Gets a Movie Makeover
Star-struck Lakeland residents waited in the June heat for a chance to glimpse “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston when he was here in late June for the filming of Walt Disney Pictures’ “The One and Only Ivan.” Crews shot at four Lakeland locales, including Southgate Shopping Center, which was briefly transformed into the 1990s-era Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.
Two Companies Are Delivering Publix Groceries
When our last issue came out a month ago, home delivery wasn’t available to Publix shoppers in Lakeland. Now consumers have two choices: Publix Delivery by Instacart or Target-owned Shipt. Expect to pay slightly more than in the store when ordering through either company. In adddition, Shipt charges an annual membership fee; Instacart relies on delivery fees. Tipping is optional.
Restaurant Activity Heating Up
Restaurants are sprouting on or near the Florida Avenue/U.S. 98 strip that bisects Lakeland. Two are locally owned: D’Lucas, the fast-casual sister to Dixieland’s upscale Nineteen 61, and Federal Bar, a bar (duh) and restaurant in downtown’s historic Federal building. New chain outlets include Mission BBQ, Ford’s Garage and the not-yet-open Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.
City Hires a Development Director
After Jim Studiale retired as the long-time director of the city of Lakeland’s Community Development department, city leaders looked for a successor who they hope will soften the agency’s reputation for regulatory nitpickiness and strengthen its economic development focus. They hired Nicole Travis, 36, who was promoted to the $128k job from director of the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency.
Polk’s First Disc Golf Course Opens
Loyce Harpe Park was already locally famous for its bone-crunching mountain bike trail, expansive dog park and entrance to the new Se7en Wetlands nature preserve. Now it has another distinction: It’s home to Polk County’s first disc golf course. Players toss Frisbee-like plastic saucers toward chain-link baskets on the 18-hole loop.
Singer’s Weight Loss Brings National Fame
When Ra’chel Saintfort lost 121 pounds, she didn’t know she would gain national exposure for her budding singing career. The 32-year-old Lakeland mom was pictured on the cover of People in a promo for an article about her determination to slim down. Since then, she’s been featured on Inside Edition, Good Morning America and a host of lifestyle websites.
No Ban On Backpacks In Polk Schools
After tragic school shootings in Florida and Texas, Polk County got national exposure for its program to place armed guardians in public schools. Families were directly affected when Polk schools banned backpacks during the last week of classes. So it was probably a relief for most parents when the school district announced in June that the backpack ban would not extend to next school year.
Oakbridge Is Growing To the South
The Oakbridge development on both sides of Harden Boulevard north of the Polk Parkway is about to grow to the south. An update to owner Drummond Corp.’s development plan clears the way for shopping, houses and apartments on now-vacant land south of the parkway and east of Harden. Drummond is paying the city of Lakeland $111,100 for traffic improvements.
Lakeland Electric Looking at a Rate Hike
It looks like Lakeland Electric bills will be going up slightly. The utility’s managers are proposing an increase in the base rate that will cost an average customer about $2.50 more each month. The base rate pays for facility improvements and operating costs, but not fuel. The final decision on the rate will be made by the City Commission. Learn more at lakelandelectric.com/baserate.
Cultural History Center Idea Transforms
City Commissioner Phillip Walker’s idea for an African American cultural history center in Lakeland morphed into a center representing multiple cultural histories once his fellow commissioners discussed it. A motion to have the city staff explore locations for a center representing multiple ethnicities passed 4-2, with Walker and Stephanie Madden dissenting. Said Madden about Walker: “I feel like we’ve hijacked his heart and what he brought up.”