Communication Builds Our Community

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  • Former Mayor, Community Leader Pat Cain Dead at 76

    News Staff|Updated May 26, 2024

    Life-long resident and supporter of numerous area charitable causes, Dale Patrick Cain of Lake Wales passed away Monday, May 20. Pat, as he was known to his many friends, was a third generation Lake Wales resident who served as a Lake Wales City Commissioner from 1988 until 1992, serving as mayor in 1991-1992. A 1965 graduate of Lake Wales High School, he played both offense and defense on the Highlander football squads in two undefeated seasons in 1963 and 1964, as more...

  • City Video Series Wins "Communicator" Award

    Special to the News|Updated May 10, 2024

    The City of Lake Wales has been awarded a Communicator Award in the category of Campaigns & Series-Public Service & Activism, Distinction 2024. The award was granted for the "Now You Know" video series featuring numerous city employees in speaking roles. The videos were produced in house to share information about city employees, activities, departments, and goals. According to the statement issued by the company, the Communicator Awards "honors work that transcends...

  • Jewels Stark joins AdventHealth Lake Wales as Chief Nursing Officer

    Special to the News|Updated Apr 18, 2024

    AdventHealth has announced that Jewels (Julie) Stark has accepted the role of Chief Nursing Officer at AdventHealth Lake Wales, effective April 21. She will report directly to Royce Brown, President and CEO of AdventHealth Lake Wales. In this role, Stark will be responsible for all nursing services including quality of patient care, treatment and service delivered, staffing, regulatory readiness and financial sustainability. She will also partner with colleges and...

  • Leigh Ann Wynn Named Executive Director of AdventHealth Foundation West Florida

    Special to the News|Updated Jan 24, 2024

    AdventHealth Foundation West Florida is delighted to announce the appointment of Leigh Ann Wynn as the new Executive Director for the Polk County region. As a seventh-generation Floridian hailing from Lake Wales, Wynn brings a deep connection to the community and a wealth of experience to her new role. Wynn, born and raised on her family's cattle ranch, embodies the spirit of Central Florida's agricultural roots. Graduating with a bachelor's in public relations and a minor in...

  • Courage Awards presented to Local Couple at "18 Aces to Conquer Cancer" Tournament

    Special to the News|Updated Jan 14, 2024

    Polk County residents Hap and Chris Hazelwood were the recipients of the Courage Award presented at a luncheon following the 11th Annual 18 Aces to Conquer Cancer Golf Tournament at Winter Haven Country Club. Both are cancer survivors who epitomize the strength it takes to fight the disease. "The goal of 18 Aces to Conquer Cancer is to raise funds for pancreatic cancer, but also to have a fun round of golf for a Great cause!" said Ralph Mahalak Jr., co-owner of the Mahalak...

  • Lake Wales History Museum Director Departing

    Sepcial to the News|Updated Jan 10, 2024

    The Lake Wales History Museum will once again be left without a permanent executive director after this week as Melissa Stoller, PhD, will be leaving the organization on January 12. Stoller took over the reins of the non-profit organization in July, 2022. According to a board statement issued by museum President Brandon Alvarado, Stoller will be assuming a new position leading grant administration for the City of Lakeland. Stoller came to Lake Wales from Tallahassee, where...

  • Lake Wales Main Street Director Honored for "Lifetime Achievement"

    Special to the News|Updated Nov 20, 2023

    Ronni Wood, a seasoned and dedicated professional in the field of downtown redevelopment, was honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA). The remarkable accolade was presented during the 2023 FRA Annual Conference and Awards Reception, where the outstanding contributions of community organizations, as well as individual excellence, were celebrated. With a career spanning several decades, Ronni Wood's journey in...

  • Ken Suarez Comes to Lake Wales

    News Staff Reports|Updated Jul 14, 2023

    A face and voice familiar to most Polk County residents will soon be sharing lots of information about Lake Wales as Ken Suarez begins his duties. No stranger to the camera, the long-time Tampa Bay-area broadcaster recently left his full-time job as a television journalist to begin serving the City of Lake Wales as part-time host of a video series about events in the area. Suarez worked for years at WINK TV in Fort Myers before moving into the Tampa market almost 35 years...

