Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Myrick Chosen as 2015 Taylor Haugen Trophy Winner
On Friday, Jan. 9, Mary Kate Myrick from Freeport High School was announced as this year’s Taylor Haugen Foundation Trophy winner. She is the 7th person to win this coveted award. Each high school in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties is able to nominate one person. This year, 13 nominees were considered based on the character traits of the trophy’s name sake, Taylor Haugen. Those traits are Academics, Athletics, Community Service, Leadership and Christian Faith. Mary Kate is the younger sister of past trophy winner Collin Myrick, who won the same award in 2012.

Shelter House Purchases Building for New Program Office
Last week, Shelter House, Inc., closed on the purchase of a Fort Walton Beach building that will house its outreach program and administrative personnel. The purchase of the building was made possible through a $125,000 grant from Impact 100, as well as a $50,000 commitment from Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. Hurlburt Field’s Red Horse Squadron and St. Peter Catholic Church in Mary Esther have both pledged volunteers to assist with renovations on the new building. Renovations are scheduled to begin this month with the move planned for April. After the transition, Shelter House will hold a community open house and 30th anniversary party, as the agency celebrates its 1985 founding.

“Gourmet Cooking” with Earl Peyroux returns to WSRE Jan. 31
Fans of WSRE’s Saturday morning cooking show lineup are in for a real culinary treat. The locally produced and nationally broadcast program “Gourmet Cooking” has been retrieved from the public television station’s archives and will air again Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., beginning Jan. 31. The show’s beloved host, Earl Peyroux, was a culinary teacher at Pensacola Junior College in 1977, when he was asked to host a cooking show on WSRE. Originally booked for 13 shows, Peyroux hosted more than 600 episodes of “Gourmet Cooking,” during the next 18 years. The popular show was picked up by the Public Broadcasting System in 1982 and aired nationally through the early 1990s. Learn more at WSRE.org/Classics.

Discover Roads Less Traveled
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and Northwest Florida State College announce the spring season of the eco-tourism initiative, Discover Roads Less Traveled: Eco-Adventures of Walton County. Led by local experts and professional naturalists, Discover Roads Less Traveled offers visitors and local residents opportunities to explore, discover, and experience the diverse natural resources that make Walton County unique. Descriptions of the tours being offered are available online at BasinAlliance.org by clicking the “Eco-Tours” link or tab. Registration is available by phone at (850) 200-4160, or walk-in to the South Walton Campus of Northwest Florida State College. Prices vary, starting at $15.

BBB® Warns of Fake Vacation Rentals on Craigslist
The Better Business Bureau serving Northwest Florida is warning consumers to be on the lookout for fake vacation rental property listings located in the northwest Florida area. Your BBB was contacted by a consumer inquiring about a “business,” Oasis Eva Homes, advertising vacation rentals available in Florida. The consumer contacted the business via Craigslist requesting more information about the properties and the BBB Accredited Business logo displayed on its website. The business assured the consumer they were accredited with BBB with an A+ rating. Thankfully, the consumer reached out to your BBB when she could not find a BBB Business Review for Oasis Eva Homes.

BBB found Oasis Eva Homes’ website domain, originated in Lagos, Nigeria, and was created in May of 2014. The Craigslist posts featured too-good-to-be-true ads offering to rent five and six bedroom homes in Destin and Pensacola Beach for $300 a week. The ad included photos “borrowed” from a legitimate ad from an owner renting the properties. For more advice you can trust, start with BBB.org.
Local Realtor Featured on Sports Illustrated Covers 
Realtor Jason Parkhurst with World Impact Real Estate started seriously shooting images, while attending Choctawhatchee High School and working on the newspaper and yearbook staffs. Since then, he has covered 9 Super Bowls, three World Series, two Olympics, numerous bowl games, and other championships, with photos appearing in Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, The Sporting News, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. Although Parkhurst has had many images published inside Sports Illustrated, in October and December 2014, two images were chosen for the magazine’s cover. One of which is seen here. If you would like Parkhurst to help with your real estate needs, he may be reached at (850) 543-1811.

Delinquent Business Tax Receipts
Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson would like to inform business owners that field agents from the Tax Collector’s Office are in the process of collecting delinquent Business Tax Receipts (BTR). Formally known as an Occupational License, BTRs are required to conduct business in Okaloosa County. Anderson says, “Field Agents will call on delinquent businesses and identify themselves as ‘Deputy Tax Collectors,’ and will not only fully identify themselves and their department, but they will only call during business hours Monday through Friday. The local Business Tax Receipt is for businesses that provide merchandise, entertainment, or services to the public, even if only a one-person company or home-based business. Payment of each BTR is due by Sept. 30 every year. For those with an expired Business Tax Receipt, it is important to renew them as soon as possible to avoid additional penalties.”

