Tuesday, February 24, 2016 - Volume 2 Issue 2


Things have been busy here at the Government Center this last month. Here are a few things that we’ve been working on.

Child Care Proposal

On March 1st the Board of Broward County Commissioners will be voting for an amendment to our County’s Child Care Licensing Ordinance. This amendment will require that all applications for new and renewal of licenses include the identity of every person working at that facility as well as their educational credentials.

We know a lot about early learning. Through brain science we know of the incredible power that rich early learning experiences (think birth to 5 years old) have on developing brains. We also know that the lack of those early learning experiences can lead to limitations of how much that person can contribute to our society as an adult. We know the elements that make up quality early learning programs and we know that a well prepared early educator is key to high quality learning.

What we don’t know is what the landscape looks like in terms of the level of preparation in Broward’s current early education workforce. While Palm Beach and Miami Dade Counties have each collected extensive information about their workforce we, in Broward County, are lacking access to that information about our own. Having this information would allow us to make decisions about how and where to best direct resources that develop early learning educators.

In my mind, when we speak about a focus on quality of early learning, we are speaking about nothing less than creating a future Broward County in which we can all prosper. As a Commission, we should be seeking to set policies that support Broward’s early educators, preparing them for their very important work. Our children deserve well prepared teachers.

2016 Elections Are Here – Check Your Precinct

As we come into what looks to be a contentious election year, it is important to make sure that we, the electors, are prepared to fully participate in the American democratic process.

If you are registered to vote, it may be helpful to verify your precinct, as the Supervisor of Election’s Office consolidated the precinct map in 2014. You can check your precinct, and find your Election Day Polling Place here.

If, for any reason, you believe that you will not be able to vote at your precinct’s polling place on Election Day, Florida Law allows you to vote in person at an Early Voting location, or you can Vote by Mail. Any voter in Florida can Vote by Mail for any reason, and starting this year, postage is pre-paid for all Vote by Mail return envelopes in Broward. This means if you Vote by Mail, you do not need to put any postage on your ballot in order to send it in.

No Postage Neccesary

You can request your Vote by Mail ballot here.

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Update on Regionalized 911

In October of 2014, the County’s Consolidated E-911 services went live throughout Broward County. Now that the system has been up and running for a little over a year, it is a good time to look over the strengths and weaknesses of this system. Also, there is now a new non-emergency number that can be used throughout the County 954-764-HELP (4357).

Prior to consolidation, each city effectively ran its own dispatch service for police, fire rescue and emergency medical services. This made sense when most 911 calls were made from land lines. The call would go straight from the caller’s phone to the local dispatch office. During this time, local dispatchers got to know their communities inside and out. Even in the era of paper maps, a local dispatcher could approximate your address based on their knowledge of local landmarks.

Now, upwards of 80 percent of all emergency calls are made from people on their cell phones. When you make a call from your cell phone, the call first travels to the nearest cell tower before connecting to the phone on the other end of the line. This created a problem as cell phone calls to 911 were being routed to the dispatch office closest to the cell tower, not the office closest to the caller. This means that if you made a 911 call on your cell phone in 2012, the dispatcher who picked up your call might not have jurisdiction to send police or fire rescue to the site of your emergency. If that was the case, that dispatcher would have to determine your location as well as the appropriate dispatch agency for that location, and transfer your call to them.

Call Center Chart

This was a problem. When a person called 911, the minutes spent transferring a call could be the difference between life or death.

To solve this problem, the County and the cities (except Plantation and Coral Springs) created a plan to regionalize all dispatch services into three regional centers – one in the North, one in the Center, and one in the South - each to be operated by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

The County and the cities chose the Sheriff’s Office to operate these facilities because prior to the consolidation, the Sheriff’s Office provided dispatch services for all of the cities that contracted with BSO for Fire Rescue or Law Enforcement services. Therefore, it made the most sense to migrate the dispatchers from the cities with their own systems onto the one used by the Sheriff’s Office at the new regional centers.

Commissioner Furr visiting the South Regional Dispatch Center in Pembroke Pines.
Commissioner Furr visiting the South Regional Dispatch Center in Pembroke Pines.

The goal of the consolidation is two-fold. The first goal is to stop transferring emergency calls from one city dispatch service to another. The second goal is to ensure that all dispatch employees in Broward County are given the best possible equipment, software and training when handling emergency calls.

