Friday, July 25, 2014

President's Message: VOTE YES FOR JOBS

For the past four or five years, you’ve heard your Destin Area Chamber of Commerce Board and staff discuss the need for economic diversification.  There are many reasons for this, the most important being that more jobs created over more sectors of industry and professions creates a stronger economy, increases tax revenues for the city and county, and creates a strong, stable business community.

One of the hurdles we could never seem to jump where economic diversification is concerned is the lack of incentives for new or expanding businesses to locate, open, or expand in Destin.  Okaloosa County has had incentives, but the economic development ad valorem tax exemption incentive (EDATE) expired in March 2014.

We once again have the opportunity to vote EDATE back into place for Okaloosa County.  We also have the opportunity to vote this into place, for the first time, for the city of Destin.

When you go to the polls for the Aug. 26, primary election, you will see this referendum on the ballot.  The Chamber’s Board of Directors encourages you to vote yes for the incentive.  It’s a vote for job creation, a diversified economy, and a stronger business community.

For the first time in anyone’s memory, EDATE is supported by the boards of the seven leading business organizations in Okaloosa County: Crestview Area Chamber, Destin Area Chamber, Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber, Niceville Valparaiso Chamber, Building Industry Association, Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, and the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County.  All of the organizations believe strongly in the need to be competitive in the world of economic development.  Our competition isn’t our neighboring counties, but rather the other states in the southeast, all of whom have very aggressive incentives.

Voting yes for jobs via this referendum will give Okaloosa County, Destin, and Fort Walton Beach to enhance incentives at the state level.  (If you’re voting in Fort Walton Beach, you have the opportunity to vote yes for that city to implement EDATE, as well.)  The incentive will be used if the county commission and/or city councils choose to provide it to a prospect, and they can choose the percentage and length of time of the incentive too.  Any prospect or business who receives this incentive will be subject to an audit each year to ensure they have followed the requirements of jobs created, capital investment, and average wages.

Remember, when you go to the polls on Aug. 26, vote yes for EDATE.  You’ll be voting to create jobs and build a better community.  After all, that’s how we’ll continue to build this world-class community one business at a time!

With wishes for continued success, until next time,








Shane Moody, CCE, FCCP
President & CEO
Destin Area Chamber of Commerce


Monday, July 21, 2014

July 2014 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Names 2014 Poster Art Contest Winner 
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) has named Robin Cannon of Destin the 2014 Festival of the Arts poster contest winner. Cannon’s vibrant and playful acrylic painting centers on an art festival dotted with colorful tents capped with flying flags flanked by musical instruments and paint brushes. The winning artwork will be used to promote the 19th Annual Festival of the Arts by being prominently showcased on the official festival poster, postcards, the festival guide, on the website, Facebook page and more. Recognized as one of Northwest Florida’s premier fine art shows, the Festival of the Arts, produced by the MKAF, is one of the most anticipated cultural events of the year on the Emerald Coast. The event will be held Saturday, Oct. 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the Village Green and under the Dugas Pavilion within the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, located at 4323 Commons Drive West in Destin. For more information, visit MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org or call (850) 650-2226.

HarborWalk Honors a Warrior for Wildlife
Susan Leveille has a passion for life, WILD life that is. Leveille is an advocate for wildlife conservation and is currently the Assistant Director of the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. Leveille was honored as a Hero on July 17, at the Red, White and Blue Celebration at HarborWalk Village. Whether it's educating the importance of conservation or rescuing injured wildlife, Leveille is instrumental to protecting the diverse species that inhabit our area. For more information about the Red, White & Blue Celebrations, please visitwww.emeraldgrande.com/harborwalk-village.aspx.
WSRE Announces New Board Leadership and Directors
On July 16, WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, announced its new foundation board leadership and new directors, who will serve during the 2014-2015 year. Seen here, outgoing board chair Sandy Sims of Niceville passes the gavel to Mike Johnson of Pensacola. Stephen Holman, former secretary, serves as the new vice-chair, and Dr. Henry “Jack” Pruett is the new secretary. Other new and returning board members include treasurer Karen Pope, executive director Sandy Cesaretti Ray, Gerald Adcox, Tracy Andrews, Bobby Emmons, Sheila Hale, Ashton Hayward, Stephen Holman, Jesse Ihns, Rick Lambert, Ann Lemox, Joe Lovoy, Jane Merrill, Pat Mills Benjamin, Tammi Moftaqir, Peg Nickelsen, Rev. Carl Reeves, Andy Remke, Mallory Studer, Dona Usry, Tiffany Washington, Frank White, and Dr. Edwin Yee. Friends of the Board include Sally Bussell Fox, Chris Kelly, Jan Miller, Ron Miller, Randy Oxenham, Dr. Megan Benson Pratt, Patricia Windham, and Emeritus Members Curtis Flower, Gary Leutchman, and Elba W. Robertson. For more information about WSRE, its services, programs or available resources, visit wsre.org.

