USAmeriBank, which renovated the former Purity Ice building on Florida Avenue, is merging with Valley National Bank of New Jersey.
Gator trapper Julie Harter fried and served the reptiles she catches at a Lakeland dinner for 100 visiting electric workers helping with Hurricane Irma recovery.
Members of the Cleveland Heights Neighborhood Association heard from three candidates for mayor and both sides of the strong-mayor debate in an election forum tonight. Here is video from the event; the audio peters out toward the end, so you may want to switch at that point to this version.
LKLDTV: The Morning Paper, which never acknowledged the existence of LkldTV when it was operating, finally writes about it when owner Randy Borden announced the operation, which chronicled Lakeland people and organizations via video, is shutting down.
- After its sanctuary suffered storm damage, Temple Emanuel will hold High Holy Day Services at First Presbyterian Church.
- Damage to their respective Lakeland homes displaced sisters Liz Cruz and Janet Sabo.
- The heart attack death of Carlos Arencibia is the second Polk fatality attributed to Irma.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: Ten readers share varying opinions about the Munn Park statue and other rebel monuments in a collection of letters to the editor.
With a rock and a brick as weapons, City Commissioner Bill “Tiger” Read got a 10-foot alligator to release a neighbor’s dog from its jaws | Read his version on Facebook
A dozen musicians delivered an evening of jazz and swing standards at LkdLive Friday night. Styles varied from the Judy Garland stylings of Victoria Anastasio to the gypsy jazz of Dean Johanesen to the soulful ballads (and fancy footwork) of Kristy Scott. Check the video to see how three of the songs ended.
Lakeland Electric has identified the parts of its grid that were hit the hardest by Hurricane Irma and said some of the roughly 2,000 people there can expect to be without power until Tuesday or Wednesday. All others without power should be restored by Sunday, the utility said in a Facebook post.
The areas that will take longer include:
- Lake Hollingsworth area (southwest side of the lake)
- Southgate Area (Beacon Road south to Imperial Boulevard)
- Sylvester Road area (sest of U.S. 98 and between Sylvester Road and Crystal Lake Road)
As flooding persists off Rock Ridge Road and the Pineville Apartments on Swindell Avenue, Lakeland Electric expects 95 percent of customers to have power by Sunday afternoon and cable companies caution that their service won’t always be available when power returns.
Amid a few Irma-related cancellations, most Lakeland music events remain on schedule for this weekend. Highlights include the Classic Albums Live note-for-note rendition of “Woodstock” tonight at The Lakeland Center and Summertime Swingtime Review (rescheduled from last weekend) at LkldLive on Friday.
Cancellations include the re-creation of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” by Copeland and other bands that had been scheduled for Saturday at LkdLive. The concert will be rescheduled, LkldLive says, but the date is undecided.
A few venues, including Lakeland Loft, are starting music earlier than normal to accommodate Polk County’s post-hurricane curfew. It’s best to call or check venue Facebook pages before leaving home to see if the event you’re interested in has been changed. Check our music calendar after the jump.
“If you don’t have power by this afternoon when the remaining distribution circuits are restored, then you could be without power for up to one week,” the city of Lakeland says in a Facebook update.
Mayor Wiggs says on Facebook that Lakeland Electric is moving from restoring to rebuilding — meaning that if you don’t have power by the end of today, you’re in a part of the system that needs to be rebuilt, and it could take days.
The utility, which serves 125,000 homes and businesses, saw 40,000 outages with 2004’s Frances and 30,000 with Charlie.
A Washington Post food writer says folks are wondering if Irma-themed cakes at Publix are in bad taste or just a sign of Florida’s eccentricity.
Hurricane season in Florida can be unpredictable, but your plan doesn’t have to be. Many people think that hurricane season is just the months of June, July, and August. In reality, hurricane season spans from June all the way until November. The last few years we have been lucky, and major storms have missed our area. From the past, we know that storms do come through Lakeland. If left unprepared, damage from a large storm can leave you feeling hopeless. It is important you and your family have a plan before a storm arrives.
Dining critic Eric Pera gives the new Dixieland eatery two stars for food and three each for service and ambience. He concludes: “Crane’s Crossing has plenty to offer, perhaps too much. Fewer menu items would allow the kitchen to concentrate on details.” | View the menu
The Polk Sheriff warns sexual predators to stay away from storm shelters and advises those with warrants to turn themselves in. The ACLU says many people with outstanding warrants have minor offenses and shouldn’t be exposed to harm.
