Category Archives: Member Announcements


USF Polytechnic to Host State-Wide RoboBattle

More than 150 high-school students from throughout Florida will compete in the 3rd Annual USF Poly RoboBattle Jan. 29, 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Contestants include the Smoke and Mirrors team, which includes members from Lakeland, that won the world championship last year.

The RoboBattle is a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge regional qualifying competition.  The event helps students learn to design and build robots with both radio- and autonomous-controlled behavior using the TETRIX robotic design system. Student teams develop robots that can perform the tasks defined in the Challenge, and then compete with, and against, other teams in qualifying competitions and a state championship. The USF Poly RoboBattle is the last qualifying competition before the state championship.

“The FIRST Tech Challenge lets high-school students experience the fun and excitement of complex problem solving in a positive and supportive team environment,” says Dr. Naomi Boyer, assistant vice president of USFP’s Extended University. “It also helps them discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology, and engineering.”

Boyer also serves as director of the Central Florida Gifted & Talented Institute at USFP, which includes the Hot 2 Bot Applied Robotics Academy and other programs for which registration is now open.

Competing in the USF Poly RoboBattle will be 14 teams from Lakeland, Winter Haven, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Oviedo, Miami, Longwood, Palm Harbor, Seminole, Fort Myers and Boca Raton.

For more information contact Christina Pixley at or (863) 667-7741.

Preliminary Schedule of Events

7:00 – 7:30 a.m.                                               Team check in

8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.                                    Robot Inspection

8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.                                       Driver & Coaches Meeting

8:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.                                       Judges Interviews & Practice Rounds

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.                                  Opening Ceremony

10:15 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.                                  Qualifying Rounds

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.                                    Lunch

1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.                                      Qualifying Rounds

3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.                                      Awards Ceremony

4:14 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.                                      Alliance Selection

5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.                                      Elimination Matches

6:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.                                      Winning and Finalist Award Ceremony


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.”


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


Every Cigarette Makes You Sick – Floridians can quit today for a healthy 2011

Every year, millions of Floridians attempt to quit smoking.  As 2010 comes to a close and Florida smokers consider making their 2011 New Year’s resolutions, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Polk County, the Polk County Health Department, and Florida Department of Health and Tobacco Free Florida can help them quit for good with free support through phone, web and in-person quit smoking resources.

On the heels of the groundbreaking U.S. Surgeon General’s recent report, it is more important than ever before to quit smoking immediately.  The report emphasizes the importance of quitting early in life, in order to protect immunity and minimize the damage caused by each cigarette.  The report adds no level of exposure to tobacco smoke is safe.

Although permanently quitting tobacco is very difficult, it is not impossible.  Sixty-one percent of adult Floridians who have ever smoked have quit and there are more former smokers in Florida than current smokers.  In 2009, about 58 percent of Floridian smokers tried to quit.

Step One: Set a Date
The first step one needs to take is to set a quit date.  Once the quit date is set, cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters should be removed from the home, office and vehicle.

Step Two: Get Help
Tobacco Free Florida offers a number of free resources to help smokers quit.

  • Phone: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach who will help assess the user’s addiction and create a personalized quit plan.
  • Online: Enroll in online counseling with the Florida Quitline, where each user can create a personalized, web-based quit plan. Visit to enroll.
  • In-person: Central Florida Area Health Education Center provides Quit Smoking Now classes throughout Polk County.  Call 1-877-252-6094 to enroll in an upcoming class.

Step Three: Keep Trying
“Quitting is only half the battle,” said Kim Berfield, Deputy Secretary of Policy and Advocacy for the Florida Department of Health.  “Relapses happen, but it’s important that people keep trying and trying.”

Most successful quitters make several attempts before finally quitting permanently.  In fact, the average number of attempts varies anywhere from five to more than 10.

The mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Polk County is to form community partnerships with individuals and organizations to educate and serve the citizens of Polk County regarding tobacco use prevention, intervention, and cessation.  Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.

“Quitting tobacco use is the most important thing you can do to protect your health and loved ones,” says Jennifer Tempel, Polk County Health Department Tobacco Program Manager.

For more information on the Tobacco Free Partnership of Polk County, contact Colleen Mangan with the Polk County Health Department at (863) 519-7900 x 11334.

Tobacco Free Florida (TFF) is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund.  The program is managed by the Florida Department of Health, specifically the Bureau of Tobacco Prevention Program.  TFF’s mission is to combat the pervasive problem of tobacco use in the Sunshine State, where each year, more than 28,000 Floridians die from smoking and tobacco-related diseases cost the state an estimated $19.6 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.