Realtor Association Recommends Okaloosa County Candidates
The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors recommends the following Okaloosa County candidates for election:
• For Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller : JD Peacock
• For County Commissioner District 4: Trey Goodwin
• For School Board District 1: Lamar White
• For School Board District 5: David Scholl

For the School Board District 3 contest, ECAR makes no recommendation. For more information, visitwww.emeraldcoastrealtors.com.

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa Adds New Regional Sales Manager
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa announced the appointment of Richard Hays as the resort’s newest regional sales manager. Based in Harwood, Md., Hays will direct the resort’s sales efforts into the mid-atlantic and Northeastern markets. A nearly 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Hays’ previously held sales positions at properties including Hyatt Regency La Jolla in San Diego; Hyatt Regency Baltimore; The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.; and Marriott International. For more information about Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, visit the new HiltonSandestinBeach.com website, or call (850) 267-9500.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 2014 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3


SOCKS Shares its Shelter Needs
Save Our Cats & Kittens (SOCKS) knows some of its supporters like to buy a specific item for the shelter. Here is a list of needs outside of its ordinary list.
• Canister Vacuum – “We don't need fancy or expensive, as these will get ruined. We'd love to have ‘new, but cheap,’ that could be replaced every six months or so.”
• Litter Scoops
• Deep Litter Boxes (especially the large ones, lids not required)
• Small Plastic Bowls
By far, its biggest requirement is money for spays and neuters, so please donate. For more information,click here.

Regatta Chiropractic and Laser Center Offers BrainCore Therapy
Regatta Chiropractic & Laser Center of Destin is officially the first practice on the Emerald Coast to offer BrainCore Therapy. Neurofeedback has more than 40 years of scientific research behind it and has been shown to be powerful, drug-free alternative to prescription medication. Most frequently, it is used to address the symptoms associated with a wide range of neurological conditions, including ADHD/ADD, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Fibromyalgia, PTSD, Migraines, and Chronic Pain. The goal of neurofeedback is to transform an unhealthy, dysregulated brainwave pattern into a normal, healthy, organized pattern. In doing so, the brain becomes more stable and is able to operate optimally and efficiently. For more information, call (850) 424-7856.
Newman-Dailey awards their Top Producers for Second Quarter 2014
Sales associates Jerry Bielawski and Mark DeSalvo were recently awarded as the Top Producers for Newman-Dailey’s Real Estate Division for the second quarter of 2013. Bielawski was recognized as the top sales agent, and DeSalvo was recognized as the top listing agent.

Bielawski earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Central Michigan University and a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from Michigan State University. Following a rewarding career with Dow Chemical in sales and marketing, he moved to Destin. He is among the top 10% of all agents on the Emerald Coast, according to the 2013 ECAR Closed Sales Summary Report.

DeSalvo has excelled in real estate sales at Newman-Dailey for 12 years and counting. Most recently he was awarded Top Sales Agent for 2013 and Top Listing Agent for the last three consecutive quarters. Originally from Little Rock, Ark., DeSalvo obtained his Arkansas Real Estate license 30 years ago. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Arkansas. He is a licensed Broker Associate in Florida and maintains a license in Arkansas. DeSalvo’s credentials include being a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), a Graduate of REALTOR Institute (GRI), and an Internet Professional (e-PRO).

For more sales information, call 800-225-7652, (850) 837-1071 or visit online at www.DestinSales.com.

Coastal Bank and Trust Helps Bring History to Life
Coastal Bank and Trust donated $1,200 to the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida in support of its upcoming Night at the Museum on July 19 and 20. This event, unlike any in the area, will feature the Dream Players Theatre, who will bring history to life through characters of the past. Guests will enjoy a guided tour, a food tasting from five sponsoring restaurants, entertainment, and a silent auction. For details on the event, visit www.heritage-museum.org or call (850) 678-2615. Seen here are Coastal Bank & Trust managers Vicky Dutton, Shirley Daniel, and Ellen Hurzek, with museum manager Gina Marini.

