Week of July 17, 2024

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BREAKING NEWS: Country Oaks Area Under Boil Water Notice Due to Pipeline Breaks

Robert Connors | Jul 20, 2024

A boil-water notice has again been taped to front doors across the Country Oaks neighborhood on the northeast side of Lake Wales after repeated interruptions in water service. A break in a 10" water line due to contractors serving the area is the reported problem. The notice says 330 customers in the area are affected. The initial notice was posted after a pipeline breakage on July 15 and was lifted two days later. A new service outage occurred on Friday, resulting in another...

Traffic Detours in Effect at Three Locations in Southeast Polk

News Staff Reports | Jul 15, 2024

The closure of SR 17 (Scenic Highway) at Hillcrest Avenue, originally announced as a 30-day project, is expected to continue well after the beginning of the school year, forcing additional traffic onto South 4th Street past McLaughlin Middle-High School. Crews closed Scenic Highway from Grove Avenue to Hillcrest Avenue in June to begin installing new drainage structures. Sidewalks in the area are also detoured. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the...

Lake Wales Resident Drowns on Lake Annie During Kayaking Trip

News Staff Reports | Jul 15, 2024

A 40-year-old Lake Wales man is dead after a kayaking trip on a local lake. A death investigation is underway following the recovery of the body of an adult male from Lake Annie, a 407-acre lake in the Waverly area of Lake Wales early this morning. Shane Park of Magnolia Street in Lake Wales had set out on the lake about 3:30 p.m. Sunday in a kayak. Weather at the time was fine, but thunderstorms began moving into the area a short time later. When he failed to return to shore...

Cost of Water Will Rise With New Source, Officials Tell Residents

Robert Connnors | Jul 19, 2024

Ridge cities are facing a challenging and expensive future effort to obtain water supplies for a growing population, according to officials from the Polk Regional Water Cooperative. PRWC Executive Director Eric DeHaven joined a team of engineers at a forum this week to explain the status of an ambitious project that expects to extract brackish water from a depth of more than 1,000 feet, substantially lower than the Floridan aquifer that currently supplies water to area...

"Safe Zones" Offer a Place for Custody Exchanges of Children, Sale of Merchandise

News Staff Reports | Jul 15, 2024

Twelve "Safe Zones" under the monitoring of the Polk County Sheriff's Office are now available to all Polk County residents for the purposes of custody exchanges of e-commerce sales, according to officials with the sheriff's office. The locations offer 24/7 continuously-monitored video surveillance with recordings retained for at least 45 days. They also provide adequate lighting and signage for safety. The Florida Legislature recently passed a law which requires count...

Voter Registration Deadline for Primaries is July 22, But Opportunities to Register Offered

Special to the News | Jul 19, 2024

With Florida's Primary Election day fast approaching, Polk Elections officials are reminding every voter to check their registration status. The last day to register to vote for the August 20th Statewide Primary Election is Monday, July 22nd. The Polk County Elections Office will be offering voter registration services around the county to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to register before this important deadline. Mobile registration units will be visiting multiple...

City's Audit of BizLINC Finds Inflated Numbers But Leaves Questions Unanswered

Robert Connors and Howard Davies | Jul 8, 2024

A long-awaited audit of the operations of a business incubator funded by the city of Lake Wales using federal grant funds has turned up several shortcomings but few details, despite a long delay. The audit, which covers only the first year of operations of the incubator, operated Florida Development Corporation, was ordered by the city following the arrest of the former FDC chief financial officer Charles Young on felony fraud charges. Young was accused by his former business...

SE Polk Cities See Rise in Property Values

Robert Connors | Jul 11, 2024

Cities across the county are seeing significant rises in property tax income, according to the preliminary tax roll published by Polk County Property Appraiser Marsha Faux. Despite the recent surge in home prices and the value of new construction, however, property values in most Ridge-area municipalities have seen only modest increases so far. The valuations have significant impacts on city budgets, since local shares of the taxes are based upon the millage rates set by...

Fort Meade Hires New City Manager to Deal With Nearly $7 Million in Grants

Robert Connors | Jul 11, 2024

After a year of interim managers, Fort Meade has at last settled upon a new leader to manage city affairs, and he is arriving just in time to face a "problem" some wouldn't mind dealing with. On a 4-1 vote, city commissioners had offered the role to Edward Walker Dean last month, and his signing of the deal was reported during Tuesday's meeting of the board. His immediate challenge: trying to salvage an unused $5 million grant. Fort Meade was the only Polk County city to...

Latte Lounge Drawing Fans to Relax in Downtown Lake Wales

Robert Connors | Jul 20, 2024

Although the summer doldrums would predict otherwise, downtown Lake Wales is buzzing over the opening of a popular new coffee shop, one of the newest businesses to open during the ongoing transformation of the area. Latte Lounge offers coffee beans sourced from a small business in Virginia, creating fresh and flavorful handcrafted beverages, along with a changing variety of cookies and pastries in a warm and inviting atmosphere, well stocked with new books by local authors....

$10,000 Grant Will Help Local Business Prosper, Offer Wellness Classes

Robert Connnors | Jul 22, 2024

The health and wellbeing of hundreds of area residents may improve thanks to a $10,000 grant intended to help a local business grow and prosper. American Express and Main Street America announced that Yoga Bliss is one of the 500 small business owners nationwide who have been awarded one of the grants, distributed through the "Backing Small Business" grant program. business is owned by Megan Rimer, who has a degree in criminology from USF, but stepped into yoga as a teen,...

