Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 1

Calling CAA Member Artists to Apply for Inclusion in Foster Gallery
The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) announces the opening of the Foster Gallery, a CAA member artist co-op gallery located in The Market Shops next to DIG Eatery and the new Ben & Jerry's.  Twelve artists will be chosen to exhibit and work in the gallery during the Summer 2016 exhibit, May 23 - August 26. Please visit www.CulturalArtsAlliance.com to read the criteria and download the application. All applications submitted prior to 11 p.m., on Saturday, May 7, will be considered.  Call the CAA office at (850) 622-5970 for membership status questions and to become a member or renew.

Rick Owen Becomes Ninth United Way Executive
United Way of Okaloosa and Walton CountiesWalter Hooks (right), board chair for United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, announced that Rick Owen (left) will take over the reins as president and CEO of the United Way, succeeding Ken Hinrichs who is retiring. Owen is a 27-year Air Force veteran and more recently served as Administrative Manager/ RESTORE Act Coordinator for Okaloosa County. Owen retired as a Chief Master Sergeant after serving in various positions culminating with Aircraft Maintenance Director for an Air Force unit in Germany for nearly three years. He received a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle University and a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Troy University. He is a member of the Eglin and Hurlburt Chiefs’ Groups. 

Students Help Restore Critical Habitat Along Choctawhatchee Bay
As the school year begins to draw to an end, students across Okaloosa and Walton counties are also wrapping up a year-long restoration project. Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, around 2,300 students at 21 elementary schools participated inChoctawhatchee Basin Alliance’s Grasses in Classes Program. Grasses in Classes encourages students to develop an interest in the local environment by growing shoreline grasses at their school. Throughout May, these students will see the hands-on, science program full circle by taking a field trip to Choctawhatchee Bay.  Rotating through stations, students will not only explore the habitat they learned about all year, but will also plant their smooth cordgrass at a restoration site. 

BancorpSouth, Inc., Declares Quarterly Dividend
At its regular quarterly meeting today, the Board of Directors of BancorpSouth, Inc., (NYSE:BXS) declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per common share. The dividend is payable July 1, 2016, to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 15, 2016. BancorpSouth earlier reported financial results for the first quarter of 2016. Net income was $22.5 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, and net operating income - excluding MSR was $36.9 million, or $0.39 per diluted share. 

Inaugural Art Week to Bring Visual, Literary and Performing Arts to South Walton in May
The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) announces the first-ever Art Week South Walton (AWSW), an initiative bringing together neighborhoods, organizations, and businesses to present quality arts and entertainment. Sponsored by Visit South Walton, 2016 Art Week includes ArtsQuest, Digital Graffiti, ECLive!, and the Seaside Writers Conference, and will take place May 7 – 20, in numerous venues throughout South Walton. For a complete schedule of Art Week South Walton events, visitwww.ArtWeekSouthWalton.com

Make a Difference – Become a Covenant Care Volunteer
Covenant Care is seeking individuals who are interested in making a difference in the lives of patients and families and in supporting the organization. A volunteer training will be held on Wednesday, May 11, and Friday, May 13, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Covenant Care office (220 Eglin Parkway NE, Fort Walton Beach, FL). The workshop is free and open to the public. Interested volunteers will need to attend both days and lunch will be provided.  To register for training or to learn more about volunteering with Covenant Care, contact Carole Haws, volunteer and community relations manager, at (850) 863-6165 or 

Sinfonia Gulf Coast "LINKS UP" More Than 2,600 Elementary Children
With the help of 2,600 3rd-5th graders from Okaloosa and Walton counties, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, host Geoff McBride (Season II of NBC's The Voice), teacher song leaders, and members of the drum line from the Florida State University Marching Chiefs, the Emerald Coast Convention Center was shaking with sound and enthusiasm during THE ORCHESTRA ROCKS! on Wednesday, April 27! LINK UP, in partnership with Carnegie Hall's Weill Institute of Music, is a school year-long curriculum where students learn to read music, sing, play the recorder (or other instrument), and engage in music history and theory. This culminates in a live performance with Sinfonia Gulf Coast, while the students perform alongside the orchestra on the pieces they prepare and perfect during the year. Sinfonia is one of 80-partner orchestras nationwide that participates in this very important music education endeavor.