Rehabilitated Sea Turtle is Home Thanks to C.A.R.E. Program
A little turtle with a big name returned to the Gulf of Mexico after spending several months in rehabilitation with Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park's Sea Turtle C.A.R.E Program. Captain Hook, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, caught a ride on a research vessel in Pensacola for his release 60 miles out into the safety of floating weed lines. The 2-lb turtle had nearly doubled in size since volunteer nest observers on Okaloosa Island brought him to the Gulfarium after noticing there was some difficulty in his mobility. For more information, please click here.

SBA Deadline in Florida to Return Disaster Loan Applications is July 21
The US Small Business Administration reminds homeowners, renters, businesses, and non-profit organizations in Florida of the deadline to submit disaster loan applications for damages caused by the severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding from April 28 through May 6. The deadline to apply for a physical damage disaster loan has been extended to July 21.

“Currently, 860 disaster loans have been approved in the amount of $35,845,300 for affected survivors,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 800-621-FEMA (3362), (TTY) 800-462-7585 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and register. Survivors may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website athttps://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Niceville Business Leader Named to PSC Nominating Council
Florida Senate Pres. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) announced the appointment of Tim Herndon to the Nominating Council of the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). The 12-member Council is charged with screening, nominating, and submitting applicants to the Governor for appointment to fill vacancies on Florida’s PSC. Tim Herndon of Niceville is partner-in-charge of the Niceville and Crestview offices of Carr, Riggs, & Ingrams, (CRI), which provides comprehensive, innovative audit and tax services to companies across various industries. Also serving as a member of CRI’s executive committee, Herndon offers more than 23 years of experience in government contracting and interpreting agency regulations. For more information on the Nominating Council, please visit http://www.leg.state.fl.us/cgi-bin/View_Page.pl?File=index.cfm&Directory=committees/joint/pscnc/&CFID=14172710&CFTOKEN=66574659.

President Gaetz Appoints Northwest Floridians to Lead "Florida Is For Veterans, Inc." 
Florida Senate Pres. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) appointed three Northwest Florida community leaders to serve as the Senate’s first appointees to Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., a nonprofit corporation created by the Florida GI Bill and responsible for strengthening Florida's standing as the most military-friendly state in the nation. Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., is tasked with promoting Florida as a veteran-friendly state to retired and recently separated military personnel; promoting the value of military skill sets to businesses in the state; facilitating workforce training to veterans to meet the needs of employers; and to enhance the entrepreneurial skills of veterans. The corporation is governed by a 9-member board of directors. The President, the Speaker, and the Governor each appoint three members to four-year appointments.

His nominees are Prebble Ramswell, Tom Rice, and Jim Bagby. Ramswell is a Destin City Councilor, open water rescuer with the Destin Fire Control District, and an instructor with the Destin Junior Lifeguard Program. Rice is chairman of the Veteran’s Tribute Tower Organization, a board member of the Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans, a member of Sen. Marco Rubio’s Service Academy Nomination Board, and owner and chef of the Magnolia Grill in Fort Walton Beach. Bagby is the executive director of the Walton County Tourist Development Council, a board member of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, and a lector and Eucharist minister at Resurrection Catholic Church.

Today’s Boutique Celebrates 33 Years in Destin
Today’s Boutique invites you to celebrate fashion, fun, and friends during its 33nd Annual Anniversary Week. The Celebration bash will held on July 18 - 19. Today’s Boutique, which has been named the Best Women’s Clothing store for the past 13 years, has been dressing women of the Emerald Coast in the latest styles since 1981. As part of the celebration, the Dettle’s welcome their friends and customers to enjoy a Hawaiian Luau celebration with Mai Tai’s, refreshments, Hawaiian Snacks, modeling, a drawing for a $500 gift certificate, Wheel of Fashion, and discounts. For more information, call (850) 837-5565 or followFacebook.com/TodaysBoutique.

Taxing Authorities Benefit from 100% Certificate Sale
Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson announced that the annual Tax Certificate Sale held on May 31, accomplished something rarely done in the State of Florida. Anderson shares that 100% of the Tax Certificates were sold and that Okaloosa County is the only county in the state to achieve this mark through an Online Sale Platform this year. This year’s Tax Certificate Sale produced $5,805,769.67 in revenue for the Okaloosa County Taxing Authorities from 3,872 certificates sold. According to Tax Administrator, Justin Gordon, over $193,000,000 in 2013 Real Estate and Tangible Personal Property taxes have been distributed to date. If anyone is interested in the Tax Certificate Sale or BillExpress and would like to find out more information, please contact the Tax Department at (850) 651-7604.

