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Beam Furr is running for the District Six Seat on the Broward County Commission.
A librarian at Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines and a former Hollywood Commissioner who served 12 years, Furr is hoping to make some improvements to early childhood education and establish stronger relations between the county library system and public schools.
Universal prekindergarten in Broward County would be an important goal for Furr. He believes the current voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) approach is inadequate because it only meets three hours on school days needs to be improved.
“We need more hours for prekindergarten. We need a full day of prekindergarten and we need more qualified teachers. Those who are teaching prekindergarten need a professionalized degree,” said Furr.
He believes that because young children’s brains are in early development, people who are teaching prekindergarten classes need to understand young children. They need to be educated about age appropriate curriculum and brain development. “We need people who understand what is going on and can bring out the potential for each child. We need a reallocation of resources. Right now the county is spending more money on remedial teaching on the high school level. We should not be spending so much on the back end,” said Furr.
Furr also wants to see a return of some of the bus routes that were cut because of the recession. “Those bus routes, especially in central Hollywood need to be restored. There needs to be commuter train on the FEC line. We need to improve public transportation in all eastern Broward County cities,” said Furr. “If we have passenger commuter rail this will be a catalyst for redevelopment in the downtown section. Better public transportation would bring more people to the downtown areas along the coast.”
More Broward County Public Library hours are also important to Furr. “A lot of kids need libraries more than ever. I would like to see the public schools and the county libraries work together more. They could do a better job of sharing resources.”
Furr recognizes the challenge that the City of Hollywood and Broward County are facing with the Ocean Outfall Sta te Mandate. He wants to make sure it is done in the most environmentally safe way possible.
Furr served on the Hollywood Commission from 2000 to 2012. He addressed major crime areas on Adams Street, Lincoln Park and Crystal Lake. “We were able to redevelop Lincoln Park into a school and park. We knocked down the housing project at Crystal and built a much more desirable living facility. We got rid of all the substandard housing on Adams Street and reduced the crime there,” he said.
Also, Furr began the “Born to Read” program that was in the Memorial Pediatric Center located within the Broward County Health Department in Hollywood. When parents would bring their children to the Health Department for care, there would be a librarian/reading specialist in the waiting room to encourage their children to read and show the parents the best methods to read to their kids. The parents were also encouraged to sign up for a Broward County Library card.
Furr also started a Small Business/Minority Business Program in Hollywood. This was to help small and minority businesses obtain government contracts.
“I was able to get built the McNichol Community Center and the Police Athletic League Community Center built,” said Furr. “I spearheaded an effort to bring a Barry University campus to downtown Hollywood.”
Furr is proud of the fact that he was known as “fiscal watchdog.” “I wanted to make sure that money in Hollywood was well spent,” he said.
Furr is married to Shelli and has one daughter Eliza who attends college. He is age 59.