Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chairman's Message: Season of Thanks

Ken Wampler

I hope that all businesses in the Greater Destin area are taking a few moments to be thankful to all those that contributed to the successful year of 2015.  I encourage everyone to stop for a moment and recognize that our community has a great deal to be thankful for, but especially recognize the first responders, city/county officials, and staff.  This group adds those services that we sometimes take for granted, but would not be able to enjoy our community without them.
The Chamber Ambassadors have had a number of ribbon cutting ceremonies recently, WealthTrust Asset Management, Richard P Chern MD, Somerby of Santa Rosa Beach, Porsche of Destin, Mama Sherry’s Pizza Wings & Things, Destination Segway Tours, Rollin Smoke BBQ, Emerald Coast Kids, and Westwinds Conference Center, each with great turnouts.  During the upcoming holiday months, we hope to see you at some of the following events: Christmas Tree Lighting at the Destin Community Center, Bowling for Business Tournament & Lunch, Destin Christmas Parade, Harbor Boat Parade, Business After Hours at Chamber’s Annual Holiday Party, and the Annual Awards & Installation Banquet, just to name a few.  Please check the Destin Chamber website for more details on the events.  For those that came out to the Bourbon at the Bay, thank you for participating and showing your support to this unique event.
Membership continues to increase with each passing week, and through November we have 983 active members as compared to 971 through October.  If you are looking for a quick way to gain exposure to your business, contact the staff to find out how you can take advantage of this great resource.  If you have a change in personnel or with any of your contact information, please contact the Chamber so we can update your membership file.
Regarding marketing exposure, the Chamber website continues to show great improvement.  As a comparison to last year, here are the key indicators; Sessions are up 38% year to date with 303,197 sessions, Users are up 32% with 222,935 users, and Page Views are up 18% with 559,951 page views.  During each leaders in business luncheon, I state what a great marketing medium the website is for all business, and this shows you just how great it really is, so please spread the word.
Finally I want to extend a warm thank you to two key staff members that have chosen to move onto other opportunities, Suzy Nicholson Hunt and Jacqui Luberto.  Suzy has been instrumental in the growth in all of the Chamber events over the years, and her wit and humor will be greatly missed.  Jacqui, although she was not at the Chamber for a long time, has really demonstrated what an energetic positive personality can do for the membership given the proper guidance.  Both have set standards and records that will make their successors’ jobs really difficult.  We wish you both the best of luck in your new adventures and ask that you continue to stay active in the community.
If there is ever anything we may do for you, please do not hesitate to call the Chamber at (850) 837-6241. We look forward to serving you throughout 2015 and together building this world-class community one business at a time. I hope everyone is Living the Dream in this place we call home, the Destin Area.

Ken Wampler
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.
2015 Destin Area Chamber Chairman of the Board

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

Newman-Dailey Announces Top Agent for 3Q 2015
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc. - Diane GreenDiane Green has been named Newman-Dailey Resort Properties Real Estate Division’s top producer for the third quarter of 2015. Green was awarded both the Top Listing Agent and Top Sales Agent for the third quarter, ending on Sept. 30, 2015. Green also achieved Top Sales Agent for the month of September, and Mark DeSalvo was Top Listing Agent for the month of September. A Top Producer in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee with 35 years of real estate experience, Green is passionate about assisting customers in finding their “happy place” at the beach. She holds Broker’s licenses in both Florida and Georgia and has earned rigorous industry designations, including Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), and short sale and REO (bank-owned properties) certification. 

Destin's Annual Holiday Decorating Contest
The City of Destin’s Holiday Committee will be forming to survey and select the best Christmas Holiday Decorations in six major categories:
• Best Decorated Home: includes single homes, duplexes (best side), mobile homes, etc.
• Best Decorated Business: includes restaurants, shops, department stores, schools, professional offices, etc.
• Best Decorated Organization: includes entrances to homeowners’ associations, golf courses, etc.
• Best Overall Holiday: includes all homes, business, and organizations throughout the city limits that go above and beyond.
• Best on the Harbor: includes homes on the harbor.
• Best Decorated Condominiums: includes entrances to condominiums and the property as a whole.

