Friday, May 29, 2015

Chairman's Message: Summertime in Destin

I hope that everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and took the opportunity to appreciate those brave souls that have given the ultimate sacrifice in order for us to enjoy our freedom.

The past couple of months have been filled with educational celebrations, so it is obvious to see that the business community is planning for the future.  If you have not had anyone participate in the Chamber’s Destin Forward Class, the Northwest Florida State College Leadership Okaloosa Class, or the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, you are missing out on some great opportunities.  It is truly amazing what these individually unique programs teach the participants, all the while not duplicating sessions.  Probably the most amazing graduation celebration was the Young Entrepreneur’s event on May 18.  There were seven local high school aged students that were required to give a product business plan presentation to a panel of business investors in hopes of being awarded some seed money to launch the product.  Although only one individual is allowed to represent the region in the state competition in Boca Raton, all seven represented themselves in a manner that all parents, mentors, and instructors should be proud.  The participants were Savannah Bartleson, Huston Locht, Christopher Loffler, Peter Masone, Ashley Pellerin, Baili Pettet, and Olivia Rose Talley.  Peter will be traveling on to represent the region at the state competition, so we wish him the best of luck.  I encourage all business owners to send participants to all three of these classes when registration begins for the next session.

In the past few months, we have had a number of successful events, including monthly Leaders In Business Luncheons, multiple ribbon cuttings and grand openings, the Chamber’s Annual Tax Relief Golf Tournament, multiple 5K run/walks, wine tasting fundraising events, City of Destin recognized Founders Day with the dedication of the Primrose at its new home with the Destin History & Fishing Museum, and the Week of Blessings featuring the 58
th Annual Blessing of the Fleet, just to name a few.  Please check out the Community Calendar on the Chamber’s website at for all the upcoming event details.

Membership continues to increase with each passing week, and through May we have 946 active members.  The Chamber website traffic is averaging more than 55,000 page views per month, so if you are looking for a quick way to gain exposure to your business, contact the staff to find out how you can take advantage of this great resource.  Two premium home page positions are available. If you have a change in personnel or with any of your contact information, please contact the Chamber so we can update your membership file.   

The community and economic development front has seen some important topics come up to the local city government.  The City of Destin held a workshop to discuss the possible need to adopt a code to limit the number of individual adults allowed to occupy a short-term vacation rental home.   By the end of the workshop, I believe the city officials felt there were enough codes to address the problems impacting our residences without the need to adopt additional codes.  The City of Destin also held six public workshops to gain citizen’s input on what the city should focus on for the future.  These workshops, “Envision Destin,” were all held at the Community Center. I hope that everyone had an opportunity to attend one.  If you have not been able to listen in or participate in any of the City meetings or workshops, I encourage all residents to get involved.  The City is working to help the business community, but if the business owners are not actively participating, the end results may end up hurting business, so please participate.

Finally, I just want to share some of the upcoming events so that all members can plan time to network: the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Thursday night concerts, Rock the Docks at the Harbor Walk Village stage, and the Chamber’s Annual Paddle at the Porch race on Saturday, Aug. 15, south of the Back Porch Restaurant.  If you are not a paddle boarder, you need to either sign up as a volunteer or just come out and watch the event.  Last year’s six-mile race was won by our very own local Garrett Fletcher, so come out and support the local athletes.

If there is ever anything we may do for you, please do not hesitate to call the Chamber at (850) 837-6241. We look forward to serving you throughout 2015 and together
building this world-class community one business at a time.  I hope everyone is Living the Dream in this place we call home, the Destin area.

                                                                          Ken Wampler
                                                                          2015 Chairman of the Board of Directors
                                                                          Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Hilton Sandestin Completes Meeting Space Expansion, Serenity by the sea Spa Transformation
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa now offers a third 7,500-square-foot ballroom and has expanded and enhanced the award-winning Serenity by the sea Spa for meeting and leisure guests to enjoy, as well as a larger space for bridal parties to take on complete relaxation for the big day.

Completed in March, the Coastal Ballroom addition included expansion to pre-function space, current restroom facilities and permanent registration areas. Now with nearly 40,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, and 20,000 square feet of outdoor event space, the resort can now accommodate larger conferences and events and provide additional flexibility for group activities and breakouts. The award-winning Serenity by the sea Spa has completed a major overhaul involving the footprint of the space and upgrades throughout. The new area totals 14,500 square feet and also includes an all-new fitness center offering 24-hour guest access, updated reception area, retail area, and new tile/paint accents throughout the spa.

