Drive Like Your Swans Live Here
Watch for changes coming soon to Lake Morton Drive. Alarmed by distracted driving that injured a jogger and killed five swans, the city is looking at several options to keep drivers focused when circling the picturesque lake. Meanwhile First United Methodist Church has posted timely signs near the lake: “Drive Like Your Swans Live Here.”
Mural Saved As Publix Rebuilds Store
The 58-year-old Publix at Grove Park is being demolished, but the colorful entrance mural is being preserved. We know what’s replacing the aging market — a newer, larger Publix — but we still don’t know where the mural will end up. Gregory Fancelli, the Publix heir who arranged its preservation, has mentioned a couple of possibilities, one in Dixieland and another on Massachusetts Avenue.
Marijuana Dispensary Opens Here
A Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting marked the opening of Lakeland’s first medical marijuana dispensary. Customers need a state-issued card to enter Curaleaf in a strip shopping center on U.S. 98 North near I-4 and a valid prescription from an approved physician to buy anything there. The Lakeland location puts Curaleaf half-way toward its goal of opening 22 stores in Florida by the end of the year.
Ch-ch-ch-changes As Two Large Churches Transform
A couple of Lakeland’s larger churches have transformed recently. St. David’s Episcopal folded into St. Stephens Episcopal after selling its iconic Edgewood Drive home to Redemption Church for $1.85 million. Lakeside Baptist sold its New Jersey Road campus for $1.9 million to Geneva Classical Academy, which is leasing the auditorium to the fast-growing Grace City Church.
Power Outages: There’s a Map For That
Here’s some helpful info for the next time your power goes out: Lakeland Electric has improved its online outage map. The updated version pinpoints the location and size of outages and includes an estimated restoration time. There’s also a weather overlay with animated radar. Look for it at lakelandelectric.com/emergency-information-center.
Electricity: Fuel Drop Neutralizes Rate Increase
Last month we told you that Lakeland Electric’s base rate was about to go up. So it’s only fair to report that for October through December, the utility’s fuel charge is going down. The bottom line is that the “typical” home customer who uses 1,000 kWh a month will see a 50-cent reduction in the electricity portion of their monthly utility bill.
Aim of 3 p.m. City Meetings: More Participation
Lakeland’s City Commission is now starting its twice-a-month meetings at 3 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. in hopes of making it easier for citizens to attend. With just two meetings held at the new time, it’s too early to say if the plan worked. So far, nobody has spoken up during the audience participation slot near the end of the meeting; that fell at 5:03 one meeting and 4:37 the next.
Despite Protests, County OKs Expansion Plan
Visions of more traffic, flooding and possible damage to an eagle’s nest prompted 50 people to attend a Polk County Commission meeting to oppose expansion of the Hallam Preserve subdivision off CR 540A from 13 homes to 79. Commissioners approved the proposal 5-0, saying Southern Homes had every right to develop the land according to the plan they submitted.
NBC, Others Check Lakeland’s Hurricane Hunters
These days hurricanes are bringing attention to Lakeland even when they take place elsewhere. News outlets, including NBC’s “Today” show, spotlighted the work of the NOAA Hurricane Hunters based at Lakeland Linder International Airport as Hurricane Florence plundered toward the Carolina coast. The 110- member staff and their aircraft moved here last year.
‘Survivor’ Team David Includes Local Waitress
You’re probably correct if you watched the new season of “Survivor” on CBS and thought a contestant reminded you of a young waitress at a north Lakeland restaurant. Contestant Jessica Peet, 19, has been known to frequent the northside Beef O’Brady’s, which held a premiere party when the new season debuted Sept. 26. Jessica competes on the underdog Team David.