff’s Office by the mother of Katelyn Roman, who was 12 years old in 2013 when she was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking in a case that involved a classmate committing suicide. But the court noted the Sheriff’s Office’s “repeatedly and publicly” naming her “had a devastating effect” on the girl, whose criminal charge was eventually dismissed.
Deputy Christin Pennell of Lakeland is suing her employer, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in federal court. She says the agency violated the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and Florida Worker’s Compensation statute after her husband, also a deputy, was nearly killed in a hit-and-run accident on the job three years ago. ABC Action News uncovered this and another employment lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office. The agency said both lawsuits are frivolous and without merit. | View the lawsuit
Fog delayed the start of Lakeland’s 39th annual swan roundup on Lake Morton Tuesday; after it lifted the Parks and Rec boat crews were able to capture all 77 swans for their yearly physical checkups, which are being performed today by My Pets Animal Hospital. Watch Fox 13’s Ken Suarez get a net around one of them in this video. And isn’t that a pretty one that posed for LkldNow in the picture to the left? Facebook galleries: Tuesday roundup | Wednesday checkups
Monday was a busy day for local law enforcement, with Lakeland police and Polk deputies reporting a homicide, an attempted murder and a pedestrian traffic fatality. More
- Aerial footage shows tornado damage | ABC Action News
- Portables arrive at Kathleen Middle School | 10 News
- Map shows path of the tornado | National Weather Service
- Why tornadoes hit far from storm center | Palm Beach Post
- Mount Tabor Baptist rebuilding its food ministry | News Channel 8
- 107-year-old church will be razed | Fox 13 News
- Polk’s last dairy farm may close | ABC Action News
- Couple loses everything | News Channel 8
- Found: A 1966 Kathleen wedding photo | Fox 13 News
- Cows invade Carillon Lakes | Orlando Sentinel
Lakeland Electric will not seek a rate increase for next year, city commissioners were told today by Joel Ivy, the utility’s general manager. That and other happenings from today’s commission meeting are summarized via LkldNow Twitter posts and photos: More
Lakeland City Commissioners today approved two land-use measures sought by The Williams Companies for their massive holdings near Florida Polytechnic University but not before saying they hope the land owners work with them on their vision for a research park in the area. More
The candidates running in the two contested City Commission races on the Nov. 5 ballot answered questions at a public forum sponsored by BRIDGE Local, a Lakeland small business networking organization. An interesting discussion takes place at about 53:00 when the candidates were asked to rank Lakeland on economic inclusion — providing a level playing field for all members of the community. Here’s video of the entire forum.
Surrounding a largely procedural land-use change, Lakeland city commissioners say they see risks to their long-term desires to keep the Florida Polytechnic University area available for high-impact economic development tied to the school. More
Volunteers spent the weekend cleaning up at at Mount Tabor Baptist Church, where a tornado destroyed a building instrumental in feeding up to 200 families every Thursday. Services will be moved to Bethel Baptist Church in Lakeland.
- More on Mount Tabor Baptist | 10 News
- The storm destroyed Lugar de Restoracion, a church on New Tampa Highway | Bay News 9
- Harvest Meat Market fed families affected by the tornado | Fox 13 News
- Inmates helped with the cleanup | Fox 13 News
- Kathleen Middle School’s assistant principal describes the damage | Fox 13 News
- Portables are coming to Kathleen Middle School, where classes resume Wednesday | News Channel 8
- Video: Damage to Southern Wine & Spirits | Bay News 9
As Kathleen Middle School’s principal and the Polk schools superintendent opened the school’s doors for the first time after a tornado struck Friday night, they knew things were bad when floodwaters flowed out. “The total inside of that building is damaged. Every floor is damaged. Every room has been damaged,” said Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd told Bay News 9 | GoFundMe
UPDATED 5:43 p.m. Severe weather spawned tornadoes in greater Lakeland, lifted large portions of the roof off Kathleen Middle School, caused power outages, overturned a semi-trailer on Interstate 4 and pushed a major car show indoors.
Tornadoes touched down in a line between Lakeland Linder Airport and Kathleen as severe weather knocked out power to nearly 10,000 homes and businesses; that number was down to 8,388 by by 4 p.m., according to Lakeland Electric’s outage map. No serious injuries have been reported, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. More
POLY: Graduates of Florida Polytechnic University can expect a $13 payback for every $1 spent on their degree, compared with a $4 average payback for students at other Florida state universities, according to a new study by economist Rick Harper | News release
SUED: Polk County Fire Rescue is being sued by the family of Edward McLaughlin, who died in an October 2017 fire on Green Road in north Lakeland. The suit claims negligence.