IRMA: The Morning Paper has set up a page for Hurricane Irma coverage, including local preparations. (LkldNow’s Irma page should go live later today.)
VITO’S BUILDING: The Dixieland building that housed Vito’s restaurant is being transformed into a suite of $1,000-a-month offices for professionals. (Check our photos from November, when the new facade was approved by the Historic Preservation Board.)
City commissioners handled a wide range of issues today in a series of meetings that began at 7:40 a.m. and ended after 2 p.m. They agreed to incentives to bring an unnamed employer promising 500 new high-skill jobs to Lakeland, and they considered a request to change downtown noise regulations. Here’s a roundup of the meetings as reported on Twitter.
LOVER’S OAK EVENT: A donation to Historic Lake Inc. will get you a portrait under the slated-for-removal “Lover’s Oak” (background) at the south end of Lake Morton or even a piece of the sprawling tree. The event is scheduled for 3-6 p.m. Saturday.
CLUBHOUSE ROAD: Sept. 19 is the day county commissioners will take public comment and vote on a plan to set up a special taxing district to pay for street lights on Clubhouse Road. Installing and maintaining the lights will cost roughly 2,000 area homeowners about $17 a year for the first 10 years and about $8 a year after that.
LOGISTICS JOBS: Reporter Kevin Bouffard looks at how e-commerce is affecting logistics businesses, a growing part of Lakeland’s economy. A rise in aviation employment has fueled training opportunities locally, while warehousing is seeing a mix of automation and human labor.
BASKETBALL: Anthony Parker, newly named general manager of the Lakeland Magic, has seen pro basketball from many sides.
CHRISTINA CHASE: A wild chase through a south Lakeland subdivision ended with an arrest.
A candlelight vigil in support of removing Lakeland’s Confederate monument drew about 50 people to Munn Park Sunday night, as well as a half-dozen counter protestors. The gathering was organized by members of the Lakeland Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and organizers said they plan to return each Sunday at 7 p.m. until the monument is removed from the center of the downtown park.
View 10 News coverage of the protest, and here is Facebook Live video from the event:
Gregory Fancelli says he thinks trimming limbs and removing Spanish moss from the twined trees at Lake Morton Drive and Success Avenue will make them safer and has offered to pay for the work. Three arborists told city officials the tree is unsafe and needs to come down, but top city brass plan to meet with Fancelli before taking action.
HURRICANE HUNTERS: Capt. Nancy Hann starts her new job as commander of the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center at Lakeland Linder Airport just as part of her team is helping with Harvey rescue and another part is being deployed today to Barbados to track Hurricane Irma.
HELPING HARVEY VICTIMS: Several local organizations are setting up efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Rain stalled Friday night’s game during the first quarter. After play resumed around 9, Lakeland High School beat Cooper City 54-7.
A Storm is a Brewing, Go Deadnaughts! iPhone 7 #dreadnaughts #lakelandflorida #lakelandfl #highschoolfootball #lakelanddreadnaughts #lakelandfootball #football #kickoff2017 #centralflorida #centralfloridaliving #centralfloridalife #bryantstadium #stormabrewin
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The glass-paneled, six-story Citizens Bank & Trust building overlooking Lake Morton has been sold to The Geneva Group, a Deerfield Beach real estate investment company, for $7.2 million.
This is a good weekend to catch local music acts. If you like acoustic music, check out:
Friday: John Corneal at Hillcrest Coffee, John Frinzi at The Pink Piano, Munn Park Saints at Patio850, or Jazza-Nova at 801 E. Main.
Saturday: Matthew Antolick and Don Soledad, Riley Harris, and Mike Monts De Oca at the Downtown Curb Market, Dean Johanesen at Fresco’s, or Annisette Mayer at The Pink Piano.
It’s too early to say when it will be ready or pinpoint the location, but Lakeland’s new 92,000-square-foot Veterans Administration clinic will be built somewhere in an area bounded by Interstate 4, County Line Road, Polk Parkway and Drane Field Road, officials said at a town hall meeting Wednesday. It will replace the current 20,000-square-foot clinic on South Pipkin Road | View a larger map.
