Friday, February 27, 2015

Members Pack World of Beer for February Business after Hours

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Feb. 26 Business After Hours sponsored by World of Beer! Members packed the house to enjoy one of Destin's newest establishments.

Click here to see more photos from the event. 

Thank you to those donating door prizes, including the following:
- HarborWalk Village
- Infinite Lasers LLC
- World Impact Real Estate
- Xtreme Sports Fan Team Merchandise & Fan Gear

Join us on March 26 for our Business After Hours sponsored by Travinia Italian Kitchen. Find details here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

JCLEA Donates to CIC Children
The First Judicial Circuit Law Enforcement Association (JCLEA) recently donated $750 to Children in Crisis (CIC) to support the children’s educational requirements. Seen here, Capt. Ron Gay, president 1st JCLEA; Laura Moore, CIC volunteer & events coordinator; Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO; and Don Adams, Okaloosa County Undersheriff. For additional information on CIC or ways to support the CIC vision, please visit or call 864-4242.

MKAF Celebrates 20 Years 
Twenty years ago, the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) began an earnest mission to bring art programs, cultural events, art education, and lively entertainment to the sleepy beach town of Destin. MKAF will celebrate this significant milestone with activities and events throughout the year, showcasing the cultural and educational outreach made by the organization. On March 12, the City of Destin will proclaim it “Mattie Kelly Day” with an official proclamation commemorating the 103rd birthday of Mattie Kelly. Other events, which will showcase the 20th anniversary, include the April 11 “December ’63, a Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons,” and the introduction of a new Bluegrass music concert, “Bluegrass Meets the Beach,” Sept. 11 - 12, featuring the award-winning and chart-topping band, Blue Highway. It will also hold its signature events, including Concerts in the Village, Festival of the Arts, and Sound of the Season. For more information about MKAF’s mission and events or to become a member, visit MattieKellyArtsFoundation.orgor call (850) 650-2226.

Rocky Bayou Country Club Offers No Initiation Memberships
Rocky Bayou Country Club is the only member-owned private golf course along the Emerald Coast. Its 18 holes of championship golf and clubhouse provide the perfect atmosphere to enjoy. It also has a pool during the spring and summer that is undergoing a renovation in March. It is currently offering NO INITIATION memberships and has a membership category to fit just about anyone. If you want more information about Rocky Bayou Country Club, visit or email Jared Morton, director of golf and club operations, at or call (850) 678-3270 x4. 

Bid for a Good Cause During Cox Charity Auction
Cox and Home Instead Senior Care will present the Cox Charity Auction to benefit Covenant Hospicebeginning April 11 through May 9. The virtual fundraising event will feature four week-long auctions hosted online at Each auction will feature a variety of packages starting at 40 percent of the retail value. Items include an iPad Mini, a fishing trip and dolphin cruise, golf packages, hot air balloon ride, spa and massage services, artwork, jewelry, tickets to area events, and gift certificates to local and national chain restaurants and retailers. The online auction schedule is as follows: Auction One, April 11-18; Auction Two, April 18-25; Auction Three, April 25-May 2; Auction Four, May 2-9. For details, call (850) 428-0605 or email

WSRE will Premiere Television Special on IMPACT 100 
WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, has produced a television special about the significant contributions of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area. “IMPACT 100: Changing Lives, Strengthening Communities,” hosted by Sherri Hemminghaus Weeks, will premiere on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. IMPACT 100 is a phenomenon in women’s philanthropy, a transformational approach that empowers women from all walks of life to profoundly change the communities in which they live. The WSRE presentation tells the IMPACT 100 story by highlighting IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area, the world’s largest IMPACT 100 organization. 

Tom Thumb Stores Donates to CIC Kids
Teresa Smith (left), Tom Thumb Inc. vice president of operations, and Mark Salisbury (right), Tom Thumb Inc. president, presents a donation of $750 and several large boxes of gifts to Ken Hair,Children in Crisis (CIC) president and CEO. The funds will be used to help feed, clothe, and care for the children living at the CIC Neighborhood and the gifts are for the CIC Educational Incentive program.