City Commission candidates Jiwa Farrell and incumbent Bill Read answered questions today in a forum sponsored by the Lakeland Kiwanis Club. Both are seeking the Northeast District seat on the seven-member, nonpartisan board. (The four candidates for the at-large seat on the Nov. 5 ballot faced off at the same club two weeks ago.) Here is a video of today’s forum, along with a presentation afterward by Lakeland Electric General Manager Joel Ivy:
In the 13 years it has been in business, Lakeland’s Indie Atlantic Films has carved out a niche in the video and film production industry, producing visuals for businesses, schools and colleges and nonprofit organizations. Now the company has produced its first feature-length film, a documentary that is getting some attention in the American film-festival circuit and already has won a couple of awards. More
Based on packed houses at three LkldLive Tom Petty tributes, this is a town that loves the Gainesville-bred rock star. There’s another chance to wax nostalgic for the late leader of the Heartbreakers Friday at the RP Funding Center when Classic Albums Live re-creates “Damn the Torpedoes,” Petty’s hit-filled, breakout album from 1979. More highlights and our updated music calendar: More
A genteel battle of ideas played out Tuesday morning as Lakeland’s planning board pondered the best use for a large and historic home in the South Lake Morton neighborhood.
Both sides were represented by articulate speakers who spoke passionately about whether the Planning and Zoning Board should allow a preschool at the Deen House, a 1912-era, 6,736-square-foot mansion at the corner of Frank Lloyd Wright Way and Success Avenue. More
Sherry Scott, who teaches culinary arts at George Jenkins High School, was featured on Bay News 9 as one of its A+ teachers. Her students earn certifications that make them eligible for manager-level employment at restaurants, and her rapport with students has made her an oft-requested club sponsor.
ART: City Commissioner Stephanie Madden is pushing to increase public art in Lakeland through a city resolution passed in 2006. The measure pledges 1% of construction costs for municipal facilities to a fund for public art, but it was swept under by the recession of the next few years. Commissioners and their staff will discuss it at an upcoming policy workshop.
LRH: Lakeland Regional Health is losing $2.9 million in Medicare reimbursements over the next year in a penalty for an excessive number of readmissions. Hospital administrators attribute socioeconomics of its patient base to its above-average readmission rate. But a USF health policy expert suggests the hospital is “playing roullette with patients” by deciding whether to accept penalties for readmission or reduced payments for keeping them hospitalized.
A $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study autonomous and connected vehicles will help Lakeland’s Florida Polytechnic University become a leading center for research in the development of self-driving vehicles, engineering professor Arman Sargolzaei tells Tampa Bay Business Journal.
NEWS RELEASE: Grant focuses on a large-scale Hardware-in-the-Loop simulation facility.
National and international publications have picked up on the story of Lakeland teen Darcy Kruger being denied entrance to the Tampa Bay Homeschool Homecoming dance because she was wearing a dressy jumpsuit instead of a dress. The Tampa Bay Times catches up with her, her mom and the event planner who wouldn’t let her into the dance.
While the amount of new industrial space in Lakeland has declined from its 2017 peak, leasing activity is steady and there are signs of pent-up demand, according to a Business Observer summary of a report from CoStar, a real estate analytics firm. The CoStar report, available only to subscribers, has this sub-headline: Conn’s HomePlus Distribution Center announcement is the latest success in robust construction pipeline | Conn’s announcement last month
Tim McCausland has retired from his position as Lakeland city attorney after 27 years as a city employee. He submitted a letter of retirement today, two days after he was arrested in Hillsborough County under suspicion of committing so-called “precursor acts facilitating prostitution.” More
Melissa Nichols of Kathleen, who say she spends about 12 hours a day on her smartphone, found out what it was like to curb her addiction when she spent a week using a flip phone only and won a contest sponsored by Frontier Communications. She donated her $1,000 winnings to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in the Bahamas.
Cedric Wilson spent years on the wrong side of the law, but now owns a promotional business in North Lakeland and directs music videos, including a new version of local rapper Stephon’s “Ducking Grady” that features appearances by Polk County’s sheriff. Judd tells Bay News 9 he agreed to appear in the video because “it’s the right thing to do” and will strengthen ties between law enforcement and the community.
A Florida Southern College senior majoring in math and accounting and active in intramural sports was found dead in his Lake Hollingsworth apartment. The school’s security chief said there were no signs of foul play and Dalton Beitel of Titusville appears to have died of natural causes.
A section of Interstate 4 near Lakeland has been dedicated to the memory of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper John C. Hagerty, who died at age 44 on March 18, 1970, when his sky patrol plane was struck by a low-flying Navy jet near the Green Swamp. The portion is from exit 33 (the northern of the two S.R. 33 exits) to exit 44 (the S.R. 559 exit north of Auburndale.)
We’re not sure how much of the music will be live, but one of the more interesting events this weekend is a free, family-friendly “Down the Rabbit Hole” performing arts festival at Munn Park on Saturday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Performers include singer-songwriter Courtney Plummer and several local dance troupes, as well as roaming actors dressed as characters from Tim Burton movies. Also: food trucks and other vendors.
