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Monday, July 22, 2024

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Orlando Woman Charged With DUI With Serious Bodily Injury After Crash Critically Injuring 2 Young Children In Frostproof Crash

32-year-old Ashauntie Cox (DOB 2/15/1991) of Orlando, who caused serious bodily harm to two children in her vehicle while fleeing from two crashes and driving under the influence, was arrested in Polk County on Friday, May 19, 2023, and charged with several felonies.

According to witnesses and information developed during the investigation, the first crash occurred around 8:00 p.m. on US Hwy 27 at the intersection with US Hwy 98 near Frostproof. Cox was driving a blue Kia southbound on Hwy 27 when she struck a grey Chevy Silverado pickup truck and then fled at a high rate of speed. As she continued to recklessly speed south down Hwy 27, weaving in and out of slower moving traffic, she rear-ended a 2016 Honda CRV while trying to pass between that SUV and the vehicle next to it which were both also going southbound. The victim driving the CRV was taken to Sebring Hospital, where he was treated and released with minor injuries.

The collision caused Cox’s vehicle to flip several times, ejecting two Orlando children, ages 5 and 8 years old. Both sustained significant injuries, and they were taken to Tampa General Hospital where they are both in critical condition. A 27-year-old female passenger was also seriously injured along her spinal cord, hip, and back. She remains at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center in stable condition.

When deputies arrived at the scene of the crash, they detected the odor of marijuana and located a bottle of tequila in Cox’s vehicle. Cox was transported to the hospital and interview by deputies. Cox told deputies they were driving from Orlando to Avon Park to celebrate the 5-year-old’s kindergarten graduation. She admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day, and to having four shots of tequila. Her blood was drawn for further analysis, and she displayed several signs of impairment. 

She was booked into the Polk County Jail and is being charged with:

·        Three counts DUI with serious bodily injury (F3)

·        Two counts negligent child abuse with great bodily harm (F2)

·        Reckless driving (F3)

·        One count DUI with property damage (M1)

·        One count DUI (M2)

Further charges are pending the outcome of the investigation. 

“This woman had no regard for anyone’s life when she got behind the wheel intoxicated and then drove recklessly down a major highway, but what’s worse is the blatant disregard she had for the lives of the innocent children in her car. I expect a successful prosecution to hold her accountable—and let’s hope she loses her driving privileges if she’s released from jail or prison. Please keep these babies and their families in your prayers.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

Two Vehicle Crash on Hwy. 27 Leaves One Injured and Airlifted


At 6:51 p.m. tonight, a call was posted to Polk County Fire Rescue regarding a traffic collision at US Hwy. 27 and Washington Avenue in Lake Wales.

The vehicle crash included two vehicles. One vehicle was southbound on Hwy. 27 and the other was eastbound on Washington Ave. A violation of right of way is what caused the crash.

One driver was not injured and the other was airlifted to a local hospital as a precaution. The vehicles are being removed from the roadway by tow trucks.

The roadway should be cleared shortly.

Curious Minds To Come Together At The Unbound Society Club July 24


Looking to engage with thought-provoking ideas and connect with fellow curious minds? Join the local book club dedicated to exploring the fascinating world of nonfiction.

The Unbound Society is a non-fiction book club is specifically designed for active adults who enjoy delving into diverse topics. Each month, they tackle a compelling selection – from history and science to current events and personal journeys – offering something for every interest. Be prepared to share your insights, engage in stimulating discussions, and discover new perspectives.

The next meeting is Wednesday from 12-1 p.m., and the club meets monthly at the Lake Wales History Museum, located at 325 S. Scenic Hwy., Lake Wales.

July 24th – “There’s A Porcupine in My Outhouse: Misadventures Of A Mountain Man Wannabe” by Michael J. Tougias

August 28th – “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel

September 25th – “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom” by Yeonmi Park

October 23rd – “Edison vs. Tesla: The Battle over Their Last Invention” by Joel Martin & William J. Birnes

November 20th – “The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary” by Simon Winchester

There is no book or meeting in the month of December.

Book recommendations for future meetings are greatly welcomed.

The Club is partnered with the Lake Wales Public Library.

