Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chairman's Message: Help Us Shape the Next 50 Years


Lockwood Wernet - Destin Water Users, Inc.
While growing up in Indiana, my parents instilled in me and my siblings the sense that it is our civic duty and responsibility to give back and serve the community in which we live.  Furthermore, it has been the mission of my employer, Destin Water Users, to do our part to preserve this paradise we call home.  With that in mind, it is my honor and privilege to serve as 2017 Chairman of the Destin Chamber Board of Directors.
I moved to the Gulf Coast in 1984, where I met a native Pensacola girl, Delores, who has been my bride for over 32 years. Together, we raised our son, who is married with two beautiful children, here.  Our roots run deep along the Emerald Coast.
Through the years, I have worked in real estate development and management, local government, and municipal services, and I have worked in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area since 1990.  I point these things out to show that I have been around long enough to have experienced some of the booms and busts in our economy; to understand the things that drive our regional economic engine; and to know what it takes to recover from a natural disaster.  It is my hope that I can apply some of the knowledge and wisdom I have gained through my years along the Gulf Coast to help guide the Destin Chamber in 2017.  
The Destin Chamber has just celebrated 50 years of success, and as we look back, we can be proud of what we have accomplished.  The Chamber has been at the forefront of shaping and molding the community we live in by advocating for business.  However, we cannot rest on what has been, we must look forward and begin working on what will be.
The mission statement of the Destin Chamber is “Advocating for businesses… strengthening our community.”  Borrowing from our website: “The Destin Chamber prides itself on working to build successful businesses and a vibrant economy. The Chamber provides products and services to its member businesses helping them grow and prosper. The Chamber acts as the voice of business in government affairs. Governed by a volunteer board of directors and operated by a professional staff, the Chamber works daily to ensure that businesses have what they need to flourish. A strong base of volunteers assists in making sure that all of our programs are relevant to the needs of businesses.”
To be successful we need your help.  We need your ideas on what is needed to build successful businesses and a vibrant economy.  We need to know if we are providing the right products and services to help you grow and prosper.  We need to know if you have governmental affairs concerns that we need to address.  We need your input to make sure we are doing all we can to help build a world-class community one business at a time.  But we also need your hands and feet to represent us as ambassadors, to assist with special events, and to help serve on our committees. 
Together, we can shape our future and make the next 50 years even more successful. 
Lockwood Wernet
Destin Water Users, Inc.
2017 Destin Chamber Chairman of the Board

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December 2016 Business Briefs / Member News

Freedivers Donate Fish to Shelter House
Shelter HouseResidents in Shelter House’s emergency shelter recently received a rare treat – fresh fish straight from the Gulf. The generous donation of more than 50 pounds of fish came from a spearfishing tournament held by the Agua Verdes Freedive Club. The Panhandle Freedive Classic drew 10 teams and a total of 42 divers. After bringing their catch to Harbor Docks for a weigh in, the divers fileted red snapper, mangrove snapper, dog snapper, kingfish, rainbow runner, cobia, and sheepshead to send to the shelter. Shelter House staff and volunteers pitched in to hold a fish fry at the shelter with gouda grits, coleslaw, veggies, and dessert.


Crane Aerospace Donates to Children in Crisis
Children In CrisisCrane Aerospace & Electronics of Fort Walton Beach presented a donation check for $15,000 to Children in Crisis (CIC). Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, receives the check from Megan Woo of Crane Aerospace & Electronics. The donation will help provide a home, food, clothing, and care for the foster children living in the CIC Neighborhood.  




Autism Center Opens $2.5M Facility at NWFSC
Emerald Coast Autism Center - Northwest Florida State CollegeOfficials with Emerald Coast Autism Center (ECAC) held a grand opening and dedication ceremony for the nonprofit’s $2.5 million, state-of-the-art therapy center at Northwest Florida State College’s Niceville campus. Founded in 2009 to fill the gap in educational services for children on the autism spectrum living in Okaloosa and Walton counties, ECAC began the year-long construction process on the 15,225-square-foot facility on Oct. 1, 2015. The facility, which will allow the organization to nearly double its student population to 130, features 12 therapy rooms, a speech therapy room, an occupational therapy room, a life skills room, a computer room, a centers room, a resource room, an indoor playground/gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a kitchen, a conference room, and an administrative suite. On the grounds, an 11,500-square-foot ADA-compliant playground is also included.