Also, Creative Loafing says it’s worth driving from Tampa to Lakeland Friday night to hear Jeremy & the Clones, Clang! and The Welzeins at Hillcrest Coffee. So it’s probably really worth it to drive, bike or walk from wherever you are in Lakeland. Keep scrolling for our updated live music calendar. More
Lakeland City Attorney Tim McCausland was arrested in Hillsborough County just before noon Wednesday under suspicion of committing so-called “precursor acts facilitating prostitution,” according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office records. More
SWAN BREWING is expanding by the end of the year to a second location — the spot in Highland Plaza on Lakeland Highlands Road previously occupied by Buddha’s Pub and Lakeland’s Beer Rev (now moved to South Florida Avenue and rebranded as Craft + Kitchen.) Principal partner Dan Thumberg plans 16 taps, multiple TV monitors, pool table, arcade games, darts and a jukebox | Facebook
CHARGES DROPPED: We noted in July 2017 that the morning paper deviated from its practice of not writing about internal issues when it reported third-degree felony charges filed against its former marketing manager Nanay Pittman in a case involving the newspaper. Those charges have been dropped.
FIRE TRAINING: Construction is expected to begin soon on new training facilities for the Lakeland Fire Department. The complex, being built for $2.4 million by Strickland Construction, includes a burn building and a small warehouse on the site of the current training facility near Tigertown.
PARKS/REC FEES: City commissioners delayed voting on proposed increases in parks and recreation fees until their staff can answer why they want large increases in things like weekend rentals of the Lake Mirror Auditorium and Magnolia Building | Proposed fees
The six candidates for Lakeland City Commission in the Nov. 5 election answered questions during a forum at today’s meeting of The Lakeland Rotary Club. The forum was moderated by Jack Lowman of Avon Leasing, a former president of the club. Topics included, in order:
- Whether the city should launch a broadband utility.
- Summit Consulting’s proposed eight-story office building and garage on the western shore of Lake Mirror.
- A planned “road diet” to reduce Florida Avenue from five lanes to three in Dixieland.
- Funding for homelessness programs.
- The city’s role in solving employment barriers: transportation, child care, affordable housing.
- Forgiving increases in Lakeland Regional Health’s lease payments to the city.
- Methods to make Lakeland more attractive to young professionals.
Florida Polytechnic is making it easy for any student with an innovative idea to connect with its entrepreneurship program, and the software that makes that possible was recognized as a finalist in competition by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.
A young Lakeland couple wants to buy the landmark Deen House at Frank Lloyd Wright Way and Success Avenue and turn it into a Montessori-based preschool serving up to 70 students. They answer neighborhood queueing concerns by saying that parents will park behind the house. The Lakeland Planning & Zoning Board considers a conditional use permit allowing the school on Oct. 15.
ALSO IN THE MORNING PAPER: Mister Central Florida, a fund-raiser for Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center, takes place Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m. | Learn more
Jian Zhang, 31, learned discipline and customer service from his parents when he worked at their China 1 restaurant in Highland Plaza while attending Lakeland High School. In recent years, he has opened several businesses in the plaza, including Jade Fox, a full bar/dance club celebrating its first anniversary in December.
- Lakeland 42, Port St. Lucie Centennial 6
- Victory Christian 19, Tampa Berkeley Prep 13
- Lake Gibson 24, Hardee 21
- Lakeland Christian 47, Glades Day 0
- Kathleen 45, Bartow 38
- Santa Fe Catholic 47, Bishop McLaughlin Catholic 9
- Tenoroc 20, Bronson 16
- St. Petersburg Keswick Christian 28, All Saints 20
- Peniel Baptist Academy 39, Geneva Classical 33
When Justin Troller leaves the City Commission at the end of the year, it’s unlikely his replacement will have the same zeal for a city broadband utility that he has. At a forum today, three of the four candidates running for the at-large seat he is vacating shied away from getting the city into the Internet business; a fourth said he is willing to look into it. The article continues after the video of the fourm:More
Students at all local schools will be able to get help with Federal Student Aid and Florida Bright Futures applications at a free event scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at George Jenkins High School. Staff from five local colleges and universities will be there to answer questions | What to bring
A partnership between Lakeland Regional Health and Lakeland’s MicroPath Laboratories has reduced the number of repeat operations needed by the hospital’s breast cancer patients, Tampa Bay Business Journal reports in an article available only to its subscribers. Micropath pathologists are on call to assess tissues immediately after surgeries to assess whether the full tumor was removed.
A new study says the Lakeland-Winter Haven area has a lot of heavyweights — but not in a good way. Polk County is the heaviest county in Florida, with an obesity rate that’s nearly nine percentage points higher than the rest of the state, according to new calculations by 24/7 Wall St., a financial news website. More
- The Florida Department of Health’s environmental administrator admitted under oath that the department hasn’t monitored radiation levels at reclaimed phosphate mines in about five years.
- A lawyer for the homeowners suing the subdivision developers over radiation levels claims state regulars used the wrong handheld devices to monitor radiation before declaring there were no health risks.