As long these guys are the only ones swimming home around here, life is good. #prayforhouston 🙏 • • • • • • • • • #wednesday #latergram #morning #motivation #grateful #love #lakeland #florida #sunrise #clouds #sky #swan #lake #view #blessed #thankful #instagood
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THE COMPOUND: Writer Gary White takes a nostalgic look at a sprawling, L-shaped residence at Frank Lloyd Wright Way and Jefferson Avenue (street view) that dates to the 1920s. FSC, which recently bought the house, seeks to demolish it and eventually build an early-learning lab on the property.
CANDIDATE: Jennifer Sabin, an activist opponent of standardized testing in public schools, becomes the second candidate to file for the Polk School Board seat currently held by Kay Fields, who hasn’t said whether she will seek re-election.
SEU: Southeastern University begins the school year with record enrollment above 7,000 students, just under 3,000 of whom are on its Lakeland campus. The rest are at 80 extension sites in 29 states and online.
In an editorial-page column in The Ledger, Mayor Howard Wiggs calls for “collectively crafted solutions” to divisive issues such as the Confederate memorial in Munn Park. While not explicitly taking sides in his column (he’s defended the monument when it’s been criticized by members of the public at City Commission meetings), he singles out anger seen in “shameful name-calling and attacks on those who view the statue as their history and heritage.”
Sykes Enterprises’ (website) workforce of 940 in two Lakeland centers dwarfs the staff at its Tampa headquarters. The company’s 2012 decision to place 600 employees in a Griffin Road facility — Sykes’ largest — prompted other large employers to come to Lakeland, economic development people here say. Sykes specializes in outsourcing telephone customer support.
The company (site), based at Lakeland Linder Airport, operates decommissioned military aircraft and assists the U.S. and allies in aerial combat training.
Kevin Treadway, who persevered to overcome disabilities, and mother Cathy Clark, who suffers debilitating back injuries, were evicted from their Lakeland home last month. But Kevin’s scholarship to Syracuse University is giving the family a new start. “If there’s a kid that deserves to go to college, it’s him,” said Steve Morgan, Kevin’s chess coach at Crystal Lake Middle School. “Kevin was a natural gentleman. He was brilliant.”
LT. PACHECO: Dealing with his own grief made LPD’s Lt. Steven Pacheco more empathetic when encountering crime victims and their families, John Chambliss writes in a profile of the head of the department’s Office of Professional Standards.
PSC: Enrollment at Polk State College is up to 11,414, 1.1 percent higher than a year ago.
- The page width slimmed down from 12 inches to 11 inches, undoubtedly related to the recently implemented and hopefully lucrative contract to print the Orlando Sentinel.
- The Business section moved from the back of the Sports section to its own section front, a good move.
- UPDATE: With Madison Fantozzi leaving to become director of creative communications at Polk State College, Eric Pera is taking over the education beat for now. No word on whether it will become his full-time beat. “No final decisions have been made,” Editor Lenore Devore says.
Did anybody notice other changes?
TREE, REMEMBERED: Reporter Chris Guinn looks at the soon-to-be-felled “Lovers Oak” through the eyes of people who grew up or now live in the house overlooking it at the corner of Success and Lake Morton.
CANDIDATES HOB NOB: The ever-productive reporter Guinn summarizes statements made by candidates for city office at Friday’s Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “hob nob” event. (LkldLive had planned to livestream the statements, but our entire staff was sick in bed the last few days. We’re better now; thanks for asking.)
LRH SALARIES: Tax documents disclose salaries for Lakeland Regional Health’s highest-paid execs, including three exceeding $1 million in take-home pay.
LKLD MAGIC: The Lakeland Magic’s 50-game schedule includes 24 home games, the first on Nov. 10 against the Canton Charge. All games will be streamed on Facebook Live.
RESTITUTION: Fraud charges were dropped against David Osborne, a Lakeland car salesman, and his son Kyle after they repaid $200k to an Austrian couple who moved to Lakeland.
Ridley, a 65-year-old Tampa lawyer, takes over as chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, from Billy Payne. He has “come a long way from his childhood days playing public courses in rural Lakeland and Winter Haven, Florida,” notes the Golfworld profile by my former Tampa Times colleague, Tim Rosaforte.
Listen up, class. Our topic this week is American rock roots.
