On Saturday, January 18th, I had a wonderful opportunity to speak and help present awards for the third year to a few Polk County children whose art work was chosen to grace license plates around our county. The program, Kids Tag Art, was envisioned and implemented by Joe Tedder, our tax collector and the priceless Martha Roe Burke. Kudos to both of you! The Idea was to begin a contest where 5th graders came up with their own design for a vanity license plate, getting all the 5th grade art teachers around the county involved, and then selecting designs from throughout the county. Top designs become part of a traveling display and are published online for sale to the public. All proceeds supplement Polk County Schools’ classroom arts education. So far, well over $150,000 has been raised. This is fabulous! My father was head of a high school art department, and he was continually scrambling for art materials, often waiting for various stores to have sales so he could stock up. Our schools today face a larger shortage, with art and the materials needed deemed not important for one reason or another, and not always money! This program helps to shore up these shortfalls. The program has attracted sponsors, and special design awards are given using themes these sponsors represent, such as the “Heart Smart Award,” sponsored by the Florida Heart Research Institute, Their award honors student designs that best illustrate how a healthy lifestyle might be depicted. My daughter, Sage participated this year and came up with a heart healthy message for a plate, which is now riding on the front of our Prius! It was an honor for both of us to be involved. If you want to learn more about this program, I encourage you to visit www.PolkTaxes.com. Thanks!