We want to know what we think we all ought to know, so we occasionally ask the people who do.

Click (twice on a mobile device) on a book cover to display the title's check-out history and The Ledger's reporting.

How did those books get there in the first place?

Ann Everett

Senior Director, K-12 Literacy

Polk County Public Schools

The primary objective of each school’s media program is to enrich, extend, and support the instructional program of the school. The school media program makes available a wide range of media on varying levels of difficulty attending to diverse needs, interests, and viewpoints of students and teachers. The media specialist or media para performs a Collection Analysis to obtain statistical data on the collection which is then used to help determine acquisition needs. The media staff member also considers student interests, teacher requests, book reviews, awards, and recommendations from professional periodicals when selecting books to add to the school’s collection. Suggested sources for selection may include American Library Association, New York Public Library-100 Great Children’s Books, Young Adult Library Services Association-Teen Book Lists, and Mid-Continent Public Library-Juvenile Series List. Below are a list of guidelines shared with media staff related to selection of materials.


Guidelines include:

Pursuant to Florida Statute 1006.40, any materials purchased with Library Materials Media funds must be:

1. Free of pornography and material prohibited under s. 847.012.

2. Suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented.

3. Appropriate for the grade level and age group for which the materials are used or made available.

Media considered for purchase are judged on the basis of the following criteria:

Purpose - relationship with instructional objectives and/or the curriculum

Reliability - accurate, authentic

Quality - writing and/or production of merit

Treatment - clear, comprehensible, skillful, convincing, well-organized Technical production - aurally and visually appealing, well-crafted

Construction - durable, manageable, functional, safe

Special features - useful illustrations, photographs, maps, graphics, charts, graphs, documentation

Possible uses - individual, small, and/or large group instruction, in-depth study

Special Considerations:

Religion - factual media that represent all major religions

Ideologies - philosophy that exert a strong force in society

Sex education - factual information appropriate for the age group or related to the school curriculum

Sex - pornographic, sensational, or titillating material is not included, but the evidence of sexual incidents appearing in the media does not automatically disqualify its use (Reference Florida State Statute 847.012)

Profanity - use of profanity does not automatically disqualify a selection; effort is made to exclude media using profanity in a lewd or detrimental manner

Science - factual information about medical and scientific knowledge

Additional considerations:

Selection is a continuing process which shall include the removal of media no longer appropriate and the replacement of lost and worn materials still of educational value.

Effort should be made to keep the media current and comprehensive, and shall include media that reflect rapidly developing instructional technologies. The responsibility for selection of school library books and materials shall rest with the certified school Library Media Specialist or the school's Media Paraprofessional II.

All Health, Substance Abuse, and Violence Prevention lessons in middle and high school, including Life Management and Family Dynamics, have a specified Board-approved curriculum. Any additional materials requested to support or enhance these lesson must have approval from the Curriculum Review Committee at the Mark Wilcox Center. This includes any on-air broadcast recordings.

Videos on topics related to Human Sexuality, HIV/AIDS, Teenage Pregnancy, STD's, Substance Abuse, and Violence Prevention shall have a label placed on the video that states: This video must be previewed by the classroom teacher, enhance the curriculum, and be compliant with Critical Issues in order to be viewed in the classroom. Contact the Mark Wilcox Center for further information.

Use recommended, professionally prepared selection aids when firsthand examination of materials is not possible.      


Evaluate carefully any costly sets of media and subscription items only as specifically needed.

Limit the purchase of duplicates to media that is not used extensively.

Evaluate gift items by standard selection criteria, and upon acceptance of such items, reserve the right to incorporate into the collection only those meeting these specified criteria.

Purchase replacements for worn, damaged, or missing media basic to the collection.

Weed continuously from the collection worn, obsolete, and inoperable items.

Emphasis should be on educationally useful items – quality not quantity.

Thirteen Reasons Why selected for Florida Teens Read


Do you wishcycle? If so, you’re actually not helping to recycle

By Jessica Heiges and Kate O'Neill 

January 23, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. EST


Wishcycling is putting something in the recycling bin and hoping it will be recycled, even if there is little evidence to confirm this assumption.

Hope is central to wishcycling. People may not be sure the system works, but they choose to believe that if they recycle an object, it will become a new product rather than being buried in a landfill, burned or dumped.


