Local News

Charles Murphy News 1/25

News Cast for January 25th:

Okeechobee County and Glades County continued to see declines in unemployment levels in December.  Okeechobee’s fell from 5.5 to 5.2 percent.   Glades went from 6.1 to 5 and a half percent. The jobless rate one year ago in Okeechobee was 6.2 percent and was 6 percent in Glades County. The highest rate in the state was In Hendry County with 7.3 percent, and the lowest in Monroe County with 3.2 percent. Around the region, Osceola County had 4.9 percent, Highlands 6.3 percent, and St. Lucie 5.3 percent.  The state rate was five percent.

In the courts, 78 year old Onnie Shore of Brighton was not convicted of a crime as he pled no contest to child neglect and received one year probation.  A passerby said they found a two year old child in distress screaming in a hot car with the window slightly cracked on April 24th at the Publix Plaza.

35 year old Curtis Beachum of Dixie Ranch Acres pled no contest to one count of using an animal to fight or bait another animal and received two years’ probation. Sheriff Deputies say they found 7 roosters, 10 hens and 12 chicks at a residence on North West 86th Avenue last June 18th and found the roosters’ cobs clipped for fighting.  Six felony charges were dropped in the plea deal.

Sports Cast for January 25th:

Connor Cook had 39 points with five three point baskets in the second half to lead Hardee to an 83-78 victory over Okeechobee in an exciting High school basketball game Friday.

He praised his teammates for helping him to get good shot opportunities. Shaqouy Ferrol had 22 points and nine rebounds for Okeechobee.  Zachary Kielbasa had 18 points for OHS, all on three pointers.  Chris Epps added 12 points.

Coach Demetre Riles tipped his cat to Cook’s shooting accuracy.

Okeechobee won the junior varsity contest 72-41.  Juanyae Ford had 16 points and Janavious Futch had 15 points for the Brahmans.

Okeechobee girls’ basketball ripped DeSoto on the road 61-31 to prime them for tonight’s district tournament.  Okeechobee plays South Fork in the first round at 7 pm at South Fork.

Moore Haven boys’ hoops play at Lake Placid with JV at 6 and varsity at 7:30 and their girls’ hoops teams open up play at their district tournament hosted by Evangelical Christian.


Florida Forest Service Receives National Award During Prescribed Fire Awareness Week

Florida Forest Service Receives National Award During Prescribed Fire Awareness Week

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced today that the Florida Forest Service has received the Wildfire Mitigation Fire Service Leadership award for its record-breaking prescribed fire program.­­ This award comes just as Florida recognizes Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, which is from Jan. 24 through Jan. 30.

“The Florida Forest Service has worked tirelessly to protect Florida’s citizens, natural habitats, and property through its prescribed fire program, and it is wonderful to see the Florida Forest Service recognized as a model for the nation,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

The Wildfire Mitigation Awards are the highest commendation for innovation and leadership in wildfire preparedness and mitigation, and they are awarded by the National Association of State Foresters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fire Protection Association and the USDA Forest Service.

During the previous year, the Florida Forest Service treated more than 246,000 acres of state forests with prescribed fire, the highest number ever reported by a state forestry agency in United States history. In addition to its efforts on state forest lands, the Florida Forest Service also oversees the issuance of prescribed burning authorizations and administers Florida’s Certified Prescribed Burn Manager program. Currently, there are more than 1,600 certified prescribed burn managers who manage more than 2.3 million acres of agricultural and natural lands annually with prescribed fire.

“The Florida Forest Service has developed a prescribed fire program that encompasses a long-term, sustained approach to reducing wildfire risk, providing for resiliency across Florida’s landscapes and keeping our forests healthy,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than one million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.  To learn more about Florida Forest Service programs, visit FloridaForestService.com


FPL Care To Share® Program

FPL Care To Share® Program

FPL Care To Share® Program is accepting applications for assistance in Okeechobee
Do you know of an FPL customer living in Okeechobee who has experienced a recent crisis and needs help paying their electric bill? The FPL Care To Share Program may be able to help. The program provides qualified customers emergency assistance funds for their electric service up to once in a 12-month period, per household. FPL employees, shareholders and caring customers all contribute to the program and 100% of the funding collected goes to help eligible customers pay their FPL bill.

