Lakeland's Music Ranch faces closure after inspection

Ken Suarez reports

- Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Grateful Dead, Boston, and many others have jammed there, but the Music Ranch, which has has hosted big names in country music for decades, is now in trouble.

In January, Polk County inspectors told the Music Ranch's owner, Phillip Stevens it would cost $100,000 to bring the place up to code.

"It threw me into a depression," Sevens said. "I don't have anything near $100,000. If you took both my bank accounts, personal and business, I could probably scrape about $10,000."

The county said the building needs a sprinkler system. Tying into the county water system could run just under $50,000, alone.

Phillips said he has been inspected over the years and never got such a bad report. He said other rural entertainment venues have popped up lately and they have been built up to code. Now, the pressure is on for him to catch up.

A number of fundraisers are planned to help bail out the Ranch. The biggest one is scheduled for May 14 and 15 at the Ranch. Phillips said he is going to call every big star he knows to come play.

Still, Phillips is worried about the future - and whether the Ranch will be in his.

"I feel very blessed, no matter what," Phillips said. "I feel God has been good to me."

For more information about the Music Ranch, visit http://musicranch.org.

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