Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Destin Chamber Offers Non-Partisan Voter Information on New Website

Destin, Fla., July 21 – How do you register to vote? Who are the candidates in upcoming state and Federal elections? Will there be any Constitutional Amendments on this year’s ballot? Find answers to these questions and much more on the Destin Chamber’s new website, a non-partisan news and information resource for voters.
“At a crucial time for the country, the state, and our community, we feel providing our members and community with as much information on the election as possible is a fundamental responsibility,” explained Chamber President and CEO Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP. “The site does not endorse any candidates. It simply provides a portal for citizens to register to vote and learn about the candidates and issues.”
The site will be updated regularly with new information useful to area voters. It was developed in partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
   continues to build on our relationship and partnership with the Florida Chamber and with other chambers across the state. It’s crucial that the people of our community exercise the greatest right in the world, and that’s the right to vote freely. This site allows them to educate themselves before they go to the polls,” said Moody.
For details, visit or call the Destin Chamber at (850) 837-6241.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Seven to Judicial Nominating Commissions
Harrison Sale McCloy - Brandon R. BurgRecently, Gov. Rick Scott announced three re-appointments and four appointments to four Judicial Nominating Commissions. His nomination for the Fourteenth Circuit Judicial Nomination Commission is Brandon R. Burg, 33, of Panama City. Burg is an attorney with Harrison Sale McCloy. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning July 1, 2016, and ending July 1, 2020.

Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center Releases Rehabilitated Sea Turtle, "Harriet"
Gulfarium Marine Adventure ParkA 105-pound Loggerhead turtle named Harriet has been rehabilitated and was released back into the Gulf of Mexico today, Tuesday, July 14, 2016 by the Gulfarium C.A.R.E. Center. Harriet, a female Loggerhead sea turtle, arrived at the center in early May. Her carapace was covered in red and green algae, and her body condition was extremely emaciated. Diagnostic blood-work showed she was slightly anemic. She was initially given antibiotics, iron, vitamin B, and fluids. Harriet passed her swim test and was able to dive, rest, and walk along the bottom in addition to surfacing for normal breaths and began eating in the middle of May. As she gained strength preparations were made for her release.
First Partners Bank Welcomes Baker to Northwest Florida Operations
First Partners Bank - Chris BakerWith its latest expansion into Florida, Chris Baker has joined Birmingham-based First Partners Bank as branch manager of the Destin office. In this role, Baker will assist in growing and developing the Destin office and servicing the needs of business owners and consumers in the surrounding area. Baker attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He joins First Partners after three years as branch manager for SunTrust Bank, located in Destin and Watercolor. 

City of Destin 2017 Business Tax Receipt Renewal Period
The 2017 local Business Tax Receipt renewal period began July 1. Businesses MUST renew their business tax receipts by Sept. 30, 2016, to avoid late fees. To renew your local Business Tax Receipt by mail, send checks to the City of Destin, 4200 Indian Bayou Trail, Destin, FL., 32541, or you can renew in person at the Destin City Hall Annex located at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail between 7 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 7 a.m.-noon, on Friday. Contact the city’s Building Division at (850) 837-4242 or with any questions.

Father Daughter Princess Ball Benefits The Arc of the Emerald Coast
The Arc of the Emerald Coast - Emerald Coast Hospice - Superior Residences of Bluewater BayThe Arc of the Emerald Coast received funds as the beneficiary of the recently held Annual Father-Daughter Princess Ball, hosted by Emerald Coast Hospice and Superior Residences on May 27. The Annual Emerald Coast Father-Daughter Princess Ball, which was held at the Niceville Community Center, was attended by more than 100 fathers and daughters.  Seen here are (left to right) Melita Brantley, senior solutions director with Superior Residences; Amanda Curtis, Emerald Coast Hospice account executive; Sarah Price, executive director with Superior Residences; Sherry Richardson, Emerald Coast Hospice clinical specialist; Donna Tashik, The Arc of the Emerald Coast community development director; and Gayle Vann, The Arc of the Emerald Coast community development coordinator.