Lakeland's Public Works Director responds

The term “Wishcycling” is an industry term used to describe items that make it into our blue recycling carts that are  not part of our advertised acceptable materials list.  How does an item make it onto our acceptable materials list? We partner with our local recycling processor in Lakeland, Republic Services of Florida, who develops the list of recyclable materials that are marketable for Southeast Recycling Region of the U.S.  We as a city collect all of the recycling material and deliver it Republic for cleaning, bailing and then selling on the open market to the  end users for recycling.


Based on our most recent recycling program audit in 2020 Lakelander’s were  beating the nation average of 15 to 30 percent wishcycling with an average non-recyclable materials in the blue cart of 8.9 to 11 percent. Annual direct communication with residents regarding recycling helps remind everyone what is actually recycled in our program.


And finally, the term wishcyling really refers to items that may be recyclable in other parts of the country that are not accepted in our program due to processing limitations in our area. If it’s not on the list of acceptable materials it is “Wishcycling” and will end up in the landfill once all of the acceptable recyclable materials are processed out.


Link to our acceptable materials web page


We run into this with our County partners quiet often in that they are more restrictive than the City. Hope this helps answer your question but if you need additional information we will do our best to answer.




Heath Frederick

Public Works Director

Public Works

City of Lakeland

South Florida Avenue and 5G

Is the City (still?) planning to lease utility pole locations for 5G service?

Is the current configuration of the South Florida Avenue road diet in its final form?


Thank you for your consideration,


Regarding South Florida Avenue within the test area--the current configuration is certainly not the final form and was constructed by FDOT to be temporary, yet be durable enough to provide sufficient time to identify a final street/sidewalk design should the City Commission determine that the overall road-diet meets the safety, economic development and mobility objectives coming out of the 2016-2017 master planning effort.  That decision is expected to occur this summer. 


The concrete islands were placed on top of the existing asphalt to minimize maintenance costs during the test period.


If you have any questions or need additional information, just let me know!

Chuck Barmby

Business Development & Transportation Manager

Community & Economic Development

City of Lakeland

Lakeland Electric went through an exercise to amend our existing pole attachment agreements to now include 5G equipment and we are ready to go.  I suspect any major rollout by the big players, AT&T, Verizon, etc will occur following the rollout in the larger cities, but you can bet we are on the list.


I would further opine that the longer it takes the better as the technology will get better, faster and smaller.  Hence less intrusive on our poles and equipment, aka aesthetics.

Joel Ivy

Lakeland Electric General Manager

South Florida Avenue Road Diet 

Chuck Barmby

Business Development & Transportation Manager

Community & Economic Development

City of Lakeland

Can you tell us when (if) you will start counting cars on (and off) South Florida Avenue again?

FDOT’s counts collected back in January and February provide a data base line for future analysis and the current plan is for the City (CED, Traffic Operations and LPD) to work with FDOT to conduct volume and speed counts on the surrounding street network on an as-needed basis to address specific concerns that are raised during the test period (expected to formally begin on October 1st).  


For Florida Avenue and surrounding State Highways, Traffic Operations has the ability to evaluate travel time in real-time and is doing that on a 24/7 basis.  


The next big step in the testing of the Florida Avenue corridor will begin with the start of school on August 24th and we expect comments and questions to come up in the days immediately following the start of the fall semester.

READ MORE HERE  - History of the project
Who needs a ride?

Charles Barmby, the City's Business Development & Transportation Manager fills in the blanks for this long-term economic development project

When? In other words, given all "green lights", when would the project be fulfilled?

The project team is currently evaluating transit improvements for the near term and longer-term future. The near-term improvements focus on operational improvements to the Gold Line that are intended to be implemented in the next five years, assuming funding can be identified to support these improvements. The longer-term capital improvements (improved station amenities and dedicated transit lanes on the northern segment of the alignment) have a proposed horizon of 15-25 years and would also need to identify capital funding. FDOT and the City of Lakeland are evaluating the feasibility of the proposed improvements as well as potential funding sources.

Who benefits directly? Riders? Commerce on the route? Developers? The City's tax base?

The intent is to benefit a variety of stakeholders in the Lakeland community including existing transit riders, future riders, businesses and employees, and existing drivers in the corridor.

Screen Shot 2021-03-07 at 8.38.05 AM.png

US 98 Bus Rapid Transit Feasibility Study - Survey

Riders and businesses would benefit from the improved access and travel times that the project could bring. Drivers could also benefit from reductions in congestion with people switching from the car to the bus. We hope that developers and business owners alike will see the benefits of improved transit and mobility options in the corridor. With more development, the city could also assume to capture some additional revenues, however, that is not the primary intent of the project. The study does address the extent to which new development activity already projected to occur in Lakeland would need to be focused along the corridor, to achieve a level of activity that could warrant high capacity transit service in the future, and to help guide City policy priorities.


