- BYRD APOLOGY: If she had it to do over again, Polk Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said in an email apology to her staff, she would have let teachers know why she forwarded a letter from a state lawyer and assured them they wouldn’t be fired for attending a statewide rally in Tallahassee on a school day | Byrd’s email
- ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR Lori Edwards has picked up opposition for her nonpartisan position. Debbie Hannifan, a Lakeland real estate agent, has filed to run in November’s election against the five-term incumbent.
- HOMELESS: Federal assistance to Polk County for homelessness programs remains at around $1.9 million, but more could be coming.
- THEATER: A three-school collaboration brings students from Lake Gibson high school and middle school to work on a Wendell Watson Elementary School musical being staged Sunday.
Orlando Health, which had a brief affiliation with Lakeland Regional Health that ended 15 months ago, has announced its intention to buy 80 acres in south Lakeland “for a potential future medical campus.” More
The fifth win by a candidate endorsed by a Lakeland-centered political action committee illustrates a new model for winning city campaigns: more focused, more professional and much more expensive. More
A long motorcade traveling South Florida Avenue on Thursday afternoon made a stop so that Vice President Mike Pence could get out at Reececliff Family Diner and enjoy some of its famous pie. Later, at a campaign rally in Kissimmee, he praised the work of LPD Officer Paul Dunn, who died a week earlier in a motorcycle accident on the way to work. See coverage in The Ledger and and keep scrolling for social media videos: More
On the eve of his funeral, well wishers have adorned Lakeland Police Officer Paul Dunn’s motorcycle with flowers and mementos. It’s being displayed at the fallen officer memorial in front of LPD headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue. Dunn, 50, died in an accident on Lakeland Highlands Road last Thursday. More
Because they were warned not to attend, Polk teachers were cheered when their buses arrived in Tallahassee for a rally supporting public education Monday. The 600+ on the buses plus several hundred more who carpooled made Polk’s probably the largest delegation at a statewide rally whose size was estimated at 4,500 by Tallahassee police.
- Coverage of Polk teachers in Tallahassee: The Ledger (YouTube video) | News Channel 8 | ABC Action News | Fox 13 News
- 500+ rallied for education in Munn Park after school: The Ledger | ABC Action News | LkldNow
- A look at the numbers: News Channel 8
Residents interested in learning more about the future of Lakeland Linder Airport will have a chance to ask questions and voice opinions at a public meeting Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the airport terminal. Topics addressed in the airport’s 20-year master plan include runway expansion, and the airport director encourages potential homeowners in fast-growing southwest Lakeland to “know what’s happening before they buy a home” | City of Lakeland news release
More than 500 people gathered in Munn Park at 4:30 p.m. today for a rally to support increased state funding for public education. After that, they walked to Florida Avenue to wave signs encouraging support from passing drivers. Speakers in the video, in order, are: More
Help(her), a new Lakeland business, helps small organizations and individuals needing assistance with a variety of tasks. They pair the client’s needs with a member of their team of background-checked women who work for $15 an hour | Help(her) website
- METHODISTS: As the United Methodist Church faces a potentially divisive split over LGBTQ issues, the pastor of Lakeland’s First United Methodist Church expressed hopes for unity Sunday and said his church’s “inclusive” approach will keep it aligned with the denomination.
- DISABILITIES: It will cost the city of Lakeland an estimated $45.5 million over 25 years to achieve compliance with American for Disabilities standards, city commissioners were told recently. Improvements will include adding sidewalk curb cuts and installing doors at city buildings that are easier to open.
Around 700 teachers and supporters boarded charter buses at the RP Funding Center early this morning to ride to Tallahassee for a rally in support of public education that’s expected to attract thousands.
