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The year in review

Posted on Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:45 am

Arrington,-Brandon Arrington
County Commission

As the year comes to an end, so too does my time as chairman of the Osceola County Commission. I wanted to thank county staff for making it a great year for Osceola County. Their experience, relentless effort and commitment to customer service make our community a great place to do business, as well as raise a family. I am proud of the progress we are making and the vision we have established for a better future.

Here is a list of some of the projects helping to move us forward:

• Poinciana Parkway is nearing completion and soon will provide another route out of Poinciana. This first segment of roadway is the most important and challenging to construct due to environment. There are also two studies looking at how to connect to Interstate 4 and east to the turnpike. It is exciting to see this project moving forward after 40 years of discussion.

• College Station will be the future home of Poinciana Valencia College campus that will open in 2017. This campus will serve to eliminate the horrible commute so many must make to continue their educational journey for the training they need for better jobs. This development will also open new commercial, residential and recreational opportunities.

• Technical Education Center Osceola and Osceola County partnered with the Osceola County School District to create two new TECO campuses, one in St. Cloud and Poinciana. Your commission utilized federal dollars to create these two opportunities.

• STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) funding. Your commission provided funding to allow our School District to be the leader in STEM education. By partnering we were able to expand STEM opportunities throughout the county, giving our children the first-class education they need and deserve.

• Mobility fees, your commission has put in place mobility fees to make sure new development pays its fair share. The fees are consumption based, which allows for greater flexibility in funding multimodal transportation improvements.

• LYNX Service, understanding the need for more mass transit, your commission has increased LYNX service levels to an all-time high with improvements coming for some routes that include decreased wait times between buses, as well as Sunday service. We are also looking at how to change and revise service to connect with SunRail which will arrive at our three stations in 2017.

• Sensor facility, Osceola County has partnered with UCF to create the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center. This project, known as the FARM, is a 200-acre research park that is built around a 100,000-square foot research lab. This lab will have a research focus around Sensor Technology Development. This research site will allow for us to help reshape the economic outlook of our county.  By adding technology as the third leg of our economic development stool, which includes agriculture and tourism, we will make our community more sustainable for the future.

• Valencia College, understanding we will need skilled talent to work on the FARM we have partnered with Valencia. We have begun turning the once proposed Colt Facility into an advanced manufacturing training site. This campus will help to fill those high tech, high paying jobs we are working to create.

• Footsteps 2 Brilliance; We partnered with both cities and the School District to fund this interactive, mobile literacy initiative that recently was recognized by the White House.  This program has been proven to increase academic vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills in children. The program was piloted for 45 days over last summer at participating public VPK sites. Results showed that students were exposed to over 3,760 books, which translated into more than 1,115,450 vocabulary words.

• Affordable housing, in an effort to help those families struggling with housing we continue to utilize federal dollars to provide rental assistance, down payment assistance and other programs to help families find safe suitable housing.

• Trail system, we continue building a trail system that will provide recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. The Shingle Creek Regional Trail, when complete, will span 32 miles in Orange and Osceola counties. This trail system will also work to connect both Kissimmee and St. Cloud lakefronts as well.

• Your commission also passed a Human Rights Ordinance that recognizes that all people deserve equality under the law. This ordinance was passed unanimously in an effort to make sure all of those in our diverse community are treated fairly.

It has been a pleasure to serve as chairman this past year and am excited to continue working with my fellow commissioners, staff and our community on “Moving Osceola Forward.”