Lakeland: Someone let the shelter dogs out - and it’s saving their lives and bringing out the public in droves. SPCA Florida launches new canine Sleepover Program called Pajama Pawty on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, to work in conjunction with existing Doggie Date Program, formerly known as Rent A Dog Program. The Pajama Pawty Program pairs members of the community with shelter dogs for a sleep over.
FLORIDA, January 27, 2020 – 3B Medical, an Inc 5000 company located in Winter Haven, is pleased to announce the hiring of Dave MacDougall as 3B's Chief Operating Officer (COO). A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Dave brings over 30 years of experience in leadership primarily in the health care industry to the Company.
Lakeland: SPCA Florida’s Women’s Giving Circle, (WGC) announces the 2020 SPCA Florida WGC
Scholarship Award. Under the Program, one $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a graduating High School
senior who has demonstrated exceptional dedication and service as an SPCA Florida Volunteer. There will be
one scholarship awarded per year.
ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2020) – Axiom Bank N.A., a Maitland-based, leading community bank, recently named Susan Maurer as SVP, Market Executive. In this role, Maurer will develop relationships with Axiom’s commercial partners and create opportunities for growth in the Tampa Bay area.
With over four decades of experience working in financial institutions, Maurer specializes in business and community leadership, corporate lending, commercial relationship development and financial management.
Guest Blogger: Quentin Roe
My name is Quentin Roe. I am the President of WM. G. Roe & Sons, Inc., which is located next to the train station in South WH. WGRS is a 93-year-old, 4th generation family business that specialized in fresh citrus and especially tangerines.
32 years ago, we started a citrus breeding program to develop no seed/ low seed varieties of tangerines that would perform well in our subtropical Florida climate. Most new varieties of seedless tangerines have been developed to perform in desert arid or Mediterranean climates, but usually do not do well in a Florida climate. We got lucky and have a few super starts that came from our program.
On select weekends in January and February, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort’s guests will “become the ninja” with their favorite heroes and villains from the world of NINJAGO as LEGO® NINJAGO® [NIN-JAH-GO] Days take over the theme park. The limited-time event will feature ninja-themed activities, new LEGO character meet-and-greets and delicious, kid-friendly treats all at the place #BuiltForKids.
Polk County Public Schools’ graduation rate improved to 81.2 percent last year — a new record.
The district’s latest graduation rate increased from 80.4 percent in 2017-18, according to the Florida Department of Education.
“I’m pleased that we have continued to improve upon our graduation rate with another record-breaking performance in 2018-19,” said PCPS Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd. “The data reflects the hard work and long hours invested by our teachers, staff, students, families and volunteers. But the true meaning of our graduation rate is that more students in Polk County are successfully completing their K-12 education every year — better preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of life after high school.”
Polk County’s 14 traditional public high schools had an average graduation rate of 88.8 percent in 2018-19, up 2.3 percentage points from 86.5 percent the year before. The majority of Polk’s traditional high schools improved their graduation rates last year, and most outperformed the statewide graduation rate of 86.9 percent.
“I would like to praise our schools and district staff for their tremendous effort,” said Tami Dawson, PCPS’ regional assistant superintendent of high schools. “Everyone must work together as a team to raise our graduation rate. We have to be very prescriptive with students who struggle; we must look at the individual student and figure out what they need to succeed. Finally, kudos are definitely in order for students themselves, who put in the hard work necessary to earn their walk across the stage at graduation.”
Schools that showed significant gains include: Lake Region High, which jumped 9.8 percentage points to 89.6 percent; Ridge Community High, up 5.4 percentage points to 88.1 percent; Mulberry High, up 5.1 percentage points to 95.5 percent; and Tenoroc High, which increased 3.9 percentage points to 80.1 percent.
