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Joelle Embres' Blog

By Joelle Embres | Agent in Parkland, FL
  • 2011-2012 Double "A" School North Broward Academy of Excellence (edit/delete)

    Posted Under: General Area in Broward County, Schools in Broward County, In My Neighborhood in Broward County  |  September 11, 2012 12:36 PM  |  2,424 views  |  No comments

    2011-2012 Double "A" School

    North Broward Academy of Excellence

    Welcome to North Broward Academy of Excellence located in North Lauderdale, Florida. We are a tuition-free public charter school serving students in grades K through 8. <!--For the 2010-2011 school year our school earned a "A" grade for both the elementary and middle schools. -->North Broward Academy of Excellence is a member of the Charter Schools USA family of schools which provides 3 great charter schools throughout Broward County.

    Mission

    North Broward Academy of Excellence’s Mission is to enhance a love of learning, to provide a lifetime of growing, and to have a positive effect on our community and our world.

    Vision

    North Broward Academy of Excellence: Values the safety of all of our stakeholders. Offers excellent academic instruction at all grade levels. Respects our students and parents, and they, in turn, respect us. Reviews data continually and adjusts student learning plans accordingly. Supports parent involvement at our school and actively provides opportunities for parent involvement.

    What is a Charter School?

    Charter schools are part of a sweeping educational reform that places the highest priority on providing a better education. Charter schools are tuition free and are funded much like a public school, but each charter school is governed privately. Private governance places accountability squarely on the shoulders of the entity running the schools. Every dollar spent through the charter school system is focused on furthering each student’s education. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools must demonstrate success, or they will lose their charter. Charter schools can be managed by municipalities, private companies or individuals.

    North Broward Academy of Excellence is a member of the Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) family of schools. Charter Schools USA is one of the largest providers of charter school management services in the state of Florida. CSUSA manages private and municipal charters for grades Pre-K through 12.

    http://www.northbrowardcharter.org/

  • Private insurers considering 150,000 Citizens policies

    Posted Under: Property Q&A in Broward County, Home Insurance in Broward County  |  September 11, 2012 12:22 PM  |  2,165 views  |  No comments

    Four private insurers have been approved to take over 150,000 policies from state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp., regulators said Thursday.

    Citizens customers will be notified Oct. 1 if their policies have been selected. Policyholders have 30 days to decline the offers and stay with Citizens. If customers don’t respond, their policies will be assumed by the private companies on Nov. 6.

    The four companies are:

    Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co. – 75,000 policies
    Florida Peninsula Insurance Co. – 35,000
    Southern Fidelity Property & Casualty – 30,000
    Southern Oak Insurance Co. – 10,000

    Policyholders who accept the offers may be charged higher rates by the new companies. But if they stay with Citizens, the insurer of last resort, they face the possibility of steep assessments.

    Citizens has been trying to push many of its 1.4 million policyholders to the private market, saying it’s concerned it may not have enough money to pay claims after a major hurricane.

    Everyone in the state may be charged up to 6 percent of their annual premiums if Citizens can’t pay storm claims. But Citizens policyholders would pay first and could pay the most - up to 45 percent of their premiums.

    So far in 2012, private companies have taken over 84,339 Citizens policies, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

  • Deadline looms for short sales

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Broward County, In My Neighborhood in Broward County, Property Q&A in Broward County  |  September 9, 2012 3:44 PM  |  1,278 views  |  No comments

    Deadline looms for short sales

    Like many South Floridians, Victoria Woolford is trying to sell her home for less than she owes -- while doing her best to brush off the nagging reminder of a ticking clock.

    Unless Congress grants an extension, a law created in 2007 to help troubled homeowners expires at the end of this year. It allows them to avoid paying taxes on forgiven debt for their primary residences.

    Some sellers will face daunting tax bills once the law expires. If, for example, a lender wipes away a $100,000 debt in a short sale, the typical South Florida borrower could owe more than $25,000 in taxes. The only way to avoid the hit would be to file for bankruptcy.

     

    Because lenders often take several weeks or months to approve short sales, homeowners who don't start the process soon are likely to miss the deadline, real estate agents and lawyers say.

    "We don't want to scare anybody, but they can do the math," said Joe Kohn, a Fort Lauderdale real estate lawyer.

    Woolford paid $320,000 for a four-bedroom house near West Palm Beach in 2010 but says it's worth only about $250,000 now. Because of a pay cut, she applied for a short sale this spring, but she said the buyer walked away as the deal dragged on without a resolution.

    The aviation consultant said a second buyer is getting antsy, and there's still no word from the lender, Wells Fargo.

