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(422) stories found containing 'lake wales news'


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  • Investigation Results in Multiple Arrests on Child Predator Charges

    Special to the News|Updated May 21, 2024

    During an eight-day-long undercover sting investigation during February entitled "Operation Child Predator V," area police detectives filed 27 felony charges against eight suspects accused of crimes against children. Polk County Sheriff's Office detectives, along with police in Lake Wales, Auburndale, Davenport, and Lakeland, and the Hardee County Sheriff's Office, charged eight suspects with crimes related to those who prey upon and travel to meet children for unlawful sexual...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Volunteer Lake Alta Park Cleanup Results in Oil Spill

    News Staff Reports|Updated May 4, 2024

    A recent volunteer effort to clean trash, tires and debris from the tiny Lake Alta Park resulted in the recovery of a huge mound of garbage, but the spilling of gallons of used motor oil, apparently by a city crew. Resident Alex Clemons has lived on nearby Wiltshire Avenue his entire life and has conducted cleanups a half-dozen times. "I grew up in that park," Clemons said. "I've seen all kinds of wildlife there. There's a gopher tortoise burrow about a hundred feet away from...

  • Young Released on $50,000 Bond on Fraud and Grand Theft Charges

    Frank Butler|Updated May 1, 2024

    Lake Wales business incubator CFO Charles Young Jr. was released Friday from Polk County Jail after posting bond on two first-degree felony charges. Young was arrested last Saturday morning at a residence in Lithia in Hillsborough County following an investigation of a complaint filed last year by his business partners. Young was a partner in Florida Development Corp LLC, which entered into a $1.2 million no-recourse contract with the City of Lake Wales in 2022 for the...

  • 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...

  • BizLinc, Florida Development Corp Financial Officer Arrested, Charged With Grand Theft, Fraud

    News Staff Report|Updated Apr 29, 2024
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    Charles Young, the chief financial officer of the BizLinc business incubator in Lake Wales, has been arrested at a residence in Lithia in Hillsborough County on an active Polk County warrant, Lake Wales News has confirmed through multiple sources. Available online information shows that Young has been charged with grand theft of $100,000 or more, and a second count of obtaining property by fraud, grand theft, $50,000. After his arrest on Saturday morning, he was transferred...

  • 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...

  • Frostproof Teacher Murdered by Her Own Son in Stabbing Attack

    News Staff Reports|Updated 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...

  • 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...

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

    News Staff Reports|Updated 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...

  • Lake Wales Growth Manager Autumn Cochella Resigns

    Frank Butler and Howard Davies|Updated 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|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...

  • Gillespie Defeats Krueger After Hard Fought City Election

    News Staff Reports|Updated 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Allegations Lead to Firing of Lake Wales Police Chief

    News Staff Reports|Updated Mar 31, 2024

    UPDATE: Only days after this story was published, the decision was reversed, resulting in a second story which can be read here. Issues of nepotism, favoritism, and a lack of transparency are apparently behind the future replacement of Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez, who was informed Monday of a three-day suspension and eventual replacement by City Manager James Slaton. The action follows a complaint filed by the Poor and Minority Justice Association early this year a...

  • Misleading Election Mail Blankets City, Implies Sheriff's Endorsement

    Suzie Schottelkotte, News Staff Writer|Updated Mar 29, 2024
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    Lake Wales voters have been receiving postcards from an out-of-town Political Action Committee that appear to falsely imply that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has endorsed a candidate in the city commission District 4 race. Judd said that's not the case. The mailers feature a photo of Judd standing next to a grinning Danny Krueger, suggesting that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is endorsing City Commissioner Danny Krueger's bid for re-election in Tuesday's vote. "I'm not...

  • The News Recommends: Carol Gillespie for Seat 4 on Lake Wales City Commission

    News Editorial Board|Updated Mar 26, 2024

    Lake Wales voters will have significant choices to make in two races for the Lake Wales City Commission on April 2, choosing from among candidates who offer sharp differences in their approaches to governing and attitudes toward the challenges confronting the city. All city voters are eligible to cast ballots in the non-partisan district 2 and 4 races. The district 4 race presents voters with the starkest choice in many years as incumbent Danny Krueger faces a challenge from...

  • The News Recommends: Brandon Alvarado for City Commission Seat 2

    News Editorial Board|Updated Mar 26, 2024
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    An April 2 day of decision is upon Lake Wales voters, who have significant choices among candidates who offer sharp differences in their approaches to governing and attitudes toward the challenges confronting the city. All city voters are eligible to cast ballots in the non-partisan district 2 and 4 races. In the District 2 race, Daniel Williams is facing two challengers in Brandon Alvarado and Crystal Higbee. On a city commission that has been criticized as failing to...

  • "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
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    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...

  • Incumbents Are No-Shows at Commission Election Forum

    Robert Connors, managing Editor|Updated Mar 6, 2024
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    Three challengers seeking two seat on the Lake Wales City Commission held the stage at a Monday evening candidates forum after both incumbents failed to show up for the 90-minute event. The election is four weeks away, slated for Tuesday, April 2. Carol Gillespie, seeking seat 4 on the five-person commission, along with Brandon Alvarado and Crystal Higbee, both seeking seat 2, shared their ideas and responded to questions from the audience at the forum sponsored by the...

  • This Week in History: Lake Wales Highlander, March 6, 1924

    News Research Staff|Updated Mar 5, 2024

    The Lake Wales Highlander of 100 years ago reveals much about the history of our community. In 1924 a new Ford truck would cost you $490, a considerable sum at the time. Each week the Lake Wales News will publish a front-page image of the former Lake Wales Highlander from 100 years earlier, tracking the growth of the community a century ago, when Florida was in the midst of a great land price boom and rapid population growth. The Lake Wales Highlander eventually became The...

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