Friday, May 26, 2017

May 2017 Business Briefs / Member News

Gulfarium Provides Financial Support Towards Saving the World's Smallest Porpoise From Extinction
Without action, the world's smallest porpoise, the vaquita, is facing imminent extinction. Fewer than 30 remain on the planet. An emergency action plan has been developed by the Consortium for Vaquita Conservation, Protection and Rescue (CPR). Representatives from Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park were briefed in late February of the plans to help save this marine mammal species from extinction. Since then, the Gulfarium has donated $5,000 to the Vaquita CPR project and provided critical expertise to the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums' campaign efforts to help spread awareness and assist in raising emergency funds. 

Twin Cities Hospital’s Diabetes Prevention Program Receives CDC Recognition
Twin Cities Hospital’s Diabetes Prevention Program received full recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This designation is reserved for programs that have effectively delivered a quality, evidence-based program that meets all of the standards from the CDC. The Diabetes Prevention Program is guided by a Certified Diabetes Educator and trained lifestyle coach. Groups of participants learn the skills they need to make lasting changes to help prevent type 2 diabetes, such as losing a modest amount of weight, increasing physical activity, and managing stress. 

Fudpoker 2017 Jet Ski Classic Poker Run Charity Event 
The 4th Annual Fudpoker Run Jet Ski Classic will be held July 22, and it benefits Children in Crisis and OCSO Star Charity. Destin community partners are needed in the form of sponsorships. For details, click here. For event details, click here.

Difebo Joins Newman-Dailey Resort Properties’ Real Estate Division
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties - Carolyn DifeboNewman-Dailey Resort Properties Real Estate Division welcomes Realtor Carolyn Difebo. After a career in law enforcement, Difebo and her three young sons moved from Beaufort, S.C., to the Emerald Coast. Almost 30 years later, Difebo still calls Destin home. Difebo started her real estate career as a licensed assistant and has been a licensed Realtor since 1992. She supports American Cancer Society Relay for Life, The United WayRotary Club of Destin, and Children’s Miracle Network, among others. She enjoys mentoring students and has been a mentor in the Take Stock in Children Program, which follows a student from middle school through high school graduation and beyond, and has been a Foreign Exchange Student host. She is a member of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. 

Making I.T. Happen - Electronic Recycling Program
CRC Data Technologies has partnered with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast (BGCEC) to recycle electronic waste and put it to a good cause. You can now recycle your gently used computer or iPad. At no cost to you, CRC will securely erase the hard drive and recondition the computer before donating it to the BGCEC. As a donor, you can drop off your electronics to any of the eight Boys & Girls Clubs or at CRC Data Technologies. The electronics will be used by our local youth through the National Boys & Girls Club Technology Program. With your donation we will be able to help support STEM Programs that impact more than 3,200 club members locally. For details, visit

Harbor Docks Frank Helton Crab Cruncher Classic Final Standings
Harbor Docks Crab CruncherThe 28th Annual Harbor Docks Frank Helton Crab Cruncher Classic, presented by Mojo Sportswear Company, brought out 46 boats competing for more than $226,000 in prize money. Harbor Docks Charities was able to raise $23,355 to sponsor Take-A-Kid Fishing Day, an annual event that has allowed more than 8,000 children to enjoy a day fishing in the Gulf of Mexico on boats from the Destin charter fleet the first Sunday every November. For final standings in the Harbor Docks Frank Helton Crab Cruncher Classic, please visit click here.

ECCAC Receives Proclamations for National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy CenterNational Child Abuse Prevention Month was in April. CEO Julie Hurst and President Bill Fletcher of the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) received proclamations for both their Centers in Niceville/Okaloosa County and DeFuniak Springs/Walton County recognizing child victims. Okaloosa County Undersheriff Steve Harker and Niceville Police Officer Joe Whitfield presented their proclamation, and Defuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell and Walton County School Superintendent Russell Hughes presented theirs. Seen here, Fletcher, Hurst, and staff are presented with the proclamation from Niceville, as read by Okaloosa County Undersheriff Steve Harker and Niceville Police Officer Joe Whitfield.

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital Earn “A” Grades for Patient Safety
The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety, and transparency in the US health care system, released new Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which assign A, B, C, D and F letter grades to hospitals nationwide. Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital were two of 823 hospitals to receive an “A” for their commitment to reducing errors, infections, and accidents that can harm patients. Developed under the guidance of an Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 30 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 US hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent, and free to the public.

