- DOWNTOWN: Onicx Construction of Tampa wants to turn the city-owned Oak Street parking lot into a parking garage and five-story apartment building with retail. City officials will negotiate with the company on property purchase, development details and incentives after city commissioners selected it between two companies that submitted proposals. The city plans to lease 150 spaces in the parking garage to replace the 150 spaces on the current surface lot. | Details: city attorney’s memo
- COVID: Polk County reported 548 new COVID-19 infections last week and a positivity rate of 4.2%; those are the lowest numbers since late June — just before the surge that topped out in mid-August at 7,510 new cases and positivity of 28.9%. | LkldNow charts
- UNEMPLOYMENT in Polk dropped to 5% in September from 5.6% the previous month and 7.8% last September. Florida’s unemployment rate is 4.9%, and the national rate is 4.8% | Detailed Florida numbers
- MONUMENT: After failing to persuade federal district and appeals courts that the city of Lakeland erred in relocating a Confederate monument from the center of Munn Park, the group Save Southern Heritage is attempting to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear its case. | ALSO: News Channel 8
- DANIEL STRADER has been released from prison after serving 26 years of a 45-year sentence for defrauding 56 investors of $2.3 million.
LATEST UPDATE: OCT. 21
Lakeland’s mayor and two of its city commissioners face challengers in the Nov. 2 city elections. The non-partisan election is open to registered voters who live within city limits.
Read on to learn about the election, the candidates and the two charter issues on the ballot. We will continue to update this Voter Guide through Election Day.More
The four candidates for two seats on the Lakeland City Commission expressed views on local issues at a forum sponsored by LkldNow on Wednesday evening. Here is an updated video of the event. The audio is spotty for the first 20 minutes but improves after that.
Here is the video from LkldNow’s Mayor Candidate Forum, held Tuesday evening at Lkld Live. The video starts just after host Andrea Oliver had introduced candidates Bill Mutz and Saga Stevin but just before she asked them the first question. LkldNow apologizes for the technical issues that interrupted our live stream last night.
During the city of Lakeland’s annual swan roundup on Tuesday, Steve Platt of the Parks and Recreation Department took Fox 13’s Elizabeth Fry on his boat to show how he and his co-workers catch the fleeing feathered creatures on Lake Morton. Veterinarians from My Pet’s Animal Hospital are performing the swans’ annual checkups today. More
As part of its efforts to find and arrest Jonathan Pollock of Lakeland, the FBI has released police body-cam video showing his actions during the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, News Channel 8 reports. Pollock has been considered a fugitive since late June, when agents attempted to arrest him on charges of assaulting police officers with a deadly weapon. More
- MAYOR’S RACE: Campaign signs were the focus of charges and counter-charges in the race for Lakeland mayor. Mayor Bill Mutz filed a police report claiming that at least 50 of his signs were stolen from yards and businesses south of downtown early Sunday morning. He did not accuse challenger Saga Stevin of being involved, but she questioned whether he might have been “part of it” and leveled accusations that some Mutz signs had been placed illegally and in places where they obscured her signs.
- CONGRESS: U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, has outpaced Democratic rival Eddie Geller of Brandon in campaign fund-raising, according to the most recent finance reports. Franklin reports collecting $80,900 in the third quarter for a total treasury of $230,000. Geller, who entered the race in August, collected $131,611 in the period ending Sept. 30. Another declared Democratic candidate, Jesse Philippe of Riverview, has not filed finance reports.
Get to know the candidates for mayor and city commissioner by watching LkldNow’s candidate forums this week. The mayor candidate forum will be live streamed Tuesday at 6 p.m., and our City Commission candidate forum will be live streamed Wednesday at 6 p.m. More
Lakeland city commissioners today approved the use of shipping containers as tiny homes on property zoned for mobile homes or multi-family dwellings. In addition, shipping containers are now available for certain commercial uses. More
- SCHOOL OPTIONS: Polk County Public Schools are changing the application process for magnet schools, choice schools and career academies. A single limited deadline is being replaced with three enrollment periods; in addition, families will be able to apply via a paper form, not just by computer. | LEARN MORE: PCPS website.
- BANDIDAS: The three Latinas who founded the new Bandidas test kitchen have set out to expand Lakeland’s culinary horizons and host pop-up events emphasizing cuisine, music and inclusiveness. (A subscribers-only story) | LEARN MORE: @BandidasLKLD
Power boat racing returns to Lake Hollingsworth Saturday and Sunday as 100+ racers participate in the 83rd annual Orange Cup Regatta. This year’s event was postponed from its traditional March date because of COVID concerns, LALtoday reports. Races are scheduled from 10 a.m. to sunset and are free for spectators to watch from the lakeshore. | Tentative schedule
An hour of audience questions at an NAACP candidate forum was dominated by people challenging mayoral hopeful Saga Stevin on her statements critical of Black Lives Matter, police body cameras and moving Confederate monuments. The next day she told The Ledger she had been “set up.” NAACP Lakeland Branch President Terry Coney responded that the forum was no different than other candidate events hosted by the nonpartisan organization. ALSO: Video of the forum
Paul “P.J.” Vasconcellos, Jr. passed away on September 24, 2021, just shy of his 49th birthday.
P.J. was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on September 30, 1972 to parents Paul Sr. and Beatrice. He graduated from Bristol Agricultural High School in 1990, and Ohio Diesel Tech in 1992. He was an avid gardener and enjoyed fishing and hunting.
P.J. is preceded in death by his mother Beatrice. He is survived by his wife Lisa; Sons Jameson Lawrence and Joshua Vasconcellos; Sister Heather Vasconcellos; Father Paul Sr., and many extended family members.
P.J. was a member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, and a Memorial Mass will be held at the church on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. Condolences may be sent to the family at Gentry-Morrison Funeral Homes.