2015 Destin Forward Class Raises $5,006 to aid in Restoration of Primrose, Old Post Office
On Friday, Feb. 20, the 2015 Destin Forward Class held its “Pins and Pancakes for the Primrose” fundraiser and raised $5,006 to be used for the City of Destin’s restoration and relocation project for the Old Post Office, Destin’s first post office, and the Primrose, Destin’s first siene boat. Thirteen corporate teams and many individuals gathered at Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill for a breakfast buffet and two hours of bowling. Teams included Bluewater Bay Marina Complex; Bluewater Bay Yachts; Destin CommonsEmerald Coast Title Services, LLCFirst City BankHarrison Sale McCloy; Mr. Done Right Handyman; Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.;ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation RentalsJim Liufau Ins. Agency, Inc., State Farm Ins.ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance, Inc.; and Wyndham Vacation Resorts. Other corporate donations were made byEmerald Coast Wealth Advisors of Raymond James, First National Bank and Trust and Ocean Reef Resorts, in addition to hundreds of dollars in individual donations. BayArea Awards & Engraving gave away trophies to the Top Female Bowler – Dottie Liufau, Top Male Bowler – Jim Liufau and Top Team – Liufau McCall Insurance Group. Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill donated all services and product for the fundraiser so all donations received will go directly to the restoration and relocation project.

Seen here, Destin Forward class member Heather Pike presents BayArea Awards’ Top Team Trophy to Dottie and Jim Liufau.

“Leading Ladies” to be Rescheduled
Emerald Coast Theatre Company announced that the benefit performance of “Leading Ladies,” slated for Thursday, Feb. 26, will be rescheduled. “We are looking forward to staging ‘Leading Ladies’ sometime later this season. In the meantime, we hope Emerald Coast theater and art-lovers will join us for our the next scheduled performance of our 2014-15 season, which is a terrific comedy called, ‘Art,’” said ECTC producing artistic director Nathanael Fisher. Directed by ECTC artistic producer Nathanael Fisher, “Art” will be staged two weekends, March 6-8, and March 13-15, at 7:30 p.m., in the Market Shops at Sandestin. For details, or call (850) 687-1637. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

President's Message: Early 2015 Observations

Yes, it’s only February 2015.  But there are some things happening that have caught our attention.  And some of it is very intriguing.

Who would have thought that a name-change for the airport would be so controversial and receive so much negativity?  It’s a name-change that is needed.  It’s been interesting to read and hear the reasons the change is “bad.” 

There are those outside of Destin who felt it was unfair that Destin was listed first in the new name.  That’s not something I understand.  The Destin Area Chamber has said for years that Destin is the brand name for region.  Destin generates at least 65% of the bed tax that funds the TDC/TDD/CVB.  Destin represents upwards of 45% of the tax base for all of Okaloosa County.  And if you really want to be fair, Destin is first alphabetically. 

Then there was the talk about the word ‘international’ being used.  I tend to agree with those who said it was simply a marketing and perception word.  Many airports across the country use ‘international’ in their name, yet no international flights land or take-off from them.  Then there’s the talk that’s existed for years about bringing in charter flights from Europe, Canada, and the ever-expanding Latin American markets.  Add to that the fact that, according to VISIT FLORIDA, travelers from China are going to become the largest segment of international travelers in the world.  Wouldn’t the use of ‘international’ make sense?

The airport name isn’t the only issue that has been interesting to watch.  It’s just the only issue that’s been heard and seen.  There have been meetings about welcome signage across the county.  At one time, those meetings included all the stakeholders affected by the signs.  Now, there are meetings taking place with individual groups with specific interests about the signs.  The Destin Area Chamber has made it a priority for these signs to be placed across the entire county, not just Destin.  We’ve been vocal at meetings and with resolutions of support, yet not included in these recent discussions. Interesting, to say the least.

I congratulate the Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners for voting for the name-change, even without the use of ‘international’ in the new name.  I just hope all the negativity and controversy isn’t a sign of the communities in this area becoming splintered and fractured.  I also hope the meetings about signage and other issues in Okaloosa County are not a sign of splintering or fracturing.  The chambers of commerce have worked too hard over the past several years to bring our communities together – and have made great strides.  I’d hate to see that work be for nothing.