Exclusive Renovation Preview at Emerald Bay
Visit Emerald Bay Golf Club on Wednesday, July 16, at 5:30 p.m., for an exclusive opportunity to view renderings of the beautifully redesigned course by Bob Cupp and be the first to learn about the new membership program. Enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, cash bar with drink specials, and live entertainment. For details, call (850) 837-5197 or visit www.emeraldbaygolfclub.com.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 2014 Business Briefs / Member News Part 2

Sprigler Joins Newman-Dailey’s Real Estate Sales Division
Real estate sales agent Kurt Sprigler joined the team at Newman–Dailey Resort Properties. Stationed locally for six years serving honorably in the United States Air Force was a dream come true for Sprigler. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in Finance during his military career, which includes Air Force Instructor School 2012 (Albuquerque Air Force Base) and Airman Leadership School 2012 (Hurlburt Field). He is a member of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, the Florida Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Realtors. For more information, visit DestinSales.com or call (850) 837-1071.

3rd Annual Walk Her Way Draws Record Crowd
More than 200 men, women and children put on high heels and took to the streets of Rosemary Beach earlier this month for the largest Walk Her Way yet. Now in its 3rd year, the event raised $31,000 for Shelter House and Rosemary Beach Foundation and brought awareness to domestic violence. Seen here, the Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast team won the Best Dressed Award for its prom theme. For more information, visit www.shelterhousenwfl.org.

Destin City Manager Resigns; New Manager Hired
Destin City Manager Maryann Ustick submitted her resignation to the Destin City Council on June 20 and has taken the job as city manager of Gallup, N.M. Her last day in Destin will be in mid-August. This move will bring her closer to her family, largely located in Southern California. At a special meeting on June 30, the Destin City Council voted unanimously to hire the city’s former manager, Greg Kisela, to replace Ustick. Kisela has been serving as the city manager of Port Orange, Florida, since March 2013. He will begin work in Destin in early September. Click here for more city news.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park Opens New Gator Exhibit
You can now view several different life stages of the American alligator at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on Okaloosa Island with the recent addition of the Backwater Nursery exhibit, featuring baby gators. The recent expansion of the park's Expedition Trail area serves to highlight the physical changes that an American alligator undergoes during its life span from baby to juvenile and, eventually, adult. Brave guests can get a closer look by participating in the new Discover Reptiles program, which includes the opportunity to touch a juvenile gator, as well as safely enter the adult gator exhibits. For more information or to make an encounter reservation, visit www.gulfarium.com or call (850) 243-9046.

Charity Navigator Awards Air Force Enlisted Village with Exceptional 4-Star Rating
Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, has awarded the Air Force Enlisted Village with a 4-star rating, the highest possible, for sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency. Charity Navigator works to help charitable donors make informed decisions by evaluating the financial health of more than 5,000 charities nationwide. For more information about the Air Force Enlisted Village, visitwww.afev.us.

Wyndham Vacation Rentals Associates Selected for VISIT FLORIDA Board & Committees 
Wyndham Vacation Rentals announced that three associates Lino Maldonado, Martin Owen, and Nicole Scott, were recently recognized as members of VISIT FLORIDA’s 2014-2015 Tourism Industry Leadership team. Maldonado will serve as a member of the Board of Directors, the Chair of the Industry Relations Committee, and a member of the Marketing Council Steering Committee; Owen will serve as a member of the International Committee; and Scott will serve as a member of the Advertising & Internet Committee. To learn more about Wyndham Vacation Rentals, visit WyndhamVacationRentals.com.

Sandestin Receives Corporate & Incentive Travel Magazine’s Award of Excellence
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort announced that Corporate & Incentive Travel magazine, the respected corporate meetings publication, presented it with a 2014 Award of Excellence. Corporate & Incentive Travel magazine’s Award of Excellence recognizes those hotels, resorts, conference centers, and convention and visitors bureaus that have demonstrated their overall commitment to excellence. To learn more about Sandestin meetings, visit www.sandestin.com/meetings or call (850) 267-8159.

Legendary Marine Sponsors Paddleboarder
Legendary Marine recently signed a sponsorship agreement with top regional paddle boarder Garrett Fletcher. Fletcher, from Destin, competes in the 12'6 and 14' classes and has won multiple events, including first overall and first in the three-man team for the 100 mile Paddle NYC; first in the 12'6 class and first overall in the 6-mile elite in the SUP the South competition and another first in the 6-mile elite in the 12'6 class; and first overall in the Little River Toona Challenge in Lake Altoona, GA. Most recently, he took first in the East Coast Paddleboard Championships in Daytona in the 14' class and first overall stand-up; first and first overall in the 14' class - PSUP Paddle Classic GUSU Race Series 4 Mile Elite Race in Pensacola; and first and first overall in the 12'6" Class in the 3rd Annual 5 Flags Classic - 3 Mile Elite Race in Pensacola, among others. For more information about Legendary Marine, visit www.legendarymarine.com.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 2014 Business Briefs / Member News Part 1


