City News Blog


This is the official blog of the City of Lakeland, Florida. Check back frequently to stay up to date with all that going on in our beautiful city!


Contact: Grace Hardy


LAKELAND, Fla , October 13, 2011—The Lakeland Branch NAACP will host a Political Forum, Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:00 p.m. at  the Coleman Bush building, 1104 MLK Ave, Lakeland , FL 33805. The political forum is an opportunity for voters to learn more about the candidates vying for their support before the City of Lakeland Municipal election on November 8, 2011.

The panel of candidates participating in the forum will be Christopher Dobson (NW District), Elliott Dorsch (NE District), Keith Merritt (NE District), Ricky Shirah (NW District), and Phillip Walker (NW District). The forum is open and free to the public, and questions for candidates can be submitted prior to October 23, 2011 via email (, or phone (863-682-8879). Questions will also be accepted during the forum as time permits.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. The NAACP is a non-partisan organization.

The energy was flowing at the Lakeland Electric Power Academy Open House on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at Tenoroc High School.

It was four years ago (Fall 2008) that the Power Academy, a partnership between Lakeland Electric and the Polk County School Board, had its first class of students.

The launch of the program coincided with the opening of the new Tenoroc High School. Since its inception, 35 students have graduated from the program with key insights into many positions throughout the utility. Four program participants have gone on to begin their careers with Lakeland Electric.

There are currently 100 students enrolled in the Power Academy, many of them were on hand during the Open House with their families. Betsy Levingston, Director of Director of Training and Work Force Development for Lakeland Electric, said she was very pleased with the turnout this year and that it showed an increased interest and support for the program.

“It was great to have two of the four graduates who work for us now attend as well as an alumnus who have taken advantage of a turbine generator maintenance program that we introduced to students last year.”

The turnout could also be attributed to the fact that Lakeland Electric and Polk school officials are excited about a milestone that the Power Academy will reach at the end of this school year. Students who entered the Academy as a freshman four years ago are now seniors and will be recognized as the inaugural graduating class.

The many Lakeland Electric employees who support the program through job shadowing, conducting tours, speaking to classes, etc. were also present to celebrate this accomplishment.

The Lakeland Electric Power Academy is one of two power-related academies in the State of Florida that offers the Energy Industry Fundamentals curriculum. Lakeland Electric, a member of the Florida Energy Workforce Consortium, helped to develop that curriculum. Completion of the course and passing the assessment will earn students a nationally recognized industry certificate along with their NCCER industry certifications they currently earn.

Employees who have participated in activities for The Lakeland Electric Power Academy:

John Adkinson

Bennie Baucom

Rick Bibby

Bret Galbraith

Leah Borunda

David Brice

Ronnie Brooks

Scott Brooks

Greg Brown

Gary Cissell

Jeff Curry

Joey Curry

Randy Dotson

Rico Dunsmore

Dwayne Goostree

Jane Gschwender

Michael Harmeling

Jackie Hayes

Bobby Holliday

Antwan Key

Betsy Levingston

Grisel Martin

Mike Mustard

Steve Nichols

Lien Nguyen

Robert Padgett

Paul Page

Kaye Parker

Steve Perkins

David Quinto

Ken Riddle

Bianca Roszell

Charlie Russell

Bruce Sanders

Alan Shaffer

Kenny Smith

Jim Stanfield

Joey Tamondong

Faye Tarpley

Karen Thompson

Robin Tillett

Larry Watt

Andrea Whittington


Lakeland Electric is offering a $200 rebate to residential customers for the purchase of a new Energy Star rated refrigerator.   To be eligible for the rebate a customer must recycle their old appliance and the rebate will be processed as a credit on the residential customer’s Lakeland Electric bill.  The purpose of the rebate is to encourage customers to increase the energy efficiency of their household appliances.  Customers must recycle their old units and can’t transfer or utilize those units for other purposes.

Those interested in taking advantage of the appliance rebate bust be a Lakeland Electric customer and they must own only one refrigerator.  Applicants must purchase a new Energy Star refrigerator and recycle their old appliance through the store of purchase.  The receipt must specifically state the old unit will be recycled in order for the rebate to be processed.

Lakeland Electric customers wishing to participate in the refrigerator rebate program simply need to:

1. Purchase a new energy star rated refrigerator.

2. Recycle the old refrigerator by having the store of purchase remove the old unit.

3. Submit the rebate application available on line ( and a copy of the original receipt within one week of the purchase and pick-up of the old unit. Please make sure the receipt specifically states that the old unit will be recycled.

