Photos and Article by Chuck Seaver, South Lake Tablet

We, at the South Lake Tablet, have found that our community is the home of people with blended backgrounds, possessing an assortment of talents, interests, and experiences. Many of these unique people go far beyond their everyday routines to make life better for their families, neighbors, and friends.

Each month, the South Lake Tablet will place a “spotlight” on one of these residents who selflessly devote time and effort to make a positive impact on his/her community.

 This month’s community spotlight shines on Kelly Stone, a Lieutenant with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. Kelly is not only a deputy sheriff but a fixture in the South Lake Community when it comes to youth and community involvement. Kelly’s dedication to the betterment of young lives is above and beyond her normal duties as a Sheriff’s Office Commander who oversees special events, partnerships with the community, and public relations.

As a 1995 transplant from Illinois, Kelly began her career with the sheriff’s office in 1998. She has served in several capacities as a deputy, including road patrol and school resource officer before being promoted to the rank of sergeant. After serving as a patrol sergeant, Kelly returned to the school resource program as a supervisor before being promoted to her current rank. “I really enjoyed my time as a school resource deputy. I enjoy helping others and trying to make a positive difference in someone’s life. I feel that I’ve had a huge impact on the students that I interacted with at South Lake High School. Life is tough as a teen, and I always tried to make sure that the mental health of everyone was good. I would tell students who were troubled or had been victims of whatever negativity they were exposed to, that the picture they were seeing was not their picture to keep. I coached the girl’s softball team at South Lake High School for three years while at the high school. I always tried to interact with the students and ball players in a way that revealed that law enforcement officers are human too. Officers and deputies are approachable, and I do my best to instill that into the public,” says Kelly.

Kelly, who possesses a bachelor’s degree in police administration, also practices her commitment to the community as a certified Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team member. CISM is a nationally recognized intervention protocol developed specifically for dealing with traumatic events. CISM is a formal, highly structured, and professionally recognized process for helping those involved in a critical incident to share their experiences, vent emotions, learn about stress reactions and symptoms, and give referrals for further help if required. The program was first designed for use with military combat veterans and has now encompassed civilian first responders such as law enforcement, firefighters, and disaster rescuers.

In line with her job responsibilities, Kelly is also a law enforcement instructor at Lake Technical College, including her role as a firearms instructor. She is also the commanding officer of the Hostage Negotiations Team-2 Specialized Unit. As a graduate of the Southern Police Institutes Command Officers Development Course, a University of Louisville 400-hour specialized training course for command staff, Kelly has also completed the prestigious Leadership Lake Class #23. She is also a graduate of the second graduating class of the National Public Safety Innovation Academy (NIA). The NIA is a partnership program between the Polk State College and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The program is one of only three national command schools throughout the nation. She was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the MADD organization in 2024.

With her busy schedule, Kelly still finds time to add extra personal touches to her public relations passion. She can often be seen at Mascotte Charter School participating in the school’s Kiwanis Terrific Kids program. As an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Clermont, Kelly has kicked off a program beginning this summer that will provide peanut butter and jelly for the school children’s summer fun and learning programs. The goal is to supply each child with a new, unused jar of peanut butter and jelly at the end of each week to take home and help out with their family’s rising grocery budget. “We are still working on including a loaf of bread as well. The program is somewhat of a pilot program at Mascotte Charter this summer. If all goes well, we will look at expanding the program to other schools next year,” says Kelly.

Kelly is also busy organizing the Sheriff’s Department’s annual “Project Kid Connect” event to be held on July 13, 2024. The event provides free backpacks and school supplies. The event is family-oriented and includes free drinks and food, including hot dogs, chips, popcorn, and Mr. Softee ice cream. “One thousand backpacks will be given away this year, up from eight-hundred and fifty last year,” says Kelly. Included in the event will be fun photos for kids, dunk-a-deputy for a Krispy Kreme donut, and a free eyes and ears check for children by the Lake County Health Department. The Clermont Fire Department will be giving away free smoke detectors to family adults. The event will be held from 9 am-12 pm at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department South District Office, 15855 State Road- 50, Clermont. The event is sponsored by the Lake County Sheriff’s Charities, Inc.


When asked if there was one single thing in the community that you could change, what would it be, Kelly replied “I would make sure that everyone got along with each other, and I would ensure that there was an abundance of community events that brought the community together. I would like to see a better connection between the public and law enforcement. We work hard at that, but society has become so divided that it makes our job difficult to get people to understand that we are human also. Homelessness among children is heartbreaking. It would be nice to see that all children had access to good nutritional food and clothing.“

Serving others is a family tradition in Kelly’s home. Her husband, Thom, is a police sergeant with the Clermont Police Department and is a twenty-six-year veteran of law enforcement. Her daughter, Keileigh, is currently enrolled in nursing school where she plans to enter the medical field as a registered nurse.

Lt. Stone has a deep-rooted connection to the South Lake Community through not only her career and family but her obvious personality trait of helping others. Her enduring smile and upbeat characteristics make talking to Kelly about problems or simple life joys easy. Thank you, Lt. Kelly Stone, for your service and commitment to our community.

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