Communication Builds Our Community

Articles written by Robert Connors


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  • Slaton a Finalist for New Smyrna Beach Position, Gets High Marks From Treasure Island Commission in New Job Search

    Robert Connors|Updated May 18, 2024

    Lake Wales City manager James is among a group of five finalists and two alternates that have been winnowed from a long list of candidates being considered for the city manager's job there following a Thursday evening special meeting of the beach town's city commission. The discussion among that city's board focused on the mechanisms that will be employed in interviewing the candidates, some of whom come from distant states and will fly in to inte4rviews. Discussion within...

  • Community Open-House to Focus on Economic Development

    Robert Connors|Updated May 14, 2024

    A community "open house" planned for Monday, May 20 will give area residents an opportunity to discuss key economic issues and and perceived opportunities that may help shape the future of Lake Wales. The five-hour "drop in" will be hosted by the Central Florida Regional Planning Council under a contract with the City of Lake Wales. Residents are invited to share their thoughts on the draft Economic Development Strategy and discuss the "identified goals, strategies, and next...

  • Work Begins on New ADS Manufacturing Plant

    Robert Connors|Updated May 14, 2024

    Construction has begun on the long-planned Advanced Drainage System manufacturing plant in Lake Wales. Work preparing the nearly 100-acre site east of South 11th Street is currently employing more than a dozen earth-moving machines, as well as surveyors and other crew. Meanwhile, Duke Energy workers are installing upgraded electrical service along Hunt Brothers Road to the site. The plant will manufacture thin-walled, corrugated plastic pipe commonly used in drainage...

  • The "Squeeze" Starts Service on Monday, Making Getting Around Downtown a Breeze

    Robert Connors|Updated May 9, 2024
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    Lunch-hour diners and shoppers will find getting around downtown Lake Wales a breeze beginning Monday as the newest city service arrives in town. Described as "fast, frequent, and fun," The Squeeze will offer free transportation around the city's center, ranging between Central and Crystal Avenues between First Street and Market Street. The service will utilize new 8-passenger open-air "golf cart" style vehicles to shuttle guests to and from area businesses. The shuttles will...

  • Commissioner Carol Gillespie Joins Lake Wales City Board

    Robert Connors|Updated May 8, 2024

    A brief swearing-in ceremony at the start of Tuesday's city commission meeting saw newly-elected Commissioner Carol Gillespie join the board. Gillespie, joined by her husband Gary Robillard, stood before the audience and repeated the oath as read by City Clerk Jennifer Nanek. Gillespie won seat 4 on the five-person commission by a wide margin over incumbent Danny Krueger. The swearing-in event was met with applause from an enthusiastic group of supporters. Speaking during...

  • City Files For Final Judgement to Regain Walesbilt Hotel Title

    Robert Connors|Updated May 8, 2024

    Attorneys representing the City of Lake Wales have filed a motion for final judgement in their two-year pursuit of a lawsuit against Dixie Walesbilt LLC. The motion seeks to dismiss all counts in the suit beyond the two already decided in favor of the city. The two counts already decided by the court concluded that Dixie Walesbilt principal Ray Brown had committed "fraud in the inducement" to trick the city into assigning the title to his firm. The city had granted title to th...

  • Panera Bread Latest Chain to Confirm Lake Wales Location Plans

    Robert Connors|Updated May 8, 2024

    A new Panera Bread restaurant is expected to rise soon on a vacant parcel adjacent to the Aldi grocery on US 27 north in Lake Wales. City officials have revealed that they have conducted a pre-construction meeting with the developer, and construction should begin within weeks. Panera is the latest in a wave of chain restaurants finding sites on the fast-growing corridor near Eagle Ridge Mall. Panera Bread, based in St. Louis, MO, offers a bakery-café style restaurant that...

  • Baking Temperatures Expected This Week Before Relief Arrives

    Robert Connors|Updated May 6, 2024

    Scorching temperatures are expected to bake the Ridge area this week before increasing clouds bring growing rain chances to the area early next week. Floridians acclimated to warmth may still be shocked to encounter temperatures rising into the 90s to near 100° this week under sunny skies. Long-range models are showing that relief could come with more cloud cover beginning as soon as Sunday. The baking temperatures are adding to the stress of gardens, lawns, and even trees....

  • Yeoman's Celebrates 111 Years in Lake Wales

    Robert Connors|Updated May 6, 2024

    The oldest business in Lake Wales is celebrating yet another significant date. On May 15 the venerable Yeoman's Feed and Seed marks its 111th year and its first year under the ownership of John and Chuck Elam, who purchased it from Richard Jahna. The company has remained in continuous business in Lake Wales since 1913. The Orange Avenue operation is receiving high marks from area residents for the many improvements the brothers have brought to the operation. The business...