In December 2015, the Regional Consolidated System handled a total of 199,125 incoming calls consisting of 115,509 emergency 911 calls; 67,928 non‐emergency calls; and 15,688 alarm calls. Of these calls, the South Regional Facility in Pembroke Pines handled 27,379 emergency 911 calls, and they answered 98.44 percent of all the incoming calls within 20 seconds. The South Regional Facility only transferred 66 emergency 911 calls, representing 0.24 percent of the total number of emergency 911 calls for the month.

Call Transfers Chart

This system is not without its faults, and as your County Commissioner it's my job is to find ways to improve it. One of the benefits of this system is that we finally have comprehensive data for how the entire 911 system is performing. I cannot stress this enough. Prior to the consolidation, each city kept its own records for call transfers, pickup times, and response times. However, there was never any guarantee that each city was using the same standards for how it chose to measure these things. Therefore, it was not the case where Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale knew which city had the best response time for an incoming 911 emergency call. Now we know how long it takes for each call to be answered, and we know how long it takes from the point of the call to the delivery of emergency services.

We need this data in order to improve. We cannot simply look at individual parts of the system anymore. What’s more, I think there needs to be a greater investment in the continued training of all personnel in this new system. Of course, we miss the days when the dispatcher only had to know that Beam was calling, and they knew my parents’ names, my address, and the color of my house. In a County of 1.8 million residents, where emergency calls are just as likely to be made by visitors or residents, we need a system that provides the best level of service as quickly and as accurately as possible.

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Broward County Library Offers Online High School and Career Certification Programs

Career Online High School

The 2015 high school graduation rate in Broward County was the highest it has been in the past five years, 76.6 percent. Even so, nearly 24 percent of students failed to graduate. A high school diploma continues to be an important entry requirement for many job opportunities. Thousands of young people in Broward County need another option to complete their high school education.

I am happy to announce that Broward County Library is offering scholarships to Career Online High School (COHS). This is an online high school diploma and career certification program that is funded by the Division of Library and Information Services, Florida Department of State.

To receive a scholarship, a prospective student must meet the following criteria:

  • Age 19 years and older
  • Complete one year of high school
  • Have a Broward County Library card in good standing or willing to apply for one
  • Must successfully complete a self-assessment, a two-week pre-requisite course and an interview

Broward County Library staff will be prepared to offer customers who do not meet the criteria other educational options that are available in the library and/or with community partners.

All scholarships must be awarded by March 30, 2016 and the number of scholarships is limited. If you, or someone you know is interested, please visit the Career Online High School webpage as soon as possible and follow the directions given there.

Charter Review
The Broward County Charter serves as the Constitution for Broward County Government. It was originally adopted in 1974, and provides for the appointment of a Charter Review Commission every 10 years. The County Charter is currently under review.

The Charter Review Commission (CRC) is authorized and empowered to conduct a comprehensive study of any or all phases of County Government, including significant regional, long-term and complex issues facing Broward County in the coming decade. Recommendations of the Charter Review Commission will help determine the design of Broward County Government, and how it should function to best meet the needs of the people. Recommendations must be voted on by the electorate.

You will be voting on the recommendations made to the CRC in the 2018 general election. Over the next two years, the CRC will be meeting once per month to discuss different aspects of their review. I would like to hear from you if you have any suggestions for new ways that Broward County can organize our government.

If you would like to learn more about this process, take a look at the Charter Review Commission webpage.

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Congratulations to the New Officers of Condominium Owners Of Pembroke Pines Association COOPPA

Broward Mayor Marty Kiar and I both attended the Installation Dinner.

Broward Mayor Marty Kiar and I both attended the Installation Dinner of new officers of the Condominium Owners of Pembroke Pines Association (COOPPA) at Century Village Pembroke Pines. It is often said that Century Village in Pembroke Pines could be a city unto itself, and to that end, the volunteers at COOPPA do a tremendous job in helping their residents connect with services. I wish to give special recognition to COOPPA President, Bernice Werner, for being elected to another term. Bernice has been a great friend over the years, and she continues to amaze me with how much she accomplishes for her community.

