Monday, December 15, 2014

December 2014 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Millions Saved Using Early Payment Discounts
According to the Ben Anderson, Okaloosa County Tax Collector, property owners saved more than $6.1 million dollars on their tax bills by taking advantage of the 4% early payment discount during November. More than $153 million dollars was collected. The Tax Collector staff processed more than 100,000 total transactions, 75,000 of which were tax payments. A 3% early payment discount is available until Dec. 31.

McDonald Leads Culinary Crew of Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar
Chef Phillip McDonald joined the Bud & Alley’s team as executive chef of The Pizza Bar at Bud & Alley’sin Seaside. McDonald, who was born and raised in Destin, recently returned to the Emerald Coast after a year honing his culinary skills with some of the best in the New York culinary scene, including a six-month stint as sous chef at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel. Before opening a private, personal chef and catering service in 2006, McDonald worked in many of the area’s finest restaurants, including Cuvee Beach, Criolla’s, Fish out of Water, and Onano. Beyond New York, he has also worked in the kitchens of the culinary meccas cities of New Orleans, San Francisco, and Portland.

#ResolveToHelp During the Holidays
This holiday season, Food for Thought Outreach is asking you to #ResolveToHelp its program during a critical time of year when student recipients are away from their school’s free and reduced meal program. In addition to its weekly backpack and monthly classroom snack programs, which offer access to healthy, easy-to-prepare foods, it supports Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday break programs, which feed the Food for Thought student and their family. Its goal is to bridge the meal gap throughout the year, in order to remove the negative impacts of going hungry and allow children to focus on their education and development to improve their futures.

Okaloosa EMS Takes Patients Home for the Holidays
Okaloosa County Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), will be offering free transportation on a space available basis to local residents who would otherwise be unable to come home for holiday celebrations. The program is designed to allow patients in skilled nursing and adult congregate living facilities to go home and be with family members for the holiday dinner. Patients must be self-supporting while at the residence and be left in the care of a responsible family member. The “Home for the Holidays…” program will provide transportation on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day only, from the hours of 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. All requests for transportation must be received by 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 22. If you need additional information or would like to schedule transportation, please call 651-7150, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Niceville Realtors Make $2500 Donation to Taylor Haugen Foundation
The Taylor Haugen Foundation received a big surprise Tuesday morning. Emerald Coast Association of Realtors Niceville Chapter and representatives of the many businesses who support them gathered to celebrate another successful year of partnerships at the TradeWinds Restaurant in Niceville. During the event, the chapter presented a $400 donation to Kathy and Brian Haugen to help the foundation outfit students with the much needed safety gear. After the presentation, realtors in the audience pledge $2,100 more. Combined, it is enough to outfit an entire middle school team.

Seagar’s Named One of the Top 100 Steakhouses in America 
Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, the only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in Destin, has received OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for Top 100 Steakhouses in America. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is derived from more than five million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Legendary Leadership Team Expands
Peter Bos, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, announced the promotion of Pete Knowles to president and chief operating officer of the Legendary family of companies. Bruce Craul will continue his responsibilities as chief operating officer of all the HarborWalk Village-related companies. Knowles joined Legendary in January 2013 as executive vice president and since his arrival has assumed an ever expanding management role in the varied Legendary Companies. Prior to joining Legendary, Knowles spent 24 years in finance and banking, culminating as president and chief executive officer of BankTrust. 

PBS Digital Learning Resources are Customized for Florida Schools
Florida’s teachers, students, and lifelong learners now have access to thousands of customized digital learning resources at no cost through Florida PBS stations, including WSRE, with support from the Florida Legislature. Florida Public Broadcasting System was awarded $1 million in the 2014-2015 state budget to customize more than 85,000 digital learning materials from the national PBS LearningMedia library to meet Florida state standards. The customization is complete, and now Florida PBS LearningMedia provides access to free educational materials, which meet the specific needs of Florida’s K-16 educators and students.

Guy Harvey Presenting a $7,456 Check to Gulf World Marine Institute 
On Thursday, Dec. 11, Gary Wakstein, the owner of Hy’s Toggery, presented Gulf World Marine Institute(GWMI) with a $7,456 check from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. These funds are the result of the Guy Harvey Retail Partners’ Conservation Program, where a percentage of the sales from Guy Harvey merchandise is given to non-profit organizations who are actively engaged in making a difference in marine conservation. GWMI was the nonprofit organization recommended by Hy’s Toggery, in partnering with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation this past summer. 