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital Earn an “A” for Patient Safety
Hospital Corporation of America facilities Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital have both been recognized for their dedication to patient safety by being awarded “A” grades in the Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from preventable medical errors, injuries, and infections within the hospital. This A grade is one of the most meaningful honors a hospital can achieve, and one of the most valuable indicators for patients looking for a safe place to receive care. The Hospital Safety Score is the gold standard rating for patient safety, compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading patient safety experts and administered by The Leapfrog Group, a national, nonprofit hospital safety watchdog.

Local Libraries to Restore Natural Resources
Children that have been participating and attending From Shelves to the Shores activities will now have the opportunity to see the area’s natural resources on a restoration field trip. Coastal Branch Library in South Walton and the Niceville Public Library in Niceville have both been participating in the From Shelves to the Shores Program. The From Shelves to the Shores program is a science education program offered byChoctawhatchee Basin Alliance of Northwest Florida State College (CBA) at local libraries. Once a month, CBA has traveled to the two libraries to offer educational programs about the local watershed. At the Coastal Branch Library in South Walton, the children have been learning about the rare coastal dune lakes by growing sea oats at the library. And in Niceville, at the Niceville Public Library, children have been learning about the Choctawhatchee Bay by growing a native shoreline grass known as Smooth Cordgrass. At both libraries, in addition to growing native plants, the students have also played games, made crafts and participated in activities that relate to local waters. For more information, please contact Brittany Tate at (850) 217-5382 or

Sponsor a Food for Thought Family for a Week During the Summer
Donate $35 to feed a family in need for a week as part of Food for Thought’s Summer Program. For details, visit

Rosemary Beach Foundation Presents 4th Annual Walk Her Way®
Kick up your heels at the 4th Annual Walk Her Way® in Rosemary Beach® on Friday, June 12, at 6:30 pm. Help raise awareness of domestic violence by being a part of this fun walk. Men, women and children of all ages are invited to put on high heels and follow the New Orleans style brass band through Rosemary Beach. Sign up for Walk Her Way at Teams registrations are encouraged. Registration is $25 for adults and $10 for children under 12 and includes a t-shirt. On-site registration the day of the walk will be an additional $5 per person from 5:30 - 6:15 p.m. Walk Her Way® benefits Shelter House, the domestic and sexual violence center serving Okaloosa and Walton counties, and Rosemary Beach Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers and supports community, educational, and other charitable activities in Walton County.

Okaloosa County Public Schools Receive Healthy School Recognition
The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County (DOH-Okaloosa) applauds the Okaloosa County Public Schools for its recognition as a Florida Healthy School District at the Silver level for the period of May 2015 through April 2017. The recognition is based on the submission of the Florida Healthy School District Self-Assessment and was developed by the Florida Coordinated School Health Partnership (CSHP). Since 2009, CSHP in partnership with Florida Action for Healthy Kids (FLAFHK), Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS), and the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation has recognized 37 districts for establishing a culture and climate that embraces the Coordinated School Health approach to reduce and eliminate barriers to learning and support academic achievement.
Price Completes Event Management Courses
Renee Price, real estate assistant to broker Rodney Elkins of World Impact Real Estate (WIRE), completed two event Management courses, including “Start Your Business” and “Market Your Business.” In her role since 2010, Price now works with more than 100 agents at WIRE. Hospitality is one of her strengths, and she enjoys putting together events and meetings that enhance the real estate buying and selling process.

MKAF Honors Armed Forces with Military Night
Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) continues its 20th anniversary season of its Concerts in the Village summer series at the Cultural Arts Village in Destin, by celebrating Military Appreciation Night on Thursday, May 28. The Mulligans, the Emerald Coast’s most popular band performing favorite dance tunes from the ‘60s and ‘70s, will perform. The gate opens at 6 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 p.m. To honor local men and men in uniform MKAF is extending a special discounted admission of 50 percent off. For those in the armed services with valid military ID admission to the concert is just $5. For details, call (850) 650-2226 or visit

Life’s A Beach Receives Three American Inhouse Design Awards
After recently accepting four ADDY Awards at the local competition, Life’s A Beach Publications earned another recognition of excellence by receiving three 2015 American Inhouse Design Awards. The American Inhouse Design Awards is the original and biggest showcase for outstanding work produced by inhouse designers. This competition recognizes designers for their creative talent and for the value they bring to their businesses and institutions. This year, nearly 6,000 entries were submitted and a highly selective 15 percent are recognized today with a Certificate of Excellence. Life’s A Beach proudly accepted an award for the entire publication for the following guides that the company produces: the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce 2015 Visitor’s Guide & Membership Directory, the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce 2015 Community Information Guide and Membership Directory and the Okaloosa County Tourism Development, Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau The Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast: The Official Vacation Guide.

