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Budgets are tight for many people during this holiday season! But as we look forward to concrete improvements in the economy, at least for now thousands of homeowners can enjoy the benefits from an annual savings on their flood insurance policies thanks to the hard work by Miami-Dade County! That’s right, Miami-Dade residents saved over $23.4 million last year on their flood insurance policies thanks to the work from the County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) and other local agencies. That’s a savings of about $100 on each flood insurance policy for residents in special flood hazard areas of unincorporated Miami-Dade County. Residents in low risk flood zones or some municipalities may have received a lower discount.

This is a huge benefit that our residents receive thanks to the County’s ability to maintain an excellent rating of five (5) in the Community Ratings System (CRS) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). ÃƒÆ’ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“I am proud of the work we have done which has enabled us to obtain this significant flood insurance discount for the property owners of Miami-Dade County. We have been able to maintain this excellent CRS classification for the past seven years,” said Carlos Espinosa, DERM Director. ÃƒÆ’ƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…“Any savings that we are able to pass on to our residents is extremely important to us, especially during the current tough economic times. We will continue to work with Miami-Dade Public Works and other agencies to improve our local stormwater flood control system in order to maintain a good rating from FEMA and provide this flood insurance premium reduction to our community,” added Mr. Espinosa.

Getting to Antigua and Barbuda just got easier! Visitors to the twin island destination now have another convenient non-stop option from New York on Caribbean Airlines. Tourism officials and airline representatives gathered at JFK’s Terminal 4 today to officially launch the new service which was commemorated with an official ribbon cutting ceremony just prior to boarding. The non-stop service, which will run on Tuesdays and Fridays, will originate from Port of Spain, Trinidad, to V.C. Bird International Airport in Antigua, with return service from New York’s JFK.

Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Minister, Hon. John Maginley, was on hand to officiate, along with Antigua and Barbuda Director for the USA, Mrs. Derede Samuel Whitlock and Caribbean Airlines’ General Manager/USA and UK, Mrs. Valerie Murphy-Rahman.

The Minister views the additional air service to Antigua and Barbuda on Caribbean Airlines as an asset and he believes that it will help to facilitate the additional demand for travel from the United States that is anticipated this winter. “The launch of the Caribbean Airlines service helps to increase our seat capacity and provides greater access from some of our major gateways. As the US economy continues to improve, we have seen a steady increase in bookings and, as a result, we will be better prepared to tap into this market potential, ” he stated.

Jamaican-born Dale Holness has been elected to the Broward County Commission in South Florida.

Holness, who served for six years as a Lauderhill City commissioner, was one of three new commissioners and two incumbents sworn into office last month. He was sworn in by Art Kennedy, longtime chief of staff for United States Senator Alcee Hastings.

Holness, who was elected to represent District 9, said his focus would be on the economy.

Barbara Sharief is not new to government, politics or business, but she acknowledges that she has a lot to learn in her new role as the Broward County Commissioner elected to represent District 8.

"In order to fulfill my duty to the people in my district, I want to engulf myself in County operations and learn the inner workings of County operations. Specifically, I want to learn what drives economic development, how countywide services are currently being provided and develop relationships with employees, city officials and residents," said Sharief.

Over the next couple of months, the Commissioner has scheduled a series of visits to tour County libraries and parks in her district. Visits are planned at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and Broward County Transit.