In Lakeland, a large crowd is expected at Munn Park at 4:30 today for a companion rally and march to support higher state funding for education. Speakers include Jennifer Sabin, an advocate of education reform. LkldNow plans to live-stream the rally on our Facebook page. More
With more than 1,000 Polk public school teachers expected to travel to Tallahassee Monday for a statewide rally in support of increased education funding, Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd held a hastily called news conference today to explain the plan to ensure classrooms are covered. Plans include classroom staffing by 650 substitute teachers, 450 administrators, and 30 sheriff’s deputies with college degrees. Keep scrolling for video from the news conference: More
Chad McLeod says the key to victory in his recent race for a Lakeland City Commission seat was one-on-one engagement with voters. He talked about lessons learned during the campaign in the 100th episode of the “PR and Politics” podcast he co-hosts with his brother and business partner, Joe McLeod. More
Funeral services for LPD Officer Paul Dunn, who died in a motorcycle accident on Thursday, are scheduled for noon Wednesday at Lakes Church, formerly First Baptist Church of the Mall. The public is invited, and the family encourages people to wear attire supporting the military or the UF Gators | ALSO: LPD Facebook post
Thursday was extremely busy on the police and criminal courts beat in Lakeland. In addition to the death of an LPD officer, these stories were reported:
- HOMICIDE: Deputies are searching for Celso Omar Sanchez Acosta, 29, in the shooting death of Henry Fernandez-Soto, 24; the two had a dispute involving a horse theft | ABC Action News
- CHILD DEATH: Kyle Reese, 26, faces aggravated child abuse charges in the death of a 2-month-old infant in his care | 10 News
- DUI FATALITY ARREST: Rodney Wimberly, 53, was charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the April 2019 crash on Bartow Road that killed his girlfriend, Shannon Oglesby, 47 | Fox 13 News
- HIT-AND-RUN CONVICTION: A jury convicted William Hull, 36, of failing to remain at the scene of a crash with serious bodily injuries in a September 2017 incident that knocked an 11-year-old girl into a ditch near Lake Parker | The Ledger
- LPN ARREST: Tammy Konkol-Townsend of Lakeland was arrested on drug charges after a Ring camera caught images of her taking fentanyl and hydrocodone meant for a Good Shepherd Hospice patient, according to a Polk Sheriff’s arrest report. In addition, her licensed practical nurse and radiologic technician licenses have been placed on emergency restriction | The Miami Herald
Lighting that would allow after-dusk use of a city dog park planned near Lake Mirror was jeopardized when bids came in higher than the city had budgeted.
But the lighting and a few other amenities may be on the way after the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board voted today to add $100,000 to the $50,000 it had already committed to the project. More
Recommendations from Megan Towner, our music maven:
- Roses from Bones, Mugbrain, Blondino and Karissa Frampton 7 p.m. tonight at Hillcrest Coffee. Most of the acts are Tampa alternative rock going acoustic for tonight’s show.
- Black Velvet Band at Molly McHugh’s Irish Pub on Friday at 9 p.m. Irish folk songs and anthems, raucous and very engaging with the audience.
- Lesa Silvermore at The Pink Piano at 8 p.m. Saturday. Lesa is a high-energy indie/folk solo acoustic performer. Truly impressed last time I saw her play there.
Lakeland Police Officer Paul Dunn, 50, died this morning when he hit a concrete median and lost control of his department-issued motorcycle on Lakeland Highlands Road near Lake Miriam Drive, according to the Polk Sheriff’s Office. More
Lakeland police are seeking help locating two teens who were last seen leaving the Motel 6 on U.S. 98 near Interstate 4 on New Year’s Day. Haleigh Cole, 15, and Jorden Payne, 16, were visiting Jorden’s parents there; they left on foot, saying they were going to a store, but did not return.
Jorden was wearing a red Nike jacket and gray shorts, according to an LPD Facebook post. Haleigh was wearing denim overalls and a “Friends” T-shirt, her mother said on Facebook. Jorden has family in Valdosta, Ga., LPD said.
Anyone with information about the teens’ location is asked to contact Detective Charlene Ali at 863.834.8974 or Charlene.email@example.com.
- BULLYING: Lakelander Jaylen Arnold’s anti-bullying campaign is getting help from jet-setting model Daniela Braga, herself a bullying target during her gangly teen years.
- STARBUCKS: Lakeland’s newest Starbucks is coming to the Christina area this summer. It will front South Florida Avenue between Home Depot and Bob Evans.
- HIT-AND-RUN TRIAL: William Ray Hull did not stop his pickup the afternoon in 2017 he hit and injured an 11-year-old girl near Lake Parker because he thought he hit a rock or a piece of wood, his attorney said as his hit-and-run trial started | Background: 2017 coverage
A short followup on our Friday article about a young couple who wants to introduce electric scooter rentals to Lakeland, focused on downtown, Florida Southern College and routes between the two:
The couple, Jed Irvine and Latisha Forsberg, came to Monday’s City Commission meeting to answer commissioners’ questions about Leaf, the business they started in Duluth, Minn., last summer and they’d like to move to Florida during winters. More
- TROLLLER: In a farewell speech Monday lasting 39 minutes, Justin Troller reviewed his last 12 years as a city commissioner, which he said was marked by “being a vocal champion for issues that affect all Lakelanders, not just the privileged few.”
- RIP: Trent Rowe, 78, The Ledger’s witty (and sometimes lovably corny) food writer/restaurant reviewer/copy editor for 22 years.
Shells is on the verge of opening a seafood restaurant in south Lakeland, where steak is still the boss. The small Tampa-based chain will hold its Lakeland grand opening Jan. 15 at 5125 S. Florida Ave. The big building was most recently occupied by Manny’s Chophouse, which opened in Lakeland in 2013 and closed last May. More
You may have come to LkldNow on Sunday afternoon and the website looked a little strange. And there will be periods today when things look a little strange again. We’re working through some technical issues, and fixing them requires us to switch to different templates temporarily. Please bear with us. Our WordPress guru, Chuck Welch, says we’ll get these problems licked today.