In Okeechobee County, the program is administered by The Salvation Army of St. Lucie County. To be pre-screened and considered for a possible intake appointment, customers should call 772-464-4846.  Appointments are usually set for Tuesdays from 10am to 2pm at 1600 SW 2nd Avenue. Intake is by appointment only and walk-in’s are not allowed. (Please note that there are times when funding may be limited and/or appointments may not be readily available).
To be eligible for Care To Share funds, applicants will need to:

  • Physically reside in FPL’s service area
  • Have an account with FPL or reside at the service location
  • Have identification with the same address as the FPL account (you do not need to be the account holder)
  • Possess a delinquent FPL bill, final notice or disconnect notice
  • Be in imminent danger of being disconnected or are already disconnected
  • Have a plan to pay future bills
  • Show proof of a personal or family crisis
  • Have exhausted other available energy assistance sources, such as government-funded programs
  • Have a total household income that falls at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level (this includes the incomes of everyone in the home)
  • Sign an Authorization for Release of General and/or Confidential Information
  • Have no history of fraud or service tampering (the same applies to anyone living in the household). This may include using a minor or fictitious name, unauthorized connection of the meter or tampering with the electric service in any way
    • Note: Fraud and service tampering are very serious offenses. The Florida Public Service Commission grants FPL the right to pursue payment from a customer for any charges related to a fraud or service-tampering activity. None of those charges can be paid for by Care To Share program funds. Customers with a history of fraud or service tampering are not permitted to receive Care To Share funding.

For more information about FPL Care To Share and other energy assistance programs, click on this link to access an informative brochure: https://www.fpl.com/save/pdf/financial-assistance.pdf


Governor Rick Scott Appoints Forty-Three to Judicial Nominating Commissions

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Forty-Three to Judicial Nominating Commissions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced forty-three appointments to twenty Judicial Nominating Commissions.

Supreme Court

Jesse Panuccio, 35, of Tallahassee, is the former executive director for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the former general counsel for the Governor’s office. He succeeds Rutledge Liles and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Jason Unger, 47, of Tallahassee, is the Tallahassee managing partner of GrayRobinson, P.A. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nomination Commission

Roy Altman, 33, of Miami, is a partner with Podhurst Orseck, P.A. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2016.

Justin Sayfie, 47, of Miami, is a partner with Ballard Partners and the owner of Sayfie Law Firm. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nomination Commission

Alexis Yarbrough, 44, of Fort Lauderdale, is an attorney and community volunteer and formerly served as the General Counsel for the Florida Department of Transportation. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2016.

Steven Muscatello, 33, of Jupiter, is Corporate Counsel with G4S Secure Solutions. He succeeds Peter Feaman and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

First Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Major General Gary McCoy (Ret.), 64, of Destin, is the former commander of the Air Force Global Logistics Support Center at Scott Air Force Base. He succeeds Stephen Pitre and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Third Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Andrew Decker, IV, 37, of Live Oak is a partner with The Decker Law Firm, P.A. He succeeds Oscar Howard and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2016.

John Kendron, 41, of Lake City, is a partner with Robinson, Kennon & Kendron, P.A. He is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Fourth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Patrick Joyce, 46, of Jacksonville, is an attorney with Milam, Howard, Nicandri, Dees & Gillam, P.A. He succeeds Melissa Williamson Nelson and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Gilbert Feltel, Jr., 46, of Jacksonville, is a partner with Tanner Bishop. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Jacob Brown, 44, of Jacksonville, is a partner with Akerman LLP. He succeeds Robert O’Quinn and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Fifth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Derek Schroth, 41, of Eustis, is an attorney with Bowen & Schroth, P.A. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Darryl Johnston, 52, of Brooksville, is an attorney with Johnston & Sasser, P.A. He is reappointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Sixth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Brian Aungst, Jr., 31, of Clearwater, is an attorney with Macfarlane, Ferguson & McMullen, P.A. He succeeds Justin Zinzow and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Gordon Oldham, IV, 33, of Saint Petersburg, is an attorney with Banker, Lopez, Gassler, P.A. He succeeds Judith DeBella-Thomas and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Seventh Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Christopher Greene, 56, of Ponte Vedra Beach, is a partner with Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene, P.A. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Mark Stanton, 59, of East Palatka, is a certified public accountant and the owner of Mark P. Stanton, CPA. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Ivan Clements, Jr., 62, of DeLand, is an attorney and the owner of Ivan K. Clements, Jr., P.A.   He succeeds Steven Gosney and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Eighth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Robert Woody, 62, of Gainesville, is a retired deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. He succeeds Michael Griffis and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Ronald Bendekovic, 47, of Newberry, is an Assistant General Counsel for Nationwide Insurance. He succeeds Emery Gainey and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Brian Kramer, 47, of Gainesville, is an Assistant State Attorney and the Executive Director of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Office of the State Attorney. He succeeds Marcia Davis and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Ninth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Christopher Carmody, 35, of Orlando, is an attorney with GrayRobinson, P.A. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Glenton Gilzean, Jr., 33, of Orlando, is the president and chief executive officer of the Central Florida Urban League. He succeeds Kimberly Doud and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Tad Yates, 46, of Orlando, is a criminal defense attorney and the owner of Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A. He is reappointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Tenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Robert Swaine, 41, of Sebring, is a partner with Swaine & Harris, P.A. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