Our first stop is Hillcrest Coffee. Jon Corneal, who some call the first country rock drummer from his days playing alongside Gram Parsons, will be joined Saturday night by Ronny Elliott. Elliot’s a troubadour whose insightful, sardonic songs (Hear a “Fresh Air” review of his masterful “Poisonville”) include a persuasive argument that rock ‘n roll was born in 1947, the same year he was. You may have heard him explore rocks roots on WMNF-88.5 FM on Friday afternoons.
Some in the class may prefer to head north Saturday night to the Music Ranch, where Damon Fowler opens for Berry Oakley Jr. and Duane Betts, both sons of founding members of the Allman Brothers Band, a group that fused musical styles to originate and perfect Southern rock.
Class members who want to hear some more contemporary rock can check Masons Live, which features a “Women in Rock” review of seven bands from 2 to 11 Saturday. See more listings after the jump.
A 53-year-old man using a walker to cross Harden Boulevard outside of a crosswalk died after he was struck by a northbound GMC Canyon truck early this morning, Lakeland police said. A witness said the victim, Jeffrey T. Wells, was looking down as he crossed the road near Lakeland Christian School, police said.
Thirty-eight animals were seized from property on Bella Vista Street near Galloway Road (map) as deputies arrested Gail Anne Nichols, 66, who said she’s a part-time veterinarian at clinics in Gulfport and Port Richey, and Paul Craig Smith, 74.
BRYANT STADIUM: The Polk School Board has agreed to buy the football home of the LHS Dreadnaughts for $1.2 million. Next step: The agreement goes to the Lakeland City Commission, which is expected to approve it.
FSC: Florida Southern’s freshman class is it’s largest and most accomplished, the college announces.
The Lakeland Police Department’s nine K-9 officers were suspended after being caught traveling at speeds over 100 mph while caravanning on their way back from field trials in the Panhandle. Fox 13 News broke the story this morning. Also: 10 News coverage. Here’s how it unfolded on social media, including video from dash cams and a disappointed Chief Larry Giddens.
Mayor Howard Wiggs is backing Ben Albritton, currently a Florida House member facing term limits. The Wauchula Republican is the only candidate declared so far in the 2018 race. Incumbent Denise Grimsley plans to run for state agriculture commissioner.
A 6-year-who got off a school bus at the wrong stop got home safely after walking 1.7 miles. Her mother said the driver should have been aware of the situation. Officials at McKeel Academy Central said this was the driver’s first incident in 30 years.
CANDIDATES: The Polk County Builders Association has endorsed the mayor and City Commission candidates it thinks will do the most to reign in the Community Development department: Bill Mutz, Larry Durrence, Scott Franklin and Jim Malless.
SCHOOL BAN: A parent at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy has been banned from almost all Polk School District activities. Chris Stephenson says (here and here) he’s being punished for being a whistle blower. The principal says (here) it’s because he threatened to burn the school down.
LPD VESTS: Shield the Badges, a nonprofit org, has donated 240 heavy-duty vests officers can use during active shooter situations.
Groove to reggae-related rhythms at the three-day Irie Vibes Music Festival (Ledger article) starting Friday at the Maddox Ranch. Or re-live late 70s/early 80s commercialized progrock tonight at Classic Albums Live’s re-creation of Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” at the RP Funding Center. Keep scrolling for more live music listings.
MUTZ: Bill Mutz, the mayoral candidate who has rounded up the big money and endorsements so far, is running on his resume as a civic leader, “not a list of big ideas to be tossed into the political meat grinder or a hot take on a recent issue,” Christopher Guinn writes.
SHERWOOD SMITH, 1925-2017: Smith, administrator of Lakeland General Hospital for 28 years starting in 1956, died Monday at age 92. Read his family-placed obituary.
ART PARTY: A Platform Art event at Just Dance Friday night combines visual arts, film, fashion, live music, performance and entries for ArtPop billboards.
DOWNTOWN BAR: Federal Bar, a lounge and restaurant with live music, will share the 1920s-era Federal Building on Tennessee Avenue with the previously announced Mojo BBQ-and-whiskey spot as downtown Lakeland continues transforming into a nightlife destination. Principals in Federal Bar Lakeland LLC (link) are Barry Carew, an owner of Mason’s Live in south Lakeland, and Stuart Simm, president of MAX Home Inspections.
