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At the 2016 State of the County Address held in June, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs announced the debut of the new web and mobile application, OCFL Atlas, which pinpoints development projects throughout the County. The free app encourages citizens to become more engaged in the growth of their community by tracking new construction projects in the area. OCFL Atlas allows residents to access real-time development data, board meeting details and project locations. Users can zoom into their current location, search by address or pan around Orange County to view new projects.


Throughout the year, Mayor Jacobs hosted several Orange County meetings with community and business leaders to discuss how the County can remain the best place to live, work and raise a family. She met with leaders from the County’s Hispanic, African-American and Asian communities to discuss issues facing citizens and how the region can continue to celebrate and recognize its rich diversity.

Mayor Jacobs met with the LGBTQ Alliance to reflect on the impact that the Pulse tragedy had on the community to ensure that Orange County Government is doing its part to create a culture of acceptance and support.

Additionally, Mayor Jacobs met with millennial leaders and expressed gratitude for their leadership and commitment to the betterment of our community, and highlighted the need for an innovative and more sustainable government.

In a meeting with dozens of young professionals, Mayor Jacobs and Orange County Planning Manager Alberto Vargas highlighted the County’s new land development code, known as Orange Code, and how the change will impact future development in Orange County.


In March, Mayor Jacobs hosted the fifth annual Youth Leadership Conference at Rollins College in Winter Park. The conference welcomed more than 200 high school students from all Orange County Public Schools. To help teach about the functions of local county government, students were given the opportunity to engage in real-life, local government decision-making scenarios. Attendees also learned how to better participate in community initiatives and received training on how to strengthen their individual leadership skills. Students discussed with community leaders their concerns about safety on their campuses and bullying. Students also expressed interest in serving in public office and asked questions about how to get involved in politics. There were students from Orange County Public Schools and three local private schools.

In August, Mayor Jacobs and the Orange County Board of County Commissioners also hosted a group of bright and talented student government leaders from Valencia College’s Florida Model Legislature, which provides a hands-on approach to understanding state and local government.


In May, Mayor Jacobs recognized Freedom High School senior Cyris Ross with the 2016 Charles T. Smith Community Service Award at the Freedom High School’s Senior Academic Awards Breakfast.

The award recognizes an outstanding high school junior or senior student who has shown dedication toward making a positive impact in their community through service and volunteerism. The award honors the life and memory of the late Charles "Chase" Smith, a former aide to Mayor Jacobs who devoted his life to public service and improving his community.

Ross demonstrates a passion for community service and volunteerism, especially when it comes to inspiring the next generation. Ross volunteers at John Young Elementary School in Orange County, assisting in the school’s main office and in the classroom tutoring students in reading and math.

Ross has logged more than 100 hours of community service and has been attending Valencia College as a dual enrollment student. Like Smith, Ross cares deeply about Orange County and is steadfast in serving those in need.

Mayor Jacobs also recognized a group of young citizens who participated in the Jefferson Awards Lead360 Challenge at a separate ceremony during a Board of County Commissioners meeting in May. The program engages and celebrates America's youth for their efforts in making a difference and inspires young people to participate in coordinating public service projects in their community.

Mayor Jacobs presented each honoree with a certificate that recognized their participation in the Challenge. Honorees included elementary, middle and high school students and teachers, who volunteered in 13 different projects and six "big ideas" which addressed a variety of issues, including hunger and poverty, environment and sustainability, education and literacy, civic engagement and community building, and health and wellness.


Guest teachers from Orange County Government read books, taught life skills, shared information on pedestrian safety and engaged local classrooms with fun and educational activities during Orange County Public School’s Teach-In in November. In 2016, 30 employees visited 27 schools.


February 22 through 26 was Florida's Severe Weather Awareness Week and Orange County leaders urged citizens to be aware of the dangers the region may face when lightning, thunderstorms, hurricanes, flooding or extreme temperatures strike. The Florida Division of Emergency Management, in partnership with Orange County’s Office Emergency Management (OEM), focused its public awareness campaign on various weather hazards that frequently impact the state and region. Orange County District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke visited a second-grade class at Orange County Public School's Lake Silver Elementary for a reading of Professor Tinkermeister and the Wacky, Whiz-Bang, Weather-Watching Wonder. Orange County's OEM also provided weather radios to each student so that their families are prepared at home for severe weather conditions.


