As LEGOLAND® Florida Resort celebrates its ninth birthday today, the Theme Park has announced plans to commemorate ten awesome years with a yearlong party in 2021! In addition to a calendar year packed with reasons to party, LEGOLAND will bring back its original Annual Pass pricing to commemorate the Park’s milestone birthday.
PARTY LIKE IT’S 2011 – ALL YEAR LONG
LEGOLAND fans can party all year long! Starting on October 15, Florida residents can snag a NEW! Play & Party Pass at the throwback price of $99. This Theme Park pass will include complimentary parking, discounts for friends and family tickets, access to select special events and a collectable, commemorative brick.
BE 10 TOO
As the Theme Park nears its 10th birthday, families are invited to join in the brick-tastic birthday bash, embrace their inner child and “be 10 too.” Party-packed play moments will have parents feeling like they’re ten again, while new shows, events and experiences will have all members of the family building memories together. Follow the party or join in with #be10too
TOP TEN REASONS TO PARTY IN 2021
In addition to building the biggest LEGO cake ever, LEGOLAND will build fun into 2021 with new events, attractions and shows.
In response to reducing the spread of COVID-19, the City of Winter Haven had previously passed and extended a number of emergency Ordinances requiring masks/face covering when in public settings inside the City limits. On September 25, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 2020-244 which prohibits the City from collecting any fines or penalties associated with COVID-19. In light of the Governors order and the reduction in the Winter Haven area infection rate, the City Commission will allow Emergency Ordinance O-20-39 to expire October 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
The City Commission strongly encourages the use of face coverings/masks when in public settings, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Social distancing, hand washing and staying home if ill or if there is exposure with someone with COVID-19 is also strongly urged.
The City’s policy to require masks in City facilities for both employees and customers remains in place. Business owners are permitted to make their own determination as to whether employees and/or customers should wear masks
POLK COUNTY, FL (October 6, 2020) – Polk County voters have three easy ways to vote in the November 3rd General Election, according to Supervisor of Elections, Lori Edwards.
Early Voting Locations
Bartow Polk Street Community Center 1255 Polk Street
Davenport Polk County Sheriffs NE District Office, 1100 Dunson Rd
Haines City Haines City Library 111 N 6th Street
Lakeland Polk County Government Center 930 E Parker Street
Lakeland Simpson Park Community Center 1725 MLK Jr Avenue
Lake Wales James P Austin Community Center 315 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd N
Mulberry Mulberry Civic Center 901 NE 5th Street
Poinciana Poinciana Community Center 395 Marigold Avenue
Winter Haven Gill Jones Northeast Polk County 3425 Lake Alfred Road
For more information, visit PolkElections.com or call the Elections Office at (863) 534-5888.
Starting this weekend through Halloween, families will experience the spooky, kooky fun of one of the only kid-friendly Halloween events in Central Florida! At LEGOLAND® Florida Resort’s Brick or Treat, guests will enjoy safe, contactless trick-or-treating with plenty of candy, seasonal shows and exclusive LEGO® characters in the ultimate kids Halloween celebration—and, it’s all included in general admission.
Safety First…. And Always!
What: Polk County Nonprofit COVID-19 Relief is providing assistance funds available in the following tiers:
• $15,000 – For nonprofits with annual budgets under $500,000
• $30,000 – For nonprofits with annual budgets between $500,000-$1,500,000
• $45,000 – For nonprofits with annual budgets over $1,500,000
If an organization has already received funds from a Small Business Grant through Polk CARES, that amount will be deducted from any funds disbursed.
Who: Nonprofit organizations that experienced business interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This does not exclude organizations that have already received Polk CARES funding, but the amount your organization has already received through Polk CARES will be deducted from the amount you will receive through Polk County Nonprofit COVID-19 Relief.
In order to qualify, organizations must be able to provide a 501(c)(3) Determination Letter, ACH Form and Signed W-9 Form.
The organization’s address must be within Polk County, Florida.
When: Applications must be submitted by October 7, 2020. Applications will be reviewed by the UWCF team and updates on fund distribution will be provided via email by October 23, 2020.
How: Application available at uwcf.org.
The Board of Directors of the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce has voted to take a position against Amendment 2, the job-killing minimum wage amendment.
It is important to note that we believe in working towards living wage. But this particular amendment is not the right way to accomplish it.
Misconceptions About Minimum Wage according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce
1.) Most minimum wage employees work for big businesses that can afford to pay their employees more.
FACT: According to the US Census Bureau the majority of the minimum wage workforce is employed by small, local businesses. Many of these small business owners are already struggling to stay in business due to coronavirus and can’t afford the added costs of a $15 minimum wage.
2.) Increasing the minimum wage is the best way to fight and reduce poverty in Florida.
