So Chuck hit the road a few days ago, as documented in the photo above. With Juliette in tow, he’s en route to Wisconsin via New Orleans and Houston. Don’t ask. It’s Chuck. While in the Big Easy, they stopped to Facebook a picture of the suburban Chili’s where the wife and I met.
So somehow, I doubt we’ve all heard the last of our friend. In fact, virtual worlds being what they are, it may come to seem like he never left.
In any event, if you want to get a sense of how long Lakeland Local has been sputtering along, check out this picture from 2009, by which time we were already a well-established troublemaker.
We ran it in a post called “The Next Generation of the Forces of Evil.” It ran after the second defeat of the CSX deal when Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer called those of us in the insurgency, “the forces of evil.” Good times.
Of course, the third time proved to be the charm. But look at what’s happened. Winter Haven city government is in a shambles. Frankly, they make Lakeland look responsible and competent, which isn’t easy. The people who rubbed their grubby hands the most greedily over this deal are long gone. Others continue to suffer.
And now, to the surprise of absolutely no one, CSX is pulling out the rug further and saying, “You know those 6,000 or 8,000 or whatever thousand jobs? Well, not so much.”
CSX officials are asking for the extension because development companies have shown little interest in developing the property, meant to become a business park, casting a shadow over the facility and the estimated 6,000 jobs that were to come with it — both may take longer to develop than some had hoped.
The natural gas boom is squeezing coal production nationally. And I wonder what effect that will have on the coal trains that were a big part of the new traffic expected for Lakeland. Someone with more time than me — attention Ledger reporters — might track that down.
In any event, time confounds us all, mocking our expectations and certainties. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes against. But it’s always working. So is Lakeland Local. If you want to be a part of it, to sustain and grow Chuck’s legacy, give me a shout. firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s as simple as that. Cary McMullen, for instance, just emailed with a Kiera piece a few days ago. It was up within 24 hours. That can be you, too.
I’ll be posting sporadically in the next couple of weeks. I hope to write a piece about the seemingly adult influence exerted by John Stewart during his tenure as interim superintendent. Then I’ll be out of the country for most of the last half of June, so the Townsend era of LL won’t kick in fiercely until afterward. But I have plans — including an unauthorized history of the myth of Grady Judd — and what it says about our county and media. So tune in and take part.