City News Blog


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

On Thursday, June  14th the City of Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department kicked off its summer season by hosting the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson”. This nationwide annual event is designed to bring awareness of the importance of knowing how to swim and making yourself safe around water.

This year well over 200 young people participated in Lakeland’s effort to break the record of people being introduced to water safety, through a mass swimming lesson. However, the number of participants is not as important as the number of people who are encouraged, by this event, to become more skilled in keeping themselves safe around water.

One thing that was stressed, during the lesson, was the mantra “Reach or Throw; Don’t Go.” This teaches that the best course of action when you see someone in trouble in the water is to use a pole or a rope to reach them or to throw them a floatation device so that they can get safely back to shore. The most important thing to know, however, is how to swim. So the City of Lakeland would like you to join them for swimming lessons scheduled throughout the summer.  

Swimming is one of life's great pleasures. It offers many health and fitness benefits, cools you off in the summer, and provides a great opportunity to socialize with family and friends. Make sure you and yours stay safe in the water by being “water-aware” by following these water safety tips:

Learn to swim. Never leave children unattended. Read all posted signs. Never swim alone or in unsupervised places.  Weak or non-swimmers should wear a life jacket, and avoid water wings. Look for lifeguards. Don't drink alcohol. Never chew gum while swimming. Check the water depth.  Don't get too tired, too cold, too far from safety, exposed to too much sun or experience too much strenuous activity.  Note the weather. Use sunscreen. Don't take risks. Keep toddlers in shallow play areas.

There are nearly 500 deaths per year from drowning in Florida. The months that rank the highest are during the summer when the urge to be near or in the water is at its highest.  The City of Lakeland Aquatics Division wants you to sign your kids up for lessons today and if you don't know how to swim, sign yourself up too!


Lakeland City Manager Doug Thomas names Joel Ivy General Manager of Lakeland Electric after conducting a national search and a concentrated interview process. 

Ivy currently oversees the Energy Department for Imperial Irrigation District, a vertically integrated public electric utility located in El Centro, California.  Imperial Irrigation District’s Energy Department serves 145,000 customers in southern California.  Ivy leads the Energy Department overseeing utility operations and 500 employees.

"I am very excited to join a top performing organization in Lakeland Electric.  The utility is committed to a high degree of service to its consumers and that is evident with all services ranging from customer call performance, to generation, to delivering residential and commercial customers their energy,” said Ivy.  "My wife and I were given tours of Lakeland and we are fascinated by the progressive improvements to the City facilities and parks, the availability of quality healthcare and the general curb appeal of Lakeland itself.  It is very obvious that the community is passionate about the quality of life for its residents and we truly want to be part of that passion.”

Ivy has an extensive professional career in the power industry that began almost 30 years ago when he started as a lineman in 1983.  He has had a steady career path that includes climbing utility poles to managing multi-hundred million dollar operations with start-ups, investor owned and publicly owned utilities.  Past experience includes his tenure as Chief Operating Officer at Visible Light Solar Technologies and Vice President of New Mexico Operations for Public Service Company of New Mexico, an investor owned utility with almost 500,000 customers.

City Manager Doug Thomas said, “We are very impressed with Joel’s background, which spans close to 30 years in the electric industry in both investor owned and public utilities.  We believe his skills are well suited to build upon Lakeland Electric’s successes and lead the utility through its future initiatives and opportunities.” 

“Joel has a solid track record of developing and fostering excellent communication programs including internal employee engagement, governing board briefings, customer outreach and community involvement in various boards and non-profit groups,” said Thomas.  “We believe his strengths, combined with Deputy General Manager Alan Shaffer and his respective 33 years of experience with Lakeland Electric represent an ideal senior leadership team for our utility.”

The City of Lakeland conducted a national search for the Lakeland Electric General Manager position with the assistance from Little & Associates.  The search produced 180 applicants that were ultimately reduced to six candidates who interviewed for the position.  City Manager Thomas appointed a committee comprised of City administration, a representative from the Florida Municipal Electric Association and the local business community to assist in the selection process.  The selection committee members include:

Doug Thomas – City Manager

Tim McCausland – City Attorney

Tony Delgado – Deputy City Manager

Brad Johnson – Assistant City Manager

Mike Brossart – Assistant Finance Director

Barry Moline - Executive Director, Florida Municipal Electric Association

Dean Boring – President/CEO, Boring Business Systems

Walker Wilkerson – Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce President and Partner/CPA, Clifton Larson & Allen

The top six candidates participated in a three day process as part of the hiring procedure that included community and utility departmental tours, selection committee interviews and individual meetings with the City Manager.   Thomas said, “Joel is the ideal General Manager for Lakeland Electric at this point in the utility’s history and his operational and financial experience will help strategically position Lakeland Electric in our goal to provide reliable electric service, competitive rates and outstanding customer service for our 120,000 customers.”