Two houses a little over a mile apart near Lake Gibson High School were destroyed in separate fires Saturday morning. No people were injured, but two dogs died, according to Polk County Fire Rescue. The first fire was reported at 4:28 a.m. at 258 Padgett Place, and the other one was about an hour later at 7515 Socrum Loop Road N. MORE COVERAGE: 10 News
The Lakeland Police Department has been sued in federal court by a man seeking $150,000-plus in damages for an incident (summarized here), claiming officers used excessive force in shooting and injuring him at his apartment in 2015. Police said Wesley Cook refused to drop his handgun when they responded to a domestic disturbance call. Cook says in the lawsuit that physical force was unnecessary because he didn’t threaten anybody with the weapon.
The corner of Massachusetts and Parker got brightened up this week when artist Gillian Fazio painted a citrusy summerscape on the wall of The Yard on Mass facing Parker Street.
Frustrated that many vacant lots are used as illegal dumping grounds, city commissioners are pondering whether to raise fines for property owners, many of whom live out of state, who repeatedly violate lot-cleaning rules. The city pays to have the lots cleaned and mowed, and Commissioner Scott Franklin says the repeat offenders must consider the current fees and fines (typically $261 to $546) a cost of doing business | Latest list of violators
Is Lakeland ready for rental electric scooters? With one exception, city commissioners don’t think we’re there yet, but they’re willing to listen to a young couple who would like to bring 45 scooters here as a pilot project. More
There’s still time to enjoy live music before the two-week holiday period ends. A highlight this weekend comes Saturday when Uncle John’s Band, a favorite of Florida Deadheads, comes to the RP Funding Center to re-create the Grateful Dead’s famous May 1977 concert at the same venue when it was called the Lakeland Civic Center. Keep scrolling for our updated live music calendar. More
A collaboration with other pet-serving agencies and a program that sent 300 kittens to out-of-state homes helped preserve the lives of 1,500 animals, SPCA Florida says as it seeks to reverse Polk’s position as the county with Florida’s highest animal-kill rate.
News Channel 8 looks at the eight addresses in Lakeland where crimes are reported most often. The locations and explanations offered by LPD Assistant Chief Sam Taylor: Lakeland Regional Health (many victims end up there); five retail locations, including both Walmarts, Lakeland Square Mall, Circle K at Florida and 14th; and McDonald’s on Memorial Boulevard (shoplifting and parking lot accidents dominate); Lakewood Terrace Apartments on 14th Street; and Talbot House (homeless people are often victims and the organization “facilitates the reporting.”) Overall crime continues declining, Taylor says.
Several hundred people gathered at the Lake Mirror amphitheater Monday night for a candlelight vigil in memory of Rachael Ramsey, one of the victims of a Christmas Eve double murder-suicide at her house on Atlanta Avenue. Said her mother: “To know that there are so many people supporting us it is just very heartwarming.” | ALSO: WFLA talks with the grandmother now caring for the children of the other murder victim.
- HOUSING: With 228 affordable housing units now being built in Lakeland and 220 under permitting, Mayor Bill Mutz is convinced the city will more than meet its pledge to provide 500 units by 2024. The article catalogues current projects.
- LEGISLATION: State legislators representing Polk County are seeking $23 million next year for local projects. Lakeland-specific programs include $1 million sought by Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Colleen Burton to help build Lakeland Regional Health’s behavioral health center, $975,000 sought by Stargel for the One More Child faith-based anti-trafficking program, $2 million sought by Sen. Ben Albritton for an education center at the Se7en Wetlands nature preserve, and $950,000 sought by Stargel and Rep. Josie Tomkow for One More Child‘s single moms program.
- RIP: Charles W. “Chuck” Bovay, 91, former president of Lanier Upshaw and civic activist.
Friends and family of the two people gunned down in an Atlanta Avenue home on Christmas Eve have started GoFundMe accounts to help with funerals and the expenses of raising the two sets of young children who lost parents. More
Two years after 35-year-old Brian Klecha of Lakeland went missing, a $10,000 reward is being offered for information in the case of the Disney bus driver. Fox 13 talks with one of the roommates he had just moved in with before he disappeared.
A crash at Cherry Lane and Lunn Road in Medulla (map) sent nine people to the hospital, one of them critically injured. The accident involved two teen-driven vehicles traveling fast side-by-side down the two-lane Cherry Lane, deputies said. One failed to stop at the Lunn Road stop sign and was hit by a pickup truck, whose 41-year-old driver was later charged with DUI, deputies said. No charges have been filed yet against the teen drivers. Neighbors said cars frequently race down Cherry Lane.
