- Community Requires Communication

By Kent Lilly
Contributing Writer 

Thrilled to Support Hometown News Website


Last updated 1/10/2021 at 11:30am

There’s simply no substitute for a hometown newspaper – except a hometown news website – and I’m thrilled to learn that we now have one!

I literally grew up with the hometown newspaper – two of them, actually. Late every afternoon when I was a kid growing up in Ridge Manor, I looked forward to seeing the paperboy ride by on his bike. The pages were smaller than the big-city papers and after being rolled tight (and rubber-banded even tighter) it could be thrown a long way – onto most porches.

So why did a young kid care about the newspaper? Because Lake Wales was so small and friendly that even the kids knew the grown-ups being written about as they ran City Hall (and sometimes got into fist-fights doing it) – they were our parents’ friends and we liked knowing what they were up to in their adult lives. And because the paper did a great job covering kids’ sports – we tracked the scores and standings and all the goings-on at Barranco Field and Legion Field and certainly of the big kids up at the high school near Crystal Lake.

It was our world, and it was really, really important – as in, everyday important and the Daily Highlander was our ticket to the daily movie of our lives in Our Town. Then there was the really special stuff found only there – such as the weekly contest during the football season.

Local businesses would take out ads and in each ad box was a college football game for the contestants to check a box for the predicted winner – about 15 games. And in the center of the page was the all-important tie-breaker – the LWHS Highlanders’ game of the week against Bartow, Hardee or whoever – you actually had to predict the score of that one. Imagine if you can the thrill of an 8-yr-old kid pulling off that rubber-band and seeing a headline on the front page – Kent Lilly Wins Upset-Riddled Grid Contest – in other words (I figured out later) I won despite not knowing anything about such things because none of the favored teams won that week – but the $10 grand prize may as well have been a million in my eyes.

During all those years we also had the Lake Wales News, a fantastic weekly paper (With All the Pictures!) published by Owen Brice, with photos taken by Ruth Gilman. Mr. Brice and Ms. Ruth were everywhere in town, taking notes and taking pictures – the weekly montage was the icing on the Highlander cake.

Wedding announcements/articles (with large portraits) were a real feature and favorite – as were team photos and action shots of every sporting event around the lake and at the Country Club out on Hesperides Road past Buck Moore’s Garage – detailed coverage of everything that made Lake Wales the center of the universe.

Even after the demise of the Highlander, we had the News for many years – during which I got it weekly while in college in Gainesville and in Law School in Tallahassee. – all my roommates had a lot of fun poking fun at me for headlines such as – Windows in Alley Broken by Vandals or maybe Speed on Third Street Reduced to 30 – earth-shattering things like that. Of course, I always defended the reporting as Significant Things We All Need to Know.

Then one day we had neither local paper, and that was awful. Thanks to all who have made this version possible – I’ll certainly always miss the rolled up, rubber-banded version, but this is going to be some kind of wonderful too!

Kent Lilly was born and raised in Lake Wales. After college and Law School he returned to Polk County, where he has practiced law since 1977 in the area of Personal Injury/Wrongful Death. He is a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer with offices in Lake Wales, Lakeland, Bartow, Haines City, Sebring and Wauchula. His firm, Lilly & Brown, LLP, is a Platinum Sponsor of


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