Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

Wells Fargo Advisors Moves to Grand Boulevard
Wells Fargo Advisors has relocated its Destin office to 625 Grand Boulevard Ste. 200, in Miramar Beach. The branch has served as a staple in the community for 23 years and currently has nine financial advisors on staff. It offers a complete spectrum of financial products and services to both individuals and businesses.  

National Marina Day Volunteers Make Progress on Reef
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and Bluewater Bay Marina Complex held a community-wide volunteer effort on National Marina Day, June 11, to construct oyster reef breakwaters along the marina’s eroding Rocky Bayou shoreline. Fifty-six volunteers, of all ages, came out to provide support for the expansive restoration project. When complete, this living shoreline site will house the largest oyster reef CBA has constructed in 20 years.   

Grand Fitness Offers Corporate Rates
Grand Fitness is in the final stages of construction with an August opening planned.  Pre-sale specials end July 1. If you are interested in a corporate rate and have 10 or more employees, please contact pamela@grandfitnessfl.com.

6th Annual Smoke on the Coast BBQ & Fireworks Festival at Destin Commons 
Destin Commons - Smoke on the CoastWho will be king of the grill and win the coveted “People’s Choice and Judge’s Pick Awards” at this year’s 6th Smoke on the Coast BBQ & Fireworks Festival at Destin Commons? It will be held on Sunday, July 3, from 5 - 10 p.m. More than a dozen area restaurants and BBQ experts will fire up their grills vying to be the best. This year’s judges are Q92 DJ Chelsea Castoria, VIP Destin Magazine editor Steve Barber, and Ken Wampler of Newman-Dailey Resort Properties. From 6 - 8 p.m., for $1 per sampling, attendees can sample mouth-watering BBQ dishes hot off the grills and cast their votes to determine the People’s Choice winner. The evening concludes with a big bang at 9:15 with a fireworks finale.

2015 Tax Collector Rolls
Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson is pleased to announce another successful year of real estate and tangible personal property tax collection for the citizens and taxing authorities of Okaloosa County. The 2015 Tax Roll was set at $216 million. Collection began in November 2015 and recently concluded with the Online Tax Certificate Sale held on June 1, 2016. This year’s tax certificate sale produced $5,042,583.77 in revenue for the Okaloosa County Taxing Authorities from the sale of 3,166 tax certificates. Taxpayers saved $7,449,108.42 by taking advantage of early payment discounts.

Alert Okaloosa Registration Encouraged
A new program called Alert Okaloosa will replace the existing Code Red Weather Warnings System on July 1, and you can register now, prior to activation. Alert Okaloosa utilizes a new program, called Everbridge, acquired through the State for a substantial savings; however, current Code Red users will have to re-register, if you are a registered Code Red user. Select this link to register:https://member.everbridge.net/index/892807736724689#/signup.

Okaloosa Information Technology Director Don Vanderhoek Retires 
After 26 year,s Don Vanderhoek, the Okaloosa County information technology director is retiring. Over the past 25 years, the Okaloosa IT Department, under Vanderhoek’s leadership, created Geographical Information Systems (GIS-mapping), an Applications Division, and a Systems and Networks Division to meet the needs of day-to-day operations of the county in one department. However, Vanderhoek’s vision greatest accomplishment, with the support of staff and the BCC, is the Fiber Optic Network that not only saves the county significant money, but also will serve the county well into the future.

Painting with a Purpose Gives Local Families a Fresh Start
Fresh Start for Children & FamiliesFort Walton Beach Painting with a Twist Franchise Owners David Presnell and Barbara Dean hosted a painting event to benefit Fresh Start for Children & Families. The event was open to the public, and 100% of the registration fees were donated to Fresh Start. Nearly $2,000 for the local non-profit and a few Fresh Start residents were sponsored guests at the painting event. Seen here, owners Presnell and Dean present a check to staff and leadership of Fresh Start.

FNBT Team Donate Xbox to Children
Children In Crisis - FNBT BankThe employees of FNBT Bank recently presented the kids living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood Travis Tringas Memorial Foster Home a new Xbox with wireless remotes and new games. Seen here, FNBT Bank employees Ann Nelly, Patti Miller, Meghan Queen, and Joanie and Al Dudas present the gaming system to Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, and Travis Tringas Memorial Home parents Christy and Rick Johnson.  

Local Nonprofit Breaks Ground in Nicaragua
The Sonder ProjectThe Sonder Project recently broken ground on a school in Santa Rita San Juan Yaro, Nicaragua, which is a small village in the Waslala region where people typically farm corn, beans, bananas, and plantains to generate income. At the time of construction, Santa Rita San Juan Yaro had one temporary classroom, with incomplete walls and mud floors. There were 64 students learning in this classroom, taught by two teachers, teaching six grades. Students walked as far as 5km to another community with suitable classrooms for learning. For more information on this and other projects, please visit www.thesonderproject.org.