Neighbors describe the three people who died in a Christmas Eve murder-suicide at the 3009 Atlanta Ave. house where police found four children after the shootings took place. Two of the children were daughters of Leighton Josephs, 30, who police say was the gunman, and victim Rachel Ramsey, 30. The other two, a boy and a girl, were the children of the other victim, 27-year-old Christopher Pine, a friend of Ramsey. ALSO: Bay News 9 coverage
Community organizations are reaching out to help the four children who were removed from a home on Atlanta Avenue where three adults died in a murder-suicide Christmas Eve. Police released the name of the gunman but not the other two victims; however, WFLA reports the identities after talking with relatives and the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Live music highlights this weekend include a Key West Christmas and a gathering of the tribes for a three-day outdoor festival complete with jam bands and some rockabilly. Expect a parrothead vibe at Swan Brewing Saturday night as several musicians associated with Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville Radio perform. At Maddox Ranch, folks will be gathering Friday through Saturday for the eighth annual Hometeam New Years Rally with 19 bands, including Cope, The Applebutter Express, Honey Hounds, The Difference, Ajeva, and The Melody Trucks Band. Keep scrolling for our updated music calendar: More
- JENKINS INITIATIVE: A $253,000 gift from the George W. Jenkins Foundation will enable United Way and Feeding Tampa Bay to set up 16 food pantries in parts of Polk County where many families lack access to healthy food.
- MOUNT TABOR: After county commissioners declined 4-1 to waive $3,680 in permit fees for Mt. Tabor Baptist Church to rebuild its tornado-destroyed food pantry, local businesses are providing the funds. Commissioners said they didn’t want to set a precedent in waiving fees.
4 P.M. WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Three adults died of gunshot wounds in a murder-suicide before 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve in a house on Atlanta Avenue near Edgewood Drive, and four children under age 10 were safely removed, Lakeland Police report. More
A 1:30 a.m. fire damaged a barber shop today at 105 W. Oak Drive, across the street from the Southgate Publix. Firefighters extinguished the blaze quickly, but there was smoke damage to a neighboring business. No injuries were reported.
Joe P. Ruthven, a civic leader, former mayor and pioneer of Lakeland’s now-burgeoning warehousing and distribution center industry, died Saturday at age 92. More
Joseph Clinton Mills, 58, of Lakeland, has been indicted by a grand jury on six charges, including first-degree murder, in the 1981 cold case homicide of Linda Slaten that was cracked by the use of genetic evidence. A judge ordered him held in jail without bail.
Curry Mango, an Indian restaurant with two tandoor ovens and seating for 130 indoors/40 on a patio, opened today at 6625 Florida Ave. Today’s lunch buffet is getting favorable reviews in the Lakeland Food Group on Facebook. The lunch buffet is $10 Tuesdays through Fridays and $12 on weekends. A full menu is available for dinner.
Mike Link, 57, is retiring from the Lakeland Police Department on Dec. 30, more than 34 years after starting as a weekend reserve officer and rising to the rank of assistant chief. He oversaw criminal investigations and started the department’s cold case homicide unit.
Law enforcement officials and the sons of the victim commented to reporters today about the arrest of Joseph Clinton Mills, 58, of Lakeland, in the 1981 murder of Linda Slaten, who was 31 at the time. The murder took place at her apartment off Brunnell Parkway. Scroll past the video for links to more news coverage and a shorter video of the two sons’ comments about the man who was arrested. More
After genetic evidence pointed to a likely killer in the 1981 murder of 31-year-old Linda Patterson Slaten in her Brunnell Parkway apartment, Lakeland police last week arrested Joseph Clinton Mills, 58, of 12013 Bailey Road, Lakeland. Mills, who had been football coach to one of Slaten’s sons, had been interviewed by police days after the homicide | ALSO: Ledger coverage
A bomb threat during a 200-person rally supporting impeachment of President Trump closed several downtown streets Tuesday night. No bomb was found, but closure of a parking lot where a suspicious vehicle was spotted forced dozens of people to seek alternative transportation home.
Several local experts this morning gave an overview of homelessness in Lakeland and what is happening at social service agencies and schools to address it. The session, sponsored by the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, was moderated by City Commissioner Sara Roberts McCarley. More
- PARKING LOT: Faced with opposition from residents and the Lake Morton Neighborhood Association, the Planning & Zoning Board voted 4-1 to deny a request to turn a house’s back yard into parking for Hubbell Eye Clinic in Dixieland.
- RECOVERY CENTER: Faced with a petition signed by 70 neighbors, Tri-County Human Services withdrew its request to turn a house at Carleton Street and and Hilltop Avenue into housing for women who have been through substance abuse rehabilitation.
