Volume 1 Number 2
January 12, 2004

                    Back to Great Florida Treasure Hunt







State and local fire officials join Dr. Doris Richardson, Principal of Hidden Oak Elementary, in fire safety talk with students.
Gallagher congratulates Dr. Leanetta McNealy, Principal of Charles W. Duval Elementary in Gainesville, on student progress at her school.

Gallagher discusses fire issues with Alachua County Fire Chief Will May and Lt. Roger Cox.






























You may be just a mouse click or phone call away from finding out if the state is holding some of your lost treasure. Millions of dollars in cash deposits, plus all kinds of valuables and collectibles from abandoned safe deposit boxes, are turned in to the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Unclaimed Property each year.

Just last week, one Floridian was reunited with his lost belongings after three years of searching. Michael Fritz was dismayed to find out that after his bank was sold, his local branch office was demolished, with more than $50,000 worth of family heirlooms lost in the shuffle. Finally, after his unclaimed safe deposit boxes were transferred to the state, his property, which included a 15 ct. diamond bracelet and more than 200 gold coins, was returned to him when employees with our Bureau of Unclaimed Property identified Mr. Fritz as the owner.          

Mr. Fritz was lucky. Every year 98 percent of abandoned or lost safe deposit box items go unclaimed. Other items left behind include gold doubloons, silver ingots, diamond jewelry, fine watches, rare coins and even autographed baseballs. However, the vast majority of unclaimed property is comprised of cash accounts including utility deposits, investment proceeds, unclaimed paychecks and more. Once turned over to the state, the money is deposited into the state School Trust Fund, where it is held until claimed by its rightful owner.

You can log on to  www.FLtreasurehunt.org or call 1-88-VALUABLE (1-888-258-2253) to see if the state is holding property or cash for you or your loved ones.




State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher helps spread the word on fire prevention and safety in Gainesville

Many serious accidents and emergencies happen at home and quite often they involve children. In fact, fire is one of the top causes of accidental death in the home. And when things go wrong, parents may not be able to come to their child’s rescue.

All the more reason to teach children how to handle an emergency, says State Fire Marshal and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

Brenda Proctor from Gainesville couldn’t agree more. Three weeks before Christmas, Proctor’s home burned down but she and her two children, ages 8 and 10, got out safely. Proctor credits a fire safety education class and escape plan as the reason her children escaped the fire uninjured.

"In November, my children came home from school with a sample fire escape plan and we sat down and talked about what to do and how to get out if a fire strikes in our home," said Proctor. "The kids were excited about what they had learned at school and were eager to practice the escape plan we put together. Practicing that plan not only prepared us for that awful fire, it saved us."  

Third graders from Hidden Oak Elementary answering fire safety questions from Gallagher.

Gallagher was in Gainesville on January 7 and joined Alachua County Fire Chief Will May and Shirley Copeland, a fire safety educator for Alachua County Fire Rescue, to talk with more than 200 third graders from Charles W. Duval and Hidden Oak elementary schools about fire safety. He also commended principals from both schools for promoting fire safety education in their schools.

According to Gallagher, young children have the highest risk of death and injury from fire. "A great place to start spreading the message of fire safety is through our children and I commend Alachua County Fire Rescue and Alachua County Public Schools for their commitment to fire prevention and education."

Click on the picture to go to the Safe House Mouse pages

A new web page at www.MyFloridaCFO.com/sfm provides information that families can use to create a home escape plan and includes games, safety tips and coloring pages that can be accessed at home and used in the classroom.

While in Gainesville, Gallagher also took the opportunity to help deliver free smoke detectors to at-risk homes. Simona Banks, mother of third grader Diante Banks, was one of the recipients of these life-saving devices. Mother and son also said they planned to create a fire escape plan and practice.

Staff from Lowe's with Gallagher installing smoke detectors for the Banks family.

"Good planning and awareness are essential to surviving a fire, but even the best planning won’t help if you don’t have enough time to get out. Every plan must start with a working smoke detector," said Gallagher. CONTINUED


TALLAHASSEE—Ninety-three percent of Florida's employers agreed that entry-level employees who have an understanding of basic economic principles learn on-the-job skills more easily and are more likely to be productive at work. However, only 14 percent of those same employers believed their entry-level employees understood basic financial principles prior to joining their company.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, commenting on a recent survey issued by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and The Florida Council on Economic Education, said the survey points to the need for economic education to help prepare young adults to enter the workforce.

“With many young people entering the workforce immediately after high school, we need to equip them with the necessary skills to be successful in their jobs, in the community and at home,” said Gallagher. “Financial education can help steer our economic futures – as individuals and as a state – and the road to financial literacy begins in our schools.”  CONTINUED


Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is warning that unauthorized entities have moved from selling bogus health and medical malpractice insurance plans to more specialized coverage. In December, a Fort Worth, Texas company was ordered to stop selling unauthorized surety bonds in Florida.

Global Bonding's activities were uncovered in an investigation that was prompted by a complaint from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). In one transaction, Global sold more than $26 million worth of bonds to a Winter Haven construction company. The bonds were then presented to the FDOT to insure a Polk County construction project. CONTINUED