Thank you for your continued support of your Chamber.  2014 was a great year under the leadership of Amy Perry of Pleat, Perry, & Ritchie, PA.  And 2015 has begun with a bang under the guidance of Ken Wampler of Newman-Dailey Resort Properties.  I guarantee he’ll work for you the same way Amy did.  After all, that’s how we’ll continue to build this world-class community one business at a time.

With wishes for continued success, 
Shane Moody, CCE, FCCP
President & CEO
Destin Area Chamber of Commerce

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Local Students Working Against Tobacco Write, Record Original Anti-Tobacco Ads 
Okaloosa County high school students, in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, are making their voices heard – literally. Members of the organization Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) created and recorded original radio spots to educate fellow students and others living in Northwest Florida about the dangers associated with the use of smokeless tobacco. The 30-second spots are now running on stations 92.1FM and 98.1 FM and will run through the nationally observed 2015 Through with Chew Week February 15-21. 
Costa Family McDonalds Makes Donation to CIC
The Costa Family McDonald’s presented a $1,500 donation to its “McCafe with a Cause” Charity of the Month Children in Crisis (CIC). Every Monday, Costa’s McDonald’s donates 50 percent of its coffee proceeds to a Charity of the Month. Seen here, David Costa, president/owner, Costa Enterprises, and the Costa Team, presents a check to Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO.

ECAR Announces Realtor of the Year, Other Awards 
The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR) announced its 2014 award winners Feb. 10, at the Sandestin Bayside Ballroom. Marilue Maris was chosen as the 2014 Realtor of the Year. Seen here, Anne Rendle, ECAR CEO, and Sam Kincaid, president, present the award to Maris.

Other ECAR award winners included Crestview Realtor of the Year Katie Peugh, Destin Realtor of the Year Sam Kinkaid, Fort Walton Beach Realtor of the Year Denis Milonas, Niceville Realtor of the Year Susan Rood, North Walton Realtor of the Year Terry Pilcher, South Walton Realtor of the Year Judy Sheridan, Commercial Realtor of the Year Gordon MacLean, Distinguished Service Award Richard Hickenbotham, Good Neighbors Tedd and Jeannie Wilson, Newcomer Award Michele Bailey, Silent Angel Jackie Pilcher, and Unsung Hero Mike Cadogan.

CIC Breaks Ground on New Foster Home
Children in Crisis (CIC) will have a groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 19, at 3:30 p.m., at the Children’s Neighborhood on Hurlburt Road in Fort Walton Beach, and the entire community is invited. Construction on the next family foster home, The Travis Tringas Cottage, will begin this month. This is another giant step forward and a significant milestone for CIC.

Sacred Heart Now Offers Upgraded MRI Services 
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast upgraded its MRI to provide physicians with a more enhanced diagnostic tool to identify injuries or disease processes. The $1.4 million investment upgrades the hospital’s MRI magnet to 1.5T.

“Our enhanced MRI has a wider opening and feet-first entry to provide a more comfortable experience and to ease patients’ anxiety,” says Art Schnitzer, Radiology Manager at Sacred Heart Hospital. “The benefit of the larger magnet is improved image quality to help physicians better diagnose their patients and follow up on treatment progress.”

Janet Huckabee Visits Children in Crisis – Reads to the Kids
Janet Huckabee, wife of former Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee, visited Children in Crisis (CIC) and the kids living at the CIC Neighborhood this week. After touring the children’s homes and neighborhood grounds, Huckabee gathered the children in a large group and read several books.

