Monday, May 26, 2008

Okaloosa County Schools Ranks Among Best in United States

There was never any doubt in my book we had the best schools. In my experience, many areas surrounded by military bases are usually very strong. The military has a strong committment to the community and strongly encourages participation in the school system and offerring time off while doing it. GO OKALOOSA COUNTY SCHOOLS

Choctawhatchee, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview and Niceville are among the 1,300 schools listed in Newsweek magazine
By RACHEL KYLER The Okaloosa County School District has four schools ranked in Newsweek magazine’s annual list of the top U.S. high schools. Among the 1,300 high schools listed, Choctawhatchee High School ranks 102 and Fort Walton Beach is 284. Crestview ranks 500 and Niceville comes in at 757. The schools are ranked according to the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007. That figure is then divided by the number of graduating seniors, according to Newsweek. Last year, Choctawhatchee ranked 201 while Fort Walton Beach High was 289. Niceville High was ranked at 413 and Crestview was listed at 684. Choctaw Principal Cindy Massarelli-Gates said the key is not only offering more rigorous curriculums, but allowing more students to participate in them. The number of Choctaw students taking AP and IB tests has roughly tripled in the past five years. “We continue to encourage all students to take the most rigorous courses that they can for themselves,” she said. As a result, Choctaw’s ACT and SAT levels continue to rise. Massarelli-Gates said the world has gotten so competitive that if students aren’t encouraged to take more challenging courses, they have trouble getting in and staying in college. “A ‘C’ in an AP course is better than an A in a regular course,” she said. Choctaw offers tutoring, study groups and outreach programs to prepare middle school students. Niceville’s ranking, which fell from 413 last year to 757, can be attributed to its rapidly declining enrollment, said Superintendent of Schools Alexis Tibbetts. The decrease has led to fewer students participating in AP classes. “The fewer students you have, the less capability you have,” Tibbetts said. Crestview, on the other hand, has made considerable gains. “We have made a real concerted effort to see that Crestview offers the same number of AP (courses) that other schools offer,” Tibbetts said. Crestview Principal Ed Coleman said as the school has added more classes, more students have risen to the occasion. “You can tell that Crestview has been slowly working toward this,” Coleman said. “It prepares them for what they are going to see in college … It’s not just kids receiving a diploma anymore.” Daily News Staff Writer Rachel Kyler can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 1440.

Monday, May 19, 2008


As you can see below, this Biophilia Center will be a great hit in the area. You might think there is a lot of land to develop in Freeport area, but with the amount of land M.C. Davis has placed in a conservation zone and the remainder being mostly wetlands, I see the supply and demand theory being applied in the very near future in this area with the new Panama City International Airport on the horizon.

Biophilia Center puts students in touch with nature
Andy Meinen

Sunday May 18th, 2008
FREEPORT — A new nature center wants to get kids into the environment. The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center at Nokuse Plantation will help teach children about the science behind nature, said Christy Scally, the center’s director. “The center will help promote the natural connection between humans and nature,” she said. The groundbreaking for the center is at 9 a.m. Tuesday on State Road 20, about four miles east of U.S. Highway 331. The center will consist of several buildings with about 40,000 square feet under roof, including about 14,000 square feet heated and cooled. The complex includes outdoor screened classrooms, exhibits and a theater. Nature trails will twist through the 48,000-acre plantation. Students from local schools can investigate swamps, forests and a beaver dam. That’s important, said M.C. Davis, the conservationist and businessman behind the center. Getting first-hand knowledge of nature and the environment is crucial for students today, he said. “By interacting with nature, you can learn through osmosis almost,” he said. “We need to get kids in the wilderness and to fall in love with nature.” Davis said it’s easier for children to learn about the science behind natural processes such as photosynthesis when they can feel and hold a leaf in the forest while a teacher explains it to them. He added that students will handle live frogs and insects for other experiments and lessons. Davis said Northwest Florida is a “hot spot” for biodiversity; an unusually large number of plant and animal species thrive in the region. Scally said the center will offer students weeklong programs before the FCATs to help boost scores. Science is one subject that is slipping with today’s children, and the center hopes to reverse that trend, she said. Daily News Staff Writer Andy Meinen can be reached at 654-6905.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Okaloosa County receives many accolades for their business friendly environment in 2007.

