Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 5

Southern Vacation Rentals Celebrates 20 Years of Excellence
Southern Vacation Rentals – a proud member of the Southern family of companies - is celebrating its 20 years of excellence in the Gulf Coast real estate, hospitality, and property management industries. Founded in 1995 by two sets of brothers, Mike and Brad Shoults and Kevin and Kerry Veach, Southern has quickly grown to become one of the largest locally owned companies in the area, garnered with a reputation of integrity, experience, and knowledge of the industry. 

Southern will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a variety of exciting promotions throughout 2015. This includes everything from special sales on vacation homes and condo rentals in Destin, Perdido Key, Gulf Shores, and other areas along the Gulf Coast to social media giveaways and employee appreciation events. Other festivities to mark the momentous year will include local celebrations, recognition of loyal Southern guests, and an exclusive three-night stay in a condo presented to two winners during the year. Learn more about the Southern family of companies, their services and properties at GoSouthern.com

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Debuts in Destin
ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, one of the largest independent retailers of wine and spirits in the U.S., announced the opening of a new location in Destin. Opening in early April at 34715 Emerald Coast Parkway, the new location will be the first in Destin and the second west of Tallahassee.

The new ABC Fine Wine & Spirits will occupy a developing space located in front of The Home Depot. At 13,000-square-feet, the new store will be bigger than the average ABC store, and it will feature an 18-door beer cooler and offer more than 500 beers, 5,000 wines, 2,000 rare and popular spirits, 400 cigars, gourmet foods, custom gift baskets, glassware, and other related items. Locally brewed craft beers sold at the Destin store will include Pensacola Bay Brewery.

Free Tax Preparation
Free Tax Preparation is available through the United Way of Okaloosa & Walton Counties Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. If you are in need of assistance and earned less than $52,000 in 2014, contact the following sites: 
- Goodwill Easter Seals, Ft. Walton Beach, by appointment only, call (251) 433-4900 
- First Presbyterian Church, Crestview, first come-first serve assistance from 3 – 5 p.m., only on Friday, March 27, and Friday, April 10
For a list of required documents that must be brought to your appointment, visit United-Way.org/VITA.htm. To volunteer for VITA, call (850) 598-4945. 

Pre-Game Activities Promote Reading at Wahoos’ Stadium
Families are invited to “Hit a Home Run for Early Literacy” during a pre-game WSRE Imagination Station event at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium on Sunday, April 12, from 2 – 4 p.m. The first 100 families in attendance will receive a free “Bats at the Ballgame” book. Activities are themed around the popular children’s book by Brian Lies and include meet and greet with Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball players from 2:30 – 3 p.m.; appearances by Kazoo, “Readmore” The Dolphin, and the PBS KIDS characters; signup for free membership to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Kids Club; and access to Imagination Station games and more. After the 4 p.m. game, kids can enjoy a “Fun Run for Reading” around the bases and a special jumbotron presentation of “Bats at the Ballgame” read by local dignitaries and familiar personalities.

All Types of Vendor Openings for 39th Saturday in the Park Festival
The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida has openings for all types of vendors at the 39th Saturday in the Park Heritage Festival on April 25. Vendor spaces are available for art/craft/antique, non-profit/government agencies and clubs, community sponsors, re-enactors, and traditional craft demonstrators. Fees vary. For information, visit Heritage-Museum.org or call (850) 678-2615. 

Destin Bay House Completes Renovations 
The Destin Bay House – Northwest Florida’s premier event venue – is pleased to announce the completion of a redesigned space just in time for the spring season. Although the Bay House opened four short years ago, it has quickly emerged as a forerunner in the event industry, hosting everything from family reunions and corporate event to rehearsal dinners and weddings. The renovations, which include major overhauls and minor refinishes, will help to create a space that sets the Bay House further apart from the competition.

Improvements to the iconic 1950s home can be seen in the converted storage space that adds another outlet to personalize the layout, the refinished bar, and additions to onsite amenities. With these features, the Bay House will be better suited to cater to individual needs and create memories that will last a lifetime. For more information about the Destin Bay House and hosting an event, visit the DestinBayHouse.com.