LPD OFFICER SUSPENDED: Brenda Crispin, who was hired by LPD under fanfare after her brother Arnulfo was gunned down while on duty with the department, has been suspended and is the subject of an internal investigation. Officials are mum about what’s being investigated. The article discloses that Crispin acknowledged on her LPD application she had been affiliated with a gang.
DOGS OF FIRST FRIDAY: The theme of the Sept. 1 First Friday is “Dog Days Downtown,” but a veterinarian urges dog owners to keep their pets at home if they haven’t been vaccinated for canine influenza because the disease has appeared in Polk County.
EMERGING LEADERS: Three Polk organizations for professionals 21-42 recognized five emerging leaders, including two from Lakeland: Derek Oxford, a financial planning analyst with CPS Investment Advisors (LinkedIn), and Alice Koehler, chief development officer at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LinkedIn).
ART SHOW: An outdoor arts festival moves indoors at the Magnolia Building Saturday and Sunday.
The Polk County Government Center, 930 E. Parker St., was evacuated this afternoon when 16 people were exposed to a white powder. After testing, the powder was found to be non-hazardous, but the 50 or so people inside the building went through a “basic decontamination process,” Polk Fire Rescue reported. (News Channel 8 aerial view)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lakeland Police Department will investigate the incident. The building houses the Lakeland courthouse, offices for the Property Appraiser, Clerk of Courts, County Probation, Public Defender and Polk County Healthy Families.
— Lucas Bogg (@LucasBoggPhotog) August 15, 2017
AFTER CHARLOTTESVILLE: Rep. Neil Combee‘s reaction to Virginia unrest is questioned | Sen. Kelli Stargel says UF shouldn’t give white supremacist Richard Spencer a platform unless someone at the university sponsors him.
“Community beware; he is out, and he shouldn’t be,” Sheriff Grady Judd said after William Torres-Morales was ruled incompetent to stand trial for harsh punishment and sexual assault and sent to live with his father in a neighborhood near Jesse Keen Elementary School.
Well over 100 people attended a candlelight vigil against bigotry in Munn Park Sunday evening that was announced on Facebook earlier in the day by members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lakeland. Speakers denounced the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and called for unity. Check a video of some of the speakers.
ALSO: Ledger coverage
Lakeland campaign contribution reports for July aren’t a whole lot different than June’s tally. While reports from the two groups on either side of the strong-mayor debate haven’t been posted online yet, it’s probably safe to say that the Strong Lakeland group still has the largest pot. City Commission candidate Larry Durrence has collected the largest number of contributions, while Scott Franklin has the largest dollar total among commission candidates. Many thanks to Michael Maguire, for keeping campaign reports accessible and searchable on The City Zen Ship and for providing the chart below of contributions to date:
A service in memory of Carl Dicks, who served on the Lakeland City Commission for 24 years, has been scheduled for Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. at College Heights Methodist Church, 942 South Blvd. Dicks, who owned a hardware store in Dixieland for many years, died Wednesday at age 90.
A non-profit that makes instruments and music lessons affordable (link) aims to raise $120k to renovate a vacant dry-cleaning facility downtown into teaching studios.
PALACE: Downtown Lakeland’s Palace Pizza is expanding into the space currently occupied by Hurricane Alley, which closes at the end of the month. (No link yet. Ledger staff is spotty about timely posting of Business page articles.)
MILLIGAN: Editor Lenore Devore pays homage to outdoors/golf writer Del Milligan, who, as we noted (Twitter), is retiring from The Ledger at age 65 after 37 years of providing precision prose for the newspaper.
Neighbors’ discomfort with a group home became more intense when an agitated man who lived there walked to a nearby yard and threatened to kill the occupant and his family. But residents of Poinsettia Street, a few blocks from Lakeland’s Beacon Road fire station, have been told little can be done because the home for adults with developmental disabilities is protected by the federal Fair Housing Act.
A handful of local businesses and executives (donors) have pooled $121,000 to form Lakeland First (Facebook | web), a political action committee that has spent $29,735 (recipients) and plans to support business-friendly City Commission candidates. The organization is aligned with the interests of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, the Ledger article says.
Stan Heath, who is happy to be moving from college to pro, likes Central Florida so much he kept his family in Tampa after he left USF and took a job at Boston College.
“Fortunately, the home is very close to our Fire Station 7. In this case, we were able to get there very quickly. The first few minutes in a drowning is critical,” Lakeland Fire spokeswoman Janel Vasallo said of the rescue of a 3-year-old in the Steeplechase community.