Showcase time: “Universal Language” at LkldLive 7 p.m. tonight presents hop-hop and spoken word artists Black Boi, AJA Lorraine, Pryderawk, Rook Rudered and Bub Bizzle. Indie bands are the focus Saturday night at Union Hall when Mister Handsome celebrates the release of their single, “Terrible Things,” supported by appearances from The Drain Outs, 48 States Away and Viewers Like You. Keep scrolling for our updated music calendar: More
DINING: Restaurant critic Eric Pera graces downtown’s Garden Bistro with three stars each for food and service and four stars for ambience, likely because of the commanding view of Lake Mirror from its covered patio. The airy lunch spot has added an evening light bites menu Tuesdays through Fridays for sunset al fresco noshing. Facebook: Garden Bistro | Garden Bistro at Night
ART: Evolve Arts & Music Festival from 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday at ART/ifact Studios aims to bring “awareness to art in all shapes, sizes and forms.” (The article isn’t online yet. We’ll add a link once it’s posted.) Facebook
City commissioners heard Tuesday evening from 21 citizens with strong opinions about whether the city should launch a broadband utility at a public forum attended by about 100 people. But commissioners spoke last, so they had the last word. And the words were: public-private partnership. More
Lakeland bus routes change starting next Monday when ReRoute 2020 takes effect. Some highlights:
- Routes start as early as 5:45 a.m. and end as late as 8 p.m., with some down time at midday.
- They’ve been consolidated into five routes named by color, not number.
- The Florida Avenue and health corridor routes remain at 30-minute intervals. The others have been reduced to 45 minutes.
- With overlapping stops, transferring riders won’t always have to pass through the downtown terminal.
- Learn more: Web | New mobile app – Apple, Android
Do you have an opinion on whether the city of Lakeland should build on its 330 miles of fiber-optic cable to launch a municipal broadband utility? For those who want to express an opinion — and those who just want to learn more — the city of Lakeland is holding a public forum tonight. Here are the basics: More
Fitness studio The Balance Culture is planning to expand this spring from Dixieland Village to a larger home downtown. The new location: a ground-floor space at the Heritage Plaza South office building under construction on Orange Street between Tennessee and Kentucky avenues. The major tenant in the building, which adjoins a large parking garage also under construction, will be Farm Credit of Central Florida
Lakeland’s Florida Dance Theatre joins with Casselberry’s Emotions Dance to present “The Hope Movement” performances aimed at raising awareness of cancer and benefitting Orlando Health’s UF Health Cancer Center. Two shows take place this weekend in Orlando, and a spring performance is planned in Lakeland | Learn more, get tickets
Local police agencies have adopted an idea for preventing child hot-car deaths conceived by Scott Headley, a Lakeland grandfather and insurance company owner. It involves a colorful bracelet a driver wears as a reminder that there’s a child in the back seat. They’ll be available at next week’s First Friday in downtown Lakeland | ALSO: PCSO Facebook post
Water samples collected from monitoring wells near Lakeland Electric’s coal ash storage area showed levels of arsenic above federal drinking water levels and lithium above groundwater protection levels, The Ledger reports. The utility said it’s taking corrective action and there’s “little to no risk to the public.”
The GreenWise Market opening on South Florida Avenue in mid-December will showcase its Lakeland locale through a handful of home-grown vendors and a mural depicting local landmarks. More
Lakeland-Winter Haven led the nation’s metro areas in the number of bank branch closures, with a 20.6 percent decline between 2008 and 2018, DepositAccounts.com reports. Because of population growth, our per capita loss was also the highest, at 40.2 percent. The article talks about overall reasons that branches are declining (mergers, technology, etc.), but doesn’t dive into specific reasons for Polk closures.
It’s a fine time in Lakeland for diverse musical experiences. Coming up: intricate acoustic guitar interplay, Sunday afternoon punk rock, a four-handed approach to piano classics, and a new jazz series. Keep scrolling for more info and these and our updated live music calendar: More
Does your driver license or other Florida-issued ID have a gold star in the upper right hand corner? If not, you have one year to update your ID to comply with federal air safety regulations, according to the office of Polk Tax Collector Joe Tedder. More
In a “What’s Right With Tampa Bay” segment, Kelly Ring looks at tattoo artist Izic Woodall’s project to paint uplifting murals at Medulla Elementary School. We’ve been fans of Kelly since her early reporting days in Tampa, but it seems nobody coached her on how the locals pronounce Medulla.
Three pay-to-park machines in downtown Lakeland that many drivers found confusing have been replaced by new machines that take credit cards, bills, coins or payment via the ParkMobile app. Drivers no longer have to remember a number for the space they parked in, but will need to enter their license plate number. More
The battle over bad smells around BS Ranch in east Lakeland continues. Polk County code enforcers filed five new notices of odor violations against the compost/soil manufacturing company this month. BS Ranch’s lawyer responds that complaints come from a small number of opponents and that other nearby operations are causing odors.
Galaxy Bar Lakeland, opening soon in north Lakeland, aims to maintain a nostalgic dive-bar aesthetic as the former Johnny G’s on U.S. 98 North transforms into an arcade bar. With popular vintage games from the 1980s and ’90s, like Donkey Kong, Tetris and the original Ninja Turtles, “It’s going to feel like you’re in a friend’s basement playing video games,” owner Megan Lewman said. More
William Long, 47, a Lakeland police officer since 2001, was arrested Friday and charged with one count of making a false report of child abuse, abandon, or neglect, a third-degree felony. The case involved a child custody dispute he was involved with, 10 News reports. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Phillip Walker was re-elected to the Lakeland City Commission today since he did not receive opposition for his northwest Lakeland seat by noon, the end of the period to qualify for office.
