Category Archives: Member Announcements


Touchton to receive Distinguished Service Award at USFP Commencement

David M. Touchton will receive the Distinguished Service Award from the University of South Florida Polytechnic at its spring commencement May 9 at the Lakeland Center’s Youkey Theatre. This award is presented to community members who have been strong supporters of the community, education and of the USF Polytechnic campus.

“David Touchton is a dynamic business leader, a visionary, a community booster, and a true friend of USF Polytechnic,” says Regional Chancellor Marshall Goodman. “Through his generous volunteerism he has made a tremendous impact throughout Polk County and demonstrates a steadfast dedication to see this community thrive. For that, we are appreciative. David is an inspiration to us and provides the levels of support necessary to make the polytechnic vision become reality.”

Touchton is the development and client services partner for The NCT Group CPA’s, where he was also managing partner of the firm for 28 years.  He is also a graduate of the University of South Florida. A long-time resident of Lakeland, Touchton is a past president of the Central Florida Development Council, a member of the Board of the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland, the Lakeland Chamber Foundation executive committee, Lakeland Vision, Polk Vision, the Young Patriots Foundation and a voting Board Member of Citizens Bank & Trust.

Past recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Dr. Gail McKenzie (fall 2010), Carl J. “Bud” Strang III (spring 2010), Ralph L. “Buddy” Fletcher (spring 2009), Sherrill Tomasino (fall 2008), Jack Myers (fall 2007), John Ramil (fall 2006), Myrtice Young (spring 2006), Steve Scruggs (spring 2005), Gene Engle (spring 2003), and Paul Cate, Duane McConnell and David Ellsworth (spring 2002).


Lakeland Association of Realtors Derby Party May 6

You are all invited to the Lakeland Association of REALTORS® Fundraiser of the Year!

This year, it is a Kentucky Derby themed party complete with a ladies Kentucky Derby Hat Contest, a 50/50 Raffle and over $5000 in amazing Silent Auction items!

Each year the Lakeland Association of REALTORS® holds an event, and the proceeds benefit a local charity in our community. This year, the committee decided they would support a LOCAL Wounded Warrior from Operation Iraqi Freedom & family! We are very excited… and the family that was chosen is very deserving and excited as well. Please help us support this family by attending the event Friday night. It’s a GREAT time and we need your support! Cost is $20.00 per person and will be held at the SunTrust Building in beautiful Downtown Lakeland – Friday May 6th from 7 – 11 p.m.

Tickets will be sold at the door but if you would like to purchase a ticket today please contact Melissa Sanchez at (863) 687-6111 or email

If you cannot make it, but would like to make a donation please feel free. Join us at the race!


NCT Group CPAs to Join with Top-20 LarsonAllen

NCT Group CPAs intends to join with Minneapolis-based LarsonAllen CPAs, Consultants & Advisors effective July 1, 2011, according to Jay Gray, managing partner with the NCT Group.

“Our partners all agreed this was a powerful opportunity for our clients and people,” says Gray. “The NCT Group has always adapted to changes in the market, and we have gradually added the capabilities we’ve needed to stay on top of the trends. But when LarsonAllen approached us, we saw the offer to combine as a ready-made growth package; it will immediately bring our clients and people several more ways to be successful.”

As more businesses operate internationally and tax and compliance issues become more complex and standardized across the globe, Gray says his firm is eager to provide clients with everything they need to meet these demands. “We don’t want our clients to have to go outside our market to find what they’re after. We want to bring it to them. Joining with LarsonAllen allows us to do that.”

Gray cites research and development tax credits, international tax knowledge, and highly focused industry specialization as some of the benefits the combination brings to the NCT Group’s clients and staff. “Beyond these technical offerings, though, we were most impressed with LarsonAllen’s emphasis on building strong, lasting relationships with those they work with and serve,” he says. “They share our belief that people come first, and we found that very attractive and compatible with how we do business.”

The NCT Group serves clients throughout Florida from its Lakeland-based location and will expand LarsonAllen’s current presence in the central region. The firm was founded in 1959 and has 64 employees.

LarsonAllen is a top-20 CPA firm with more than 300 principals, approximately 1,800 employees, and more than 40 locations across the country. The firm’s industry specialization enables it to consult more deeply with clients in health care, nonprofit and government, manufacturing, banking and credit union, construction, real estate, dealerships, and agriculture, among others. Like the NCT Group, it serves primarily small to mid-sized privately-held businesses, government entities, and community-based nonprofits.