Last June, more than 1,500 citizens learned how to prepare for Florida's hurricane season and received free storm supplies at Orange County’s 2016 Hurricane Expo. “Review, Reboot, Be Ready!” was the theme of the expo. Orange County District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Thompson welcomed citizens to the expo and spoke about the importance of hurricane safety. During the event, several Orange County offices and partner agencies educated citizens on how best to protect their homes from the potentially devastating effects of unexpected storms and severe weather. WFTV Channel 9 Meteorologist Tom Terry met with citizens and shared how they can keep informed on weather conditions before, during and after a storm.


Orange County presented five free Community Wellness Fairs throughout the County providing citizens the opportunity to attend a fair near their home. Each Wellness Fair provided CPR and healthy cooking demonstrations, health and fitness screenings, giveaways, as well as other tips and demonstrations regarding health and wellness.


Orange County Government kicked off its fifth annual Orange County Experience program on August 26 at Fire Rescue Headquarters. The interactive series is designed to provide citizens with a behind-the-scenes look at how Orange County Government works. The 12-week program offers residents the opportunity to learn more about Orange County departments and the vital services that the County provides, ranging from technology and infrastructure to neighborhoods and health and family services.


At the 21st annual Community Conference held last July, Mayor Jacobs and the Board of County Commissioners recognized several Community Champions, and announced the Distinguished Citizen of the Year. Local resident Lizette Valarino was honored with Mayor Jacobs' 2016 Distinguished Citizen of the Year award in recognition of her years of faithful service to Orange County. Valarino is a tireless, effective advocate for the Hispanic community in Orange County and served as a special assistant to former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty and former Chairman Mel Martinez.

Additionally, Orange County’s six commissioners each recognized a citizen in their district as Citizen of the Year, including Donna Finklestein in District 1, Debbie Turner in District 2, Jo'An Rice in District 3, Lisa Franchina in District 4, Patrick Chapin in District 5 and Dedra Jenkins in District 6.


Orange County partnered with the City of Orlando, the City of Winter Park and local nonprofit Green Destination Orlando to administer the Central Florida Workplace Challenge, a friendly competition that helps local businesses save money, create healthier workplaces, reduce their environmental impact and enhance the community through volunteer service.

The six-month challenge provided businesses with the opportunity to earn awards and recognition, enjoy educational and networking socials, and compete to be the best in one or more of the three categories: Green, Healthy and Involved. The participants earned points for completing a range of tasks designed to improve their workplaces. Competitors were recognized at an awards ceremony at the conclusion of the challenge.


In March, Mayor Jacobs hosted the fifth annual Orange County Jazz in the Park Festival, welcoming a record-breaking crowd to the beautiful and historic Cypress Grove Park. The event is designed to thank local service organizations and individuals who selflessly give back to their communities. The festival was attended by more than 800 citizens and showcased the cool sounds of local jazz bands.


Mayor Jacobs kicked off her new initiative, Let’s Read Orange County, at the Mayor’s Family Fun Day, presented by Week of the Family. The annual celebration was held at Jay Blanchard Park on November 5 and is organized by Orange County Parks and Recreation.

The yearlong Let’s Read Orange County initiative is a partnership with Mayor Jacobs, Orange County Government, Orange County Public Library System (OCLS), Citizens’ Commission for Children and Just 1 Book, a bookmobile that has distributed more than 500,000 books to children in Central Florida. The initiative plans to improve literacy by providing 1,000 new library cards to Orange County residents. OCLS representatives were on-site at the Mayor’s Family Fun Day to assist citizens with setting up library cards.

The goal of Let’s Read is to ensure that all Orange County citizens are educated on Orange County’s public library system and obtain a library card, which provides free access to an endless array of books, music, videos and other learning resources.

During her remarks, Mayor Jacobs spoke about the initiative’s co-chair and the inspiration behind the Let’s Read initiative, Just 1 Book founder Sarah Dewitz. Though only hoping to collect just one book from each student at her elementary school, Dewitz collected more than 13,000 books. Six years later, Just 1 Book has distributed more than 500,000 books to low-income neighborhoods. To help with the distribution of these books, Orange County donated a bus that now serves as the Just 1 Book bookmobile, allowing Dewitz and her family to collect and distribute more books throughout Central Florida.

The theme of this year’s Week of the Family was “Family – A Team Effort.” Now in its 14th year, Week of the Family focuses on creating family-centered events in order to strengthen and celebrate Orange County families throughout the first week of November. As part of Week of the Family, the Mayor’s Family Fun Day is a free, four-hour event at Jay Blanchard Park providing guests with live entertainment, carnival-like games, crafts and more.