In an unexpected move, former School Board member and County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson entered a five-way race for an open City Commission seat. And in the other contested race, incumbent Bill Read picked up an opponent, Jiwa Farrell. More
When asked what starting time would boost attendance at City Commission meetings, Lakeland Now readers overwhelmingly favored evening meetings. More
Carol Erkes didn’t imagine she would go from being a dancer to an impresario, managing an arts organization instead of creating art. “I never had any intention of getting to where we are today. It snowballed,” she said.
KATHLEEN: Despite stiff opposition from neighbors, the Polk County Commission voted 3-1 to approve a 125-house Highland Homes subdivision near Kathleen and Duff Roads. Neighbors objected to its density of 4.2 houses per acre compared with nearby densities of 1 to 5 houses per acre.
SWANTOBERFEST: Lakeland’s version of the German Oktoberfest takes place 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Munn Park. The event, in its second year, remains free, but a $50 VIP pass has been added | ALSO: LALtoday preview
Should the city of Lakeland approve plans for a single-user office building on a prime parcel overlooking Lake Mirror — or should it take a long-term view and hold out for a potential multi-use project more in keeping with the vision of downtown planners?
That was the question posed by Lakeland Downtown Development Authority board member Greg Sanoba this morning before the board voted 4-1 to approve the design concept for an eight-story office building/parking garage planned by Summit Consulting. More
ROUNDABOUT: A roundabout is being planned along Drane Field Road at Don Emerson Drive, the entrance to Lakeland Linder Airport. It will be large enough to handle tractor-trailers as the area grows as a logistics center. News of the roundabout is getting heaps of praise and criticism on the insta-feedback tool known as Facebook.
IMPACT FEES: As Lakeland grows, the need for new roads is outstripping the city’s ability to pay for them, so a consultant is recommending an increase in impact fees on new construction to the tune of 53 percent for single-family homes and 60 percent for multi-family. City commissioners say they’ll consult local businesses before holding a public hearing Nov. 4.
Summit Consulting is negotiating with the city of Lakeland to buy a key property on Lake Mirror and build an eight-story office building there. It’s being hailed as the largest downtown construction project in decades, and supporters say it will transform the skyline, bring 500 mostly high-wage jobs downtown and spur more private development. More
The physical education teacher responsible for students involved in a fight in a Blake Academy locker room last week has been put on administrative leave, Bay News 9 reports. The mother of the victim is demanding he be fired and that the boy who attacked her son be expelled. She asked the Polk School Board at its Tuesday night meeting to implement “school policies that align with protecting victims’ rights, not sheltering the accused.”
EARLIER: Tampa Bay Times coverage
A Shells restaurant, part of a Tampa Bay chain of casual seafood eateries with entrees in the $10-$20 range, is coming to the South Florida Avenue location recently vacated by Manny’s Chophouse.
A year after the Lakeland City Commission changed the starting time of its twice-a-month meetings from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at least one commissioner wants to return to a morning start. More
It hasn’t been long since a run-down house was demolished along an alley in Dixieland. Developer Gregory Fancelli plans to place some two-story apartments there eventually. But for now, it’s home to a 30-foot long dragon, Dixieland’s newest resident. More
A Lakeland teen died and four others were injured Saturday night when the pickup truck they were in left I-4 near the I-75 underpass and flipped over. Stephanie Carroll died at Tampa General Hospital from her injuries, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Driver Ruben Ramirez, 17, suffered serious injuries, and passengers Tristen Green, 19; Kira Barclay, 17 and Raemond Ramirez, 16 sustained minor injuries, FHP said.
- Lakeland 55, Plant City 19 (Tampa Bay Times coverage)
- Lake Gibson 26, Auburndale 20 (OT)
- Bartow 28, George Jenkins 7
- Kathleen 51, Dover Strawberry Crest 6
- Lakeland Christian 49, West Palm Beach King’s Academy 7
- Victory Christian 35, Fort Meade 0
- Winter Park Lake Howell 30, Tenoroc 6
- Geneva Classical Academy 47, Tarpon Springs Solid Rock 12
- All Saints 42, St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep 7
The city of Lakeland’s property tax rate will remain at $5.46 per $1,000 of assessed value, city commissioners decided Thursday in approving a $626.8 million budget. Boosted by a higher-than-expected dividend from Lakeland Electric and rising property values, the budget retains funding for downtown development incentives, affordable housing, a homelessness caseworker and design of a cultural history center at the main library.