4th Annual Food For Thought Golf Tournament
Thursday, April 9
Presented by Sunburst Beach Vacations and A Superior Air Conditioning Company
Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club
We've still got spots left for teams and sponsorship opportunities are available. To register a team or to become a sponsor, click here.

Students to Restore Dunes
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 2014-2015 school year, around 500 students at four middle schools participated in Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance’s (CBA) Dunes in Schools Program. 

Dunes in Schools encourages students to develop an interest in the local coastal environment by growing sea oats at their school. Throughout April, these students will see the hands-on, science program full circle by taking a field trip to the beach to plant their sea oats. Rotating through stations, students will not only explore the habitat they learned about all year, but will also plant their sea oats at a state park restoration site. Together, students at Emerald Coast Middle School, Destin Middle School, Shoal River Middle School and Seaside Neighborhood School will help to restore the dunes at three state parks by planting more than 1,000 sea oats. For more information, please contact Brittany Tate at (850)217-5382 or tateb@nwfsc.edu

Drama and Musical Theater Summer Camps for Kids
Summertime means letting your heart sing. Emerald Coast Theatre Company (ECTC), a not-for-profit professional theater company based in Miramar Beach, has launched its 2015 summer theater camps series designed with kids in mind. ECTC’s third annual children’s theater summer series, presented with support from the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, features three exciting programs. Dates and locations are as follows:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
June 15–20, South Walton Campus of Northwest Florida State College, Santa Rosa Beach
June 22–27, Destin Elementary School, Destin
July 6-–11, A Class Act Studios, 80 Miracle Strip Parkway S.E., Unit 5, Fort Walton Beach

Camp Broadway 
July 6–10, Seaside Neighborhood School

Disney’s “Peter Pan Jr.” Musical Theater Camp in partnership with Rise Dance Studios
July 13–25 at Rise Dance Center, 4489 AB Commons Drive West, Destin (in shopping center near The Fresh Market)

For more information, visit EmeraldCoastTheatre.org

Fundraising Event For Local Nonprofit
The 360 Blue Foundation will be hosting These Boots Are Made For Giving - its premiere fundraising event at Arnett's Gulfside Stables in Santa Rosa Beach on the evening of May 9. Come out for a delicious dinner and stay for the fabulous live entertainment provided by the extremely talented Daphne Willis, who recently co-wrote a song with Megan Trainor. Daphne and her band will be performing original music, as well as a variety of classic cover songs. Don't forget to check out the awesome silent auction items! All proceeds benefit the 360 Blue Foundation and its goal of contributing to the end of extreme poverty worldwide by providing the resources needed for success to those who need it the most - especially those living on less than $1.25 a day. 

In 2015, the Foundation partnered with buildOn and committed to building two (three, funds permitting) schools in Burkina Faso, Africa. In February, a small number of 360 Bue staff traveled to the country and began construction on the first school of the year in the small village of Roure. 

If you or your business would like to donate something to be auctioned off at the event, please contact sarah@360blue.com. Tickets to the event are currently on sale and may be purchased here

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast Launches Interactive Patient Care System
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast will launch the GetWellNetwork® interactive patient care system on March 31, to help educate, engage, and empower patients in its care. The system helps patients and their families take an active role in their health care, which results in improved patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. 

The GetWellNetwork will be installed in all inpatient rooms. Utilizing an in-room television, patients will receive customized education on their condition and medications, learn about various patient safety and infection control initiatives, and provide feedback on pain management measures. A direct link to various hospital services, such as ordering a meal or making a service request, are also available at the click of a button. Entertainment options, such as movies, shows, and games, round out the patient experience system. 

Property Tax Installment Plan Available
Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson is pleased to announce that taxpayers can now register for the Property Tax Installment Plan online. By utilizing the Installment Plan option, taxpayers receive a 3.375% discount, and payments may be divided into four payments over a one year period. To participate in the Tax Installment Plan, complete an Installment Application located on the Tax Collector’s website at OkaloosaTax.com. Click on the green “Taxes” link on the right side of the webpage. You will be directed to search for your account/property. Once you have located your account, select the green button labeled “Apply for the 2015 Installment Plan.” The application must be submitted no later than April 30. 

