Volume 3 Number 47
November 20, 2006

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As we gather this week with friends and family to give thanks, we should reflect on all of the joy we have in our life of freedom. It is a blessing to live in the most beautiful state of a free and plentiful nation.

With our sandy beaches and stunning waterways, our lush green spaces and majestic cities, we have every reason to be truly thankful to live in Florida.

As we safely travel this holiday weekend to our destinations, we should be thankful for those men and women in uniform who are making the sacrifice of being away from their families so that they can protect our rights and freedom.

I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy this wonderful holiday and all of the meaning it brings.


 


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BUREAU OF UNCLAIMED PROPERTY, WESH-TV RETURN MORE THAN $2 MILLION TO FLORIDA RESIDENTS

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Unclaimed Property, in conjunction with Orlando’s WESH-TV, generated claims for more than $2 million in cash and property for more than 8,700 Central Florida residents during a week of coverage that included an early-morning “live” phone bank.



“It is our mission to find the owners or heirs and return this property to them,” Gallagher said. “In many cases, we are returning money or property to people who really need it. It comes at a time that makes a real financial difference for them.”

The bureau’s hotline, 1-88-VALUABLE, was open four hours earlier than usual Wednesday and Thursday, and the station had a correspondent reporting live from Tallahassee, encouraging viewers to call as part of a week of daily television reports on the program. The bureau is currently holding unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1.3 billion, including $50 million worth of cash and property for 400,000 account holders in Central Florida. Since 2003, Gallagher, who oversees the department, has returned more than $423 million in cash and property to current or former Floridians – half of all of the cash and property returned since the program’s inception in 1961.
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GOVERNOR, CABINET APPROVE PURCHASE TO PROTECT SILVER SPRINGS

Acquisition of almost 4,500 acres will help preserve springs and wildlife
 
Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet today approved the purchase of 4,471 acres near Silver Springs as part of the Florida First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever project.  A partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Marion County, the purchase from Avatar Properties, Inc. will place the land in conservation and protect the water quality of Silver Springs.

“Through this public-private partnership, the State is acquiring a critical piece of property near Silver Springs, protecting water quality in one of the largest artesian springs in the world,” said Governor Bush. “Silver Springs is a part of Florida’s natural and cultural heritage and this purchase protects a part of Florida’s history in perpetuity.”

TNC will purchase the property from Avatar Properties, Inc., and the State will then acquire the property from TNC in two phases. The first phase will be purchased by the end of this year, approximately 2,677 acres, and the remaining 1,793 acres will be purchased next fiscal year. To aid the purchase, Marion County is contributing $2.5 million.

“Silver Springs is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike and is a unique part of Florida’s cultural history,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille. “Today’s vote will protect almost 4,500 acres near the springs from development, preserving habitat and water quality for future generations to enjoy.” CONTINUED


 


 

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR INSURANCE FRAUD, ALTERING DEATH CERTIFICATE


A 40-year-old Tampa woman was arrested Friday for the second time since 2003 for allegedly filing a fraudulent insurance claim and altering a death certificate, this time to collect on a $20,000 life insurance policy she took out on herself.

Jean Rodriguez Fontalvo faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the charges stemming from an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.

“I commend the investigators in this case for preventing this woman from carrying out her scheme a second time,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the department. “We are sending a clear message that we will not tolerate abuse of our citizens, and fraud steals from our citizens.”
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STATE SPENDING WITH MINORITY BUSINESSES HITS RECORD LEVEL

Governor Bush announced the State of Florida has spent a record breaking $761.2 million with certified minority and women-owned businesses in Florida during the past year. Minority spending throughout state government has increased $497 million or 189% since the 1998-99 fiscal year.

This year's spending is the highest since the "Equity in Contracting" component of the One Florida Initiative began. In 1999, when the initiative was introduced, total certified minority spending in state government was approximately $263 million. Under the One Florida Initiative, Gov. Bush challenged Florida's state agencies to increase minority business spending and expand outreach and services to minority businesses statewide. For more information on minority contracting, please visit www.oneflorida.org.