Week of April 17, 2024

"Unity" Cookout Draws Crowd to Share With Current, Former City Officials

Robert Connors | Apr 15, 2024

A community gathering drew a large group of current, future, and former city officials Sunday evening to initiate what some hope will become a new "unity" effort in Lake Wales, Current city commissioners Keith Thompson and Daniel Williams joined commissioner-elect Carol Gillespie, former commissioners Terrye Howell and Curtis Gibson, and former mayor Gene Fultz at the cookout at the city's B Street Center. The officials were greeted by several dozen citizens who enjoyed a...

City Commission Votes Down Lake Alta High-Density Residential Project

Robert Connors | Apr 17, 2024

A proposal that some city commissioners and staff saw as the best opportunity so far to implement the Lake Wales Envisioned plan died Tuesday night on a 3-2 vote. The concept of a 24-unit single-family community on a 1.46 acre parcel generated intense opposition from residents of the neighborhood, located around the 3.566 acre Lake Alta Park. Commissioners received a letter signed by two dozen of them asking that the proposal be denied, and multiple speakers had criticized...

Two More Large Tracts of Land Nominated for Preservation Near Lake Wales

Robert Connors, Managing Editor | Apr 8, 2024

The vision of a "Big Green Network" of environmental lands flanking Lake Wales to the east and west moved a small step closer to reality this week as Polk County's environmental lands program addressed the possibility of acquiring a large tract of land just northeast of the city. The expanse of lands totaling 1,195 acres spanning Masterpiece Road and partially surrounding the former Masterpiece Gardens tourist attraction belong to corporations or individual members of the...

Gillespie Defeats Krueger After Hard Fought City Election

News Staff Reports | Apr 3, 2024

Carol Gillespie has defeated incumbent City Commissioner Danny Krueger in the race for Seat 4. In an unofficial tally of all votes, Gillespie collected 1,325 votes to Kruegers' 983, or a winning total of 57.41 percent., In the second race for Seat 2, Daniel Williams collected an unofficial total of 939 votes, to Alvarado's 938 votes. The results are certain to trigger an automatic recount. A third candidate in the race, Crystal Higbee, won 347 votes, of 15.6%. There is no...

One-Vote Margin as Alvarado-Williams Race Heads to Likely Recount, Possible Coin-Toss

News Staff Reports | Apr 5, 2024

The startling result of the District 2 City Commission election as tabulated by the Supervisor of Elections is expected to result in a careful examination of a handful of rejected and provisional ballots that could tip the election, according to sources reached Tuesday night by Lake Wales News. The unofficial results left incumbent Daniel Williams leading challenger Brandon Alvarado by one vote, 939 to 938. A second challenger, Crystal Higbee, ran a distant third, gathering...

Complex Ballot Review Involved in Determining City Election Results After One-Vote Difference

Robert Connors, Managing Editor | Apr 5, 2024
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A one-vote margin in a Lake Wales election between incumbent Commissioner Daniel Williams and challenger Brandon Alvarado has cast a bright light upon the processes required in the situation by city ordinance and Florida statutes that Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson called "unbelievably complicated." The three-way race for a new three-year term on the District 2 seat of the city commission ended Tuesday with Williams and Alvarado as the top two vote-getters collecting 939 and 938...

Holiday Trips Ended in Tragedy as Three Killed in Head-on Crash on SR 60 Near Indian Lake

News Staff Reports | Apr 8, 2024

The dangerous two-lane stretch of SR 60 east between Indian Lake and Yeehaw Junction claimed three lives Saturday in a high-speed head-on crash. A child strapped into a car-seat was the only survivor of the impact, escaping with only minor injuries, according to officials. The crash took place about 9:30 p.m. just east of the intersection of CR 630. Investigators reported that Hannah Weiser, 22, of Winter Haven, was heading westbound and attempted to pass a slower vehicle....

Only Two of Five Candidates Show for Final Election Forum

News Staff Report | Mar 30, 2024
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With an election only three days away, three of five candidates seeking to occupy seats on the Lake Wales City Commission skipped a last chance to meet and hear from voters. Both incumbents skipped the chance to interact with voters, just as they had a March 4 forum hosted at the Lake Wales Woman's Club theatre. At an outdoor forum hosted in perfect weather at the B Street Center in the city's Northwest Neighborhood, only Carol Gillespie, seeking Seat 4. and Brandon Alvarado,...