Emerald Coast Magazine Presents 2015 Emerald Coast Top Salon Competition
One of the Emerald Coast’s most highly-anticipated charity events is back for its fourth year. Emerald Coast Top Salon gathers a who’s who of the salon industry for a night of makeovers, music, food, and fun. This year’s event is Friday, April 10, at 7 p.m. at the newly remodeled Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa.

This year’s event, presented by Emerald Coast magazine, is made possible by presenting sponsor Dr. Dennis Lichorwic and The Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry. Additional sponsors include BluePrint Health StudioHilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Marsha Doll Models, and Emerald Coast Functional Family Medicine. 

The 11 top salons selected to compete for the 2015 title and their chosen charity include: Avantgarde Salon (Emerald Coast Advocacy Center); C’est La Vie (Taylor Haugen Foundation); Euphoria (Rescued Rescuers: Dachsunds & Friends); Fushion Spa Salon Sandestin (Shelter House); La Renaissance (Sacred Heart Cancer Center); Pure & Couture (Fisher House Emerald Coast); Rollands Beauty Bar (Impact 100 NW Florida); Sanabella Spa and Salon (E.O. Wilson Biophili Center); Serenity by the sea (Bay Area Foodbank); Cutting Room Salon & Spa (Wounded Warrior Project); and The Kat House (Autism Speaks).

For more information about the 2015 Emerald Coast Top Salon competition, visit EmeraldCoastMagazine.com

RE/MAX Southern Celebrates Annual Awards
RE/MAX Southern Realty – one of the largest teams providing real estate services in Northwest Florida – held its annual awards celebrating another successful year and honoring its many well-regarded agents. Longtime RE/MAX Southern agent Susie Kirkland ranked as the firm’s Top Sales Volume and Transactions leader for 2014, as well as the Destin Team’s Top Listing Agent and Top Sales Transactions. The Individual Top Listing Awards were presented to Matt Williams of the Destin office and Jim Murphy of Panama City Beach. Rounding out the awards is RE/MAX Southern agent Carole Pleasants, who in addition to receiving the brand’s Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, ranked high among agents in 2014 for Top Sales Commission Earned. RE/MAX Southern congratulates its top earning agents who have strived to uphold the greatest service, courtesy and professionalism that firm can offer. For more information about RE/MAX Southern Realty and their outstanding agents, visit REMAXSouthern.com.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Travinia Italian Kitchen Offers Beautiful Setting for March After Hours

Thank you to Travinia Italian Kitchen for hosting our March 26 Business After Hours! We appreciate the hospitality shown by Matt and his entire staff. Guests were treated to Italian nachos and beverages on the beautiful patio.

Please click here for more photos from the event.

Thank you for the door prizes!
- World Impact Real Estate

Please join us on April 23 for our Business After Hours at Boathouse Oyster Bar! You do not want to miss this annual favorite event.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

White Sands Inn & Suites Renovation Complete
Destin Lodging, LLC is pleased to announce the completion of its 1-million-dollar renovation project of the White Sands Inn & Suites. The newly remodeled hotel, located at 4415 Commons Dr. E., is an 83-room hotel property, featuring a variety of room types. Each guest room features free high-speed Internet access, cable television with HBO®, a microwave, and a refrigerator. The hotel offers a complimentary full hot breakfast and features a heated outdoor pool and spa, exercise room, and an onsite laundry facility. The hotel is just a 5 minute drive to the sugar sand beaches and emerald waters of the Emerald Coast. The convenience of our location offers each guest easy access to local attractions and many outdoor activities. Hotel guests will be close to a variety of restaurants (Longhorn SteakhouseBonefish Grill, and many more) all within walking distance of the property. The White Sands Inn & Suites is located adjacent to the Shoppes of Paradise Key, just .5 miles from Destin Commons, 5 miles from the Silver Sands Premium Outlets, and 5 miles from the Destin Harbor.

Tax Deadline Approaching
Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson would like to remind citizens that March 31 is the deadline to pay their 2014 Real Estate Property Taxes and Tangible Personal Property Taxes. Property taxes not paid by March 31 become delinquent and will be subject to delinquency interest and advertising fees, which are added to the gross amount due. Visit OkaloosaTax.com to pay online.