4th of July Celebration at Fort Walton Beach Landing 
Come spend the 4th at the Fort Walton Beach Landing on Brooks Street, from 4 – 10 p.m., and enjoy food and exhibitor booths. The event will also include live music, entertainment, and children’s activities. The evening will conclude with a breathtaking fireworks display at approximately 8:45 p.m. The City of Fort Walton Beach is now accepting vendor/exhibitor applications for the 4th of July Celebration event. Applications may be obtained from the City’s website or by calling (850) 833-9575 or via email attcorcoran@fwb.org.

Fort Walton Beach KIDS GOT TALENT! 
Can your child sing, dance, or play a musical instrument? Does your child have a special talent? If yes, here’s an opportunity for your child to display his or her talent on stage at the 4th of July Celebration at the Landing! Fort Walton Beach Kids Got Talent event is open to kids 17 and under. Singing, dancing, juggling, and more…anything goes! Kids can sign up individually or in a pair/group (there will be a 5 min time limit per act). Talent hour is from 4 – 5 p.m. For more information and to sign up, please call Tiffiny at (850) 833-9575 or email tcorcoran@fwb.org. No judging…everyone’s a winner! Each participant will receive a gift for participating.
Okaloosa County Commissioner Nathan Boyles Gains Certification
Vice Chairman Nathan Boyles has completed the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) Certified County Commissioner Program. Every Okaloosa County Commissioner is encouraged to complete the program, which encompasses about 42 hours of training in the following areas: ethics, public records, Sunshine laws, growth management, financial management, emergency management, economic development, state legislative process, leadership, and strategic thinking. Boyles also serves on FAC’s Board of Directors. Locally, he is Commissioner Liaison for Clerk of Courts, Purchasing, Water and Sewer, Growth Management, and Information Systems, within the county, as well as community liaison for the Business Industry Association, Library Cooperative, Law Library, Transportation, and Regional Planning. You may reach Boyles at nboyles@co.okaloosa.fl.us.

United Way Welcomes New Board Members
United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties welcomes six new members to its Board of Directors, now comprised of 33 leaders. The new members include Sasha Jarrell, Northwest Florida State College; Sean Lynch, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office; Patricia Parker Davis, Trustmark Bank; Christine Powell, Sacred Heart Hospital of the Emerald Coast; and Nathan Sparks, Okaloosa Economic Development Council. For more information, visit www.united-way.org.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. For more information about Sandestin, visit www.Sandestin.com.

Newman-Dailey Resort Properties Association Management Division Adds New Team Members and Clients
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties (NDRP) Association Management Division announces two new team members and three new clients. The rapidly growing division specializes in expert management of residential developments, condominiums, homeowner associations, and commercial plazas. Dan McMahon recently joined the team after moving to Destin from Key West. An experienced CAM, McMahon is managing multiple associations, overseeing on-site staff, property maintenance and regular communication with all home owners. His experience ranges from managing smaller properties to large associations with budgets of up to $2.5 million annually.

Missy Windes also joined the Newman-Dailey team as a CAM and is now managing associations, including Fountain Plaza, where Newman-Dailey is headquartered in Miramar Beach. A Destin native, Windes brings extensive knowledge of the area along with providing exceptional service to all NDRP clients. She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Real Estate and is a graduate of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce’s Destin Forward leadership program and a member of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR) and the Community Association Institute (CAI).

The recent addition of staff has been fueled by a growing list of association clients, including the recent addition of three Destin properties--Diamond Lakes, Island Home Condominiums, and Crystal Beach Cottages II. The three new association clients range in size from eight to 96 units, yet all have similar needs for quality management and consistent communication among owners and the board. For more information, visit www.DestinManagement.com or call (850) 837-1071.

Florida Chamber Names Two Distinguished Advocates in Panhandle Region
This week, Florida Chamber of Commerce announced House Speaker Will Weatherford as their 2014 Most Valuable Legislator and honored the following two Panhandle region legislators with 2014 Distinguished Advocates awards:
• Rep. Matt Gaetz (R- Shalimar)- Championed meaningful lawsuit abuse reform this session with his work on fair settlement legislation and reducing nursing home litigation.
• Rep. Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City)- Continued to advocate for environmental regulatory reform.
To see grades for all 160 members of the Florida Legislature, click here.

