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!



LAKELAND, FL (June 29, 2016) - The Public Works Department is pleased to announce that Laurie Smith has been named Manager of Lakes & Stormwater.  Smith has more than 20 years of experience in overseeing environmental compliance, construction management, and natural resource management programs.  Prior to joining the City of Lakeland, Smith began her career in 1995 as an environmental consultant for Marin Environmental, overseeing contaminated property assessment and redevelopment projects.

Smith worked for Kleinfelder from 2002 through 2012 as a Senior Project Manager overseeing environmental compliance and remediation programs.  She was the Florida Regional Manager for PM Environmental until 2013, when she joined the City of Lakeland as the Senior Environmental Specialist with the Lakes & Stormwater Division, where she oversaw programs necessary for compliance with the City’s stormwater discharge permit and coordinated stormwater capital improvement projects. 

Director of Public Works, Heath Frederick said, “Laurie has been serving as our Senior Environmental Specialist with the Lakes & Stormwater Division for the past three years.  She has done a great job leading projects and focusing on educational programs.”  He added, “With her education, background and institutional knowledge, we know that Laurie will continue to carry the Lakes & Stormwater division into the future.”

Smith said, “I am very excited to continue my career with the City of Lakeland as the next Lakes & Stormwater Division Manager and I look forward to carrying on the Divisions mission to maintain, protect, and enhance our lakes and stormwater systems.”  Smith has a Masters of Environmental Science from the University of New Haven and a Bachelor of Science from Southern Connecticut State University. Smith’s hobbies include spending time with family and friends, hiking, fishing, and golfing.  Her start date was June 27th and her annual salary is $77,037.42.



LAKELAND, FL (August 13, 2015) - The City of Lakeland is pleased to announce Bob Conner as Water Utilities Director effective immediately.  Conner has been serving as interim Director since December 2014.  He started with the City of Lakeland as Assistant Director of Waste Water in September 1996.
City Manager Doug Thomas said, “Bob has done an excellent job as Interim Director of Water Utilities and throughout his lengthy career with the City of Lakeland.  He also played a leadership role in the nationally recognized 30-year public-private agreement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Tampa Electric Company (TECO) to provide reclaimed water from the City’s wetlands to the Polk Power Station. The agreement has been heralded as an innovative “win-win” project that provided TECO an alternative water supply for their Polk Power Station and it eliminates future City costs and permitting requirements for our wetlands.”  He added, “The project also secured a new water use permit from SWFWMD to help meet the future water supply needs of our growing community.”
Conner said, “Lakeland now perhaps more than ever, needs long-term planning to secure the resources that form the base for our continued prosperity.  Planning for 50 years is not a bad thing.  The City is still reaping the benefits of sound decisions made about utilities in the 1960’s and as Water Utilities Director, I plan to continue that legacy.”
Conner holds a Masters of Science and Engineering from the University of South Florida and an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of West Florida. As Director of Water Utilities, Conner will be paid an annual salary of $149,739 and directly oversee a $64,870,000 budget in a service territory that covers 132 square miles.
The City of Lakeland was incorporated January 1885 and has grown to be come on the largest inland communities in Florida. With a current population over 100,000, Lakeland continues to grow.  It has been designated a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area by the US Census Bureau for over 30 years. With tourist attractions and gulf beaches only an our away, Lakeland continues to capitalize on its ideal location along the I-4 corridor.  To learn more about the City of Lakeland, please visit



Congrats to Victor White and Ruben Garcia!

Today both will be formally promoted to the rank of Assistant Chief for LakelandPD. With a combined 60 YEARS of service to the Lakeland Community we say THANK YOU and Congratulations to these two gentlemen.

Victor White
began his service with the Lakeland Police Department in 1983 after serving as a Military Policeman in the United States Army. He has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Critical Incident Management from Saint Leo University. Victor is a Certified Public Manager through Florida State University, a graduate of the Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Unit Commander Academy (DUCA), the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy 239th session (FBINA), the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP), and the Federal Bureau of Investigations Florida Executive Development Seminar (FEDS). He is also a Certified Labor Relations Professional through the Florida Public Employees Labor Relations Association (FPELRA).

Ruben Garcia
began his career at the Lakeland Police Department in 1987 after returning home from four years of honorable service in the United States Marine Corps. He will hold the distinction of being the first Hispanic officer to be appointed to the rank of Assistant Chief. He is currently assigned as the Commanding Officer of the Uniformed Patrol Division and will assume the duties of the Commanding Officer of the Neighborhood Services Bureau. Ruben has been assigned to the Special Investigations Section, the Criminal Investigations Section, Neighborhood Liaison Section and the SWAT team during his service with the department. Ruben has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from St. Leo University and has completed the School of Police Staff and Command at Northwestern University, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Senior Leadership Program through Florida State University, the State of Florida Certified Public Manager Program and the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police. He is a certified criminal justice high liability instructor in both firearms and defensive tactics.


A promotion ceremony has been scheduled for Friday, July 10, 2015, at 3:00 pm, in the First United Methodist Church Wesley Center (new building), located at 72 Lake Morton Dr. Lakeland, Florida 33801. 


Firefighter Steven Connors Promoted to Driver Engineer

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013 Firefighter Steven Connors was promoted to Driver Engineer, the youngest firefighter to do so in LFD's history. 


Steven was joined by his wife and LFD colleagues to celebrate his professional advancement with the Lakeland Fire Department. Steve Connors has been an integral part of the LFD since March 29, 2010. Steve understands the importance of duty and service to country very well, having joined the United States Army at the young age of 17 where he went on to serve with the 1st Ranger Battalion and 82nd Airborne Division prior to joining the LFD.


Connors, a Ruskin, Florida native is an avid outdoorsman having spent his childhood fishing and hunting along this great state’s creeks and rivers. He proudly uses that experience and skill to his advantage at the annual Fire Olympics with repeated attempts to dethrone Gilman, Herndon and Brannen.


He is an East Bay High School graduate and has since gone on to receive his Associate of Arts degree from Hillsborough Community College and holds certification in law enforcement, fire standards, and is a paramedic.


Steve credits his ability to have become a Driver Engineer to the training and support of his crew and all of his family at the LFD. Steve notes that he will deeply miss his brothers and sisters on B shift due the move from this new opportunity but looks forward to the day he can work closely with them again.


Congratulations to Steven Connors and sincere thanks for his dedicated service.