Local Business Donates to Museum to “Keep History Alive!”
One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating was proud to show its community support by donating $175 to the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida for its 39th Saturday in the Park on April 25, 2015. Pictured are Gina Marini, museum manager; Crystal Brown, museum education coordinator; and Jenna Day, One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating marketing directory.

Health Source Chiropractic Donates to Children in Crisis
Dr. Scott Smith, D.C., and the staff of Health Source Chiropractic donated $100 to Children in Crisis (CIC) to help the kids living at CIC. Seen here, Smith presents the donation to Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, along with Health Source staff Stephanie Buzga, Ashia Lynn, and Kristen Ormsbee.

Okaloosa and Walton County Students Raise More than $29K for Children in Crisis
The Change for Children Campaign started in October 2008 as a fundraiser for Children in Crisis (CIC) in Okaloosa and Walton counties’ schools. The Change for Children campaign was started by the local chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority of Okaloosa County. The goal of the campaign is to “teach children to help children” by donating their pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to feed and clothe the children living at the CIC Children’s Neighborhood. The winning schools that raised the most from Okaloosa County include Antioch Elementary School, Ruckel Middle School, Choctawhatchee High School, and Liza Jackson Preparatory School. Winning schools from Walton County include Van R. Butler Elementary School, Emerald Coast Middle School (in picture), and South Walton High School.

Home Instead Senior Care Presents Check to Covenant Hospice
Home Instead Senior Care recently presented a check for $7,500 to Covenant Hospice as an annual sponsorship for the non-profit’s fundraising events. Locally, Covenant holds several signature events, including the Cox Charity Auction, Thrive Music Fest, The Blue Jean Ball, and Miles of Memories 5K Run/Walk.

Gulfarium Welcomes Baby Dolphin
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is thrilled to announce the birth of a female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin calf, born April 29, to resident 12-year old Lily.

"We are pleased to report that the calf is healthy and active," said Chad Stouffer, Gulfarium's director of animal management. "With guarded optimism, we are continually observing the calf to watch for consistent nursing and normal breathing patterns."

The birth of the calf marks a significant Gulfarium milestone as a third-generation dolphin born at the park. In the first few weeks, both Lily and the calf's grandmother, Delilah, have shared in the in maternal duties, such as care and nursing.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chamber Appreciates Area Non-Profits During May Lunch

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our May 12 Leaders In Business Lunch & Non-Profit Appreciation Expo!

Participating non-profits included the following:
Air Force Enlisted Village
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida
Building Homes for Heroes
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast
Children in Crisis, Inc. Florida
Covenant Hospice
Destin United Methodist Church
Emerald Coast Science Center
FL Pace Funding Agency
Food For Thought Outreach Inc
Fore Her
Fresh Start for Children and Families
Habitiat For Humanity in Okaloosa County
Junior League of the Emerald Coast
Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation
Rocky Bayou Christian School
Shelter House
The Sonder Project
Trees Destin
United Way of Okaloosa & Walton Counties


Click here to see more photos from the event. 

Thank you to those donating door prizes, including the following:
- AirRestore
- American Cancer Society Relay for Life
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast
- Building Homes for Heroes
- The Destin Log
- Eglin Federal Credit Union
- Emerald Coast Chiropractic
- Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village
FL Pace Funding Agency
- Gulf Power
- Junior League of the Emerald Coast
- Life's A Beach LLC
- Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation
- Rocky Bayou Christian School
- Trees Destin
- United Way of Okaloosa & Walton Counties

Join us on June 9 for our Leaders In Business Lunch Sponsored by Eglin Federal Credit Union at Bonefish Grill. Airmen will serve as celebrity waiters and all tips will benefit Building Homes for Heroes. Register by 3 p.m., on Friday, June 5, and be eligible to win FREE advertising on!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 2