Double Museum Dollars
Steve and Ann Czonstka of Niceville are asking the community to partner with them to double donations to the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida in 2016.  The Czonstkas will match all cash donations before the end of the year up to $17,000 with a potential in charitable contributions of $34,000.  The Czonstkas are requesting that matching funds exceed regular contributions of memberships and sponsorships. For details, please visit www.heritage-museum.org

Eglin AFB Airman Wins Home for the Holidays Contest
Destin - Fort Walton Beach AirportThanks to the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) and the Northwest Florida Daily News, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Espino of Eglin AFB’s 53rd Wing is going to have a special Christmas this year. He was the winner of Operation Fly VPS Home for the Holidays sweepstakes. The holiday promotion received nominations of active-duty servicemen and women from all over Northwest Florida. After serving for nine years in the Air Force, Espino said he’s used to making do with whatever family he has during the holiday season. But this year it will be different. Espino’s family will fly in from California to VPS for Christmas. Seen here, Espino and his 4-year-old son, Anthony Jr., officially received their Operation Fly VPS Home recognition at the airport’s USO with Okaloosa County Airports Director Tracy Stage, County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel, and Diane Winnemuller, publisher of the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Fusion Bistro Opens in Destin Commons 
Fusion Bistro - Destin CommonsWith the opening of Q Fusion Bistro in Destin Commons, the outdoor lifestyle center now boasts 13 restaurant dining options. The new restaurant is located between World of Beer and Zoe’s Kitchen. Fusion Bistro will present the latest in ethnic food with Chinese, Asian, Latino, and American menu offerings. Along with its hip urban décor and relaxing environment, Fusion Bistro offers reasonably priced meals in an Asian Bento Box format to include a fresh entree, side item, and drink. This restaurant will be the second location, with the first being in Fort Walton Beach. Check out the menu at www.qfusionbistro.com

The Gulf Okaloosa Island Hosts Official Grand Opening
The restaurant group behind The Gulf in Orange Beach, The Hangout Restaurant, and the popular Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores has introduced Okaloosa Island’s newest restaurant destination. The Gulf Okaloosa Island is a locally driven concept, offering fresh, locally sourced food and beverage options for lunch and dinner, all served in a laid back atmosphere and with stunning bay views. The Gulf Okaloosa Island celebrated its official introduction to the community on Thursday, Nov. 10, with a Welcome Party and VIP reception attended by nearly 300 people. 

Emerald Coast Theatre Company Announces Winners of Lip Sync Battle
Emerald Coast Theatre CompanyNearly a dozen contestants took the stage to give some serious “lip,” but if the buzz of the crowd was any indication, every contestant left tongues wagging. Emerald Coast Theatre Company (ECTC) hosted the second Emerald Coast Lip Sync Battle on Nov. 10, at its new performance space at 560 Grand Blvd., in Miramar Beach. The 2016 winners are as follows:

Best Costume - Scott Russell, performing “Sweet Transvestite” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Tomorrow” from “Annie”

Best Dance Move - Sean Newberry, Nicole Agner, Ryan Magee, and Marissa Marinan

People’s Choice - Sherry Londe (pictured here), performing “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

Overall Lip Sync Battle Winner - Sean Newberry, Nicole Agner, Ryan Magee, and Marissa Marinan, performing “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Sugar” by Maroon 5

Concealed Weapon License Applications Available in Niceville
Florida Residents will now be able to apply for or renew their statewide Concealed Weapon License at the Niceville Branch of the Okaloosa County Tax Collector’s Office. This service will begin with appointments on Friday, Dec. 9. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (850) 651-7300 or visiting www.okaloosatax.com.