    After what she's been through already, she can't fathom the possibility of a big tax bill to boot.

    "If you can't afford the mortgage, how can you afford the taxes?" said Woolford, 39.

    The Great Recession combined with plummeting home values have left millions of Americans in a financial crisis over the past six years.

    More than 412,000 South Florida homeowners are "underwater," owing more than their properties are worth, according to real estate website Zillow.com. It could be a decade or more before values return to a level that allows these homeowners to break even in a sale.

    In many cases, a short sale is the best option for escaping a burdensome mortgage. The seller avoids foreclosure and often can negotiate with the bank to reduce or eliminate the deficiency – the difference between what's owed and what the house sells for.

    Since 2007, more than 53,000 homeowners in Palm Beach and Broward counties have completed short sales, according to the RealtyTrac listing firm. Over the same period, lenders have repossessed nearly 85,000 homes in the two counties, RealtyTrac said.

    To apply for a short sale, a homeowner must have a financial hardship, such as a job loss or large medical expenses. New government guidelines that take effect in November allow for a short sale if the homeowner must relocate more than 50 miles away for a job transfer or new position.

    After finding a buyer, the seller submits to the lender the written contract, along with pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. Then the waiting begins.

    Even though the short sale process has improved in the past year, with banks responding to offers more quickly, delays are still common, agents and sellers say.

    Given the depth of the housing bust, the law should be extended for at least another year to give borrowers relief and to help clear the glut of distressed mortgages, said Guy Cecala, publisher of the Inside Mortgage Finance newsletter.

    While there appears to be bipartisan support for keeping the law, some analysts say an extension may not come until after the presidential election in November.

    Others say the law may well expire, but Congress could grant an extension early next year and apply it retroactively.

    Because of the uncertainty, homeowners should assume no extension is coming, said Jim Heidisch, broker with Campbell and Rosemurgy in Pompano Beach. He said many of his clients are stunned to learn of the looming expiration.

    As the end of the year draws closer, short sale applications are likely to increase, and the backlog could result in frantic homeowners struggling to close, real estate professionals say.

    "I'm not making any plans for Dec. 31," said Gary Singer, a real estate lawyer in Sunrise. "I expect to be in the office very late."

  • Broward home prices rise 10 percent in May (edit/delete)

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Broward County, Home Selling in Broward County, In My Neighborhood in Broward County  |  June 25, 2012 7:22 AM  |  1,291 views  |  No comments

    Broward County home prices increased in May – another strong month for a market in recovery.

    The number of Broward home sales rose 8 percent, to 1,247 from 1,153.

    Despite the decline, prices in the county have stabilized, and analysts say the market is improving.

    Prices are rebounding as buyers compete for a shrinking supply of homes for sale. Sellers in Palm Beach and Broward counties are getting roughly 90 percent of their original list prices, up slightly from a year ago.

    "Properties that are priced to sell move quickly," Bonnie Lazar, president of the Palm Beach County Realtor board, said in a statement. "Therefore buyers must be positioned to make a good offer that will appeal to the seller."

    foreclosed homes hits the market in the coming months.

  • WiFi

    Posted Under: General Area in Broward County, Shopping & Local Amenities in Broward County, In My Neighborhood in Broward County  |  June 20, 2012 10:00 AM  |  1,062 views  |  No comments

    WIFI Available in Downtown Ft. LauderdaleIntroduction
    The County is pleased to announce that outdoor wireless broadband has been launched in the downtown governmental/university campus area. This is an important project in keeping with the Broward County Commission Strategic Workplan Goal #6 – “Ensure the consistent, strategic placement of knowledge and services infrastructure throughout Broward County.” This project provides exciting opportunities to boost the County’s educational, social and economic advancement in technology.

    The wireless broadband service, commonly known as “WiFi,” will offer downtown library users, university students, County employees and the general public free outdoor access to the Internet to retrieve e-mail, perform research, or surf the Web without being connected to network cables. The network, BC-Public, was designed to be scalable for future expansion and was built by County staff from the Office of Information Technology and Traffic Engineering Division, with assistance from the Facilities Management Division. The total cost of the project was $79,000, with recurring costs at $100 per month. Now that the base antenna system has been established, new antennas or extensions of existing antennas can be easily added. The antennas can bring new hotspot service areas which expands the original service footprint.