Business Tax Receipts can be paid online at OkaloosaTax.com, at any of the conveniently located Tax Collector Branches around the county, or by phone at (850) 651-7300. 

Theatre Company Announces Professional Actor Auditions
Emerald Coast Theatre Company (ECTC) is holding auditions for its upcoming spring production of “Art,” directed by ECTC’s producing artistic director Nathanael Fisher. Auditions will be held Saturday, Jan. 24, from 12 – 2 p.m. at the Destin Community Center. Callbacks (if needed) will be Thursday, Jan. 29, from 7 – 9 p.m. location TBD. Production dates will be Friday through Sunday, March 6 – 8, and March 13 – 15, in Destin. Auditioning actors should be prepared to present a comedic monologue and read from a provided script. For the cast of “Art,” ECTC is seeking three male actors, aged 30 to 50. For details and to schedule an audition, email ECTC’s audition coordinator at auditions@emeraldcoasttheatre.org (preferred) or call (850) 687-1637. 

Deadline for Early Payment Discount Extended
Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson would like to inform property owners that the deadline to receive a 2% discount on property taxes has been extended to Monday, Feb. 2. Anderson says “Because the January deadline falls on a Saturday, Florida Statutes permit our Office to extend the deadline for this early payment discount. Thus far, through November (4%) and December (3%), the early payment discount has saved Okaloosa County Taxpayers over $6.1 million dollars!” 

Business Tax Receipts can be paid online at OkaloosaTax.com, at any of the conveniently located Tax Collector Branches around the county, or by phone at (850) 651-7300. 

Local Artist Donates to CIC Kids
Local artist Charlotte Arnold, in conjunction with Artful Things Art Gallery in Niceville, donated $570 to help give a home to the abused, neglected and abandoned children at Children in Crisis (CIC). She raised the funds from a promotional contest that provided two 16 X 20 charcoal portrait custom drawings. She is seen here with Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO.

United Way Needs Volunteers for Income Tax Assistance Partners
VITA is an IRS community initiative led by the United Way of Okaloosa & Walton Counties to provide free income tax preparation. The VITA program offers free tax help to people with low-to-moderate income in preparing their tax returns. The United Way is currently recruiting volunteers to work in the Crestview and Fort Walton Beach communities. You can help by preparing and filing tax returns, or as a greeter. Volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of four hours per week at a VITA site from Jan. 13 - April 15, 2015. As a VITA volunteer, you will receive online IRS training and certification, expand your knowledge of federal tax return procedures, add a new skill to your resume, serve local citizens, and help stimulate the local economy. To become a volunteer, email vita@united-way.org or call (850) 243-0315 ext229. 

Southern Residential Leasing Restructure
Southern and Pointe South Residential Leasing have introduced new elements to their Gulf Coast property management to provide a deeper level of service to their owners and tenants. As part of this restructure, Southern has promoted long time employee Rosanna Padova to operations manager and announced three portfolio managers, Donna Adams, Tracy Jackson and Jim Stephens, to oversee the company’s operations in their respective regions. In these new roles, the portfolio managers will be responsible for the day-to-day operations and regional growth within the company’s field offices in Destin, Pensacola, and Fairhope, while the operations manager will ensure proper execution of companywide procedures from Port St. Joe, Florida west to Mobile, Ala. For more information about Southern, visit GoSouthern.com.

Wyndham Vacation Rentals® Participates as Official Accommodation Sponsor and Co-Title Sponsor of Destin Beach Ultra Runs
Wyndham Vacation Rentals announced that its ResortQuest brand is participating as the Official Accommodation Sponsor and Co-Title Sponsor of the Destin Beach Ultra Runs for the fifth consecutive year. This two-day event helps raise awareness and funds for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), which provides support and assistance to the families of wounded and fallen special operations military personnel. Taking place from Feb. 14 – 15, the annual event will again be held at Tops’l Beach & Racquet Resort, a ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals property. As a proud annual sponsor, ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers discounted rates for this event. Additional information about the Destin Beach Ultra Runs events and accommodations may be found here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jan. 13 Leaders In Business Lunch Focuses on IT Security

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Jan. 13 Leaders In Business Lunch sponsored by Warren Averett! Jason Asbury, president of Warren Averett's Technology Group, shared timely information on IT Security.

Click here to see more photos from the event.

