Page 1

Page 4 The News

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Viewpoint

Let’s listen to the mayor and deal with hotel

The Dixie Walesbilt Hotel, also known as the Grand Hotel, is both an “icon and an eyesore,” according to Lake Wales Mayor Eugene Fultz. The mayor made that statement during the Lake Wales Chamber’s annual State of the City address recently. Fultz’s remarks were part of a speech where he outlined many positive things happening in the city. He talked about how the city and the local business community have started to work together, forming an economic development council that is working to increase the number of businesses located in our area. Because of this new partnership, Lake Wales is building new relationships and strengthening old relationships with county and state leaders who can help our economy. Fultz described how the area near U.S. 27 and Chalet Suzanne Road is poised for more residential growth. He said that a development called Leona’s Landing is set to begin construction on community that will eventually have 300 single-family homes. Also, a new apartment complex is planned for the

ago with the expectation that he would restore it and put it to use as a commercial and residential building. He has not been able to accomplish that goal. The building sits almost in the same state of disrepair same area. The city is close to opening a new fire station as when the city handed it over to him. on Chalet Suzanne Road. Brown is a passionate man who appears to want For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of nothing more than to restore the building to its past meeting Mayor Fultz, you should know that he is a very grandeur. But he does not appear to have the financial upbeat and positive person who has no trouble talking at backing to do so. In the meantime the city suffers the length about the good things that are going on in the city. consequences. The building sits unpainted, a fence He is a great cheerleader for our community and is do- around it and looking like a giant “We Are Closed” sign ing exactly what the newly created mayor’s job requires for the downtown area. — providing information and leadership for Lake Wales. The rest of the city commission and the administration So it would not have been surprising if the mayor only should take the mayor’s comments as a call to action and spoke rosily about the past year in Lake Wales. do something about the hotel. But he is also a realist and felt the need to tell citizens We agree with Mayor Fultz. Let’s get together as a that there are some real challenges facing the city and community and find a use for the building, and if we many of those challenges revolve around revitalizing the can’t, then let’s find a way to tear it down. downtown area. And one of the greatest challenges facing There are a lot of good things happening in Lake Wales downtown is the Grand Hotel. right now. Getting the hotel project going again could be The hotel was given to developer Ray Brown a few years one more.

Our Viewpoint

Letters to the editor

The game has changed I write to express deep appreciation to some extraordinary Floridians who have “changed the game” for Florida’s most iconic product. When the President recently signed the Farm Bill, he validated the hard work of many, many producers around the country. However, Florida came out a particular winner because of the leadership of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Representatives Dennis Ross (FL-15), Tom Rooney (FL-17), Vern Buchanan (FL-16) and Steve Southerland (FL-02). Those Congressional leaders, at the

urging of stakeholders such as Florida Citrus Mutual, under the able leadership of Mike Sparks, and citrus growers and supporters across the state, secured $125 million in game-changing research to fight citrus greening. Those visionary leaders understood the profound value of Florida oranges, and we owe them our deepest gratitude for translating vision into action. For too long, Florida growers, working closely with the Florida Department of Citrus, the Citrus Research and

MCKENNA | 5

First Amendment in jeopardy? On Nov. 1, 2008, I wrote and sent out the email I titled ‘In just a little more than 72 hours.’ I copy several lines from that e-mail: “Upon Castro’s arrival to Havana on Jan. 8, 1959, most of the Cuban media (television, radio and newspapers) declared that the new ‘Messiah’ had just arrived! Have you recently heard something like that?” “When some reporters started questioning the aim of the ‘change’ that Castro’s revolution was enforcing, guess what? Pariahs! They were immediately banned from the inner circle of the new government.” “Did you know that the Democratic Party had shut our the news report Ms. West and Channel 9 from Orlando for interviewing their candidates? Why? Because Ms. West questioned Senator Biden about the inner doctrine of his partner, candidate Obama! Holy Moses.. how did she have the ‘audacity’ to ask that kind of question? “It was reported yesterday that three newspaper reporters were bumped from the air liner shuttling Senator Obama. The reason? They represented news organizations that had endorsed Senator McCain. Any similarity to the

Cuban ‘change’ reaction?” “Back to my memory bank. One by one, the Cuban dailies Diario de la Marina, El Mundo, Prensa Libre, Avance and others that I don’t remember disappeared one after the other under pressure by the new ‘change’ regime. Television and radio stations like CMQ, RHC, Radio Progreso and other were allowed to air only the news censured and/ or approved by the new government.” “The news we were allowed to read in Cuba was printed in the new government newspaper: Grandma. I don’t know the name of the other leftist countries information organizations but I remember that ‘Pravda’ was the Russian communist official newspaper!” “After the Cuban comrades consolidated their stronghold across the nation, the world information in Cuba was coming not from AP or UPI or any other international news agencies. The ‘change’ government founded its own press corps: Prensa Latina (Latin Press). The news the average Cuban hear or reads is always censored by the communist authorities.” To the present; today I read the Internet headlines, “Why the FCC

CRESPO | 5

Sale of sensitive lands proves harebrained Call me a cynic, but the plan to sell state-owned conservation lands in order to buy “better” conservation lands was, at best, an intellectually dishonest way to brag about funding environmental programs without actually funding them. At worst, it was a deviously flawed plan designed to fail. Under four governors, Bob Martinez, Lawton Chiles, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, environmental-land-acquisition programs were developed, implemented, adequately funded and improved. The first program, Preservation 2000, was a visionary effort to preserve the environmental lands that make Florida the beautiful-and-special place that attracts millions of people to our state. The voluntary 10-year land-acquisition program was hugely popular and successful. I was given the opportunity to work with my colleagues in the Legislature and then-Gov. Jeb Bush to improve and

Paula Dockery Political Ponderings Paula Dockery can be contacted at pdockery@floridavoices.com. continue the acquisition program. Bringing all interested parties together, we updated the goals of the program to include a greater focus on water resources, more funding for management of the lands we had purchased, and a greater emphasis on public access for our citizens and visitors to enjoy. We renamed the program Florida Forever to more accurately reflect our goal moving into the future. The program was funded at or near its intended level of $300 million a year,

DOCKERY | 5

We welcome your letters Letters are welcome on virtually any subject, but we do have some rules. Please keep them to less than 250 words. Letters will be edited to length as well as grammar and spelling. All letters must be signed with full name — not initials. An address and telephone number must be included. The phone number and address are not for publication, but must be provided. The Letters to the Editor section is designed as a public forum for community discourse and the opinions and statements made in letters are solely those of the individual writers. Readers in the Lake Wales area can send letters and column submissions to letters@lakewalesnews.com or mail them to 140 E. Stuart Ave., Lake Wales, FL 33853.


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Will it be a Grand Hotel or a city park?

Hotel developer files Chapter 7

Local talk ignites as to future of historic hotel

Also responds to local hotel conversation

By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ klberkowitz@heartlandnewspapers.com

It’s been a while since the Grand Hotel has seen her glory days. And discussion has started at the city government level as to her future. Built in 1926 for $600,000,

PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ

The Grand Hotel adorns the skyline of Lake Wales, and commissioners, like many others in town, continue to ask the question as to “what’s up” with the hotel.

By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ

what was an elegant structure has laid in disrepair for decades. In February 2010, the city approved a development agreement with Dixie-Walesbilt LLC for the initial $1.5 million in renovations to the exterior of the 10-story building in downtown. The city had acquired the deteriorating building in December 2007, after citing its previous owner with numerous code violations. Dixie-Walesbilt LLC project manager Ray Brown previously said he planned to build retail space on the ground floor and several condominiums on the upper floors. He also had said the plan is to spend $6 million toward restoring the building to its original 1927 appearance. The 16-month contract between the city and the LLC ended in June 2011. On July 5, 2011, Brown and the LLC took ownership of the building as the city deeded the hotel over to them. Later, he would go before commissioners and tell them that his fund resources and backers had dried up. He was now on his own with the hotel.

klberkowitz@heartlandnewspapers.com

Dixie Walesbilt LLC Project Manager Ray Brown has his opinions as to local “conversation” about the hotel’s future. And there are some things he has struggled with in the course of renovating the Dixie Walesbilt Hotel. A 16-month city contract with Dixie Walesbilt LLC for the initial $1.5 million in renovations ended in June 2011. And by July 2012, he had declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which did not involve the hotel, because it was a separate entity, Dixie Walesbilt LLC. Basically, as he explains it, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy was driven by the fact that he had a 10 percent holding in several properties, of which his partner, Rajesh Arora, was the main stakeholder. “I had some skin in the game,” he said. But when Raj pulled out, he said, the banks came after him, because “Raj is an Indian who lives in Canada,” Brown said. And he is Brown’s personal friend, has been for years, Brown says. The reason Dixie Walesbilt was not included in that

HOTEL | 12

Masterpiece of art Thousands attend Annual Arts Festival By CASSIE JACOBY

cjacoby@heartlandnewspapers.com

Delightful weather helped attract thousands of art lovers to the shores of Lake Wailes for the 43rd Annual Lake Wales Arts Festival on Saturday and

Libby Skala to perform at Polk State College

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bankruptcy, he notes, was because it was jointly owned with his wife, and was a separate LLC. Foreclosures against several of Brown’s properties started in August 2010. This was during the time that Brown had the agreement with the City of Lake Wales Ray Brown (through the LLC) to complete the initial renovations. In a previous interview with Brown, he noted that much of the hotel renovation thus far had been done with “family” money, but did not elaborate. TD Bank NA filed a commercial foreclosure against Raymond Brown LLC, Raymond E. Brown, and two unknown occupants in August 2010, according to Polk County Clerk of Courts records, which also show that TD Bank NA filed the same month against Raymond E. Brown, CenterState Bank of Florida NA, Downtown Ray

FILES | 12

LWHS to offer honors and IB classes only

Sunday, March 8-9. While musicians By BRENDA EGGERT BRADER entertained, children played and fed ice bbrader@heartlandnewspapers.com cream to a 9-foot-tall dinosaur pupClasses at the Lake Wales High pet, nearly 90 artists racked up sales School will become honor and competing for $25,000 in awards. International Baccalaureate (IB) ART | 12 classes through a program being

