January 8, 2016
In This Issue
City Manager Jonathan E. Evans, MPA, MBA, ICMA-CM

Education Equates To Economic Development

As we embrace and celebrate the hope for a prosperous 2016, one item that must remain on the forefront is our educational opportunities and attainment in Polk County. The reason is quite simple: such issues are critically important to economic development because of the profound impact the education system has on growth, as it relates to residential construction, and even more so, commercial and industrial development.
CEOs and executives from all over the world are constantly looking for opportunities to invest capital in order to move their operations to regions throughout the country. However, when looking for areas to relocate their companies, one major factor is our local education system.
Education has always been dubbed as the great equalizer; it transcends socio-economic barriers, as well as ethnicities. But it is not just traditional educational institutions that have a profound impact on economic development: it is also trades, such as electricians, plumbers, painters and auto mechanics.
We must embrace traditional college education, as well as trade schools as an alternative to dropping out. Our local education institutions here in Polk County command our attention and involvement on multiple fronts. How can all the programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and other discretionary and mandatory programs be sustained if we don't encourage the younger generation to obtain gainful employment?
An educated and prepared workforce is critically important.  Employers and business entities want to know that if they locate their business within the region that there is a competent, qualified, and well-versed workforce that is able to assist these companies in seeing their collective vision become a reality. If we don't take the necessary steps to invest in education, we will undoubtedly fail to attract large entities that will create hundreds and possibly thousands of jobs in our communities. If we are unable to provide the necessary workforce, businesses will not relocate to our region.
Workforce training and education is so vital that I encourage business owners to assist government entities and our local educational institutions in creating opportunities that encourage our young minds to return to Polk County to seek gainful employment. We cannot continue to lose exceptional students to Orlando and Tampa. We need them to invest in our housing stock, our local economy, and our local businesses. As local leaders we must devise a plan that promotes opportunities for the best and brightest minds to come home to Polk County after college, we can continue to grow and prosper together.
We as residents must be more participatory in our education system.  We must support and advocate for local schools and encourage parental involvement in education. Schools have always served as the hub for communities, and it is time to embrace these educational institutions and prompt our young people to do better and be better, because they are better. In the article Back to School: How parent involvement affects student achievement (At a glance), published by the Center for Public Education (CPE), more parental involvement and civic engagement from the community leads to higher success rates on multiple fronts.
The late Nelson Mandela told us, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the World." It is time for us as community leaders, parents, and friends to advocate for the necessary resources to promote better education in our region. I commend and applaud the efforts that are being made by our educators, but they cannot do it alone. Funding can only address one aspect of the challenges our educators face, but common sense public policy that is devised by those in the classroom will undoubtedly lead to a more successful and prosperous Florida.
As politicians convey their message of what their goals and visions are for 2016, let us bring educational opportunities and reforms into the narrative. Strategies to grow the economy should focus on our education systems because there is quantifiable research that supports this investment. Many people move to communities not because of exceptional local government services, but because of the access to quality education for their children, and thus we must continue to promote access to high-quality education in our cities, our County and our region.
If our schools are successful, our communities will flourish. An education will allow families to ascend the socioeconomic ladder. However, it is incumbent upon us to be involved and find those opportunities to assist in creating an environment that fosters equal access to a quality education.
So over the next year, I encourage you to assist others and ourselves in helping to create an environment that helps Polk County schools continuously improve and lead the region in educational opportunities for every student. We have to change the narrative so we can see growth that will change the trajectory for our students.
I implore you to get involved and make a difference. Let's not let the individuals who consistently say that this generation of Americans will not surpass their parents be correct. Let's change that. It starts with you. We can no longer sit idle. It may be tough now, however "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet," according to Aristotle. Great world philosophers, educators and leaders have known this fact to be true. It is now our time to assist in ensuring that our young people reach their full potential.

Respectfully submitted, 

Jonathan E. Evans, MPA, MBA, ICMA-CM
City Manager

Director Richard H. Sloan, MSCJ, CPM, FBINAA

Commendation from the Polk County Sheriff's Office

Left to Right: Sheriff Grady Judd, Sgt. Gabe Garcia 
and Officer Eric Nickels
On November 12, 2015, Haines City Police Sergeant Gabe Garcia and K-9 Officer Eric Nickels, attempted to stop a vehicle after observing the driver commit a traffic violation. After a brief pursuit, the vehicle came to a stop in the driveway of 457 Orange Court. The driver of the vehicle was immediately arrested for fleeing to elude and the front passenger was detained for further investigation.
An inventory of the vehicle revealed multiple car stereo face plates, GPS units, an air compressor and credit card receipts in a name other than their own. Based on the nature of their findings, Sergeant Garcia and Officer Nickels took it upon themselves to contact other police departments regarding the name located on the receipts. 

They discovered that this person, whose name was on the receipts, was the victim of a burglary being investigated by the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Upon further investigation, by viewing video surveillance from additional burglaries in the Poinciana area, Sergeant Garcia and Officer Nickels were able to positively identify the two subjects in the vehicle as being the suspects in these burglaries.
On January 4, 2016, Sergeant Garcia and Officer Nickels were both given a Sheriff's Office Commendation during their quarterly ceremony. Additionally, Officer Nickels was given a Haines City Police Chief's Commendation for his exemplary work to the City of Haines City and the citizens of Polk County.

WOW (Watched Outstanding Work!)

The City of Haines City would like to thank all of our excellent, dedicated employees and volunteers who help make the City a great place to work, live and play. Have you "Watched Outstanding Work" within the City lately? Let us know at wow@hainescity.com.