What does it look like? A bus? A train? (I see the "US 98 Bus" reference, but is it short for "Business", or is it truly a bus?)

Both near term and longer-term transit in the US 98 corridor is envisioned to be a bus. However, the corridor connects several potential plans for the high-speed rail (I-4 corridor) and commuter rail (to Downtown Lakeland). The near-term buses would be the same as those operating in the corridor today. The longer-term vision is to have a fleet of specially branded electric buses in the US 98 corridor between the Lakeland Square Mall area and downtown Lakeland (or the future intermodal facility).

The "Where?" is pretty clear as to its geography, and the "Why?" is laid out at a high level, but can more specifics be added in terms of its impact at ground level?

Impacts of the project will be evaluated further as project elements are defined in more detail. General project benefits and the “why” answer will be included in the final plan and documentation.


So, How? Taxes? Fees? Investors? Bonds? City vs. State share of the funding?

Potential operating and capital funding sources are being evaluated. However, at this time, no specific suite of funding has been identified. This will require further work by the City, Lakeland Area Mass Transit District (LAMTD), and other stakeholders.


And last on my list today: What political influences and influencers are most likely to play a role?

The study is intended to provide the context for policy decision-making regarding the corridor. Successful high capacity transit service results from an intentional and sustained commitment from many partners, including the City. This study will ideally inform those discussions going forward.

Lake Morton

During my regular morning rounds I recently noticed two installations like this: one at Orange Park Avenue and one on the opposite side of the lake at Kentucky Avenue.

Soooo ...

I sent the photo and the question to Heath Frederick, the City's Public Works Director, hoping to get the story. And, in spite of the fact that this was a Saturday, the email exchange here shows what I think of as a typical timely and informative response from our city officials.

The presentation was made to the City Commission at their regular meeting on March 2nd.

Heath Frederick, Public Works Director, City of Lakeland, 863.834.6040, Heath.frederick@lakelandgov.net

Saturday, June 27


8:55 AM


Good morning! Just wondering if this is in your realm. 

Cheers, Michael 

9:36 AM

To be honest I have no idea what that is but I will find out and let you know shortly.  


11:35 AM

Found out what it is, a temporary stormwater auto sampler for Lake Morton study.  They will be removed in a few months. Exactly what it does I am not sure but plan to do more studying. We are doing a study on Lake Morton to see what steps we can take to improve the water quality.  

Conditional Use Permits

Is it possible to adapt or amend the rules regarding neighbor notifications for conditional use permits? The current voluntary notification, with a range of 250, feet has proven unhelpful and inadequate. I propose that in the case of a designated historic district that the notice be provided to the entire neighborhood, which is impacted by all economic development activity anywhere in it, and that it be mandatory. A message to the formal association should be sufficient.

Tony Delgado, City Manager

As a courtesy not required by Florida law, we currently mail out notification letters to all property owners located within 500 feet for any zoning/land use applications and 250 feet for any CUP applications. This has been standard practice for the department since at least the 1990s. If a request is likely to be controversial, we always try to include any active neighborhood associations that we are aware of in the mailing list.  

Historically, we have not mailed out letters to every property owner in a neighborhood due to practical concerns pertaining to staff time and printing/postage costs. While the 250’ notification radius for CUP applications is somewhat arbitrary, if increased we would need to apply to all property owners, not just those located in the historic districts, as a matter of equity. To account for the additional costs incurred, we would also likely need to increase the fees for such applications.   

Proposed 20-002; approving a conditional use to allow for the construction of a garage apartment on property located at 829 Pennsylvania Avenue (1st reading 01-06-2020) 

WHEREAS, an application has been filed by Alton Masters, for a conditional use to allow the construction of a garage apartment on property located at 829 Pennsylvania Avenue, as more particularly described on Attachment “A” and graphically depicted on Attachments “B,” “C,” and “D,” attached hereto; and

WHEREAS, on December 17, 2019, the Planning and Zoning Board held a public hearing on the request of the applicant to have such conditional use granted; and

WHEREAS, the Planning and Zoning Board approved the application on December 17, 2019, and recommended to the City Commission that the conditional use be granted;