Another payment option for tax payers to consider is the Property Tax Installment Plan. This option is now available for the 2015 tax year. The Installment Plan divides the annual taxes into four (4) payments – due June, September, December, and March. The Installment Plan provides for 3.3% discount and adds the convenience of spreading out payments instead of one lump sum payment. Applications for the Installment Plan are accepted until April 30, 2015, and may be found in the “Forms Center” at OkaloosaTax.com.

dressbarn introduces the DRESSBAR
Introducing the DRESSBAR at dressbarn. Since 1962, dressbarn has been the not-so-secret weapon of women who look for value in what they wear, as much as they do fit and style and… fun! With the debut of the DRESSBAR at dressbarn, a chicly curated collection of dresses, we’ve upped the ante on style and designer fashion, without lowering our 50+ year standard on value. Visit dressbarn.com.

Destin Water Users Honored with Excellence Award for Fourth Consecutive Year
Destin Water Users (DWU) was honored with the 2014 Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Plant Operations Excellence Award for Drinking Water at the Annual Florida Rural Water Association (FRWA) Focus On Change Seminar in Panama City on Feb. 19. The annual Plant Excellence Awards program is one of the ways the DEP recognizes public drinking water and domestic wastewater facilities that demonstrate excellence in operation, maintenance, compliance, innovative treatment, waste reduction, pollution prevention, conservation, recycling, and other special achievements. This was the fourth consecutive year Destin Water Users was recognized with this award, and the 12th time overall.

ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals® Participates as Official Lodging Sponsor of South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival
Wyndham Vacation Rentals® announced that its ResortQuest brand will serve as the Official Lodging Sponsor of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival taking place from April 23 - 26, at Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. The festival includes numerous events throughout the weekend, such as a charity wine auction, culinary village, wine and food tastings, and seminars, as well as a Nashville Songwriters Showcase. There will be more than 800 wines available for tasting and purchase in addition to celebrity winemaker, chef and craft brew master appearances.

As a proud sponsor of the South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is offering 20 percent off select properties at TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort. In addition, ResortQuest guests can enjoy discounted festival tickets and are encouraged to take advantage of complimentary shuttle service, which will be available throughout the weekend. Book online using Promo Code VINO. 

Okaloosa County EMT Recipient of a HERO Award
Tim Busby, Okaloosa County emergency medical technician (EMT), was transporting a patient to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center when he witnessed a near head on collision. He was presented with the HERO award at the March 17 County Commission Meeting for his care of the patient he was transporting, along with four patients from the accident. By keeping a calm demeanor and thinking clearly, Busby was able to request the proper resources to respond, assists the two medical helicopters and two ground units responding to the scene, pass on an excellent report to the local incident command, and care for the patients. He provided vital information needed to facilitate transport of the patients to trauma centers in the area.

The Humanitarian Efforts Recognized by Okaloosa County (HERO) award recognizes employees who not only go beyond the scope of what his or her job entails, but has done something of a humanitarian or heroic nature. The HERO Award can include acts occurring outside work hours and submissions by people outside Okaloosa County staff. Above and Beyond forms are available online at OkaloosaFL.com or you may contact 311 Citizen Information Line for more information or to recognize an Okaloosa County employee.

Okaloosa Beach Safety Selected Beach Patrol of the Year
Okaloosa County Beach Safety was presented the 2014 Beach Patrol of the Year award by the Florida Beach Patrol Chiefs Association and the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA)-Southeast Region. The award was presented at the 21st Annual Florida State Surf Lifesaving Awards Banquet recently held on Okaloosa Island. The process looks for a Beach Patrol that sets themselves apart through their programs and statistics, competing with larger organizations from Miami, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale to name a few.

McDaniel Elected Florida Emergency Preparedness Association Area One Governor
Okaloosa County Emergency Management Chief Randy McDaniel has been elected as the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA), Area One Governor. Area One consists of 10 counties from Escambia to the Apalachicola River. McDaniel will serve on the FEPA Board of Directors for a two-year period representing area one, as well as serve on the FEPA Membership and Awards Committee and the Public Private Partnership Committee. FEPA was created in 1957 to help professional Emergency Managers work to protect the people of Florida.

