FEB 2017
As I look back on my time as a commissioner for District 1 and now, in my second term as your Mayor, I believe that Orange County has never been more resilient or more united than we are today.

As demonstrated by our community's response to the Pulse tragedy, the heart and soul of Orange County is filled with kindness and understanding, and serves as the foundation for our world-wide reputation as a community that cares deeply.

Tragically, the peace and tranquility of Orange County was again shattered on January 9, when we experienced the heartbreaking and incomprehensible loss of two cherished local law enforcement officers, the Orlando Police Department's (OPD) Lt. Debra Clayton and Orange County Sheriff's Deputy First Class (DFC) Norman Lewis.

Lt. Clayton lost her life while protecting local residents when, without hesitation, she approached a dangerous and wanted fugitive who was later apprehended by law enforcement. DFC Lewis also died while serving in the line of duty, when he immediately responded to the call for help in searching for the dangerous suspect who fled the crime scene and the death of Lt. Clayton.

The loss of each has been staggering. Beyond her contributions as a 17-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department, Lt. Clayton was a loving wife, mother, daughter and sister who dedicated her life to serving and protecting Orange County and the City of Orlando. At her deeply touching January 14 memorial service, family and colleagues reflected on Lt. Clayton's extraordinary passion for assisting children and families from challenged neighborhoods. 

Lt. Clayton, who began her career with OPD in May 1999, worked within the Property Crimes and Crimes Against Children units. She was subsequently promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2007 and supervised sworn officers in the Patrol and Investigative Services Bureaus. She was later promoted to the rank of master sergeant on October 10, 2016. At her memorial service, Orlando Police Chief John Mina posthumously promoted her to the rank of lieutenant, and on behalf of Orange County, I was honored to present a proclamation to Lt. Clayton's family members.

In addition to her dedication to public safety and law enforcement, Lt. Clayton was a consummate learner and academic, having earned an associate's degree from Valencia College, a bachelor's degree in Public Administration and a master's degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida (UCF).

DFC Norman Lewis was an 11-year Orange County Sheriff's Office veteran. A former offensive lineman for UCF, his alma mater, DFC Lewis graduated with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and was sworn in as a Deputy Sheriff with the Orange County Sheriff's Office on August 15, 2005. He was an esteemed member of the Motorcycle/DUI unit.

At his emotional January 15 memorial service, his peers, family and the extended law enforcement community reflected on DFC Lewis' infectious smile, easy laugh, positive attitude, strong work ethic and passion for his family and community.  He was also noted for his ability to connect with the public. As told by several deputies, DFC Lewis was famous among his peers for receiving "thank you" notes from motorists, to whom he had actually given traffic citations. One motorist wrote while, "I am now poorer in my wallet than when we met, I am richer for the experience of someone who truly exemplifies a good cop." Once again, I was deeply honored to present a proclamation in tribute to and remembrance of DFC Lewis to his family. 

Our community will never forget the sacrifices made by Lt. Clayton and DFC Lewis, and we remain heartbroken for their parents, grandparents, children, sisters, brothers, fellow officers and friends. As we continue to mourn this devastating loss, we must do everything possible to support their families and to forever honor the legacies and the lives of our local heroes who were taken from us much too soon. One way to honor these and all law enforcement officers is to respect and appreciate their contributions, and to remember that each and every day, the brave men and women of law enforcement leave their homes and families - knowing that they may not return - and risk their lives to keep us safe.

Teresa Jacobs 
Orange County Mayor
Summit Highlights Economic Growth in Orange County

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs welcomed a capacity crowd of more than 600 citizens to the 2017 Economic Summit at the Orange County Convention Center on January 18. Now in its fifth year, the Economic Summit is hosted annually by Mayor Jacobs and provides a barometer on growing business sectors and regional economic successes. The highly anticipated annual local and state economic forecast, provided by nationally renowned economist Sean Snaith, Ph.D., director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness, is the central highlight of the event. Among other findings, Snaith said there is "much to smile about" regarding Orange County's economy. 

The panel of notable workforce experts also offered their perspective on how local certification programs can open doors to a multitude of opportunities for those seeking job training and technical skills outside the traditional four-year degree. Learn More >
NFL Pro Bowl Welcomes 60,834 Fans

Orange County and Camping World Stadium hosted more than 60,800 fans for the National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl on January 30. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs joined the celebration as the American Football Conference competed against the National Football Conference in a matchup of skills from the best all-star players in the NFL.  