Ahoy, The Arc's 2nd Annual Cruise
On Nov. 12, The Arc of the Emerald Coast set its sails on Carnival Cruise line for its second cruise.  More than 70 friends of The Arc went on the 6-day cruise to the Western Caribbean with ports of call in Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico.  The group included many of the men and women that The Arc provides services for, their family members, and staff of The Arc.  Wearing bright blue shirts calling to "Keep Calm and Cruise On," they took to the seas experiencing shows, dancing, karaoke, and dining room feasts with live entertainment. The cruise is something that many with disabilities do not get to share, but with the love and support of The Arc's staff, supporting families, and friends, it's been possible to give the gift of an inclusive life for a second time.

Regatta Bay Golf Tournament Brings in $13,000 for Shelter House
Regatta Bay Golf & Yacht Club recently presented its 13th Annual Golf Tournament to benefit Shelter House. The four-person teams enjoyed complimentary food and beverage stations on the course, as well as an awards party for competitors following play. The annual event had 23 teams and contributed more than $13,000 to support the lifesaving services Shelter House offers at no charge to domestic and sexual violence survivors in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

ECCAC Dedicates Justice Wing in Honor of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation
Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy CenterIt was a special evening, not only for the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center, but also for the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF). The Pierce Family Center in DeFuniak Springs, Walton County, is the second location for the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) that opened this past spring. DCWAF played a great role in making the Walton County facility a reality. So much so, that ECCAC dedicated the Justice Wing of the new center in honor of DCWAF. The boards of DCWAF and ECCAC gathered to place a DCWAF sign in the Justice Wing and tour the center’s child-friendly 15,000-square-foot building with 45 offices in four wings to include a Welcome Wing, Path to Courage Wing, Healing Wing, and Justice Wing. 

Are you “I Am Destin Commons?”
Destin Commons is working on developing a new look, and it wants you to be the star. The outdoor lifestyle center is looking for females, 25 to 44 years old that love the Destin Commons experience and want to share their story and style with everyone. They will choose from the submissions and do a high-style photo shoot with each of the winners to be featured in a new Destin Commons ad campaign and other promotional materials. To enter, submit a recent photo taken within the last 30 days of just the entrant. If the entrant has a spouse, significant other, or children, they can also submit a photo of them, too. The deadline to enter photos is Jan. 1, 2017. Email the photo(s) to Heather Ruiz, marketing manager, at hruiz@turnberry.com with the subject line “I Am Destin Commons.” Include your name, age, telephone number, and what Destin Commons exemplifies and represents to you. 

Keller Williams Announces November Movers, Shakers & Dealmakers
Keller Williams Realty Emerald CoastKeller Williams Emerald Coast Realty (KWEC) recognized their Movers, Shakers & Dealmakers for the month of November - Craig Baranowski (left), Andrea Farrell (center), and Al Mader. They are not only successful in their real estate careers, but they also exemplify this spirit of giving year-round. 

Named the Cultural Agent of the Year for KWEC last year, Baranowski does a lot for the community. His biggest undertaking is founding and implementing the 30A 10K, now in its 5th year. It has grown to 2,000 runners and will break raising $200K this year to benefit abused women and children and the Walton County Fire and Sheriff’s Departments.   

Farrell is passionate about connecting with charities, particularly the Emerald Coast Autism Center. She serves on the Autism Society’s board of directors, who oversee 76 autistic children ranging in age from 18 months to up to 22 years old, and 70 therapists.  Almost 70% of those children are military related.

Mader gives back to the real estate industry and his fellow agents. Every day from 9 – 10 a.m., he makes himself available to help other agents through their business transactions. In some ways, it’s almost like he’s a real estate psychologist.

Acentria Insurance Expands Into Miami
Acentria Insurance expands in South Florida through a merged partnership with iSure Insurance Brokers, located at 8700 West Flagler St. Ste. 207, in Miami. Established in 1984, iSure Insurance Brokers specializes in commercial insurance, employee benefits, human resource outsourcing, and personal insurance. The company will continue to operate at its current location with its existing employees. 