John Hugh Shannon, 68, of Lakeland, is an attorney and the owner of John Hugh Shannon, P.A. He is reappointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Twelfth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Anthony Rolfes, 58, of Osprey, is a partner with Dickinson & Gibbons, P.A. He succeeds Henry Lutz and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Thirteenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Brian Lamb, 39, of Tampa, is the regional president of Fifth Third Bank. He succeeds Joseph Lopez and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Fourteenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Jeffrey Carter, 41, of Panama City, is an attorney with Barron & Redding, P.A. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Sixteenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Anthony Barrows, 38, of Ramrod Key, is an attorney with the Law Office of Anthony J. Barrows. He is also an Assistant Regional Counsel for the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, 3rd District. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Cheri Shapiro, 37, of Key West, is an attorney with Cheri A. Shapiro, P.A. She succeeds Nathalia Abondano and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Seventeenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Levi Williams, 47, of Coral Springs, is an attorney with Levi G. Williams, P.A. He succeeds Georgette Douglas and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Russell Marcus, 38, of Coral Springs, is the Chief of Business and Economic Incentives for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. He succeeds Alexis Yarborough and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Eighteenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

Daniel Gerber, 53, of Winter Park, is a partner with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, P.A. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Kip Beacham, 50, of Oviedo, is a Captain with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Andrew Lannon, 41, of Palm Bay, is the City Attorney for the City of Palm Bay. He succeeds Clayton Simmons and is appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Nineteenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

George Bush, Jr., 51, of Palm City, is a partner with Fox, Wackeen, Dungey, Beard, Bush, Goldman, Waters, Robinson & McCluskey, LLP. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Jennifer Williamson, 44, of Okeechobee, is a partner with Crary-Buchanan, P.A. She is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Scott Konopka, 45, of Stuart, is a partner with Mrackek, Fitzgerald, Rose, Konopka, Thomas & Weiss, P.A. He is reappointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Twentieth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission

David Cooper, 32, of Naples, is an associate with Cooper & Kirk, PLLC. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Aaron O’Brien, 44, of Fort Myers, is an attorney and the owner of The O’Brien Law Firm. He is reappointed for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019.

Russell Kirshy, 47, of Punta Gorda, is an attorney and the owner of Russell T. Kirshy, Esquire, P.A. He is reappointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Florida Bar for a term beginning January 25, 2016, and ending July 1, 2019


SOUTH FLORIDA ANGLERS READY TO KICK OFF SEASON ON WALMART FLW TOUR

SOUTH FLORIDA ANGLERS READY TO KICK OFF SEASON ON WALMART FLW TOUR

Local pros Matt Greenblatt, Scott Martin, Brandon McMillan, Kyle Monti and Mike Surman Look to Qualify for Forrest Wood Cup Championship

CLEWISTON, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2016) – The first tournament of the 21st season of the Walmart FLW Tour, the most competitive Tour in professional bass-fishing, kicks off Feb. 4-7 with the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hosted by Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort and the Hendry County Tourism Development Council, the tournament will feature 169 of the world’s best bass-fishing professionals and co-anglers casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division.

