It’s a new year, and we are back to work at the County Commission. This means that we’ve resumed our regular meeting schedule, and we’re working with our partners from our legislative delegation to set Broward’s top priorities for this year’s legislative session in Tallahassee.
Of course, though we try and focus these newsletters on the positive aspects of Broward County, events over the course of these last few weeks have ranged from the unfortunate to the tragic.
"Moment of Reflection" Honors Those Killed and Injured
Several hundred employees at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport gathered at Terminal 2's central baggage claim area on January 13 to honor victims of a tragic active shooter incident. The "Moment of Reflection" ceremony at 12:54PM was a step toward healing in the somber aftermath of the tragic January 6 incident that left five airport passengers dead and several others injured.
You can view the video from the Moment of Reflection
Sand Bypass Top Priority Project for the Legislature
We in Broward County have been working with the DEP, the State Legislature, and Governor on the Port Everglades Sand Bypass for many years. This project will allow the sand flow naturally from Port Everglades down to Hollywood. I am pleased to report that the State has ranked this project #1 on their priority list for Inlet Sand Bypassing. We still have a long way to go as the Legislature still must appropriate the funds in the House and Senate Budgets
South Florida Regional Planning Council’s December Tri-Rail Coastal Link Corridor Meeting
I had quite the adventure getting to the South Florida Regional Planning Council’s Tri-Rail Coastal Link meeting at the Convention Center back on December 16th. It typically takes me 20 minutes to drive up US 1 from my house up to 17th Street in Fort Lauderdale, where the Convention Center is. I was looking forward to this meeting organized by the South Florida Regional Planning Council for some time, knowing that participants would be coming from both Miami Dade and Palm Beach Counties. So, I would guess I left myself an hour to make the trip.
With me, I had notes concerning the need for Commuter Rail on the Coast, and some historical maps showing that development in South Florida has already been built around the FEC rail line. Little did I know, that an accident had shut down several northbound exits on I-95 and had done so since early that morning.
All of the rush hour traffic heading north was forced off of I-95, and started clogging all of the roads around the airport. Intersections were blocked, and cars in all directions came to a standstill. I wound up sitting on US 1 in gridlocked, bumper to bumper traffic for 4 whole hours.
I finally arrived to this summit in time to participate with the last panel of local elected leaders from across Broward. The irony was fitting, and I told the audience, “There isn’t a single statistic, illustration or graph that I could have brought here today that would better capture the need for alternative modes of transportation, than the fact that it took me 4 hours to move 10 miles today.”
From L-R: Broward County Transportation Director Chris Walton, Florida Department of Transportation District 4 Secretary Gerry O’Reilly, South Florida Regional Planning Council Executive Director Isabel Cosío Carballo, Vice Mayor Beam Furr, and Moderator John Kaliski from Cambridge Systematics
Luckily, the South Florida Regional Planning Council posted videos from each panel discussion, and the powerpoint presentations
C51 Project Status Update - Designation as Priority Alternative Water Supply Project
It is with great pleasure that I am writing to share good news relating the C51 Project.
At the January 12, 2017 meeting of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, the board members provided unanimous support in designating the C51 Reservoir Project – Phase 1 as the District’s priority alternative water supply project.
This project would build a reservoir in Palm Beach County that could connect to the existing canal system throughout South Florida, and hold millions of gallons of fresh storm water during our rainy season, and store that water for future irrigation and agriculture uses.
The timing was critical as we are heading up to engage with senior leaders in Tallahassee to secure the gap financing needed as part of budget development during this next legislative session.
Mock Commission Debate
On Friday, January 13th, 2017 my colleague, Commissioner Chip Lamarca organized a Broward County Government Youth Day. The 50-60 middle school students joined us in the Commission Chambers for a mock debate on whether Broward County needed to keep its libraries in the internet age.