Lanier Upshaw Inc., a 60-employee insurance agency founded in Lakeland in 1941, is being acquired by Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, LLC, a subsidiary of BRP Group Inc., of Tampa, an insurance distribution firm, the companies announced today. More
Plans for affordable workforce apartments near Tigertown are a step closer. Developer Green Mills Group of Fort Lauderdale was selected for an $8 million state Community Development Block Grant for disaster recovery to build the 80-unit Parker Pointe building on East Bella Vista Street.
In its first year, the city’s rapid re-housing program found permanent housing for 114 Lakelanders who if not already homeless were on the verge of eviction, Mayor Bill Mutz said.
Now the city needs to sign off on paperwork to provide the promised $103,000 so the program administrator, Tri-County Human Services, qualifies for additional grant funding to continue the program for another year. More
As city officials entertain new proposals from companies interested in providing broadband services, they should use a formal “request for proposal” process to ensure the city’s needs are met, Commissioner Justin Troller said Friday. Public records requests by reporter Sara-Megan Walsh revealed that the companies the city is dealing with include Grain Management, which recently acquired Orlando’s Summit Broadband, and MetroNet of Evansville, Ind.
- GRIER: Retired LPD Deputy Chief Clarence Grier, 82, was found safe at a Wawa in St. Petersburg Friday night; a Silver Alert had been issued on Wednesday and a license-plate reader spotted his truck north of Ocala on Thursday.
- BYRD: Polk Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd was praised by several School Board members after giving a report on her recent trip to an education conference in California sponsored by charter school advocates. The trip and the fact that it was paid for by an interest group had drawn criticism earlier from board member Billy Townsend.
Though the primary is eight months away, the two Democrats who hope to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Ross Spano are already sniping at one another. Adam Cohn portrays Adam Hattersley as a politician who has done little but try to advance to higher office. Hattersley says that as a former TV reporter, all Cohn does is talk. Bay News 9’s Mitch Perry reports.
Dreams of more vibrant development to the west of downtown Lakeland got a boost today when city commissioners signaled they’d like to see a transportation hub built just north of the RP Funding Center in the next five to 10 years. More
- SUN ‘N FUN: The 46th Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo March 31 to April 5 will feature demonstrations by an Air Force stealth fighter team and the Air Force Thunderbirds.
- POLY: On the same day Florida Polytechnic University announced audacious goals for the next five years, faculty representatives said a recent poll reflecting a demoralized faculty might make those goals hard to attain.
- CHURCH: Once it was First Baptist Church. Then it was First Baptist Church at the Mall. Now that it has three campuses, there’s a new name: Lakes Church.
The Lakeland Police Department has issued a silver alert for retired Deputy Police Chief Clarence Grier. He was last seen around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday leaving a residence on west 8th Street. His 1998 Ford F-150 with tag #ID49LX was spotted north of Ocala early this morning. Grier, 82, suffers from dementia, according to his family. If you have any information on Mr. Grier’s whereabouts, please call 863.834.6900.
Our top live music recommendation this weekend: The musicians on “A Lakeland Christmas, Vol. 1” play their selections from the album and other favorites on Friday and Saturday at Union Hall, hosted/presented by the Vanguard Room. (Read Cary McMullen’s article about the album and hear it on Spotify.) More
- UTILITY: The city of Lakeland would lose access to the $30.9 million “dividend” from Lakeland Electric that funds things like public safety and parks, under a bill filed in the Florida Legislature that the city is planning to fight vigorously.
- POLY: Florida Polytechnic University has its eye on the label “University of Distinction” and the $2 million in state funds that goes with it. To get there, it’s embarking on a five-year quest to become ranked in the top 15 among about 200 engineering programs without doctoral degrees.
- WOMEN/ART: In a new exhibition at the Polk Museum of Art, painter Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso pays tribute to Old Masters such as Anne Vallayer Coster, Clara Peeters, and Rachel Ruysch who were denied recognition in their times | Learn more
A battle is brewing among two Democrats wanting the party’s nod to run against Republican incumbent Ross Spano for the congressional seat that represents much of Lakeland. Alan Cohn and Adam Hattersley, both from the Hillsborough side of the district, are getting big-name endorsements — including former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham for Cohn and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park for Hattersley.
GreenWise Market, Publix Super Markets’ updated entry in the natural/specialty foods niche, opens in Lakeland on Thursday, and LkldNow got an early look today. Get a preview via our video by visual journalist Reems Landreth. Brian West, media and community relations manager for Publix, led the guided tour: More
The Central Florida Aerospace Center for Excellence has announced the $4.5 million Project Skylab, which will add an 8,000-square-foot classroom facility with holographic theater to its 14-building campus at Sun ‘n Fun | Learn more
For the first time since the Miss Lakeland was revived three pageants ago, most of the winners have Lakeland backgrounds. Out of five 2020 winners — Misses Lakeland, Swan City, Polk County, Lakeland Teen and Polk County Teen — two claim Lakeland as home and a third lived here until recently and hopes to move back. More
- STARGEL: Reporter Gary White examines a bill by state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, that would exempt legislators’ home addresses and other personal information from public disclosure.