FAMILY FEATURE

Across fro m Andy’s Ig loo

LIVES TO JUMP Skydiver says he’ll jump again

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phased in at the high school within a three-year time frame, said Principal Donna Dunson. The idea, through previous and continual study and research by Dunson and her staff, is

LWHS | 12

ROYAL RELIEVER Davis back to the bullpen for Royals

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Page 12 The News

HOTEL FROM PAGE 1 Time has passed, and now the conversation as to the hotel’s future has resurfaced. City Manager Ken Fields noted that the hotel in its current condition is a deterrent to building up the downtown area, as “people drive into town and look at that thing, and say why would I want to put a business here?” The decision before city officials is to either make an aggressive move, or give Brown more time to develop his plans. In his State of the City address before the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce recently, Mayor Gene Fultz said that the hotel is both “an icon and an eyesore.” “If it was ever developed, it would be the focal point (downtown),” he said by phone with The Lake Wales News, Monday. He noted that “as I said in my State of the City address,” it looks “like it is going to remain an eyesore for some time to come.” Fultz said the thing for Brown to do is develop a business plan to show that he has financial backing, “in order for us to sit back and let him continue with the remodeling.” “If that doesn’t happen, then the city

FILES FROM PAGE 1 Brown LLC, International Intimate of Kissimmee Inc. and two unknown occupants. In Nov. 2010, TD Bank NA filed another commercial foreclosure for 118 Central Inc., Raymond E. Brown, International Intimate of Kissimmee, Inc. and two unknown occupants. A contract and indebtedness was filed in October 2011 by CenterState Bank of Florida NA against Raymond E. Brown and Central Florida Estates LLC. And another contract and indebtedness was filed by American Express Bank FSB against Raymond Brown and International Intimate of Kissimmee, Inc., records from the Polk County Clerk of Courts show. SunTrust Bank filed against Brown for contract and indebtedness in September 2013. And in February 2013, JP Morgan Chase Bank, National Association, filed a non-homestead resident foreclosure on Raymond E. Brown, CenterState Bank of Florida National Association, Lakewood Community Association, Miranda Meri, SunTrust Bank, an unknown spouse of Raymond E. Brown and two unknown

ART FROM PAGE 1 “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the show turned out,” said Greg Littleton, president of Citizens Bank & Trust, title sponsor of the Festival presented by the Lake Wales Arts council. “We are very proud of our association with the Council and the show itself. I appreciate all of the work done by the volunteers; it really paid off.” Artists received their award ribbons at 3 p.m. on Saturday during a festive parade led by trumpeter Charlie “Topp” Hines, Littleton, Lake Wales Economic Development Director Jim Bell, Festival Chair Pirjo Restina, Council President Barbara Connor, numerous children, the dinosaur puppet and others. Ummarid “Tony” Eitharong won the $4,000 Best of Show; Jeff Eckert won the $2,500 First Place Award for Exceptional Work; Beth Garcia won the $2,500 Award for Exceptional Work; Patricia Karnes,

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 will have to act,” Fultz said. According to previous city meetings, the only way the city could take possession of the hotel is by administering code violations. Discussion has also surfaced of putting a city park in the same spot as the hotel, and tearing down the hotel. Fultz said there was a conceptual drawing that was done a number of years ago, in which there was a city park, “which included the hotel in it. “Even without the hotel, it could still be one of the beautiful places in the city,” Fultz said. Demolition? Is it feasible? Is it affordable for the city? Fields, while not commenting on the name of the company he has spoken with, notes that the answer to both questions is “yes.” The company he spoke with has done extensive demolition, he says. Regarding the money, years ago, commissioners were talking a $2 million figure to tear the building down, according to comments in those meetings by then Mayor Alex Wheeler. Fields said he has received figures that are substantially less than that figure, and within the city’s means to accomplish. “It’s private property, he owns it,” Fields says of Brown. “We have no legal say, on one hand — on the other hand, like any other

private property in the city, it is subject to the city’s codes, we have some regulatory power,” he said, adding that it is a “balancing act.” Fultz said before the Chamber that the key to downtown development is “a firm decision on the future of the Walesbilt Hotel …” noting that “If it can be successfully repurposed, downtown could prosper, but if it can’t, then it must be removed to eliminate blight on the prospects of downtown development.” Fultz also noted by phone with The Lake Wales News this week, that a conceptual drawing of a park needs to be done, “so that the public can see what is possible, instead of talking about tearing it down.” Jim Bell, the city’s EDC director, who is stepping down at the end of March to retire, notes that in the city’s 2008 development plan, even then, “it was addressed as a key issue.” “Either it needs to be fully developed, or it needs to be eliminated.” Bell said it is going to take a lot of money, but adds he’s not sure with the present economy, that it would be sustainable. “My hope is that everyone in the city can reach a common agreement, that’s to develop or to tear it down, that everyone gets on board with the decision and not have a divide in the city,” he said.

“I can understand all the sentiment of that building, those born and raised in here their whole life,” Bell said. “Sometimes you just have to be realistic about these things, and don’t let your emotions get in the way of making a good business.” Alex Wheeler, former city mayor, notes that his first advice to Brown, is “if you put a nice paint job on the outside of the building, it will shut a lot of people up.” He notes other cities have fixed up their hotels. Florida State College had dorms in the old Avon Park Hotel, and the same thing in Haines City, he said. “I thought it would be great for student dorms or staff offices,” he said. “I know what he is doing,” Wheeler said of Brown. “He’s working on it from the inside out. It isn’t very sexy to fix the plumbing, but you’ve got to have that to do anything else,” he adds. “How that hotel goes is how downtown Lake Wales will go,” Wheeler notes. “I kind of get the feeling that Brown’s kind of on his own. This is going to take a community effort.” As for demolition, he adds, “in order to demolish it, you would have to blow every window in town out.” As it is now, however, he notes, “people drive by and all they see is paint falling off the wall.”

tenants. In short, Brown said Tuesday morning that everything he had went into the bankruptcy. The International Intimate business was closed, he noted. But what does this have to do with the hotel in Lake Wales? A few months ago, Brown went before commissioners and told them his financial backing had disappeared, and as was the case with his previous dealings with Arora, Brown said that banks do not pursue those who live outside the United States (Raj lives in Canada), so they came after Brown. Arora also held a large interest in the Dixie Walesbilt LLC. Brown held 10 percent and was the project manager. “My job was to do the work,” he said. Brown notes that the economy had affected his friend’s business interests, just like it had everyone else across the world, and that he does not fault Arora for pulling out of the project. “Christianity is to forgive,” he noted, in an interview with The Lake Wales News, Tuesday. And Brown is disturbed by the latest conversation regarding the hotel — that the city would repossess the building and tear it down. He notes he has been asked why he doesn’t walk away from the hotel

project, and he notes that he is not one who walks away. “It’s not so much the building, as the general economy and the economy related to real estate. I knew the downturn would affect it, but typically the downturns in America have been like 16-18 month downturns. This downturn has been a lot longer and more severe,” he said. He says that the economy has returned, and that now, the “numbers make sense.” He said he could rehab the hotel for about $6 million originally, but thinks with careful material purchasing and cutting labor costs, in addition to reducing the amount of deconstruction before reconstruction, he could hit the $4 million mark. At some point in a couple of weeks, he may have an announcement he said, regarding financial support for the hotel, but he would not elaborate on that at this time, he notes. Does he feel the city is still supportive of him, in light of what he has heard lately —tearing down the hotel for a city park? “I can understand some people might be becoming impatient, but the building has been sitting empty for 25 years and nobody has made any effort to either fix up the building or

tear it down. Nobody has dedicated one dollar or one hour of time toward that. So toward that degree, I don’t understand any impatience. The economy made it almost not practical to fix up the building. I knew that time would pass and the numbers now work.” “The valuations you would get from rent exceed the cost of construction and they exceed them to the point that it allows for a comfortable margin,” he said. “The money people are always the driver. As I secure the money, that dictates the schedule and the build-out plan,” he said. “I plan on letting everybody know as soon as the other parties are comfortable disclosing it,” he said. Brown also says that those who have criticized the hotel have not spent any time there. Regarding those who support tearing the hotel down, he notes, “There is money involved in eminent domain, there is money involved in the demolition side of it, there is money involved in the liability of the dust fallout, and then because of the federal building across the street, I just don’t know if it is at all possible. So you’re talking several millions of dollars that I am not aware the city has, to get nothing in return.”

Daniel Merzetta, Rolly Ray Reel and Marilyn Vaillancourt each won the $1,000 Award of Excellence; Jason Hunt, Gregory Jones, Carol Napoli, Paul Stevens and Jean Yao each won the $500 Award of Distinction; James Loftus, Ynon Mabat, Michael Mikula, Xiao Xia Zhang Minich and Judith Wood each won the $300 Award of Merit; Xiao Xia Zhang Minich also won the new $500 Peoples’ Choice Award; and Cathy Futral won the $400 Helen Aufford Award selected and presented by the Lake Wales Historic Society. Judges were Les Slesnick and Nancy Adams, both from Orlando area. A team of volunteers led by Restina, Festival chair for the second year, worked untold hours throughout the previous year to prepare for the mammoth event. “It shows how a small team of dedicated people supported by individuals and businesses can move mountains,” Restina commented. “We set our goals and worked together to bring them to fruition. What a gratifying experience!”

LWHS FROM PAGE 1 fostered with the discovery that all children, no matter their genetic make-up, background or current status can achieve well beyond even their own expectations. Eventually it is the goal of the school to offer only “classes in IB and honors will give everyone the highest education only to expand high academic offerings,” Dunson said. “We want to give all students the highest education possible,” Dunson said. “We used to refer to the classes as having three tracks, IB, honor and regular. No one wants to have a regular education and they all can do it (the work). Some students may not be pushed by their parents, but that is where it starts, we all have to work at it.” Amid an abundance of research that is going on by Dunson and her staff into creating the program, two established programs have been looked at including one based

on the program and book, “The Freedom Writers Diary,” with teacher Erin Gruwell who, in California, worked with 150 teens who used writing to change themselves and the world around them at the beginning of her teaching career; and “Detracking for Excellence and Equity” by Carol Corbett Burris and Delia Garrity. Much, much research is going into this program. Dunson says the new program, dubbed “Operation Crank It Up,” will be pinched and poked and discussed and investigated and considered by all those at stake, including parental input. “We have to help the parents understand and get them without lowering expectations,” Dunson said. Classes will begin with English and history, for these classes are easier to begin (the program) with,” Dunson said. “Students in ‘regular’ classes have found that students in honors seem to want their education more,” Schick said. “They know what to do.”