1. Okaloosa County has the 10th highest job growth rate of the 300 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) across the United States.
2. High Technology Industry—Cybercity#3 in Florida, 2007American Electronics Association
3. Best Cities for Doing BusinessInc. Magazine, 2007
4. #2 Business VitalityThe Wall Street Journal, 2007

This is just a few reasons Okaloosa County is in position to out perform many areas of the country. With the Base Realignment and Commission 2005 decisions and the need for high tech warfare, some have said, Okaloosa County could be the East Coast Silicone Valley. For more specific information on the Labor market visit,

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Is the Media reporting the news or are they creating the news? That is the question. Having been involved with some folks in the media, more care must be taken in reporting the news and completing the research necessary to get it right. It is quite evident, in this world of instant news, the buyer is influenced by many factors and assuming the news is accurate, and in some cases missing out on opportunities which is a good and sound investment decision. So let's get it right the first time. See below on some facts, which are being overlooked.

Ken Wright

Columnist: 'Media Is Wrong About Housing Slump' Realty Times feature article by Blanche Evans
Why buy a house now? You've been getting bad information. Here's why.
The financial press is worried that they might have gone too far - paralyzing the nation into recession by piling on housing. So they're finally beginning to question the indexes where they get their data, and whether the news is really as bad as it seems. Slowly but surely, headlines are changing from Don't Buy A Home Now to Is It Time To Buy?
We said it here first on Realty Times - that consumers aren't getting the full story. Indexes can be misleading because of the locations, prices, types of housing, and rates of increase they track.
In late April, Robert Shiller, founder of the Case-Shiller Index, announced that there was a good chance housing prices would fall further than the 30 percent drop during the Great Depression.
Shiller has plenty of reason to be negative - he makes money when people buy housing hedge funds, licensed with data obtained through his company Macromarkets LLC.
Now, finally, one brave journalist is writing that Case-Shiller is flawed.
In his story "Home-price data has its flaws," Chris Plummer of MarketWatch slammed both Shiller's Index and the Associated Press for being "grim reapers."
For the first time, S&P Index Committee Chairman David Blitzer "acknowledged his organization's overall and metro-market readings paint an incomplete picture."
No kidding. The index covers only 20 markets, heavily weighted to the most volatile metros in the nation.
Plummer also lampooned the AP for writing that "despite that index's limited seven-year history, home prices plunged by a record percentage at their fastest rate ever."
He also notes, "The glaring discrepancy in this case is that 17 of the 20 metro areas posted record annual declines, and yet 78 percent of the 330 metropolitan regions that the NAR tracks reported price increases ... ."
Bravo, Plummer. But the rest of the financial press still has a long way to go.
When Shiller says home prices are going to fall 30 percent, not one reporter who covered the story asked this simple follow-up question: "Bob, during the worst part of the Great Depression, one in four people were out of work. Our unemployment rate is a little over 5 percent. So what's going to drive home prices that low?"
Instead, no one did even the minimum Wikipedia search to find out what conditions were really like 75 years ago.
What that means is not only are the indexes misleading - the reporting is worse.
Right now we have mortgage interest rates three points below historical norms. We have housing inventories five months greater than balanced markets. Combine that with unemployment that is a half percent lower than the recession of 2003, and you have excellent homebuying conditions.
Stop listening to the media. Go buy a home.
Copyright © 2008 RE/MAX International Inc. 5/6/08

Friday, May 16, 2008

Eglin Air Forces Base 2008 Transfer Season To Get Heated Up

At a recent visit with the Eglin AFB Airman & Family Readiness Center, formally known as the Family Service Center, I found out the majority of the military folks will be transferring between mid-June and mid-September. As always, this has been the time when military members complete their moves. So, if you are in the real estate business, get ready and be able to handle the many folks looking to professionals with an understanding of their challenges in moving to our area.