Thank you to those donating door prizes, including the following:
360 Blue
- Barracuda Harley Davidson
- The Breakfast Table Cafe
- Community Bank Coast
- Eglin Federal Credit Union
- Glass Doctor
- Gulf Power
- Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida
- Life's A Beach
- Planet Beach Contempo Spa
- SimpleHR / SimpleHIRE
- Trustmark National Bank
- Warren Averett

Join us on Feb. 10, for our Leaders In Business Lunch sponsored by Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. Register by 3 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 6, and be eligible to win FREE advertising on DestinChamber.com!

Monday, January 12, 2015

January 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 2

Senior Wednesdays Begin at Gulfarium
Starting Jan. 7, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park will offer a fantastic deal to our senior community, snowbirds and locals alike. Every Wednesday, park admission for visitors age 62+ is only $5. This deal continues through March 4, and is a great opportunity for seniors to enjoy marine animals shows and exhibits for a fraction of the regular park admission, which is regularly $18.95 for seniors.
City of Destin Announces 2014 Employee of the Year
The City of Destin recently awarded Henry Portorreal the 2014 Employee of the Year Award. This is the 24th year of the award, and it is the city’s most prestigious of all staff recognitions. Portorreal is a maintenance technician in the Public Services Department. He began working for the city in the Recreation Department in 2012, before assuming his current role in March 2014.

Museum Newsletter Now Available
Find out what’s happening at the Destin History and Fishing Museum in its latest newsletter.

Theatre Company Offers Children’s Programs Centered on “The Jungle Book”
Emerald Coast Theatre Company (ECTC) will focus on the "simple bare necessities" this spring with the launch of three children’s musical theater programs centered around Walt Disney’s 1967 animated kids’ adventure film, “The Jungle Book.” Specially adapted from the classic film, this musical includes favorite Disney tunes, such as “The Bare Necessities,” “That’s What Friends Are For,” and “I Wan’na Be Like You.” For more information on the musical productions, call (850) 687-1637, email info@emeraldcoasttheatre.org, or visit EmeraldCoastTheatre.org

Blue Marlin Realty Group Announces New Realtors 
Blue Marlin Realty Group expanded its team once again with new realtors Rick Moore and Shaun Gaiser. Born and raised in the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village and the great grandson of Destin’s Founder William T. Marler, Moore truly knows Destin. He served in the US Army as a Military Policeman for six years and is an elected Destin Fire Control District Commissioner. He is also the co-owner of Paddle Destin.

Originally from Panama City Beach, Gaiser ran track for the University of Alabama, where he graduated with a degree in Human Environmental Science. No stranger to the business, Gaiser sold real estate for more than 3 years throughout the Panama City Beach area, where he was also a personal trainer and the owner/operator of a jet ski rental and dolphin tour business.

Sacred Heart Announces Additions to Fleet of Emergency Transport Vehicles
Sacred Heart Health System has increased its fleet of emergency-transport vehicles. Additions include the following:
- A custom-designed Neonatal Critical Care Transport Unit, which will be stationed at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast (SHHEC) in Miramar Beach and will cover an area within a three-hour radius of SHHEC. This vehicle is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and patient-comfort features and staffed by neonatal medical experts. It can transport up to two newborns at a time along with one parent or guardian.
- A Pediatric Critical Care Transport Unit, which covers a three-hour radius from Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. This vehicle also is equipped with lifesaving technology and pediatric-trained staff to transport children needing emergency or intensive care. 
- An AIRHeart Bell 407 air ambulance, which covers up to a 250-mile radius of its base in Crestview. The aircraft is equipped to transport both adults and critically ill newborns. A specially trained flight nurse and EMS professional are on board during each transport.

Landrum CEO Commends Enactment of the Small Business Efficiency Act
Landrum Human Resources’ CEO H. Britt Landrum, Jr., applauded the recent enactment of the Small Business Efficiency Act, a new federal law which codifies the authority of Certified Professional Employer Organizations (CPEOs) to pay wages to worksite employees and to collect and remit payroll taxes for those wages. The Act also provides protection for those employers who utilize the services of a CPEO. Certification will be granted by the IRS and not all PEOs are expected to qualify. 

Do You Know an Exceptional, Ethical Business?
Your Better Business Bureau® Foundation serving Northwest Florida is looking for businesses and charities to participate in its 10th annual Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics program. Businesses may self-nominate or be nominated by others. The Torch Award publicly recognizes businesses and charities that maintain a solid commitment to conducting their business practices in an ethical manner. For entry forms and guidelines, please visit BBB.org/NWFL/TorchAward/ or call (850) 429-0002 or (800) 729-9226. The application deadline for all awards is March 27, 2015.