    Benefits
    The high density of diverse users in the downtown area was the key reason for the locations of the pilot project. The initiative provides ubiquitous connectivity anywhere, anytime. Students from the BCC and FAU campus have the ability to step away from the classroom setting while staying connected online for e-mails and research and enjoy outdoor vistas such as Bubier Park and Las Olas Boulevard. Library patrons will have similar experiences with Internet connections available adjacent to the Downtown Main Library in Stranahan Park. Local residents and visitors can stay “connected” with home and work while visiting two of Broward County’s key tourism areas – Las Olas Boulevard and the Old Himmarshee area of Fort Lauderdale.

    BC Public
    The primary service area of the outdoor WiFi wireless network identified as “BC Public” includes Stranahan Park adjacent to the Main Library Branch, along Southwest 2nd Street from the Broward County Governmental Center through the Old Himmarshee area, and Las Olas Boulevard, beginning at Andrews Avenue and continuing east to approximately Southeast 10th Avenue. Within the Governmental Center, BC Public is accessible from several convenient locations:

    • County Commission Chambers (Room 422), meeting room 430 and the seating area outside fourth floor elevators
    • Third floor cafeteria
    • First floor lobby

    Connecting to Broward County’s Downtown Wireless Network   
    Calls for assistance regarding access to WiFi hot spots will be handled by the Broward County Call Center at 954-831-4000.

    Broward County is very excited to introduce free access to our Downtown Wireless Network. The steps below will guide you through the log-on process of connecting to the network.

    Please note, there are various ways of connecting to a wireless network. The below procedures illustrates only one of those methods.

    1. Right click on the Wireless Network Connect icon to connect to Broward County’s Downtown Wireless Network.

    Tool Bar

    2. Click on BC Public, and then click on the Connect button.

    BC Public

    3. Click on the Connect Anyway button.

    Connect Anyway

    4. Launch your Web Browser to access to the web.

    5. Review the Broward County WiFi Terms and Conditions of Use by utilizing the scroll bar.

    Review the Broward County WiFi Terms and Conditions of Use by utilizing the scroll bar

    6. Click on the I Agree button to accept the terms conditions.

    I Agree button

    7. Pause, while the network connects to your default home page.

    connecting

    8. Congratulations! You have successfully connected to the web using Broward County’s Downtown Wireless Network.

    Frequently Asked Question About WiFi   

    Q - What is WiFi?
    A - WiFi, or Wireless Fidelity, is a wireless technology of small antennas that uses specific frequencies or signals that is received by laptop computers or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Both the laptop and PDA must have a wireless card that is used to pick up the WiFi frequency. If your laptop or PDA does not have a built-in wireless card, they are readily available for purchase and cost $35 - $100. Generally, the most common usage of WiFi technology is for laptop users to gain Internet access in locations such as airports, coffee shops, etc., where the technology can be used to help consumers in their pursuit of work-based, study, or recreational Internet usage. A WiFi service area is commonly called a “hot spot”.

    Q - What is the name of the service?
    A - The name of Broward County’s pilot for free outdoor access to wireless broadband service is “BC Public.”

    Q - Where is the service located?
    A - There are multiple service areas or hotspots in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. The service areas include the Governmental Center which includes the 4th floor common areas such as the County Commission Chamber, 3rd floor cafeteria and the 1st floor lobby. Additional service areas are available outdoors in Stranahan Park adjacent to the Main Library Branch, on SW Second Street from the Broward County Governmental Center through the Old Himmarshee area and the BCC/FAU campus on Las Olas Boulevard starting at Andrews Avenue and continuing east to approximately Southeast 10th Avenue. A map identifying the downtown service areas of the pilot WiFi project is available.

    Q - Is there a charge for the service?
    A - No. It is a free service provided by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners.

    Las OlasQ - What do I need to do to access the wireless network?
    A - A laptop or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) with wireless 802.11 b and/or g network card

    Q - What would this service do for me?
    A - Provide Internet access in order to retrieve e-mail, perform research, or surf the web without being connected to restrictive network cables.

    Q - If I don’t have a wireless card for my laptop, what type of card do I need, where can I purchase Broward County WiFi and the Downtown Hot Spots one and how much do they cost?
    A - You will need an 802.11 b/g, or dual band wireless card for your particular device. They can be purchased at many computer or electronics stores.

    Q - Can I receive the WiFi service inside a building within the service area?
    A - It depends on the building. In some cases it may be possible; however, it was not designed to provide access inside the buildings with the exception of the Government Center.

    Q - Will I need any special settings or passwords to connect to the service?
    A- No special settings, user names or passwords are required.

    Q - Is this service secure?
    A - No. It is open Internet access. Please keep this in mind if you are accessing sensitive business or personal information.

    Q - What can I do to protect my laptop while using the wireless service?
    A - We always recommend that you install a personal firewall and anti-virus software on your laptop.