Insurance Agencies Sign Joint Venture Letter of Intent
Acentria, Inc., and Gateway Insurance Agency, L.C. announced the signing of a Letter of Intent to consolidate and join forces in the South Florida marketplace. Gateway, a cornerstone of the independent agent community, has been proudly serving Dade, Broward, and West Palm Beach communities since 1952. Acentria, with 10 Florida locations, is expanding the southeast corridor of Florida with this strategic merger. Once the joint-venture is completed, the two independent insurance agencies will continue to meet the needs of the community under the name, Gateway-Acentria Insurance with locations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. For more information on Acentria or Gateway-Acentria, please visit www.acentria.com orwww.gatewayins.com or call Mitchell Weinstein (863) 602-9600.

Patriots’ Trail Gets Help from Tax Office
The Okaloosa County Tax Collector’s Office presented the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce a check for money raised to support the Col. Bud and Dorie Day Patriots’ Trail. Those attending the check presentation included Tax Collector Ben Anderson, Fort Walton Beach Tax Collector’s Office Manager Cristina Davenport, Tax Collector employee Nikki Davidson, Mrs. Dorie Day, Tax Collector employee Cheron Sincarenco, Greater Fort Walton Beach Women’s Club President Mrs. Cissy Wyninegar, and Chamber CEO Ted Corcoran. Employees of the Tax Collector’s Office took on this effort to show their appreciation and respect for the Day family. In doing so, they held internal fundraisers throughout the month of May and served as a collection point for those wishing to donate to the cause. To date, Tax Collector employees raised $1,259.18, exceeding their goal of $800. Donations to the Bud and Dorie Day Patriots’ Trail are tax deductible. Call (850) 244-8191 for more information.

United Way Announces New Finance Director
United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties announced Terri Duplantis as the organization’s new Finance Director. Duplantis succeeds Rhonda Glassburn, who retired in May after 20 years of devoted service. Duplantis, a graduate of Louisiana State University, continued her education and received a Masters in Public Administration from the University of West Florida. She is active in the Destin Area and Walton Area chambers of commerce and volunteers for various charities. For more information, visit www.united-way.org.

Landrum Ranks #77 in Florida Trend Top 225 Private Companies
Landrum Human Resource Companies, Inc., ranked number 77 on the 2014 Florida Trend Top 225 Private Companies list. This is Landrum’s 14th consecutive year to be recognized and the only Pensacola based company to earn a spot on the 2014 list. Profiles of Landrum and other businesses listed are featured in the July 2014 issue of Florida Trend Magazine. For an online list of Florida Private 225, visit FloridaTrend.com. For more information about Landrum, visit www.LandrumHR.com or subscribe to its blog atwww.LandrumHRBlog.com.

Record Payout, Purse for 2014 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
The 12th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, presented by Mojo Sportswear Company and ORCA Coolers, took place June 18-22, at the Sandestin® Golf and Beach Resort, located in Florida’s scenic Panhandle region. And Team Reel Worthless is red-hot right now after winning big in its third major Gulf tournament this season. Angler Steve Brown and his team again combined with the Reel Fuelish crew to land the biggest—and only—blue marlin of the 2014 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. That 594.9-pound fish was worth an ECBC record payout of $498,450, topping the previous mark set by UPTOIT in 2008 by more than $61,000. Reel Worthless swept the marlin division, top crew and all but one of the optional jackpot entries to claim the biggest share of the overall $1.68 million in prize money.

The 2015 Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic is scheduled for June 17-21. For more information about the tournament and its winners, visit www.fishecbc.com.

Summer Specials at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Come on in and try Bubba Gump’s Groovy Summer Shindig specials! These specials are available for a limited time at the Destin location at 14059 Emerald Coast Parkway.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Sandy Goes the “Extra Mile” for Children in Crisis
Sandy Miller was presented with the CIC “Extra Mile Club” award for her continued long-time volunteer service to Children in Crisis. Although now “officially” retired, you can’t tell it when it comes to her donation of time and dedication to the CIC vision. For the past several years, Miller has been the smiling face and welcoming voice at the CIC Neighborhood Center. She is seen here with CIC President & CEO Ken Hair. For more information or to make a donation to CIC, call (850) 864-4242 or visit www.childrenincrisisfl.org.

Monday, June 30, 2014

What to Do in Destin Around July 4 Holiday?

"What is going on in Destin?" It's one of the biggest questions we receive during a holiday week.  To help, we've compiled a list of festive July 4 celebrations.  Check out all of your options below. If you know of something we've missed, be sure to post it in the comments.

We  hope you have a safe and happy July 4!

