Healthgrades Recognizes Twin Cities Hospital for Achievements in Patient Safety and Patient Experience
Twin Cities Hospital was recently recognized for two distinctions in quality excellence from Healthgrades: the Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award™ and the Healthgrades 2018 Outstanding Patient Experience Award™. Healthgrades is the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. Only 65 out of just more than 4,500 hospitals evaluated for patient safety and patient experience excellence achieved both distinctions. This places Twin Cities Hospital within the top 2 percent of eligible hospitals in the nation to receive both awards. This distinction recognizes Twin Cities Hospital for excellent performance in safeguarding patients from serious, potentially preventable complications, as well as providing a positive experience for patients during their hospital stays.
Destin Water Users, Inc. and Baskerville-Donovan, Inc. Celebrate 30th Annual Barbecue
On Friday, May 4, 2018, Destin Water Users, Inc. (DWU) and Baskerville-Donovan, Inc. (BDI) celebrated the 30thAnnual DWU-BDI Barbecue at the George F. French Water Reclamation Facility in Destin. In 1988, BDI and DWU held the first barbecue at the Sewer Plant to celebrate DWU’s Wastewater Plant of the Year Award. The event has grown throughout the years to showcase what a first-class utility and engineering firm can accomplish as partners. Those who attended the annual barbecue included utility professionals, community leaders, vendors, contractors, local and state politicians, and industry regulators from across Northwest Florida. Seen here (left to right) are Lockwood Wernet, general manager of DWU, and Fred Donovan, Sr., president and CEO of BDI.
Junior League of the Emerald Coast Raises More Than $15K at Down and Derby Fest
The Junior League of the Emerald Coast (JLEC) is excited to announce the newly revamped Down & Derby Fest, which took place at The Market Shops on May 5, in honor of the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, raised more than $15,000. The festival featured “Derby Fare” from local restaurants highlighting the Emerald Coast’s best savory cuisine, decadent dessert, and luscious libations. It featured almost 20 local vendors and welcomed Kentucky’s Ale-8-One to the celebration. Proceeds from Down and Derby Fest will benefit the JLEC’s Child Clothing Project.
The Island By Hotel RL Opens in Fort Walton Beach
RLH Corporation (NYSE:RLH) recently announced the opening of The Island by Hotel RL, the first resort destination for the fast-growing upscale boutique brand. Part of an aggressive franchise expansion operation, this agreement marks the opening of the eighth Hotel RL with a robust pipeline of resort and urban destinations pending. Guests will enjoy fully renovated public spaces including multiple restaurants, lively bars and a market offering a selection of snacks, beverages and unique souvenirs. Newly designed guest rooms will debut in 2019.
A staple on Okaloosa Island since 1966, the newly converted property will offer the Hotel RL signature experiences guests have come to expect while embracing the legacy of its locale. Located in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast, the beachfront resort features 335 rooms, 14,000 square feet of event space with a penthouse ballroom, two swimming pools, a grotto with a swim-up bar, a beach bar, kids splash garden and a beachside coffee truck serving award-winning Victrola coffee.
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Crestview High School Partner on Trauma Center’s Stop the Bleed Campaign
Early this year, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center partnered with Crestview High School’s Allied Health Program to train students on the FWBMC Trauma Center’s Stop the Bleed program. These students learned the “stop the bleed” technique and, with the help of their teachers, taught it to 300 other allied students in their school. Students were presented with a certificate during a ceremony in May. After the 2012 tragedy in Sandy Hook and by other multiple mass causality tragedies that have occurred in the ensuing years, the federal government started a group known as the Hartford Consensus. This group was convened to bring together leaders from law enforcement, the federal government, and the medical community to improve survivability from manmade or natural mass casualty events. Often during these events injuries are present with severe bleeding which, if left unattended, can result in death. The participants of the Hartford Consensus concluded that by providing first responders (law enforcement) and civilian bystanders the skills and basic tools to stop uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency situation, lives would be saved.
Grayton Beer Company Announces New Cans and Rebrand
Grayton Beer Company announces the addition of two new cans to its lineup of keg and bottled beers - the flagship 30A Beach Blonde Ale and newly released 30A Rosé Gose (pronounced “Goes-uh”). The new cans are the first releases showcasing the company’s redesigned packaging. The 30A Rosé Gose was first released in the company’s Taproom in August of 2017, and quickly became one of Grayton Beer’s best-selling beers. The beer is inspired by the abundant salt from the Gulf Coast waters in brewery’s backyard and the colors of the Emerald Coast’s vibrant sunsets. Organic hibiscus flowers paint the perfect shade of rosé pink while bright berry notes interplay with the unique salty and tart foundation. 30A Rosé Gose is the second beer produced by Grayton Beer Company in partnership with The 30A Company.