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Congratulations to the Hollywood Council of Civic Associations on a Successful 1st Annual “Be Mine” Dog Show!
I was very happy to be one of the judges at the 1st Annual “Be Mine” Dog Show hosted by the Hollywood Council of Civic Associations this past Saturday at Stan Goldman “Hollywoof” Dog Park. Dozens of families brought their dogs, and competed in categories from “Most Unique” to “Best Costume.” I thought I had picked one of the easier categories to judge with “Longest Tail,” but I can now say from experience that no dog likes having its tail measured.

1st Annual “Be Mine” Dog Show.

Funds raised at the event are going to the HCCA’s Pete Brewer Scholarship Fund, and I hope to see even more people and their pets out there next year.

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Feeding South Florida is Holding a 35-Hour Sort-a-Thon for their 35th Birthday – Sign Up to Volunteer Now!

Feeding South Florida.
Feeding South Florida President & CEO - Paco Velez, VP of Community Relations - Sari Vatske, Broward County Commissioner - Beam Furr, VP of Finance - Michelle Hofmann, and VP of Operations - Jeff Jones

I want to thank Feeding South Florida for inviting me to their annual Wine in the Warehouse, it was amazing to see the scope of their operation in Pembroke Park. Forty million tons of food is distributed from here to various sites throughout the County. Hunger in South Florida is a real concern. There is a tremendous opportunity that we all have to make a big impact, just by volunteering a few hours at a time. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to sign up for the Feeding South Florida 35-Hour Sort-a-Thon, which Feeding South Florida is holding in honor of their 35th year serving the needs of our community.

Feeding South Florida Logo
Feeding South Florida 35th Birthday

To celebrate 35 years of service to the community, Feeding South Florida is hosting a birthday bash in the form of its first-ever 35 HOUR SORT-A-THON and you're invited!

Register Here

For more information, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Charlotte VanDyken, at cvandyken@feedingsouthflorida.org or call 954.518.1824.

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Homeless Point in Time Count

Homeless Point in Time Count

Thank you to everyone who volunteered to be part of the Homeless Point in Time Count this year. There were more than 350 volunteers who came out over three days in some rough weather. In fact, a tornado touched down near the North Broward Homeless Assistance Center during the first day of the count. The annual Point In Time Count is extremely important for a number of reasons. For one, the number of homeless persons counted provides guidelines for appropriate federal and state funding to meet the needs of persons experiencing homelessness in our community. Through my participation, I personally gained new insights into the challenges our community faces. I encourage you to consider volunteering your time for this cause.

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Water Matters Day – March 12th at Tree Tops Park in Davie

14th Annual Water Matters Day

For more information on Water Matters Day, please visit here.

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Big Read

The Big Read

The Big Read, a community-wide reading project, is exploring the classic coming-of age novel, A Wizard of Earthsea, with a full calendar of events including book and film discussions, lectures, storytelling events, Tai Chi demonstrations, writing and visual arts workshops, and other fun, family-friendly programs.

Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea is one of the most widely admired American fantasy novels of the past 50 years. Earthsea - composed of an archipelago of many islands - is a land of the imagination. Actions there possess an epic grandeur, a mythic resonance that we associate with romance and fairy tale.

For more information about events related to The Big Read, please visit here.

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Save Up to $150 in Tax Preparation Fees

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

Hispanic Unity of Florida has offered the 100 percent FREE Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) to the low to moderate income communities of Broward County for more than 10 years. IRS-Certified Volunteer Tax preparers assist individuals and families to identify tax credits they are eligible for in order to maximize return refunds and bring critical dollars back to the communities most in need. The services are provided from numerous community sites and offered in three languages (English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole.) - See more here. Learn more at VITATaxesFree.org or call 2-1-1 to find a site nearest you.

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Contact Us

Contact Us

Our district office is conveniently located in the lobby of the Hollywood Branch of the Broward County Public Library at 2600 Hollywood Blvd, next to Hollywood City Hall. This office is open for your convenience Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. If you would like to schedule an appointment, or you have a great idea, suggestion or an issue that needs my attention, feel free to call me at 954-357-7006/7790 or send me an email at bfurr@broward.org.

County Commissioner Beam Furr District 6
Broward County Commission | 115 S. Andrews Ave. Room 412 | Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Email - BFurr@Broward.org | Website - Broward.org | Phone: 954-357-7006