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We sat down this month with two-term Orange
County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson to discuss
several issues of importance to our readers.
We’ve heard recently about a new landscap-
ing program in Orange County that you have
been working on. Can you describe the new
program and tell our readers if any of these
improvements will be coming into the Lake
Recently the Board of County Commissioners ap-
proved a new Roadway Median Tree Landscaping
Program. I’m excited about this new program be-
cause it means that we’re making an investment in
beautifying our roadways. There are already road-
ways throughout Orange County that have trees but
they are few and far between because the money has
not been available in recent years. This new program
will add landscaping to over 92 miles of roadway me-
dians over the next six years. The Lake Nona area will
see improvements on Moss Park Road from Narcoos-
see down to Lake Hart Drive.
As more families move into the Lake Nona
area, where are the parks and recreational
facilities to accommodate all this growth?
In order to access funds made available through
the park impact fees we all paid when we purchased
our homes, we have to locate parcels of land that are
a minimum of 20 acres. I’ve been working to acquire
land since I became your County Commissioner. Last
year I was able to secure a 20-acre park site located
on Moss Park Road behind the fire station. Eventual-
ly, this will be an active park with multipurpose fields
and other amenities the community desires.
We are proud to have the Back to Nature Wildlife
Refuge in our area too. This wildlife facility rescues,
raises, rehabilitates and releases injured or orphaned
Florida Native species. The facility also provides edu-
cation about respecting and preserving the environ-
ment. They also host numerous community activities
including a farmers market.
It smells outside. What’s going on at the Or-
ange County Landfill?
Last spring, my office reached out to the Orange
County Solid Waste Department to find out what the
stink was coming from the landfill. Essentially, it boils
down to a change that was made to combine both con-
struction (C&D) debris with household waste (MSW)
back in 2013. The County opted to start combining the
debris a few years ago to save costs. However, it was
discovered rather quickly that the combination of the
waste produced this new odor. They’ve gone back to
the old way of doing things (separating the waste) but
it’s going to take some time for the odor to completely
Our readers may not be fully aware, but a
lot of your jurisdiction actually falls within
the City of Orlando. How do you balance the
needs of those in the City versus the needs of
those in the County?
That’s a great question and one that is oftentimes
frustrating. First, let me say that I have a very good
working relationship with City of Orlando Commis-
sioner, Jim Gray. If there’s something coming through
the pipeline that I have questions about, I can call
Jim on a Sunday afternoon and get answers. My of-
fice will often get questions about development along
Narcoossee Road or around Lake Nona in general,
like the influx of apartments recently. I’ll get the in-
formation directly from the City or the Commission-
er’s office so that we can answer questions when they
are asked. If I can’t answer something, we send them
over to the District Commissioner’s office. It works the
other way around too. Having good relationships is
the key. Constituents don’t really care that it isn’t with-
in your jurisdiction. They just want answers.
Our Medical City began as a hope and dream of
our community and in less than 10 years has become
a reality. And those results came faster than most be-
lieved was possible.
Our medical school is part of that collective dream.
We are building a top-tier Medical City and a top- tier
medical school is a key component of that effort. We
began with 41 students and have grown to 460 in just
six years. Our students are scoring in the top quartile
nationally in their board scores, research and volun-
Thanks to our partnership with the VA, every UCF
medical student spends time during their training
caring for veterans.
We’re a research-based medical school with sci-
entists working to discover cures for the diseases that
harm all of us – including cancer, Alzheimer’s, car-
diovascular and Crohn’s disease, to name a few. Our
faculty physicians care for patients at two locations of
UCF Health, including our newest in Lake Nona.
All of these initiatives are due in part to communi-
ty collaboration. Our students care for patients at Ne-
mours, the VA, Florida Hospital and Orlando Health.
They train and volunteer with University of Florida
pharmacy students. Our scientists collaborate with
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
and colleges across our university. We are bringing
more than 550 new residency slots to Florida thanks
to a new partnership with the Hospital Corporation
We are doing more together than we could ever
Our Medical City was created in partnership.
Teamwork has enabled us to move forward fast and
the world is taking notice.
Q&A with Orange County Commissioner
Our collaborative community sparks
Deborah German, M.D.
Vice President for Medical Affairs,
UCF College of Medicine
4 FEBRUARY 2016
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