Cup or Cone? Plain or Sprinkles? Hot Fudge, Caramel or Bacon? Your Opinion Matters


Since Tuesday, July 23 is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, let’s talk about this simple yet extremely popular flavor.

According to nationaldaycalendar.com, there’s a few things you may or may not know about this delicious treat:

— Vanilla is the most common flavoring in North America for ice cream.

— Some may be familiar with Thomas Jeffersons vanilla ice cream recipe. The third president of the United States may have discovered a love for the vanilla flavor while visiting France. While he would not have been the first to savor the taste, Jefferson enjoyed jotting down recipes.

— The Library of Congress houses one copy of Jefferson’s ice cream recipe that has a cookie recipe on the flip side. There are only 10 known copies in existence.

— There is an ice cream parlor at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota that serves the same recipe so anyone can try it.

— New Zealand consumes the most ice cream, per capita.

— It takes about 12 pounds of milk to make 1 gallon of vanilla ice cream.

— Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid family, the largest family of flowering plants in the world. There are over 150 varieties of vanilla orchid plants. It takes several months to go from the flower stage, to the bean for use in ice cream. Vanilla orchid flowers must be hand pollinated.

— Ice cream can be made with goat or cow milk. If it’s made with goat milk, heavy cream is added since the milk is naturally homogenized.

So, where are you heading today for some delicious vanilla ice cream? What’s your favorite topping? Do you pair it with a special dessert? Let us know!

Making vanilla ice cream at home isn’t too difficult. Here’s an easy recipe for you to try, provided by allrecipes.com.


Easy Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe


2 quarts half-and-half

1 1/2 cups of white sugar

Half pint heavy cream

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

One pinch salt


Combine half-and-half, sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt in the freezer container of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturers directions, about 20 minutes. Transferred to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about four hours.

In Loving Memory of Gary Eugene Jones, 78

Gary Eugene Jones

Gary Eugene Jones, 78

Gary Eugene Jones of Lake Wales passed away Tuesday, July 16, 2024 at his residence.

He was born October 4, 1945 in Saginaw, Michigan to the late Eugene and Eva Jones; he moved to Lake Wales from Saint Petersburg in 1994. Before retirement, Gary was a engineer for GTE then Verizon. He also worked at Citrosucco for 10 years and for the Florida Fish and Game Commission. He served with the United States Navy under the “See Bees” during the Vietnam War. Gary was a hard worker and a rock hound. He could always be found cutting and setting stones or gardening. He often spent time outdoors hunting and fishing. Gary loved his family dearly. 

Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Eugene and Eva Jones; and son, Phillip Lee Jones. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Suzanne G. Jones; daughter, Karla Janoski and husband Michael of Lake Wales; and grandchildren, Christopher Jones, Joshua Janoski, Madison Janoski, Ryan Jones, and Benjamin Jones.

No services are scheduled at this time. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in his honor can be made to the Wounded Warriors Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org/). 

Catch a Movie And Beat The Heat at Flick and Float July 27


Looking for something cool to do this weekend? Flick and Float is happening on Saturday, July 27, 7 p.m., at the Lake Wales Family Recreation Center.

For $3 per person, you can watch a movie from the pool or pool deck. This month’s movie is “Aquaman & The Lost Kingdom.”Free games, music, popcorn, and the chance to win cool prizes are included. Food will be available for purchase.

Tables and chairs are available on a first come first served basis. Plan to bring your favorite people, a towel, extra chairs, and your plans to have a good time.

Space is limited and early registration is encouraged. Tickets may be purchased at link below:


August and September dates will be available soon.

The Lake Wales Family Recreation Center is located at 1001 Burns Avenue, Lake Wales. For more information, call 863-678-4182, ext. 1311.

First African American Woman Vice-President Has Chance To Be First Woman President


President Joe Biden, has stepped down from his re-election bid. He has now officially endorsed Kamala Harris for President.