July 3

Smoke on the Coast BBQ and Fireworks Festival
Enjoy BBQ competition, fireworks, live music from two different stages, crafts and fun for kids, and more. Event is 1 – 10 p.m.  BBQ sampling at 6 p.m.  Fireworks at 9:15 p.m.

Red, White & Blue Celebration
Celebrate a local hero with live entertainment and a WWII vintage flyover.  The evening is topped off with a spectacular fireworks display.  Fun begins at 6 p.m.  www.harborwalkdestin.com

Beach Blast at Elephant Walk
Enjoy a fireworks show, live music by Bo Adams, face painting, balloon sculpting, bonfire, and more, beginning at 6 p.m.  www.sandestin.com/events

Americana Under the Stars
Enjoy free admission into Topsail Hill State Preserve.  Open mic starts at 6 p.m., and the Bridget Kelly Band will perform.  Bring a chair, your favorite beverage, and enjoy music in the park.  www.floridastateparks.org/topsailhill

July 4

Museum Offers $1 Admission
The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida offers $1 admission, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  View historic exhibits, including military, Native American, pioneer, and early industries.  Play in the hands-on Discovery Room and stroll in the new “Paradise Gardens” backyard exhibit.  www.heritage-museum.org

Hilton’s Independence Day Celebration
Enjoy a traditional buffet dinner with all-American and coastal favorites, followed by a spectacular beach fireworks show.  Event is 6:30 – 9 p.m.  Make reservations at (850) 267-9500 x44.

Fireworks & Dinner Cruise Celebration
Celebrate on the water, as you cruise into the sunset, indulge in coastal cuisines, dance to live music, and watch the fireworks, aboard the 125’ Solaris yacht.  Cruise is from 6 – 9:30 p.m. Visit www.SunQuestCruises.com for pricing and reservations.

Fireworks Aboard the Southern Star
Cruise the Destin Harbor aboard the Southern Star.  The cruise is from 8:15 – 9:45 p.m.  Call (850) 837-7741 for pricing and reservations.

Red, White and Baytowne
The Village of Baytowne Wharf will have kids’ activities from 6 – 10 p.m., including crafts, face painting, and balloon sculpting.  Mama’s Blue Dress will perform from 7 – 9 p.m., and the fireworks will begin at 9:15 p.m.  www.sandestin.com/exploresandestin/specialevents.aspx

HarborWalk 4th of July Celebration
Let freedom ring, rock, and roll with the Victory Belles, as they revive the WWII classics with their vintage charm.  Concert begins at 7 p.m.  Fireworks at 9 p.m.  www.harborwalkdestin.com

Beneath the Stars & Stripes – Sinfonia Concert
Enjoy a free concert at 7:30 p.m. on July 4, at the Lighthouse Amphitheater at Shoreline Village.  Sinfonia Gulf Coast will present Beneath the Stars & Stripes: A Tribute to our Armed Forces and Veterans.  The concert benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.  Find details at www.LighthouseAmphitheater.com.

City of Destin’s Fireworks
The City’s Annual Independence Day Fireworks show will take place near the Destin Harbor over the waters of the East Pass, beginning at 9 p.m.  Turn your radio to Z96 to hear the musical accompaniment.

July 5

Free Concert at HarborWalk Village

The Village will be rocking with a free live concert by Gypsy Riot on the HarborWalk Village main stage.  Concert starts at 7 p.m. www.harborwalkdestin.com

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 2014 Business Briefs / Member News Part 2

New Realtors Join ERA American Realty
ERA American Realty Of Northwest Florida, Inc., welcomes Linda Adams, Karla Del Monaco, and Dave DelDonie. Adams, who has worked in real estate in the area for the past three years, will join the Destin office. Del Monaco and DelDonie, who have worked in real estate in the area for the past 14 year, will work from both the Grayton Corners and Destin offices. For more information, call (850) 837-2181 or visitwww.ERA-American.com.


Okaloosa Turns Corner on FCAT to Recoup Top-10 in Reading for all Grades 3rd through 10th; Middle Schools Move to Top 5!
In her first full year in office, Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson takes great pride in the fact that Okaloosa Schools are back near the head of the pack among Florida’s sixty-seven counties. Most every grade level moved up in state rankings in both reading and math, and all grades, 3rd through 10th, are among the state’s top 10 in reading. The district also excelled in science, with students finishing in the top five in both of the assessed grade levels (5 and 8). Click here to keep reading.
Foundation Hosts Wounded Warrior Weekend Retreat
Local nonprofit organization Emerald Coast Community Cares Foundation hosted eight families local to the Destin and Fort Walton Beach area for a Wounded Warrior Weekend retreat May 2-4. The mission of the retreat was to give local service veterans returning from their time overseas an opportunity to not only relax, but to also reconnect with their wives, children, and the local community. All aspects of the retreat were donated by the local businesses and restaurants or funded by the foundation’s annual golf tournament, which is set for Sept. 4-5, at Burnt Pine Golf Club. For details, visitwww.ecccf.org.