  • Cindy Lilly of Babson Park Named "Woman of the Year"

    Special to the News|Updated May 9, 2023

    Local resident Cindy Lilly has been honored as the "Woman of the Year" by the Babson Park Woman's Club. According to a statement issued by club vice-president Saundra Roach Turner, the recognition was due to the fact that "Cindy has worked tirelessly this past year to facilitate the maintenance and repair of the Club building." Lilly was presented with a beautiful spray of flowers, and will have her name engraved on a plaque in honor of her service. In November the BPWC will...

  • First Responders Honored at Chamber Luncheon

    Special to the News|Updated Feb 3, 2023

    Representatives of three different first responder organizations were honored at a special luncheon organized by the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce. The event, held at the Lake Wales Arts Center on Thursday, is the second such annual recognition event run by the Chamber, and apparently the only one in this part of Florida. The top honorees, Firefighter EMT George Gibson of Polk County Fire & Rescue, (LtoR) Deputy Sheriff Steven Mills of the Polk County Sheriff's Office,...

  • Bennett Reflects on Years of Change

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Feb 2, 2023

    It was a relaxed Mark Bennett who shared his thoughts about the many changes both ahead and behind in Lake Wales and Polk County recently. Bennett is stepping down as director of the City of Lake Wales Development Services department after an eventful 30 months in a role he called "challenging, demanding, stressful." During his time at the helm of city planning Bennett has dealt with a wave of annexation requests as owners of declining citrus properties weigh their options...

  • New City Communications Director Hopes to Reach More Citizens

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Sep 14, 2022

    Communications and information about City of Lake Wales activities and services should be easier to find, as a result of the hiring of Marketing and Communications Director Eric Marshall, who started his orientation in mid-December. Marshall, 48, is a graduate of the University of South Florida, where he studied mass communications, multimedia, and communications law. He comes to Lake Wales after a stint at Polk County Parks and Recreation. That was preceded by 13 years in...

  • Clear Choice Dermatology Celebrates First Anniversary With Plan for the Future

    News Staff|Updated Aug 13, 2022

    Growing a Lake Wales medical practice of his own has long been the vision of one area physician, an outcome that has come to fruition for Dr. Ray Knisley, a board-certified dermatologist. Dr. Knisley is celebrating the first anniversary of his Clear Choice Dermatology clinic here on July 5 after working for other clinics in the area. "I couldn't do this sooner due to a non-compete clause," he said. Clear Choice is presently located in a two-story medical office building at...

  • Lake Wales' Carl Hadden Named as Regional Director of Small Business Development Center

    Stacy Dodd, University of South Florida|Updated Jun 16, 2022

    TAMPA, Fl. – The Muma College of Business at University of South Florida announced Carl Hadden, MBA, CME, as the new regional director of the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida. "We are excited to welcome Carl in the role as Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at USF," GJ de Vreede, PhD, Associate Dean at Muma College of Business, said. "He has been an excellent interim regional director and we look forward to his continued leadership at the helm of the largest S...

  • AAUW to Honor Three Local "Women Who Made History"

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 20, 2022

    A special event this Tuesday, March 22 will honor three area "Women Who Made History." The event will be hosted by the Lake Wales chapter of the American Association of University Women. "Women Who Made History on the Ridge" will honor Johanna Buscher-Shedler, Kathe Galloway, and Ethel Austin, (posthumously) will be feted for their work. Charlene Bennett, speaking on behalf of the AAUW, invited area residents to "join us in learning about the contributions, challenges, and...

  • Local Resident J. Lawton Lilly Assigned to 7th Fleet in Pacific

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 20, 2022

    Local Resident J. Lawton Lilly has completed his initial training assignments and has been assigned to the Navy's Seventh Fleet in the Pacific. He shipped out 3/16/22 as a US Navy Sailor to the Yokosuka, Japan Naval base outside of Tokyo. Lilly has been assigned to the USS Howard, a guided-missile Destroyer supporting Carrier Strike Group Five, consisting of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, supported by the guided missile cruisers USS Antietam, USS Chancellorsville and...

  • Mobility is a Gift for Jordan Colon

    Eric Marshall, City of Lake Wales Communications|Updated Jan 31, 2022

    Jordan Colon, a student at Victory Ridge Academy in Lake Wales got a big surprise when City of Lake Wales police officers presented him with a Kaye Dynamic Stander, a multi-positional standing aid with 360 degrees of movement. Colon has a developmental disability that affects his balance and postural control, making it difficult to walk unaided. "This is something special the Police Officers Association wanted to do for Jordan," said David Black, Deputy Police Chief. "It's...