I served as chair, and Commissioners Lamarca and Holness each helped the pro and con sides of the debate, along with students who served as commissioners. We heard testimony from students in the audience on each side of the debate, and I’m pleased to report that the mock commission voted to keep our libraries. The goal of the day is to help students learn about Broward County Government, how local government works and how local government can directly affect their lives. I feel that they truly gained an unforgettable experience while also attaining valuable information about Broward County Government.
Broward County Announces New Libraries Director
I hope you will all join me in welcoming Kelvin Watson, who has been named the new Broward County Libraries Director, effective February 26, 2017. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President for Queens Library in New York City. The Queens Library serves 2.3 million people from 62 locations plus seven Adult Learning Centers and two Family Literacy Centers. It circulates among the highest numbers of books and other library materials in the country.
Kelvin is credited with innovative community outreach to establishments who have not been active patrons of the library system, such as community centers, hospitals and jails. His background in addressing the digital divide has helped patrons understand how to use technology and realize how impactful these tools can be in their lives. As the new Libraries Director, his successes in establishing community partnership will be a key factor in building on the current partnerships that exist in Broward County.
Broward County has, for many years, worked collaboratively to bring a wide range of programming to children and families with the express goal of ensuring children are reading at grade level by third grade. Two years ago, we pulled together many of the major institutions and advocates to focus on early childhood education. Since then we have been meeting monthly to carve out a plan we can work on together. I am happy to announce that Broward County is now officially part of the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading. The national organization has accepted our “Community Solutions Action Plan”, which describes the inspired work being done by a broad cross-section of our entire community to foster early literacy and grade level reading. This effort is something of which we should all be proud.
Map of all of the Communities Participating in the Campaign for Grade Level Reading Across the United States
On Wednesday January 18th, I had the pleasure of returning to Hollywood City Hall to read the City of Hollywood’s resolution to become a Broward Reads city. The Broward Reads campaign focuses on four critical areas including school readiness, chronic absenteeism, family engagement, and preventing the summer learning loss to ensure Broward’s children are reading at grade level.
Come February 15th, all three of the cities in District 6 will officially be Broward Reads cities. The
City of Pembroke Pines will have the Broward Reads presentation and resolution on the schedule for their
February 15th Commission Meeting, which begins at 6:30 PM. The
City of Hallandale Beach will host the same on
Wednesday February 1st.
Vice Mayor Furr, Children’s Services Council President/CEO Cindy Arenberg Selzer and Superintendent Robert Runcie give the gift of reading as part of Broward Reads
Broward County Emergency Management Director Miguel Ascarrunz wins Thomas Yatabe Award from the State Emergency Response Commission
I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Broward County Emergency Management Director Miguel Ascarrunz. Miguel Ascarrunz has been given this year’s Thomas Yatabe Award in recognition of the outstanding contributions made in the implementation and support of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). The State Emergency Response Commission’s Membership Committee reviewed the nominations made by the regional chapters, and presented the awards at their annual meeting in Daytona Beach.
During Hurricane Matthew, Miguel Ascarrunz and the Emergency Management Team worked tirelessly to ensure that Broward County and all of our coordinating agencies were prepared to handle the worst. Of course, I am incredibly grateful that our community missed the worst of that storm, but seeing the Emergency Management Team up close gave me a deep appreciation for how much work goes into everything they do.
Judicial Robing Ceremony
I had the pleasure of reading the proclamation for newly sworn in judges Thomas Michael Lynch V, Florence Taylor Barner, Kim Mollica and Barbara Duffy at the Judicial Robing Ceremony organized by the Broward Bar Association on Thursday, January 19th.
Judge Thomas Michael Lynch IV helps to robe his son, Judge Thomas Michael Lynch V
Success in Controlling Cat Populations in Hollywood’s North Beach and TY Parks through No-Kill Trap-Neuter-Return policy
Near the end of 2014, Broward County Parks and Recreation reached an agreement with two local animal rescue groups that had been providing ongoing care of feral and abandoned cats at Hollywood North Beach Park and Topeekeegee Yugnee (TY) Park. We estimated that there were 86 cats in residence at Hollywood North beach and 30 at TY Park.