Candidates for City Commission agreed far more than they disagreed at a forum today hosted by the Republican Club of Lakeland. The issue that brought the sharpest differences was whether the current commission was correct in giving Lakeland Regional Health a five-year break on increases in lease payments to the city. More on that after video of the forum; skip ahead to the 16:15 mark to hear candidate statements:More
Lakeland is represented by at least a dozen business leaders in Florida Trend’s new Florida 500 list of business executives whom the magazine’s editors deem “most influential.” Organizations represented include AgAmerica Lending, Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland Regional Health, Publix Super Markets, Saunders Real Estate, The Ruthvens and Watson Clinic. More
At a ceremony starting now (8:30 a.m. Wednesday), Florida Polytechnic University breaks ground on a two-story, 85,000-square-foot Applied Research Center. It’s a short walk across a bridge from the landmark Innovation, Science, and Technology Building. Builder: Skanska USA | Architect: HOK
IRMA: The Morning Paper leads off with a pair of articles recalling the chaos created when Hurricane Irma tore through Lakeland two years ago this week. One is about a 70-year-old woman who is frustrated by a lack of assistance from FEMA and her insurance company in fixing her faulty wiring and leaky roof that date to Irma. The other one is about Irma, the mascot cat that has roamed Crowder Brothers Ace Hardware since the time of the hurricane.
SCHOOL FOOD WASTE: Prompted by a First United Methodist Church associate pastor and the founder of the Combee Connection Ministry, Polk public schools officials are pondering whether and how to set up food-sharing tables in school lunchrooms to divert fruit and packaged food that would otherwise be discarded to students in need.
BONNET SPRINGS SCULPTURE: On Sunday, Platform Art will unveil the design for a sculpture to be installed at the massive park scheduled to open in early 2021. “Sound Wall” was designed by All Saints Academy students Laura Prazdnicane and Lucy Zhang | Event info
FLORIDA POLY: The Lakeland-based state university has hired a new fundraiser: VP of Advancement Kathleen “Kathy” Bowman has been at Purdue University since 2011.
Democrat Alan Cohn of New Tampa is making another run for the Congressional seat that represents most of Lakeland. Cohn, a former TV reporter and news anchor, announced today he is seeking to replace first-term Republican Rep. Ross Spano of Dover. More
Unwholly Bikes, a nonprofit that turns used bicycle parts into working bikes for students in need, has scheduled a Saturday grand opening for its workshop at 925 E. Rose Street.
Anastasia Crumb-Guy, 36, died and Tysheana Marshall, 33, was being treated for wounds after they entered a home on Jewel Avenue Thursday afternoon, started a fight with the man and woman there and were shot by the woman, according to the Lakeland Police Department. It hasn’t been determined yet whether charges will be filed.
DORIAN: In a pair of front-page articles, Ledger reporters describe local efforts to get help to Hurricane Dorian victims in the Bahamas and talk with Southeastern University grad student Jody Whymns about riding out the storm with family in Nassau.
HOMICIDE: A woman was taken into custody after two other women were shot, one fatally, near Jewel Avenue and West 2nd Street in Lakeland, police report. Details remain sketchy. ABC Action News
DRUGS: Two George Jenkins High School students were arrested on charges that they brought Ecstasy and Xanax to school, mixed pills in a bottle and gave it to other students to drink. News Channel 8
A company working with the city of Lakeland is hoping to win a competitive grant to build a low-income housing complex on East Bella Vista Street just south of Tigertown. But first it had to get chosen by city commissioners against another company with considerable affordable-housing experience. More
Here are a couple of weekend highlights, followed by our updated music calendar: On Friday night, an American Cancer Society Concert/Fundraiser at Hillcrest Coffee features Lady Moonbeam, Jeremy Thrush of Laugh Tracks, and Space Panda. On Saturday, Rexartrefkin’s Rex Floyd is performing Pink Floyd classics at the Music Ranch. More
- LALtoday presents information on ways people in Lakeland can help Hurricane Dorian victims in the Bahamas and elsewhere.
- So does The Ledger.
- WFLA radio talks with Lakeland pilot Gary Coxe about his work with Angel Flight to ferry relief supplies from Lakeland Linder Airport to the Bahamas | Listen to the interview
- Sun ‘n Fun is collecting relief materials and flying them to the Bahamas, Fox 13 News reports.
- Drop off goods from 3 to 7 p.m. today and Friday at Linsters and Harbor Freight on U.S. 98 to be taken by boat to the Bahamas.
- Publix Super Market Charities is donating $250k to the American Red Cross and United Way for hurricane relief, according to a news release.
- RELATED: The Lakeland-based NOAA Hurricane Hunters took some reporters to view Dorian from aloft. Check reports from Tampa’s News Channel 8 and WUSF-FM.
Conn’s HomePlus, a retailer of bargain-focused home furnishings, announced today it is moving into Florida, planning up to 40 stores that will be served by a 413,000-square-foot Lakeland distribution center scheduled to open next year. More
Nicole Travis, the city of Lakeland’s community and economic development director, tells Tampa Bay Business Journal that she is motivated by her family: her mother’s success as a government minister in the Virgin Islands inspires her, as well as her desire to be a role model for her daughters. She also reveals the not-well-known info that she can play steel drums. Travis is one of the newspaper’s 2019 BusinessWoman of the Year honorees.