“Coming together with the NCT Group will expand our industry specialization in Florida,” says Denny Schleper, executive principal with LarsonAllen. “We are particularly optimistic about the opportunities in the governmental sector. Together, our two firms will make up one of the largest government audit practices in the state. We’ll deliver a new level of knowledge and insight in this area—and that means better things for clients and employees.”


Local Charter School Announces Expansion at Polk State College

This week’s meeting of the Polk State College District Board of Trustees included an encouraging announcement by Bridget Fetter, principal of Polk State’s Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School. According to Fetter, the Polk County School Board has announced an increase to the maximum enrollment for the thriving charter school, located at Polk State College’s Winter Haven campus: enrollment capacity will increase to 270 for the 2011-2012 school year.

Fetter advised the Polk State College board members that demand for slots in the charter school has remained high. The charter high school, one of two operated by the College, will be moving into a new facility in August, with construction scheduled to conclude just prior to the beginning of the Fall term.

The new facility will allow Chain of Lakes Collegiate to accommodate the additional students and to offer enhanced curriculum initiatives, said Fetter. Those initiatives include:

STEM Focus – A cohort of students will be exposed to the content knowledge that promotes the process of scientific research in science, technology, engineering, and math. The student will learn to write a thesis statement and collect and analyze data and present topics in a structured manner using authentic, acceptable scientific methods.

Service Learning Leadership – A cohort of students will take one course per term that will include a substantial service learning component. The student’s service to the community will enhance course content, while honing leadership and communication skills and expanding networking opportunities in the community.

Digital Media Production – Through a combination of high school and college courses, students choosing this program will report and chronicle events at Polk State College and Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School through print, photography, and video production.

Last year Chain of Lakes Collegiate juniors led the county in FCAT Science scores, and the school continues to be described by Polk State College President Eileen Holden as “a true pace-setter in academic excellence.”

For more information about opportunities at Polk State’s Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School, call (863) 298-6800.


FSC Establishes Barney Barnett School of Business and Economics

Florida Southern College President Dr. Anne Kerr announced today the establishment of the Barney Barnett School of Business and Economics, the first named academic school in the College’s 126-year history.  Dr. Carol Jenkins Barnett (Class of 1979) made the gift to name the business school in honor of her husband’s recent birthday and his 42nd year with Publix Super Markets, Inc.  Barney Barnett is a 1965 graduate of Florida Southern and serves as a member of the school’s Board of Trustees.

“The creation of the Barney Barnett School of Business and Economics is an historic milestone in the continuing, upward trajectory of Florida Southern College and will forever transform the caliber of business education for our students and faculty,” said Dr. Kerr.  This undisclosed gift follows the College’s announcement last month of a $5 million naming gift from Vero Beach, Florida, alumnus Richard W. “Bill” Becker (Class of 1965) for the school’s undergraduate business building.

The Barney Barnett School of Business and Economics will build on the strength of the College’s flagship business program to educate future generations of business leaders and entrepreneurs at the highest standard through state-of-the-art technologies, real-world business opportunities, and world-class instruction both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The Barnett School will include the Becker Undergraduate Business Building as well as a  Graduate and Executive Business Building and will feature five academic institutes:  Global Management, Leadership, Sports Management, Healthcare Management, and Information Technology: Logistics and Distribution.

World-renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture and architect for the College’s Barnett Residential Life Center and the new Christoverson Humanities Building, is designing both buildings in the Barney Barnett School of Business and Economics.  Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2012 or early 2013.

The naming gift, one of the most significant in Florida Southern College’s history, will provide the necessary resources to secure the future of the largest major among undergraduate students at FSC.   Carol Barnett’s generosity will allow the School of Business to grow exponentially, providing world-class resources and unparalleled opportunities for Florida Southern College business students.

“The establishment of the Barney Barnett School of Business and Economics will pave the way for Florida Southern College to earn AACSB accreditation and will bring further national prominence to the College,” said Dr. Kerr.  “Today we launch our journey to become one of the top 25 collegiate schools of business in the nation.”

The Barney Barnett School of Business and Economics offers undergraduate degree programs in accounting, business administration, and economics. Last fall the school introduced a dynamic, full-time, 16-month MBA program designed for college graduates in any degree field regardless of previous work experience. The undergraduate and graduate business programs provide exceptional engaged learning opportunities for all students, including guaranteed internships, optional study abroad and domestic travel experiences, and student-faculty collaborative research.