Thursday, April 30, 2015

Affordable Home Insurance Wins Tax Relief Golf Tournament

 More than 100 golfers teed off in the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Tax Relief Golf Tournament, held April 29, at Emerald Bay Golf Club. Affordable Home Insurance (photo above) took home top prize, followed by Trim Masters, LLC, and McCaskill & Company. Winner of the Longest Drive prize was Clint Durst, Affordable Home Insurance, and winners of the Closets to the Pin prizes were Drew Armacost, Affordable Home Insurance; Kevin Bowyer (below, top photo), Warren Averett; David Larraga, Trim Masters, LLC; and Bob Perry (below, bottom photo), Destin Commons.

Thank you to all tournament sponsors, including leaderboard sponsor Destin Commons and practice tee / green sponsor Brannon & Brannon. Our hole with team sponsors included Coastal Accounting of NW Florida, PA; Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.; Fort Walton Beach Medical Center; Galati Yacht Sales; Payroll Management Inc.; SimpleHR; Southern Earth Sciences, Inc.; Southern Vacation Rentals; Trustmark National Bank; Warren Averett; Wesley T. Fontaine, Attorney at Law; and ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance, Inc. Team sponsors included Acme Oyster House; Affordable Home Insurance; Dale E. Peterson Vacations; Destin Computer Repair; Emerald Coast Association of Realtors - Toys for Tots; Gulf Power; McCaskill & Company; Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.; ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals; and Trim Masters, LLC. Our hole sponsors included Acentria; Air Force Enlisted Village; BayArea Awards & Engraving; Centennial Bank; Conerly, Bowman & Dykes, LLP; Cox Communications; Dr. Jake at Payne Chiropractic; Eglin Federal Credit Union; Emerald Coast Community Cares Foundation; Insight Investments; Pensacola Bay Brewery; and SmartBank. Door prize donors included The Destin Diner, Emerald Bay Golf Club, Emerald Coast Chiropractic, Indian Bayou Golf Club, Jackacuda's Seafood/Sushi, LuLu's, Massage Envy Spa Destin, Sunset Bay Café, The Surf Hut, and Travinia Italian Kitchen.

To see photos from the golf tournament, click here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

Lee Subaru Shares Lots of Love with Covenant Hospice
Bob Lee of Lee Subaru presents a check to Rachel Mayew fromCovenant Hospice. The funds were raised during the Subaru Share the Love event, a charitable initiative supporting non-profits across America. Covenant was selected by Lee as the dealership’s Hometown Charity.

Teach Children to Save Program Kicks Off
April is Financial Literacy Month and a perfect time to “Teach Children to Save.” Youth 18 and under making deposits to their savings account at one of these financial institutions may register with Okaloosa Saves between April 20 and July 31, for one of six $50 cash prizes to be awarded in August: Beach Community Bank, Eglin Federal Credit Union, First City Bank, and PenFed Credit Union. Since 2004, Okaloosa Saves has awarded children $7,800 in savings bonds and deposits. For more information, call (850) 689-5850. Okaloosa $aves is part of the national initiative America Saves and coordinated locally by the University of Florida/IFAS Extension in Okaloosa County.

Book A 3-Hour Cruise & the 4th Hour is Free!
Reserve SunQuest Cruises’ SOLARIS for a 3-hour private chartered, evening wedding and/or reception and receive the 4th hour for free (up to a $1,000 value). Cruise must book by Dec. 31, 2015. Call (850) 650-2519 for details or request more information online.

Local Volleyball Tournament to Benefit Wounded Airman
The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors is serving up goodwill as part of its first-ever Beach Volleyball Tournament June 14. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit Building Homes for Heroes, a local non-profit that builds mortgage-free homes for veterans wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The tournament will feature two levels of play and four-person teams. Check-in will begin at 7 a.m., and the first match will follow at 8 a.m. For more information about sponsoring or playing, contact Kim Kirschling or call (850) 243-6145. To register for the tournament, visit

Okaloosa Arts Alliance Donates to CIC Children’s Art Fund
Amy Baty, Okaloosa Arts Alliance executive director, presents a check for $800 to Ken Hair, Children in Crisis president & CEO. Baty is joined by Kerri Woods, OAA president. The funds were donated to CIC to help fund its Children’s Arts Education program.