BROADBAND: Freshly back from a national “gigabit city” summit, City Commissioner Justin Troller pledges to push for expanded access to high-speed Internet in Lakeland. Troller, Commissioner Don Selvage and Assistant City Manager Shawn Sherrouse will share insights from the summit at a public “policy session” at City Hall Sept. 15 at 9:30 a.m.
EXPLORATIONS V: Georgann Carlton, 62, says she’s stepping down in December from directing the downtown Lakeland children’s museum she’s been affiliated with since 1992.
UTILITY FEES: Lakeland Electric might get rid of an accounting and p.r. headache by folding the “Inside the City Utility Tax” and the “Florida Public Service Surcharge into a single rate for all customers.
FAMILY TRAGEDY: Reporter John Chambliss looks at the last day in the life of 6-year-old Adam Roach, a special needs child whose body was found in a retention behind his family’s apartment on Friday.
CITY RETIREES: Responding to concerns that retiree payments lag behind inflation, city commissioners agreed to a plan for one-time bonuses tied to pension income.
BROADWAY VOICE: Harrison Arts grad Jamarice Daughtry is about to hit the road with a featured role in a touring production of “The Color Purple” and is being considered for several upcoming Broadway productions.
Audio: Monthly radio show about people working to make Lakeland more livable hosted by Laura Rodriguez, director of Lakeland Vision.
Neighbors were urged to search for Adam Roach, a non-verbal 6-year-old, shortly after he was discovered missing around 3:30 p.m. Friday from his family’s home off Shepherd Road. His body was discovered in a pond 50 feet from the family’s back door, Sheriff Grady Judd announced at 11:30 p.m.
The fire started around 2 p.m. today in an office-turned-apartment at 455 Commerce Drive, just a few blocks from the SPCA.
Niriham Shah is developing an app that will track the location of school buses. “For the parents, it’s a peace of mind,” his dad, Malay Shah, says.
Florida Poly University today unveiled a new logo fusing the wings of its phoenix mascot and the louvers of its signature building. A video introducing the logo also revealed a new motto: Fueled From Within. And the website floridapoly.edu was updated with a mobile-first design and tech-centric typography.
If you’re going to First Friday, watch for country duo OakLee at Munn Park and popster Dan Signor by Uncle Nick’s Bagels. Fans of jazz/indie multi-instrumentalist Luke Wilmoth can hear him Friday at 801 E. Main and with a quartet Saturday at Lakeland Loft. And Sumner Curtis brings his upbeat musical persona to Patio850 Saturday. More listings after the jump.
VA CLINIC: The Veterans Administration will be able to replace its 20,000-square-foot clinic occupying two buildings on South Pipkin Road with a single-site, 93,000-square-foot Lakeland clinic at a site to be named, thanks to an $11 million appropriation from Congress.
BUSINESS GETTER: As the new business development veep for the Lakeland Economic Council, Kelly Deese, 26, will be the primary contact for businesses thinking about moving here. She’s a Lakeland Christian product who learned the finance side of real estate at FSU and at Publix.
DINING: In her second non-chain review in a row(!), Editor/food taster Lenore Devore gives Scarpa’s Italian 3 1/2 stars and a stellar headline saying it “doesn’t disappoint.”
THINGS TO DO: TimeOut previews two multi-act shows billed as family entertainment — “Living the Dream“ at Lake Mirror Auditorium Saturday and With Love Productions’ Spotlight Night at Fresco’s Speakeasy on Friday.
The head of UF’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences writes in The Orlando Sentinel that one of his master’s students, Santa Fe High grad Sean Kryger, is training testers to grade hops by smell as part of an effort to develop a new Florida crop to serve the state’s beer industry.
TROPICAL FISH: Hidden cameras at a fish farm captured video of a masked woman taking about 50 bags of cichlids, angel fish and kois worth up to $20,000. Now deputies hope to reel her in. – ABC Action News
PANCAKE PRANK: The video went viral when a man in pajamas ate breakfast in a Memorial Boulevard crosswalk in March. Now he has to pay fines and court costs after being found guilty of placing an obstruction in the roadway and obstructing the free flow of traffic. – News Channel 8
MORE FLOODING: Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Emily led to as much as 40,000 gallons of wastewater overflowing at three Lakeland wastewater facilities and pump stations. ALSO:
- WTSP reports about a wastewater overflow on Paddington Street in north Lakeland and elsewhere in Polk.