Borcyk Earns Certified Infection Control Credential
The Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC®) has announced that Wendy Borcyk, infection control nurse at Twin Cities Hospital, has earned the Certified in Infection Control (CIC®) credential and has demonstrated a mastery of infection prevention and control knowledge by taking and passing this comprehensive examination. Certification is maintained through successful completion of a recertification examination every five years.

Okaloosa County Interim HR Director Receives Certification
GinNeal McVay recently became the interim human resources director for Okaloosa County, replacing Kay Godwin who accepted the position as deputy administrator. McVay also became a Certified Professional by the Society of Human Resources Management, (SHRM-CP), in addition to her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification that she already possesses. She was also to serve as the 2015 Accreditation Chair of the Emerald Coast Chapter of SHRM.

“Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” begins March 30 on WSRE
WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, will air “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” the three-part, six-hour documentary series directed by award-winning filmmaker Barak Goodman and executive produced by Ken Burns, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, March 30 through April 1, at 8 p.m. The series is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” (Simon & Schuster 2010) by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D. 

Sacred Heart to Host an Evening with the Spine Experts
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast will host an evening with the experts event featuring spine health on Monday, April 13, at 6 p.m., at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Miramar Beach. Guest speakers include Dr. Kornelis Poelstra, Dr. Charles Wingo, and Dr. John Britt, board certified orthopedic spine surgeons. Attendees will learn about the latest advancements in spine surgery and meet the team from Sacred Heart’s comprehensive Spine Center. Attendees will also learn about Sacred Heart’s new, robotic guidance system for spine surgery. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served. Seating is limited. Call (850) 278-3600 to register. 

Okaloosa County Launches New Website
Okaloosa County’s new, improved website is now live. “It has been almost 10 years since the web site has been updated, and is designed to make it easier to find what you are looking for through navigation buttons and additional links on the home page,” said Commission Chairman Nathan Boyles.

“We expedited publishing the site so that RESTORE applications could be submitted from the web site; therefore, the site is still “under construction,” said Kathy Newby, public information officer. “We do expect a few “glitches,” and requests your patience – it will get a little more streamlined and improve each day.” The web address hasn’t changed, visit OkaloosaFL.com.

L3 Communications designed the new web site for Okaloosa County, with a content management system to allow the county to do a lot of the work, as well as continue to update the website. L3 Communications provided technical expertise and experience in networking, networking equipment, fiber connections, web site design, VoIP, routing, switching, administration, analysis, installation, security, storage, virtual environments and email to handle the large, secure site of the county. 

Air Force Enlisted Village Mourns the Passing of President and CEO, CMSAF James C. Binnicker, USAF, Ret. 
A memorial service for CMASF James C. Binnicker, USAF, Ret., will be held on Saturday, March 28, at 2 p.m., at the Emerald Coast Convention Center. See below for the Air Force Enlisted Village’s (AFEV) official press release about Binnicker’s passing and his leadership of the AFEV.

Great sadness is felt throughout the Air Force Enlisted Village today as we announce the passing of our President and CEO, CMSAF James C. Binnicker, USAF, Ret. this morning on March 21. Our prayers are with the Chief’s family. 

Binnicker has served as AFEV’s president and CEO for the past 15 years ensuring a meaningful quality of life for more than 500 residents at Bob Hope Village, Teresa Village, and our assisted living and memory care community, the Hawthorn House.

“Chief was loved and admired by people around the world, and he was able to connect across every generation,” AFEV Board of Directors Chairman SMSgt Dennis “Nick” Nicholson, USAF, Ret. said. “He exhibited grace, poise, and class in every situation. His enduring memory will be one of service to his nation and his community.”

Binnicker’s dream for Bob Hope Village included construction of an assisted living community, which opened under his tenure in 2005, and also the development of modern independent living units at Bob Hope Village, which is currently under construction.

Mentor to staff and employees, dear friend and caretaker to our residents at Bob Hope Village, Teresa Village, and Hawthorn House, Binnicker will be remembered for his kind heart and his caring spirit. As AFEV PCEO, he instituted a philosophy, which became our core values, known as The Mom Rule. The Mom Rule ensured that staff and employees treated all residents with dignity and respect as they would treat their own moms.

