Polk County is strategically located in the center of the Florida peninsula, about equal distance from the east and west coast and half way between the Georgia-Florida border and the Southern tip of the peninsula. Polk lies on the Interstate-4 corridor, 25 miles east of Tampa and 35 miles southwest of Orlando. As the geographic center of Florida, it is estimated that more than 7.5 million people reside within a 100 mile radius of Polk County. This is one of the largest concentrations of population in the southeast.
"Imperial" Polk County was the nickname given to the county by a newspaper editor to recognize the county's prominence in agriculture, phosphate and cattle with the timber, turpentine and naval stores operations making strong contributions. In 1914, the county issued a $1.5 million bond to pave a number of roads. That bond issue was considerable for those days, and allowed for 9-foot-wide roads to start from Bartow to Mulberry, Lake Wales, Fort Meade, Winter Haven, Lakeland and Auburndale. According to historical reports, then-county commission clerk W.S. Wev had the idea of erecting an arch over every paved road at its entrance to Polk County, proclaiming that the motorist was about to enter "Imperial Polk County." The name has since remained.
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The Polk County Board of County Commissioners has announced that they are passing an official proclamation to make Polk County one of the first “Purple Heart Counties” in the United States. Polk County has one of the largest veteran populations in Florida, being home to over 51,000 veterans. Many of these soldiers were wounded in combat and were awarded the Purple Heart. We appreciate the sacrifice these warriors have made defending our freedoms and believe it is important that we show them our gratitude and support. Along with the official
proclamation, which will be read on Aug. 7, there will be several celebratory events scheduled to take place around the county on Aug. 11, including a ground-breaking announcement for a memorial to be constructed in Lakeland to honor the county’s Purple Heart recipients.
We need your help to celebrate our county’s military heroes for the sacrifices they made that earned them the Purple Heart. Please contribute your story about how you or a family member earned the Purple Heart so that we can collect and share them with our community. Just add the story of your experience below and click “send.” Even if you choose not to share your story, please fill in your name and contact information below and click “send” so that we can attempt to compile a more accurate list of Purple Heart recipients in our country.