World Impact Real Estate Welcomes “Special Forces” Gabriel Jaime-Astacio
New World Impact Real Estate Realtor Gabriel Jaime-Astacio was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is an active duty Army soldier stationed at Eglin Air Force Base for the past three years, with nine total years in the service. Jaime-Astacio received his real estate license in February 2015. As a recent home buyer, he has a desire to assist other first time home buyers experience home ownership. He wants to focus his efforts towards military home buyers. You may reach him at (719) 331-386

Friday, February 13, 2015

February Lunch Focuses on RESTORE Act

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Feb. 10 Leaders In Business Lunch Sponsored by Fort Walton Beach Medical CenterSal Nodjomian, executive vice president with Matrix Design Group and a former commander of the 96th Air Base Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, discussed the RESTORE Act and the Okaloosa RESTORE Act Committee (ORAC). Nodjomian is assisting the county in developing its multi-year plan for RESTORE Act money and evaluating projects for RESTORE Act funding. Also, Dr. Joseph Pedone from Okaloosa Heart & Vascular Center presented What's New in Cardiovascular Services - Our Cutting Edge Technology.

Click here to see more photos from the event. 

Thank you to those donating door prizes, including the following:
- American Cancer Society
The Breakfast Table Cafe

Coastal Accounting of NW Florida, PA
Eglin Federal Credit Union

- Emerald Coast Chiropractic
- Habitat for Humanity, Okaloosa County
- Northwest Florida Daily News
Planet Beach Contempo Spa

- Professional Records Imaging Mgmt., Inc.
SimpleHR / SimpleHIRE

Join us on March 10 for our Leaders In Business Lunch. Destin Mayor Mel Ponder will share his State of the City Report. Register by 3 p.m., on Friday, March 6, and be eligible to win FREE advertising on!

Destin Area Chamber Presents $500 Donations to CBA & Sheriff’s Office Posse

CBA Donation
Sarah Davis, CBA Fund Development and Marketing Coordinator, accepts a $500 donation from Destin Area Chamber Chairman Ken Wampler, Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.

Posse Donation
Captain Terry Watkins (right) of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Posse accepts $500 donation from Destin Area Chamber Chairman Ken Wampler, Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc. 

Destin, Fla., Feb. 13 – On Feb. 10, the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce presented $500 donations to the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Posse, in appreciation of their assistance during Destin’s 5th Superhero Bayou, Bay & Back 5K Run/Walk, 10K & Half Marathon, held Jan. 24.

“Without these two groups of volunteers, we would not be able to have Bayou, Bay & Back. What they provide is invaluable to the Chamber and the community,” explained Chamber President and CEO Shane Moody, CCE, FCCP. “We are privileged to have them as partners.”

The CBA is an organization committed to sustaining and providing optimum utilization of the Choctawhatchee Basin watershed. Since the race courses offer sweeping views of the Choctawhatchee Bay and waterways of Destin, the CBA is the perfect partner for the race. The health of the area’s water resources is the foundation of its identity and economy. Be it fishing, tourism, or quality of life, everything revolves around a healthy watershed. For more information about CBA programs, please visit or follow

The Posse is a group of more than 50 citizens, who donate their time in assisting the Sheriff’s Office in many roles, including prisoner transport, courtroom security, crime scene guards, escorts, festival and event security, and more. Members are trained by Florida’s Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC) and are certified as “Auxiliary Law Enforcement Officers.” Many have full-time jobs, in addition to their volunteer role with the Sheriff’s Office. For more information about the Posse, visit

The 2016 Bayou, Bay & Back event is set for Saturday, Jan. 23, and it will include a full marathon. Follow

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 2

Free Tax Preparation is available through the United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. If you are in need of assistance and earned less than $52,000 in 2014, contact the following sites:
1. Goodwill Easter Seals in Ft. Walton Beach is providing this assistance by appointment only. You must call (251) 433-4900 for an appointment.
2. First Presbyterian Church in Crestview will be offering first come first serve assistance from 3 – 5 p.m. on Feb. 13 and 27, March 13 and 27, and April 10. Help will be available on Saturday, March 14, will be from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
For a list of required documents that must be brought to your appointment, visit and check under VITA. If you are interested in volunteering for the VITA program, please call (850) 243-8172.

Emerald Coast Toys for Tots Finishes Strong
Members of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors task force that spearheaded the Toys for Tots 2014 drive announced the effort collected 16,906 toys that were distributed to 10,204 local children in Okaloosa and Walton counties. The goal of the drive is to provide each child with two toys, according to Ashley Botelho, Emerald Coast Toys for Tots Coordinator. The drive fell just short of goal, providing an average of 1.66 toys per child. The task force was thrilled with the results, especially since the need for toys in the two-county area rose by more than 20 percent between the 2013 and 2014 holiday season. Additionally, 91.67 percent of every dollar raised locally was used to purchase toys for local children. The goal for the group was 85 percent.

