Monday, January 5, 2015

January 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 1

Museum Announces Holiday Boat Parade Winners
The Destin History and Fishing Museum hosted the 28th Holiday on the Harbor Destin Boat Parade and fireworks on Sunday, Dec. 14, and 23 boats participated. Trophy sponsors for the event were AJ’s Seafood & Oyster BarThe BeachcomberCity of DestinHarry T’s Lighthouse, HD Action Photography, Infinite Laser, Kelly Plantation Fishing Club, The Resorts of Pelican Beach, and Ship’s Chandler. Restaurant gift certificate award sponsors were AJ’s Seafood & Oyster BarBoshamp’s Oyster House, Camille’s at Crystal Beach, Dewey Destin’s SeafoodHarbor DocksHarry T’s LighthouseFudpucker’s Beachside Bar & GrillJackacuda’s, Margaritaville, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. The Pyro Shows fireworks sponsors were AJ’s Seafood & Oyster BarThe Boathouse Oyster Bar, Crab Island Cantina, The Destin History and Fishing MuseumHarry T’s Lighthouse, Margaritaville, and Pepito’s.

Winners in each category were as follows:
- Private 30 ft. & Under: SEA BISQUIT Captained by Ron McNeil
- Private 31 ft. & Over: FINATIC Captained by Matthew Champion
- Charter/Commercial 30 Ft. & Under: DREAD KNOT Captained by Josh Livingston
- Charter/Commercial 31 ft. & Over: SWOOP II Captained by Matt Wheeler
- Tour Boat/Motorized 50 ft. & Under EMERALD GRANDE SHUTTLE Captained by Harber Partin
- Tour Boat/Motorized 51 ft. & Over BUCCANEER Captained by “Captain Cannonball”
- Sailboat 30 ft. & Under: MIAMI MERGER Captained by Greg Buchanan
- Sailboat 31 ft. & Over: SPIDER CRAB Captained by Karl Marusak
- Overall Best Entry: LYNNE MARIE Captained by Tommy Graves
- City of Destin Harbor Heritage Award: DOC HOLLIDAY Captained by Lance Reemer

Shelter House Receives Financial Education Grant
Shelter House is continuing its financial education and economic empowerment workshops, thanks to a grant for $34,000 from The Allstate Foundation. Shelter House first received this grant in 2009 and has since earned recognition and offered training to other domestic violence centers on its innovative programs. The grant funds allow Shelter House and community partners like Wells Fargo to work with victims on learning how to budget, building savings, and repairing credit scores through economic empowerment courses. Shelter House also works with the children of abuse survivors so they learn early in life how to handle their own finances. While the programs for domestic violence victims are a major focus, Shelter House offers workshops that are free and open to the public as well. For more information on upcoming workshops, call Shelter House at (850) 243-1201.

Warren Averett Opens New Office
Warren Averett, LLC, continues to better serve its clients with the opening of a new office in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 1. The Mobile office, located in the RSA Battle House Tower, offers expanded reach and resources to its current and future clients in the Mobile area. Phillip Rivers, CPA, a Mobile native, will relocate from Warren Averett’s Montgomery office to establish the new Mobile office. To learn more about the firm, visit

RE/MAX Southern Ranks Among Top Producers in Florida
RE/MAX Southern Realty is celebrating another successful season marked by significant agent achievements, three agents ranked within the franchise’s top producers in the state. Matt Williams cracked the Top 100 list for Individual Residential and Commercial Sales year to date, while Susie Kirkland and Carole Pleasants both earned spots within the Top 100 Team Leaders for Residential and Commercial real estate sales in Florida. Pleasants also placed within the Top 50 Team Leaders for Residential and Commercial Sales in the month of October and the Top 50 Team Leaders for Residential Sales year-to-date. Learn more about RE/MAX Southern’s outstanding agents at

RE/MAX Southern Agent Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Carole Pleasants of RE/MAX Southern Realty was recently awarded with the RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Award, a prestigious accomplishment bestowed upon less than five percent of the RE/MAX network. The award honors agents for their impressive career sales within their seven or more years with the company. Pleasants has been a member of the RE/MAX Southern team since 2006 and specializes in luxury home sales and investment properties. For more information on RE/MAX Southern and its top earning agents, visit or call (800) 879-0309. 
Tee Off for Toys keeps on Giving to Children in Crisis
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort helped Children in Crisis (CIC) through its Christmas Tee Off for Toys for the third year. The golfers donated more than 500 toys worth more than $7,500. Shown here, Tim Crouch, CIC house parent, and Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO, receive the donation from Rick Hileman, Sandestin’s director of golf; Liam Branagan, head golf professional; and Steve White.

