Tuesday, June 10, 2014

May 2014 Business Briefs / Member News

Crestview Exchange Club Donates to Children in Crisis
The Exchange Club of Crestview showed its great support to Children in Crisis by donating a mountain of paper products for the CIC foster homes. This is one of the most used items in caring for the children. Pictured from left to right are Carolyn Knudson, Cheri Pittman, Liezele Wtulich, Ken Hair (CIC President & CEO), Karen Helms, Kathy Warren, and Sharlene Cox. For details, visit www.childrenincrisisfl.org.

Okaloosa Airports Receive BBB+ Standard & Poor’s Rating for 4th Consecutive Year
Okaloosa County Airports presented recent activity and financial results to analysts from Standard & Poor’s (S&P), as part of S&P’s annual review of the rating on the Airport System’s outstanding bonds. The Airport System includes the Northwest Florida Regional Airport, Destin Airport, and Bob Sikes Airport. S&P affirmed the BBB+ rating with a stable outlook, for the fourth consecutive year. For more information, call the Citizen’s Information Line at 311.

Niceville-Valparaiso Rotary Donates to Museum
Bill Higginbotham of the Rotary Club of Niceville-Valparaiso presents a check for $600 to Gina Marini of the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida. The donation was from the sale of water and soda at the museum’s 38th Saturday in the Park, held April 26. For details, visit www.heritage-museum.org.

Chopin Joins Sandestin as Executive Chef
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort announced the appointment Eric Chopin to the position of executive chef. Chopin is a professional chef with more than 30 years of experience. Born in Guerande, Brittany, France, Chopin has been seasoning his way through the cooking world in Europe and America. Beginning his cooking experience at the early age of 14 in Paris as a charcutier, Chopin is classically trained in the art of making delicious, unique pastry, and savory masterpieces, while always respecting their natural flavors and textures. For details, visit www.sandestin.com.

CareerSource Okaloosa Walton Announces Grant

CareerSource Okaloosa Walton Board of Directors, National Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) representatives, and the August Warrior Project Executive Director will announce the Community Integration - Panhandle Warrior Connection grant on June 11. The Panhandle Warrior Connection grant will be implemented by CareerSource Okaloosa Walton. It is made possible by a grant from the National Wounded Warrior Project and is administered solely through the Augusta Warrior Project. CareerSource Okaloosa Walton is one of five communities in the nation selected for the Community Integration initiative. For details, visit www.jobsplusonestop.com.

Hidden Dunes Beach & Tennis Resort Among Top 50

Hidden Dunes Beach & Tennis Resort was named a “Silver Medal Resort,” by Tennis Resorts Online, ranking the Miramar Beach resort among the top 50 tennis resorts for a third consecutive year. Hidden Dunes Beach & Tennis Resort features six championship clay Rubico courts and consistently receives high marks for overall tennis experience, tennis staff, instruction and game matching. For details, visit www.HiddenDunesDestin.com.

Sacred Heart Hospital Awarded for Patient Engagement Efforts

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast has been recognized for its patient engagement efforts in the first National Patient Engagement Ranking by Axial Exchange, Inc., a pioneer in using mobile apps to deepen the patient’s role in improving outcomes, and Becker’s Hospital Review, a leading healthcare trade publication. Patient engagement is the process by which patients take charge of their own health. Ranked at number 23 out of 3,077 hospitals nationwide, Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast secured the highest ranking in the state of Florida. For details, visit www.sacredheartemerald.org

ResortQuest Real Estate® Congratulates Top Producers

ResortQuest Real Estate recently announced the April top producers for its offices from Perdido Key to Panama City Beach. The Nathan Abbott Team of the Destin office received highest honors for top closed listings, and Janette Klein of the Miramar Beach office received top honors for top closed sales for the month of April out of more than 100 ResortQuest Realtors. 4840 to reach any of these offices. For details, visit RQEmeraldCoastRealEstate.com or follow Facebook.com/ResortQuestGulfCoast

School District Raises Funds for CIC
More than 20 schools from Okaloosa County participated in the annual Change for Children Campaign during the 2013-2014 year. The schools raised more than $23,000 in change to Children In Crisis (CIC). Schools that participated used creative ways like holding a bake sale, to collect change at their school. Antioch Elementary School was the winner from the Okaloosa County School District and raised $3,683.79. Ruckel Middle School was a close second raising $3,000. Seen here, Antioch Elementary School faculty and students, including Michele Tiller, Dimitri Toran, Alice Thomas, and Hunter Hannefield, present a check to CIC President & CEO Ken Hair. For details, visit www.childrenincrisisfl.org.