    Q - What is the download speed for this service?
    A - Depending on number of simultaneous users, the download speed is 3Mbps.

    Q - If I need help accessing the service for the first time, whom should I call?
    A - Broward County’s Call Center staff can step you through the brief instructions for accessing the wireless service. You can reach them at 954-831-4000.

    Q - I own a business and currently have WiFi service inside my business. Will BC Public interfere with my existing service?
    A - If both services operate using the same frequency or channel there may be some interference, thus reducing some of the download speed. However, the service should still work.

    Q - What if I don’t select “I Agree” after the Terms and Use Agreement located on the opening page of the service?
    A - If you don’t accept the agreement, you are not authorized to use the free service. The Terms of Use primarily prohibit illegal use of the service or any use that would interfere with the performance or use of the service by others. The agreement also identifies and warns users of the potential security risks associated with the use of a public WiFi network.

  • Broward Takes the "Bite" Out of Mosquito Season

    Posted Under: General Area in Broward County, Parks & Recreation in Broward County, In My Neighborhood in Broward County  |  June 20, 2012 9:49 AM  |  1,054 views  |  No comments

    Mosquito Control  


    Spring and summer brings frequent, heavy rain to Broward County, and that brings mosquitos. Spraying for mosquitos begins in June. Broward County Mosquito Control conducts aerial and ground spraying that targets neighborhoods where high populations of the insects have been trapped.

    Broward Takes the "Bite" Out of Mosquito Season 


    Mosquitoes are not only annoying, but they can be a public health issue. The county staff biologist regularly traps mosquitoes, separates them by species and detects any potential viruses. Findings will determine the chemical application to be used and the type of spraying required.


      Three Ways Broward Residents or
      Business Owners May Request Service

    · Use the online Mosquito Spraying Request Form

    · Call: 954-765-4062

    · FAX: 954-985-1959

    Requests will be forwarded to an inspector who will spray the area.

    Controlling Mosquitos 

    The best protection from mosquito-transmitted diseases is to avoid exposure to mosquito bites. During mosquito season, keep doors and windows closed, stay indoors at dusk and dawn, and dress in long-sleeved and light color clothing in a known mosquito infested area. Apply insect repellent containing DEET sparingly to clothing and skin.

    Inspect your yards and drains. Destroy or dispose of cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other debris that can collect and hold standing water, which promotes breeding. You should also flush plants weekly, repair leaky pipes, and maintain and clean roof gutters.

    View more information on controlling mosquitos.

    If you require mosquito spraying, call 954-765-4062 or make an online request. We are located at 1201 W. Airport Road, Pembroke Pines, FL 33023.

  • All-In-One Recycling

    Posted Under: General Area in Broward County, In My Neighborhood in Broward County  |  June 20, 2012 9:46 AM  |  783 views  |  No comments
     
    All-In-One Recycling 
     


    Recycling is Easy When You Put It "All-in-One" Container!   

    Most Broward County cities use the “All-in-One” recycling system (single-stream recycling), in which recyclable items don't have to be sorted from one another. Instead of placing items into two separate containers, the following items can all be placed in the same container.

     

    Place these items together in your recycling cart or bin(s):

    • Newspapers, inserts, catalogs, magazines, junk mail, office paper, soft-covered books, file folders, soda cartons and crushed boxes from items such as cereal, tissues, rice and pasta
    • Plastic containers (narrow-necks only) such as bottles, milk, water, detergent and shampoo containers
    • Glass food and beverage containers, milk/juice cartons and drink boxes
    • Aluminum and steel food and beverage containers
    • Cardboard from non-food items such as shipping boxes

    DO NOT place these items in your recycling cart or bin(s):

    • Rechargeable batteries
    • Plastic bags
    • Certain glass products including window or auto glass, light bulbs, mirrors, glass cookware or bakeware, and ceramics
    • Paint and pesticides
    • Electronic waste and accessories
    • Medical waste and pharmaceuticals
    • Household garbage and other waste such as gas cylinders, tanks, rocks, dirt, building debris, flammables, small appliances
    • Pizza boxes
    • Misc. plastics (toys, cups, etc.)

    To find out if your municipality is participating in the "single-stream" recycling program, call your city directly.

    Broward County Solid Waste and Recycling Services(SWRS) oversees recycling programs for Broward County and Interlocal Agreement (ILA) partner cities, Broward County public schools, and County government agencies. SWRS also manages a household hazardous waste (HHW) program, as well as garbage, bulky waste, and recycling services for unincorporated areas of the county.

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