More Murals Make Lakeland More Beautiful
More large murals are gracing Lakeland buildings. The newest one is painted to look like a vintage postcard depicting Lake Mirror’s Frances Langford Promenade. It was painted just a few blocks from Lake Mirror on the side of a warehouse on Main Street near Ingraham Avenue. The artist: A.H. Taylor, a Lakeland native known on Instagram as The Atlanta Illustrator. Sponsors include the Lakeland Community and Economic Development Department, Boring Business Systems and Rochelle School of the Arts.
It’s Not Your Imagination; More Folks Are Moving In
It’s no secret that the population of Lakeland is increasing, and the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau confirms it. Their recent numbers show Lakeland at 110,516 residents last July, up 13.6 percent from April 2010. That puts us 133rd fastest-growing in the U.S. and 19th in Florida. Out of that increase of 13,207 people, 2,725 arrived between 2017 and 2018, the biggest year-over-year gain since 2010. Want to bet the 2018-2019 growth will be bigger?
In November, We’ll Vote on City Charter Changes
Two substantive changes to the city charter are closer to making an appearance on the Nov. 5 ballot after the City Commission reversed an earlier decision to put them off to a later year. One amendment would reduce the impossibly high barrier to selling Lakeland Electric; the other tightens term limits for city commissioners and the mayor. A final vote on which city charter changes go on the ballot is scheduled for July 15 at City Hall.
Two Commission Candidates Lead in Money, Endorsements
November’s election will also include at least two races for city commissioner. As of this writing, there are five candidates for the at-large seat being vacated by Justin Troller. But the big money is centering on just two: Chad McLeod (who raised $24,050 through June 7) and Carole Phillipson ($22,053). Major business community endorsements are split, with Lakeland First, a political action committee whose members are aligned with the Lakeland Economic Development Council, backing McLeod, and the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Voice endorsing Phillipson. Also running: Ricky Shirah, Pablo Sologaistoa and Shandale Terrell.
Restaurants: Some Are Coming; Some Are Going
As always, there are comings and goings in the restaurant world. New eateries include one downtown, Teriyaki Madness, and two on South Florida Avenue: a reopened and enlarged Chick-fil-A as well as a link in the HTeaO iced tea chain. Recent announcements include an upcoming brick-and-mortar location downtown for Honeycomb Bread Bakers and bistro. Recent closures, both on South Floria Avenue south of Lake Miriam, are Manny’s Chophouse and BugerIM.
Surprised Residents Spot a Bear in South Lakeland
Several residents and workers were surprised in mid-May when they spotted a black bear roaming in neighborhoods near Lakeland Linder Airport. The bear was thought to be the same juvenile that was earlier seen near Plant City. Game officials urge people seeing bears to stay calm since the animal’s instinct is to flee. Other tips: Avoid attracting bears by securing garbage, pet food and bird seed. If you see one, keep a safe distance; if it gets close, stand upright and speak in a calm, assertive voice while backing up slowly and leaving the bear an escape route.
Buses Will Run Earlier and Later Starting Oct. 1
Buses will start running earlier in the morning and will stay active later in the evening under a new Citrus Connection route system that takes effect Oct. 1. The current eight Lakeland-area routes will be reduced to five and the numbered route names will be replaced by colors, making the route map look more like a subway map. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive during a two-month test of the new routes, transit officials. For route details, visit ridecitrus.com.
Wetlands Project Aims to Clean Up Lake Hunter
Drivers on Sikes Boulevard may soon notice construction work in the wetlands area south of the RP Funding Center. The wetlands are slated to be cleared of invasive vegetation and three ponds built as part of a stormwater filtration system; it’s being created to reduce harmful nutrients, trash and sediments flowing into Lake Hunter. A nature/educational path with benches is also planned to give birders and others an opportunity to enjoy the improved eight-acre wetlands area.
After 87 Years, Allen & Co. Is Being Sold
Lakeland’s Allen & Company, which was founded in 1932 and calls itself Florida’s oldest investment firm, has signed an agreement to be acquired by LPL Financial of Boston by the end of the year. The local firm’s roughly 30 investment advisors overseeing $3 billion in assets will become LPL employees but will continue to work under the Allen & Company branding. The local firm started looking last year for a partner that could offer customers the latest technology, a company vice president said.
Polk Museum Sees a Change In Leadership
Alex Rich, who came to Lakeland in 2014 to head Florida Southern College’s art history program and galleries, has become executive director and chief curator of the Polk Museum Art. He succeeds Claire Orologas, who retired after leading the museum since 2012; she will continue working on special projects as director emerita. Rich, 37, became curator and director of galleries and exhibitions for the museum in June 2017, when the museum formed a partnership with FSC.