Judging will take place Dec. 1-15, only within the city limits of Destin. All decorations must remain up from Dec. 1-31. Winners will be announced Dec. 19, in the Destin Log and will be recognized by the mayor at the Jan. 4, city council meeting. Make nominations by calling (850) 650-1241 or email

CHELCO Presents Check to United Way
United Way of Okaloosa Walton Counties - ChelcoSteve Rhodes, CEO of CHELCO in DeFuniak Springs, presents check for $30,838.94 to Ronda Davenport of United Way of Okaloosa Walton County. CHELCO participated in the United Way's “Pacesetter Campaign." CHELCO was committed to having its campaign early to help set the pace for the community campaign and to increase its campaign by 20%. 

Belk Contributes $5,000 to United Way
United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties - BelkJohn Eller, store manager for Belk Department Store in Destin, presents a $5,000 corporate contribution to Betty Brassell of First City Bank, the 2015 Campaign Chair for the United Way of Okaloosa Walton County. This contribution represents one of the core values at Belk, which is to be involved in the local community and to give back in ways that will make a positive difference in the lives of its associates and customers. 

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast Earns Top Performer Recognition
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast has been recognized as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of healthcare organizations in the United States. Sacred Heart Hospital was recognized as part of The Joint Commission’s 2015 annual report “America’s Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety,” for attaining and sustaining excellence in heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, and perinatal care accountability performance measures. 

All American Jeep Show Raises Money for Shelter House
Shelter House, Inc.More than 500 Jeep enthusiasts turned out to the 2nd All American Jeep Show at Old Spanish Trail Park in Crestview to show off their vehicles and raise money for Shelter House. The weekend-long event brought in $12,514 to support domestic and sexual violence victims in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Jeep show attendees were treated to a broad range of Jeeps on display, awards, a silent auction, Jeep poker run, bounce houses, and a demonstration by the Crestview Fire Department. 

Tuscany Italian Bistro Helps Raise $50,000 for Children in Crisis
Children In Crisis - Tuscany Italian BistroThe Sugar Sands Charity Golf Classic benefiting Children in Crisis (CIC) and sponsored by Tuscany Italian Bistro raised more than $50,000 to help give a home to local foster children.  The funds will be used to help feed, clothe, and care for the at-risk children living at the CIC Children's Home. The tournament was held at Kelly Plantation, and golfers from all around the panhandle came to enjoy the awesome event.  The day began with a barbeque lunch followed by the Florida Scramble shot-gun start. There was also a pre-registration party the night before hosted byTommy Bahama's Restaurant, Bar & Store.  The tournament cumulated with more than 140 golfers and supporters enjoying a delicious Italian family-style dinner hosted by Tuscany Italian Bistro located in Destin. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, and Allie Noah, CIC development director, receive the donation from Michelle and “Gug” Guglielmo, owner of Tuscany Italian Bistro of Destin.

Blue Marlin Realty Group Hosts Toy Drive Drop
Blue Marlin Realty Group has partnered with Porsche of Destin and GREGG ORR Auto to collect toys for children who will visit the Emergency Room at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast this holiday season. Whether the children are at the local hospital to receive care themselves or for a loved one, the toys bring joy to the children and help make their time in the hospital a little brighter. The community is encouraged to drop unwrapped new or gently used toys at Blue Marlin Realty Group’s Destin or Santa Rosa Beach offices or the GREGG ORR Auto and Porsche of Destin locations before Dec. 18.  The Blue Marlin Realty Group staff will deliver the collected toys prior to Christmas. This is the sixth consecutive year for Blue Marlin Realty Group to host the toy drive, with each year the team collecting more than 150 toys.  