Marine Mammal Parks Need YOUR Help!
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park follows strict guidelines set by the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the federal agency that licenses and inspects all marine mammal facilities in the United States as well as by its accrediting organization, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA). APHIS needs to hear from people like you who believe that the Gulfarium and our colleagues take wonderful care of our animals.  We are asking you, our supporters, to please submit a personal comment to APHIS during the public comment period that is open from now until May 4. Click here for more information.
From Shelves to the Shores Involves Children in Restoration of Local Waters
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) alongside NWF Environmental Stewards will kick off their “From Shelves to the Shores” Program at the Fort Walton Beach Library on May 5. Over the next three months, CBA will host activities every other week at the library for children aged 5-12. The children will participate in array of activities that range from growing a native, shoreline grass to observing live animals to creating their very own oyster. For more information, call the Fort Walton Beach Library at (850) 833-9590

Support the LARGEST One-Day “Stamp Out Hunger” FOOD DRIVE in the Nation
Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America collect non-perishable food items left by their postal customers, who participate in the NALC STAMP OUT HUNGER National Food Drive — the largest one-day food drive in the nation. So join us, the United Way, as the letter carriers in Okaloosa and Walton counties collect from our community the much needed, non-perishable and non-expired food to restock the local food banks’ pantries. The STAMP OUT HUNGER Food Drive is Saturday, May 14. To participate, just place your food donation(s) in a bag or box next to your mailbox before your letter carrier delivers mail on May 14. The food donations are picked up as the letter carriers complete their regular mail routes and then delivered to our local food banks.  

Okaloosa Arts & Culture Fest 
The Okaloosa Arts Alliance invites you, your family, and friends to the annual Okaloosa Arts & Culture Fest, which will be held on Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the FWB Landing. This free family fun arts event features dozens of local artisans and craft vendors, food and beverages, free family arts activities, live music, and art performances.  Live entertainment will include Emerald Coast Pipes & Drums, Brite Starz, Highsteppers, Pyramid Players, and more. For details, visit https://www.okaloosaarts.org/oaa-fest.html

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast Earns ‘A’ Grade for Patient Safety 
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast earned an ‘A’ grade for patient safety, according to an official announcement by The Leapfrog Group, a national patient safety watchdog, on April 25. Sacred Heart was one of 41 hospitals in Florida and 798 hospitals nationally to receive an A, ranking it among the safest hospitals in the nation. To see Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast’s full score and to access consumer-friendly tips for patients and loved ones visiting the hospital, visit www.HospitalSafetyScore.org.

Century 21 Blue Marlin Grows Team by Six Agents
Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin is pleased to announce that six new agents have joined its firm.

Paula Beauchemin (top left) has been a licensed realtor for more than 10 years and a licensed mortgage banker for three years. 

Donna Clark (top center) has a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Leadership, two beautiful daughters, a supportive husband, and 20 years’ experience of owning her own business.

Steve Clark (top right) grew up in Fort Walton Beach and graduated from University of West Florida with a double major in Biology and Math. Clark had been a successful small business owner for the past 10 years and a National Association of Realtors member. 
Shannon Helmuth (bottom left) graduated from Fort Walton Beach High School. She operated Sea Breeze Cleaning Company, while working in the service industry, and received high sales for more than five years in the service industry. 

Victoria Hughes (bottom center) has worked in the real estate industry for 29 years, served as president of Canopy Crossing Property Owners Association from 2012 to 2015, and currently serves as secretary/treasurer at Gulf Cemetery in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. 

Paul Malsky (bottom right), a respected retinal surgeon, practiced medicine in Albany, Ga., for 30 years, while investing in Florida real estate during a 20-year span with a keen focus on Northwest Florida. He graduated from Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas.

