About – Current

Billy Townsend

Billy Townsend

As longtime government, political and general assignment reporter in Polk County and the wider I-4 corridor Billy Townsend wrote extensively about Polk’s unique regional identity and the issues shaping it, including USF Polytechnic, the Heartland Parkway and the CSX rail deal.

While Billy left professional reporting to take a corporate writing job, he keeps close tabs on news of all stripes (especially political news) and the changes in modern journalism. Joining Lakeland Local in 2008, Billy became the site’s guiding force in 2013.

Throughout his tenure, Billy’s news and commentary focus on Lakeland and its citizens — even when column subjects range fair afield.

Billy’s wife is Julie Townsend, executive director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority. They live with their children in the Lake Morton area.

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Lakeland Local History

Lakeland Local was first published in 2006 by Chuck Welch. This is from the original “About” page….

2009 Nov 7 #14a Chuck Welch

Chuck Welch

From Chuck Welch:

Hyperlocal publishers must make the process as transparent as possible. The idea that journalists have a completely neutral point of view is a myth. Who and what your cover is guided by your biases and concerns. Let your audience know if you have to answer to anyone. While I don’t have them listed as bullet points, here’s my personal statement:

Pertinent education and true change is accomplished only through intelligent and uncensored discourse. Governments, organizations, and relationships operate best when processes and discussions are transparent. That’s also how I operate Lakeland Local.

If you get to know me, you’ll find I sometimes have opinions and beliefs that are not shared by my family, friends or employers. While they may not agree with what I may publish, they agree that public discourse is important.

Every opinion on Lakeland Local is mine alone. Every story I decide to cover is my choice alone. I ask no friend, family member, or employer for information or opinions on what I choose to feature here. No friends, family members or employers have ever, or could ever, influence my decision to cover or not any topic on Lakeland Local.

Furthermore, I am not a member of any organization that I cover, or one that has any dealing with any organization or topic I may join. If I join something, I’ll post it here.

Finally, every link I place on Lakeland Local either is pertinent to the post or contains information useful to Lakeland residents. I may or may not agree with everything found at that link. If you’re confused which is true, post a comment and I’ll clarify the issue.

In other words, if there is something here you dislike, you can blame me alone.


Staff 2 crop
In July 2008, Lakeland Local welcomed additional authors when Billy Townsend, Lorrie Delk Walker, Cat Carter, and Darby Critendon brought their popular writing to Lakeland Local. Tom Hagerty supplied the photography.

Creative Commons License photos credit: Tom Hagerty