Elected Officials to Attend April 30th Tri-County Community Partnership Initiative (TCPI) Event
Several County Commissioners and numerous City Council representatives from Okaloosa County will attend a TCPI meeting on April 30, 2015, with various elected local officials from Santa Rosa and Walton counties. The TCPI event will educate elected officials on partnership and shared services opportunities that exist between communities and local military installations. Citizens may attend the event, held at the Holiday Inn Resort, located at 1299 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach. For details, contact Sal Nodjomian at (850) 279-4298.

Bud & Alley’s Adds Farm-to-Table Inspired Breakfast Service
Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant added a farm-to-table inspired breakfast menu to its offerings. The farm-to-table breakfast menu features a twist on Bud & Alley’s favorites, such as the Crab Cake Benedict, along with new flavor combinations, such as the Duck Confit Hash with Fried Egg. Additional breakfast items include an assortment of seasonal fresh fruits, grain cereals, locally sourced farm fresh egg dishes prepared in a variety of ways, and hearty breakfast sandwiches served on artisan breads. For a menu, visit

Destin Walmart Begins Annual Children’s Hospital Charity Drive
Walmart Stores begin their annual nationwide campaign to raise money for the care of children on May 4, 2015. Since 1987, Walmart has partnered with the 170 Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals nationwide to raise more than $750 million dollars. 100% of the money raised goes directly to the local hospitals involved. The 2015 campaign hopes to raise $40 million dollars. The Destin Walmart raised around $15,000 last year for local partner, Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. This year’s campaign is determined to get over $20,000 for our local kids and their families. Customers can expect to be asked to donate during the six week campaign, but it doesn’t have to be much. One of the most popular options in recent years is rounding up. Instead of $1 you may round up your purchase total to an even number.

Events include the following:
Friday, May 1 - Big Red Truck will serve tacos, wedge salad, and grilled cheese.
Saturday, May 2 - Smoke on the Water BBQ will serve pulled pork.
Sunday, May 3 – Enjoy hot dogs and sweet corn on the grill.
Friday, May 8 – A portion of all sales from 5 – 8 p.m. at Destin’s Chick-Fil-A restaurant will be donated.
Saturday, May 9 – A pancake breakfast will be held from 8 – 10 a.m., at the Sandestin Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. Pancakes, bacon, and a drink are $7. Tickets are sold at the Destin Walmart Money Center and the Santa Rosa Beach Walmart Service Desk. Shoreline Church is serving as waiters and waitresses.

Shelter House Opens New Program Office and Celebrates 30 Years
The public is invited to a celebration on Thursday, April 30, as Shelter House opens the doors of its new program office. Guided tours featuring brief talks by Shelter House advocates will begin at 4:30 p.m. and run for an hour. The official ribbon cutting takes place at 5:45 p.m., followed by cake and refreshments at 6 p.m. to celebrate the agency’s 30th birthday.

MKAF Announces Special Board Appointment
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Heather Pike to serve on the 2015 Board of Directors. Pike serves as marketing manager ofDestin Commons. She is actively involved in coordinating marketing for many community activities on behalf of Destin Commons with the Destin Area, Greater Fort Walton Beach and Niceville Valparaiso chambers of commerce. For the Destin Area Chamber, Pike is chairing the Bayou, Bay & Beach 2016 half-marathon and will be a May 2015 graduate of the Destin Forward leadership class. She is also the volunteer marketing lead for the Emerald Coast Relay for Life that benefits the American Cancer Society and is a past Chair of the Finest on the Emerald Coast event with theNorthwest Florida Daily News.