  • GiveWell Grant to Benefit Dual-Enrollment Students at Local Schools, Webber University

    Ryan J Reis and Robert Connors | Jul 18, 2024

    Dual-enrollment of Lake Wales Charter School students in STEM courses at Webber International University will result from a a $10,000 Impact Polk grant from the George W. Jenkins Fund within GiveWell Community Foundation. The grant will provide greater access to students pursuing careers as registered nurses or occupational therapy assistants, according to Dr. Nelson Marquez, President/CEO of Webber. STEM refers to concentrations in the areas of science, technology,...

  • Movie Review: "Horizon: An American Saga Part 1

    Jennifer Nanek, News Film Critic | Jul 18, 2024

    Watching part one of Kevin Costner's 3-hour Western epic, "Horizon: An American Saga," is quickly realized that this is a movie that would have been better suited as a mini-series on a streaming service. There's simply too much going on. The film juggles three or four different plot threads, each with their own side plots, making it a bit difficult to keep track of everything. This project is very much Kevin Costner's brainchild. He financed the movie, wrote part of the...

  • AdventHealth Focuses on Neonatal Health Care, Breast Feeding

    John Luti Jr. | Jul 22, 2024

    When Erica Millan of Davenport delivered her first child, Francisco, on Super Bowl Sunday at AdventHealth Heart of Florida, she knew she wanted to breastfeed. However, that journey isn’t always easy. With the support of the hospital’s lactation consultant and nurse, Tina Worth, she successfully continued breastfeeding her son when they both went home. Millan was thankful when Worth followed up with her several times after Francisco's birth to make sure they were both...

  • Ricardo Diaz, Jr., 1977-2024

    News Obituary Service | Jul 15, 2024

    Ricardo Diaz, Jr. of Lake Wales passed away Friday, July 12, 2024, at AdventHealth Lake Wales. He was born on February 11, 1977, in Brooklyn, New York to Elba Muriel and the late Ricardo Diaz, Sr. Ricardo was a Service Technician and loved to cook and fish. He also loved classic cars, his children, and his grandchildren. Ricardo is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Arroyo; daughter, Shanelle Muniz of Connecticut; sons Reinaldo Muniz of Lake Wales, Ricardo Diaz II of Lake Wales,...

  • Gary Eugene Jones, 1945-2024

    News Obituary Service | Jul 20, 2024

    Gary Eugene Jones of Lake Wales passed away Tuesday, July 16, 2024 at his residence. He was born October 4, 1945 in Saginaw, Michigan to the late Eugene and Eva Jones; he moved to Lake Wales from Saint Petersburg in 1994. Before retirement, Gary was a engineer for GTE then Verizon. He also worked at CitroSucco for 10 years and for the Florida Fish and Game Commission. He served with the United States Navy under the “Seabees” during the Vietnam War. Gary was a hard worker...

  • Samuel Torres-Martinez, 1938-2024

    News Obituary Service | Jul 19, 2024

    Samuel Torres-Martinez of Lakeshore passed away Wednesday, July 17, 2024 at Lakeland Hospice House. He was born April 27, 1938 in Manati, Puerto Rico to the late Enrique and Andrea Torres; he moved to Lakeshore from Puerto Rico 13 years ago. Samuel was an air conditioning repair man and a veteran of the United States Army. He enjoyed playing dominos, riding motorcycles, and dancing with his wife. Samuel was preceded in death by his son, Jorge Luis Torres-Sifuentes in November...

  • Autry Key, 1940-2024

    News Obituary Service | Jul 22, 2024

    Autry Key , age 83, passed away July 16, 2024, at his residence in Bartow. He was born on August 24, 1940, in Leesburg, FL. He worked in the Signal Corps for the United States Army. He enjoyed fishing, planting flowers and watching tv. He was preceded in death by his daughter Melinda Clark, brothers Richard Key & Hoyt Key and sister Iduma Dean. He is survived by a loving family that includes his wife Agnes Key, daughter Kimberly Key, grandchildren Ashley Auer and Jessica...

  • Henry Thomas Siler, 1932-2024

    News Obituary Service | Jul 10, 2024

    Henry Thomas Siler, age 91, of Homeland, FL passed away Sunday, July 7, 2024. He was born October 28, 1932 in Siler City, NC to Wade & Annie Siler. Henry served in the US Army. He was the Owner & Operator of Specialty Office Products. He was a member of Homeland Baptist Church. He is survived by his wife of 65 years Roberta Siler of Homeland, daughter Lynn Mills & husband Roger of Homeland, son Richard Alan Siler of Atlanta, GA, sister Mary Alice Hancock of Candler, NC,...

  • Gloria Forcke Stenger, 1923-2024

    News Obituary Service | Jul 10, 2024

    Gloria Forcke Stenger passed away peacefully on July 2, 2024 at the age of 100. She was born on September 4, 1923, to Iris Cooper and Robert Forcke in Oak Ridge, Roatan, Honduras. She spent her childhood surrounded by crystal-clear water, mountains, and dense green rainforests. She left her island to become a stewardess with TACA Airlines in 1943. In El Salvador, she met her husband, Ray Stenger, an American intelligence officer. They married there in 1947 and moved to...

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