Fisher Selected for Prestigious Professional Development Workshop
Nathanael Fisher, co-founder and producing artistic director of Emerald Coast Theatre Company (ECTC), recently was selected by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs to participate in a hands-on workshop presented by the leaders of the Creative Capital Foundation. The three-day professional development workshop, held at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, Fla., is only open to a select group of qualified professional artists. The workshop is designed to provide selected artists with valuable skills and training to ensure that their creative careers are sustainable. It will cover topics such as strategic planning, marketing and promoting your work, and fundraising. For more information, www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org.

MKAF Wins FPRA Awards
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF), with the support of TLC-PR and Design 360, was awarded a Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Golden Image Award, as well as the Grand All Image Award for MKAF’s rebranding campaign and the launch of the enhanced Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village. For details, visit MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org.

Destin Passes Resolution to Ban the Sale of Candy-Flavored Tobacco

The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County (DOH-Okaloosa) and Tobacco Free Florida announced the City of Destin has passed a resolution to ban the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products. Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members from Fort Walton Beach High School presented the resolution to the Destin City Council in April, and it was passed during the May 5 meeting. The City of Destin joins Fort Walton Beach, Laurel Hill, Crestview, Niceville and Okaloosa County in the ban of flavored tobacco products. For more information, visit www.TobaccoFreeFlorida.com.

Spring Fest is a Success

On May 17, more than 2,500 visitors visited HarborWalk Village to support more than 300 performers for a day full of arts, non-stop entertainment at Spring Fest 2014. Community stages were set to highlight continuous performances from groups, including show-stopping singing, mesmerizing Irish dancers, board-breaking karate demonstrations, tutu clad ballet performers of all ages, and music that brought the crowd to their feet. Nonie's Ark showcased nature up close and personal for educational animal encounters for all. Hands-on art activities allowed children to create masterpieces and face painting by Arts on the Beach. Funds were raised to support the Okaloosa Arts Alliance, with a mission to support and promote art, music, and culture in Okaloosa County. For details, visit www.okaloosaarts.org.

Destin’s Lawson Represents Florida in DYW of America

Destin resident Natalie Lawson, who is the current Distinguished Young Woman of NOT ONLY Okaloosa County, but also of the state of Florida, will be competing in Mobile on June 28, with the 49 other girls from other states for DYW of America! This is no "beauty contest," but is a scholarship program honoring high-achieving all-around incredible high school seniors who are our next generation of leaders. Emerald Ladies Journal featured Natalie as the Emerald Lady in its most recent issue. Additionally, she has been honored by the City of Destin, the Okaloosa School Board, and the Okaloosa County Commissioners. Seats to the June 28 event are available. Call (205) 886-5552. Also, monetary donations to the scholarship fund and in-kind donations, such as catered dinners, restaurant gift cards, and complimentary hotel rooms are needed. For more information on the program, visit distinguishedyw.org.

VPS Only Airport in Region to Experience Passenger Increase

The Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) continues to see an increase in passenger traffic. The Airport is up a modest two percent for the year and is the only airport in the region reflecting an increase. In April, NWF Regional Airport served 123,969 passengers which is a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year. The airport continues to see an increase in capacity and the size of the aircraft serving VPS particularly with Delta Air Lines who have upgraded from smaller regional jets to almost entirely mainline 717, MD88 and Airbus A319 aircraft. For details, visit FlyVPS.com.

Congratulations to 2014 Leadership Okaloosa Graduates!

Matt Algarin – The Destin Log (Halifax Media Group)

Spencer Barnes – Barnes Insurance and Financial Services

Scott Barrow – Okaloosa Gas District

Anthony Boyer – Northwest Florida State College
Chris Cinal – InDyne Inc.
Gail Cornelius – Carter & Company, CPA, LLC
Katie Crowell – Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center
Lisa Davis – Twin Cities Hospital
Tracy Denmark – United States Marine Corps
Nic Dezinski – Pioneer Technologies Corporation
Lisa Eaves – Rocky Bayou Christian School
Don Edwards – Trustmark National Bank
Taylor Jackson – Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC
Jerry Johnson – InDyne Inc.
Thomas Kauth – Cox Communications
Robin Keith – SmartBank
Billy Lord – Ocean City-Wright Fire District
Gordon MacLean – Equity Investors Group, LLC
Muncelle Mitchell – Chesser & Barr, P.A.
Michele Nicholson – Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office
Suzy Nicholson Hunt – Destin Area Chamber of Commerce
Rosanna Padova – Southern Residential Leasing
Shanel Paulus – Coastal Bank and Trust
Brian Page – Law Office of Daniel C. Perri
Stephanie Pettis – Northwest Florida State College
Tracy Poe – Regions Bank
Shervin Rassa – Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast
Jeff Rouillier – Gulf Power Company
Kevin Sasser – Destin Fire Control District
Amanda Stevens – Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County
Dayna Stinebiser – Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce
Connie Watson – Early Learning Coalition of Okaloosa and Walton Counties
Chris Wheeler – Southern Vacation Rental Management
Andrea Williams – CCB Community Bank