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Wednesday March 26, 2014

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Hotel developer has not given up Mayor urges commission to discuss the future By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ

Hotel developer Ray Brown, in order to find out what his plan for the hotel’s future is and to encourage them in any way they could. According to Kevin Respress, co-director of the Business, Civic, and Ministry Coalition, those present in the meeting urged Brown to come up with a plan.

klberkowitz@heartlandnewspapers.com

And the Grand Hotel discussion continues. A small group of ministers, friends, and the former economic development council director, Jim Bell, met with Grand

New director to take B Street Center to a new level

And he notes, that the group did not see that. “Our whole purpose of meeting with him was to help him bring his plan to the community,” Respress said. “He had some stuff together, but there

Ray Brown, the project manager and owner of the Grand Hotel has his eyes on finishing the project, he notes. But HOTEL | 12 there is much to consider in the process.

Former local climbs the ladder on ‘The Voice’ By AUDREY BLACKWELL staff writer

By BRENDA EGGERT BRADER

bbrader@heartlandnewspapers.com

Josh Kaufman, 38, is making waves on TV’s “The Voice”; sound waves, that is, and successful ones at that. He beat Austin Ellis Monday night, March 24, during a battle on the song “Happy.” Kaufman lived in Venice the first five years of his life and moved to Lake Wales with his mother. He now lives in Indianapolis with his wife and three children. His dad, Mark, had played football and was a wrestler at Venice High School. His dad and stepmother, Doris, live in North Port and own MK Roofing in Englewood. They are very excited about Josh’s success on “The Voice.” “I’m not getting much sleep lately,” Mark Kaufman said on March 25, noting the win Josh had over Austin. There was excitement in his voice. “My wife and I are going out to L.A. this weekend,” he said. “The

LaToya Davis-Craig has her priorities in mind and her goals in hand to tackle the leadership of the B Street Community Center. Taking the reins from former director Clinton Horne, Davis-Craig is pursuing the now part-time position with gusto. “I plan to LaToya Davis-Craig, reintroduce the executive director community to the of the B Street center and make Community Center. sure what the center is offering is properly filling the needs,” Davis-Craig said. “My goal is to leave the organization in a better financial state. “I think it is a gem of a place,” DavisCraig said. “With community support, I think we can flourish.” Davis-Craig says the center offers

PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC

Josh Kaufman, who lived in Venice and still has family in the area, continues to advance on

VOICE | 12 TV’s “The Voice.”

DIRECTOR | 12

Shooting sends one to hospital staff report A Lake Wales man was sent to the hospital and is in critical condition after being shot in a fight which had escalated this weekend, according to Lake Wales Police. According to reports, on Sunday, shortly before 2 a.m., Jamelle Rashard Smith, 26, of 134 C St., Lake Wales, was in a fight with

Andrae Deron Pittman, 33, of Lake Wales. The incident occurred on Dr. J.A. Wiltshire Boulevard, just east of D Street in Lake Wales. Police say the fight escalated when Smith pulled out a gun and shot Pittman multiple times. Pittman was airlifted due to his injuries, reports say. Police note he has undergone surgery and is in critical condition.

OUTTA HERE

SHOOTING | 12 Jamelle Rashard Smith

SOFTBALL

EASTER EGGS

Warner fires football staff

Page

Reports say Smith turned himself in shortly after the shooting. He was arrested and charged with attempted first degree murder. He is currently in the Polk County Jail. Police say Smith has a history of breaking the law, to include charges of throwing or shooting a deadly missile into a dwelling or vehicle and

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New egg hunt at Our Children’s Academy

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Lady Highlanders take measure off McKeel

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Page 12 The News

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

VOICE FROM PAGE 1 show today (March 25) ends the battle rounds. Then there’s another round. The show runs through May and there will be more battles for Josh. He still has to qualify. I guess he’s in until he loses or wins it.” Josh has been singing since he was four years old. “We used to sing together in church,” Mark said. “I played guitar and we’d both sing. He sings now in small places around Indiana. You can watch the shows (“The Voice”) on YouTube.” Josh’s Facebook page on March 25 said he has a band called “The New Etiquette.” In a recent note, he said thank you a bunch of times to his fans for their support and kind words and for “pushing my recording up into the top 100 on the iTunes pop chart.” Josh fan Phil Ackerman wrote: “This is just the beginning Josh! Keep The Voice amazed and hypnotized by singing your heart out, brother. The best is yet to come! You have been given a gift Josh, just keep on using it!” Doris Kaufman said: “It’s so exciting. This has been a passion of his all his life COURTESY PHOTO and to see him doing so well. … We’re Josh Kaufman, center, is flanked by his stepmom Doris and dad, Mark, during a recent weekend visit between singing battles on NBC’s “The Voice.” so proud of him.

DIRECTOR FROM PAGE 1 services, clothing, food and help to those in need with a food pantry on Wednesdays, providing meetings facilities and rentals, exercise programs, nutrition information, individual counseling and a summer youth program of arts and education. Computer classes are held in six-week sessions for beginners through advanced for $23 for the six weeks or you can pay per class. For a lot of the things it is just a matter of getting the word out. A Community Fair is planned at the center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 12 with entertainment, children’s activities and various services including a yard sale as the fundraising component, Davis-Craig said.

HOTEL FROM PAGE 1 is a difference between a plan and a theory.” Respress noted that Brown needed to advise how he was going to get the financing for the hotel, what it was going to look like, who was going to be involved, the cost of doing the project, and then a detailed phase of the steps it would take to work this new plan, which is different from the original. In previous interviews with The Lake Wales News, Brown said he had the figures for renovation down to $4 million. He said he could save on the material cost of things. But Respress said that wasn’t enough for the group who has been urging Brown to be vocal with the community. “I’m not anti-Ray, I’m not anti-hotel, I just don’t know what to do without a plan,” Respress said. He says Brown had said he needs more time, and noted that he feels “in a nutshell, you are about out of time.” “It’s a big deal to economic development,” Respress said. “Most of what he had was the original plans from a few years back. There was really not a lot that we could do to help him,” he adds. As to the $4 million figure, Respress said, “ the point was — whether 4 or 6, or 2, it’s still not a plan, it’s a theory. All of that stuff is not bad, but it is still not a plan.” Jim Way, minister with Capernaum Inn Ministries, was in attendance at the meeting, along with Respress, Bell and the Rev. Roscoe Williams.

Davis-Craig holds a PhD degree in arts administration with her BA degree in business administration. She has attended both Florida A&M and Florida State University. Her career has included work in the community organization foundation field and brings grant-writing skills together with community-building arts. “I did grants in Tallahassee for a nonprofit resource center helping to start pretty much what we do here,” DavisSmith said. “The community can build the arts that can build the community.” She shares plans that the foundation has for an expansion project for which she will apply for funding and hopefully receive. “We want to increase the size to have a community police section, conference rooms to rent and an early childhood development center,” Davis-Craig said. “We now have a multipurpose room.”

Davis-Craig was selected by the B Street board’s personnel committee with Horne helping with that selection process, along with Lake Wales Charter Schools Superintendent Jesse Jackson who is a consultant on the board and a member of the personnel committee, Horne said. The Mountain Lake Service Organization that gives grants has agreed to pay for the part-time director for one year. “She came to the top (of those interviewed) and said she would roughly work for the price we offered,” Horne said. “Her arrival will free me up for hunting finances (for the center). We needed someone to take us to the next level.” Davis-Craig has performed this kind of work before and “we thought she would be perfect,” Horne said. She began her position on Feb. 17. “We feel she is a good mix in the

“Yes, I was in the meeting. I was there as a minister. Roscoe was there as a minister. It was a meeting to encourage Ray to try to help the city, the people in the city understand what he is doing so they can embrace what he is doing. That is what it was about,” Way said. “He has to be honest and truthful with Lake Wales,” he notes. “He needs to embrace the community and be transparent and open to the community,” Way added. Jim Bell offered his thoughts on the meeting. “I have met with Ray Brown several times over the last several months,” Bell said. “Ray is a friend. You know, he has a passion for that hotel. I’m just not thinking that he can get the money that it would take to re-do that hotel. I think there is a great possibility that hotel can create a huge divide here in the city. My prayer is that Ray and the city commission can come to some type of neutral agreement and then everybody march forward, whatever that decision is, everyone get on the same wave length and make it happen. I just see a lot of potential for a lot of grief in the city. You need to either fix that thing right, or we need to tear it down and put a nice park in a good spot in the city.” Bell says that the last meeting they had was “a cordial meeting.” “Both sides had a little passion for what they believed. That’s life. We started the meeting with a prayer, we ended the meeting with a prayer. We were all in fellowship there, discussing a serious issue for the city and the community. But we all left on good terms. I don’t know how Ray is going to take that, if he’s going to continue on trying to get a plan, get the money together, to press on with rebuilding. I don’t know.

I would guess that he would. He is a nice guy. I like him as a friend,” says Bell. Ray Brown, by phone Tuesday, notes he has never given up on the hotel. “Now it is coming together with a good plan and good numbers … finally things are coming together and I feel good about that,” he said. Meanwhile, in last Tuesday’s city commission meeting, Mayor Gene Fultz urged commissioners to start considering the hotel discussion. Two commissioners had questions about the way the city is talking about the future of the hotel, Mike Carter and Christopher Lutton. One thing mentioned was why was the city going after the hotel project, when it doesn’t go after other such projects and business owners in the city. According to Fultz, he said Monday a workshop will be planned to discuss the issue, what power the city may have over the future of the hotel and as to what plan to take. The options at hand being to renovate or tear it down. City Manager Ken Fields said in a commission meeting he had gathered figures that show it would be plausible to tear the hotel down, and well within the city means to do it, but that it would have to come to discussion with the commission. Respress notes he agrees with the mayor that someone needs to challenge Brown to bring the plan to the city. “To me, he hasn’t showed anything that shows a plan.” Fultz notes, “There is an outcry in the community. Many are saying we want to see it developed because it truly could be the centerpiece of the city.” He adds, however, “the other half is saying get rid of the thing.”

community and outside the organization as well,” Horne said. “Not only with the center activities, but she is good working with people that could be supportive.”