Olive Garden Serves Dinner to CIC Kids
Children In CrisisOlive Garden Restaurant of Fort Walton Beach gave the children living at the Children in Crisis(CIC) Neighborhood a real treat this week.  Olive Garden staff members Melissa Saczynski and Sheena Russell served a wonderful Italian dinner will all the trimmings, including dessert, to about 50 CIC children and 10 house parents. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, thanks Scazynski and Russell.  Also pictured (left center) is Kim Kurth of Insurance Zone, who coordinated the dinner and spearheaded a food drive for the CIC pantry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 2

Harrison Sale McCloy Continues Expansion
Harrison Sale McCloy - Casey KingHarrison Sale McCloy (HSMc) welcomes Attorney Casey J. King. With more than 15 years of practice in both Florida and Alabama, King focuses her practice in the areas of real estate, business, and transactional law. Her career includes working with clients in many areas of civil and commercial litigation, as well as contracts, business law, and real estate. King received her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and her B.A., magna cum laude, in Political Science in 1995. She was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1999 and admitted to the Florida Bar in 2006.  Currently, she is a member of both the Okaloosa County Bar Association and the Walton County Bar Association. 

Grand Fitness Extends Pre-Sales Incentives Until July 15
Grand Fitness, the area’s newest high-end fitness facility, has extended pre-sales incentives until July 15, in preparation for the start of operations in August. As a fitness facility that promises to provide a premium experience to all who join, a vast amount of membership packages are available. Locally owned and operated, Grand Fitness is located in the latest development at Grand Boulevard. Conveniently located right off Highway 98, Grand Fitness sits directly above Anthropologie with panoramic southern views of the 1,640-acre Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Those wishing to take advantage of pre-sales incentives are asked to contact Pamela Herman, director of operations, at or (850) 974-2954. Members can also sign up online

Senator Marco Rubio visits Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park - Marco RubioUS Senator for Florida Marco Rubio and family took time during an Emerald Coast summer vacation to visitGulfarium Marine Adventure Park over the Independence Day weekend. 

"Senator Rubio had a chance to meet some of the animals and see all the work that we do to contribute to animal conservation," said Gulfarium President Willis C. Merrill, III. "He praised our efforts toward sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation and our high standard of animal care."

BancorpSouth’s Right@Home Mortgage Program
BancorpSouth’s Right@Home mortgage loan program continues to expand mortgage credit opportunities for many consumers in BancorpSouth’s 8-state footprint by lowering or eliminating the up-front costs for qualifying borrowers. Since the program’s introduction in December 2015, the Right@Home program has provided loans to borrowers interested in purchasing a new home or refinancing their existing mortgages. BancorpSouth’s Right@Home mortgage program provides alternative sources for down payment and closing costs, a lower down payment, 100% maximum loan to value, and a fully amortized 30-year fixed rate. For details, or call (888) 797-7711 to find the nearest BancorpSouth mortgage lender.

FAC Awards Commissioner Ketchel with the Presidential Advocacy Award
The Florida Association of Counties (FAC) presented Okaloosa County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel with the Presidential Advocacy Award during the 2016 FAC Annual Conference & Exposition in Orange County. As a chair of the FAC Finance, Tax & Administration Committee, Commissioner Ketchel’s leadership and commitment to crafting sound policy was an invaluable asset to FAC this year in advancing the Associations legislative program during a challenging legislative session. The Presidential Advocacy Award is given annually to those county commissioners from around the state that who have shown exceptional leadership in partnering with FAC to advance the counties’ legislative agenda.

Sacred Heart Opens New Outpatient Center at The Market Shops in Miramar Beach
Sacred Heart Health System is pleased to announce the opening of a new outpatient healthcare facility at The Market Shops in Miramar Beach, which is located at 9375 Emerald Coast Pkwy. W., at the entrance to Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The new clinic opens on Aug. 1, and features pediatric and adult primary care services, lab and x-ray services, and rehabilitation services for physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Beginning in the fall, the clinic will also provide a pediatric after-hours clinic to serve the growing needs of families in our community. Walk-in services will be available seven days a week. Sacred Heart Medical Group Pediatrics at The Market Shops will be backed by the services of The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, Northwest Florida’s only hospital solely dedicated to the care of sick and injured babies and children.

