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!

City of Lakeland
City of Lakeland
City of Lakeland's Blog

WHO: Commissioner Keith Merritt and you!
WHAT: Walk Lakeland
WHY: Walking inspired healthy initiative to get up and get moving while having a good time.
WHEN: Monday, January 6th at 6 p.m. (Walkers will meet on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the Month)
WHERE: First walk will be around Lake Mirror.  The group will meet at the Magnolia Building parking lot located at 698 East Orange Street.
LAKELAND, FL (January 3, 2014) -- Lakeland City Commissioner Keith Merritt is happy to continue his healthy living initiative Walk Lakeland in the upcoming year.  On the first and third Monday of each month Commissioner Merritt will lead a walk around various land marks that will include lakes, paths and parks. 
On Monday, January 6th at 6 p.m. the Commissioner will lead a community walk around Lake Mirror.  Those that wish to attend will meet in parking lot of the Magnolia Building located at 698 East Orange Street, Lakeland, FL 33801.
Commissioner Merritt said, “On the first and third Monday of each month I plan to meet up with walkers at a destination around Lakeland for a brisk walk. No timers, no medals, just an opportunity to get up, get out and start walking.” All ages and fitness abilities welcome.
The first walk of 2014 will be around Lake Mirror along the Francis Langford Promenade.  The distance around the lake is approximately one mile.  Merritt said, “We plan to start small and build up from there and I hope that our walking group grows and grows each month.”  He added, “I’m really looking forward to getting out and exercising while meeting a whole new group of citizens. “
For more information about upcoming Walk Lakeland dates and locations, please visit



January 6th at The Lakeland Center

LAKELAND, FL (December 31, 2013) - The City of Lakeland will be hosting a ceremonial Mayor Inauguration and Swearing In Ceremony on Monday, January 6th at 7:45 a.m. at The Lakeland Center’s Hollingsworth Ballroom (701 West Lime Street).  The morning will start with a meet and greet followed by an invocation from Pastor David McEntire at 8:15 a.m.  City of Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs will be sworn in as well as Commissioners Don Selvage, Edie Yates and Jim Malless.

Immediately following the ceremony, the regularly scheduled City Commission meeting will take place from the Hollingsworth Ballroom and not City Hall. 

Swearing In Ceremony Agenda

7:45 a.m.       Welcome Reception

8:15 a.m.       Invocation - Pastor David McEntire

                        Presentation of Colors - Lakeland Police Department

                        Welcoming Remarks

                        Song- Brock Family Singers

                        Swearing In Ceremony

                        Song- Brock Family Singers

8:50 a.m.        Adjourn






LAKELAND, FL (December 27, 2013) - The City of Lakeland names Bob Conner as the interim Director of the Water/Wastewater Utility.  City Manager Doug Thomas said, “I am very pleased to be appointing Bob Conner as Interim Director of the Water/Wastewater Department effective December 29, 2013. Bob, as an Assistant Director in the department for 17 years, has been intimately familiar with all the responsibilities of the Department and the goals, mission and vision associated with the operations of the utility system.“

As Interim Director, Conner will report to Deputy City Manager, Tony Delgado. Conner will also report directly to the City Manager’s Office and Deputy City Manager pertaining to areas of economic development support and budgetary requirements. Thomas said, “We will be conducting a national search for a permanent director and this appointment will allow us to properly conduct a search knowing that we have a very experienced person at the helm.”

Conner said, “
Lakeland Water Utilities is already a superb organization that I had a hand in building over the past 17 years. My primary goal is to provide our customers with superior service at a more than competitive price. I also want to continue to maintain Lakeland as a desirable place for our well-trained and motivated employees to continue their careers.”

Two Assistant Directors that included Gary Ross who supervised water utilities and Bob Conner who oversaw wastewater utilities have managed the Water Department for the past few years.  After 38 years of service to the City of Lakeland, Ross retires at the end of the year.

Conner is 64 years of age and has over 40 years in the public utility business.  As Interim Director Conner will be paid an annual salary of 
$137,074.30 effective December 29th.






Director of Communications | City of Lakeland

228 S. Massachusetts Ave.  Lakeland, FL 33801

863/834-6264 (PH) |

Twitter @lakelandgov





LAKELAND, FL (December 13, 2013) The City of Lakeland welcomes the release of the Presentment today.  The grand jury was convened about a year ago to look into the Lakeland Police Department’s ability and intention to comply with the Public Records Laws of Florida, and the manner in which those primarily responsible for public records in the department were employed, trained and evaluated. 



The Grand Jury process was followed, every criticism has been judicially reviewed, and the conclusion is that no one has been charged with a crime.  “Put simply, you will see that there is no smoking gun in the Presentment – there is not even a water pistol.”  He added, “Additionally, and despite rumors to the contrary that have occurred between when the Presentment was issued and today, you will see that it has nothing to do with the various LPD workplace misconduct issues that have been reported in the media during this past summer.”


There are 3 points that that I would like everyone to remember: 


1.   First, no one has been charged with a crime


2.  Second, the Presentment is the grand jury’s opinion based upon a closed-door process that by its very nature is one-sided and can often result in half-truths, distortions and inaccurate conclusions. While we respect the service of the grand jury, unlike a criminal indictment issued by a grand jury which has to be proved in a court of law, those who are the subject of a Presentment have no way to prove the errors in a Presentment until after it is written.  As such, the Presentment does not represent the whole truth and nothing but the truth – but rather a one-sided opinion developed behind closed doors. 


As you will see, there is a lot to object to in the grand jury’s opinions.  The procedure for permanently sealing Presentments is provided in state statute and it is the only way individuals can protect themselves from information, opinions and conclusions in a Presentment that they believe to be incorrect.  Several individuals availed themselves of that protection which is their right, and filed motions to ask the court to keep it sealed permanently.  As such, the legal challenge by City employees that was utilized constituted a legislatively authorized request by those concerned for due process; the opportunity to respond to “improper or unlawful” statements that may accomplish nothing more than to impugn the personal and professional reputations of those involved.  The employees believed the criticisms in the Presentment were wrong then, and that they are just as wrong, inaccurate and unfair now.


We will be providing you today with a 19-page document that will provide information which may not have been considered by the grand jury and to tell “the other side of the story.” 


3.  Lastly, given the time that has passed from the issuance of the Presentment to its release today, most of the issues in the Presentment are old news.  A number of changes in policies, training and personnel have already been made to improve the manner in which the LPD processes Public Record Requests to ensure the public receives requested records as expeditiously as possible.