B Street Background Because no main consistent source of dependable funding seems available for the center, members Horne and Albert Hawkins provided continual volunteer services for the Green and Gold Foundation that included the center at that time in 1998. Horne entered into performing executive director duties in 2001 when the B Street current facility was opened, the same year that the Green and Gold Foundation and the B Street Community Center split, now two groups. Limited funds have been available from the city, Horne said.

SHOOTING FROM PAGE 1 multiple criminal traffic arrests. This investigation is ongoing as detectives attempt to identify other persons and possible witnesses involved. Anyone having information on the shooting is asked to call Det. Alvin Maultsby at 863-678-4223, ext. 265 or Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477.

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City manager: Hotel plan needed now ‘The lack of progress can no longer be ignored’

By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ

klberkowitz@heartlandnewspapers.com

Why the Grand Hotel is still ugly When I first started thinking about working here in Polk County, I was spending a lot of time in Bartow, meeting with the former owner of The Polk County Democrat and The Lake Wales News, S.L. Frisbie. It was time for me to go check out the City of Lake Wales. I asked S.L. how to get here from there. “Just head east on State Road 60 until you see this big, giant ugly building. It used to be a hotel. It’s the first thing you see when you get close to the city,” he said. The beginning of that sentence has stuck with me all of these years. It’s the first thing you see … Well, it’s still the first thing you see when you are trying to find Lake Wales. That’s a problem for those of us who live here and for the folks who might consider living and working here. Why? Because ugly doesn’t sell. People make many decisions based on their first impressions and the Grand Hotel makes a pretty bad first impression. Everyone has been talking about the hotel lately and on the surface it looks like things are happening that might force somebody’s hand to do something. City Manager Ken Fields wants to send the current hotel owner a letter saying that if he doesn’t have a plan and real financing soon then the city might start issuing code violations on the building, forcing the developer to bring it up to snuff or give it back to the city. Lake Wales Mayor Eugene Fultz says he is behind that idea. In fact, he recently

HOTEL | 12

When Mayor Gene Fultz said at a recent commission meeting that “it was time” for the commissioners to start considering the future of the Grand Hotel, he was serious. And according to a May 20 letter to hotel developer Ray Brown from City Manager Ken

Fields, it appears that the time has come for serious hotel discussion — and it took place at Tuesday’s city commission meeting. Need more room for Bok Academy But first, the city heard from Lake Wales Charter School Superintendent Jesse Jackson, who sought the commission’s buy-in to begin talks about expanding Bok Academy by taking

Lake Wales’ Kaufman Kaufman wins

competes on The Voice

of his mother, newspapers.com Beth Gilbert. Steven Darr of Warner Music is in his University, a music great blood, one might with his own name and say. following, remembers Gilbert And it was as she was in his show Tuesday choir at Warner, the Young night as Josh Americans. Kaufman had “She was in that group, the winning mega-talented, lots of voice. The personality,” he said. 38-year-old Gilbert would sing with from team Kaufman or write material Usher was for him to sing. crowned the “I remember her lifting season six him up on the grand piano winner of and handing him the microNBC’s “The phone,” he said. Voice.” “He was just totally unafKaufman fected by the world around showed his him. He just sang so naturally, characteristic it was such a joy.” confidence His mother obtained her and talent, PHOTO PROVIDED BY JOSH KAUFMAN degree in music from Warner. while also Suncoast-born Josh Kaufman has sung his way into Darr says Kaufman has a bringing very “natural voice styling, a fame to the the final three contestants on The Voice. contemporary feel,” adding place where that “there’s just a warm tone, he is so gifted he went to school, Lake Wales. vocally, he can do all those things.” “It was a lot of nerves and heart-racing But Kaufman was also very humble, he and it felt like forever,” Kaufman said noted. during a post-show press conference Gilbert admits her son has a confidence. Tuesday. “I think that was an inborn thing. He’s Kaufman relished his triumph over always been a perfectionist in everything previous winners Adam Levine and Blake he did. Even as a little kid, he always got Shelton. confirmation from his teacher,” but adds, He joked that the Maroon 5 frontman “It was never a cockiness.” was likely “behind the stage counting She says music runs in their blood, it’s votes.” And the hometown folks remember Kaufman well, for his talent, and also that VOICE | 12

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Man accused of stealing Purple Heart honor By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ

By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ

Right food choices can help with hunger

PROGRESS | 12

klberkowitz@heartlandnewspapers.com

klberkowitz@heartland-

EATING AGAIN?

over the Hardman Hall Complex. The idea, Jackson notes, is to eliminate or lessen the long waiting list of more than 400 names for children who would like to attend Bok Academy. The Lake Wales Charter School is seeking state and federal funding for the endeavor, if the commission gives the nod to discussion.

FOR FIDO TOO Making right choices important for your dog, too

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On Veteran’s Day last year, a special bus hit the road, one that would bring honor to those who paid a high price for serving their country: Purple Heart veterans. But this week, it has been discovered that one of the veterans whose photo was on the side of the bus, Ed Cameron of Lake Wales, is — a fake — that he did not have a Purple Heart, according to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2420. According to Tom Phillips, head of the Polk Transit Authority, when Polk County decided to become a Purple Heart county, PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH Transit wantBERKOWITZ ed to do a promotional Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2420 Commander Ed Cameron piece for Purple Heart was 17 years old when he enlisted in the Marines. Three veterans. The buses years ago, he retired with the in the Citrus rank of major. Connection are purchased by the Board of County Commissioners, but they are run by the Citrus Connection, under the auspices of the Polk Transit Authority. So, when Phillips got word from the office of Polk County Commissioner Melony Bell that Cameron was not a recipient of the Purple Heart, his first reaction was “at this

HEART | 12

ON THE ROAD You won’t be alone this Memorial Day weekend

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Page 12 The News

VOICE FROM PAGE 1 true. “We’re from a very singing family. My mom was a music teacher and a great soprano,” she said. Her father also sang. “Music has been in the house since day one,” she added. Gilbert said working with The Voice production has been fun. “They’ve been really good each week, about flying two of the family members out,” she said. Did she think her little boy would take his music this far? “I always felt like the talent was there. But in the music business, it’s all about that break. He’s been singing in little clubs and coffee shops,” she said. She said her son was not going to audition for The Voice, but his wife encouraged him to do that. “She said, ‘No, you do it, you go,’” Gilbert said. Darr adds he feels “very honored” to have been part of Kaufman’s life in his younger years. There are others who remember Kaufman. Randy Portwood had him as a second-grade student.

HEART FROM PAGE 1 point, it is an accusation.” The bus at that time, was literally, he says, “Out on the street picking up passengers.” But soon, they had the verification they needed, and the bus was pulled, long enough to apply the face of another veteran — a true Purple Heart recipient. “We did keep it on the road one day after we knew he was a verified fraud,” Phillips said, adding “the other four veterans certainly didn’t do anything wrong.” Phillips did receive phone calls from other people wanting to nominate their loved one for the spot on the outside of the bus, but he said he would forward those requests to the county. But Phillips is greatly troubled. He learned that people had been bringing the concern to the county for at least a few months, he said. He notes he wishes that Transit had been made aware of the issue sooner. The bus was then sent back to Digitype Graphics and another veteran was applied. “I feel like we are collateral damage to this man’s lie,” Phillips said, noting that if

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 He was at South Lake Wales Church of God, and he remembers how Gilbert would put her little boy on the piano. “He always had roles in plays and musicals,” he said. “He was just a great, great kid. Very studious, happy. He came up through the schools from Babson Park Elementary to McLaughlin Middle School, to Lake Wales High School,” he adds. Kaufman stood out, he said. “He had a lot of confidence, a lot of presence, but at the same time was a kid, had a big grin, always easy going and not nervous.” Years ago, Kaufman also competed in Star Search with Ed McMahon, he said. He notes that kids get a lot of musical training in churches, especially small churches. “At that time, Warner was really known for their musical education,” he adds. And then there is Kami Schulze, who performed with Kaufman and others in the group at Lake Wales High School known as “Natural High,” a show choir. Schulze said Gilbert was their choir director at the high school, and often the music they performed was not ordered, but something she had created. They performed all over town, and at Mountain Lake, Bok Tower Gardens. The ensemble consisted of around 12 students, not including the Cameron, (who Phillips says was last in Arizona, according to VFW records) ever surfaces, he’d like to send him the bill for the recovering of the bus. “The intent of the bus was to honor courageous men and to have a coward on the bus sent the exact opposite message,” he said. The fix cost somewhere between $400$500, with the original wrap nearly $3,000. Phillips says he feels like the bus is still a source of pride and will continue to be a source of pride for the veterans in the community. “He’s disgraced himself,” he said, adding, “It’s just not fair, to anybody involved.” Polk County Commissioner Melony Bell said Cameron’s actions were “so un-American and so unpatriotic,” adding “What does he gain from it?” “As a county, how do we make sure that doesn’t happen again?” she said, noting that the Purple Heart DD214 was actually his father’s, not his. But this is a punishable crime, if the courts pursue the matter and can prove that Ed Cameron Jr. falsified his Purple Heart status. “We are gathering all the information that we have and we are turning it over to Jerry Hill’s office, (the State Attorney). I think it is our responsibility to turn it over.