New Volunteer/Event Coordinator at Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center
Children's Advocacy Center - Chelsea FoxThe Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) announces Chelsea Fox as its new volunteer and events coordinator. As a member of the National Honors Society of Collegiate Scholars, Fox graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. In her business endeavors, she was the recreation coordinator at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and most recently with Newman-Dailey Resort Properties. Her community involvement encompasses being a member of the Junior League of the Emerald Coast and Young Professionals at the Beach.

Thrive Music Fest Raises More than $22,000 for Covenant Care                 
Thrive Music Fest raised more than $22,800 for Covenant Care’s hospice programs in Okaloosa and Walton counties. More than 21 generous sponsors, 50 talented musicians with 15 bands, 500 ticketholders/lovers of original music, and countless volunteers contributed to its success. Covenant Care thanks each and every person who supported this event and for making a difference in the lives of our patients and families at a time when they need it most.

The School That Love Built
The Sonder Project has recently broken ground on a school in Burkina Faso, Africa. This will be the third school the nonprofit has built in this country; however, this one is a little extra special. This school is being built in honor of Sonder Project friend and colleague Ahmed Kere, who was killed during a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital city. The Sonder Project representatives met Kere in 2015, while on their first mission to build a school in this country. Since then, the group stayed in touch with Kere and brought him to the U.S. to visit the Emerald Coast. Plans were to work together to build a school for those in need. For details on the project, please visit

Alpha Kappa Alpha Donates Pantry Items to CIC Kids
Children's Advocacy CenterAlpha Kappa Alpha volunteers donated much needed pantry items and paper products to help the kids living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood. They also donated their time and hard work to clean the CIC Kids Clubhouse and stocked, cleaned, and organized the pantry.  

Community Rallies Behind Ruth’s Chris Steak House to Raise $26,000 for Cheryl Hodges
Ruth's Chris Steak House - Cheryl HodgesCheryl Hodges Benefit, hosted by Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Silver Shells Resort in Destin, raised $26,000 for Cheryl Hodges’ battle with high grade bladder cancer. The event was held June 20. Mike Sable, general manager, attributes a large part of this benefit’s success to the Destin community, longtime patrons, area businesses and donors, noting that “the event would not have been as successful without their generous contributions and support.” The money donated will be used to pay for medical expenses and to help the mother of two with daily living expenses. Seen here are (left to right) Michael J. Thomas, Roberta Marr, Jordan Marr, Hodges, and Sable

30A Half Marathon and 5K Benefits The Sonder Project
Gulf Place on 30A will be the official headquarters for the 30A Half Marathon and 5K, presented by The 30A Company, YOLO Board, and 360 Blue, on October 21-23, 2016. All proceeds will benefit The Sonder Project, a locally-based nonprofit that focuses on high-impact, sustainable solutions aimed at ending extreme poverty and hunger worldwide. The USA Track & Field (USATF) certified, out-and-back route starts at Gulf Place and heads east through Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, and WaterColor. The BoatHouse on Western Lake will serve as the official turn around point. For details, visit 

Toys for Tots Bar Wars
In the month of July, a few establishments in Okaloosa and Walton counties are raising money for local children in need, while simultaneously competing against one another, according to a release from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. Each bar has been given a jar for collecting money that will go to Emerald Coast Toys for Tots, an organization whose mission is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters.  The bar that collects the most will receive the coveted Bar Wars Travelling Trophy. The bars include the following: 790 on the GulfBoshamps Oyster HouseBrotula’s Seafood House & SteamerFunky Blues Shack, and Hog’s Breath Cafe.

Acentria Continues to Expand Presence in Niceville
Acentria Insurance continues to expand its presence in the Niceville-Valparaiso community through the recent acquisition of Lighthouse Insurance Agency, located at 321 East John Sims Parkway. Founded in 2006 by Ron Corbin, Lighthouse Insurance Agency specializes in personal and business insurance coverage. Current employees will join the Acentria family and clients will continue to receive the same level of service they have come to expect throughout the years.