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City of Lakeland’s Monthly Newsletter

September 2013


Outdoor Lighting Program

Neighborhood Spotlight: Webster Park

Meet Gary Welshans: Sign Fabricator

HELP US TELL OUR STORY Your library needs help telling Lakeland’s story. The Special Collections Unit of the Lakeland Public Library acquires, preserves and makes accessible to researchers, materials that document Lakeland’s history. Collections feature photos, books, maps, manuscripts, scrapbooks, etc. Located in the Lakeland Room
of the Main Library at 100 Lake
Morton Drive, the materials focus on the city's people, facilities, organizations, industries and events.

Among the most significant of these collections is the Earl Morgan Savage Collection, with its many photos of Lakeland’s developing downtown district in the 1920's, and the Dan Sanborn Collection, which documents Lakeland's growth and development from the 1930's to the 1960's. Many of the items collected and donated to the library are available online as digital presentations like The African American Experience Exhibit. Although the Special Collections units has over 10,000 photographic prints and negatives documenting Lakeland from the turn of the century to the present, there are a few weak eras. Photos, personal papers and business records from the 1950’s through 1970’s are scarce. There are very few items relating to Washington Park/ Rochelle High, where African Americans students attended when Lakeland schools were segregated. The segregated school was in existence from 1928 to 1969. The library would like to add to the Special Collections Unit yearbooks and other materials featuring the school. Photos (circa 1920’s) of residential neighborhoods are also needed. Photos of commercial districts from that era are plentiful, but relatively few of individual houses or streets lined with houses exist. To donate your items to the archives at the Lakeland Public Library or to learn more about Special Collections, visit You can also contact librarian Kevin Logan at (863) 834-4269 or

Public Safety Open Houses Scheduled for October

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Monthly Comparison of Residential Electric Rates

Source: Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) Monthly Utility Bill Comparison • June 2013

Tree Trimming 101 Lakeland Electric recognizes and appreciates that trees are valuable assets to our customers' landscapes and to the quality of life in our area. However, this must be balanced with the constant threat to our customers' electric service posed by trees. In addition to outages, downed wires threaten the safety of people and animals and increase the cost of providing utility service. Public safety, reliable service, and cost control are all important to us.That is why Lakeland Electric maintains a tree trimming program. Tree crews operate nearly year round to clear the lines to reduce tree related outages and to expedite service restoration during storms. There are several issues that we are often questioned about concerning tree trimming activities. Lakeland Electric practices "lateral" or "natural" tree trimming methods according to ANSI A-300 standards. This is the voluntary standard for all tree work in the United States. Lateral trimming means that limbs are removed at their nearest main branch or to the trunk of the tree, and not simply cut to a "stub." Lakeland Electric does not top trees unless it is absolutely necessary. Lateral tree trimming has been endorsed by industry experts including The National Arbor Day Foundation as the best method of line clearance for the health of the trees. Although the appearance of some trees may be considered unusual after the initial trim, it quickly improves with time and growing seasons. Additional trimming for services to residences and trees blocking private area lights are the responsibility of the customer. If you or private tree workers hired by you feel that it is unsafe to work close to the service, please call our main office at 863.834.9535 during regular business hours to schedule one of our line clearance coordinators to meet with you and arrange to have your service temporarily disconnected. Please provide five business days notice to schedule your request. There is no charge for this service during normal working hours.

*per 1,200 kWh usage


Improve Home Security with Private Area Lighting

One of the most effective ways to protect your home is also quite affordable – thanks to Lakeland Electric. Our Outdoor Lighting program offers a variety of lighting options that provide additional security and greater visibility. Outdoor lighting not only acts a deterrent to intruders and vandals, but it also helps prevent accidents by illuminating curbs and surfaces. Plus, with automatically timed lights that go off at dawn and on at dusk, hours after the sun has set, you can continue to work or play. There are many fixtures and several wattage levels from which to choose. But best of all, in most instances, installation is free and there is no charge for repairs or maintenance. If there is ever a problem, just call and we’ll come out. All this for just one low monthly rental fee that will be conveniently itemized on your utility bill. Call us at 863.834.6789 and we’ll arrange an appointment to meet with your and answer any questions you may have.

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Neighborhood Spotlight: Webster Park Neighborhoods are an integral part of the City. Maintaining and enhancing these neighborhoods are critical to the long-term vitality and success of Lakeland and the quality of life of our residents. The City of Lakeland has identified approximately 100 neighborhoods. Of those, 15 are registered neighborhood associations that make up the Neighborhood Association Coalition (NAC), which works closely with City staff. This month, we spotlight the Webster Park. The Webster Park Neighborhood Association was organized in 1995. West Tenth Street, West Memorial Boulevard, Kathleen Road and North Lincoln Avenue border the neighborhood. About 80% of the homes in Webster Park are owner occupied. That’s a statistic that Neighborhood Association president Sam Simmons, who has held to post since 1995, is pleased to reference. “People tend to take care of

property they own and residents of his community are no exception,” said Simmons. Webster Park is grateful for partnerships with churches and non-profit groups like New Life Outreach Ministries, New Mount Zion, Ewing Memorial and Faith in Action. The faith-based ministries continue to uplift residents and come up with ways to keep kids occupied, keeping them out of harms way. Neighborhood leaders who were recently notified by the Lakeland Police Department about an increase in drive-by shootings are especially appreciative of this support. The neighborhood association took the lead in advocating for the tearing down of Lincoln Square Apartments, which had become infested with drug activity, crime and domestic violence. “We are looking forward to the demolition of that complex and to putting something in that space that will be