HOTEL FROM PAGE 1 said he would consider tearing the hotel down and putting a park in its place. Other folks, like local resident Reid Hardman, think that the hotel should be saved and have proposed putting together a community committee or steering committee to help guide the developer. Hardman says the developer has a new architect who will produce drawings that show what the hotel will look like when completed. Is that enough? We shall see. It is important to know how we got here: • Years ago, the hotel was going concern. It was part of a vibrant downtown scene. Then, after a succession of owners, it died. It sat, decaying and unused for years until the City of Lake Wales started levying code violations. The fines were so high that the former owner gave the building back to the city. • The city held on to the building for a while and then asked for proposals from developers. The city picked a group headed by Winter Haven developer Ray Brown. He is still the owner. • Brown took possession of the building and the city commission gave him a contract that said if he spent $1.5 million on the building, he could own it outright. The contract did not

PHOTO PROVIDED TO THE LAKE WALES NEWS

Josh Kaufman, second row from bottom, blue shirt, boy on the far left side, has a long history of music and performing. Here, he poses for a class picture at Dale R. Fair Babson Park Elementary, “Home of the Gnats.” instrumentalists. “Even at that age he was really good,” she said, noting, “He comes from a very talented mother, she wrote songs that we actually sang.” “He was very flashy, very confident. … He was lots of fun,” Schulze said.

“When I saw him on The Voice, I said, ‘Are you kidding me now?’” for she realized it was her old school chum. “He was just so fun, laughing. I can remember all of us sitting around us singing, and you see all the runs that he does, that is just him,” she said.

We spent a lot of money for that bus to ride around with his photo on it,” she said. Ironically, Phillips notes that all of Polk County’s 60,000 veterans can ride the Citrus Connection for free if they produce documentation of their military status. “If Ed Cameron had tried to board the bus, even though his image is on the side of the bus, he would have had to pay a fare to ride instead,” said Phillips, because the very document that he allegedly would not produce in Lake Wales is the one which would have admitted him free to ride. Cameron’s trouble started in Lake Wales, when according to VFW Post Commander Gerald Menard, a Vietnam vet and outgoing commander of the post, had pressed Cameron to provide proof of his military service, the DD214. Menard said that Cameron never did provide the proof, and that one day, he called him on it in a meeting, and Cameron said he was not going to be questioned. Cameron left the post, Menard said. But then the American Legion in Phoenix, Ariz., called Lake Wales to find out about a new member there — Ed Cameron. They had his papers, and that is when those papers made their way back to the VFW. Some time later, the Arizona American

Legion sent a discharge form to the Lake Wales VFW, Cameron’s form, which stated, Menard said, that he served three months in the Marines, had no medals, and never served overseas, and was discharged under honorable conditions. Menard said he had “lots of help” from various Post members, both in Lake Wales and elsewhere, to verify that this information was true. He says that Cameron’s father received the Purple Heart in WWII, according to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor website. “It sickens me that he is walking amongst veterans who deserve the rightful due as far as serving their country,” Menard said of Ed Cameron Jr. “He flaunted enough to get his picture on the side of the bus with the recipients,” he said. “He had us all buffaloed. He walked the walk and he talked the talk. When he put on his uniform, it was 100 percent correct. He had us all fooled,” said Menard. Efforts by The Lake Wales News to reach Cameron for comment through the American Legion in Phoenix have been unsuccessful, as of yet. Cameron is also the former commander of the VFW Post 2420.

require the developer to actually show receipts or anything, he basically just had to say he did spend that amount. He either spent the $1.5 million or said he did. We just don’t know. • The contract that the city awarded Brown is a great contract — for him. There are no real mileposts or conditions that he has to do anything except own the building. The city’s staff and political leadership failed us at that time. They could have asked for the contract to have conditions or penalties if construction did not follow a reasonable path. Some folks asked them to do so. The City Commission and the staff member in charge of economic development at the time said no. • In the time since, a little work has been done on the building, the developer lost his financial backers and filed bankruptcy. We now have a different city manager, the job of economic development has been outsourced to the Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce and much of the leadership on the commission has changed. This new talk of a new plan offers a little ray of hope in what has become a story without many bright spots. If what Hardman says is true and there is new financing coming forward, then maybe Brown and his friends can stop the city from playing hardball. I would love to be able to say, when directing someone new to our city, “Hey, just head down 60 until you see this big, beautiful hotel building. It’s the first thing you see when you get close to the city.”

PROGRESS FROM PAGE 1 Acquisition of the buildings would need to take place in order to qualify for the funds hence, they would have to be school facilities. But unlike Bok Academy’s present location, what the Charter Schools would like to do is give preference to the children who live near the complex on East Seminole Avenue — about 300 students. Currently, Bok Academy gives preference to children with family at the school and children who have family who work at Bok. The commission moved to hold a public workshop so the public could also support and have their concerns heard. Fines threatened The letter to the hotel developer Fields was seeking approval from the commission to send the letter to Brown. The letter was on the city website last week. Brown has 30 days “to submit a satisfactorily detailed plan for its redevelopment” to the city or “the city will initiate code enforcement action against the property.” Fields notes the city “has patiently

waited” on “evidence of significant progress on its redevelopment into a functional property.” The letter Fields wrote acknowledges that although economic conditions at the time Brown managed the building in 2008 were not good, “in today’s economic climate the lack of progress can no longer be ignored.” The Walesbilt Hotel was conveyed to Dixie Walesbilt LLC in 2008 and the city manager says that Brown must produce a written renovation plan which includes proposed use(s) analysis of total construction costs, construction schedule and “sources and evidence of firm funding for all activities,” according to the letter. If Brown does not comply within 30 days, then the city will aggressively move to enforce all the city’s building and maintenance codes that apply to a project of that size, the city manager said. Fields notes if Brown does comply, the city will assist in the progress of the hotel’s redevelopment. “However, the city will also take whatever steps are necessary to eliminate any blight in the downtown area if redevelopment of the property is not possible.” For updates, see the lakewalesnews. com, as the final discussion took place after Tuesday’s press deadline.


Page 4

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Viewpoint

City has right idea about the hotel

At a recent meeting of the Lake Wales City Commission the Grand Hotel developer, Ray Brown, received a reprieve from the city’s threat to start issuing code violations on the building. The city was seeking to force Brown to either work on the building or give it back to the city. Brown, facing that threat, showed up at the meeting with a couple of associates and an architect. They said they had formed a committee and the architect would draw up plans and then things would get moving. Before the meeting one of Brown’s associates came to the paper and said that a new investor would speak at the meeting. We heard Brown, Reid Hardman and Rusty Ingley tell the commission they had formed a committee to help Brown with the project. But we did not hear any of them say they were the investor. City Manager Ken Fields was ready to send Brown a letter saying that he had 30 days to come up with a plan and show that he had financing for the project. The commission agreed, after hearing from the committee, to give Brown until October to come up with a new plan.

Our Viewpoint City Commissioner Chris Lutton didn’t like the idea of giving Brown an ultimatum. “That is not the government’s purview to ask what you’re doing, how you’re doing something, what your financing is, what your construction costs are,” he said. “I have no problem, if he’s in violation of some kind of code, to make him jump through hoops as far as making it more presentable at the street level,” Lutton said. “I think we’re crossing the line ... getting into private businesses.” We understand Lutton’s reluctance to have the city get into the affairs of a private business but he is wrong. It is his and the commission’s job to make sure Ray Brown does what he told the city he would more than four years ago when the city handed over ownership of the building. Lutton would be correct if the city was just randomly singling out private businesses and threatening them with the seizure of their property if the owners didn’t comply with a city request.

In this case, Brown was given public property at a severe discount with the promise that he would renovate the building. He told the citizens of Lake Wales that he had financial backing. The commission’s job is to look out for the interests of its citizens. The Grand Hotel deal was more than just a sale of city property to a private developer. It was a public/ private partnership where both parties promised to do certain things. Mayor Gene Fultz and Fields should be commended for forcing Brown’s hand on the hotel project. This is the type of leadership that Lake Wales needs on this issue — fair but forceful. The commission acted wisely when it gave Brown until October to come up with a viable construction plan and show that he has the financial backing to accomplish the renovation. The hotel committee has good intentions and it would be great for the downtown area if the group is able to help Brown move the project along. It is a good sign, however, that the city appears ready to do what is necessary in the interests of its citizens.

Letters to the editor

Our children don’t need a fixer-upper middle school Editor: I challenge the notion that the Lake Wales Charter School District needs another middle school campus in the Lake Wales area. Local taxpayers have already paid for a fully-accredited facility and staff at McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy. Now comes a proposal from the LW Charter School District for a third middle school campus at the site of the long-retired, city-owned 1919 Building, the former Lake Wales Junior and Senior High School complex. (The numbers are not the street address but

the vintage.) This would be in addition to the Bok Academy middle school, located five miles south of town on Crooked Lake. Do we really need this make-shift approach to our children’s education? I think not. This proposal is more about claiming state funding for the Charter District while putting its proposed students in a substandard facility. And there are other 1919 Building problems, such as state facility standards and accrediting, not to mention traffic and safety. That McLaughlin is part of the Polk

PETTUS | 5

What is the President waiting for? Editor, I am upset that we are not helping our veterans. We need full page on what’s happened in our VA Hospital? And why is the President waiting for another I.G. Investigation? I can go on

and on but I am not great at writing, what I am feeling. JOHN CASTELLI, Ret. American Soldier U.S.A.F. Lake Wales

Tea Party stands by Gov. Rick Scott

Rick Scott rode into the governor’s mansion on a campaign funded by $70 million of his own money and the help of the anti-establishment tea party. He wooed them. He professed to Editor, Run Silent Run Deep and many more share their views, their philosophy and I can’t help but to reminisce about the which titles now escape my memory. I their disdain for the special interests. time when I was a growing boy in Cuba. admired H. Bogart, J. Wayne, T. Power, He boldly exclaimed on the night of That was the time I started realizing J. Stewart and many other Hollywood his primary-election victory that the what was going on around me in my actors … They were real heroes in my Tallahassee insiders, aka the McCollum lifetime … World War II had started in young mind. supporters, would be crying in their 1939 and it didn’t end until I reached I remember being told and learncocktails. The tea party approved. my early teens. ing that when the United States was Within weeks, if not days, of being I learned from my mother and other threatened or in any kind of danger, all elected, those same insiders were his elder family members that Cuba was Americans from the president to the fundraisers, his confidants and his inin full support of the military efforts of congress to the very last citizen, united augural chairmen. The tea party didn’t the United States of America. I was told under the same flag and fought the seem to care. that some of our guys had joined the adversary until the final victory. Scott signed his first budget at a American forces fighting the evil Axis. I myself sadly lived through some corchurch in The Villages, a retirement I remember playing with my friends rupted democratic Cuban administracommunity in Lake, Marion and Sumter in my backyard, in Havana, pretending tions, an abusive military dictatorship counties that is a bastion of tea party to be an American soldier … I rememand the introduction of a communist activity. At the signing, he decried the ber watching movies of military actions special interests and the shortsighted, as Sahara, Bataan and Return to Bataan, GUERRA | 5

When I was a growing boy ...

