Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chairman's Message: What Vision of Destin’s Future is Best?

The newly appointed Mayor and City Council have their hands full….with the ‘burden’ of deciding the best way to bring the city forward for the next 50 years of growth and beautification.
Comprehensive Plan
Part of the burden lies with some major decisions that are to be made regarding the comprehensive plan as it relates to development (new applications, height restrictions, permissible land use, impact on area). As I have stated previously in this forum, the Chamber supports responsible growth with a focus on maintaining a business and family-friendly environment in Destin.  If changes are to be made, let them not include any moratorium on development that would chase away strong projects and new professional jobs.
Underground Utilities
A new wrinkle to the burden that is being raised by some within the City is the question of whether or not to purchase the electrical utility from Gulf Power with the ultimate goal being to underground the city’s power lines. The benefits to burying the lines are obvious - far fewer power outages (even in high winds) and a much cleaner, more professional look that is synonymous with destination cities, such as Naples and Orlando. The negatives are also obvious - the project would come with a very high price tag that residents would pay to enjoy, and the cost to repair the underground lines is higher.
The Chamber is not making a statement for or against Underground Utilities at this time, but this is an item to watch for, and we encourage you to educate yourself as to the pros and cons. In a strict business sense, there are many benefits to having Destin present itself in the best possible manner - real estate would become more valuable and demand for commercial space would likely rise. The real question is cost - how do we pay for it? 
Stay tuned…
Upcoming EventsThe Chamber is committed to providing and partnering in events that create environments for strong business networking, such as:
·         5th Annual Paddle at the Porch (8/20/16, on the beach behind the Back Porch)
·         50th Anniversary Event (9/15/16, at The Henderson)
Be well and enjoy the summer!
Jonathan Ochs
Trustmark National Bank
2016 Destin Chamber Chairman

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

City of Destin Announces Interim City Manager
The Destin City Council approved a contract on May 16 to hire Carisse LeJeune as the interim city manager, while the council searches for a permanent replacement for outgoing City Manager Greg Kisela. LeJeune is the former assistant city manager of Boynton Beach, Fla., and has served the public sector for the last 15 years. Her resume states that she is an “executive level public sector professional with over 15 years of achievement in municipal government, including policy development and implementation, strategic planning, sustainability and emergency management. Results oriented and effective leader with proven ability to plan, implement and monitor special programs, activities and projects such as 5-year Citywide Strategic Plan, Climate Action Plan, Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, City Rebranding and Greenway/Bikeway/Pedestrian Master Plan.”

Okaloosa Arts & Culture Fest This Saturday
The Okaloosa Arts Alliance invites you, your family and friends to the annual Okaloosa Arts & Culture Fest, which will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the FWB Landing. This free family fun arts event features dozens of local artisans and craft vendors, food and beverages, free family arts activities, live music, and art performances. For details,

Fashion Designer to Visit Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
Sandestin RetailThe Sandestin Family Retail Shops announced today that fashion designer Lauren Stokes, creator and owner of the clothing line Lauren James, will make appearances June 10-11 at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. There will be an exclusive meet and greet on June 10, at the Overlook at Sandestin, and an in-store appearance on June 11, at Barefoot Princess in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. This is the first time Lauren has partnered with a retailer for an in-store event. For details, follow

Grayton Beer Company Unveils Canned Beer
Grayton Beer CansGrayton Beer Company recently announced that the beer currently packaged as 30A Beach Blonde Ale is now available in 12 oz. cans as Beach Permit Blonde Ale. Appropriately named, the new aluminum packaging allows the popular local brew to be iced down and taken to the beach. The shiny new packaging of the blonde ale will be an obvious choice for beachgoers heading to the glass-free beaches. Reminiscent of the permits placed on 4x4 trucks allowed to drive on the beaches in South Walton County, FL, the Beach Permit Blonde Ale will be easily recognizable with the Walton County Beach Permit #26178 on one side and the Grayton Beer Company logo on the other. 

Praise Temple Deliverance Church Helps CIC Children
Children In CrisisPastor Darren Parker of Fort Walton Beach’s Praise Temple Deliverance Church, along with church members, present a donation of $1,000 to Ken Hair, president and CEO of Children in Crisis (CIC).  The donation will help feed, clothe, and care for the abused, neglected, and abandoned children living at the CIC Neighborhood.

LuLu’s 1st Anniversary Party Bay Bash
Boat in, float in, paddle in, or come by land. Join in the celebration of LuLu’s first year at its 1st Anniversary Party Bay Bash on June 11. Revel in a family day filled with non-stop fun, food, kid’s activities, and back-to-back live music out on the sandy beach along the Choctawhatchee Bay. The music begins at 11 a.m. with the Lamont Landers Band, followed by Hotel Oscar, Amanda Shaw and Glen David Andrews. Come meet Crazy Sista, restaurateur and author Lucy Buffett who will be on hand from 1 to 3 p.m. signing her newly updated cookbook, LuLu’s Kitchen, A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life. The first 50 boats, floats or paddle boarders to anchor in behind Lulu’s will receive free 1st Anniversary Party Bay Bash t-shirts. For details, visit

Keller Williams Emerald Coast Realty Hosts KW RED Day 
Keller Williams Realty Emerald CoastInaugurated in 2009, KW Red Day is Keller Williams Realty’s annual, company-wide day of community service.  RED stands for renew, energize, and donate. KW associates around the world are asked to “give where they live” and dedicate a day to renewing and energizing the communities they serve. Harvest House was the charity of choice for the Destin and 30-A KW offices. The agents made donation requests at the Destin Walmart resulting in three carloads of food collected, plus $396.65 in cash. Additionally, three area restaurants, Dockside CafĂ© & Oyster BarMimmo’s Italian Restaurante, and Drew Messina Catering, provided an extravagant lunch at the Keller Williams Destin Market Center for the public to enjoy for a $5 donation. That money went towards buying perishables for Harvest House and concluded with agents stocking the shelves at Harvest House with the various donations collected.

Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer Raises $3,500 for Food For Thought
Food for Thought Outreach - Brotula's Seafood House & SteamerBrotula’s Seafood House & Steamer celebrated its one-year anniversary on Thursday, April 7, 2016. More than 200 people came out to celebrate the success of the locally owned and operated full-service restaurant located on the Historic Destin Harbor. Guests enjoyed $1 drink specials, live music, and a raffle benefittng Food For Thought Outreach, Inc., raising $3,500 for the local 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Brotula’s co-owners Chris Ruyan (left) and Tyler Jarvis (right) presented the check to Food for Thought Outreach Founder Tiffanie Nelson, during the opening of Food For Thought Outreach's new Destin pantry.

Southern Residential Leasing Offers Housing Special for Active-Duty Military
Southern Residential Leasing has waived the standard $50.00 application fee for all active-duty military members and their families now through the end of May. Southern’s “Military Move-In Special” will allow the brave men and women of our armed forces to find homes for rent in Pensacola, Destin, Mobile, and the surrounding areas and apply free of charge. This special has become a semi-annual tradition within the residential leasing division of Southern Rentals and Real Estate since November 2014.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Sacred Heart Nurse Honored with Award
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald CoastSacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast (SHHEC) recently honored one of its nurses with the 2016 Nurse Excellence Award in recognition of the exceptional care he provides to patients. 
Nina Jeffords (right), chief operating officer/chief nursing officer, at Sacred Heart recognized Jeff Moody, RN, of the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with this award. 

Jeffords also recognized the following nominees for the hospital’s annual award:
- Diana Brocato, RN, Pre-Operative Surgery Department;
- Beth Nash, RN, Intensive Care Unit; 
- Tracy Perk, RN, Emergency Department; and 
- Daryl Riddle, RN, Radiology Department.

Children’s Advocacy Center Receives Donation from Costa Enterprises
Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center - Costa McDonald'sThe Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) received a $1,500 check from Costa Enterprises’ McCafĂ© With A Cause initiative. The program was designed and developed by Costa Enterprises, owners of 20 McDonalds in Northwest Florida. ECCAC was the recipient of a portion of McDonalds coffee sales each Monday during the month of April. Eleven other area charities participate in the other months of the year.

Bit-Wizards Donates to Children in Crisis
Bit-Wizards - Children In CrisisBit-Wizards donated $360.00 to Children in Crisis (CIC) to help the kids living in the Children's Village. Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, and Allie Noah, CIC development director, receive the donation from Candace Mitchell, Bit-Wizards marketing director, and Louis J. Erickson, Jr., Bit Wizards chief operating officer. The donation will be used to help give the children living at the CIC Neighborhood summer vacation activities. The money was raised at Bit-Wizards’ booth during the Multi-Chamber Business Expo, held in March at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.

Tax Certificate Sale Workshops Scheduled
As a reminder, representatives from the Okaloosa County Tax Collector’s Office will be conducting workshops around the county, educating citizens on the annual Tax Certificate Sale. Winning bidders can earn between 5% - 18% interest. Potential investors can log on to to take full advantage of the demonstrations, procedural information, links to public records, and the Delinquent Tax advertising list. Bidding begins May 11 and will conclude on June 1. Upcoming workshops include May 17 in Niceville, May 19 in Crestview, and May 24 in Shalimar.

Local Hospitals Earn “A” Grades
Hospital Corporation of America facilities Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital were both recognized for their dedication to patient safety by being awarded “A” grades in the Spring 2016 Hospital Safety Score by The Leapfrog Group, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from preventable medical errors, injuries, and infections within the hospital. Developed under the guidance of The Leapfrog Group’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score uses 30 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign A, B, C, D, and F grades to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent, and free to the public. 

Kiwanis Club of Freeport Donates to Children’s Advocacy Center
Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy CenterThe Kiwanis Club of Freeport recently held its 7th Annual South Walton Golf Tournament at Kelly Plantation Golf Club and made a generous $7,500 donation in support of sponsoring a room at the new Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs. The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) is one organization with two locations in DeFuniak Springs and Niceville. Pictured are Kim Henderson, ECCAC’s director of development; Julie Hurst, ECCAC CEO; and Wanda Pitts, Kiwanis member.

Gulf Place Partners with Sunshine 30A Trolley 
Gulf Place has partnered with Sunshine Shuttle & Limousine’s Sunshine 30A Trolley for another summer of convenient transportation for locals and guests. This public transportation system provides complimentary transportation along Florida's scenic Highway 30A and will now make regular stops at ResortQuest Vacation Rentals & Real Estate on Laura Hamilton Boulevard located in the heart of Gulf Place. It operates May 28 – Sept. 5, seven days per week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.