Monday, May 2, 2016

President's Message: Looking Ahead

As the spring season winds down and the community prepares itself for the influx of summer visitors, the Chamber will be preparing itself for a fall full of activities.  Paddle at the Porch is Aug. 20, the 50th Anniversary Party is Sept. 15, Bourbon at the Bay is Nov. 17, and the Chamber Holiday Party is in December.  The next thing you know, we’ll be planning our Annual Banquet in January 2017, and preparation will begin for January’s Bayou, Bay & Beach 5K, 10K & Half Marathon.  When you break it down like that, you realize how quickly things come and go.

Many of you have called, emailed, or had discussions with me about the new City Council.  I can assure you that the Chamber Board is closely watching and monitoring its actions.  We’ll continue to work with the new council to push pro-business, quality-growth actions.  Our focus will remain on ensuring a strong local economy and fighting actions that could take us the other way.  I can tell you that first on that agenda is making sure that the just-passed comprehensive plan stays in place.  We have spent too much time and energy on putting in place a comp plan that creates the kind of community that’s good and safe for residents and visitors alike. 

I want to personally thank City Manager Greg Kisela!  His work, his ethics, his knowledge, his skills – they will be missed.  Greg and I have had a great relationship over the years.  The Chamber and the City have worked so closely on projects, and we’ve succeeded in seeing certain things through.  I will miss him professionally, because I learned so much from him.  But I will also miss him personally and his friendship and his sense of humor.  I wish him all the best in his future.

Thank you to you, our membership and our community, for all you have done for the Chamber.  We learned several weeks ago that we had qualified for national chamber of the year.  Elizabeth spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks working on the very intense application so that we could try to qualify to become a finalist.  We won’t know the results until mid-June.  We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for good news.  I’m very proud of our Board, our members, our volunteers, and Elizabeth, Bryce, and Dena.  You are what makes this organization hum, and I am humbled to be your Chamber President!

With wishes for continued success,
Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP
President and CEO
Destin Chamber of Commerce

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

Emerald Coast Theatre Company Hosts EC Live on May 12 
Emerald Coast Theatre Company (ECTC) is giving the community a chance to take the stage again at EC Live, a fundraiser for ECTC’s educational and professional programming. EC Live, which will be held on May 12 at LuLu’s, is the area's first professional singing competition where one contestant will win a professional studio recording session, radio airplay of their recorded song, a professional headshot session with a Nashville photographer, a new style wardrobe, a $500 cash prize, and a live gig at theHarborWalk Memorial Day concert. The grand prize package is valued at more than $3,500. Two pre-qualifying auditions, one on May 5 and one on May 6, will determine the top 10 contestants for the final showdown. For details, visit www.EmeraldCoastLive.com.

Call to Sponsors & Artists for Festival of the Arts
Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Festival of the ArtsMattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) announces a call for artists for its 21st Annual Festival of the Arts. This year’s Festival will be held Oct. 29-30, throughout the grounds of the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village. MKAF has a rich history of this award-winning fine art festival, dating back to 1995, and this year it enters its fourth year of staging art on the lawn of the spacious Village Green and live music on stage at the contemporary Dugas Pavilion located within the scenic MKAF Cultural Arts Village. For artist application, rules of participation, and poster entry form, visit online at www.MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org. MKAF events are made possible with the generous support of local businesses. Several sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2016 Festival of the Arts. For more information, contact MKAF CEO Marcia Hull at (850) 650-2226. 

Free Skin Checks on May 2
In an effort to raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer, and to encourage early detection through self-exams, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has designated the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday. Coastal Skin Surgery and Dermatology is pleased to support this initiative with the AAD and invites the public to join us at one of our three locations for our 5th Annual Free Skin Cancer Screening from 1 – 4 p.m. Offices are located in Miramar Beach, Bluewater Bay/Niceville, and Fort Walton Beach. For details, visit www.CoastalSkinSurgery.com.

