My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Last Friday, I had the distinct honor and privilege of hosting the 24th annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremony at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala. Fire service professionals from across the state joined with family members and friends who have lost a loved one in the line of duty to honor their ultimate sacrifice—one that was made in service to others.

 24th Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial CeremonyThis year, however, I have the privilege of telling you that, since our last ceremony was held last October, no Florida firefighter passed away in the line of duty. This year, we honored two men whose names were long overdue to be inscribed on the monument. Their names joined 181 others whose lives represent the last full measure of devotion and service to one’s neighbors.

Carl A.R. Lommler was the first paid chief of the Longwood Fire Department. He was an avid storyteller and outdoorsman—one so dedicated to the fire service that he would set up an antenna in his deer stand, so that he could always hear his call to service. Carl died on the scene of a car fire in 1973.

24th annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial CeremonyCarl’s three daughters, Carla, Janice and Barbara, joined us for the occasion, and they still mourn the loss of their father to this day. Carl’s granddaughter Crystal still longs for a childhood full of memories of her grandfather.

Frank R. Vigh was an engineer for the Orange County Fire Department. He dedicated his life to being a fire service professional, and he gave 12 years of dedicated service to his local community. Frank was known for his hospitality and for the cup of coffee he always had in hand.

Frank was from a family of firefighters and was proud of continuing that heritage. Frank’s widow, Wanda, and his daughter, Geri, made the trip to Ocala, and we were honored by their presence.

While there’s nothing we can ever do to repay the profound sense of loss felt by these families, we should honor them with a commitment to advancing fire safety so that one day we will never have to add another name to the memorial.

Each year, this ceremony moves me. As a father and a son to firefighters, I share the sense of anxiety and unease that comes with the job 24th Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Ceremonyof being a fire service professional. It is a career and a call to duty that is felt by the entire family.

If you were unable to join us in Ocala, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to watch this video recap of the event.


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Save Today and Retire Tomorrow

Save for RetirementOctober is Save for Retirement Month, and no matter what age you are, there’s no better time than right now to plan for your retirement. Saving for retirement often gets put off as we deal with life’s more pressing demands, but each month you delay cuts into the total savings you have when that day finally arrives.

What investments are right for me? How much will I get from social security? Is my 401(k) earning enough interest? These are common questions asked by pre-retirees. In fact, a recent survey revealed more than one third of working age and retired Florida residents lack the basic knowledge of investing and saving for retirement. To get the most out of your retirement savings, you should determine where you want to be and set a plan for how you're going to get there. Not all retirement plans are created equal, and it’s important to understand all of the options available to you in order to make more informed decisions.

It's more important than ever to make smart financial decisions. Save early. Save often. Learn more about how to develop your retirement plan by visiting our Your Money Matters website. If you are an employee of the state of Florida, learn more about the state's deferred compensation program here.

Florida's International Trade InfographicFlorida's Bottom Line

As the ever-innovating world economy continues to diversify and expand, Florida must continue to make strategic investments in order to remain a key player in major global trade lanes. These investments are already at work deepening our ports to accommodate larger ships and strengthening rail lines to increase the speed at which goods flow through our state.

Read more about international business in Florida in the current edition of Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater’s quarterly economic magazine. This edition focuses on Florida's international trade, one of the most important elements of Florida’s economy as it embodies the global success of businesses across the state.

In addition, Florida's Bottom Line website keeps you up-to-date on Florida's economy and finances in between quarterly editions. Past editions, special reports, infographics and news archives reflect the recent flow of Florida facts and economic attitudes.

Florida Economic Briefs

Retail sales in Florida increase over the year
Retail sales increased 8.6 percent over the year in Florida. Taxable sales data is used as an indicator of regional economic activity. Port St. Lucie led the state with a 9.4 percent increase, followed by Palm Bay, West Palm Beach and Winter Haven.
Source: Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research

Small business optimism up in September
Small business optimism grew last month according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. Of the ten components that make up the index, seven of them increased over the month, and three decreased.
Source: National Federation of Independent Business

Stop Adult Financial Exploitation

Operation S.A.F.E.Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • The Psychology of a Scam
  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft
  • Resources to Keep You Safe

Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshops:

  • Thursday, October 22nd - Fort Walton Beach
    10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
    The Meridian at Westwood
    1001 Mar Walt Drive, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32547
    Register | Directions | Flyer