Fort Walton Beach Considering Annexing Surrounding Communities

To annex or not annex, that is the issue. As noted by some local officials, it is time to think outside the box and bring surrounding communities together for the common good. Having grown up in this area, when you think of Fort Walton Beach, you assume the areas noted by the City Council as being Fort Walton Beach. So, let's work together for make this a priority and give something to the citizens in return.

FWB revives annexation issue
Councilman: City must prove there would be benefits for residents
FORT WALTON BEACH — The loss of revenue from the Amendment 1 tax reform is expected to be hard on local governments. Fort Walton Beach officials believe partnering with other cities and sharing the cost to provide services could help reduce the burden. The City Council held a workshop Tuesday evening to discuss annexation and the possibility of annexing Cinco Bayou or Mary Esther. “Amendment 1 is forcing us to more efficiently and effectively partner with our neighbors,” said City Manager Joyce Shanahan. City staffers have completed a preliminary study that showed the millage rates and property tax revenues generated for Fort Walton Beach, Cinco Bayou, Mary Esther, unincorporated Ocean City and Okaloosa County. Mary Esther and Cinco Bayou have lower tax rates than Fort Walton Beach. The staff will conduct a more thorough review of the cost to residents in those communities if they decided to annex into Fort Walton Beach. Shanahan said city staff will be working through the budget process for the next several months, and the more in-depth study likely wouldn’t start until September or October. She estimated it would not be ready for review until March or April of next year. Councilman Wayne Pullen said Fort Walton Beach must prove to Cinco Bayou or Mary Esther that annexing into Fort Walton Beach would be beneficial to them. The city pursued the possibility of annexing Okaloosa Island in 1996 and 2004. Both times, island residents said they did not want to be part of the city and the issue was dropped.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Landmark Center - Live, Work & Play - OPEN HOUSE

Emerald Coast Partners, Developer of the Landmark Center, along with Platinum Real Estate Associates of RE/MAX Southern Realty, Countrywide Mortgage, Mulhollow's Bistro, and other, will be hosting a Ribbon Cutting/Open House with the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce businesses on 21 May 2008 from 5:00 - 7:00 P.M. at the new Landmark Office Center at 217 Miracle Strip Parkway, SE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. At this event the final plans for Landmark Center and the Landmark Lofts will be released to the public, along with some of the names of future tenants of the Landmark Center.

Approximately, a couple of months ago, Emerald Coast Partners, the Developer of the Landmark Center, acquired The RE/MAX Southern Realty Building by Emerald Coast Partners as the next step in the Development of the much anticipated Landmark Center. This building is being remodeled to allow the transfer of the management team of Emerald Coast Partners to the area, as well as, setting up the Sales and Leasing Center for the Landmark Center. The Landmark Office Center will also lease the offices of RE/MAX Southern Realty, Senator Gaetz, and Countrywide Mortgage.

If you have any further questions regarding this exciting step and the others to follow, you can contact, Ken Wright at 888-389-3665.


The below is a recent update from Jeff Fanto from the Okaloosa County Growth Department. This update along with a speech by Mayor Cadle (City of Crestview) was given to the Northwest Florida Military Officer’s Association today. The purpose was to provide our military officer organization an update and to seek assistance from our organization in preparing this area for the significant growth, especially the Crestview area. Mayor Cadle also noted additional growth expected at the Bob Sikes Airport (none BRAC related) and the addition of a Pharmacy Degree Program of Okaloosa Walton College in Crestview.