SunDestin Unveils Splash Pad

Wyndham Vacation Rentals® announced that SunDestin Beach Resort & Hotel opened its newest amenity to guests - a splash pad. The splash pad is open daily from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. for guests of all ages. Children are encouraged to press the yellow button to turn on the water features, which circulate over 40 gallons of water per minute through ground nozzles and water play features that spray from above. For details, visit www.wyndhamvacationrentals.com/vacation-rentals/florida/northwest-florida/destin/complex/sundestin-beach-resort.

Destin Water Users appoints Lockwood Wernet as General Manager
Destin Water Users announced the appointment of Lockwood Wernet as General Manager of Destin Water Users, following the recent retirement of Richard Griswold. Wernet has worked with Destin Water Users since 2000, when he joined the Board of Directors. Throughout the years, Wernet served as Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, and Chair of Strategic Planning Committee, before being hired as Assistant General Manager in 2010. He was previously employed with Newton Oldacre McDonald as Director of Property Management, the City of Fort Walton as a Planner and Human Resources Director, and the City of Destin as a Planner, Community Development Director, and Assistant City Manager. For details, visit dwuinc.com.

Hilton Honored with Four Awards
Northwest Florida’s Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has enjoyed an eventful 2014 awards season, garnering a number of prestigious awards from national industry trade publications. The resort’s most recent awards include the ‘Gold Tee Award’ from Meetings & Conventions magazine, the ‘Greens of Distinction’ award from Corporate & Incentive Travel, the bronze star for the Best Beach Resort from Smart Meetings, and ‘The South’s Top 75 Resorts For Groups’ award from Convention South magazine. For more information, visit HiltonSandestinBeach.com.

Rehabilitated Turtles Released

Two juvenile sea turtles have successfully made their way back home following months of rehabilitation courtesy of Gulfarium's Sea Turtle C.A.R.E. Program. Wendy and Tinkerbell arrived at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park last fall with very different ailments. Tinkerbell, a 20-lb green sea turtle, was missing her right front flipper and had several shell lacerations, likely due to an encounter with a shark. Wendy, a 14-inch long Kemp's ridley turtle, was severely underweight and having trouble diving down or swimming in a straight line. For details, visit www.gulfarium.com/sea_turtle_care_program.

Bud & Alley’s in Seaside Opens PCB Location

Did you hear the bell? A 30-year Seaside dining tradition is expanding to Panama City Beach. On May 15, following a processional parade of staff and locals, a 200-pound vintage bell harvested from an old steam engine train was hoisted into place at Bud & Alley's Waterfront Restaurant in its new location overlooking Historic Grand Lagoon. After a few remarks, owner Dave Rauschkolb sounded the bell signaling the beginning of a new tradition at the newly remodeled 400-seat restaurant and officially claiming that a second Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant is now open for business. For more information, visit www.budandalleys.com.

Niceville Assembly of God Collects Food for Children in Crisis
The Niceville Assembly of God combined its Easter Presentation, “The Thorn,” with a huge food drive for Children in Crisis (CIC). Members of the church were challenged to collect and donate non-perishable food items and other household supplies. Seen here Allie Noah, CIC Development Directory, and Laura Moore, CIC Office Manager, accept the donation. To learn more about CIC, visit www.childrenincrisisfl.org.

Children In Crisis Welcomes New Development Director
Children in Crisis (CIC) announced the addition of Allie Noah as its Development Director. Noah will be responsible for grant writing and fundraising efforts. She joined the CIC team from SETCO Services, LLC, where she was the Director of Public Relations. She obtained her degree in Public Relations and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. To learn more about CIC, visit www.childrenincrisisfl.org.

Taylor Haugen Foundation Announces 2014 Scholarship Winners
On April 18, the Taylor Haugen Foundation (THF) Board of Directors officially recognized its newest recipients of $1,500 scholarships. The scholarship selection committee evaluated the candidates on the basis of their academics, athletics, leadership, community service and Christian faith. The Niceville High School winner was Alayna Nixon and the two Okaloosa county-wide winners were Charles Foy, also from Niceville High School, and Kerri Andre, from Fort Walton Beach High School. To read more about THF and this year’s winners, visit www.taylorhaugen.org.