FACT: Minimum wage increases are not an effective anti-poverty tool. Just 35% of those living in households with incomes under the federal poverty line were employed at any point during the year. Worse, by increasing the cost of everyday goods a $15 minimum wage will make many of the poorest Floridians even poorer.
3.) A $15 minimum wage will ensure everyone currently earning less than $15 an hour is better off.
FACT: Many workers see reduced benefits with higher minimum wages. Loss of free food, uniforms, product discounts, training, vacation and personal time, tuition reimbursement, and more. Researchers have also found that businesses will be forced to reduce hours to make ends meet, ultimately offsetting
4.) Increasing the minimum wage won’t increase unemployment.
FACT: Rutgers Business School calculated that a $15 minimum wage would decrease employment rates for low-wage workers by 5.5%. It would also cause a rapid expansion of work automation – killing jobs and replacing low wage workers with kiosks and robots.
5.) A $15 minimum wage won’t impact Florida’s retirees.
FACT: In addition to increased cost of everyday goods, a $15 minimum wage will increase the costs of nursing care and stay-at-home assistants and care workers. Particularly for the many seniors living on fixed incomes, this may force many of them to either try to make do with less or force them into assisted living and nursing facilities as the cost of staying in their own homes becomes too high.
On your general election ballot there is a County Referendum asking:
Title: Extension of Property Tax Exemptions For Businesses Creating New Jobs
Shall the board of county commissioners of this county be reauthorized to grant, pursuant to section 3 article 7 of the State Constitution, limited property tax exemptions, for a limited time, to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that create new, full-time jobs in the county? The time period for such reauthorization would commence November 6, 2022 and expire on November 5, 2032.
Yes – For authority to grant exemptions
No – Against authority to grant exemptions
Floridians will have 6 constitutional amendments to consider on the November 3rd General Election Ballot. Below is a summary of the amendments.
The Winter Haven Chamber has taken a position on Amendment 2 and that position is to VOTE NO. Explanation below.
Polk State College to host commencement ceremonies in May 2021, virtual graduation celebration in December 2020
Polk State College will hold commencement ceremonies this academic year and invites the graduates of 2020 and spring 2021 to participate on May 6, 2021. The College will host a virtual celebration on December 10, 2020, for fall 2020 graduates.
The in-person fall commencement ceremony that was scheduled for Thursday, December 10, 2020, will not occur. This decision comes with the health and safety of students, families, and employees at the forefront. Given the ongoing uncertainty presented by the COVID-19 public health emergency, the College determined that it is in the best interest of community health to avoid hosting such a large public gathering.
The College explored several alternatives and determined that it would be best to host a virtual graduation celebration on December 10 at 6:30 p.m., and a series of drive-thru events to allow students to pick up diploma covers, honors cords, and alumni items the week prior to the virtual celebration. Students are asked to monitor their College emails and polk.edu for additional information as it becomes available.
The cancellation of the December in-person ceremony will not impact students graduating and receiving their certificates or diplomas by mail if they meet all graduation requirements.
It is important that students still complete the graduation application, which officially notifies the College of a student’s intent to graduate. The application’s deadline is Friday, October 30, at 5 p.m. Students may submit their graduation applications through PASSPORT under “Advising.” More information about graduation is available online at www.polk.edu/academics/graduation.
The College apologizes for any inconvenience and thanks students and employees for their continued cooperation and patience during this unprecedented public health emergency. The College continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic closely and will provide updates via the College’s COVID-19 page on polk.edu, College email, and social media.
United Way of Central Florida raised $12,131,776 in its 2019/2020 fiscal year to benefit local health and human service programs.
Part of the $12.1 million total includes $2.2 million from the Polk County Board of County Commissioners to provide direct aid to individuals impacted by they COVID-19 pandemic.
Each year more than 120 community volunteers give a total of 2,300 hours of their time to the allocation process to ensure that only programs that demonstrate measurable impact are trusted with United Way dollars. The programs are thoroughly assessed by our Community Investment Team volunteers to make certain that significant results and outcomes are achieved.
Those volunteers invested UWCF dollars into 86 programs at 51 partner agencies. Volunteers work together to evaluate funding requests. Teams participate in site visits, study applications and assess the effectiveness of services before recommending funding allocations.
“The Community Investment process ensures wise investment of hard-earned dollars contributed to our campaign,” said Christina Criser Jackson, President & CEO of UWCF.
UWCF invests in services that address the most critical issues in Central Florida in the areas of health, education and financial stability.
Additionally, UWCF and GiveWell Community Foundation partnered this year to create the United Community Relief Fund to provide local nonprofits with additional money to help their clients through the COVID-19 pandemic.
A $310,056 disbursement was made in April to 34 organizations and a second disbursement of $300,740 was made in September to 33 nonprofits.