Students Help Restore Critical Habitat Along Choctawhatchee Bay
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 2,100 students at 20 elementary schools participated in Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance’s (CBA) Grasses in Classes Program. Throughout May, CBA will host 22 field trips at eight different restoration sites along the bay. The students will plant close to 25,000 shoreline grasses by the end of the month, which in return, will help to slow erosion and provide a critical, intertidal habitat. For more information about the Grasses in Classes field trips, contact Brittany Tate at (850) 217-5382 or

Okaloosa Arts Alliance School Poster Contest Winners
The Okaloosa Arts Alliance would like to thank the 105 students who entered the 6th annual Okaloosa Arts Alliance Summer Fun poster contest. Winners are as follows:

Elementary (K5-4)
First Place: Aurora Powell, 4th Grade, Liza Jackson Preparatory School
Second Place: Ava Sailer, 1st Grade, Liza Jackson Preparatory School
Third Place: Ivan Gutierrez, 4th Grade, Rocky Bayou Christian School
Honorable Mention: Paige Norris, K-5, Rocky Bayou Christian School

Middle (5-7)
First Place: Nathan Simpson, 6th Grade, Liza Jackson Preparatory School
Second Place: Bianca Evans, 7th Grade, Liza Jackson Preparatory School
Third Place: Elle Street, 5th Grade, Rocky Bayou Christian School
Honorable Mention: Hanna Farnsworth, 6th Grade, Liza Jackson Preparatory School
Honorable Mention: Tori Denbow, 7th Grade, Rocky Bayou Christian School

High (8-12)
First Place: Addie Spence, 8th Grade, Rocky Bayou Christian School (pictured here)
Second Place: Andrea De Jesus, 12th Grade, Fort Walton Beach High School
Third Place: Sean Wild, 8th Grade, Rocky Bayou Christian School
Honorable Mention: Shannon Barkman, 12th Grade, Rocky Bayou Christian School
Honorable Mention: Sage Gardner, 8th Grade Rocky Bayou Christian Shool

Friday, April 24, 2015

Members Enjoy April After Hours at the Boathouse Oyster Bar

Thank you to Boathouse Oyster Bar for hosting our April 23 Business After Hours! Members enjoyed cocktails, appetizers, and networking on the beautiful Destin harbor! 


Please click here for more photos from the event.

Thank you for the door prizes!
His Grace Productions
- Destin Walmart
- Winter Spires & Associates, P.A.
World Impact Real Estate

Please join us on May 28 for our Business After Hours at BOTE! You do not want to miss this annual favorite event.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Dentists Donate $20,000 in Free Dentistry
Dr. Olivier Broutin of Bluewater Bay Dental, along with two other dentists, hosted the first “Dentistry from the Heart” event on April 3. The three teams of professionals worked collaboratively to provide 64 patients with their choice of a complimentary filling, extraction or cleaning. One of the patients seen during the free dental event was found to have oral cancer, a disease that may have remained undiagnosed without this event. In addition to the time dedicated by hygienists, assistants, and other dental professionals, a total of $20,000 of dental care was donated to the community in good faith. A number of local area businesses also made in kind donations to the event, including Patterson Dental, Benco Dental and Publix Super Market.

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast Welcomes New Pulmonologist
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast welcomed Dr. David Phillips, board-certified pulmonologist, to its medical staff. Pulmonologists add an advanced level of care for critically ill patients, such as those suffering from pneumonia, asthma, COPD, emphysema, and other pulmonary conditions. Prior to relocating to Santa Rosa Beach this spring, Phillips served on the medical staff at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola since 2002. He earned his Doctorate Degree in Medicine from Louisiana State University and is board-certified through the American Board of Internal Medicine in Pulmonary Disease.

