3 Downtown Restaurants Expanding Outdoor Dining Through Parklets

Three restaurants in the heart of downtown Lakeland are expanding their outdoor dining onto curbside parklets. Those are platforms that are being built in up to three on-street parking spaces outside the eateries. The three dining spots are Frescos Southern Kitchen, Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille and Nineteen61. They’re getting grants of up to $10,000 each from the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority to participate in the parklet pilot project.


Dining Options Diversifying Along Lake Mirror

Dining options are expanding along Lake Mirror as downtown development marches eastward. Plenty, newly opened at The Joinery, emphasizes the health attributes of its Mediterranean-inspired bowls and plates; diners can add skewers with several protein options. Around the corner at the Poor Porker, look for burgers each weekend starting this month as Adler’s installs a food truck,  expanding from its two current East Polk brick-and-mortar locations.


Lakeland Trainer, Pooch Win AKC Trick Dog Competition

An active imagination and canine wizardry helped Lakeland dog trainer Debbi Snyder and her border collie Amos fetch the top prize in the American Kennel Club’s Trick Dog Competition. Snyder and a friend produced a video, “Harry Pawter and the Sorceror’s Bone,” that shows Amos performing tricks following a plot reminiscent of a J.K. Rowling novel with a similar name. While Amos rode a skateboard and jumped through a simulated fireplace and some quidditch hoops, we were relieved to learn that no animals were harmed in the making of this video.


Neighbors Protest Plans for 2 Cell Towers Near Harden Boulevard 

Most people want strong cellphone connections but they don’t necessarily want the tower that enables the cell signals in their neighborhood. That was the case when Lakeland city commissioners rejected a proposal for a new cell tower on a large wooded lot at Ariana and Harden after neighbors protested the plan. Within a month, the city planning board was considering another tower location, this one along a stretch of Harden Boulevard surrounded by mobile homes and apartments. City planners, who have signaled their skepticism of the latest proposal, will produce a formal recommendation before the planning board’s scheduled Jan. 20 vote on a permit for the tower.


Two new plaques Honor Fallen Officers At LPD Memorial

Two new memorial plaques have been added to the five that were already in place at the Fallen Heroes Memorial at the Lakeland Police Department. They honor Officers Ken Foley and Paul Dunn, who died during the previous year. The carved-glass markers are placed along a somber marble monument facing Massachusetts Avenue in a brick plaza near the main entrance to the police station.


Multiple Events Held In Memory of David And Edie Henderson

A candlelight vigil, a solemn church service, lakeside memorials and neighborhood Christmas caroling were some of the ways friends and family remembered David and Edie Yates Henderson. David, a lawyer-turned-developer, and Edie, who headed a CPA firm and was elected to three terms on the Lakeland City Commission, were murdered in their Lake Morton home in what police say was a random attack. In addition to the ceremonies, the Hendersons’ family asked that friends remember them through donations to local charities.


COVID-19 Numbers Rise as Hospitals Await Vaccines

After new COVID-19 cases in Polk County dropped in early fall from last summer’s peak, the numbers started rising again in November and escalated more in December. The Polk school district suspended all athletic practices and competitions for nearly three weeks after more than 50 student-athletes tested positive, many of the cases stemming from a Lakeland wrestling tournament. At Lakeland Regional Health, officials spent December eagerly awaiting shipments of newly sanctioned COVID-19 vaccines.


Stargel Caps Her Legislative Career As Budget Chair

Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel caps her legislative career as chairman of the Florida Senate’s powerful Appropriations Committee for the next two years. She was appointed to the position by new Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Lakeland native who lives in Trilby. The position puts Stargel in a key budget role during a period when legislators face tough decisions on a $5.4 billion shortfall brought on by the pandemic and tourism declines.


Lakeland Native Mizelle Confirmed as a U.S. District Court Judge

Lakeland native Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, 33, becomes a federal judge in Tampa after a 49-41, party-line confirmation by the U.S. Senate. She was valedictorian at Lakeland Christian School in 2005 and a graduate of the University of Florida Law School. Her nomination by President Trump became controversial when a letter from the American Bar Association praised her reputation and resume — which includes a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — but questioned her relatively short legal career of eight years and lack of trial experience.


Boutique Expands From Online to a Dixieland Shop

A Lakeland mom and entrepreneur whose business blossomed on social media will expand her women’s clothing boutique to brick and mortar in Dixieland. Allison Hodges gained a Facebook following through upbeat videos when she launched Whiskey Way Boutique online in March. As her fan base and sales grew, she decided it was time to open a physical store and has been readying her shop at 947 S. Florida Ave.


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