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast Welcomes New Director of Rehabilitation 
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast - Mary Kay CattaneoSacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast announced Mary Kay Cattaneo as the new director of rehabilitation services. Sacred Heart Rehabilitation provides inpatient services at both Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast and Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf, in addition to outpatient physical, occupation, and speech therapy services at clinics in Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, and Apalachicola. Cattaneo joined Sacred Heart Health System in January 2015 as team leader for pediatric therapy. She has experience as a physical therapist, orthopedic program coordinator, and inpatient therapy supervisor. 

36th Emerald Coast HOG Toy Run Helps Kids
Emerald Coast Harley Davidson - Children In Crisis - Children's Advocacy CenterThe 36th Annual Emerald Coast Harley Owners Group Chapter #3605 Toy Run raised more than $13,000 to help the abused children served by the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center(ECCAC) and the at-risk abused and neglected children living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood. More than 600 bikers met at the Sam’s Club parking lot in Ft. Walton Beach and paraded to the Niceville Mullet Festival grounds. Entry fee was $10, and each participant donated a new toy or gift card.  Emerald Coast Harley Davidson of Fort Walton Beach and Sam’s Club sponsored the event again this year. 

Pack 522 Cub Scouts Visit Heritage Museum
Heritage Museum of Northwest FloridaCub Scout Pack 522 toured the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida on Saturday, Nov. 21.  During the program, the scouts learned about Northwest Florida history, the historical significance of the Museum’s building, and created their own Native American pinch pots.  The purpose of the visit was to satisfy one of five requirements needed to earn the Paws for Action badge. The pack is seen here with Amanda Lanum, museum education coordinator. 

20th Annual Sounds of the Season Concert
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) will present the 20th Annual Sounds of the Season on Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., at Village Baptist Church in Destin. This spectacular holiday concert features six Destin churches collaborating with sacred and Christmas classics from Coastline Calvary ChapelDestin United Methodist, Destin Assembly of God, First Baptist of Destin, Grace Lutheran, and Village Baptist churches.  Each church will perform on stage with special musical soloists and ensembles and accompanied by more than 60 singing voices participating in the Community Chorus. The Emerald Coast Theatre Company will be present to welcome attendees in full Charles Dickens costumes to add a festive atmosphere in celebration of the 20th anniversary season finale concert. Admission is a donation of an unwrapped child’s toy to be distributed among the participating church’s outreach ministries. The toy donations have provided a brighter Christmas to more than 1,200 disadvantaged families during the holidays. A love offering at intermission will benefit the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s “All Kinds of Art,” an educational outreach program. For more information, call (850) 650-2226 or visit online at  

Santa Arrives at Destin Commons with Fireworks Finalé
Destin Commons - Bass Pro ShopsOn a perfect fall evening in November, thousands of families came out to welcome Santa at Destin Commons. Santa arrived in a parade and magically lit the enormous 50’ holiday tree. The evening concluded with an exhilarating fireworks finalĂ©. Miles Williams and siblings Chloe and Seth Mountcastle won a Facebook contest and got the thrill of riding with Santa in the parade in a Bass Pro boat. Kids can visit Santa at Bass Pro Shops Winter Wonderland throughout the holidays.

Young Marines Donate to Children in Crisis
Children In CrisisMembers of the Young Marines presented a donation check for $500 to Children in Crisis (CIC). The donation will help provide a home, food, clothing, and care for the foster children living at the CIC Neighborhood. Each year about 100 foster children have a safe, secure home at CIC thanks to the great support of the community. Seen here, Lauren Walls (center), CIC volunteer and events director, receives the donation from YM/Sgt Ashton Norman (left) and YM/SSgt Michaela Cantwell.

First Command Donates to Museum to Keep History Alive!
Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida - First Command FinancialFirst Command Financial Advisor Fred Semasko presents a check for $1,200 to Gina Marini of theHeritage Museum of Northwest Florida.  The sponsorship and charitable contribution is to support historic preservation and