“My fellow Democrats, I have decided not to accept the nomination and to focus all my energies on my duties as President for the remainder of my term. My very first decision as the party nominee in 2020 was to pick Kamala Harris as my Vice President. And it’s been the best decision I’ve made. Today I want to offer my full support and endorsement for Kamala to be the nominee of our party this year. Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump. Let’s do this.” – President Joe Biden

Kamala Devi Harris (born October 20, 1964) is an American politician and attorney who is the 49th and current vice president of the United States since 2021, under President Joe Biden. She is the first female vice president and the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history, as well as the first African-American and first Asian-American vice president.[4][5] A member of the Democratic Party, she was previously a U.S. senator from California from 2017 to 2021 and the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017. On 21 July 2024, President Biden announced his support for Harris as the Democratic nominee for the 2024 presidential election.[6]

FHP Requests the Public’s Help in Identifying Driver and Occupants Involved in Hit-and-Run Crash on I-4


The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is requesting assistance from the public to help identify a driver who fled the scene of a crash this week. On July 14, 2024, at approximately 11:00 A.M., FHP responded to a hit-and-run crash with serious injuries on 1-4 westbound at mile marker 67. While attempting to change from the center to the inside lane, the front right side of a red 2017 Chevrolet Camaro struck the left rear side of a white 2016 Hyundai Tucson. The impact from this collision caused the Hyundai to run off the roadway onto the right shoulder and overturn.

Following the collision, three occupants in the Camaro fled the scene on foot and were later picked up in a gray or silver colored vehicle, make and model unknown. Witnesses described the three occupants as black or Hispanic males possibly in their early 20s. The driver of the Hyundai, a 20-year-old female, was not transported from the scene.

If you have information regarding this crash, call *HP (*347) or CRIMELINE at 1-800-423-

TIPS (1-800-423-8477).

Leaving the scene of a crash that results in property damage, injury, or death is against the law. The Florida Highway Patrol reminds Floridians about the consequences of leaving the scene of a crash and the challenges law enforcement face when investigating a hit-and-run crash. If involved in a crash, stay at the scene, call for help, and follow these steps:

Remain calm and ensure yourself and any passengers are okay.

If possible, move to the side of the road. If you get out of your vehicle, remove your keys, move off the roadway and remain in a safe area.

Check on others involved. Call 911 if anyone might be injured or a vehicle is inoperable.

If there are no injuries or major property damage, gather information. Obtain the name, driver license, insurance and tag information from the other drivers). Take photos of the vehicles and information if you can’t write it down and then file a report online.

Frostproof Farm Stand is Just a Stone’s Throw Away

Stone Farm Stand; photo by Mikayla Stone

If you’re driving on Highway 630 E in Frostproof, there’s a good chance you will find a little piece of old Florida just around the corner.

Stone Farm Stand, started by Mikayla and Jim Stone in March of this year, is the result of pairing a way to gain a small income and indulging their daughters’ desire to have a stand.

“I am a stay at home mom, so I am always looking for a way to make a little extra money and my kids asked if they could do a smoothy stand,” says Mikayla.

“After seeing a… video of a family with a farm stand, I talked it over with my husband and we decided to try a farm stand and just see what happens! We opened the last week of March.”

The Stone family. Photo by Mikayla Stone

The family decided to maintain a regular schedule. The farm stand is open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

“Each morning I get everything ready and stock the stand, post a picture so everyone can see what’s available, and then post it to our Facebook page since it is a little bit of a drive for some people,” Mikayla says.

Their offerings at the stand are varied, allowing would-be customers to shop the top and bottom of the stand, depending on what’s stocked that day.

“We offer a few different flavored artisan breads (cheddar jalapeno, everything seasoning, regular) and white sandwich bread, honey, jams, cowboy candy (candied jalapeños), small plants, even veggies from our garden,” says Mikayla. “We are still very new and trying to figure out what works best so we are constantly adding new things or taking away things that don’t get much action.”

Guests can show where they are from when they visit the stand. Photo by Mikayla Stone

The stand is not staffed, and relies on the honor system for payment. Once you make your selection, you can leave payment in a secure area, or pay with Venmo or CashApp, and be on your way. So far, it’s working out well.

“We have been overwhelmed by the honesty of everyone! It has truly showed us there are still so many good honest people in this world!”

