Southgate Publix All-in-One

Over at another site, there was a discussion about the reopening of the Southgate Publix. One person questioned the coverage: “It’s a grocery store. A. GROCERY. STORE. A place to buy groceries.”

I’ve only been here a few years, but it researching the articles about Southgate I found that it has survived and prospered when many contemporary and later shopping districts failed. In the Dixieland community the Southgate Publix isn’t just a grocery store. It’s a meeting place. We find our neighbors there every time we shop. It’s a touchstone of history. 52 years in the same location doesn’t happen by accident. We can walk and bike to this store. Generations have done so, though it was built for cars during the time the city wasn’t quite up to its edge.

Filming Endure

pole_endureFor a few weeks I’m volunteering for NFocus, a Lakeland company making an independent film here in town. It’s my job to handle writing for their official “behind the scenes” site, Endure. I’m also tweeting what I can at @enduremovie. I’m shooting a lot of photos for the production, though some can’t be published. C’est la vie.

The crew shoots from at 7am to 7pm, so I can’t be on the set at all times. The other day I was visiting a friend who lives near one set and spotted those young women watching production. With Devon Sawa in the film, they’ve had quite a few bystander scenes like that one.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Chuck Welch for Lakeland Local

Lakeland Tweetup/Meetup for March 31

Lakeland area bloggers and other social media users are all invited to the next “tweetup/meetup” on March 31st at 7pm. We’re taking a more laid-back approach this time. No presentations teaching the wonders of Twitter. Just a group of social media fans with the opportunity to meet in person. It’s a chance to mingle with Lakeland’s social media cutting edge.

We’re trying a new meeting place this month. Barry Friedman, the Ledger’s Managing Editor/Digital, offered the use of the Ledger’s lobby. He’s going to supply refreshments, and offer tours of the Polk County newspaper of record. To help me let Barry know how many to expect, please comment below if you plan to come. Or email me at tweetup [at], or send me a tweet at @chuckwelch. (Map & directions inside)

On the Road Under Cover of Smoke

Always mindful of safety, Billy Townsend couldn’t post the following questions while riding on Interstate 4…

1) What is up with all the fires?

2) Why are all the worst drivers driving on I4 right now?

I apologize if I’ve misquoted him. Please imagine the incredulous tone to his voice as he pondered the pair of questions. — Chuck Welch

Buy a Newspaper Today?

Today is Buy A Newspaper Day. The effort is an attempt to get readers back to purchasing their local newspaper. The fact the campaign was conducted entirely online doesn’t escape me. Nevertheless, I bought a newspaper today. In fact, I purchased two. The Ledger and the News Chief. The former, based in Lakeland, covers Imperial Polk county and cost $.75.

What did I find?

Thoughts on a Pair of Planning Meetings

TrafficTuesday night there were a pair of meetings where area residents discussed long range community planning.

At the one I attended, Lakeland Vision brought together over 100 concerned residents to discuss Lakeland growth priorities. The Ledger described the other as supporting a study: “…called the Gateway Selected Area Study, is part of an effort to look at the expected growth impact of the planned CSX freight terminal in South Winter Haven and the expected spinoff industrial, commercial and residential development.”

In Lakeland, citizens expressed that the top growth priority should be before the development comes: “Growth will be well-planned and managed to ensure that public infrastructure investments can keep up with the needs of a growing population.”

At the other meeting, they were addressing the growth impact of the CSX rail yard. However, some government officials seemed a bit confused why they were conducting the study:

Get Out of Town

2007 April 9 #1Yes, this weekend might be your chance to get out of Lakeland for some fun and maybe a few thrills. Winter Haven and Polk City are looking for fun seeking Lakelanders with Roar N Soar and a $5 all admissions Special Price Sunday at Cypress Gardens. Tom Hagerty and I will be at Roar N Soar Saturday to check it out. I hope to see you there.

Update: From The Disney Blog

The experiment that turned the beautiful, but dying, Cypress Gardens into an amusement park may be nearing an end. It pains me to write this rumor, but I completely understand the reasoning behind it. Winter Haven is just too far off the beaten path to be supported by tourists, especially when gas costs are high and with Disney’s ability to keep guests on resort property for the whole vacation. Unfortunately the local economy isn’t strong enough to support the park either.

So with IAAPA in town in a few days the park will be shopping its free-standing amusement park attractions to the highest bidder. Apparently, they’ve had appraisals done and already sold a few.

It sounds like Sunday might be your last chance to experience Cypress Gardens amusement rides.