All posts by Cory Skeates


10th Annual Lakeland Citizens Academy Now Registering

The City of Lakeland is offering its 10th Annual Citizens Academy to area residents starting February 23, 2011.  The Citizens Academy is a free, hands-on, interactive public information program that familiarizes citizens with City services and the functions of City Departments.

The Citizens Academy program will consist of six (6), two (2) hour evening sessions, with one session per month.  The program will begin February 23, 2011 and is limited to 25 individuals aged 16 or older.  Enrollment in the class is based on a first-come-first-served basis.  The first 25 people to sign-up for the class will be given enrollment.  Those that sign-up after the cut-off point will be automatically enrolled in the next Citizens Academy class.

2011 Citizens Academy Dates

February 23


March 23

Lakeland Police Department

April 27

Lakeland Fire Department

May 25

Public Works & Community Development

June 22

Utility Services

July 27

Parks & Recreation

The program will include the function of City Departments, explain the relationship between the City Commission and City Administration, allow an overview of the budgetary process and it will provide an outlet for citizen input. The Citizens Academy is an interactive program that is open to anyone interested.

All participants interested in the Citizens Academy are encouraged to attend all of the sessions in order to get the most from the program. All sessions, unless otherwise noted, are from 6-8 p.m. and will be held in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall, 228 South Massachusetts Avenue (pizza and soft drinks will be served).  During the course, several sessions will meet away from City Hall.  There will be maps and directions for each City building or facility that houses a Citizen Academy session.

The class will graduate with a certificate in “Governmentology”  at the end of the last session.  Those interested in participating should contact Kevin Cook at 865/834-6264 or to secure a spot on the roster.


Retired FBI Hostage Negotiator and FSC Alumnus to Speak at Florida Southern

Florida Southern College will host a presentation by retired FBI agent Gary Noesner on “Calm, Creative Communications in Crisis:  My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13 in the William M. Hollis Seminar Room of the Thad Buckner Building at FSC. The event, part of the annual Florida Lecture Series presented by the Lawton M. Chiles, Jr. Center for Florida History, is free and open to the public.

Noesner, who graduated from Florida Southern in 1972, was an FBI agent for 30 years, spending the last 10 as chief of its Crisis Negotiation Unit, Critical Incident Response Group. As chief, he led law enforcement’s response to prison riots, right-wing militia standoffs, religious zealot sieges, terrorist embassy takeovers, airplane hijackings, and overseas kidnappings involving American citizens. He was involved in some of the nation’s most high-profile FBI cases of that period, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship; the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas; and the Washington, D.C., sniper case. His first book, Stalling for Time, is a memoir about his career as an FBI hostage negotiator and was published in September 2010.

Since retiring in 2003, Noesner has served as a senior vice president with Control Risks, an international risk consultancy, and he works part-time in kidnap management consulting. He has appeared on television documentaries produced by A&E, the History Channel, Discovery, TLC, and National Geographic. Noesner is the founder of the National Council of Negotiation Associations, which represents negotiation organizations and law-enforcement negotiators nationwide.

Noesner said his lecture will focus on lessons learned from negotiation and handling crises that have day-to-day applications. “The same tenets of effective crisis management apply to effective negotiation in business and personal life situations,” he said.

“We are delighted to host Gary Noesner as this year’s Stahl lecturer,” noted James M. Denham, director of the Lawton M. Chiles Jr. Center for Florida History.  “Stalling for Time is a great read and has gotten many accolades over the last several months.”


Andress Electric is a Family Business Here to Serve Your Family

Andress Electric is proud to introduce themselves to the Lakeland community. Owner Marshall Andress is a master electrician and was proud to open Andress Electric in April, 2010 where they provide quality work at affordable prices. The Andress team specializes in commercial, residential and industrial services and will provide a free estimate for jobs of all sizes.

Contact Andress Electric:

(863) 661-0097 |


Scam Alert: Package Post Card Scam Comes to Lakeland

After making the rounds out west, it seems that a new scam is hitting mailboxes in the Lakeland area.

One of our members received a postcard from “Combined Package Services” regarding a package pick-up. After researching, this member found the following information from the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan:

The BBB of Western Michigan warns ALL regional residents that a SCAM OFFER has been mailed to hundreds of consumers. The “postcard” claims to be a “package” that could not be delivered to you during the Christmas season and claims, “Sorry we missed you!!!

Scam offer is from:

Express Package Delivery
P.O. Box 131690
Tyler TX 75713-1690
Phone: (888) 4-PAK-DEL
or (903) 839-1500

Instructions are to “Call to schedule pickup”. After calling the number, consumers are asked for the twelve-digit pickup number and then told that they have a free vacation package. Consumers are then asked for a credit card number to pay for a, “…nominal delivery fee,” which must be paid in advance.

Consumer complaints allege the company is sending out a card by mail, which claims in red letters, “SORRY WE MISSED YOU”, and also in bold letters, “CALL TO SCHEDULE PICKUP”.

On calling the number, the consumer is:

  • asked for 12 digit pickup number on card
  • asked for credit card number to pay for a “nominal” delivery fee which must be paid in advance
  • consumers state EPD is using deceptive marketing tactics, since there was no attempted delivery
  • also calling the EPD number reveals your home phone number to them, even if the number is on the DO NOT CALL list

After some research of our own, there is plenty of buzz about this scam (and the “new” name of “Combined Package Services”) hitting Florida. With the holiday season just behind us, please take note of any unexpected “delayed” deliveries.


FSC Offers New Saturday MBA Program

Florida Southern College announced today a new Saturday-only class option to its accelerated 16-month MBA program.

Beginning in fall 2011, students will take three classes each Saturday for 16 months. The first Saturday cohort will graduate in December 2012.

Florida Southern’s Saturday MBA program mirrors the College’s full-time day MBA program, which was recently introduced to great success as an accelerated program offering cohort study and late afternoon and evening class delivery. MBA enrollment increased dramatically as a result of the change in format.

“The Florida Southern MBA program teaches students the skills necessary to lead a large corporation, a small business, or a non-profit organization,” said Dr. William T. Rhey, dean of the School of Business at Florida Southern. “Our focus is on the challenges and complexities of the next economy – which is global in perspective, high-tech in delivery, and requiring leadership skills and complex decision-making.”

The Florida Southern MBA program is distinct from most other MBA programs in that it is open to students with any undergraduate degree, and without prior management experience. Rhey added, “Our program is further distinguished by promising each student at least one internship and an executive mentor, and offering an optional International Field Experience.”

The first Information Session for the Florida Southern MBA Fall Class is scheduled for Thursday, January 20, at 6 p.m. in the Rogers Building at the College. For details, call 860.680.4455 or visit the College’s website at