Hilton Sandestin Win 2015 Internet Advertising Competition and AdFed Suncoast ADDY Award
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa and its Sarasota-based advertising agency, Miles, are the proud recipients of two awards for excelling in online advertising – a 2015 Internet Advertising Competition ‘Best of Industry’ award in the Best Hotel and Lodging Email Message category and a ‘SilverADDY’ award from the adFed Suncoast in the Digital Advertising category. Miles submitted the redesigned hotel eNewsletter to the Internet Advertising Competition, which used a new color palette utilized in all digital and print creative, used new imagery taken after the 2014 hotel-wide transformation, and incorporated the “That Place” creative campaign. Since the new eNewsletter has been in place, the hotel has seen an increase in click-through rates from four to 12 percent and continues to outperform previous emails by more than double with higher open rates and an average of 8.10% of the email’s opened delivering website visitors.

CBA Beneficiary of Nick’s Redfish Tournament
Nick’s Seafood Restaurant & Treylermade Tournaments of Freeport will hold the 10th Annual Old Nick’s Redfish Round-Up on Saturday, May 16, with a total payout of $12,000. In light of the tournament’s 10th anniversary, the Nick family wants raise awareness for the health and sustainability of Choctawhatchee Bay and the species that inhabit those waters, such as the redfish, by donating proceeds from its 2015 tournament series to the ‘Stewards of Choctawhatchee Bay’, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. For more information about the 10th Annual Old Nick’s Redfish Round-Up and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance’s involvement, please contact Sarah Davis at (850) 585-7926 or

Lamar Dean & Associates Insurance Services Joins Acentria Insurance Group
Acentria Insurance proudly announces its partnership with Lamar Dean & Associates Insurance Services. Lamar Dean & Associates has been serving the Panhandle of Florida since 2003 and offers both personal and commercial insurance. It will continue to operate from its current location at 10427 Sorrento Road in Pensacola, and may be reached at (850) 497-6510.

4th Annual Community Health & Fitness Fair
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital will host the 4th Annual Community Health & Fitness Fair Wednesday, May 20, at Santa Rosa Mall, from 8:30 a.m. until noon. This health and fitness fair is FREE and open to the public, and it offers a complimentary continental breakfast until 9 a.m. More than 30 vendors and multiple healthcare professionals will provide health information, educational materials, and basic health screenings for blood glucose, blood pressure, and body mass index, as well as vein screenings by the team from Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. For details, please call (855) 614-7274 or visit

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Donates $5K to Fisher House
ABC Fine Wine & Spirits officially opened its first Destin location, the second west of Tallahassee, on Thursday, April 30. A crowd of more than 500 attendees enjoyed hors d'oeuvres by Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi, Brotula's Seafood House & Steamer, Marlin Grill, andLenny's Sub Shop, and sipped on a variety of wines and spirits, including local beverages Chaste's 850 and Grayton Beer. ABC Fine Wine & Spirits also presented a check for $5,000 to Fisher House of the Emerald Coast.

Lewallen Joins World Impact Real Estate
Real estate agent Donna Lewallen was born in Atlanta, raised in Mississippi, and moved from Louisiana to the Emerald Coast in 2003 with her son Shane. She has always been in the public service industry, from food and beverage, marketing and sales to massage therapist and business owner. In the 1980s, she moved to Chicago to help design, open, and operate four smoothie stores. In 2000, she opened a Spa in Baton Rouge, and, in 2004, she opened a spa in Miramar Beach. Lewallen has had extensive education and passion in working with cancer patients. She excels in listening to clients and helping them. Contact her at (850) 217-7477 or

Sinfonia "Linked Up" with Okaloosa & Walton County 3rd-5th Graders
More than 2,200 Okaloosa and Walton County 3rd-5th graders filled Destiny Worship Center to capacity during two performances on Thursday, April 30, for Sinfonia Gulf Coast's annual Link Up performances, in partnership with Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute (WMI). As one of 70 orchestras world-wide invited to participate in WMI's Link Up program during the 2014-2015 season, Sinfonia Education & Link Up coordinator Liz Aylor worked with teachers in both districts during the 9-month curriculum, which culminated in students' live performance on voice, recorders, and instruments with Sinfonia Gulf Coast. The performance included stunning visuals for the students to follow and perform along with the orchestra, on-stage teacher soloists, and host and vocal/piano pedagogue Ms. Phyllis Hasty.