BIA and ECAR Hold Joint Economic and Housing Forecast Jan. 14 
Get the inside scoop on what to expect in 2015, during the annual Economic and Housing Forecast on Jan. 14, hosted by the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties (BIA) and the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR). The event, which will be held at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, will include predictions and explanations about what present indicators are foretelling by three economic experts, including Jessica Dill, senior research analyst with the Center for Real Estate Analytics at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Gail Psilos, public information manager and economic and financial education specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and Chris Burkart, senior research economist with the Office of Economic Development and Engagement and economics professor at the University of West Florida. For details and registration, contact the BIA at (850) 863-5107 or ECAR at (850) 243-6145. 

Landrum III Now President of Landrum Human Resources
H. Britt Landrum, III, was recently named president of Landrum Human Resource Companies, Inc. Landrum III began working for the company after graduating from college in 1992 and has taken on increasingly more technical and managerial responsibility over the last 22 years, most recently serving as Landrum’s executive vice-president. He is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. He has broad experience with the company including sales, technology, operations and management.

Newman-Dailey Real Estate Sales Division Awards Top Producers for 2014
Sales associates Jerry Bielawski (left) and Mark DeSalvo (center) were recently awarded 2014 Top Producer status inNewman-Dailey’s Real Estate Division. Bielawski was recognized as Top Sales Agent, and DeSalvo as Top Listing Agent for calendar year 2014. Shannyn Stevenson achieved Top Listing Agent and Top Sales Agent status for the fourth quarter of 2014, as well as for the month of December.

Kiwanis Club of Destin Helps Children in Crisis
The Kiwanis Club of Destin recently presented Children in Crisis, Inc., (CIC) a donation of $1,000 to help feed, clothe, and care for the children living at the CIC Children’s Neighborhood. Seen here, Don David, president of the Destin Kiwanis, presents a check for $1,000 to Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, accompanied by Allie Noah, CIC development director.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Board of Directors Extends Chamber President’s Contract

Shane MoodyDestin, Fla., Jan. 9 – The Destin Area Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors extended the contract of President and CEO Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP, for the fourth time.

“The Board recognizes that Shane Moody brings so much to our Chamber, and we wanted to ensure that we would have continuity of leadership and enjoy all the fruits of Shane’s hard work during these last 11 years,” explained the Chamber’s 2014 Chairman Amy Perry of Pleat, Perry & Ritchie, P.A.

Moody assumed his role at the Chamber in January 2004. Under his leadership, the Chamber won the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Award for Excellence in August 2005 and became an FACP Certified Chamber of Commerce in October 2010. His designation CCE marks him as an ACCE Certified Chamber Executive, the highest individual designation in the chamber profession, an honor he earned in 2007, and FCCP recognizes his designation as a Florida Certified Chamber Professional, an honor he earned in 2012. He is also a 2003 graduate of Institute for Organization Management, earning an IOM designation, as well.

“I’m glad the Board has the confidence in the Chamber’s direction, a direction they’ve set and one we’ve tried to follow. It’s exciting that they believe in what we’re doing. I’m lucky to have the internal team we have, and members who really appreciate the organization as a whole,” said Moody. “I’m very happy in Destin. This is a great community with so many positive attributes. Two of my children were born here, they’re in school here, it’s our home. Even my oldest calls it home now. I’m hoping we can continue to do great things here, and, with the work of the Board, our staff, and our members, I have no doubts we will.”

Prior to Destin, he served as the President and CEO and the Vice President of Membership at the Clayton County (Ga.) Chamber of Commerce and the Manager of Membership, Small Business, and Government Affairs at the Laurens County (S.C.) Chamber of Commerce. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

January 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 1

Museum Announces Holiday Boat Parade Winners
The Destin History and Fishing Museum hosted the 28th Holiday on the Harbor Destin Boat Parade and fireworks on Sunday, Dec. 14, and 23 boats participated. Trophy sponsors for the event were AJ’s Seafood & Oyster BarThe BeachcomberCity of DestinHarry T’s Lighthouse, HD Action Photography, Infinite Laser, Kelly Plantation Fishing Club, The Resorts of Pelican Beach, and Ship’s Chandler. Restaurant gift certificate award sponsors were AJ’s Seafood & Oyster BarBoshamp’s Oyster House, Camille’s at Crystal Beach, Dewey Destin’s SeafoodHarbor DocksHarry T’s LighthouseFudpucker’s Beachside Bar & GrillJackacuda’s, Margaritaville, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. The Pyro Shows fireworks sponsors were AJ’s Seafood & Oyster BarThe Boathouse Oyster Bar, Crab Island Cantina, The Destin History and Fishing MuseumHarry T’s Lighthouse, Margaritaville, and Pepito’s.