Electric Car Charger Stations Now at Destin Commons 
Looking for electric car charger stations around town? Destin Commons has them. Recently, electric car charging stations by GoSpace, that can charge up to four cars at a time, were installed as another shopper convenience and another facet of the outdoor lifestyle center’s focus on conservation and being green. The easy to use electric car chargers are located in parking spaces on the north side of Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill. Just like regular gas pumps, those with an electric car simply plug one of the electric chargers into their car to ‘fill up’ in a very cost effective manner. The electric car charger stations are free. Seen here, Stuart Smith “fills up” his Chevy Volt at one of the free stations.

World Impact Supporting Wounded Warrior Project
World Impact Real Estate’s management and agents recently decided to partner with the Wounded Warrior Project for 2015. The Wounded Warrior Project is a veteran’s service organization that offers a variety of programs, service, and events for wounded veterans of the military actions, following the events of Sept. 11. It supplies emergency assistance in the forms of food, clothing, and cash. World Impact Real Estate’s team of 80+ agents serving in six different counties and five regional Realtor MLS Associations donates a designated portion to support The Wounded Warrior Project. 

McDonald’s Coffee for A Cause to benefit Children’s Advocacy Center in January
Every Monday in January, Costa Enterprise’s 19 panhandle area McDonald's will be donating 50% of their coffee proceeds to the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC). ECCAC’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children in Okaloosa and Walton counties, and restore the lives and futures of these impacted children. The Center’s child-friendly facility in Niceville houses a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, DCF, therapists, and ECCAC staff and volunteers. Services are provided at no cost by ECCAC, a 501-C-3 non-profit organization. For further information, or call (850) 833-9237. 

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital Earn Top Performer Recognition
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital have been named Top Performers on Key Quality Measures® for the fourth year in a row by the Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America. Both facilities were recognized for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, stroke, venous thromboembolism, and perinatal care, as well as for inpatient psychiatric services and immunizations.

Crestview Knights of Columbus Donate to Coats for Kids
Knights of Columbus, Council 7968 of Crestview, donated 26 new coats to the United Way’s Annual Coat Drive Program: COATS FOR KIDS at Christmas. The Coat Drive ran from Oct. 15 – Dec. 5, 2014, with distribution to many families throughout the community and schools in Okaloosa and Walton counties. To learn more about the United Way and how you can make a difference, visit or call (850) 243-0315. 

CBA Receives Two Awards in South Walton’s Best of the Best
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) of Northwest Florida State College received two awards in the 2015 Perfect in South Walton - Best of the Best list. A perfect ending to the inaugural year of Walton County based Eco-Tours, CBA was awarded with the People’s Choice Award for the “Best Adventure Experience.” CBA was also named the representative to receive an award on behalf of the ‘Choctawhatchee Bay,’ which was named a top finalist in the category “Best Nature Locale.” CBA is an entirely grant and donor-funded, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. To ‘Join the Alliance’ and sponsor the future of local waterways, visit

Eglin Fire Dept. Helps Give a Better Christmas to Children in Crisis
The Eglin Fire Department donated $3,250 and lots of toys to the kids living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood. Seen here, Eglin Fire Department Deputy Chief SMSgt Josh Paul, Firefighter A1C Justin Brockman, and Firefighter SSgt Sabrina Nicholson donate $3,250 and toys to Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO.

Want to Quit Smoking? Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County Offers 3 Free and Easy Ways
A new year is a new opportunity to set health goals and stick with them. For many, it is a chance to quit tobacco. Fortunately, Okaloosa residents don’t have to do it alone. The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County and the Tobacco Free Florida program have free, proven-effective resources that can double a tobacco user’s chances of quitting. 

Tobacco Free Florida offers 3 Free & Easy Ways to Quit:
• CALL: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach® who will help you assess your addiction and help you create a personalized quit plan.
• CLICK: Tobacco Free Florida’s online cessation tool can be accessed at
• COME IN: Sign up for group classes at the local Area Health Education Center (AHEC) by calling (850) 682-2552 or visiting 1455 South Ferdon Blvd., Suite B-1, Crestview, Florida 32536.

United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties Celebrates Victory for Annual Campaign
United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties held its first Campaign Victory Celebration at the Ramada Inn on Dec. 9, to recognize the success of local businesses’ Corporate Campaigns, as well as those businesses who participated in the first Pacesetter Campaign. At the time of this Celebration event, the campaign had raised $1,176,371…a huge victory for the United Way even though it was about $48,000 short of the $1,225,000 goal. But as of Dec. 23, it had reached 99.1% of the 2014 Campaign Goal. Seen here, United Way’s Pacesetter Chair Betty Brassell of First City Bank and Campaign Chair Walter Hooks of Regions Bank made the presentations.