Paula Dockery Political Ponderings Paula Dockerycan be contacted at pdockery@floridavoices.com frivolous, wasteful spending. The tea party was elated. Scott cut the education budget by $1.3 billion. He vetoed more than $615 million, although $300 million was land-acquisition spending authority, not real dollars. The tea party lauded him for making the tough decisions. The tea party, sincere in their desire to curb government spending, credited Scott with balancing the budget as

DOCKERY | 5

We welcome your letters Letters are welcome on virtually any subject, but we do have some rules. Please keep them to less than 250 words. Letters will be edited to length as well as grammar and spelling. All letters must be signed with full name — not initials. An address and telephone number must be included. The phone number and address are not for publication, but must be provided. The Letters to the Editor section is designed as a public forum for community discourse and the opinions and statements made in letters are solely those of the individual writers. Readers in the Lake Wales area can send letters and column submissions to letters@lakewalesnews.com or mail them to 140 E. Stuart Ave., Lake Wales, FL 33853.


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No word yet on Grand Hotel financing By BRENDA EGGERT BRADER bbrader@heartlandnewspapers.com

Our kids know the way to make new friends We humans work real hard sometimes to separate ourselves from one another. We live in a world where we build walls instead of bridges and are prevented from seeing how alike we really are. Sometimes the wrecking ball that breaks down those walls can be as light as a plastic water bottle. A few nights back my son Cooper asked me to take him fishing. He has become something of an avid fisherman lately. We go down to the dock on Lake Wailes and fish for whatever will bite our hooks. We don’t really know what we are doing but we have a great time. We don’t keep the fish, we just like hanging out together and relaxing. Coop has mixed feels about fishing. He loves the anticipation of catching something but seems conflicted about the whole hook in the mouth thing. One night he turned to me and said, “You know those sick people who put razor blades and needles in the candy at Halloween? Well, that’s who we are to the fish.” So when we catch a fish, Cooper looks at it and says, “Don’t worry, we aren’t going to kill you” and we throw it back into Lake Wailes. But this night we weren’t catching anything. We ran out of bait and were using hot dogs.

Yet another reprieve has been granted the resolution of the Grand Hotel by the Lake Wales City Commission during Tuesday night’s commission meeting. Ray Brown, the building’s owner, Reid Hardman

Toddler dies on Halloween night; fund started

by the city commission on May 20. The October date came and went with the absence of some city commissioners and was extended to Nov. 4. The next hotel delay has been extended to the first meeting in February 2015 on the urging of the City Manager Fields. “I recommend that the group

present a progress report to the city commission at the first meeting in February to determine what the city’s next steps should be,” Fields said. “By that time the availability of detailed cost data, better financial projections for a hotel

HOTEL | 13

The Faces of Boktoberfest

By KEVIN BRADY

kbrady@heartlandnewspapers.com

Neighbors and friends have set up a memorial fund to help pay for the funeral of a toddler who died while trick or treating on U.S. Highway 27 in Lake Wales Friday night. One online fund has already raised almost $800 toward its goal of

PHOTO PROVIDED

FATAL | 13 Dohntae Vasquez

In its 25th year, Literacy Council’s spelling bee is Thursday By BRENDA EGGERT BRADER bbrader@heartlandnewspapers.com The Lake Wales Literacy Council, which has helped local citizens to improve their reading skills and language skills, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Established in 1989, the volunteer organization is dedicated to improving the literacy of adults so they Rob Quam, Care Center become more productive executive director. citizens in the community. In the early days the Lake Wales Literacy Council provided tutoring on a one-on-one basis, free of charge to adult learners reading below a ninthgrade level.

FRIENDS | 13

INDEX |

and Rusty Ingley, known as the Friends of the Hotel attended the meeting, having met with City Manager Ken Fields and Mayor Eugene Fultz Monday to discuss the hotel building and their plans at a last minute session. The group was to present its findings to the city commission in a deadline set for Oct. 21

LITERACY | 13

PHOTO BY DEBRA GOUVELLIS

Grace and Landon Strohmaiek of Winter Haven painted pumpkins at the Bok Towers Gardens Education area at the annual Boktober Fest.

Walk honors veterans on Nov. 8 By CASSIE JACOBY

cjacoby@heartland newspapers.com

The American Ideals Foundation Inc. will host an early Veterans Day celebration with a “Walk of Honor” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 at Miracle Toyota in Haines City. “We invite everyone to join in this community effort to honor all veterans in Polk County,” says Robert Moffa, founder of the non-profit organization established in 1982 to bring more cultural events into communities throughout the nation by holding honor presentations and ceremonies for

veterans. “Bring any size flag to wave during the walk that will be in a safe and protected area.” “You are not forgotten” was the message during a flag raising at Miracle Toyota in Haines City in observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day on Sept. 19. “We believe that it is the responsibility of all businesses to honor those individuals in the community who have served in the armed forces specifically those who have who made the ultimate sacrifice or are still considered missing in action,” says

WALK | 13

PHOTO BY CASSIE JACOBY

The American Ideals Foundation Inc. will host an early Veterans Day celebration with a “Walk of Honor” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 at Miracle Toyota in Haines City .

THE NEWS: Viewpoint 4 | Opinion 5 | Obituaries 6 | Calendar 2 | Sports 25 | Feeling Fit 34 | Home & Garden 40 | Pets 41

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FATAL FROM PAGE 1 $7,500 to pay for the funeral of 2-year-old Dohntae Vasquez. The site can be found online at http://www. gofundme.com/gkfznk. A memorial fund has also been set up at the Dollar General at 14500 U.S. Highway 27, Lake Wales near the scene of the accident. Call the store at 863-638-1540. The online fund was set up by Kris Bruno, the best friend of Ashley Vasquez, Dohntae’s mother. Bruno drove her friend to the scene of the accident Friday night. “It’s most heart-breaking thing I have ever been through outside of losing my own mother at 19,” said Bruno who has

been best friends with Dohntae’s mom since she was 13. “Ashley was at work that evening and she called me up and told me her son was hit. At that point she was not even aware that he was deceased at the scene.” While encouraged by the initial response to the online fund drive to pay for the child’s funeral, Bruno would like to see the site and information shared more to help the family. “I have seen a lot of friends try to share it and asked a lot of people and I am just hoping we (can get the word out to more people). “May God rain down unspeakable peace to family and friends as well as to everyone else involved. You all will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers,” said James and Kathi

LITERACY FROM PAGE 1 Today the Literacy Council continues to provide one-on-one tutoring in reading and writing and also provides English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, one of the fastest growing services provided by the group’s volunteers. In 2013, more than 80 students participated in one-on-one classes and ESOL programs. Associated with the READ Polk in Lakeland, a consortium collage group working with the four such literacy organizations in the county, helping the groups work together in a cause. But each separate organization is

independent in its work and structure and fundraising. “Currently, there are 56 adult students in the ESOL classes,” said Faith Treadway, literacy council program coordinator. “The first language is predominately Hispanic, and they meet twice a week for three hours each. The classes include language development, exercises, socialization, legal information, and even how to read road signs. When we see a need, we can add it. We are now trying to include some math.” Officials said ESOL has evolved into becoming a major focus for the group. “That is the strongest program now,” said Rob Quam, executive director of the Lake Wales Care Center, where the literacy council office is located. “This is for an adult basic education for those who have a lower than a ninth grade

WALK

We cast our lines out over and over again with no results. At the other side of the dock was a man fishing with just a line and a hook. We did what we all do when we meet a stranger. We exchanged nods and a short hello. Normally that would have been it and we would have all kept to

HOTEL FROM PAGE 1 operation and a preliminary identification of funding sources should be available.” “In the last 60 days I am most bullish than before that the hotel is going forward even though we had some dark days due to fire code regulations and the new staircase that is required,” said Reid Hardman. The commissioners calmly gave their

and David were. The PCSO says Dohntae was struck by a northbound 1990 white International bus being driven by 33-year-old Albertina Ramirez. The bus is owned by W.G. Roe and Sons Citrus Harvesting and was transporting a work crew home from Lake Placid after a day of work. Ramirez immediately pulled over and the adults began to render aid to the boy while also calling 9-1-1. Impairment and speed on the part of the driver do not appear to be a factor. Northbound U.S. 27 was shut down in that area for approximately four hours. Ramirez was unable to see the boy darting out in front of the bus and was unable to stop. No charges are

reading level.” If it is ninth grade or higher, then they can go on to take the GED classes. If they are GED bound, then they can get ready for it. The one-on-one tutor or match takes them through a certain set of reading and oral skills. “We are a kind of feeder program into the GED program,” Quam said. “Some people want a better functioning language for at home or work. Some want to help their children or grandchildren with homework and some folks just want a better level of language usage.” In one year the council has helped about 81 people. Funding come from a few community foundations and some grants, Treadway said. The council has 20 tutors, to do one-on-one work. Some are retired educators, some of are

pending. Some yellow police tape was all that was left of the horrific scene Saturday morning. The memories of what happened will no doubt linger longer though. “I saw the ambulances and police cars and then saw the blanket and you could see it was a baby,” said a man who had stopped for gas at the Kangaroo Express gas station Saturday morning, just feet from where the child died. The tragic accident was the main topic of talk among customers at the gas station where another woman said she saw the commotion but didn’t realize what had happened. “I didn’t find out until this morning. It’s so sad,” said the woman as she pumped gas.

former students. The annual Spelling Circus is the main fundraiser for the council. Over the years businesses, organizations and individuals have volunteered to study and participate in the evening’s spelling bee. This year’s event will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church parish hall at 644 Ninth St. off State Road 60. in Lake Wales. Individual tickets, including dinner, are $15 and may be purchased by contacting Treadway at the council’s office at 863-676-5767. A few tickets will be available at the door. A donation of $125 provides a table for six people, including one speller and a catered meal for all. Sponsorships of tables are also available. Door prizes or silent auction items will be part of the event.