Destin History & Fishing Museum Gumbo Contest and Silent Auction 
The Destin History and Fishing Museum held its annual Gumbo Contest and Silent Auction Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Destin Community Center. Nearly six hundred attended the popular event. Ticket holders enjoyed a Silent Auction of 80 packages, live music by FLASHFLOOD, and gumbo from local contestants. There were 10 restaurants and 19 individuals registered in the event. The winners were as follows: Individual Category First Place Britten Gisi, Individual 2nd Place Jeannie Hanks, Restaurant Category First PlaceBubba Gump Shrimp Company, Restaurant Category Second Place Dewey Destin’s Harborside, People’s Choice Restaurant Award Harry T’s Lighthouse, and People’s Choice Individual Award Elaine Rogers.

Emerald Coast Relay For Life February Fundraising Events
With American Cancer Society's Emerald Coast Relay for Life event only three months away, fundraising and team recruiting is in high gear. Join us as we work to raise funds for the fight against cancer at these events through the month of February:
• Team Party – Wed., Feb. 18 – Destin Middle School Cafeteria 6 p.m.
• Sealand Dinner FUNdraiser – Tues., Feb. 17 – 47 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach 6 p.m.
• Emerald Coast Parrot Head Memorial Chili Cook-Off – HarborWalk Village – 12 – 4 p.m.

For more information on Relay For Life, please contact Michelle Wright at (850) 428-1803 For more information on parties, teams, and how you can get involved,
World Impact Real Estate Welcomes New Agent Robyn Hansen
Robyn Hansen is new to the real estate world and recently joined World Impact Real Estate. She received her license in April of 2014. As an Air Force brat, Hansen lived all over the United States and Germany. She attended high school at Choctawhatchee and graduated from LSU. She sings in a jazz band, likes to paddle board, and is a member of the Kiwanis International Real Estate Navigators. You may reach her at (850) 830-8085.

HarborWalk Hosts Successful Mardi Gras Parade 
More than 80 parade entries rolled through more than 10,000 revelers Saturday, during HarborWalk Village's Mardi Gras Parade. The waterfront parade route stretched along Destin Boardwalk from Crab Island Cantina to AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar. Shane Moody, president and CEO of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce, and Suzy Hunt, events coordinator at the Destin Area Chamber, served as this year's King and Queen. Moody's children, Harper and Alex, and Steve Barber and Lauren Tate Gall of barber & gall promotionscompleted the royal court (see photo).

The winning floats in this year’s event included 1st Place Kitty Hawk Kites, 2nd Place Emerald Coast Gator Club, and 3rd Place Chick-Fil-A. Seaside Neighborhood School was recognized for the largest krewe,Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park was best themed krewe, and Emerald Coast Parrot Heads / Harry T’s Lighthouse was most spirited krewe.

Okaloosa Arts Fest Call to Artists
The Okaloosa Arts Alliance announces a call for artists and crafters for the Okaloosa Arts Fest, which will be held Saturday, April 18, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., at Destin Commons. The event is free and family friendly. It will feature artists and artwork from around the Emerald Coast. In addition, there will be live entertainment on the stage and free family hands on activities. For more information, please contact Amy or (850) 499-8335. The vendor application is available online at

Hahn Promoted to Vice President of Real Estate for Howard Group
Dana Hahn has been promoted to Howard Group’s vice president of real estate. She will be responsible for Howard Group’s office leasing, acquisitions, and leasing management and will also serve as a broker for Howard Realty Inc.

Prior to her eight years at Howard Group as a leasing manager, Hahn handled Commercial and Industrial Land Sales at the St. Joe Company. In addition to the above, Hahn will be responsible for brokerage management and certain aspects of retail leasing for Howard Group’s properties, to include Grand Boulevard at Sandestin,Silv