Purse Sale and Auction Raises Money for Critical Services
Women from across the Emerald Coast recently made their way to Grand Boulevard at Sandestin for Purses with a Purpose, a unique event benefiting Shelter House. More than 270 shoppers turned out for the purse auction and sale, now in its fifth year. The VIP party on Friday night offered shoppers the opportunity to bid on designer handbags from Gucci, Coach, Michael Kors and more. They were also treated to food fromTravinia Italian Kitchen and wine as well as a purse fashion show celebrating looks from the 1930s through today. In addition to the 1,200 purses up for sale and auction, scarves donated by Ella Madison Boutique and sunglasses from Lynn Roberts International were up for sale. The two-day event raised more than $12,000 to support programs and services, such as a 24-hour rape and domestic violence hotline, emergency shelter, child advocacy, support groups, and violence prevention classes.

Food for Thought Launches Video
Food for Thought would like to thank JP Young from OneHope.Net for creating this amazing video to help spread the word about where Food For Thought’s origin and mission!

Select Physical Therapy Offers Continuing Education Seminar
On Thursday, May 7, from 7:30 – 11 a.m., Select Physical Therapy will present a continuing education seminar, covering Common Shoulder injuries, Understanding Functional Capacity Evaluations, and Sacral Iliac Dysfunction. It will take place at the Country Inn and Suites by Carlson in Crestview. RSVP to Brenda Royster at (850) 863-4747 or email

Airports Rank Near Top in State & FAA Inspections
The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport Annual FAA Airport Certification and Safety Inspection resulted in no discrepancy and the response to the UH-60 crash was in accordance with Airport Emergency Procedures (AEP). This annual inspection occurs with or without a triggering event under Federal Aviation Regulation, Part 139. Destin Executive and Bob Sikes Airports also passed the annual state inspections with no discrepancy. The State’s Aviation inspector said he inspects 106 general aviation airports throughout Florida every year, and our two County general aviation airports rank near the top as best maintained.

Emerald Coast Exchange Club Donates to Children
The Emerald Coast Exchange Club of Fort Walton Beach continued its support to Children in Crisis (CIC) by presenting a $500 donation to help feed, clothe, and care for the children living at the CIC Children’s Neighborhood. The timing of the donation was to help emphasize April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month.” Seen here, Club President Shirley Simms presents a $500 check to CIC President and CEO Ken Hair.

Tax Certificate Sale Workshops Scheduled

The Okaloosa County Tax Collector’s Office announced that it will once again be hosting workshops for the upcoming 2015 Tax Certificate Sale. Representatives from the Tax Department will be educating citizens on the annual Tax Certificate Sale, where winning bidders may earn between 5% - 18% interest. Potential investors may visit to take full advantage of the demonstrations, procedural information, links to public records, and the Delinquent Tax advertising list. Bidders may also pre-register on the site before the actual event begins. Bidding will open on May 9, and the sale will conclude on May 30. Delinquent taxpayers have until 3 p.m., Friday, May 29, to make payment on their account or a certificate will be sold May 30. For questions, call (850) 651-7604.

Monday, April 20, 2015

NJCAA National Champs Honored at Chamber Lunch

NWFSC - NJCAA National Champs

Destin, Fla., April 17 – On April 14, Destin Area Chamber Chairman Ken Wampler, Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc., read a proclamation from the Chamber’s Board of Directors honoring the Northwest Florida State College Raider’s men’s basketball team for its NJCAA National Championship title.

The recognition came during the Chamber’s April Leaders In Business Lunch, held at Tops’l Beach and Racquet Resort, and was witnessed by members in attendance.

Pictured here are Wampler, Athletic Director Ramsey Ross, Player Jordan Capps, Coach Steve DeMeo, Player Benji Bell, Assistant Coach Grant McMillan, College President Ty Handy, and Chamber President and CEO Shane Moody.

Read the proclamation here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Members Network, Congratulate National Champs at April Lunch

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our April 14 Leaders In Business Lunch! Shane Moody, CCE, FCCP, Chamber President and CEO, led the crowd in networking games, and Chamber Chairman Ken Wampler presented a proclamation from the Board of Directors in recognition of the Northwest Florida State College Raiders men's basket ball team's NJCAA National Title (see photo above).