Approved rebates will be offered as a one-time credit on the customer’s Lakeland Electric bill.  Rebates will be provided on a first come-first served basis to eligible customers.  In the event that customer demand exceeds funding availability, Lakeland Electric may in its sole discretion, discontinue the refrigerator rebate program without further notice.

The application for the appliance rebate program and instructions are available on Lakeland Electric’s website under Residential Energy Saving Tips, Programs and Rebates.  For more information on the appliance rebate program and other ReEnergize Lakeland residential energy efficiency programs, call 863/834-7172 or visit  and click the Residential navigation button on the top of the home page.


Decision will be made on continuing alley service and the cost associated with the service

LAKELAND, FL (October 7, 2011) -- The Lakeland City Commission will conduct a public hearing on alley solid waste collection on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. as an agenda item during the regularly scheduled Lakeland City Commission meeting.  A brief presentation on a possible pricing structure will be part of the public hearing followed by public comment.  The City Commission is looking to hear from all those interested because there could be a pricing decision made that would affect all current City of Lakeland solid waste customers.

The City has moved forward with automated trash collection that is more efficient and requires fewer personnel to operate.  The City’s automated trash collection program , EZCan, allows residents to choose the size of their garbage container and they are charged accordingly.  Solid waste customers receiving automated trash collection have three container options: 35 gallon, 65 gallon and 95 gallon.  Residential customers that choose a 35 gallon container pay $13.50/month, residents that choose a 65 gallon container pay $14.50/month and residents that choose a 95 gallon container pay $15.50/month.

The City Commission will decide if solid waste alley collection will continue in neighborhoods that currently have their garbage picked up in service alleys.  The newer automated trash collection vehicles can’t service alleys because of the side arm method of loading trash.  There is not enough room between buildings and other obstacles in the alleys for the robotic arm that is used to lift the garbage containers to operate.  The October 17th public hearing presentation that identifies the pricing structure for alley collection services can be viewed by visiting .

If the City Commission decides to continue collecting in the neighborhoods that are currently receiving alley service, a decision will be made on an additional pricing structure for the cost of specialized smaller vehicles designed to operate in the tighter alley confines as well as the additional manpower needed to manually assist in collecting garbage from the alleys. 

There are five major options being considered by the Lakeland City Commission. 

1.       Spread the additional cost of specialized alley collection vehicles that are smaller and can maneuver in the tighter alley confines and the additional manpower needed for manual pick-up across all those that receive residential garbage collection service in the City.  There are approximately 2,000 residential customers that are serviced from the alleys and there is some consideration by the City Commission to spread the cost of specialized alley collection vehicles and additional personnel to all City of Lakeland residential solid waste customers.  This additional cost has been identified as 40 cents per month that will be added to all residential solid waste customers in addition to their regular solid waste monthly fees.

2.       Pass the additional cost that will be incurred for the additional manpower and specialized alley collection vehicles to only those customers receiving alley garbage collection service.  If the cost for smaller collection vehicles designed to better service alleys is spread to all those currently receiving alley collection service, the cost equates to an additional $5.32/month surcharge on the solid waste portion of a resident’s utility bill in addition to their regular monthly solid waste charges. 

3.       Service the alleys in the South Lake Morton Historic District and the Dixieland Historic

District.  If that decision is made, there will be an additional cost of $6.38/month for this premium service in addition to their regular monthly solid waste charges. 

4.       Only service the alley customers in the South Lake Morton Historic District.  If those currently receiving alley collection service in this neighborhood incur the cost for the specialized alley collection vehicles, they will be responsible to pay an additional cost of $8.45/month for this premium service in addition to their regular monthly solid waste charges.

5.       Discontinue alley collection service altogether to those serviced from the alleys so that all residential trash collection occurs at the curb. Under this option, all residents pay the same rate based on the size of their container.

Lakeland residents including those that receive curbside trash collection service are encouraged to attend the October 17th Public Hearing to address the City Commission on the solid waste alley collection options.  City of Lakeland solid waste customers who can’t attend the meeting can email their opinion on the issue to

Automated trash collection promotes safe and more attractive neighborhoods, creates a safer and healthier work environment for collection crews, encourages recycling and reduces costs.  The City of Lakeland began phase one of automated trash collection service in January 2011; phase two began in September, 2011.   Originally, the City of Lakeland planned to implement the automated trash collection program in four phases but because of efficiencies in service the implementation plan may occur in a three phase program.  Phase three is expected to begin in September, 2012. For more information on the City’s automated trash collection service, please visit