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Polk County

Polk County special needs nonprofit ordered to stop holding events on lake

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) - A local nonprofit group that teaches people with special needs to water ski has been ordered to stop holding water skiing events on a Winter Haven lake.

"Some of them, it's the ability to do something they've never done before," Ann's Angels Vice President Steve Meschke told News Channel 8.

Meschke helps run the nonprofit Ann's Angels.

Meschke's Winter Haven property sits on Lake Jessie, making his dock the perfect place to hold events.

The organization provides adaptable equipment so anyone can ski, no matter their limitations.

"The kids come out, the adults come out, the seniors come out. Everybody comes out and gets involved in this," Ann's Angels President John Lipscomb said.

But, the group is finding out that not everyone is on board. Neighbor complaints prompted Polk County Code Enforcement to get involved.

"The organization that sponsors the event and makes a donation to help offset the costs, you know, lunch, and gas, whatever it might be, that means we're a ski school," Meschke explained that a ski school is not allowed in a residential area.

Now Ann's Angels members have to fight to continue doing what they love.

"We just want to continue doing this and providing for the disabled," Lipscomb said.

Meschke said the group needs people to come forward if they have ever taken ski lessons on Lake Jessie in Winter Haven.

"The county was nice enough to explain to us that if we can prove that we've been a ski school back long enough, back in the 1970's, that we can get grandfathered in as a ski school," according to Meschke.

Otherwise, the group hopes to get enough donations to hold their events somewhere else.

For more information about Ann's Angels, click here. 

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