Winners in each category were as follows:
- Private 30 ft. & Under: SEA BISQUIT Captained by Ron McNeil
- Private 31 ft. & Over: FINATIC Captained by Matthew Champion
- Charter/Commercial 30 Ft. & Under: DREAD KNOT Captained by Josh Livingston
- Charter/Commercial 31 ft. & Over: SWOOP II Captained by Matt Wheeler
- Tour Boat/Motorized 50 ft. & Under EMERALD GRANDE SHUTTLE Captained by Harber Partin
- Tour Boat/Motorized 51 ft. & Over BUCCANEER Captained by “Captain Cannonball”
- Sailboat 30 ft. & Under: MIAMI MERGER Captained by Greg Buchanan
- Sailboat 31 ft. & Over: SPIDER CRAB Captained by Karl Marusak
- Overall Best Entry: LYNNE MARIE Captained by Tommy Graves
- City of Destin Harbor Heritage Award: DOC HOLLIDAY Captained by Lance Reemer

Shelter House Receives Financial Education Grant
Shelter House is continuing its financial education and economic empowerment workshops, thanks to a grant for $34,000 from The Allstate Foundation. Shelter House first received this grant in 2009 and has since earned recognition and offered training to other domestic violence centers on its innovative programs. The grant funds allow Shelter House and community partners like Wells Fargo to work with victims on learning how to budget, building savings, and repairing credit scores through economic empowerment courses. Shelter House also works with the children of abuse survivors so they learn early in life how to handle their own finances. While the programs for domestic violence victims are a major focus, Shelter House offers workshops that are free and open to the public as well. For more information on upcoming workshops, call Shelter House at (850) 243-1201.

Warren Averett Opens New Office
Warren Averett, LLC, continues to better serve its clients with the opening of a new office in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 1. The Mobile office, located in the RSA Battle House Tower, offers expanded reach and resources to its current and future clients in the Mobile area. Phillip Rivers, CPA, a Mobile native, will relocate from Warren Averett’s Montgomery office to establish the new Mobile office. To learn more about the firm, visit WarrenAverett.com.

RE/MAX Southern Ranks Among Top Producers in Florida
RE/MAX Southern Realty is celebrating another successful season marked by significant agent achievements, three agents ranked within the franchise’s top producers in the state. Matt Williams cracked the Top 100 list for Individual Residential and Commercial Sales year to date, while Susie Kirkland and Carole Pleasants both earned spots within the Top 100 Team Leaders for Residential and Commercial real estate sales in Florida. Pleasants also placed within the Top 50 Team Leaders for Residential and Commercial Sales in the month of October and the Top 50 Team Leaders for Residential Sales year-to-date. Learn more about RE/MAX Southern’s outstanding agents at REMAXSouthern.com.

RE/MAX Southern Agent Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Carole Pleasants of RE/MAX Southern Realty was recently awarded with the RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Award, a prestigious accomplishment bestowed upon less than five percent of the RE/MAX network. The award honors agents for their impressive career sales within their seven or more years with the company. Pleasants has been a member of the RE/MAX Southern team since 2006 and specializes in luxury home sales and investment properties. For more information on RE/MAX Southern and its top earning agents, visit REMAXSouthern.com or call (800) 879-0309. 
Tee Off for Toys keeps on Giving to Children in Crisis
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort helped Children in Crisis (CIC) through its Christmas Tee Off for Toys for the third year. The golfers donated more than 500 toys worth more than $7,500. Shown here, Tim Crouch, CIC house parent, and Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO, receive the donation from Rick Hileman, Sandestin’s director of golf; Liam Branagan, head golf professional; and Steve White.

Electric Car Charger Stations Now at Destin Commons 
Looking for electric car charger stations around town? Destin Commons has them. Recently, electric car charging stations by GoSpace, that can charge up to four cars at a time, were installed as another shopper convenience and another facet of the outdoor lifestyle center’s focus on conservation and being green. The easy to use electric car chargers are located in parking spaces on the north side of Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill. Just like regular gas pumps, those with an electric car simply plug one of the electric chargers into their car to ‘fill up’ in a very cost effective manner. The electric car charger stations are free. Seen here, Stuart Smith “fills up” his Chevy Volt at one of the free stations.

World Impact Supporting Wounded Warrior Project
World Impact Real Estate’s management and agents recently decided to partner with the Wounded Warrior Project for 2015. The Wounded Warrior Project is a veteran’s service organization that offers a variety of programs, service, and events for wounded veterans of the military actions, following the events of Sept. 11. It supplies emergency assistance in the forms of food, clothing, and cash. World Impact Real Estate’s team of 80+ agents serving in six different counties and five regional Realtor MLS Associations donates a designated portion to support The Wounded Warrior Project. 