Local professional anglers Matt Greenblatt of Port St. Lucie, Scott Martin and Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Kyle Monti of Okeechobee and Mike Surman of Boca Raton, will be among the 170 anglers competing on the FLW Tour this season. 2016 will mark Martin’s 17th, Greenblatt and McMillan’s fourth, Monti’s second and Surman’s 21st season fishing as professionals on the FLW Tour.

One of the anglers competing against the South Florida contingent is 16-year FLW Tour veteran Scott Martin, the defending FLW Tour Angler of the Year, who lives on Lake Okeechobee and is considered an early favorite.

“I think that this Tour event is going to be a fantastic tournament,” said Martin. “The fish will have adjusted to the colder temperatures and I believe we are going to see a lot of fish caught. Water levels are up and it has really opened up a lot of new areas, which is very interesting. The water coming up 6 inches on Lake Okeechobee is a lot. The fish are much further back than they normally would be and with the right warming trend we could see a lot of those fish spawning in areas they haven’t been to in years.”

Martin said that standard springtime Okeechobee baits would be in play for tournament anglers. He divulged that he’ll be flipping a Tightlines UV Punch with a big 1½- or 2-ounce weight and throwing a Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer swimbait. Martin also mentioned that he would have various topwater and prop baits rigged up along with moving baits like lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, Z-Man ChatterBaits and swim jigs.

“It’s tough to try to predict a winning weight due to the unpredictable weather we’ve been having, but I believe that the winner will most likely weigh in a four-day total of more than 80 pounds,” Martin went on to say.

Fishing fans that can’t make the trek to Florida can still follow along with all of the tournament action at FLWFishing.com. Live on-the-water tweets, photos, updates and videos will be posted throughout the four days of competition as well as a live streaming video feed of the weigh-in held at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday and Friday and 4 p.m. EST on Saturday and Sunday.

In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, Aug. 4-7 and is hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

About FLW

FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Periscope: @FLWFishing.


Fort Pierce Resident Sentenced to 75 Months in Prison for Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography

Fort Pierce Resident Sentenced to 75 Months  in Prison for Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography

A Fort Pierce resident was sentenced today to 75 months in prison by United States District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg for receiving and possessing child pornography.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert C. Hutchinson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, and Ken J. Mascara, Sheriff, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, made the announcement.

Richard Joseph Ahearn, 56, of Fort Pierce previously pled guilty to one count of receiving child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(2), and one count of possessing child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(4)(B).  After his release from incarceration, Ahearn will be placed on supervised release for 10 years and will have to register as a sex offender.

According to court documents and information disclosed during the court proceedings, Yahoo! reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NMEC) several suspected child pornography images that had been uploaded to a Flickr account.  The email account and the internet protocol (IP) address associated with that account were connected to a physical address in Fort Pierce, determined to be Ahearn’s residence.  The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office obtained state search warrants for the Flickr account and associated email accounts.  Examination of those accounts revealed sexually explicit online chats with minors.  It was also determined that Ahearn was employed as an Information Technology Professional with the St. Lucie County Tax Collector’s Office.  After ICE-HSI joined the investigation, a federal search warrant was obtained for Ahearn’s residence and any electronic devices found therein.  A subsequent search of Ahearn’s computer revealed images of sexually explicit conduct involving minors (child pornography).

This case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.  Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel E. Funk.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.


Governor Scott Proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Florida

Governor Scott Proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Florida 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This month, Governor Rick Scott issued the attached proclamation recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Governor Rick Scott recommended a $1.7 million increase in this year’s Florida First budget to expand services for adolescent victims of human trafficking. Governor Scott also signed four bills into law that recently went into effect that raise awareness of the signs of human trafficking, protect survivors from further exploitation, and establish harsher punishment against perpetrators.

Governor Rick Scott said, “We must keep working to identify instances of human trafficking in Florida and help rescue victims. It is unfathomable that this evil occurs in our state, but by expanding services and passing important legislation this year, we are helping to save and heal the lives of our state’s most vulnerable.”

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Since the department began taking reports of human trafficking in 2009, we have continued to see a rise in the number of reports throughout the state. Identifying victims is the first step in helping match children with the services they need. Every citizen should learn to recognize and report the signs of human trafficking to help end this horrific abuse.”