Update: Tuesday, 7:07 a.m.: With Hurricane Dorian’s track shifting away from the area, Polk County has downsized its emergency operations and is no longer planning to open shelters. Public schools are still closed Tuesday and Wednesday because of weather concerns, and other institutions will be closed in the early part of this week. Polk County is under tropical storm watch since winds are expected to reach into the eastern part of the county. Here’s our updated list:
The Morning Paper leads with a message to readers that today’s package is a two-fer: It includes Wednesday features and ads so that carriers won’t have to drive through the dangerous winds expected in parts of Polk Wednesday morning.
Lakeland news centers on Hurricane Dorian preparedness: The city of Lakeland is ready; the Salvation Army is ready; and Lakeland native Kennieth Brewer, 29, is now an ensign at the local NOAA air station helping with storm prep.
As Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida, the brewmasters at Swan Brewing replaced beer in one of their huge tanks with drinking water for people who might need it.
Some Polk County high school football games were switched to Thursday night because of weather concerns. Check game coverage in The Ledger. Lakeland scores:
- Lake Gibson 37, Kathleen 17
- Lake Region 56, Santa Fe Catholic 29
- George Jenkins 20, Fort Meade 6
If you’re looking for live music this weekend, here are some suggestions, followed by our updated music calendar:
- Someday Honey, powered by Kaleigh Baker’s fierce vocals, play Union Hall Friday at 8:30 Friday.
- Gary Love Band’s Tom Petty tribute at LkldLive on Friday is sold out, but tickets are available for a Sept. 14 reprise.
- Ladies of Rock, Vol. 5 at Johnny G’s Saturday at 8 features Red Calling, Villains and Virtues, Against My Will and The Dev.
The political arm of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Bill Read in his bid for re-election to the Northeast seat on the Lakeland City Commission. For now, he has one opponent — patient advocate Jiwa Farrell — although qualifying for office doesn’t close until Sept. 20. More
The State Attorney’s Office has dropped all criminal charges in the cases of Courtney Taylor Irby and Joseph Irby, which gained national prominence after Courtney Irby was arrested while turning in guns she said she took from her estranged husband for self-protection. The Irbys have agreed to participate in a pretrial intervention program. New evidence suggested Courtney Irby illegally placed tracking devices in her husband’s vehicle and that cellphone tracking data contradicted several of her statements, prosecutors said. Divorce and injunction legal proceedings are pending.
ALSO: Will this case stop other abuse victims from coming forward? News Channel 8 reports.
Coming soon to the Lakeland Public Library: improv class for adults, a music listening club in partnership with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, and a talk by author Therese Anne Fowler, known for her novels about Zelda Fitzgerald and the Vanderbilts. And available now: free little library bookmarks. More
NOAA’s Air Operations Center at Lakeland Linder International Airport, home of the Hurricane Hunters, is getting two new aircraft: a modified Gulfstream G550 for use in storm forecasting and atmospheric research, and a Beechcraft King Air 350 CER turboprop for use in flood and water supply forecasts.
The federal government wants to lease a 100,000-square-foot facility in Central Florida to house undocumented migrant children, and Lakeland is in the southwest corner of a large swath of Central Florida where the site could be placed. (The area under consideration stretches nearly to Deltona and includes Orlando, Kissimmee and parts of Leesburg.) The General Services administrative is soliciting offers for sites, and the facility could open by November 2020.
LINKS: News Channel 8 coverage | GSA Solicitation | Map | Housing Plan | Earlier: Orlando Sentinel
Lakeland’s soon-to-open first ice arena will be new, but all of its tables, benches and bar tops harken to history; they are repurposed from the wooden lanes of the bowling alley that used to occupy the building on Memorial Boulevard near I-4. More
BROADBAND: A University of Pennsylvania professor who has studied municipal broadband says Lakeland city commissioners should ask tough, skeptical questions before deciding whether to launch a utility.
LINKS: Dr. Christopher Yoo’s study finds that most municipal broadband systems fail to make money, but the study has received ample criticism from organizations such as the Brookings Institution.
VOLUNTEERS: Tony and Melissa Lobozzo, who founded LoBo Ministries Inc., were named the Florida’s Volunteers of the Year for State Foster Care Agencies by the Florida Coalition for Children. Their agency is now finding ways to bring together siblings separated into different foster families | LoBo Ranch website
See Friday-night scores for Lakeland teams below and click here for Ledger coverage.
- Lakeland 45, Bradenton Manatee 0
- Cape Coral Oasis 17, Lakeland Christian 13
- Lake Wales 57, Kathleen 0
- George Jenkins 46, Lake Region 7
- Victory Christian 33, Frostproof 6
- Santa Fe Catholic 38, Four Corners 0
- Lake Gibson 41, Hernando 0
- Hudson 6, Tenoroc 0
- All Saints 49, Marco Island Academy 0
LPD: An internal investigation has determined that allegations of fraternization and unbecoming conduct between former Police Chief Larry Giddens and department attorney Donna Perry were unfounded. Investigators said nobody they interviewed knew of a personal relationship between the two before Giddens resigned Feb. 1. Perry insisted the investigation continue after she resigned in order to clear both their names, the 41-page investigation noted; neither she nor Giddens consented to an interview with investigators.