Sacred Heart Nurse Honored with 2018 Nursing Excellence Award
Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast (SHHEC) recently honored one of its nurses with the 2018 Nurse Excellence Award in recognition of the exceptional care she provides to patients. Nina Jeffords (right), chief nursing officer for Sacred Heart Health System, recognized Lara Cooper, RN, the hospital’s spine center coordinator, with this award. Cooper has been with Sacred Heart Hospital for 10 years. She was recognized for her positive attitude, being an excellent mentor to others, taking exceptional care of her patients and her commitment to the safety of patients.
Jeffords also recognized all nominees for their outstanding dedication, patient care and superior performance in their nursing careers.
-Jennifer Foreman, Intensive Care Unit
-Casey Posada Medical/Surgical Unit
-Travis Martin, Intensive Care Unit
-Amee Ketelsen, Pre-Surgery Department
Museum Curates Exhibit at Northwest Florida State College
Staff and Trustees from the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida attended the opening reception of newly displayed Bob Sikes memorabilia at the Northwest Florida State College campus, Robert L.F. Sikes Education Center in Crestview in March. The exhibit, curated by Kelli Knudsen from the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, showcases the life and times of U.S. Congressman Bob Sikes. The reception officially dedicated a new office for Florida State Representative Mel Ponder. Seen here are Rep. Mel Ponder and Museum Trustees Barbara Palmgren, Diane Plank, Anne Bauer, Marie Hallion, and Harold Peek, along with Northwest Florida State College President Devin Stephenson.
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties announces the addition of REALTOR® Lupe Batarao to the real estate sales team. Batarao has lived along Florida’s Emerald Coast for 20 years and is passionate about helping her clients achieve their real estate goals. Through constant communication and by being accessible seven days a week, Batarao is dedicated to making the buying or selling process seamless. For out-of-town buyers or sellers, communication is key, and she is committed to keeping her clients informed of every activity along the way. When not assisting clients, she enjoys spending time with her family, volunteering at her children’s schools, entertaining friends, and traveling.
2018 Leadership Okaloosa Graduates 42 Community Leaders
The Costa Leadership Institute at Northwest Florida State College, in partnership with the Crestview, Destin, Niceville Valparaiso, and the Fort Walton Beach chambers of commerce, honored 42 Okaloosa County business professionals during a graduation celebration on May 17 at the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village to celebrate their completion of the 2017-2018 Leadership Okaloosa program. The 2018 Leadership Okaloosa graduates include:
Northwest Florida State College is currently accepting applications for the 2018-2019 Leadership Okaloosa program. Tuition for the Leadership Okaloosa program is $950 and applications are due by Aug. 3. Applications are available here or by calling (850) 729-5253 or emailing Leadership@NWFSC.edu.
Pediatric Cardiology Expands in Miramar Beach
Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Bevin Weeks has expanded her practice and will see patients at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, located at 7720 US Highway 98 West, Suite 110 in Miramar Beach. Weeks sees patients full time in Northwest Florida – both at The Children’s Hospital in Pensacola and in her outpatient offices, located in Miramar Beach and Pensacola. She serves on the faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine, which is affiliated with The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart. As a pediatric cardiologist, Weeks diagnoses and treats heart conditions in infants, children and adolescents. She is fellowship trained and board certified in pediatric cardiology. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Boston College and her medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Weeks completed her residency training in pediatrics at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. She came to Sacred Heart from Yale University School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital, where she performed a fellowship in pediatric cardiology and spent the past 12 years as an assistant professor of pediatrics.
United Way Earns Coveted 40Star Rating from Charity Navigator
The United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties’ strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This is the first time that the local United Way has earned this top distinction.
“The United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties’ exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” according to Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds The United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity.”
“It is essential that our donors trust that we are using their donations wisely to make the biggest impact on the most pressing needs in our community,” said Rick Owen, President & CEO of the United Way of Okaloosa and Walton Counties. “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters our good governance and financial accountability.”