Climate Change Driving "Scary" Hurricane Season Predictions

News Staff Report | Apr 1, 2024

If forecasters are correct, Floridians should expect and prepare for a very active and threatening hurricane season for 2024. Reports from private forecasters are already sounding alarms about the sharply-elevated water temperatures in the waters of the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. That heat, released as steamy air, is condensed and cooled in the heart of hurricanes, falling as torrential rain and creating the lowered pressure that drives the intensity of the...

City's Trail Network to See Major Expansion

Robert Connors, Managing Editor | Apr 5, 2024

The popular network of walking and biking trails weaving through Lake Wales is about to grow a great deal better, thanks to grants received by the city. New planned segments include the Ridge Scenic Highway Connector Trail that will connect the western end of the Lake Wales Trailway to the new Park Avenue Trail near Crystal Lake. It will run south along Third Street from a point just west of the Lake Wales Little Theatre, thereby also accessing the Lake Wailes Trail. That...

Lake Wales Growth Manager Autumn Cochella Resigns

Frank Butler and Howard Davies | Apr 5, 2024

Lake Wales' Interim Growth Management Director Autumn Cochella has announced her decision to step down from her role effective April 12. Her announcement may have come at an inopportune moment as the city commission is currently contemplating the adoption of new ordinances governing Planned Development Projects and Traditional Neighborhood Design. Cochella was appointed to the interim position in January 2023 after the resignation of former director Mark Bennett. A...

Williams Defeats Alvarado by Four Votes After Recount

Robert Connors, Managing Editor | Apr 5, 2024

City Commissioner Daniel Williams has won a new three-year term after escaping a strong challenge by political newcomer Brandon Alvarado by a four vote margin, leaving Williams reelected with 42.3 percent of the votes cast. A third candidate, Crystal Higbee, took 347 votes. Following a machine recount and a manual recount of "outstacked" ballots, the final margin of William's win was 943 to 939. Alvarado conceded defeat immediately after the conclusion of the recount, and...

Frostproof Teacher Murdered by Her Own Son in Stabbing Attack

News Staff Reports | Apr 9, 2024

UPDATED The horrifying murder of a second grade teacher has shocked residents of Frostproof and the surrounding area. Elvia Espinoza, who taught second grade at Ben Hill Griffin Elementary School in Frostproof, was stabbed to death by her own son after he returned home from college for a family gathering. Espinoza, 46, was attacked after opening the door to her home in the Sun Ray neighborhood her son, 21-year-old Emmanuel Espinoza, who had just arrived after driving from...

Recount to Happen Today in City Commission Election

Robert Connors | Apr 5, 2024

Four voters who had provided incomplete information when voting on election day were able to "cure" their ballots through contact with the Supervisor of Elections ahead of Thursday's canvassing board meeting. Their effort has moved the needle in the District 2 city commission election between incumbent commissioner Daniel Williams and challenger Brandon Alvarado, but not enough to avoid a machine recount, which will take place today (Friday, April 5). The canvassing board,...

  • Annual Chamber Golf Scramble Fast Approaching

    News Staff Reports | Apr 11, 2024

    The Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce is inviting golf enthusiasts and local business owners to get involved in their annual outing. The Chamber will host its 2024 Golf Scramble, on Friday, April 26 and feature raffles and a variety of prizes for the "top winners", according to Lori Beyer, Services & Events Coordinator at the Chamber. The tournament take place at the Lake Wales Country Club and offers area golfers an afternoon day of fellowship and some zany fun. The outing...

  • Lake Wales Commissioners Challenged to Find Path to Employing Envisioned Plan Principles

    News Editorial Board | Apr 18, 2024

    Lake Wales is bound to grow, and in the minds of many, it needs to grow. Increasing demand for city services can easily outstrip revenue. City commissioners have a tough job dealing with the pressures brought by development proposals, along with the vocal opposition some of those proposals have generated. The commission's decision Tuesday to deny a high-density development on a small parcel near Lake Alta pleased many residents of that neighborhood but drew complaints from...

  • New Business offers Quick, On-Demand Lawn Service in Lake Wales

    -Sponsored content- | Apr 15, 2024

    Those who are tired of keeping up with the mowing, want to find a good permanent lawn service, or just need a break from the chores now have a great new option. Lake Wales area homeowners now have an easy way to get a quick fill-in lawn service, or a year-around scheduled or on-demand service for all that green space, thanks to an on-demand service called "GreenPal.". GreenPal, which has been described as "Uber for lawn care," is now offering their service in the Lake Wales...

