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Articles written by Tom Paulson

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  • Foreign PACs Send Wave of Personal Attacks in Tuesday's Lake Wales City Commission Race

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Apr 2, 2024

    A last-minute wave of text messages paid for by a "dark money" political action committee in Venice have targeted at least one challenger in a city commission race on the eve of the April 2 election. Carol Gillespie, who is challenging incumbent City Commissioner Danny Krueger, has been the target of what a campaign spokesperson called "an ugly and false smear campaign" by an out-of-town political action committee. The text messages from "Keep Florida Winning" highlight...

  • Some Local Officials Resigning Over New Disclosure Requirements

    Tom Paulson and Robert Connors|Updated Dec 28, 2023

    A new financial disclosure requirement that has caused hundreds of municipal officials across the state to resign their offices is also having impacts in the Lake Wales area. The state law, which takes effect January 1, requires every elected official in cities, towns, and villages across the state to complete a comprehensive disclosure of income and assets that many consider draconian. The form will replace the simpler, and less invasive, Form 1 previously required. The...

  • Middle and High School Students Offered Free Extra-Credit Educational Program

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Nov 6, 2022

    A special free learning opportunity is being offered to area Middle and High School students, who will learn and earn a special completion certificate as "Student Naturalists."The program is being offered in special Saturday events at Lake Wales Public Library, and will be led by certified Florida educators. The three-hour educational program, described as "a fun experience," is being hosted by Lake Wales Heritage, a local non-profit endeavoring to recreate the "garden city"...

  • Students Can Earn Special Certificate on Lake Wales Patrimony

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Nov 6, 2022

    A special free learning opportunity is being offered to area Middle and High School students, who will learn and earn a special completion certificate as "Student Naturalists."The program is being offered in special Saturday events at Lake Wales Public Library, and will be led by certified Florida educators. The three-hour educational program is being hosted by Lake Wales Heritage, a local non-profit endeavoring to recreate the "garden city" envisioned by city founders. While...

  • Lake Wales Receives National Recognition as "Cultural Landscape"

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Nov 5, 2022

    The City of Lake Wales has been cited as a significant cultural landscape in the 2022 Landslide report issued by The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). According to the national organization, the city's origins and Olmsted patrimony place it among the cultural treasures recognized in the annual report. The report, which was distributed to national media this week, salutes the work of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., who "completed a comprehensive plan for...Lake Wales,...

  • Help Sought to Landscape City Streets

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Oct 9, 2022

    A civic organization working to re-create a historic landscaping plan in Lake Wales is seeking community help. Lake Wales Heritage is a non-profit group working to re-plant the 1930 landscape plan created by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. "We need to find some helpies," said Heritage director and volunteer Tish Sheesley, citing the several projects the group is tackling. Alongside the tree-planting effort, the organization is launching an educational program for middle school stude...

  • Controversial Small-Lot Development Delayed For Review

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Sep 26, 2022

    On a 3-2 vote, Lake Wales city commissioners almost approved a controversial new subdivision plat that creates 907 new building lots on the near south side before a last minute reversal. The project, called Orchard Hills, is proposed sprawl across former citrus groves stretching east of Scenic Highway and north of Passion Play Road. The proposal exceeds the city's minimum requirements for open space, primarily due to the stormwater ponds, but was criticized by residents and a...

  • Lake Wales Heritage Advances Plans for Druid Hills Neighborhood

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Sep 24, 2022

    Ambitious plans to beautify and recognize the unique features of the Druid Hills neighborhood on the east side of Lake Wales were advanced during a four-hour conference held Saturday at Bok Tower Gardens. Among the ideas discussed at the conference was special recognition of the area as the "Historic Olmsted Druid Hills District," including the installation of boundary and historical markers explaining the importance of the area, which would form a portion of an "Olmsted...

