All posts by Cory Skeates


Florida Redistricting Public Hearing Date Announced

Every ten years, after each Census, the Florida Legislature is required to redraw the districts from which voters elect their public officials. The districts are redrawn to accommodate population changes and to ensure equal representation among the district populations. In 2012, the Legislature will begin the work of redrawing the Florida House, Florida Senate, and Congressional district maps.

Because this process affects how you are represented in both your State and Federal government, the public is invited to provide their thoughts, ideas, and feedback on this process. With your assistance, the Legislature can ensure the adoption of fully compliant redistricting plans with all legal requirements and of fair and meaningful representation for all voters in the State of Florida.

Please visit or to learn more. The Lakeland Public Hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 25 from 2:00-5:00 p.m.* (or until completion) at Polk State College.


USFP’s new master’s degree aims to stay ahead of information technology

In an effort to meet the educational needs of IT professionals in the workforce and the increasing demand from nearly every industry for advanced IT graduates who have a stronger knowledge in up-and-coming technology, the University of South Florida Polytechnic is now offering a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT).

This fall, USF Polytechnic will welcome the MSIT charter class and expects the program will quickly grow to help meet the demand for this advanced training, said Dr. William D. Armitage, director of the school’s Division of Information Technology.

“There is clearly a need by experienced IT professionals for a program like this,” Armitage said.

“Our MSIT provides a logical step and vital credentialing for moving to senior IT management positions. It is geared specifically toward experienced IT professionals who want to expand their knowledge of new and emerging information technologies. This additional education and skill set will help them advance their careers in IT leadership.”

Unique to the MSIT program, Armitage said, is the intensive “graduate practicum” experience required of all students, an aspect he said is the only such in the state. Starting in their first semester of the two-semester practicum experience, each MSIT student will design a project that has real-world relevance. In the second semester, the same student will supervise a team of undergraduate IT students to develop, test and implement the project.

“Our practicum approach will have real-world application, enhance the leadership and team skills professionals need in the workplace, and provide innovative and valuable research that can be applied in a wide array of industries,” Armitage said.

Similar to several degrees already offered at USF Polytechnic, the new MSIT will be offered online, with plans to expand to include on-campus classes in the near future. In addition, the program requires students attend on-campus mid-term and final examinations, but will be adapted for long-distance student to include off-site, proctored exams. This virtual-classroom approach increases the reach of the program, allowing students nearly anywhere to earn the degree, Armitage said.

“We’ve taken a similar approach with our undergraduate IT program and it has been very well received, even reaching students stationed in Afghanistan,” he said.

The 36-credit-hour MSIT program of study provides a balanced curriculum, combining IT management strategies and technology leadership with advanced course work in the technology of the field. The curriculum offers in-depth, advanced knowledge about both current and future technologies. An industry-based advisory board will work with USF Polytechnic to ensure MSIT course content stays grounded in real-world and industry priorities.

The study of information technology across all degrees bridges the gap between computer science and management information systems, providing students with knowledge of rapidly changing technology. The MSIT provides a deeper understanding in a more hands-on experience, Armitage said.

“The MSIT is less theoretical than a master’s degree in computer science, but more technical than a master’s degree in information sciences on the business side,” he said.

“We aim for the ‘sweet spot’ between these two, the point at which a student learns the essential factors in managing technology and is also provided a thorough understanding of the technologies to effectively use and manage it. In essence, we teach not just how to manage the team handling the new technology, but also the details of the technology itself.”

In addition, he said, the MSIT features faculty from a wide range of disciplines and who are leaders in their respective fields, including experts in multimedia, mobile robotics, programming, software architecture, and wireless mesh networking, among others. MSIT students will have the further opportunity to participate in cutting edge collaborative and interdisciplinary research being conducted by IT faculty members.

The MSIT program is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.


US Congressman Connie Mack to Speak at FSC

United States Congressman Connie Mack is scheduled to speak to Florida Southern College students and faculty on Thursday, June 9 at 10:00 a.m.  The event will be held in the Eleanor Searle Drawing Room in Joseph-Reynolds Hall and is open to the public.  Seating is limited and reservations are required. Interested persons should contact Julie Middleton at 863-680-3891 for more information.

Congressman Connie Mack (R-14) serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.  Under Congressman Mack’s leadership, the subcommittee focuses on developing and improving free trade agreements in South America and opening up new markets for U.S. companies. He is currently working to establish trade agreements with Panama and Colombia in an effort to strengthen the economy and promote political stability in the region.  Congressman Mack also serves as a member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.


Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Training Announced for July

Guardian ad Litem Program, The Voice for Florida’s Abused & Neglected Children

Everyday, abused and neglected children in our community are removed from their homes because their parents cannot or will not take care of them. The Guardian ad Litem becomes a powerful voice for the “best interest” of these children in court.

For information please call Diane Schmelz at 863-534-4605 or checkout our website at

Our next training starts in July, and consists of a total four (4) sessions.

Tuesday,              July 26th 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm      or      5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Thursday,            July 28th 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm      or      5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Saturday,             July 30th 8:30 am – 2:30 pm

Tuesday,             August 9th 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm – includes court observation


Wing Chun Kung Fu Shares Self Defense for Women Tonight

In a partnership with Peace River Center’s Crisis Center, Justin Och and the team at Wing Chun Kung Fu are hosting an open house tonight (Monday, June 6) from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. The studio is located at 116 E Pine St in Downtown Lakeland.

– education and distance prevention
– empowerment training for the body and mind
– awareness games and drills for your entire family
– ground rape defense and stand up attacker defense
– get a combination of fitness and protection classes
– learn how to keep your family protected at any age!
– learn about our bootcamps and women only classes
– learn about our co-ed beginner and intermediate classes
– learn how to stop an attacker from hurting you or your child
– learn the ONLY martial art created by a woman for women’s self defense
– in between the fitness and discussion we will have free food and a social outlet for friends and family questions
– talk to peace river associates on how to get more involved in helping lakeland women get empowered and protected
– ask peace river associates to explain the real dangers for families and the 1 in 3 women statistics for Lakeland Assaults
– a VIP invitation to enjoy our other martial art, fitness and family protection classes

As the groups prepare for an official charity event on June 25, part of the evening’s program will be a discussion of plans for an official self defense and fitness bootcamp for clients of Peace River Center’s Crisis Services.

For additional information on Wing Chun Downtown Kung Fu, please call Sifu Justin Och at (863) 800-0171.