State of the County spotlights growing of Osceola’s future

The annual State of the County address was held at Osceola Heritage Park on April 18.

Growing the future of Osceola was this year’s theme at the annual State of the County address at Osceola Heritage Park April 18.

“Osceola County is growing a bright future – where families from all backgrounds can thrive, and where businesses from all sectors can succeed,” said County Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb.

The event serves as a social gathering and networking opportunity for some of the area’s leaders, officials and business owners. It’s also a chance for the Board of County Commissioners to share key accomplishments and upcoming agenda with the community.

State of the County was hosted by Grieb, who discussed key goals and initiatives of the local government agency while spotlighting the history and backgrounds of each of her fellow board members.

Video presentations showcased county amenities such as the new Senses Park that opened earlier this year for children with special needs and a new community dog park in Buenaventura Lakes.

There was also discussion of public safety improvements, including the grand opening of a new fire training facility this year and an update to the MyOsceola mobile app – both ways local government is trying to improve quality of life for citizens, Grieb said.

“As a foundation for all that will allow us to grow and prosper, nothing is more important that investing in public safety,” she said. “From facilities to technology to people, we’re focused on excellence in all phases of our health, safety and welfare investments.”  

The grand opening of Cameron Preserve, a 100-unit townhome style affordable housing complex, was also previewed at State of the County. The ribbon cutting for the new project will be Monday.

Two special awards were given out by former County Commission Chair Fred Hawkins Jr. to recognize special members of the Osceola County community.

Mark Miller, founder of Arabian Nights and Experience Kissimmee, was honored for his contributions to the local economy and growth of the region. Two video presentations described Miller as a beloved local philanthropist and visionary leader who is widely hailed as one of the founders of Osceola County’s modern-day tourism economy.

The second award recognized the eco-tourism attraction, Wild Florida, and its owner, Sam Haught.  Wild Florida is an animal and airboat park in rural Kenansville that received national attention last year for performing numerous airboats rescues of stranded families, individuals and pets after Hurricane Florence caused deadly flooding in North Carolina. Footage was shown from one of the heroic missions where Haught was seen rescuing a pregnant woman stranded in her home.

To help cement the message of growing Osceola County’s future, all attendees were given seed packets from 4-H and native Florida plants from the extension office as take home gifts.

“By planting those seeds for the future now,  we’re making sure that we have a sustainable future for all generations to come,” Grieb said in her closing remarks.