  • Layoffs at CSX Intermodal Avoided by Settlement

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Sep 15, 2022

    The efforts of the US Transportation Secretary Marty Walsh and direct intervention by President Joe Biden have succeeded in averting a nationwide strike that would likely have led to scores of local workers being laid off for their jobs. The $100 million CSX Intermodal freight terminal, located between Lake Wales and Winter Haven off SR 60 west, opened in 2014 and employs workers involved in loading and unloading the shipping containers which have become the global standard. W...

  • Shooter Dead, Two Victims Wounded After Incident

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Sep 9, 2022

    Lake Wales Police have apparently unraveled the threads of a fatal shooting that occurred shortly after 1:30 in the afternoon on Sunday, August 28. Lake Wales Police were summoned to the area of 32 W. Seminole Avenue and found three young men had been wounded in an exchange of gunfire following an argument inside the apartment, As the group left the apartment, 21-year-old Camron Salas produced a handgun and began shooting. wounding two of the men, one 17 and one 18 years of...

  • City Kayak and Paddleboard Rental Program Reduced, Delayed

    Tom Paulson|Updated Sep 4, 2022

    An unexpected sharp rise in cost has shrunk the planned kayak and paddleboard rental project planned for Lake Wailes Park, in a shift approved by the city commission. The rental program will be created in partnership with a company called Rent.Fun. The rental program was proposed in May by Recreation Manager Stephanie Edwards as an inexpensive way to offer more opportunities for citizens to get on the water and enjoy the outdoors. At that time the commission approved a...

  • Watering Restrictions Remain in Effect

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Sep 3, 2022

    The Southwest Florida Water Management District is sharing a friendly reminder that when it comes to irrigation systems, Polk County residents must follow certain watering schedules and restrictions. Because of Florida's exponential growth, potable water is increasingly in short supply. There is considerable demand upon inland water resources from coastal counties. The following rules apply to all residential and commercial properties that use irrigation systems to water their...

  • Three City Commissioners Vote Themselves Another Raise

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Aug 4, 2022

    On a split vote, Lake Wales City Commissioners Tuesday evening voted themselves an annual raise of $2,400 intended to pay for the cost of local travel and expenses. City Manager James Slaton had proposed the increase at a commission work session last week, saying those expenses were often incurred by commissioners in the course of their duties. Newly-elected Commissioner Danny Krueger argued in favor of the raise, complaining that his 547 miles of travel around the city since...

  • School Board Forum Moved to Virtual Event

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jul 28, 2022

    A pair of forums offering voters a chance to hear from seven school board candidates has been moved to an online event due to the recent upsurge of Coved cases in Polk County. The event had been scheduled for the James Austin Center in Lake Wales with a capacity of 100 guests. The event will now take place via Zoom, with a link to be posted for interested guests. The August primary election will be the final chance to vote in some local races, including those for new school...

  • Polk School Board Candidates Will Participate in Lake Wales Forum

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jul 16, 2022

    The August primary election will be the final chance to vote in some local races, including those for new school board members for four different seats on the seven-member board. A total of nine candidates are seeking spots on the board, which governs more than 100 local schools. The two events will take place on Monday, July 18 and Thursday July 21., The public is encouraged to come hear the candidates discuss the challenges facing public education, and the important role...

  • Book Launch Event to Recognize Local Author

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jul 1, 2022

    A Lake Wales author will be recognized at a special "book launch event" in honor of two recently-released works of historical fiction. "The Florida Saga" shares the surprising history of our state in two volumes by Robert James Connors. "They tell Florida's story through the eyes of the people who lived it," Connors said in response to questions. "Making history an enjoyable, living story with sympathetic characters rather than a dry retelling of facts" was his goal, he said....

  • Polk County Seeks Citizens to Serve on Panel

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jun 25, 2022

    Polk County is seeking residents to serve on the Community Development Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC). The 15-member advisory committee assists the Housing and Neighborhood Development (HND) Office of Health & Human Services in reviewing and evaluating the applications for funding from the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). This program, funded through the US Housing & Urban Development (HUD), assists low to moderate income people struggling with housing...