Click here to see more photos from the event. 

Thank you to those donating door prizes, including the following:
- AirRestore
Eglin Federal Credit Union
Emerald Coast Chiropractic
Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida
Northwest Florida State College
- Planet Beach Contempo Spa
- Troy University

Join us on May 12 for our Leaders In Business Lunch & Non-Profit Appreciation Expo at Destin Untied Methodist Church. Register by 3 p.m., on Friday, May 8, and be eligible to win FREE advertising on!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 2

Vacasa Poised To Award Up to $60,000 for 2015 Scholarship Program
Vacasa—named the country's fastest-growing private company in the travel industry by Inc. Magazine in August 2014—is continuing to support local communities through its annual scholarship program. Vacasa views this scholarship program, offered to both high school and college students, as a way to reinvest in the local communities it serves. This year, Vacasa’s scholarship program is available in 14 U.S. states, as well as four countries. In total, Vacasa is prepared to award up to $60,000 to support aspiring students on an international scale.

Pike Promoted to Destin Commons Marketing Manager
Destin Commons is pleased to announce the promotion of Heather Pike as marketing manager. Pike has worked as the marketing coordinator for more than a year and has been involved in many community activities on behalf of Destin Commons with the Destin, Ft. Walton, and Niceville chambers of commerce. At the Destin Area Chamber, Pike is chairing the Bayou, Bay & Beach full and half-marathon, and she is in the 2014-2015 Destin Forward leadership class. She is also the volunteer marketing lead for the Emerald Coast Relay for Life that benefits the American Cancer Society and is a past Chair of the Finest on the Emerald Coast event with the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Hilton Sandestin Honored with Two Awards from Hilton Worldwide
The Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa garnered a number of prestigious awards from national industry trade publications in 2014 and in the fourth quarter received two especially significant recognitions from Hilton Worldwide: the “Make it Right” Award and the “Make it Right” Most Improved Award. To achieve the “Make it Right” Award and the “Make it Right” Most Improved Award, Hilton Sandestin Beach received the highest combined Problem Resolution and Overall Loyalty scores on the Service And Loyalty Tracking email guest survey, and the most combined improvement, quarter on quarter, out of all hotels in the Americas regions with more than 500 rooms.

Haugen and Cann Named to 2015 PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers
Brian Haugen and Steve Cann of Emerald Coast Wealth Advisors of Raymond James are pleased to announce their team has been named as one of the 2015 PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisory Teams. The PLANADVISER Top 100 Retirement Plan Advisers is an annual listing of adviser individuals, teams, and multi-office teams that stand out in the industry in terms of a series of quantitative measures. These include the dollar value of qualified plan assets under administration (AUA), as well as the number of plans under advisement. The list also includes advisers who have more than 30% of their practice focused on 403(b), defined benefit (DB) or nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans.

Celebrate Your Graduate at Ruth’s Chris Steak House
From April 13 through July 13, receive a complimentary Ruth’s Classics three-coursee meal for the graduate with the purchase of four entrees. For full details, visit

Airports Police Chief Recipient of a HERO Award
One of the first search calls was made to the Destin Executive Airport (DTS) in hopes the missing UH60 Blackhawk had safely landed on March 10. Chief Andrew (Andy) Johnson responded to DTS, secured the area, and waited. In the early hours of March 11, he was notified that the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office was responding in the area of the Navarre Bridge, and Chief Johnson decided to go see if he could assist in the rescue effort.

“Chief Johnson assisted in securing the heaviest debris area, documented evidence, and recovered two crew members, all above and beyond what he was required to do,” stated Chairman Nathan Boyles, Okaloosa County Commission. “There was a need to secure as much as they could prior to daylight on a public beach, and he didn’t hesitate to provide his knowledge and experience to that scene, along with a limited amount of initial responders, and for that he has earned recognition.” Two UH60 aircraft assigned to Hammond, Louisiana Army National Guard were participating in a training exercise when one of the helicopters crashed. Eleven service members were killed.