The farm stand’s Facebook page has grown steadily since its inception and allows customers to check on what’s available. It’s also a great way to see feedback, as many buyers leave comments on the delectable goodies they’ve scored before selling out.

Comments include, “The creamed honey is amazing!”

“I got the cheddar jalapeño last weekend. Soooooo good!”

Shelves are stocked every Thursday through Sunday morning, and sometime during the day if it’s busy.

Mikayla is particularly grateful for the support the community has given their project.

“We love that our customers love our products! Our children are learning such important lessons and skills (baking, measuring, counting, growing produce, etc.).

“Everyone has given us positive feedback on the stand and the products.”

Stone Farm Stand is located at 7952 Hwy. 630 E, Frostproof. Follow the signs as GPS directions can vary.

Masterpiece Road Down To One Lane Today For New Power Pole Placement

Photo by Maria Iannucci

Masterpiece Road in Lake Wales has one lane closed near Mammoth Grove Rd. as work is being done on new power pole placement.

The Florida Highway Patrol is on site to observe traffic. Proceeded with caution and slow down in this area as several construction workers are on and beside the roadway at work. Traffic is being directed by construction workers who are allowing alternate flow of traffic.

This will be an ongoing process, so proceed with caution in this area until work is complete.

They Received an AED. Now They’re Paying it Forward

Photo by Melanie Brown Culpepper

By James Coulter

The Lake Wales Moose Lodge received an AED. Now they want to “pay it forward” with a fundraiser to donate their own AED.

The Lake Wales Moose Lodge received an automated external defibrillator (AED), which was donated and installed by Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation (CCF) on Monday evening.

 Not only was this AED the 45th to be donated by CCF, but it was also the first AED donated with proceeds raised through Bingo For A Cause by Tanners Lakeside.

 Now, Lake Wales Moose Lodge wishes to return the favor by hosting a fundraiser so that they can “pay it forward” and donate their own AED through CCF.

 Melanie Brown Culpepper Bielke, CCF founder, mentioned on a Facebook post that the Moose Lodge’s administrator, Duane Anderson, had reached out to her in November requesting an AED for his organization’s facility.

“Their location had a lot of veterans that go there, and [it] would be a great place for one [an AED] to be placed at in case of an emergency,” Melanie wrote.


Photo by Melanie Brown Culpeper

Anderson was so humbled to have received an AED through CCF that he announced that the Lake Wales Moose Lodge would host a fundraiser to raise proceeds for an AED donation.

The fundraiser is planned for Jan. 18 at the lodge. The event will include barbecue ribs and pulled pork dinners, raffles, 50/50 drives, and live music.

“It feels humbling that Tanners is giving back to the community to save lives at other places,” Anderson said. “Melanie is making a difference and saving lives.”

Mike Boland, Vice President of the Lake Wales Moose Lodge, likewise feels grateful for the donation and wishes to help return the favor through their own fundraiser.

“This was a generous gesture,” he said. “[CCF is a] wonderful project you’ve started. You [Melanie] and your team should be very proud. Thank you so much.”

Melanie started CCF four years ago following the untimely passing of her late fiancée Michael Culpepper, who passed away from cardiac arrest.

Not wanting anyone else to suffer a similar fate, Melanie started CCF to raise proceeds to donate and install AEDs across Polk County.

Tanner’s Lakeside previously received an AED through CCF. Wanting to return the favor, they started hosting Bingo For a Cause to raise proceeds to donate an AED.

Kami Rickert hosts the weekly bingo. She is also CPR and first aid certified through the American Red Cross. As such, she understands the importance that first aid plays in emergencies.

“Being an instructor on the water I’ve always felt it important to be able to help people myself while calling for support,” she said. “I think placing the AEDs in locations around our communities is super important.”

Allison Gay, the manager at Tanners Lakeside, is proud to be among the many local business owners striving to raise proceeds to install essential emergency devices in their community.


Photo by Melanie Brown Culpepper

“It is wonderful how these small businesses have been coming together to bring this very important medical device to customers and the community,” she said. “We hope they are never in need of an AED, however, it is available if needed.”

To learn more about Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/honoringculpepper/