The Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU) recently designated Polk State College as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) as the College’s Hispanic student population has reached 26 percent and continues to grow. Additionally, Polk State is now eligible for Title V and HSI STEM federal grant funds that support institutions that enroll large proportions of minority and financially disadvantaged students. The College will apply for these funds through the U.S Department of Education to further support its services to students.



Polk County Public Schools will offer two learning options for students in the 2021-2022 school year. The first option will be traditional campus learning with face-to-face instruction. The second option will be Polk Virtual School, the district’s longstanding program that allows students to take online lessons. Students have flexibility in their daily work schedule and may work at an accelerated pace, so time management and self-motivation are essential for success. For more information about Polk Virtual and how to enroll, visit



The Winter Haven Chamber Foundation, in partnership with State Farm, awarded  $17,000 in college and vocational scholarships to local students. The ceremony recognized the recipients on June 30 at the Chamber. Several years ago they partnered to create an annual scholarship program focused on high school seniors at the Winter Haven area high schools, Lake Region, New Beginnings, and Chain of Lakes Collegiate. Congratulations to the students!



Polk County Fire Rescue’s chaplains assisted first responder crews in the Surfside Condo recovery mission in Miami. Their assistance was requested from Miami Dade Fire Rescue. Polk’s chaplains work with firefighters and emergency medical personnel to provide valuable guidance to those who need emotional or spiritual support. They use a non-denominational approach and promote a culture of religious tolerance and acceptance. In Miami, they were also on the ground with first responders, in hard hats and at the ready to immediately provide their services.



Polk County’s Roads and Drainage maintenance units are now equipped with automatic sandbag machines to assist residents with storm preparation. The addition of the machines will mean a different process for getting bags filled. Now, when someone arrives at one of the units, they will be able to pick up 10 bags, load them in their vehicle and be on their way. Please note the sandbag sites will only be open at designated times before storm events. Those notifications of openings and operating times will be posted on and Polk County Government’s Facebook, Twitter and NextDoor accounts.



The 300-acre expansion of the Bone Valley ATV Park is moving ahead with the recently approved construction contract with Bartow-based Bul-Hed Corp. The $487,000 contract will include extensive land clearing, general earthwork, and revegetation. The work is expected to take about 18 months. Following its completion, the county will be able to begin developing additional trails, tracks, and camping facilities. Earlier this year, the park was approved for a $1 million federal grant administered by the state and $200,000 in matching county funds to build a bridge linking the existing park with the northern expansion. The bridge will allow ATV riders to go between the original 200-acre tract and the new, 300-acre tract on the north side of County Road 630.



Explorations V Children’s Museum is becoming Florida Children’s Museum when the 30-year-old institution relocates to Bonnet Springs Park mid 2022. There will be something for the whole family spread across the 47,800 square feet of hands-on exploration. The new state-of-the-art facility will have new experiences for kids of all ages.  The building has been designed to be an inclusive building with predictive floor patterns to show pathways to public spaces, sound dampening wall treatments, wheelchair access and so much more. The goal is to help all children feel safe and secure.



The Personal Safety and Women’s Basic Self Defense classes are free of charge and for ladies 13 years and older. Each class is approximately one hour long. The class consists of a lecture (approximately 15 minutes) and hands-on techniques (approximately 45 minutes). Attendees will demonstrate all of the techniques on a body opponent bag (B.O.B.) which they will supply. Saturday, Aug. 7, 10am at the PCSO Sheriff’s Operations Center, 1891 Jim Keene Blvd, Winter Haven.

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