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Lakeland Officials Postpone Decision on Building Height Change 

The Lakeland City Commission decided not to decide just yet on what to do about an ongoing dispute over maximum building heights in portions of Central Lakeland. Those who live in the historic Garden District are worried about a proposed apartment building that would require the maximum height ordinance to change from 40 feet to 60 feet. Commissioners heard from residents about their concerns regarding possibly losing the historic flavor of the area, then voted to put the decision on hold until a later date.


Food, Glorious Food — on Trucks

Lakeland Commissioners approved a contract with Project Redfish, LLC that relies on a public-private partnership to develop a food truck park on a half-acre, city-owned parcel at the northwest corner of North Massachusetts Avenue and East Parker Street. The city’s Community Redevelopment Agency will put $250,000 toward the project and Project Redfish will construct a 2,500-square-foot building with a bar and restrooms and and will develop an indoor/outdoor performance venue on the parcel. The Boulder, Colorado company will provide at least one food truck per day, and will sponsor at least 12 public food truck events per year.


Dreadnaughts Rule

The Lakeland High School football team beat Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 33-20 in the Class 7A state championship game for their seventh state title. Under head coach Bill Castle, the Dreadnaughts hit national rankings with the win. Lakeland finished 15-0 for the sixth time in school history. The team is No. 19 in the MaxPreps rankings, No. 25 in the USA Today’s Super 25 national rankings and No. 4 in the USA Today’s Southeast regional rankings.


Candidates Line Up for Lakeland Commission Seat

Three candidates have qualified to run in the Jan.15 special election for the Lakeland City Commission seat vacated by Michael Dunn: Patrick Shawn Jones, Sara Roberts McCarley and Bill Watts. Dunn resigned after he was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder. Jones, 53, is a surgical sterilization technician at Lakeland Regional Health and heavy-metal disc jockey for WMNF in Tampa. McCarley founded the Randy Roberts Foundation, which prepares students for leadership through public service and scholarships. She was formerly executive director of Polk Vision. Watts, 53, is vice president for market outreach for Fintech Mortgage. 


More Options for Emergency Care in Lakeland

It won’t be long before Lakeland residents facing a medical emergency will have choices. In south Lakeland, a small, freestanding emergency room on Florida Avenue is now planned by HCA. In northeast Lakeland, a slightly larger freestanding emergency room just west of Florida Polytechnic University is planned by Adventist. And north of downtown, there’s Lakeland Regional Health’s massive emergency department with its pediatric ER and a trauma center.


IKEA E-commerce Center Coming to Lakeland 

DHL Supply Chain has closed on a Lakeland warehouse it will operate as an e-commerce fulfillment center for IKEA, a Swedish housewares company. DHL paid $42.5 million for the 520,000-square-foot warehouse, which went under construction earlier this year. It is located at the Key Logistics Center at 5300 Allen K. Breed Highway. The operation will take up more than 320,000 square feet in the warehouse. The company has indicated it expects to employ about 200 people.


Amendment Won’t  Prompt Local Elections Office Changes 

Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards says her office will address voter registrations the way it always has — by offering  the registration and passing it on to the state. In dealing with the issue of convicted felons registering to vote, Edwards has indicated the right to vote was restored by Amendment 4. The changes are not part of her office’s operation.


Good News on Juvenile Crime

Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens says an “alternatives to arrest” program for young people who commit first-time misdemeanors is working out well. Recent Florida Department of Juvenile Justice crime data shows that youth offenses are down. In Polk County, there was a 22 percent dip in juvenile crime in fiscal year 2018 when compared to 2017. The alternative program excludes sex offenses and offenses involving firearms.


Historic Home Rescue Plan Underway

A Beacon Hill Historic District house may be saved from being uprooted with some love shown by local preservationist Gregory Fancelli. He got in touch with elders at the South Florida Avenue Church of Christ and offered to repair the house on their property. The church had put a sign up offering the house, located at 1823 S. Florida Ave.,  for to any taker willing to move it.


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