Green & Stevenson Are 2017 First Quarter Top Producers 
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Inc.Broker Associate Diane Green and Sales Associate Shannyn Stevenson were recently awarded 2017 First Quarter Top Producers in Newman-Dailey Resort Properties’ Real Estate Division. Green was recognized as the Top Listing Agent and Stevenson as Top Sales Agent for January through March 2017. Earning the esteemed title of the top listing and top sales agent for both 2015 and 2016, Green is one of the elite few Newman-Dailey sales agents that have achieved “Top Producer of the Year” two years in a row. Green currently holds an active Broker license with the state of Florida and Georgia and is also a Life Member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors. With more than 35 years’ experience in the real estate industry, she continues to grow her knowledge receiving designations through the National Association of Realtors – CRS, GRI, and SREC councils. 

Raised along the Gulf Coast, Stevenson specializes in selling and buying rental investments and second homes within the beachside communities in and around Destin. Stevenson’s tagline, “Know the Gulf Coast,” is a reflection of her knowledge of the Destin area. Licensed for more than 17 years, she has vast experience assisting sellers and buyers with their real estate transactions. Stevenson has had great success in putting together deals and closing sales. 

Episcopal Church Women of St. Simon Helps CIC Children
Children In CrisisSeen here, Ken Hair, Children In Crisis (CIC) president and CEO, receives a donation of $2,000 from Barbara Kinnaird, recording secretary of the Episcopal Church Women of St. Simon on the Sound. The membership raised the funds at its recent Craft Fair and Rummage Sale, and the donation will be used to help feed, clothe, and care for the children living in the CIC Neighborhood.

New Travel Planning Website for Golfers Launches
Click on,  and you will see a new website designed for golfers worldwide planning a trip to the Destin area. Destin is a well-known golf destination for golf vacations, buddy trips, and weekend get-a-ways. There are 25 golf courses within a 30 mile radius of Destin.  This new website brings together all the golf travel planning information in one easy to find and easy to use internet location. Golf travelers who opt-in for will receive a quarterly email describing the best bargains on green fees, lodging, dining, and more.

Smileology Donates $36,092 in Free Dental Services to Those in Need
SmileologyDr. Amber Wiebe and Dr. Olivier Broutin of Smileology hosted their third annual Dentistry from the Heart (DFTH) event on Friday, April 14, at the Miramar Beach Smileology location. Also participating were Dr. Bibek Nakarmi and Dr. Patricia Salter. The team of professionals worked collaboratively to provide 91 patients 161 services. Patients chose from a complimentary filling, extraction, or cleaning. In addition to the time dedicated by hygienists, assistants, and other dental professionals, a total of $36,092 worth of dental care was donated to the community in good faith. 

Anderson is Featured 2017 ArtsQuest Artist
Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton CountyArtsQuest, the 29th annual fine arts festival produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA), announced the 2017 Featured Festival Artist, Christon Anderson. Anderson’s custom artwork titled “Next Quest” was the featured image on all ArtsQuest marketing materials for the festival, including posters and merchandise. The festival was held May 13-14, 2017.   

Grayton Beer Company Opens Distribution to Neighboring Mississippi
Grayton Beer CompanyGrayton Beer Company, the South Walton craft brewery, announced its partnerships with A&B Distributing, Mitchell Distributing, and Southern Beverage to open distribution throughout Mississippi. The three Mississippi-based distributors will foster the expansion of Grayton Beer Company’s classic, contemporary beers throughout the state. The first roll out will include four of the breweries Year-Round Series, including 30A Beach Blonde Ale, Pale Ale, Fish Whistle IPA, and Salt of the Gulf, a Leipzig-Style Gose.

Most Expensive Home on Emerald Coast is For Sale
Premier Property GroupRealtor Jimbo Holloway and Broker Associate Hannah Martin of The Premier Property Group announce the highest priced home listed on the Emerald Coast. This $13-million, six-bedroom, seven-bath listing, fondly known as “Casa Amore,” sits in the heart of Santa Rosa Beach. This stunning estate, located in the private, gated community of Gulf Dunes, boasts 12,167 square feet of living space. Situated on 90’ of private, gulf-front property, the home allows easy access to the beach and Gulf of Mexico via permitted Geotube® Shoreline Protection and handicap accessible boardwalk. For details, call (850) 792-4302.