PCPS principals celebrated the good news and expressed gratitude to their staff and students:
- “Our staff has been strategically monitoring data and ensuring students are on track for graduation,” said Lake Region High Principal Maryjo Costine. “We hold student conferences and consider different options to make sure we provide opportunities for students to be successful. We have continued to raise our graduation rate over the past three years, with a significant jump this past year. All staff members are involved in our progress.”
- “The improvement of Ridge Community’s graduation rate has been a whole-school effort, with an intentional focus on interventions and follow-up,” said Ridge Community High Principal Stephen Ely. “We keep the success of our students at the forefront, and designate staff members to monitor grades and attendance of students who may otherwise fall through the cracks. Teachers and counselors work together when students need guidance and reminders to focus on the finish, instead of distractions.”
- “We’ve been working with teachers and identifying GPA issues as early as possible, doing things like providing afterschool tutoring, and making sure students are taking the courses they need to recover credits,” said Tenoroc High Principal Jason Looney. “I’m proud of my students and my staff; it’s a really good feeling. It’s a huge accomplishment for our parents too, because they’ve been working to make sure our students stay on track. All of our stakeholders have been working on this.”
Additional highlights from the latest graduation data include:
- Polk County’s graduation rate for ESE (Exceptional Student Education) students was 77.2 percent in 2018-19, up from 65.9 percent the year before.
- The graduation rate for black students was 78.7 percent, rising from 77.5 percent the year prior.
- Florida’s new graduation rate of 86.9 percent was up 0.8 percentage points from the year before — the same rate of improvement as PCPS.
Graduation rates for Polk County’s traditional public high schools: 2019 vs 2018
- Auburndale High 87.0 percent (86.0 percent; +1.0)
- Bartow High 92.4 percent (88.9 percent; +3.5)
- Fort Meade High 94.9 percent (98.8 percent; -3.9)
- Frostproof High 87.7 percent (87.2 percent; +0.5)
- George Jenkins High 96.2 percent (97.0 percent; -0.8)
- Haines City High 84.9 percent (83.8 percent; +1.1)
- Kathleen High 79.7 percent (79.2 percent; +0.5)
- Lake Gibson High 92.0 percent (89.6 percent; +2.4)
- Lake Region High 89.6 percent (79.8 percent; +9.8)
- Lakeland High 93.3 percent (93.5 percent; -0.2)
- Mulberry High 95.5 percent (90.4 percent; +5.1)
- Ridge Community High 88.1 percent (82.7 percent; +5.4)
- Tenoroc High 80.1 percent (76.2 percent; +3.9)
- Winter Haven High 86.7 percent (87.2 percent; -0.5)
Additional graduation data is available on the Florida Department of Education website at https://tinyurl.com/y98aqx4u.
FDOT will be holding a Community Open House at the W.H. Stuart Conference Center in Bartow. The Community Open House provides the public the opportunity to view displays, work with interactive map and speak one on one with FDOT staff about the proposed project. People may come at any time and there will be no formal presentation.
W.H. Stuart Conference Center
1710 US Highway 17S
Bartow, FL 33830
Thursday, January 9, 2020
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Central Florida’s Visitor Information Center (CFVIC) will host a Health & Wellness Fair on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. This free event will provide an opportunity for visitors and locals to meet representatives from multiple Polk County businesses, covering topics such health and wellness, insurance needs and more. Additional vendors will offer craft items, food and beverages for purchase. Attendees will be eligible for door prizes, to be awarded during the event, including tickets for Central Florida attractions and activities such as Bok Tower Gardens, LEGOLAND Florida Resort and Lakeland Magic games. For more information, or if you would like to become a vendor, contact Dennis Budde at 863-420-2586 or Dennis@visitcentralflorida.org.
The CFVIC is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week and is located at 101 Adventure Court in Davenport (along U.S. Highway 27), a half-mile south of I-4 at Exit 55. In addition to assisting visitors, and residents, by providing tourism information about Polk County, the center also sells discounted attraction tickets for many Central Florida attractions including LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Bok Tower Gardens, the Disney parks, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and more.