GCOP Recognized in Top 50 Independent Dealers
Gulf Coast Office Products (GCOP) was recognized as one of the top 50 Independent Dealers in the U.S. Independent Dealer is the official publication of the National Office Products Alliance. Also, GCOP recently held its annual vendor show, which was attended by 800 customers, prospects, and business partners. During the event, $2,400 was raised for a local non-profit serving people with developmental disabilities.

Blue Marlin Realty Group Raises $15,087 for Taylor Haugen Foundation
Blue Marlin Realty Group hosted its second charity golf tournament at Regatta Bay Golf and Country Club on Friday, Nov. 14, benefitting The Taylor Haugen Foundation. In total, Blue Marlin Realty Group raised a total of $15,087, which will fund three scholarships for Okaloosa County senior high school student-athletes and THF YESS Program, which equips youth contact sports teams with the same technologically advanced safety equipment that professional athletes wear. The money raised we will be enough to outfit an entire school, including middle school, junior varsity, and varsity contact sports athletes, with protective equipment. 

BancorpSouth Announces Stock Repurchase Program
BancorpSouth, Inc., recently announced its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program through Nov. 30, 2016, to purchase up to an aggregate of 6% or 5,764,000 shares of BancorpSouth’s outstanding common stock, par value $2.50 per share. BancorpSouth has approximately $13.1 billion in total assets with equity capital in excess of $1.6 billion as of Sept. 30, 2014.

Dan Rollins, BancorpSouth chairman and chief executive officer, in announcing the stock repurchase program, said, “We believe repurchasing our shares demonstrates our continued confidence in our ability to generate long-term growth and profitability. This authorization reflects our commitment to strategically managing capital levels and delivering value to our shareholders.”

Results for 4th Annual Shelter House Luminaria Run Released
Shelter House presented its 4th Annual Luminaria Run to End Domestic & Sexual Violence in Destin and raised $20,000. The 5k and 9k courses were illuminated by more than 2,000 luminarias, representing how Shelter House and its community partners light the way to a safer place for victims of domestic and sexual violence. The 9k distance serves as a reminder that a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the U.S. More than 360 runners turned out for the race. The fastest male in the 9k race was Scott Liechte of Fort Walton Beach with a time of 35:01. The top female on the 9k course was 12-year-old Delaney Cookman of Destin, clocking in at 43:27. The 5k was led by Lena Railey of Destin, who came in at 18:13. The fastest male in the 5k was James Finucane of Destin, finishing the run in 19:44. Team Move Strong Destin, seen here, took home the award for largest team.

“12 Days of Giving” to Save Lives Donors Receive A Holiday T- Shirt and $10 eGift Card 
This holiday season, share your power and give the gift of life by donating blood. Donate blood Saturday, Dec. 20 – 31, at any OneBlood Donor Center and receive a long-sleeve holiday t-shirt and a $10 eGift card voucher. For donation locations or to schedule an appointment, visit or call (850) 473-3853. In addition, all donors receive a wellness checkup of blood pressure, pulse, temperature, iron count, and a cholesterol screening. 

ResortQuest Real Estate® Congratulates Top Producers
ResortQuest Real Estate recently announced the September, October, and November top producers for its offices. The Nathan Abbott Team of the Destin office received highest honors for top closed sales in the months of October and November, as well as top closed listings for the month of September. Lauren Cottrell of the Destin office achieved top closed sales in the month of September. Liz Davis of the Destin office received top honors for closed listings in the month of November. Caroline and Chip Wasson of the Seagrove Beach and Destin Pointe offices achieved top closed listings for the month of October. These associates accomplished highest production for the months of September, October, and November out of more than 100 ResortQuest REALTORS® across Northwest Florida. 

Emerald Coast Toy for Tots Short on Toys
The need for gifts for Emerald Coast Toys for Tots has grown by more than 20 percent this year, which includes a list of 10,000 children. The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR) is committed to making sure each child receives a toy. To make a donation, visit or come support the many upcoming events between now and Christmas:
Saturday, Dec. 20 
• Toy Drive Walmart in Niceville 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Toy Drive Walmart in Fort Walton Beach 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Toy Drive Walmart in South Walton 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 
• Toy Drive Bass Pro Shops in Destin 12 - 4 p.m. • Toy Drive Toys R Us in Santa Rosa Mall 12 - 4 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 21 
• Toy Drive Build-a-Bear in Destin Commons 12 - 4 p.m.
• Toy Drive Walmart in Destin 12 - 5 p.m. 
• Toy Drive Walmart in Niceville 12 - 5 p.m.

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