Leading up to the event, Pro Bowl Week celebrated all levels of football - from youth to high school - and provided fans the opportunity to watch Pro Bowl practices at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The NFL Pro Bowl Experience, held the week leading up to the big game, was a free festival that featured interactive games, a virtual reality experience and a photo opportunity with the Pro Bowl Trophy to excite fans for the game. This was the first time Florida has hosted a Pro Bowl since 2010. Based on previous games in Hawaii and Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, media reports have estimated the economic impact of the Pro Bowl in Orlando at $25 million. Learn More >
Mayor Jacobs' Reading Initiative Celebrates 
Literacy Week 

In conjunction with the Florida Department of Education's  Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! initiative and to help raise awareness about the importance of reading and libraries, Orange County held a series of literacy events January 23-27. The week concluded with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs reading to 40 local children during Orange County Head Start's 20th Annual Guest Readers Week on January 27. 
Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! also provided an opportunity to highlight Mayor Jacobs' recently launched Let's Read Orange County initiative, which aims to improve reading and access to books by providing library cards to local residents. A series of literacy-based events are planned in Orange County throughout 2017. Learn More >
Orange County Unveils Newest Inclusive Playground Young Pine Community Park

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Thompson joined local residents for the grand opening of Young Pine Community Park. The new park in District 4 features an inclusive playground designed for children with disabilities. The playground includes braille signs for those who are visually impaired, ramps and swings for children in wheelchairs, and a quiet area for those who can become overwhelmed by noise and crowds. Additionally, the 61-acre park also features a dog park, workout stations, walking trails, a kayak launch, a fishing pier and multipurpose fields. 

The playground is a representation of diversity and inclusion in the community, Mayor Jacobs said in her opening remarks. Downey Park added an inclusive playground in 2015, however, Young Pine Community Park is the first to be built and designed from the ground up with an inclusive playground. Learn More >

Join Us at the 2017 State of the County
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs will host her 2017 State of the County address on April 7 at 9 a.m. at I-Drive 360, Orlando's new $250 million attraction and entertainment destination, home to The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye the world-famous Madame Tussauds Orlando, SEA LIFE Aquarium and Skeletons: Animals Unveiled!
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Mayor Jacobs welcomed   former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young to Orange County for a fascinating conversation on diplomacy and international relations. Ambassador Young was instrumental in the civil rights movement and worked alongside the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He served the state of Georgia in Congress, was the first African-American U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and also served two terms as the mayor of Atlanta. Mr. Young continues to be a pioneer and champion for equal rights in our nation and across the globe.

Recognizing the importance of the International Drive area, Mayor Jacobs invited area stakeholders and landowners to partner with Orange County in developing a shared vision for the area. For more than a year, staff and area stakeholders have engaged in discussions regarding current and future opportunities such as improving the pedestrian environment, transit access and convenience, and the importance of parking and open space. From these discussions, the I-Drive 2040 Strategic Vision was developed. The County created the new I-Drive District Overlay Zone code as part of that vision to focus on a development strategy that will transform International Drive into a more walkable and sustainable urban destination that compliments transit opportunities and makes it easier for visitors and residents to get around. The District Overlay takes into account the unique character of the District, and encompasses smart regulations that allow for complete streets, improved pedestrian amenities, convenient parking options and open public spaces that will help bring authenticity and identity to the District. In coordination with the Orange County Convention Center Master Plan, the District Overlay provides context-sensitive standards that positions the I-Drive District as a world-class destination for years to come.
Orange County celebrated "National Wear Red Day" in honor of Go Red for Women, an initiative by the American Heart Association to end heart disease and stroke in women.
During a Board of County Commissioners (BCC) work session, Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings provided the Board with an overview of crime throughout Orange County, including a specific update on Pine Hills, which has more than 60,000 residents. Among the findings, Sheriff Demings reported that in 2016, the overall crime rate in Orange County had declined by 3 percent, compared to the previous year. The Sheriff also reported that Pine Hills has experienced a 67 percent increase in the homicide rate since 2012. A large majority of the homicide victims and suspects are under the age of 25 - so a focus on youth in the area is a priority. The Sheriff's Office is implementing a four-pronged approach that includes prevention, prosecution, enforcement and intervention. Orange County plans to work with the Sheriff's Office to help evaluate crime prevention strategies, including additional street lighting, security cameras and removing abandoned and condemned homes.  

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized Orange County Government's Digital Media Transformation as part of the  2017 Bright Ideas in Government initiative. Orange County's digital communications plan, new online Newsroom Media Center, and companion OCFL News app improved news and information distribution to its 1.25 million citizens, further boosting opportunities for citizen engagement and staying connected with local government. 

Orange County participated in Severe Weather Week, January 23-27. Citizens were encouraged to sign-up for  OCAlert.net. The newly upgraded emergency notification system is an enhanced local alert system that allows emergency managers to push out lifesaving information directly to geographically-targeted neighborhoods in the event of an emergency. Citizens and employees also participated in the  Great #TornadoDrill, a "virtual" mock emergency drill conducted by the state of Florida to test emergency shelter plans and to help teach residents about preparing for an emergency.