McDonald’s Coffee for A Cause to benefit Children’s Advocacy Center in January
Every Monday in January, Costa Enterprise’s 19 panhandle area McDonald's will be donating 50% of their coffee proceeds to the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC). ECCAC’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children in Okaloosa and Walton counties, and restore the lives and futures of these impacted children. The Center’s child-friendly facility in Niceville houses a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, DCF, therapists, and ECCAC staff and volunteers. Services are provided at no cost by ECCAC, a 501-C-3 non-profit organization. For further information, visitECCAC.org or call (850) 833-9237. 

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital Earn Top Performer Recognition
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital have been named Top Performers on Key Quality Measures® for the fourth year in a row by the Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America. Both facilities were recognized for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, stroke, venous thromboembolism, and perinatal care, as well as for inpatient psychiatric services and immunizations.

Crestview Knights of Columbus Donate to Coats for Kids
Knights of Columbus, Council 7968 of Crestview, donated 26 new coats to the United Way’s Annual Coat Drive Program: COATS FOR KIDS at Christmas. The Coat Drive ran from Oct. 15 – Dec. 5, 2014, with distribution to many families throughout the community and schools in Okaloosa and Walton counties. To learn more about the United Way and how you can make a difference, visit United-Way.org or call (850) 243-0315. 

CBA Receives Two Awards in South Walton’s Best of the Best
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) of Northwest Florida State College received two awards in the 2015 Perfect in South Walton - Best of the Best list. A perfect ending to the inaugural year of Walton County based Eco-Tours, CBA was awarded with the People’s Choice Award for the “Best Adventure Experience.” CBA was also named the representative to receive an award on behalf of the ‘Choctawhatchee Bay,’ which was named a top finalist in the category “Best Nature Locale.” CBA is an entirely grant and donor-funded, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. To ‘Join the Alliance’ and sponsor the future of local waterways, visit BasinAlliance.org

Eglin Fire Dept. Helps Give a Better Christmas to Children in Crisis
The Eglin Fire Department donated $3,250 and lots of toys to the kids living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood. Seen here, Eglin Fire Department Deputy Chief SMSgt Josh Paul, Firefighter A1C Justin Brockman, and Firefighter SSgt Sabrina Nicholson donate $3,250 and toys to Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO.

Want to Quit Smoking? Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County Offers 3 Free and Easy Ways
A new year is a new opportunity to set health goals and stick with them. For many, it is a chance to quit tobacco. Fortunately, Okaloosa residents don’t have to do it alone. The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County and the Tobacco Free Florida program have free, proven-effective resources that can double a tobacco user’s chances of quitting. 

Tobacco Free Florida offers 3 Free & Easy Ways to Quit:
• CALL: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach® who will help you assess your addiction and help you create a personalized quit plan.
• CLICK: Tobacco Free Florida’s online cessation tool can be accessed at tobaccofreeflorida.com/webcoach.
• COME IN: Sign up for group classes at the local Area Health Education Center (AHEC) by calling (850) 682-2552 or visiting 1455 South Ferdon Blvd., Suite B-1, Crestview, Florida 32536.

United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties Celebrates Victory for Annual Campaign
United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties held its first Campaign Victory Celebration at the Ramada Inn on Dec. 9, to recognize the success of local businesses’ Corporate Campaigns, as well as those businesses who participated in the first Pacesetter Campaign. At the time of this Celebration event, the campaign had raised $1,176,371…a huge victory for the United Way even though it was about $48,000 short of the $1,225,000 goal. But as of Dec. 23, it had reached 99.1% of the 2014 Campaign Goal. Seen here, United Way’s Pacesetter Chair Betty Brassell of First City Bank and Campaign Chair Walter Hooks of Regions Bank made the presentations.

Kilwins Donates 23 Pound Chocolate Santa to Kids at CIC
Thomas and Kari Zingale, owners of Kilwins located in Destin Commons, donated a 23-pound chocolate Santa Claus to the kids living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood. The delicious donation came just in time for the CIC Christmas celebration. Seen here, Heather Pike, Destin Commons marketing coordinator, and Laura Moore, CIC Volunteer & Events Coordinator, receive the donation from Thomas Zingale.

Up to $1,000 Off Destin Wedding
Reserve the SunQuest Cruises’ SOLARIS for a 3-hour private chartered evening wedding and/or reception, and receive the 4th hour for free. The event must book by Feb. 7. Call (850) 650-2519 for details. 