  • Lake Wales Police Arrest Construction Site Thieves

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jun 21, 2022

    A recent spate of thefts from construction sites around Lake Wales has resulted in increased patrols of those areas and at least one "bust" of a couple involved in the crime. During a routine patrol near Old Scenic Highway Sergeant Andrew Brown noticed a silver F150 pulling out of a street leading into Scenic Bluffs phase 2. The new housing development has no residents yet, and Brown thought the late-evening presence of the truck was suspicious. He also noted that the tag on...

  • CRA Agrees to Purchase Building After Receiving Incorrect Information

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jun 19, 2022

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from City Manager James Slaton. A confusing staff report may have led to city commissioners, sitting as the board of the Lake Wales Community Development Agency, paying more than intended for a small parcel of land and a dilapidated building. A staff report contained errors on the value of the parcel. The prominent eyesore at the corner of West Central Avenue and SR 60 West property is eventually expected to be...

  • City Earns Black Eye With Fumbled Proclamation

    Tom Paulson and Robert Connors, News Staff|Updated Jun 9, 2022

    An apparent lack of clear policies and procedures caused an hour-long display of citizen disappointment and anger at the Lake Wales City Commission meeting Tuesday night following a decision by Mayor Jack Hilligoss to remove a generic resolution recognizing Pride Month from the meeting agenda. Proclamations are commonly used to recognize the accomplishments of community groups and individuals, or special observances and are normally a public relations tool for the city. The...

  • Only One Hurricane Shelter Available for All of Southeast Polk

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jun 3, 2022

    As the 2022 hurricane season begins, a map of Polk County Public Shelters shows that of the 47 shelters listed, only one is located in southeast Polk County, an area stretching east of US 27 and south of Waverly Road from Lake Kissimmee Sate Park to the Highlands County line, and including a population of more than 80,000. Spook Hill Elementary School is the only public shelter for the vast area, which has also previously hosted waves of refugees fleeing storms threatening...

  • New Apartments Contemplated for Chalet Suzanne Road

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Jun 3, 2022

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include clarifying comments from City Manager James Slaton. Lake Wales City Commissioners will consider the possible development of new apartments on a sprawling tract of land north of Chalet Suzanne Road Tuesday at Tuesday's meeting, beginning at 6:00 PM.. Hillpointe LLC, acting as the agent for owner Star Lake Inc. is requesting a zoning change on approximately 195.23 acres of land to allow HDR-High Density Residential...

  • Free Keith Urban Guitar and Tickets Offered by Lake Wales CDJR

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated May 14, 2022

    Do you like country music? Maybe you're a Keith Urban fan? Or maybe you're just feeling a bit lucky and could use some extra cash? If so, here's a great opportunity: The "Low Payment Kings," powered by the Mahalak Auto Group, are offering an opportunity to win a guitar signed by Keith Urban, four tickets to a Keith Urban concert, and $777 in cash! The Low Payment Kings family of auto dealerships includes Lake Wales Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on US 27, but according to officials o...

  • Local Actor Sees His Feature Film Premier In Lake Wales

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated May 7, 2022

    After five years of rising success in the film and television industry, Lake Wales actor and screenwriter Jeff Herman will undoubtedly be there in person Monday night for the release of his new feature-length film when it premiers at the Regal Eagle Ridge Cineplex at 7:00 pm. The film, entitled "No Vacancy," stars Dean Cain, who played Clark Kent in the TV series Lois & Clark, along with roles as the host of Ripley's Believe It or Not! and the sports drama series "Hit the...

  • University, High School Student Sports Reporters Sought

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated May 2, 2022

    Area college and high school students with a penchant for sports have an opportunity to earn some career creds by providing coverage of their favorite local teams, according to Robert Connors, managing editor of LakeWalesNews.Net. "We're eager to expand our coverage far beyond football," Connors said. "We want to cover everything from bowling to lacrosse." Baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming, tennis, and more are potential subject matter, he said. "Each intern is invited...

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