Let’s face it.Living in Central Florida means spotting an alligator in spring is just about as common as catching a love bug in your mouth. (Anyone else #AskingForAFriend?)
With an estimated 1.3 million alligators in Florida, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is warning folks to be aware of heightened alligator activity this time of year (due to nesting + mating) and the possibilities of encountering them.
Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed an increase in alligator sightings stories – and may have even caught a few glimpses of the modern-day dinosaur, yourself.
From a huggable sweetie + to a Walmart prowler, we rounded up some of the snappiest stories this spring involving our favorite lizard-like leviathans for you to catch up on. ⤵️
• Sweetie, the huggable gator | “Sweetie” – a six-year-old, blind American Alligator – went viral via a video on Tik Tok when her owner carried her into a Key Lime Pie shop.
• Just a quick Sunday stroll | A five-foot gator took a quick stroll through a Walmart parking lot…maybe to shop for hurricane supplies?
• Spotting Snaggletooth | Check out this video of a millennial-aged gator, named Snaggletooth prowling through the Florida Everglades.
• Howdy neighbor| POV: You’re about ready to get out of bed, head on a morning coffee run, and suddenly, you hear a loud banging noise on your door. Is it: A. Your significant other? B. A neighbor? Or C. Two alligators in a full out brawl? If you guessed C., you’d be correct.
•#BestSummerEver| One gator was preparing for his #BestSummerEver by taking a refreshing dive in a backyard pool.
• One ‘doggone gator | A Florida Man fought a 13-ft. alligator in order to save his dog, Loki.
○$10M. The amount approved by Polk County Commissioners to be used for an expansion of COVID-19 testing in the county’s vulnerable communities over the next five months. The funds come from the $126M the county received in April under the CARES Act via the federal government. Polk County hospitals will lead the testing efforts and the expanded program will test 7,000 people in July. (The Ledger)
○ According to this post on NextDoor, Medical Director for the Polk County Department of Health, Dr. Jackson, “strongly recommends” wearing a mask when in public where you cannot control your own social distancing.
○ Yesterday, an outbreak of coronavirus cases was reported at Lakeland’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Operations (NOAA) hurricane hunter base, with five employees that had contracted the virus. The employees were last in the facility in the beginning of June + other employees who may have had contact with the positive individuals will now self-quarantine. With hurricane season having started earlier this month, there is no word yet on how this temporary employee loss will affect future hurricane recon missions. (The Ledger)
○ If you’re having trouble paying your electric bill, Lakeland Electric customers can still set up a Coronavirus Payment Planfor outstanding balances. While service disconnects for non-payments have resumed, late fees will continue to be waived until Oct. 1.
○ According to a poll administered by the U.S. Census Bureau to gauge COVID-19 impacts, millions of Floridians feel as though they cannot pay their rent. This data additionally shows that most of the people who took the survey are aged between 25-54, are married, and have an income less than $34,999. (Click Orlando)
○ On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health announced a record-breaking 2,783 new cases of coronavirus and an increase of 55 deaths in Florida. That brings the total number of cases in FL of COVID-19 to 80,109, and the total deaths to 2,993. (WFLA News Channel 8)
○ Dexamethasone – a commonly used steroid – may be healing severely ill patients. UK researchers shared their research findings on Tuesday + the British government immediately authorized the use for coronavirus patients. Top infectious disease expert in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that “this is a significant improvement in the available therapeutic options that we have.” (Click Orlando)
Hey, there. Looking for today’s #MustDo events? In accordance with the
CDC’s recommendations regarding public gatherings, we have decided to postpone public event coverage for the time being. We look forward to bringing you Lakeland’s #MustDo events soon (until then, feel free to submit your virtual events
You can still vote for Publix Field today until 3 p.m. ⚾
#DYK that your photo could be featured in our newsletter? Just use #LALtoday on social media.
Weather ○ 90º | Mostly Sunny |20% chance of rain ○ Florida really is the state that does it all.Polk County Government has issued tips on how to be prepared for both hurricanesand droughts. For hurricanes, recommendations include putting together a hurricane kit, reviewing storm plans+ stocking up on extra supplies. When it comes to droughts, some suggestions are following local weather restrictions, watching the weather + checking irrigation systems. 💧
State ○ $30M. The amount of money that the Southern Poverty Law Center will make available in grants to nonprofits in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana + Mississippi. The money will go towards helping register and mobilize voters of color. This campaign will stretch from this year’s election until the 2022 midterm elections. 🗳️ (NPR)
TheBuy ○ This Sunday, June 21, it’s time to shine the spotlight on dad. Whether you’re shopping for the hip daddio, the project manager pops, or the sentimental dad, we unearthed a selection of local gems to gift the strapping father figure in your life. Peruse this list to find the perfect present to thank the man who made both dad jokes + dad bod a trend.