- UTILITIES: An editorial argues for defeat of a bill that would prohibit the use of municipal utility revenues for non-utility operations. Locally, Lakeland Electric generates $30.9 million into the city budget. The bill’s passage would surely mean a property tax increase here, the editorial contends.
Brennan Investment Group is going for a second large spec warehouse near the I-4/Polk Parkway Intersection north of Florida Polytechnic University. The Chicago developer recently closed on a 165-acre purchase from Ruthven I-4 LLC to the north and west of that interchange, Tampa Bay Business Journal reports. More
The Medulla Elementary School float, featuring elves and carrying the theme of thanking business partners, won the Judge’s Choice Award at Thursday night’s Lakeland Christmas Parade. Sponsored by the Junior League of Greater Lakeland, the parade theme was “The Joy of Giving.” Here is a list of award winners: More
Former state Rep. Beverly Burnsed Spencer, who represented a Lakeland district, died Nov. 28 in Tallahassee. She was 78. She spent 35 years working for the state as a teacher, state legislator, assistant secretary of state and university vice president. More
If you’re looking for a low-key alternative to tonight’s Christmas parade, check out Joe Gavin‘s mesmerizing guitar work full of loops and harmonics at Hillcrest Coffee at 7. Also at Hillcrest on Saturday night, acclaimed singer-songwriter Rebekah Pulley joins country rock pioneer and house staple Jon Corneal. Keep scrolling for the rest of our live music calendar. More
Officer Ken Foley, 57, was found unresponsive in his patrol car parked outside the Hampton Inn on Socrum Loop Road on Wednesday night and taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Lakeland Police say. Detectives said the 29-year LPD employee suffered a medical episode.
VIDEO: Chief Ruben Garcia remembers Foley in a news conference.
- HOUSING: The former West Lake Apartments on Lake Beulah continue their transformation into Twin Lakes Estates as construction begins on a second phase, which will bring 132 units of affordable housing for families and individuals.
- THEATRE: Lakeland Community Theatre presents “Miracle on 34th Street, The Musical” Friday through Dec. 15. (No article link yet, but here are links to dates, times and tickets and a radio interview with the cast.)
- FOODIE 1: Lakeland’s GreenWise Market, Publix’ updated excursion into the organic/natural/food event niche, opens Dec. 12 at 7 a.m. at 4717 S. Florida Ave. (No link yet.)
- FOODIE 2: Chef Marcos Fernandez’ Nineteen61 and its nuevo Latino cuisine has earned a Florida Trend Golden Spoon award for a second year in a row. (No link yet but here’s a list of all winners.)
- POLITICS: Neil Combee, who has had a two-year dispute with county commissioners, has filed to try to re-join the commission, seeking the seat of fellow Republican John Hall, who is planning to run for re-election. ALSO: Bay News 9 | Florida Politics
- POT: Lakeland is getting two more medical marijuana dispensaries, bringing the total to six. AltMed Florida’s MÜV Medical Cannabis Dispensary has opened downtown at 224 N. Florida Ave. Fluent Cannabis Care says it will open soon at 4825 U.S. 98 N.
Did you know that by rounding up your utility bill to the nearest dollar that you can change the lives of those in our community?
There are many low-income seniors and disabled customers that struggle to pay their electric bill. Lakeland Electric has partnered with Catholic Charities of Central Florida to offer a program that assists those who are less fortunate. More
- AIRPORT: County commissioners signaled their intention to pledge $1 million toward a “backstop” fund that would guarantee a major airline first-year profits after initiating daily service at Lakeland Linder Airport.
- RIP: Cattle rancher Al Belotto, 94, whose pasture on Lake Hancock was transformed into the county’s Circle B Bar nature preserve.
- THINGS TO DO: Holiday Walkabout downtown 6-9 tonight | Historian Canter Brown discusses rail baron Henry Plant Wednesday at 6 at FSC.
Justin Troller, who has devoted much of his final year as a city commissioner pushing for a broadband utility, came away from his next-to-last meeting today with a bigger win than he was angling for. His fellow commissioners rejected his motion to hold a public referendum on an internet utility, but went along with a more far-reaching plan to start a process aimed at making a decision on broadband as early as March. More
A project to move a Lakeland-based company and its 500 employees to a new downtown tower on Lake Mirror won approval today from the City Commission, which agreed to trade the city-owned land for a 30 year nights-and-weekends lease of 150 parking spots. More
FATAL SHOOTING: In what he called a “classic suicide by cop,” Sheriff Grady Judd said Kenneth Layton, 60, despondent over the recent death of his wife, died Friday after summoning a deputy to his north Lakeland home and then raising a gun at him, forcing the deputy to shoot him in the chest. ALSO: Tampa Bay Times | ABC Action News
SHOPPING: For Small Business Saturday, the Morning Paper mentions a few of the many local businesses offering deals today.