Allegiant Announces First Route Between Las Vegas and VPS
Allegiant today announces its first route between Las Vegas and Destin / Fort Walton Beach, Florida, beginning Oct. 7, 2016. In conjunction with the new route that will launch just in time for the holiday travel season, the company is celebrating with a “Christmas in July” Facebook sweepstakes to give away seats on the route’s inaugural flight.* Allegiant is offering one-way fares on the route for as low as $69.** Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at Allegiant.com. The “Christmas in July” sweepstakes is part of Allegiant’s ongoing $1 Million Summer, a promotion in which the company is giving away $1 million in airfare throughout the summer. For more information on Allegiant’s $1 Million Summer, visit Allegiantair.com/blog/million

Burgers, Beach Time, and One Very Happy Papaw!
ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation RentalsKenny Harmon, the social media sensation known as “Sad Papaw,” is all smiles now! He’s currently spending four glorious days vacationing in Destin, with 20 of his close family and friends…and all under one roof thanks to ResortQuest! Back in March, a tweet by one of Harmon’s granddaughters catapulted him into celebrity status. Nearly 180 thousand people retweeted “Sad Papaw” eating a hamburger while seemingly heartbroken that only one of his six grandkids showed for a dinner. But it all worked out for Papaw. Allegiant Air and Destin-based ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals have given him a vacation of a lifetime, complete with direct flights on the new Oklahoma City to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport Route and a 7-bedroom, beachfront home perfect for all three generations traveling together. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Costa Family McDonalds Makes Donation to CIC Children
Children In Crisis - Costa McDonaldsThe Costa Family McDonalds presented a $1,500 donation to its “McCafe with a Cause” Charity of the Month, Children in Crisis (CIC).  Every Monday, Costa’s McDonalds donates 50 percent of its coffee proceeds to a Charity of the Month. All of Costa’s 19 stores participate in the program that will continue through 2016. Seen here, Roslyn Snyder, Costa Enterprises’ McDonalds marketing director, presents a check to Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, along with Diane Huckabone, CIC financial assistant, and Danna Franks, CIC financial director.  

SunQuest Cruises Earns 2016 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence
SunQuest Cruises today announced that it has received a Tripadvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.  
“There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized by one’s customers. Since the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award is based on customer reviews, this accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence,” said James Murray, GM and owner of SunQuest Cruises. 

Early Payment Discount Deadline Approaches
Okaloosa County property owners who have signed up to participate in the Property Tax Installment payment plan through the Tax Collector’s Office have until June 30, to pay their first installment. The Installment Plan divides the annual taxes into four (4) payments – due June, September, December, and March. The Installment Plan provides for 3.3% discount and adds the convenience of spreading out payments instead of one lump sum payment. 

United Way Earns Three-Star Rating From Charity Navigator
The United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties received a 3-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity evaluator.  

“The United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties is pleased to receive an excellent rating from Charity Navigator," said Rick Owen, president and CEO of the organization. "Fiscal responsibility and transparency is essential to building trust with our donors, agencies, and community and is of primary importance to our organization. The 3-star rating is a reflection of the emphasis that we place on integrity in the performance of the mission at your United Way." 

Emalie Monday Interns for World Impact Real Estate
World Impact Real EstateEmalie Monday is a junior majoring in finance with a concentration of real estate at the University of Arkansas.  She is spending her summer with World Impact Real Estate as a real estate intern, as well as working on getting her real estate license. Monday is 20 years old and was born in Little Rock, Ark.  She moved to Santa Rosa Beach when she was four years old.

A Milestone Year for Keller Williams Emerald Coast Realty
Keller Williams Emerald CoastIn May alone, Keller Williams Emerald Coast (KWEC) closed more units than any other month and agent income exceeded $1.7 million, both stats were the highest in the company’s 16-year history. They also had the highest number of contracts written and listings sold for the month of May, ever. Also in May, the top volumes were achieved by individual agent Brian LoCicero, group Cindy Cole Fine Homes, and team Dawn Burt. Year to date, KWEC holds the top position in both volume and units for all real estate companies in the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR) group that covers Okaloosa and Walton counties. It added a new beach office in Navarre, as well as launching a new mobile-optimized website for the KWEC market center and its agents. Seen here, KWEC broker Jeff Adamson (center) presents Brian LoCicero and Cindy Cole awards for their top volumes achieved.

Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Seeks Volunteers
The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) serves young victims of abuse and neglect at two child friendly centers, the Pierce Family Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs and the Niceville Children’s Advocacy Center.  A nonprofit organization, ECCAC’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children in Okaloosa and Walton counties, and restore the lives of impacted children. Volunteers are always needed in various capacities at both centers, at community events, and at fundraisers. For more information or to volunteer, contact Chelsea Fox at (850) 830-4162 or chelsea@eccac.org

Hotels Near Destin Rank Among the Best of Their Brand
The Marriott brand is as widespread as it is diverse, featuring franchised properties across the United States, as well as several brands with an international presence. The common thread uniting all Marriott brands is outstanding service and quality. This year, two hotels in Sandestin, Florida, have won Marriott’s highest distinction for brand service. Both the Residence Inn Sandestin® at Grand Boulevard and the Courtyard Sandestin® at Grand Boulevard have won Platinum Circle Awards for their respective brands. Platinum Circle Awards are based on guest satisfaction surveys and are reflective of guest experience and customer service received. As one of Marriott’s highest franchise honors, this award is confirmation of staff, ethics, service and acumen. 

Local Nonprofit Returns from Malawi, Africa
The Sonder ProjectThe Sonder Project recently returned from an educational expedition in “The Warm Heart of Africa,” Malawi. Three members of our local community joined the trek, including Sonder Project board member Travis Meyer, Southeastern Retail Development; Rachel Meyer, a teacher at Freeport High School; and Sarah Hockett, executive director of The Sonder Project. During their visit, the trio managed to visit five remote villages, work on a construction site for a new primary school structure, visit adult literacy classes and learn their importance, meet with the District Education Manager (DEM), and gain knowledge of some of the community initiatives that are helping remote areas break the cycle of poverty, such as goat programs, meal programs for school children, honey bee hives, and more. They also had the opportunity to hear some of the stories of this country and understand the difficulties faced here.

823rd Red Horse Air Force Squadron Help Museum 
Heritage Museum of Northwest FloridaMembers of the 823rd Air Force Squadron at Hurlburt Field volunteered their time and talent to help the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida with a drainage project in their outdoor “Paradise Gardens” exhibit.