Community ○ A community forum on race relations will take place on June 29 at 6 p.m. in the RP Funding Center’s Youkey Theater. A few community leaders have been asked to speak, but the rest of the time will be opened up to individuals who want to comment. Due to COVID-19, capacity will be at 50%, which will still seat 1,100 people. (Lkldnow)
Civic ○ A trail blazed for Lakeland firefighters. Lakeland commissioners and the city’s firefighter union are on track to approve a new three-year contract with firefighters in Lakeland. In this contract, full-time employees of the Lakeland Fire Department will receive improved healthcare + retroactive pay raises. 🚒 (The Ledger)
Opening ○ A pizza good news. Chef T’s Garden Grill, a fine-dining restaurant that almost closed in October, is back up and running, but this time with the owner’s long-time friend. Chef Terry Doner is now running the restaurant with chef Italo Casini who is known in the area for his pasta-tively awesome dishes at other high-end restaurants. 🍝 (Lkld Now)
Finance ○ Pet ownership is on the rise with more people spending time at home. Thinking about adding a furry friend to your family? MIDFLORIDA Credit Union breaks down the costs when budgeting for a new pet. 🐶 Ⓟ
Number ○ $1K. The amount of funding that Lakeland Electric is granting to select Florida-based non-profit organizations within the Lakeland Electric territory. Applications for the Community Giving Grant began yesterday and are open until August 1st. (Lakeland Electric)
Answered ○ In yesterday’s newsletter, a reader reached out, asking us where the best place to get picture postcards of the sites in Lakeland was. Reader Teresa O. chimed in with “June Taylor sells Lakeland/Polk/Florida postcards by a local artist. I feel confident Kelly, the owner, could help you.”
Biz ○ Community, commerce, culture, + sustainability. The African American Chamber of Commerce has set those principles as their core values. All of the programs they offer surround both those four principles as well as four other focal points: advocacy, access to capital, contracting + entrepreneur training. With 40+ having already registered for the chamber’s directory, the chamber is making a goal of getting 100+ businesses to registerbetween now and June 19.
Ranked ○ 37. Florida’s ranking in WalletHub’s recent list of Best & Worst States for Working Dads. To find these rankings, WalletHub measured all 50 states and DC across dimensions like economic + social well-being, work-life balance, child care, and health. Massachusetts ranked no 1. + New Mexico ranked no. 51. (WalletHub)
FeaturedJob ○ We’re hiring! If you know that Saturdays are farmers market days, swans are the queens of the avian world + Pub Subs reign supreme, come work with us at LALtoday, and join our team as an Editor. Key responsibilities include educating Lakeland through our daily newsletter and social platforms. Learn more about the position here. Ⓟ
Catapult’s new Maker Space is planned to open mid-July 2020 | Photo provided
Small business owners (and fans of the show Making It) will appreciate this:Catapult’s new Maker Space is planned to open inside Catapult 3.0 in mid-July.
The 9,500 sqft.-space – available for use by all innovators + creators in Lakeland with a monthly membership – isfully stocked with state-of-the-art machinery to produce artisan crafted, local goods. Bonus: It also comes with all of Catapult’smembership perks + resources to take your idea or business to the next level.
Few limitations exist in the Maker Space. From 3D printers to embroidery machines, makers can have access to equipmentthey might not be able to afford on their own. Check out the full machinery list.
Machines for makers of all kinds being setup in Catapult’s Maker Space | Photo provided
Maker Space Director Grant Posner has experience with 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, CNC Milling, Rapid Prototyping + Woodworking. So, if new Maker Space users are unfamiliar with a machine or not sure how to transform an idea into a real product, he can guide you through different options + processes. Take a behind-the-scenes peek at the space.
In addition to his expertise, Posner will bring in local experts to teach classes on welding, woodturning, CNC Milling and CAD (computer-aided design).
(Are you a local trade expert?Contact Catapult to see if you can teach a future class.)
Monthly memberships for the Maker Space cost $125, and makers will need to participate in safety + equipment training before operating machinery. Apply here.Ⓟ
Answered:False. According to Wild Florida, alligators can reach speeds of 25 mph, so you’re only going to slow your escape if you run zig-zag away from an alligator. Read more here on how to live alongside the Sunshine State’s unofficial mascot.
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