  • Autumn Cochella Earns Certification As City Planner

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Jan 24, 2022

    It took only a few months working in the Development Services Division at the City of Lake Wales for Autumn Cochella to realize she had found her passion and a life-long career path. After six years on the job she recently earned a coveted certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. "This is my hometown," Cochella said. "I get it. The responsibility is more personal because I care on a different level. She stepped into the role in a bigger way recently...

  • A New Certification Came Naturally to Stephanie Edwards

    Kyra Love Harriage, News Staff Reporter|Updated Jan 6, 2022

    Whether working on large projects like the Park Avenue Connector Trail or coordinating the usage of the city's recreation facilities, Stephanie Edwards is the one the city can count on. Edwards has also been tasked with overseeing the city's acquisition and rehabilitation of the YMCA, including setting up free swim access for residents. Edwards serves as the busy Support Services and Recreation Manager for the City of Lake Wales Parks and Recreation Department, so she meets...

  • New Museum Curator Enjoys "Touching History"

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 13, 2021

    "Getting back to museum basics" was a large part of the motivation that moved Anderson Hanna, former director of the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, to apply for what might at first appear to be a less-authoritative role as Curator of Collections and Exhibits at the Lake Wales History Museum. Hanna doesn't see it that way at all, and is very happy with his career decision. "It's about getting to your specialty," he said, in describing the change that also brings him...

  • Polk State Lake Wales Grows to 1,200 Students, Thanks to One Man's Efforts

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Nov 30, 2021

    The inspiration of hard-working parents who wanted their children to have a better life has led their son to "pay it forward" by leading others to higher callings through Polk State College. Dr. Andy Oguntola is the Director of the college's Lake Wales campus in the JD Alexander Center on Central Avenue downtown. He also serves as Dean of Workforce Development for the multi-campus institution. Under his five-year watch enrollment at the local campus has grown from 600 to...

  • Attorney Kent Lilly Offers Lesson in Value of Role Models

    News.Net Staff|Updated Nov 12, 2021

    By now a familiar voice to fans at Friday night football games, one local volunteer has made a highly successful career out of childhood inspiration, and a thread of football tradition runs through it. Local son Kent Lilly has become something of a legend in his own right. Lilly grew up in Lake Wales, and after Lake Wales High School went on to graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in accounting before heading off to law school at Florida State University,...

  • A photo of Special Olympian Joseph Lunsford and Deputy Chief David Black

    Joseph Lunsford of Lake Wales Chosen to Represent Florida at Special Olympics USA

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Oct 16, 2021
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    In a special recognition of his efforts, Lake Wales resident Joseph Lunsford will be the recipient of his very own "day" upon the issuance of a Proclamation from the City of Lake Wales declaring a "Joseph Lunsford Recognition Day." Lunsford, 28, has been selected to represent Florida in the 2022 Special Olympics USA to be held in Orlando June 5th-12th, 2022. Lunsford is a multi-sport athlete and has competed in a wide range of Special Olympics sports, including track,...

  • Gladys Howell Named Pioneer of the Year

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Oct 13, 2021

    The Lake Wales History Museum will honor Gladys Howell as the 2021 Lake Wales Pioneer of the Year as part of the 45th Annual Pioneer Days Festival at Lake Wailes Park. The recognition celebration will be held during the festival on Saturday, October 23 at 10:00 am. The Lake Wales History Museum's Pioneer Days Festival is synonymous with Lake Wales history and culture, and celebrates the heritage of the greater Polk County community. The two-day event will feature 50 craft &...

  • At Age 97, A Home Rehab is An Unexpected Blessing

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Oct 1, 2021

    Ardella Green has been a resident of Lake Wales since 1942 and at 97 years old, she has gotten to the point in life that climbing up to fix the roof of her aging home on Alabama Street was no longer an option. Thanks to a grant from the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency, that is no longer a challenge she must contemplate. Hers was one of several aging homesteads in the city that have been repaired thanks to a $68.000 fund established by the CRA board. Referred to the p...

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