Tracey Paige and Cat Pals members had been attending to the cats in North Beach Park, and Suzanne Williams and Cat Crusade managed the colony of feral cats in TY Park. There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of cats, and no harm has come to any of these animals. As of this month there are 13 cats remaining at Hollywood North Beach and 8 at TY Park. All of these cats have new homes pending, and Parks and Recreation are working with the rescue groups to trap them humanely.
County Receives Grant of More than $8 Million to Assist Homeless Population - Grant funds 18 renewal projects, 1 new projects, including 15 additional beds for eligible homeless
The Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership has been awarded a grant of more than $8 million by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the 2016 HUD Homeless Continuum of Care Program Competition.
The HUD Continuum of Care Program award will fund 18 renewal projects and 1 new Continuum of Care Planning project providing Supportive Services, Homeless Management Information System Support, Continuum of Care Planning, Transitional Housing, Rapid Rehousing, and Permanent Supportive Housing. The projects provide 690 permanent, 112 rapid rehousing, and 25 transitional beds (827 beds total) with related supportive services to Broward's homeless population. Most importantly, these new funds will create 15 new permanent supportive housing beds for chronically homeless persons in partnership with Broward County Housing Authority and Broward Housing Solutions.
Extended Hours at the Pembroke Pines Library
Installing the Officers of the Hallandale Beach Chamber of Commerce
Congratulations to the incoming Executive Committee and the Board of Directors for the Hallandale Beach Chamber of Commerce. I had the pleasure of conducting the installation of officers Friday, January 27th at Adena Grill in Gulfstream Park.
President- Jesus Abikarram
Vice President- Oscar Llorente
President Elect -Barbara Vaigauskaite
Treasurer -Tom Schattie
General Counsel- Anthony Adelson
Michael Fucheck- Immediate Past President
Board of Directors
Adriana Azzolini, Elias Benaim, Mayra Castillo, Milin Espino, Joe Kessel, Susan Mandel, Kimberley Russell, Silvia Todorov, Tamara Tretyakova
Pegasus World Cup comes to Gulfstream Park
On Saturday January 28th,
Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach hosted the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational. It was the largest purse ever awarded in racing history. The anticipated highlight of the event was to be a rematch between California Chrome and Arrogate who beat Chrome by half a length in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Unfortunately, this didn’t develop as Arrogate won an easy victory with California Chrome finishing a dismal 9th. This was California Chrome’s last race, as he will go into retirement.
Hispanic Unity of Florida Offers Free Tax Prep as one of many VITA Sites in Broward
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. You can read more about this service offered at Hispanic Unity of Florida
Or find the VITA site closest to you
The Big Read
I try my best to participate in the Big Read each year. This year, our selection feels timely and relevant in that way that great literature often can.
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.
The Big Read, a community-wide reading project, is exploring The Namesake by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, with a full calendar of events including book and film discussions, lectures, writing and visual arts workshops, Indian cultural programs and other fun, family-friendly programs.
A limited number of free books are available for those wishing to participate in book discussions and other related activities. For a full list of Big Read events, please visit our
Big Read web page.
“Be Mine” Valentine’s Day Dog Contest
13th Annual Groundhogs Day on Hollywood Beach
It must be time for the 13th Annual Groundhog Day on Hollywood Beach, a time-honored tradition celebrating a universal hope for a warmer tomorrow – or at least a significant warm-up by noon. The event will take place on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 from 6:30-8:00 a.m. at Ocean Alley Restaurant and Beach Bar, located at 900 N. Broadwalk (at A1A & Indiana Street) on the world-famous Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. The legendary Groundhog Swim will be at 7:30 a.m. A $12 donation includes breakfast and a free souvenir T-shirt for swimmers.
Shirts are available for non-swimmers at an additional $12 if quantities last. Proceeds will benefit the Hollywood Beach Lifeguard Competition Team.
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 email@example.com.