For one small Central Florida town, a big step up for one local public department.

The Friends of the Lake Alfred Library are ready to move out of their old, small building and into a brand new one. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

LAKE ALFRED – Not everyone works out of a large office, but for the past few decades, some of the workers in downtown Lake Alfred couldn’t even claim they had a decently cozy space to do their job, Denise Johnson noted.
“It’s only 1,000 square feet,” Johnson said. “It’s like a closet.”
The building she’s referring to is the old Lake Alfred Public Library, which opened back in 1972, when Richard Nixon was president. Johnson, the president of the Friends of the Lake Alfred Library, said it was never really adequate for the needs of local residents.
But with local budgets tight, convincing the Lake Alfred City Commission to allocate public money to construct a new, larger building was a virtually impossible task, she said.
“We tried for 12 years to get them to do something,” Johnson said. Continue reading

Vacation home manager celebrates her industry’s success with a new, much larger office.

The new, larger office for USA Vacation Homes & Spa celebrated its grand opening on Saturday. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

DAVENPORT – There were glasses on the front desk inside the property at 115 Lake Davenport Boulevard, with a bottle of champagne waiting to be poured.
In the parking lot, there was a bounce house, and, under a tent, a tray full of freshly baked brownies.
Like any grand opening celebration, there were tours provided of the property, an opportunity to meet the staff, and a chance to relax and mingle with other guests while enjoying a brownie, champagne or soft drink.
And if the success of a business can be measured in the size of the new building they occupy, An Flamand was able to use Saturday’s open house to show that her chosen field – the vacation home industry – has done quite well in Northeast Polk County.
“It’s much bigger than my old office,” Flamand said. “It’s definitely a big difference.” Continue reading

Lake Wales man charged in the stabbing death of his grandmother.

Christopher Chase Whaley was charged with first degree murder in the death of his grandmother.

LAKE WALES – A young man who detectives say got into an argument with his grandmother was arrested today and charged with stabbing her to death in the bathtub.
Christopher Chase Whaley, 23, was arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Office Homicide detectives today, and they charged him in the stabbing death of his 69-year-old grandmother, Barbara Denmark, in the mobile home he shared with her in Lake Wales.
Whaley was booked into the Polk County Jail, charged with first degree murder.
He had been living with his grandmother in her mobile home at 5137 N. Scenic Highway, Lot 15, in Lake Wales, for the past five years. He also has an aunt, Cassandra Pippin, who also lives in Polk County.
According to the arrest report, Whaley had decided at some point over the weekend to kill both his grandmother and his aunt, but ultimately changed his mind about killing his aunt.
After stabbing his grandmother to death in the bathtub, detectives say, Whaley decided to call 911 and report the attack.
“He was waiting inside the home when deputies arrived, and turned himself in,” noted Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the arrest. Continue reading
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