Registration Deadline Approaching for January 15th City of Lakeland Special Election

POLK COUNTY, FL (December 10, 2018) – Residents of the City of Lakeland, who wish to register to vote in the January 15th Special Election, must do so on or before Monday, December 17th.  Only voters who reside within the City of Lakeland are eligible to vote in this election.

Voter registration forms may be completed online at PolkElections.com, or paper copies are available for pickup at many convenient locations throughout the county including city halls, banks, libraries, and chambers of commerce.  Those who are already registered are reminded to notify the Elections Office of any name, address, or signature changes before Election Day.

Voters can look up their voter registration information at PolkElections.com or receive additional information by calling the Supervisor of Elections at 863-534-5888

or the City of Lakeland, Clerk’s Office at 863-834-6210.


Lakeland REALTORS® 2019 Officers and Directors Installed


On Wednesday, December 5th, Lakeland REALTORS® held its annual Installation of Officers and Directors & Awards Luncheon at the beautiful Magnolia Building in Downtown Lakeland. Installed into office were Lisa Ruiz Castanet with Native Palm Properties, Richard Dempsey with Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate as President-Elect,  Shannon Cornell with PMI Arrico Realty and Property Management as Secretary/Treasurer and J. Kyle Vreeland with Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Ralston Dantzler as the Immediate Past President. Installed as 2019 Directors were Sean Harper with WebPro Realty, Tammy Graham with S & D Real Estate Services LLC, Christie McSwain with Dream Realty Group, Andrea Dockery with Re/Max Experts, David Bryant with Coldwell Banker, Macara Parker with Premier Realty Network, Christine Ehlenbeck with Keller Williams, Jana Lutz with Coldwell Banker Residential and Cannon Kirby with S & D Real Estate Services LLC.

Lakeland REALTORS® is a professional trade organization chartered by the National Association of REALTORS®. We have been serving our members and community for over 90 years and continue to fight for private property rights, low taxes, keeping utility fees to a minimum and affordable housing opportunities in our area.

Lakeland REALTORS® is THE VOICE FOR REAL ESTATE in Lakeland Florida.


8 Earn Awards at the Annual Lakeland REALTORS® Installation and Awards Luncheon


Each year the Lakeland REALTORS® accepts nominations from their members for the prestigious REALTOR® of the Year award. The REALTOR® of the Year award recognizes an active REALTOR® member who has provided outstanding service to our profession and our community during the year.  Criteria include REALTOR® Spirit, high principals, faithfulness to laws and regulations and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, participation in community activities and involvement with the Lakeland REALTORS® to help further the mission of the organization and its members.

On Wednesday, December 5, 2018, Lakeland REALTORS® held its annual Installation & Awards Banquet at the beautiful Magnolia Building and awarded the REALTOR® of the Year award to two very deserving individuals, Jana Lutz and Mindy Emerson-Hunley.

Jana is a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker, and will serve as a Director on the Board at Lakeland REALTORS® in 2019. She is the YPN Co-Chair and a recent Leadership Academy Graduate.

Mindy is the Broker/Owner of Tribute Realty, she is on our REALTOR® Political Action Committee, as well as the Professional Development Committee.

Both recipients always have the Association’s best interest at heart. They are leaders in our community and they volunteer their time and talents to many worth causes, including promoting the real estate profession with integrity and honesty.

The William Lofin Commercial REALTOR® of the Year was presented to Gary Ralston with Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Ralston Dantzler for his dedication to serving the commercial real estate sector.

Dawn Holcomb with United Title Group of Lakeland was awarded the Preferred Business Partner of The Year award for her hard work ethic and continuous support of the REALTOR® community.

In addition to these awards, the Volunteer of the Year is selected by the Lakeland REALTORS® staff. The 2018 award went to Susan Conner with Coldwell Banker Residential. Susan has dedicated many volunteer hours to the profession and to Lakeland REALTORS®, including chairing the 2018 Golf Tournament benefiting Habitat for Humanity.

The Humanitarian of the Year award was presented to Kim Ice-Couch with Lock Insurance. Kim works tirelessly to make our community a better place, working with many charities and good causes in the community.

The Hall of Fame Award was awarded posthumously to Jan Bellamy who was for many years, the Broker of  RE/MAX Experts. Jan was a REALTOR® for 34+ years, and served on many committees at Lakeland REALTORS®.  Jan was known throughout the Lakeland real estate community for being a master negotiator while upholding her integrity, honesty and fairness motto. She was a true mentor to anyone who needed guidance with any and all parts of a transaction and tried to always find a compromise that made difficult situations a win-win for everyone involved.

This year in addition to the awards above, the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards given for outstanding leadership and professionalism in 2018. This award was presented to Chris McLaughlin of Keller Williams.