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 or you may contact 311 Citizen Information Line for more information or to recognize an Okaloosa County employee.

Niceville Exchange Club Donates to Children
The Exchange Club of Niceville continued its support to Children in Crisis (CIC) by presenting a $1,000 donation to help feed, clothe, and care for the children living at the CIC Children’s Neighborhood. Seen here, Bill Moomaw, club president, presents the check and paper products to Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO.

Pirate Invasion at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Captain Billy Bowlegs and his Pirate Krewe have land in sight and are headed straight for Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. This year, both organizations are commemorating 60 years and one of the many ways they will celebrate this milestone is with a pirate invasion at the marine park on Saturday, April 18, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Guests can meet the infamous Captain Billy Bowlegs, his Queen, the First Mate and Mistress, and members of the Court throughout the park as they mingle with some of Gulfarium's gators and tropical birds.

8th Annual Estuary Family Festival
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute (MKEI) will jointly host the 8th Annual Mattie Kelly Estuary Family Festival at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park on Saturday, April 25, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The family-oriented festival offers exhibits and activities that celebrate Choctawhatchee Bay. Festival admission is FREE and the open to the public.

World Impact Real Estate Opens New Branch Office in Mary Esther
Broker Rodney Elkins of World Impact Real Estate announced the opening of a new office at 340 E. Miracle Strip Pkwy., in Mary Esther. With more than 80+ agents in the Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Tallahassee, Panama City, and Tampa areas, the growth has been wonderful. So, in an effort to better accommodate the agents and their needs, the Mary Esther branch office was opened. In this office agents may do floor duty, if they like. This office will be able to help clients in the Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Shalimar, and Mary Esther areas. We want to have the convenience for not only our agents, but clients as well.

WSRE Awarded Bronze Telly Awards for Two Original Programs
WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, has been awarded the bronze Telly Award for two local productions: “The Blue Angels Air Shows” episode of “In Your Own Backyard” and “An Evening with Tommy Emmanuel,” a music special recorded live at WSRE’s Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio.

“In Your Own Backyard,” hosted by Sheri Hemminghaus Weeks, took viewers to the skies over Pensacola with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. The program covers both world-class air shows performed annually for hometown fans—the summer show over Pensacola Beach and the season finale Homecoming Air Show at NAS Pensacola’s Sherman Field. This program was produced by James Roy and Ted King.

“An Evening with Tommy Emmanuel” documents a concert performed in 2013 by the two-time Grammy Award nominee. Emmanuel, one of Australia’s most respected musicians, is known as a legendary guitarist with a career spanning five decades and intersecting with some of the finest musicians in the world. This program was produced by Eric S. Fundin and Bill Harrell, directed by James Roy and edited by Ted King.

Support the LARGEST One-Day “Stamp Out Hunger” FOOD DRIVE in the Nation and Help Restock Our Local Food Banks
The United Way of Okaloosa & Walton Counties asks you to participate in our nation’s and our community’s Largest Food Drive…. the 23rd Annual National Association of Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive to be held on Saturday, May 9, and help our local food banks restock their pantries. To participate, place your food donation(s) in a bag next to your mailbox early the morning of Saturday, May 9. Your letter carrier will pick up your donations as they make their regular mail routes and then deliver them to our local food banks. Donations may include quick meals like macaroni, spaghetti, soups, canned meats, peanut butter, canned juice, canned fruits, canned vegetables, baby food, cereal, and more.

Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer Presents Checks to Local Charities
Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday, April 8, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce followed by a reception for the community. Before the official Grand Opening, Brotula’s held two complimentary soft opening dinners with all tips and proceeds benefitting two local charities, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast and Food for Thought Outreach. Before the official ribbon cutting, owners Tyler Jarvis and Chris Ruyan presented Boys and Girls Clubs with a check for $2,092, as well as $2,220 for Food for Thought.