and meditate, where families can show respect for their loved ones and where veteran organizations can have honor ceremonies.” Miracle Toyota is at 37048 U.S. Hwy. 27 in Haines City. Call Moffa at 813-416-8456 or visit www. FoundationofAmericanIdealsinc.org, www.mlitaryheroesproject.webs.com or www.robertmoffa.webs.com for more information.

ourselves and gone our separate ways. The man had a small bucket full of fish. My son couldn’t keep his eyes off of them. The man was bringing a new fish up to the dock every few minutes. Cooper is a fairly shy 11-year-old and what happened next was very special to watch. He started edging closer to the man and his family. A little closer every couple of minutes. When he got real close he asked “Can I

take a look at your fish?” The man said yes and struck up a conversation with Coop. He said his name was Henry and he was from Mexico but has lived here for some time. The two began talking. First, he offered Cooper a worm or two. Then, Cooper started asking him about his method of catching fish. Henry asked Cooper if he wanted to try it. Coop’s eyes lit up and said “sure.” Henry was using a contraption

that consisted of a line, wrapped around a plastic water bottle with a bobber and hook at the end. He was using worms his wife dug up in her flower bed. Pretty soon they were fast friends and my son had caught three fish in a flash. Henry shared things with Cooper about living in Mexico and Guatemala. He told him about how bad crime was in his old country and why he likes living and working here much better.

Soon I realized why Henry was so eager to teach Cooper how to fish his way. “My daughter used to come fishing with me all of the time. Now she is a teen-ager and all she wants to do is talk and text on her cell phone,” he said. You could see Henry’s eyes light up, too, as Cooper took an interest in what he was doing. My little buddy and his new friend were bonding.

When we packed it up for the night, Cooper and Henry shook hands and said goodnight. As we were leaving Henry ran up to us and gave Cooper one of the plastic bottle fishing deals and said “Here, take this with you to remember me by.” That water bottle and the string attached to it are now one of Coop’s prized possessions. The memory of that night is now one of mine.

permission to allow an extension of the discussion of the hotel and its previous requirements for financial verification by the Friends of the Hotel, on the recommendation of the city manager. “It is my hope this hotel goes up and goes into business again,” said Mayor Fultz. “The comments I hear are mostly about the paint,” said Commission Jonathan Thornhill. “I am just happy about the paint and would love to see it.” The Friends of the

Hotel said they are planning to paint the exterior of the hotel once they are able to fix the interior elevator to get to the roof to allow for painters to descend to paint. Painting is scheduled for January 2016. Susan Smith, licensed contractor and stating she has experience with high rise hotels, called to task the commissioners for being “too soft on them (Friends of the Hotel). They will come back in February with nothing being done.” Mark Jackson, Central Florida’s Polk County

Tourism and Sports Marketing director, will give a presentation to the commission on behalf of the Friends of the Hotel interests on Nov. 18.

“This should put to rest any skepticism about the viability of a hotel in downtown Lake Wales,” states the Friends of the Hotel in their submission

project and background written information presented to the city manager on Monday.

Miracle Toyota CEO Michael Murphy. “We fly proudly the flag not only to honor those lost on this national day of remembrance, but to keep those individuals

FROM PAGE 1

Office. Around 7:25 p.m., David Heidler crossed the northbound lanes of U.S. 27 from east to west at the intersection of 1st Avenue North, pushing a stroller with the three children inside. Upon reaching the grass median between the northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 27, Heidler realized he had dropped his cell phone. He stopped the stroller in the median, told the children to stay in it, and went back into the roadway to retrieve his phone. He walked back over to the east shoulder where Hoerl was still standing. At that time, according to reports, Dohntae Vasquez got out of the stroller and darted into the roadway to run back to the east shoulder where his grandmother

and their families in our thoughts and prayers year around.” AIF will dedicate the new Veterans Memorial Park at Winter Haven City Hall in January. “We’re installing more black granite memorial plaques to honor our many veterans in Polk County,” says Moffa, also responsible for the Veterans Memorial Park in Lake Alfred. “We will have a grand place for veterans to sit

FROM PAGE 1

FRIENDS

Spence, one of 19 donors who had already given money to the effort on the site Sunday. “Nobody expects to lose their 2-year-old. We are just trying to seek any way we can to raise money so we can properly bury this little boy.” “It’s beyond horrible,” said Bruno describing the condition of Dohntae’s mother. “I don’t even know how to put it into words.” The accident happened Friday evening when a group of two adults and three children, David Heidler and his two children, and 45-year-old Angela Hoerl and her 2-yearold grandson, Dohntae Vasquez, were trick-ortreating in the neighborhoods near where they live, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s

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The Grand Hotel must have some kind of mystical, hypnotic power over public officials. Well, that’s what I thought last week when I saw our city commission extend yet another deadline in their attempt to force the developer to actually renovate the building like he said he would years ago. The hypnotic power of the historic building must be so strong that it makes public officials forget basic economic principles and obscure facts from the public. This was obvious by City Manager Ken Field’s tight management of information about his dealings with the hotel developer Ray Brown and a group of his advisors known as The Friends of the Hotel. More than a week before the developer and his group were set to speak before the city commission to talk about their progress on the project, I asked the city manager a couple of simple questions: Has the city received anything on the hotel from the group? His answer was “No.” Is the city inclined to give them more time? His answer was “Will be on the next agenda.” But the city manager and the mayor had actually met with the developers and discussed their plans. The city manager said so in the commission meeting. “This group has met with myself and the mayor and they presented a number of documents and some new developments and things

INDEX |

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 12, 2014

Since 1926

Mystical powers of the hotel

HOTEL | 14

By BRIAN ACKLEY backley@heartlandnewspapers.com

Katie Kinloch

kbrady@heartlandnewspapers.com

Katie Kinloch was always a bit of a tomboy so it was no surprise when, at age 19, she started as the only female wastewater lab technician and plant operator for the City of Lake Wales in 1969. It was a surprise to her male colleagues when she was appointed their boss in 1974. As much at home in an administrator’s chair as she was

in a ditch unclogging a sewer, Kinloch served in several important posts throughout her 40-year career, breaking glass ceilings before anyone was using the term. She retired last month. An iron fist in a velvet glove, Kinloch never backed down when she knew she was right, a character trait that was put to the test when she took over

KINLOCH | 14

B Street Center is in crisis The Lake Wales B Street Community Center is in crisis. It has always been in need of continuous funding, but today, now, it is in a crisis situation. In recent months, financial setbacks have caused B Street to make a number of

tough decisions, including reducing proJerome Mack gramming and hours of operation. Now the center is faced with an even greater challenge — how to keep the facility open. “The current

$0.75

Stockholders learn of new products at annual meeting

In 40 years at City of Lake Wales, Kinloch tread where no woman had before By KEVIN BRADY

www.sunnewspapers.net

Fewer calories, more drinkers, Florida’s Natural hopes

Katie Kinloch, from tomboy to trailblazer

By BRENDA EGGERT BRADER bbrader@heartlandnewspapers.com

PAGE 7

PAGE 12

An Edition of the Sun

facility was built in 2001 by Polk County as a community center,” said Jerome Mack, one of the founders and continued supporter. “The community center was already established in a store front on Lincoln Avenue a little before 2000.” Mack, Albert Hawkins and Clinton Horne, all graduates

BSTREET | 14

Fewer calories will lead to more juice drinkers, or at least that’s what Lake Wales based Florida’s Natural brand is hoping. Those in attendance Monday at Citrus World’s 81 annual meeting of member stockholders learned that the company will be launching a new line of “fit and delicious” juice products that should hit store shelves in December. The reduced calorie juices are in response to people who are seeking that kind of a product, according to Chris Groom, the company’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “It meets a consumer demand. Reduced calorie juices are growing while regular juices are declining, so there’s a good volume opportunity here,” he said. “Second, our Fit and Delicious tastes a lot better than other reduced calories orange juice beverages. We know this from research, and thus we are answering an unmet consumer need.” He also said stores were asking for such a product. “Many of our retailers have been asking us to make a reduced calories orange juice

CARUSO STEPPING DOWN Stephen M. Caruso will be stepping down as Citrus World’s Chief Executive Officer late in 2015, it was announced at Monday’s stockholder meeting. He will be replaced by the current Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Robert Behr. Caruso has been CEO since 1993. He came from Southern Fruit Distributors in Orlando, which Citrus World purchased in 1986. for years,” he added. “We’ve been presenting it to retailers in the northeast over the last month and a half, and not a single retailer has turned us down. We’ve really knocked their socks off with how good the products taste.” The new products will use only Valencia oranges for its juice component, and the natural sweetener Stevia. There will be three types offered initially including no pulp with calcium, no pulp and orange mango. Locally, it will be available for sale at the company’s U.S. 27 Grove House in early December. The new juice product is aimed at reversing a trend of lower sales volumes at the local firm.