Ivy graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.  He will officially start as Lakeland Electric’s General Manager on July 30th with an annual salary of $188,000.  Ivy said, “I had an opportunity to meet with some of the employees at Lakeland Electric and I am very impressed with their demonstrated capabilities and knowledge.  I look forward to meeting with the employees of the entire department very soon.” Ivy is married to his wife Penny for 30 years. They have two sons ages 28 and 30 who live in Texas.  Ivy’s hobbies include fishing, boating, cooking and touring. 

Lakeland Electric is the third largest public power utility in the State of Florida.  The utility is also one of the first utilities established in Florida having started operation in 1889.  Today, power is generated at Lakeland Electric’s two primary base load plant sites, the 937-megawatt McIntosh Power Plants and the 124-megawatt Larsen Power Plant. Lakeland Electric’s total generation capacity is about 1,100 megawatts.

The City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation Department will host a public workshop seeking input from the skateboarding community on Monday, June 18th at 7 p.m. in the Magnolia Building (702 East Orange Street).  The City of Lakeland is currently exploring options for a new City owned skate park and facilitators want direct feedback from end users on what they would like to see incorporated into the park.

The workshop will be facilitated by Littlejohn Engineering and Team Pain, a skater owned company that designs and builds skate parks. Skateboarders and those interested in the project are invited to attend the workshop so community ideas can be incorporated into the park’s design.

Littlejohn Engineering has managed the infrastructure planning, surveying and engineering of well over 3,000 projects throughout the United States. The firm oversees projects that involve multiple disciplines that include landscape architecture, urban planning, municipal and utility engineering, community planning and economic development.

Team Pain specializes in custom concrete skate park facilities. The company has been providing design and construction experience to municipalities around the globe in concrete skate park facilities since 1997. Team Pain has over 30 years experience with professional riders and they are known for their challenging “first-ever” structures that push the limits of skateboarding.

The City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation Department is in the preliminary stages in designing a new skate park that is being planned for construction this winter and opening spring 2013.  It is very important to the design team that elements from local skateboarders are incorporated into the design.  Those interested in skateboarding should attend the workshop meeting on Monday, June 18th at 7 p.m. in the Magnolia Building.  For more information regarding the workshop, please contact Pam Page with the City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation Department at 863/834-6088 or via email at


The City of Lakeland celebrates Multimodal Month during June.  The kick-off to this event will be on June 1st from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. as part of the First Friday festivities themed “Taking it to the Streets”.  Downtown Lakeland streets will be filled with bicycles, running shoes and buses.  Local bicycle and fitness shops will be on location along with running clubs, cycling clubs and the Citrus Connection will show off their latest buses.  The Florida Department of Transportation will also be on hand with a bike rodeo and free bicycle helmets for younger riders.  The Multimodal Month celebrations will be combined with the usual First Friday atmosphere including live music and hands-on activities.

Tony Delgado, Deputy City Manager for the City of Lakeland said, “The goal of Multimodal Month is to facilitate the use of multiple modes of transportation, leading to a reduction in automobile use and vehicle miles traveled.”  Multimodal refers to the various transportation resources that include pedestrian foot traffic, bicycles, car pooling and mass transit that are used to assist residents in getting from point A to point B. 

The Citrus Connection is promoting Multimodal Month with a number of events that introduce art in the daily commute. Citrus Connection riders will be able to vote on their favorite artistic bus wrap.  Fine art disciplines that include painting, poetry, music and dance will be featured June 18th – 21st on various bus lines during peak travel times starting in the mornings at 8 a.m-10 a.m. and the afternoons from 3:30-5:30 p.m.  On June 22nd, the Lakeland Downtown Bus Terminal will host musicians and other live art forms throughout the day.  Later that afternoon, the terminal will be transformed into a catwalk when a mobile Platform Art Fashion Show arrives by bus around 5:30 p.m.

Multimodal planning includes the design of a safe, comfortable and attractive pedestrian environment, with convenient interconnection to transit.  Common elements include the presence of mixed-use activity centers, connectivity of streets and land uses, transit-friendly design features, and accessibility to alternative modes of transportation. Delgado said, “We have a number of partners who have come together with a number of great events to help introduce our citizens to alternative modes of transportation.” 

For more information and to find a calendar of all the events planned for Multimodal Month, please visit  Commuters and multimodal participants will find a host of useful items on the site including a tool to track walking, biking, carpooling and mass transit use.