Okaloosa County Departments Participate in Earth Day Events
Earth Day is officially April 22, and is celebrated worldwide. The following events are scheduled in Destin and Fort Walton Beach:

April 13: Earth Day Celebration at the Destin Community Center at 3:30 p.m. Recycling information and “Edutainment.”

April 25: Okaloosa County Water and Sewer Department will promote and educate children about water conservation at the Emerald Coast Science Center Earth Day event, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

April 25: The Okaloosa County Environmental Council invites volunteers of all ages to participate in the Earth Day Beach Cleanup on Saturday, from 8 – 10 a.m. Receive your “Leave Footprints – NOT Stuff” event T-Shirt, trash bag, bottled water, gloves, and Get a Little Sand in your Soul! Volunteers are invited to sign in at Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island, the Beach Park west of Island Princess on Okaloosa Island, and Henderson Beach State Park in Destin.

Habitat for Humanity Celebrates Volunteers
Habitat for Humanity in Okaloosa County is hosting a volunteer appreciation celebration on Saturday, April 18, 2015 from 12 – 5 p.m., at the Habitat ReStore in Fort Walton Beach. Volunteers are invited to come by for a free cookout and get a window sticker for a new contest, Hunting for Habitat Volunteers. Participants put the Habitat window sticker on their car and when a Habitat employee spots their car, a photo will be posted to the Okaloosa Habitat Facebook and website pages. Stickers can be picked up at the ReStore and the Habitat office until May 18. The Hunting for Habitat Volunteers contest prizes are gift certificates to Helen Back,Whataburger, Hub City Smokehouse in Crestview, and Starbucks. Volunteers are vital to the work Habitat does for families in our community and this is a small way to acknowledge their contribution.

Mayor Mel Ponder Selected to Attend National Security Forum
Destin Mayor Mel Ponder has received and accepted a personal invitation from the Secretary of the Air Force to attend the 62nd annual National Security Forum at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The purpose of NSF is to expose influential citizens to senior U.S. and international officers and civilian equivalents in order to engage each other’s ideas and perspectives on Air Force, national and international security issues. During the week of May 5-7, approximately 150 civilian leaders in business, education, and government from all over the U.S. will meet with senior military leaders to explore current and future national security issues facing our nation. The NSF provides a great opportunity for an open and candid exchange of ideas among these guests, senior military and civilian leaders, and Air War College students. Ponder will attend lectures, meet in seminars for in-depth discussions, and participate in social events.

Project 10 Kids Charity Donates Food to CIC Children
Project 10 Kids Charity “I Believe,” sponsored by Jeannie Aylsworth from Body by Vi, donated 360 bags of healthy cereal to Children in Crisis (CIC). The goal of Project 10 Kids Charity is to create partnerships with local charities and organizations to help make a difference in the community. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, along with Laura Moore, CIC volunteer and event coordinator, accept the donation from Aylsworth. to Donate $1 to Charities for Every Activity or Booking through August announced last week that it will be starting a series of sponsorships with local non-profits along the Gulf Coast. The travel website and activity booking engine will be pledging $1 per booking up to $1,000 each month through August. For the month of April, TripShock has partnered with Destin Harvest to help curb hunger in Northwest Florida. Destin Harvest is focused primarily on assisting local feeding programs with providing quality and nutritious foods to feed the homeless.

CIC Board Member Takes Teens Shopping
Long-time Children in Crisis board member Judy Wiseman gave the transitioning teens living at the CIC Neighborhood a real shopping treat last week. Judy volunteered to take the two small groups of teens to find that special Easter outfit and other items needed to present a professional look for job interviews.