For this year’s Community Investment allocations, the following nonprofit organizations will receive funding for needed community programs and services.
Download the scholarship application here:
About the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing commerce and community by serving, representing and enhancing business growth. The Winter Haven Chamber Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on education, professional development, beautification of the community and building the next generation of Winter Haven’s leaders.
About State Farm®:
The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto and home insurance in the United States. Its 19,200 agents and 59,000 employees serve approximately 84 million policies and accounts – over 81 million auto, fire, life, health and commercial policies and over 2 million bank and investment planning services accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 36 on the 2020 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com
ResultsCX offers resolutions-centered CX technologies that seamlessly combine agent support with SupportPredict Self Service, and Agent AI, as well as Bots to help brands achieve the right balance of human and digital interaction for their customer base. No matter where a brand organization is on its digital transformation journey, ResultsCX helps to grow revenue, reduce costs, and deliver a resolution-centered, differentiated customer experience.
Registration is now open for AdventHealth’s new community COVID-19 drive-up testing site at AdventHealth Heart of Florida, located at 40100 US-27 in Davenport. The entrance to the testing site is off of Park Place Blvd.
Registration is highly encouraged, and those who wish to be tested should visit https://www.adventhealth.events/event/7932 prior to arrival. A doctor’s order is not needed to receive a test. There are no out-of-pocket costs, regardless of insurance status. Polk County will cover the cost of those who are uninsured. The test consists of a nasal swab.
The site will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Results currently take up to five days from the time of collection. Those tested will receive printed instructions as well as a text message on how to retrieve the results. Those who test positive will receive a call from a nurse to review the results and provide care instructions.
To date, AdventHealth has tested more than 230,000 people in its Central Florida hospitals and urgent care facilities — more than any other health care system in Florida, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The drive-up testing site is operated by AdventHealth Lab and AdventHealth Heart of Florida in partnership with the Polk County Health Department.
Do you know a student 16 or older who is not enrolled in any other Polk County Public School and is interested in finishing their high school diploma or GED? Or maybe someone who wants to learn English, or improve his or her English skills? East Area Adult School can fill that need.
East Area Adult School offers both morning and evening classes on the main campus in Auburndale, but also at various locations in Eastern Polk County including Haines City, Winter Haven, and Lake Wales. Days and times vary.
SPCA Florida is hosting their 28th Virtual Auction for Animals along with a Winner’s Choice Raffle. The drawing will be held on Saturday, November 14, 2020, virtually on SPCA Florida’s website, www.spcaflorida.org/auction . The winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000.
Chances of winning: 1 in 1,000. Of course, you must purchase a ticket to win. Raffle tickets are $50.00 per ticket or 3 tickets for $100.00. And, every dollar goes towards helping Polk Counties homeless animals.
Friends and family nationwide may enter the raffle. The winner need not be present at the drawing.
For more raffle details and to secure tickets, visit https://www.spcaflorida.org/auction or call 863.577.4600. Tickets may be purchased online or in person at SPCA Florida campus.
The 10th Annual Polk Vision Mayors Roundtable is being hosted by the City of Winter Haven, at the Florida Citrus Building/Nora Mayo Hall on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 from 9 – 11:30 a.m. Mayors from across the 17 cities in Polk County along with the Chair of the Polk County Board of Commissioners, will sit down together to discuss top issues and important topics affecting communities in Polk County.
Produced by Polk Vision, this annual event provides an opportunity for elected leaders from every municipality in Polk County to have a public conversation about successes, challenges and collaboration opportunities to create more awareness, cooperation and support of the shared long term Vision for Polk County.
Over the past six months the City of Winter Haven Utility Customer Service Division has focused on improved customer service for an efficient and comprehensive experience for our citizens. As a result of this emphasis on our customers, a number of developments and enhancements are now available for citizens and businesses.
The Utility Customer Service Division implemented the online Smart Energy Water (SEW) portal and Mobil App providing customers with more information, greater options, and an improved experience. To access the portal, go to the city’s website at https://wh2o.mywinterhaven.com/portal/. Use your existing user name and password to access your account and the added features. Customers are encouraged to download the new Mobile App to access the same online services. Search for “WH2o” in the Google and Apple store. Make a payment, view your water usage, compare your usage to that of the average customer, and learn about conservation opportunities. These new account options accept credit cards and e-checks, stores payment methods for future payments, and offers the “Auto Pay” enrollment option. Notification preferences such as “Text & Pay” can also be set up for bill due-date reminders so customers can pay bills with one easy text.
When opening an account for water utility service, the Utility Customer Service Division has created an easier and more convenient process. Once a service application is completed and submitted either in person or electronically via the City website, a credit verification system (this does not include a credit check) is used to confirm the applicant’s identity. This eliminates the need to submit an original copy of a social security card and driver’s license when applying for utility services.