Habitat for Humanity of Lakeland was honored with the proceeds from the Lakeland REALTORS® Golf Tournament in the amount of $11, 393.00 for their tiny home for heroes project, also known as the “Fleming Platoon.”

Congratulations to all of our outstanding award winners.


Vogel Bros. Building Co. Celebrates Milestone Anniversary – 90 Years of Incorporation

David and Peter Vogel

MADISON, WIS. – Vogel Bros. Building Co. has reached a milestone this December, celebrating 90 years of doing business as a Wisconsin corporation. The family owned business started on the eastside of Madison in 1875. Since its beginnings, Vogel Bros. has grown to a nationally recognized, fifth-generation construction services company with its home office in Madison, WI and a second location in Lakeland, FL. December 11, 2018 will mark the 90th anniversary of Vogel Bros. Building Co.’s incorporation.

Company CEO and President Peter Vogel remarked: “We have achieved this milestone through the hard work and dedication of our employees, and through the loyalty of our customers. It gives me great pride to reflect on our history, and I am very excited as I look to the future.”

The company plans to celebrate this milestone throughout the next year by reflecting on where they started, appreciating what they have achieved, and crafting plans for the future.

“We’re just kicking off the celebration,” said Peter when discussing the milestone achievement. “Moving forward we will continue to focus on our mission: to continually improve our services in order to enhance the lives of the people in the communities we serve. Our team is energized and we look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead of us.”

“I am proud to say that I’ve been a part of the team for 64 of our 90 years. From my early days when I played in the shop, to serving as CEO from 1969 to 1997,” David Vogel reminisced. “I’ve seen our industry transform and evolve in ways we could never have imagined. It’s been a gift to have been a part of it.”


Florida Southern’s Student-Led Digital Agency Gives Toys For Tots Social Media Presence


LAKELAND (December 7, 2018) –  The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in Polk County is partnering with members of Florida Southern’s student-run digital agency, Lux12, to produce a social media strategy that builds awareness of the organization’s main mission of collecting and distributing toys to less fortunate children during the holidays.

David Waller, local coordinator of Marine Toys for Tots, is working with the student group from FSC’s Department of Communication to increase the program’s digital visibility. Members of the Lux12 agency are producing original videos and aim to boost the nonprofit’s web profile via Facebook messaging, with a secondary goal of attracting and training new volunteers.

“Our program needs attention in the social media arena,” Waller said, “to get information out about our events, our fundraising activities, and our feel-good stories. They were looking to work with a nonprofit, so I met with the students and gave them my vision of what we wanted to do.”

William Allen, associate professor of digital media at Florida Southern, started Lux12 to give real-world opportunities to the agency’s student administrators and staffers – most of whom are Communication majors – through creative partnerships with both nonprofit and for-profit clientss. Each service arrangement lasts at least three years.

In addition to enhancing their clients’ social media presence, the two teams of Lux12 staffers monitor the impact of their efforts and report back to their clients through periodic meetings and presentations. When working with Toys for Tots, “the empathy factor is high,” Allen said. “The hardships and the needs give a real, tangible element to the purpose of the campaign.”

Julia Couch, a junior from Atlanta, Ga., is the director of the student agency and has been involved from the start in forging a client relationship with Toys for Tots. During the past semester, Lux12 has focused on separate campaigns to increase the number of active volunteers and to boost donations of new, unwrapped toys within Polk County.

“We talked with them about the importance of reaching very targeted audiences,” Couch said, “to create a more structured plan for their social media content. We also created a training video for volunteers, plus a short narrative piece to encourage people to give toys.”

As the local Toys for Tots coordinator, Waller hopes to sees benefits from the group’s partnership with Lux12 that will go beyond the standard holiday rush.

“We supply toys to needy children in Polk County when there is a need throughout the year,” he explained, “when a house burns down, or if there is a need for a child because of a traumatic experience.” Increasing the group’s visibility through FSC’s social media efforts should help direct volunteers to the program and its website, he said.


About Florida Southern College

Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private comprehensive college in Florida. The College maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, and nursing. Florida Southern has a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio; is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning; and boasts 30 NCAA Division II national championships. It is ranked among the Top 20 Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report; named a Top Baccalaureate College by Washington Monthly; and included in The Princeton Review’s 384 Best Colleges, The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018, and Forbes magazine’s America’s Top Colleges Guide. The College is committed to the development of the whole student through vibrant student life programs that prepare graduates to make a positive, consequential impact on society.  FSC is conveniently located within an hour’s drive of both Orlando and Tampa. FSC is home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. Named the “Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” for two consecutive years by The Princeton Review and one of the nation’s “Ten College Campuses with the Best Architecture” by Architectural Digest, Florida Southern is an internationally-recognized place of beauty and academic excellence.