- WFTS checks with flood victims along Cannon Street in west Lakeland.
- WFLA and WTVT catch up with flooded residents of the Meadowbrook Mobile Home Park off Old Tampa Highway.
BUDDY FLETCHER: The 17-year Lakeland mayor who died last week at 84 was eulogized today by current Mayor Howard Wiggs and former Mayor Joe P. Ruthven during funeral services attended by hundreds at First Baptist Church at the Mall.
MEGABUS: The inter-city bus service known for wifi and cheap fares starts service in Lakeland Wednesday with routes to Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach and Miami.
KENDRICK: Former credit union exec Jarvis Kendrick pleaded no contest today to hit-and-run in a crash causing a fatality and could be sentenced to as many as 35 years in prison.
FLOODING: A drainage problem exacerbated flooding in a mobile home community just west of Lake Bonnet during Monday’s Tropical Storm Emily rains. City officials say a drainage study of the area aimed at solving the problem should be completed in a few weeks.
PLEA: Jarvis Kendrick, formerly a credit union vice president and chamber of commerce treasurer, is expected to enter a plea today on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving a fatality.
Rains spawned by Tropical Storm Emily have brought flooding to some parts of Lakeland as Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 31 counties, including Polk.
HOUSE OF TRAGEDY: Gary White tells the story of an abandoned property just north of Southgate Publix — no, not the house that was demolished a few years ago; the one next door — and the tragic events involving its owners.
CITY PLANNING: When it was time for city commissioners to push for pet projects at the end of budget talks last week, Jim Malless called for a $150k overhaul to simplify Lakeland’s building/development code. Other commissioners said they prefer to let the next chief planner — Jim Studiale plans to retire soon — put his or her stamp on any code revision.
Written while chilling to soothing solo guitar at Hillcrest Coffee: Music I hope to check out this weekend includes Brazilian jazz by Ipanema at Posto 9 Friday night and the gospel-laden rock of Richard Sherfey & All God’s Children at LkldLive, also on Friday. On Saturday, LkldLive hosts an evening of Americana, including Lakeland’s Fount and headliners Menagerie of Bowling Green, Ky. I’m also intrigued by the promised combo of improv comedy and dueling pianos at Winner’s Circle. See more listings after the jump.
Is it just me, or does it look like anchor Jen Leigh, a Lakeland native, chokes up a bit at the end of Merissa Merino’s report?
- A dog park proposed for city property along Cleveland Heights Boulevard is losing support among city commissioners.
- Crystal Lake Elementary has been selected to pilot the community school concept in Polk County.
- BS Ranch & Farm has submitted a plan for ways to reduce odors from their east Lakeland facility near the Polk Parkway.
- Things to do: Family skate night Monday and Aug. 7 | Improv comedy Saturday
Former Mayor Buddy Fletcher’s last public appearance at Lakeland City Hall was Dec. 21, 2015, when current Mayor Howard Wiggs declared that Lake Bonny Park would be renamed Fletcher Park on Lake Bonny in his honor. Fletcher, 84, died Tuesday at Lakeland Regional Medical Center from complications arising from a recent stroke. #lkld
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BUDDY FLETCHER, 1932-2017: As a businessman, he built a printing business from scratch. As a politician, he promoted Lakeland tirelessly in 17 years as mayor and five as a city commissioner. Buddy Fletcher developed dementia in 2012 and died at LRMC Tuesday of complications from a stroke suffered May 1.
BRYANT STADIUM: Polk School Board members took a look at the numbers associated with buying the stadium where the LHS Dreadnaughts play football and decided to hear from the public Aug. 22 before taking a vote.
The alligator had become ensnared in a device set in Lake Parker by a licensed trapper. Police say a passerby killed it, severed its tail and then he and his girlfriend tried to sell the meat door-to-door to nearby residents.
HAGAN: Former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who grew up in Lakeland, has left the rehab center in Atlanta where she spent 5 1/2 months slowly regaining the ability to speak and hoping to be able to walk again. Her family has disclosed that the ailment that struck eight months ago and rendered her unconscious for 43 days was diagnosed as Powassan virus, a tick-borne disease causing brain swelling. Her husband believes she was infected during a Thanksgiving-weekend picnic in Virginia.