PREP FOOTBALL: Victory Christian advances to the state 2A title game, to be held Thursday in Tallahassee by defeating Jacksonville University Christian 20-7 | Lakeland Christian‘s title dreams fall in a 42-10 defeat to Tallahassee Florida High. ALSO: Tallahassee Democrat coverage
It’s a good week to be thankful for live music. Central Florida acts dominate at local venues — other than Georgia’s Rehab, a Southern hip-hop/country/rock band, coming to Union Hall Friday. Elsewhere, Moonquakes, a side project of indie rockers Glass House Point, plays Swan Brewing on Friday. Classic rock dominates at LkldLive on Saturday with a double tribute: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” by Rex Floyd and The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” by Rich Mistretta. Our updated music calendar follows: More
Access Church (website) partnered with RIP Medical Debt (website) to pay off $1.62 million in unpaid medical bills for local people living below 50% of the federal poverty level.
LEARN MORE: RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit organization, buys bundled medical debt for pennies on the dollar and then forgives it | USA Today
A deal to build a nine-story office building on city-owned land on the northwest shore of Lake Mirror is headed to city commissioners Monday for discussion and an expected approval. More
- Summary: Firefighters have substantially reduced a fire at a mulch plant, according to Polk Fire Rescue.
- Where: Lasso Lane just north of the Polk Parkway and east of Reynolds Road
- How long: 225 hours. The call came in at 11 a.m. on Nov. 16.
- How much: More than 12 million gallons of water used.
- Caution: Smoke may hinder visibility on nearby roads, including the Polk Parkway east of U.S. 98. More
People living near Lakeland Linder Airport can expect noise from fighter jets just a little longer. Draken International, whose pilots fly as enemy combatants in military training exercises, has until Sunday to finish testing its newly revamped Mirage F1 fighters. After that, the airport’s main runway closes for an upgrade for 90 days, a closure unexpected to halt flights other than Draken’s.
ALSO: The Aviationist analyzes the jets’ new look.
Showing surveillance video to back up his point, Sheriff Grady Judd said that the Gainesville man who was shot and killed while picking up his toddler son from a Ewell Road house on Thursday was the aggressor and the man who shot him was defending his home from somebody who had trespassed and battered him.
Faced with the sudden closure of a popular retail outlet following a bankruptcy court ruling, mall owners VC Capital Group are taking over the business and re-opening it. They hope to get things running as soon as next Friday in time for post-Thanksgiving crowds.
If there was any question about Mayor Bill Mutz’s position on whether Lakeland should build a fiber-to-the-home internet utility, an event Friday touted as a significant announcement about Lakeland’s gigabit ambitions should settle it. More
What is it about South Florida Avenue that’s attracting bakery cafes? We’re not sure. And we surely don’t mind.
Fleur Bistro opened this month at 4525 S. Florida Ave. It offers scratch pastries, exotic teas, specialty coffee and wines. Just a block a way, Cafe Zuppina opened The Market earlier this year and then enhanced it with an upscale coffee shop. More
LOW-INCOME HOUSING: Following a successful and ongoing fund-raising campaign, Talbot House Ministries has closed on 16 formerly city-owned studio apartments on Vermont Avenue just south of Massachusetts Boulevard that it will rehab for inexpensive housing for low-income people, including the disabled and veterans.
DOMESTIC FATALITY: In a story scant on details with the Sheriff’s Office invoking victim-protecting Marsy’s Law, a man was shot and killed Thursday afternoon while attempting to pick up his son, nearly 2, from the home of his ex-wife in the area of Lunn Road and Ewell Road. The alleged shooter was the ex-wife’s boyfriend and the victim’s mother witnessed the shooting, the Sheriff’s Office said.
ALSO: Fox 13 News coverage includes video of Sheriff Judd’s news conference.
LHS FOOTBALL: For the Lakeland Dreadnaughts, the road to a hoped-for eighth 7A state football championship leads tonight to their first-ever playoffs faceoff with powerhouse Armwood just down I-4 in Seffner.
Dozens of well-wishers turned out today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Yard On Mass, a family-friendly food truck park and beer garden that opens Friday at the northwest corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Parker Street.
View video of the seven-minute ceremony after the jump: More
The option to build an office building just north of the entrance to Lakeside Village has been a market dud, but apartments on the Harden Boulevard tract could do the trick, a representative for the Drummond Company told the city’s Planning and Zoning Board Tuesday. More
EDUCATION: School Board member Billy Townsend takes issue with Polk’s school superintendent attending a San Diego conference at the expense of Lakeland Leads, which its director describes as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit economic development think tank.” Townsend says both the conference and the local partnership push ideas harmful to a strong public education system.
