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Polk County Public Schools Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

May 26, 2017

Polk County Public Schools is proud to announce the district’s Hall of Fame inductees for 2017. This year’s class features a dedicated public servant, an outstanding U.S. Army Colonel and an accomplished attorney, all three of whom serve as guardians of their respective city, county and national communities.

They will be honored during an invitation-only ceremony on Friday, June 2 at Lake Ashton Country Club in Lake Wales beginning at 6:30 p.m. Members of the media are welcome to attend; however, food is limited to invited guests only.

The Hall of Fame began 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.

2017 Inductee Profiles:

Joe Nathan Halman Jr. spent most of his career with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, making history as the first African American to be sworn in as Chief of Police in Polk County. He was recently named Deputy County Manager for Public Safety by the Board of County Commissioners, where he oversees a $90 million budget for fire rescue, emergency management, county probation and code enforcement. Halman Jr. actively serves in leadership roles with numerous community organizations, including the Bartow Breakfast Rotary, Polk County Law Enforcement Association and the Florida African American Education Alliance board. He earned his master’s degree in ministerial leadership from Southeastern University, and serves as senior pastor and founder of the Greater Works Ministries of Winter Haven. Halman Jr. is a graduate of Winter Haven High.

Colonel William D. McGarrity currently serves his country as Chief of Staff of the Military District of Washington, D.C., leading a 260-person staff charged with defending the nation’s capital and supporting events such as the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, 2016 Nuclear Security Summit and 2015 U.S. Papal Visit. Over the course of his 30-year career with the U.S. Army, McGarrity served in infantry and aviation units in both wartime and peacetime assignments. His previous tours include service in Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. McGarrity earned master’s degrees in international relations from Saint Mary’s University; military operational art and science, from Air University; and national security strategy from the National War College. He has earned the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal and Defense Meritorious Service Medal, among many other awards and decorations. He is a 1983 graduate of Winter Haven High.

Donald H. Wilson Jr. is a fifth generation Polk County resident who has practiced law for over 35 years as a partner with Boswell & Dunlap, LLP. He serves as general counsel for Polk State College, has represented Polk County Public Schools and also represents many businesses, families and individuals in Polk County. Wilson Jr. understands the importance of community involvement; he has served on the boards of the Bartow Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Bartow and Bartow Regional Medical Center. An exceptional community leader, Wilson Jr. was instrumental in saving the historic Polk County Courthouse from demolition and was presented with the George W. Harris Jr. Leadership Award in 2016.  Wilson Jr. graduated from Summerlin Institute and has degrees from Stetson University and the University of Florida College of Law.