Smileology Donates $43,500 in Free Dentistry 
Smileology Dentistry from the HeartDr. Amber Wiebe and Dr. Olivier Broutin, along with their associate Dr. Lauren Crawford, hosted their second Dentistry from the Heart (DFTH) event on Friday, March 25, at the Miramar Beach Smileology location. Joining them were Dr. Anish Patel, Dr. Trae Pappas, and the staff of Panama City Smiles. The team of professionals worked collaboratively to provide 100 patients 185 services. Patients chose from a complimentary filling, extraction, or cleaning. In addition to the time dedicated by hygienists, assistants, and other dental professionals, a total of $43,500 worth of dental care was donated to the community in good faith. 

Golf Classic Raises Support for Emergency Department Expansion 
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald CoastThe 15th Annual Sacred Heart Charity Golf Classic once again made a hole in one during the two-day event. The event raised more than $229,584 for Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast’s emergency department expansion. The lively Spring Bash pre-tournament party held on Sunday, April 3, at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa had auctions, as well as a live band. The Golf Tournament on Monday, April 4, at Burnt Pine Golf Club at Sandestin Beach and Golf Resort had 120 participating golfers. Seen here are Dr. Joseph Agostinelli, Orthopedic Associates; Roger Hall, president of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast; and Dr. Thomas Fox, Bluewater Orthopedics. 

Museum Announces Tours for Home Schoolers
The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida now offers tours exclusively for Home School families beginning May 17, from 1 – 2:30 p.m. Educators will focus on the Native American and Pioneer periods in Northwest Florida, and students will reinforce their lesson by making their own pinch pot. Home School Tours meet the Florida education standards for grades K through 6 and are offered as an education resource specifically for Home School families. Cost is $7 for students. For details and to register, visit www.heritage-museum.org or call (850) 678-2615.

Acentria Insurance Founders Recognized as Top Insurance Producers in Nation
Acentria InsuranceAcentria InsuranceAcentria Insurance founders Kendall McEachern (left) and Kevin Mason were recently named as 2016 Top Producers by Insurance Business America (IBA). The publication’s Top Producers for 2016 only recognized 111 leading performers in the US insurance industry. Qualification for the Insurance Business America 2016 Top Producer award is based on the size of book of business. Recipients of the award are in a group narrowed even further from the initial qualifying list, making the award a true honor and distinction for both McEachern and Mason. McEachern has more than 30 years of experience within the insurance industry and founded Acentria Insurance, along with his partner Kevin Mason, in April of 2010. In its six years of inception, Acentria Insurance has grown to one of the largest independent insurance agencies within the southeastern United States. It has 19 offices in the state of Florida and one location in Myrtle Beach, S.C.. 

Fore Her Presents 2nd Annual Tea Fore Her at Vue on 30A
Time to get out your finest pearls and fanciest hat for an afternoon of tea and temptations benefiting Fore Her. The 2nd Annual Tea Fore Her will take place at Vue on 30A, May 1, from 1 – 3 p.m. Attendees will be treated to fancy tea, scones, petit fours, and quiche, along with fabulous views, awesome raffle prizes, and wonderful company. Tea Fore Her is a perfect event to bring your mom, daughter, grandmother, or group of friends for a few hours of girl time, while raising funds for local women with breast cancer who are in financial need. For details, visit www.ForeHer.org/events

Meet the 2016 Taylor Haugen Foundation Scholarship Winners
On April 15, the Taylor Haugen Foundation Board of Directors officially recognized the newest winners of its $1,500 scholarships. The scholarship selection committee reviewed applicants from the tri-county area. Each applicant was evaluated on the basis of their academics, athletics, leadership, community service, and Christian faith. One Walton, one Santa Rosa and three Okaloosa County winners were announced. They are as follows:
-    Tyler Cohen, Ft. Walton Beach High School
-    Sarah Pabst, Collegiate High School
-    Madison Thompson, Gulf Breeze High School
-    Elijah Schneidwind, Niceville High School
-    Keara Bogart, Walton High School

Grand Boulevard Hosts South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival April 28 – May 1
A dazzling roster of more than a dozen celebrity winemakers, brew masters, distillers, chefs, and entertainers, will converge in South Walton to wine, dine, educate, and entertain guests as part of the four-day celebration of wine during the 2016 South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival held April 28-May 1, throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. For details, visitwww.SoWalWine.com.