Binnicker also served 33 years in the United States Air Force. During his career, he served in many locations including Oklahoma, Hawaii, North Dakota, Vietnam, Taiwan, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and the Pentagon. He was a life support specialist, air operations superintendent, Vietnamese linguist, First Sergeant, and Command Chief Master Sergeant. He was Chief of Enlisted Retention and later appointed Assistant for Chief Master Sergeant Matters, Air Force Personnel Center. He served on the President’s Commission on Military Compensation; Senior Enlisted Advisor for the 4th Fighter Wing, 12th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces and Tactical Air Command. His three decades of service culminated in his selection as the Ninth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force where he served as the advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force/Air Force Chief of Staff on matters concerning welfare, effective utilization, and progress of the enlisted members of the USAF.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Four Points by Sheraton Paradise Cove & Kiwi's Relaunch Party & Ribbon Cutting
The Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach is celebrating the completion of a $3+ million dollar renovation. The renovation was completed in stages that correlated with the off-season at the hotel. The overhaul covered most of the property's vast 9+ acres and focused on all public spaces, including the (3) F&B outlets and the open air, modern lobby, which features Dempsey’s restaurant/lounge. Join us on March 19, for a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m., followed by a reception with food and drink until 6:30 p.m. Please RSVP to Brandy Heuer at brandy.heuer@fourpointsdestinfwb.com.

ResortQuest Real Estate® Congratulates Top Producers of 2014
ResortQuest Real Estate announced its 2014 top producers at its annual banquet held at the Emerald Coast Convention Center earlier this month. 

The Nathan Abbott Team of the Destin office received highest honors for top closed production in 2014 by achieving $43.1 million in total sales volume. Janette Klein of the Miramar Beach office received runner up for total production with $22.8 million in sales volume, and Mary Fletcher of the TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort office received highest honors for top closed production by a single agent with $10.5 million. The rest of “Top 10 Producers for 2014” includes the following: 
The Mary Stephens Team, Seagrove Beach - $17.9M
John Tait and Peter Burke “On the Coast Team,” TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort - $12M
Caroline and Chip Wasson “The Wasson Group,” Destin - $11.6M
Eddie Krasauskas, Santa Rosa Beach - $9M
Destin Stegner, Destin - $8.9M
Kevin Kramer, Okaloosa Island - $8.8M 
Rick and Dale Martinez, Ariel Dunes - $8.2M 

White Sands Inn & Suites Renovation Complete
Destin Lodging, LLC is pleased to announce the completion of its 1-million-dollar renovation project of the White Sands Inn & Suites. The newly remodeled hotel, located at 4415 Commons Dr. E., is an 83-room hotel property, featuring a variety of room types. Each guest room features free high-speed Internet access, cable television with HBO®, a microwave, and a refrigerator. The hotel offers a complimentary full hot breakfast and features a heated outdoor pool and spa, exercise room, and an onsite laundry facility. The hotel is just a 5 minute drive to the sugar sand beaches and emerald waters of the Emerald Coast. The convenience of our location offers each guest easy access to local attractions and many outdoor activities. Hotel guests will be close to a variety of restaurants (Longhorn SteakhouseBonefish Grill, and many more) all within walking distance of the property. The White Sands Inn & Suites is located adjacent to the Shoppes of Paradise Key, just .5 miles from Destin Commons, 5 miles from the Silver Sands Premium Outlets, and 5 miles from the Destin Harbor.

Emerald Coast Billiards Opens Game Room
Emerald Coast Billiards Game Room is now open. Come join us to shoot a few games of pool, throw some darts, and enjoy an ice cold beer, glass of wine, or snack. The Game Room is also available for private parties (21 yrs+ and over). See a member of our staff to learn more.

Sacred Heart Pioneers the Region’s Only Mazor Robotic Spine System
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast now offers Mazor Robotics Renaissance®, a state-of-the-art guidance system for spine surgery.

“Adding robotic accuracy to our minimally invasive spine surgery program at Sacred Heart Hospital provides a unique service not available anywhere else in Northwest Florida,” states Dr. Kornelis Poelstra, orthopedic spine surgeon and director of the Spine Center at Sacred Heart.