ECAR to Treat Wounded Warriors to Day of Fishing
The Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR) is hosting its third annual Soldiers on the Water event on Sept. 19, and registration is now open for any interested Wounded Warriors. The event provides a day of world-class fishing in Destin to Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsman injured during their military service. Gold Star children are also invited to attend. The all-day event will begin with registration at 7 a.m. and will conclude at 5 p.m. Last year the event hosted 65 wounded veterans for a day of fishing, followed by a fish dinner. This year, organizers hope to have 100 Wounded Warriors participate.

Soldiers on the Water will offer both deep-sea and inshore fishing as part of the experience. All food, equipment and licensing will be provided by ECAR and other event sponsors. Sponsors to date include Keller Williams Realty, Waterstone Mortgage, Prime Lending, CCB Community Bank, University Lending Group,ERA American Real Estate, Eglin Federal Credit Union and Old South Land Title. To register, veterans may visit or contact Amanda Creel at or (850) 243-6145.

Blue Marlin Realty Group Welcomes Four New Team Members
Blue Marlin Realty Group continues to grow with the addition of new realtors Adam Miller, Kim Moore, and Lynn Patacca, and guest services & reservations manager Kristin Bondi.

Miller (top) has a highly decorated military career. Hailing from Otway, Ohio, Miller joined the Marine Corps after graduating high school. In 2011, he received orders to report to Pensacola, to serve as the Navigator for the C-130 transport aircraft for the US Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels. While new to the real estate industry, Miller’s impressive military background includes two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and two Humanitarian Service Medals.

Originally from Mobile, Moore (center) moved to Destin in 1999, when she married her husband, Rick, fellow Blue Marlin Realty Group Realtor. Her extensive background in banking and job recruiting lends well to Moore’s style of real estate. She and her husband are the founders of Paddle Destin, a local Paddle Board group that hosts paddle events throughout the Emerald Coast and state of Florida.

Atlanta real estate professional Patacca (bottom) is originally from Maine. She and her husband Mike have owned an investment property in Sandestin for years. After living in Marietta, Ga., for the last 25 years, the opportunity presented itself for the family to relocate to Florida’s Emerald Coast. Patacca’s career in real estate began in 2006, but she had years of prior experience at various corporate law firms as a legal secretary.

Bondi received her degree from the University of Kentucky. Most recently managing a bed and breakfast for two years in New Orleans, Kristen moved back to Destin, where she lived for a summer.

“Doctors With A Heart” Donate to Children in Crisis
Dr. April Lee, D.C. (center), and Dr. Doug Sterban, D.C., with Bluewater Chiropractic Wellness Center presented a donation of $750 to Children in Crisis President and CEO Ken Hair.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 2015 Business Briefs / Member News Part 1

VPS Holds Emergency Training Exercise
The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) will be conducting a “Triennial-Full Scale Emergency Exercise” as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), from 9 a.m. until approximately noon on May 6. Initial planning started in August of 2014, following numerous coordination meetings and table-top drills.

The Civil Aircraft Ditching exercise scenario is designed to test the effectiveness of emergency response plans for the Airport, participating agencies, local first responders, state and federal response teams, and other stakeholders in the event of an aircraft mishap into the Choctawhatchee Bay near Lincoln Park in Valparaiso. This critical training session allows for the Airport and first responders to collaborate and comply with the highest FAA standards in safety and security.

Lincoln Park in Valparaiso will be closed from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., on May 6. There will be no impacts to airlines schedules, passengers, or the traveling public at VPS. If you have any questions, please contact Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport at (850) 651-7160.

Newman-Dailey Real Estate Sales Division Awards Top Producers
Broker Associate Mark DeSalvo and Sales Associate Eva Pickens were recently awarded 2015 First Quarter Top Producers in Newman-Dailey’s Real Estate Division. DeSalvo was recognized as Top Sales Agent and Pickens as Top Listing Agent for first quarter 2015.

DeSalvo has enjoyed repeated top producer status throughout his 13-year career with Newman-Dailey, including Top Sales Agent for 2013 and Top Listing Agent for 2014. Originally from Little Rock, Ark., he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas. He is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Florida Association of Realtors, Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, Council of Residential Specialists, Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council, Arkansas Realtors Association, Little Rock Realtors Association, and Past President of the Emerald Coast Networking Group of Destin.