37th Emerald Coast HOG Toy Run Helps Kids
Children In CrisisThe 37th Annual Emerald Coast Harley Owners Group Chapter #3605 Toy Run, which included 600 bikers, raised more than $15,000 to help the abused children served by the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center and the at-risk abused and neglected children living at the Children in Crisis Neighborhood with great support from Sam’s Club, Emerald Coast Harley Davidson Superstore, Cumulus Broadcasting, and Northwest Florida Daily News.
           
       
Nina McCaslin-Horn Named 2016 ECAR Realtor® of the Year
Emerald Coast Association of RealtorsThe Emerald Coast Association of REALTORS® (ECAR) honored its leading members at its 2016 Awards Ceremony. The big winner of the night was Nina McCaslin-Horn, a member of ECAR since 2005 and current member of the Association’s Board of Directors, she was named 2016 ECAR Realtor® of the Year. Other winners included the following:
•    Humanitarian of the Year: Casey Joiner
•    Kerry Kelly Award for Achievement in Education: Debbie Lewis
•    Distinguished Service Award: Gloria Frazier
•    President’s Award: Liz McMaster
•    Commercial Realtor of the Year: Kaylyn Byrd
•    Crestview Realtor of the Year: Kathy Wilhelm
•    Destin Realtor of the Year: Chris Carter
•    Fort Walton Beach Realtor of the Year: Justin Myers
•    Niceville Realtor of the Year: Tracy Jennette
•    North Walton Realtor of the Year: Christa Merrifield
•    South Walton Realtor of the Year: Marilue Maris

Health Source Chiropractic Donates to Children in Crisis
Children In CrisisSeen here, Dr. Sarah Leatherman, D.C. with Health Source Chiropractic, and the Health Source Team donate $140 to Children in Crisis (CIC). Allie Noah, CIC development director, accepts the donation. along with the Health Source Team. The money was raised during Health Source Chiropractic’s “Got Pain Program.” 






30A TV Telethon Benefits Children’s Advocacy Center
Emerald Coast Association of Realtors30A TV aired the 2nd Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) Telethon broadcasting live last week from 723 Whiskey Bravo in Seagrove Beach. The telethon benefited the two ECCAC locations in Niceville and the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs. Breaking last year’s amount raised, the telethon night raised more than $31,000, which included a generous donation by the Walton County Sheriff’s Department of $25,000. Donations are still being accepted, and the telethon will continue to be re-broadcast periodically through February and can be seen any time in its entirety on 30A TV’s website at this link: https://youtu.be/Gt-YCItgoPE


KW announces 2017 Associate Leadership Council
Keller Williams Realty Emerald CoastKeller Williams Realty Emerald Coast (KWEC) recently announced its 2017 Associate Leadership Council (ALC), who will be representing KWEC’s seven offices serving five communities throughout Northwest Florida. They are Jim Springer, Al Mader, Dawn Burt, and Liz Steinberger. The ALC is comprised of the top 20 percent of the Keller Williams real estate agents nationwide in their Market Centers. The purpose of the ALC is to ensure all agents have a vehicle for giving direct input to the operation of Keller Williams. In effect, they are similar to a “Board of Directors” and the guardians to drive profit, education, standards, principles, and uphold the KWEC culture.


Flying Needles Quilt Guild of Niceville Donate to CIC Children
Children In CrisisSeen here, Ken Hair, Children in Crisis (CIC) president and CEO, receives a donation of 60 stockings, 16 quilts, and 15 pillowcases from Flying Needles Quilt Guild of Niceville members Kaye Joachim and Ruth Johnson.  The donation made by talented and loving hands will help the 56 at-risk children living at the CIC Neighborhood.