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 1

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County Introduces Art Classes
The Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA) announces a new series of classes, workshops, and camps appealing to all ages. The classes will feature Abrakadoodle mobile art studio and take place at the Bayou Arts Center. All supplies are provided and parents simply need to show up and let their children’s creativity abound. Each class will have a theme, which will provide continuity throughout the sessions. Mommy and Me classes, for ages 20 months- 4 years old, will feature a six week course entitled “Little Fingers, Big Ideas.” The After School Art Classes, for ages 5-12 will feature a six-week course entitled “It’s a Jungle Out There.” The Cultural Kids Camp this summer will include a mix of nature, art, and play for kids ages 4-12. To sign up, call (850) 622-5970 or e-mail Lee Greene at

St. Simon Episcopal Church Helps Children in Crisis
The Episcopal Church Women of St. Simon on the Sound recently helped the kids of Children in Crisis (CIC) by donating a check for $1,000 for food, clothing, and other needed items. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO, receives a donation of $1,000 from Joan Bomar, president of the Episcopal Church Women of St. Simon on the Sound.

BBB® Partners to Combat Identity Theft
Your BBB, along with Gilmore Services, CatCountry 98.7 FM, and WEAR-TV3, are offering individuals an opportunity to shred their sensitive data on Wednesday, April 15. This shredding event is free to the public and will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Cordova Mall in Pensacola and Santa Rosa Mall in Mary Esther. In addition to shredding, resources on how to protect your identity will be provided. For additional information on identity theft prevention and advice you can trust, start with

ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals® Participates as Presenting Sponsor of 17th Annual Seabreeze Jazz Festival®
Wyndham Vacation Rentals® today announced that its ResortQuest brand is again participating as Presenting Sponsor and Official Accommodation Provider of the Seabreeze Jazz Festival®. Taking place from April 22 - 26, at Pier Park in Panama City Beach, this year’s event marks the 14th consecutive year ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals will sponsor the annual festival. To explore lodging options during The Seabreeze Jazz Festival, call (855) 990-0087 or book online.

Emerald Coast Apartment Assoc. Donates Food to Children
The Emerald Coast Apartment Association showed its support toChildren in Crisis (CIC) by donating more than $900 in meat to help feed the children living in the CIC foster homes. Pictured from left to right are Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO; Jackie Foxworth; and Whitney Briones.

Forevermark Trunk Show
See more than 1 million dollars in hand-selected Forevermark diamonds on Saturday, April 4 – Sunday, April 12, at REEDS Jewelers in Destin Commons. For details, call (850) 269-0133.

8th Annual Mattie Kelly Estuary Family Festival
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute (MKEI) will jointly host the 8th Annual Mattie Kelly Estuary Family Festival at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park on Saturday, April 25, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The family-oriented festival offers exhibits and activities that celebrate Choctawhatchee Bay. Festival admission is FREE and open to the public. For more information, click here.

Young at Heart Wellness Classes Now Available at Sacred Heart Hospital
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast has partnered with Blueprint Health Studios to offer Young at Heart Wellness Classes every Tuesday, April 7 – May 19, at 10 a.m. Through Sacred Heart Hospital’s Senior Spirit program, Young at Heart Wellness Classes give seniors the opportunity to stay fit for life. Instructors guide participants through carefully crafted exercises for seniors that help to increase balance, strength, and flexibility. No running or jumping required, the classes focus on slow controlled movements participants can learn to do at home. Diet and nutritional information is also provided, as well as disease specific preventative exercises that can be incorporated into daily life. Canes, walkers, and wheelchairs are welcome. For details, call (850) 278-3600.

Caduceus Society Donates to Children in Crisis
Members of the Caduceus Society of Sacred Heart Hospital presented a donation check for $21,500 to Children in Crisis (CIC). Seen here is CIC president & CEO Ken Hair (center) receiving the check from Caduceus Society members.

Campbell Family Foundation Helps Children
The Campbell Family Foundation presented Children in Crisis (CIC) with a grant of $40,000 to help provide support to the to the Travis Tringas Cottage, the new family foster home under construction at the CIC Neighborhood. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president & CEO, receives the check from Don Campbell, Campbell Family Foundation, along with Kitty Johnson, chairman of the CIC board.