CITRUS | 14

Bible on highway is returned By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ klberkowitz@heartland newspapers.com

And there it was, in the middle of a highway, a funeral Bible with the words “honor guard” on the front of it. Lake Wales High School JROTC Cadet Eric Davis saw the Bible as he and a friend were on the road near Alternate 27 and Masterpiece Road, so they turned around to go get it. “I stopped traffic to get

it,” Davis said. Meanwhile, Carl Fish of the Daily Ridge, an online news site, was notified of the find, so he put it on Facebook. On Veteran’s Day, U.S. Air Force Ret. Col. Greg Stadthagen stopped by The Lake Wales News, asking if anyone had seen the Bible, noting he heard it was on The Lake Wales News site. Reporters at the News remembered hearing about it from the Daily Ridge, so coordinated with Fish to reunite

the Bible and the owners, who were none other than American Legion Post 71 honor guard, of which Stadthagen is the commander. A meeting was arranged on Veteran’s Day at the City of Lake Wales Building, as the JROTC lined up for the Veteran’s Day parade. Davis is 15 years old and the Honorguard commander said he would be honored for returning the Bible. The Bible has been

used at more than 72 funerals last year, and has special scriptures for different religions. “Now I can definitely PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ believe in miracles, On Veterans Day, Eric Davis, of the Lake Wales because I High School JROTC presents the Honorguard never thought Bible to Ret. Colonel Greg Stadthagen. we would decided to give it back to see it again,” me so we can continue Stadthagen said. “I using it.” guess it is the Lord who

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CITRUS FROM PAGE 1 Net sales in 2014 totaled $453,359,000, down just a tick from 2013 volume of $457,710,00 and $458,964,000 in 2012. Those amounts are still up dramatically from as recently as 2010 when net sales totaled just under $419 million. Overall, however, the company’s money outlook is excellent. “The financial health of Citrus World has never been better,” Chairman of the Board Dennis Broadaway said. “The Florida’s Natural team have repeatedly demonstrated success

HOTEL FROM PAGE 1 have changed from the past,” Fields said at the last commission meeting. The hotel is in the state that it is in partly because the city government shrouded the project in secrecy and did not allow the public to know things about it until it was too late. For instance, the contract between the citizens of Lake Wales and Ray Brown was only released to the public just a few days before the city commission voted on it a few years back. Before anyone (except the commissioners and city staff) realized it, we were stuck with a contract that allowed the developer to hold on to the building without really doing anything with it. No milestones to reach, no penalties if construction failed to take place. So, here we are again, with many of the same commissioners who gave the hotel away to the developer still on the board and a new city manager who is releasing

B STREET FROM PAGE 1 of Roosevelt High School who all went on to have lucrative careers, returned to their hometown after retirement to help the area in which they grew up. That is when the community center was formed under the moniker of the Green and Gold Foundation (the colors of Roosevelt School). Built by Polk County, the B Street Community Center was located in the city of Lake Wales and therefore presented to the City in 2001, Mack said. In 2011, the City deeded the facility to the Green and Gold Foundation without further support of any kind, said Clinton Horne. “It was deeded over to us without a budget,” Hawkins said. “We have

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 in the face of adversity, and are confident that a strategic plan is in place today that will ensure the sustainable success of Florida’s Natural Growers well into the future. We can be very proud of what our brand has become.” Citrus World is parent to the Florida’s Natural brand, which was introduced over 25 years ago, and is third in the orange juice market, with a 20.4 percent share of the market, up from last year’s figure of 19.9. Tropicana continues to be the clear leader in today’s not-from-concentrate juice sales, with about 37 percent of the market, CocaCola’s Simply Orange

holds about 24 percent of the market, Groom indicated. The company’s financial picture brightened because of aggressive cost-cutting measures and reducing debt. Growers also did better in the last growing season, earning $2.10 per pounds solid on Valencia oranges, up more than 13 percent from the previous year. Early and mid varieties earned $1.85, also up substantially from the 2012-13 growing season. Groom also noted Florida’s Natural is the leader in grapefruit juice sales, with 35 percent of the market, a little less than 1 percent of second place Simply Grapefruit.

Grapefruit growers in the cooperative saw per pound solid returns of $1.76, up about 10 percent from the prior season. Much of the company’s growth in the last year came in its “away from home” division which includes hotels, restaurants, schools and convenience stores, which saw a 7 percent climb in volume and its international division which saw a 15 percent rise last year. Particularly strong markets include Columbia, Chile, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Ireland. In all, the Florida’s Natural brand reaches into about 60 countries, he added.

information in such a way as to make sure the public doesn’t have a chance to read about it, digest the information and perhaps debate it a little before the commission decides. Unfortunately, government doesn’t always like debate. City officials would sometimes rather there be no discussion from the public. If you spring stuff on the public then, even though you call for public input at the meeting, folks who are interested in the topic wouldn’t be informed enough to show up at the meeting. One resident, Susan Smith, did show up at the meeting and complained about the extension. She told commissioners “This is something that’s been hurting the entire city. It’s held everyone’s property values down. For the biggest, tallest building in the city, it’s a sin.” It is possible that if more people had known that would be the commission’s intent, the commission would have received more comments like this. Even though the commission took no formal

vote last week, the city manager said he received a consensus from the commission to allow the hotel group to come back in February with a plan to turn the hotel into a small full-service hotel. The city manager did not tell the hotel group that they needed to have financing secured by then … just a plan. Once that is in place their intent is to shop the idea around and try to secure financing. I don’t know if this current hotel plan will work. I hope it does. But it sure would be nice if our city commission involved the public a little more on the important decisions. Somehow the hotel developer and his new group of friends have convinced our city commission that the plan “to create a plan” for the hotel is as good as having a plan with actual financing. That’s like the hypnotist getting you to cluck like a chicken and having you believe that you really are a chicken. No matter how many times you cluck, the audience knows you are not a chicken.

KINLOCH

the cost of insurance, utilities bills, the yard outside and the maintenance inside. That’s where we are now.” In the 15 years the foundation has been in existence, there has never been a large grant of more than $10,000. The foundation is thankful for the small grants it has received and of course, for the Mountain Lake Community Service Group support given. It costs $140,000 a year to keep the facility afloat, says Hawkins. The center receives no funding from the city or county and is supported solely from the contributions of donors, corporate and private sponsors, grants such as the one from the Mountain Lake Community Service Group, the income they are able to generate and from the three founders’ personal bank accounts. It is not enough.

Many of the services supported and offered by the facility have had to be canceled or reduced drastically, said Executive Director Tonya DavisCraig, Ph. D. Saturday, Green & Gold Foundation is playing host to the annual Guns & Hoses Barbecue Cook-Off event between the Lake Wales Fire Department and the Lake Wales Police Department on Saturday at the Candlelight Christian Academy on Scenic Highway. All proceeds from the event support programming at B Street. Rib and chicken dinner tickets are $8 and hot dogs are $1. Call 863-679-8091, visit 230 B Street, or visit www. bstreetcommunitycenter. org to make donations or purchase tickets for the barbecue cook-off or advance tickets for the meals delivered to businesses on Friday.

Overall sales of Florida’s Natural not-from-concentrate juice were down just under 1 percent last year, compared to an industry wide drop of 6.4 percent. Total sales volume for all its products was actually up 1.1 percent last year, company officials indicated. Groom also announced the company was launching its new advertising campaign in conjunction with Monday’s meeting. Two “straight from the grove” television commercials have started airing on a number of cable television outlets, designed by the company’s new advertising agency, Merkley and Partners.

“With the brand idea of people, focus, commitment as a guiding light, they developed advertising ideas with the overall desired consumer takeaway of ‘I believe a company owned by growers makes a better tasting juice.’ We know that great taste is the No. 1 reason people drink orange juice,” he said. Officials also noted that Florida’s Natural will be launching a $10 million tree planting incentive program, aimed at increasing fruit supply in coming years. The company said that should ultimately result in an additional two million boxes of citrus annually.

FROM PAGE 1 as chief operator of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, overseeing six men. Certified by the State Department of Environmental Regulation, a certification held by only four other women in Florida at the time. Her male co-workers at the plant “really liked me as long as I was just a PHOTO BY KEVIN BRADY lab tech and wastewater operator. When I became Katie Kinloch served the City of Lake Wales for 40 years, their boss it was three breaking ground for women along the way. weeks before they started to come around and act waders and a mask and ability functioning as my like I wasn’t an evil witch. armed with just a shovel executive assistant but They just were very cold she took to perhaps one for a new city manager and didn’t want to speak of the dirtiest jobs on the coming in she knew the to me. planet. Today, workers story behind everything. “Back then you didn’t don bio-hazard suits I was very grateful and have women in the field or use special vacuum thankful to have her of water and wastewater,” cleaners to clean grit here.” Kinloch recalls. “Women chambers. “I wasn’t doing what I were secretaries, teachers “They worry about did to say ‘look at me, I and mothers. You didn’t infectious diseases but am a female,’ I just liked go in a man’s field back in those days if you got what I did,” Kinloch said. then but I sure did.” So splattered, big deal, you A career highlight for what made her pick the kept working.” her was being elected career? “I was never a A job that would repel president of the State girly girl. I guess you most people, Kinloch Operator’s Association could say I was a little bit didn’t mind. between 1988 and 1990, of a tomboy.” “It was something I the first woman to hold Kinloch wasn’t about loved to do. That was the post. Only years to be intimidated by the part of me. You have to later did she find out cold shoulders. “I just let love it otherwise you will the all-male board had it roll off. I wasn’t doing work one or two days a nickname for her: anything wrong to them. and you’ll leave. And I “the feisty one” because I just gave them time and had many that did.” she worked so hard on gradually, one by one, Kinloch would oversee getting legislation passed they came around.” the wastewater plant un- in the state legislature After a time, her male til 1977 before leaving for covering the Florida staff almost became her a post with Polk County wastewater industry. protectors. Utilities. Kinloch and her “They turned totally A chief operator at the husband, Everett, raised around and were concounty for five years, the two daughters, Alison cerned about how people call of home proved too Martin, who runs a day treated me, making sure I much and she returned care center, and Heather, was treated with respect.” to work again for the City a registered nurse. That respect wasn’t of Lake Wales in 1982, “She was an unbelieva given for a woman in again as chief wastewater able mom,” Alison said. power during the midoperator. Legally blind, “Even though she had the 1970s. “You definitely Kinloch had to step career she had she was had to earn the respect of down as utilities director still a mom. I remember everyone. You were going in 1997. She went on to going out on calls with to care about everyone work in human resources her many times growing no matter what job they before retiring. up and just thinking had.” Kinloch also worked what she did was the Kinloch also proved for a year assisting Ken neatest thing. I was very herself, doing jobs her Fields, Lake Wales’ curproud of what she was male colleagues thought rent city manager before doing.” a woman would not do. she retired. Her advice to other To that end, Kinloch “I was so thankful she young women persuing a wouldn’t think twice was here because she career? about jumping into a made my transition so “First be and act like a raging stream of efflumuch easier because she lady and no matter what ent and clearing out a had all that institutional field never give up. Keep blocked grit chamber. knowledge,” Fields said. saying to yourself ‘I can Wearing little more than “It was not only her do this.’”

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