POT: A GrowHealthy medical marijuana dispensary is scheduled to open next week at the southwest corner of U.S. 98 and Griffin Road, not far from another dispensary.
A Lakeland High School math teacher was placed on administrative leave and under mental health examination after students reported he told them how he would combine bullets and bombs to kill up to 1,000 people if he were a school shooter. The teacher told a police officer he was joking.
COVERAGE: The Ledger | Fox 13 News
Leadership Lakeland, a Lakeland Chamber of Commerce program to develop community leaders, tonight introduced the 30 members of its 37th class. The members will devote one day each month for the next nine months to learning about different segments of community life, such as government, health care, education, economy, human services, criminal justice, art and media. More
LHS TEACHER: A Lakeland High School math teacher was removed from the classroom via a judge-issued risk protection order Wednesday after he “described hypothetical acts of violence against the school” following a lockdown drill on Friday, according to School Board officials. No specifics have been given about what he said, leaving a lot of questions raised in placed like this Facebook discussion.
LAKELAND ELECTRIC: Three employees of the city power utility assembled the software behind a new electronic disaster-response tool; crews in the field will get updated information on digital devices instead of relying on the paper maps and lists used during the 12 days power was out following Hurricane Irma in 2017.
SEU-TIGERS: Last year, Southeastern University replaced Florida Southern College as the school whose baseball team played the Detroit Tigers at the start of Spring Training. SEU and the Tigers announced Wednesday that they have extended the parternship for three years. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed | News release
INDOOR ART FESTIVAL: The third Fine Art at the Magnolia is scheduled for 10-5 Saturday and 10-4 Sunday at the Magnolia Building on Lake Mirror.
Facing funding reductions mandated by the Florida Legislature, Polk School Board members are looking at options to increase revenues. At a workshop Tuesday, they discussed timing of a referendum on increasing property taxes. In addition, county officials are considering a phased increase in impact fees on new construction over the next few years.
Top honorees tonight at Lakeland’s inaugural Athena Awards included Ana Wood (leadership award), Laura Lear (young professional) and Top Buttons (organization).
The Athena Awards, a collaboration between the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and the Junior League of Greater Lakeland, recognize women leaders who have made significant accomplishments and enhanced the community. More
The colony of live bees, part of the nonprofit Bee Cause Project, is one of two in Florida schools. It teaches students at Combee Academy of Design and Engineering about the importance of bees to agriculture and food production.
A discussion of a possible city broadband utility might have the farthest-reaching implications, but plenty more happened during five meetings that occupied city commissioners and their top staff between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. today. Here are some highlights, as seen on social media: More
A 710,962-square-foot warehouse planned for property that was once part of the Lakeland Drag Strip could grow to more than 1 million square feet, as a result of City Commission action today. That would make it one of the five largest warehouses in Lakeland. More
The city of Lakeland is planning a series of public meetings on whether it should create a municipal internet service provider even as support on the commission remains limited. More
Chadd Scott, a Jacksonville sports radio programmer who writes about the intersection of arts and travel for Forbes, visited the new Impressionists exhibit at the Polk Museum of Art and was impressed. He writes in Forbes that the art on loan from an institution in Reading, Pa., “to a museum in an even smaller city, easily bypassed on Interstate 4 between Orlando and Tampa, serves as a great reminder of the wonderful artwork which can be found outside America’s mega-collection institutions. You shouldn’t have to live or travel in New York or Chicago to see the greatest art the world has ever produced. This show proves you don’t.”
CHURCH MURAL: A new church wanting to send a different message led to four large murals depicting biblical scenes being painted over when the building that once housed Saint David’s Episcopal Church became Redemption Church. Local artist Rick Olivo spent around two months more than a dozen years ago creating the 9-by-12-foot murals that resembled stained glass.
DOWNTOWN VALET: Free valet parking downtown will be extended through 2020. Use of the program picked up dramatically after construction of the Heritage Plaza Parking Garage blocked access to adjacent on-street parking.
With a 3-year growth rate of 284% and 2018 revenue of $29.2 million, AgAmerica Lending placed 1,457th on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the US. Also from #lkld: Universal Painting Corp. (3,968) and GMF Steel Group (4,255). https://t.co/Zls3FW0brE pic.twitter.com/7KEtiBVLvS
— Lkld Now (@LkldNow) August 17, 2019
Hunt Brothers Construction has received a permit for the $3.5 million job to lay the foundation for Amazon Service Inc.’s $100 million air cargo facility at Lakeland Linder Airport, Tampa Bay Business Journal reports. The newspaper also reported this week (here) that Amazon is reported to be a top contender for a 1.078-million-square-foot warehouse being built near I-4 and Berkley Road in the Auburndale area.
With the help of Sheriff Grady Judd, crews for Elite Site Solutions and Arizona Holdings have begun demolishing dilapidated trailers to make way for new low-cost housing. Son-and-father developers Chad and Jim Myers plan to place rent-to-own homes along Arizona, Colorado and Idaho avenues in an area known as “The States” (south of Main Street and several blocks west of Combee Road) that had been a haven for criminals, Judd said.
ALSO: Ledger coverage | photo gallery | video: Judd interview