The Mazor Robot is a precision guidance arm that accurately maps the individual’s customized surgery plan. Before entering the operating room, Poelstra uses Renaissance to pre-plan the optimal surgery in a CT-based 3D simulation of the patient’s spine. During surgery, Renaissance guides the surgeon’s hand and tools to the precise pre-planned location.

Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard Receive Top Honors 
Howard Hospitality announced that the Courtyard and Residence Innby Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard have both received top honors for performance and achievements in 2014. Both hotel properties were recognized out of thousands of Marriott hotels worldwide at the 2015 Marriott General Managers Conference in Washington DC in February.

The Courtyard by Marriott Sandestin received the Platinum Hotel Award for its overall customer service satisfaction scores ranking in the top one percent out of 1,000 Courtyard hotels worldwide. Tania Koehler received the Diamond General Manager of the Year award for the Courtyard as one of three recipients out of 1,000 general managers. Lastly, the Courtyard by Marriott Sandestin received third place in the entire brand for its Guest Arrival Experience.

The Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin received the Gold Hotel Award for its overall customer service satisfaction scores ranking in the top 10 percent out of 667 Residence Inn hotels worldwide. Tania Koehler also received the Diamond General Manager of the Year award for the Residence Inn as one of three recipients out of 667 general managers.

2014 Dr. Frist Humanitarian Award Recipients Announced
Twin Cities Hospital announced its recipients of the 2014 Dr. Frist Humanitarian Awards. At a luncheon in Niceville, David Whalen, CEO, presented awards to Dr. Mark Schroeder, Wendy Borcyk (employee), and Wanda Stapleton (volunteer). These individuals are now eligible for the Nationwide 2014 Dr. Frist Humanitarian Award, the highest honor an employee, volunteer, and physician can receive at HCA, the parent company of Twin Cities Hospital. In addition to a framed certificate and lapel pin, the recipients also received monetary allocations to be donated to the charitable organization(s) of their choice. 

Taco & Tequila Fest 
All things tacos and tequila were celebrated with a sold out crowd of more than 1,600 people on the Destin Harbor last Saturday, March 7, at HarborWalk Village. Local restaurants Harry T's LighthouseJackacudas Seafood Sushi, and many others showcased delicious traditional and modern tacos, while Sauza Tequila and Hornitos showcased their signature tequilas, debuting a few of their specialty tequilas. A portion of the proceeds helped to raise $3, 500 for the Salvation Army. 

Others of Destin Searching for New Home
The OTHERS of Destin, a non-profit providing a variety of support services to the underserved in Walton and Okaloosa counties, is searching for a new home. It has been housed in the Destin United Methodist Church, which is about to undergo a total remodel and will repurpose the space in which the non-profit currently resides. OTHERS is seeking office space and building/warehouse space of approximately 2,000 square feet. The preference is that it be something zoned for industrial use, but it will consider all offers.

Founded in 2013, OTHERS has gained a reputation for serving individuals and families faced with a wide range of challenges, including poverty, homelessness, and job loss. Services are tailored to meet the needs and preferences of those served using a holistic approach focused toward achieving self-sufficiency. Collaboration with other service and support entities in the community is emphasized. This winter, OTHERS organized the cold night shelter at Destin United Methodist Church, which served 513 people over 27 days. Seven churches assisted it in this effort.

If you are able to provide the needed space, please contact OTHERS Executive Director CC Fearson atcfearson@othersofdestin.com or (850) 543-3960. Donation of the space is tax deductible. If you would like to lend your support to the organization, volunteers are welcome, and training is provided.

Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel Selected NWF Social Worker of the Year 
The Florida Chapter’s Northwest Unit of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has selected Okaloosa County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel as Social Worker of the Year. This Social Work award is given as a result of a lifetime of contributions to the field of Social Policy and specifically to the field of Social Work. Ketchel was elected Okaloosa County Commissioner as the only female currently on the Commission, and the first Licensed Clinical Social Worker to hold office in Northwest Florida.

4th Seering Concert Pushes Total Contributions to More Than $70K
Accomplished musician and performer David Seering, accompanied by pianist Bobby Van Deusen and vocalists Amanda Holmes and Geoff McBride, delighted a sell-out crowd, raising almost $24,000 forChildren in Crisis (CIC). This pushed the four-year total to more than $70,000 for the CIC children. The concert was held last weekend at the Village Baptist Church in Destin, and all proceeds were donated to help feed, clothe and care for the foster children living at the CIC Children’s Neighborhood. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, receives the check from Seering.