The Department of Children and Families and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice also developed and recently launched a human trafficking screening tool to assist trained staff in the process of identifying and assessing child victims of human trafficking. During federal fiscal year 2014-2015, more than 1,200 reports of human trafficking were reported in Florida through the increased use of the Florida Abuse Hotline to help identify possible instances of human trafficking.

DJJ Secretary Christina Daly said, “We proudly stand with the Department of Children and Families to help eliminate human trafficking in Florida. By working together with our partners at the statewide and local level, the victims of this egregious crime can be identified, receive the necessary services to address their trauma, and start on the path towards healing.”

Human Trafficking Awareness Month is recognized every January. More information on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, as well as how to report it, visit: www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/human-trafficking.


Gov. Scott: West Palm Beach Added 13,000 Jobs Over the Year

Gov. Scott: West Palm Beach Added 13,000 Jobs Over the Year

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that the West Palm Beach area added 13,000 private-sector jobs over the year in December. The area’s unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point over the year to 4.5 percent in December. Florida has added more than 1 million private sector jobs since 2010.

Governor Scott said, “The entire state of Florida is growing, including the West Palm Beach area. If we continue to cut $1 billion in taxes and create the new $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund, we will ensure that we continue to add jobs as we diversify our economy.”
The industries with the largest job gains over the year in the West Palm Beach area were professional and business services with 6,900 new jobs; and trade, transportation, and utilities, and education and health services, each with 3,100 new jobs. The West Palm Beach metro area also had 19,935 job openings in December, including 5,375 high-wage, high-skill science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) openings.
Florida created 21,000 private-sector jobs in December, and a total of 1,025,400 private-sector jobs since December 2010. Florida’s statewide unemployment rate for December was 5.0 percent. In December, more than 34,749 Floridians were placed in jobs by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the state’s other 23 regional workforce boards.

To view the December 2015 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.


Gov. Rick Scott: 2015 Concluded with Florida adding 21,000 New Jobs

Gov. Rick Scott: 2015 Concluded with Florida adding 21,000 New Jobs

ESTERO, Fla. – While attending the dedication ceremony for Hertz’s new corporate headquarters today, Governor Scott announced that Florida businesses created 21,000 private-sector jobs in December 2015. In just five years, 1,025,400 private-sector jobs have been created in Florida. The state celebrated one million new private-sector jobs milestone in November 2015.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Florida is growing. Businesses in our state have created well over a million jobs in just over five years. This impressive milestone joins the news that our state is welcoming a record number of tourists, our crime rate is at a 44-year low and we have record high state revenues. We must continue this momentum into 2016 by cutting $1 billion in taxes and further diversifying our economy with the creation of the $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund.”

Over the year in December, Florida businesses created 238,900 new private-sector jobs. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate has exceeded that of the nation for 44 consecutive months, and is now 3.5 percent.

In December 2015, Florida’s unemployment rate for was 5.0 percent, the lowest in seven years. This is down 0.7 percentage point from the December 2014 rate, and down by 0.1 percentage point from the November 2015 revised rate of 5.1 percent. Florida’s unemployment rate has declined by 5.7 percentage points since December 2010.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor said, “Business in Florida is thriving, and the state continued its strong record of private-sector job creation to close out 2015. Investments like Governor Scott’s proposed $1 billion tax cut will continue to grow jobs across the Sunshine State, providing more opportunities for Floridians to support themselves and their families.”

Other positive economic indicators include:

  • Florida’s private-sector job growth month-to-month has been positive for 50 consecutive months.
  • Private-sector industries gaining the most jobs over the month in December were professional and business services with 8,400 new jobs and trade, transportation, and utilities with 5,200 new jobs.
  • Florida job postings showed 282,386 openings in December 2015.
  • In December, Florida’s 24 regional workforce boards reported more than 34,749 Floridians, including 1,847 veterans, were placed in jobs.

To view the December 2015 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.


Governor Rick Scott Signs Three Bills into Law

Governor Rick Scott Signs Three Bills into Law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott was joined by Senate President Andy Gardiner, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, their families, and other members of the Florida legislature to sign HB 7003 (Relating to Individuals with Disabilities), SB 672 (Educational Options) and SB 552 (Environmental Resources).


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