Pediatric Gastroenterologist Joins Sacred Heart, University of Florida Health
Sacred Heart Hospital - Alan SacksPediatric Gastroenterologist Alan Sacks, M.D., has joined the faculty of University of Florida College of Medicine and will see patients at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart. Sacks is fellowship-trained and board-certified in pediatric gastroenterology. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Alabama, and he received his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile. Sacks completed his residency training in pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and he performed a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Prior to joining UF, Sacks served as division chief of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition for Nemours Children’s Specialty Care Pensacola.

22nd Annual Concerts In the Village Summer Series Underway
Mattie Kelly Arts FoundationMattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) presents nine wonderful ways to simultaneously celebrate friends and family, the great outdoors, and music under the summer sky. This year MKAF presents the 22nd annual installation of the nine-week Concerts in the Village series every Thursday from May 4 through June 29 at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, located at 4323 Commons Drive West in Destin For details, including artist line-up, visit

Century 21 Blue Marlin Grows Team by Four Agents
Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin is adding four agents to its award-winning team. Kimberly Belcher Alford (left) joins the PURE Coastal Team, the commercial branch of Century 21 Blue Marlin. A graduate with a degree in marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University, Alford began her career as a realtor 13 years ago and has since found a niche with families looking to relocate and buyers purchasing primary and secondary homes in Northwest Florida. Additionally, Alford’s resume has solidified her as a local trusted and knowledgeable real estate source for residences within Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and various gated and condominium communities on the Emerald Coast. 
Chris Bent (second from left) is from Fort Branch, Ind., but fell in love with the Emerald Coast while spending his spring breaks in Seaside. Not long after making the move to the area in 2008, Bent purchased his first home in Santa Rosa Beach, which sparked his love for real estate. After the birth of his son in 2016, Bent knew it was time to follow his dreams and embark on a new career path. As a member of the National Association of Realtors, Bent uses his knowledge and passion to help others find their dream home and own a piece of paradise.  
Darette Joy (DJ) Villareal-Sorensen (second from right) was born in the Philippines and raised in St. Louis, Mo., before making Destin home in 2012. Villareal-Sorensen’s 10 years in the customer service industry will go hand in hand with the satisfaction of her real estate clients. While real estate is a new venture for Villareal-Sorensen, she’s approaching the career with the same drive and attention.
Angie Wright (right) has joined the team as a broker associate. A resident of the Emerald Coast since 1989, Wright earned her Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the University of West Florida. After beginning her career in the field of government contracting, she discovered her love for real estate in 2003 and has since devoted the last 14 years to both residential and land development, earning her Florida Broker's License in 2013. Wright now resides in Destin, with her two sons, Noah and Caleb. In her new role at Century 21 Blue Marlin, Wright will bring her knowledge of luxury and investment properties to work for her clients.

Sinfonia Gulf Coast Offers Interactive Student Performance
Sinfonia Gulf CoastOn April 12, the Emerald Coast Convention Center was transformed into an electrifying concert hall when Sinfonia Gulf Coast presented its 4th annual live LINK UP concert performance “The Orchestra Sings,” a national program it presented in partnership with New York’s Carnegie Hall Weill Institute of Music. This year’s LINK UP program showcased the talents of 2,500 local 3rd-5th grade students performing on recorder, violin, or singing. The concert was conducted by Sinfonia Gulf Coast Maestro Demetrius Fuller. Sandy Day of Eglin Elementary, Kelly Gore of Longwood Elementary, and Shalyce Kilmetz of Edwins Elementary were special guest star performers providing narration and vocals.

Gold’s Gym Donation Helps CIC Kids
Children In Crisis - Gold's GymSeen here, Ken Hair, Children In Crisis (CIC) president and CEO, receives a $1,600 donation from Gold’s Gym of Ft. Walton Beach/Destin General Manager Dee Dee Carr and Owners Darren and Lisa Boisjolie. The donation was made possible from their Ride-A-Thon fundraiser and will help the at-risk children living at the Children in Crisis Neighborhood with Easter clothing and need items for school.

The Arc of the Emerald Coast Announces Change for Crestview Clients
Arc of the Emerald CoastThe Arc of the Emerald Coast CEO John Roper announced today that the Arc will be closing its Adult Day Center in Crestview, but is by no means canceling services to the clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities they serve in the Crestview area. The Arc will provide Life Skills Development Training to Crestview residents at their choice of either their Fort Walton Beach or Milton facility, with transportation services provided. The Arc of the Emerald Coast will continue providing other services, such as supported living and supported employment and is currently planning to build a group home in Crestview in the coming year. Seen here, clients at the Arc of the Emerald Coast Ft Walton Beach Adult Day Center learn technology on new tablets.