The Lakeland Magic, NBA G League affiliate of the Orlando Magic, have acquired forward Isaiah Armwood. In a corresponding roster move, Lakeland has waived J.D Tisdale and Cameron Lard. Armwood (6-9, 215) spent the 2018-19 season with the Capital City Go-Go before heading overseas for the beginning of the 2019-20 season. He played in 36 games for the Go-Go, averaging 8.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Armwood played the first two seasons (2009-2011) of his collegiate career with Villanova before transferring to George Washington (2012-2014) where he averaged 12.7 points shooting 49% from the field in 32 minutes of play.
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort’s free Preschooler Pass, available from January 3 through February 3, 2020, will grant Florida Resident children ages 3-years-old and 4-years-old 12 months of unlimited admission to both LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park and Water Park with no blockout dates. As the theme park built for kids, LEGOLAND Florida Resort offers more than 60 percent of its rides and attractions for guests 40 inches or taller. The limited-time offer pass grants admission to all the awesome 2020 events, from LEGO® NINJAGO® Days, starting January 25, all the way through Kids’ New Year’s Party in December, including PirateFest Weekends, THE LEGO® MOVIE™ Days, Brick or Treat, Holidays at LEGOLAND and more.
Congratulations to Lynn Polston Allstate Insurance on being awarded Business of the Month! Lynn loves doing business in Winter Haven and loves the people who live here. One of her biggest priorities as a Winter Haven business is giving back to the community.
New Gold Chalices Donated by Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Beautify Altar at St. Ann Catholic Church
Knights of Columbus Council 7091 of Cypress Gardens helped beautify the altar and enhance the celebration of Mass at St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City with the donation of two brand new gold chalices just in time for the Advent season. The council achieved this by contributing $600 to a chalice replacement program established by Knights of Columbus Council 10484 which is affiliated with St. Ann. Council 7091 is committed to helping Catholic churches in the eastern part of Polk County with their special needs.
The City of Winter Haven invites the public to attend the official grand opening of the AdventHealth Fieldhouse at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 4, 2020. The
celebration will begin at the West Entrance of this new and improved multi-use complex located at 210 Cypress Gardens Boulevard. Once the doors are officially opened, the public can take a self-guided tour to learn more about this iconic facility. City staff will be on hand to answer questions, and register those
interested in participating in activities and obtaining a membership. For more information, please call the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department at 291-5656.
United Way of Central Florida receives $253,000 to expand the End Hunger Initiative to 17 Polk locations
Thanks to a $253,000 donation, what started as a twice a month mobile food pantry in Mulberry will become Polk County’s largest coordinated effort to reduce food insecurity. United Way of Central Florida launched the End Hunger Initiative, in partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay, this summer at the Mulberry Community Service Center. This $253,000 donation from the George W. Jenkins Foundation and associated entities will expand the model to 16 additional food-insecure locations around Polk County.
Explore the skies by the light of the Milky Way at the Dark Sky Festival & Star Party at Bok Tower Gardens on Saturday, January 25. The festival is included in general admission and is free to members. Speakers begin at 4 P.M., and the gate closes at 9:30 P.M.
Trish and Doug Stanforth of Winter Haven have been welcomed as the newest members of the volunteer board of directors of Winter Haven-based Meals on Wheels of Polk County. In addition to serving on the board, the Stanforths continue to deliver food to an estimated 15 homebound MOW clients on a route in Winter Haven. They became affiliated with MOW as volunteer drivers more than two years ago. “We are delighted to welcome this wonderful couple to our board of directors. The experience gained by Trish and Doug in working together to deliver meals to our clients gives them a unique perspective for serving on our board,” said MOW Executive Director Susan Eldridge in announcing their addition to the board.