United Way Presents Three Major Awards
Three major awards were presented during the United Way’s 58th Annual Business Meeting, held recently at the Niceville Community Center. The first award was presented by 2014 Fund Distribution Chairs Betty Brassell, Patricia Davis, and Kim Cox, which recognized the Children’s Volunteer Health Network (CVHN) as the United Way Partner Agency of the Year. Seen here with Brassell, Davis, and Cox are Zach Billingsley, CVHN CEO, and Kim Kelley.

Also, Outgoing Board Chair Martha Miller saluted Okaloosa County Deputy Sheriffs Jay Jones and Eric Aiden, as Volunteers of the Year, for going beyond expectations for Loaned Executives during the 2014 United Way Campaign. 2014 Campaign Chair Walter Hooks presented the first ever Robinson Trophy for Best Campaign Performance to the Publix Stores of Okaloosa and Walton counties. The Robinson Trophy is a silver loving cup etched with a caricature of Bill Robinson and will become a traveling trophy each year. Robinson raised more than $42 million in his 25 year career as executive of the local United Way.

Kids Tag Art Project Helps Elementary Art Departments
The Okaloosa County Tax Collector, in partnership with the Okaloosa County School District, announced the results of the recent Kids Tag Art fundraiser and art contest. It raised $9,091 for participating elementary schools at a time when money for art curriculum is hard to find. The Tax Collector’s Choice award went to Shalimar Elementary 5th grader Cheyann Henry-Houston. Anderson and Cheyann are pictured placing her winning tag on his vehicle. Anderson said he will have her tag on his vehicle until another winner is announced next year. Award of Distinction winning tags are available for sale at OkaloosaTax.com. Proceeds from public sales go to the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation and will be evenly divided among participating schools.

ResortQuest® by Wyndham Vacation Rentals-Managed Property to Host Annual Tennis Tournament
Wyndham Vacation Rentals® announced that TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort, a ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals-managed property, will again host the 32nd Annual Helen Drake Invitational tennis tournament, April 15 – 19. The Invitational is a sanctioned United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournament where approximately 300 players compete within their age division for points on their state and national ranking. Interested players may register online at USTA.com, selecting TennisLink, and searching by identification number 150100615 on the Tournament tab. Booking details and additional information about TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort may be found here: http://www.wyndhamvacationrentals.com/vacation-rentals/florida/northwest-florida/destination/resort/topsl-beach-racquet-resort.

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County Joins Forces with Food for Thought Outreach to Present the Full Plate Project
Want to help a hungry child and support the art programs in Walton County Schools? Then step up to the plate and bring your creative best to the table for the Full Plate Project. As part of its new pARTnership program, The Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA) will team up with Food for Thought Outreach to raise funds for these two worthy causes. The Full Plate Project is a community-wide art project that will raise funds for critical programs in Walton County through the creation and sale of painted plates. Artists of all ages and skill-levels will transform plates into works of art that will be exhibited and sold at the ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival May 8-10. For details, click here: http://www.culturalartsalliance.com/node/699.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mayor Shares His High Five Values for Destin

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our March 10 Leaders In Business LunchDestin Mayor Mel Ponder shared his State of the City Report and the High Five Values for which he would like Destin to be known - Family, Hospitality, Honor, Opportunity, and Generations. We appreciate his goals, his sincerity, and his leadership. Thank you, Mayor Ponder!

 Click here to see more photos from the event. 

Thank you to those donating door prizes, including the following:
Coastal Accounting of NW Florida, PA
Eglin Federal Credit Union
Emerald Coast Chiropractic
- Glass Doctor
- Gulf Power
- Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida
- Life's A Beach
- Massage Envy Spa Destin
- Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation
Northwest Florida State College
- Xtreme Sports Fan Team Merchandise & Fan Gear 

Join us on April 14 for our Leaders In Business Lunch at Tops'l Beach & Racquet Resort. Register by 3 p.m., on Friday, April 10, and be eligible to win FREE advertising on DestinChamber.com!