Sacred Heart Guild Supports Hospital Initiatives with $63,769 Donation
The Volunteer Guild at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast recently presented a $63,769 donation to the hospital in support of a variety of patient-care initiatives. Each year, the Volunteer Guild invites hospital department managers to apply for one of the Volunteer Guild’s special capital sponsorships to enhance patient care, resulting in new equipment, software upgrades and customer-service projects. The Guild’s largest fundraising event is the annual Emerald Coast Duck Regatta at Baytowne Wharf each October, which features family-friendly games and the opportunity to adopt a duck before thousands of rubber ducks set sail across the pond for a chance to win $5,000. For more information about this exciting event, please visit www.emeraldcoastduckregatta.com. For more information about Sacred Heart, please visit www.sacredheartemerald.org.

Blue Marlin Realty Group adds new members to the team 
Blue Marlin Realty Group has expanded once again with two new realtors, Craig Carter and Cat Stevens, and a new rental and guest services manager, Devin Marquez. Carter, originally from Kalamazoo, Mich., is a graduate from Western Michigan University. After college Carter worked for several well established companies in executive rolls. Most recently, he formed the rental company Carter Beach Properties, which he sold in 2013.




Stevens is a licensed real estate broker in Tennessee and Florida and a businesswoman in every sense of the phrase. Beginning her career in the male-dominated automotive franchise business, Stevens owned nine franchises in Indiana and Florida for 18 years. After the sale of the area franchise rights, Cat obtained her real estate license and began managing a large LLC/PUD consisting of upscale villas in a golf course community in Naples.



Blue Marlin Realty Group’s new Rental & Guest Services Manager Devin Marquez hales from Albuquerque, N.M., but is no stranger to the Destin area. Marquez has lived in the area for nine years and has managed vacation rentals for five of those years. From reservations, guest services, inspections, housekeeping coordination and property management, Marquez worked in every position in the industry during her time with a local beachside realty group.

For more information, visit www.bluemarlinrealtygroup.com.

Godwin Achieves Resort and Second Home Specialist Certification
World Impact Real Estate Broker Dr. Rodney Elkins announced that Realtor Roy Godwin has now been certified as a Resort and Second Home Specialist (RSPS) by the National Association of Realtors. This certification is designed for REALTORS who facilitate the buying, selling, or management of properties for investment, development, retirement, or second homes in a resort, recreational, and/or vacation destination. Call Godwin at (850) 585-1066.

Gulfarium Adds New Dolphin Encounters
To add to the lineup of animal interaction programs, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park unveiled two new encounter opportunities, each unique to the dolphins' talents, while taking full advantage of the serene setting at the newly renovated Dolphin Point exhibit. During the new Dolphin Doodle encounter, participants can let their creative side go wild as they team up with one of Gulfarium's talented dolphin artists to create a one-of-a-kind work of art. Guests of the Breakfast with the Dolphins program will start their day with a smile as they enjoy a delicious breakfast with the company of dolphins on the deck of the new Dolphin Point exhibit. Advanced reservations are recommended. To see a full list of interaction opportunities and to make a reservation, visit www.gulfarium.com or call (850) 243-9046.

Gulf Pointe Academy Art Supply Drive for Children in Crisis
The Gulf Pointe Academy helped the kids of Children in Crisis (CIC) get ready for their summer enhancement program by conducting an art supply drive. Thanks to the generous donations of a huge variety of art supplies from the Academy and community, all the kids at the Children’s Neighborhood received needed supplies to take them through the summer. Seen here are Ken Hair, CIC President & CEO; Jessica James, Gulf Pointe Academy; and Penny Minnamon, CIC Teen Transitional Coordinator. For more information about CIC, visitwww.childrenincrisisfl.org.

Ondrejkova Earns Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM Certification
Merrill Lynch announced that Financial Advisor Simona Ondrejkova earned the Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM (CRPC®) certification awarded by the College for Financial Planning. This specialized education credential is awarded to individuals who have successfully completed the requirements of the designation program, which includes a course of study encompassing pre- and post-retirement needs. Ondrejkova may be reached at (850) 269-7011 or by visitingwww.fa.ml.com/krueger_group.