Griffith Joins the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate on The Emerald Coast Team
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate welcomed new agent Cara Griffith to its Emerald Coast team in early 2018. Griffith will focus on working with buyers and sellers in Freeport, as well as working to help members of the military buy and sell their homes with ease as their stations change. Griffith became an agent earlier this year and looks forward to helping families find a home or investment property in a community she has grown to love over the last 13 years. Griffith is a certified Military Relocation Professional with the National Association of Realtors.
BB&T Bank Team Donates Food to CIC Kids
Seen here, Ken Hair, Children In Crisis (CIC) president and CEO, receives a full truckload of food and other needed supplies from John McCain, BB&T of Destin president, along with John’s family and team members. The much needed food will help feed the 50+ children living at the CIC Neighborhood and the 100+ that will call CIC home this year.
18 Elementary Schools Enjoy Grasses In Classes Field Trips
In May, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance organized and facilitated 20 field trips for 18 elementary schools in Okaloosa and Walton counties to bring 3rd and 5th graders to the shores of the Choctawhatchee Bay. A culmination of the year-long Grasses in Classes curriculum, the students planted smooth cordgrass they have raised since October of 2017 to create brand new living shorelines that both reduce erosion and create important wildlife habitat. Grasses in Classes students tend salt marsh nurseries throughout the school year and receive monthly education on local estuarine topics that meet Florida’s state science standards from CBA staff and AmeriCorps NWF Environmental Stewards. Periodically, the schoolchildren split the grasses to increase the nursery stock. The program instills a love of local habitat, restores shoreline, and inspires the next generation of watershed stewards.
Premier Property Group Announces New Agent
The Premier Property Group announced Karen Hughes has joined the locally owned and independent real estate sales firm as a new agent based in their WaterColor office. Born and raised in Marietta, Ga., Hughes has been coming to the Destin and Panama City areas for most of her life. Her lifelong dream was to live at the beach, which she accomplished when she and her husband purchased a Miramar Beach condo in early 2017. She then took the next step and purchased a home in Blue Mountain Beach this past February. After graduating with a degree in Marketing from Kennesaw State University, and later earning her Masters in Secondary Education from the University of Phoenix, Hughes began her career in residential real estate sales in 2010 with Harry Norman Realtors, the number one brokerage company in Atlanta. She specializes in luxury properties, including resale and new construction. Hughes holds certifications as an Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR), Accredited Relocation Specialist (ARS), Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), and in Short Sales and Foreclosures (SFR).
Women United… United Way’s New Affinity Women’s Group
In May, United Way of Okaloosa-Walton Counties (UWOWC) launched Women United, a women’s affinity group that will “Lead the Charge and Inspire the Change” by providing women of our region exclusive opportunities for direct service, mentoring, and professional/leadership development. Women United will spearhead recruitment efforts for the new UWOWC Reading PALS Grant in collaboration with the Early Learning Coalition. Seen above, Women from both Okaloosa & Walton counties gather for the official Women United Launch Party. For more information please contact Amariles Rivera, Director of Community Impact, at (850) 243-0315.
Taylor Haugen Foundation Announces Local Students as Recipients of Annual Scholarship
The Taylor Haugen Foundation proudly announces local students Blake Johnson (left), Waylon Steele (center), and Layton Warren (right) have each been awarded with $1500 scholarships.
Johnson is the son of Lisa and Bernard Johnson and a resident of Niceville. During his time at Niceville High, he was on the Track team and also was a member of the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and the Spanish Club. His scholarship will go towards his attendance at Liberty University, a private school located in Lynchburg, Va. He plans to study chiropractic science.
Steele just graduated from Fort Walton Beach High School and is the son of Laura and Russell Steele. He was on the Viking baseball team and was also a member of the National Honor Society and FCA. He will attend Northwest Florida State College this fall where he will play on the baseball team and study mechanical engineering. Steele’s scholarship was made possible by an endowment by the Parisot family.
Warren, a recent graduate from Rocky Bayou Christian School, lives in Freeport and is the daughter of Suzanne and Christopher Pounds. She was a cheerleader and also played on the basketball and softball teams while at Rocky Bayou. She was also involved in the National Honor Society, Student Government, FCA, and Leadership Trek. Warren will attend Mississippi College, a private Christian school in Clinton, Miss., and major in elementary education.
M.O.R.E. Gives to Children in Crisis Again
Seen here, Joe Capers representing the Men Of Resurrection Catholic Church (M.O.R.E.), showed great support to the at-risk children living at Children In Crisis (CIC) by presenting a donation for $1,100 to CIC President and CEO Ken Hair. The funding was made possible through M.O.R.E.’s annual “Spring Fling” event. The donation will help give a home to more than 100 children this year.