HOMELESS: An annual survey that attempts to catalog the state of homelessness in Polk County found fewer homeless people this year — at least fewer willing to answer a questionnaire. The numbers: 512 this year; 635 last year.
Tyson McMorrow was arrested Saturday after 10 p.m. and charged with DUI, DUI property damage, leaving the scene of a crash and driving on the wrong side of a divided highway.
Skip ahead to 13:00 to see the start of the debate. Saturday night’s two-hour debate was hosted by LkldTV and sponsored by Bella Viságe. It was moderated by Brian Dockery. Panelists promoting a Lakeland strong mayor were FSC political science professor Bruce Anderson and consultant Matt Doster. Panelists urging a vote against the strong-mayor charter were former City Manager Gene Strickland and former City Attorney Joe Mawhinney.
Today’s morning paper introduced readers to some interesting folks:
Randall Edwards, a former U.S. Navy sailor who nearly perished in a Japanese POW camp during WWII and is now celebrating his 100th birthday.
Lisa Marini, a teacher moving from McKeel Academy to Lakeland High School whose teaching about the WWII Holocaust was honored and strengthened through a scholarship to an international symposium at Columbia University.
Apollo Allison, 10, who learned how hard firefighters work at a camp that doubles as a recruitment tool for the Lakeland Fire Department.
Since plans for a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks near Munn Park got little support when unveiled earlier this year, a new idea has emerged for the $7 million that had been budgeted for it:
Build a walkway from the side of the tracks where the Amtrak station overlooks Lake Mirror and the Catapult 2.0 business incubator is being built to the side of the tracks where a lot of new growth is expected.
Ginger Collins was also arrested in January on charges she stole from McKeel Academy, where she was named assistant director of academics after leaving Kathleen Middle. The ABC Action News report includes video from this afternoon’s news conference by Sheriff Grady Judd.
If you’d like to share your opinions about what should go into a large urban park in Lakeland, you can fill out a short online survey.
A trapper tried to lure an alligator out of water near Sleepy Hill Road Wednesday after viral video of the animal crossing the road got neighbors worried. The gator wasn’t caught, but the trapper says he’s coming back.
And they’re buying a stairway to Latin rhythms and serendipity. Some music highlights this weekend include a Classic Albums Live tribute to Led Zeppelin IV at RP Funding Center tonight, the flamenco guitar and Zendrum of Don Soledad and Matthew Antolick (YouTube) at Posto 9 Friday and the spontaneity of Brian Sutherland and Craig Morby at Patio850 Saturday night. More listings follow:
ELECTIONS: Ricky Shirah, motivated in part by an insult by incumbent Jim Malless, has launched his fifth campaign for Lakeland City Commission.
THE LEDGER: The morning paper deviates from its pattern of not writing about internal issues and reports the third-degree felony arrest of its former marketing director, Nanay Pittman, on charges of defrauding the company. ALSO: LPD Facebook post
Polk County increases the amount of its subsidy to the city of Lakeland for fire services near city limits under a five-year agreement approved by the City Commission Monday. Commissioner Justin Troller voted against the deal, saying the county still isn’t paying enough.
With city elections nearly four months away, the campaign to change Lakeland’s city government to a strong-mayor system has amassed $231,193, by far the largest war chest in any Lakeland election campaign ever. Read on to see how each of the 15 announced candidates for city office are financing their races and who the biggest donors are.
Brian Goding is stepping up the live music at his cozy Hillcrest Coffee in Dixieland. Tonight’s 6:30 p.m. lineup features the Margaritaville vibes of John Frinzi, a nationally touring singer-songwriter based in Lakeland, and the guitar virtuosity of Carlton Music’s Joe Gavin as well as Hillcrest’s Hannah Dobson.
HOUSING: A $1.2 million grant will help construction of modern apartments for seniors at the 1950s-era West Lake public housing complex.
SCHOOLS: Three Lakeland elementary schools — Crystal Lake, Dixieland and Philip O’Brien — are among eight in Polk under consideration to pilot the community school concept.
CANDIDATE: Prayer inspires the candidacy of Terry Clark, who is running for the School Board seat now held by Kay Fields. Fields, also a prayer proponent, hasn’t decided whether she’ll seek re-election.
THEATER: The musical “Rock of Ages” plays at Lakeland Community Theatre this weekend and next.