Week of June 12, 2024

Blue-Green Algae Warning Extended, Use Caution in Area Lakes, Peace River

News Staff Reports | Jun 12, 2024

The Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk) is once again cautioning the public about the presence of blue-green algae in several area lakes. Although none has been reported in Ridge-area lakes, not every lake is tested, so boaters, swimmers, and fishers should be aware of the potential and take precautions. Water samples taken from Scott Lake, Lake Van, Lake Hancock, Lake Gibson, and Lake Conine on May 23 detected blue-green algae that have the potential to...

Large Wildfire Breaks Out at Indian Lake

News Staff Reports | Jun 5, 2024

A large wildfire is raging tonight near Indian Lake Estates and the Canopy Oaks resort in eastern Polk County. More than 25 emergency units have been assigned to try to bring the inferno under control, and the Florida Forest Service has delivered heavy equipment to firefighters in an apparent attempt to build firelines to stop the spread of the flames. Units from Lake Wales and Frostproof were sent to the scene to assist state and county firefighters under the direction of...

Charter School Board Fires Superintendent Rodolfich During Hearing Today

News Staff Report | Jun 10, 2024
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The Lake Wales Charter School board summarily dismissed School Superintendent Dr. Wayne V. Rodolfich during a meeting this afternoon after hearing a report from the Tampa law firm of Barbas Cremer regarding their investigation into anonymous grievances which were filed against Rodolfich earlier this year. Dr. Rodolfich has led the seven-school charter district since July 2022 after a year-long hunt ended in his hiring in March of that year. He came to Lake Wales after leading...

Possible End to Serious Drought in Sight as Pattern Begins to Change At Last

Robert Connors | Jun 6, 2024

With much of central Florida in a serious drought situation and wildfires becoming a growing threat, forecasters are at last predicting a potential start to the normal summer rainy season. Conditions across the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico will begin to normalize over the coming week as the "Bermuda High," a sprawling moisture pump that feeds moist tropical air northward to Florida, beginning to set up in the Atlantic. At the same time, a persistent high-pressure area that has...

Fired Bartow Police Officer Faces Additional Charges

Special to the News | Jun 4, 2024

The former Bartow police officer who remains in the Polk County Jail for his arrest on May 28, 2024 for inappropriate and criminal behavior with four teenage females, now has additional criminal charges from the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Detectives from the PCSO became aware of a comment on a Facebook post about the arrest of 24-year old Markanthony Fernandez, which indicated that the commenter may also have been a victim of Fernandez. The commenter was contacted by a...

Lake Wales Envisioned Documentary Wins 2024 Communicator Award

News Staff Report | Jun 4, 2024

Lake Wales Envisioned, a film documenting the development of the eponymous project created to help guide the community through the challenges of rapid development, has been named as a recipient of the 2024 Communicator Award for excellence in film-making. The 30-minute film was created by Lee Dover of the planning firm of Dover, Kohl & Partners, who were the lead planners responsible for the award-winning plan. It was selected for screening at the Redfish Film Festival in...

  • City's New "Turf Manager" J.C. White Eager to Put Athletic Fields in Top Condition for Area Sports Leagues

    Eric Marshall | Jun 13, 2024

    Keeping fit and active is important for thousands of Lake Wales residents, so the City of Lake Wales is now making an extra effort to see that the sports facilities they use are in top shape. J.C. White is now in charge of making the town's many sports fields look their very best. White is Lake Wales' new Athletic Turf Superintendent, which places him in charge of bringing the athletic fields 'up to snuff,' where they deserve to be. With 16 baseball and softball fields and...

  • Guest Commentary: Homebuilders Helped Rewrite State Law to Speed New Subdivisions

    Jason Garcia, Seeking Rents | Jun 12, 2024

    Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that will let homebuilders across Florida throw up new housing subdivisions faster and cheaper. The new law, records show, was largely written by Lennar Corp., one of the nation's largest residential developers. Dubbed by lobbyists as the "Lennar permitting language," the legislation (Senate Bill 812) will compel cities and counties across Florida to issue building permits for most of the homes in a proposed subdivision before the...

  • Junior's Fish Market Closing, May Become Trulieve Dispensary

    Howard Davies | Jun 9, 2024

    After over two decades serving the Lake Wales community, Montella's Fish Market is closing its doors for good. Owners Lisa and Mike "Junior" Montella have decided that they will retire after running successful fish markets in Florida for 37 years. The property at 1341 SR 60 East may be in for a big change. "The buyer is going to lease it," Montella stated. "He's an investor." Lake Wales News sources indicate that the purchaser of the property scouts, purchases and leases...

  • Lake Wales Development Promises Economic Benefits

    Maricruz Gutierrez Mejia | Jun 13, 2024

    (Editor's note: This story introduces a new series addressing the economic impacts of real estate development in the Lake Wales and east Polk County area.) Lake Wales has a need for economic development, and it can only be achieved through responsible growth. Attracting new businesses will provide greater opportunities for the community. In recent years, Polk County has experienced a fast growing population which has stimulated developments across the area. According to the...

  • Polk's History Shaped by the Compassion of a Former Slave

    Charles Warren | May 31, 2024

    Polk County history is filled with fascinating stories of the people who pioneered the communities we live in today, but few resonate like that of L.B. Brown. Less than two hundred years separate the bustling cities and transportation networks that define Florida from the pristine conditions that existed during the thousands of years when the First Nations people occupied this land. Prior to Emancipation, much of the work of building towns along the Florida frontier was laid...

  • Walter Elder Ferguson III, 1952-2024

    News Obituary Services | Jun 5, 2024

    Farewell to Walter Elder Ferguson III, a gallant human being, who passed away at age 72 on April 26, 2024, of natural causes. A Celebration of Life will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 8 at Lake Howard Heights, 650 North Lake Howard, Winter Haven, presented by his family and classmates. Born on Feb. 26, 1952, with cerebral palsy, a lifelong condition that affects movement and coordination, Ferguson lived an extraordinary life. When his mother died in a car accident...

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