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Laura Prazdnicane, 18-years-old, is a senior at All Saints Academy. She transcends academically and socially, earning high marks in her honors classes. She speaks three languages, has a part-time job, is involved in extracurricular clubs, and was crowned homecoming queen this year. “Laura ha…

“Our mission is to reach all kids, particularly those who need us the most to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens,” said Stephen Giordano, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Polk County. Giordano has been a for-profit CEO for the last 20-somet…

What is it that draws us to the macabre? What makes us peer in from the outside, at a distance, safely removed from events so terrible and tragic, bloody and grim? For the creator, producer, and co-host of the Scarlet True Crime Podcast Sonia Sutton Meza-Leon, it’s all about curiosity, with …

“SCOOBY-DOO AND THE GHOUL SCHOOL” (1988) NR“SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND” (1998) Rated G

We have been isolated from one another for months now. Every routine has been interrupted and all of our usual social gatherings have either been canceled or extremely limited. The challenge with this is that we are social beings. We are created for community. Even the most introverted perso…

It isn’t complicated, says kidsPACK Executive Director, Patty Strickland, there’s an issue that needs to be solved. Unfortunately, it’s a problem invisible to many, even in a community as giving as Polk County. It all begins with community awareness and $25 a month.

Third-generation Central Floridian, angler, author, and entrepreneur Joe Simonds lives in Winter Haven with his wife, Dr. Loren Simonds, and their three children. Fish, or more the memories made catching them, drove Joe and his brother Luke to start an angler-centric company offering product…

Want to take a road trip a little closer to home?  We asked the experts at Visit Central Florida for some of their favorite places to go here in Polk County.  From viewing a zebra from your car to sitting down to a proper tea, there are so many things to do in our own backyard.  

“It all probably goes back to me growing up as a little girl in Guatemala,” began Lisbeth Pacheco. That little girl in Guatemala grew familiar with the unkind sting of inequality. She would help with household chores when her brothers didn’t have to. “I had to make up their beds, serve them …

It would be fair to say Bartow’s newest coffee house started in a Brooksville field – the idea for it did, anyway. CEO and Creative Director of Unfiltered Coffee, Geanie Folder, worked in a nursing home for most of her life. A fierce creative, Geanie always kept a “vintage side hustle” upcyc…

Central Florida has always been a regional nucleus for agriculture. Orange groves and strawberry fields go on forever and the area is abundant with festivals, markets and roadside stands selling and celebrating local farming culture. One trend has Polk County farmers setting sail in search o…

A new addition to the royal swan family will be released on Lake Morton next year. Wildlife researchers looking to learn more about Lakeland’s swan population have teamed up with the county and area colleges to fund and create robotic swans. Project Roboswan is officially underway with the A…

Seven hundred and fifty bottles per minute shoot down a production line outside a large window in Julie Williams’s office. One thousand cases worth of beverages will expeditiously clink down the line during the hour we talk with chief operating officer Julie Williams and chief financial offi…

Extra, extra, read all about it – Bartow beer lovers rejoice! The city’s first microbrewery, Front Page Brewing Company, is set to open this month. The craft brew culture in Polk County is ever-growing and we are not complaining. We sent Front Page owner, Johnnie Levin (JL) a few questions t…

Whether he’s served you a beer at Grove Roots, told you a joke, or stumped you with a trivia question there’s one thing you know about Thom Bly – he’s a born entertainer. Bly has taken this natural charisma and knack for putting on a show and turned it into a growingly popular full-service l…

Joining friends and family and community – Lakeland’s first food hall, The Joinery is serving up some of the city’s most unique food finds.

“I’m not trying to find something that makes me happy – I’m trying to find something with meaning,” said Lake Wales artist and filmmaker, Paul O’Neill. Though filmmaking is certainly something that brings him joy, the meaning he finds in forming a connection with an artist and finding out wh…

This year Lakeland-based property management and real estate firm Lorio & Associates celebrates the big 3-0. The firm offers specialized brokerage services with a focus on commercial property management, leasing, and sales. For the last 30 years, founder Joe Lorio and his team have been …

What started as a garden on family land to grow their own food, has turned into a labor of love and a small business for Lakeland couple Luke Smith and Olivia Mines. With a focus on holistic farming and regenerative agriculture, the couple is doing their part to produce good food and be good…

Lakeland foodies are a-buzz about the soon-to-open GreenWise Market going up in South Lakeland. Publix Supermarkets is slated to open a new location of their smaller chain of grocery stores focusing on organic, specialty, and traditional grocery items in the swan city this December. The gran…

Tucked away in a sleepy Bartow neighborhood not far from bustling Highway 17, rests a grand architectural art piece devised by an eccentric inventor in the 1920s. One of Florida’s earliest tourist attractions, the Wonder House is presently home to Krislin Kreis and Drew Davis. After falling …

Lieutenant Damian Motsinger has been with the Lakeland Fire Department for the entirety of his fire career – over 11 years. His grandfather was a volunteer fire chief and his great uncle was a Lakeland firefighter years ago. The idea to follow in their footsteps crossed his mind as a kid. Bo…

The first year of any job is a time to show off your skillset, form relationships with co-workers, and earn your place within the company. Certainly, this is true too of the fire service – a career in which daily tasks can range from station cleaning duties or taking life-saving measures on …

Born on Florida’s east coast, Jessica Bryant went to Florida Institute of Technology and earned her Bachelor of Science degree. From there she built a career managing restaurants and was the General Manager for years at a corporate restaurant. As she grew increasingly disheartened with the i…

What started as a small initiative centered around cycling and community has grown into a cooperative of much grander proportions. William Schaffer has been a cycling advocate for the city of Lakeland for ten years. Unwholly Bikes is the second bicycle co-op he’s created – a program called V…

As far back as her memory extends, 10-year-old Harlow Manning has wanted to be an artist. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as she follows in the footsteps of her father, internationally known artist, Trent Manning.