Ruiz Promoted to Director of Marketing at Destin Commons
Destin CommonsDestin Commons recently announced the promotion of Heather Ruiz from marketing manager to director of marketing. In 2016, Ruiz was the winner of the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) Foundation’s John T. Riordan Professional Education Development Scholarship and has now completed both Marketing I and Marketing II courses. Ruiz is now eligible to sit for the certification exam to earn the prestigious Certified Marketing Director (CMD) designation. Her involvement in the community on behalf of Destin Commons is extensive. She has been active with the Destin, Ft. Walton, and Niceville chambers of commerce. At the Destin Chamber, Ruiz is a 2015 graduate of Destin Forward, winning that year’s Leadership Award. The Niceville Chamber just named Ruiz the recipient of the You Rock Chairman’s Award. She is also a 2016 graduate of Northwest Florida State College’s Leadership Okaloosa. Volunteering with a number of area non-profits is also high on Ruiz’s list of endeavors, including serving on the board of Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and the Marketing & PR Committee for Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.

Boerma and Bell Promoted to Partners at Carter & Company, CPA, LLC
Carter & Company, CPA, LLCSam Boerma, CPA, and David Bell, CPA, have both been promoted to partner at local accounting firm Carter & Company, CPA, LLC. Boerma (right) graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and a minor in mathematics, in 2003. Boerma began as an intern at Carter & Company and now has more than 14 years of experience in partnership taxation, specializing in affordable housing and tax credits. He will serve as a tax partner for the firm. 

Bell (left) graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and earned a Master of Accountancy from the University of West Florida. Bell also interned with Carter and Company for two busy seasons, prior to full time employment with the firm, in 2006. He specializes in the financial and compliance audits of affordable regulated multifamily housing properties. Bell will serve as an audit partner for the firm.

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Extends Open Call for Artists & Sponsors
Mattie Kelly Arts FoundationMattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) announces a call for artists for its 22nd Annual Festival of the Arts. This year’s Festival will be held Oct. 28-29, throughout the grounds of the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village. MKAF has a rich history of this award-winning fine art festival, dating back to 1995, and this year it enters its fifth year of staging art on the lawn of the spacious Village Green and live music on stage at the contemporary Dugas Pavilion located within the scenic MKAF Cultural Arts Village. The Festival site is on nearly seven acres of expansive green space and can accommodate 105 artist booths and other festival amenities for this regional juried fine arts and music festival. For Artist Application, Rules of Participation, and Poster Entry Form, visit For sponsorship information, call (850) 650-2226 or email

Community Sponsor – Kid’s Discovery - Makes Donation to Museum
Heritage Museum of Northwest FloridaKid’s Discovery Assistant Director Stephanie Kruger (right) presents a check for $625 to Gina Marini, director of the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida in support of the Museum’s 41st Saturday in the Park Heritage Festival, which was held on April 29. The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida is a private non-profit 501C3 institution dedicated to historic preservation and education.  Contributions are tax deductible. For information how you can help keep history alive, visit

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon Joins Sacred Heart Medical Group
Sacred Heart Hospital - Robert HuangPediatric Orthopedic Surgeon Robert Huang, MD, has joined Sacred Heart Medical Group’s regional physician network. Huang will see patients at Sacred Heart Medical Group at The Market Shops in Miramar Beach. Huang is fellowship-trained and board-certified in pediatric orthopedic surgery. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Rochester. Huang received his medical degree and completed his residency training in orthopedic surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he was resident research scholar in the musculoskeletal research laboratory. Huang performed a fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. He has served as a staff orthopedic surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Houston, Texas, and as director of academics and research for Banner Pediatric Specialists Orthopedic Clinic in Mesa, Arizona. Prior to joining Sacred Heart Medical Group, Huang served in the division of pediatric orthopedics for Nemours Children’s Specialty Care Pensacola. 

World Impact Real Estate Welcomes New Realtors to Team 
World Impact Real Estate - Mike DeanWorld Impact Real Estate - Santiago RodriguezLocally based real estate agency, World Impact Real Estate (WIRE) recently welcomed Mike Dean (left) and Santiago Rodriguez (right) to its team.  Dean retired from Gulf Power Company in 2004 and now owns a successful construction company that serves clients in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana. Dean decided in 2015 to get his real estate license to help find and sell properties for family and friends. Dean lives in Crestview and has been married to his wife Georgina for 30 years. He and his wife are the proud parents of three grown children. 
Rodriguez was born and raised in Costa Rica, where he also studied to be an engineer. In 1999, at the age of 20, he moved to the United States to pursue education in church ministry work. He served under several ministries for 15 years and has also worked in graphic design and video editing. Rodriguez led missionary trips to Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean and Europe, and his experience in serving the poorest of the poor has enabled him to serve people with a genuine heart. Rodriguez lives in Santa Rosa Beach with his wife and three children and is a fan of Florida Gator football, fitness, and soccer. 