Celebrating more than 90 years of cultural heritage, Bok Tower Gardens joins musical forces with bell towers across the state for a spring series of recitals. The series includes performances by some of the world’s best carillon artists at Bok Tower Gardens, the W. Crawford Memorial Carillon (Venice), the Century Tower at the University of Florida (Gainesville), and the Dimmitt Memorial Carillon (Clearwater). This is the first time the Florida carillons have come together for a series of performances.
The Lakeland Magic dedicated the month of December to help those affected by homelessness in the community. The organization participated in multiple volunteer initiatives throughout the month to help local Polk County residents.
Throughout the year, Lakeland Magic players, staff, partners, and season ticket members partnered with Habitat for Humanity of East Polk County, to build a new home for the Drawhorn family, a family of seven. The house was finished and dedicated earlier this month and the family was recognized at center court during the Lakeland Magic Home for the Holidays game. Lakeland Magic corporate partners and season ticket members donated home goods and cleaning supplies to the family. Publix Super Markets stocked the pantry with canned food, water, paper goods, cleaning supplies, food storage items and more as a part of their ‘Pack the Pantry” initiative.
BRP Group, Inc. (“BRP Group” or the “Company”) (BRP), a rapidly growing independent insurance distribution firm delivering tailored insurance solutions, today announced that Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, LLC, a subsidiary of BRP Group, has entered into an agreement to acquire substantially all assets of Lanier Upshaw, Inc. (“Lanier Upshaw”), a Lakeland, Florida-based independent insurance firm focused on writing healthcare, higher education, construction, property and non-profit business throughout Florida and other states. The Partnership, BRP Group’s nomenclature for a strategic acquisition, is expected to close January 1, 2020, subject to certain closing conditions.
For a chance to win SPCA Florida of Lakeland a grant, Abi Duquette submitted a story about how her rescued dog, Luna, brings love and companionship into her home and on life’s adventures. Abi’s “love at first sight” story was selected a winner and earned SPCA Florida a grant from the Petco Foundation, as part of the 2019 Holiday Wishes campaign.
This year, the Petco Foundation, in partnership with Petco and BOBS from Skechers, announced 105 Holiday Wishes grant recipients from across the country for a total of $875,000 in grant awards to support the year-round lifesaving efforts of these animal welfare organizations. Now in its 7th year, the Holiday Wishes campaign, created to celebrate pet adoption and the spirit of giving during the holiday season, has received 15,000 adoption stories, and resulted in $4.2M funds awarded to help more pets find loving homes.
In a special celebration on December 17, the Petco Foundation will surprise SPCA Florida with a $5,000 grant award for the shelter. Abi and Luna her dog will receive a shopping spree at Petco, as well as BOBS from Skechers shoes and pet accessories.
The Lakeland Magic, NBA G League affiliate of the Orlando Magic, have acquired forward Cameron Lard and guard Andrew Rowsey. In a corresponding roster move, Lakeland has waived Corey Sanders. The Magic have been granted a medical hardship exemption because they have four injured players who have missed at least three games, which allows them to acquire Lard on their roster.
GiveWell Community Foundation recently received accreditation with the nation’s highest standard for philanthropic excellence. National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations® establish legal, ethical, effective practices for community foundations everywhere. “Meeting the National Standards benchmarks is a rigorous, comprehensive process,” said Randy Royster, board member of the Council on Foundations. “This accreditation is a significant accomplishment that indicates the GiveWell Community Foundation demonstrates a commitment to transparency, quality, integrity, and accountability as it carries out its mission.”
Chamber member, Great Impressions, is delighted to announce it has again been awarded the New Year's Eve Fireworks and Light Show live streaming contract for the World's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, through its subsidiary company Newzpoint. Great Impressions, a boutique advertising agency covering Winter Haven, Lakeland, and beyond is owned and managed by husband and wife marketing team Kiron Bellani and John Robins, who will be heading off to Dubai to handle the project in person. "We are delighted to be going back to Dubai for this project. Having lived there for 35 years before moving to Florida, it's nice to catch up with our many friends and connect with a few of our clients still located there," said John.