Kilwins Donates 23 Pound Chocolate Santa to Kids at CIC
Thomas and Kari Zingale, owners of Kilwins located in Destin Commons, donated a 23-pound chocolate Santa Claus to the kids living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood. The delicious donation came just in time for the CIC Christmas celebration. Seen here, Heather Pike, Destin Commons marketing coordinator, and Laura Moore, CIC Volunteer & Events Coordinator, receive the donation from Thomas Zingale.

Up to $1,000 Off Destin Wedding
Reserve the SunQuest Cruises’ SOLARIS for a 3-hour private chartered evening wedding and/or reception, and receive the 4th hour for free. The event must book by Feb. 7. Call (850) 650-2519 for details. 

Destin Desserts Competition to benefit Girl Scouts’ Camp Kolomoki
Get your sweet tooth ready for the Girl Scout’s 4th Annual Destin Desserts competition with seven area chefs competing for the 2015 Destin Desserts Champion title. Chefs from Marlin Grill, Ruth's Chris Steak HouseBijoux, Highlands House, Travinia Italian Kitchen, and Dockside Café & Oyster Bar will be presenting their own original dessert creations for guests to sample utilizing famous Girl Scout cookies. Destin Desserts will be Jan. 30, at The Palms and includes a social hour, hors d’oeuvres, dessert tasting, voting, awards, silent auction and entertainment by Shades of Blue. Proceeds will benefit the Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle’s Camp Kolomoki, located just west of DeFuniak Springs in Walton County. Tickets are $30 per person and are available at each chef’s restaurant, Frillseekers in Destin, Shear Twist in Niceville, and at all Girl Scout Service Centers. You may also call (888) 271-8778. Sponsorships are also available by contacting Irene Field at (850) 873-3999 or

$10 Off Dolphin Doodle
Let your creative side go wild as you team up with one of Gulfarium’s talented dolphin artists to create a one-of-a-kind work of art! You choose the colors, hold the canvas, and leave the rest up to your new finned friend. This dockside encounter includes an opportunity to touch and feed a dolphin. Visit and use online code NEWYEAR for $10 off. Regular price is $79.

Fort Walton Beach Flips for Gulfarium’s History
As one of the Emerald Coast’s primary tourism destinations, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has been a key part of Florida’s History for more than half a century and is the topic of a new book. New from Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series is Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park by local authors Russel Chiodo and Krista Stouffer. Join the authors for a book launch on Jan. 17, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Gulfarium.

Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund Announces Internal Promotions
The following internal promotions at Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund are effective Jan. 1. 

Whitney Bruner, CPA, has been promoted to senior in the Financial Institutions Services Department of the Pensacola office. She received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of West Florida. She has been practicing accounting since 2009 and primarily works with financial institution clients. 

Lori Gambill has been promoted to senior in the Financial Institutions Services Department of the Pensacola office. She received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of West Florida and has more than six years of experience. Her primary areas of concentration include providing audit and assurance services to financial institution and government clients.

Stephen MacBeth, CRCM, has been promoted to manager in the Financial Institutions Advisory Group of the Pensacola office. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida and graduated from the Alabama Banking School in 2009. He has more than 20 years of experience and concentrates primarily on compliance, operations, and policies and procedures for financial institution clients. 

Rob Wilson has been promoted to manager in the Financial Institutions Advisory Group. He received his bachelor’s in Accounting from the Citadel and a Masters of Business Administration in Professional Accountancy from Utica College. With the firm since 2003, Wilson primarily provides accounting and audit services to financial institution clients. He also has experience performing loan and credit quality reviews and audits of private companies and not-for-profit organizations. 

Mike Miller, CPA, CIT, has been promoted to senior manager in the Tax & Accounting Services department. He received a bachelor’s in Accounting and Business Administration from Pensacola Christian College and has been practicing in his field since 1997. He primarily works with construction contractors of all sizes, real estate development clients, and auto dealerships. 

Catie Purdon has been promoted to senior in the Tax & Accounting Services department. Since joining Saltmarsh in December 2010, she has had significant involvement in providing entity returns and related accounting services to the firm’s construction and contractor clients of all sizes. Purdon received her bachelor’s in Accounting and a Master of Accountancy from the University of West Florida and is currently working toward her receiving her CPA license.

Beth Varhalla, CPA, has been promoted to senior manager in the Tax & Accounting Services department. She received her bachelor’s in Accounting from the University of West Florida and has been in the field since 1987. Her specializations include providing Tax and Accounting Services to healthcare companies and law firms. 

Chuck Landers, CPA, CIT, has been appointed as shareholder in the Audit & Assurance Services department. He received a bachelor’s in Accounting and Business Administration from William Jewell College. Landers’ primary areas of focus include providing audit and assurance-related services to not-for-profit and governmental entities, utilities, manufacturers, contractors, home builders, and related trades within the construction and real estate development industries.

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