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Photo Gallery | 2013 Polk County Public Schools Hall of Fame inductees named

Polk County, Florida-- Colonel James E. Baker, Jr. of the United States Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Attorney Larry D. Hardaway and Polk County’s Tax Collector Joseph G. Tedder are the 2013 inductees to the Polk County Public Schools Hall of Fame. They will be honored at the June 7th event scheduled to take place at the Lake Ashton Country Club in Lake Wales. The invitation only event starts at 6:30 p.m.

The Hall of Fame was started in 1985 to honor Polk County Public Schools attendees who have made significant professional and career contributions in the arts, business, clergy, education, entertainment, government, law, military, medicine, sports or other fields. Inductees are chosen each year from nominees submitted by the public. Hall of Fame members review nominations and new inductees are chosen through a selection process.

The Hall of Fame event will be broadcast live from the Lake Ashton Country Club on cable and fiber optic television. The broadcast will begin at 6:30 p.m., Friday, June 7th on Polk County School Board Television airing on Bright House Networks channel 614, Comcast channel 7 and Verizon FiOS channel 45. The event will also be shown live simultaneously on PGTV, the county government’s channel on Bright House channel 622, Comcast channel 5 and Verizon FiOS channel 20. It will also be Web streamed on the school district’s www.polk-fl.net Web site and the county government’s Web site, http://www.polk-county.net/

2013 Inductee Profiles:

Colonel James E. Baker, Jr.
Colonel James E. Baker, Jr. graduated from Auburndale High in 1984 and went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Factors Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Artillery in May of 1988.  Upon his return from the Gulf War with the Second Armored Division in April 1991, Col. Baker attended flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and earned the rating of Army Aviator.  He is a graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, Aviation Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College, Joint and Combined Warfighting School (JPME II), and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Management from Webster University. Throughout his career he’s also served as a fire direction officer, platoon leader, battery executive officer, operations officer, company commander, tactics instructor, executive officer, course director for leadership studies and deputy commander. His operational deployments include Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Provide Comfort, and three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Col. Baker’s military awards and decorations include the Senior Army Aviator, Senior Parachutist, German Parachutist, and Air Assault Badges; the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters; the Air Medal with numeral 2; the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; the
Meritorious Service Medal with 6 oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, and the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster.  He is rated in the UH-1 (Huey), OH-58A/C Kiowa, and the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior light scout/attack helicopters.

Larry D. Hardaway, Esquire 

Larry D. Hardaway practices Personal Injury Law and Criminal Law at the firm of Larry D. Hardaway & Associates, P.A. After graduating from Winter Haven High in 1972, Mr. Hardaway attended Davidson College on a football scholarship and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. Mr. Hardaway was the first African-American student to be named Senior Class President at Winter Haven High and was the third African-American to ever play football for Davidson College. Interested in pursuing a career in law, Mr. Hardaway went on to graduate school at the University of Florida Law School and began his first job at the State Attorney’s Office in Bartow in 1979. Prior to opening his law firm in Polk County, Mr. Hardaway worked as Managing Attorney for the Legal Division in Miami and JESCA Legal Division where he represented small minority businesses and corporations. In 1985, he received the Dade County Bar Award and the Public Interest Law Bank Award for providing legal services to public entities. Mr. Hardaway is well-versed in the field of law, having served as a prosecutor, public defender, private practice lawyer and economic development attorney. He was appointed to the Florida Elections Commission in 1994 by Governor Lawton Chiles. In 1998, he became President of the Polk County Voters League and in 2000 he served as the campaign manager for Gary Siplin during his successful run to be elected to the Florida State Legislature. Rewarded for his efforts and dedication, in the year 2000 Mr. Hardaway received the Florida Bar Pro Bono Award of the 10th Judicial Circuit for providing pro bono services to the community. Committed to the community where he lives and works, Mr. Hardaway is a member of several community organizations including the Virgil Hawkins Bar Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., college alumni and booster clubs as well as the Florida and Lakeland Bar Associations.

Joseph “Joe” G. Tedder, CFC

Joseph “Joe” G. Tedder was elected as Tax Collector for Polk County, Florida in 1996 and has subsequently been re-elected for the past four terms. Prior to his role as Tax Collector, Mr. Tedder served in the Florida Legislature as State Representative, House District No. 64 from 1992 to 1996. While serving in the Legislature, his accomplishments in just four years are notable, specifically because he was responsible for the passage of many legislative initiatives dealing with accountability and performance including the Federal Financial Assistance Act (1995), Learnfare Legislation (1995), Performance & Accountability Program (1994), Innovations Legislation (1994) and the Public Charter Schools Law (1996). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Florida Southern College and worked as an accountant with the firm of Tedder, Grimsley and Company, CPA for over 10 years. A 1980 graduate of Lakeland High, Mr. Tedder has contributed greatly to the quality of life for Polk County, the State of Florida and the citizens for whom he has served. His leadership on a personal level has brought great value to Polk County through his community service efforts on numerous boards which include the United Way, Polk Vision, Lighthouse Ministries, VISTE, American Heart Association, Polk County Seminole Boosters, Sunshine Council of Camp Fire, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Lakeland. He is also a member of Polk Vision’s “Leadership Polk” Inaugural Class and a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XIII. One of Mr. Tedder’s most notable examples of community leadership and compassion for Polk County is exhibited through his creation and development of the Kids Tag Art Project, a creative design and fundraising project which originated at the Polk County Tax Collector’s Office and involves nearly every elementary school throughout Polk County. In just five years, with the help of key sponsors, service organizations and a strong partnership with Polk County Public Schools, Kids Tag Art has now raised over $100,000 for classroom art supplies. As a result of this project, Mr. Tedder was awarded the 2009 Florida Arts Educators Award and Polk Education Foundation Partnership Award, the 2011 Community Arts Recognition Program Award (CARP), as well as numerous awards from the Polk Museum of Art, Junior Women’s Club of Lakeland and Polk County Public Schools.

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