  • Thousands of New Career Openings in Field of Renewable Energy

    Special to the News, NAPSI | Apr 10, 2024

    (NAPSI)-Addressing climate change is an all-hands-on-deck undertaking. It requires a smarter, stronger, and cleaner energy grid that provides affordable, reliable power when and where people need it. The grid of the future will have to be at least twice the size of what it is today-most likely even bigger. That means jobs-thousands and thousands of them across a wide variety of industries, from manufacturing technology, such as batteries and wind turbines, to electric vehicle...

  • 10 Tips to Save Water for Water Conservation Month

    SWFMD | Apr 15, 2024

    The Southwest Florida Water Management District's (District) Governing Board declared April Water Conservation Month at its March meeting. April is historically one of the driest months of the year and typically marks the peak demand season for public water suppliers. The District also recently launched the Water 101 campaign to educate new and existing residents as well as communities about how they can help protect local water resources and save water and money. The...

  • Rare Scrub Mints are Fast-Disappearing From Florida Landscapes

    Jerald Pinson, Florida Museum of Natural History | Apr 9, 2024

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Scrub mints are among the most endangered plants you've probably never heard of. More than half of the 24 species currently known to exist are considered threatened or endangered at the state or federal level, and nearly all scrub mints grow in areas that are being rapidly developed or converted to agricultural pasture. In a new study, researchers analyzed a distinct type of DNA marker, which shows there are likely more scrub mint species waiting to be...

Keep Polk County Beautiful Hosts Annual Volunteer Event, Open to Public

Special to the News | Apr 17, 2024

The public is invited to attend a Volunteer Appreciation and Silent Auction Fundraiser for Keep Polk County Beautiful, Inc. and the organization celebrates the past year's environmental and volunteer efforts throughout Polk County. The annual event promises a fun filled night at Leland Young's Barn, a well-known location for private music and celebration events. It will be happening on Saturday, April 20th at 6 p.m. at the Barn, located at 2905 Central Avenue in Alturas....

  • Mary Starling Sullivan, 1933-2024

    News Obituary Service | Apr 11, 2024

    Mary Starling Sullivan, 91, of Babson Park, FL, died on Saturday, March 30 after a full life and quality time with family and loved ones. She was born on January 17, 1933, in Miami, FL, to Clyde and Georgia Starling. In 1950, she graduated from Miami Edison High School. Mary met Richard J. Sullivan (Dick) in Connecticut. They were married at Forest Park Christian Church of Miami, in 1952. Mary and Dick began their family in south Florida. In 1973, they relocated to Babson...

  • Elvia Alvarado Espinoza, 1977-2024

    News Obituary Service | Apr 8, 2024

    Elvia Alvarado Espinoza of Frostproof passed away Saturday, April 6, 2024 at her residence. She was born July 13, 1977 in San Lucas, Michoacan, Mexico to Silvano an Herminia Alvarado. Elvia was a second-grade teacher for Ben Hill Griffin Elementary School where she loved teaching. She loved the town of Frostproof and was passionate about the needs of children. Elvia was full of life and loved her family, especially her grandchildren. Elvia truly enjoyed spending time with her...

  • William Newton "Bill" Mitchell, Jr., 1961-2024

    News Obituary Service | Mar 30, 2024

    William Newton "Bill" Mitchell, Jr. of Lake Wales passed away Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at his residence. He was born February 18, 1961 in Hollywood to the late William and Aldean Mitchell. Bill loved his job as a maintenance technician for Water's Edge and was a veteran of the United States Air Force. He was an avid crocheter, scuba diver, sky diver, orchid gardener, mechanic, and surfer. He was a Disney fan and especially liked Jiminy Cricket. Bill is survived by his wife...

  • Dorine Estelle Bullock, 1928-2024

    News Obituary Service | Mar 31, 2024

    Dorine Estelle Bullock was born on December 2, 1928 in Rohrersville MD. She was the first daughter of Margaret Rohrer and John Thomas Geltmacher. The town was named after the Rohrer family. On March 8, 2024, Dorine graduated to her incorporeal fullness at the age of 95, peacefully in her sleep at her home in Lake Wales, Florida. In 1949, at the age of 21, she married Joseph Bullock Sr. in Philadelphia. They raised two sons, Joseph Jr. and Robert, and were very happily married...

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