Latin & Jazz Music Options Available for Local Events
Sal Salaz - Brezzin EntertainmentSal Salaz, Latin percussionist and owner of Brezzin Entertainment, LLC, performs live smooth jazz and Latin music throughout the Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast and beyond.  Salaz's Latin and jazz music creates a fun atmosphere and an unforgettable music experience for everyone. His band features the top musicians noted for their professional musical talent and ability to deliver the best listening and dancing music to its clients.

Kids Tag Art Program Helps Elementary Schools
Okaloosa County Tax CollectorAt a recent Okaloosa County School Board meeting, Okaloosa County Tax Collector Ben Anderson presented the Kids Tag Art Award of Distinction winners, two each from 12 participating schools. The Kids Tag Art program is a partnership between the Tax Collector’s Office and the School District and has garnered close to $31,000 for participating schools since it began four years ago. As an art project, this program gives students a chance to create their own specialty license plate. As a fundraiser, those student created plates can be purchased by parents and the public, and the proceeds from all school sales stay in that school. Proceeds generated this year were $11,073.65. For a list of winners, visit

SimpleHR Completes SSAE 16 SOC 1 AUDIT
SimpleHR completed the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 16 Service Organization Control (SOC) 1 compliance audit. The SOC 1 audit, completed by an independent third party, ensures that SimpleHR meets the attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for SimpleHR’s Payroll Processing Application System and procedures. As an SSAE 16 SOC 1 compliant company, SimpleHR has demonstrated its commitment to providing clients with the highest standards in processes, controls, and procedures. 

Hey Baby Takes Home First-Ever Emerald Coast Cobia Triple Crown Title
World Cobia ChampionshipsHey Baby, captained by Charles Morgan, has been named the champion of cobia season after winning the first-ever Emerald Coast Cobia Triple Crown, a new tournament series created to promote cobia fishing on Northwest Florida's Gulf Coast. Three of the biggest Cobia Tournaments along the Emerald Coast - Harbor Docks Crab Cruncher Classic, Boshamps Flathead Classic, and Outcast Cobia Invitational - teamed up this year to create the 2017 Cobia Triple Crown. The winning boat was determined from totaling points accumulated in each sanctioned tournament’s final standings, as well as any bonus points earned throughout the series. Boats that were signed up for any of the three tournaments were automatically entered into the Triple Crown. For a full list of winners, visit
Pediatrician Joins Sacred Heart Medical Group at Destin
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast - Stephanie GormanSacred Heart Pediatrician Dr. Stephanie Gorman has relocated her office to Sacred Heart Medical Group at Destin. Gorman is accepting new patients, newborns through age 18. She graduated summa cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee and received her medical degree from Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart in Pensacola, where she served as chief resident.

United Way Adopts Community Impact and Investment Model  
The United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties has announced its adoption of a Community Impact and Investment Model starting this year. Operating autonomously from United Way Worldwide in all but name, each local United Way is free to craft its organization according to the needs of the local community. During the past 60 years, the United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties has committed itself to the traditional payroll deduction campaign and funds distribution process to more than 40 local charities. However, in accordance with the national trend there has been a decrease in the traditional work place campaign.  To cope with this, many United Ways have moved away from funding the individual needs of individual agencies and instead focus on the needs of the community to measure impact. Once they’ve identified a set of goals to be addressed, it becomes easier to fundraise for those specific needs and allocate funds in the form of grants to specific non-profit programs that will target them.  This is the model the United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties will be adopting for its 2017 Campaign.  To get involved, please contact Sarah Voltmann Costello at

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 2016-2017 school year, around 2,300 students at 22 elementary schools participated in Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance’s Grasses in Classes Program. Grasses in Classes encourages students to develop an interest in the local environment by growing shoreline grasses at their school. Throughout May, these students saw the hands-on, science program full circle by taking a field trip to Choctawhatchee Bay. Rotating through stations, students not only explored the habitat they learned about all year, but also planted their smooth cordgrass at a restoration site. For more information about the Grasses in Classes field trips, or to schedule an interview, please contact Brittany Tate at (850) 217-5382 or