30th Annual Holiday on the Harbor Boat Parade Winners
The Destin History and Fishing Museum and Margaritaville hosted the 30th Annual Holiday on the Harbor Destin Boat Parade on Dec. 11. Twenty eight spirited boaters registered for the event, which ended with a spectacular fireworks show sponsored by HarborWalk Village.
The winners in each category were as follows:
-    Private 30 ft. & Under: Lil Miss Destiny Captained by Sean Newberry
-    Private 31 ft. & Over: Lynne Marie Captained by Tommy Graves
-    Charter/Commercial 30 Ft. & Under: Destin Wedding Chapell Captained by Frank Howell
-    Charter/Commercial 31 ft. & Over: Destiny Captained by Dennis Kendrick
-    Tour Boat/Motorized 50 ft. & Under: Emerald Grande Shuttle II Captained by Matt Davis
-    Tour Boat/Motorized 51 ft. & Over: Southern Star Captained by Jason McGregory
-    Sailboat 30 ft. & Under: Braveheart Captained by Bonny Todd
-    Sailboat 31 ft. & Over: Spider Crab Captained by Karl Marusak’s “Santa”
-    Overall Best Entry: Swoop II Captained by Nick Price
-    City of Destin Harbor Heritage Award: Southern Star Captained by Jason McGregory

Christmas Cheer at The Arc
The Arc of the Emerald CoastOn Dec. 8, The Arc of the Emerald Coast celebrated its annual Christmas party for the men and women they provide services for. More than 15 Arc employees came together and put on a Christmas party for more than 30 men and women from its group homes; many who are not able to celebrate the seasonal spirit with family. Our supportive community also came together and adopted "Arc Angel's" where requested items were donated, wrapped, and gifted to The Arc for a specific Angel. 

Mission Underway
The Arc of the Emerald Coast is officially underway for its new group home facility, located on the property at Jet Court in Fort Walton Beach. The renovations are being made available through a Florida Housing Corporation grant that The Arc of the Emerald Coast won. The new group home includes renovating an older 1970s home that was not completely accessible for their clients, who are disabled. This will increase the size from four bedrooms to six bedrooms and also include all green building features. 

Gulfarium Releases Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Gulfarium's C.A.R.E. Center announced that Meeko, an adult Loggerhead sea turtle, was released into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, Dec. 15. The Loggerhead was found off the Navarre fishing pier in distress and arrived at the Gulfarium's C.A.R.E. Center on Sept. 30, 2016. Nearly three pounds of fishing gear was removed from the two front flippers, including a hook embedded in the skin. X-rays showed several hooks lodged in the intestine, including a lead weight and line.  Upon extensive monitoring, the C.A.R.E. team decided to intervene and surgically remove the hooks. The sea turtle's surgery and recovery were a success.  
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City of Destin Photo Contest Open Through Dec. 31
The City of Destin opened its first public photo contest on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. The contest will run through Dec. 31, and encourages people to submit digital images that portray unique perspectives of city amenities, such as its beach, parks, historical landmarks, public art, natural conservation areas, recreational activities, special events, wildlife, etc. All photographs must be submitted via the city’s website, www.cityofdestin.com/destinphotocontest, and must be taken within the corporate city limits of Destin. The photographs will be judged by a panel of city staff and guest judges. Criteria for entries is outlined in the online entry form found at www.cityofdestin.com/destinphotocontest. Digital submissions only. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third place entries, and public recognition will be given via social media and the city’s website. All entries will be retained by the city for future display.

Sacred Heart Celebrates Completion of Hospital and Emergency Department Expansion 
Sacred Heart on the Emerald CoastSacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast has completed a $30 million expansion that includes a new inpatient unit, a new maternity wing, and an enlarged emergency department. The new patient care areas will officially open on Jan. 10. Hospital leaders, staff, volunteers, and community members gathered recently for an open house and dedication.

“We are honored to celebrate this milestone with our community,” said Roger Hall (pictured here), president of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast. “It is incredible to think about the journey that began 14 years ago when we opened our healing ministry. Since opening, we have completed six major expansions to increase access to world-class care in our community, including comprehensive women’s services, life-saving heart and vascular services, cancer services, and now increased capacity for inpatient and emergency services.”