a sustainable component to our community,” said Simmons. The neighborhood matching grants awarded to Webster Park by the City of Lakeland Community Development Department have been put to good use. The neighborhood identification sign at the corner of Fifth Street and Omohundro Avenue was acquired with the funds. The grant also helps to bolster afterschool programs like Boys 2 Men/Sister Act 2, a program that provides enrichment services to students during the school year. New Mount Zion M.B. Church helps to coordinate activities in the park on N.Webster Avenue including the annual Hallelujah Festival, which is draws residents to a central location in lieu of door-to-door trick or treating on Halloween. Webster Park Neighborhood Association meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Coleman-Bush Building, 1104 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Residents are encouraged to come to meetings, because they are a great way to talk about concerns collectively, hear updates from the Lakeland Police Department and help plan community activities. Area businesses are also welcome to attend.


Meet GARY WELSHANS Gary Welshans is the Sign Fabricator for the City of Lakeland he produces about 1,300 signs and vehicle decals per year. He first started with the City in 1989 working with the City’s Parking Division where he worked for a year before moving to the Traffic Division. Welshans said, “I initially did a lot of field work when I came on with the Traffic Division doing installation and maintenance but I have been fabricating signs for at least 12 years.” When asked about what he liked most about his job, Welshans responded, “I enjoy the creativity, the group of people that I work with and the working conditions. I get to work in an air conditioned environment and having worked in the field in all weather conditions, I appreciate where I am now.” Technology has changed the sign making business over the past 12 years. Welshans said, “When I first started we did everything with a die cutter and now we have computerized files and plotter printers that have helped us be much more efficient.” He added, “In the past, we may have made one or two signs per day but now I make five to eight

on average but there are times that I make up to 30 signs in one day.” Welshans explains, “It really depends on the complexity and the size of the sign, I enjoy making signs that involve multiple colors. My favorite signs to make are probably those for Parks and Recreation because many of them are unique and different.” Welshans was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Florida in 1972 to attend Southeastern University. He first started working with the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Villa as a counselor for troubled teens before being employed by the City of Lakeland. He loves the beach and he said his favorite beaches are Coquina and Indian Rocks Beach. When asked if he has any hobbies he said, “I know this sounds funny but, I love to work in the yard and do home improvement projects.” He added, “I have basically rebuilt my house over time and I have completely redone the yard. I just recently installed exterior lighting that really accentuates the landscaping.” His favorite television show is Big Bang Theory and he enjoys the Bourne series and he named

Bourne Supremacy as his favorite movie. Welshans has a soft spot for American muscle cars. “Gone in 60 Seconds is another one of his all time favorite movies,” he said. “My first car was a Ford Fairlane GTA 390, candy apple red with lots of chrome and I’ve been into muscle cars every since.” His favorite color is blue and when asked about his favorite food Welshans said, “I like all seafood but my favorite is definitely shrimp.” He enjoys classic rock stating that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are two of his favorite bands. “I enjoy where I work and the people that I work with,” he said. “I dislike the mundane and I like the fact that I get to use my creativity in transforming metal and vinyl into a finished product.”

1300 SIGNS Produced Annually SIGN SHOP MULTI-COLOR SIGNS Put together like a puzzle ONE FABRICATOR Creates all signs for the City CITY OF LAKELAND

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IN PERSON City Hall is open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday PUBLIC MEETINGS City Commission and Utility Committee meetings occur the first and third Monday of every month. The public is invited to attend or watch live on

Join us as Gandy Pool transforms into the Infamous Green Swamp with frights lurking around every corner.

Swamp Nachos and other Swamp Snacks $2 Per Person • Proper Swimwear is Required

public safety


Channel 615 (Brighthouse) or Channel 43 (Verizon FiOS) CITY COMMISSION 9:00 a.m. UTILITY COMMITTEE 1:00 p.m.


IMPORTANT NUMBERS City Hall 863.834.6000

Members of the department will be on hand to give guided tours of the station so that you can explore fire trucks, visit equipment displays and see where your local firemen live while on duty serving the citizens of Lakeland. Live demonstrations will be given by our Urban Search and Rescue Team, firefighters and paramedics. You can also participate in our hands-on extrication exercise or sit back, relax and get your blood pressure checked while enjoying free refreshments! Sparky the fire dog will also be on site for free photos in front of the big engines.

Lakeland Electric Customer Service 863.834.9535

10AM-2PM | Station 1 • Downtown


10AM-2PM | Lakeland Police Station This free event gives citizens the opportunity to go behind the scenes with Lakeland’s finest. During this fun-filled family day you can meet members of the SWAT team, take a peek inside the City’s mobile command center, see the armored rescue vehicle up close and check out the K-9 team in action! Also, back by popular demand, the helicopter will be onsite for guests to look inside. Tours of the police station will be given throughout the day and there will be plenty of children’s activities on hand.

L O G O N. T U N E I N. G E T C O N N E C T E D.

Power or Water Outages 863.834.4248 Stormwater Hotline 863.834.3300 PAYING YOUR UTILITY BILL ONLINE BY PHONE 863.834.9535 IN PERSON Lakeland Electric has partnered with over 50 local businesses including area AMSCOT offices to accept your utility payment.

Access Lakeland - September 2013  

Access Lakeland is the City of Lakeland's citizen newsletter that is distributed each month with Lakeland Electric utility bills.

Access Lakeland - September 2013  

Access Lakeland is the City of Lakeland's citizen newsletter that is distributed each month with Lakeland Electric utility bills.