Luxury Estates Realty Group Welcomes New Realtors to the Team
Real estate firm Luxury Estates Realty Group recently welcomed agents Jimmy Chambers (left) and Patrick Halloran to its team. Chambers will serve the entire Emerald Coast and beyond, while Halloran will serve the greater Memphis area, along with the Emerald Coast. After 20 years of vacationing on the Emerald Coast, Chambers made the Emerald Coast his home. With a background in marketing and finance, Chambers is well known for his attention to detail and facilitating a smooth transaction process for his clients, while offering a strategic, yet personable approach, to selling and buying real estate. Chambers is also very active in the community and currently serves as an executive board member for Habitat for Humanity of Walton County.
As the Principal Broker and Owner of The Halloran Realty Group, Halloran and his team are striving to be Memphis’ finest real estate firm. Halloran began selling real estate in 2009 and opened his own firm in the summer of 2015. He decided to spread his business to Florida’s Emerald Coast this year by joining Luxury Estates Realty Group, in addition to running his Memphis-based firm. Halloran noticed that many clients, friends and colleagues in Memphis desire to, or currently, own property along Florida’s Gulf Coast and felt it was a smart fit for him to start helping buyers and sellers from Destin to Rosemary Beach. Halloran is also passionate about serving the community in which he resides and is a former board member for CASA, as well as advisory board member at the Orpheum Theatre.
Lizard Thicket Boutique Opens at Destin Commons
Lizard Thicket, a women’s clothing boutique, is the newest store now open in Destin Commons. Local South Walton residents Casey Johnston and Claire LaPlante are the franchise co-owners. This is their second Lizard Thicket in Northwest Florida. Generally, one of the co-owners is always there along with staff. Both Johnston and LaPlante feel the Lizard Thicket shopping experience is an exceptionally good one, and they love helping customers realize that there are styles uniquely appealing to them and all shapes can be accommodated. Lizard Thicket’s mission is rooted in style, but growing in purpose.
Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida Receives Land Donation from Ruckel Properties, Inc.
The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, through exhibits, programs, and events, seeks to preserve and promote the history of Northwest Florida. Ruckel Properties’ recent land donation helps the Museum educate the public on local heritage and history through a future expansion.
“The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida is a worthy cause. It is the keeper of our local history and an educational resource. My late father C. Walter Ruckel, Jr., supported the Museum with annual contributions, serving on the Board of Trustees, and volunteering with the Niceville-Valparaiso Rotary for the Museum’s annual Saturday in the Park Festival. With this land donation, I am continuing the Ruckel and Plew families’ tradition of honoring the past, while building the future.” explained Marion Ruckel Skalicky, president and CEO of Ruckel Properties, Inc.
Niceville Exchange Club Donates to Children
Seen here, the Niceville Exchange Club Membership presents a $1,000 check and paper products for the CIC foster homes to Ken Hair, Children In Crisis (CIC) president and CEO. The funds are critical to help sustain operations of the CIC Neighborhood and to feed and clothe the at-risk children living at the CIC Neighborhood. The $1,000 annual donation qualifies the club as a member of the CIC Kid’s Club.
Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican Announces the Purchase of Willow Creek Plantation Phase Two
Earlier this year, Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican announced the purchase of Willow Creek Plantation Phase Two by Adams Homes. Adams Home has purchased 84 lots in Phase Two of Willow Creek Plantation, located on Airport Road in Crestview, Fla. just two and a half miles east of Hwy. 85. Adams Homes will begin construction on the first 15 homes in the coming weeks.
“We are ready to hit the ground running on this new development,” said Jerry Sullivan, co-owner and broker of Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican. “Not only will Phase Two of Willow Creek bring additional homes to the fast-growing Crestview community, but will also bring a bounty of new job opportunities to the area.”
Sacred Heart Adds Internal Medicine to New 30A Office
Internal medicine physician Dr. Michelle Parker has relocated her practice to the new Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart at 30A, located at 12805 US Hwy 98 East, Suite G201, in Inlet Beach. Parker joins the office of cardiologist Dr. Amna Ahmed. She is accepting new patients and most major insurance plans. Parker served as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force for seven years. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., and a master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Georgia in Athens. Parker graduated with her medical degree and completed her residency training in internal medicine at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. She has a special interest in nutrition, illness prevention, chronic disease management, and advanced wound care. She enjoys the variety found in practicing internal medicine, from helping healthy patients prevent illness to caring for those with complex medical conditions.