Tree Decorating Competition Spreads Holiday Cheer to Covenant Care Patients
Covenant CareCovenant Care patients are enjoying the holidays with their own Christmas trees this year thanks to the generous donation by North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview. These 18 table-top trees are decorated in a holiday competition between departments at the North Okaloosa Medical Center, each department aiming for the grand prize, but each knowing these trees will serve a higher purpose this holiday season. Pictured here (left to right) are Carole Ann Haws, Covenant Care volunteer and community relations manager; Devon Burkes, North Okaloosa Medical Center human resource director; Chris Green, North Okaloosa Medical Center Chief financial officer; Ronnie Daves, North Okaloosa Medical Center chief executive officer; and Wilson Thomas, North Okaloosa Medical Center assistant chief executive officer. 

Tee Off for Toys Gives to CIC Children for the 5th Year
Children In CrisisSeen here, Children In Crisis (CIC) staff members Laura Moore, (left) volunteer and events director, and Allie Noah, (center) development director, receive a large donation of toys from members of the Sandestin Golf Resort (left to right) Liam Branagan, Rick Hileman, and Joe Newell.  Their donation of more than 500 toys worth more than $7,500 from the “Tee Off For Toys” campaign will give the 56 children living at the CIC Neighborhood a very Merry Christmas.

2016 Holiday Outdoor Decorating Contest Winners Announced
The City of Destin announces the winners of this year’s Holiday Outdoor Decorating Contest. Winners included the following:

Best Home
Winner – 134 Indian Bayou Dr.
Honorable Mention – 3811 Misty Way

Best Business
Winner – Hog’s Breath Saloon, 541 Hwy. 98

Best Organization
Winner – Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 37 Beach Dr.

Best Holiday
Winner – 618 Sea Oats Dr.
Honorable Mention – 55 Country Club East

Best Condominium 
Winner – Dolphin Point, 30 Moreno Point Rd.

Local Restaurants Join Forces to defEAT Domestic Violence 
Shelter House - Cafe Thirty-AAs Shelter House observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month throughout October, six local restaurants stepped up to help the domestic and sexual violence center raise money and awareness. The defEAT Domestic Violence campaign brought in more than $13,000 that will go toward lifesaving services for domestic violence victims. The restaurants included La Paz, Island Wing Company, Café Thirty-A, Redd’s Fueling Station, The Other End Restaurant & Beergarden, and Pizza by the Sea. Seen here, Rosalyn Iovieno, Shelter House executive director, accepts a donation from Harriet Crommlin, Café Thirty-A

The Henderson Launches "Loved Locals" VIP Program
The HendersonAbout one month ago, The Henderson, A Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, opened its doors in Destin. Today, the finest hotel on the Gulf Coast in a generation reminiscent of a grand seaside manor of yesteryear, announces the launch of its exclusive “Loved Locals” VIP program. Local residents of Florida’s Emerald Coast who reside between Panama City and Pensacola are welcome to register online with The Henderson to become a “Loved Local.” For details, please visit www.hendersonbeachresort.com/loved-locals.



Century 21 Blue Marlin Donates Hundreds of Toys 
Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin partnered with Porsche of Destin, Gregg ORR Auto, and the North Florida Region Porsche Club of America to collect and donate toys to children who will visit the Emergency Room at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast this holiday season. More than 300 toys were donated, including books, bikes, dolls, electronics, and stuffed animals. The toys were delivered to Sacred Heart on Dec. 19.




Arc of the Emerald Coast Client Honored by FWBFD
Robert Jackson was honored by the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department as its Honoree Fire Marshall. Jackson has been receiving services from Horizons of Okaloosa County since its inception. About two years ago Horizons rebranded its self as The Arc of the Emerald Coast to align itself with the nationally recognized Arc and the services it provides for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jackson started visiting the Fire Department when he was 10 years old and has continued his involvement for the past 53 years. This weekend the Fort Walton Beach FD surprised him with the tile of "Honoree Fire Marshall of the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department" and included an official helmet and jacket with his name.