Destin Desserts Competition to benefit Girl Scouts’ Camp Kolomoki
Get your sweet tooth ready for the Girl Scout’s 4th Annual Destin Desserts competition with seven area chefs competing for the 2015 Destin Desserts Champion title. Chefs from Marlin Grill, Ruth's Chris Steak HouseBijoux, Highlands House, Travinia Italian Kitchen, and Dockside CafĂ© & Oyster Bar will be presenting their own original dessert creations for guests to sample utilizing famous Girl Scout cookies. Destin Desserts will be Jan. 30, at The Palms and includes a social hour, hors d’oeuvres, dessert tasting, voting, awards, silent auction and entertainment by Shades of Blue. Proceeds will benefit the Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle’s Camp Kolomoki, located just west of DeFuniak Springs in Walton County. Tickets are $30 per person and are available at each chef’s restaurant, Frillseekers in Destin, Shear Twist in Niceville, and at all Girl Scout Service Centers. You may also call (888) 271-8778. Sponsorships are also available by contacting Irene Field at (850) 873-3999 or ifield@gscfp.org

$10 Off Dolphin Doodle
Let your creative side go wild as you team up with one of Gulfarium’s talented dolphin artists to create a one-of-a-kind work of art! You choose the colors, hold the canvas, and leave the rest up to your new finned friend. This dockside encounter includes an opportunity to touch and feed a dolphin. Visit Gulfarium.com and use online code NEWYEAR for $10 off. Regular price is $79.

Fort Walton Beach Flips for Gulfarium’s History
As one of the Emerald Coast’s primary tourism destinations, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has been a key part of Florida’s History for more than half a century and is the topic of a new book. New from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series is Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park by local authors Russel Chiodo and Krista Stouffer. Join the authors for a book launch on Jan. 17, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Gulfarium.

Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund Announces Internal Promotions
The following internal promotions at Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund are effective Jan. 1. 

Whitney Bruner, CPA, has been promoted to senior in the Financial Institutions Services Department of the Pensacola office. She received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of West Florida. She has been practicing accounting since 2009 and primarily works with financial institution clients. 

Lori Gambill has been promoted to senior in the Financial Institutions Services Department of the Pensacola office. She received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of West Florida and has more than six years of experience. Her primary areas of concentration include providing audit and assurance services to financial institution and government clients.

Stephen MacBeth, CRCM, has been promoted to manager in the Financial Institutions Advisory Group of the Pensacola office. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida and graduated from the Alabama Banking School in 2009. He has more than 20 years of experience and concentrates primarily on compliance, operations, and policies and procedures for financial institution clients. 

Rob Wilson has been promoted to manager in the Financial Institutions Advisory Group. He received his bachelor’s in Accounting from the Citadel and a Masters of Business Administration in Professional Accountancy from Utica College. With the firm since 2003, Wilson primarily provides accounting and audit services to financial institution clients. He also has experience performing loan and credit quality reviews and audits of private companies and not-for-profit organizations. 

Mike Miller, CPA, CIT, has been promoted to senior manager in the Tax & Accounting Services department. He received a bachelor’s in Accounting and Business Administration from Pensacola Christian College and has been practicing in his field since 1997. He primarily works with construction contractors of all sizes, real estate development clients, and auto dealerships. 

Catie Purdon has been promoted to senior in the Tax & Accounting Services department. Since joining Saltmarsh in December 2010, she has had significant involvement in providing entity returns and related accounting services to the firm’s construction and contractor clients of all sizes. Purdon received her bachelor’s in Accounting and a Master of Accountancy from the University of West Florida and is currently working toward her receiving her CPA license.

Beth Varhalla, CPA, has been promoted to senior manager in the Tax & Accounting Services department. She received her bachelor’s in Accounting from the University of West Florida and has been in the field since 1987. Her specializations include providing Tax and Accounting Services to healthcare companies and law firms. 

Chuck Landers, CPA, CIT, has been appointed as shareholder in the Audit & Assurance Services department. He received a bachelor’s in Accounting and Business Administration from William Jewell College. Landers’ primary areas of focus include providing audit and assurance-related services to not-for-profit and governmental entities, utilities, manufacturers, contractors, home builders, and related trades within the construction and real estate development industries.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chairman’s Message: Farewell to 2014

I knew this day would come. Frankly, in January, it seemed like a long way away.  But now that the end is near, it seems like this past year flew by at the speed of light.  Maybe that is because things ran so smoothly. 

My approach to the Chamber was much different than I thought it would be when I first found out I was going to be the 2014 chairman – way back in late 2012.  I had BIG plans – we were going to make changes, be everywhere all the time, yada, yada, yada.  Well, things have a way of changing and adjustments must be made.  Wisdom must be used (I am not implying that I had any great wisdom, but I did remember a lot of wise sayings and advice I have heard/been given over the years).