Certain temporary service policies have been established to better accommodate the needs of local licensed realtors. When water service needs to be activated for an inspection, a deposit is needed for three-day temporary service. Just complete the simplified application on the City website and a Utility Customer Service Representative will contact you to confirm your request. Account fees and water use will continue to be charged on a monthly basis.
These customer service enhancements were developed as part of the Best Practice process to better serve the Winter Haven Utility customer. They create a more seamless process and greater convenience to the customer service experience. Customers with questions can contact the Utility Department Customer Service Office at 863-291-5678, or visit https://www.mywinterhaven.com/utilities where information and a series of video tutorials are available.
Central Florida’s Visitor Information Center (CFVIC) will host a Health Expo on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 8 a.m. until noon. This free event, entitled the “Be 5weet Expo” is to help educate visitors, and residents, on the health and safety measures CFVIC and Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing are recommending to help keep people safe while visiting Polk County. Tourism is Polk County’s, and Florida’s, largest industry. In 2019, visitors to Polk County spent more than $1.5 billion in accommodations, restaurants, food, entertainment and shopping. The Be 5weet campaign includes these five steps below for residents and visitors to be sweet to one another, in order to create a safe community for residents, which in turn helps create a safe destination for people to visit.
1. Social Distance
2. Mask Up
3. Wash Hands
4. Stay Home if Sick
5. Follow Guidelines
Local vendors such as Bond Clinic, BayCare, Simply Healthcare, Soni Family Practice of Davenport and The Blood Mobile will be on site for this free event, to talk about their services and hand out health and safety products, including masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers. All giveaways are while supplies last. There will be safety measures in place to promote social distancing and proper hygiene. For more information, or to inquire about being a vendor, call (863) 420-2586.
In addition to assisting visitors and residents (by providing tourism information about Polk County), CFVIC also sells discounted attraction tickets for many Central Florida attractions (including LEGOLAND Florida Resort). The information center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week (excluding major holidays), and is located at 101 Adventure Court, Davenport, FL 33837 (along U.S. Highway 27), a half-mile south of I-4 at Exit 55.
SPCA Florida adopted 358 animals into loving homes during the month-long Clear the Shelters™ 2020 Adoption Campaign. To help individuals and communities continue to practice safe social distancing measures, this year’s initiative ran from August 1 through August 31, featuring adoptions by appointment. This is the sixth consecutive year that NBC and Telemundo owned stations presented their popular pet adoption campaign to communities nationwide. This campaign was in partnership with affiliate stations and shelters/rescues.
“Collaborative efforts usually result in successful results,” said Shelley Thayer, Executive Director, SPCA Florida. “Our supporters at Orlando Cat Café, Petco, and PetSmart were instrumental in helping us place animals into loving homes,” said Thayer. “We could not have reached these numbers without them,” she stated.
SPCA Florida continues to make adoptions by appointment. To find your forever family member please call 863-577-4615 for an arrange a visit. All pets are fully vetted, vaccinated and microchipped. SPCA has a great variety of cats, dogs and kittens in all sizes and colors.
SPCA Florida is asking everyone to stretch a little further this year and help homeless animals who are oblivious to COVID conditions. To give them the second change they deserve, please go online at www.spcaflorida.org and donate, or call 863-577-4600. If you cannot donate, please consider fostering to save a life.
About SPCA Florida
Founded in 1979, SPCA Florida is a 501(c)3 non-profit, no-kill organization headquartered in Lakeland. Dedicated to improving the lives of pets and people in the community. SPCA Florida provides caring, compassion and hope to more than 6,000 homeless animals entering our doors each year. Open to the public, our SPCA Florida Animal Medical Center is a state-of-the-art veterinary facility that heals and helps 50,000 patients annually. Thousands more pets and people are served through our community outreach and education programs.
During our Chamber's August Winter Haven Development Industry Roundtable Assistant City Manager T. Michael Stavres gave an update on the ongoing and upcoming capital improvement projects happening through the City government. Suffice it to say, the City is continuing to move forward and making investments in the infrastructure and quality of life of our residents. You can watch a video of Asst. City Manager Stavres presentation below or read the reader's digest version below.
There is nothing we love more than when local business and Chamber members are awarded bids to do local projects. Many of these projects are going to bid soon, so if you are interested in being a potential vendor register here and watch this website for updates. If you are unsure how to do business with the City, we did a webinar with the City on using their procurement system which can be accessed on our YouTube page here.
“There are more than 5,000 financial institutions in the United States. Having both South State and CenterState named to the list of 100 best banks in America is indicative of the standards of excellence both banks have upheld,” said John Corbett, CEO of CenterState Bank. “South State was the only bank named to the list for South Carolina, and CenterState was the top-ranked bank for Florida, which speaks volumes about the two institutions.”