Okaloosa Walton College Continues to Grow

Trustees award construction bid for new complex
From staff reports NICEVILLE — The Okaloosa-Walton College district board of trustees this week awarded a construction contract for the Community Services Complex. The contract was awarded to Speegle Construction Inc. of Niceville for a little more than $30.67 million. The college received bids from nine firms. Construction of the Community Services Complex that will double as a state-of-the-art hurricane shelter is expected to begin in June and should be completed by July 2010. The joint-use facility, which will be on the southwestern portion of the college’s Niceville campus, will house Okaloosa County’s Emergency Operations Center, various OWC instructional programs such as ROTC and an athletic arena. The arena will seat about 2,400 people and will become the college’s main venue for basketball and major assemblies. The complex will include a county public safety building to support staffers who manage emergencies and 911 public safety communications, including dispatch for Emergency Medical Services, fire and police. A new college wellness center will also be included. Classrooms are designed to provide sleeping, relief and resting quarters for workers during emergencies. The design team for the complex is Sam Marshall Architects of Pensacola and Orcutt Consulting of Maine, a team that has worked on several major college projects in the past.
Official: 46th Test Wing stays
Proposed center may leave wing untouched

EGLIN AFB — The 46th Test Wing is staying put and no workers will lose jobs if the Air Force Developmental Test and Evaluation Center is established, said a high-level base official on Monday. Earlier in the day, an Air Force Materiel Command civilian offered local politicians and businessmen the same analysis, but some of them weren’t convinced. Skepticism about the proposal was then reinforced by U.S. Dist. 1 Rep. Jeff Miller, who scathingly rebuked materiel command leadership for keeping Congress out of the loop. To save money, materiel command has proposed realigning the test wing and two other units under the umbrella of the developmental test and evaluation center. The center would be headquartered at Edwards Air Force Base. Officials are categorizing the proposal as a chainof-command reorganization that would produce savings without shifting whole units to other bases. “The 46th Test Wing is not moving,” said its technical advisor, Bob Arnold. “No capabilities will be eliminated. No people will lose their jobs.” However, workers would be permitted to move to new jobs if desired. Although estimates might change, the test wing could shed a total of 74 job authorizations in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, Arnold said. He added the losses would easily be absorbed by routine attrition such as retirement. Again, stressing that the numbers aren’t fixed, Arnold said savings from reorganization could be $200 million for the same time period. The money would be used to help buy warplanes and pay for two Middle East wars. Arnold, a senior official at the base, stressed there’s nothing “sinister” about the proposal to fold three wings — the 46th, Arnold Air Force Base’s 704th Test Wing and the 412th Test Wing at Edwards — into a center. He added based on the information he has the test center proposal isn’t the first step toward moving Eglin’s test wing to Edwards. Arnold also noted an effort is being made to keep community leaders informed. “This will not occur without the full vetting that we discussed,” he said. Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County member Jim Breitenfeld said keeping locals updated on plans for the test wing is crucial because they’re always worried about what might come next. “In this community, there is a long-standing and ongoing concern about the test wing. … We still have a lot of questions,” Breitenfeld said about the test center proposal. He attended the morning briefing, which was presented by materiel command’s David Bond. Breitenfeld said the local officials at the briefing understand the Air Force has to cut costs. But, many wondered about the push to realign the three wings, and they wanted a closer look at the initiative. “The key is congressional scrutiny,” added the Defense Support Initiative Task Force manager. Miller, R-Chumuckla, agreed. In a written release, the congressman also took exception with the “premature briefing” of the press about the test wing proposal. “I have lost all confidence in the leadership of Air Force Materiel Command,” he said. The command is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Dan McFaul, Miller’s chief of staff, said materiel command has provided no assurances to the congressman that the test center proposal would stop test wing billets or aircraft from moving to other bases. “I think that the congressman is concerned that there would be (impact) on the test wing,” McFaul said. Daily News Staff Writer Mladen Rudman can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 1443.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Wright Real Estate News

The Platinum Real Estate Associates are constantly keeping up with local and national real estate trends and developing relationships with other professionals and clients. So, to keep in touch, share opinions and facilitate discussion about local real estate issues we've decided to enter the world of bloggin. The Wright Real Estate News will now be posted through this blog on a regular basis, along with contributions from other professionals in the field and industry news. We like to inform and share ideas in person, but this will allow us to reach everyone regardless of location.

This is a great opportunity for us to ensure we maintain our position as the "local experts," continuously keeping on top of trends and discussing them with the community. Please get involved and give us feedback on our entries. We want to hear what you are thinking! Check back often or subscribe to get emails when we update the page.