Stereotypically synonymous with aggression, ferocity, and volatility, Pit Bulls are not often granted the chance they deserve at life and a happy home. Co-founders of The Polk County Bully Project, Angie Lorio, Shannon Medina, and Erika Wisniewski say this reputation could not be further fro…

A Florida Wildman in spirit (and Instagram handle), Adam Strang Bass captures timeless shots of old Florida in the name of preservation. His images are striking. Photographs that are in and of themselves an argument for protecting our wild state. Bass has a knack for capturing moments seldom…

What does it mean to live loudly? Perhaps it’s using art to heal, or embracing the fact that you’ve “always been extra,” or using your film or photography to start a conversation. For husband and wife, Jamie and Natalya Clemens, living loudly meant starting an award-winning video production …

Lakeland’s live entertainment is bursting at the seams and they have a new stage on which to belt a note or tell a joke. Dan Signor, a noteworthy musician himself, conceptualized Dixieland’s Union Hall as a premier event space for the community and a stepping stone for local up and comers.

The proof was in the pudding, or CBD rather, for Areli and Tony Bryan of Lakeland. Their personal experiences with CBD impassioned them to open a store in efforts to extend to others the CBD benefits that changed their lives.  

Music and country culture are in Hunter Smith’s blood. As a fifth-generation Floridian and fourth-generation Winter Havenite, his roots run deep here. His great grandfather, Dr. Wiley Terrell Simpson was instrumental in starting Winter Haven Hospital in 1928.

For 24-year-old, Winter Haven native Jessica Spell, being a Firefighter/ Paramedic is more than a job – it’s her whole life. Her reasons for joining and even her activities outside of work all center around the people she helps on a daily basis.

Through her law practice, Foley Immigration Law and nonprofit The Red Tent Initiative, Lakeland attorney, Alison Foley-Rothrock is using her voice to bust stigmas and give power to victims as a survivor, advocate and leader.  

Motherhood and advocacy are two of the biggest parts of New York born, Florida raised Kerri McCoy’s life. She and her husband, Kevin, have two sons ages 26 and 20. When her oldest son came out in high school, Kerri began her mission to do what she could to see that the LGBTQ community had th…

Dustin Shay was born and raised around the Ocala area. He moved to Tampa to attend college at the University of South Florida and continued living in Tampa for quite a few years before making the move to Lakeland in 2005. Shay’s career brought him to the swan city to work for Rita Staffing w…

The arts have been a fundamental part of Executive Director and Chief Curator at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, Claire Orologas’ life since childhood. “My mother was a ballet dancer. Our house was always filled with music. My father had a wonderful voice,” she remembers.…

The Friends of Tri-County 2019 City of Lakeland Bill Mutz and Pamela Mutz fundraising event was held on April 2, at Haus 820, where guest speaker Sheriff Grady Judd addressed the crowd to talk statistics and solutions to homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse within the jail system…

With pen in hand, Josh ‘Bump’ Galletta fought his way from the depths of trauma and wielded his gift to draw a future for himself and his family.  

Every parent wants what’s best for their child, ensuring that they are safe and equipped with the skills needed to live a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, the world as it is does not always make this easy for individuals living with special needs.  

“Nurture your nature,” says Shane Osborne, the man behind the beard at Mason Danger Beard Company, a company focused on creating better, natural solutions for beard care. Shane, a full-time occupational therapist, describes himself as a man with bad skin and a big beard.  He  discussed all t…

For anyone who’s ever thought they don’t like gin or whiskey or other strong spirits, stop by Revival in Lakeland and prepare to have your mind changed!  Owner, Jeannie Weaver has worked to make the downtown Lakeland craft cocktail bar an inclusive space where cocktail snobs and newbs alike …

Whether you get your chuckles from stand-up, rom coms, or laugh at your own jokes, there is nothing as satisfying as a good, hearty, embarrassing, snort-inducing belly-laugh. On the first Friday night of every month for almost two years now, an eclectic cast of players takes the stage at LKL…

A natural therapy making a buzz in the U.S. for years now, salt therapy made its way to Lakeland in September of 2017. 

“One day when I get old and pass away, I want my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren, if they take a moment to wonder what Granddad was really like, they can see what Granddad really loved through my photography.  They might say Granddad was a sheriff at work and he was proud …

To many people living in Lakeland, Kenya may seem fairly far removed from the culture of our  city. However, a store downtown is quickly changing that assumption. Take Heart, a fair trade  shop located on Kentucky Avenue, is working to change the lives of women in Kenya. There, women face op…