Originally from Huntsville, Ala., Pickens obtained her Alabama Real Estate license in 1984 before moving to Northwest Florida in 1996, when she obtained her Florida Broker Associate and Community Association (CAM) license. For more than 17 years, she has specialized in condo and home listings and sales, and managing COAs and HOAs. She is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Florida Association of Realtors, and Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. She also is a Graduate, REALTOR Institute (GRI), Community Association Manager, in addition to being a Notary Public.

Online Auction Benefiting BBB® Foundation
The Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida Foundation is hosting a “Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics” online auction. The auction begins on Monday, May 4, at 9 a.m. and ends on Thursday, May 21, at 8 p.m. The auction site is The auction serves as a fundraiser to help the BBB Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, fulfill its mission of providing “community education and recognition programs”. Money raised will help provide $1,000 scholarships to college-bound high school juniors and seniors who personify high ethics as demonstrated through leadership, community service, overall personal integrity and academic history. For more information on the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, visit

MKAF Extends Open Call to Visual Artists
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) continues a yearlong celebration of its 20th anniversary with the 20th annual Festival of the Arts Oct. 24-25, throughout the grounds of the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village in Destin on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast.

MKAF has a rich history of this award-winning fine art festival, dating back to 1995, but as MKAF marks two decades, it completes its third year of staging events at the contemporary Dugas Pavilion and spacious Village Green. The Festival site is on 6.76 acres of expansive green space and can accommodate 110 artist booths and other festival amenities for this regional juried fine arts and music festival. Artist applications and poster competition entries are now being accepted for the MKAF’s 20th annual Festival of the Arts. Artists will compete for $10,000 in cash awards. For Artist Application, Rules of Participation and Poster Entry Form, visit online at

FWB Sail & Power Squadron Donates to CIC
Dr. Judy Manning, Children In Crisis (CIC) operations director, receives a donation of supplies from Ray Morgan, commander of the Ft. Walton Beach Sail and Power Squadron, to kick off “National Safe Boating Week” starting May 16. Also helping with the donation is Laura Moore, CIC volunteer and events coordinator, and Allie Noah, CIC development director. The donation will help the at-risk children living at CIC to prepare for the summer vacation.

T-Shirt Celebrates Okaloosa County Centennial
100% polyester Okaloosa Centennial T-Shirts are now available for a $12 donation at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida gift shop. All proceeds fund the museum, which is a 501(c)3 tax exempt education foundation. For details, call (850) 678-2615 or visit it at 115 Westview Avenue in Valparaiso, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday.

Friday, May 1, 2015

President's Message: Keep Florida Summer's Alive,,, Don't Bet on Gambling

The article below, written by Chamber President and CEO Shane Moody, CCE, FCCP, first appeared on May 1, in the Florida Chamber Insider.
Local businesses open and filled with customers, children and families enjoying white sand beaches, full hotel rooms- that’s a good summer vacation in Destin. In fact, for many of Florida’s coastal towns that rely on visitors and tourism, that’s a good year. According to Visit Florida, more than 97 million visitors came to our state last year. For Florida, that number signifies jobs, growth, and competitiveness, and comes from the multi-faceted efforts of local communities and chambers of commerce, and organizations like the Florida Chamber, Enterprise Florida, and VISIT FLORIDA.
But our state hasn’t just garnered attention from visitors around the world- it has also earned a bulls-eye from mega Las Vegas-style casinos seeking to expand into our state.
In Destin, we want to keep Florida summers alive. That’s why we join the Florida Chamber in opposing Las Vegas-style casinos.
Las Vegas-style mega casinos promised once thriving coastal communities a boost to their economies and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. But facts are, as we know, stubborn things. A look at the blighted economy of Atlantic City provides all the insight we need as to why expanding Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida is a bad bet- thousands of jobs lost, millions lost in revenue, countless casinos closing. And in the wake of this downfall? A coastal town that once treasured their summers.
On Nov. 28, 2011, our Board of Directors passed a resolution opposing the expansion of gambling in Florida.  We stand by that position today.  In November 2014, I was proud to stand before Senate President Don Gaetz and his committee on gaming to express our Chamber’s concerns about and opposition to the expansion of gambling in our great state.
We cannot let Florida go the way of Atlantic City. We hope you will join us and the Florida Chamber in opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling.
Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP
President and CEO
Destin Area Chamber of Commerce