Lakeland City Council addressed programs to benefit local children as well as raises for city employees at today's council meeting.

   Mayor Carol Arredondo announced renovations of the10th Street Community Park's youth section are nearing completion.

    "It's for children from fourth grade through high school. They'll be able to enjoy the morning and afternoon programs at the park this summer. Our goal is make the park a good place for them to meet and play. It will be free of drugs and alcohol," declared Arredondo.

    Arredondo also expressed interest in a proposal by Lakeland resident Charles "Pug" McGraw. McGraw, a former boxer, suggested a low cost boxing program for high school boys.

    McGraw said, "I had a program like this in Falling River and it was a great success. Many young men who went through it grew into hardworking, family-oriented people."

    Arredondo instructed McGraw to file a formal proposal for consideration.

    Lakeland City Council also dealt with raises for city employees. Chief Lester Major testified he was entitled to a proposed contract for a $33,500 salary he submitted previously.

    Believing the new contract was a term of his employment, Major stated, "At that time, I took the minimum salary of $33,000. I feel that asking for a 4 percent raise now, with a contract, is justified and isn't asking a whole lot since many city employees have gotten at least a 5 percent cost of living increase lately."

    Councilman Raymond Garrett rebutted, "If we sign this contract with one employee then we'll have to sign contracts with all heads of city departments."

    In response, council unanimously passed a motion by Councilman Kurt Lee not to enter into contracts with any city employee.

    Council also agreed that starting next year, city employee pay raises would occur on their hiring anniversary instead of automatically occurring Jan. 1.