Diversification and Experience Exemplify World Impact’s Newest Realtor Michael Rojas
World Impact Real Estate - Michael RojasRealtor Michael Rojas grew up the son of an Air Force officer. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while his father was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base. Rojas has a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from Stetson University and two Masters degrees, one in Religion and one in Organizational Leadership, both from Trevecca Nazarene University. He is a certified leadership coach, an ordained pastor, and an avid photographer. He spent 18 years working with non-profit organizations, like the YMCA, The Salvation Army, and The Boys & Girls Club. He has always had a desire to work in real estate and after dedicating almost two decades to helping others through social services, he is proud now to be able to help families make one of the most important decisions of their lives…owning their own home. He may now be reached at World Impact Real Estate at (850) 543-6157.

Rosemary Beach Foundation Presents 5th Annual Walk Her Way
Whether you choose to parade in pumps, walk in wedges, strut in stilettos, or stroll in sneakers, make plans to join us on May 20, for the 5th Annual Walk Her Way presented by Rosemary Beach Foundation. Decorate your shoes (heels are suggested, but not required) and wear costumes to reflect your style and personality. Enter as a team with your family, friends, and coworkers, or walk as an individual. Sign up for Walk Her Way at www.walkherway.com. The event benefits Shelter House and the Rosemary Beach Foundation. 

Newman-Dailey Real Estate Sales Division Announces 1st Quarter 2016 Top Producers 
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties - Diane GreenNewman-Dailey Resort Properties - Shannyn StevensonBroker associate Diane Green and sales associate Shannyn Stevenson were recently awarded 2016 First Quarter Top Producers in Newman-Dailey’s Real Estate Division. Stevenson was recognized as Top Sales Agent and Green as Top Listing Agent for January through March 2016. 

Green consistently achieves top producer status and most recently was Newman-Dailey’s first female to achieve the top listing and sales agent of the year award. She currently holds active broker licenses in Florida and Georgia, is a Life Member of the Atlanta Million Dollar Club, and has more than 34 years in real estate sales, Green is committed to achieving what’s best for her clients.

Raised in the Destin area, Stevenson has seen the Emerald Coast grow from a small town fishing village into a highly sought after vacation destination. Licensed for more than 17 years, Stevenson specializes in rental investments, second homes, and luxury real estate properties. 

Gulf Coast Beach Cams Named Official Webcam Provider for Emerald Coast CVB
Gulf Coast Beach Cams has partnered with the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau (ECCVB) to be its “Official Webcam Provider” for its website at www.EmeraldCoasting.com. The webcams will be a unique and valuable addition to the ECCVB website to promote the beautiful Emerald Coast to hundreds of thousands of potential visitors to the area researching their next trip to the Gulf Coast. The HD webcams are state of the art and offer a live streaming view of the Gulf Coast to the public from their desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Gulf Coast Beach Cams is also the official webcam for five local radio stations (Z96, 99Rock, Nash105.5, Coast 103.1 and NewsTalk 1260) and is one of the official webcams for the Destin Chamber of Commerce. To see the cameras, visit www.EmeraldCoasting.com and click on the Gulf Coast Beach Cams logo at the top right.

Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin Announces Three Awards
Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin is proud to announce three awards received during the Century 21 Global Conference. It was awarded the Gold Medallion Award for production, realtor John Cunningham took home the Century 21 Masters Ruby Agent Award, and Jordan Dennis was awarded the Centurion Producer Award. (Left to right) Jerry Sullivan, Jordan Dennis and Johnathan Hughes are pictured here.

First Judicial Circuit Law Enforcement Assoc. Donates to CIC Children
Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office - Children In CrisisSeen here, Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, representing the First Judicial Circuit Law Enforcement Association (JCLEA), recently donated $750 to Ken Hair, president and CEO ofChildren in Crisis (CIC), along with Ronald Gay, president of the 1st JCLEA, to support CIC’s children’s educational requirements.