The course of action I chose to take was “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”  I did not think that our Chamber was broken.  Could we improve?  Always.  But overall the Destin Area Chamber is a great Chamber. So, I let the professionals do their jobs. I provided guidance when it was needed, did what was asked and required of me, provided what I could to make their jobs easier, and then stayed out of their way. 

I also vowed to listen to anyone who needed the Chamber. The traffic light versus a signalized cross-walk comes to mind.  Last, year the Chamber supported building a traffic light at Marler Street and Highway 98, as opposed to a fully signalized cross-walk.  This year, several property owners asked the Chamber to support the fully signalized cross-walk over a traffic light.  We listened.  Then decided that the best approach for the Chamber was to support getting pedestrians across U.S. Hwy 98 SAFELY. The details of how that should happen we left to the professionals.

We also let go of an event that had run its course.  Goodbye, PUTToberfest. I enjoyed this event, but it was time to say farewell.  While the events that are growing got even more focus from the Chamber.  Paddle at the Porch was successful, as was the second Bourbon at the Bay at Regatta Bay.

So, what did my “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach yield? Glad you asked!  The Chamber is in the best financial shape it has been in in years.  New memberships and renewals are higher than they have been in years.  Our relationship with the City of Destin is very good (thank you, Mayor Ponder, Greg Kisela, City Council, and Staff), as is the relationship with the Economic Development Council (thank you, Nathan Sparks).  Destin Forward is growing.

Is this the right approach for 2015? I don’t know, but the good news is Ken Wampler is on the job in just a few short weeks! To borrow a line from Oprah, what I know for sure is that I am turning over the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce in a healthy condition.  What I also know for sure is that it had little to do with me and everything to do with Shane, Elizabeth, Suzy, Dena, and Jacqui, the Board of Directors who were so engaged, our wonderful Ambassadors and Volunteers, and, most of all, YOU.  You make this Chamber the great Chamber it is today.  Be proud of that, I am.

Now on a personal note, I want to say a special thank you to Karen McCarthy, who chose me as her special appointee to the Board of Directors when she was Chairman in 2009.  Karen was (and still is) a wonderful mentor to me and an even better friend.  Thank you to my two appointees, Michelle Terry and Fred Fenn, for accepting three-year Board terms.  You both bring unique perspectives and were great additions to the Board (big pat on the back to me for great choices). Thank you to Shane Moody, you are great at what you do and do not ever let anyone make you doubt that; Elizabeth Spies, your quiet strength inspires me more than you know; Suzy Nicholson Hunt, you provide so much humor and comic relief, I get a little mini-vacation every time I enter your office and have a few laughs; Dena Critch, you have so much professional experience, and I am so happy the Chamber gets to enjoy the benefit of that, plus you are just awesome on the phones; and Jacqui Luberto, you have only been with us a short time, but WOW, you have made a big impact.  Ken Wampler, thank you for the notes during our Board meetings (and you’re welcome!!).  Bill Head, I appreciate your kindness at every single lunch this year – you always took care of me. 

Thank you to everyone at Pleat, Perry & Ritchie and to my law partner, West Ritchie, who is the Walton Area Chamber Chairman this year – you were a good sounding board for me, I hope I was for you.  Thank you to my paralegal, Sharlene, you kept me organized and helped me do so much more with less time and kept so many calendars straight for me.  Thank you to my husband, David Pleat, who knew what I was getting into because he did this seven years ago and yet he still encouraged me to do it anyway.   Thanks for covering me at work when I needed it.

A new year is on the way, and the possibilities are endless! Let 2015 be your best year yet!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, 

Amy Perry
2014 Chamber Chairman

Pleat, Perry & Ritchie, P.A.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chamber Bowling Tournament Returns to Hurricane Lanes

Thank you to everyone who joined us at Hurricane Lanes for our Dec. 9 Bowling for Business Tournament & Lunch Sponsored by Outback SteakhouseCongratulations to our winners, including top team Trustmark National Bank, top male scorer Don Edwards from Trustmark National Bank, and top female scorer Brittany Boykin from Pleat, Perry & Ritchie, P.A.

Click here to see more photos from the event.

Thank you to those donating door prizes, including the following:
Emerald Coast Chiropractic
Emerald Coast Wealth Advisors of Raymond James
- Pleat, Perry & Ritchie, P.A.

Join us on Jan. 13, for our Leaders In Business Lunch Sponsored by Warren Averett. Register by 3 p.m., on Friday, Jan. 9, and be eligible to win FREE advertising on DestinChamber.com!