Holmes County Officers Receive Medal of Heroism

  • Published in Crime

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott recognized Sergeant Stephen Gillman and Officers Sophia White, Jamie Fisher, and Timothy Smith of Holmes Correctional Institution with the Medal of Heroism for their courageous actions. On August 18, 2013, an inmate abruptly attacked Sergeant Stephen Gillman during the noon meal at Holmes Correctional Institution in Bonifay. Officers White, Fisher, and Smith immediately responded to the assault as they observed Sergeant Gillman slashed in the head and back with a pick-style weapon by the inmate. The officers subdued the inmate and placed him in restraints.

The attack was a gang “hit” that had been put out on Sergeant Gillman because he identified a staff member for supplying tobacco and other contraband items to the inmates at the facility – resulting in the arrest of the employee. Governor Scott said, “It is an honor for me to present the Medal of Heroism to these brave officers. Their quick response helped prevent other individuals from getting harmed. Not only did they demonstrate their dedication to service and their commitment to public safety, but also kept their fellow correctional officers and inmates safe.”

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews said, “The swift action taken by Sergeant Gillman and Officers White, Fisher and Smith is a testament to their devotion and shows they acted to come to the aid of one of their own and not give a second thought to their own personal safety. Their selfless actions saved the life of their colleague and the lives of inmates. I applaud the response of these officers and appreciate the Governor for recognizing them with this most-deserved Medal.”

The Medal of Heroism is given to any law enforcement or correctional officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic who has distinguished himself or herself by risking his or her life deliberately above and beyond the call of duty and must have engaged in hazardous or perilous activities to preserve lives with the knowledge that such activities might result in great personal harm.


U.S. Dept. of Commerce Approves Governor’s Request for Apalachicola Bay

Tallahassee, Fla. – February 26, 2014, Governor Rick Scott announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce has approved $6.3 million for Apalachicola Bay in disaster assistance funding. The funding is for the affected oyster industry which can be used to help the restoration of the Apalachicola Bay and affected oystermen. This disaster assistance funding follows Governor Scott’s request for a commercial fishery failure.

Governor Scott said, “This $6.3 million in assistance funding will help to provide immediate assistance to strengthen both Franklin County and the entire Apalachicola Region. We will be able to help the families of our oystermen devastated by the collapse of Apalachicola Bay, and provide job training so families in the region are able to support their loved ones for generations to come.”


Another Record Year for Florida Tourism

Orlando - Nearly 95 million tourists came to Florida in 2013 ORLANDO, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced that according to preliminary estimates* released today by VISIT FLORIDA - the state’s official tourism marketing corporation - 94.7 million visitors came to Florida in 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2012. This represents a record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 91.5 million in 2012. The number of direct travel-related jobs in 2013 was also a record high, with 1,088,200 Floridians employed in the tourism industry - up 2.9 percent from 2012.

Governor Rick Scott said, “With nearly 95 million visitors traveling to the Sunshine State, today’s news that Florida broke another record year for tourism is a victory for Florida families. Every 85 visitors to Florida equals one job in our state – and it is clear that more visitors to the Sunshine State means more jobs for Florida families. That is why my ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget,’ commits $100 million to VISIT FLORIDA so we can grow more job opportunities for Florida families.”

"We are excited for our future in Florida and we are glad to be able to bring new jobs and economic growth to our community and to the state," said Bill Davis, president of Universal Orlando Resort. "We are also grateful for the strong public-private partnership that continues to help our industry grow."

Governor Scott made today's announcement at the Universal Orlando Resort where they will be creating nearly 3,500 new jobs this year across their destination. Universal Orlando is currently constructing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, adding a new on-site hotel and expanding their CityWalk Entertainment complex.

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 11.5 million overseas visitors and 3.7 million Canadians came to Florida in 2013, both of which are record highs and represent 11.1 percent and 4.1 percent increases over 2012 respectively. Estimates reflect a 2.5 percent increase in domestic visitors to Florida in 2013 and show that Floridians took a record total of 20.1 million in-state pleasure trips.

“Three years of record-breaking visitation and a record number of tourism-related jobs proves that tourism continues to be a vital force in Florida,” said Tammy Gustafson, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. “It also proves that our industry is directly tied to Florida’s economic growth. This means we cannot let go of our effort to continuously advance Florida tourism.”

Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased every month year-over-year from January through November 2013 (last reported month), representing a 5.9 percent increase over the same period in 2012. For 2013, the average daily room (ADR) rate rose 4.6 percent and the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.5 percent compared to 2012. Both ADR and occupancy increased every month year-over-year in 2013.

Preliminary data from Smith Travel Research indicates Florida tourism has been steadily regaining market share since January 2013, outpacing the rest of the U.S. by 1.3 percentage points. According to the same study, room revenue in Florida for 2013 was up 8.2 percent compared to 2012, while the U.S. is only up 6.2 percent.

“We are incredibly encouraged to see domestic, Canadian and overseas visitor numbers all peaking together in 2013, and look forward to continuing to build on this momentum in 2014 to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA.

For fourth quarter 2013, preliminary estimates show a record 21.9 million people visited the Sunshine State. This represents the largest fourth quarter visitation number Florida has ever seen and reflects an increase of 2.2 percent over the same period in 2012. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 3.2 million overseas visitors traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of 12.1 percent, and 724,000 Canadians traveled to Florida, reflecting an increase of 4.2 percent over the same period in 2012.

To view additional Florida visitor data, go to the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website

*Preliminary estimates are issued 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. Final estimates are released when final data are received for all estimates in the report.

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