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
A day before the Florida Tropics, Lakeland’s pro soccer team, take on the defending champs, the Milwaukee Wave, at RP Funding Center, WFLA’s Lila Gross talks with Coach Clay Roberts about the team’s 5-0 start.
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