April Fools Came Early This Year
When the Lakeland Magic announced last month they were changing their name to the Lakeland Swans, a lot of people took our G-League basketball team seriously. They didn’t realize the name change was for a single game and helping to promote Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine’s swan-boat races, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on April 26.
CarMax Plans Its First Polk Store
CarMax, whose no-haggle policies and broad selection of late-model autos have made it the nation’s top used-car dealer, is planning a store just south of I-4 at U.S. 98 and Pyramid Place. The company got the rezoning it needs to build there and is negotiating with Market Square shopping center on the best way to move shopping center traffic through the car lot.
They Kept Working on The Railroad
Patience ran short and traffic tie-ups ran long in mid-March when CSX rail repairs blocked four downtown intersections at the same time. Work that was supposed to finish on a Friday stretched into the following Wednesday on two of the intersections and longer on the other two. Florida Avenue remained open and became the funnel for north-south traffic through town.
Rails Redux: Signs Will Warn Drivers
Drivers heading toward downtown on Florida Avenue will be getting warnings when a downtown train might delay their travels. Fourteen electronic signs installed by the Florida Department of Transportation will alert drivers in time to divert to alternate routes such as Harden Boulevard and U.S. 98. The alerts are triggered when the downtown rail barriers go down.
No Joke: Marchant Wins Stadium Vote
Two years after a $48 million renovation was completed, Publix Field at Marchant Stadium was voted the best spring training stadium in Florida in bracketed voting conducted by BallparkDigest.com. In the final voting, our grocery-sponsored home of the Detroit Tigers beat out the cable-sponsored Spectrum Field in Clearwater, the training base of the Phillies.
Coming Soon: Downtown Thai, Shaved Ice
The owners of Orlando’s NeraDeva Thai Restaurant are planning a second restaurant with the same menu in downtown Lakeland. The intended spot is the long-vacant Main Street storefront between Black & Brew and Linksters. In another transition, Pelican’s Snoballs, a New Orleans-style shaved ice chain, is setting up shop in the South Florida Avenue building across from Southgate that used to house Crumb & Get It.
Projects on Lake Mirror Alter the View
Around the time that tilt-up walls were lifted into place for the Catapult business incubator on Lake Mirror, word leaked about another project that will alter the lakefront. City officials are negotiating to sell the gravel parking lot at Main and Massachusetts. The prospective buyers are reported to be planning a high-rise office building on the site and a parking garage just south of the Terrace Hotel.
A Few Increases Mar Report On Crime Rate
Larcenies in Lakeland dropped by 500 between 2017 and 2018, by far the biggest dip in a new report showing crime down by 550 incidents here last year. However, homicides are up from 1 to 8, robberies are up from 89 to 106, and assaults are up from 144 to 200, according to the new crime report. Overall reported crime is down from 4,328 incidents in 2017 to 3,778 in 2018, the Lakeland Police Department reports.
County Captain Resigns After Rockridge Fire
A firefighter blamed unfair media reporting as he resigned from his job as a captain with Polk County Fire Rescue. He was about to be disciplined for shooting and sending Snapchat videos from the scene of a Rockridge Road house fire that claimed the life of a 76-year-old woman. As the fire burned, she was on the phone with 911 dispatchers who told her help was on the way.
No Prosecution For Student In Pledge Case
In an incident that received international attention, the case was dropped against a Lawton Chiles Middle School student who was arrested on charges of creating a disturbance after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The boy’s family says it still intends to pursue a civil rights case with the U.S. Department of Education.