MORE: Townsend’s four blog posts | Lakeland Leads incorporation
SMOKE ON THE HIGHWAY: Law enforcement officials warn of low visibility on the Polk Parkway east of U.S. 98 because of a lingering fire at a nearby mulch operation.
AIRPORT: A $8.5 million federal grant is helping fortify the main runway at Lakeland Linder Airport.
FOOD TRUCK PARK: Yard on Mass, an airy beer hall and food truck park that bills itself as “the backyard party your neighbors won’t complain about” opens Friday at Massachusetts Avenue and Parker Street.
For several years, the city of Lakeland has asked people not to put up chairs until the day of the annual Christmas Parade, but the presence of early chairs has grown. This year, officials say they’ll remove chairs that show up along the parade route before Dec. 5, the day of the parade | News release
Three children inside a home day care and a driver were injured around 5 p.m. today when the elderly driver pushed the wrong button in her car and crashed into a house near Seventh Street, the Lakeland Fire Department reports. Identities have not been released; all four were reported in stable condition.
ALSO: In south Lakeland, a pickup truck that apparently missed a curve on Handley Boulevard early Saturday plowed through a yard and damaged three parked vehicles, pushing one of them into the laundry room. Fox 13 reports.
Even though two city boards have rejected their plans, Thomas and Madison Brawner say they are pressing on with their proposal to turn the 107-year-old Deen House into Alta Schoolhouse, a preschool. More
Lakeland Regional Health is hoping to move quickly on a new behavioral health facility just south of the main hospital campus, expanding and centralizing services it says are integral to the mental health of the community. More
City commissioners today approved changes — mostly increases — in impact fees assessed on new construction. The purpose of impact fees is to pay the costs for new roads, parks and public safety associated with new development.
But in most cases, the impact fees approved today fall short of the levels that a city consultant said would be necessary to pay for that new infrastructure. How far short? City staff estimates it’s up to $5.1 million over the next five years for transportation, parks and cultural facilities that either won’t be built or will have to depend on other funding sources. More
The evolution of food trucks from simple commissaries to rolling kitchens serving gourmet morsels has promoted the city to consider changes regulating their waste disposal. More
MARIJUANA: Lakeland’s fourth medical marijuana dispensary is opening a block south of the Larry Jackson Public Library. Trulieve Cannabis Corp.’s facility at 1644 N. Florida Ave will be about a mile and a half from two other dispensaries just south of Interstate 4.
MIRRORTON: Framework Group of Tampa, a developer planning to build 305 apartments and rental townhouses north of Lake Mirror, is the new owner of 14.5 acres the city assembled starting in 2004. The $3.66 million sale closed Friday. Groundbreaking on the Mirrorton complex is expected within 30 days, and construction should take up to two years.
MUSEUM: “Spirits: Ritual and Ceremonial African and Oceanic Art,” a new exhibit at the Polk Museum of Art, showcases works collected by Alan and Linda Rich of Lakeland during ophthalmologic mission trips.
ALSO: Video | Museum’s exhibit page | Article: Art Goes Global
The owners of a downtown spa say they’d like to move their operation to the Deen House in the Lake Morton neighborhood if plans to use the 107-year-old mansion for a preschool fall through. More
After breaking the story about Wildwood Antiques Mall closing abruptly amid a bankruptcy ruling, WFLA’s Victoria Price checked records; she discovered that registered owner Manny Pesco has had previous legal difficulties including disciplinary action in 2014 by the state board of auctioneers.
Several hundred Florida Southern College supporters and alumni were on hand today when the college dedicated its new Jean and Sal Campisi Sr. Academic Center for Physical Therapy on Florida Avenue in Dixieland. Here’s video of the ceremony:
Twenty-four students enrolled in the college’s new Doctor of Physical Therapy program when it launched this semester. The college is seeking accreditation for a 36-student program. More
To the musical question — Do we really need another Christmas album? – Matt Wilbur has a ready answer.
“If the Christmas season stresses you out, you don’t need another Christmas album. But if you love Christmas, you can never have enough. There’s always one more Christmas decoration, one more Christmas album to have,” he said. More
The sudden closing of the Wildwood Antique Mall off U.S. 98 just north of I-4 has left hundreds of vendors wondering if or when they’ll get access to their goods again. They learned via email on Wednesday night that the mall was closing immediately following a ruling earlier that day in federal bankruptcy court.
The brightly flowered mural that Gillian Fazio recently painted on the side of Gaines Jewelers downtown is based on the “Tobacco Leaf” pattern hand-painted on expensive china. The owner of the company that manufactures the china is a fan of the mural and is flying from New York to see it.
On Monday, city commissioners will consider updating the impact fees that dictate how much each owner of a newly constructed home, business or industry must pay to offset the cost of providing city infrastructure. More
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
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