  • Park Avenue Streetscape Project Advances, Only Tip of the Vast Connected Plan Effort

    Robert Connors|Updated May 6, 2024

    A new Park Avenue is steadily emerging in downtown Lake Wales as work continues on the first phase of a multi-million dollar reimagining of the city's heart. The ongoing work is creating a shady pedestrian oasis in the heart of the city, replete with rows of spreading live oaks, new benches, lighting, wider sidewalks, and brick-paved streets and parking areas. The stretch of Park Avenue between First and Market streets is rapidly nearing completion, offering business owners an...

  • Young Accused of Defrauding Partners in City-Funded Business Incubator

    Robert Connors|Updated Apr 30, 2024

    An affidavit released by Lake Wales Police and the District State Attorney’s office Monday afternoon contains new details in the case that has resulted in the arrest of Charles Young, CEO of BizLinc, a city-funded business incubator in Lake Wales. Young was arrested on two felony counts by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies at a Lithia residence on Saturday, to be transferred to Polk to face the charges. Young was a partner in Florida Development Corporation. FDC rec...

  • Slaton Seeking Manager's Job in New Smyrna Beach

    Robert Connors|Updated Apr 23, 2024

    Lake Wales City Manager James Slaton is on a short list of finalists under consideration to serve as city manager of New Smyrna Beach. Two Lake Wales city commissioners reached by Lake Wales News were unaware, and withheld comment. Slaton, 46, has managed the city for almost four years after the prior city manager, Ken Fields, was forced to resign by unhappy commissioners. Slaton was offered the job in October 2020 after having served as an interim manager for over five months...

  • City Commission Votes Down Lake Alta High-Density Residential Project

    Robert Connors|Updated 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 the...

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

    Robert Connors|Updated 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...

  • Charter Schools Superintendent Working From Home After Grievances Filed

    Robert Connors|Updated Apr 12, 2024

    Lake Wales Charter Schools Superintendent Dr. Wayne Rodolfich has spent more than two weeks "working from home" after anonymous grievances were filed, apparently by employees who had worked with him in the school district's home office on Central Avenue in Lake Wales. The charter school's human resources officer, LaQuanda Burroughs, reported to the at a special meeting on March 28 that three different grievances had been filed. After hearing of the grievances, charter school...

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

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated 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...

  • Women Who Made History Recognized by Lake Wales AAUW

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 6, 2024

    Women Who Made History on the Ridge was the theme of three awards granted by the Laker Wales chapter of the American Association of University Women this week. Dr. Glenda Morgan and two former mayors of Lake Wales, Linda Kimbrough and Kathy Manry Smith, were honored for their years of contributions to the community at a luncheon at the Good Shepherd Church March 12. Each of the three was introduced by Lake Wales City Clerk Jennifer Nanek, who included personal anecdotes of...

  • City's Trail Network to See Major Expansion

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated 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 link...

  • Williams Defeats Alvarado by Four Votes After Recount

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated 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...

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

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 5, 2024
    1

    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...

  • Recount to Happen Today in City Commission Election

    Robert Connors|Updated 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,...

  • City Anticipates $23 Million Grant to Complete "Connected" Project

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 2, 2024

    A grant application for the "Complete Streets redesign of remaining portions of 1st Street, Central Avenue, and Lincoln Avenue" has been given a high probability of success by a grant consultant working for the City of Lake Wales. The application seeks 100 percent funding for the redesign and reconstruction of most of First Street North, Lincoln Avenue, and single blocks of Central Avenue and A Street. The total project costs included in the application are $22,930,000, which...

  • "Lake Wales Live" Continues to Draw Crowds to Downtown Music Series

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 16, 2024

    Downtown Lake Wales was a "happening scene" Friday as the sounds of the south Florida-based "The JamBand" filled the air as they performed from a special stage in Linear Park. The event drew a large crowd on a beautiful spring evening who danced, clapped along, and sometimes sang with the band. Numerous vendors and a food truck catered to the crowd. The free performance was another installation of "Lake Wales Live," a six-performance series intended to help bring more...

  • Skydivers Injured in Jump Incident That Left Them Scattered on City Streets

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 13, 2024

    A 14-person attempt at formation skydiving in Lake Wales Monday afternoon left two skydivers with life-threatening injuries. Witnesses said that at least one parachute appeared to become tangled and failed to fully open. Two women in the group made hard landings, sustaining injuries that required them to be airlifted to a trauma center. According to witnesses, one skydiver came down at the intersection of North Scenic Highway and Wiltshire Avenue. Witnesses immediately began...

  • More Than 15,660 New Homes Approved By Lake Wales City Commissioners, Expected to Host 42,000 New Residents

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 12, 2024
    2

    A population boom is expected in Lake Wales in coming months and years as design work or construction is advancing for at least 40 projects within the city limits, in addition to others outside the city. A LakeWalesNews.net calculation shows a total of more than 15,660 new residential units have already met some level of approval by the city commission, with many having already received final plat approval for construction, even as other projects are nearing completion. If the...

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