Property Managed by Wyndham Vacation Rentals Achieves Green Key Rating

Wyndham Vacation Rentals® announced that Green Key Global recognized TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort with a “3 Green Keys” rating as part of its Green Key Eco-Rating Program. The Green Key Eco-Rating Program evaluates properties that have made significant advances toward protecting the environment. Properties are recognized with “3 Green Keys” based on strong environmental programs, which implement management practices, training programs, and engineering solutions that benefit the environment and the local community. Learn more about TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort may be found at www.wyndhamvacationrentals.com/vacation-rentals/florida/northwest-florida/destination/resort/topsl-beach-racquet-resort.

Hyde Joins World Impact Real Estate
Dawn Hyde, a 10-year Destin resident, joined World Impact Real Estate. Before becoming a Florida Realtor, Hyde had diversified careers in public relations, director of the Miss Alabama Pageant, and teacher. Her business expertise in the public sector and her love of interior design and talent in interior decorating are added specialties that she brings to the table when meeting with clients and customers. Contact Hyde at (850) 368-2848 or email her dawnleehyde@gmail.com.

ResortQuest Real Estate® Congratulates Top Producers
ResortQuest Real Estate announced the February and March top producers for its offices from Perdido Key to Panama City Beach. The Nathan Abbott Team of the Destin office received highest honors for top closed sales and listings from more than 100 ResortQuest Realtors. The team has been recognized for highest production each month since January of this year and was recognized as the top producing team overall for the year 2013. Visit RQEmeraldCoastRealEstate.com or follow Facebook.com/ResortQuestGulfCoast.

Nine Year Old Donates Birthday Presents/Food to CIC Children
Nine-year-old “JJ” Michaud learned to be charitable at an early age. For his last four birthdays, he has donated all his gifts to needy children living at Children in Crisis (CIC). He asked his guests to bring food and needed items for the CIC children instead of toys. JJ is seen here with CIC President and CEO Ken Hair. For more information, visit www.childrenincrisisfl.org.

BBB Offers Tips and Advice for Storm Repair
The recent heavy rains washed out roads, damaged businesses, and flooded homes across northwest Florida. Your Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida offers tips to help avoid a second disaster after the storm. 

Tips for flood damage clean-up:

- Call your insurance agent immediately to file a claim.

- Take photos of any water saturation. 

- Discard or clean all wet items within 48 hours.

Tips for hiring a repair contractor: 

- Research trustworthy businesses.

- Get multiple bids.

- Take your time signing a contract.

- Avoid paying a large sum upfront. 
- Beware of door-to-door solicitations. 

To check the reliability of a business and find trustworthy businesses, start with bbb.org

Students Help Restore Critical Habitat Along Choctawhatchee Bay

Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, around 2,000 students from Okaloosa and Walton counties participated in Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance’s Grasses in Classes Program. The program 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. For details, visit www.basinalliance.org/page.cfm?articleID=8.

EMS Recognized with Silver Award

Just in time for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week May 18-24, Okaloosa County has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Silver Award that recognizes its commitment and success in implementing specific quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who suffer a severe heart attack known as a STEMI (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction). Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for the entire year, and treat at least eight STEMI patients for the year. For details, visit www.co.okaloosa.fl.us/dept_ps_ems.html.

English Named 2014 Public Safety Telecommunicator of the Year
Okaloosa County Telecommunicator of the Year for 911 Communications Division is Lori English. English was selected during National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week April 13-19. She is seen here with County Administrator Ernie Padget (left) and Public Safety Director Dino Villani. For more information, please contact the Okaloosa County Public Safety Department at (850) 651-7150 or the 311 Citizens Information Line.

Children in Crisis, “Voted Finest Charity on the Emerald Coast”
Children in Crisis (CIC) was voted by the Northwest Daily News supporters and community as the Finest Charity on the Emerald Coast. Dr. Judy Manning, CIC Operations Director; Laura Moore, CIC Office Manager; Penny Minnamon, CIC Teen Transition Coordinator; Ken Hair, CIC President & CEO; Roberta Welch, CIC Programs Supervisor; and Travis Hill, CIC Volunteer & Events Coordinator, celebrated the award, during HarborWalk Village’s Finest on the Emerald Coast Celebration. For details, visit www.childrenincrisisfl.org.

Do you have special business information you would like to share with all Chamber members and our website visitors? Please send your exciting news, which can be about an upcoming event or other timely information, to news@DestinChamber.com.

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